When I turned forty, I decided to take writing seriously. After flitting around for almost fifteen years with half-completed manuscripts (okay, most weren’t even half-done), I determined that if I wasn’t going to do it at that point in my life, I likely never was.
Instead of picking up one of the manuscripts that sat in pieces, I decided on a new project. I had something in mind and started to write that story. Only a secondary character poked her head above the parapet (or out of rehab) and said ‘hey, you author! Pay attention to me! I’m not a throwaway character. I have a story that you have to tell RIGHT NOW’.
Not knowing how to ignore a demanding character (which I admit I’m no better at now), I endeavored to write a heartbreaking romance about a broken woman and yet I somehow managed to give her a happy ending. I wrote in restaurants. I wrote at the library. I wrote anywhere that would get me out of the house. Oh, and I wrote by hand. In pieces. Out of order. Eventually I put everything together and found I had a manuscript of 126,000 words (far more than most category romances, which was what I read). I asked a couple of friends to read it and I got great feedback. I knew, in my heart though, that the time for that manuscript hadn’t come. I tucked it aside.
And went back to the original book, right? Nope. A headline caught my attention and I realized I need to write THAT story. And I did. By hand, taking snatches of breaks and lunch hours at work, and on weekends in the library and the restaurant. This time, though, I wrote on a computer as well as by hand. And I wrote the story from start to finish. And I had a manuscript I thought was good enough. So I sent it off to a major publisher and waited impatiently.
In the meantime, I wrote the next book (best advice I ever received). The story I kept putting off. And I incorporated characters from my two previous books.
I had a nibble from the publisher, but still I had to be patient. After finishing the first three books, I picked up a manuscript I started back in the late 1990s. I spruced up the beginning and (mostly) finished it. Then I wrote the book meant to follow. And the next one (which is mostly finished).
Then I remembered a flash for an idea I’d had (again, back in the 1990s). Ideas come to me, and sometimes they take years to formulate into a book. I ruminate over the notion – coming back to it again and again.
By that point, I’d created a series bible – although I didn’t even know what that was at the time. I wrote out a basic outline of all the stories in my head – came out to an even 50. Well, I better get writing.
Then I wrote the next book. All these stories were connected by the same small-town, modeled after the town where my family lived and where I always felt most at peace.
And I kept on writing.
By the time I received my rejection (another story for another day), I had seventeen full and three partial manuscripts. Written in two-and-a-half years. In 2014, I clocked a million words. Basically, I worked full-time four days a week and wrote three days a week. I didn’t have a life (the cats didn’t care I was always either working at my day job or at a restaurant). I hadn’t connected with other writers and I still had no idea what I was doing.
The next year, I joined the Romance Writers of America and attended their New York City conference. The city was loud, smelly, and in the middle of a heat wave. Again, I didn’t know what I was doing. Still, I met with a few writers I’d connected with online and I did my very best to absorb what I could. I came back to Vancouver, Canada and joined the local chapter. I began attending writing conferences and taking workshops.
Most importantly, I connected with a woman through a group chat who would eventually become both my editor and my dear friend. I pitched my books. I spoke to agents and editors. I entered contests. I sent of queries and submissions and…nothing. I hired that editor and she spruced up the books and the feedback I got improved, but still nothing. Then she suggested I enter a short story anthology call. My story got chosen. Then I wrote another short story. And a gay romance. And those I submitted to a publisher. The publisher picked up my gay story and I used the penname I had selected: Gabbi Grey. The publisher looked at my dark erotic BDSM trilogy, written for fun, and said, ‘yeah, we’re interested’. Well, I didn’t want my readers of gay romance to pick up an m/f BDSM book about bondage and power exchanges. So I picked out another penname: Gabbi Black. And I kept writing gay romances and BDSM romances and continued to work with the publisher and with my independent editor. Eventually, I struck out to the wilderness of publishing and now I’m what’s called a hybrid author – I write for a publisher and I put out books on my own.
Still, that old small-town contemporary m/f series sat forlorn and almost forgotten in the background.
Last year, I decided the time was right. I spoke to a mentor who helped me pick out a new penname because these books didn’t resemble the others: Gabbi Powell (I think you can see the pattern and Powell is a family name…). I realized what I had envisioned as book 1 wasn’t and that I needed to write a book 1. Re-immersing myself in that world was fun. Deciding which of the hundred or so characters needed to be in the first book wasn’t so much. Well, I like challenges. I also wanted to weave in some of my gay characters since those books take place in the same small-town (write what you know). Eventually, I completed the book that’s releasing today: The Luminosity of Loriana Harper. I’m really hoping readers love the book and, eventually, the series.
Launching a new penname is daunting. I don’t have any readers. I have a small and dedicated fan base who will read anything I write and they’re excited for this new project. I admit I’m bad at social media and now I’m taking on a third handle.
But I believe in these books – I always have and I always will. The first few readers told me the stories stuck with them. Some even cried (I love making readers cry). But these books are also uplifting with a guaranteed happily ever after. I hope you’ll check them out.
To celebrate, I’m giving away a $5 Amazon gift card. Let me know – what would make you take a chance on a new author. Any advice for me? Drop a comment and a random winner will win the GC.
The Luminosity of Loriana Harper
About the series….
What’s better than love in the beautiful Cedar Valley in British Columbia, Canada? Find small town romances with a touch of angst, a bit of heat, and a lot of heart…
Each novel is a standalone, but they are best read in order:
The Luminosity of Loriana Harper (A small town interracial romance)
The Making of Marnie Jones (A small town enemies-to-lovers romance)
The Redemption of Remy St. Claire (A small town single-father fake-marriage romance)
Loriana Harper is the head librarian of the Mission City Public Library. She considers herself a matchmaker in this little town in British Columbia—especially for her employees. When a gorgeous technician arrives to update their computers, she can’t help musing about who might be his perfect match. Except, the more time she spends with Mitch, the more she wants him for herself.
Mitch Alexander left in disgrace from a good job in California. He’s come to this small town to make a new start where no one knows him. Although he has no plans to get involved with anyone, he’s drawn to the nosy, vivacious librarian who makes him smile. The local matchmaker might go overboard, but she has good intentions. Except he’s not in the market for any match, unless it’s with her.
When Mitch’s past catches up with him, and the police come calling, he has to decide if he’ll stay with Loriana or leave to save her from the taint of being associated with him. Loriana’s not ready to let her new man go without a fight—but maybe this is a match that wasn’t meant to be.
The Luminosity of Loriana Harper is an older-woman age-gap interracial romance with a touch of angst and a large cat named Plato. The book is the first in the Love in Cedar Valley series set in a small town in British Columbia, Canada.
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BVL3X4JZ
Add it to GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/122872288-the-luminosity-of-loriana-harper
The Absolution of Abigail Reardon (free prequel)
About the Author
Gabbi Powell has been a lover of romance since she first put pen to paper in the eighth grade to write her first romance. She writes her novels while living in Beautiful British Columbia with her trusty ChinPoo dog a as companion. She also writes gay romances as Gabbi Grey and contemporary dark erotic BDSM novels as Gabbi Black.
Newsletter sign-up: https://sendfox.com/gabbipowell
Facebook (personal): https://www.facebook.com/gabbi.powell.9/
Dang, Gabbi… I told you I don’t read MF romance anymore but you had to go and set this series in Mission City… LOL… now I have to read these!! 😉 Best of luck with this series!! -Randall
If a book catches my attention with the cover and blurb… I might try it even if it is an unknown author to me… anthologies introduce a bunch of new authors to me a lot.
Your story was really informative, and as a fellow author (self-published), it shows the level of commitment we need for our craft. It also shows that the characters we have in our head have a way of consuming us until we have to get them to print.
I don’t think giving away free books works UNLESS you are using a service like Booksprout that holds readers responsible for posting a review. I like it when an author I really like says that they’ve read a book and recommend it highly. I am also a bit of a cover lover. If a book has a great cover, I’m much more likely give it a try. And, I like a well written description that doesn’t read like a laundry list of 72 tropes.
The cover catches my attention and the blurb sells me.
I want to see that there’s more than one book to entice me to read a new-to-me author. Even someone who’s been around for a long time is “new” if they’re new to me.
And, it has to be in the category that I like to read!
Unless they are my usual go to authors and since I tend to now buy e-books, the subject matter has to grab me first. If it doesn’t, then I check out the cover and blurb. I might even read what is available on Amazon before making a final decision.
I also write so I know how other characters vie for my attention when I am writing something else. I have learned to listen. I find by acknowledging them, they step back and let me finish what I am working on.
Congratulations on bringing these stories and a new penname to fruition, Gabbi! I think that I will often read authors I enjoy when they branch out in other genres (with or without new pennames)–often there is something about their voice that carries throughout their writing. You can definitely let your readership know, and I hope you can also lean on your author network to help connect you to their readers who might read some of those same genres. I do rely on the recommendations of fellow readers and on authors I already read and love.
A few authors that I follow closely have branched out into other genres and use different pen names so I’ll read those books. I’ll take a chance on a new author if I get a book for review on Xtreme Delusions. I’ll also read a new-to-me author if someone I trust suggests them to me.
My biggest problem is that I buy a lot of books I never get around to reading because I’ve got so many ARCs to read and review. I’ve enjoyed all of your Gabbi Grey books and have a few of your Gabbi Black books that I want to make time to read.
Thank you for the free book from your new pen name. I wish you much success!