Wednesday, December 3, 2014

#WWW Nothing ventured, nothing gained! by Andrea Downing

I'm thrilled to have fellow Wild Rose Press author, Andrea Downing, here with me today!


Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  How many times in your life have you heard that line?  But to me, it's the best advice I could possibly give to a new or aspiring author.
Back in the Seventies (yes, I really am that old), college and creative writing courses in which I'd excelled behind me, I wrote a novel, a romance.  After completion and some revision, I decided, without sending it to anyone, that it would never sell and so dropped it in the circular file.  In those days, of course, it was typed and there was no copy kept.  The reason I decided no one would buy it was because I thought it too unrealistic, too unbelievable.  What was it about?  It was about an heir to the British throne who falls in love with a commoner…
Time passed.  Next came a film script.  I was in correspondence with famed director Fred Zinnemann over a suggestion he make a film of Thomas Wolfe's, Look Homeward, Angel—but did I even mention my own film script?  Of course, not. I went on to work for publishers Simon and Schuster for a bit, edit a poetry magazine with quite well known people submitting (Allen Ginsburg for one), write travel articles for a British newspaper.  And then I wrote another novel—600 pages to be exact.  This time, shivering in my boots, I sent it off—to six agents.  I received six rejections and then…stopped.  The book is in a huge box somewhere in my closet.
So more years passed, my friends encouraging me to write fiction once more, guilt gnawing at my insides as I found excuses not to be writing, procrastinated like an expert, filled time with 'more important things.'  And then what happened?  Well, I guess I got so dang old I no longer cared what people would say, didn't give a hoot about failing, and finally could no longer put up with the voices in my head telling me their stories.  Sooo—I got them down on paper.  Had it critiqued, listened to some good advice and ignored what I saw as either bad or irrelevant.  Honed the book, and then rewrote it again.  Cut seventy pages and edited it some more.  Then I took a deep breath and sent it off—and the rest is history.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
It is difficult to put yourself out there and listen to or read people's criticism of your work.  Some directed at me was, at times, so biting and sarcastic I had to wonder whether to go on or not.  And then suddenly I placed fourth in a major competition, losing out by one measly point.  So what I took home from that is that not everyone agrees on everything, and one person's opinion may be hugely different from another's, even if they are both considered 'experts' in their field.  Think about the long list of rejections many famous writers have received before finally finding a home for their work. What the author has to do is believe in her own work, stand behind it, and keep trying.  As long as you believe what you've done is good, no matter how outrageous it may seem, how different, you can—must!—keep plugging away at getting it published. And don't worry about who thinks you're a fool because, believe me, out there is someone who is going to think you're a star.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained!

Dearest Darling
AuthorAndrea Downing
Genre:  western historical romance
Publisher:  The Wild Rose Press

Daniel Saunders has carved out a life for himself in Wyoming—a life missing one thing: a wife. Having scrimped and saved to bring his mail-order bride from New York, he is outraged to find in her stead a runaway fraud. Even worse, the impostor is the sister of his old enemy.
But people are not always as they seem, and sometimes the heart knows more than the head.


Throughout Dearest Darling I cheered for Emily and Daniel, hoped they’d find resolution. Andrea Downing has outdone herself with this clever tale of crossed stars. Loved it, highly recommend it."  Karen Casey Fitzjerrell, award-winning author of The Dividing Season

"The romance was pitched perfectly, lots of "do I, don't I" moments, subtle looks and indecision that had me wanting to lock them in the bedroom until the sorted things out!

I loved the twists that appeared, they weren't obvious or expected. These led to a fantastic ending that left me satisfied with the story. That takes a lot of skill to pull of in just 26,000 words…

Overall I found this novella to be an adorable story and get away from life for a little while. It was an easy read to boot, allowing the reader to get straight to the story. Despite its short length, Dearest Darling had well drawn characters and a plot that felt complete and finished.

I give this a 5 for being a good all rounder."  --Laura of Lurking reads


But he hadn’t spoken today. Not since first thing when he’d told her to get ready. Not through breakfast, or as he helped clear dishes, or gave her a hand up into the wagon.
“You haven’t seen her. You didn’t see her picture, did you?” The questions came sudden, yet without malice.
Emily straightened, alert. “No. No, I didn’t.” Would I understand better? Is that what he meant?
“I keep it with me.” Daniel began to fish in his pocket. “Would you like to see it?”
“No. No, you keep it, please. It won’t change anything.” Emily panicked. She would be beautiful, the other, that would be the answer. So stunningly beautiful that just her photograph had enthralled him, mesmerized him into loving her. Emily couldn’t bear to look, didn’t want to know the answer. Didn’t wish to torture herself further. “And I’m sorry. I’m sorry for reading the letters.” A rush of words, they flowed out of her. “I should never have done that. It’s not like me. But you...well, you understand it seems—”
“You’re probably wondering what I see in her. Or what she sees in me. As for that, what she sees in me, I have no idea. Maybe, like you, she wishes to get away.”
Emily studied his profile, the planes and contours of his face, the eyes set straight ahead, the slouch hat low on his brow. He gave nothing away, was a man in control of his emotions, thinking, maybe still wondering how he had won that woman. Or maybe set on keeping the answer to himself.
Overhead, clouds scudded, scoured the sky, leached the blue, threatened.
“Did you ever ask her? Why you?”
“I did. She never answered. I’m thinking what she sees in me is husband material. I guess. She tells me about her day, the people she knows, what she does. As you read.”
“She just seems outgoing, very social to ever want this life. I found it difficult to believe.” She jutted her chin out, then turned to him, waiting.
He gave the reins a sharp shake. “I don’t know. I never asked if she knew what she was getting into. I described it. I assumed if she wanted to stop the correspondence there, she would have. I was pretty damn amazed and happy she’d wanted to come, written back even though I described the cabin to her, the isolation.” His gaze slid toward her.
“And you think she’ll make you a perfect wife, do you? Be happy living here? Cook your meals, mend your clothes, keep your cabin, have your babies?” Exasperated, she tried to make him think, think of what he was letting himself in for, how long a marriage like that could go on, how it could end up being even lonelier than he was now. Emily would seem to him to be trying to win him over rather than making him see the truth, but push him she must, save him, stop him. She knew those sorts of women, the debutantes, the socialites. Not a one would last out here, not for a single day.
His head snapped around to stare at her. “She’s been writing. She hasn’t stopped.”
Andrea Downing likes to say that when she decided to do a Masters Degree, she made the mistake of turning left out of New York, where she was born,  instead of right to the west, and ended up in the UK.   She eventually married there, raising a beautiful daughter and staying for longer than she cares to admit.  Teaching, editing a poetry magazine, writing travel articles, and a short stint in Nigeria filled those years until in 2008 she returned to NYC.  She now divides her time between the city and the shore, and often trades the canyons of New York for the wide open spaces of Wyoming.  Family vacations are often out west and, to date, she and her daughter have been to some 20 ranches throughout the west.  Loveland, her first book, was a finalist for Best American Historical at the 2013 RONE Awards.  Lawless Love, a short story, part of The Wild Rose Press ‘Lawmen and Outlaws’ series, was a finalist for Best Historical Novella at the RONE Awards and placed in the 2014 International Digital Awards Historical Short contest.   Dearest Darling, a novella, is part of The Wild Rose Press Love Letters series, and came out Oct. 8th, 2014, and Dances of the Heart, another full length novel, comes out in February, 2015.

Links to Social Media:  WEBSITE AND BLOG:
Twitter:  @andidowning


  1. Terri, just want to say thanks so much for having me here today. I hope my 'Writerly Wisdom' helps someone out there!

  2. Inspiring post! And Dearest Darling sounds delicious.

    1. Thanks Joanne, and thanks for your tweet!

  3. Great inspiration, Andi. It's definitely a profession of nothing ventured, nothing gained, isn't it? :-)

    1. Yup. And I'm always amazed at how many aspiring writers are really afraid to send anything out, even once they've written it! thanks for stopping by, Liz

  4. As always, Andi, enjoyed your insights...and truths :-)
    DD is on my Nook, awaiting time to read it. Looks great! Wish you much success :-)

    1. I think time is a factor for all of us, Diane! If only the days were another hour longer… Thanks for your kind comment.

  5. Andrea, you are so very right in saying 'nothing ventured, nothing gained'. Your start of writing sounds so familiar to me, I found myself laughing at my computer. Oh the type writers and LONG first novel. Yep, I too suffered through all of it and have the stacks of never sent manuscript and the nuerous rejects. But here we are full circle and I bet you're lovin' it as I am. Thanks for a great post. And I will definitely look forward to reading Dearest Darling. How can I not? It's way too intriguing not to. Wishing you the best.

    1. Beverly, it's so good to hear how other people have made the same mistakes I've made, and been through the same fears and traumas. Thanks so much for that reassurance! It does my ego (what's left of it) a world of good.

  6. Thanks so much for sharing your journey. What a great life lesson for all of us!

    1. Abigail, I really do feel if only one person learns something from what I've written, I've hit a home run.

  7. Wonderful post. I enjoyed both your take on "nothing ventured, nothing gained," as well as the excerpt. Good luck with "Dearest Darling."

  8. Thanks so much, Judy Glad you enjoyed it!