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Brenda Novak at the Riskies! (Giveaway!)

Please Welcome Brenda Novak to the Riskies!

Carolyn: I want to start out this post by telling all of you what an amazing, nice and wonderful person Brenda is. I’ve been reading her for years and have always enjoyed her books, as I’m sure is true for many of you. But it wasn’t until Brenda and I were roomies at Bouchercon a couple of years ago that I learned she’d started out writing historicals. Even two years ago, when we were at the San Francisco Bouchercon, self-publishing had only just begun to take off. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to track down her historical.
But now? Things are different, and readers and authors are the winners. Not only has she self-published that first historical, she’s released one that had never been published. Until now.
I’ll be giving away a boxed set of Brenda’s historicals to one commenter, so be sure to check the rules and comment!

Read on to find out more about Brenda’s writing, her current and upcoming projects and learn about how you can support her Diabetes Auction.

When I first started out, I wanted to write historicals. They were what I most enjoyed reading. I loved all of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s books (especially Come Love a Stranger), Gone With the Wind, Jane Eyre, Pride And Prejudice, Zemindar, Dear Amber, Rebecca and many others. But I soon learned that I’d set myself a difficult task. No only did I need to learn the craft of writing, I had to become familiar with the time period I’d chosen as a backdrop for my story (Victorian England). Today, the Internet would make such a goal far easier to obtain, but this was nearly twenty years ago. The Internet didn’t have the research materials it offers today. I remember waiting impatiently for my husband to come home from work so he could watch our four children (I now have five) while I hurried to the Sac State Library. There, I’d race the clock to find the information I needed before closing time—and spend a fortune trying to get those pages photocopied before the librarian turned out the lights.

I wrote my very first book, OF NOBLE BIRTH, under such circumstances. When I finished, it was 800 pages long, but I was so proud of reaching The End. Then I found Romance Writers of America, which I needed to be able to figure out how to market my manuscript, and learned that my beloved story wasn’t a romance so much as it was a historical with romantic elements (and as such would be much more difficult to sell). I also learned that it was far too long. So I spent several months crafting it into a true romance while trimming it to a svelte 430 pages and managed to sell it to HarperCollins. I was so over the moon when I receive The Call on August 26, 1998. I thought I had launched my career and was off and running. I had another historical finished and ready to go, and a third halfway complete.

But then Harper merged with Avon and let its romance editors and most of its romance authors go. My first book wasn’t even out yet (it debuted 11/99), and here I was, orphaned. Fortunately, I had also started writing some contemporary novels, which I was able to sell to Harlequin, who has purchased everything I’ve produced since (go Harlequin!). But in the back of my mind, I always wondered if the time I’d spent on the historicals (the second historical, in particular) would be wasted. My career had taken a different path—but would I ever get back to my first love?

The opportunity, when it came, was quite unexpected. With the advent of e-readers, I started hearing about authors who were acquiring the rights to their backlist and self-publishing those titles on Amazon. The rights to OF NOBLE BIRTH had just reverted to me, so I figured I’d do the same. Then I thought of that other manuscript that I had loved so much—HONOR BOUND—and realized that if I revised it and had it professionally edited, I could publish that, too.

New Contemporary Romance series!

OF NOBLE BIRTH hit Amazon in August. HONOR BOUND was published in November. It’s been so great to see these stories reach my fans at last. OF NOBLE BIRTH had been out of print for over a decade. And HONOR BOUND had never before been published. Together with the new series I’m writing for MIRA (a small town contemporary series sent in the fictional town of Whiskey Creek which will be out in the fall), these projects have kept me very busy. To make my life even more complicated, I’m writing a new suspense series, too. And I’m also working on another project. This one doesn’t include dreaming up stories but I’m definitely hoping it will have a happy ending.

Ten years ago, when my youngest son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I wanted to do some fundraising for research, to help him and everyone else in the same situation. I just didn’t how to go about it—or where I’d find the time. I had five kids at home and some very tight book deadlines (Ha! Sounds like now—except that some of the kids have moved out to go to college). Then I attended a silent auction at a local elementary school and realized that I could do a similar event on my Web site, where I could invite the people who visit me there to join with me.

So far, I’ve managed to raise $1.3 million, and the 2012 auction looks as if it might set a new annual record. This fundraiser is a shopper’s paradise with plenty of items to fit every budget, including trips & stays, one-of-a-kind jewelry, paintings, Native American jewelry donated by Mae Nunn, lunch with world famous author Diana Gabaldon (or Suzanne Brockmann!), and much, much more. And that’s not all. For those who are aspiring to become a novelist or to advance their writing career, there are AMAZING opportunities. Many of the most powerful agents and editors in the business have donated evaluations—some with the promise of a 24-hour response (which is unheard of in the publishing industry).

How does it all work? Just like eBay, except this auction is running at Visit that URL to register. The fun begins May 1st and runs throughout the month. When the bidding is over, you can pay with Paypal or credit card. In most instances the donor even picks up the shipping. And the person who places the highest number of bids over all, even if that person doesn’t win a single item, will receive a fabulous prize package including a brand new iMac, Your Name in My Next Book, and an autographed copy of WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES, Book 1 in my new Whiskey Creek series.

Check out the auction, and while you’re at my website, enter to win a romantic beach getaway to the Hilton in Destin, Florida!

What cool items have you won in past charity auctions? Do you prefer on-line shopping to brick & mortar shopping? Do you think this “wave of the future” will eventually overtake traditional fundraising?

Here’s to making a difference!

Brenda Novak


Carolyn again: I’ll start us off with my answers. I have won insanely cool stuff in previous diabetes auctions, and one of them actually, and I am NOT KIDDING, led to a making a friend and to a day or so of fame after a twitter typo that involved Barry Eisler.
I won lunch with author Barry Eisler. It happens he lives in Northern California, though I had to wait a bit since he was in Japan for a while, but when he came back to the States, he came the San Francisco Bay Area RWA chapter meeting and afterward, we had a wonderful and informative lunch. (I had chili. It was good.) We keep in touch to this day. In fact, we recently chatted on the phone about self-publishing and gender, and that was a really, really interesting conversation. If I hadn’t bid on that lunch, I would never have made his acquaintance and I’d be the poorer for it. I know Barry feels the same way, right Barry? (Yes, because he paid for lunch.)
Other items I’ve won include a hand carved wooden chess set, which I bid on as a gift for my son. It’s gorgeous! I’ve also bid on and won some beautiful crystal glasses and a whole series of hand-made Russian items, including an apron that is too lovely to wear.
Do NOT miss out on this auction. It’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s for a great cause.

Buy Brenda’s Books for Your Kindle

Honor Bound

Of Noble Birth

See a list of all of Brenda’s books on Amazon


I’ll be giving away a boxed set of Brenda’s historicals to a random commenter who answers one or all of Brenda’s questions.

Contest Rules

Must be 18 or older. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Leave your comment by midnight Pacific, April 27, 2012. You must either leave contact information in your comment or commit to checking back to see if you won. The winner will be notified by email (the format: blah AT blah DOT com is fine!). A new winner will be selected if there’s no reply from the winner after two weeks.

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10 years ago

Hooray for Brenda! Nice interview 🙂

10 years ago

I, too, have a son w/ Type 1 Diabetes and I am so grateful for Brenda’s work to raise money to find a cure. I’ve won several things via Brenda’s auction over the past few years. One of my favorites was a basket of Regency-themed goodies from Nicola Cornick. I also contribute a quilt to the auction each year (waves Hi Brenda!). I hope lots of readers & writers will support the auction again this year.

No need to enter me in the drawing.

Diane Gaston
10 years ago

Brenda! Welcome to the Riskies. How nice that your Historicals can live again.

I should have a basket in your auction. Very best of luck with this and kudos to you for working so hard to raise so much money.

Louisa Cornell
10 years ago

Great interview Carolyn and Brenda! The auction gets bigger and better every year! I haven’t managed to win anything on it yet, but maybe this year will be the year! I have a number of friends who have won fabulous items!

Your auction is very dear to my heart as I have a dear friend who has Type I Diabetes. Thank you for doing so much for the research of this condition!

I’ve won some great things at auctions. I’ve won some gorgeous dog beds on our local humane society’s online auction. And I’ve won some invaluable research books at the Beau Monde’s annual auction over the years.

I do think online auctions like yours will become a huge part of the fundraising efforts for many charity organizations. I don’t know they will take over completely, but I think they will be an increasingly larger part of the fundraising efforts of organizations.

Because I live so far out in the middle of nowhere I do shop more and more online. However, I love to shop brick and mortar stores. I could spend all day browsing in book stores, antique stores, and unique little shops.

10 years ago

Thanks for the warm welcome! 🙂 I can’t believe another year has passed, and I’m about to open the auction yet again. We have received better donations than ever before–it’s a wonderful. So definitely check it out. The money goes to help so many people. Even Type 2 people who become insulin dependent will benefit from the research we support.

10 years ago

Phyl, you are SUCH a talented quilter. Your items is always one of my favorites. Thanks so much for helping me help our kids!

10 years ago

Diane, I’m thrilled to have the historicals out there again. I’m actually working on a third one that was half done years ago. I’m sprucing it up and finishing it–if I can find the time. 🙂

10 years ago

I’m with you, Louisa. Online just makes so much sense. More and more charities are relying on it. But I hope that brick and mortar stores will continue to thrive. There’s nothing like actually walking the aisles and seeing the real thing–instead of a picture.

Thanks for your comments! I hope you win something at this year’s auction, but if not, just bidding helps.

10 years ago

Good Luck Brenda!
I have diabetes and am always looking for innovative research

10 years ago

I think your cause is wonderful in raising awareness and funds in a way. I haven’t won anything from cahrity auctions but that’s because I’ve never participated in one. I’m more familiar with donating to fundraisers and perhaps receiving a token or a raffle ticket. I’m just happy to help in any way I can 🙂

I like in store shopping because I can see it in person and get it right away. With online shopping I do have to wait and sometimes the thing I want looks entirely different. But sometimes online can be more convenient such as for books.


10 years ago

I have enjoyed Brenda’s auction now for the past 2 or 3 years and am looking forward to this years. I have already marked some items as favorites to bid on. I have won several books, jewelry, and a tour of Harper’s Ferry, which we still need to take.

I have participated in silent auctions at several fundraising events and last year got a sports basket, a night at the movies basket, a chocolate house, a baby items basket, a wine basket, and a set of porcelain fairies. Before we got married, we attended many regular auctions and furnished our house that way. I love going because you never know what kind of treasures you will find.

Our son-in-law has Type 1 Diabetes. He is doing pretty well living with it, but it is affecting his health. I hope the research finds a cure in the not too distant future. I hope everyone gets out there and supports the auction again this year. It is great fun.

Thanks for the interesting post.

10 years ago

Forgot to leave my contact information if needed.
librarypat AT comcast DOT net

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