Sunday, February 2, 2014

Paths to Publishing: Maria K. Alexander || UNTANGLE MY HEART

Path to Publishing by Maria K. Alexander

I’ve been an avid reader and dreamer since I was a child. Every spare moment was spent with my head in a book (usually one by Danielle Steel or Nora Roberts), so it’s no wonder I wanted to actually write a romance novel.

In high school, I used poetry as my outlet for what I was feeling. One was even published in the school magazine. I can recall starting a story but can’t remember much other than the character’s name and setting. I’ve always wished I could find it because I’m fairly certain it’s coincidentally similar to the start of the first novel I wrote.

College, corporate America, and a husband/family kept me busy over the years, and it wasn’t until just over five years ago that I decided to start seriously writing. I’d always been a dreamer and had the start of a story in my head (or maybe it was that story from high school). After about six months of considering and plotting, I bought a laptop and started typing. I’d also decided to sign up for some Ed2Go classes at my local community college. The first one was called “Romance Writing Secrets” and was taught by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Lori Wilde. It was during this class I learned the structure of writing a romance novel. This ultimately led to me making major revisions to my novel. I’d also taken classes in editing and publishing. I bought books on writing and tried to absorb as much information as I could.

It was through these classes that I learned about Romance Writers of America. Six months after I started writing, I joined and found a local chapter. It wasn’t until another six months had passed I got up the nerve to attend a meeting. It was a huge step for me to walk into a NJ Romance Writers meeting full of strangers. I knew no one and felt completely clueless about everything. But I knew that if I was serious about getting published—and I was—that I needed to network. I was welcomed into this chapter and embraced by a talented set of women. I attended my first conference and even pitched to a couple of agents that same year.

While I worked on refining my first manuscript, I took many online workshops held by various RWA chapters, focusing on improving my craft. Up until this point, I was still a closet writer, not having told any of my family about my writing other than my husband. Heaven forbid I even think about showing my writing to someone. But with many rejections, I felt it was time to take a risk. A little after a year of regularly attending NJRW meetings (and a little more than two years after starting to write), I finally got up the nerve to request a critique partner. This step was a turning point in my career. I met a fabulous critique partner and started to network with other NJRW women who were at the same point in their writing career.

In October 2011, I attended NJRW’s annual conference. Three of my friends were hanging out in my hotel room celebrating having gotten through pitches. It was there that the second turning point in my writing career happened…The Violet Femmes blog was born. In the span of a couple hours and a bottle of wine, we brainstormed our concept and made a plan for starting our blog, which went live in November 2011. We were four romance writers blogging about our journey to publication. We even wrote a couple short stories (for Valentine’s Day) and two other round-robin stories. It was (and still is) a lot of fun. Two years later, we’ve doubled in size and many of us have gotten agented and/or published.

During this time I continued to write, moving onto my second novel, which centered on a secondary character from my first MS. That book ended up winning two contests in 2012: The Write Stuff and Indiana Golden Opportunity contests. It was my first win as a writer and gave me the confidence I needed to believe I could get published. Despite the wins, I kept getting rejections. But I felt I was so close based on the comments. Feedback I’d received was things like pacing issues, too much back story. All fixable, right? I listened to much of the feedback and in early 2013, pitched that story to The Wild Rose Press. That summer, I was offered a contract for Untangle My Heart.

Getting the call—or email—happened the day I was heading to Williamsburg on vacation. I stared at the email before showing it to my husband and asking if it meant what I thought it meant. I spent evenings that vacation reviewing the contract on the bed of my hotel room. I signed the contract in early July and shortly after began my edits. Untangle My Heart was published in November 2013.

The thrill of seeing my book’s cover is something I’ll never forget. Even more amazing was holding my physical book. There were many times during my path to publication I thought it wouldn’t happen. It was frustrating but I was determined to keep at it until I got it right.

Now that I’m published, I’m on a new journey. I’ve gotten a taste for achievement and want to give more to my readers. The next story in the series is completed and I’m cleaning it up so I can query my editor. There’s at least one more story I plan on writing in the Tangled Hearts series, and I hope to start on it this month. I’m not sure what’s after that, but I’m an overachiever and will always strive to do more and be as successful as I can be.

Title: Untangle My Heart
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Date Published: November 25, 2013
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 85,958


When her marriage ended in tragedy, Kate DiFrancesco rebuilt her life, but has never gotten over the pain of what she lost. Seeking the help of an ex-lover ignites feelings she’s promised never to have again. She’ll need to untangle herself from dangers in her past in order to break the hard shell around her heart.

Edward Weston has a lot to prove, both to his stuffy upper-crust British family, and to himself. Working alongside Kate, a woman he had a casual relationship with, stirs unexpected feelings. Helping her family makes him realize what he's missing. For the first time, he wants more than a one-night stand.

When Kate is threatened, Edward must overcome feeling unworthy to protect the woman he loves and fight for the family he never thought he’d have.


“Privacy is a hard thing to find around here, so you may want to lock the door. Especially when you’re wearing only a towel and my sister is on the prowl.”
“I’ll have to remember that,” Edward said, taking a step toward her. “I knew she was smitten, but didn’t think she would be waiting in the room after my shower. I was struggling with a tactful way of getting her out.”
“I’m sure you’re not accustomed to asking a woman to leave your room.”
He gave her an unapologetic grin. “No, usually not.”
“I guess it’s partly my fault. I told her I don’t have any claims to you. Apparently she took that to mean it was open season to pursue you.”
“Yet you stopped by. Why?”
“I wanted to thank you again for your help today. You dropped everything to come and help my family and that means a lot to me.”
He took another step toward her until he stood directly in front of her. “You mean a lot to me. I’d do anything I could to help you.”
She nodded in acknowledgement, not sure she could trust her voice to speak with him all but touching her.
“And you’re wrong about not having a claim on me.”
His hands found their way to her waist. Her heart thumped and she knew she should pull back, wanted to pull back. But his blue-gray eyes held her in a hypnotic state and she couldn’t move.
Available for purchase:

The digital version of Untangle My Heart is on sale for Kindle through March 18th. It will be available world-wide on March 19th.

Author Bio:

A romantic at heart, Maria K. Alexander spent hours as a young girl getting lost in and wishing to be one of the heroines in the stories she read. Books gave her the ability to go to another world where she loved meeting new characters, learning about their problems, and watching them fall in love. 

Maria blogs and shares her writing journey with her critique partners at:

When not writing, Maria loves to read, bake, downhill ski, visit the beach, and watch romantic comedies. Maria lives in New Jersey with her husband and children, and writes in her “spare” time between juggling a full-time job and her kids’ busy schedules.

You can keep in touch with Maria at:


  1. Hi Melissa. Thanks for hosting me today and for allowing me to share my journey.

    1. Hi Maria,
      You're welcome! I'm loving this whole series. It's been terrific hearing everyone's unique stories. I wasn't involved in the RWA but the part of your story about pouring over the contract and the thrill of seeing your first cover truly resonates with me.

      Congratulations! :)

  2. Maria, just so you know, you've beat the statistics. You've moved quickly to publication (even if the journey seemed slow to you). Most of us take about eight years to get published if we're doing due diligence. You are a speed demon! Good luck with Untangle My Heart and your next books. Looks like you've got a bright future in writing!

    1. You are right, Rolynn. I've heard so many stories about it taking over ten years. I feel very fortunate to have been publishing so quickly. Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words!

  3. Enjoyed reading your path to publishing, Maria. And your excerpt. Congrats! on the book and the gorgeous cover.

    1. Hi Robena. I'm glad you like the cover and excerpt. Thanks for commenting.

  4. Enjoyed your story to publication, Maria. Thanks for sharing. Best wishes on your next book!

    1. Hi Barbara. Thanks for the kind wishes on my next book and for stopping by!

  5. Enjoyed your story to publication, Maria. Thanks for sharing. Best wishes on your next book!

  6. You have an encouraging story! I've downloaded your book and hope to start it soon. You know those darn TBR piles... Best wishes on your release!

    1. Hi Ashantay. Thanks for your nice words and for downloading my book. My TBR pile is also huge. I love my ereader, because I don't have to keep finding space on my bookcase.

  7. Loved reading your story and thrilled beyond measure to share the journey with you. Bright future, indeed!!!