Message From The Author

Author's Message

As the mother of five children between the ages of two and thirteen, Brenda Novak knows all about the miracle of birth. However, this lady is excited about a different kind of special delivery this month as her first novel, the aptly titled OF NOBLE BIRTH, published by HarperCollins, hits bookshelves.

Im so thrilled. I used to walk the mall and let my eyes linger longingly on all those covers in the bookstores. Now Im going to be one of those authors. Its incredible.

Even more incredible is the way Brenda started writing romances. It was 1994 and she had just had her third child.
I caught my day-care provider trying to drug my children with cough medicine. I came home one day from work and found it in one of the babys bottles, so that really frightened me. I quit my job and needed to find some way to make money from home.
I loved romances, so I decided to try to write one. Of course, it turned out to be a lot harder than I expected.

OF NOBLE BIRTH was the first fictional work she ever wrote. It took her three years of snatching time to write. When she finished, it was 800 pages long!

I knew nothing about writing a romance. Then I found the RWA and went to a convention. I was five months pregnant and I didnt know anyone. I learned so much, it was information overload, really. But I understood the market much better. I went back and cut NOBLE to a normal 400-page manuscript.

Meanwhile, she began submitting it to several publishers. One house did express interest, but Brenda was about to learn a hard lesson about the biz. We got the call that she wanted to buy it right before my anniversary. So we were celebrating and thinking all of our dreams had come true and then we got a message from her saying she wanted to know what I had for my next one. Brenda hadnt had anything planned. She quickly conjured up a few ideas, but the publisher didnt like them and decided to back off the sale.

So, Brenda got herself an agent and started entering all kinds of writing contests. I didnt have a degree. I wasnt a doctor or lawyer. I needed to build a writers resume. I looked at the contests as a way of setting me apart.

And it worked. OF NOBLE BIRTH earned second place in the Great Confrontations Contest sponsored by Lake Country Romance Writers, and reached the finals of RWAs Golden Heart contest two years in a row. Three of her other books were entered in contests as well, and Brenda reaped a total of 16 awards in just three years. It wasnt long afterwards that HarperCollins made an offer for OF NOBLE BIRTH. The Golden Heart really kind of clinched it for me, I think.

And this is just the beginning. Her debut novel has been reaping praise from romance enthusiasts including RTs own Kathe Robin, who rated it four stars and deemed Nathaniel, the books hero who has a deformed arm, worthy of a K.I.S.S. award. Nathaniel is a very dark, tortured soul, but hes a little different because he has a deformity, Brenda notes. You dont see that much. Publishers often shy away from that stuff, but I wanted the message to be that he could conquer his obstacles despite his drawbacks. By the end, he learns nobility could only be of the heart and has nothing to do with bloodlines.

She does concede, however, that its set in a time and place where bloodlines are of the utmost importance: Victorian England. The plot begins when Nathaniel is rejected by his nobleman father because of his deformity. Years later, he tries to seek revenge by kidnapping his half-sister. Little does he know that the woman hes struggling to control his unquenchable desire for is but a poor seamstress and not his blood relation at all. Sparks fly when the truth is revealed.

A longtime fan of historicals, Brendas second historical is currently pending sale at Harper. Yet surprisingly for an author
so new, her next books will be contemporaries!

I never had any intention of writing contemporaries, but I entered a contest for 7500-word contemporary short stories and finaled. I liked the idea well enough and figured if it won something, it was probably worth expanding on.

Industrious Brenda soon pitched her idea to a Harlequin editor at a conference, who passed since she had bought a similar story recently, but who wanted to know if Brenda had other ideas.
I said, sure, sure, but really I didnt have any. Undaunted, she went home, brainstormed and sent out a letter pitching five more ideas. Sure enough, her persistence paid off. Brendas first Harlequin SuperRomance, titled Expectations and part of the Nine Months Later line, will be out in mid-February 2000. Shes sold two more to Harlequin for the SuperRomance line, and the books are already in the works.

Of course, Brendas no stranger to hard work. Back in 1974 she was a business major at Brigham Young University and shes helped husband Ted, an entrepreneur, start up several business ventures in the 15 years theyve been married. Still, she is a bit surprised at the direction her life has taken.

I never dreamed I could do this. For so long I thought I was a left-brained, analytical kind of person. I had no idea I could be creative. If, a year before I started, you had told me Id be a writer,
I probably wouldve laughed at you. Now its all I ever want to do.

Well, they do say, the one who laughs last, laughs longest.

You can write to Brenda at P.O. Box 3781, Citrus Heights, CA 95611 or visit www.brendanovak.com. Be sure to check out her contest to win a free pair of DIAMOND EARRINGS by logging on to her website and joining her mailing list.
The winner will be chosen December 15.

Excerpt from OF NOBLE BIRTH:

Nathaniel let his scowl darken, hoping to discourage her from smiling again, or looking at him, or doing anything else that might make him want to touch her. She had complicated his life enough already. The revelations of the day had burdened him alternately with guilt, anger and chagrin.

He filled the spoon and held it to her lips, but it was difficult to concentrate on the soup. She wore one of his own shirts, her dress no longer serviceable after the rigors it had been through, and the swell of her breasts beneath the cloth lured him to distraction. The thought of her naked beneath his clothes made the blood pound in his ears until suddenly he laughed, his voice ringing loud in the silence.

What is it? Alexandra asked.

Nathaniel didnt answer; he just grinned, remembering how he had thought himself a pervert, a deviant, to be so attracted to his sister. Now, he reveled in the knowledge that he was completely normal after alland decided to seek a
little revenge for the sleepless nights her impersonation of Anne had put him through.

What is it? Alexandra repeated, smiling with the contagion of his mirth.

I was only thinking that you must feel very strongly about me, to have taken that bullet the way that you did.

I must? Alexandra laughed herself. I dont know why I was foolish enough to jump in front of you, but I doubt it stemmed from anything more than impulse.

Her color deepened, contradicting her words, and Nathaniel warmed to his game. Placing the soup on the table, he sat on the edge of the bed and took her hand in his. You wouldnt have saved my life if you didnt care for me.

Alexandra snatched her hand away, looking uncomfortable, as though she didnt know what to do at this odd turn in his behavior. What I feel doesnt matter. She glanced at the bowl of soup. Arent you going to feed me any more? Nanchu said I should eat it all

You can try to change the subject, Nathaniel replied, gently caressing her arm with his knuckles, but I have a way of learning the truth.

He admired the delicate arch of her brows as she raised them. I think you might be well into your cups, she accused.

Nathaniel had enjoyed more than his usual mug of rum for dinner. Everyone had. There was precious little to eat and drink filled the belly. But he doubted the alcohol had half as much effect upon him as the softness of Alexandras skin. Im drunk only on desire, he admitted


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