Then and Now: Anna Lee Huber, author of Mortal Arts


This month, on Then & Now, I am delighted to welcome Anna Lee Huber, all the way from Indiana, USA! Having just launched her second novel MORTAL ARTS, Anna is a busy, busy lady, but took time out to share an insight into her path to publication and her writing year. For a lady who took seven years (yes, SEVEN!!) to get published, I’m sure her story will be inspiring to many.

Over to Anna ….

Can you give an overview of what stage your writing was at this time last year.

Last year at this time I was anxiously awaiting the release of my debut novel, THE ANATOMIST’S WIFE, which was published by Berkley Publishing on November 6th. I was booking stops for my first ever blog tour, as well as setting up my first book signing, and trying to figure out the whole confusing Marketing and Promotion side of the business. I was also in the midst of working on a side project, that I still need to finish, and doing research on the third Lady Darby novel.

What was causing you the greatest challenge/frustration with your writing?

Deciding on a plot for the third Lady Darby novel, A GRAVE MATTER, which will release in July 2014. I knew where I wanted to set the book, and what the major character developments would be for my herorine, but beyond that I was stumped.

What was the pivotal moment for you in the last 12 months?

The publication of my debut novel – actually seeing it on the physical shelf of a bookstore and knowing people were out there in the world reading it. After struggling for so long to see it happen it was such a thrill! It’s confirmation that perseverance pays off. It took me over seven years and four unsuccessful manuscripts to do it, but I made it.

What were the high points of the last twelve months?

Certainly the publication of THE ANATOMIST’S WIFE, as well as the double RITA® Award nominations it received from the Romance Writers of America. That gave me a feeling of validation, a confirmation that, “hey, I really can write.” I was also ecstatic to actually win a few awards from RWA chapters in New England, Wisconsin and Colorado. I must say hearing that my editor loved my second novel, MORTAL ARTS, was also an extremely high point, especially as it was such a struggle to write.

What is the most important thing you have learnt about your writing during the last twelve months?

That you have to fiercely protect your muse, and you need to give yourself permission to do whatever is necessary to do so. Don’t let guilt keep you from doing what you know you need to do. And you cannot let all of the other aspects of your career as an author get in the way of actually writing. Protect your writing time like it’s your most precious possession.

What do you have coming up in the next twelve months ?

MORTAL ARTS, Lady Darby Book Two, has just released, this week, and I have high hopes for it. I would love to see it hit a bestsellers list. I’m also looking forward to the release of Book Three, A GRAVE MATTER, in July 2014. I’ll be pitching the next three books in the Lady Darby Mystery series to my publisher soon, and would be very pleased if they made me a nice offer for them. I want to finish the side project I’ve been working on, a more straight Gothic suspense, and hope to see that also find a publisher.

Any other good news, inspirational or positive experiences to take away from the last twelve months?

It’s amazing how perspective can change everything. Over the seven years I struggled to land a literary agent and publisher, I received countless rejection letters, and it was not always easy to stay positive. But this past spring when I got a self-address stamped envelope delivered to my mailbox and opened it to discover a form rejection letter inside all I could do was laugh. They had to have been replying to a query letter that I sent at least two and a half years before, rejecting a book that was already published and receiving award nominations. It felt full-circle somehow that as often as rejection letters had made me cry, this one only made me giggle. Had I known when I was biting back tears all those years before that I would eventually laugh when facing a rejection letter, it would have made it much easier to bear.

So when you’re facing yet another closed door, remember that one day you will be able to look back on all of the struggles you faced and smile. It may be soon, it may be far off, but it will come.

About Anna


Anna Lee Huber is the award-winning author of the Lady Darby historical mystery series. She is a graduate of Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN.  She currently resides in Indiana with her family, and is hard at work on the next novel in the Lady Darby series.  Visit her at

About the book – MORTAL ARTS

“Lady Darby is an engaging new sleuth to follow.” – Julia Spencer-Fleming, New York Times bestselling author.

Scotland, 1830. Lady Kiera Darby is no stranger to intrigue-in fact, it seems to follow wherever she goes. After her foray into murder investigation, Kiera must journey to Edinburgh with her family so that her pregnant sister can be close to proper medical care. But the city is full of many things Kiera isn’t quite ready to face: the society ladies keen on judging her, her fellow investigator-and romantic entanglement-Sebastian Gage, and ultimately, another deadly mystery.

Kiera’s old friend Michael Dalmay is about to be married, but the arrival of his older brother-and Kiera’s childhood art tutor-William, has thrown everything into chaos. For ten years Will has been missing, committed to an insane asylum by his own father. Kiera is sympathetic to her mentor’s plight, especially when rumors swirl about a local girl gone missing. Now Kiera must once again employ her knowledge of the macabre and join forces with Gage in order to prove the innocence of a beloved family friend-and save the marriage of another…


Thanks so much to Anna for taking the time to answer my questions. It looks like she has an exciting year ahead!


What happens next …

I can’t believe that an entire season has passed since I jumped up and down in my kitchen one Wednesday night in June, immensely giddy with excitement about securing a publishing deal. It was quite a magical day/night and I’m sure it will live long in the memory.

But … what next? What exactly does happen after the initial euphoria of signing a book deal has passed? I’d often wondered, and now I know!

Well, first there’s plenty of form filling: author bios, descriptions of the novels, social media details, information for marketing and promotion  – necessary details which really made me think about my novels again – and in a much more businesslike manner. Having guessed and floundered my way through the publishing process on my own so far, it was so lovely to have my publisher asking me to provide them with these details. Small things. Big difference.

Then there’s the contract. Wowzers. Lots and lots of pages of very, very detailed information which – I found – was best considered while sipping a G&T in the sunshine. Seeing everything in writing, signing my name, posting it back to New York – each part of the process was another marker of reality – a reminder that this is really happening.

Next, for me, came discussions about the book covers. This, I loved (and came much sooner than I’d expected). I’ve been able to send on ideas and images to add into the mix and am being kept fully involved in the process. Again, having navigated the creative cover process on my own, it’s very exciting to know that people are having meetings and discussions about this. I can’t wait to see what the art department comes back with.

Next came the line edits for THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, in a marked up copy of my manuscript, which looks like this when printed out:


Seeing my editor’s annotations, marks and comments on my pages is what I had always longed for. Like some terrifying hybrid of Hermione Grainger and Monica Geller, I locked myself away, devoured my ‘homework’ and thoroughly enjoyed the whole editing process – even when I had to look up what some of the editing symbols mean, which is a bit like studying hieroglyphics.


These edits are now back with my editor, who is due to send me her line edits for DAUGHTERS OF THE FLOWERS very soon. Hermonica is ready and waiting ….

In the meantime, I have had the less exciting issue of tax forms to fill out and the whole aspect of international/domestic tax to deal with (again, best faced with a G&T in hand), but I’m not going to complain about that, because it’s all just part of the process. Best just to suck it up, make lots of phone calls and get on with it.

What else? Well, THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME has been ‘retired’ in her current format, a process which was, thankfully, pretty straightforward. I’m in the process of rearranging my office/desk in the vague hope that it will make me more organised and I’m busy working on Book Three – which I am very excited about, although I’m not entirely convinced my cat shares my enthusiasm.


Busy times. Happy days. Onwards, with my lucky horseshoe keeping watch …..