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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Friday, December 28, 2007

WNP Welcomes Guest Blogger - Gena Showalter

The Wet Noodle Posse is pleased to welcome our latest guest speaker, New York Times and USA Today Bestseller, Gena Showalter.  Look for her book, Savor Me Slowly, in bookstores at the end of December 2007. 
I wrote for about two years.  When it comes to the past, I'’m time challenged. So by “two years” I could mean two and a half years or even five. Finished around 5 or 6 books. Again, I’m number challenged. Could have been four books, could have been twelve. Nearly all of them were in different genres of romance, sometimes even a combination of two or three. Or six. (As I tumble down a shame spiral thinking of the horrid things I once wrote -- Heaven's Fury anyone? -- I will tell you that I was trying to find my voice.) Each time I finished a book, I queried agents. Got a lot of rejections (don't ask me how many). But then, I wrote The Pleasure Slave.

From day one, it felt different than any of my other books. There was magic in it. I loved the characters, the plot, everything. Writing it, I felt like I was queen of the world. When I queried agents and many of them actually asked to read it. . . wow! Very surreal. Then, I was even offered representation. By two agents. (or three?) The agent I chose shopped that book around and had a nibble but ultimately, it was a no go. I was bummed but wrote yet another book. We shopped it. No nibbles. Or so it seemed. . .

Fast forward two years. (or one?) The amazing Tracy Farrell of Harlequin called my agent and asked if a particular client of hers would like to be part of a new single title line at HQN. That client was stretched to the max, but my agent said, "I’ve got the author for you" and sent her my book The Stone Prince (the one I wrote after Pleasure Slave).

A few weeks later, boom. After years of nothing, finally something. Except, when “the call” came in it wasn’t actually “the call”. Not yet anyway. My agent called me, said she’d gotten a fax from Tracy. Apparently, the phones were messed up at HQN and no calls could be made. They could receive calls, however, and Tracy asked that Deidre call her. But Deidre had just returned from vacation, and by the time she got the fax Tracy had just left for vacation. The fax went on to say that Tracy had read my book, loved it, and wanted to “discuss” it. My mind raced. What did “discuss” mean? Did she want me to rework it? Did she want to buy it? Waiting until Tracy returned was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I was on the edge of my seat for two (you know what I'm gonna say here, right?) weeks!

Finally, the call came in and it was indeed “the call.” Tracy wanted to buy my book. Talk about a dream come true. Four (or five or six) years in the making. I should have called my husband first to share the good news, but I didn’t. I called my critique partners, then my mom, then my husband. However, not one of them answered. I kept calling. Hours later, my mom was the first to answer, then my husband. My critique partners called throughout the rest of the day. I couldn’'t stop smiling. To celebrate, my husband and I went out to eat. I adore seafood, so I splurged on a lobster (or two). I also went shopping to buy myself a cool "writer" outfit: dress slacks, shirt, and jacket in classic black. Not that I’ve ever worn them. Anyone who'’s seen me at conferences can vouch for my jeans and/or butt-eating dresses. (there's a story about that dress, but it's for another topic) Oh, and yes, I’ve worn jeans and a dress at the same time. It must be a number thing.

That year, I sold seven books (only one previously written). I'’ve since had around fifteen releases with many more on the way, hit New York Times and USA Today, appeared in Cosmopolitan and Seventeen magazines, and sold the rights of a novella to Sony Television.

You can visit my website at and my blog at


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Colleen~In Which Playing Hookey Pays Off

I'd been writing for forever. (I don't even want to admit how many years. 'Nuff said.)

Eight completed manuscripts.

I'd been agented by a well-known, reputable NY agent for two years. She'd shopped around three manuscripts of mine, all of which had been rejected.

I remember going to a critique group meeting in mid-September 2005, and just unloading on my critique partners about how if this latest (ninth) manuscript (which my agent was just getting ready to send out) didn't sell, I didn't know what I was going to do. I was out of ideas. I had nothing I wanted to write about. I was going to think about quitting.

That was something I'd never, ever considered: quitting. See, I wrote for myself as much as I wrote for potential publication. But I'd had it. I really had nothing else to write about. I was burned out.

So, the very last week in September 2005, I had to go to Columbus, Ohio, for a sort of training session. I was doing some contract work for a company based in Columbus, and they'd wanted me to go and get a little more oriented to their products, and so I was taking a class for a whole week.

I arrived Sunday night, and wouldn't be leaving to drive home (four hours) until Friday.

It was a very structured program: you were in class all morning, broke for a quick on-site lunch, and then back to class until 5:30 or 6. Cell phones (purposely, I'm sure) didn't work in the conference area. So we were pretty much tied up all day.

Monday night, I hung out at the bar with some of the others in my class, and we were doing the things you do when you're at a week-long session away from home: eating, drinking, shooting the breeze, etc. The bar tab was wide open, so we all indulged.

I got up the next morning and went to class, slightly sleepy and exhausted from not having slept well in my hotel bed, but present, nevertheless. I never miss those classes.

Tuesday, we were again hanging out in the bar here at the
hotel/conference center, and the bar tab was open, so we were drinking
beer and then someone started ordering shots...

...and I know better than to mix drinks, but I did. So by the time I
got back to my room, I was feeling it quite a bit.

Now, I'm Miss Goody Two Shoes, and I never miss classes like this, or
training sessions. No matter how late I am out or how much of a good
time I have, I always make sure I can get up and go in the morning.

Well, Tuesday night, as I fell into bed, I said, "Screw it. I'm sleeping
in tomorrow." It wasn't like they could fire me or discipline me or
anything if I don't get up and go on time since I was really just there voluntarily, and as a contract employee.

BUT, nevertheless, I woke up at 7:15, which gave me plenty of time to shower and dress and be down by 8, when class started.

But by the time I got out of the shower, I decided I didn't want to go. I was going back to bed. So I did. And I'm really glad I did....

I woke up at 9:45, got up and decided to get dressed and go down...not to hurry or anything, but I would go.

So I get dressed, and I'm just getting ready to go out the door when my cell phone rings.

I look at the number. It's a 212 number. New Effing York.

I don't know anyone in NYC. Except....OMG.

My heart stops. I answer the phone...and it's my agent.

She's chatty--"Hi Colleen, how are you, yada yada."

"I'm fine. How are you?"

Why is she calling me? She never calls me. But she doesn't sound like anything's up. Maybe she has a question for me.

Then she says, "Are you sitting down?"

I sit. Like a rock. "I am now."

"Claire Zion, NAL. Two books. XX dollars."

I'm freaking out. SHE SOLD MY BOOK!!!!

My Buffy in Regency England (now titled The Rest Falls Away) in a two-book deal.


And here's the thing. If I'd been a Good Girl and gone to class...I'd've missed her call. And then I would have tried to call her back on my lunch break, and would have missed her again. And then she would have tried to call me back and I'd have been in class until 6...and, well, you can only imagine how it would have gone down.

So I was really glad I'd played hookey that morning. For the first time ever.

And, incidentally, that was one of the longest days of my life...but I sat in that classroom with the biggest damned smile on my face. And tried to concentrate on all kinds of boring financial products. (They'd been interesting until that morning.)

The biggest bummer was that I didn't have anyone to celebrate with! The people in the class all wanted to know why I was late coming down (they thought I was hung-over. HAH!), and I explained...but unless you're a writer, trying to get published...or have gotten The just don't really understand.

So I had to wait for two more days until I got home and could celebrate with my friends and family in person. However, while I was in Columbus, I was still able to make the announcement on the Wet Noodle Posse loop, and all of my Noodler sisters celebrated so loudly with me, I was sure the screams could be heard from all over the world!

That was a two-book deal for the Gardella Vampire Chronicles, and less than a year later, I got another two-book deal for books three and four. I recently closed the deal for the fifth and final book in the series about Victoria Gardella Grantworth, a vampire hunter in Regency England...and then who knows what will be next!

The first book in the series, The Rest Falls Away, was released almost a year ago--January 2007. The second book, Rises the Night, came out in June, and the third one, The Bleeding Dusk, will be released in February.

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Lorelle--The Twelve-Year Overnight Success

My adventure into writing began as a way for me to find a profitable occupation while staying at home with my kids. Go ahead laugh. You have my permission. It was 1995, my youngest was eighteen months old. I figured I could probably achieve my goal by the time she was in first grade. Ha! It took twelve long years, seven manuscripts with many rewrites, and me pretty much writing full time to reach my goal. In the process, I was bitten by the writing bug. Being the compulsive Virgo that I am, writing soon became an addiction. When I was not writing, I was reading about writing and studying the craft. Writing was a new medium for me. My background is in visual arts. I had so much to learn. The only edge I had was a mother with a Masters in English Literature who had been correcting my speech for forty years--and my grandfather's gift for storytelling.

After 9 years of diligently pursuing my goal, I realized I was hitting a wall. My work crossed genres. I was still writing stories with strong romantic elements, but the focus had changed to small towns and families with a heroine's journey at the center. I needed to submit my work to a mainstream editor. I took a shot at a local multi-genre conference and submitted my first ten pages of my sixth manuscript, WALTZING WITH ALLIGATORS, to a mainstream editor. It worked and she requested the full.

Early one Sunday morning, two weeks later, I was opening a rejection from an agent who’d been looking at my work for the past two years. The envelope had been sitting there for several days waiting for me to get up the courage to hear the bad news. The agent loved my voice, but didn't know where to send my cross-genre work. I was wallowing in my disappointment when, I received an email from the editor. Did I mention this was early Sunday morning? My hardworking editor had taken half of my manuscript home on Friday night and had run back to the office to print out the rest so she could finish reading it. Yikes! Talk about pins and needles. She said she’d call the next day.

The printer was downstairs on the opposite end of the house from my computer. It took two frantic trips downstairs to print the email correctly, which I had to read in hard copy before I could believe my eyes. Remember, seconds earlier I had read doom and gloom from the agent I had been courting for two years who told me there was no market for my work. I remember shoving the editor's email at my husband who'd woken up to see why I was running up and down the stairs like a crazed poodle in my bathrobe and slippers.

I was pretty much speechless when she called the next day. It was basically who-are-you-and-what-are-your-hopes-and-dreams call. A few more reads were needed from other editors before a decision could be made. Oh the waiting! Just shoot me now! If you've been sitting on the edge of publication for any length of time, you know what I mean. Four long days passed until THE CALL. I was still pretty much speechless. I was a twelve-year overnight success. I gone from a tough rejection just days earlier to a sale to a dream publisher.

There were a couple things that kept me going through the years of rejection. If you’ve ever been a Golden Heart finalist, you know all about rejection—the dark side of the glory that no one talks about. You really have to put yourself out there in the four-month window of opportunity. Rejections come fast and furious, sometimes more than one a day, if you’re unagented.

During that time, I learned that I had to believe in my work and myself, even if no one else did. New York Times bestselling author, Jenny Crusie, taught me that it can’t matter to you whether you are published or not. You have to write the books you have to write, tell the stories you were born to tell. It’s about the writing and being true to who you are, not writing to trends to make a quick sale.

However, I must warn you, even if you manage to adopt a detached attitude in this business, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be disappointed when you receive a rejection. Rejection hurts no matter where you are on the publishing scale. It takes a certain amount of arrogance to be a writer. You have to believe in yourself and your stories when the rest of the world seems determined to knock you down. Keep the faith and push ahead.

Friday, December 21, 2007

#1 NYT Best Selling author Sherrilyn Kenyon, shares her first sale story…

I was born backwards and been backwards ever since. No matter what I try to do, it never happens in a normal way. All I ever wanted to do was write. I’ve always written in one form or another. In 1992 while living in Mississippi and a member of Magnolia State Romance Writers I was penning articles and reviews for Affair de Coeur magazine, which reviewed romantic fiction. But any free minute was spent writing novels and submitting everything – paranormals, futuristic, historical and contemporary. I had it all out there and had just submitted a futuristic to Zebra.

The idea for that book – BORN OF THE NIGHT – came from my childhood playmates. The characters Nykyrian and Syn had been with me that long. I actually started the novel in 3rd grade under the title Raven's Cry. Over the years, it underwent numerous changes. I was on the verge of finishing it up when my older brother was killed and stopped writing. I put the story aside for a number of years and then in 1991, I returned to the idea and started it over, rewriting this book 2 more times.

My boss at Affair de Coeur wanted an interview on the new editor at Zebra, the same one I’d just submitted my book to and did not want to disturb. I know every new writer out there can appreciate the hesitation to contact an editor only days after sending a book, because the editor will think the interview was only a ploy to find out about the submission. Not very professional looking and I certainly did not want to start out that way so I tried to get out of it, but my boss wanted that interview…now.

When I contacted the Zebra editor, I started right off the bat saying I wasn’t calling about the submission but an interview for the magazine. She said she knew exactly who I was, that she’d just finished my book and offered to buy it.

As I said, I’ve always been backwards since birth. I never got THE CALL, but I did get my first sale. However, that book was the third one published since it took several years for them to get it into print. Did I mention that everything happens to me backwards? That was one of the four books known as The League series, which were published by four different publishers so the characters and situations had to be changed to make it look like the books were unr
elated. I’m now going to be able to rewrite them back the way they were originally intended and bring the series out in its entirety, which is great since my “first draft” of one book was accidentally published while I was in the hospital. Argh!

I want to thank the Wet Noodle Posse for inviting me to share my first sale story. It's been fun to read through all the different ones posted - wow, what a terrific bunch of stories! I’ve had a roller coaster path to publishing and wish for all of you to have a smoother one, but regardless of what life throws your way – don’t stop. It’s your dream, grab hold with both hands and refuse to let anyone take it away from you.

#1 New York Times bestselling author, Sherrilyn Kenyon lives a life of extraordinary danger... as does any woman with three sons, a husband, a menagerie of pets and a collection of swords that all of the above have a major fixation with. But when not running interference (or dashing off to the emergency room), she’s found chained to her computer where she likes to play with all her imaginary friends. With almost ten million copies of her books in print, in twenty-six countries, she certainly has a lot of friends to play with too.

Writing as Kinley MacGregor and Sherrilyn Kenyon, she is the author of several series including: The Dark-Hunters, Brotherhood of the Sword, Lords of Avalon and BAD. With an international, cult following, her books have appeared on the top ten of the New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly and USA Today lists.

2008…The Year of Acheron

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Call - Or Why Does My Answering Machine Always Get The Fun?

Out of my GH Call and first sale call - my answering machine has always had the honors.  In fact, I've only been home for one call, and almost didn't answer that because it was during dinner (I have a strong no phone policy during the one family meal we sit down to eat together).  

Okay, so the GH was my first missed call.  I have entered the Golden Heart approximately 1, 345 times without a single call.  Okay, not really but pretty darn close!  I actually began a policy of not being home when the GH calls go out (something I highly recommend).  GH Call weekend usually falls on my birthday (not finaling can really put a damper on the festivities) and 2003 was no different.  My family had taken me out to lunch, and when I cam back - hang-up call.  Thank you Caller ID!

Typically when a Board member calls you to let you know you final, they don't leave a message (I guess they want to hear the screams).  But I just hit redial on the ID machine and reached the Board member.  I told her my name and that it looked like she'd called me (stating the obvious).  She said, "Hello Golden Heart finalist!"  I tell you, she was so fun - she made something really exciting all the better.

The book that finaled in the Golden Heart eventually became my first Harlequin Blaze (second book sold) called Share The Darkness.  I wasn't home for that call either - my agent left a message on my machine.  Then I called her back, and left a message on her voice mail.  The agony of waiting to hear back from her was, well, agonizing!

This is almost the anniversary of The Call.  The answering machine had the honor of speaking to Brenda Chin at Harlequin on Dec. 18, 2003 while I was a my child's class party at school.  And what do you know - today is the class party day, too!  The message said "it worked" and to call the next day.

What does "it worked" mean?  Should I really wait until the next day?  What would I do all night thinking about the next day?  Maybe it was revisions...maybe it was better.

I called Gena Showalter, my new best friend, who'd sold her first book earlier that year.  "Should I call her right now?" I asked her.

"Jill," she said.  "Hang up the phone with me right now.  Call her.  Now."

So I did.  Luckily Brenda Chin was still in the office, and she wanted to buy what became Never Naughty Enough, which came out just one year later in December 2004.  My husband was taking his last college final ever that night, so I took the kids and we celebrated at McDonald's.

What a ride!  I was actually home when I sold the next three books in the same contract.  

Hitting The Mark came out in February 2007.  Tall, Dark and Filthy Rich came out this past November and my new book - Primal Instincts will be out in February 2008.

Someone asked me if other calls are not as exciting at that first.  You know what - they are.  Each one of them is special and something I hope for you in the future!  Good luck and Happy Holidays!

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My GH Call & First Sale

I returned from a hike up Stone Mountain with my Brownie troop. The hike wasn’t exactly as I’d planned. The marshmallows for the S’more’s weren’t roasted due to balking from the man I asked to start the charcoal at the picnic area. Yes, my husband. And the birds I thought were hawks turned out to be buzzards. Needless to say, when I arrived home to a blinking answering machine, I didn’t expect it to be good news. It was a call from then treasurer Connie Newman. My first thought? Could I have finaled in the Golden Heart? My second thought? It’s too early for calls, and with my day so far, I probably didn’t renew my dues when I was supposed to. I called Connie back, and she told me that I didn’t have a problem with my membership. Amid the Shadows had finaled in the Long Historical category. I don’t think her eardrums have been the same since!

As to the call selling my first short story, it wasn’t a call. It was an e-mail from the late Virginia Ellis. If you haven’t read her novel THE WEDDING DRESS, you’re missing out on a fantastic read. Anyway, I saw Gin at our chapter’s conference Moonlight and Magnolias, and she encouraged me to try my hand at a short story for MORE SWEET TEA. The hobgoblins of doubt hounded me, but I discussed the possibilities for stories with southern themes with my husband, who also likes the title of muse, and we agreed the story of moving his father’s grave, which I fictionalized in places, would be a good one. About two weeks after mailing it to Gin, I saw an e-mail in my “in box.” My heart pounded as I opened it. I probably screamed with joy. I remember sharing that joy with the noodlers, who promptly congratulated me. The best part of the e-mail was that Gin wanted me to write another story as well, which I did and sold. The second story “Hair Today, Gone Tommorow” was actually published first in MORE SWEET TEA (2005) and the first story I wrote “The Good Son” came out in ON GRANDMA’S PORCH this past June. Since my first sold stories, I’ve written five stories for the Mossy Creek series, two of which are available free on the BelleBooks website (“A Very Mossy Christmas” and “Be Mime”). I’m currently writing a story, “A Tale of Two Kitties,” for the seventh book in the Mossy Creek series.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

And the winner is...

I don't want to take up much space because it's Merrillee's day to share her call story (be sure to read it, below), but I wanted to announce the winner of yesterday's drawing for Vampire Academy was Anna Sugden. Congrats, Anna!


A Day I'll Never Forget

As Trish mentioned in her post yesterday, I had been writing for many, many years before I sold. Winning the Golden Heart in 2003 was something that gave me a lot of encouragement and kept me writing, but my targeted publishing house had already rejected my winning manuscript. So I was a little down after all the hoopla of the conference and the excitement of winning had worn off. However, I had two other completed manuscripts. One of them I had entered in some local chapter contests. A couple of months after the Golden Heart win, I received word that this manuscript had won the Dixie First Chapter Contest and the full was requested by the judging editor. I gave that baby a once over and sent it off to Steeple Hill. Then I got busy and polished that other manuscript while I was waiting to hear. In the meantime that manuscript won a contest judged by the senior editor at Steeple Hill. She requested that I send the full to the editor that had my other manuscript. Talk about everything falling into place. I sent that manuscript off after sending the editors a letter to make sure they wanted to have both manuscripts there at the same time. A few weeks later, I called the editor to find out what was happening with the first manuscript, but I always got her voice mail. When she returned the call, I was always out. She talked to my husband, but she indicated that she was sending the manuscript to the senior editor.

So here's how it all happened. Friday morning February 20, 2004, I went to get my haircut and stopped to pay our water bill. When I got back home and walked in the door, I saw the light blinking on the answering machine. I punched the button to play the message. "This is Diane Dietz from Steeple Hill. Please call me." My heart was racing, and I was thinking this has got to be THE CALL. (I missed it!!!) At least this time my husband was busy on his business phone and didn't have the chance to answer. But then I thought maybe she wasn’t calling to buy my book, but I thought surely she wouldn't call unless she's going to buy the book. (Was I a little neurotic or what?)

My husband was still on the phone, so I couldn’t even scream or talk to him. Instead, I got teary eyed and waited around until he got off the phone. I told him Diane Dietz called. I think she called to say she wants to buy my book. He said to call her. I said that I was afraid. What if she wasn’t calling to buy the book? He just shook his head. I said that I would call when I got myself together. So I took a few minutes to calm myself down. Then I punched in the number, hands shaking. She answered and asked me if I was sitting down. I was. She said, "I'd like to offer you a contract on Second Chances." At least I think that's what she said. I had to be very calm because my husband was still on his business line just up the stairs. I told her that was fabulous. I think she was a little disappointed that I was so calm. I told her I'd taken plenty of time to calm down after I listened to her message. Anyway, she went into details about money, time lines of revisions, option book, publication, etc. And she explained some of the revisions they wanted. I told her I’d call back later. I wanted to check out the offer with some other authors.

After I hang up and my husband wasn’t on the phone, I screamed, "THEY WANT TO BUY MY BOOK. I GET TO GO TO THE HARLEQUIN PARTY."

Not too long after I had hung up, our younger daughter just happened to call to talk to her dad about business stuff. I told her that I had sold my book. All kinds of excitement there. I called my mother-in-law. She was thrilled because she knows how long I had been at this. (She can't understand why they haven't bought my GH book. She did proofreading for me on that book and loved it.) Minutes later, my older daughter called to say congratulations. Younger daughter had called her and just happened to catch her at lunch. I was so excited I couldn't eat. My stomach was churning, but I decided I'd better eat something or I'd faint away. So I had lunch. My husband asked when I'm going to call back. I told him at 2 o'clock. So at 1:58 pm, I called and accepted the offer. We chatted for quite a while about all kinds of stuff.

During the rest of the afternoon, I sent e-mails to everyone I could think of to let them know I'd sold. Then I went for my walk so I could burn off some of the adrenaline. The weather finally turned nice so I could do it at the beach. I was grinning from ear to ear, but I resisted the urge to go up to complete strangers on the beach and tell them I'd sold my first book. I came home did my lower body workout. Believe me I had lots of energy. Finally I saw the flowers my girls had sent while I was out walking. I couldn't believe they got there so quickly.

That evening my husband and I went out to dinner. I had a pina colada to celebrate. We have a restaurant here at the harbor that makes the best pina coladas. I was tempted to have two but told my husband that he might have to assist me out the door if I did. I rarely drink so one is enough for me. What a day—one I’ll never forget!


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Monday, December 17, 2007

I never imagined it like this

This year, I realized the first part of my dream to become a published novelist, after more than a decade of rejections, disappointments, and thoughts of giving up. But I'm glad I didn't give up because on July 24, 2007, at around 10:20 a.m, while sleeping because I was suffering from a sinus infection and a fever, I got The Call. My agent called to tell me I'd sold my first two books, young adult titles, to Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group. How did this fabulous event come about? Here's the skinny.

Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away...

Okay, so it was really the 1990s, and I was in Kentucky, but whatever. I began writing my first romance manuscript when I was in college at good ol' Murray State University in Western Kentucky. It wasn't an everyday kind of endeavor at that point because, well, I had a lot of studying to do and typically held two jobs while I was at it. I continued to piddle after I graduated in 1993 and started my first job as a newspaper reporter while the hubby did the grad school thing. The piddling continued when we moved to Tennessee in 1995 and I began working in the marketing department of an insurance company.

But in 1996, my local RWA chapter formed, I became a member of RWA, and I started learning more about the business and craft of writing. I continued to write when I left the insurance company and went back to journalism as a writer and editor at a magazine. I left that job nearly three years ago to freelance write and edit, believing I was on the verge of sale (one of those that fell through). I could have given up with that disappointment, but I'm stubborn and kept writing and submitting. Eleven years after beginning to submit to publishing houses, I finally sold my first two books. Not the first two I wrote. Those are safely tucked away in the deep recesses of my computer and on floppy disks (yep, floppy disks). At the time of those sales in July, I'd written 18 full manuscripts since beginning to submit to editors. There have definitely been days when I got rejections or felt I was "thisclose" to selling only to have it fall through that the thought of just chucking it all occurred to me. I'm so glad I didn't. I will forevermore be the queen of preaching perseverance to other writers. After a point, if you are getting good critiques and finaling in or winning contests, you've got the grasp on craft you need to be published. You just have to find the right editor at the right time with the right project while continually studying the business side of the industry and endeavoring to always push your writing to the next level.

I'm, of course, not the only writer who has taken the long and winding road to getting published. Fellow Noodler Merrillee Whren, who writes for Silhouette Love Inspired, wrote for 15 years before getting published. Noodler Mary Fechter and I have been on a very similar writing journey the past few years, and she too made her first two sales this year. She'll be writing as M.J. Fredrick for Samhain and Wild Rose Press. Anna Campbell, fellow Romance Bandit, took an incredible 25 years to see her first book published but is now enjoying much-deserved success. Another Noodler, super YA and paranormal author Stephanie Rowe, like me, wrote 18 manuscripts before selling, and now she's a multi RITA finalist. I owe Stephanie a lot because she encouraged me to write young adult books, and that's what got me my agent and, three years later, my first sale. She also nearly hyperventilated on the phone when I called to tell her and sent me these flowers when I sold.

I was fortunate to get another call on Oct. 26. This time, my agent called to tell me I'd sold two books to Harlequin American. This call was made extra special because fellow Noodler Esri Rose was in town and we were out to lunch together when it happened. The sales to American came about because of the Great American Romance contest they sponsored earlier this year. I placed third and ended up doing two sets of revisions on the first book before they bought it, then did another set after the sale.

Contests have been good to me, and the last one I was eligible for as an unpublished author is still ongoing. My paranormal manuscript, Out of Sight, is a finalist in the American Title contest sponsored by Romantic Times BOOKreviews magazine and Dorchester Publishing. Round 3 voting starts today, so I hope you check out the contest and vote. The voting information usually goes up on the site in the late morning.

I have so many friends who are in the boat I was just a few short months ago -- they're talented, they've finaled in and won lots of contests, and they've completed lots of books. I'll do whatever I can to help them climb from that boat into this new boat. I'm hoping they get that wonderful, unbelievable call very soon.

To celebrate today's post (and to garner comments -- hey, I'm not above bribery, hee hee), I'll be giving away another cool YA novel published by my publisher, Razorbill. So leave a comment to be in the running to win a copy of Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Janet Mullany--The Call

My Golden Heart call was pretty unexciting because I didn't know what a big deal it was. I'd had a full ready to go, more or less, so I entered it into the contest everyone said was the biggest thing since sliced bread and promptly forgot about it.

I was, uh, in the bathroom, if you know what I mean and I think you do. Cool. I'd finalled. I went to a writer friend's birthday party later that day and everyone else was a lot more excited than I was; frankly I'd rather have had a job, having lost mine a few weeks before, and spending rather a lot of time eating yams and watching English home improvement shows on tv.

Fast forward to September 1, 2004. I was unemployed--again--and wandering around the house in a slovenly, not-yet-dressed sort of way early in the afternoon. That summer another ms., Dedication, had won the non-traditional category of The Beau Monde's Royal Ascot and the editor who judged the final round had asked for a full. So naturally I was trying not to think about it, since I'd had a lot of near misses with Dedication, which had been my major contest cow for a year or more.

When the phone rang, an editor from NAL was on the line. Slowly it dawned upon me that editors don't call you up to say, well, sorry, we sorta liked it, but... she wanted to buy my book. Wow. Then she told me she wanted me to cut 20,000 words from it because it was for the Signet Regency line and I'd written it as a single title.

Sure, I said, and then said what I was sure would break the deal: But the sex has to stay.

She didn't miss a beat. Sure, no big deal.

The sex stayed. I got another job. Dedication was published in September 2005, the only Signet Regency with two bondage scenes. It's now out of print but it's being sold secondhand for $40+ and I wish I'd bought up more copies to support me in my declining years.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Dianna Love Snell... The Call

04.28.2004 - 1630 hours - New York City

When I arrived in New York on April 26th back in 2004 to meet with a possible vendor for something related to one of my business projects ( I had no idea this would be a trip to remember. My husband, Karl, had accompanied me to review the vendor’s product and facilities. For two people with no children we have pretty hectic schedules, many times in opposite directions, so it was a nice treat to have him with me. Prior to traveling north from Atlanta, I emailed Allison Lyons, the Silhouette editor who had the full manuscript of my first book, to see if she’d like to meet for coffee. I’d met her in person twenty-one months before when I originally pitched the book at the RWA conference in Denver, Colorado (2002) and she’d asked for the full. She agreed so we made plans for coffee at a Starbucks downstairs from the Harlequin offices.

Over the past nine months leading up to this, my manuscript had been[cover of WER] moved from Intrigue (the original submission) to Intimate Moments (where they felt it would be a better fit). At that time, Leslie Wainger was the senior editor over IM that is now known as Silhouette Romantic Suspense. She had the book in hand when I signed with an agent during the 2003 RWA conference in New York…where this same manuscript won both the Overall Best Daphne Du Maurier and a Golden Heart necklace – the reason I met this amazing group of Golden Heart finaling woman who would eventually spawn the legendary Wet Noodle Posse. Leslie Wainger had sent a few revisions that fall I’d completed immediately then waited for the verdict, which brings us back to April in 2004.

Karl and I pulled our carry on bags along the sidewalks of New York to the coffee shop a little over an hour before we had to be in a cab on the way to the airport. That was when you could still travel without having to check a bag with bathroom items. Being the wonderful man he is, my husband met Allison then bought us two coffees and melted away so we could visit. I had a great chat with Allison, but did not press her for information on the book since I had an agent and only wanted to get to know her better in case we got the opportunity to work together.

When Karl gave me the sign it was time to go, I said goodbye and thanked Allison for her time. Then we battled to get a cab to take us to the airport…something easier done from a hotel than a coffee shop at 5:00 PM in New York. After much wrangling, we basically climbed into a cab waving cash to take us immediately so we wouldn’t miss our flight. On the way to the airport, my cell phone rang with THE CALL. My agent said she and Allison had missed each other all day and Allison had just reached her to say Leslie Wainger wanted to buy the book for IM. Allison later told me it was very difficult sitting in the coffee shop and not being able to celebrate with me (I remember her smiling a lot and thinking she must be having a great day at work "g"), but she had to follow protocol when an agent was involved.

After sharing a sexy smooch with my uber-supportive husband and biggest fan, Karl and I flipped open our cell phones to call important people. He paused and snapped a shot to photo for the album. Karl started calling family and I hit speed dial for my critique partners. My family has been awesome and I was really excited to tell them, but I needed to contact my cps first since they had a different appreciation for what this meant. We frantically punched numbers and talked while rushing into the airport wh
ere we found a line so long for security I doubted we’d make the flight. People in line caught onto our excitement, figured out what was going on and started moving us forward. I’ll always remember that wonderful Northern Hospitality. "g" I was still on the phone at the gate, but holding up my finger in the “wait just a minute, please” sign only works so long so I hung up and boarded. Even though I wanted to celebrate via phone with all my friends, it was nice to laugh and share with just Karl for the next two hours.

As soon as Leslie settled on a name for me I had a website built - where I could post the excerpt. WORTH EVERY RISK was released in March 2005 as a Silhouette Intimate Moments. WER sold out at the warehouse the first month and went on to double final in the 2006 RITAs for Best First Book and Long Contemporary, winning the Long Contemporary RITA at the RWA national conference in my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. That was only minutes before I got to cheer for two more Noodler RITA wins – Stephanie Feagan (Best First Book) and Diane Gaston (Best Regency Romance).

In 2008, I have two special projects coming out. The first is a romantic suspense collaboration with #1 NYT best seller Sherrilyn Kenyon. PHANTOM IN THE NIGHT is the next book in the Bureau of American Defense (B.A.D.) Agency series – a blend of my dark and edgy voice with Sherrilyn’s signature humor – being released June 2008 (Pocket). And on September 30, 2008 my debut paranormal romantic suspense novella – MIDNIGHT KISS GOODBYE – will be part of St. Martin’s Press anthology titled DEAD AFTER DARK, featuring NYT best sellers Sherrilyn Kenyon, J.R. Ward and Susan Squires. I’m also collaborating with my workshop partner Mary Buckham on a nonfiction book based on our Break Into FictionTM Template Teaching Series (

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Trish Morey and Those Calls

Okay, the following is my call story, or calls stories, it should be, because there were a few of them leading up to THAT one - all of them exciting, all of them bearing lashings of hope, and all of them leading to the fulfilment of one of my most precious dreams - to become a published author. I'm just sorry it's so long but I do hope it's worth you sticking around for a read and I hope even more that if you've been hanging around waiting for THAT call yourself, that it might inspire you to hang around that bit longer. Let's face it, the fastest way never to get published is to give up.

Once upon a time there was a manuscript, originally titled Date with Destiny, that was requested by HM&B Richmond back in August 2002. I’d only just sent the partial the week before and I'd only finished that partial the week before that. Panic stations! However, I promised the editor I’d get the full in by the end of November, in time to also enter the Golden Heart – my first ever time – and a couple of Downunder contests.

Then I waited. In January I heard that editor had left HM&B and I had no idea whose slush pile my manuscript was now languishing in. Things were a bit dark then, after the editor's initial enthusiasm. Luckily I had a conference on the Gold Coast to plan for RWAustralia, which helped take my mind off things (not! But it least it kept me busy.)

Then one Sunday morning in late March, I turned on the computer to find an email from someone I’d never heard of, with a pretty obscure kind of RWAmerica subject line. She wanted my phone number, that’s all the email said. I’d never logged in my phone number with RWA because I figured (wrongly!) that nobody from the US was ever going to put in a call to Oz. I crossed my fingers and toes and prayed it wasn’t someone doing some kind of survey or chasing up subscriptions and sent off my number. And waited. And waited. And waited. It was mid afternoon when the phone rang and this gorgeous woman with a gorgeous American accent told me Date with Destiny had finaled in the Golden Heart. Wahoo!

Naturally I rang M&B to give them the good news ☺ and they'd already dusted it off and I learned it was with an editor but she'd gone home sick that day:-(

The weeks after that were a bit of a strain especially when they were picking up other writers - that is soooo hard! Have they filled all the slots? Do they even have a finite number of slots? Who knows?

Then one night in mid May I was out with #2 daughter's after school debating and then dropping her friends home and then picking up a chook for dinner after filling the car with fuel. You know how it goes - a typical mum's evening. There we all were at the dinner table and I'd just told them that that very day I'd turned down another job I'd been offered - bigger bucks but lots more pressure and I'd have to throw myself into it and I just wanted to give my writing a real shot so the timing was all wrong and the guy who'd offered the job had said, "Well, if you change your mind give me a call". And I'd replied with , "Or if I don't sell a book" and laughed.

So # 4 daughter , aged 7, suddenly looked up and said, "Oh, someone called." And they all looked sheepish (which is no mean feat when you're eating chicken) and finally fessed up that an editor from M&B had called not once, but TWICE!, the last time only five minutes before I 'd got home, and that she'd told them she'd call back tomorrow. And it was only 7pm and I lost my appetite completely. So I rang up myself, got put through to the lovely Angelina Manzano who called me back right away and who told me that they really liked my book but there were a few things they thought could be tweaked. We spoke at length about what needed tweaking. LOTS - I took three pages of notes. So my dear sweet family didn't tell me because they didn't want me to worry all the next day. Aaaaaaraaaaaarrrrrrgghgghghghghghghghgh!!!!! What if she'd wanted to buy the damn book? There were no guarantees that she would even after the revisions, but like DH said (when we were finally talking again☺), it's the closest I'd ever been. I had to do big revisions, a new start, tone down one character and change the ending completely, amongst other stuff. I sent it back in 2 weeks and then waited and waited and waited during which time I was, quite frankly, a mess.

Then one Monday night right after my birthday she called at last, wanting more revisions to the penultimate scene (the proposal scene - to get rid of extraneous characters - the son, the sister, the doctor - read, cast of thousands) and I got it back to her at 1:20am my time. That call was also amazing because she stated that this was not an offer to publish, but asked then if I'd mind if she changed the title and did some line edits herself and she wondered if I'd thought about a pseudonym - be still my heart! I kept telling myself not to get my hopes up too high. Very difficult. Barely 5 minutes after I'd sent off the revised scene, she emailed back asking for one more change and to get it back asap so instead of going to bed (hey, who needs sleep?), I stayed and fixed it that night - getting it back around 2:30am, which I thought was 5pm in London but turned out to be 6, so she'd already gone home anyway - duh.

The next night she rang again and wanted one more*final* change and to get it back asap (she wouldn't tell me what that meant, just asap) which I did, and got back to her again, late that night (because, who needs to sleep?) and she replied that she'd be in touch.

Wednesday night I was supposed to go out but I was so absolutely whacked (I needed to sleep!) and it was an awful winter's night -pouring and slick on the roads so I decided it wasn't worth going with my eyes hanging out my head. The phone rang 3 times after 5:30, all long involved phone calls, and I was in a rush to get the kids fed when the phone rang again.

It was 6:32pm on the 18th June and it was Angelina with THE call, and who calmly stated she'd like to make an offer for my book and outlined the terms. And then she asked what I thought.

I was kind of dumbstruck. I said something inane like, ‘Excuse me, I just have to pop into the next room and scream a bit, I'll be right back,’ and she laughed and I went into the lounge room and everyone went ballistic, me and the kids and DH, yelling and jumping around, plus the dog who was racing laps around the house barking like she was the one who'd just sold a book. And then I picked up the phone and said, "That's better - you were saying?"☺

Then she told me they'd already scheduled my book two days before. They didn't tell me that on the Monday. They wanted to make me sweat! (It worked.)

So that's my very long call story and how it happened that I finaled in the Golden Heart and ended up being published by Presents. As it turns out, I didn't win the Golden Heart, didn't even make the finals of the other contests I’d entered, but it didn't matter because I'd won the prize I'd been chasing for 11 long years - I was about to become a published author! And having the opportunity to hook up with the fabulous and talented women of the wetnoodleposse was the bonus.

Trish Morey’s November Presents, The Boss’s Christmas Baby, spent three weeks on the Borders/Waldenbooks Bestseller List and is still available from


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pam's GH Call Story

That March Saturday back in 2003 was one of the worst in my life—or so I thought at the time. I sat by the phone, threatening the lives of my family if anyone so much as even thought of getting on the internet. I was waiting for the call I just knew would come.

Every so often I’d sneak online to check my emails. The calls were rolling in. My friend Stephanie Feagan finaled. I was so excited for her. Other people finaled. I’d never heard of most of them. Surely my call would be next. I waited and waited. As the “call” emails faded and were replaced by congratulations, I started to cry. I’d been so sure I would final. I was devastated.

I moped around all day, cried myself to sleep that night. I don’t know why I’d been so sure I’d final. Maybe it was part of that new writer confidence that makes you sure your book is the next big thing. Maybe it was because the book had already come so close to selling to Harlequin. But it looked like I’d missed the boat again.

Sunday, I set out to do all the errands I’d skipped on Saturday while waiting for the GH call. I needed to get away from the computer and all the happiness others were experiencing. I needed to get my mind off the whole thing.

When I got home, the dh said some woman had called, but wouldn’t leave a message. Huh? I shrugged and started unloading the groceries.

Fifteen minutes later, the phone rang. It was someone from RWA (I can’t for the life of me remember now who it was. A board member, I think.) But she’d called to tell me I’d finaled in the Inspirational category. Turned out Sunday was the day the calls were supposed to go out and she’d stuck to the original plan. It finally hit me. I was in! I was one of that elite group of people who’d finaled in the Golden Heart. I met the Noodlers, made some lifelong friends, and surely the next call would be from an editor wanting to buy the book.

Sadly, that never happened. I just sold a different book to Red Sage, but I’m pretty sure Lean on Me, my GH book, will never see the light of day.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

The Call--Terry's story

I never answer the phone when my husband is home, because it's rarely for me. One exception was a call I received in March of 2003. My husband handed me the receiver, and the moment I heard "RWA," I realized I'd finaled in the Golden Heart. I was stunned, absolutely dazed with joy, and certain that everyone I met would know, just by looking at me, how that call had changed my life. I was on my way--surely a sale was right around the corner. I met several new friends who were making their first sales, and I was certain I'd soon become published, too, by some sort of osmosis.

The third time I received a Golden Heart call, I felt more relief than delight. And as the final round judging deadline passed that year, discouragement set in. I sat down one afternoon before the annual Romance Writers of America conference with all my rejection letters and read them, one after the other, trying to figure out what was preventing me from selling. I decided I had a long, tough road ahead, because the manuscripts I'd written weren't going anywhere. I held the proof in my hands, letters like those about Learning Curve, my current Golden Heart finalist: it would "never sell" because "no one wants to read a book about high school teachers."

A few days later I was dashing around in a panic, my mind filled with dozens of details as I packed for a complicated trip that would begin with our son's wedding in Oregon and end with the writers' conference in Reno. I still had to collect some cookies at the bakery before it closed, pick up the dry cleaning, hem my mother-of-the-groom dress--dozens of things, all needing to be done within the next few hours. I turned on the shower, stripped, and was about to step in when the phone rang. I was tempted to ignore the call--I had to get those cookies!--but it might have been my husband adding another wedding-related item to my list of errands.

It wasn't my husband. It was someone named Laura, from Harlequin, who told me how much she'd enjoyed reading my Golden Heart entry. I thanked the pleasant woman for calling, wondering why in the world someone from Harlequin would phone just to tell me...


My Golden Heart finalist. A final round judge. From Harlequin. An editor.

Oh. My. Gosh.

I was standing there, naked, and all the hot water was disappearing down the drain, and I HAD TO GET THOSE COOKIES BEFORE THE BAKERY CLOSED! But I figured if I skipped blow-drying my hair, I could ask her to repeat herself.

And since she wanted to buy Learning Curve, I decided I could take a cold shower and break several speed limits on the way to the bakery.

My story has a happy ending, just like all the stories I write. Learning Curve, my first book for Harlequin Superromance, appeared on bookstore shelves ten months after that magic phone call.

And I got the cookies, too.

Wishing you warm and wonderful times during this special season--

Terry McLaughlin

Friday, December 07, 2007

My Golden Heart Call

In 2003, the calls went out early. I remember it was the last weekend of Spring Break and I was NOT ready to go back to work. I told my dh that I would likely be down the next week because the Golden Heart calls were going out and since it was my first time to enter, I was not likely to get a call, no matter how much I believed in Hot Shot.

Less than an hour later, shortly before 11 AM, my dh answered the phone and handed it over. The woman (to this day, I don't know who it was) told me Hot Shot finalled in the Golden Heart.

I didn't hear anything else she said. All I could think of was that I had to get off the phone to call my cp and email everyone else I knew. THIS WAS IT, the opportunity I needed. I'd been in RWA for 6 years at that point and never had a book I felt as strongly about. Hot Shot had won Where the Magic Begins the previous summer, which had given me the confidence to enter the GH.

After I hung up with the nameless lady and told my husband and started making plans for going to NYC for conference, I called my mom, my cp (who told me my career was made - I will never forget the high hopes I had after that first final) and emailed everyone I knew. I got phone calls the rest of the day, from people who also thought my career was made. I learned about the GH loop, which I glued myself to the rest of the weekend, learning about dresses and pins and appointments, meeting these other lucky and talented women, getting to know them. Some names I recognized, like Trish Milburn and Stephanie Rowe, from other contest finals and other loops. Most women I didn't know at all. However, I started getting an inkling that the GH wasn't the Golden Ticket I'd thought when I met women who had finalled before and still hadn't sold.

Monday when I got home from my first day back at school, my pin was waiting for me. Honestly, you would have thought it was, well, an Emmy or something ;) I wore it all week, even though the people at my school had no idea of the implication.

I was treated like a princess at our chapter's conference a few weeks later.

I've received three other GH calls since then - the next year also for Hot Shot, at school, where I had to wait for her to call me back, two years after that, on my cell at school because the call had come early enough for my dh to be home and give the caller my cell, and last year, when Trish called me RIGHT at noon to let me know (How she kept that secret, I will NEVER know.)- but none match the sweetness of that spring day in March 2003.

As for the OTHER call, I haven't gotten that yet, but I've gotten two EMAILS, both very sweet and exciting - plus you can read them over and over!

Hot Shot has been through the wringer, but will finally come out from Samhain in 2008!!!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Norah's Call Stories

Ah, call stories! I never get tired of reading them. Before I ever finaled in the Golden Heart, it gave me hope to hear other people’s stories. “It happened for her”, I’d think. “Maybe someday it will happen for me.” And it did. Three times!

The first GH call is the one engraved the deepest on my mind. I even remember who made the call—2001 RWA board member Laura Hayden. As the day wore on without a call, I figured I was out of the running. When Laura finally called, she said she’d saved the calls to my Canadian area code for last. Of course, I pounced on the suggestion that she had another call to make in my area. “Is the other person on your calling list Kate Kelly?” Of course, she couldn’t answer me, but I knew! Kate was my critique partner. We’d both written wildly different romantic suspense stories featuring cowboys (mine was paranormal; hers was straight RS). We’d both entered them in the long contemporary category, and we both finaled! Yeehaw! It was a very giddy moment. I was sure a sale, or at least an offer of representation by an agent, was imminent.

For the second call, I was much more calm, cool and collected as I waited. Mainly because I knew the odds were pretty slight that I’d final again. When the call came, I was completely juiced. Of course, I had a more realistic expectation of what finaling would bring me. I no longer expected a sale to fall into my lap, but I hoped editors and agents would be even more eager to see the stuff of a two-time finalist. They were.

I think I had the most anxiety with the third call. I felt a certain amount of pressure, albeit self-imposed, to final again. But my hero was the least alpha male I’d ever written, there was virtually no white space to be found on the entry. I was certain I’d sabotaged myself. But as it happened, I didn’t have a chance to work up much of a lather over it. The calls actually went out a day or two before the date that had previously been indicated as notification day. I was off playing cards in a cribbage tournament when the call came in. I came home to a message from my husband to call a lady from the RWA. In the meantime, he’d blabbed to my critique partners, so they all knew I’d finaled before I did.

My last call story is my first sale. And this time, a whole room full of romance writers and readers knew I’d sold before I did. I’d entered the New Voice in Romance contest (the precursor to the American Title contest) sponsored by Dorchester Publishing and Romantic Times Magazine. The prize was a one-book publishing contract with Dorchester. My chapters survived round after round, until the finals when the top entries were ranked. The outcome was to be announced at the Romantic Times conference luncheon in 2003. I was unable to attend, but has asked my friend (and bestselling/Rita-nominated author of historical romances) Julianne MacLean to accept in my stead if I should win. And OMG, I did! To be more precise, I shared the win with the wonderfully talented Rowena Cherry. Both our covers were unveiled at that luncheon. Julianne conferred with Kate Seaver, the woman who was to become my editor, and Kate agreed Julianne should be the one to call me. Thus, after all those years of waiting for The Call from an editor, it actually came from my friend. And I couldn’t have been happier!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Call - Karen's Story

I think my call story is a bit different from the others you'll read here because when it came, I knew it was coming.

When I entered "The Old Fashioned Way" in the 2003 GH, it was my first major contest entry. The day I completed the manuscript I knew in my heart it would final. I sent it off to Dallas and a week later I mailed it to Stephanie Maurer at Silhouette. When I got the GH call I called Stephanie to let her know and to urge her to dig it out of the slush pile. I was so nervous during that call that I'm sure I sounded like a chipmunk on speed, but she understood what I was saying, congratulated me and said she'd take a look. Since I know that time at Harlequin/Silhouette moves about as fast as glacial flow, I didn't expect to hear back soon, so I waited...and waited. The Friday before I was to leave for the National conference I came home to a message from Stephanie that she'd read TOFW and liked it but thought it would be a better Silhouette Romance than a Desire (it's first incarnation). She wondered if I'd be willing to revise. Was she kidding????

I made a point to talk to her at National and she repeated her request for revisions and I immediately agreed. She said she'd get a revision letter out to me, and I waited some more.

In September Mavis Allen, then Senior Editor at Romance, attended a Super Saturday program of the Central Florida chapter of RWA and I got a chance to meet her there. It was funny, because although I knew my manuscript was on her desk, I was sure she didn't have any idea who I was. As the program began the officers were introduced and I had the opportunity to stand up and be recognized as the Treasurer. Then I was recognized as one of the members of the Super Saturday committee, then as a contest judge, then as a contest finalist. Then we went around the room and everyone introduced themselves and told what they were working on. When my turn came I was laughing and so was Mavis, so by the time I had my five-minute appointment (which turned into a twenty-minute appointment) she had a good idea of my commitment to writing and (I hope) knew I could be counted on to do the things I said I'd do, like revisions.

Not long after that my 16 1/2 year old diabetic kitty Thunder began to fail and she died on Thursday, October 2nd. One week later, on the 9th, as I was driving home from work I congratulated myself for making it through a whole week after the shock of her death and thinking how much things around the house had changed with her gone, as she was one of those fussy girls who ruled with an iron paw. My other cat Max seemed lost without her.

As I fed Max his dinner the phone rang. I looked at it and said, to no one in particular, "That's Stephanie Maurer." I picked up the phone, said hello and heard, "Hi, Karen, this is Stephanie Maurer at Silhouette." It was everything I could do not to say, "I know."

The particulars of the call are a little misty to me now. I mostly remember standing at the back door, looking into the woods behind my house where Thunder is buried and repeating, "We did it, little bug, we did it." That book is dedicated to some wonderful writing friends whose knack for saying the right things at the right time served me well, and to Thunder, my silent writing partner. Actually, she slept through most of our writing sessions, but I always appreciated her comfortable presence.

After I hung up the phone I screamed and danced and called everyone I knew (ohhh, the long distance bill...) and generally forgot to eat dinner, or go to bed on time or do anything else but chant, "I sold, I sold." I remember waking up several times during the night, smiling. TOFW was published as "Daddy in Waiting" in June, 2005.

Like most first times, getting "the call" was unforgetable, even though it wasn't a surprise.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Call—Lee’s Story

In 2002 I became a Golden Heart finalist for the first time and I wasn’t just excited, I felt sure a sale was just around the corner! But there was no sale. In 2003 I was a finalist again and became a Noodler, but there was still no sale. In 2004 I was a double finalist and I’ll be honest, the novelty was starting to wear off.

During those years I submitted manuscripts, waited, revised them, resubmitted them, waited some more, and amassed an impressive folder full of rejection letters. I’d been writing romantic suspense and that didn’t seem to be working for me, so I decided to try writing something different—more of a traditional romance with some humor, a free spirit heroine and a ghost. Okay, maybe not so traditional, but definitely different.

It was a short contemporary romance aimed at Silhouette Romance. I entered it in the 2005 GH and it fared quite well but it wasn’t a finalist. No problem, though, because it finaled in another contest and an editor asked to see the complete manuscript. However, before I had a chance to get it in the mail, the editor left. Then the line folded. And then I had a manuscript that didn’t fit anywhere.

I pitched the book to Kathleen Scheibling at a conference and she said that if I wanted to lengthen the book for Harlequin American Romance, she’d like to see it. That meant turning a fifty-thousand-word book into a seventy-thousand-word book. I wasn’t sure how to do that, or if I even could, but I loved the characters and their story, so I finally decided to take a shot at it. I rewrote it and revised it and finally submitted the book in late August of 2006.

Six weeks later, the phone rang and the number that came up on the call display had a 416 area code. I knew that was the area code for Harlequin’s Toronto office, but it had only been six weeks since I’d submitted the manuscript. It was probably a telemarketer but I decided to answer it anyway, rationalizing that I could always hang up on someone trying to sell me a vacuum cleaner or a timeshare.

I’m so glad I answered! Kathleen Scheibling introduced herself and told me that she’d read a manuscript the day before, and she wanted to turn it into a book. My book! I have no idea what I said but the excitement in my must have escalated because my daughter, who happened to be home between university classes, appeared and wanted to know what was going on. So there I was trying to listen to the editor and while I explained to my daughter that “Harlequin wants to buy my book!”

Finally the editor asked if it would be better for to call back in an hour. Which she did, and by then I’d had a cup of tea and was able to be calm and professional, and take notes during our conversation. She told me that she’d judged some of my previous Golden Heart entries and liked my writing, although the romantic suspense themes didn’t work for her line—Harlequin American Romance.

But she didn’t just want the manuscript I’d submitted; she also wanted to see a partial of the second book I’d pitched in my cover letter. I submitted that to her and a week later I had a two-book contract. So although my Golden Heart finalist manuscripts haven’t sold, the GH played an important role in becoming a published author. My first Harlequin American Romance, The Man for Maggie, was a June ‘07 release, and I’m excited to say that the official release date for the second book, With This Ring, is today—December 4!

Happy holidays!


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Monday, December 03, 2007

The Call - Diane's Story

This month of holidays, happiness and hectic activity, the Wet Noodle Posse is going to gift you with our The Call stories. For some of us, The Call will be the call telling us our entry finaled in the Golden Heart; for others, we’ll tell about The Call leading to that wonderful first sale.

Why is this a gift? Well, if The Call happened for us, The Call can happen to you, too.

My journey from being unpublished hopeful to published author happened in 2003, the year I became a member of the Wet Noodle Posse (2003 Golden Heart finalists). I’d been a Golden Heart finalist in 2001 and I very well remember the call telling me my entry Unmasked was a finalist. I floated for days afterward. I think it was the most exciting call I ever received, and I was certain my Golden Heart status was going to sell that manuscript. I sent it everywhere, every agent I knew of, then every publishing house.

It was rejected over and over again as “unmarketable.” “Readers will not like your heroine,” the rejection letters said. (My heroine started off the book as a prostitute in a gaming hell. Such a heroine may be all the rage in today’s regency historicals, but this was 2001 and 2002, and she was before her time.)

When time to enter the 2003 Golden Heart came around, I had a new manuscript, but on a whim I entered Unmasked again. Like buying a second lottery ticket, I figured, it would double my chances. My strategy worked, too, but when I received The Call to tell me Unmasked finaled in the Golden Heart again, I was more perplexed than excited. What could I do with a manuscript that had been rejected everywhere?

A few weeks later, on an afternoon in May, 2003 while I waited in a dermatologist’s examining room, my husband phoned to tell me there was a message on our voice mail at home from “some editor.” Never was a wait in a doctor’s office so long! The message was from an editor in England--Kate Paice from Mills & Boon. Mills & Boon? I had never even dreamed of submitting to Mills & Boon, the UK branch of Harlequin Enterprises. Everyone knew Mills & Boon rarely bought American writers, and, besides, what British publisher would buy a Historical set in England by an American writer who had never even set foot there?

Kate’s message said she had judged my manuscript for the Golden Heart and would like to talk to me. I rose at 5:00 a.m. the next morning and phoned her. She asked me questions about my writing, said wonderful things about my GH entry, and said she would phone me the next day. That third phone call--5:00 a.m. again--was “The Call.” Kate made the offer for what is now titled The Mysterious Miss M.

Being very well trained by RWA not to accept immediately, I agreed to talk with her the next Monday, even though I would be traveling. My husband and I had a trip planned to stay in a Bed & Breakfast in Charlottesville, Virginia, but I told Kate I would phone her on the road.

At the B&B, however, the only phone was outside the other guest bedrooms, and my cell phone did not work for an overseas phone call. So at 6:00 a.m., on my 30th wedding anniversary, at a phone booth outside a convenience store in Charlottesville, Virginia, phone card in hand, trucks whizzing by, husband watching from the car, I negotiated my first book sale!!

The Mysterious Miss M went on to win the 2003 Golden Heart for Best Long Historical. I accepted my Golden Heart in front of 2,000 RWA members and friends, in New York City at RWA’s annual conference, with my new Mills & Boon editors cheering me on!

The Mysterious Miss M made its debut in the UK July, 2004. It went on to be released by Harlequin Historical in November 2005. This coming January, 2008, The Vanishing Viscountess will be my eighth book, including my Christmas novella and the two books I wrote for Warner Forever. My third Mills & Boon book, A Reputable Rake, won RWA’s 2006 RITA for Best Regency Romance.

Wonderful story, huh? You can understand why I am so committed to the Golden Heart contest. I completely owe my first sale to the Golden Heart.

I wrote for eight years before selling, but I did receive The Call. And if I can do it, you can do it too.

Visit my website at Enter my new contest, the Grand Finale in my Contest Countdown to The Vanishing Viscountess, on sale now on eHarlequin and . The Mills & Boon edition includes a special bonus book-- The Mysterious Miss M.

The Vanishing Viscountess will be in bookstores January 1.

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