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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

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.



At 9:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Trish! I love your call story. You are such a model of perseverance for us all. My call came at work, and I was in the midst of a tough situation so I could hardly jump around and be happy. Instead, I called my husband and told him, and then called my CP, who proceeded to jump around and scream enough for the both of us. It was awesome.

Can't wait to go VOTE FOR TRISH!

At 9:51 AM, Blogger jo robertson said...

Great post, Trish. I love call stories and your journey to publication is so amazing. A lesser woman would've chucked it all in, but you've proved that perserverance is the key to success.

Your story makes my paltry 2 1/2 years of waiting for publication and receiving rejections sound like NOTHING!

Can't wait to see your first book in print!

At 10:59 AM, Blogger Georgie Lee said...

Congratulations on your success!

At 11:13 AM, Blogger Nancy said...

Trish, congratulations! What a great story! You really are a model of persistence and determination. And you got really cool flowers, too.

At 12:24 PM, Blogger Cassondra said...

Trish, I NEVER get tired of hearing you talk about this. I stand in awe of what you call your "stubbornness" and need a little more of it myself. I hang constantly on the edge of chucking it in. These stories keep me going.

Thanks for telling it here, and what gorgeous flowers! And cool that you had Esri to celebrate with this last time.

Off to Vote in teh AT!

At 12:30 PM, Blogger Anna Campbell said...


It's easy, it's free, it helps stop global warming! Well, maybe not the last bit although I'm willing to be convinced.

Trish, thanks for the mention. As you know, I actually did give up at one stage but I went back to it because I couldn't stand life as a non-writer. Congratulations on your amazing success this year. I'm in awe of your talent! And thanks for sticking it out.

At 12:42 PM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

Thanks for stopping by, everyone. I see the Banditas are staging a raid. :)

Kirsten, you know I'm anxious to read your books too. Everyone, Kirsten is another fabulous YA author.

Jo, I wouldn't say 2 1/2 years is paltry. It's tough right from the very beginning, but you're right -- sticking with it is the key.

Thanks so much, georgie lee and Nancy.

Cassondra, yes, get yourself some stubbornness. I'm pretty sure it's in the genetic code of anyone born in Kentucky. :)

Anna, LOL on the global warming. Man, that'd be cool if it were true, huh? I'd be out on the street hawking for votes.

At 2:18 PM, Blogger Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Trish -

I remember when we met at Cookers in Nashville way back when, both unpubbed authors. The Cookers chain folded, but we kept on *g*. It took me ten years and three full manuscripts before I got the call. I admire your discipline. Eighteen manuscripts - WOW! I'm really looking forward to your releases.

Now I'm going to VOTE FOR TRISH !

At 2:56 PM, Blogger Beth said...

I love hearing about your Calls, Trish! You've worked so hard and I truly admire your stubbornness :-)

My call was a complete surprise as I hadn't submitted my story to Harlequin Supers (heck, I didn't even have any queries out at the time *g*) but I wouldn't change how it happened!

At 3:11 PM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

Donna, I'd forgotten it was the Cooker we'd eaten at. Man, I miss that restaurant. They had the most awesome rolls. But yay for us for outlasting the awesome rolls. :)

Beth, maybe that's the best kind of call -- the totally unexpected one.

At 3:52 PM, Blogger cas2ajs said...

Congratulations! I enjoyed reading your call story.


At 4:54 PM, Blogger Anna Sugden said...

Great call story, Trish!! I was so thrilled to hear you'd sold ... and then to see how that one call turned into two ... and AT too!

You so deserve this!


At 5:25 PM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

Thanks, Cheryl and Anna. I appreciate all the kind words and for the comments today. Can't wait to pick the winner of the freebie book later tonight through the random number generator -- aka my hubby. :)

At 7:00 PM, Blogger Esri Rose said...

It was sooooo cool to be there for that second call.

At 5:28 PM, Blogger Terry McLaughlin said...

Congratulations all over again, Trish :-). And thanks for sharing your flowers with us!

At 7:36 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Very exciting call story, Trish. I'm so happy for you. You're such a giving sweet person, which makes you all the more deserving. Enjoy your success!


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