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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

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!


At 10:56 AM, Blogger Lee McKenzie said...

Norah, I LOVE your call stories. I laughed out loud at the "I was the last to know" theme :)

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Norah, I can just feel the emotion in your call stories. How joyful!

And I think your RT/Dorchester win just shows that there are many avenues to get published!

At 2:18 PM, Blogger Patricia W. said...

I love CALL stories because they're like romance. There's at least a degree of HEA. (You finaled or you won...) Which also means they elicit hope in those of be the receiver of one of those calls someday. Most of all, they show that there are thousands of ways to capture the Holy Grail of publication.

At 6:12 PM, Blogger Gillian Layne said...

I think the fact that your final "call" came from a friend really speaks to the fact that our romance community is a small, friendly world!

At 4:55 AM, Blogger Norah Wilson said...

Thanks, Lee, Diane. It was fun remembering the thrill!

Great analogy, Patricia! They ARE like romances. And the most joyous days on the Noodler loop are when someone posts to say, "I SOLD!", and we proceed to extract every last detail.

Gillian, you are so right about this romance community. I don't think you'll see anything quite like it in other genres. The supportiveness is amazing. After talented writers (like Julianne) help us to find our own writing legs, how can we do anything else but pay it forward to the next fledgling author?

At 8:39 AM, Blogger RowenaBCherry said...

Hello, Norah!

Your site here is gorgeous, and tremendously helpful. I love the layout with all the covers!

Thank you for mentioning me so graciously in your call story. In fact, I'm proud to have come third in such a strong contest, so your story was superior.

Norah, this is a very cool blog. Would you like to list it on my blog of blogs reciprocal listing at

Best wishes,
Rowena Cherry

(Chess titles. Gods from outer space. Hot Futuristic/SFR)

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Norah Wilson said...

Rowena! You found us! Glad you like the Noodler blog. You MUST pop over to see our ezine at

And OMG, thank you for pointing out (gently) my early morning brain cramp. I shared the 2003 New Voice contest win with the very talented Kate Lyon. My apologies to Kate. I'll blame it on caffeine withdrawal.

Ladies, there might have been two official winners, but Rowena won, too. She too was published by Dorchester as a result of that contest. And she's been very productive since, not to mention extremely helpful to other authors with invaluable advice on promotion and such. Which is maybe why her name popped into my brain when I was dashing out my blog.


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