The Call

Can you tell us about The Call?
When I got the call I was sitting at home waiting for two of my RWA friends to come over to discuss chapter business. Two weeks earlier had been our local conference and I’d had a pitch session with Hilary Sares from Kensington Books. I really didn’t think the meeting had gone too well—she was really nice, but I stumbled over everything. Anyway, she requested my manuscript and I sent it. I didn’t expect to hear anything from her for months, if ever.
So, as I’m waiting for my friends, I bee-bop over to check email and there out of the blue is an email from Hilary saying, “Read Daisy Creek (retitled LOVE IS ALL AROUND), very cute, want to buy it.” I was in shock. I checked the sender’s address multiple times trying to figure out who faked the message and how—but no it clearly said Kensington Books in the return address. Then I realized if it was really an offer to buy my book she would have called too. So, I checked my voice mail and it was true! She had left a similar message on my voice mail.
I was home with just my five-year-old and two-year-old at the time and my husband didn’t answer his phone at work, so I had no one to share my news with. When my first friend arrived I was standing on my front porch phone in my hand yelling “I sold my book.”

What was the most memorable thing about the call?
The complete sense of unrealness. I truly thought someone was pulling my leg.

How long had you been writing?
Love is All Around was my second manuscript. When I sold it, I had been writing a little over a year.

What about your book sold the editor?
I’m not completely sure. I do know my editor thought LOVE IS ALL AROUND was really funny and had great dialogue. There is one other thing that I think is important for all writers—the very beginning. When my editor spoke at the conference where I sold she talked about how important the first paragraph is to keep her reading. She said a lot of writers try to be cute and start with something attention getting that may have nothing to do with the book. She mentioned a line of camels walking through the bathroom or something. Anyway, she said, yeah, that would get her attention, but as soon as she figured out it was just a gimmick you would lose her—or worse. She said some of her favorite openings hook you with something about the hero or heroine—tell you their goal or conflict. Here is the first paragraph from LOVE IS ALL AROUND.
“Patsy Lee Clark twirled a daisy between two fingers. Life here was a lot like this flower—all simple and charming from a distance, but up close, it just stunk.”
From that you get the heroine’s basic personality and goal.

The most important thing you’ve learned since selling your first book?
There have been so many things. I have learned a ton more about writing. My second romance was a breeze to write compared to LOVE IS ALL AROUND – not a single head -banging moment. Then there is the business side. I know about sell-through. I know about making my own ARCs and what I do with them. And, unfortunately, I know there are no guarantees in this business. Selling one or two books does not mean you now have a guaranteed career. You have to keep working at it. You have to keep improving and you have to keep learning.