Welcome to Week #45 of the Marketing for Romance Writers 52-Week blog challenge. This week’s prompt is An Unforgettable Day in My Life, which is an easy prompt in some ways since there are many memorable days in anyone’s lifetime. Trying to pick just one is a bit of a chore, but since I’ve written about several personal things lately, I decided to go with something career related. Today I’m going to talk about the day that changed my life forever–the day I sold my very first book.
It was in November of 1993, almost exactly 24 years ago today. I had been writing stories for as long as I could remember. Or maybe I should say that I’d been writing parts of stories all that time. I started lots of books, mostly historical romance novels (set in France, of all places) but I never finished a single one of them. I just couldn’t figure out how to keep them interesting, and I was smart enough to know that if they bored me, they would certainly bore a reader.
And then one day, I took a class at a local high school s part of their continuing education program. That night (September 23, 1992) I came home from the first class and started writing a murder mystery. I called Murder at Spirit Lake. I also set a goal to quit my day job in five years to become a full-time writer, which was a silly goal. I had no idea how unrealistic it was.
What I learned about story structure in that class gave me the missing piece of the puzzle. Within a year, I’d finished that book, revised it, retitled it No Place for Secrets, and submitted it to a literary agent. She called me in September of 1993, offered to represent me, and told me she was planning to submit the book to an assistant editor for Berkley Prime Crime. I got on with my life, as all writers do,. I started writing second book–a romance this time based on the advice of my former writing clss teacher who suggested that I refrain from clogging the pipe by writing nother mystery when, for all we knew, my first one might not be any good.
I knew almost nothing about the publishing industry back then, so I had no idea how long I might have to wait to hear back from the editor. I had no way of calculating the odds against a positive response, no way of knowing I was much more likely to receive a rejection than an offer.
It was mid-morning when the phone call from my agent came in. She told me that Berkley wanted to buy not just No Place for Secrets, but they were offering a three-book contract with an advance that sounded like a vast fortune to me at the time. My agent advised me not to say yes right away, but to think about it and call her back the following day–which I did. I accepted the contract, and just like that I was a “real” writer.
That was a day that changed my life forever. It showed me that I really could achieve my dreams if I was willing to work hard enough, and set me on the path I’ve been walking for almost a quarter of a century. Sometimes I get bogged down in the work part of the job, but some days I actually remember what an amazing thrill it is to spent my days playing in the land between “Once upon a time,” and “happily ever after.”
By the way, I quit my day job just shy of the five-year mark, and I’ve been full-time writer ever since.
This is a blog hop, so make sure you check out the unforgettable days of the other participating authors. Their links are below.
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