Leave a comment on today's post and you may win a copy of The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine. U.S. and Canada only please.
Since I first confessed, out loud, that I am —you know (hunches shoulders and whispers sheepishly) —a writer, I've had a lot of people ask me how I got my first book published. What did I do that got my manuscript noticed? Frankly, I have no idea. I wish I had clear answers.
Some people tell me all about software they've got that helps them write a book. I stare blankly, hoping I don't look stupid. Others tell me about spreadsheets they use to track their plots and characters. I reach for a glass of wine and nod solemnly. Truth is, I don't know much about the right way to write a book. I can tell you this with confidence - being a writer isn't nearly as easy as they make it seem in movies.
But I love writing. It's relaxing and wonderfully freeing for a mind that's always spinning—like a tumble-dryer, but with plots and characters instead of socks and t-shirts.
When I first wrote my stories down I never expected to show another living soul the outpourings of my imagination. However, one day, I plucked up the courage to show a friend. She persuaded me to try publication. I chased every agent taking on clients and I wrote a gazillion query letters. Most received form rejections. Some returned simply marked with a big "NO". They might as well have added a big red stamp that said "Are You Kidding?"
When an agent asked to review my first three chapters I was so thrilled —and naive—I thought that was as good as a publishing contract. Then she wanted my entire manuscript. Hard copy. I printed it off and sent it. Can't remember what it cost, but it couldn't have been cheap for about 700 double-spaced pages. I told everyone at work that a fabulous literary agent was interested in my book. People stared in awe. Well, it might have been carelessness, sheer hatred, or simply hunger if they hadn't had breakfast yet. I chose to believe it was awe. Weeks later this literary agent sent me a three-line rejection letter that reduced me to tears. For a week.
Mortified, I packed my writing away. No more of that humiliation. Fancy thinking I could get published!
But the stories still worked their evil magic inside me. I moved house, changed jobs, kept writing. With another manuscript finished, the bug was gnawing away at me again. What did I have to lose? Give it another try. The devilish addiction resumed. I sent queries to hundreds of agents. Few responded. Even fewer wanted samples. They quickly, or not so quickly, rejected me. It was a roller-coaster of emotion. Not just any roller-coaster. It was that one in Final Destination 3.
Then I signed with an agent. Excited about my manuscript she sent it off to the top list of publishers. I thought about my dress for the first red carpet appearance. What on earth would I do with my hair? Should I wear dangly earrings? I didn't want to look like a trollop, did I?
One by one the "love it, but..." emails rolled in. I stared to think Love It But was my name in a former life.
The agent continued valiantly on to the next set of publishers, but soon our options were dwindling as, I could tell, was her interest in my manuscript. After all, she had other writers and I was clearly not a hot property. This is a business after all. So we parted company and I was back to square one, clutching my manuscript in my bruised, sweaty hands, saddened but stronger. I kept writing.
Then, suddenly, I got an email from an editor at Sourcebooks. She loved my manuscript and my "voice". Would I be willing to make changes?
Would I? Are you kidding?
For several weeks I worked on revisions. Then I returned my edited manuscript and waited. On one surprisingly sunny afternoon in early March I had an email from Aubrey. She was taking my manuscript to the acquisitions board. Could I come up with some ideas for future books?
Could I? Are you kidding?
I tried not to get excited. After all, I'd been close before and had the Axminster pulled out from under me. So I stayed as calm as I could. The next day Aubrey wanted to know if she could call me.
Could she? Was she kidding me?
I vividly remember sitting on my bed, talking to her on the phone, staring at the sun shining on my feet. I'm not sure I took it all in. I know she offered me a contract for three books. I know she told me to take my time, take the contract to a lawyer if I needed and think about it. I know I tried very hard to be cool and not shout down the phone, "Are you kidding me?"
After we hung up, she sent me a "deal memo" with all the terms written out, so a blathering idiot like me could understand. Thankfully. Because I might have woken up the next day and figured it was a dream. I printed out that email. I still have it today and cherish it.
Oddly enough I didn't burst into tears. I always imagined I would, but I think I'd cried so many tears over all the bad news and crushed hopes I had none left when it came to that sunny spring day. I was simply thrilled, relieved, excited, terrified. Then I went back to my computer and kept writing. I thought - now I have a reason. Now when I say, I must write, people will nod sagely. They won't look at me with pity or amusement. Because now they'll know, I really do have to write. I have a contract that says it.
I'm a writer. See? There's my name. No, really. I'm not kidding.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jayne Fresina sprouted up in England, the youngest in a family of four girls. Entertained by her father’s colorful tales of growing up in the countryside, and surrounded by opinionated sisters— all with far more exciting lives than hers— she’s always had inspiration for her beleaguered heroes and unstoppable heroines. Visit www.JayneFresina.com for more information.
THE MOST IMPROPER MISS SOPHIE VALENTINE BY JAYNE FRESINA – IN STORES JUNE 2012
"Wanted: one husband, not too particular. Small dowry, several books, sundry furnishings, and elderly aunt included. Idlers, time-wasters, and gentleman without other attachments need not apply."—Miss Sophie Valentine
A SCANDALOUS LADY…
Sophie Valentine knew placing an ad for a husband in the Farmers Gazette would bring her trouble-and she was right. When the darkly handsome, arrogantly charming Lazarus Kane shows up on her doorstep, the nosy residents of Sydney Dovedale are thrown into a gossiping tizzy. After all, it's common knowledge that Sophie is a young lady In Need of Firmer Direction. But even Sophie isn't so scandalous as to marry a complete stranger. .. is she?
SEEKS HANDSOME STRANGER…
Lazarus Kane has been searching for Sophie half of his life. She may not remember him, but he could never forget her. But the past is a dangerous thing, and it's best if his remains secret if he wants to tempt Sophie with ...
A MOST IMPROPER PROPOSAL…