The Call - Diane's StoryThis month of holidays, happiness and hectic activity, the Wet Noodle Posse is going to gift you with our The Call stories. For some of us, The Call will be the call telling us our entry finaled in the Golden Heart; for others, we’ll tell about The Call leading to that wonderful first sale.
Why is this a gift? Well, if The Call happened for us, The Call can happen to you, too.
My journey from being unpublished hopeful to published author happened in 2003, the year I became a member of the Wet Noodle Posse (2003 Golden Heart finalists). I’d been a Golden Heart finalist in 2001 and I very well remember the call telling me my entry Unmasked was a finalist. I floated for days afterward. I think it was the most exciting call I ever received, and I was certain my Golden Heart status was going to sell that manuscript. I sent it everywhere, every agent I knew of, then every publishing house.
It was rejected over and over again as “unmarketable.” “Readers will not like your heroine,” the rejection letters said. (My heroine started off the book as a prostitute in a gaming hell. Such a heroine may be all the rage in today’s regency historicals, but this was 2001 and 2002, and she was before her time.)
When time to enter the 2003 Golden Heart came around, I had a new manuscript, but on a whim I entered Unmasked again. Like buying a second lottery ticket, I figured, it would double my chances. My strategy worked, too, but when I received The Call to tell me Unmasked finaled in the Golden Heart again, I was more perplexed than excited. What could I do with a manuscript that had been rejected everywhere?
A few weeks later, on an afternoon in May, 2003 while I waited in a dermatologist’s examining room, my husband phoned to tell me there was a message on our voice mail at home from “some editor.” Never was a wait in a doctor’s office so long! The message was from an editor in England--Kate Paice from Mills & Boon. Mills & Boon? I had never even dreamed of submitting to Mills & Boon, the UK branch of Harlequin Enterprises. Everyone knew Mills & Boon rarely bought American writers, and, besides, what British publisher would buy a Historical set in England by an American writer who had never even set foot there?
Kate’s message said she had judged my manuscript for the Golden Heart and would like to talk to me. I rose at 5:00 a.m. the next morning and phoned her. She asked me questions about my writing, said wonderful things about my GH entry, and said she would phone me the next day. That third phone call--5:00 a.m. again--was “The Call.” Kate made the offer for what is now titled The Mysterious Miss M.
Being very well trained by RWA not to accept immediately, I agreed to talk with her the next Monday, even though I would be traveling. My husband and I had a trip planned to stay in a Bed & Breakfast in Charlottesville, Virginia, but I told Kate I would phone her on the road.
At the B&B, however, the only phone was outside the other guest bedrooms, and my cell phone did not work for an overseas phone call. So at 6:00 a.m., on my 30th wedding anniversary, at a phone booth outside a convenience store in Charlottesville, Virginia, phone card in hand, trucks whizzing by, husband watching from the car, I negotiated my first book sale!!
The Mysterious Miss M went on to win the 2003 Golden Heart for Best Long Historical. I accepted my Golden Heart in front of 2,000 RWA members and friends, in New York City at RWA’s annual conference, with my new Mills & Boon editors cheering me on!
The Mysterious Miss M made its debut in the UK July, 2004. It went on to be released by Harlequin Historical in November 2005. This coming January, 2008, The Vanishing Viscountess will be my eighth book, including my Christmas novella and the two books I wrote for Warner Forever. My third Mills & Boon book, A Reputable Rake, won RWA’s 2006 RITA for Best Regency Romance.
Wonderful story, huh? You can understand why I am so committed to the Golden Heart contest. I completely owe my first sale to the Golden Heart.
I wrote for eight years before selling, but I did receive The Call. And if I can do it, you can do it too.
Visit my website at http://dianegaston.com/. Enter my new contest, the Grand Finale in my Contest Countdown to The Vanishing Viscountess, on sale now on eHarlequin and millsandboon.co.uk . The Mills & Boon edition includes a special bonus book-- The Mysterious Miss M.
The Vanishing Viscountess will be in bookstores January 1.