The Call - Karen's StoryI think my call story is a bit different from the others you'll read here because when it came, I knew it was coming.
When I entered "The Old Fashioned Way" in the 2003 GH, it was my first major contest entry. The day I completed the manuscript I knew in my heart it would final. I sent it off to Dallas and a week later I mailed it to Stephanie Maurer at Silhouette. When I got the GH call I called Stephanie to let her know and to urge her to dig it out of the slush pile. I was so nervous during that call that I'm sure I sounded like a chipmunk on speed, but she understood what I was saying, congratulated me and said she'd take a look. Since I know that time at Harlequin/Silhouette moves about as fast as glacial flow, I didn't expect to hear back soon, so I waited...and waited. The Friday before I was to leave for the National conference I came home to a message from Stephanie that she'd read TOFW and liked it but thought it would be a better Silhouette Romance than a Desire (it's first incarnation). She wondered if I'd be willing to revise. Was she kidding????
I made a point to talk to her at National and she repeated her request for revisions and I immediately agreed. She said she'd get a revision letter out to me, and I waited some more.
In September Mavis Allen, then Senior Editor at Romance, attended a Super Saturday program of the Central Florida chapter of RWA and I got a chance to meet her there. It was funny, because although I knew my manuscript was on her desk, I was sure she didn't have any idea who I was. As the program began the officers were introduced and I had the opportunity to stand up and be recognized as the Treasurer. Then I was recognized as one of the members of the Super Saturday committee, then as a contest judge, then as a contest finalist. Then we went around the room and everyone introduced themselves and told what they were working on. When my turn came I was laughing and so was Mavis, so by the time I had my five-minute appointment (which turned into a twenty-minute appointment) she had a good idea of my commitment to writing and (I hope) knew I could be counted on to do the things I said I'd do, like revisions.
Not long after that my 16 1/2 year old diabetic kitty Thunder began to fail and she died on Thursday, October 2nd. One week later, on the 9th, as I was driving home from work I congratulated myself for making it through a whole week after the shock of her death and thinking how much things around the house had changed with her gone, as she was one of those fussy girls who ruled with an iron paw. My other cat Max seemed lost without her.
As I fed Max his dinner the phone rang. I looked at it and said, to no one in particular, "That's Stephanie Maurer." I picked up the phone, said hello and heard, "Hi, Karen, this is Stephanie Maurer at Silhouette." It was everything I could do not to say, "I know."
The particulars of the call are a little misty to me now. I mostly remember standing at the back door, looking into the woods behind my house where Thunder is buried and repeating, "We did it, little bug, we did it." That book is dedicated to some wonderful writing friends whose knack for saying the right things at the right time served me well, and to Thunder, my silent writing partner. Actually, she slept through most of our writing sessions, but I always appreciated her comfortable presence.
After I hung up the phone I screamed and danced and called everyone I knew (ohhh, the long distance bill...) and generally forgot to eat dinner, or go to bed on time or do anything else but chant, "I sold, I sold." I remember waking up several times during the night, smiling. TOFW was published as "Daddy in Waiting" in June, 2005.
Like most first times, getting "the call" was unforgetable, even though it wasn't a surprise.