The Call--Terry's storyI never answer the phone when my husband is home, because it's rarely for me. One exception was a call I received in March of 2003. My husband handed me the receiver, and the moment I heard "RWA," I realized I'd finaled in the Golden Heart. I was stunned, absolutely dazed with joy, and certain that everyone I met would know, just by looking at me, how that call had changed my life. I was on my way--surely a sale was right around the corner. I met several new friends who were making their first sales, and I was certain I'd soon become published, too, by some sort of osmosis.
The third time I received a Golden Heart call, I felt more relief than delight. And as the final round judging deadline passed that year, discouragement set in. I sat down one afternoon before the annual Romance Writers of America conference with all my rejection letters and read them, one after the other, trying to figure out what was preventing me from selling. I decided I had a long, tough road ahead, because the manuscripts I'd written weren't going anywhere. I held the proof in my hands, letters like those about Learning Curve, my current Golden Heart finalist: it would "never sell" because "no one wants to read a book about high school teachers."
A few days later I was dashing around in a panic, my mind filled with dozens of details as I packed for a complicated trip that would begin with our son's wedding in Oregon and end with the writers' conference in Reno. I still had to collect some cookies at the bakery before it closed, pick up the dry cleaning, hem my mother-of-the-groom dress--dozens of things, all needing to be done within the next few hours. I turned on the shower, stripped, and was about to step in when the phone rang. I was tempted to ignore the call--I had to get those cookies!--but it might have been my husband adding another wedding-related item to my list of errands.
It wasn't my husband. It was someone named Laura, from Harlequin, who told me how much she'd enjoyed reading my Golden Heart entry. I thanked the pleasant woman for calling, wondering why in the world someone from Harlequin would phone just to tell me...
My Golden Heart finalist. A final round judge. From Harlequin. An editor.
Oh. My. Gosh.
I was standing there, naked, and all the hot water was disappearing down the drain, and I HAD TO GET THOSE COOKIES BEFORE THE BAKERY CLOSED! But I figured if I skipped blow-drying my hair, I could ask her to repeat herself.
And since she wanted to buy Learning Curve, I decided I could take a cold shower and break several speed limits on the way to the bakery.
My story has a happy ending, just like all the stories I write. Learning Curve, my first book for Harlequin Superromance, appeared on bookstore shelves ten months after that magic phone call.
And I got the cookies, too.
Wishing you warm and wonderful times during this special season--