Colleen~In Which Playing Hookey Pays OffI'd been writing for forever. (I don't even want to admit how many years. 'Nuff said.)
Eight completed manuscripts.
I'd been agented by a well-known, reputable NY agent for two years. She'd shopped around three manuscripts of mine, all of which had been rejected.
I remember going to a critique group meeting in mid-September 2005, and just unloading on my critique partners about how if this latest (ninth) manuscript (which my agent was just getting ready to send out) didn't sell, I didn't know what I was going to do. I was out of ideas. I had nothing I wanted to write about. I was going to think about quitting.
That was something I'd never, ever considered: quitting. See, I wrote for myself as much as I wrote for potential publication. But I'd had it. I really had nothing else to write about. I was burned out.
So, the very last week in September 2005, I had to go to Columbus, Ohio, for a sort of training session. I was doing some contract work for a company based in Columbus, and they'd wanted me to go and get a little more oriented to their products, and so I was taking a class for a whole week.
I arrived Sunday night, and wouldn't be leaving to drive home (four hours) until Friday.
It was a very structured program: you were in class all morning, broke for a quick on-site lunch, and then back to class until 5:30 or 6. Cell phones (purposely, I'm sure) didn't work in the conference area. So we were pretty much tied up all day.
Monday night, I hung out at the bar with some of the others in my class, and we were doing the things you do when you're at a week-long session away from home: eating, drinking, shooting the breeze, etc. The bar tab was wide open, so we all indulged.
I got up the next morning and went to class, slightly sleepy and exhausted from not having slept well in my hotel bed, but present, nevertheless. I never miss those classes.
Tuesday, we were again hanging out in the bar here at the
hotel/conference center, and the bar tab was open, so we were drinking
beer and then someone started ordering shots...
...and I know better than to mix drinks, but I did. So by the time I
got back to my room, I was feeling it quite a bit.
Now, I'm Miss Goody Two Shoes, and I never miss classes like this, or
training sessions. No matter how late I am out or how much of a good
time I have, I always make sure I can get up and go in the morning.
Well, Tuesday night, as I fell into bed, I said, "Screw it. I'm sleeping
in tomorrow." It wasn't like they could fire me or discipline me or
anything if I don't get up and go on time since I was really just there voluntarily, and as a contract employee.
BUT, nevertheless, I woke up at 7:15, which gave me plenty of time to shower and dress and be down by 8, when class started.
But by the time I got out of the shower, I decided I didn't want to go. I was going back to bed. So I did. And I'm really glad I did....
I woke up at 9:45, got up and decided to get dressed and go down...not to hurry or anything, but I would go.
So I get dressed, and I'm just getting ready to go out the door when my cell phone rings.
I look at the number. It's a 212 number. New Effing York.
I don't know anyone in NYC. Except....OMG.
My heart stops. I answer the phone...and it's my agent.
She's chatty--"Hi Colleen, how are you, yada yada."
"I'm fine. How are you?"
Why is she calling me? She never calls me. But she doesn't sound like anything's up. Maybe she has a question for me.
Then she says, "Are you sitting down?"
I sit. Like a rock. "I am now."
"Claire Zion, NAL. Two books. XX dollars."
I'm freaking out. SHE SOLD MY BOOK!!!!
My Buffy in Regency England (now titled The Rest Falls Away) in a two-book deal.
AND I HAD TO GO BACK TO CLASS AND SIT THERE FOR THE REST OF THE DAY UNTIL 5 PM!!!!!!!!!!!
And here's the thing. If I'd been a Good Girl and gone to class...I'd've missed her call. And then I would have tried to call her back on my lunch break, and would have missed her again. And then she would have tried to call me back and I'd have been in class until 6...and, well, you can only imagine how it would have gone down.
So I was really glad I'd played hookey that morning. For the first time ever.
And, incidentally, that was one of the longest days of my life...but I sat in that classroom with the biggest damned smile on my face. And tried to concentrate on all kinds of boring financial products. (They'd been interesting until that morning.)
The biggest bummer was that I didn't have anyone to celebrate with! The people in the class all wanted to know why I was late coming down (they thought I was hung-over. HAH!), and I explained...but unless you're a writer, trying to get published...or have gotten The Call...you just don't really understand.
So I had to wait for two more days until I got home and could celebrate with my friends and family in person. However, while I was in Columbus, I was still able to make the announcement on the Wet Noodle Posse loop, and all of my Noodler sisters celebrated so loudly with me, I was sure the screams could be heard from all over the world!
That was a two-book deal for the Gardella Vampire Chronicles, and less than a year later, I got another two-book deal for books three and four. I recently closed the deal for the fifth and final book in the series about Victoria Gardella Grantworth, a vampire hunter in Regency England...and then who knows what will be next!
The first book in the series, The Rest Falls Away, was released almost a year ago--January 2007. The second book, Rises the Night, came out in June, and the third one, The Bleeding Dusk, will be released in February.