Four days after signing a contract for DIVA IN THE DUGOUT, I’m still riding the high that comes with a first sale. But in the quieter moments (read: when I’m not jumping like a maniac and talking 3,000 miles a minute), I find myself wondering: What just happened here?
Yes, I’ve been working hard — writing new stuff, revising stories that still need help and, perhaps most importantly, opening myself up for rejection by putting my babies out there.
I’d also decided — not so long ago — to take the plunge into indie publishing. I signed up for a self-publishing class online. I hired a web designer and started working with a cover artist. I lined up an editor for HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS and sent OPERATION SNAG
MIKE BRAD out to several readers.
Of course, I hadn’t completely given up on a more traditional path. After all, so many folks these days are doing both. Last Monday, I entered Bree and Mike’s story, OVEREXPOSED, in the Golden Pen. The goal was to get feedback to better prep the entry for GH2014. (I wasn’t satisfied with its 2013 scores, even though it landed in the top quarter. I wanted another GH final under my belt.)
But I no longer hung all my hopes on landing an agent/finaling in a contest/selling my book to a publisher. I opted to take my career into my own hands.
Funny how life works, isn’t it? My book deal found me only after I stopped looking for it.
The day after I entered the Golden Pen, I got the email from Turquoise Morning Press; on Thursday, I inked the deal. (I believe that makes me ineligible for the next Golden Heart competition. Correct me if I’m wrong, please. I hate to have wasted an entry fee.)
Did anyone get the license plate number of whatever sent me spinning in a completely different direction?
Is it simply that, as Depeche Mode says, “God has a sick sense of humor”? Or is something else at work?
They — whoever “they” are — say that love finds you when you least expect it. Does the same principle apply to book deals?
Or maybe there’s something to visualization, to the principle of “acting as if.” That’s what these cards I found at Target the other day seem to suggest.
I also have some personal experience with visualization.
After chatting with me about my goals, Jenn emailed me this paragraph for me to consider:
I see a woman who is confident. She is glowing with happiness, she is vibrant. I see a woman who is fit, she is active, she enjoys the outdoors with her dogs and she practices regular yoga. She is lighter, she may even be at her goal weight! I see a woman who enjoys food. Food has lost it’s power over her. She is excited about her future as a writer. She is independent and she believes in herself. I see a woman who is a writing finalist, carrying a new MacBook. I see a woman who is a traveler. She is surrounded by people who love and support her, and she is connected with her family.
As best I could, I took our vision to heart and acted as if I’d already achieved the success I sought.
And guess what?
The fit, active yoga devotee is still mere pipe dream. Most days, I’d rather veg on the couch … or in a chair at Starbucks. The part about food losing its power over me hasn’t materialized yet, either, though I wish it would.
But the part about writing that I highlighted in purple? Spot-on.
I did become a Golden Heart finalist a few months later (and found out I’d won the Beacon on the very same day). I’ve also gotten not one but TWO new laptops since then. (Okay, the first one was reconditioned … but the current one is all mine. Never-been-owned, fresh out of the box — and I love it, even if I’ll be paying for it for a long, long time.)
While I can’t say for sure how big a role our visualization played in my success, it does make me wonder. Perhaps I should start imagining myself as a fit, active yoga lover who doesn’t let food control her.
It’s worth a shot, right?
The rules are simple:
Post 7 paragraphs or 7 sentences or 7 words. The choice is yours. It can be from a WIP or something you already have published. Your post should be live by 9 am US Pacific Time on Saturday. Put those lucky 7s to work for you!
Like I said, I’m going way, way back in my archives for this septuplet — back to DIVA’s roots. That’s right: These seven paragraphs kicked off the now-deleted first chapter of the story.
After my readers/CP insisted the chapter was really a prologue (it happened five years before the main story) and painted neither hero nor heroine likable enough, I dutifully chopped the scene that I loved. I still love that scene, which has some fantastic lines … but I know how to accept criticism. After a little — okay, a lot — of whining, I deleted the whole darn thing — and blogged about it.
I may have cut the scene from the MS, but I saved it with the hope that one day I could release it as an online extra — a “wanna see how it all began?” teaser. (File name: HowItAllBegan.doc.) That day hasn’t come — yet. But I can offer a tantalizing glimpse of what almost was.
The setup (directly from my query letter):
Melinda Cline was a rash, almost 20-year-old motormouth when her high-school sweetheart dumped her weeks before their wedding. She took solace in the arms of the first hottie she had the pleasure to meet, a sexy-as-sin ballplayer whose name she insisted she didn’t want to know.
Mel meets Dave Reynolds, shortstop for the semipro Arizona Condors, at her favorite watering hole, which she snuck into with a fake ID. These seven paragraphs were the original first seven.
* * *
When Melinda’s now-ex-fiance admonished her to grow up, she doubted playing tonsil hockey with a man old enough to be her father was what he’d had in mind.
The thought jarred Mel just enough to make her end the kiss. Through lowered lashes, she regarded the man whose lap she currently warmed. Saying he was her father’s age wasn’t fair. Old enough to be her slightly older brother, maybe. But definitely not her father.
She took stock of his lithe torso. Defined biceps. Warm, easy smile. Nope. No signs of middle age marring the perfection that was —
What was his name? Dan? Drew? Del? Dave? Why couldn’t she remember?
Who was she trying to kid? She didn’t want to remember. His name didn’t matter — not one whit. It was far more important that he was here, all too willing to distract her from the spectacle in the corner.
Her ex of just two weeks had the gall to be at her favorite bar, canoodling with a blonde who looked — well, old enough to be his mother. No wonder Bud told her to “grow up” if that was his type.
She cast a mutinous glance toward Bud’s corner. He wanted someone older than 19? She’d show him just how grown up she could be.
* * *
Hmm. Reading that now, I can see my readers’ point: Mel isn’t terribly likable here. Dave fares no better as the scene goes on. Perhaps I need to rethink releasing the deleted scene, one-liners or no.
Diva in the Dugout, coming soon from Turquoise Morning Press.
The Call, when it finally came, didn’t happen the way I expected it to. Does anyone’s?
Rather than arriving with the ring of my phone, my call happened on the click of a mouse.
I was sitting at my desk at work Tuesday night, killing time while I waited for our editor to finish with the stories I needed for the page I was laying out. “Killing time” = surfing the Net.
A new email in sat atop my Gmail inbox. The subject line, CATEGORY ROMANCE SUBMISSION — DIVA IN THE DUGOUT, didn’t faze me. Don’t ask me why I didn’t make the connection, but I didn’t. I thought it was confirmation from the Golden Pen category coordinator, since I’d just entered the GP on Monday.
Yeah. Tell me why that makes sense when I entered Bree and Mike’s story, OVEREXPOSED, in the GP’s single title category. Can you say “blonde moment”?
Then I opened the email and read this:
And immediately commenced squee-ing. I may or may not have burst the eardrums of my two coworkers who were sharing office space with me at 7 p.m. on a Tuesday. At the very least, I got their attention. Eric asked, “What? What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong. Someone wants to buy my book!”
More squealing and hyperventilating (all mine) ensued before I dashed off a quick affirmative response … and received an auto reply thanking me for my submission. Eep.
Some poking around the website offered up a different email address, so I responded to THAT one, too. This time, I got a response from a real person, TMP CEO/Publisher/Owner Kim Jacobs. Kim said that email address didn’t go to the acquisitions editor, but that she’d make sure it got passed along.
You can bet I didn’t get a whole lot done for the next hour or so. Being superstitious, I didn’t want to tell just anyone the news before it was official … only everyone I saw, could text or email. 😉
I sent a text to Anne Marie Becker, who reminded me that being our chapter president was good karma. (We both sold after taking the job.) Then I texted the Boyfriend, mentioned it on a few of the loops I’m a part of and emailed my CP, Jennifer Faye, and a few other folks.
Every time, I said, “It’s not official yet, but …” before filling them in.
But I knew it wouldn’t feel real until I got another response from the acquisitions editor, Shelley Rawe. Until I heard back again, I’d worry that first email was a mistake … or that they changed their minds.
After work, I went home and tried to get some sleep. Every time I woke up, I checked the email on my phone. Nothing when I woke up to pee at 6 a.m. Ditto at 8, when the puppy woke me with his whining/crying because he got crated. At around 9, I saw the response I’d been waiting for.
Since then, we’ve exchanged a flurry of emails (none of which bounced back an auto response). I’ve submitted my other Love & Baseball story, BEAUTY AND THE BALLPLAYER, for their consideration as well.
And I received and signed the contract.
My first contract. (I had to take a screen grab.)
May it be the first of many …
After receiving a copy of the signed contract, I hit all the social media sites: Facebook, Twitter … even Instagram (though I primarily use that account for my weight-loss blog). I also announced it here, at Chicklets in the Kitchen and my weight-loss blog. I’ve spent the hours since celebrating and basking in the congratulations that have been rolling in.
A part of me wishes I could have been at RWA Nationals. My coworkers have been great, but it’d be so much more fun to celebrate with fellow writers who really understand.
NARWA meets next week. I’ll save my party hat for them.
Finally, I can shout it to the world:
Turquoise Morning Press wants to publish DIVA IN THE DUGOUT!
I’ll sit down to blog about my call story soon, but I wanted to share the news as soon as I received the signed contract. (I’m superstitious that way — didn’t want to say anything until it was official.)
Until I write the next lines, enjoy this picture of me, ecstatic about my big news.
And know that I’m going to treat myself to a big-a$$ drink at Starbucks to celebrate. It’s not every day that I sell my first novel!