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!
How do I know? Take a look at some of the search terms people have used recently to get to my blog:
only fear (the mindhunters). Okay, that one’s not so strange. “Only Fear” author Anne Marie Becker and I live near each other, belong to the same RWA chapter (NARWA) and sit down to write together at least once a week. I don’t read a lot romantic suspense, preferring to stick to contemporary romantic comedy and certain historicals — but I read (and loved) Anne Marie’s debut, and blogged about it.
arlene hittle. Also not weird. I’d be more upset if my name didn’t drive folks to my site.
fotune+cookie+love+panda. Huh? Just because I wrote a post about the fortune I got from a cookie at Panda Express?
copy editors need to have a dirty mind. This is one of my favorites. It harkens back to this post about my experiences as a copy editor. Really, where else but a college newsroom would you have a five-minute discussion on how to describe the new “no parking” signs on campus? You can’t say they were “mounted.” “Erected” is also out.
What did we decide? Give me a break. You expect me to remember the resolution of a conversation that happened two decades ago?
Mr Happy story ideas. Not a recent search term, but I still crack up every time I think about this one. After I blogged about heroes who have names for that certain special part of their anatomy, someone got to my blog via that search.
Hmm. Maybe I should aim to become the author readers put on auto-buy just to see what pet name comes up next …
Over on my weight-loss blog, I blogged in February 2012 about how I asked for Reese Witherspoon’s sideswept bangs at the salon. To this day, I still get traffic related to Reese Witherspoon searches. (Top search terms include “reese witherspoon haircuts,” “reese witherspoon weight gain 2012″ and “reese side swept bangs.”)
Strange but true!