May 8, 2020
Eight years ago today, I got “The Call,” which means an editor–for me it was Megan Haslam at Harlequin Mills and Boon in London–called to offer me my first book contract.
It took twenty-five years to get that call so it was a pretty big deal when it happened. You can tell because I wrote it in ink. I only ever use pencil in my calendar.
That call changed my life, not that I realized then how much it would. On that day, all I thought was, “There. I’ve done it. I have achieved my long-held goal of selling a book to Harlequin Presents.”
One thing it gave me was the sense I could achieve anything if I was willing to stick with it. I’m confident I would be great at stand-up after I failed at at it for two and a half decades. Failure only means you’re trying. Make peace with it.
I was tired of failure, though. I was ready for a career.
I had wanted a career writing romance since high school, but I didn’t know what that would look like, that today I would have just turned in my fortieth Harlequin Presents, What the Greek’s Wife Needs, and have another eleven romances published under Tule’s Montana Born and seven under my own name.
I didn’t know I’d be working with an agent and, in some ways, feel as though I was back to square one because writing is hard and publishing is harder. #Protip – you can still get rejected even after you’ve sold nearly sixty books.
What I did know before The Call was that I would always write, whether anyone bought and read my books or not. Years of rejection had taught me that the value, for me, is in the actual writing.
Getting paid for writing is a combination of having the bravery to submit your work, the tenacity to do it again after a rejection, and a certain amount of dumb luck that puts the right project in front of the right editor at the right time.
What I’ve learned since The Call is that you still need all those things, especially tenacity. Writing the next story and the next is the way you turn a call into a career. You continue to learn and grow and take risks and pick yourself up after disappointments. It’s just that easy!
Except when it’s hard. Sometimes I think it would be a lot less stressful to pierce my eyebrow (I’m stereotyping) and become a barista. I’m not downplaying how hard they work. Making coffee for people who haven’t had their coffee is probably very stressful, but I’m saying that sounds less stressful than pouring my guts out on deadline then shoving my work into the world for strangers to choke on. #Protip – don’t read reviews. That way lies madness.
Even those rough days are amazing, though. This is a dream career that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
I owe a huge thank you to Megan Haslam, but also to every other editor and team member I’ve worked with at Harlequin Mills and Boon. Thank you also to the team at Tule, and the many authors I’ve met and collaborated (or commiserated) with over the years.
I’m grateful to my agent, Louise Fury, who is such a wonderful cheerleader and is helping me move forward into the next years of my career with more focus and less by-guess-and-by-golly.
I’m especially grateful to my family. They’re all incredibly supportive, especially my husband Doug who is like the guy who delivers the water for the cooler and gets stuck listening to the receptionist’s work-related gossip. His patience with me and the vagaries of this career I’ve chosen is profound.
Finally, I must thank you, Dear Reader, for buying my books and reading them. I can’t express how grateful I am to you for making my dream come true.
Read my Call story here. And read an excerpt from my very first sale, No Longer Forbidden? here.