Thursday, January 18, 2007

Writers' Wednesday with Claire Baxter

Our latest newbie is Australian author Claire Baxter, whose very first book, FALLING FOR THE FRENCHMAN, is out now with Silhouette Romance! Give her a big Pink Heart Society welcome!!!

About Claire

As a child growing up in Warwickshire, England, almost within a stone’s throw of George Eliot’s birthplace, Claire dreamed of becoming an author but didn’t attempt to achieve that dream until well after she’d settled in Adelaide, South Australia, with her husband and two sons, and had switched career paths a few times.

The road to publication

I took a break from my work in corporate communications at the end of July 2003 with two goals: to finish my degree in journalism and, more importantly, to achieve my dream of writing a romance novel.

I’d always loved reading mainstream romance but until this point had never read a category romance. When I discovered that Mills and Boon would take submissions from unagented authors, I rushed off to the library and grabbed an armful of category books.

I wrote three manuscripts while trying to work out which line I liked best and find my voice. Gradually, my research reading narrowed to the Mills and Boon Tender (now Romance) line and I became a firm fan of these books. I couldn’t believe I’d missed out on reading them for so long. I still get excited when I open a new one and the fact that I now know many of the authors is an added thrill.

Around this time, my husband and I had a romantic weekend away in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, to celebrate a wedding anniversary, and I had an idea for a book which revolved around the takeover of a small winery by a multinational conglomerate.

By the time I’d finished this - my fourth - manuscript in 2004, I’d joined Romance Writers of Australia and had learned that it’s a good idea to put a book aside for a while before sending it off. So I did, and carried on writing. Mid-2005, I’d finished another book and decided to enter it in a contest for feedback. I chose the ‘Where the Magic Begins’ contest which offered electronic entry and then remembered the ‘wine book’. I pulled it out, did a rapid edit and entered it in the same contest.

When I went to the 2005 Romance Writers of Australia conference in Melbourne, I was lucky enough to have an editor pitch appointment with Kimberly Young (Mills and Boon). After reading the guidelines for the new Romance line, I chose to pitch the ‘wine book’ and Kimberly requested a partial which I sent off in September 2005.

In October 2005, I heard that the same book had won its category in the ‘Where the Magic Begins’ contest and the full manuscript had been requested by Bryony Green (Mills and Boon). I sent off the full, hoping that this wouldn’t count as a multiple submission and result in a black mark against me. When I received a request for the full manuscript based on the partial I’d sent, I wrote back that it was already there and decided the editors in the London office would be so cross with me, they’d throw it straight in the bin.

Looking back, I was incredibly calm at this stage. I’d heard of so many people reaching the ‘request for full’ stage and not making it any further that I had no real expectation of a sale. I hoped I might get a detailed rejection letter or, if very lucky, a request for revisions, so it came as a huge surprise when I received The Call on 24th February 2006 from Meg Sleightholme at Mills and Boon, saying that they wanted to buy my book for the Romance line.

I was stunned. About an hour after the phone call, when the enormity of it sank in, I started to shake and didn’t stop till I finally fell asleep. Nearly a year later, with my first book out there and another one accepted, I still find it hard to believe this actually happened to me. Talk about a dream come true!

Claire's first book, FALLING FOR THE FRENCHMAN is out now through Silhouette Romance.

For more about this and upcoming books, check out her website.

17 comments:

  1. Claire, what a great call story. I can't wait to read your first book. And that cover does it proud. Wow!

    Of course, if anyone wants to try and win a copy of your book, Annie West is having a terrific Valentine's Day contest on her website where there are a few new author books being given away, including yours, mine, Tessa Radley, Yvonne Lindsay, Fiona Lowe, Kelly Hunter. And Anna Campbell is giving away a cover flat of her first book.

    Here's to many more sales for you.

    Maxine
    "Australian Millionaires"
    "The Millionaire's Seductive Revenge"
    Silhouette Desire Feb 07 (USA) Jun 07 (ANZ)

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  2. Claire, your book is fantastic and I loved reading your story!!

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  3. Thanks, Maxine. I do love my cover - I think it's so sweet.

    It's an exciting contest we're involved in, isn't it? I'd encourage new writers to go to Annie West's website and enter because there's a chance of winning books by seven of Harlequin's newest authors.

    Claire

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  4. Thanks, 2paw!! I'm so glad you liked the book and I appreciate your comment on my story.

    Claire

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  5. Claire, congratulations on your success. I can't wait to read your book. I wish I was eligible to enter Annie West's contest - actually, while we're on that subject, EVERYBODY who wins a book in that contest gets a coverflat. So that's seven books going out accompanied by seven coverflats for CLAIMING THE COURTESAN. I could hardly pick and choose, could I? Anyway, back to Claire - that's a lovely photo of you too. It's been a great 12 months for Aussie and NZ authors, hasn't it?

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  6. Hi Anna! Thanks for the congrats. I think the photo's a bit too close-up, actually. I'll have to get a more distant one taken (with fewer lines visible).

    You're being very generous with your beautiful coverflats, and I'm sure the winners will love them.

    Claire

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  7. What a great story! I love hearing 'call' stories because they're all so different in how they happen, but you can 'feel' the determination to be published throughout them all.

    Gives us all hope!

    Nicolette x (Awaiting comment/revisions/rewrite/call from her full submission to M&B!)

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  8. Thanks, Nicolette. Good luck with your full submission!

    Claire

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  9. Great story Claire! Here's to your frenchman!
    x Abby Green

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  10. MEGA Congratulations Claire! Your book arrived this week, and is now sitting on my TBR pile.

    Sue :-)

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  11. Thanks, Abby!

    Congratulations on the success of your book launch party. I'm planning one myself for my Australian release date. Wonder if Trish would like to rove all the way to Adelaide?

    Claire

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  12. Thanks, Sue!

    Thanks for buying the book too. Oh, boy, I hope you enjoy it.

    Claire

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  13. Gosh, that's such a pretty cover, Claire.

    I think the contest will be a heap of fun.

    Tessa

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  14. Congrats, Claire! Lovely cover. I wish you the best with your writing career.

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  15. A big welcome Claire. Congrats and best wishes.

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  16. Thanks for giving us a sneak peek into your "call" Claire!!!

    It's so mean that here in Aus we have to wait two whole months before your book comes out!!!

    I for one can't wait.

    Congrats on your second sale, and enjoy every second of your book being 'out there'.

    Ally

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  17. Thanks, Tessa, Melissa, Robyn and Ally!

    Claire

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