THE JOURNEY TO THE CALL...
My second child refused to sleep for more than two hours at a time and I desperately needed something to keep me sane. I discovered the Nanowrimo book in my local library in May 2005. Great! I thought. I'll write a novel... but what? Then I remembered all those fun days as a teen reading my Grandma's Mills & Boons. I still have her collection - it's fabulous. What's more fun than romance?
So I went to the local second hand bookstore and bought a stash, discovered eHarlequin and was soon addicted to the daily online reads (I still am, my writing day doesn't start until I've had the latest instalment). I saw there was a new line - Modern Extra - looking for twenty-something, glamourous, urbanite heroines. Hey - that's me isn't it?? (Yeah right, we're supposed to have good imaginations aren't we?). Anyway, I wrote one in June, then another and another - finding myself utterly addicted to the thrill of novelling. Eventually I bit the bullet and polished up the partial of one and sent it to Mills & Boon in
But then it happened.
When I was about 30 weeks an email appeared from M&B – "we like your style but…" – a five page revisions request! As I was pretty much on bed rest I thought this would be fun. I mean, it was an awesome opportunity and I was thrilled. After my preschoolers went to bed, I sat in the recliner chair, keyboard on lap, and went for it, deleting 20,000 words, rewriting them and whole swags of the remainder. Two weeks later I sent the revised book and tried to forget about it. A fortnight after that I stood up and my waters broke everywhere. I was very upset because I was only 34 weeks along and knew a stint in the neo-natal unit was inevitable. We went to hospital. A quick scan revealed the twins were transverse so we were straight into theatre for an emergency c-section. The girls were taken to intensive care – I didn’t see them until about five hours later.
My husband eventually went home about 3 in the morning and I was alone in a room a floor above the babies - and not thinking about the book at all funnily enough. But the next morning hubby came in with an email from M&B that had arrived pretty much the exact time I was on the operating table. They liked the revisions I'd done, but wanted more. They even mentioned a possible slot for publication but - and this bit was in the last line - I’d have to do the revisions in a WEEK to make that!
So there I was, hooked up to an IV, the twins in ICU, with the writing opportunity of a lifetime. My husband looked at me, and said ‘nothing is impossible’. He borrowed a laptop and said to get on with it. He felt it would stop me ‘mooning over the incubators’. And I had nothing to lose. I was up every two hours expressing, unable to truly do much for the babies for the first couple of days... why not give this a go? So I thought about it. And thought some more. And typed little bits.
After five days I was discharged from hospital but the girls were still in the unit. So at home, with my breastpump for company, I pulled two all-nighters and did my best with the book. During the day I took the printout to the hospital with me and read it over while the girls were sleeping. I sent the manuscript the following Friday - exactly a week later.
The next Monday evening I was tucked up in bed and the phone went. I answered right away, heard the English accent and I knew. That didn't stop the shakes though. And then - well you can never have a life-altering moment without some suitably atmospheric weather - it started hosing with rain and I could hardly hear her on the phone because the noise on our tin roof was so loud.
I remember feeling really stunned, and I still kind of am. It was such a crazy time. I think I shocked her a bit because I told her about the twins and doing the revisions in hospital. And then all I really latched on to was the fact they were offering a two book contract and OMG I was going to have to write another book and when would they want it by and how was I going to manage that with these two new precious babies??? I really didn't stop to savour the moment. All I could think about was what I was going to have to do next.
That's kind of the story of my life at the moment. It is very busy and I run from baby to baby and toddler to preschooler and think about my lovely twenty-something flirty heroes in between. Seven months have gone by since that fateful night and I still can't believe I now have two babies in my arms and a book that I wrote in the bookshop!
Life is pretty wonderful.
Natalie would love for you to visit her website at http://www.natalie-anderson.com