Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Writer's Wednesday - THE CALL with Kimberly Lang
A HUGE welcome to new Presents/Modern Heat/Sexy Sensation author, Kimberly Lang, with her very new, very fresh, very exciting CALL STORY! (We love call stories. Yup we do. For those of us published, it brings back all those feelings of excitement and surrealness...and for those of us just not quite there...well, it gives us hope!) And Kim's story is a great one!
Welcome to the Pink Heart Society Kim!
I’m Kimberly Lang, and I’m so excited to be here. I just got my “Call” twelve days ago, so everything still has that surreal, golden tint—including my invite to blog today. In fact, I’m still waiting for the “Call” that says, “Whoops! We thought you were someone else. Keep trying, but don’t quit your day job, honey.”
As you may be able to tell from my salutation, I’m a Southern girl. Born and bred south of the Mason-Dixon Line, raised on grits and sweet iced tea, I live in beautiful north Alabama, and yes, I probably sound exactly like you think I do when I talk.
But, our interesting pronunciation (and spelling) of the English language aside, Southerners pride themselves on being good storytellers. I come from a long line of storytellers—my uncles and cousins are masters—and Southern writers like Mark Twain, Clyde Edgerton, and Eudora Welty have always been heroes of mine.
So how’d I end up selling to Mills and Boon? Well, there’s a story behind that…
I started reading romance in junior high. I got hold of my mom’s copy of Skye O’Malley, and I never looked back. Big, fat historicals from Bertrice Small, Julie Garwood. Judith McNaught, and Johanna Lindsey were my after school (and sometimes during school) reading. In college, I started reading the shorter contemporary category novels—they were short enough that I could devour them during study breaks.
That was about the time I started threatening to write a romance. I say “threaten” because I’d talk about it, think about, say I’d do it “one day,” but I never got around to actually putting my butt in the chair and doing it. I made a baby step in 2002 by going to a local writer’s conference and another in 2003 when I joined RWA, but it wasn’t until late 2004 when I joined my local chapter and started hanging out with other writers that I finally committed myself to writing and *finishing* a manuscript. BEST LAID PLANS was that manuscript.
(Now, don’t hate me on principle because I sold my first manuscript—BEST LAID PLANS was subbed, rejected, rewritten, rejected, retitled, reworked, resubbed, and finally rewritten again before it found a home with M&B.)
I first queried M&B last summer, and was surprised to get a request for the full just ten days later. We were celebrating the first sale of one of my friends the day the letter came, and we decided it was a good omen. I was headed to Scotland in four day’s time to visit the in-laws, so I gave the book a quick polish, printed it out and took it on the airplane with me. (Mailing a full from the US is expensive—I saved quite a bit of money by carrying it in my hand baggage, even if the customs officers looked at me strangely!)
(And, yes, my husband is Scottish. But that’s a whole ‘nuther story…)
It took six months for the letter to come—and it was three pages long! Now, normally three pages of revision notes telling me to basically rewrite everything after about, oh, page 50, would be a bit daunting, but the opening line of “We love your voice” gave me hope.
Of course, life wouldn’t stop because I had revisions to do, so it took me almost ten weeks to get them done and sent off. But it was well worth it. Aside from the fact that I had a much better book (and I learned tons from the process), I got an email just two days later asking for a couple of tweaks. And she asked for my phone number. (Silly me had forgotten to include it. Sigh.)
Here’s where the story takes a typical Kimberly twist. The next morning (Friday, May 2, 2008, at 8.46 a.m.—not that I’ve made a note of it or anything), I was on my cell phone with my friend (and Blaze author) Rhonda Nelson, obsessing over the meaning of the word “tweak.” She was doing her best to calm me down and convince me that “tweak” didn’t mean anything different in editor-speak when the house phone rang. I checked the caller ID, didn’t recognize the number, figured it was a telemarketer, and let the machine get it. But then the “telemarketer” left a message. Curious, but too lazy to go all the way downstairs to see who it was, I punched the phone number into Google—while still talking to Rhonda. When Google brought back Mills and Boon as the result, my heart stopped. I ran downstairs to retrieve the message—holding the phone so Rhonda could listen as well—to hear my editor say she’d try back in about an hour and a half or so.
THE LONGEST HOUR OF MY LIFE. I’ve never stared so hard at a telephone willing it to ring. I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high, but then why else would anyone in the London office be calling me? Finally, eighty-four minutes later, I heard the words I’d been waiting for.
And, yes, I did cry a little.
The rest of the day is a blur of phone calls, happy dances around the living room, and much champagne. By midnight, I was worried I’d dreamed the whole thing and would have a whole lot of explaining to do to all the folks I’d worked up over nothing. But it’s true! It really happened! I sold a book! I can’t quit using exclamation points when I talk about it!
I’m still so new that I don’t have any details beyond “they want to buy my book,” but I’m tickled pink to be a part of the M&B family. Everyone has been so wonderful in welcoming me into the fold. Word of my sale spread quickly, and by Monday afternoon, the Modern authors were emailing congratulations and making me feel at home. What a fabulous group, and I’m so proud to be part of it!
Congratulations Kim! Keep the bubbly glasses handy to celebrate all the wonderful milestones coming your way!