Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Writer's Wednesday - The Call with Sandra Hyatt!


There is nothing we like more at the PHS than call stories, so here's debut author Sandra Hyatt with hers! Congratulations on the release of your first book, Sandra!

This is a pretty special time of year for me because not only is my very first book, Having The Billionaire's Baby, a Silhouette Desire release, now officially on the shelves (as of yesterday), it's also one year on from when I sold that book.

As we 'speak' the national Romance Writers of America conference is getting underway in Washington DC (and wouldn't I much rather be there than here in my little office). However, last year I was lucky enough to go to the conference in San Francisco.

I started that conference as an unpublished writer who had been writing for ten years. I had many, many rejections under my belt and a few close calls but not THE call. I had no idea how long it was going to take to get published, all I knew was that I would keep writing and keep submitting until I did.

By the end of that conference I had sold!

How did it happen? Certainly not the way I expected. A little over a month earlier I had won a full-manuscript critique from a Desire Authors' Blog. Desire wasn't actually the line I was targeting, I loved the books but didn't think that was where my voice would fit. However I'd posted a comment on the blog and won the critique by then editor of the line, Melissa Jeglinski. It was too good a chance to pass up. I duly sent off my manuscript with a cover note explaining that it wasn't a Desire but I'd still very much appreciate any feedback she could give me.

Those of you who've tried submitting manuscripts to publishers will know that this is a business that can be, and often is, grindingly slow, so I wasn't expecting my 'critique' to come for months.

Now, as it happened, I was rooming at the conference with the fabulous Desire author and good friend Tessa Radley. That morning she happened to be in email contact with Diana Ventimiglia and mentioned that she was rooming with me. Diana told her she wanted to speak to me and could she phone our room?

I don't know if you can imagine the panic I went into. On the one hand I had Tessa there saying (as she jumped up and down) that the only reason Diana would want to speak to me in person was if she wanted to buy my manuscript. And on the other hand I was thinking Diana didn't even have my book (I'd completely forgotten about the critique, which was never supposed to result in a sale), and when I remembered, thought it was far too soon, and well, I'd been disappointed so many times in the past that I was frightened to get my hopes up.

After several excruciating minutes in which I alternated between pacing the room and sitting on the bed with my head in my hands, the phone rang. And yes, it was Diana, and YES she did want to buy my manuscript. I didn't tell her then and there that I loved her—but I was thinking it!

My wonderful friends and critique partners, Superromance authors Abby Gaines and Karina Bliss were in the room next door and quickly came in and added substantially to the noise level in the room. The rest of the day, in fact the rest of the conference passed in a blur (probably I needed someone to slap me).

I had sold. I had FINALLY sold. It took forever for that news to truly sink in and for me to truly believe that it really had happened, and no one could take it away from me. In fact I don't think I lost the last tiny shred of doubt until I first held a printed book with my name on the cover in my own two hands, about six weeks ago. And it's oh so strange to think that people everywhere can now also read what started as an idea in my head.
Sandra's debut Silhouette Desire, HAVING THE BILLIONAIRE'S BABY, is in stores NOW!

18 comments:

  1. It doesn't matter how many times I hear about or read your call story - I love it! Congrats on your book hitting shelves around the world, I look forward to reading it.

    Soraya

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  2. Thanks Soraya - I never get tired of retelling it either. I'm looking forward to the day when I can hear yours.

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  3. Love the story, Sandra. What a fabulous way to get the call with your friends and CPs all there. Congratulations! Can't wait to read the book. :-)

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  4. Hi Jackie - having my writing friends there, who knew all about the ups and downs, because they'd been there through them, was absolutely the best way imaginable for me to get the call.

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  5. Michelle - aren't call stories fabulous. I've never heard or read one that didn't give me happy goose bumps.

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  6. Sandra, that was one of my favourite experiences, being there to share the thrill of your Call. As someone said to me when I sold "May it be the first of many, may your prose be viewed mighteier than Shakespesare, your wit brighter than Oscar Wilde and your pay cheque greater than JK Rowling."

    Karina
    www.karinabliss.com

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  7. Oops, I copied and pasted that. Turns out they weren't a speller!
    Karina

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  8. Congrats, Sandra, and what a lovely story!

    But you still have lots of wonderful moments to come as an author. And the best bit: with every book, you still get the same thrill. Enjoy :o)

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  9. Thanks Karina - don't care about the spelling, but will happily take a pay cheque anywhere close to JK Rowlings! Heck, they can even knock off a zero or two and I'd be happy.

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  10. Kate - in some respects I think I got more enjoyment from my second sale. There wasn't quite so much disbelief and shock.

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  11. WOW! What a great call story. Well done you. It must (and will) make the hours of bum on seat worthwhile! Take care. Caroline x

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  13. I removed my above post because I'd hit the send button way too soon and thought all the spelling mistakes were a bad look!

    But I'd meant to say - Thanks Caroline, it most definitely makes the hours spent in front of my computer worthwhile.

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  14. What a wonderful way to find out you'd sold!

    Congratulations, Sandra, and don't forget to celebrate every new sale -- they're worth it!

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  15. Thanks Michelle - it was wonderful and I try to make sure I celebrate the successes. Hoping I have lots more :)

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  16. Sandra!
    I love your call story! It brought tears to my eyes. I can't wait to read your book!

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