Wednesday, January 13, 2010
First Things First: The Call
Midmorning August 28, 2009…
The tattered remains of a marshmallow bag lay empty and trapped beneath the leg of a chair. Dry cereal formed drifts across the carpet. The plaster shook from the force of my sugar-jacked children bouncing off the walls above.
Pleasantly detached from the widespread devastation surrounding me, I flopped back against the couch. Savored the cramp in my cheek from a smile I couldn’t quite shake and the lingering buzz of adrenaline firing through my veins.
What kind of woman, mother, wife, and homemaker-non-extraordinaire could possibly smile in the wake of such chaos, you ask?
The kind adding “published author” to her list of titles. The Call had come.
The morning began routinely enough. I’d woken from sweet dreams—the usual fare of contracts and covers featuring hunky millionaires poised for the make-out with their sexy counterparts—and staggered, bleary eyed, down to the computer to face my “daily disappointment”. The checking of the inbox for that ever-elusive London based email, scheduling a time to talk. That morning, like so many before, it hadn’t come.
I consoled myself with coffee and the potential of tomorrow. Reminded myself how far I’d come.
My journey—wonderful and terrifying, full of challenges and lessons to be learned—began back in February ’08 with the Instant Seduction Contest when one of my two entries earned a request for a full manuscript. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the entry I’d picked to keep working on.
Cue the screeching brakes! Did I have my work cut out for me!!
I dove right in. Writing in every spare minute I could scrape together. Abusing my critique partners and neglecting the dust bunnies breeding beneath the couch. Finally I finished the story and sent it off with that magical free pass out of the slush pile.
And then I waited. Began another project. Kept writing, because that’s what writers do. And waited some more until one day I got an email…scheduling a call.
The editor I spoke to liked my voice, but the story wasn’t quite right. Did I have anything else on hand to send?
I did…but…I hadn’t written it for Modern Heat/Presents. Mmhmm, that’s right—I tried to talk her out of requesting it! She laughed and suggested I send it anyway to give her an idea of where my natural voice fit best.
I sent it off. And guess what, they liked it! It didn’t fit the line exactly and needed major revisions. But finally I had an editor giving me that long sought after direction I’d been so desperate for!
I eagerly tackled the challenge. After much hard work, determination, and dust bunny neglect, I sent the revised manuscript back and waited some more.
Every day waking with the fresh hope that maybe today…
It was 8:34 am when the phone rang. Half the cereal was poured. I picked up the line and heard that lovely British accent. My heart stopped. This was an unscheduled call. I tried to regain my cool, but it was completely out of reach.
I shoved the open box of Cheerios at my eight year old, and dashed to my office.
“Just tell me,” I gasped, my breath coming short. “Whatever it is,” I promised, bracing for the letdown of all letdowns, “I can handle it.”
Professional, I know. I should offer a workshop. Fortunately, the editor on the other end of the line had a good sense of humor and a merciful nature.
“We’d like to offer you a contract.”
It was the shrieking that brought the kids flocking with a thousand questions at once. Desperate, I dashed for the pantry and grabbed the most effective child diversion I could lay hands on—marshmallows—and threw them at my pint-sized pack of harpies. It worked.
Twenty minutes later the call was through. I had a May 2010 UK release date, an idea of what to expect over the next year, and four kids blowing through my living room like F5 tornados as they hit their sugar high. I’d pay for the marshmallows for sure.
But as I collapsed into the couch, my smile stretching to epic proportions, I knew it was worth it. All of it. Everything from that first near blinding anxiety of hitting the send button on my contest entries, to the waiting, the monumental revisions, and even the heartbreaking explanation of why that first book just wasn’t right. It had led me here. To this moment of utter bliss. I’d actually done it!
I’ll be back each month sharing the experiences of my first year as a published author. See you around!
Mira Lyn Kelly
Come back next month for FIRST THINGS FIRST as we follow Mira's journey through the first year after The Call!
**WILD FLING OR A WEDDING RING will be available May 2010 in the UK and in June 2010 in the US!