Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Call Story: Sherri Shackelford

There's nothing Pink Heart likes more than a fabulous Call Story.  So let's welcome brand new Love Inspired Historical Author Sherri Shackelford.  Take it away Sherri!

My name is Sherri Shackelford, and my debut novel, Winning the Widow’s Heart, releases in June of 2012. I am so excited that the Pink Heart Society graciously offered to let me share a story from my path to publication.

Because I can’t do anything like a normal person, I had to get rejected and accepted, and then accepted by the rejecter on the same day.

Let me explain.

On August 2nd, I finally received 'the call.' An editor from Harlequin offered to buy my book for Love Inspired Historical. Sounds easy, right?

Only nothing is ever easy for me.

Earlier that day, at about 2:30, an agent called to say she had enjoyed the book, but felt there were one or two places that needed clarification before she'd consider representing me. Not the worst news-she was still interested in meeting with me, and she was still willing to look at the book again--or any other projects I was working on. She also said that an editor might consider purchasing the book ‘as is’, and if that happened, please call her back.

Of course, that was not the 'slam dunk' I was hoping for. I immediately emailed my critique group for sympathy, called my husband
 at work, (sorry honey), and had a little pity party. After about forty-five minutes of lying on back and staring at the ceiling, I decided that:

A.    I really needed to dust the ceiling fan. And
B.    That was about enough self-pity, and it was time to get back to work.

I picked up the sheet of paper with the notes I had taken while on the phone with the agent and jotted down my thoughts on how to incorporate her changes. She had pointed out things I was worried about, but hoping would slip by.

Then I get another call.

Also from New York.

All I can think of is, "Really. Is everybody going to call and turn me down today?" It was an editor from Harlequin. She began by saying she had my proposal, she really loved my voice, (at this point I'm rolling my hand forward and thinking, just say it:
 you're really close, but we're not interested at this time.) Instead she says, "We'd like to buy your book."

Now THAT I hadn’t expected.

She started explaining royalties, advances, copyrights. All I can think of is, "This can't be right." Meanwhile, the dog is barking at the invisible guest who arrives at the front door whenever I'm on an important phone call, my youngest son is tugging on my pant leg because he's hungry, and the washing machine is beeping. I finally mouthed a very animated, "Just a minute" to the children and closed myself in the powder room.

I flipped over the paper, balanced it on the edge of the sink, and frantically jotted down notes. At one point I repeated the name of the book and added some details--just to make sure she was talking to the right person. I mean, this must be a mistake, right? That's when the editor said, "This is all a little overwhelming. Do you want me to call back later?"


So that's when I finally realized I was going to be a published author.

While I was locked in the bathroom.

I know, you’re supposed to be coy, and make sure the other publisher who has your manuscript isn’t interested in your book also. But I’m pretty aware of my limitations as an author.  I had never even practiced ‘acceptance’ speeches. I’d always practiced gracious, non-teary, non-hysterical reactions to rejections.

The editor explained that she had one or two places where she wanted clarification, and that she would send the email later that day. She was looking at a June release date…Oh, and did I have an agent?


I hung up the phone and called the agent back. She answered. And she couldn’t have been more delighted for me.  We laughed together, and one of us cried a little bit. We discussed some negotiation details, and she hammered out a deal for me by the close of business day.

And that’s how I was rejected, accepted, and accepted by the rejecter all in the space of an hour. 

Winning the Widow's Heart is released in June by Harlequin Love Inspired Historicals.


  1. I forgot the most important part: Thank you to the Pink Heart Society for graciously hosting me!

  2. That's a great story, Sherri. I can't wait to read the book.

  3. But you're right; it's so typically you. lol You could've told the world you were at a champagne brunch or getting a pedicure when you got the call. Or a champagne brunch with a pedicure. Now that's glamorous.

    Hope you get to tell the story about when your first author copies arrived. Your life is just glitzy!

  4. Thank you for stopping by, Terry! Loved the pics of your book signing :)

  5. LOVE IT! I can't get your book on my reading list fast enough!

  6. Wonderful "backstory" for another book, to be sure. Congratulations, Sherri, on cracking the LIH nut! Cher must be a terrific crit partner. God bless...

  7. I am so excited for you and proud of you my beautiful friend!! And what a lovely story to keep us all moving forward. The chance is one in a million.'re saying there is a chance! Hugs!!

  8. And I can just see the kids and Pepper waiting outside the door, wondering what was wrong with mom. :)

    Someday, my friend, you're gonna realize how really great you are!

  9. *lizzie, the dog is always wondering what I'm doing...

  10. You always make me laugh and I have to echo what Lizzie said only LOUDER! "Someday you are going to realize how great you are. . .we already do!


  11. Ahhh, thanks Barb! I certainly haven't been feeling all that great lately...

  12. Sherri,
    Loved reading your "story"! The details were so vivid I felt I was "there.". Your writing voice shines through.! Believe in yourself!