I conceived my first novel and my third child about the same time. I'm now up to five kids. My first novel to be published – the third one I wrote – will be out this spring. And that child who entered my life when I first started writing? He's headed off to college in the fall.
Talk about your long and winding road.
The book that led me to The Call was inspired by my adventures at a Cub Scout family camp with my husband and sons. There were some truly odd people there, so to help maintain my sanity, I started dreaming up a romance set in a summer camp. By December of that year, the book was ready to send off to the Golden Heart. It made the finals and caught the interest of an editor at Harlequin Duets. She called, asked for revisions, and hinted strongly that she wanted to buy it.
I raced through the revisions. Sent them off in the two weeks she'd requested. And then, about a week or so later, learned that Duets would be going the way of the do-do bird.
Ah, well. The book went back under the bed and I moved forward, writing other stories in other sub-genres. A few years later, after reading a truly delightful Harlequin American written by a good friend, I thought back to that almost-sold book and wondered if it would make an American. I knew it needed work, but I had learned a lot in the intervening time. I thought I'd spend a month fixing it up, send if out with fingers crossed, and move on.
Let me tell you, that was the longest month in the history of time.
My amazing agent Jessica Faust offered her usual insightful feedback. I put the first chapter and synopsis in Harlequin's first So You Think You Can Write contest, and was lucky enough to receive some encouraging suggestions and an invitation to submit a revised partial to Kathleen Scheibling at American. Wooohooo!
More revisions. More plotting. Off it went to Kathleen.
About a month before 2011 National, we heard back. Kathleen liked a lot of it but felt it needed a stronger hook. Jessica and I brainstormed. I found a way to make the hero a single father. I created a new plan, and snagged an appointment with Kathleen at National. She listened to my plan (and to my cell phone, which went off in the middle of our appointment – ACK!), told me to go ahead and said to send her the full when it was done.
More revisions. More plotting. Many curses. Finally, it was ready to submit, right around the end of 2011. We sent it off again and commenced waiting.
And suddenly, things started flying.
Tuesday, July 17: Jessica heard from Kathleen. She couldn't buy it for American as their focus had shifted, but she had passed it to Wanda Ottewell at Superromance, with her recommendation and a request that Wanda try to read it before National – which was starting the next week. When I stopped shaking, I launched an intense crash course into Super research and immediately panicked because my book was about 25,000 words too short.
Thursday, July 19: after a full day of errands and groceries with the kids, I dragged us and the bags of food into the house. I was in the bathroom when the phone rang. I picked it up and heard Jessica say, “It's The Call.”
I think I squeaked or made some other indecipherable noise, because she said it again: “It's The Call.” She cried. I dropped to the floor, blubbering like a baby, and made her promise to send me an email, because there was no way I would believe this until I saw it in black and white.
When the call was done, I stayed seated on the floor and cried for another half hour, just replaying those words over and over in my head: “It's The Call.” Seventeen years of dreaming and hoping and working and planning and giving up so very many times, only to be pulled back by wonderful writing friends and the encouragement of editors and contest judges and the world's most patient agent – and it all finally paid off.
A Better Father will hit the shelves in April, and I am delighted to say that I have contracted for three more Superromances. The road was very long and exceedingly winding, but oh, am I loving this new drive!
To learn more about Kris, visit her website.