Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Call III

Jane Toombs

I've been published since 1973, but I recall exactly how it happened for the very first time. I'd fooled around with writing ever since I was a teenager. I'd even taken a class from a published poet who had given us a scenario to write about. I wrote the first page, but never got any farther.

Some years later I took an extension class from the University of California at San Diego from a published mystery writer. After he told us writing a story or a book, stashing it away in a drawer and never sending it out was akin to masturbation, a number of people left the class. (These were more innocent times.) I hauled out that first page and managed to write a chapter before the next meeting, He read and critiqued in class, plus handing back pages all marked up. After he'd read four of my chapters about what I'd decided was a Gothic romance, he told me if I finished it and listened to his critiques, he'd send it to his agent.

Well, this very rarely happens, but I didn't know that. I finished the ms. in between taking care of five kids and working part time as a nurse. He gave it a final critique, and I edited Tule Witch with his critiques in mind, whereupon he did as he'd promised. His agent sold the ms. to Avon and I got The Call.

At the time I was in my new second marriage, with two young teenage stepkids as well as my own. The girl accepted me right away, but the boy was standoffish and I was taking it slow with him.

After hanging up, excited and thrilled, I was bursting to tell someone. The only one home was my stepson, out shooting baskets in the back. I tore out there screaming that I'd sold a book, grabbed him and hugged him. His first reaction was to stiffen as I babbled on, but after a minute or two, he hugged me back and said, "That's great!"

What a bonus! From then on our relationship improved rapidly. And that's part of the reason I remember so very well what happened the day I got The Call.

Sandra Cormier

After I finished my first novel, I dutifully crafted a query letter and began submitting to agents. After several rejections, I set it aside and concentrated on my second novel. In the meantime I researched several e-publishers and decided to drag The Space Between out from under the bed, and I submitted it to a publisher in upstate New York. They had a category specifically designed for mature main characters and I felt my book would be a good fit. Why not give it a chance?

I emailed my revamped query and received a request for the first three chapters the next day. Excited, I sent the file and was prepared to wait six weeks for a response. The editor emailed me less than 24 hours later and said she couldn't put it down! She requested the full and in the meantime offered some editorial suggestions.

My contract offer arrived a few weeks later. To me, the process seemed lightning fast!

My second novel query received several warm responses and some requests for partials. I decided to aim for another e-press, this time in Canada since it was a hockey romance. After sending the partial, I received a quick request for the full, and again a quick offer of a contract. I could get used to this!


Kimber Chin said...

Great story Jane!
Not only did you get a publishing deal but you became closer to your stepson!