I often cringe when I’m asked about my first sale, because it was just too easy, and the telling of the story only adds to my worst fears that, somehow, I must be a fraud. Why? Because, unlike so many of my fellow authors, who endured four-hundred plus rejections, I sold my first book to the very first publisher we submitted to.
Of course, I didn’t believe it could be that easy. I’m a classic “plan for the worst, hope for the best” type personality—all while secretly fearing the worst is what’s really going to happen.
So I bought one-hundred manuscript boxes (yes, really, 100) and put them ALL together. They used to come flattened back in the Dark Ages. And just to get it out of the way, I finished them all—because, of course, I knew I would need every bloody one. So there they were, all stacked in my office/playroom wall, with my desk/old dining room table surrounded by Lego’s and Playskool toys—and, of course, my children, who occasionally enjoyed knocking them all down. I mean, who can pass that up? It’s like sandcastles or houses of cards. That’s what they were really made for, to knock them all down. Right?
But here’s the best part and I’ll give you the short version: I printed off three chapters I liked best (WRONG, you’re supposed to send the first three chapters), and then sent them to ten agents and hired the first one who called (WRONG, you’re supposed to be patient, wait, and choose the best). So my first agent (Surprise! There were others) asked who I wished to submit to, and I figured, hey, why not? Let’s start at the tippity-top and get turned down by my entire Wish List before settling. Of course, I chose Avon Books, then owned by William Morrow Publishing, and, somehow, despite having done everything completely wrong, Editor Maggie Lichota called, and I said yes. That was thirty years ago next year (November of 1989). And that book was Angel of Fire, published in 1992.
I can’t say I never feel like a fraud anymore, because that’s just not true. The difference is that, after thirty plus books (and counting), and a precious lot of loyal readers, I figure that maybe I don’t suck. But it still feels too easy, because I’m doing what I love, and there’s nothing in the world I’d rather be doing.
I was fortunate through my early years in the industry, in that I had a great editor (Lyssa Keusch, who inherited me after Maggie left Avon) who believed in me. She encouraged me to write the stories I was on fire for, and if there’s one piece of advice I have for aspiring writers, it is: Write what you love. And, be ready to persevere. Truly, though I wasn’t tested through first-sale rejections, the industry has a way of testing our resolve. The good news is that there’s never been a better time to be a writer, or a reader, with so many fresh reads. And, in that vein, I hope you’ll continue my journey along with me.
YOU are the reason I write, my dear friends. Thank you for trusting me with your support and your time.
I love that story & I personally think, that after new writers read all the horror stories of turn downs etc., yours would give them hope that “it could happen” to their book! Great story (maybe you should be an author – haha)
Thank you, Lana. I can’t believe I am just seeing this. Apologies for the late response.
Thank you for sharing your personal story. You believed in yourself and thought that those who reached out to you had your best interests at heart, I am SO happy that you write what you love —- and your readers love!
Thank you, Jane!
Looking forward to keeping in touch with you. I enjoy your books.
Thank you for hanging with me, Kathleen!
Fantastic story, thank you for sharing this vulnerable part of yourself with your fans. It truly gives us with dreams of writing a book hope. In this day and age hope is so very important. Congratulations on so many well loved books and please keep them coming.
Thank you, Maegan. I’m happy this inspires. Good luck with your writing!
I enjoyed reading about your life and things that you go through. I always appreciate that and especially when you offer inspiration to all of us readers.
Thank you very much.
You’re so welcome, Mary! Thanks for being here!
Great story. Some people are born with talents that are noticed right away.
Love to read your books
I am glad that you write. I am glad that you do what you love, so people like me can enjoy it. Sometimes taking chances is what you have to do to reach your goals. I am glad you take chances!
Thank you, Yvonne!
I so love when you give us a look into your life and how it all happened for you. Not many authors were not as lucky as you were but it was meant to be. I so love reading/listening to your books and you are one of my inspirations for finally putting ink to paper and writing.
So thrilled to hear that, Ginny! Sending you giant hugs.
I know you have probably heard this comment too many times times to count; however, I really enjoy reading your books. I am able to put aside my problems and go back in time and enjoy your book, which ever one I may b reading at the time. I wish I could talk to you in person about each book I read. You have a unique gift for writing that not many writers possess that I imagine myself right there with H/h and I actually cry at the tear jerking parts and I laugh at the parts out loud.
What a wonderful post. Thank you, Cyndi! I will be planning a chat in my Facebook group soon, so be sure to join me there! I’m so thrilled that my books touch you in that way, and this is the reason I write. Hugs.
I love that you are so versatile with your writing. I have always enjoyed your romance novels, but have found a new love with your Thrillers set in & around Charleston. (I lived on St. Simons Island/Sea Island & my daughter attended The College of Charleston, so there is love there 😊)
I also greatly appreciate you going to the trouble of doing audiobooks! There is just something so enticing about listening to a book filled with the true cultural dialect. Thank you for the many hours of enjoyment and entertainment! 😍
I’m so thrilled you’re enjoying my audiobooks! And so glad you’re enjoying the Thrillers too. Have you read The Girl Who Stayed? Also set in Charleston, it’s got a suspense in the background as well.
The first historical romance book I read was by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I loved her and read all of her books. One day I bought MARRIED AT MIDNIGHT. You were one of the authors along with Kathleen, Jo Beverly and Samantha James. After reading your story, I read MCKINNON’S BRIDE and I was hooked on a new author – you!!!!!!! Although I mostly read cozy mysteries now, I always have to grab one of your books when I see it.
You made my day, Jan! That’s so cool to hear. What a tremendous compliment to trust me across genres. Sending you hugs!
That is very interesting story. Thanks for sharing it with us. ( I have to say I like the old covers better than the new ones on the (Medieval Heroes) Angel of Fire, The new ones are to risque and lascivious for me and I would not have bought them or gave them a second look. But, I bet it brought in a whole new viewer and reader set. I am glad I got to read them back then.) Just a comment from an old gal. Love your writing. And always wait patiently for each and every new book you put out.
Thank you, Debra. Sending you big hugs.
Thank you for sharing, Tanya! Mid would be so proud of you – in fact, she was!
Thank you for saying that, Valerie. I miss her presence in this world.
So whatever happened to the 100 manuscript boxes? 🙂
I’ve slept a night or two since then (It’s been 30 years!) But I’m pretty sure they got used for something or another!