Sunday, October 08, 2006

Christine Merrill Call Story: Opportunity knocks... or e-mails

My first book THE INCONVENIENT DUCHESS hit the stores this month, and it’s been thirteen months since I got “the call” that meant I’d finally sold a book.

In my case, it was an e-mail, and a total surprise. I’d won the Romance Writer’s of America Golden Heart Award for unpublished short historical manuscripts back in July of 2005. I went home from the Reno conference in a great mood but with no clear idea of what I was supposed to do now that I’d won the award I’d been working toward for the past five years.

Time passed and nothing interesting happened. I remember it as being an eternity, but according to the date on the e-mail, it was about two weeks. It was a Friday afternoon, two hours before we were to leave on a weekend trip, and I was wasting time reading e-mail instead of packing up the car.

I got an e-mail from a complete stranger with my book title in the subject line. My first thought was that it was someone I’d forgotten from an on-line group or a conference, and they were writing to congratulate me. I read a little farther and realized it was from Linda Fildew, the Senior Editor at Harlequin Mills and Boon.

But I hadn’t submitted to them. I assumed that she must be wanting to look at the manuscript because of the GH, and had to read it several times to understand that they’d already seen it and judged it, and before the words, “we would like to offer you a contract for publication” began to make sense.

My manuscript had gone all the way to England, and it hadn’t taken me along.

Just in case I’d been struck suddenly illiterate or insane, I called or e-mailed everyone I could think of and shared the e-mail to see what they thought it meant. And I printed off a copy and carried it in my pocket all weekend, just in case the words disappeared or changed into something else before Monday when I could send my affirmative response back to my new editors.

We took off on our trip only slightly behind schedule and the glamorous “I sold a book” dinner I’d always imagined was a trip through the Wendy’s drive-thru in our mini-van. Two trips, actually. My youngest son was a little slow grabbing his bag, and our golden retriever ate a bacon cheese burger value meal, so we had to make a second pass to get more food.

A typical day in my life, except for the one little e-mail.


CherylStJ said...

How fun, Christine! Thanks for sharing your story.

Allison Littlehales said...

What a fantastic call story, Christine! The book was great B.T.W.