Monday, October 20, 2008

You've Made My Life

Ah. The first call. I’d waited so long for it to happen, I’d almost stopped believing it would. I even stopped writing for years at a time, but this had far more to do with real life stuff (moving across country—twice, having twins, etc.) than it had to do with not wanting to write. But I always went back to it, and I never lost complete hope that someday that call would come.

Before I get into the specifics of my call story, I want to backtrack just a little. In December of 2007, I became very ill and ended up in the hospital for several months. Long story, and not one I’m going to go into here, but it was a scary time and definitely made me take a second look at my life, as these sort of things are apt to do.

The day I came home from the hospital, it was to find a letter from RWA (Romance Writers of America) that stated my submission for their yearly unpublished contest was being disqualified because I hadn’t double spaced my synopsis. Rather than the intense disappointment I’d have normally felt at making such an error, I really didn’t care. I mean, living through something that could’ve killed me put a lot of things in perspective, this included.

But I was a little a sad. Because I’d had great results in smaller contests with this manuscript, I was proud of it, and I’d really wanted to see how it would hold up in such a large contest. Of course, that sadness didn’t last long, because I was finally home, with my family. And hey, I could always enter the following year.

Fast forward several months and I was mostly back in my swing health-wise, work-wise, and every-other-wise. One of my new goals after being out of commission for so long was to write every single day, no matter what. Even if it was only a paragraph. I was accomplishing this, and by the time May 1, 2008 rolled around, I was deeply engrossed in writing my first romantic suspense novel.

I woke up late on this day, because I’d been up very late the night before. I had work to do, family stuff that needed my attention, and all sorts of other things on my list for the day. But I had a horrible headache, felt a bit groggy, and was way lazy. Seriously lazy. I took to the couch and watched a movie (which, weirdly, was about a fledgling NY editor trying to rise in the publishing business). When it was over, I forced myself to get to work.

So, I turned on the computer with every intention of getting right to the articles that needed to be written. Instead, a girlfriend sent me an IM and we chatted. We talked about our writing, the work we both needed to get done that day, how I’d stayed up the entire night working on my new manuscript. And then, we talked about A Taste of Magic, the same manuscript that had been disqualified from RWAs contest, had been with Dorchester Publishing for a little over eight months.

I didn’t have an agent yet (as discussed in my agent call story here at The Novel Girls), but another publisher had requested the full of A Taste of Magic, which I’d yet to send in. Because I was 1) waiting to hear from the few agents who still had it, and 2) waiting to hear from Senior Editor Chris Keeslar at Dorchester, whom I really felt the story belonged with.

Anyway, my girlfriend wanted to know if I’d sent the book to the “other” publisher yet. I ended up promising her I would print it out that day and that I’d send it out the following day. She asked me if I’d be happy if it sold to this other publisher, or if my heart was set on Dorchester. I replied the obvious – of course I’d be happy to see it sold! But I also told her I had a really strong belief that the book belonged with Dorchester and this specific editor.

My phone rang at the exact same time I finished typing that last sentence. I swear. I’m not making ANY of this up. So I flipped the phone over to look at the Caller ID, assuming it would be my car dealership (they’d been calling daily trying to get us to bring the car to them for an oil change). My eyes landed on the little window. It read “Dorchester Publishing,” and a 212 phone number blinked below it.

I instantly began to shake. My heart raced. I could NOT believe what I saw. So much so, that for a few seconds, I just stared at the phone, and then at my IM conversation with my girlfriend, wondering what to do first: answer the phone or type into the little IM window that Dorchester was calling. Of course, I answered!

On the phone was Chris Keeslar, the editor who had A Taste of Magic under submission. I barely remember the conversation, but he first apologized for taking so long to read my book. Then, he said the words that every aspiring author dreams of hearing:

“I’ve read it now and I’d like to buy it.”

Or something similar to that, if not those exact words. As I said, my memory is a little hazy. But I do remember blurting some crazy stuff. Things like, “I’m going to cry,” “You’ve made my life,” and “This is a dream come true.” Um. Okay. You’ve made my LIFE? What was I thinking? Well, that’s just it. I wasn’t. I was completely emotional, completely in tears, and totally, totally shocked. But he handled all of it very well, and never made me feel like a loon.

Somewhere in that phone call, he asked me if I had a pen and paper, so I could write the deal points down. Which, I did—inside the cover of a book I was reading at that time. Let’s just say that book will be on my keeper shelf forever. Maybe I should have it bronzed…

Suddenly, it occurred to me I’d completely forgotten about my IM conversation with my friend. I typed in, real quick, as Chris was talking, “Chris on phone now.” I don’t think she believed me at first, but after I typed in “YES,” she replied with “OMG.”

Luckily, my hand worked well enough, and I managed to actually write the stuff down that Chris told me. I then told him that a few agents had the material, and that I wanted to give them the chance to get back to me. We agreed I’d be in touch the following Monday, and said our goodbyes. I hung up the phone and immediately put my head down on my desk and cried. Not only because something I’d wanted to happen for so long had actually happened, but because after the year I’d had: the hospital stay, missing Christmas with my kids, fighting to get healthy again, it just was an incredibly emotional moment. I can’t really convey how emotional.

As I write this post, I’m thinking about my second book, as I’m racing toward my deadline for it now. I’m also thinking about the galleys of A Taste of Magic that are sitting in the other room, waiting for me to finish proofing them, and I’m staring at my very first cover flat, which is now framed and on my desk. The path so far has been amazing.

A Taste of Magic is, partly, about wishes coming true. And how apropos is that?

26 comments:

Lisa Mondello said...

That was an incredibly amazing day. I'm so glad I got to share it with you and I'm thrilled about this sale. I can't wait for the book to come out!

Lisa

HollyJacobs said...

Tracy,

What a great first call story!! Hoping there are many, many calls in your future!

Holly

Brigette said...

Hey Trac,
I loved reading about "The Call"
You are such an inspiration to me, knowing you almost died the year of "the call" and what a trauma filled year that was for you. I just feel "the call" couldn't have come to a better person that year!
Love ya sweets,
Brig from MVRWA

Jessica said...

Hi Tracy,
I was so happy to hear about The Call when it happened for you, and am glad to finally get the details! Congrats, again, on this very happy news. May it be the first of lots!
-Jessica (waving from New England)

Leah said...

Tracy, I loved learning about your story. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

I'm really looking forward to reading your book!

Deb

Tracy Madison said...

Lisa: You are one of the few who truly know how much that day meant to me. Thanks for being such a great friend! :)

Holly: It's so cool to see you here! Thanks for popping over and posting! (Oh, and for letting me read your amazing book before it was even released!)

Brigette: You're a doll and I'm so happy to have gotten to know you this past year.

Tracy Madison said...

Hey, Jessica! Your conference is still one of my favorites. I'll be there this year, btw!

Deb, I can't wait for you to read it too, lol. Thanks for stopping over. :)

HollyJacobs said...

(Holly quietly slips Tracy some payola for calling her new release amazing! LOL)

Seriously, Tracy, you know I always love hanging with you and I'm anxiously awaiting your book!

Holly

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Tracy, this is one of the most AMAZING calls stories of all time. I am thrilled you have been chosen to become a fiction author. You deserve this and much more, hon.

WOOT!!!

Hugs, Nancy L/JJ

Annette Blair said...

Tracy, not only is this an amazine first call story, it's for an AMAZING story. I'm so proud to have had the opportunity to read it. Hugs & Love,

Annette Blair

Fyre'n'Ali said...

I remember that day too! I was so excited for you! I cried then...and cried again reading it....how is it you always make me cry?

Love you!

Sleeping with Ward Cleaver said...

Tracy,
that's such a touching story--and wow, you are lucky Chris got to it that fast, from what I hear! What a great editor he is, isn't he? Alls well that ends well for you! And love your cover!

Jillian Cantor said...

Tracy, You brought tears to my eyes! What a beautiful and inspirational post! I am so excited to read your book :-)!!

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I have goosebumps!

Tambra said...

Tracy,

Your call was amazing. And yeah, I want Chris for my editor, too. LOL

I can't wait for your book to come out!

Hugs,
Tambra

Liane Gentry Skye said...

This story still gives me chills. I've loved Taste of Magic since the first time I read it, and I continue to love it. The author isn't half bad, either. :)

Tracy Madison said...

Holly, I loved "Once Upon A Thanksgiving!" Not to mention, it gave me a much needed getaway each evening while I read it! So, no payola necessary. :)

Nancy, thank you so much for your support, and thanks for taking a minute to stop by to read my call story!

Tracy Madison said...

Annette! I'm so excited you came by. I still look at the quote you gave me and shiver! Thank you for saying such amazing things about Elizabeth's story. :)

Fyre, lol. I cried too--again. But hey, I make you laugh way more often than I make you cry!

Jenny: I agree, Chris is an amazing editor, and he's been terrific to work with. I LOVE my cover too. I don't think it could be more perfect.

Tracy Madison said...

Jillian! Writing it made me cry again, lol. I can't wait for you, and everyone else, to read A Taste of Magic. And how cool is it our release dates are the same!

Natalie--you rock. That about says it all.

Tracy Madison said...

Tambra, LOL! You're so sweet. I hope you enjoy the story when you have a chance to read it.

Aw, Liane, you're a doll. Your support has meant sooo much to me. Thank you! :)

Maureen Lipinski said...

Such a cool story, Tracy! I LOVE reading "The Call" stories. Fills me with such awesome, joyful, author-love...and I'm not a warm and fuzzy kind of girl!

Makes me want to do it all over again! As I've said before--the highs in this business can really become addicting!

Lesley Livingston said...

Amazing story Tracy!

Read the whole thing with a smile on my face. A big one.

:-)

Tracy Madison said...

Maureen: As cool as that day was, I'm way excited about each "first" I've hit so far on this path. From the back cover copy, to the cover, to the galleys, to seeing the book on Amazon. What a ride!

Tracy Madison said...

Lesley - I'm glad the story made you smile!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful story, Tracy. And it came at the perfect time, right when you needed it most. KUDOS for hanging in there. While none may be as exciting as the first, here's hoping you get many more of those calls!

DeniseL

Tracy Madison said...

Aw, thanks, Denise! That day is a day I'll remember forever. And yeah, I'd like more days like that...here's hoping! :)