Monthly Archives: November 2012
My ‘Call Story’
I’ve been writing fiction seriously for about three years, and when I first started I kept hearing people talk about ‘Call Stories’ but I had no idea what they were. I soon discovered that The Call is when a publisher offers you a contract for your manuscript, even if it happens to be via email. By the time I’d finished my first manuscript I was hooked on writing and hoped that one day I’d be writing about my own Call Story.
Three manuscripts later that day arrived!
But let me backtrack a little…
Late in 2011 I started getting ideas for a new book which would be my third. I came up with the premise (an image-conscious young woman wakes on her birthday to find she’s a middle-aged housewife married to the also middle-aged high school nerd), and let it simmer for a while. Gradually, the character developed in my mind and I came up with the title, Fast Forward. I was also playing around with another couple of book ideas at the time and getting started on some major revisions for my first manuscript.
At the start of 2012 (New Years Day to be exact), I was staying with family and planning on taking a few days off to relax and read a few books, but my muse had other ideas.
Over breakfast, I flipped through one of my mother’s many home and lifestyle magazines and an advertisement caught my eye. It was for an interior design course and showed pictures of beautiful furniture and homewares. Before that day, I had decided that my main character would be involved in designing homewares, so on a whim I cut out the ad for inspiration. I still hadn’t decided yet which book idea I would pursue and was pondering my options as I flipped through the magazine. I asked myself, ‘Which book should I start next?’ (and by next I meant in another few weeks or so), and on the very next page in the magazine was an article titled: Fast Forward.
I had my answer.
And I cut out that title too. (I’m sure my mother didn’t mind me getting all scissor-happy with her magazines ;))
I took this as a sign, or more accurately; a direct kick-in-the-pants to get started on this story, so instead of curling up with a book I opened my laptop and began writing. The first few chapters flew from my fingers to the keyboard over the next three days.
For the rest of the month I worked on editing a different manuscript and put Fast Forward aside until February, at around the same time as I found myself a fantastic critique partner. She read my chapters and enjoyed them and spurred me on to write more. I didn’t work on it every day, but rarely a week went by when I didn’t add more to the story. I couldn’t believe how fun and fast this story was to write. Sometimes I’d stay up till 2 or 3am because I was enjoying myself so much (although I suffered the next day). Don’t get me wrong, parts of it were plain hard work – especially figuring out how to make a 300-ish page story take place over just one day in the character’s life (I constructed a timeline in fifteen-minute increments!).
By the time June came around I only had another 20,000 words to go, so I signed up for RWA’s 50k in 30 days challenge and vowed to finish it by the end of the month.
Half way through June I typed ‘The End’. Overall it took me about four months to write.
I sent the rest off to my critique partner who gave me some very helpful suggestions and I went straight to work editing it. I didn’t want to put it aside for a while like many authors (rightfully) recommend. My heart was still in this story and I wanted to work on it while it felt fresh.
I edited the first three chapters many more times until I was happy with the beginning, and did a final read through. I then entered online pitch contests and began the time-consuming process of researching agents, publishers, and sending out queries. All in all I got about twenty agent rejections and two editor rejections, but received feedback and took (most of it) on board, tweaking some parts of the manuscript.
Then I pitched it at the RWA conference on the Gold Coast in August, and while I was there, learned of Harlequin Australia’s new digital-first imprint, Escape. At first I didn’t think my story would be suitable (for starters, my hero was a nerd!) and I went home and sent off my other submissions. After seeing Escape’s tweets on twitter, I decided I should check out their submission guidelines anyway and they seemed fairly open-minded about different genres and mixed genres as long as it had a significant romance and happy ending. Mine was a combination of women’s fiction, chick lit, hen lit, comedy, romance, futuristic, and paranormal (what was I thinking?!). In the end I decided on romantic comedy and sent off a partial submission, knowing I’d find out in two weeks if it wasn’t suitable.
Much to my surprise I got a full manuscript request less than two weeks later, and three weeks after that I got an offer of publication. 🙂
On that wonderful day I remembered I’d actually had a dream about Harlequin Escape the night before – talk about prophetic! I checked my email as usual first thing in the morning, but there was nothing interesting. I decided to sit outside in the sun for a while to soak up some vitamin D and brought my iPhone with me. My email made that sound telling me I had new email and I glanced at the screen expecting it to be yet another ‘20% off all dresses, today only!’ or a very tempting ‘Booktopia Clearance Sale!’. But it was from Escape.
I mentally prepared myself for another rejection. All I could see was a couple of lines of a message preview:
‘Thank you for submitting Fast Forward to Harlequin Escape. I am delig…’
Delig? Was that part of the word I thought it was? …Delighted?
Then I thought it might say: “I am delighted that you wrote this story but unfortunately it is not right for us.’
But I knew it wouldn’t. I knew what it was going to say and my hand shook as I pressed the screen to open the message.
‘I am delighted to accept it for publication.’
The shaking intensified and lots of ‘Ohmygod’s’ spewed repeatedly from my mouth. I’m sure my neighbours thought I was having a heart attack. It was a really humid day and my palms were so sweaty from heat and excitement I could barely scroll the screen down to read the rest of the message!
I had to keep the news fairly quiet at first so I just rang my parents (who sent me a huge bunch of flowers later that day), and then my critique partner (90% of our conversation was the word ‘exciting’), and spent the rest of the day with a permanent grin on my face and completely unable to do anything productive.
It still amazes me that it was only less than a year ago I started writing this story and now it’s about to be released. I love how fast digital publishing works and I’m looking forward to getting this story out into the big wide world of the internet! I’m also excited to be involved with Harlequin, a company who has such a strong foundation and worldwide brand.
To all the writers out there – keep writing, editing, polishing, and submitting, and embrace the digital age.
To all the readers – keep reading, reviewing, and telling your friends about great books.
Thanks for reading my call story! 🙂
…To celebrate this milestone I feel like being generous and giving away stuff! To win some goodies, keep an eye on the blog (or subscribe if you like) for a giveaway coming very soon…
Exciting News! My first publishing contract :)
I’ve been patiently waiting for the moment I’d be able to write those words, and now it is here! I’m excited to announce that my debut novel, FAST FORWARD, will be published by Escape Publishing – the digital-first imprint of Harlequin Australia!!
I’m thrilled to have the backing of such a wonderful publishing company with years and years of experience in the industry, and I can’t wait to get my first story out into the world (actually, part of me is a little scared, but mostly excited!). FAST FORWARD is the third full length manuscript I’ve completed in the three years since I took up writing seriously, and I had an absolute ball writing it. It’s a romantic comedy with a twist… what sort of twist? Well there may be a little bit of time travel in it. It’s nowhere near sci-fi by any means, it is at its heart a humorous, heartwarming, and romantic story about being true to yourself and following your passions. In the case of the main character, Kelli, she needs a little kick in the pants in the form of a day trip to the future so she can discover what’s really important to her. Here’s a short blurb…
Aspiring supermodel Kelli Crawford seems destined to marry her hotshot boyfriend, but on her 25th birthday she wakes in the future as a fifty-year-old suburban housewife married to the now middle-aged high school nerd.
Trapped in the opposite life of the one she wanted, Kelli is forced to re-evaluate her life and discover what is really important to her. Will she overcome the hilarious and heartbreaking challenges presented to her and get back to the body of her younger self? Or will she be stuck in the nightmare of hot flushes, demanding children, raunchy advances from her husband, and hideous support underwear forever?
I’ll share more details and my Call Story in a couple of days time, but for now, I think a yippee is in order:
SISTERS AT HEART – my short story
Every now and again I get the urge to write a short story. Especially if there’s a competition (Aries competitive nature). Earlier this year Country Style magazine held a short story competition with the theme ‘Cooking from the heart.’ The $5000 prize was a big motivator to enter, but even though I didn’t win I enjoyed writing my story and am proud of the result.
When I heard what the theme was, it was the perfect theme to match to a story idea I’d had for a while, so with enthusiasm I sat down and wrote the story all in one go till the early hours of the morning.
2000 words doesn’t seem like a lot, but with short stories you have to plan the plot and create characters just like in a novel, in fact, sometimes short stories are more challenging because of the restriction in length. You have to focus on a moment in time with only a couple or a few characters and have a satisfying emotional ending to the story. Sometimes the ending is not an ending but the start of something new, but the event that takes place in the story is the driver for that new beginning.
My ‘cooking from the heart’-themed short story, SISTERS AT HEART, is now published on Smashwords. It’s set in the fictional town of Tarrin’s Bay where I am setting a series of novels, the first being THE JANUARY WISH which is completed and the second being FEBRUARY OR FOREVER which is a work in progress. SISTERS AT HEART is women’s fiction with a twist; there’s a little surprise at the end that some people may guess and others may not.
Here’s the blurb…
Grieving the loss of her sister and breakdown of her marriage, Carrie moves to the small seaside town of Tarrin’s Bay for a fresh start with her young son. When she volunteers for the school cake stall, a remarkable coincidence has her realising the incredible power of the human heart.
You can read the first page here, and if you like the sound of it and want to see what the twist is, the full story is only 99 cents 😉
I’d love to hear what you think about it! I might write more ‘Tarrin’s Bay’ short stories.
Do you have any short stories published? If so, let me know in the comments 🙂