Sunday, September 16, 2007

How I Met My Editor -- The Latest "Call" Story

by Aunty Cindy

July 2006 Atlanta, Georgia -- RWA National Conference

My "roomie" and writing buddy, Willie Ferguson and I leave our room on the 20th floor of the hotel to go to the continental breakfast being served before the start of the workshops. (Amazingly Aunty is up and dressed at the ungodly hour of 7 a.m.)

The elevator door opens and we get in with two other people, a woman and a man. The man asks the woman what she writes and she tells him she's not a writer, but an editor. Then she looks over at Willie and me and seeing the Golden Heart ribbon on my name badge, she says, "Oh, you're a Golden Heart Finalist! My name is Deb Werksman and I'm an editor at Sourcebooks. I'd really love to read your manuscript." I tell her sure, I'll be happy to send it to her and she gives me her business card.

Once we get off the elevator and go our separate ways, Willie gasps, "I can't believe how cool and calm you were!" I am staring at the card yawning, and she realizes I'm still half-asleep.

However, I DO send the editor the full manuscript of my GH finalist when I get home from the conference.

Fast forward six months...

At the urging of my fellow Bandita and CP, Jo-Mama, I send an email to the editor as a friendly little request on the status of my manuscript and while I'm at it, I throw in a query for my current WIP. A month later, I get a rejection of the "not quite right for me" variety and figure that is the last I will hear.

Two months later...

I receive an email from the editor saying she would like to read more of the WIP. I am surprised, but also in the midst of doing a mass query of agents and sending out a requested full of my GH manuscript. I take my sweet time until Jo-Mama kicks my arse and I send the partial a month after the request.

Friday, July 27th

Still somewhat in a funk because I didn't get to go to Dallas with my Bandita buddies, I return home from my usual Friday lunch "date" with 3 friends, to be greeted by the DH. Looking unusually frazzled, he clutches a piece of paper with his semi-legible scribbles all over one side of it. He says, "Deb Werksman called here on her way home from work. She wants you to send the entire manuscript of Death In The Fens!" As I stare dumbfounded at the paper (an editor has never called me before), he adds, "She said you would know what to do because you already sent her the first four chapters."

I hug him and praise him profusely for doing a "good job" (men need this kind of positive reinforcement!), and then spend the next few days in a frenzy trying to polish up the last few chapters. Finally, on August 2nd, afraid to wait any longer, I dash off a cover email, attach the whole file and hit "send."

Now the waiting starts. I query a few more agents and two more editors. I fumble around with ideas for my next project and do some research, all the while telling myself, "The first editor to see a manuscript NEVER buys it!" Meanwhile, I continue collecting rejections.

Friday, September 14th -- a day that will henceforth surpass all others for sheer joy!

8:45 a.m. The phone rings and wakes me up. A woman's voice asks for Cindy and I groggily identify myself. Then she says, "This is Deb Werksman from Sourcebooks..."
For one nano-second my heart stops while my mind races. She would NOT call me to REJECT the manuscript...
"...I'm calling because we want to publish Death In The Fens..."

I leap out of bed! Scream! Cry! Somewhere along the line, I actually calm down enough to have a semi-coherent conversation with her -- MY EDITOR!
Fifteen minutes, or a lifetime or so later, I tell her that I may have to call her back on Monday just to be sure all this REALLY HAPPENED! She laughs and tells me to go ahead.

That morning in Atlanta, I never dreamed that getting into the elevator would eventually change my life!

What about you? Did a seemingly random event turn out to be life changing? Aunty would love to hear about it!

32 comments:

Helen said...

AC I am so happy for you I can't wait to read it what a wonderful story about getting published well done. Random event let me see 17 years ago a friend asked me to come to work with her they needed someone to wash dishes for the night I am still there but I am a superviser now and that certainly changed my life. Again congratulations I am really looking forward to reading your book.
Have Fun
Helen

Stacy S said...

That's wonderful! Congratulations!
How long will it be before it gets published?

Kirsten said...

AC, we are in a frenzy of joy around here ever since we heard you got the call. Was there ever a more deserving auntie? I don't think so!!

Random event...hmmm...well, let's see. When I was younger and more disciplined, I never ate desserts. Or at least, I ate very few of them. I had myself convinced I didn't like certain things--including potato chips and donuts--because they were fattening.

Then I got pregnant, and allowed myself a little more leeway when it came to food. I figured, one donut won't hurt me, during one of my cravings for sweets. So I had a donut...and another...and then had the baby...and then was still eating donuts...

And the rest is history.

Buffie said...

Oh, Cindy, congrats to you!!! I am sure you are still sitting comfortably on Cloud 9, and you should be. You just never know who you will run into during life's little adventures. And I'm glad it happened here in Atlanta for you -- makes me feel like it was close to home :) Are you coming to the Moonlight and Magnolias Conference here in Atlanta at the end of this month?

Joan said...

I have to tell you AC, I've been doing this for close to 7 years now, listened to a LOT of call stories and your's stands out as being imbuded with the most sheer, unadulterated delight ever.

I still grin when I read about it
:-)

Not such a random event I guess, but instead...in my mind...a fated event is finaling in the '06 GH.

Why?

Because it brought me into this wild, wacky, wonderful group called the Banditas. The synergy evidenced by all our joy for you, is out of this world.

And...you mentioned your roommate in Atlanat? Willie? She was a long distance member of my local chapter Louisville Romance Writers. Met her at dinner in Atlanta. Lovely lady. I hope she is doing well and tell her we said hi.

Now, off to get ready for my CP's (another wonder of synergy)critique session this afternoon.

jo robertson said...

Okay, girl, chills are running up and down my arms and spine even though I already knew "the rest of the story"! Awesome call story! I feel like screaming and crying all over again.

And yes, I will kick your butt all over again and give you permission to -- what did you say? -- kick my lily-white arse.

You are an awesome writer and Death in the Fens is a great, great read. Okay, I've read it, but I'll STILL buy it and buy it and buy it!

Aunty Cindy said...

Helen and Stacy,
THANX a bunch for the congrats and right now the publication date is Fall 2008. I will definitely LET YOU KNOW when I have a more exact date! AND the COVER! OMG! I can not WAIT for the cover!!

Helen, in State service, getting a different job often depended on "who you know" or "who you sat in a meeting with" or any number of random events, so I know EXACTLY what you mean.

Buffie, one of my BFF lives in Atlanta (okay, the northern suburb of Dunwoody) so it was really SPECIAL that I was a GH finalist when the conference was there. WISH I could attend the M&M conference, I've heard MANY good things about it. Maybe next year... after all, I do have "free" lodging. :-)

Kirsten, YOU and those DONUTS! tsk, tsk! Aunty may have to stage an intervention...

AC

Aunty Cindy said...

Joanie T.
You are SOOOO RIGHT about the 06 GH Finalists! I've never been a part of such a FANTASTIC GROUP! (Oh, and Willie Ferguson is the one who FORCED me to enter the GH!) I truly feel blessed to be a part of this group.

Yes, Willie is originally from Louisville and remains a member of your chapter as well as the OKC chapter where she helped establish the Readers Choice Awards! She is one amazing and wonderful lady!

ROFLOL! Yes, Jo-Mama, as my Irish characters would say, you may continue to "kick my lily-white arse" whenever necessary! Like you wouldn't. YOU are a very big reason DITF is the book it is today! YOU are a CP extra-ordinaire!

AC

Tawny said...

GREAT call story!!! I love love love it :-) and I'm so excited for you, AC!!! Whohooo and happy dancing - still.

Keira Soleore said...

A sustained high-C for AC! :)

Every couple weeks there is one 'nother Bandita hitting the big-time. This lair is such an exciting place to be.

I heard dancing and whooping. But I didn't see any swinging? What's with that??

Besides, September 19, is sorta the Bandita day, isn't it? Well, Talk Like a Pirate day... different cover, same inner.

Keira Soleore said...

Inara, please, please, please do take those luscious, er, nasty fattening doughnuts from your icon. They make my mouth water every time I visit here.

Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Tawny, KEEP ON DANCIN'! :-)

(((HUGS))) Keira! Bit THANX for that high C!

Yes, there never seems to be a dull moment around the lair. Allow ME to loan you my bucket boots and rope so you can swing by to your heart's content.

Can't WAIT to see who is next to move into the SOLD column. We are now teetering at 9 to 11. We definitely need to balance things out!

AC

Keira Soleore said...

Never fear, AC. Soon 'twill be only faux banditas like us who'll holding down the unpubbed end of the seesaw because all you heavyweights, as in famous pubbed writers, will be at the other end.

Kirsten said...

Ah Keira, just you wait. I have a feeling some of our Bandita buddies will be riding the wave of success!

And yes (hangs head), you're right. The donut had to go. Especially after this morning's encounter with an apple fritter that did not sit right. You're from the PacNW, right? You know those Top Pot apple fritters they sell at Starbucks? Disaster. Utter disaster.

So I'm turning over a new leaf. :-)

hugs!

Trish Milburn aka Tricia Mills said...

Humongous congrats again, Aunty Cindy! Loved your Call story. :)

Buffie, I'll be at M&M. I'm so looking forward to it. I've got lots of friends in the Atlanta chapter and am a long-distance member.

Suzanne Welsh said...

I love your "call" story, AC!!!!!! (That deserves extra exclamation marks, doesn't it?)

And I'm sure Deb had a great time listening to you carry on about getting the call. Can you imagine how often they actually get to hear that from a brand new author?

Still doing the happy dance for you!

Anna Sugden said...

AC - Congratulations! You have really earned this sale!

And it's so good to see the one who keeps the rest of us motivated and chipper getting her reward!

Random events - not sure I can think of one right now ... but I love the film Sliding Doors!

Aunty Cindy said...

Keira, I agree with Kirsten. I'm SURE some of the wonderful 'honorary' Banditas who also write will be sharing their own "Call" stories someday in the not-to-distant future.

Trish, I know you'll have a BLAST at M&M. Hope you and Buffie can meet up and raise a glass to ALL the Banditas everywhere.

VA, you aren't too shabby in the "cheerleading" section yourself. ;-)

And Suz, in the midst of my screaming "Oh My God!!!" a couple dozen times, Deb W. did laugh and say, "I love to make these kind of phone calls."

AC
who has always been guilty of exclamation mark abuse! But now, I'm even worse!!!!

Keira Soleore said...

Kirsten, thanks mucho for those cucumbers. But then you undid all the good karma by mentioning those awwwwwwwwhhhhhhhhhh Top Pot apple frittersssssss. Now I can't stop thinking about it.

jo robertson said...

OMG, Anna, I LOVE that movie Sliding Doors! I think all the time about random acts and their possible consequences, but I'm afraid it's because I'm a worry-wart. No surprise there, huh?

When near disasters happen, I think, "What if I'd been a minute later . . . or sooner . . . or a second slower?" Dumb, I know, but I get really existential sometimes and think how the entire universe could change, never mind my puny, little life, if only . . .

AC, I know you're still celebrating and I've thought of you all day. As I said, a first call is like first sex -- you only get it one time LOL.

Caren Crane said...

Aunty Cindy, we are SO THRILLED for you! I have had no life-changing moments like that, but I look forward to at least one in the future. Death In the Fens sounds like a great book. I'm waiting impatiently for it to appear on a bookshelf near me!

Enjoy every well-deserved second of your awesome SALE!!

Caren Crane said...

Vrai Anna and Jo, Sliding Doors is one of my favorite movies, too! So powerful to think what a difference one small choice could make in your life. It gives me goosebumps whenever I think of it!

Keira, thank you for petitioning for the removal of Kirsten's doughnuts. They were an issue for me, as well. The cukes are a definite improvement! *g*

Donna MacMeans said...

AC - I love this call story. Can't wait to see the cover, and they're letting you keep your title? That's special as well.

We've been rolling off the sales here lately. Can't wait to see who's next!

Christine Wells said...

WAHOOOO!!!! Sorry, I've been wiped out after the Brisbane Writers' Festival or I would have commented sooner. Fabuloso news, AC! Lifting a cyber glass of champagne to you!Couldn't have happened to a woman with a nicer crop!

I love Sliding Doors, too. Makes you wonder how life could have been different--or would it have turned out differently anyway?

Aunty Cindy said...

(((HUGS!!!))) and BIG THANX to Donna, Caren and Christine! Again, I am just sooo lucky to be a part of the Banditas... Don't even wanna think what my life would be today if I had NOT entered the GH in 2006!

Yes, Jo I have PARTIED ALL WEEKEND! and LOL on the first sale, first sex. I will refrain from commenting on which was FAR MORE ENJOYABLE!

AC
floating on cloud 99999 just a wee bit longer

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey, hey, Aunty C! I am THRILLED for you, m'dear! Loved the call story. Couldn't happen to a nicer, crop-wielding Aunty. Snork. Keira, how are those bucket boots fitting, are you ready to swing? :> Anna, Christine and all, I too am a Sliding Doors fan - I love the thought of "one moment later..." and of course, the running joke from Monty Python about the Spanish Inquisition. Snork, snork. Unlike the Spanish Inq., The Call is a wonderful, delicious moment, isn't it. Wow. Still perched up there on Cloud 9, myself, Aunty and am waving vigorously in your cloud's direction. (Oops, almost toppled onto Cloud 8)

As to the doughnuts, I liked them better than the 'cukes. I can resist the pink ones with sprinkles, so I just enjoyed the colorfulness of the icon. Now the chocolate glazed? ...ooooh, and the Apple Fritters? ...dangerous. Verrrrry dangerous.
Grins, J.

AndreaW said...

Congratulations to you, Cindy!! What an amazing "call" story! Good luck to you in the future. :)

~Andrea

Beth said...

I'm sorry I'm late to the party (stupid sinus infection kept me off line all weekend) but I had to pop on and say a big WHOO HOO and YIPEE for Aunty Cindy!! Thanks for sharing your fabulous call story! I'm so thrilled for you :-)

Anna Campbell said...

Aunty Cindy, I'm late but I have congratulated you privately. I'm so excited for you. It couldn't happen to a nicer person! It clearly proves that karma works ;-) Huge hugs and congratulations and squeals and dancing and 'bonza, mates, you bewdy!' from down under. I'd send you Eric wrapped up in the Aussie flag if I could. Hmm, would I? Perhaps not. Or only if I had a spare! I love your call story. I'm so sorry that I wasn't here when you announced but it sure made my return from the Brisbane Writers Festival a treat! All jokes aside, Cindy, I think you're wonderful and I'm so happy for you! Can't wait to read it! Keira, another high C to go with yours!

Aunty Cindy said...

Sorry to hear about your sinus infection, Beth. But THANX A BUNCH for the congrats from one Newly Sold to another! :-)

And LAWKS, Foanna!!! You can come late to the party ANY TIME if you bring Eric!!! (or a reasonable facsimile) Hmmm, maybe I'll just have to go 'down under' and collect him! And don't think I won't...

I'm just thankful to Karma or Fate or whatever it was that led me to the 06 GH and now THIS! I doubt I could have held out as long as you or Trish or a few of the other Banditas, but it is SOOOOO WORTH THE WAIT!!!
AC

Sandy said...

Cindy, I met you at Brenda's launch party when you graciously invited me to join your table. I think that was the very day your husband had given you the befuddled message that an editor wanted to see your manuscript. I am SO thrilled to hear that the submission resulted in a sale!! Can't wait to read it.
CONGRATS!!!
Sandy

Aunty Cindy said...

Sandy! Wonderful to "see" you again! I hope you plan to attend our local "Readers Luncheon" on Sept. 29th.

Yes, that was the day she called to ask for the full and my poor DH was PETRIFIED he would get it wrong. LOL! Also she was the very first editor to read any of the book and I had convinced myself that THE FIRST NEVER BUYS. Funny how we writers can always turn positives into negatives if we try.

Please stop by again soon!
AC