By KJ Howe
I'm a big believer in having dreams...and in dreaming big! Sometimes, when we least expect it, our dreams come true in the best way possible. Today is a perfect example of a writer's dream come true. Our guest today is my fellow 2009 Golden Heart Finalist, Darynda Jones, who has just signed a three-book with St. Martin's! I'll let Darynda take it from here:
Thank you so much for inviting me, KJ, and everyone at Romance Bandits!
This has been such a surreal experience, and I've had many people tell me it’s also been inspirational for them. I’m so glad, because I never thought of myself as being an inspiration.
Just finaling in the Golden Heart garnered so much attention, I was able to get eight agents offer representation on my manuscript First Grave on the Right, at which time I learned is actually more urban fantasy than paranormal romance.
Private investigator Harley Davidson was born with three things: a smoking hot ass; a healthy respect for the male anatomy; and the rather odd job title of grim reaper. Since the age of five, she has been helping the departed solve the mysteries of their deaths so they can cross. Thus, when three lawyers from the same law firm are murdered, they come to her to find their killer. In the meantime, she's dealing with a being more powerful, and definitely sexier, than any specter she's ever come across. With the help of a pain-in-the-ass skip tracer, a dead pubescent gangbanger named Angel, and a lifetime supply of sarcasm, Harley sets out to solve the highest profile case of the year and discovers that dodging bullets isn’t nearly as dangerous as falling in love.
I had some seriously fantastic agents suddenly knocking on my door and found the decision one of the hardest I’ve ever had to make.
Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that week.
But when I spoke on the phone with Alexandra Machinist of the Linda Chester Literary Agency, I felt a real connection with her. We got to meet at the RWA National Conference in DC and sadly, my very first words to her were, "You're so tiny and cute." Yeah. Not one of my better social moments.
Winning the Golden Heart helped too. Within days, we had several requests. And about a week after Alexandra submitted First Grave, we had our first offer from Jennifer Enderlin of St. Martin's Press for a three-book deal.
It was so much more than either of us was expecting, Alexandra called me and asked if I was sitting down. I admit it. I started crying. Then I slipped into a state of shock which I stayed in for quite some time. My husband freaked out too. It was funny.
I had meetings all that first day and I could barely sit through them. It was quite torturous really. And don’t even ask how I slept that night! By the next morning we had a couple more offers, and just before it went to auction, Jennifer swept in with an amazing preempt we couldn't turn down. We both wanted Jennifer (the woman defines bestseller), so we were on cloud nine. Or possibly ten. I can’t be positive at this point.
Jennifer called me that afternoon so we could meet "voice to voice". She was so wonderful and I am thrilled to be working with her. Like, over-the-moon thrilled.
Both Alexandra and Jennifer have such sparkling personalities, I'm fairly certain I hit the agent/editor jackpot. I now have about seven months to finish the next one in the series and six months after that to finish the third. The plan thus far is to release them two months apart from each other, starting in January 2011.
At this point, I’m about 78% positive I’ve entered the Twilight Zone. I never imagined I would get such a fabulous agent, editor, or deal. This is truly a fairy tale come to life. Any other stories about "The Call" out there? I simply love hearing them.
Again, thank you so much to Romance Bandits for inviting me. I will be in and out all day today (darned day job), but I will answer any questions as timely as possible. I look forward to hearing from everyone!
KJ: Thanks, Darynda, for sharing your incredible story...it truly is inspirational that all those hours sitting behind your computer do pay off. Congrats to you for making it to the twilight zone. I can't wait to read your tales.
Darynda Jones recently won a 2009 Golden Heart® for Best Paranormal Romance for her manuscript First Grave on the Right, which just sold in a three-book deal to Jennifer Enderlin at St. Martin’s Press. Though she can’t remember a time when she wasn’t putting pen to paper, she has been writing toward publication for seven years and has three complete manuscripts—and many, many partials—under her belt.
She graduated Summa cum Laude from the University of New Mexico with a bachelor's in Sign Language Interpreting and works as a full-time interpreter during the day and a college instructor at night. Despite her hectic work schedule, the tales in her mind will not be tamed, so she writes every spare moment she can find. She lives in a small town in New Mexico with her husband of 26 years and two beautiful sons, otherwise known as the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys. Visit Darynda at www.daryndajones.com. She'd love to hear from you.