by Keli Gwyn ~ @keligwyn
The phone rang early on Thursday, December 12, 2013.
I turned from my manuscript and reached for the cordless handset lying on my desk, sure this would be another in a long line of recorded messages that bombarded us during the holiday season.
Instead of a carpet cleaner, alternative energy provider or supposed representative of my credit card company, I heard the cheery voice of my hard-working agent, Rachelle Gardner.
Knowing we had an editor interested in one of my stories, my breath caught. Yeah, I know that’s cliche, but it’s what happened.
Rachelle asked if I was getting excited about our upcoming trip to visit our daughter, who is living and working in France. I was, but at that particular moment I was more excited about Rachelle’s call.
I can’t remember how I answered her, but I know I didn’t elaborate. I wanted to find out as quickly as possible if she had news for me—good news, that is.
When I received my first contract offer three years before, I had an idea it was coming, so I spared Rachelle’s ears.
Not this time.
I was unable to contain my glee and did some serious squealing. I like to think Rachelle was smiling as she held the phone away from her ear.
My father and first hero, who lost his battle with Alzheimers last month, was a retired Forest Service firefighter. Every summer he would travel across the western United States fighting forest fires. To while away the lonely hours, my sisters and I would bury our noses in books.
During those long, hot California summers when I was in high school, my mom would take my sisters and me to a tiny used bookstore with narrow rows flanked by floor-to-ceiling shelves. I can still recall the thrill of perusing the offerings and can almost smell the enticing scent of old books.
No sooner were we inside the store than I raced to the romance section, where the sweet Harlequin romances were shelved. The books sold for a dime, and we each got to spend a dollar. Choosing my ten books was a delight.
We’d get home, I’d flop onto my bed and be whisked to some far off land: England, the Netherlands, Belgium. I dreamed of seeing those places someday.
Little did I know then that I would visit those countries, which I did when Gwynly got a job teaching at an American military high school in Germany years later. I recall standing in the market square in Delft, Holland on one of our vacations during our four and half years aboard and thinking that it looked just as the author of one of those Harlequin romances had described it.
I also dreamed of writing romances like those that had helped me pass many delightful hours as a romance-loving teen.
And now my dream’s come true. My book will be part of Harlequin’s Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled stories, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Like my debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, this story takes place in the Golden State. It’s set in 1866/67 in the Gold Rush-era town of Shingle Springs when it was experiencing its heyday.
The title and release date have yet to be determined, although I don’t expect to see the book on the shelves until some time in 2015. That’s a bit of a wait, but I don’t care. The anticipation will only serve to heighten my excitement.
I first pitched this story to Love Inspired editor Melissa Endlich at the 2012 ACFW conference, but I had yet to complete my self-directed revisions. She asked me to have Rachelle submit the story when it was ready, which she did.
After one of those long waits the publishing world is known for, I received a request for revisions from Emily, to whom my story had been assigned. I took one look at her suggestions and rejoiced. She’s every bit as savvy as my agent and gave me just what I needed to make the story stronger.
I blasted my way through the revisions, getting help on how to resolve a tricky issue from my sister, Karla, who is a romance writer and one of my plotting partners. I felt the revised version of the story was much better and held out hope Emily would agree.
After another wait, the call finally came. The contract followed, arriving the day after I’d returned from our trip. It’s been signed and is on its way to Harlequin, so I can finally share the news that kept my spirits up when I was going through the tough process of losing my dad.
I’d heard other authors talk about having received a “revise and resubmit” request prior to being contracted. The vast majority of them say “perform the revisions.” I echo that advice, because I’m living proof doing so can lead to good news.
The other lesson I learned is that following editors on Twitter is beneficial. I’ve devoured every tweet Emily posts for months now. She, and others like her, are generous with their publishing tips. I see encouraging tweets like the one above, which kept my hopes up as I awaited news from her, along with excellent reminders of writing craft do’s and don’ts.
Oh, and if you follow Emily Rodmell on Twitter, you’re guaranteed to see cute pics of pandas and penguins from time to time.
Since the good news came when Gwynly and I were busy preparing for our trip and my dad was failing, we haven’t really had time to celebrate. There’s an Olive Garden dinner in our future.
Right now I’m excited to share the news with all of you who have been so supportive of me through the years. I appreciate you greatly!