This month marks the fourth year since I got THE CALL, the most exciting day of a writer's life. When someone (in this case, Kathleen Scheibling, senior editor at Harlequin American Romance) says they want to publish your first book, it's the realization of all the dreams you've imagined and the payoff for all the hard work you've done. It's validation. And I missed it. Sort of.
Can you imagine? Not that the offer would have been withdrawn, you understand. But to have the editor finally, Finally, FINALLY call with an offer and not answer the phone? Okay, here's what happened.
The date is also my mother-in-law's birthday. It was a Thursday. (Are you understanding how important this day became, that I know the day of the week?) So I had to clean house, cook a meal, bake and decorate a cake, etc. You know the drill. My kids were at school, husband at work, and I was...writing. You can imagine how glad I am now that I wasn't sleeping, shopping, or reading. That I was writing makes a better story. Phew.
I was in my office in the basement of the house. Outside my office door, a load of clothes was washing and another drying. I was also printing pages. Lots of noise. I never heard the phone ring.
I had an eye on the clock, and when it became the last minute (since I'm a deadline girl, lol), I saved my work in progress, closed the computer down, went upstairs, and did some cleaning. At some point in tidying the house, I had to take something to the room where the answering machine was and I noticed it blinking. I distinctly remember thinking I'd listen to it later; it was probably a sales call. But I do have kids, and although no school nurse had called my cell phone which I had with me while I was writing, it was possible it could be an emergency. So I hit Play.
Kathleen Scheibling had left a message.
Kathleen Scheibling. Senior editor. Who had my manuscript.
This is a weak-at-the-knees moment. Now, I was cautious. I'd received a call from an editor before, Brenda Chin, who bless her heart, directly after introducing herself said, "This isn't the call you're hoping for," enabling me to draw breath and listen. She, of course, meant it wasn't THE CALL.
Therefore, I tried not to get my hopes up this time. It was a little after noon here in the Midwest. I ran and found my copy of notes from the RWA PRO network on what to do when you get THE CALL. I skimmed it, took a deep breath and dialed Canada.
I got Kathleen's voice mail.
Jeez louise. Talk about roller coaster emotions! So I left a message that I was returning her call. Then I called my husband and told him I was waiting for the editor to call back, it probably didn't mean anything, not to get his hopes up, it was no big deal, and I was going back to cleaning and cooking and... (all of this in one breath, I'm sure). And while I'm reassuring him and hearing his excitement for me, the house phone rang. Caller ID read Harlequin Enterpr.
My husband wished me luck. I think I said goodbye before I closed the cell phone. Maybe. Kathleen explained the office was closing for the day due to a huge snowstorm and she almost didn't check messages, but she wasn't sure the office would be open on Friday. That's how intense the storm was.
And I'm thinking: I would have worried myself into anemia by Monday. (Okay, I don't know if it's possible to actually do that. But waiting would have made me a basket case.) Anyway, Kathleen offered for the book, I was so light-headed I had to sit down, and we talked details for a few minutes. We came to terms easily since I'd been studying up on this for a long, long time and knew what to expect from a contract, and that was that. I was a contracted author! Woo hoo!! I called my husband. I called my critique partner. And I went back to cleaning the house. Because as magical as it is to sell a book, the cleaning fairies didn't automatically appear to relieve me of mundane chores so I can write.
But my husband came home with a cake.
The Marriage Solution, May 2011
Stand-In Mom, Sept 2011