Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

My First Sale by Brenda Novak

It’s always exciting to revisit my first sale. I’ll soon be celebrating my 10-year anniversary of receiving The Call, which happened on August 26, 1998, and what a fun, challenging and rewarding ride it’s been so far!

I wasn’t one of those people who’d always dreamed of being a writer. I thought I was left-brained, better at math and science, or business. After majoring in Business Administration, I was content to help my entrepreneur husband start and run his various businesses-‘until I caught my daycare provider drugging my children with cough syrup to get them to sleep while I was working as a loan officer (so she could watch the soaps all day uninterrupted!). My trust destroyed, I knew I had to work from home; I wouldn’t leave my children vulnerable again. But I wasn’t sure how to make money. The only asset I knew for sure I possessed was the ability to type fast, so I considered starting a typing service. Fortunately, at the same time, I was reading Jude Devereaux’s A KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR and was so captivated by the story that the desire to pen my own novel began to burn in my heart.

That desire resulted in my first manuscript. It took me five years to do the research (it was set in Victorian England) and teach myself the craft. At this time I didn’t know about RWA or any other writer support organizations. In searching for the contacts I would need to get published, I fell victim to a "book doctor" who said I had commercial talent but needed a "just a little" professional editing. Twelve months later and $5,000 poorer, I had an 800-page manuscript that was supposedly ready to submit. But I’d trusted the wrong people, and it was way off target. Luckily for me, at this point fate interceded. A friend introduced me to Romance Writers of America and encouraged me to attend their annual conference.

I took that advice and went to the convention quite pregnant with my fifth child. I was there to meet potential publishers, but soon realized that I’d been taken. My manuscript wasn’t marketable (for a variety of reasons).

After putting so much work and expense into it (which I’d forced at a time when my husband’s business was failing and we were losing our home), that painful realization probably would’ve devastated me–except I could feel that I was finally in the right hands. I rushed home and, over the next four months, rewrote OF NOBLE BIRTH. The manuscript emerged as a lean 435-page historical romance, which I entered into The Golden Heart (RWA’s national contest for unpublished writers) and, lo and behold, I finaled. This lent me enough credibility to get me an agent, who sold that manuscript to HarperCollins almost a year later. The book came out in November 1999, and I’ve written twenty-eight books since then(only one historical, though-‘but that’s another story ).

TRUST ME, First book in The Last Stand Series, On Sale May 27th!
Don’t miss my on-line auction for diabetes research beginning May 1st at

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Terry
    Jun 06, 2008 @ 05:56:35

    Thanks for sharing your story, Brenda. I love stories about authors who didn’t know from age three that they had to write. I’m impressed with your courage and tenacity to stick with it once you decided that’s what you wanted to do. I probably would have started the typing service.

    And congratulations on all your successes.

  2. Maria
    Jun 06, 2008 @ 07:02:51

    Brenda, you are an inspiration! I admire your perseverence.

    Thanks for all you do.

  3. Roxanne St. Claire
    Jun 06, 2008 @ 07:35:05

    Brenda, your first sale story never fails to touch this mother’s heart. You are a testiment to tenacity, a genuine talent, and a generous woman with a great cause. Congratulations on all your success, and big props on hitting the USA Today list this week!!!

  4. Gennita Low
    Jun 06, 2008 @ 08:33:12

    I almost fell for Edit Ink in early-mid 1990s myself. Yikes, $5000!

    Hugs to you. Your determination rewarded you with not just a dream, but many, many people who admire your generosity and tenacity. Congrats on hitting the USA Today list!

  5. Jami Alden
    Jun 06, 2008 @ 10:02:57

    I love your story Brenda, and every time I hear it I give thanks for my wonderful daycare provider! Congratulations on the success of your auction and hitting the USA Today list!

  6. Janine
    Jun 06, 2008 @ 10:17:55

    I loved this story too. How horrifying about your daycare provider, though. Thank goodness you found out.

  7. Theresa
    Jun 06, 2008 @ 12:21:05

    Brenda, you have always been an inspiration to me. Congratulations on hitting the USA today! You deserve it! Ten years…wow! Time flies…

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