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First Sale

My First Sale by Virginia Kantra (& Giveaway)

My First Sale by Virginia Kantra (& Giveaway)

Virginia KantraWelcome to the My First Sale series. Each Monday, Dear Author posts the first sale letter of bestselling authors, debut authors, and authors in between. Virginia Kantra writes paranormal romances for Berkley. Her book, Immortal Sea, is out in stores beginning on September 7, 2010.

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Our three children sprawl around the kitchen table doing-’or not doing-’their back-to-school homework.   A drawing of "My Family."   Some version of "How I Spent My Summer Vacation."   A fifth grade essay titled "When I Grow Up…" And my husband turns to me and asks, "And what do you want to be when you grow up, little girl?"

Good question.

Because, of course, we both know the answer.   I want to be a writer.   I've been writing my entire life, stories of True Love and Adventure that have languished on my desk or my computer's hard drive or in the back of my filing cabinet.   The demands of three small kids-’two with major medical issues before the age of five-’meant that for days or years at a time I could ignore my dream.   My husband's gentle challenge reminds me of it.

I read a lot of romance.   "You know," I say to him slowly, "I think I'd like to write a romance novel."

Immortal SeaFast forward ten years.   I've written and sold over a dozen stories to Silhouette's Intimate Moments line.   I'm working on the third book in the Trouble in Eden series ("Small town!   Big secrets! And hearts on the line!") when my agent calls.

"Cindy Hwang at Berkley wants to know if you'd like to write a novella for an anthology she's putting together."

Oh. My. God.   Yes, yes, YES!   Euphoria ensues.   Terms and deadlines are set.

And then Cindy herself calls.

When I am finally capable of stringing a complete sentence together, I ask, rather shyly and haltingly, which other authors are contributing to the anthology.   She tells me: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Maggie Shayne, and Suzanne Forster.

Oh. My. God.   More euphoria!   And then I realize…These are paranormal authors.   Cindy Hwang actually has no idea who I am.   This whole thing has been a terrible mistake and there is nothing I can do but come clean. I am not the Virginia Kantra she is looking for.

"Um," I say, because Words Are My Stock-in-trade, "you do know that I write contemporary?   Domestic drama?   Romantic suspense?"

"Oh, yes," she says, because reassuring paranoid authors is an editor's stock-in-trade.   "You wrote the Eden books."

We talk long enough about my work that I am cautiously encouraged that maybe she has the right Virginia Kantra after all before I ask, "And, er, that's what you want?   For this anthology?"

Because at this point I am prepared to give this wonderful, intelligent woman whatever she asks for, including any one of the three children.   (At least as a loan.)

"If that's what you want to write," Cindy says promptly.

I am dizzy with freedom.

"Or if you want to write something a little different," she continues, "that would be fine, too.   Anthologies are a wonderful place for authors to experiment.   Whatever you want," she repeats, in case I haven't got the point yet.

So, drunk on possibilities, I begin babbling to her about one of the stories buried in the back of the filing cabinet for fifteen years, a modern day retelling of Tam Lin set in the mountains of North Carolina.

"Between the Mountains and the Moon" in the anthology MAN OF MY DREAMS was my first sale to Berkley (and, incidentally, my first non-category book nominated for Romance Writers of America's RITA award).

Euphoria.

Cindy is still encouraging me to write the books I want to write.   IMMORTAL SEA, my fourth Children of the Sea novel and my ninth project for Berkley, comes out tomorrow, Tuesday, September 7.   It's a story about family and True Love and Adventure.   Berkley had agreed to give away 5 copies of IMMORTAL SEA to folks who leave comments.

Now that you've heard about my first sale, tell me:   What do YOU want to be when you grow up?   And if you had to pick one different genre to read or write in, what would it be?

My First Sale by Gail Carriger

My First Sale by Gail Carriger

Welcome to the My First Sale series. Each Monday, Dear Author posts the first sale letter of bestselling authors, debut authors, and authors in between. Gail Carriger is the author of the Parasol Protectorate series.  You can friend or follow Gail on Twitter, Facebook, Livejournal, or Blogspot. Or join The Parasol Protectorate Facebook Group and take over the world one sip of tea at a time. You can also play the  Alexia paper-doll dress up game (beware, though, I’ve wasted many many precious minutes on this game. Blameless, the latest book in the series, is out now.

***

So I wrote  Soulless on a dare. No really.

I was winching on, as you do, that no one wanted to buy my overwritten overbuilt YA fantasy series (ten years or so of trying).

My then partner, AKA the Louder Half, looked at me and rumbled, “So why don’t you just write something that will sell?”

To which I replied, “I’ll play your silly game.”

At which he explained, “Your problem is that you want to be an artist. What you need to be is an artisan.”

He’s a computer geek, what can I say?

But there was some merit to this idea. So I thought to myself, what’s missing in the book world right now? What do I want to read that I can’t find? What niche can I carve for myself in this troublesome market? I know they say never to write “to the market”, but I was so very tired of playing by all the rules.

So I nosed about. There were plenty of urban fantasy books out there but they were mostly contemporary. Steampunk was just getting popular but it was mostly dark. I enjoy reading about the past but I also dearly love a good laugh. So I dared myself to try to write a steampunk urban fantasy comedy of manners. Why not? I had nothing else to loose.

It took me 6 months to write and then I sent  Soulless out into the slush piles and prepared to collect rejection letters. I did collect them, but mostly from agents.

Much to my shock, just under two months later, I got that fateful 212 phone call that every writer dreams of (212 is the area code for New York City). I was drinking a most excellent latte and correcting term papers at my favorite local cafe. There might have been some rather indelicate sputtering and a certain amount of foam loss as a result of the fact that on the other end of the line was a senior editor from a major publishing house.

I then wandered, in simulated dignity and forgetting all about both exams and latte, through the cafe and out the back where I started gyrating around the parking lot in an excess of excitement.

With possible contract to hand, I queried my first choice agent and she said yes. Contract negotiations commenced. Only then did I find out they wanted a series.