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My First Sale by Jade Lee

jadelee1Welcome to the My First Sale series. Each Friday, Dear Author posts the first sale letter of bestselling authors, debut authors, and authors in between.   Jade Lee writes romances for both series books for Harlequin and paranormals.   The Dragon Earl from Leisure and The Concubine which was a February Dear Author Recommended Read. Dragonbound is due out in April.

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The story of my first sale is a long and torturous one. For those people who have sold their first manuscript at auction for a ton of money…I say BTTTH! That wasn’t me. It took me fricking forever to break in!

It begins with a terminally bored technical writer we’ll call Sad Jade. Sad Jade loved romance, especially regency era. One day, she read a very badly written book. Sad Jade said, I can do better! And went on to write her very first screenplay.

cover_concubineYes, I said screenplay. Sad Jade wasn’t so bright. Actually, I just thought that film was way cooler than novels, and so that’s what I wanted to do. So I wrote a fantasy romance screenplay titled Ringwolves about a woman mentally bonded to a wolf pack and the man who hunts her down and…um… doesn’t end up killing her. Fantasy romance before there was a genre!

It was enough to get me into the USC Professional Writing Program. I ended up with a MPW degree (Masters of Professional Writing) and a handful of romance screenplays: one comic, two science fictiony, and one weird, depressive thing. And then I moved to Central Illinois (see above about Jade not being very smart).

The truth? I wanted to have babies and my family lived in the midwest. Plus, Mr. Lee had a job offer back in Illinois. Disliking the idea of being pregnant and poor, we packed up and moved back to Illinois. Once there, I continued to write screenplays. Lots of fun, but there was no film market out here in the cornfields. Go figure.

Eventually, I caught a clue. Remember, there was no internet back then (dinosaurs kept stepping on the cables) and I thought: Hey, I love reading romance. Even my screenplays are romance. So what about trying a romance novel?

So I did. And I did. And I did. I wrote five manuscripts plus their screenplay adaptations to no success. I may be dumb, but at least I work hard. And you know what? That’s when I finally learned how to put a story together. I had to write long and then learn to tighten.

At this point, I was years past my first day at screenplay school, finally moving past diapers and mush (aka baby food), and still not selling. Or at least not selling to a company that stayed in business long enough to pay me. I had sales to an audio company that went under the month before my story came out. To Romantic Interludes which went belly up soon after that. Then there were the strong leads or verbal agreements with just about every small press out there. Over the years, I had quit 3 times only to go back to writing, ultimately-finally-writing a story for just me. A futuristic romance (before there were futuristics) titled Oracle. It sold to a small press.

On the upside, the book went up for a Rita, everyone (in my circle) was talking about the awesome opportunities in small press, and I didn’t slit my wrists out of frustration. In retrospect, I wish I had just waited for the Love Spell line to be born through Dorchester. Oh well, patience was never my strongpoint.

dragon-earl

Next came the sale of the screenplay adaptation of regency romance Rules for a Lady (by my other penname Katherine Greyle) to be done as CBS movie of the week. Oh wait…writers strike (SAG went with them) and the discovery of reality tv. So disappeared my movie of the week. Why would CBS produce a costume drama when they could put castaways on Survivor for a tiny fraction of the price? *sigh* Fortunately, Dorchester still wanted to traditional regency despite the lack of a movie. And a career was born as Katherine Greyle who wrote light, funny regencies for Leisure Books.

And then, five years later, dark, sensuous Jade Lee was born! Turns out, sex sells. (Remember, not so bright here.) Even more shocking, I’m really good at writing sensuous romance. Even stranger still, I really enjoy writing a great love scene-or three. I like the challenge of writing more than just body parts and delving deep into how people make love and why. Tender, angry, passionate, even cold-’all those notes show up in lovemaking, and I want to explore them all. Next, my editor created the Asian brand by suggesting I do something with my heritage. Dorchester is known for taking risks, so then the tigress series was born, set in China. Then fantasy romance made a come-back and I could finally publish Dragonborn and Dragonbound (coming out this April). And lastly, I’m bringing China into the Regency with The Dragon Earl.

Whew! So that’s the story of my writing career beginning. Of course, after 22 books, I still feel like I’m searching for my best story, my best voice, my best book-of-the-heart. And that only comes when I stop thinking about publication or production. Oracle happened when I just wrote what I loved, and it was groundbreaking. Same with Devil’s Bargain, Jade Lee’s first dark, sensuous story. Even White Tigress (Chinese tantrics) and Dragonborn (fantasy romance with dragons!) happened because I loved the story idea, not because I was trying to hit a market. So tell me what you think! Do you love multicultural and/or dragons as much as I do?

Jade Lee
www.jadeleeauthor.com
USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR
Dragonbound April 09
The Concubine (Blaze historical) Feb 09
Winter Heat (anthology) Jan 09
The Dragon Earl Sept 08

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She 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

35 Comments

  1. Jayne
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 04:56:42

    Do you love multicultural and/or dragons as much as I do?

    Well, I love multicultural. I want multicultural. But then I think I’ve mentioned this more than once here. ;)

  2. sula
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 07:04:37

    I agree with Jayne. More multicultural romance please!!!! And Ms. Lee, you are a fine writer and a great saleswoman to boot. I ended up buying one of your books last year at RWA without intending to just because you were so persuasive. And it was great fun to read, win-win. :)

  3. Leeann Burke
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 07:05:47

    Jade, the first book I read of yours is a Katherine Greyle release, Almost An Angel. To this date it’s still my favorite. However that doesn’t stop me from picking up your sensual Jade Lee books. I’ve enjoyed those as well.

    Here’s hoping you become another RITA finalist this year.

  4. Lorelie
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 07:06:07

    I love multicultural. Don’t do dragons quite so much, though. Or, um, at all. :D (Can’t seem to twist my brain the right way.) So this seems like a good opportunity to ask: which Jade Lee books have less fantasy in them? Or even none would be good.

  5. Jayne
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 07:29:44

    The historical tantric Tiger series has no dragons.

  6. S. W. Vaughn
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 08:11:33

    Why, yes, I do love multicultural and dragons! And I will definitely be reading The Dragon Earl. :-)

    Jade, I love your story. It made me very happy for poor Sad Jade – so glad she finally got the chance to come out and play! Here’s to your continued success.

    *cheers*

  7. Jade Lee
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 08:52:20

    Thanks all! Actually, writing this blog reminded me of how far I’ve come even though there are days when I feel like i”m still back at the beginning, looking for the best story. I’m glad you all like my books! I’m glad too that I stuck with it through the torturous beginnings!

    To answer Lorelie–I recommend The Dragon Earl. No dragons. No paranormal. Just regency-set historical. In fact the opening is a woman at the altar about to marry a future earl when a guy in saffron monk’s robes comes striding up the aisle saying, “So sorry. I know I’m late, but I’m here now. We can get married.” He’s the long lost earl and the one she’s SUPPOSED to marry. But he’s dressed all weird with a shaved head and all!

    Leanne– I’m so glad someone remembers Almost an Angel. That book is so me struggling to figure out what the heck I’m supposed to be doing in this world!!!

  8. Barb Ferrer
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 09:10:54

    Jade! You are too way smart! *smacks Jade for putting herself down*

    And yeah, of course, I LOVE multicultural romance/love stories. Which is why I write them. Maybe one of these days, someone will want to buy them. *g* But in the meantime, there you are, girl, waving the banner!

  9. Jade Lee
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 09:15:02

    Mea Culpa Barb! Thank you!

    Just picture me red faced waving a BIG yin/yang banner! *grin*

  10. Ruth
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 09:18:56

    From the way you kept plugging at screenplays, I’d bet that you’re visual rather than dumb. ;) And I’ll bet that has a good effect on your work.

    The opening of The Dragon Earl sounds fascinating. I’ll have to see if I can get my hands on a copy. I love Regency, especially with a twist.

  11. Julia Justiss
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 09:24:42

    Ditto on multicultural but not fantasy. I’m really excited about getting a copy of your new HQ Blaze. I’m the girl who read Shogun about 5 times and then everything she could find back to the Book of Genji, ran out to buy the first DVDs released of The Last Samurai and Memoirs of a Geisha. Fascinating, to have a window into a very different culture’s interpretation of honor, duty, family, etc.

    Glad that Sad Jade finally got to be Happy Published Jade!

  12. Lori
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 09:52:31

    I heart Jade.

  13. Carolyn Jewel
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 10:10:18

    Jade:

    You always make me laugh. I love multi-cultural too and wish there were more of it, or less of it marketed in silos. Cross over, please. Of course I’ll be picking up your latest books.

  14. rebyj
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 10:19:27

    I’m a fan of multicultural and I *heart* dragons.
    Great story, I’m a fan of your books and you do write a good steamy love scene. I want to read the weird depressive thing! I’m shocked at how emo menopause is, no one told me about that LOL.

  15. JulieLeto
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 10:24:01

    And yeah, of course, I LOVE multicultural romance/love stories. Which is why I write them. Maybe one of these days, someone will want to buy them. *g*

    Amen, Barb!

    Jade, what a GREAT story! I’m glad you stuck it out and kept doing what you loved.

  16. Jade Lee
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 10:24:17

    I heart all of you! And if you haven’t read it, Carolyn Jewel’s demon series is really hot!

    As for the weird depressive thing, I think that imploded into a black hole of moodiness. And…IS THAT WHY I”M SO MOODY???? Menopause??? What didn’t someone tell me? Oh wait…maybe it’s because my family all runs screaming from me. Especially during deadline time…

  17. Jia
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 10:27:29

    Like Jayne, I love multicultural and definitely want to see and read more of it!

  18. Emma Petersen
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 10:29:18

    Do you love multicultural and/or dragons as much as I do?

    I totally heart multicultural books and dragons.

  19. Jessa Slade
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 12:30:55

    no internet back then (dinosaurs kept stepping on the cables)

    Ah, the good ol’ days… I love the cover for Dragon Earl. Great colors.

  20. Janine
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 13:02:34

    Yes on the multicultural. I picked up (and enjoyed) White Tigress because of the China setting and the Asian hero. I love a well-written multicultural book, though the first thing I look for is good writing. And yay for pesistence!!! Thanks for sharing your first sale story!

  21. Courtney
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 13:50:37

    I agree with all of you on the love of the multicultural. I too would love to see more of them!
    The funny thing is, I recently sold my first book to Ravenous Romance pitching it as a paranormal. My editor told me it was also multicultural because my hero is Hawaiian. I didn’t even realize I was writing what can be classified as multicultural because I was just writing what I like.

  22. SonomaLass
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 14:45:18

    I <3 dragons! I also really appreciate some cultural diversity in characters and settings, when they are handled well. Obviously Ms. Lee takes care in that regard, and I’m now looking forward to reading some titles I didn’t know about.

  23. Jade Lee
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 16:29:52

    SonomaLass! I first read that as: I am less than three dragons. For some reason, that really, really cracked me up!

    Anyway, yeah multicultural! And yes, it really felt for a while that “multicultural” meant African American. All those other enthinicities–Hawaiian, Korean, whomever, even European–are really interesting to me. I hope that we can get more of those books out there! There are people who write unusual settings, we’re just few and far between.

  24. Jayne
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 16:58:35

    Isn’t there some html computer code for an actual heart so people don’t think you’re less than three dragons? Someone’s used it here before and I want it!

    Also, meant to say that this is a nice picture of you Jade. Such a lovely smile.

  25. Gennita Low
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 18:03:34

    Jade, sweets, Oracle still sits on my shelf. It was a really groundbreaking book for its time.

    Hugs to you (and you still owe me a drink for saving you and Chris from being late to the Ritas last year).

  26. rebyj
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 18:22:33

    Jayne, my teen says this will work..

    The symbol Amphorsand the word hearts and a semicolon; no spaces
    & hearts ;

    whoot! That worked.

  27. Jayne
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 18:35:36

    Double woot! Now we can ♥ with abandon.

  28. Janine
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 19:08:39

    ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

  29. Lorraine
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 20:05:50

    So tell me what you think!

    I think you’re very funny and that someone with such a great sense of humor must write fabulous books!

    I’ve never read any of them, but I see them everywhere. Next time I do, I’m buying me some.

  30. SonomaLass
    Feb 20, 2009 @ 20:18:14

    But I AM less than three dragons! Much less, alas.

    I ♥ them, too.

    It’s good to know a heart code, although it may be dangerous with so many romance readers around.

  31. Jade Lee
    Feb 21, 2009 @ 07:46:13

    I ♥ all of you! Thanks for taking your time to listen to me! And Sonamalass, you’re better than 3 dragons in my book!

  32. Jade Lee
    Feb 21, 2009 @ 07:47:52

    PS. Genita…yes, I still owe you a drink! You did save me from being REALLY late to the Ritas! It would have been very embarrassing if I’d won. But Madeline Hunter took Best Historical last year. Maybe this year!

  33. Barb Ferrer
    Feb 21, 2009 @ 16:06:23

    But you wore a righteous dress with a sheer embroidered back!

    Still one of my favorite pictures of the two of us.

  34. Jade Lee
    Feb 21, 2009 @ 20:34:52

    Ditto Barb! And, God willing, I still fit into that dress!

  35. Karen W.
    Feb 21, 2009 @ 20:47:44

    Loved your story, Jade. Thanks for the laughs. :-) And yes, definitely more multi-cultural, please!

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