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My First Sale by Claudia Dain

claudia_bioWelcome to the My First Sale series. Each Monday, Dear Author posts the first sale letter of bestselling authors, debut authors, and authors in between. Claudia Dain writes romance stories about the woman getting everything she wants. Her latest book, To Dazzle a Duke, is in stores now with her mass market reprint The Courtesan’s Secret to be released in October. In case you missed it, Ned and I put together a little lego video of her book, The Courtesan’s Daughter.

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It wasn’t easy, let me just say that right off. I’d written two books before I even sent the first book to a publisher. When my manuscript pages came back, untouched by human hands (I’d be willing to swear to this in court), I figured out that I should probably get an agent.

That took forever. I was writing my fourth book when I got an agent. She loved my third book and sent it around to the publishers. Months passed, a year or two passed (I’ve blurred this period in my memory), and while she was waiting to hear back about book three, she read book four and didn’t like it.

I started writing book five. It was when I was halfway through book five that my house burned to the ground. We lost 90% of everything we owned. Family photos. Treasured mementos. My computer. My manuscripts. I watched every tangible thing in my life disappear into flame and smoke.

After the fire, my husband dug through the smoking, hot rubble and found what was left of my computer. I told him it was useless. He told me that it was worth a try. He took my computer to a couple of computer geeks and they were able to retrieve all my Word Documents. My husband came home with them like a warrior returning from the battlefield, sword raised aloft, a victorious gleam in his eyes and a grin on his face.

I cried.

My agent said she only liked book three and no one wanted to buy it, so she dropped me.

I cried, and kept writing. I was determined to finish the fifth book, the fire book, because writers write. I was a writer, if only in my own mind, and I was going to finish the book, no matter what.

And then my mother died.

I cried and cried. And I kept writing.

I finished book five. I found another agent. She sold book four. (Is this starting to sound like one of those horrible math problems? Train A leaves Cincinnati at 12:10 and Train B leaves Honolulu at 7:17, Train A is traveling west at 67 MPH and Train B is traveling east at 42 MPH-when will Train A and Train B reach New Haven? You’re exactly right. It’s a trick question. Everyone knows that no one writes five books and sells the first one.)

So, book four sold, the book my first agent didn’t like. Then, in the irony of all ironies, book three sold. Book four is my debut book, Tell Me Lies, and book three is my second book, The Holding. The Holding is a true fan favorite. Book five? The one I was writing when the house burned down? To Burn.

My husband says that if I ever write a book with the working title, Killing Him, he’s moving out. No hard feelings, but a Sign is a Sign.

I honestly don’t know how many books I’ve written by now, and I don’t remember the order of writing to publication either. I hate math and what I’ve just shared with you is as far as my brain can go. A train to New Haven? Can’t I just fly?

But am I a writer? Yes, I am. Writers write. Through fire and death and tears, they write. Write on.

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

32 Comments

  1. Debra Saturday
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 05:16:43

    Claudia,

    You have the heart of a warrior. Thank you for sharing and inspiring.

    Your husband is right, a Sign is a Sign. *smile*

    May you have many happy days ahead with happy titles in mind,

    Debra Saturday

    ReplyReply

  2. Jayne
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 05:18:19

    But am I a writer? Yes, I am. Writers write. Through fire and death and tears, they write. Write on.

    Fabulous.

    My husband says that if I ever write a book with the working title, Killing Him, he's moving out. No hard feelings, but a Sign is a Sign.

    Hilarious.

    ReplyReply

  3. Priya
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 06:16:24

    Ms Dain,

    Thank you for sharing your story. Definitely one to show my husband (a writer himself) when next he shows concern about lack of interest in his books and this is now one of my all-time favourite quotes:

    But am I a writer? Yes, I am. Writers write. Through fire and death and tears, they write. Write on.

    ReplyReply

  4. Taylor
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 06:18:39

    Great story! Love the hubby’s part in all of this.

    ReplyReply

  5. carolyn crane
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 07:04:13

    What a great story! I love this. Thanks for sharing it.

    ReplyReply

  6. Gennita Low
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 07:09:41

    Claudia, we’ve met only a couple of times, but the thing that always stayed with me (and not knowing your story) was your wonderful sense of humor and beautiful smile. I remember sitting at a table with you and laughing myself silly because you were so damn witty. Your first sale story is amazing–makes me not want to complain anymore when I’m doing math. ;-)

    ReplyReply

  7. Charlotte Stein
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 07:13:29

    You’re an inspiration. I’ve never read any of your books, and you’re still an inspiration. I’ll be buying one of them, now, too.

    ReplyReply

  8. Ciar Cullen
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 07:54:33

    You are courageous and obviously born to write. Many congrats for weathering so much and coming out so classy.

    ReplyReply

  9. Claudia Dain
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 08:00:47

    Debra, no one has =ever= given me such a great compliment. The heart of a warrior. I’m taking that to the grave!

    ReplyReply

  10. Claudia Dain
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 08:02:07

    Gennita, I remember you so well! I remember us laughing like crazy. What we were laughing about I have no idea, but I think I wet my pants. Don’t tell anyone.

    ReplyReply

  11. Claudia Dain
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 08:03:08

    Taylor, I love hubby’s part in this story, too! He’s a hero.

    ReplyReply

  12. Claudia Dain
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 08:14:53

    Charlotte, thank you.

    ReplyReply

  13. Sonja Foust
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 08:34:50

    What an amazing story. I think I knew little bits and pieces of this, but I’ve never heard it all at once. Thanks so much for sharing, and for inspiring your fellow writers!

    ReplyReply

  14. Claudia Dain
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 08:37:05

    Sonja, bits and pieces because it’s a complicated story filled with chapters of me crying! Honestly, I never knew I was such a cry-baby until I wrote all this down. :)

    ReplyReply

  15. Jayne
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 09:09:25

    Question: Will you ever write another historical western? I loved “A Kiss to Die For” and have been hoping for another like it.

    ReplyReply

  16. Angela T.
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 09:13:44

    Great post, Claudia! I’m glad you kept on writing.

    ReplyReply

  17. Claudia Dain
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 09:58:42

    Jayne, it’s all about the market. Historical westerns are a tough sell and have been for awhile. I love them!

    Of course, I’m so happy in the Regency that I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to make myself write anything else.

    ReplyReply

  18. Janine
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 10:58:00

    What a fabulous story.

    After the fire, my husband dug through the smoking, hot rubble and found what was left of my computer. I told him it was useless. He told me that it was worth a try. He took my computer to a couple of computer geeks and they were able to retrieve all my Word Documents. My husband came home with them like a warrior returning from the battlefield, sword raised aloft, a victorious gleam in his eyes and a grin on his face.

    I think he’s worth keeping.

    ReplyReply

  19. Sabrina Jeffries
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 11:07:34

    I too know most of this story, but I don’t think I ever heard the part about your DH rescuing the books. That’s so romantic! No wonder you adore him.

    I’m just glad you kept writing through all those tears. Your books have given me many hours of pleasure! I’m reading How to Dazzle right now, and loving it as usual.

    ReplyReply

  20. CEmerson
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 11:29:08

    What a great story. I laughed out loud when you got to the train-problem part, because that’s exactly what I was thinking at that point. (Book five. Book four. Okay, wait, is book three still making the rounds?)

    And your husband rocks. I think every writer dreams of having a champion like that.

    ReplyReply

  21. Kate Pearce
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 11:40:35

    Now that is a story in itself. Congratulations for persevering and for having such a great husband :)

    ReplyReply

  22. Claudia Dain
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 11:42:24

    Yeah, Big D (the Big Dain) is wonderful. It’s perfectly okay with me that other women think he’s as wonderful as I do. Because I am that secure.

    Really.

    ReplyReply

  23. Claudia Dain
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 11:44:16

    CEmerson, having a champion in your corner sure makes the slogging through the muck ducking arrows part easier!

    ReplyReply

  24. Janine
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 11:59:18

    LOL, Claudia!

    ReplyReply

  25. Carolyn Jewel
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 13:20:19

    How wonderful that your husband persisted with the file recovery. That was just so sweet of him. And we’re all glad, of course, that you found the right agent.

    ReplyReply

  26. Claudia Dain
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 14:04:32

    Ah, but Carolyn, that was agent number two. I’m on agent number three now. At least I’m still on husband number one!

    ReplyReply

  27. votermom
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 15:57:30

    I LOVE your Courtesan series. I am so glad you persevered. You are a wonderful writer.

    And your hubby is quite a Knight in Shining Armor.

    LOL about “A Sign is A Sign.” I recommend you write a novel titled “Instant Millionaire.”

    ReplyReply

  28. Lorraine
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 18:36:54

    Of course, I'm so happy in the Regency that I don't know if I'll ever be able to make myself write anything else.

    Claudia, say it ain’t so.

    I absolutely LOVE your medieval books. To Burn is one of my favorites. The minute I finished it I started reading it all over again, enjoying it more the second time. It’s not often that writers chose that time period and I loved it. The Holding and The Marriage Bed are just as great.

    So sorry to hear that you lost everything in that fire. But how lucky are you to have hit the romance jackpot…what a wonderful husband you have!

    ReplyReply

  29. Claudia Dain
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 18:40:08

    Votermom, why didn’t I think of that! The world can be my oyster, all through the amazing miracle of titling my books!! This is going to change my life!!!

    ReplyReply

  30. Claudia Dain
    Sep 14, 2009 @ 18:42:12

    Lorraine, what can I say? You can only write what a pile of people will buy. I LOVED writing my medieval books and would love to write more. If the market changes….

    I’d be happy writing both medievals and Regencies. That would be a perfect world.

    ReplyReply

  31. vicariousrising
    Sep 15, 2009 @ 01:02:42

    I wanted to chime in with everyone else who is cheering for your husband’s support. It sounds like something mine would do. With all the rejection in this business, having a partner who will dig through a fire for you is irreplaceable.

    And Tell Me Lies was an absolutely delightful book.

    ReplyReply

  32. votermom
    Sep 15, 2009 @ 10:12:43

    Votermom, why didn't I think of that!

    A 15% gratuity would be deeply appreciated if it works. ;)

    ReplyReply

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