My First Sale by Amy J Fetzer, Don’t Tell Her What To Do
Romantic suspense author, Amy J Fetzer, isn’t at a loss for words being the wife and mother of Marines but it wasn’t until she was 30 that she put those words on paper. As her story below relates, it took her three years to write her first book which she never published (and from the sounds of it never will publish in the future). Fetzer writes red hot, award winning romantic suspense books for Brava. Her last publication was Come As You (Dec 2007 release) and her next release, Intimate Danger is due out in bookstores in March.
When Jane of Dearauthor.com asked me to contribute a first Sale and what lead up to it, I thought, it’s likely the same for every writer. Lots of hard work and keep plugging away at it.
My first sale book was not the first one I’d written. I’d completed an 180,000-word disaster of a novel, with everything I loved about romance stuffed in it. I burned it when I sold my 25th novel, but kept the first pages that still make me roll my eyes and want to burn them as well. I won’t, it shows me how far I’ve come, and it’s nice to be reminded of that occasionally. So I started a new book, a time travel. 15 years ago paranormal barely existed in the publishing market.
Every writer I knew told me not to do it. They insisted that time travel was too unique for a first time author and it would not sell. Maybe after a few books, I could try.
Ha. Never tell a writer she can’t write a certain story.
I wrote the book, then started another. When the book Voyage of the Sea Witch sat on my desk, unsent, a friend encouraged me to send it to the RWA Golden Heart contest. I did, hoping to get feed back and at that time, you did. I placed in the first time paranormal category. I was so excited I went so far as to fly from Okinawa to Chicago to attend RWA Conference. I didn’t win. But 7 weeks later…
It was 7AM on Okinawa. I was wiping jelly off of my two sons, doing the clothes check before sending one son off to kindergarten and the other to his special education program, both at Bob Hope Elementary. Just as we were headed out the door to the bus, the phone rang. Sold.
I remember screaming, doing the pogo stick jump, and my oldest son joining me with a “If I keep this up, maybe she won’t crack,” look of a five year-old.
My agent had been trying to reach me for 2 days. (bad phones, no internet) When she did, I learned I’d sold not just one, but three books and was slated as the lead author. I didn’t know what that meant. I’d been writing with no input from anyone for 2 years till I joined the Okinawa Writers Guild. I was so innocent that manuscript format was a foreign word till I met them. I learned more about writing from the members and developed a thick skin. It was mostly men and romance brought a snicker or a wisecrack.
So after screaming my head off, I learned I needed to contact my editor. (oh the feeling that came with saying that!) I escorted my kids to the bus top—carrying an uncorked bottle of champagne, a gift from a supportive friend. As the bus drove away carrying my bewildered children, I promptly shook the champagne, and showered myself in it, screaming “I sold a book!” My oldest was staring out the back window with, I swear, this look on his face…..
I drank the rest, and since I normally don’t drink, I was snockered, ripped, and tanked.
Oh yeah. I deserved it. I was alone anyway.
My husband was deployed at the time and I had to hunt him down to tell him the news. He didn’t seem too excited, but he was in the jungle somewhere on maneuvers with live-fire around him. It wasn’t a priority.
I sobered up (napped) then called my editor. There’s 13 hours difference and was the end of the day for him. He never got the time change right and would call at 2 am often enough that I sent him the time zone page out of the military phone book, my time zone highlighted. Still didn’t work. Good for him that I was usually writing when he called.
They changed my title and wanted me to change my name. For reasons I have never understood, Amy J. Fetzer, sounded better to him that Amy Fetzer. His other choice was Amy Castellana (maiden name) and he said it wouldn’t fit on a cover. I didn’t care. Print on burlap, I’m good!
That week, I celebrated with my fellow writers at the OWG with cheesecake and champagne. It was the most decadent thing I could find on the island. The cheesecake was frozen, imported from Australia. We returned to the USA 4 months before My Timeswept Heart was released in October. It sold out by December. Since then I’ve written and sold 35 novels and novella.
My next one is Book #3 of Dragon One series, Come As You Are. I hope you like it.
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