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My First Sale by Barbara Caridad Ferrer, Why July’s a Hot...

Caridad Ferrer is famous for many things, a few of them romance related. She’s written a RITA winner novel, Adios to My Old Life and this year she’ll be presenting at the RITAs in another vintage gown. Why another? Because last year, the fabulous Ferrer wore Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Oscar dress. Yes, I didn’t mistype that.

Caridad followed up her RITA winning book with another award nominated book, It’s Not About the Accent a book that she hopes will give readers the opportunity to “gain a greater understanding on how surface impressions are but a fraction of what makes us individual.” Good advice for all of us with RWA coming up.


Well, aside from the obvious, which is it’s the height of summer and I live in Florida where we have two seasons: Summer and Not Summer. Obvious aside, July’s historically been a memorable month for me. My anniversary is in July, my son was born in July, and I made my first sale in July. July 2005, to be exact and the way it happened wasn’t at all how I would’ve expected, starting with what sold. See, I started out in this gig writing romance and women’s fiction. I signed with my agent in March of ’05 on the basis of a romance manuscript and it was that manuscript we started shopping the following May. By mid-June, I finished another manuscript I’d been working on, then proceeded to sit around and twitch and basically drive everyone nuts while I waited to hear what was going on with the submission. My critique partner was desperately trying to get me to start something new since she claims I’m insufferable when I’m not working (she has a point) but I was all, “No, no- what if THIRTEEN sells? You know it would make me crazy to have to drop a new project in the middle and leave it hanging- unfinished- all forlorn and abandoned and crying out for completion-” (So I’m a twitchy anal-retentive Virgo with control issues-‘at least I’m self-aware.)

However, lucky for her, my agent swooped in and saved the day. In early July, while I was still sitting around and twitching, she asked, “Hey, I’ve heard there’s an editor looking for a Latina young adult. You have any ideas percolating in that brain of yours?”

book review To which I responded, “Are you high? I wasn’t YA when I was YA.” Essentially the same thing I’d said to my friend Alesia Holliday (AKA Alyssa Day) when she suggested I try writing a YA because she thought my voice was suited to the genre. Although honestly, I think I might have also been driving her nuts with the twitching as well. But now the idea was out there, and it’s just like how Sally said in When Harry Met Sally: once it’s out there, you can’t take it back and since the idea was out there, it was driving me (predictably) nuts. What on earth could I write about that would be relatable as a young adult novel? You know what? It’s like any other kind of writing-‘write what you know. I knew Cuban American girls. I knew music. I knew competitiveness. I knew Miami. And above all, I knew the desire to desperately want to succeed. So I sat down at the computer and over the Fourth of July weekend, sketched out the proposal for a story about a young woman, an accomplished musician, whose greatest dream is to become a professional performer despite her overprotective Cuban dad’s misgivings. I sent it to my agent who immediately emailed back, “It’s the 4th of July, why are you writing instead of grilling a hot dog or something?” Then, a couple of hours later, “This is great! It doesn’t even need any changes, I’m going to send it to the editor on Tuesday.”

At the very least, with this submission, I didn’t have time to sit around and twitch because RWA Nationals was coming up and there was list making and shopping and packing and pre-dawn cross-country flights galore. End result, there I was, jet-lagged as all get out, standing on the casino floor of the Reno Hilton with Alesia and Marianne Mancusi-‘beneath some big red truck suspended or mounted on a platform, honestly, I can’t quite remember much about that-‘just that there was a big red truck above my head when my cell phone rang. It was my agent, who was still in New York, calling to tell me that Pocket/MTV Books wanted to buy my young adult book. And not only that, they wanted to buy it as part of a two book deal.

Oh. My. God. The shrieking that echoed through that casino-‘I’m sure the innocent bystanders thought I’d won the Big One, you know? Well, in my world I had.

book review Fast-forward and Adiós to My Old Life is officially published on July 4, 2006, a year to the day after I wrote the proposal. Fast-forward some more, to July 14, 2007, where I found myself in the unlikeliest of places: on stage, accepting the RITA for Best Contemporary Single Title Romance for Adiós. (Story for another time how it wound up in that category.)

You know, all along I’ve referred to Adiós as my Little Book that Could. For a book in a genre in which I never expected to find myself writing, it’s taken me some amazing places. From the first sale to the awards it’s won, to the letters I’ve received from readers, teen and adult alike, to, believe or not, my second sale. An editor who’d read Adiós and loved it emailed me out of the blue and asked if I’d be interested in reinterpreting the story of Bizet’s Carmen as a young adult novel.

Um- let’s see. Classic big, sweeping, dramatic story with intrigue, a love triangle, and I can put my own unique spin on it? How could I not be interested? So that’s how, in July of 2009, my third young adult novel, So She Dances, will be released.

Suffice it to say, July = a very good month for me.

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. Jayne
    Jul 25, 2008 @ 06:52:28

    Wow, is that RITA dress hot or what? And is Caridad’s husband hot or what?

  2. Amy
    Jul 25, 2008 @ 08:49:02

    What a great profile of a really fun writer — thanks!

  3. Maya
    Jul 25, 2008 @ 09:01:05

    love your story, adore carmen, can’t wait to read how you reinterpret it. srsly; carmen has been very good to me, not just one of my BFF with that name, but i won a trip to spain during a production of the classic opera. my son has known how to hum ‘toreador’ since he was a toddler!

  4. Michelle
    Jul 25, 2008 @ 09:09:04

    I’ll ask. How did you manage to wear M.G.’s Oscar dress to the Ritas?

    How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent is one of my favorite novels, so I look forward to reading It’s Not About the Accent.

  5. Stephanie
    Jul 25, 2008 @ 09:27:17

    I second Michelle’s question. Other than by apparently being the same size as M.G. :)

  6. Alyson Noel
    Jul 25, 2008 @ 09:27:17

    Great story Barb!
    Hope to see you in SF!

  7. Monica Burns
    Jul 25, 2008 @ 10:08:30

    Hey sweetie, You know what a HUGE admirer of yours I am!! You deserve all the wonderful things that have happened to you and will continue to happen to you. Oh, and I don’t think I told you, but Oldest loved Adios and Baby will too.

  8. Chicklet
    Jul 25, 2008 @ 10:23:53

    Great story, hon! I had no idea that Adios was your first sale! WOW!

  9. Delilah Devlin
    Jul 25, 2008 @ 10:24:24

    What a great story! And now I have another group of books to recommend to my niece. Looks like I’ll have to read them before I pass them on. Have fun at conference, and good luck with the Carmen story–my second favorite opera!!!

  10. Barb Ferrer
    Jul 25, 2008 @ 10:32:44

    Hey guys, thanks so much for the lovely comments– Maya, I am SO jealous– winning a trip to Spain sounds WONDERFUL. I love watching House Hunters International on HGTV whenever they’re in Spain– I keep telling my husband we need to run away there. He just looks at me funny. And I absolutely love the approach my publisher allowed me to take on SO SHE DANCES– I was able to incorporate so many of my loves: music, dance, and set it against the backdrop of drum and bugle corps, which was a huge part of my life when I was a teenager. And of course, the love triangle– the Escamillo character is transformed into a brash, Spanish soccer player named Taz who was one of the most fun characters I’ve ever written. I kept scolding him as I was writing– “You can’t SAY things like that!”

    He said them anyway. *g*

    Michelle and Stephanie, the short answer is, I won a charity auction where the dress was one of the items up for auction. A bit more detailed story is at my blog. Needless to say, it was a tremendous leap of faith and I’m really glad I did it. :-)

    Monica, thanks for letting me know– it’s always great to hear when people have enjoyed the books.

  11. Barb Ferrer
    Jul 25, 2008 @ 10:36:18

    Oh, and Jayne– you made my husband blush furiously. :-)

    (And can you believe we’ve been married sixteen years TODAY? Wow.)

  12. Patty L.
    Jul 25, 2008 @ 10:43:35

    Happy anniversary for your wedding, first book sale and any and all future endeavors. Your story is inspiring and magical.

    I am constantly looking you YA books for my daughter. So I will be checking out your books on our next trip to the bookstore. Oh who am I kidding, I will be placing an order at B&N or Amazon today. LOL

    BTW your dress was stunning. That is so cool that you won it.

  13. Anna
    Jul 25, 2008 @ 11:00:48

    Awesome story! Thanks for sharing it. I have to check your books out now. :)

  14. Kate Douglas
    Jul 25, 2008 @ 11:05:22

    Wow! What a great story–July’s a pretty cool month for me, too. Had my first baby in July (who turns 35 on Monday-EEEEK!!!) Our son was married in July, husband’s birthday is in July…missed latest deadline in July…uh, never mind! I was at RWA in Reno and I remember that truck–so that was YOU screaming! Who’d a thunk it! Have a wonderful time with Carmen!

  15. Janine
    Jul 25, 2008 @ 11:14:57

    Cool story! And congratulations on your anniversary!

  16. Nancy Haddock
    Jul 25, 2008 @ 12:54:11

    Love your story, Caridad! Congratulations on your anniversaries, and a toast to your career!


  17. TarotByArwen
    Jul 25, 2008 @ 13:38:23

    I know that this year I’m going to stand next to you and have my picture taken. Your gowns are SO fabulous!

    I might rub your butt too.

    HEY! If rubbing the statue is lucky…shouldn’t it be twice as lucky to rub the actual winner?

    Heck…she’s never gonna stand next to me now.

  18. Tera Lynn Childs
    Jul 25, 2008 @ 13:45:55

    Awesome story, Barb! I don’t think I heard the scream in Reno, but I remember showing up at the Chick Lit party and hearing the news–such a fairy tale come true. =)

    And I was there for the RITA win and I have to say the roar of the crowd (at least the YA crowd) was deafening!

  19. JulieLeto
    Jul 25, 2008 @ 14:45:28

    I heard the scream in Reno! Actually, no…I got the news via whisper from Barb and I was the one who screamed.

    And BTW, anyone who hasn’t read ADIOS is missing out on one of the best books ever written. No lie. I was BLOWN away.

  20. Barb Ferrer
    Jul 26, 2008 @ 07:43:44

    Jeez, everyone needs a Julie in their life. :-) Thank you, thank you, thank you, everyone for the lovely comments and thanks also to the Ja(y)nes for asking me to participate on the blog. It was so much fun taking this stroll down Memory Lane, especially with Nationals just around the corner. (And I feel like a Miss America who’s going to have to relinquish her crown on that Saturday night. *g*)

    And Arwen, takes a lot more than the promise of a butt rub to skeer me off, baby. You should know better! LOL

  21. SusanL
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 02:06:06

    Thanks for your story.

    I just read the write-up for It’s Not About the Accent (which is now on my tbb list) and had to laugh, but in a good way: the heroine’s name is Caroline Darcy, which immediately made me think of Pride and Prejudice and Caroline Bingley’s obsession with becoming Mrs. Darcy.

    Whether it was deliberate, or a coincidence, it is perfect :) Can’t wait to read it because the write-up sounds great.

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