My First Sale by Bestelling Author Ruth Ryan Langan: Yes, Virginia, You Can Write for a Living
Ruth Ryan Langan is a writer who has penned 88 published books beginning in 1981. She’s been on Good Morning America and CNN as well as quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan and the Detroit Free Press.
Her stories have spanned the genres, from romantic suspense to westerns, from paranormals to victorian historicals. Few authors have been as prolific or as steady a writer. The wonderful thing about Langan is that her offerings are never chasing the trends. Last years novel, Duchess of Fifth Avenue, was set in the 1890s New York and received a DIK review from All About Romance. At the end of the month, you can look for her 88th book, Heart’s Delight, set in 1890s Wisconsin featuring a female fromager, a marshall and a case of mistaken identity.
Langan’s career is a testament that you can make a living writing. But even an author with such a pedigree started somewhere.
I’m the author of 88 books. My July release from Berkley Sensation, Heart’s Delight , will be my 87th, and TIMELESS, my story in a novella with Nora Roberts entitled J D Robb’s DEAD OF NIGHT in November will be my 88th release. If I live to sell 100, it can’t top my first sale.
Anybody who has ever spent the day after New Year taking down their Christmas tree will understand my frustration. On the day we put up the live tree, my husband and five kids couldn’t wait to lend a hand, in fact, several hands. I swear some of the neighbor kids were there, too, eager to share the fun. But on the day I took that darned thing down, they all disappeared into the woodwork. I wrapped hundreds of ornaments in newspaper and carried them to the attic, wrapped dozens of strands of lights around cardboard, hoping they wouldn’t be tangled the following year, then hauled the tree out the door, leaving a trail of pine needles in its wake. After vacuuming at least a million of those pesky needles, the family started drifting in while I started folding laundry. With a family as large as mine, I usually did five or six loads a day. I was carrying folded bath towels to the linen closet when the phone rang. My husband hollered that it was some editor in New York.
I’m married to this big, huggy Irishman who is always teasing, and he’d already teased me a dozen times about the caller being an editor. Of course, it would always turn out to be one of his pals, playing a joke. Most of the time I can go along with his sense of humor. But this day I’d had enough. I kept right on walking down the hall. He charged after me, insisting that he wasn’t kidding. It really was an editor from New York.
I set down the towels none too gently, pointed a finger in his chest, and said I’d had enough of his teasing. When I picked up the phone and heard this very British voice identifying herself as Nancy Jackson, an editor with Silhouette Books, I went completely numb. When she was finished saying her piece, I told her nervously that I hadn’t heard a word she’d said after she’d said, “We’d like to buy your book.”
She laughed and said that was what she most loved about phoning new authors. Not to worry. She’d be mailing me all the details, along with a contract.
Contract? Now I knew this was no joke. This was the real deal.
I hung up the phone and turned to my husband and five kids, who were standing in a circle around me, completely silent for the first time in memory. When I told them I’d just sold my book, they let out a whoop, my husband picked me up and swung me around and around, and then there was complete chaos, with the kids screaming and my dear husband phoning everyone we’d ever met. Good thing we didn’t know anyone living in Timbuktu.
That day ranks in my memory right up there with the birth of my first baby. Just thinking about it has me smiling all over again.
Ruth Ryan Langan