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My First Sale by Christine Wells

Welcome to the My First Sale series. Each Friday, Dear Author posts the first sale letter of bestselling authors, debut authors, and authors in between. Christine Wells writes historical romances for Berkley. Her book, Dangerous Duke, is in stores now.

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book review I was about to put my quest for publication on hold for a while when I got the call. Not give up, no, that didn’t enter my head. But at six months pregnant with my second child and vilely ill with morning-noon-and-night sickness, I was tempted to slow down a little.

My husband pointed out that even women with full-time jobs took maternity leave. I knew that. I agreed. It’s just that fiction-writing is no ordinary job.

It’s an obsession.

Despite promising to take a break, I hadn’t actually done anything about stopping . . . yet. Just one more revision of the old story. Oh, I’ve got this great idea for a new one. I won a couple of contests, so I entered more. Editors judging contests requested full manuscripts. And so it went.

I don’t know if I would ever have hit the pause button, but an email from a New York editor at 4am (Australian time) put paid to the notion, once and for all.

Such a small collection of words to change a person’s life. The email said something like: Read SCANDAL’S DAUGHTER, thought it was terrific. Want to buy it. And some grumbling about the time difference because the editor didn’t know when to call.

There followed much silent happy dancing by a crazy pregnant woman in the pre-dawn light and louder celebrations with husband and a bewildered three year old a bit later on. But it wasn’t over. I didn’t have an agent and there was no way I was going to negotiate a deal without one. I still had work to do.

I emailed the editor back, thanked her for the offer and said I was talking with an agent and could I get her to call? I spent the next 24 hours emailing and calling back and forth with literary agents I’d already researched and queried but hadn’t heard from yet. At the end of that day, I had an agent.

The next day was a Friday in the middle of summer, so we didn’t have much time. My agent sent the manuscript to a selection of editors, asking them to read it over the weekend. To the astonishment of someone inured to the snail-like pace of publishing, all of them came back with an answer on Monday. We finally sold SCANDAL’S DAUGHTER to Berkley six nail-biting days after I received that first email.

Baby Wells was born to even more joy a couple of months later. He arrived three weeks early and we hadn’t agreed on a first name for him yet. In the hospital the next morning with Baby still in the preemie ward, my husband suggested "Adrian’. Despite my concern for our newborn, I smiled because I’d been reading a Madeline Hunter novel with a hero by that name when I went into labor. I didn’t explain why I smiled and I won’t tell my poor son he’s named after a romantic hero, but it all seemed to fit. Adrian, it was.

I never did get that maternity leave, but all the hard work and sleepless nights was worth it when I saw my first book in print. It’s amazing what can happen in a week.

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

33 Comments

  1. Caren Crane
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 06:36:57

    Jane, how brilliant you are to host Christine! Christine writes such lovely, lush Regencies with such HAWT heroes.

    Christine, much as I loved Scandal’s Daughter, I must say I’m about to mug the UPS man each day he drives by my house and does not leave my copy of The Dangerous Duke at my doorstep! Ever since I saw the gorgeous cover (with those spectacular SHOES!), I have been dying to read this book. Plus, I have seen “interviews” with the Duke and Lady Kate and they are hysterical. I can’t wait to devour their story!

    I, for one, am glad you forewent your maternity leave and kept writing. How lucky we are to watch your star rise!

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  2. Donna MacMeans
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 09:00:02

    I see Christine forgot to mention that she also won the Golden Heart that summer for Best Short Historical Romance.

    We’re glad she didn’t give up as Acandal’s Daugher was wonderful. Can’t wait to read The Dangerous Duke. Absolutely LOVE that cover.

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  3. Jessa Slade
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 09:04:39

    Despite promising to take a break, I hadn't actually done anything about stopping

    I think that says a lot about who gets The Call. Another inspiring story. Thank you!

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  4. Jo Robertson
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 10:32:59

    Christine, great call story! You know, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the full and detailed account. Good on you for not giving up.

    This morning my husband (you know him as Dr. Big) suggested that my writing might be considered . . . dare I say it? the dreaded “H” word? . . . a mere hobby (whispered in deadly undertones). “Oh,” says I with the haughty lift of a brow that only one of Christine Wells’ great heroes can accomplish, “Like Ms. Christine Wells? Huh? Huh? A HOBBY like that!!??”

    Men can be such dolts!

    Scandal’s Daughter was absolutely amazing and I know from the interviews with Lady Kate and Lyle that The Dangerous Duke will be even more exciting. I’ve literally started biting my nails, waiting for the UPS man to deliver it!

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  5. Joanie T
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 10:35:33

    Christine,

    How lucky are we that you prograstinated about “taking a break”! Scandal’s Daughter was fantastic and I can NOT wait to get The Dangerous Duke.

    And as to wee Adrian? I’d wait to tell him the source of his naming until he brings his first girlfriend home :-)

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  6. Cassondra
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 10:49:00

    Oh, Jane, thanks for having Christine here! Everything I’ve seen about The Dangerous Duke is so compelling, I think it’s going to be her best book yet.

    Christine, I’m SO glad you didn’t take that break, and I think Jessa is right. It’s because you didn’t that you’re a rising star. Scandal’s Daughter was wonderful.

    But the interviews I’ve read with Lady Kate and Lyle–and Lady Kate’s diary! OMG! You need to give a link to that diary here, won’t you? Anybody who hasn’t seen it needs to do so. It’s a belly laugh and a great read all by itself–and it’s a taste of the interaction between Lady Kate and Lyle–and I’ll tell you, I’m about to KILL the dude at B&N because they don’t have my copy yet. I’m getting really aggravated. WHERE IS IT?????

    I’ve never foamed at the mouth for a book before, but I am for this one.

    The thing about the “maternity leave” is that I don’t think writers EVER are “off”. (Okay that didn’t come out right. Of course we’re all off–as in off our rockers. But I mean we’re never “off work.”) I mean, when you leave work for the day, you drive away from the office and the desk and the phone goes to voice mail and you’re “off.”

    But with the stories–that’s your brain–your muse. How do you turn that off? I know that once I turn it off it’s hard to get going again so I don’t wanna. Maternity Leave from writing–well–I’m not certain there can be such a thing.

    And poor Adrian. I see a bleak future for him when he brings home his first girlfriend. That’s almost as good as a picture of him naked on a rug you know? Little bare baby butt sticking up in the air–embarrasing him to death now that he’s driving a car? (evil grin)

    Thanks for sharing your call story. I’d never heard it–just bits and pieces. Okay…off to pound the desk at the B&N some more.

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  7. Janine
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 10:49:49

    Great story! Thanks so much for sharing it!

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  8. Nicole
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 12:06:47

    Nice story. I really enjoyed Scandal’s Daughter.

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  9. Nancy Northcott
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 12:25:11

    Jane, thanks for hosting Christine! I never get tired of call stories.

    Christine, I agree with Cassondra–no writer is ever entirely “off.” I can see why you’d think about, in the circumstances, but I’m so glad you didn’t actually implement the plan. Scandal’s Daughter is a wonderful book, and I’m sure The Dangerous Duke will be, too. The diary excerpts you’ve been blogging have been extremely intriguing. I’m on a hunt for the book this weekend.

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  10. SonomaLass
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 12:45:40

    I don’t think anyone who loves what they do every really switches “off” from it for very long. (Paging Eve Dallas for a fictional example!) If your work is a passion for you, and it has an intellectual dimension (and doesn’t all work, if done well?), then I think it stays with you on some level pretty much all the time.

    I haven’t read Ms. Wells’ books yet, due to my long break from Regency reading, but obviously I should.

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  11. Tawny Weber
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 13:21:50

    Ooooh, I love call stories. Yours is one of my favorites, Christine. How awesome that you were trying to slow down and instead everything hit fast forward! Like someone already mentioned, I think it speaks volumes that even when you were supposed to take a break, you couldn’t get away from the writing bug.

    Congratulations on Scandal’s Daughter! Its a fab story. I’m haunting bookstores to get The Dangerous Duke now!

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  12. Christine Wells
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 13:29:04

    Hi Caren! LOL on mugging the UPS man. I was about to do the same, waiting for my author copies to arrive. James Griffin did magnificent work on the cover, didn’t he? It’s so pretty. Thanks for your kind words about Scandal’s Daughter. I hope you enjoy The Dangerous Duke!

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  13. Christine Wells
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 13:32:50

    Thanks, Donna! You’re lovely to mention the Golden Heart. I won it after I sold but I think the nomination really helped my sale. I should have mentioned it! Thanks for stopping by!

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  14. Christine Wells
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 13:36:03

    Hi Jessa, thanks so much for commenting. I’ve heard a lot of ‘darkest before dawn’ stories. I always think of it as a bit like dating–when you stop looking so desperate, someone will get interested in you:)

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  15. Christine Wells
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 13:40:06

    Oh, Jo! Not the dreaded “H” word! My mother always said that, or she started saying that when I didn’t sell within a year. She did it to take the pressure off because I was so eager and determined to sell, not to put me down or anything. But it doesn’t help, does it?LOL Because you know how it is, you’re finaling in contests and getting requests from agents and editors. You understand that these milestones mean you’re getting closer, but outsiders don’t. I’m glad you set Dr. Big straight.LOL

    And please don’t mar your beauty on my account. I hope THE DANGEROUS DUKE reaches you soon!

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  16. cassondra
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 13:42:16

    Ha! I HAVE IT I HAVE IT I HAVE IT!

    Just left B&N, with a copy of The Dangerous Duke in my hot little hands.

    I got the last copy BTW. So I couldn’t put the others face-out unfortunately. :O/ But I did stop by the desk and say, “You’re ordering more of these, right?” And they got all concerned and said, “You need more copies?” And I said, “YES! I’m sending all kinds of people here to buy this book. Order more!” She went straight to the computer and did so. (grin)

    Okay now I have to sit at Panera and actually work on MY book before I’m allowed to crack this open. Let’s see how long I last. :0/

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  17. Christine Wells
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 13:42:49

    Hi Joanie T! Thanks so much! Actually, Adrian is not named after that hero. It was just a coincidence that I will keep close to my chest. But now you mention it, that would be great timing wouldn’t it. I might even still have that Madeline Hunter book to lend my prospective DIL!

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  18. Christine Wells
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 13:48:22

    Cassondra, you’re such a honey. Thanks for those lovely words. And you’re right, writers are never ‘off’ (except in the best way:). Now that it’s a job for me, sometimes I really have to force myself to take a day away from the computer. I can’t remember the last day I didn’t do any work at all. It might have been last year when I was at the beach house without internet. I started shaking:)

    I’m so glad you enjoy A Dangerous Diary. It’s a lot of fun to write.

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  19. Anna Campbell
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 13:48:38

    Jane, thanks so much for having Christine as your guest today! Christine, I LOVE your call story and every time you tell it, I get a bit more detail. I didn’t know about Adrian being named after a Madeline Hunter character! How cool is that? As you know, I’ve read THE DANGEROUS DUKE and think it’s fantastic. People are going to love this book!

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  20. Anna Campbell
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 13:49:47

    Oh, and definitely check out The Dangerous Diary. It’s a hoot! Even for people with lapdogs (the joke will make sense if you’re a regular!).

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  21. Christine Wells
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 14:08:53

    Thanks Janine! Oh, Nicole, that’s lovely to hear you enjoyed Scandal’s Daughter. THanks for commenting.

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  22. Christine Wells
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 14:11:10

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Nancy. I’m glad you’re enjoying the diary:)

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  23. Christine Wells
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 14:14:35

    Hi SonomaLass, wise words! I wouldn’t have it any other way. My poor husband would probably like me to be a little less single-minded, though. I always struggle to achieve the perfect balance. Not sure there is one, but I try. Thank you, I hope you break your Regency drought with The Dangerous Duke!LOL

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  24. Christine Wells
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 14:17:23

    Hi Tawny, I could have guessed someone as driven as you would totally get that story:) In fact, I bet most writers would wonder how anyone could just stop because they decided to. Who was it who said, if you can stop, do? These days I find it hard to remember the time when I wasn’t writing. Thanks for stopping in and I hope you enjoy THE DANGEROUS DUKE!

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  25. Christine Wells
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 14:19:09

    Ohh, Cassondra, you ROCK! Thanks so much for going to all that trouble. You’re the best! Now you make sure you get those pages done before you open the book, won’t you? And don’t forget to read the dedication. VBG

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  26. Christine Wells
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 14:27:06

    Hi Anna! Lovely to see you. Thanks so much for dropping in. Actually, I only just remembered that little detail about Adrian when I was reliving the event, writing the blog. There were actually TWO romance novels I’d read in short succession whose heroes were named Adrian only now I can’t for the life of me remember what the other one was. He wasn’t actually named after that particular hero. It was just this funny coincidence and it sort of made it click.

    Snork about the lapdogs! Thanks for plugging the diary.

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  27. Christie Kelley
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 15:29:57

    Christine,

    I love your call story! I don’t think I’d heard it before either.

    Scandal’s Daughter was excellent so I can’t wait to read Dangerous Duke. The premise sounds wonderful.

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  28. Jo Robertson
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 16:37:22

    Oh, yes, Christine, I set Dr. Big straight. None of that “H” word talk; that’s why I love call stories so much. He did add, “If you enjoy writing and would continue no matter what, then it won’t matter whether you sell or not.”

    Yeah, like, right!

    I think it’s funny so much of us love when the UPS man comes. It’s my favorite day, rather like hearing the ring of the Ice Cream Truck coming down the street.

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  29. Christine Wells
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 18:14:37

    Hi Christie! THanks for commenting. So glad you enjoyed Scandal’s Daughter. I hope you like TDD!

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  30. Christine Wells
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 18:19:05

    Jo, there’s that need to see your work ‘in print’ isn’t there? I don’t know whether it’s to hold something solid that I’ve created and is all pretty and bound or whether it’s to share my stories with others, or just plain validation from professionals or what, maybe a combination of all three.

    I have a love/hate relationship with our FedEx man. He’s either bringing me goodies like my author copies (yay!) or he’s bringing me copy edits. (hiss) Mostly I like him because he’s a really nice guy:)

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  31. MCHalliday
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 18:47:28

    So wonderful to have a featured author respond to posts! As of today, yow you are on my TBR list, Christine! And also due to your praises!

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  32. Christine Wells
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 21:02:47

    Hi MCHalliday! Lovely to meet you. When I do a blog I commit to spending the day answering questions and chatting with readers. Actually, it’s hardly a chore, so that’s nice to know I’ve gained a reader from doing something I enjoy. I hope you’ll drop me a line and let me know how you like the book!

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  33. Kaetrin
    Sep 17, 2008 @ 03:30:41

    Dear Christine,

    I have put your books on my TBR list. There was a write up about them both in this month’s Temptation/Rendezvous catalogue and after reading the raves here, I am looking forward to reading them myself. Also, I’m happy to support another Aussie!

    ReplyReply

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