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My First Sale by Grace Burrowes, Author of The Heir

Welcome to the My First Sale series. Each Monday, Dear Author posts the first sale letter of bestselling authors, debut authors, and authors in between. Grace Burrowes, The Heir, is in stores now.   You can find out more about Grace and her books at


Grace Burrowes, Author of The HeirFor much of my adulthood, I have been a very busy lady.

When my daughter showed up, I was working full time and going to law school five nights a week. I added single parenting to this schedule, then segued into running my own law practice, and all the time-‘each and every day-‘I toted around a romance novel wherever I went.

Every night, I had one by my bedside so when Beloved Offspring drifted off to dreamland, I could steal away from the day's frustrations and challenges between the pages of a good read. It is no exaggeration to say Judith Ivory saved my sanity, or Laura Kinsale, Sophia Nash and Mary Balogh ought to be among my daughter's honorary godmothers. Reading was my joy, sometimes it felt like my only joy.

But as offspring are bound to do, my daughter grew up (she is still growing up, but I try not get caught telling her this). I read more than ever. One night I was sitting in the law office after another day of domestic litigation thinking about going home to a place I now shared with dogs, cats and horses, and lo, into my head an Idea poppeth.

What if once upon a Regency time there was handsome, titled swain gone lamentably astray who meets a luscious damsel-?

Oh, what if..! Nobody ever had more fun putting 200,000 words on the screen. (I was mightily bummed when I realized half the MS had to go. I pouted for days.) For the next few years, I was writing sequels and spin-offs and prequels, and generally living for the moment when I could dash home and play "let's pretend" on my computer. And of course, then I'd turn off the computer and start reading another romance novel.

This folly went on unchecked for several years, but then (cue serious music) I turned fifty. "I am in my prime," says me to myself. "Women in their prime should quit dithering around in the privacy of their own messy kitchens and try to get their romance novels published."

I signed up for my local RWA chapter retreat and heard about pitching, synopses, and query letters, oh my, and morale in the Burrowes kitchen took a substantial hit. The next year I was ready though, so ready on the Friday night of the spring retreat I fortified myself with a ritual White Russian-‘or was it two?

I was standing in line at the bar trying not to look like I'd rather be anywhere else and I noticed a lady in line next to me sporting a knitting bag.

ARGH! She was an editor. I recalled that much from the kick-off panel discussion. We made eye contact. She smiled. I prayed for the hand of God to pluck me into the sky, but instead I asked if I was allowed to pitch her.

This dear, kind, patient woman (you know her as Deb Werksman of Sourcebooks, Inc.) listened to me mix up my heroines, saw me blush into my White Russian, and generally suffered through the world's most pathetic excuse for a pitch. My dears, it was awful. Horrendous. It should go down in the annals of pitching as the bad example of all bad examples, forevermore.

"There's something in the way you talk about your books-." Said Deb. "Send me partials of your best three manuscripts."

People hate it when I tell them I sold to the first person I pitched to, but it's the God's honest truth. I figure this can only be the karmic pay off for reading thirty-five years of romance novels before my "overnight" pitching success.

What about you? Are you nurturing dreams for "some day," dreams that sustain you and keep you sane and help you cope with today?aten to bring the earl's orderly life crashing down-‘and he doesn't know how he's going to protect her from the fallout-


Grace Burrowes is the pen name for a prolific author of historical romances whose manuscripts have so far won, finaled, or garnered honorable mention in Romance Writers of America-run contests in Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, and Florida. Burrowes is a practicing attorney specializing in family law. She lives in rural Maryland and is working on her next book, The Soldier, set to release in July 2011.

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. BethP
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 10:37:22

    I finished reading “The Heir” over the weekend and absolutely loved it. After only one book, Ms. Burrowes is going on my auto-buy list.

    While reading the book, I noticed several references to a prequel story line involving Amery, Gwen and Gayle. With “The Solder” being Dev’s book, is there any timeline for when Amery & Gwen’s book will be published?

    Thanks so much for writing such an entertaining (and exceedingly well-written) book.

  2. trish
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 11:07:19

    I am reading this book right now and am really enjoying it. I like her characters and her “voice”. A few things about the plot seem rather unrealistic, but I like the relationships (both romantic and familial) that she creates. I look forward to reading the next book in the series, THE SOLDIER, when it comes out.

  3. Grace Burrowes
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 11:39:31

    BethP, My editor is trying to figure out what ought to come next, along side, or in between the Windham siblings. I LOVE Douglas Allen, Viscount Amery, and his story with Guinevere. It’s one of about twenty sitting in my personal slush pile. Amery will show up again in Devlin’s story, and I will push my editor to get him in the queue for publication. If you want an excerpt, shoot me an email–Douglas will be very flattered.

  4. Grace Burrowes
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 11:44:27

    Trish 2, I hope by the end of the book, the “unrealistic” parts seem more credible. It’s not happenstance that Anna knows how to run an earl’s household, for example. If there are things that still really, really bother you, I want to know about them–they’re probably bothering a lot of other people too, and an author can get too close to her books to see the areas requiring improvement.
    “The Soldier” should be out next July, Val’s story, “The Virtuoso,” in October, and we start on the Windham sisters with “Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish,” for next Christmas. (I am having The Most Fun I’ve Ever Had.)

  5. Karenmc
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 11:55:36

    Being on the far side of fifty myself, I have to give kudos to Grace Burrowes for taking that big step into getting published; and any author influenced by Judith Ivory gets my interest right away. I downloaded The Heir this weekend and will be reading it sometime this week.

  6. jmc
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 12:24:11

    I picked up a copy of this book over the weekend, am glad to hear that other readers have positive feedback :)

    For any Kindle-users, it is (or was) on sale for $2.39.

  7. Jane
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 12:27:22

    @jmc It still is $2.39. Link here. I bought it but haven’t read it yet. I think it was the $2.39 price that caught me as well.

  8. Danielle D
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 15:22:45

    The Sony eReader store has it for $2.84.

  9. Danielle D
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 15:32:32

    I forgot to add that I have this book in my massive TBR pile.

  10. Sandra
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 15:33:11

    @Jane: I got it over the weekend on kindle for the $2.39. I enjoyed the book. I feel like I underpaid for a great read.

  11. Grace Burrowes
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 15:35:41

    @Karenmc: Karen, I pity anybody who hasn’t come across Judith Ivory, and bless that woman every time I walk past my keeper shelf. I’m told she’s staying under the radar, and can only hope she’s working on another keeper for us. And if you’re on the same side of fifty as I am, then you have LOTS of perspective and experience to put into the books you’ve been thinking of writing, right?

  12. Grace Burrowes
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 15:40:43

    Ladies, I think it will be on sale at the Kindle store for $2.39 for another day or two, which probably explains why it’s doing well there (yippee!). I’m thrilled to see the ebook version gaining some sales, because the supply of ebooks is limitless, unlike that other kind. I hope you each and every one enjoy every page, and as for you, Sandra, I don’t know when I’ve gotten a higher compliment.

    I honestly lost track of the word count somewhere in the production process, or I would still be cutting, snipping, and sanding it down. The original MS was about 150,000 words, which tells us SOMEBODY had better get some deleted material upon her website, hmm?

  13. Janine
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 17:08:37

    Nice first sale story. Just bought the book for my Kindle; at $2.39 it was a no brainer! Thanks, Jane for the link.

    Ivory and Kinsale are among my favorite authors and I’m currently mining Balogh’s backlist with great enthusiasm. I haven’t read Sophia Nash, and now I want to. Based on the comments here, I’m now really looking forward to reading The Heir.

  14. Grace Burrowes
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 18:27:11

    @Janine: Janine–Meredith Duran is another of my all time favorites, and Loretta Chase is on my auto-buy list. How am I supposed to get any writing done with all these great books to read?

  15. brooksse
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 18:33:44

    It’s too bad this wasn’t posted last week… The Heir was one of two Sourcebooks ebooks that were free at the Sony ebook store last week.

    (The other ebook being My Unfair Lady by Kathryne Kennedy which is still free.)

  16. Statch
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 20:08:58

    The price was actually the reason I picked it up. I really enjoyed it, went looking for more, and was sorry to see the next one isn’t published yet! I’ll be looking for it. It was exactly the kind of character-driven, character-focused romance I enjoy. (In fact, the only fault I had was that the ending was too focused on wrapping up the conflict for me, but that’s probably unavoidable :->.)

  17. Grace Burrowes
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 20:40:03

    @Statch: Statch: Endings are always a challenge for me, because I don’t want to part from my characters. I deal with this by having them stroll on stage in subsequent books in supporting roles. Devlin’s story requires a significant contribution from Val and conversely.
    Watch the website for deleted material and more excerpts, and thanks for the encouraging words. I want people to enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them!

  18. Joy
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 22:01:59

    I really enjoyed _The Heir_ (and paid full price for it, too!), especially the narrative voice. I too sensed the backstory about Gwen/Amery might be another book already written (but, alas currently unpublished?). I reviewed _The Heir_ on my blog/goodreads for anyone interested in details.

  19. Janine
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 23:17:31

    @Grace Burrowes: It sounds like we have similar tastes. I have that same problem — too much I want to read, not enough time.

  20. Grace Burrowes
    Dec 14, 2010 @ 07:10:24

    @Joy: Joy, thanks for the review! If you’d like an excerpt of Douglas and Gwen’s story, shoot me an email. As authors, we often hear that we need to toss out the first three chapters to get to the “real” beginning of our manuscript. I have entire books parked in front of my opening scenes, but thank heavens my editor knew where to start,

  21. Grace Burrowes
    Dec 14, 2010 @ 07:11:51

    @Janine: Janine, I’ve heard it said that true wealth is not a matter of how much money you have, it’s a matter of how much of your time you can do with as you please. Romance readers (and writers) know what THEY want to do with their free time.

  22. Erica Anderson
    Dec 14, 2010 @ 12:37:11

    Just bought it for my nook. It’s $2.99 at B&N. Here’s the link. What a great incentive to try a new author!
    (I adore housekeeper romances [smacks self for being a bad feminist]. My favorite of the (sub)genre is To Beguile a Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt.)

  23. Cat S
    Dec 14, 2010 @ 15:43:32

    Grace, wonderful, wonderful book. And as a 46 yr old I found your first sale story very inspiring.

  24. Grace Burrowes
    Dec 14, 2010 @ 16:09:50

    @Erica Anderson: I love Elizabeth Hoyt’s books and I double love that we don’t have to wait a year between them.

  25. Grace Burrowes
    Dec 14, 2010 @ 16:10:46

    @Cat S: We’re in our prime–why shouldn’t we be reading and writing lovely, lovely books, hmm?

  26. AJ
    Jun 04, 2011 @ 22:11:42

    I loved, loved, loved The Heir (downloaded from my library’s digital collection) and have borrowed it three times already. Guess I’ll have to find a paper copy for my keeper shelf, won’t I? Now that The Soldier is out, I’ll be getting that one as soon as I can, too. Thank you, Ms. Burrowes!! I wasn’t going to comment until I saw the references to keeper authors, and once someone mentions Judith Ivory, I can’t help but wade in. I too bow down to her genius. There is only one Judith Ivory/Judy Cuevas. It’s good to see some of my favourites listed here, too, referenced both by Ms. Burrowes and others.

  27. Grace Burrowes
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 09:14:03

    AJ, Thanks bushels! Starlit Surrender was my first Do Not Lend on the Keeper shelf. I heard a rumor that Walmart is doing some buy “The Soldier” get “The Heir” free for a limited time, but I’m not sure of the details. Might be ebooks, might be print this/ebook that. Don’t quote me, but DO enjoy the book and don’t forget that “The Virtuoso” will be out in November, and “Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish” in October.

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