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MY First Sale by Jennifer Apodaca, The Bulldog Approach

dying-author-photo.jpgJennifer Apodaca writes murder mysteries with a romantic twist. Her current offering, Extremely Hot, is in bookstores now. Apodaca claims that the traffic in Southern California “affords her plenty of time to plot murder and hot romance.”


My brother and sister sometimes call me a bulldog. Flattering, huh? I’m hoping they don’t mean that I look like a bulldog, but that I can be tenacious like one. When I want something badly enough, I don’t give up.I wanted very much to write and publish, so much so that I was willing to endure the pain of endless rejections. Failure taught me to write, while hope kept me writing.

And finally, murder got me published. I tried writing historical romances, but the agents and editors weren’t thrilled with the dead bodies that tended to show up in the stories. They claimed it wasn’t romantic, but I couldn’t seem to write a straight romance no matter how hard I tried.

I’m stubborn, but even I eventually figure things out. Since I wasn’t succeeding with romance, why not try mystery? So I wrote DATING CAN BE MURDER. My husband read that manuscript and told me, “This is the one.” I loved him so much for that, but I had learned caution. However, I sent off a query letter to Kensington Publishing and got a quick reply asking for the full manuscript.

The editor loved it. She told me she read it in one sitting and she was going to pitch it at the editorial meeting.

This could be it! Both my husband and I were excited! It was all we could talk about.

Then I got an email from the editor telling me she was leaving Kensington, and she had given the book to another editor.

The weeks dragged on. I couldn’t get any information. And while all this was happening, my mom’s health was seriously deteriorating. Life was getting very complicated and I began to think that maybe it was time to let my dream go. I’d given it eight years of my life.

Book CoverI came home from a day of caring for my mom and doing some Christmas shopping to a message on my recorder. “This is Amy Garvey from Kensington Publishing. I’d love to talk to you about your book, please call me.”

I couldn’t make that call fast enough! My heart was pounding, there was a buzzing in my ears and my hands shook. I got Amy’s voice mail and have no idea what I said.

I called my husband and my mom, then I stared at the phone, willing it to ring.

Time crawled by. Had she left the office for the day? After all, New York is three hours ahead of California. Would she call me back? Did she change her mind about my book? Maybe she called me by mistake?

I think my heart stopped when the phone rang. Amy was on the line and made me an offer for a two-book deal. They not only wanted my book, but they wanted to buy it as a mystery series.

Woo Hoo! The Bulldog Approach pays off! It’s so easy in an article like this to gloss over the time invested, the rejections, the depression and self-doubt, and the pain of feeling like a failure. But each of those aching moments paid off. I now get to do what I love for a career-write.

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. Janine
    Nov 16, 2007 @ 12:26:31

    What a nifty first sale story! Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Laura
    Nov 16, 2007 @ 15:26:05

    What did you end up doing with all those historical romances you wrote? Are you going to give them another go?

  3. Alyssa
    Nov 16, 2007 @ 16:14:43

    Awesome story. A lot of waiting . . . must have been tough to wait for the call back.

    Love the cover for Extremely Hot.

  4. Jennifer Apodaca
    Nov 16, 2007 @ 16:19:51

    Janine, thanks!

    Laura, all those manuscripts are in a closet as of now. Who knows what the future will bring…never say never!

  5. Jennifer Apodaca
    Nov 16, 2007 @ 16:20:49

    Alyssa, I love that cover too! It’s the only “man” cover I’ve had. And yeah, it was torture waiting for the call back :-)

  6. allison brennan
    Nov 16, 2007 @ 21:47:07

    Hi Jen! Great story. And I don’t think you’re a bulldog. Determined and talented, yes, but not a bulldog :)

  7. Jennifer Apodaca
    Nov 17, 2007 @ 11:54:14

    Hey Allison, thank you, that means a lot coming from you!

  8. Sarah Ward
    Nov 17, 2007 @ 16:48:11

    Hi, I am in a writing class, working on my Bachelor’s degree. would you mind sending me an interview on your career start. Answer some questions for me.
    1. How did you get started writing and did you ever think it would be a career?
    2. What type of writing do you do and how did you decide what to write ?
    3. What does it take to be a writer good enough to get published?
    4. What are the most successful habits of a writer?
    5. Describe for me what life is like for you as a writer?
    6. What good advice do you have for someone that wants to be a writer.

  9. Jane
    Nov 17, 2007 @ 23:03:05

    Sarah – You might want to visit author websites. Many sites have this information on them so you don’t even need to wait for an email back.

  10. Jennifer Apodaca
    Nov 18, 2007 @ 11:46:25

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