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My First Sale by Jill Sorenson, A Tale of Two Sales

jill-sorenson_web_04Welcome to the My First Sale series. Each Friday, Dear Author posts the first sale letter of bestselling authors, debut authors, and authors in between. Jill Sorenson writes for both Silhouette Romantic Suspense as well as mass market originals with Dell.   Her first single title romantic suspense, Crash Into Me,   will be on retail shelves in February 2009, featuring a female undercover agent!   In the meantime, you can pick up Dangerous Touch right now.


My first sale story is a two-for-one. Both happened in 2007, a difficult and wonderful year for me.

At the end of 2006, I’d just completed my fifth novel, a romantic suspense with paranormal elements. I sent it to an agent I’d met at a writer’s conference with fingers crossed. She’d been on the fence about my last two manuscripts, but she liked my work and encouraged me to keep submitting.

In the meantime, I had a couple of other projects that required my attention. Namely, my two young daughters. With a toddler and a newborn at home, I wondered if I’d ever start another book, much less finish one.

The first months of 2007 passed in a whirlwind of diapers, nighttime feedings, and burp cloths. This second-time mommy was too busy to worry about her burgeoning career as a romance novelist. Sort of.

Then, there was word. The agent I’d been working with agreed to represent me. Even better, she had an editor at Harlequin interested in sexy paranormals.

Dangerous to Touch isn’t really a paranormal, but it features a psychic heroine, and is plenty sexy, if I do say so myself. It sold to the lovely Stacy Boyd, for Silhouette Romantic Suspense, in April 2007.

Having my first book published was a dream come true. Harlequin wanted another category-length romantic suspense, and I felt like a smashing success. Although I’d already started a new project, the going was slow. My baby daughter caught cold after cold, suffered from recurring ear infections, and demanded to be held constantly. Like most new mothers, I wasn’t sleeping enough. I couldn’t seem to get anything done.

crash_250By October, I was beginning to feel the pressure. I’d finished my next book, but the proposal to Harlequin bombed. My agent had submitted one of my older manuscripts, a single-title romantic suspense called Crash Into Me, to multiple editors, but it hadn’t been picked up. My only other option, to revise it for category, would involve cutting the length in half and eliminating a teen romance subplot I was in love with.

Things were no longer going quite so well.

Enter the San Diego Fires.

I live in a suburb of San Diego, and our entire town was evacuated for five days. It was the worst week ever.

Don’t get me wrong-‘we were lucky to have a place to stay, at my brother’s house in a nearby city. We were lucky our house didn’t burn down! The situation was far from ideal, however. My parents, who had also been evacuated, slept on couches in the living room. My husband, children and I enjoyed the luxury of sleeping bags on the dining room floor. The house was small, but it wasn’t "baby-proofed," so I had to watch my one-year-old like a hawk. Heavy smoke made it impossible for the kids to play outside, and nobody could get to work.

It was like a vacation-in hell.

I kept my daughters inside, except during nightly strolls to prevent the onset of acute insanity, but both of them developed upper-respiratory infections and ran high fevers. Visits to Walmart, urgent care, and El Pollo Loco were the extent of our fun.

I love my family, and my brother was incredibly generous to have taken us all in, but I never want to spend another week like that one. Cramped quarters, sick children, and no writing time make Jill a very unhappy girl.

When we got back home, I wanted to kiss the front doorstep.

The following Monday, my agent called with news of an offer from Shauna Summers at Bantam Dell. A two-book deal.

I have trouble articulating how it felt to get that particular call at that particular time. Somehow, over the course of one short conversation, the worst week of the most difficult year faded into insignificance. In its place, there was only hope, and joy, and jubilance. It was, quite simply, one of the best moments of my life.

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. Grasping for the Wind
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 08:16:12

    A Book Reviewers Linkup Meme…

    My list of fantasy and sf book reviewers is woefully out of date. I need your help to fix that. But rather than go through the hassle of having you send me recommendations or sticking them in comments, what you can do is take the following list and sti…

  2. Dee Tenorio
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 11:03:01

    Wow Jill! My aunt lost her home of over 30 years when the fires hit the reservations that year (no evacuation calls there), and we had family pouring out of the county the whole time. I can imagine how much that week had to suck, esp with my two toddlers/insane babies. Just goes to show, it’s always darkest before the dawn.

    Here’s to finding words even when there’s little people climbing all over you.

  3. Linda Wisdom
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 11:15:41

    Great first sale story, Jill! And one to always remember. Proof that even when our lives are crazy, the good times make it to the top.


  4. Linda Thomas-Sundstrom
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 11:34:43

    What a story, Jill. Thanks for sharing. You know we’re all lookng forward to the February book . . . as well as all those books of yours in the future.

    Happy New Year
    Linda T-S

  5. Judy Duarte
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 11:45:04


    Thanks for sharing the story of your first sale. I can’t imagine writing under those conditions. Whenever my grandbabies come to visit, my muse shuts down.

    By the way, I read DANGEROUS TO TOUCH and really enjoyed it. So I’m looking forward to reading CRASH INTO ME next month.


  6. Chris Marie Green/Crystal Green
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 12:29:12

    Jill, wow! You earned some karma points, and I hope they continue to pay off!

    ; )


  7. chris sterner
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 12:38:32

    During the fire son and his girlfriend, ex-husband and his wife all had to evacuate and ended up at my place. No sick babies, and we actually managed to become a California cliche of “the well-adjusted blended family” but the stress of the fire, waiting to hear whether we too would be evacuated and whether their places were still standing (no and yes) was intense.

    I can’t imagine being in a small house with little children! You rock. You are a charming and delightful woman and it is truly a karmatic universe that your first sale came to balance the scales, so well. Congrats. I am really looking forward to Crash Into Me. Best of everything in 2009!


  8. Jill Sorenson
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 12:51:47

    Hi Dee! So sorry to hear about your aunt’s house! We have a lot of migrant workers in my community, living in outbuildings, on ranches, etc, and they were hit hard by the fires. No evacuation calls there, either.

    I’ve often wondered how you do it with twins. Makes me feel like a whiner. : )

    Thanks for the comment.

  9. Jill Sorenson
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 12:54:46

    Thanks Linda R. and Linda T-S!

    Judy, glad to hear you enjoyed Dangerous to Touch!

    Hi Chris Green! Thanks for stopping by.

  10. Jill Sorenson
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 12:58:03

    chris sterner,

    Good to hear your family stayed safe during the fires. And thanks so much for your nice comments. You’re a sweetheart. Hope you enjoy Crash Into Me.

  11. Juliana Stone
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 13:20:09

    very inspiring story Jill! Loved it!

  12. Dee Tenorio
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 13:27:46

    LOL Jill–oh, so totally not a whiner. Babies are hard, period, and I didn’t have to cart mine into another house or make them sleep on the floor. :) I just write while they’re sleeping or playing. :)


  13. Ann Bruce
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 14:25:53

    Congrats, Jill. And like I said previously, I have January 27 circled on my calendar. Wait, did the publication date move?

  14. Kris Kennedy
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 15:06:26

    Wow, what a great story, and testament to the power of persistence! And dedication. I have just one 4 y.o., and I don’t know how I could ever have written anything coherent in those first few years. :-) (Look, I’m whining FOR you! :g: ) Oh, and then the fires and evacuations and all that. Pesky little things.

    Dramatic first sale stories, and I’ll put your books on my list.

    Major congrats!

  15. Jill Sorenson
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 15:44:58

    Thanks Juliana!

    Hi Ann. Jan. 27th is right, thanks! I think a lot of new releases come out the last Tuesday of the previous month. Not sure why they do that.

    Kris, that’s what I like to hear! Congrats on your debut as well. : )

  16. Leeann Burke
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 16:21:40

    Wow how inspiring! I’m looking forward to your new release CRASH INTO ME when it hits the bookstores.

    I hope your daughters are doing better.

  17. Jessa Slade
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 16:29:49

    The universe was just helping you make a really dramatic First Sale story. I so doubt that’s consolation at the time :)

    I saw the cover of Crash elsewhere and it really caught my eye, so you’re already on my Wish List.

  18. Karin
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 17:44:11

    It’s amazing what one bit of happy news can do to make up for all the bad things going on around us. Your story is inspiring. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  19. Jill Sorenson
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 18:42:56

    Leeann, my daughters are doing great. Just turned 2 and 5. Thanks for asking!

    Jessa, that cover is eye-catching, isn’t it? I’m lucky to have it.

    Thanks for reading, Karin. It’s so nice to hear happy news during tough times.

  20. HelenKay Dimon
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 22:48:16

    I’m so excited to read this book!!

    And Jill is a lovely person. She’s one of the first people I met in my local RWA chapter and was incredibly welcoming. Huge congrats on all of your publishing success!!

  21. Jill Sorenson
    Jan 03, 2009 @ 09:35:33

    Thanks HelenKay!

    And thanks for posting, Jane. : )

  22. Barrie Summy
    Jan 03, 2009 @ 11:33:01

    Wow, Jill, that is an amazing story. And now you’re off and running!

  23. Mary Galusha
    Jan 03, 2009 @ 13:07:19

    Great story, Jill. Also a lovely photo.
    Sounds like you’re up and running.
    Best of luck in 2009.

    Mary Galusha

  24. Barbara Martin
    Jan 03, 2009 @ 13:11:25

    A great start to publishing, Jill.

  25. Victoria Dahl
    Jan 03, 2009 @ 14:52:49

    jill, this was such a great story! Thanks for sharing. And getting me choked up. *g*

  26. Julie Trevelyan
    Jan 04, 2009 @ 00:02:42

    What a great story! Danger, intrigue, drama, despair–and that was your real life. And then the HEA. :) Very cool and very inspiring. I do believe in the karmatic-ness of the universe as well. What’s that they say about never giving up…You’re clearly proof. Thanks for sharing!

  27. Janine
    Jan 04, 2009 @ 15:13:05

    What a terrific story! Heartwarming and inspiring.

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