My First Sale by Kathryn Smith
Kathryn Smith aka Kate read her first romance, a classic Woodiwiss, at age 10 and decided then and there to be a romance writer. She began to fulfill her dream in 2001 when Avon published her first romance, Elusive Passion. Since 2001, Kate has published over a dozen books and recently became a USA Today bestselling author. Her June release was part of her Brotherhood of the Blood series, Let the Night Begin.
What Kate’s bio doesn’t tell you is how nice and genuine a person she is. Her newest writing foray is into urban fantasy with the August release of Before I Wake.
Back in ‘ 97 I was working at a photo-finishing store. My manager was a real piece of work who liked to call me ‘lardy.’ When I complained, I was moved to another store, in the bowels of hell — a mall people rarely visited and required me to take a very long bus ride. I was miserable. Even the photos pudgy middle-aged men took of themselves naked couldn’t cheer me up. My boyfriend (who I later had the good sense to marry) said to me, “Why don’t you quit, go back to university and give writing a shot?” He knew I wanted to be a romance writer, having seen me tinker on several (awful!) attempts. I listened to him. One morning I walked into that crappy store, gathered up my stuff and said, “Here’s my key. Kiss my ass.” And I walked out.
I went back to university that fall and majored in English. Most of my classes focused on the Georgian, Regency and Victorian periods. I figured I might as well do some research while I was learning! In Canada, it’s not that expensive to go to school, so I could live off my student loans along with a part-time job. When I wasn’t working or in class, I wrote. It wasn’t until 1999, after reading a slew of Amanda Quick’s that I wrote a little book I called ‘Elusive Passion.’ The heroine was a Russian princess (of course!) and the hero was an English marquess (Dukes weren’t as in vogue then as they are now). There was a murder mystery, lots of insults and distrust, and of course, hot sex.
During this time I was building an online presence as a reviewer and board poster. I met a lovely author named Lisa Kleypas who gave me so much advice it wasn’t funny. She also gave me the courage to send out a query letter and partial to several publishers. I picked my top four, but Avon was where I really wanted to go. Avon published so many of my favorite authors and I thought they might like my work as well. So, I picked Lucia Macro as my editor of choice, because not only was she Lisa’s editor, but she also worked with the majority of my avon favorites — people who I thought my work might compare to. Back then, I had an ego, naive as it was.
I sent a partial to Lucia. Got rejections from two other publishers (I’m still waiting to hear from another! lol). And then, something amazing happened. I got a letter from Krista Stroever, who was Lucia’s assistant asking to see the full of Elusive Passion! I was dumbfounded, but I sent her the book. And then…I waited. And waited. And waited.
On July 8th, 1999, I was working part-time at clothing store. At approximately 7:00 my boyfriend, Steve, called to let me know that Krista Stroever had called. Halifax is on Atlantic time, so we were an hour ahead of NYC. I took my fifteen minute break, went out back and used my calling card to return Krista’s call. Her first words to me were, “Are you ready for the talk?” Not only did Avon want ‘Elusive Passion’ but they were interested in seeing the book I’d just finished as well — a book that would go on to be ‘A Seductive Offer’ my second Avon. They didn’t offer a truck load of money, but it was more than I’d seen outside of student loans, and more importantly — I WAS GOING TO BE A FREAKING PUBLISHED AUTHOR!!!! I called Steve, who cheered. I called my oldest sister who said, “You’re joking.” Why, I asked her, would I joke about something like this?!?!? Then she cheered as well.
I was useless for the rest of the evening, floating on a cloud of disbelief. When Steve picked me up after work, he had a bouquet of roses, and a smile ten miles wide waiting for me. I don’t think for a minute that I could have done it without him.
‘Elusive Passion’ wasn’t released until April 2001. Some people loved it. Others called it ‘drivel’. But to me, it will always ‘my baby.’ I’ve written 17 books since that one, but never have I experienced that same weak-knee thrill as I did in the back room of that clothing store when Krista offered me my dream. Oh, and as for that manager who called me ‘lardy’? As far as I know he’s still working for that photo-finishing company. I should stop by and say hi sometime.