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My First Sale by Keri Ford

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. Keri Ford is a debut author who submitted a first page for critique in May of 2010. Taking the critiques, she examined her writing and launched herself into a new project which is released today. You can buy “Through the Wall” in digital format through most etailers.


In the Spring of 2010, I was sprawled out on the jagged shores of rock bottom. My guts had been ripped out of me, my heart left bleeding. There wasn't an inch of skin that wasn't rubbed raw.

I'd realized what I'd been hearing was true. My writing was awkward, stiff, and plainly put, not good.

Even worse, I didn't have a clue on how to fix it. A critique partner ripped through a page for me, pointing things out and how to fix some issues. I sent a page into Dear Author for First Page Saturday. I reviewed feedback given to me from submissions. I took in and analyzed every comment, thankful for them, hard as it was.

One comment stood out very clear and I'll never forget it. "And this brings me to the thing that most feels like you're following rules blindly"-‘Courtney Milan. This may not have been Courtney's intention when she wrote it, but I translated that as, I was so busy following those unwritten rules about writing, trying to be perfect to get published, I couldn't even tell a story through it.

I put all my current works in progress away. I didn't know if all my stories were awful, if it was just a couple or what. I knew I wasn't going to stick my finger in anything I had been working on and further ruin their possibility.

After nearly five years of faithful writing I wasn't about to give up. Not knowing what else to do, I pulled out an old story I had bedded. One I'd written before I learned how to write.

Five minutes into that reading I made a startling realization-‘when I didn't have a clue about writing mechanics or publishing or marketing, or anything, writing was fun. I kept reading that story. My heart was fluttering again. My stomach kicking up with anticipation. It was a complete rush that swept over me. I read that whole story remembering how giddy I'd been while writing it. I wanted writing to be like that again. Wanted my breath to catch when something surprising happened. Laugh by some unexpected comment. Sigh over something sweet.

Still not confident enough to return to my ongoing manuscripts, I decided to write something brand-spanking new for an experiment. And something short.

Something sexy. What's funner than having sex?

Blank document in front of me, I decided I needed a heroine looking for sex. I leaned her against a fence at a barbeque and let her survey the crowd of opportunities. Mr. Blond Hair, Blue Eyes came prowling out of the masses.

I didn't think about sentence structure, usage of "that' or "was', GMC, shallow POV or deep-‘nothing. I had two goals with writing this story. One-‘get my heroine laid. Two-‘have fun while doing it. That was the kit and caboodle of my plotting.

The words just poured out. The characters flew off the page. For the first time in a long time, I felt good putting the words down. Two days later, heroine was satisfied, so was the hero, and all in about 15,000-words. I had my rush back.

All those unwritten rules? The bits of them that I needed had seeped into my writing unconsciously. That phrase, "learn the rules and then you can break them"-‘I got that now.

I cleaned that story up and sent it to an editor who'd asked to see something contemporary from me. Within twenty-fours, the editor at Turquoise Morning Press responded back and I signed my first contract. And that's how I made my first sale, which turned into my first series.

Through The Wall is the first of six sexy contemporary novellas in the Uninhibited in Apple Trail, Arkansas series. It releases *today* (((giddy happy-go-lucky feelings)))

Straight up stubbornness and thick skin got me here. It's what's going to keep me here.

Thanks so much Jane for letting me on here today!

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. Monica Burns
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 07:43:05

    Fun is definitely what it’s all about whippersnapper. I’m so glad you discovered that essential component in writing any piece of work. YOU need to like/love what you’re writing. Rules be damned. So happy for you. Hugs!

  2. Keri Ford
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 08:33:40

    Thanks, Monica! love you, doll!

  3. Jeannene Walker
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 08:44:27

    Great story, Keri. I am encouraged in my quest as writer facing the same issues. You have inspired me to keep on trucking.

  4. RebeccaJ
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 09:01:40

    Congrats, Ker, you’ve inspired me, also! Especially when I see that once you really worked at it, it only took you a matter of months to get a contract! Yikes! I’ve been working for eons, but I’ve only been giving it attention here and there. Your story reminds me that I need the focus of a laser beam!

  5. Kylie Brant
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 09:04:44

    Keri, you epitomize all that writers go through on our way to becoming published. So happy for you and a huge congrats on your new release!

  6. Carolyn Jewel
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 09:16:41

    Thanks for sharing your story, Keri! I’ll be looking forward to hearing (and reading) more from you.

  7. Gennita Low
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 09:21:22

    Keri, Glad you found the secret handshake ;-). Congrats on your new release! Good Christmas present, eh?

  8. Jeannie Lin
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 09:36:23

    Wonderful story Keri! It’s always so interesting to hear about that “light bulb” moment. Congrats on the release!

  9. Delilah Hunt
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 09:44:40

    Congrats on your first sale Keri. It’s always hard hearing that your work isn’t the best at first, but it’s even better to learn from the mistakes. Wishing you much success!

  10. Keri Stevens
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 09:51:36

    I read THROUGH THE WALL and I have to say, the fun really comes through (there are so many puns embedded there to unpack…)

    Seriously–it was fresh, funny and feel-good from word one to the end. Looking forward to the rest of Apple Trail.

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  12. Keri Ford
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 10:28:59

    thanks all for the comments and congrats! and yes BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!!!

    Stevens–thanks honey! Fun was the name of the game while writing and it’s still in mind with the rest of the series. I hope you enjoy them.

  13. maddie
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 11:00:33

    Great story, Keri! Love your fresh, unique southern voice. So glad to have connected with you through TMP!

  14. Liz Talley
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 12:08:51

    Yay, Keri!

    As someone who has read a lot of your writing, I feel very confident in saying you know how to write fun and sexy. What you are writing now suits you. But don’t abandon everything about your past wips. I remember a certain dishwasher scene that is the best I’ve read in a while. It has to appear somewhere. It’s too good ;)

    For two girls who paired up and groped our way through the “learning” part of writing, we’ve done pretty well. Congrats on your first release! I’m so proud of you!!!!

  15. Keri Ford
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 12:43:01

    Maddie-yes!! thank you, sweetie!

    Liz-funny that you mentioned a dishwasher scene. I’m working on a DIFFERENT dishwasher scene in my head right now. What is it with me and this appliance?? I guess I’m determined to find a way to like this pain in the rear thing in my kitchen

  16. Tracy March
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 13:10:54

    Hi Keri,

    Love your first sale story. I, too, am often parlyzed by the specter of “the rules.” Isn’t it wonderful, though, how they seep into our subconscience and manage to keep us in line without controlling us when we allow ourselves to break free. Guess that’s when we know we’ve actually learned something!

    Wishing you lots more success and fun writing forever!

    Tracy March

  17. Nancy Naigle
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 13:40:45

    I’m so glad you plowed ahead and found a way for your natural story-telling to come through.

    Congratulations on the release. Here’s a cheer for many more!

  18. Kate Pearce
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 13:41:15

    This is such a great story and in person, Keri is so positive and fun herself that I couldn’t imagine her not succeeding in the end!

  19. Suzanne Barrett
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 13:46:52

    Really nice story about your first sale, Keri. Yep, sometimes we have to get out of the way and kick the rules to the curb to let our voices shine through. Tell the story and then clean it up. So glad you accomplished this in a relatively short time (it took me nine years of slogging).

  20. Stephanie Draven
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 13:58:20

    Great story, Keri! Congratulations and I look forward to reading it ;)

  21. Keri Ford
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 13:59:59

    yes Tracy! didn’t realize at all until I finished how all the pieces just came together!
    Me too, Nancy! thanks.

    all right, Kate. now you’ve gone and got me blushing :)

    ((hugs Suzanne)) 9 years is a long time, but totally worth it in the end, as I know you know!

  22. Keri Ford
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 14:01:34

    Thank you Stephanie!

  23. Jennifer Johnson
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 15:08:47

    Hi Keri,
    I loved Through the Wall-thought it was great! Funny, entertaining, and sexy! And your story here is inspiring. Keep up the good work, sister!

  24. Keri Ford
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 17:46:08

    Thanks so much Jennifer! that means a lot to hear!

  25. Sasha Devlin
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 19:03:08

    Thanks for showing us how it’s done. ;)
    I have “Through the Wall” in my grubby hands and I am lovin it!

    Congrats on the release, Keri

  26. ArkansasCyndi
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 19:43:18

    Congratulations, Keri! Great first sale story.

    Personally, I look forward to the day that Lexie and Sara get out of your computer and meet your readers! They will love those two spunky gals.

  27. Keri Ford
    Dec 27, 2010 @ 23:07:51

    Sasha–you know how to do it too! I just need to pluck those few stray chicken feathers outta your rear :)

    thanks Cyndi!

  28. Zoe Archer
    Dec 28, 2010 @ 00:31:25

    What a great story, Keri!

  29. Gwen Hayes
    Dec 28, 2010 @ 08:50:07

    That’s a great “My First Sale” story. Thanks for sharing.

  30. Keri Ford
    Dec 28, 2010 @ 21:26:50

    thanks so much Zoe and Gwen!

  31. Jane
    Dec 29, 2010 @ 18:10:49

    Fab call story, Keri, and fab story too. I just bought Through the Wall and am loving it!

    I just had a similar epiphany about how I’ve been doing it wrong- the more I’ve tried to “get it right”, the more stilted, lifeless, and cliched my writing has become. Hopefully I’ll find the same freedom in writing the stuff that’s right for me that you have…

  32. Keri Ford
    Dec 30, 2010 @ 08:41:28

    Glad you’re enjoying the book, Jane!

    best of luck in your writing. it’s a tricky balance, but I bet you can find it.

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