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. Kit Donner’s debut, Notorious Bridegroom, is in stores now. You can visit Kit at her website: http://www.kitdonner.com/
Unlike many writers, I haven’t spent my life thinking about writing and getting published. That dream seemed too unattainable, so why dream it? However, like many writers, I had read lots of romances, and thought I could write something similar. Some day. Maybe.
Some day happened in 1991 when I had a germ of a story about spies during the Regency period. Although I have a BA in English literature, I couldn’t have told you much about English history including the time of the Napoleonic Wars. I did know that Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo, thanks to ABBA. Then I heard about Romance Writers of America and found a local chapter in Delaware. My first chapter meeting I thought, this is where I belong, with other writers excited about writing and romance.
From 1991-1993, I wrote my book, "When a Heart Surrenders," and researched the Regency period at the University of Delaware Library (pre-internet). Every weekend you could find me there huddled over notes and books of fashion, carriages, or what the English ate for breakfast. When I wasn’t at the library, my time was consumed by writing the great historical romance novel (apart from my full-time job). OK, that might be a slight exaggeration, but it came together, and I sent it to an editor I had met at Nationals.
She rejected it BUT she did like it and thought it had possibilities with changes, etc. etc. And then I gave up writing to have a normal life. I focused on my job, spending time with family and friends, and put my manuscript away, charts, notes, everything. Finito.
Fast forward to 2007, and I’m married with two step-teen-agers and working a full-time job, when my sister-in-law, Alice, asked to read my book. That one. The one I wrote over fourteen years ago? Well, I hemmed and hawed and finally got around to it. We downloaded these old floppy disks onto our computer and the manuscript was still there. I started reading and editing and thinking, you know, this isn’t half-bad.
Finally, after several months of editing, I went to Staples and printed out the 400+ pages and put it in a binder and gave it to Alice. Meanwhile, I had entered the Golden Heart contest the same year and waited anxiously for the call about finaling. It didn’t come. However, when Alice read my story, she liked it and gave it to a few friends to enjoy.
OK, here’s where the story gets good: My manuscript (now called "To Catch a Spy") lands on a Kensington editor’s desk. And she likes it. And after a few days of anxiety-ridden phone tag, my editor called on hot summer August day to offer me a 2-book contract. Of course, I said yes, and I floated home to call everyone I knew about the book contract. They were thrilled, everyone rejoiced and celebrated (that might be a bit overkill) but they were exceedingly happy for me.
After almost a year, my first manuscript now entitled, "The Notorious Bridegroom," a Zebra debut novel, appeared on bookshelves the beginning of August. Now everyone will have a chance to read about Miss Patience Mandeley and how she spies on Bryce, Lord Londringham because she believes he is a French spy and has accused her brother of treason. Like any devoted sister, she’ll disguise herself as a maid and enter his household convinced she’ll find his secrets that will prove her brother is innocent. What she finds is a very handsome earl who wonders why one of his maids is spying on him. It’s not long before they find themselves attracted to one another and realize the real French spies are planning to invade England and they must stop them before they can find their own true love.
Now three books later ("The Vengeful Bridegroom" is due next fall from Zebra, and I’ve just completed my third book), I’m set to begin number four.
The dream came true. I’m a published author who walked into a couple of bookstores and found her books on the shelves. It really is an indescribable feeling. It took awhile to get here, but I’m not planning to leave anytime soon.
Here’s hoping your dream to become published comes true.
All the best, Kit Donner