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My First Sale by Linda Howard

I don’t know if this author needs introduction. I feel like I’ve been reading Linda Howard for as long as I’ve read romances. There are so many of her books that I’ve read multiple times. Last year when I met Ms. Howard at RWA, I was pretty star struck. Ironically, I found Howard in person (for the tiny time that I interacted with her) to be more represented by her humorous tales such as Open Season or Mr. Perfect than her darker ones. I know that there will be books that Howard has written that I’ll still be re-reading in 30 years.

Her latest romantic suspense, Death Angel, is in stores now.


It was December. I don’t remember the exact date, but I think it was Friday. We had stopped to eat dinner after work, even though I had a niggling premonition that an editor named Leslie Wainger would probably be calling very soon to tell me Silhouette was buying my manuscript. I can’t say why I had that little sense of expectation, but I review

Premonition or no, we still had to eat dinner. My husband and I both worked the same hours for the same company, so I’d long since drawn a line in the domestic sand about cooking dinner, to wit: the only way I was willing to do it was if he had the responsibility for dinner every other day. That’s only fair, right? Anyway, that’s why we ate dinner out every night on the way home from work.

When we got home, the phone was ringing. I very calmly went to answer it, and this beautiful voice said, "Hi, is this Linda? This is Leslie Wainger, with Silhouette." She had been trying to get in touch with me all week, but she didn’t have my work number, just my home phone number. Because she’s smarter than the average bear, she decided to stay late one night and give me time to get home from work. Yes, this was (ohmigod!) before the age of answering machines! Well, before they were in common usage, anyway, not that she’d have left a message that important even if I’d had an answering machine.

I was still very calm. I said, "I knew you’d call today." And I had known. I don’t know why I hadn’t known it any other day of that week, when she’d been trying to call, but on that particular day, I knew. So we discussed the book, the contract, all of the things a first-time-selling author has to discuss, and I was calm and collected. Leslie even remarked that I was the calmest person she’d ever phoned with that news, that most people were screaming with delight. I was delighted, of course, but I was . . . controlled. In due course, we said goodbye. I hung up, went into the den where my husband was sitting — completely unaware that our lives had been changing while he watched the evening news — flung myself on top of him, and cried for about fifteen minutes. He kept asking, "What’s wrong? What’s wrong?" and of course he thought someone had died, but I was crying so hard it took me a while to settle down and tell him that absolutely nothing was wrong, that instead everything was right.

The heck of it is, we’d already had dinner, so we couldn’t even go out to dinner to celebrate.

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. Mad
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 14:48:25

    What a great story…I’ve just started reading DEATH ANGEL today. :)

  2. Maddie
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 14:57:43

    I love Linda Howard have all of her books and just finished Death Angel and loved it.
    The only thing I can complain about is that she writes only one novel a year and that one novel usually comes out in July/August.

  3. Janine
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 15:04:01

    Wonderful and moving story. Thanks so much!

  4. Jaci Burton
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 15:25:09


    I *heart* Linda Howard.

  5. azteclady
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 15:39:46

    That’s the coolest :grin: THE CALL story!

  6. Jill Sorenson
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 16:08:44

    I’m starstruck just reading this. I love Linda Howard so much! She is my Sanjaya.

  7. Karen Scott
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 16:21:25

    She is my Sanjaya.

    That is just sooo wrong. *g*

  8. sallahdog
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 16:28:46

    and to think, if I judged Linda Howard on those first silouhett books, I wouldn’t be reading her today… I started with Open Season and promptly went back and read her whole backlist (some of those early ones are stinkers by todays standards, REALLY assholic heros)…

    Listening to Death Angel on my Mp3 player now…

  9. Nicole
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 16:40:25

    I’m currently reading Death Angel, too.

    I probably haven’t read nearly as many LH books as most of you, but hey, that means there’s more good stuff for me to get to.

  10. Wendy
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 16:44:29

    I’m the opposite sallahdog. I don’t bother with the new ones but love the older LH books. Yep, the heroes were assholic but I am not a fan of suspense.

  11. katiebabs
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 16:44:33

    Awwww! Such a moving story! I would have some ice cream to celebrate!

  12. Gennita Low
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 17:30:43


    Linda Howard!!!!!


  13. vanessa jaye
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 17:51:46

    Linda Howard!!! What a nice surprise! Thank you, Jane (& Linda! *g*)

  14. Andi
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 17:53:04

    Dane, from Dream Man, ruined me for other men.

  15. Jane
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 18:32:36

    Andi – I lurv Dream Man and the uber neanderthal Dane. I was afraid of my closet for weeks after first reading it. I also loved After the Night and the whole Kell Sabin series. So I loved both old Howard and new Howard stories.

  16. Mad
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 18:36:55

    Jane — don’t forget John Rafferty…he’s another favorite. :)

  17. Alice
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 18:46:09

    Oh, what a wonderful story-it’s so sweet!
    Don’t forget the Mackenzies! Love them!

  18. Kristie(J)
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 18:48:21

    I’m not one to stalk people – at least so far I haven’t gotten into stalker territory – OK, OK – maybe when I was a young teenage girl, a case might be made for stalking my crush du jour but I got way over that many years ago (many), but when I saw Linda Howard at RWA last year I came oh so close to stalker territory again. And when I mentioned asking a clerk in a hardware store about a pink hammer and she laughed – well my day was made!

  19. Mad
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 18:51:11

    Oh yeah, can’t forget the MacKenzies! :)

  20. Sarah
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 19:01:49

    Thanks for sharing this Linda! You’re one of those authors that for me writes unforgettable stories.

  21. orannia
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 19:10:10

    HI Linda,

    That is such a wonderful story! I have to say, ever since I met the Mackenzie’s *SIGH* I’ve been completely smitten! Thank you!


  22. Cara
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 19:30:28

    I bought Death Angel yesterday at the grocery store. The clerk asked me if the author was any good and what the story was about, while she read the blurb. Irritated that she was pawing my book, I said don’t know what the story is about but I buy anything she writes.
    That sums it up for me. Thanks for the best stories Linda.

  23. che
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 19:44:23

    Though Death Angel wasn’t my favorite, I love so many of her other books. Over on Karen’s blog, they’re talking about inserting yourself as the heroine or some such. I so want to be Sam “Mr. Perfect” Donovan’s gf.

  24. Tabitha
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 20:37:08

    As usual, what wonderful story-telling. Love love love LH. Big fan of hers, old and new stories. I never tire of re-reading her novels. Sam Donovan, John Rafferty, Dane Hollister, Kell Sabin, Robert Cannon, Wolf/Joe/Zane MacKenzie…*drools* I have “Mr. Perfect” in hardback and have re-read it so often, it’s wearing out.

  25. Oneia
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 22:46:11

    I’m so glad that I visited the site today! Linda is my fav author and I enjoyed her first sale story- one of the best I’ve heard. I don’t know that I have a favorite book or hero, but I’ve read All the Queen’s Men so many times I may now be qualified for black ops work. Just finished Death Angel,and really liked the heroine. I am wondering if we’ll ever get another Blair Mallory book. I would love to see more of Siana.

  26. Patricia Briggs
    Jul 11, 2008 @ 23:25:01

    I read my first Linda Howard while I was in college. I was at a grocery store and looking for something to read. Intimate Moments was the only HQ/S line I read and, as it happened, I didn’t know any of the authors of that month. So I decided to pick up the book that had sold the most already and found myself with Linda Howard’s White Lies. Promptly I went out and found her whole backlist and have been an avid consumer ever since.

  27. Lori
    Jul 12, 2008 @ 01:31:22

    I so want to be Sam “Mr. Perfect” Donovan's gf.

    Laughing. Who doesn’t love Sam? He rocks! Amazingly, I read my first Linda Howard book only last year. Kiss Me While I Sleep. Loved it so much, I totally glommed all the older stuff. What a treat! Now I can keep up as they come out :)

    Thanks for sharing your story!

  28. sallahdog
    Jul 12, 2008 @ 01:51:36

    Hey Wendy, I was thinking more her very first ones, I agree that her most recent books haven’t been my favorites.

    the two books of hers that were wallbangers for me were, all that glitters (I believe) it was a virgin heroine with a greek billionare story, and then the one where the corporate raider gets the goods from the company secretary and then can’t understand why she thinks he is shite, and soon she can’t remember what a slimeball he was either..

    My favorites were Open Season and Mr. Perfect, and for more romance was After the Night (hero was an assholic, but fun)… Her last several have been mostly miss, but I still have hope, and usually there is enough to keep me interested.

  29. Karen Scott
    Jul 12, 2008 @ 04:10:48

    Jane, I’m on the Dane Train too.

    Wolf and Mary are one of my fave couples of all time. A very close second to Eve and Roarke.

  30. BookBoor
    Jul 12, 2008 @ 06:02:55

    Okay, you know this site is all fabulousness when Linda Howard (lurve her) is here and Patricia Briggs (le fav) comments on her post. Life is good. *sigh*

  31. Terry Odell
    Jul 12, 2008 @ 06:13:57

    Count me in as another “late bloomer” who has to go pick up back lists. (And late to reading the posts today, too). Thanks for sharing your story.

  32. Malin
    Jul 12, 2008 @ 08:31:09

    I just want to say that my hammer is floral! (And if you unscrew it you find several screwdrivers of various sizes one inside the other. Now that’s handy!)

    Oh, and I’ll buy anything with the name Linda Howard on it. Even as a recommendation on someone else’s book.

    I’d love to read more about Blair Mallory! Maybe about how she handles pregnancy. She doesn’t have to be the main character, though, if you want to write about Siana instead…

  33. KeriM
    Jul 12, 2008 @ 13:47:55

    *sigh* Love Linda Howard, have all of her books. My all time faves are Touch of Fire, Now You See Her and Mr. Perfect. If I have to name faves. :-)

  34. Bev Stephans
    Jul 12, 2008 @ 13:48:54

    OMG, this is great!!! The first Linda Howard I read was Kiss Me While I Sleep. I was hooked and bought her backlist. Her first book turned me off because of the wedding dress. If you’ve read it, you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t read it, it’s not a spoiler.

  35. Throwmearope
    Jul 12, 2008 @ 14:23:14

    Cry No More, Dream Man, the Blair books, oh phooey, I love them all. Well, not the sexual discrimination at work in the name of lurve one, and I never read All That Glitters or whatever, cause I don’t do sheiks, even written by LH. . . But all the rest, yeah, total rabid fangirl here.

  36. Bev Stephans
    Jul 12, 2008 @ 15:53:37

    THROWMEAROPE, All That Glitters wasn’t about sheiks. It was about an overbearing, arrogant Greek.

  37. Throwmearope
    Jul 12, 2008 @ 16:20:07

    Er, my bad, but I don’t like those kind of heroes either.

  38. BevQB
    Jul 12, 2008 @ 16:56:01

    My first Linda Howard was Son of the Morning and it not only remains one of my favorite books of all time, it’s also my favorite beach read of all time too. I know that sounds odd, but we’d rented a beach house and SotM was in the bookcase. Even though all the kids would be awake in just a couple of hours, I ended up staying awake most of the night because there was just no putting it down.

    And to this day, I cannot re-read Cry No More because it was so gut-wrenching. I sobbed and sobbed through that book.

    Oh, and Ms. Howard… please… I’m begging you… PLEASE consider getting a web site! It doesn’t have to be anything fancy-schmancy, just a list of your books in chronological and/or series order with blurbs or links to the blurbs. And maybe news of any upcoming books. Please and thank you.

  39. Bev Stephans
    Jul 12, 2008 @ 17:10:49

    I’m with BevQB. Please, please get a website! Thank you.

  40. Greta
    Jul 12, 2008 @ 18:34:35

    Kicking myself for not check this blog earlier. I love Linda Howard. Mackenzie’s Mountain is my absolute favorite book. I love Wolf & Mary.

  41. Kaitlin
    Jul 12, 2008 @ 23:33:55

    Oh, Son of the Morning! I *heart* that book. It’s a yearly reread for me. And Joe MacKenzie? I love his book. The rest of the MacKenzie’s didn’t do much for me. Am I weird? LOL!

    Thanks for the story. I love these first sale stories. One of these days I hope to be one. :D

  42. Yvonne Lindsay
    Jul 13, 2008 @ 20:11:10

    My first LH, and still my favourite, is Son of the Morning. I loaned my copy to a few people and it became so dog earred I bought myself a new copy just for me to keep and reread. That story never pales for me. Ever. I’ve really enjoyed every LH I’ve read, some more than others. Stand outs for me, aside from Son of the Morning are Dream Man, Mr Perfect, MacKenzie’s Mountain and the Blair Mallory books. One of the worst things I ever did was read the end of Sarah’s Child while waiting in the car outside my kids’ school to collect them at the end of their day. I was a total blubbering mess. I’m sure, to this day, people who passed me thought someone had just died.

  43. Susan
    Jul 14, 2008 @ 09:02:02

    I feel lucky because I have been reading Linda since she first started publishing. She and Nora Roberts started with Silhouette Intimate Moments and Mom and I read them from the beginning.
    To this day they are both my top favorites (with Linda edging Nora). And I have admired as well knashed my teeth that Linda has kept a low profile with basically no details about her world. I admire it because everyone deserves private life. On the other hand, you know if you could read a blog or chat with her it would be a riot!
    Hmmmmmm. Favorite hero depends on who I just read! I would put Rafferty and all the MacKenzies at the top. Dane, and his sidekick the metrosexual before we knew that term. Gray Rouillard…omg…the scene in the courthouse bathroom…
    Anyways. Awesome that you caught up with her!

  44. MB
    Jul 14, 2008 @ 10:44:14

    I love Linda Howard’s books–especially the funny ones. I appreciate the way (at least in the newer ones) the heroines are strong, NOT TSTL and kick butt. She writes some of the best male characters out there. They act, react, and speak believably like real men. I want!

    What I especially enjoy about her books (again, especially the newer ones) is the battle of the sexes between the male and female characters. I like that her strong women characters are complemented by her strong men characters. There is a balance of power in the relationships and the 2 together are better than singly/alone. The women don’t become doormats when they fall in love and I have the sense that the men would be bored by anyone else who couldn’t stand up to them. I feel like the relationships are going to last and these are going to be marriages that don’t peter out after the HEA. I like this! (Linda’s books can also be incredibly hilarious at times.)
    So…Yay Linda! Keep it up!

  45. SonomaLass
    Jul 15, 2008 @ 18:46:37

    I picked up my first Linda Howard today, because I had read this first sale story and the comments. The book is called Up Close and Dangerous. I picked it up intending to read the first few pages and see what it was like — the next thing I knew, I was sitting on the floor, and I was at the beginning of chapter six! Needless to say, I took the book with me. The characters reached right out and grabbed me, the plot drew me in, and the touches of humor were a bonus. So this is my first, and I’m sure it won’t be my last.

  46. Rosie
    Jul 16, 2008 @ 00:53:01

    What I love about this series is that it makes people we admire so much more accessible and a little less iconic.

  47. Elaine C.
    Jul 18, 2008 @ 12:23:09

    LOL what a great story! I started out reading your Silhouttes and have `enjoyed EVERY release of yours since, I collected all your books and re-read them regularly. Thanks for sharing this glimpse at what you felt like during your first sale experience.

  48. Poundra
    Mar 24, 2009 @ 12:26:34

    My first is almost forever, and then sarah’s child and rollin 4rm there. Here in Indonesia i keep waitin n waitin LH’s work bein published. So far there are sarah’s child, almost forever, mr.perfect, dream man, kill n tell, to die for, after the night,open season. My fave is after the nite, but most of linda’s work r top on ma list. W.o.w, cant wait to get another bein publishd, i so envy u guys 4 the access to mackenzie series etc etc.. Im so desperate to read another. Hmh..

  49. Anjola
    Dec 31, 2009 @ 02:34:58

    can anyone PLEASE send me any link to Mackenzie’s Mountain???
    Thanks sooo much!.

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