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My First Sale by Liz Carlyle, a Partnership of Naive Newbies...

author.jpgI first read Liz Carlyle in 1999 with her release of My False Heart, and I have bought her new, on the release date, ever since. It only took one amazing book for her to win me as a reader. My False Heart was an amazing debut novel. It took chances by featuring a tempermental experienced non-English artist heroine, a brooding unattractive brute of a hero, and a true sense of the historical time period. Since that time, Carlyle has continued to write provocative stories challenging her readers. Her latest release, Never Lie to a Lady, is in stores now and is a USA Today Bestseller.

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Book CoverMy first sale was an almost surreal moment. On the day I got The Call I was actually moving into a new house. After lifting and unloading boxes all day, I had collapsed with exhaustion on the floor of our empty bedroom. Downstairs, a potential tragedy was unfolding. The furniture movers had decided to rip off our banisters in order to get our antique armoire up the steps. I remember just lying there, trying not to listen, while absently studying the carpet color—a strange shade my husband dubbed ‘tobacco-spit brown,’ which matched nothing we owned or would ever wish to own —and wondering how long it would be before we could afford to rip it up and shove it in the nearest dumpster.

Fortunately, we could afford new telephone service. I did not, however, realize Ma Bell had actually turned the thing on. So when the phone rang in the empty room, I was shocked. When I answered it, I was stupefied. The vaguely pleasant but somewhat uncertain voice on the other end of the line informed me in a neatly-clipped New York accent that she had just finished reading my manuscript, and that she was interested—well, she thought perhaps that she might be interested—in buying it. Thought? Perhaps? Was this The Call or not? In my fantasy version, bells had chimed and angels had sung. Uncertainty hadn’t entered the picture.

She soon explained that she was a very new editor, and that I would in fact be her very first manuscript purchase. Ever. So I told her I thought that would probably work well, since this was the first manuscript I’d sold. (I think at the time we were both so naïve we actually believed innocence was a good thing.) So we discussed the particulars of the book, and my willingness to write a second to go with it, and I kept saying “yes, yes, yes,” to everything she asked while I listened to the movers ripping out the old nails and prying up my woodwork.

Eventually, she decided that, yes, she did indeed wish to purchase the manuscript, so we got down to the nitty-gritty. I had already decided that in the unlikely event I should ever sell a book, I would agent myself (saving up for that new carpet!) and when that seemed agreeable to her, we discussed the big topic—money—though in my case, it turned out to be a very small topic. Maybe enough for new carpet provided it sat in the bank and drew interest for a decade or two. But hey, I would have agreed if she’d promised me two percent royalties and her first born son. I hung up the phone and gave a whoop of joy—just as one of the movers collapsed beneath the weight of our armoire while hefting it up the last step. (So far, they haven’t filed any personal injury suits.)

I still have my beloved editor—now a hardened and battle-scarred warrior with many New York Times bestsellers under her belt—and I still have that dreadful brown carpet, too. Since I went under contract, I haven’t had time to go pick out another color.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She 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

7 Comments

  1. Katharina
    Jun 29, 2007 @ 04:21:13

    Ms. Carlyle is one of the few authors making me believe and enjoy the Regency/Victorian setting in a romance novel. Reading on of her stories is like travelling back in time and “really” touching and feeling a long ago era. I discovered her in 2003 and consider myself a dedicated fan ever since then. In fact, she made me return to a setting I considered being finished with and this way discovered gems like Loretta Chase or Carla Kelly.

  2. Danielle
    Jun 29, 2007 @ 04:44:05

    Ms. Carlyle is one of my favorite historical authors. I enjoyed all of her books. Two years ago after my niece had surgery I mailed her all of Liz’s books…..she’s now hooked on Liz.

    I just finished reading Never Lie To A Lady and I did write her to tell her much I enjoyed her latest. Mr. Kemble and Stefan’s butler had me laughing out loud with their comments.

    Liz, one of these days you’re going to have to replace the rug.

  3. Keishon
    Jun 29, 2007 @ 08:45:32

    Curious to know if she’ll update that author photo?

    I tried reading one of Ms. Carlyle’s books and it just didn’t work out. Looks like her work should appeal to me but alas, different strokes and all that.

  4. Colleen Gleason
    Jun 29, 2007 @ 11:24:40

    I absolutely love Liz’s books and she’s an auto-buy for me as well (one of my few). On the release date I’m at the store, grabbing it off the table–if not begging for the store to sell it to me a week or a day early (which, to my dismay and the fact that I’ve spent a small fortune in chai and herbal tea at its coffee shop, never happens).

    I’ve always loved her mixture of sensuality/tension, dry humor, and the fact that every time I think she’s going to take her plot down an old tired road, she does something to freshen it up and keep it new. Love it.

    I was delighted when she won a RITA last year, finally!

    And I’ve always wanted to hear her first sale story (I thought I’d heard it told that she was bought out of a slush pile–but never heard the details).

    Thanks for sharing! (And, Liz, if you’re reading this and you have an ARC of Never Deceive a Duke that you’re just dying to get rid of, let me know.)

  5. Larissa Ione
    Jun 29, 2007 @ 20:35:41

    What a great first sale story! And how amazing that she still has the same editor!

  6. Josie
    Jul 01, 2007 @ 18:08:06

    What a surreal day that must have been!
    I’m a Liz Carlyle fan as well and am currently waiting very impatiently for ‘Never Lie to a Lady’ to arrive in my mailbox…

  7. Bethany
    Dec 07, 2007 @ 11:58:01

    I know her editor personally and she is the best human in publishing. If I ever put the petal to the metal and write a book, I can only hope that she is still around so I can submit to her.

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