My First Sale by Lora Leigh
Lora Leigh is synonymous with erotic romance. She began her career in epublishing, built a formidable fan base, sold to New York and became a bestselling author. Dawn’s Awakening hit number 3 on the NYT Bestseller List. Her Nauti series has consistently hit the NYT Trade Bestseller list.
Her latest release, Nauti Dreams, is on sale on August 5, 2008.
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Romance, I think, has always been a part of me. As far back as I can remember, I wove daydreams of Prince Charming and Forlorn Heroine. You know, the heroine that needs to be rescued, needs to be cuddled, and needs to be protected from all the bumps and trumps life can throw at her, even as he does her homework and helps her make an "A" in English? (Yeah, yuck.)
I was in the seventh grade, a little young I admit, dreaming of that future prince. Staring at the wall, staring at the floor, laying my head down to nap in English class, and weaving all those wonderful, timid little daydreams. Through this year, I had a horrible English teacher. He was an ogre. He was a demon. He made me write "Ain’t is not a word" (this was when "ain’t" really wasn’t in the dictionary) a hundred times at least twice a week and something about double negatives at least as often, but I have trouble remembering the exact phrase. And I still love my double negatives, ask my editor.
So here comes Mr. Eugene Mueller, seventh grade English teacher. Remember, the class I slept through? He looks around the room (it didn’t do to lay the head down and dream timid dreams until he took his seat.) And he smiles. I still shudder as I think of that smile. It was gloating. It was daring. It was a challenge he knew we couldn’t possibly triumph over. Then he says, "Write me a story."
So long ago.
I remember blinking. The story was there. It was that day’s daydream. Something about being the most popular girl in the class and having the boy of my dreams ask to hold my hand (so timid).
But the story was there. It was there in my head. And I wrote it. I wrote through the whole class. I didn’t say "ain’t" once, and I don’t think I uttered a double negative either. And now, many, many years later, I guess in some ways, I’m still writing Mr. Mueller a story. It was that smile. That gloating "you couldn’t do it if you tried" smile. That smile followed me for so long. Because I didn’t believe I could do it. I wrote and I dreamed, and I’ve let my heroines grow up and my heroes ask for more than holding hands. But getting it right was kind of like never saying "ain’t" or remembering what a double negative was.
When I got the call from my agent that not just one publisher, but two wanted novellas, and I had a shot at selling full length books to them, I remember panicking. I was excited, but I was calm. I had been submitting through my agent for more than a year. I was finally getting my chance at New York, and with two of my favorite publishers. I remember all but screaming "Yes!" to the offer she presented to me for Reno’s Chance with St. Martins and The Breed Next Door for Berkley. But when I got off the phone, I remember Mr. Mueller’s smile. And I smiled too. He had dared me. He had pushed me. Maybe it hadn’t been meant for me alone, but it had kept me trying, kept me fighting, and kept me learning.
Now, I thank Mr. Mueller with every book I turn into my editors. And I always remember that smile. And I always wonder if he ever knew how he influenced one girl’s dreams, and her struggle to tell a story.