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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.

* * *

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.

book review 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.

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. Bev Stephans
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 09:50:49

    Great story Lora! I have been reading your books for a long time and it’s nice to know how you got started.

  2. Jaci Burton
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 10:12:35

    Lora is not only incredibly talented, but one of the sweetest, most genuine people I have ever met. She’s kind and generous and warm and I’m very privileged to call her my friend.

  3. Patty L.
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 10:20:34

    Great story, I had a business teacher tell me once that I should get used to the difference between turkey and ham because I would only be making sandwiches for the rest of my life. Fifteen years later, I am legal assistant with wonderful references from numerous attorneys and I have to fight the urge to rub it in her face. LOL

  4. SheilaMonique
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 10:50:56

    I am going to agree with Jaci. I love Lora…she is very kind and sweet and I can’t wait to get to meet her in September.

  5. Jennifer A. Ray
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 11:47:08

    Lora, this is a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing it!

    I so appreciate the hard work you do. You were my first romance read (Sarah’s Seduction) and hooked me even though I blushed the whole way through that book! Talk about jumping into the deep end of the pool, huh?

    There isn’t a book you’ve published I haven’t enjoyed, and I hope to see you adding to my bookcase for years to come.


  6. Jessa Slade
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 12:10:46

    Inspiration and a lesson wrapped up in one. I had a high school English teacher who gave me a similar jolt I never forgot. The power of a good teacher is amazing.

  7. Sonya
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 13:02:55

    Great story, Lora! The anti-inspiring English teacher has always been a favorite of mine – it’s so pleasing to be able to say, “Ha! I can too write a story!” … even if the English teacher in question never knows what you accomplished. :-)

  8. BethanyA
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 13:31:01

    Why is it we have those bad English teachers? I had Mrs. Haggan, who once gave me a C on a poem in 8th (I probably deserved it) and we fought for rest of the year because she wanted to keep my writing in a neat, classifiable, able-to-flourish-on-EWTs-and-make-her look-good box. I probably would have let her squash me if it weren’t for my 4th grade teacher who “saved my autograph for when I became a famous romance novelist.” (I still can’t believe she said that to a 10 year-old though!)

    Geez…I’m already 24…I probably should be getting busy.

  9. Annmarie
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 13:32:58

    Love the story! Course, I love Lora too. I remember when she got that call and I was thrilled for her then and I am thrilled for her as she achieves new goals. She is hard working and always giving to anyone in need.

    I thank Mr. Mueller too. If not for him, I’d never have read Lora’s work and had the pleasure of meeting her and befriending her.

  10. MaryK
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 15:31:21

    The Breed Next Door for Berkley

    Loved that novella!

  11. SonomaLass
    Aug 02, 2008 @ 02:13:55

    On behalf of English teachers everywhere, THANK YOU. When we do that “double-dog dare you” thing, it’s nice to know it works.

  12. KeriM
    Aug 02, 2008 @ 17:13:01

    Great story Lora, I have read all of the Tempting Seals series and I look forward to more.

  13. Denice
    Aug 02, 2008 @ 20:07:56

    Oh, my goodness! I too had an English teacher Mrs. Harolyn Harris that “dared” me to write, but to this day I am too chicken to let anyone see any of it! Maybe if she had been a bit meaner…?

  14. Janine
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 20:59:19

    I was not online last Friday, so I just caught up on this “First Sale” story. I enjoyed it very much, so thank you for sharing it with us.

  15. Jess
    Oct 05, 2008 @ 02:28:06

    What a great story :) i love know these little tit bits of my favourite authors lives…

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