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. Tracy Wolff, author of both Harlequin Superromances and erotic romances from NAL Heat, serves up her story today. Her latest release, Tie Me Down, is in stores now.
I’ve wanted to be a writer forever-’seriously, from the time I put pen to paper and understood that I could use letters to make words, I’ve been crafting stories and characters in my head. I went to school and trained to be a writer (I have a bunch of degrees in English and am now a college writing professor) and always knew-’with the arrogance of youth– that one day I was going to write a book that got published.
Of course, real life got in the way-’grad school, marriage, a job, babies-’you get the idea. Well, there came a time when, despite this, I knew that if I didn’t start writing soon, I was just going to let my dream wither and die. I wasn’t willing to do that. So I did what any good grad student would do-’I researched my little fingers to the bone. I found out about this great organization called RWA and signed up for their national convention on the same day I joined the organization. I knew no one, but I wanted to know everything I could about the business of writing so I figured I’d jump into the deep end of the pool.
As I anxiously waited for the end of July to arrive, I did more research and decided what kind of books I wanted to write-’I loved the concept of Harlequin’s Everlasting Love and Nocturne lines and had been an avid Blaze reader for years, so I decided to target those lines (I knew I didn’t need an agent to get my foot in the door at Harlequin and that was, of course, a big factor in my decision at the time).
Anyway, I got lucky, because at RWA nationals I found out that both Everlasting Love and Blaze were running contests in an effort to get new writers, contests that put unpublished authors’ work directly in front of Harlequin editors as judges. I couldn’t have been more excited. I went home invigorated, typed my little fingers off and turned out the first chapters in a book I called Picture Me (for Blaze) and one I calledThe Turn for Home for Everlasting Love. I sent them away to the contests and nearly chewed my nails to the quick (figuratively) as I waited to hear back about the contests.
I heard about the Blaze contest first-’I’d gotten an honorable mention and a request for the full manuscript. A couple months later, I took 2nd place in the Everlasting contest and also received a request for a full. The Blaze book, Picture Me, ended up not being bought but I got a revision request on the Everlasting. I was thrilled.
Unfortunately, in the middle of all this, I had a very premature baby and ended up having to put off the revisions for almost eight months. So when I finally got around to doing the revisions on The Turn for Home, I didn’t expect anything to come from it. Which is why, four months later, when I was running down the stairs-’baby in hand-’to take my still sick preemie to his pediatrician for his weekly visit, I didn’t bother to answer the phone when it rang. I was running late and figured whoever it was would just leave a message. And boy, did she ever.
Beverly Sotolov’s (an editor for Harlequin Everlasting Love) voice came over the answering machine and I froze, because having spoken to her two or three times through the contest/revision process, I recognized her voice even before she identified herself. And then I took a flying leap-’baby, purse, shoes, baby bag and all– for the nearest phone. To this day, I thank God that my husband had the presence of mind to grab the baby out of my arms on the fly. I can’t swear for certain that I wouldn’t have dropped him along with the rest of the stuff when Beverly uttered the magic words: "We want to buy The Turn for Home."
Now, anyone who knows me, knows I’m not a crier. It takes a lot to get me to bust out a tear-’especially in front of someone who isn’t a close friend or part of my immediate family. So I don’t know who was more shocked-’Beverly, my husband or me-’when I started to blubber all over the phone, and her. To this day, Beverly still talks about my breakdown-’and the fact that I was her very first crier. She was as thrilled by it as I was embarrassed. Needless to say, the tear weren’t the strongest negotiating tool, but I hung up the phone with a fair advance, a new editor, and a book contract.
I was, however, very late to the baby’s doctor’s appointment.
The Turn for Home later-’after many more changes-’morphed into my first Harlequin Superromance, A Christmas Wedding. And Picture Me, the book I’d written for the Blaze contest, ended up being my very first single title release, Full Exposure. With my second Superromance (From Friend to Father) out this past June and my second erotic suspense (Tie Me Down) on the shelves right now, I couldn’t be happier -
In honor of my First Sale story, I’m giving away a copy of the first book I ever wrote, Full Exposure and a handy, dandy Tracy Wolff tote bag filled with goodies. Comment below for a chance to win!