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. Virginia Kantra writes paranormal romances for Berkley. Her book, Immortal Sea, is out in stores beginning on September 7, 2010.
Our three children sprawl around the kitchen table doing-‘or not doing-‘their back-to-school homework. A drawing of "My Family." Some version of "How I Spent My Summer Vacation." A fifth grade essay titled "When I Grow Up…" And my husband turns to me and asks, "And what do you want to be when you grow up, little girl?"
Because, of course, we both know the answer. I want to be a writer. I've been writing my entire life, stories of True Love and Adventure that have languished on my desk or my computer's hard drive or in the back of my filing cabinet. The demands of three small kids-‘two with major medical issues before the age of five-‘meant that for days or years at a time I could ignore my dream. My husband's gentle challenge reminds me of it.
I read a lot of romance. "You know," I say to him slowly, "I think I'd like to write a romance novel."
Fast forward ten years. I've written and sold over a dozen stories to Silhouette's Intimate Moments line. I'm working on the third book in the Trouble in Eden series ("Small town! Big secrets! And hearts on the line!") when my agent calls.
"Cindy Hwang at Berkley wants to know if you'd like to write a novella for an anthology she's putting together."
Oh. My. God. Yes, yes, YES! Euphoria ensues. Terms and deadlines are set.
And then Cindy herself calls.
When I am finally capable of stringing a complete sentence together, I ask, rather shyly and haltingly, which other authors are contributing to the anthology. She tells me: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Maggie Shayne, and Suzanne Forster.
Oh. My. God. More euphoria! And then I realize…These are paranormal authors. Cindy Hwang actually has no idea who I am. This whole thing has been a terrible mistake and there is nothing I can do but come clean. I am not the Virginia Kantra she is looking for.
"Um," I say, because Words Are My Stock-in-trade, "you do know that I write contemporary? Domestic drama? Romantic suspense?"
"Oh, yes," she says, because reassuring paranoid authors is an editor's stock-in-trade. "You wrote the Eden books."
We talk long enough about my work that I am cautiously encouraged that maybe she has the right Virginia Kantra after all before I ask, "And, er, that's what you want? For this anthology?"
Because at this point I am prepared to give this wonderful, intelligent woman whatever she asks for, including any one of the three children. (At least as a loan.)
"If that's what you want to write," Cindy says promptly.
I am dizzy with freedom.
"Or if you want to write something a little different," she continues, "that would be fine, too. Anthologies are a wonderful place for authors to experiment. Whatever you want," she repeats, in case I haven't got the point yet.
So, drunk on possibilities, I begin babbling to her about one of the stories buried in the back of the filing cabinet for fifteen years, a modern day retelling of Tam Lin set in the mountains of North Carolina.
"Between the Mountains and the Moon" in the anthology MAN OF MY DREAMS was my first sale to Berkley (and, incidentally, my first non-category book nominated for Romance Writers of America's RITA award).
Cindy is still encouraging me to write the books I want to write. IMMORTAL SEA, my fourth Children of the Sea novel and my ninth project for Berkley, comes out tomorrow, Tuesday, September 7. It's a story about family and True Love and Adventure. Berkley had agreed to give away 5 copies of IMMORTAL SEA to folks who leave comments.
Now that you've heard about my first sale, tell me: What do YOU want to be when you grow up? And if you had to pick one different genre to read or write in, what would it be?