My First Sale: C.E. Murphy, There I Was, With The Chocolate-Chip Cookies…
I first heard of C.E. Murphy when Luna publishing put out Urban Shaman. It was an intriguing (and actually not very romantic which is a huge deal for me) urban fantasy. Over time (cough 3 years cough), Murphy has penned 10 novels and now has a million words in print. Born in Alaska and now living in Ireland, Murphy’s latest book, The Queen’s Bastard, is in bookstores now.
It was only in retrospect I realized how completely absurd I’d been when I got The Call.
I’d queried two publishing houses that took non-agented material, and one had come back quickly, asking for the full manuscript of URBAN SHAMAN. I sent it on, and several weeks later the other also responded, asking for the full. Not wanting to tread on toes, I called House #1 to ask if they minded me submitting the full to another house, and explained to House #2 that I was checking on this and would let them know ASAP if I’d be sending them the full manuscript.
House #2 said they didn’t take multiple submissions on full manuscripts from non-agented writers, and so I thought, “Well, okay,” and didn’t worry about it.
Fast-forward two weeks. I get a phone call at about three in the afternoon my time, which was around 7pm Eastern, and it’s the editor, Mary Theresa Hussey, at House #1 (Luna Books). My heart spasmed once, and then I was cool as a cucumber, man, because I thought she was calling to discuss the whole multiple submission thing. “What on earth,” I said to her, “are you doing at work at 7pm on a Friday?”
“Oh, well,” said she, “the phones have been on the blink all day and the repairman’s just left and I wanted to call you before I went home, and how are you?”
I was great, thanks! I’d just been making chocolate chip cookies, it was a beautiful day, natter natter natter. We had a really nice normal conversation about just this and that and the other thing, and through the whole of it I was utterly calm, because it literally didn’t occur to me she was calling for anything other than to discuss the submission thing.
“Well,” she said eventually, “I hope I’ve got some good news for you. We’d like to make an offer on URBAN SHAMAN and two more books in the series.”
Even now I’m actually laughing out loud thinking about this. My brain just flatlined. BEEEEEEEEEEEP. I remember thinking, “I know you’re supposed to say, “Oh, thank you! I’ll have my agent contact you right away!”” and then frantically call up and find yourself an agent to contact them with. I remember thinking, “How could anybody possibly have the nerve to *say* that when they’ve just offered you a book deal?” And aside from that, all I thought was BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP.
I gibbered at poor Ms. Hussey, who was clearly accustomed to people’s brains flatlining, and who kindly told me I should take the weekend to think it over (think it over? what’s to THINK?! …for that matter, what’s *thinking*? BEEEEEEP…).
I got off the phone so excited I couldn’t speak beyond gasps and shrieks, and with my hands shaking so badly my husband had to dial the phone to call my parents so I could shriek at them, too. By Monday I’d gotten the agent I wanted (the fantastic Jennifer Jackson of the Donald Maass Literary Agency), and I had a real, honest-to-gosh book deal.
It wasn’t until about five months later that it occured to me that they don’t call you to discuss multiple submissions. I was so cool through that whole conversation (well, up until the actual offer), and, I mean, you know, that’s the kind of cool you only dream about being! That’s up there with coming up with the right come-back line at the right time, the perfect zinger, the moment of Awesome…and my moment of Awesome was based entirely in an erroneous assumption. *laughs out loud*
Yeah. That was almost five years ago now, and it’s still got me pink-cheeked and grinning like a fool. One of the best moments in my life ever!