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My First Sale by Lori Brighton & Giveaway

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. Today we are featuring two first sale letters. Lori Brighton is a debut author with her first historical, Wild Heart, due out in November. Don’t forget to read the bottom of the first sale story to learn how to win one of 3 $10 gift certificates.


When is it time to give up on a dream? After a year? Three years? Six? I’ve often pondered that question on my road to publication.

I wasn’t one of those writers who was reading at three and journaling at five. Honestly, English class and all the grammar rules that came with bored me to tears. But I did read a lot, and my imagination was insatiable. To escape those angst-ridden teenage years, I’d make up stories. By the time I was an adult, I had so many tales clambering around in my head that for my own peace of mind I decided to put one to paper.

I didn’t start writing until about seven years ago. I’d heard those Cinderella stories of people getting published after only a year of trying, and with their first book, no less. Silly enough, I assumed that would be me. Then the rejection letters came from agents and editors-so many I could more than wallpaper a wall. Heck, I could wallpaper my entire house. Finaling in writing contests and getting just enough praise to know that at least someone liked my work kept me going.

About three years ago I started my third book, a historical titled Wild Heart. Call it instinct, but I was positive Wild Heart would be published. Then those familiar rejection letters started arriving. "Don’t worry, it only takes one editor or agent to like your book," my critique partners and friends would say. Frankly, I thought it was a bunch of bull. After all, if one editor liked your book, wouldn’t they all? Weren’t they one like-minded blob? After getting a rejection from just about every agent and editor I could, I figured Wild Heart was destined to be set aside, and I started to seriously wonder what I was doing wrong.

Contests were my last resort to put Wild Heart in front of editors who normally wouldn’t give it a second glance. When I got the email from the Golden Acorn Contest telling me I’d placed first in the historical category and that Hilary Sares from Kensington wanted to see the full, I knew this was my chance. I immediately printed the 400 pages and mailed it off, hoping for the best. Months went by without a word. I chalked the request up to another rejection and started thinking about the next book I’d write. Then one day the phone rang-.

The caller I.D. said New York, but at the time I knew no one there and didn’t answer. A bit later I listened to the message. It was from Hilary, and they were interested in buying Wild Heart. It took me about 30 minutes to return Hilary’s call. Yes, I should have called immediately, but I couldn’t seem to breathe, let alone talk. Suddenly, after years of trying, I was going to be a published author. That call came about a year ago. Now, in only a little over a month, my debut book Wild Heart will be released.

During those six years from the time I started my first book until I got the call, there were many times I wanted to quit, but fortunately I loved writing too much to stop. I didn’t sell in a year, or two, or even three. But I did sell. And all I can think is, thank god I didn’t let those rejection letters bury my dreams.

Just recently on one of my loops someone asked that question: "When is it time to give up?" Most people responded, "When it’s not fun anymore." But I’d take that response even further. When is it time to give up on a dream? When you can. When you can walk away without a glance back- no regrets, no wondering what could have been.

So what about you? Tell me about a goal or dream you’ve worked hard for, or just leave a comment and email address. Three people will win a $10 Barnes and Noble gift card.

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. Danielle
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 04:31:01

    Lori, I give you credit for never giving up on your dream.

  2. ms bookjunkie
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 07:32:21

    Jane, there’s some mix-up about the gift card…

    Lori, I love that bit about the caller ID! Technology…it makes our lives easier and more complicated… Lol!

  3. RStewie
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 07:37:17

    We (my SO and I) bought our first house last year. It was a long road to get there, and there’s still a lot to do, but whenever we’re walking around in the yard, it’s still like a dream to me.

  4. Nadia
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 07:39:08

    My dream? Writing the best book I can every time. :)

  5. anne
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 07:45:34

    My ultimate dream is to travel. To broaden my horizons, explore and experience new places and realms.

  6. srishtee
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 08:30:00

    Like Anne, my dream is to travel all over the world. But my ultimate goal is to slim down (yeah!!) which i will be working hard towards!!

    Lori, i admire that you never gave up :) kudos!!

  7. Jayne
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 08:30:06

    So sorry. We fix info about gift certificates. There are 3 $10 GCs to be awarded.

  8. Darlynne
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 08:35:45

    I started trapshooting in my late 40s, a clay target sport I’ve come to love. I asked my husband one day if I would ever be really good, if I could break 100 straight targets (most shooters spend their entire careers without reaching that goal). He was kind, but clear: no, I had started too late. His answer didn’t hurt so much as stiffen my spine because I felt, in my heart, I could do this.

    In a tournament last August, on one of the hottest days of the year, I participated in a 100-target event and broke them all. In the second 100-target event that day, I broke 96. At the age of 54, I proved to myself that I could accomplish something difficult, that I had what it took. The phone call to my husband that afternoon to tell him the results of the tournament was one of the sweetest of my life.

  9. Jenny
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 08:51:30

    I just loved reading this! Very inspirational.

  10. Pamela
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 09:20:20

    This is going to sound so silly but my dream was to quit a job that I was growing to hate. I could have easily stayed forever at a position that I felt was slowly eating my soul but a combination of bad managment and toxic co-workers were making me angry and bitter.

    I got my act together, revised my resume, and did a flurry of interviews over a few months that exhasted me. But I found a new job with some great people.

    Okay, so there’s not really a happy ending. Due to the bad economy I was laid off from my new job after being there less than a month. They didn’t plan it that way and they were very generous with their severance. And one of my new ex-coworkers help me land a new position. Not quite Cinderella, but I am still much happier than I was a year ago.

  11. Sarah Frantz
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 10:04:51

    Professorship at an institution that grants Ph.D.s in English so I can teach romance novels full-time and grow the field of popular romance studies.

  12. Jody F.
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 10:09:49

    I have quite a few dreams that haven’t come to fruition. But I would never give up them. Somedays it’s what gets you out of bed and to continue toiling.

  13. Moth
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 10:55:37

    My dream? To attend one of the RWA conferences as a published author someday.

  14. Susan Laura
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 11:10:38

    Wonderful words of wisdom!

  15. Lori Brighton
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 11:39:04

    I loved reading all of your stories! It’s put me in such a good mood!

    I have limited internet this week, gasp! But I’ll try to check back later.

    I think my next goal is to sell another book! When you sell your first book you think its going to be so easy to sell the next. Not always so.

    I, too, would love to go to an RWA conference! I will be at the Georiga RWA conference (the M&M) next week so if you’re there, say hi!

  16. kh
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 12:04:54

  17. AnotherLori
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 12:21:28

    Lori, I think your answer is right about when it’s time to give up. When you can…

    I’ve been writing all my life but never tried for publication and still haven’t tried seriously. I’ve finally decided it’s time to put on the big girl writing panties and face the fire. It’s a less arduous journey with stories like these.

    Thank you and congrats on getting your first book accepted.

  18. RKCharron
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 13:03:38

    Hi :)
    Thanks for the great post Lori.
    And thank you Jane for having you here.
    I found your story very inspirational.
    My dream is to be published and I am working towards it every day.
    Thanks for sharing Lori.
    All the best,

  19. blodeuedd
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 13:16:09

    Hi Lori :)
    Nice to see you here.

    Hm, well I did struggle with my MA thesis and I am glad when I reached that goal, and was finished.
    But my dream, well that is to be published one day

  20. Maureen
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 13:53:25

    Hi Lori,
    I enjoyed your story very much and congratulations on your new book. I admire your perseverance.

  21. Emmanuelle
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 14:08:17

    My dream ? I’d love to write a cookbook. I cook/bake and DH takes amazing pictures… maybe one day ??

  22. Edie
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 14:14:15

    Lori, loved your story! My dream is selling my book, too. And I’m not ready to walk away.

  23. Anthea Lawson
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 14:41:53

    Great story, Lori, and great perseverance! I’m looking forward to reading Wild Heart – and what a yummy cover that is!

    Funny how achieving dreams is a moving target — Now that I’m finally published, too, I’d love to keep writing and selling books, and some day make one of the ‘lists!’ :D

  24. AB
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 16:04:53

    Thanks for sharing your story!

    My goal was getting through grad school…made it two years ago :) Next goal; stick with my writing long enough to at least finish a novel!

  25. Lori Brighton
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 16:14:14

    I wrote this incredibly inspirational post and because my internet is horrible right now, it didn’t go through! Seriously, it would have had you in tears! People would have been quoting it at college graduations! Okay, maybe not, but it took me whole ten minutes to write the damn thing!

    What I said, in a nutshell, is that I loved reading your goal stories and that we should all be incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished, no matter how small it may seem. It’s so easy to give up, but you’ve all kept going!

    I do believe that you can accomplish anything if you keep trying. It might not be exactly what you wanted (for instance I would have liked more money for my book ;), and it may take awhile, but you can eventually see your goals met.

    As for writing, my cousin once said to me (after I’d complained about yet another rejection letter), that writing is probably the most difficult career to get into, besides acting. And he’s probably right. It made me realize that I was being silly, thinking I could swoop in and get published so easily.

    So no matter what you’ve done today, this month or year, be proud! Woohoo!

  26. cyclops8
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 16:14:20

    Congrats on your success, Lori. I’m still working on my dream. I might head back to school for a Master’s.

  27. RenneLynnScott
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 16:46:45

    Hey, Lori! Having been there from near the beginning of Wild Heart, I knew it’d be the ONE! Congratulations! You are an inspiration.

    (no need to put me in the contest)

    Did you ever think you’d be here at this point, guest blogging about your upcoming release? You know where I’m going to be on release day don’t you? lol

  28. Amy M
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 17:15:46

    My dream was to be a stay at home mom to my 4 kids. My husband and I always wanted me to be able to do this. My dream did come true, and I am home now, but unfortunately it came about because my daughter got sick and I stayed home to care for her. Do I wish it were under different circumstances? Sure. But I do get to be home with the little two every day, and I am here when the big ones get home from school. I got to keep my job, so I work part time from home. I was really climbing the corporate ladder, so that was hard to walk away from too, but I love my life and I would not go back to being the boss and leave my kids now for anything. Life throws some curve balls, and you just have to go with the flow. :)

    Amy M

  29. Penny
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 17:18:12

    My dream is to own a bookstore!

  30. Janine
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 17:20:26

    Leave me out of the drawing — I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed reading this!

  31. Lori Brighton
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 18:36:07

    Okay, I have to respond to these individually because they're all too awesome not to. Forgive me if I missed someone!

    Danielle: Thank you so much!
    Ms. BookJunkie: Yes, the caller ID totally screwed me up! lol.
    RStewie: That's great about your house! I'm so happy for you! We actually just moved and bought a new house a few months ago and it's very emotional!
    Nadia: Great dream! That's definitely something to be proud of.
    Anne: Love that! I absolutely need to travel more and broadening our horizons is always good.
    Srishtee: I'm right there with you!
    Darlynne: Okay, that is just awesome! You are awesome!
    Jenny: Thanks so much!
    Pamela: Being happier, I think, is everyone's ultimate goal! So go you!
    Sarah Frantz: That is great! How wonderful it will be to have someone like you fighting for romance novels!
    Jody F.: Absolutely, without dreams we would accomplish nothing.
    Moth: That was one of my dreams too! Hopefully I'll be there next year.
    Susan Laura: Thanks so much!
    KH: Always a great accomplishment!
    AnotherLori: Get going! It's so exciting and I have no doubt if you keep trying you will get published.
    RKCharron: Good for you! Even if it's just doing a little bit, it's great that you're working at it every day.
    Blodeuedd: I didn't realize you wanted to published! How exciting! And way to go on the Masters. Unfortunately I never finished my thesis. Bad! I know. Did all the work for my Masters but didn't finish. Maybe that's my new goal?!
    Maureen: Thanks so much for stopping by!
    Emmanuelle: A Cookbook would be fantastic! How cool!
    Edie: I have no doubt I'm going to see one of your books in a store soon!
    Anthea: You're such a great person and such a great author! And I'm right there with you on your goals!
    AB: Congrats on grad school! And you'll finish your book, I know you will!
    Cyclops8: That would be great! Sign up!
    RenneLynn: Thanks so much for stopping by! And I def. dreamed of being there, that's for sure!
    Amy M.: I'm so sorry about your daughter, but I'm glad you've had time to spend with your children. I love being home with my son.
    Penny: A bookstore would be great! I know the used bookstores around our neighborhood are actually doing rather well.
    Janine: Thanks so much!

  32. SonomaLass
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 19:24:41

    I pretty much have my dream, I think. I’m where I want to be, with the man I want to share it with. Most of my big dreams now are for my kids; young adults with all the potential in the world. And yes, one wants to be a writer — and another is an actress, so they have some challenges like yours ahead.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

  33. Lori Brighton
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 19:27:24

    Good for you Sonomalass!
    Your story is a good reminder that we need to be grateful, too, for what we have, and not be so focused on what we want all the time.

  34. Pamk
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 19:32:50

    I have two dreams I’ve not fulfilled yet and they are to travel more and hold my great grand children in my arms and still be young enough to enjoy them.

  35. Chelsea B.
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 20:06:47

    I’m actually working on writing a book, and I’m giving it all I got! So we’ll see….

  36. Lori Brighton
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 20:09:53

    Pamk: I def. need to travel more. Thanks for stopping by!

    Chelsea B.: Good for you!

    Thanks everyone for stopping by!

  37. catie james
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 20:17:40

    I just wanted to say congratulations Lori. (Another aspiring author here. I collect stories like yours to remind myself that the “secret” to publication is as much about determination as working to improve our craft. Thanks for sharing your story).

  38. Lori Brighton
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 20:41:35

    Awww, thanks Catie James!

  39. cheryl c.
    Sep 21, 2009 @ 21:58:31

    Congrats on your success, Lori. It must be immensely satisfying to see your persistence pay off. I am sure that your personal story will inspire some other author out there to keep plugging away. Now, if I could just borrow your persistence in my diet battle! ;-)

  40. Lori Brighton
    Sep 22, 2009 @ 06:59:54

    Ha, Cheryl, I wish I had the persistence I use for writing in dieting too!

  41. Lori Brighton
    Sep 22, 2009 @ 13:44:10

    Thanks everyone for stopping by! I loved reading your responses!

    Here are the winners:

    Catie James

    If you 3 could contact me (look on contact page at with your addresses, I’ll get those out asap.

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