“I wondered if we might arrange a phone call for later this week—as there are some further small comments and queries I’d like to discuss with you.”
I stared at this sentence in the latest email from Nicola Caws from HQN, the latest in the emotional roller coaster that began the moment I received “the call” that my Regency romance manuscript had made it into the SYTYCW14 short list.
I sat there, frowning at this phrase as if it were some elaborate code, my mind both very quiet and climbing the walls. Out of the jumble I focused on two things—though this isn’t a “yay! We’ll take it!” it’s also not a “not interested, thank you.”
I call my practical-minded yet optimistic husband, who is predictably positive—“you’ve already been through two major revision rounds,” he says. “Why would they want to schedule a call just to say no?” I know that’s reasonable, but also predictably his optimism ramps up my skeptic-meter and I come up with at least three reasons why he is probably wrong (he likes three-item lists).
Thank goodness I had to survive less than 24 hours of this “it’s good news/no news/bad news” agony. The following day, the decks cleared of kids, work, husband, and with a cup of Earl Grey tea at my elbow I sit at my favorite writing spot, our wooden kitchen table overlooking the back garden, and wait. With admirable punctuality the call comes through and Nicola’s sunny voice immediately conveys that at least this is not an outright “no.” I start pacing, phone pressed hotly to my ear, but still not willing to celebrate. The phrase “we would like to offer you a two-book contract” finally manages to penetrate even the super-powered cautiousness of an ex-financial analyst, and I stop pacing for a minute, trying not to say something dumb, like “Really? You really, really like it?” or “Yippee, hooray!” Homer-Simpson style.
After we hang up I sit down in the garden—I want to savor this feeling for myself, just for a moment before calling my husband (admitting he was right after all…), my best friends, and my amazing, beautiful kids.
I have been writing all my life, both privately and publicly. Publicly I wrote as an academic or financial analyst, but that writing was always detached, critical. Privately I have been making up stories since before I could hold a pencil properly, and historical romance is what I write for myself—my flights of fancy, a kind of meditation-slash-therapy. The thought that after all these years I am allowing myself to share that part of me with others, and that they actually enjoy it…is an indescribable sensation (what an admission for someone presuming to be an author!). As I watch the bees feasting on my jasmine bushes, it starts sinking in—I am finally going to do precisely what I always wanted to do since I was a kid—write stories. I’ve been grinning, inside and out, ever since Nicola’s call. And hard at work on my next Regency romances.