I actually have two first sale stories, one being the true first, and the second being the “first sale” everyone remembers. As with many aspiring authors who are members of RWA, I entered a lot of writing contests after joining. One of those was the 1992 North Texas RWA Great Expectations Contest. The final round judge in my category was Catherine Carpenter of Meteor Publishing. She picked my entry as the winner, and asked to see the full manuscript. I sent it, and she called to buy it six days later. It was #167 (released in August 1993 as PLAYING LOVE’S ODDS) out of the one-hundred sixty-eight books in the Kismet imprint. (Trivia: Suzanne Brockmann’s was #168 – the last.) Catherine took leave during the editing process, and handed over the manuscript to Kate Duffy – who has edited me during my time at Brava.
The second “first sale” – the fun story – came in July of 1995. There had been some buzz online (which at that time consisted of GEnie and CompuServe) about a television producer calling around, making inquiries into the industry. One day at work, my phone rang and I picked it up to find Don Dahler (who last I knew was on ABC’s GMA) on the line telling me that CBS 48 Hours was doing a show on romance novels and would like to talk to an aspiring author. Me. I explained about the above sale, but he said that was fine. I was still aspiring, yes? Well, yes. I was, and I agreed to his request for an initial interview. He came to the office to talk to me, called me a day or so later and said he wanted to bring a camera crew and reporter (Susan Spencer, still seen on CBS 48 Hours) to follow me around for, yeah, forty-eight hours. They wanted to visit to my critique group, my home, my office, etc. PANIC!
At the time, I was raising three teens on my own, working full-time, homeschooling one, and writing. The homeschooled one did most of the housework, but still. Ugh. No way was I letting the entire country into my house. I told Don he couldn’t come for a week. Then I attacked my house, including buying a new sofa, hanging crap on the bedroom walls, and cleaning out the bottom of my toaster – which remains a joke to this day between me and one of my BFF’s. The first “hour” of the 48, the crew met me at my office, and followed me and one of my critique partners to our meeting where we met our third, Jan Freed (who I paid tribute to on my blog). (Our group had previously included Jo Leigh and Kimberly Raye.)
The next day, the crew arrived at my house around seven a.m. to follow me to work. They wired me and my car (because at the time I dictated a lot of my pages) for the trip. During my lunch hour, I did an interview with Susan, and the whole bunch then came to my house that night after work. Susan read some of my work from my monitor (from the book that later sold to Kensington Bouquet and was released as LOVE IN BLOOM), and then my phone rang. On the other end of the line was Birgit Davis-Todd, editor for Harlequin Temptation, offering to buy my manuscript CALL ME. Being the sharp cookie that I am, heh, I asked her to please hold on a moment, and I turned to Don and Susan and said, “Y’all set this up, didn’t you?”
CBS had a crew in Toronto at the same time, and filmed Birgit’s end of the call, too. The show aired in October 1995, and CALL ME was released in July 1996. I have a (badly jpg’d) clip of my portion of the show on YouTube if anyone wants a good laugh. (It’s also embedded below.) BTW, Birgit and I both now have better glasses – and better hair. *g*