It Happened On Valentine’s Day

ImageThere have been a few things I was unprepared for in this journey to my first on-sale date. Seeing the first rating up on Goodreads was one of them. First I flipped, then I tried to imagine how it was possible as the book’s not out yet, then I told myself to just calm the hell down. This is a marathon, not a sprint after all. People with writing careers need to learn to pace themselves. And that’s the goal: a career.

And then, when I should have been writing or working on the day job, I was watching television and googling. I made sure my Google alerts were set. Yep. Then I went over to Amazon to see if anything was happening.

Searched my name and the first result on the list was something I’ve never seen before. It was from Avon. But the first name on it was Eloisa James. So somebody made a mistake. But I was curious because it was Valentine’s Day related, just like Kiss Me. I read the list of names under it and there was Cheryl Harper. Since I didn’t know anything about it, I was still pretty sure it was a mistake somehow. Then I embiggened the cover and Cheryl Harper is on it. Right next to Rachel Gibson. I gasped. Audibly. I think I scared the dog. Then I fired off an email to editor Chelsey that went something like “Wha?” And also “Wha?” And then maybe a “squeeOMGthatcan’tbemecanit”.

And it is. This is a free sampler, a collection of excerpts from some of your favorites. And me. Oh holy night. February 22, you can get it for free. I’m hoping you’ll already have Kiss Me, have laughed heartily and rated it all 5 stars in every rating location you can find. But if not, maybe you’ll try this.

I will be cowering under by bed by the time this one’s out so somebody call me to tell me how it goes, okay?

Wallflowers, stage fright, and working with Avon Impulse blows my mind

So, I can sometimes be a little…wallflower? I’m not sure what the right word is. I don’t care for the spotlight but I have, a few times in my life, landed myself in some pretty sweet, wholly unexpected, and completely overwhelming spots. These are places where you just have to shut up and dance already. I find myself here because I’m an optimist. And stage fright nearly kills me every time. I had a moment this weekend where I looked around and freaked on a small scale.

I like to read. I also like to write. I had an idea for a novella and I sent it in. I mean, on the surface it seems mundane. This is my level. I’ve been submitting to publishers for two years but I was still surprised that this time was different. Editor Chelsey called to say Love Me Tender would be included in the Kiss Me anthology. Then she asked for some other, related ideas. I sent three. And that led to an actual, serious, OMG-inducing straight-up three-book contract for this place, the Rock’n’Rolla Hotel that I created WITH MY MIND.

As I always do, I sail into things with all the confidence in the world. And then I flounder. And flop. And flail. And different kinds of OMG escape. And as I always do, I pull through, overcome, rise above, lose sleep, put a permanent wrinkle in every muscle in my back, and devour every sweet thing in the house. I even had to break the foil wrapper on the emergency chocolate.

But I did it. I wrote the first one. It’s called All Shook Up. It’s the one I turned in last week.

It’s approximately 60,000 words. Look for it in April. Please. I mean it. Okay?

This weekend I decided maybe I should put on a businessperson’s hat. I followed up on some training/info that Avon provides through a slick system (and the email listed my name along with OTHER AVON AUTHORS, like the big timers. I MEAN SERIOUSLY on the website Author page I’m sitting right next to Christie Ridgway. Christina Dodd is on the next row of the yearbook and Cathy Maxwell is above. I died. DED.). And I had that realization that I’ve landed in the deep end. Professional publicity, strategies, questions from Eloisa James because she’s been invited to the SAME EVENT…I just…I can’t…I mean…you guys…

While I listened, I set up a profile and flipped through recipes on the blog. And then I searched my name. As you do.

I have a Google alert for my name. That’s how I knew when the Kiss Me cover went up on the Avon site. But now a placeholder for All Shook Up is there! So, seeing my name and delivery dates on a contract was big. Seeing my first cover was huge. But the idea that I’m going to get to do this again? (oomph…I fell off the stage in a fainting nosedive).

After I fanned myself for a minute and took deep, calming breaths to still my racing heart, I totally grabbed a screen shot.

Get

a load

OF THIS:

Coming soon

And then it gets really crazy cool, like that dream you never thought would happen

All my life I’ve wanted to be a writer. When people would ask me what I wanted to do, that was my answer. When people asked my family about what I did, they’d always tack on “But she wants to write.” For a few years now, I’ve been writing, entering local contests, and winning. The winning is the key. There’s no way I’d keep going without something to prop me up. Because writing is hard. Or maybe I just mean being disciplined about anything is hard for me. But I’ve made little steps, like sending in a Valentine’s Day novella to Avon Impulse in response to a call. Since I have multiple rejections stacked up, I really didn’t expect to be included. But then I was (exclamation mark times a billion goes right here). I thought that call was going to be the most exciting writing thing to happen to me in 2012. I love the story because it makes me laugh. Read the back cover copy here. Please. Go ahead. I’ll wait. You know you want to. February 5, 2013.

And I settled in my desk chair, determined to strike while the iron was at the very least warming up. I was going to NaNoWriMo my way to another submission. I have about 30,000 words written. Then on Friday, I got an email asking if I had any more ideas for a follow-up to Love Me Tender. At that point, no. None. Nada. But it didn’t take long and I had three and I loved them all so I sent them all on Monday. The characters were so clear and I’m starting to think this hotel I dreamed up is a real place. I have been under the influence of cold medicine lately. And Monday afternoon, I had an email saying they liked them and how soon could I have the first one.

Three more books with Avon Impulse.

Four stories total including the novella in 2013.

Now all I have to do is write them.

So far the panic and the exultation and the fear and the enthusiasm have all been bubbling inside because I’m pretty sure it hasn’t sunk in. But I just read a piece of paper spelling out estimated deadlines. I think it’s real. So here we go.

Step 1: build a chart. I don’t know why. Probably the fear of failure makes any way to procrastinate look attractive. But I have one. And November 30 is my deadline, not Avon’s. First drafts don’t need to go anywhere but under the pile of the second draft in my world. Plus, I’m totally going to cheat and start a day early. My game, my rules, right? RIGHT? Don’t judge. I like Excel. And clip art. Clearly.

This is going to go quickly but I’ll put up an update soon.