It’s Monday afternoon, January 31. A good friend of mine comes by the flooring shop to visit as she does once in awhile. While we are talking, I hear my email and instant messenger ping a few times, but I’m not expecting anything life-changing, so I stay with the conversation like a good friend ought to. Customers come in and Nancy leaves. The customers leave and I remember an errand I need to run for the boss guys before town hall closes. So it is about two hours later when I sit back down to my laptop and bump the mouse.
Yahoo Messenger is on top, showing that Nicole O’Dell has signed on and left me three messages. Weird. Nicole is rarely on during daytime hours. Like extremely rarely. Emergency? I click on her name.
• Hey AUTHOR!!!!
• Um…might want to check your email
• and the good news continues…… where are you??????
She’s got a strange sense of humor. It’s one reason we get along so well. I type in: Hello?? and then pull my email up. Open an email from her.
Check the calendar to see if it’s April Fools Day.
Messenger keeps pinging while Nicole barrages me with assurance that yes, the email I’ve just read is serious, real, legitimate, final, etc.
What, you may be asking, is IN that email?
An offer from Barbour Publishing to purchase a novella, Treasure’s Promise.
Back up a minute, you say. What are you talking about? When did you write a novella?
A week or so before Christmas, Barbour put out a call for proposals. They print 4-in-1 romance anthologies as well as a LOT of full-length fiction. While limited to Christmas sets for a few years, they’d now decided to open up for proposals for nonseasonal anthologies. The deal was that four people needed to get together and create a proposal that included an interesting American setting and four stories set around some sort of theme or idea that linked them together. They encouraged the groups to consist of one newbie, one experienced author, and two others.
Nicole pulled in a couple of friends and we wrote a proposal. A few days later she and I came up with a second idea, and she came up with two other friends. We developed this concept as well and sent it in. This is the one that resulted in that end-of-January sale with co-authors Cara Putman and Annalisa Daughety.
When she’d convinced me that this was, indeed, real, I tried to call Jim. It was his day off. He didn’t answer his cell, he didn’t answer the house phone, and he didn’t respond to my CALL ME!!!!! text. It was the end of my workday, so as I drove home, I planned out how I was going to break the news. It was going to go like this:
Me: Hey, did we ever decide what we’re doing on vacation in June? (knowing full well we haven’t finalized anything)
Me: How about we go to Missouri…and go geocaching?
And then he was going to ‘get it’ because we’d talked over the proposal.
Instead what happened was this:
Me (walking in the door trying to wipe the smirk off my face): Hi…
Him: You got it, didn’t you!!!
Yeah, so the grin just wasn’t going away long enough for my fun way to tell him the news.
So there I was, sitting on a promised novella contract, but no agent. Barbour offered me a few days to sign with an agent, understanding that this situation created really good leverage for me.
Indeed, it did so. There’s nothing like having an email with the subject line of: Seeking Representation for SOLD Novella when you contact agents. I knew which agents I felt would mesh best with my writing. I’d been researching for YEARS lol. These three agents had seen proposals and/or partials from me in the past. Two of them had current proposals languishing in their inboxes.
All three responded with an offer to talk. I spoke with two agents at length on Tuesday. They both asked for writing samples, as I wasn’t currently querying with a project that had actual written words. Totally fair request! I emailed them off. One agent failed to respond to the samples. The other opened a dialogue, and we exchanged several emails.
I spoke with the third agent on Thursday. She didn’t spend a lot of time talking about the novella. After all, it was a done deal. She wanted to talk about the future. At ACFW conference in September she’d requested a proposal for the novel I’d been pitching, Domino’s Game, which I’d sent her soon after. Now she’d taken a close look and decided this story had merit and she’d like to represent me…and it. She emailed me her agency’s contract with instructions of how to get it back to her.
I’ll be honest. I’d all but decided to go with the emailing agent, but there were a couple of minor issues. On the phone Thursday evening, I told the offering agent that I’d get back to her the next day. I needed a bit of time to think and pray.
I put up a call on Facebook asking for prayer for a big decision. Dozens of you responded with promises to pray. I’m so thankful for that. Knowing my friends had my back made all the difference as I analyzed the offers before God.
The next morning, I had such peace about my decision that I could hardly remember why I’d hesitated. When I got to the store, I printed the contract, signed it, and faxed it off. Then I emailed the other two agents to let them know I’d made a decision.
So I’m pleased to announce that I’ve accepted representation by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency. I believe she gets my writing and where I want to go with it. Thank you, Joyce. I look forward to working with you.
You might wonder why it took me so long to post these announcements. Well, Barbour had a lot of anthology contracts to send out, and it appears mine was amongst the last. However, today, Friday, February 18, 2011, it has arrived. So NOW, let the party roll!!!