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I’ve been asked a few times on twitter how I got published. It’s a convoluted sort of story and it started with a rejection letter.
I’ve written most of my life… literally. I’m 33 now, turning 34 later this summer and I know I’ve been writing since the 6th grade, probably earlier than that, and my mom says it was definitely earlier than that.
Pretty much since high school, I knew I wanted to write when I grew up, although even then, I was realistic and I knew it wasn’t going to be as simple printing out a book and shipping it off to NYC.
So… back up plan. Nursing.
Even though I wrote through most of nursing school, I didn’t really actively seek publication until later. I think I was about… ummm….maybe twenty-two or twenty-three and I sent a few queries out. Nothing happened and things in my life were hectic. We’d just had our first and that will teach you a thing or two about life… Writing fell by the wayside for a couple of years, but after our second was about a year old, I starting writing more, and pushing harder to get published.
I’d sent a book out and gotten a rejection on it roughly the same time I’d discovered Ellora’s Cave. And whoa… I was in heaven. I’d always loved the secret anthologies where I’d found Angela Knight & Mary Janice Davidson and oh, they had books there. I was happy, so happy. And while I was glomming on these books, I decided I was going to try revamping my book and sending it to EC.
That was in the fall of 2002. Sometime in late November, I heard back and they told me they wanted it. I was delighted, although at the time, I didn’t have any idea what was going to come of it.
It took about seven months to get that first book out-it was Her Best Friend’s Lover and not too long after that, I started my Hunters series.
I never had an agent with Ellora’s Cave ( I still don’t use an agent on my epubbed stuff-I know those contracts well enough~however, I don’t recommend ever signing a contract with anybody with having an agent/contract attorney review it).
I signed with them right before they got mega-huge, although they were definitely getting big. I also had a popular vampire series right before the paranormal trend really took off. And I was already getting established in erotic romance.
All of these things played into how I happened into New York, because I wasn’t seeking publication there. Yes, it was a goal. Definitely was a goal. But I’m not organized and I didn’t have time frame in mind, didn’t have a game plan.
In 2004, I got an IM from Lora Leigh. She kind of took me under her wing and adopted me…I’m her baby sister, of sorts, or her brat, depending on how much I’m annoying her.
The IM conversation started with Lora going: I need your phone number. I have to talk to you.
Okay, so I’ve given her my number about 50 bajillion times. But…well, I know her, and besides, I’ve lost her number just as often. I give her my number, and then I say, Why? What did I do now?
She doesn’t answer, and the phone rings.
“You need to call Angela Knight,” she tells me.
“Why? What did I do?” Yes, people, I really am that paranoid…or maybe I’m just that prone to getting in trouble, although I’m trying to get better.
Lora just laughs and says, “Just trust me. Call her.”
About this time, something in her tone gets through to me. She’s trying not to laugh…and she’s like really excited. Like really.
I tried to get her to tell me why, but she won’t. Finally, I asked, “So is this like a really, really big deal?”
“Yup,” Lora tells me. “Now call her.”
I wheedled more and about all I could get out of her was something circumspect like… well, maybe somebody important is trying to get a hold of you… like about a book.
And she tells me nothing else. So I hang up and call Angela Knight.
The words out of her mouth? I swear, I won’t ever forget them.
“Hi, Shiloh! Cindy Hwang wants to talk to you but your email is bouncing….”
If you’re not a romance writer or in the industry, that name might not mean a whole lot. But she’s big. We’re talking like…whoa big. (BTW, never let your email get so full IT BOUNCES!!! bad, bad bad!!!)
I’m dead silent and Angela laughs and asks if I’m okay.
“Um…yeah, but why does she wanna talk to me?” I hadn’t sent anything, hadn’t planned on it, and I’m clueless.
Angela just tells me, “Here’s her number, her email. Call her, talk to her. You’ll be glad you did. Trust me. “ She gets me the number, the email. And I’m still spaced, and stunned and confused and nervous.
I hang up and call the number, send an email, (it’s Sunday, so there’s no answer) and I also promptly cleared out my email so there was NO MORE BOUNCING.
I spent the next fifteen or sixteen hours on pins and needles.
Every time the phone rang, I think I jumped.
Finally, it rings on Monday and it’s a New York number and I answer.
“Hi, is this Shiloh Walker? This is Cindy Hwang…I’m with Berkley Publishing…”
“I know you are.” yes, I sounded very suave, I’m sure
Cindy: “Oh, good. Okay, listen…I’ve read some your books thru Ellora’s Cave and I like them. I was wondering if you’d be interested in writing a novella for me….”
At that point, I think it was a miracle I was still breathing.
Naturally… *G* I said yes. I think I probably stammered and stuttered out something like, “Yeah, I think I can do that.” I was still stunned when I hung up the phone.
Shoot, I think I’m still stunned.
But there ya go. That’s my story. O.o