Writing that first romance my experience was: this is the most fun EVAH and I want to do this - really want to do this, for, like my job - for like forever! I sent the partial off to Harlequin M&B and waited. When the rejection came I was over the moon - a stranger (completely brilliant editor who knew what she was talking about) had taken the time to read something I'd written. Armed with her very generous feedback I settled down to learn the craft.
I joined the Romantic Novelists' Association & New Writer's Scheme, sent them a manuscript and received two reads and a recommendation to M&B. While I waited I carried on writing. I joined the eHarlequin forums and found other wonderful like-minded people who also work hard to perfect their craft. And when the rejection came I put it on the pile and got back on the horse.
I entered the M&B Feel the Heat Competition 2008 and whilst not placing got wonderful feedback from the editors who asked me to submit my next project to them. I was getting closer to realising my dream - I could feel it.
Then a funny thing happened when I went for an eye test and life imploded a bit. I was diagnosed with a Chiari Malformation with Syringomyelia, and, unfortunately, a large papilloedema was pressing on the optic disc in my right eye. Believe me, this all explained several things! But while a Mr McDreamy was telling me I could lose my sight all I could think was I'd never heard of a blind author. This could all get a bit tricky. For a while there my creative gene went AWOL while I underwent a little adventure with some neurosurgery.
While recovering from surgery I kept writing. I tried to take the pressure off and write purely for pleasure, and, I think, without even realising it then, I was helping myself to heal. What it taught me was the urge to write was never going to leave me for long and I absolutely knew what I wanted to spend my working life doing. I'd been given back my eyesight (and a better working brain & body) and I was going to work harder than ever.
I worked and worked on the first full manuscript I wrote after surgery and submitted to New Voices 2010, got some great feedback, submitted to Harlequin Intrigue and got a rejection. I revised it, learnt even more and started another while mulling over where to send it next.
Then in February this year the fab Nicola Marsh held a pitch session for Entangled Publishing. Checking out their website I got this fluttery, excited, ooh - I love this publishing house, feeling. Suddenly the wonderful Nina Bruhns was emailing me to say she liked my pitch, wanted to see the whole manuscript for the Dead Sexy line they were launching! Suddenly I was working with a real-life editor on revisions and then settling back once more for a wait.
Then I got an email asking if I was around for a quick chat. It was half-past midnight in my world and eight hours earlier in my editor's (see what happens when you take one day off checking your emails every five seconds). I emailed I was around for another hour or all day the next day. I slept like a baby that night and the next day I was the complete picture of calm, pootling around the house without a care in the world. YEAH RIGHT - LONGEST NIGHT & DAY EVER!!!!!
When we did get our Skype call, and my brilliant editor Rochelle said I'd sold I may have gushed, I may have cried, I may have mumbled unintelligibly. What I am grateful for, is that I didn't have a webcam so she didn't see what happened as I jumped to my feet in euphoria, presumably to happy dance around the room - only to be yanked back down to my seat by the stupid headphone cable! So not a professional look!
After six years (with a bit of a gap in the middle) I'm on Cloud Nine. Completely loving this writing journey. And most of all eternally grateful for all the support I've had from sexy hero hubby, sassy smart friends & incredible family. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!