Sorry for the blog silence lately. I went out of town last week to visit my dad, and somehow during that trip, I threw my back out. The pain had me convinced that I must have herniated, bulged, slipped, crushed or otherwise done major damage to a disc, so I dismissed my husband’s assertion that I’d only pulled some muscles. That couldn’t be all it was – I couldn’t get out of bed without looking like an upside-down turtle, and every move I made sent pain shooting through me as if I were being stabbed!
One trip to the Emergency Room later, and my husband’s diagnosis was confirmed. My discs and spine were fine, so it was just pulled muscles combined with spasms. I am now on muscle relaxers and pain killers, which allows me to move around without constantly squealing in pain (thought I was the strong, stoic type? You thought WRONG ;)) but also gives me the mental capacity of a toddler. However, when I saw my editor Tweet about this week being our 10 year anniversary working together, mental mush or no, I couldn’t let the day go by without marking the occasion.
I remember exactly what I was doing ten years ago. I was working full-time in data processing for a telemarketing company, and I was starting to lose hope of ever being published because the first round of editors that my agent had sent my book to had all passed on it. We were now on the second round of editors, and it had been a couple weeks with no word from any of them, either. I had become so despondent, I no longer hit “refresh” on my inbox every ten minutes (if you’re an aspiring author on submission, you know exactly how that feels.) Then, at lunch time, I saw that I had an unread email and I clicked on it. Here is what it said:
We have an offer for HALFWAY TO THE GRAVE! It’s from Erika Tsang at HarperCollins / Avon Books.$20,000 each for two books. (HALFWAY & the next one.)
May I accept this offer? Please call me at [redacted] to discuss! I’m at Book Expo America (BEA) right now in Washington D.C. (I will also be checking my e-mail later today.) I’m sorry I don’t have your phone number with me, but please call me ASAP.”
I must have screamed when I read this. I don’t remember doing that, but my boss ran into my office and said “What’s wrong?” while looking around to see if the computers had blown up or something. I pointed at my email and said “Read that and tell me if it says what I think it says.” Yes, I had suddenly lost all ability to comprehend the written word because it could not say that someone wanted not just one of my books, but two of them, and for more than I made in an entire year at my full-time job.
He read it, and soon he and my coworkers were all congratulating me. I called my agent and screamed something like “Yes, accept it quick before she changes her mind!” Then I called my husband. I was pretty much babbling with delirious excitement by this time, so all he heard was “two books” “published” and “40K.” Very gently, he said, “Honey, I know you really want this, but we don’t have 40K to pay to get your books published.” To which I replied, probably still in hyper-babble, “We’re not paying that, they’re offering to pay ME 40K to publish my books!”
I’ve been with my husband for over twenty-five years, and I can only remember three times that he’s been rendered speechless. This was one of them. I had to read the entire email to him twice before it sunk in. To tell you the truth, I kept reading it over and over that night myself, and it still seemed too good to be true. In fact, I was so convinced that this couldn’t be happening; I wouldn’t have been surprised if the next day, I heard “Sorry, Erika changed her mind and she no longer wants the books.”
That didn’t happen, of course. Later, I found out that Erika had made the offer before she’d even finished reading Halfway To The Grave (imagine her surprise when she eventually did get to the ending! Heh.) Erika has since been my editor for every vampire novel and novella I’ve published, and ten years later, I am still endlessly grateful that she took a chance on a debut paranormal romance with an unconventional ending by an unknown author who had no platform, publishing connections, blog following, or anything else to recommend her.
Once again, thank you, Erika, and happy 10th anniversary 🙂