I have big news to share with you tonight! I just signed a contract with Montlake Romance! But let me start at the beginning and tell you how it happened.
In June of this year, I submitted Deadly Obsessions to Montlake Romance for consideration. I had already published the novel, and had high hopes they would pick up the entire series. Since I hadn't heard anything to the contrary, I wanted to make sure Deadly Obsessions didn't end up in the slush pile, so I made sure I mentioned it to every Montlake editor at the annual Montlake party. I figured sooner or later, one of them was going to pick up that novel and read it. LOL Hey, I wanted to make sure I was covering all my bases.
In late August, I received an email from one of the editors that they'd read Deadly Obsessions and loved it, and that a senior editor would be contacting me shortly. Oh my God! I was bouncing off the walls, dreaming big dreams and wondering what was going to happen next. Yes, they did love Deadly, but they didn't want a reprint just yet. They wanted me to write a brand new story. My editor, Helen Cattaneo and I, diligently worked on my plot to perfect the proposal that she'd present to the acquisition team. On that day, I was biting my fingernails to the quick. When my phone rang and I saw it was Seattle calling, I answered before the end of the first ring. It was Helen, and when she told me, yes, they loved it and offered me a contract, I cried, I screamed, I laughed and then cried some more.
You're probably saying--wait! I thought she was a Montlake author? Yes, I was, but that was only through the acquisition of Avalon where I still had two open contracts. And of course, under the contract, Montlake honored them.
Working with their team of experts was one of the greatest experiences of my writing career. For the first time, I felt like a published author because they treated me like I was special.
Don't get me wrong. I will always be grateful for my Avalon contracts--that's what brought me to where I am today. It was my stepping stone, a place where I learned to write, and learned from some of the best, like Carolyn Brown who took me under her wing, and Holly Jacobs, who kept me laughing and writing. But working with Montlake was something very different, and not something I ever expected. They know how to treat their authors. It's as though you're the only author in their repertoire of greats. They value your opinions, take your ideas into consideration, and make changes, if appropriate. But more importantly, they want you to know whatever you write, regardless of their suggestions, it's your story. Seriously? I mean, seriously? Yes! And its name is Montlake Romance.
When I wrote One Menu at a Time, Montlake asked me what I had in mind for a cover. I didn't bother making any suggestions because quite frankly, I'd had a long list of cover ideas I'd submitted to Avalon and not one was ever used. I figured that was just a feel good question. Well, I found out that wasn't true at all. Montlake made every single change I'd requested and absolutely floored me.
Time and consideration goes into every book they publish. They take your preferences into consideration--within reason, of course, and they bend where they need to because they want their authors to be happy. And that's when my mind focused on acquiring a contract. I didn't want to lose what they had to offer me. Respect. Respect for me. Respect for my work. That's when it became an obsession with me. I had to officially be part of this family.
I'm a list maker. Yeah, I'm one of those. I write out my own business plans. During the first of the year, I planned a two-year and five-year business plan. My first goal didn't take the two because it came true when that contract was signed. I'm focused on the positive and I don't plan on the rest taking long either. Persistence and the belief that I could do it paid off.
Regardless of how they acquired me, they were patient, kind and flexible.
But what about after I'd satisfied those two contracts? Some of my friends had submitted but didn't make the cut. What made me think I could? I didn't know, but dang it, I had to believe they'd love my mysteries. I love my mysteries. My fans love my mysteries and my reviewers love my mysteries. That's when I sat down and wrote the best damn mystery I could and figured what the heck. I knew, no matter what, the story would get published even if I had to self-publish the book, which I did as mentioned above, but that isn't what I wanted. I wanted a contract. A contract with Montlake Romance. I wanted to say, I am part of the Montlake family, and now, I can say that. I'm no longer the adopted daughter. I'm a real bonafide member of the clan, and my new Montlake family has welcomed me with open arms. There is no professional jealousy--no one taking pot shots at each other--just an honest-to-goodness, classy bunch of peers who genuinely want you to succeed, who cheer you on, share their knowledge and even their agents. One Montlake author did just that and I'm praying her agent loves me just as much.
So my friends, today I tip my champagne glass in celebration of the signing of contracts for a brand new mystery entitled Blind Vengeance. I celebrate the additions to my family and I'm grateful to be one of them. And when another new author is taken into the fold, I will welcome her with open arms in the same way--because we're family and that's what families do. There's plenty more stories where this one came from and I plan to keep 'em rolling out because I'm not giving up on my family.
In closing, I have one last thing to say to you. Don't ever let anyone steal your dreams. If you believe in yourself, persistence pays off and dreams really do come true. Don't EVER give up!