I’m excited to have Christine Trent return as my guest. When she appeared on September 3, she was a not-yet-published writer. She’s now a debut author with a two-book contract offer!
Christine is an avid doll collector and fan of all things British. Her travels have taken her to England (many times), France, Spain, Italy and China. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three precocious cats.
I was privileged to meet Christine while attending the 2008 Romance Writers of America® national conference in San Francisco. We’ve since become friends. When I opened the email with her good news, I’m sure she heard me shouting even though I’m in California.
All of those who leave a comment for Christine will be entered in a drawing. The winner will receive a motivational bookmark. (See photo at the bottom of this post.)
I’m sure you’re eager to hear more about Christine’s milestone event, so here she is.
•Wow, Christine! When you were here as my guest on September 3rd did you expect to be back so soon as a debut author with a contract offer on the table? Would you give us a quick summary of what took place in the weeks following the interview and leading up to that life changing phone call?
Your blog seems to have put a lot in motion! One of the visitors that day, Caroline Fyffe, commented on my rather, er, embarrassingly large library of books (3,000+), which are all cataloged and covered in Mylar dust jackets. She suggested I develop a workshop on book care and cataloging for writers. So I did. I developed a workshop and presented it to Washington Romance Writers at their October meeting.
I also continued furiously working on my second manuscript, and also continued receiving rejection letters!
•And then you got The Call! I was so excited when you emailed me to share the news. As everyone who visits my blog soon learns, I love to hear Call stories. Would you please share yours?
Not three weeks after my blog appearance, and a mere four days after my most recent rejection, I got . . . THE CALL. Sort of. I guess I got THE E-MAIL. But I am such a neophyte that getting an e-mail from an editor stating, “When can I call you?” didn’t translate into THE CALL to me, because everyone had told me that if an editor were interested in you, he or she would call you. So, surely an e-mail did not translate into THE CALL, did it? I contacted my friend Delilah Marvelle, who assured me that, yes, you idiot, you just got THE CALL. (Well, she didn’t really call me an idiot, but I’m pretty sure she must have been thinking it.)
Long story short, it was another 48 hours before my Kensington editor called me (that was an ulcer-inducing epoch of time). I was standing in the pouring rain in the Staples parking lot when the 212 area code flashed on my cell phone. I nearly passed out on the wet pavement. I tried to be cool and composed on the call, but I’m sure I wasn’t. In fact, I don’t remember most of the call. At least I was able to drive home. And my first call to scream and shout was to my mother, because you should always call Mom first!
•You got The Call, and life, as you knew it, changed. I’ve gathered your plate suddenly became very full as you embarked on your new career as a published author. Would you please share with us what’s going on now, what you’ve been learning and how you’re adjusting to the living with deadlines?
Oh, my. Well, first my editor wanted some revisions, which were reasonable and simple, but she also wanted the word count beefed up. Deadline: November 15. I’m now obsessed with the lower left-hand corner of my Word document that shows my current word count. She also asked me to develop a Reader’s Guide for the back of the book. Deadline: I have no idea. I think I blacked out during that part of THE CALL.
Third, she wants a second book. That’s the good news. The bad news is that she doesn’t want the book I was halfway done writing; she wants a sequel to the first one. Eeek! So, I need to start over. Deadline: January 15, 2010.
I’ll have other deadlines along the way, but I’m just taking this one day at a time. I consider myself fortunate, as I “only” endured 29 rejections over the course of two years before selling, and I know there are many other writers out there with far more rejections who could put me under the table!
•So, tell us about your debut novel. When does it release?
The Queen’s Dollmaker is the story of a London dollmaker who is falsely accused of smuggling money and jewels to her most famous client, Marie Antoinette, inside fashion dolls. The book will be published as a Kensington trade paperback original sometime in early 2010. A sequel will come out in early 2011.
•Since you’ve just gone through the initial euphoria of getting a contract offer and the resulting return to reality that soon follows, what advice would you offer others who have yet to receive a call about how to prepare themselves for life as a published author?
I think one thing I can say with certainty is that you simply can’t prepare for THE CALL. You will shriek and jump wildly and drive everyone around you nuts. That being said, there are two things I wish I had done in advance. Let me share …
- 1. Get your web site up and running NOW. You have plenty to say as an unpublished author: the manuscript(s) you’re working on, your favorite writing links, your writing habits, your favorite books, etc. Not only does it give you one less thing to worry about after you get THE CALL, but you have an immediate venue from which to promote your upcoming release. I wish I had done it in advance, but I’m working very hard to get my site launched in the next few weeks.
- 2. Develop your promotional plan now. Seriously. When you visit a blog you like, or a reader’s web site, or some other site related to your book’s setting or theme, make a note of it. Are there places that will review your book? Organizations that might like to hear you speak? Local bookstores in your region that are potential book signing sites? Keep a small journal of all of those promising promotional venues. You’ll be a lot calmer than I am right now!
Christine, it’s been wonderful to have you back at Romance Writers on the Journey to share your exciting news with us. And now, I’d like to invite your visitors to ask you any questions they have about your sale, your debut novel and what life is like after receiving that long-awaited contract offer.
Keli, it’s such a joy to chat with you and your readers. Thanks for having me. I’d love to answer any questions, and let me ask one of my own: If you like reading Historicals, what will make you pick up a book and read it? Is there a certain look to the cover that attracts you? Does the cover blurb impact your buying decision? Do you read the first page before committing to the book? What else influences you?
Leave a Comment for Christine
Christine will drop by throughout the day to chat. She’d love to hear from you.
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I’m holding a drawing for a quality metal bookmark, which you can use to mark your place when you read your copy of The Queen’s Dollmaker. I’ll conduct the drawing the evening of Nov. 2.
Congratulations to drawing winner Diane Gaston!