Good things come in ones and twos for Avery Beck. One supportive hubby. Two active young sons. Two Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® contest finals. Two books sold. And one career off to a great start.
Avery sold her two-time GH finaling manuscript to Samhain Publishing in November 2008. In January 2009, her editor bought a second story. Sexy by Design releases in digital download in May of this year, For His Eyes Only in November.
A transplant from Missouri, Avery has lived in Texas twelve years. She wholeheartedly agrees with a popular bumper sticker slogan, “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could.” She’s a Nickelback fan who loves hazelnut coffee but can be tempted by a non-fat gingerbread latte on occasion.
I met Avery though the 2008 Golden Heart Yahoo! group. We call ourselves the Pixie Chicks. Avery also finaled the year before and is proud to be one of the 007s as well.
I invite you to learn more about Avery and her journey to publication.
•Avery, when you began writing five years ago at age 25 and set the goal of being published before you were 30, did you expect to meet with such success just a few months before your deadline? What have been the most surprising aspects of your journey so far?
When a large publishing house responded to my early submissions with personal feedback and requests for additional work, I believed I’d make it by 30. I know editors have to send out a lot of form letters due to the large number of manuscripts they receive, and I was thrilled to discover I had enough talent to stand out.
What I didn’t expect, though, was how long I’d sit “so close” (to a sale) without getting a contract. I made the mistake of limiting my submissions to one house, one type of story, and it wasn’t until I sought other options that I found the editor who loved my book enough to buy it.
I’d love to write for two publishers. I’m still working with the first house, but in the meantime, I’m finally moving forward, and that’s a great feeling.
•I read that you’ve completed six manuscripts. That’s impressive in itself, but you wrote those stories while mothering two very young children. How do you fit writing into your days? Or are you one who sacrifices sleep for your stories? Can you write amidst the activity around you, or do you need solitude and silence?
I write series (short) novels, so six in five years isn’t all that prolific. I’d like to write faster, but at the moment, the kiddos do limit my time.
I do need solitude and silence to focus, so I write at night when they’re asleep, usually from 8 p.m. until midnight or 1 a.m. I’m making progress, though—I used to depend on Vivarin to keep me functioning that late, and now I can do it with a cup of coffee. Okay, a few cups …
•Finaling in the Golden Heart is a dream of many romance writers. You’ve done so twice. What was it like to get the first call in 2007? Was it just as exciting to hear the news in 2008, or did you feel differently the second time around?
It was a huge dream of mine. Getting the call in ’07 was insanely exciting. I’d left my house for the sole purpose of doing something besides going online and watching people announce that they’d finaled. I was in the car when my cell phone rang. Calls were supposed to start at noon—it was 12:08, and an out-of-state area code. I was breathless and grinning before I even said hello. Thankfully, my husband was doing the driving! I still have all the messages of congratulations I received that day.
In ’08, I was smart enough to stay home so I could hear the caller (if she called) instead of a bunch of road noise. Same scenario—out-of-state area code, lots of happy dancing—definitely no less exciting. I expected less the second time—I knew a GH final didn’t equal a sale, but that didn’t dull the thrill of the honor at all.
•You’re an ardent supporter of the contemporary romance. What is it about the category that you like most? Do you have plans to write in another category at some point?
I’m a big fan of classic, straight-up romance—no suspense or vampires necessary. I need the positive read and the happy ending more than the drama. I like that a lot of contemporary stories could actually happen to someone. They’re realistic in a lot of ways, and they’re modern, fun, fast-paced … I also can’t stand doing historical research, though I have read a few amazing historicals. I’ll just never write them!
I’ve written one paranormal manuscript—though it features humans in the present time, so I call it a “contemporary with paranormal elements”—that I’m in love with. I really enjoyed the change of pace, and the story world is so fascinating that I’ll probably extend it into a trilogy—and hopefully sell it!
•Election Day 2008 will stand out as a high point in many people’s minds. That date will be etched in your memory for another reason, having been the day you received the news that you’d sold. I love to hear what it was like for a writer to receive The Call, so please share your experience with us. Where were you when it came? How did you react? What did you do to celebrate the BIG news?
My sale came as An Email, but that’s all right because it left me speechless. I’d been waiting a few months on my submission and had come across a post on my editor’s blog where she said she rejects 90-something percent of what she reads, so I feared for the fate of my manuscript.
I received the acceptance letter on election night when I sat down to check my mail after putting my kids to bed. My editor said she loved the story, along with those beautiful words, “I’d love to offer you a contract.” Swoon! I put my head on my desk and cried.
Then I told everyone I know, which was a blast. The Pixie Chicks were so enthusiastic and supportive. Some family and friends were under the mistaken impression that I’d be getting rich, and unfortunately, I had to set them straight!
•What’s been the biggest surprise about being a contracted author? How has your life changed now that you have an editor, deadlines to meet and promotion to think about?
I actually love deadlines. I work better knowing what needs to be done by a certain date. The only downfall at this point is the time promotion takes away from writing new stories. Luckily, I have those other five manuscripts already finished, and I’m sure I’ll find a balance soon.
•Your writing has a very distinctive flavor. How did your voice develop? Was it a gradual process, or did you start writing a story and think, “Wow! I found it”?
I was born with it. Seriously, I didn’t try to write the way I write—craft I had to learn, but voice just happened. I’ve always been a pretty strong writer, probably because I read two or three books a day growing up, so voice and story structure subconsciously made their way into my brain. It also doesn’t hurt that I’m a contemporary writer within the same age range as my characters, so it’s very easy for me to get inside their heads.
I tend to believe an aspiring author should know her niche and where it fits in the industry, rather than toss varying submissions in every direction to see if one sticks (unless, of course, she’s very good at juggling several different genres—more power to her!)
My books are young, modern, lighthearted, explicit and sprinkled with humor, and of course, most of them are the classic, short contemporary romances I talked about before. It’s been that way from the beginning, so it wasn’t a matter of finding my voice so much as finding publishers that market such stories.
•Avery, here’s a fun question for you. Suppose a generous supporter offered to throw you a Texas-sized launch party in May with no limits on the number of guests or amount of the bill. Where would you hold your extravaganza? What would be on the menu? And suppose your supporter offered to fly in three romance writers of your choice as your special guests. Who would they be, and why would you choose them?
Well, this is Austin, so I’d have to say a huge party boat on the lake with gourmet Tex-Mex and lots of margaritas! As for guests, this doesn’t really answer the question, but I’d want all my writer friends flown in for the bash. I’ve met so many people I’d love to see regularly, but they live in different states and even other countries. These ladies have been such a source of support, and I’d love to get to know them outside the writing world. I’m sure we’d have a blast painting the town—I mean, the lake—even without the margaritas!
It’s been great having you as my guest, Avery. And now, in closing, is there a final comment you’d like to make or a question you’d like to ask?
Since we’re talking about my journey as a writer … at age 25, I realized I’d already been through the major milestones (college graduation, first home, marriage, baby) and had the rest of my life to do something with. People had always told me I should write a book, and romance is the only thing that can keep my attention for 300 pages, so Avery was born.
I’d like to ask you this: if you suddenly had all the time in the world, what would you do with the rest of your life? Any secret dreams you wish you’d pursued? (It’s not too late, you know!)
And thanks so much for having me here today!
Learn more about Avery
Visit her Web site: www.averybeck.com.
Read her blog.
Leave a Comment for Your Chance to Win!
I’ll choose a winner from those who leave a comment for Avery on 3/2-3 (and include an email address when prompted, which I don’t share), and will post the winner’s name 3/4.
Since Avery is a fan of the traditional contemporary romance, the winner will receive a wooden plaque that reads:
and they lived happily ever after . . .
Congratulations to the winner, Louisa Cornell.
You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook!
If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by your blog hostess, Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post between now and March 31. Make sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) Click red link above to see samples of covers and pages.
On April 1, Keli will choose one person who will have her choice of five covers on an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages will cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your “firstborn” in your hands.
(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling.)