Award-winning author Melanie Dickerson is rejoicing. Her debut novel, The Healer’s Apprentice, a Young Adult Medieval Romance, sold to Zondervan and is due to appear on the major booksellers’ shelves in September.
Melanie earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama. She has taught in Georgia, Tennessee, Germany, and the Eastern European country of Ukraine. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America®, she spends her time writing and caring for her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama.
Join me as we learn more about Melanie and her journey to publication.
Wow, Melanie! You sold!! Having read some of your work, I’m not surprised at your success. Congratulations!
•Please give us a summary of what has taken place since you were my guest in November 2008. Be sure to tell us about The Call and how long and loudly you shouted afterward.
Hi, Keli! Thanks so much for having me on your blog again.
After I was here in November, 2008, I started writing a new story, which I finished the following spring. After three years of trying, I had pretty much given up on selling my medieval romance, The Woodcutter’s Daughter (now re-titled The Healer’s Apprentice). It had already been rejected by practically every CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) publisher in the business as an adult historical romance.
In the summer of 2009 I was blessed with a scholarship—an awesome surprise!—to the 2009 ACFW Conference in Denver. As I said, I had pretty much given up on selling my medieval for the time being, but I had seen on the web where the YA editor at Zonderkidz, Jacque Alberta, was looking to expand Zondervan’s YA line. It sounded like she might be interested in a historical romance like my book, so I asked my agent if she would send it to her. (It would be the first time we submitted to a YA editor.)
By the time the conference rolled around in September, I figured Jacque must have decided against my book, since I hadn’t heard anything. I had an appointment with her at the conference, and I went to it with zero expectation for anything positive. However, she shocked me by telling me she had just finished reading the book, loved it, and hoped Zondervan would publish it as a YA. At first I was extremely happy, but then I became terrified that I would get my hopes up and the book would ultimately be rejected, since it had gone to committee twice at other publishing houses and been rejected.
In November my agent, Mary Beth Chappell, let me know that Jacque was taking my book to the pub board meeting some time that month, but she didn’t know when. That Sunday I asked my church to pray. Mainly to pray for me not to be too depressed if it got rejected again!
A few days later it was Veteran’s Day. I was home alone doing my Beth Moore Bible study lesson. I prayed that God would please let the Zondervan people love my book. Then I remember crying and asking God to not let me get too depressed if they said no. I fell asleep and was awakened by the phone ringing. I answered it, very annoyed to be awakened by a telemarketer. But it wasn’t a telemarketer, it was my agent, Mary Beth. She said, “Have you checked your email?” I said, “Nooooo.” I’m taking a nap. Then she told me I should check my email because Zondervan wanted to publish my book.
I remember just sitting there thinking, Wait a minute, is this for real? It’s Veteran’s Day, for crying out loud! This had to be a mistake. They hadn’t REALLY decided to publish my book. They were just thinking about it.
Mary Beth kept talking and she sounded so excited, her voice was almost going falsetto! Finally, she said, “Are you not excited?” I said, “I guess I’m in shock.” She said, “You sound like you’re in shock!” I asked her how likely it was that this might fall through and they wouldn’t publish my book. (Aren’t I just the most positive, full-of-faith person you’ve ever heard of?!) She had to reassure me that it was highly unlikely anything would go wrong at this point. We talked a while longer about the business side of it, and I was still very calm, then we got off the phone. I checked my email and there it was. My book actually did meet the pub board’s approval. They were going to make me an offer. It was real.
Then I got excited and called my husband. When he and our daughters got home a little while later (they had gone to watch the Veteran’s Day parade) we hugged and I finally got excited. There was quite a bit of jumping up and down, dancing and laughing involved. 🙂
•I’ve heard a writer’s plate becomes quite full as she embarks on her new career as a published author. Please share with us what’s going on now, what you’ve been learning, and what you’re doing to in preparation for your release.
Well, Keli, believe it or not, I’m still learning quite a bit about patience. The waiting doesn’t end when you get an offer! But I’m trying to stay busy writing my next book and doing what I can to market The Healer’s Apprentice while I wait to start the edits.
•Since you’ve gone through the initial euphoria of getting a contract offer and the resulting return to reality that inevitably follows, what advice would you offer others who have yet to receive The Call about how to prepare themselves for life as a published author?
Well, I don’t know how qualified I am to give advice, since I still feel a bit shell-shocked, but my best advice is—Pray! Don’t give up. Trust God. And pray!
•Please tell us about The Healer’s Apprentice.
When destiny sleeps, it can only be awakened by true love’s kiss.
In this historical romance loosely based on the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, a woodcutter’s daughter becomes the town’s healer’s apprentice. Rose’s job is to care for the sick and injured in Hagenheim Castle. But Rose gets sick at the sight of blood and is more suited to making up stories than sewing up wounds. She is determined to overcome her weakness and prove herself a competent healer, or she faces marrying a disgusting old merchant her mother has picked out for her.
Lord Hamlin, the future ruler of the region, is injured and Rose must overcome her squeamishness to save him. He is everything that is noble and good, but loving him is forbidden. He is already betrothed to a mysterious woman in hiding.
With two noble-born brothers vying for her affections, Rose learns that the people of Hagenheim are not always who they seem.
Questions for Melanie
Melanie, it’s been great to have you back at Romance Writers on the Journey to share your wonderful news with us.
And now, I invite your visitors to squee with you and 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.
Melanie has generously offered to give away an autographed copy of The Healer’s Apprentice, which she will send once she receives her first copies.
To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Melanie by midnight March 21 (Pacific time) and enter your email address when prompted during the comment process. (You don’t have to leave it in the body of your comment this way.)
On Monday, March 22, Melanie will hold the drawing and include the winner’s name in a comment. I will post the winner’s name here as well and will contact her/him via email to get a mailing address. (I don’t share your information with anyone, other than sending your mailing address to my guest, and I don’t add your name to any mailing lists.)
Congratulations to Jill (from comment #12).
Note: Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.
Learn More About Melanie Dickerson
Visit her website ~ www.melaniedickerson.com
Visit her personal blog ~ Melanie Writes–Fiction and Book Reviews
Friend Her on Facebook ~ Melanie Dickerson