Tracey Devlyn is pinching herself. In one week’s time, she received an offer of representation from her Dream Agent, Donald Maass, and signed a three-book deal with Sourcebooks.
By day, Tracey is a Human Resources manager helping solve employee relation’s issues. By night, she writes Regency-set historical romantic suspense in which she puts her characters in tough situations requiring her to come to their rescue.
Tracey is co-founder of the popular blog, Romance University, along with Adrienne Giordano and Kelsey Browning. Three times a week, writers can find insightful posts that will help build their careers and hone their craft, learn more about their favorite authors, and open a window into the male psyche.
The Chicago suburbs are home to Tracey, her supportive hubby, and her boxer/husky mix puppy. She loves exploring the natural wonders of the Chicago area, but she’s not fond of the cold winters. When not working or writing, Tracey likes to ride her motorcycle, garden, and travel. She’s learning to play piano and does her best not to torture her instructor too badly.
Join me as we learn more about Tracey and her journey to publication.
Wow, Tracey! You sold! And received an offer of representation from uber agent Donald Maass. Congratulations x 2!!
•When you were my guest in August of last year, you were in the middle of The Next Best Cellar contest. Please remind us what that was about, tell us how things turned out, and share what you learned from the experience.
First off, I want to thank you for inviting me back to Romance Writers on the Journey. I had such a great time here last year and was thrilled to be asked back.
Dorchester’s Next Best Cellar contest allowed writers to serialize their work. My mind is fuzzy on the actual word count for each submission now, but I think it was 500 words. The contest helped me key in on the best ending hook. It was a great experience, but I had nowhere near the following I needed to win. 🙂 However, I did receive a lot of nice comments on the story I submitted. 🙂
•A year ago, you and two writer friends launched your popular blog, Romance University, which has carved a special place in the blogosphere. What are some of the highlights of your first year with RU?
Oh, my. There have been so many. We expanded our three regular posting days—Monday, Wednesday and Friday—to include monthly columnists. On the first Monday of the month, writer C.J. Redwine critiques one query letter sent in by our readers. C.J. helped me refine my own query letter—the one I sent to my agent and editor. Wayne Levine of Bettermen.org joins us on the second Wednesday of each month to discuss the nitty gritty surrounding male issues. On the third Friday, Red Sage Managing Editor Theresa Stevens answers an amazing array of questions sent in by readers. She’s currently tackling grammar. Oi!!
Within the last few months, we’ve teamed up with new author Laurie London and web designer and author Jeannie Ruesch. Laurie’s taking us on her wonderful journey to publication and Jeannie’s doing a fabulous segment on author branding. They’re both amazing ladies and we’re happy to have them join us this year.
With the increased popularity of Romance University and our desire to keep the blog fresh, we decided to bring another faculty member into the fold. On April 8, 2010, writer Carrie Spencer joined us as a junior faculty member. Carrie had been a regular reader and participant at RU since the beginning, so we had already established a relationship with her. She’s become invaluable to us, and we’re so happy to have her on the team.
Plus, we’ve had an outstanding line-up of Visiting Professors blogging with us. Check out our Visiting Professors page for the full list.
Romance University is participating in Brenda Novak’s diabetes auction for research again this year. Inside our Crafting Your Career basket you’ll find:
- A European lapdesk
- A beautiful hand-crafted water hyacinth basket
- A Knock-Knock Stickies set
- Three (3) craft books
- Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon (Kelsey’s fave!)
- Scene and Structure by Jack M. Bickham (Adrienne’s fave!)
- The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass (Tracey’s fave!)
- A Romance University notepad and bookmark
- A 4 GB SanDisk with RU Faculty’s favorite writing templates installed
•One of your guests at RU was none other than renowned author and agent Donald Maass. And now he’s representing you! How did this come about, and how long and loudly did you shriek when you received his offer of representation?
Well, I was afraid to shriek until I got Don’s agency agreement. I kept thinking he would come to his senses or realize he was reading another writer’s manuscript. 🙂 It wasn’t until Wednesday, a week after getting the The Call from the editor and when Don said it was a done deal, that I allowed myself the freedom of joy. I know it sounds strange, but I was certain the whole thing would explode in my face.
Back to your representation question. After reading the first third of Don’s newest book, The Fire in Fiction, I knew we had to get him on RU as guest blogger. So last June, I zipped off an invitation to blog with us, and Don’s blog appeared July 3. If you’ve never read The Fire and Fiction or Writing the Breakout Novel, I highly recommend you do. They’re chock full of writing advice, examples, and checklists that writers of every level can use. The genius inside these books is what compelled me to seek out, and eventually query, Don. I loved The Fire in Fiction so much that I selected it as my “fave” in our Crafting Your Career basket. And this was before Don became my agent.
I had queried Don last fall. In between sending the query and receiving his response, I received some wonderful advice on how to improve my manuscript from another agent. This agent gave me suggestions I could really sink my teeth into. So, when I received Don’s email asking for more, I sheepishly explained my situation and asked if I could have some time to revise the manuscript. He was very kind about it and said to take my time and send it when I was ready.
After four months of grueling revisions, I sent a new and improved version of A Lady’s Revenge off to Don. Once I got The Call from Sourcebooks, I contacted Don to see if he was interested in representing me. He was. 🙂
•Getting an agent is a huge step for a writer, but you’ve taken a gigantic leap this week. In addition to your offer of representation, you signed a three-book deal with Sourcebooks. We wanna hear all about The Call, so give us the deets.
Sourcebooks is one of the few publishers that allow writers to submit unagented material. While waiting to hear back from Don and a few other agents I had queried, I sent my manuscript off to Managing Editor Deb Werksman of Sourcebooks. A couple weeks later, I received a request for additional information from Deb’s assistant, who wanted to know if A Lady’s Revenge had series potential. Luckily, I had written the story in such a way to allow for a series. I spent three hours that night drafting two blurbs, and then emailed them off. Two weeks later, while setting up for a volunteer appreciation banquet at work, I received The Call. Which I missed, because I had a red balloon wrapped around my finger.
I listened to Deb’s voice mail with my two employees surrounding me. Like the professional I am, I shook and wept like a babe. The next thirty minutes were the longest of my life. We finished decorating the room and set out nametags. Fifteen minutes before show time, I dashed down to my car so I could have my questions in front of me and for a bit of privacy. I called Adrienne and my husband on the way to my vehicle. In a full adrenaline rush, I dialed Deb’s number.
After a dozen thank-yous, I nervously told her two agents were reviewing the full manuscript. We agreed to a time for me to get back to her. After more weeping, I returned to the party with red-rimmed eyes and hair sticking to my sweaty forehead.
By the next night, I had an agent. By the following week, I had a three-book deal.
My head is still spinning at the velocity in which my writing career has changed. I will never, ever be able to thank enough Deb and Don for taking a chance on me. And I will never, ever be able to thank enough all the wonderful, generous souls who helped me get to this point.
•Please tell us about your debut novel, currently titled A Lady’s Revenge.
A Lady’s Revenge is scheduled for publication Fall 2011. Here’s what I put in my query letter to my agent and editor (Wow, I loved writing that sentence!):
A British agent flees her French captor’s torturous dungeon and falls in love with the decoder responsible for her imprisonment. ~A Lady’s Revenge
Cora DeBeau agreed to serve as an undercover agent for the English Crown, knowing her scandalous decision would ruin her chances of ever having a family of her own–something she’s yearned for since witnessing her parents’ brutal murders. British and French intelligence know her only as the Raven and, for the past two years, she’s seduced secrets from the most hardened of French agents while searching for her parents’ killer. When her latest assignment goes awry, she endures several months of interrogation and torture at the hands of her French captor. Scarred and wary of men, Cora escapes back to England and shies away from the one man who could heal her savaged heart.
For years, Guy Trevelyan, the Earl of Helsford, has secretly decoded French missives for the War Office. Unbeknownst to Guy, his latest deciphered message drives his childhood friend into the arms of England’s most ruthless enemy and the man responsible for her parents’ deaths. After rescuing Cora from a French dungeon, Guy discovers she’s the elusive Raven and realizes his role in her captivity. As Cora’s sworn enemy terrorizes her across England, will Guy be able to earn her forgiveness and convince her that she’s worthy of his love, or will he find the scars on her wounded soul run too deep?
Keli, thanks again for inviting me back to Romance Writers on the Journey!
Questions for Tracey
Tracey, 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 offer of representation, and what it feels like to have the week of a writer’s dreams.
Learn More About Tracey
Visit her website ~ www.TraceyDevlyn.com
Visit her group blog ~ Romance University
Friend her on Facebook ~ Tracey Devlyn and Romance University Blog
Follow her on Twitter ~ TraceyDevlyn and RomanceUniv