Amy Atwell racked up some serious wins before she sold—including over 25 contest placements. She was also a 2008 Golden Heart® finalist. And now she’s a debut author with her first book, Lying Eyes, due to be released by Carina Press in November 2010.
Amy’s present pursuit and passion is writing, but she’s been many things: retail manager, stage manager, horse trainer, magazine editor and—get this—lead singer in a rock band. I’m guessing there’s quite a story behind that last one.
Amy is highly regarded in publishing circles for the WritingGIAM Communities she founded. How she oversees the GIAM loops, writes, and manages everything else on her heaping plate is a testimony to her energy, enthusiasm and organization.
Join me as we learn more about Amy and her journey to publication.
Several big changes have taken place in your life since you were my guest in November 2008. One is that you’re now represented by awesome agent Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. How did this come about?
I first submitted to Kevan in spring 2008 after my Golden Heart final was announced. My critique partner, P.J. Alderman, is a client of Kevan’s and mentioned my recent contest successes. Over a four-month period, Kevan read four of my partials and two full manuscripts. I signed with her in July that year (at the time she was still with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency), and the manuscript that really captured her attention was my unfinished draft of Lying Eyes. She said she couldn’t get the characters out of her head. That’s exactly what you want an agent to tell you!
In June 2010, Kevan sold Lying Eyes to Carina Press. When did The Call come, where were you at the time, and how did you react to the news?
I wish it were more exciting, but Kevan called to tell me we had the offer from Carina. I was at home, and when I saw her name come up on my phone, I suspected it would be good news. She’d spoken to Angela James of Carina, who admitted that she hadn’t yet read the book herself, but her acquiring editor had told Angela she had to buy the book.
I was thrilled but also knew we had to delay accepting. We had other submissions out, but in the end, I decided not to wait on all those responses. I’ve watched the growth in digital sales, I like the Carina Press model, and I really appreciate their willingness to take a chance on a book that’s a little “outside the box.” We accepted the offer on June 7th—the day Carina launched sales.
If my Call story sounds a little flat, bear in mind I’ve been writing for ten years now. This was big news to me! Kevan and I worked hard to sell this manuscript in 2008, but it wasn’t meant to be. Dusting it off and sending it back out in 2010 was a gamble, but it paid off. The experience has taught me to never count myself out in this industry. Keep writing. Keep submitting. That’s the key!
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’ve done in preparation for your imminent release.
Wow. I thought my plate was full before, but the pace has definitely picked up. I received my physical contract in early July. Two days later, my editor sent me first round revisions. Thankfully, she loved the story. Her biggest revision request was for me to add two more scenes to flesh out the end. Since I wrote the book in 2008, I had to review the whole manuscript carefully to get back into these characters and their voices before writing the new scenes and sending them back to my editor.
I spent the next week at RWA® National, which was a whirlwind of networking and celebration that’s now all a blur. As soon as I got home, I had line edits waiting for me. That required another complete read of the manuscript, because now I’m actively drafting the sequel so I needed to verify any information I “planted” in this book that I hoped to use in continuity books.
The editing process has been very logical and well-communicated. It’s just like working with my critique partners—except that I can’t delay the deadlines. I’m grateful that Carina has offered a lot of education and support in the areas of social media. I’m fortunate that I’ve laid a lot of the social networking groundwork, but I haven’t been nearly as active as I need to become to help spread the word about my books. I’m currently working on a marketing plan and doing my best to implement pieces of it without letting it overwhelm my time.
Since I tend to be a little obsessive-compulsive (no, really?? AMY??), I sometimes find it hard to schedule my week. I’m starting to schedule blog appearances, revamping my website and trying to finish one or two of my three works-in-progress by the end of the year.
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?
Bottom line: treat your writing like a job. Write. A lot. Strive for balance and patience. Write some more. Reach out and connect with other writers. Write even more. Every story helps define your style and voice. Having completed manuscripts is never a bad thing. Keep writing.
Within a week of signing my contract, I discovered that my editor would like me to write one specific book while my agent would like me to finish a different work-in-progress. I’m trying to figure out whether my cape has enough super power in it to write two books by year-end. Yikes!
Please tell us about Lying Eyes.
Well, since you twisted my arm…
The Daughters of Cosmo Fortune:
Three respectable women find themselves lying, cheating and stealing their way to love.
Amidst the glittering casinos on the famed Las Vegas Strip, meet Cosmo Fortune. Magician…Charmer…Trickster…Bigamist.
His eldest daughter built a life believing that illusion was as good as the real thing.
Costume jewelry designer Iris Fortune knows how to copy the world’s finest gems and precious metals for a fraction of their value. Little wonder that she believes the illusion of romance with a stable, predictable man will be just as good as true love.
Only to have it shattered…
But when her unpredictable father runs afoul of murderous jewel thieves and disappears—leaving behind his overfed rabbit—her illusions burst as she’s confronted with the discovery that she has two half-sisters.
…and replaced with an attraction that’s as hot…
Her biggest worry is the gorgeous thief shadowing her. And making her question a lot of things, including her future. Is he after a cool ten million in gems? After Cosmo? Could she be lucky enough that he’s after her?
…as it is deadly.
Undercover cop Mickey Kincaid has put his life on the line before, but never his heart. Now Iris is testing his resolve—and his restraint—as he tries to reveal if she’s a clever criminal or his personal femme fatale.
In Lying Eyes, Mickey and Iris discover the illusion of love can’t hold a candle to the real thing.
Questions for Amy
Amy, 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.
Amy has generously offered to give away a custom Circa Plotting Notebook from Levenger.
To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Amy by midnight August 22 (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 August 23, I will hold the drawing and 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.)
Congrats to Marian Pearson Stevens, winner of the Circa Plotting Notebook.
Note: Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.
Learn More About Amy
Visit her website ~ http://www.amyatwell.com
Visit her at eHarlequin ~ http://community.eharlequin.com/users/amyatwell
Friend her on Facebook ~ Amy Atwell
Become a Fan on Facebook ~ Amy Atwell
Follow her on Twitter ~ amyatwell