Valerie Comer writes contemporary inspirational romance. She is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency, and recently sold her first work, a novella, to Barbour. Treasure’s Promise will be included in Rainbow’s End anthology (March 2012) along with novellas by Nicole O’Dell, Cara Putman, and Annalisa Daughety.
Valerie lives on a small farm in southeastern British Columbia, Canada with her husband, a dog, two inside (and two outside) cats, some cattle, and a few hives of bees. She works in a small town flooring shop, which gives her many hours a day for writing. Good thing, because evenings and weekends are busy with farm, church, and family. She has two married kids and an adorable granddaughter who just turned one.
Her family’s experience growing much of their own food, coupled with Valerie’s volunteer work in the local foods movement, provides ample ingredients for her stories. When not busy on the farm, she enjoys the great outdoors via photography, camping, hiking, and geocaching.
As writers, we spend a great deal of time waiting . . . for feedback from critique partners and contest results, for an offer of representation and our first contract. Sometimes, when things happen, they happen quickly. That was certainly the case for you, with two milestone events taking place in one week. First came The First Sale. How did it come about, and how did you react to the BIG news?
We do spend a lot of time waiting! I’ve been writing for nine years, with eight complete novels under my belt. I’d been getting indications that I was almost there (wherever ‘there’ is!), so when I saw Barbour’s call for anthology proposals a week before Christmas, I realized it was a great opportunity.
Barbour YA author Nicole O’Dell and I have been close friends and crit partners for a year and a half. She’s sometimes said it was her mission in life to get me published, and here was her chance! She took it seriously, inviting two other authors. We put together a proposal over the course of a week or so, and submitted it to Barbour.
On Monday, January 31, I spent less time than usual on my laptop at work. About 4:00 I sat down after a couple of hours away and noticed Nicole had been pinging me on Yahoo Messenger. Seemed odd, as she’s rarely on during the day. Emergency? I clicked on her name.
Um…might want to check your email
and the good news continues…… where are you??????
I typed in: Hello?? and pulled my email up. Opened one from her (a forward of her email from Barbour) and pretty much froze in disbelief. She had to talk me off the ledge, assuring me it really was true and not someone’s idea of a hilarious (?) joke.
With a contract in the works, you set about finding an agent. How did you conduct your search, and when did you know you’d found the right one?
The folks at Barbour knew this was a golden opportunity for me to find an agent. I contacted three that had seen proposals/partials from me in the past. All three offered a telephone interview, and I felt comfortable talking to each of them.
Joyce Hart had requested a proposal at ACFW conference last September for the novel I was pitching at the time, but hadn’t responded yet either way. Prior to our interview Thursday, February 3, she looked it over and decided to offer representation. Meanwhile I’d been getting deep into discussion with one of the other agents, so I asked Joyce if I could get back to her the next morning. I needed a bit of time to think and pray.
Everything had happened so quickly! By morning, I felt deep peace that Joyce was the right agent for me. I printed out the contract she’d emailed me, signed it, and faxed it back.
•Each author’s journey to publication is different. What are some steps you took that you believe helped make this big moment happen? What advice would you give to those eager to make their First Sale?
Like I said, my journey took nine years. I started learning the craft of writing through Forward Motion for Writers, a fantastic site originally begun by general market speculative fiction author Holly Lisle. I joined ACFW in 2007, and finaled in Genesis (speculative fiction) in ’07, ’08, and ’09.
I’d been writing whatever novel ideas amused me as I went along. By 2008 I’d begun to analyze the market and realized that if two equally well written novels were side by side, one fantasy, and the other romance, the romance novel would be much more likely to find a home.
It took some time, thought, and prayer to determine where my personal interests might meet the world of contemporary romance. In 2009 I went to ACFW conference in Denver with a romance novel to pitch. In 2010 I went with a new one!
•Please tell us about Treasure’s Promise.
Closet believer Lyssa Quinn steps out of her comfort zone to help coordinate the Rainbow’s End geocaching event her church is using as outreach. She’s not expecting her former humanities prof—young, handsome, but anti-Christian Kirk Kennedy—to be at the Lake of the Ozarks at all, let along in a position to provide sponsorship to the treasure hunt. How can she trust someone who once shredded her best friend’s faith?
Kirk’s treasure hunt takes him down a path he hadn’t intended as he searches for opportunities to connect with Lyssa and her intriguing sparkle. How can he convince Lyssa there is more than one kind of treasure? And can she remind him of the greatest prize of all?
Questions for Valerie
Valerie, it’s been wonderful having you here at Romance Writers on the Journey to share your exciting news with us.
I invite your visitors to ask you any questions they have about your sale, your debut novella, and what life is like after receiving that long-awaited contract offer. And, of course, feel free to squee with Valerie all you’d like.
Thanks so much, Keli. There’s been plenty of squeeing going on around here!
Learn More About Valerie
Visit her personal blog and website ~ http://valeriecomer.com
Visit her group blog ~ International Christian Fiction Writers
Friend her on Facebook ~ Valerie Friesen Comer
Follow her on Twitter ~ @valeriecomer