Stephanie Reed has written two Underground Railroad novels for children. She now writes Amish historical fiction set in a forgotten Ohio Amish community. She is represented by Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary. Rachelle sold Stephanie’s debut romance series to Kregel, who also published her first two books (pre-agent). The Bargain will be released Fall 2012.
Stephanie lives near Columbus, Ohio with her husband, Tom, and college senior daughter, Laura. Their son, Dan, will be married to Hannah this coming April. Stephanie currently works mornings for a school Latchkey program. She worked in the Dayton, Ohio public library system for several years.
Flower gardening and reading are Stephanie’s favorite activities, and she loves her Kindle. She loves Ohio history, too. She and her patient husband have visited many a forgotten historical locale or roadside marker. Stephanie also makes the world’s best brownies.
Did your mouth water when you read about those brownies? Mine did, so I asked Stef if she’d whip up a batch of virtual brownies just for you, and, being the kind person she is, she agreed. You can indulge in her cyber fare as you hear about her BIG news. And since no one’s looking, you can take more than one of her yummy treats.
Wow, Stef! In the span of a few days you had an editor interested in your first romance novel and received an offer of representation from Rachelle Gardner. Since the two are connected, please tell us how they came about?
It sounds like an overnight success story, but actually it rose from the ashes of failure, to quote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. When I found out that my publisher Kregel was actively seeking an Amish fiction series, I thought, “Hmmm.” I’ve long had an interest in the Amish, and I’d even interviewed an Amish harness-maker for my second kid’s book. We used to live in a house built by a former Amishman, and the desk I’m writing on, plus many other furnishings in our home, are Amish-made. So when my editor said Amish (and by the way, they’d turned down my third children’s book, which explains the ashes), I wondered if God was telling me what He had in store for me. DUH.
So I wrote a chapter, and my editor liked it enough to say he would be shocked if it didn’t fly. He went so far as to say they would probably do two if not three books. And that’s when I’m thinking, “I need help.” So God, in another of His “Duh, Stef!” messages I couldn’t possibly mistake, showed me Rachelle Gardner’s favorable blog post, “What’s With All the Bonnet Books?“ I saw that she was closed to submissions UNLESS I had already been traditionally published and had an offer in hand (what are the chances?).
And then came The Call. I’m a huge fan of call stories, so please share yours. What were you doing when it came? How did you react to the big news? Who was the first person you called?
Well, actually it was an email, and I wasn’t sure it was real. Rachelle very kindly emailed that she would represent me if I was sure that was what I wanted, because I already had a pretty good tentative offer on my own. But I assured her I really, really did want to work with her, and then I got very cold and shivery. I called my husband, and I told our kids next.
When Rachelle did call with instructions about negotiations a few days later, I could just relax and enjoy her warmth and good humor. And, um, I was still not home from my day job when Rachelle called again to announce that a contract was on the way. So technically, my husband got The Contract Call, with my son and niece looking on.
What wise words of wisdom would you offer others who are eager to add “published author” after their names?
Nothing in publishing happens overnight. Wait on the Lord (and I freely confess that I am not very good at this).
Be adaptable. I love writing children’s books (my inner age is somewhere around twelve) and never thought I’d be writing for women, much less romance! But I also like mysteries, for instance. I have a solid, varied reading background—that’s why I ended up working in a library (and marrying a Reed). I like Kristin Billerbeck and Camy Tang. I also like Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott. Does anyone remember Mary Stewart? I’ve read her Gothic romance novels too many times to count. The romance is definitely there; I’ve been married for thirty years. 😉
Don’t depend on people to reinforce and support your dream. You have to really want it. If the dream is given by God, He will encourage and support you, at times through your family and friends, especially if they write, too. I was ready to give up after my third children’s book was rejected. I thank God that He nudged me to ask my editor if there was anything else he’d like to see from me. And my best friend and fellow Kregel author Susan Marlow was right there every step of the way to kick me in the seat of the pants. Get yourself a Susan!
Lastly, liberal use of parentheses helps (at least I think so).
Questions for Stef
•Stef, it’s been wonderful having you at Romance Writers on the Journey to share your exciting news with us. Congratulations again on the sale of your first romance series and your offer of representation from Rachelle. She’s the best! (Yes, I’m biased. And, yes, I used parentheses for your benefit. :-))
I invite your visitors to ask you any questions they have about your sale, your debut romance novel, and what the secret is that makes your brownies so scrumptious.
And, of course, feel free to squee with Stef all you’d like.
Learn More About Stef
Visit her website ~ www.stephanielreed.com
Friend her on Facebook ~ Stephanie Reed