Celebrating with Stephanie Reed: Sale of Her First Romance Novel and Offer of Representation!

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


Brownies image from photobucket via mtstar99

About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
This entry was posted in Agent Call Story, author interview, first sale story, Rachelle Gardner. Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Celebrating with Stephanie Reed: Sale of Her First Romance Novel and Offer of Representation!

  1. Diane says:

    Wow! Rachelle has been busy! Congrats Steph!!! :O)

  2. Stephanie, congrats! You may remember I liked your Underground Railroad books — I looked them up because I also have some Ohio UR books coming out soon. You’re a terrific writer and it’s great to have you as part of the Wordserve family!

    • Rosslyn, good to hear from you again! Congratulations on your UGRR books. I look forward to reading them. And you’re making me blush. Rachelle represents some very kind and welcoming people.

  3. Leigh Duncan says:

    Congratulations, Stephanie! On your sale and on working with such a marvelous agent.

    • Leigh, thanks so much! I see that we have moving in common in addition to books. 22 lifetime moves under my belt, none of them connected with the military. 😮

  4. Keli Gwyn says:

    Welcome, Stephanie! It’s great to have you here. I love celebrating good news, and I’m especially excited when it’s news from one of my agency mates. Congratulations on the sale of your Amish romances and on being a new member of the WordServe team. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that Rachelle is awesome!

    Those brownies look scrumptious. Since you make the “world’s best,” I wonder if we can talk you into sharing your recipe. Hmm? 🙂

    • Thank you, most gracious host Keli! Okay, I’ll spill. The recipe I use is from an old Baker’s baking chocolate box. I am happy to share it with your lovely readers, and I would never leave out an ingredient to keep the recipe a secret.

      Baker’s One-Bowl Brownies

      Prep: 15 min Total: 50 min

      4 squares BAKER’S Unsweetened Baking Chocolate
      3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) butter or margarine (I use butter)
      2 cups sugar
      3 eggs (beaten with fork)
      1 tsp. vanilla
      1 cup flour
      1 cup coarsely chopped Planters Pecans (I don’t use ’em)

      Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 13×9 inch baking pan with foil, with ends extending over sides of pan. Spray with PAM.
      Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwave safe bowl on HIGH 2 minutes or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate melts. Put sugar in large bowl and add chocolate (fine to use a wooden spoon to mix). Add
      eggs and vanilla, mixing well. Add flour and mix well. Spread into prepared pan.

      Bake 30 to 35 minutes (if you can smell them, they’re probably done) or until toothpick inserted into center comes out with fudgy crumbs (do not overbake). Cool in pan on wire rack. Remove brownies from pan all in one piece, using foil handles. Cut into squares. Store (HAH!) in tightly covered container. Makes 24 brownies.

  5. Loved this interview with you, Stephanie. Thanks, Keli. Congratulations on the recent sale of your first romance novel and agent representation with Rachelle. It’s inspiring to see that your adaptability paid off and that God opened the door for you. Thanks for the brownie recipe. My sons love brownies.

  6. Fun interview, Keli! And a big congratulations to you, Stef! So exciting to see how the Lord worked it all out! You’re a great writer and I look forward to reading The Bargain! You also have the gift of encouragement – thanks! Looking forward to Dan and Hannah’s wedding & brownies here I come! Hugs and God bless!

  7. Susan Marlow says:

    Hey, Stef!

    You pulled off a great interview! Now that you are “playing with the big boys . . . uh girls,” (i.e. women’s fiction) you’d better get ready for more of this interview stuff. I’m just tickled from my head to my toes about your contract and THREE WHOLE BOOKS! *happy dance*

    Hello, Keli. You live in Gold Country? I’m traveling Hwy 49 next month (makes me car sick, actually) while I dig up some research for a possible series set in that area. Where are you from? Know any GREAT off-the-beaten-path spots to explore besides the tourist traps?

    Do you write Heartsong books for Barbour?


    • It’s Susan in the virtual flesh! The one who kicks me in the seat of the pants when I need it (read ‘often’). Click on her name above to see what she does when she’s not reassuring me. She’s an amazing writer for kids and parents alike!

      And I’m tossing the ball to Keli so she can answer Susan’s research questions.

      • Susan Marlow says:

        Stef . . . you are wild and crazy this morning, I see. How’s the tornado writing going? Have you whirled through three more chapters yet?
        *blushing at your kind words*

        • Would you mind taking off those pointy-toed boots before you kick me? Yes, three chapters ready, Sarge.
          🙂 See, God knew you needed to talk to Keli–she has so much great info that you need about California gold country. I’m just a tiny cog in the wheel.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Susan, I’m sorry I didn’t answer your questions before now. I was eyebrow deep in paperwork, getting the tax information ready to send to our CPA. I’d much rather have been tending to blogging business and writing, believe me. 🙂

      I live in historic Placerville, California, formerly known as Old Hangtown, proving the early days here were rather, um . . . interesting. During the first few years of the Gold Rush, Placerville was one of the three largest cities in the Golden State. These days it’s a small town of just over 10,000 nestled in the Sierra Foothills. We’re located at the junction of Highway 49 and Highway 50, the halfway point between bustling Sacramento and majestic Lake Tahoe.

      When it comes to interesting places, two must-sees in this area are the Gold Discovery Site in nearby Coloma (only eight miles from where I live) and Gold Bug Park, a mine right here in the city limits of Placerville.

      If you’re traveling the portion of Highway 49 south of us, be sure to take the scenic route (Old Highway 49) north of picturesque Jackson and not the bypass added in recent years. That way you’ll travel through the quaint towns of Sutter Creek and Amador.

      On the northern side of us lie the towns of Auburn, Grass Valley, and Nevada City, all three filled with interesting places to visit. I especially like the real gas lights used as street lights in Nevada City. That town, where the movie The Christmas Card was filmed, is where you’ll find the home of former U.S. Senator Aaron A. Sargent, who, in 1878, introduced the 29 words that later became the 19th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

      My debut novel will be one of the titles in Barbour’s new line of State bride and wedding books, which is due to launch in September of this year. My book is due to hit shelves the summer of 2012. The story takes place in the small Gold Rush town of El Dorado, which is located on famous Highway 49 as well.

  8. Stephanie, I am elated! The Lord works in wondrous ways! Congratulations (and lots of happy dancing), my dear friend!

  9. Hey there, Jodi! You must have had your Mouseka-ears on to hear us over here. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by. Jodi’s a Disney expert, everyone. Visit her blog and see what I mean!

  10. evelyn says:

    Stephanie, I’m so pleased to get to celebrate with you again and to hear more details about your wonderful adventure! I kept wondering why you weren’t sharing on the Good News Board at Verla’s, but that’s because I didn’t realize your fabulous triple contract was for adult books. You are so versatile! Huge congratulations to you! And may God continue to bless your writing journey.

    • Ev, thanks for your encouragement! I shared in the Goodie! Goodie! section at Verla’s a while back. Talk about versatile–head over to Ev’s Web site, readers, and check it out. She writes poems, puzzles, math workbooks, stories, and much much more. My favorite new project of hers is Inchimals, linking- block rulers in inch-long segments that look like animals when hooked together. So awesome! I have talented friends. 🙂

  11. Keli, thank you for interviewing me! You’re a very gracious hostess. I look forward to reading your debut novel from Barbour. Do you have a title yet?

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