Saturday, January 23, 2010

More Questions

Couple more questions.

3) How long did it take you to write THE SPYMASTER'S LADY? Was it your first

It's not my first manuscript. I wrote a sweet Regency Romance for Avon back in the early dawn of the modern era. Then I went to work overseas and raised a couple kids and got busy writing lots of impenetrable technical non-fiction.

For years, I wrote fiction in little corners of time. I wasn't satisfied with any of it. I wanted to expand the scope of the story and I couldn't seem to do it. I have maybe four or five completed manuscripts trunked away.

Maybe I was learning my craft.
I dunnoh.

Somewhere in there I started playing with scenes that would eventually end up in the Spymaster's Lady manuscript. Worked on them a bit and didn't get far. I'd get all complicated and tangled up in plot. Put it away. Worked on some other projects.

Then in February of 2003 I got evacked out of Saudi Arabia to the US and found myself with time on my hands. I picked up the notes and bits of scenes I had in a folder for Spymaster's Lady. I liked my characters. I liked the scenes. The plot was garbage. But I could write another plot.

"Let's run with this one," I said to myself.

Eighteen months later the Spymaster's Lady manuscript was finished.

4) What was your journey to publication?  

As I say, I finished Spymaster's Lady in mid 2005.  It was on the shelves in July 2008.  Three years.

First came the strange and horrible process of writing a query letter and a synopsis. And I started the next manuscript, because that's what you do when you are writing your query letters.

It was time to go agent hunting. I looked up the RWA list of agents who represented Historical Romance. I subscribed to Publisher's Marketplace. I bought Jeff Herman's Guide and the Writer's Guide to Literary Agents. I searched the web for the agents who represent my favorite authors.
I made spreadsheets. I googled agents.

I came up with a list of the five top agents I could possibly want. The dream agents. The A list.
I mailed out queries.  I guess it was August.

By the end of the month, I had three requests for the full manuscript. A month after that, I got 'the call' and signed immediately.
This was all Good, Excellent, and Scary.

The agent began sending the manuscript out to publishers.

And I started collecting rejections from major publishers. I got six or seven of them. Some found the plot unlikely; some already had a full list of Regency Historicals; several liked the book but didn't think they could sell a French-set historical. One editor pointed out that I seemed to have problems with grammar and usage. Was English my native language?

The agent said not to be discouraged. Finish the next manuscript, she said. Spymaster's Lady would sell, but it might not sell as the first book.

Then, in December, an editor moved to a most desirable publisher. The agent sent Spymaster's Lady to her.  On January 18 I sold the manuscript of Spymaster's Lady, (then called ANNEKA,) and a second, to-be-written manuscript, (that was JESSAMYN which became Lord and Spymaster,) in a two-book deal.

Spymaster's Lady hit the stands 18 months later.

photocredit.  The bathtub is supposed to be a gift from Napoleon to somebody in Louisian, so it's a period bathtub


  1. The romance genre is a better place because of your writing and the publishing of Spymaster's Lady.

    Thank you do much for taking the time in writing this lovely book and taking the chance in trying to get it published.

    Too bad for those 6 or 7 publishers who should be kicking themselves.

  2. Hi Katiebabs --

    Oh my. Thank you.

    The way I look at it, there's lots of patience needed.

    A publisher might be turning down perfectly good work they would have bought back in Decemeber . . . before they bought two books about Regency spies. Or they might love a book but it doesn't sound enough like the house style. Or it might be a 'risky sell' and they've already taken their chance on a marginal manuscript this month.

    You just have to keep on trying and eventually you'll find the right fit.

  3. I just love reading about first sale stories, even though technically this one isn't. But it is, in a way.

  4. To all intents and purposes, this is the first sale.

    "And the moral of this is -- keep working and don't give up,"
    says I, being all pontificial and Polonius-like.