Friday, February 29, 2008


You didn't actually think I was going to write about the call, did you?


If you ask my husband, he'll tell you I live in a fantasy world half the time. When we're driving down the road and he asks me a question, generally I'm staring off in to space living the lives of my characters, totally oblivious to anything going on around me. When I'm working around the house, even watching TV, scenes and dialogue are running through my head. We're all writers, we DO that. It's how we're wired. But let's be honest, what better fantasy is there to replay over and over in your head than the call?

I'll admit it. I've had numerous call fantasies (and no, Lisa, not of the 976-spank-me variety). The most elaborate was a few years ago when I won the 2006 Atlanta National registration fee in the Romancing The Tome contest. The final round agent had requested the manuscript, and at the time, I had another full manuscript at Silhouette Intimate Moments. My call fantasy included a call from the final round agent gushing about how fabulous my book was, followed by another call from the SIM editor gushing about how fabulous the OTHER book was. A sale and an agent, all within days. What better fantasy is there than that?

Of course, as you all know, that fantasy did not come true. The agent sent me a form rejection (on the same book that sold to Dorchester, no less!) and the SIM editor sent me a personalized rejection that made it clear they didn't want me to ever resubmit that book to them again. Ouch. Oh, there were other fantasies - like selling a week after signing with my (current) agent in a six figure deal (now THAT was a nice fantasy) - but that one fantasy of landing both a sale and an agent all at the same time was one that stuck with me for a long time, and I've never forgotten it.

After I signed with my agent and I had my first *almost sale* (in case you missed that story - first editor loved it, committee eventually passed because it wasn't like the other RS's they were publishing), I stopped fantasizing. It was too hard. Too much work to get your hopes up and then have them squashed. I didn't let myself fantasize (too much). I just kept writing. Of course, those little fantasies snuck in now and then, but I didn't let them grow and develop and I didn't dwell on them. I figured, it'll happen when it happens, and fantasizing about it will just make me nuts.

No matter how much I fantasized though, the reality of the call was both more exciting and more stressful than I ever imagined. In my fantasies, I was bouncing off the walls, screaming with excitement. In reality, I was so in shock, I could barely speak. My agent kept asking me, "You are excited about this, right? I told the editor you were going to be excited." Somehow I think I fumbled out a, "Um. Yeah. I'm excited," but honestly I'm not entirely sure what I said. Don't get me wrong. I was - AM - very excited and thrilled. But the moment I heard "you sold" the fantasy quickly became reality and what I'd been dreaming of doing for so long suddenly became my job.

People have asked me how I've celebrated. Genene's been razzing me because I said I celebrated by cleaning toilets. That's actually the truth, strange as it may seem. I was still in a fog that whole day after getting the call, and I needed to do something normal (okay, cleaning toilets isn't normal, but it was a chore that needed to be done and as such is normal in my world) to keep my mind off the ten-thousand things I was suddenly thinking about - like deadlines and contracts and sell-throughs and print runs and titles and plots and...oh my!!!!! I never in a million years realized there would be SO much to consider outside the whole "you just sold" excitement.

It's taken a few days for the whole thing to sink in. The more I announce it, the more excited I become because I see how excited everyone around me is. And last night - Thank GOD!!!! - ideas for book three started popping into my head. For a moment there (okay, longer than a moment), I was worried I wasn't going to be able to come up with anything. Talk about a moment of panic. And last night we went out to dinner with friends - to really celebrate - and I've pretty much had a smile on my face ever since.

It's REAL now.

I would love to hear your call fantasies. And if you've already received the call, I'd love to hear if the reality was what you expected or if it was something else.

And to everyone who has called me and sent me emails and congratulated me here on this blog, or on my personal blog, I just want to say a great big THANK YOU!!! I am so blessed to have friends like you!


Danita Cahill said...

Call fantasies, Eli? A call IS the fantasy. Ha!

Everytime I sent out a requested full, I fantasize about getting a gushing call. And if the book is with more than one editor at a time -- it's happened. Once. -- then I fantasize about getting caught up in the middle of a bidding war. You know, as in my book goes to auction and some hot shot editor, who totally believes in me and my talents gets a completely vulgar amount of money for my work, and the works to follow.

Ah, now there'a fantasy.

For now, though, I'm just living vicariously through you, Elisabeth, and through my other friends who have sold and are livin' the dream.

Thanks for sharing your call story.

Paty Jager said...

As a small e-pub/POD author I don't feel like I've gotten "The Call" yet. There hasn't been any haggling over money or how many books. You just get a yes or no when you submit and sign the cut and dry contract. The thrill comes when you hold the book in your hand.

My fantasy at the moment is winning the EPPIE and being a RITA finalist- then I would have some fire power to go at an agent and hopefully land one who saw my writing as something readers would enjoy and push me in the right direction of a larger publishing house.

I've spent tne morning cleaning house and the BM (had to do that just for you Eli) Black Moment for the contemporary I'm putting together came to me much clearer and more realistic than what I had originally thought. I do like cleaning house for that one reason. (I think I need to do it more often)

Great Blog!

Kendra said...

(Imagine big announcer voice)

"Elisabeth Naughton, you've just had The Call. What are you going to do next?"

"I'm going to scrub my toilets."

This will make for a memorable story in the future when everyone asks about your Call experience.

Alice Sharpe said...

Eli, LOL, great call story.

I think I got a lot of little calls instead of a great big one like you. The first call wasn't a call, it was a contract to sign. It was to a confession magazine. The story sold for $225.00 and I was THRILLED. I was a real writer.

The next call came two dozen stories later from an editor and it was actually a call. It was a small publishing house and the money was pretty paltry, but my God, it was for a book. Now I was a REAL writer.

The call after that came from yet another editor and it was from Harlequin and that meant the big leagues. Very exciting, though strangely, not as memorable as the smaller incidents because by then I'd begun to realize I'd been a real writer since way before I sold the first story, that being a real writer is not dependent on selling, it's something deeper inside and it's mine no matter what outside people do or say.

I've said this before. I feel more like a writer as I slog through the trenches than I do when I see one of my books on a shelf in a bookstore. One is so gritty and personal and the other is glossy and involves a time delay. By the time that book hits the shelves, I'm in the middle of another, maybe two or three books away, for that matter, and it seems more like a friend than a lover. You know, "Keep in touch, I'll always love you, but there's someone else now..."

So, your call is the fantasy call. The rags to riches call. The life-changes-now call. It's the first call and there will be many, many others, but none of them, no matter the publishing house or the money, will compare.

Thanks for sharing your story, it's great fun! Enjoy every blessed minute! And thank goodness the brain kicked into gear and number three is percolating!

Genene said...

Hey, Eli!

I'm soooooo glad the reality of THE CALL is settling in for you!!!!! (Had to get in some excitement and exclamations for you!) And now that others are taking over razzing you about your initial "celebration" rite of household chores, I can relax. :) Though if household chores generate writing ideas, perhaps I should try that more often.

What were my fantasies about The Call? Hmm. Like others, that the editor of a large publishing house would call saying she loved my book and had to have it, then offer me an obscene amount of money for it so no one else would snatch it up.

The reality of The Call was actually an e-mail from a smaller e-publisher. And it just felt right. I was definitely excited, but the foundation of that excitement was and still is that the writing journey I'm on is the best one for me.

CONGRATULATIONS again, Eli! Enjoy the excitement, the fantasies, all of it! And thank you for sharing your experience. Every time a piece of someone else's dream comes true, it's a wonderful reminder that I am also living my dreams. Cyber hugs to you, girl!

Elisabeth Naughton said...

LOL, Danita. Okay, vulgar amounts of money would be really cool (I didn't get that. LOL), but I do have to say, hearing someone gush about your book is VERY cool. My agent did that when she called to sign me, and from what she told me this week, the editor who bought it loves it just as much. That, for me, is a fantasy come true.

Thanks again for the congrats, and for the phone call. That kind of started off my grinning-like-a-fool thing last night. ;)

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Paty, your EPPIE fantasy is about to come true. ;) When is the conference again?

Elisabeth Naughton said...

LOL, Kendra. I LOVE IT!!!!

Elisabeth Naughton said...

Alice, I absolutely LOVE this:

I've said this before. I feel more like a writer as I slog through the trenches than I do when I see one of my books on a shelf in a bookstore. One is so gritty and personal and the other is glossy and involves a time delay. By the time that book hits the shelves, I'm in the middle of another, maybe two or three books away, for that matter, and it seems more like a friend than a lover. You know, "Keep in touch, I'll always love you, but there's someone else now..."

Such a great reminder that whether or not you've gotten the call, you're waiting for it, or you could care less about it, we're all still writers. Plugging away every day.


Elisabeth Naughton said...

LOL, Genene. Those household chores didn't generate writing ideas for me this week - though they did keep my brain from freaking out completely. ;)

I'm so happy for you and excited about your upcoming release. I can't wait to read it. And I'm thrilled you're enjoying the ride. I'm sure I'll be asking for promo advice from all you seasoned authors in the months to come. ;)

Paty Jager said...

The EPICon is next weekend. I hope the roads remain good since I plan to leave early Friday morning.

Alice Sharpe said...

We'll all be rooting for you, Paty. MY goal is to read your book before you leave! All I have to do is get rid of the one on my computer screen!

Anonymous said...

Like Alice, I had a series of calls. The first was actually a live, streaming audio broadcast, announcing the winners in the Star Trek contest that was my first fiction sale. Because we had a single phone line, I had to choose between listening to the broadcast over the internet, and keeping the phone free for The Call. *BG*

My first book sold on proposal, to an editor I was working with. He called, we discussed changes to the proposal, then he said something to the effect of "make the changes and get it back to me, so we can take this to contract."

I hung up the phone, walked in to Steve and said "I think I just sold a book." It had all been so casual, I wasn't even completely sure I *had* sold.

There have been other calls since, of course. And emails, and even the occasional face-to-face sale.

Those are some of the most fun, when you're in a workshop with an editor that's buying for a real market, and they read it and announce to the room that you've just made a sale. (Did one this weekend, but just got two rewrite requests, no actual sales, though she did buy a story from Steve.) The editor says those are some of the most fun for her, too - being able to say "Yes" to a writer in front of their friends.

I had the fantasies, and that first sale did result in squeaking and screaming, made all the more sweet because these were anthologies, and I was able to share that excitement with friends who were also getting first sales. But the second experience, the "I think I sold" seems to be more common for me, though that may be an artifact of how my sales have been made.

Chris York