The Call

It wasn’t a call at all, actually. It was an email. But you know what I mean: the moment you get an offer from a publisher. The moment you start dreaming of long before you finish writing a book and which haunts you for years, until you begin to doubt that it ever will come true.

Mine came a couple of weeks ago.

Let’s rewind. I started writing fiction during National Novel Writing Month in 2011. My first effort, Together is Enough, is a primal scream about graduate school and the politics of higher ed wrapped in a romance novel. It’s basically a hot mess.

Despite the fact that Together is Enough is cliched, badly plotted, and not infrequently hilarious when it shouldn’t be, I enjoyed the writing. A lot. After a lifetime of reading fiction — obsessively, compulsively, voraciously — I was creating it.

It was hard, yo. And I had a lot to learn. Oh did I have a lot to learn!

I had to learn how to sustain tension. I had to learn how to create conflict. I had to learn how much backstory was really necessary (hint: not very much). I had to learn how to write believable dialogue that communicated information about character. I had to learn how to writing change honestly and convincingly. And I am still learning.

But as the months crawled by with hours of writing fiction snatched in the evening and early morning, my writing improved. All the books I was reading about craft, all the hours reading for critique partners, and all the revision started to pay off.

Last fall, Brave in Heart, which is a second-chance-at-love story set during the Civil War, won the historical category in the Novellas Need Love Too contest.

At that point, I had a revised, polished work that I was fairly confident was not terrible. So I started sending it to publishers, beginning with the final round contest judge. She hadn’t requested a full but had provided positive feedback. Months went by and I never heard a thing. So I sent it to four more publishers.

Two weeks later, I got the call. I mean the email! I got the email offering me a contract with Crimson Romance.

My first thought was, “Wow!” Followed by, “Isn’t this supposed to take longer?”

But after dancing around my living room and calling my husband, I experienced more than a little hesitation. What really was the problem? I’d written a book — at this point, I’d written three — I’d revised it, I’d rewritten it, I’d shown it to people, I’d sent letters asking publishers to publish it: was I really so surprised when someone answered affirmatively?

Yes.

To be clear: I love this book. I am writing the books that I want to read and as we’ve established, I read a lot. But I was worried. Was I really prepared to share it with the world, ask other people to love it, and discover that they might not? My soul shudders.

But … didn’t Margaret and Theo’s story deserve to be told? Didn’t readers deserve a chance to fall in love with them too?

Yes.

So I signed the contract.

I have no idea when the book will be out — though if you know me, there’ll be no avoiding news about it, I’m sure. If you don’t already, follow this blog or follow on Twitter (@authoremmabarry) and you won’t be able to avoid it either.

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Author: Emma

Emma is a novelist, full-time mama, recovering academic, and former political staffer. When she’s not reading or writing, she loves her twins' hugs, her husband’s cooking, her cat’s whiskers, her dog’s tail, and Earl Grey tea.

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