Monday, March 14, 2016

Not a Rejection - Maddie James' First Sale

Summer, 1996. The letter sat in my mailbox. I reached in and pulled it out. The return address was in my own handwriting. Lovely. I knew what that meant. Had stood in that spot many times before, the familiar clutch in my gut. The self-addressed stamped envelope I had enclosed with my recent book submission had come back to haunt me--with a rejection letter.

Great. Except, instead of tossing the letter aside, this time I turned the envelope over and saw the words scribbled across the back. I looked closer. "This is not a rejection," the words read. My heart raced. I ripped open the envelope. It wasn't a rejection, but I had major work to do on the book, and the editor wanted to see the revisions ASAP. If I could deliver, she wanted to buy.

Wow. It's really happening? But let's back up a few steps in this writer's journey.

Summer, 1986. I've been teaching for seven years by now. The babies are born. Graduate school is finished. I'm juggling everything from grading papers to diapers to managing the household to writing my first book. I'm taking the courses and workshops. I've managed to get a few small pieces published. But I've yet to finish my first romance novel, which was my goal. In my busy mind, being a published author would look something like this lady. You know, happy. Together. Uncluttered life. Pecking away on my story, smile on my face, contemplating the next plot. Waiting for the money to roll in....

Pie in the sky? Of course. But I was in denial. So I kept writing, pecking away, not expecting to necessarily write the Great American Novel, but then again, fantasizing about the "romance" of potentially being a real-life romance author. I pictured myself like this hard-working woman.
You know, sexy, classy, writing in the park while birds sing and children play and people walk by and comment, "Oh, there is that famous romance author..."

Yeah. Yeah.

Back to 1996. After ten long years of writing, submitting, weathering the rejections, and questioning whether this romance-writing thing will ever produce anything beyond a local bookstore third-place contest win, I'm still staring at the "this is not a rejection" envelope.

Needless to say, ten years of persistence and dreams morphed into one, very long weekend of revisions and rewrites, and the new manuscript was snail mailed off to New York the next Monday morning. (yes, snail mailed in hard copy--times were rough back then) The following Wednesday morning, the call from my new editor came in.

That book, The Wild West, published by Kensington Precious Gems Romance, was my first published novel, and the first of six books I would publish with Kensington. Now, The Wild West has a new name, and a new life, as one of my bestselling western romance novels, titled Rawhide and Roses. 

AMAZON | IBOOKS | BARNES & NOBLE | KOBO | SMASHWORDS | ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS | AUDIO | PAPERBACK

And me? Well, I'm still pecking away waiting for people to recognize me in the produce aisle as "that romance writer" and still, I'm not expecting to write the Great American Novel, but forty-some published books later I'm making a living at what I do and am grateful for every story I publish, and for every reader who picks up one of my books to read. (Thank you, thank you). Oh, and nowadays, I subscribe to the notion that the happy, hard-working writer looks more like the one below, than the ones in my decades old fantasy world.

But with pajama pants. And I'm pretty much okay with that.
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Maddie James writes romance -- don't try to pin her down to a genre. From edgy suspense to flirty contemporary romance to darker erotic titles, she just wants to silence the people in her head. Find out more at www.maddiejames.com


13 comments:

  1. I love the post, Maddie. I swear, if those pajama pants people knew about romance writers' work uniforms, they'd take advantage of it!

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    1. Dontcha know it, Liz! Beside that, and the 15 second commute from coffee maker to office, writers do have perks!

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    2. Loved your blog! As we downsized the house in preparation of putting it on the market I kept finding great big rubber bands. Lol. Remember how we used to wrap them around the manuscript before we mailed it off? It was so tedious back then.

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    3. Thanks for stopping by Karen! I think I still have some of those big rubber bands too!

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  2. You nailed it all Maddie. From the sick feeling in your stomach that meant another rejection, to the joy of "the call" that turned us from aspiring writer to published author.

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    1. Thanks, Kathleen! Kindred sisters understand!

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  3. The whole post sounds very familiar, and a lot like my path to publication. ;-)

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    1. Becky, I bet it does. Sometimes it feels like I'm still a newbie in this game, but then I step back to realize that I've been at it almost 30 years and I shudder. LOL

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  4. Oh, yes, I have those giant rubber bands and a collection of postcards since I used to include a postcard with every submission. I'd write "your manuscript arrived" on it and self-address it. I guess this tells how long it's been since I really cleaned out my closet! Great story, Maddie!

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  5. Glad to be along with you for the ride!

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  6. Wouldn't it be wonderful if our earlier fantacies of a successful romance writer really came true? Loved the pajama pants.

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  7. Maddie, I loved your post. I've certainly walked a few miles in those high heels--wishing and hoping and praying. I certainly don't miss the days of mailing hard copies, postcards, etc.

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