Thursday, February 16, 2006

The Call

The Call came last Tuesday, right after I drove away from school, my day job. I almost didn't answer the phone. I was in the car and figured it was probably one of my sons calling. Whatever they wanted, we could discuss it as soon as I made it home.

But I was still in the parking lot so I flipped open the phone. Maybe a ride hadn't come through.

"Terry, this is Paula, from Harlequin."

I pulled over.

The rest of the conversation is somewhat of a blur. Of course, I couldn't find the notebook that I always carry in the car (located it as soon as I pulled into the driveway and reached behind me for my purse!). I had to rely on my memory when I recounted the tale to my husband but the gist of the discussion came through loud and clear: "We want to buy your book!"

During my beginning writing years, I used to daydream about The Call. I wrote dialogue in my head for the editor and me, envisioning the kinds of things the editor would tell me. I wasn't sure what would be said, since I didn't have a writing group at that time and had never talked to a 'real author.' I had to rely on my imagination. I have to admit, some of my daydreams probably bore a strong resemblance to Ralphie's, from A Christmas Story, when he writes the greatest theme ever!

My first call came several years ago. Only certain aspects of that call are clear, also. Where I was standing when the phone rang. The fact that my mom was visiting and sitting just a few feet away from me. But just thinking about that afternoon can bring back the thrill of knowing that my words were going to be published, that my name was going to be on a book. Better than any daydream I ever had.

At one time, I wondered if the excitement of getting The Call would diminish. There would only be one first call, one first book. Would my heart race and my breath catch the next time?

For me, it does! I think it's because each book has been a new and exciting adventure. The Call last week was my first call from Harlequin and it's for a new line. The book is one that has been close to my heart since I first wrote it. It's a little different than my other books, longer in both words and time period, and not the type of book that was being published. But the story wouldn't leave me alone, I had to write it, and then I bided my time, writing other things. Once I heard about Harlequin's new line -- first called Epic, now Everlasting -- I knew where I was going to send my manuscript.

This week, I've been bombarded with congratulations from friends in town and online. The outpouring of good wishes have kept me smiling so much, I feel like I'm back at my wedding. When I'm in the midst of the revisions and business aspects of this new adventure, that's what I'll fall back on to keep going.

And, of course, the thrill that winged up my spine when I heard those first words: "Terry, this is Paula, from Harlequin."

So, how does/did The Call affect you? And, please, let me know the excitement never goes away!


Ann Roth said...

Terry- Reading this gave me the shivers. Thank you for sharing such an exciting moment. Paula is a wonderful person to work with.

The excitement may diminish (for me it did), but the joy that you are doing what you should be doing only increases. You are living your dream!

I can't wait to read the book, so please keep us posted.

Sally MacKenzie said...

Terry--great story. It gave me shivers reading it! Do you think editors are excited when they make the Call?

I sold my first book, The Naked Duke, without submitting it, so the Call was especially surprising. I'd entered it in the Golden Heart. One of the editors/final round judges liked it and got my contact info from RWA. I came home from the dentist to find her message on my answering machine. Fortunately I'd heard about her from hanging out on yahoo loops, so I knew it wasn't a crank call!

Nancy Morse said...

I got my first call about 25 years ago and can still remember the sheer thrill of it. I was nervous as anything talking to my editor (Star Helmer - does anyone remember her?)and must have come off sounding like a real jerk. But she was a sweetheart who made the experience wonderful for me. The 2nd call also came from Star. Every call thereafter came from my agent, and while I was elated, the thrill wasn't quite as...well, thrilling, as the first time.

Terry Z McDermid said...

Wouldn't that be interesting, to hear from editors about what they think when making the call? I imagine there must be some of the same excitement and anticipation -- they've found this great book or idea and want to see it in print for others to read.

And, yes, I do feel I'm living my dream! Now to the revision part to make the dream a reality.

Gail Dayton said...

I'm pretty sure I sounded like an idiot when I got the call--I'd been up all night the night before and was talking on about 3 hours sleep.

That year, I went to a "pink ribbon" breakfast at RWA National, and discovered that every single one of us could remember the date, the time and what we were doing when we got the call. It's that life-changing.

Terri Brisbin said...

Terry -

My first CALL came with me in bed recuperating from a fractured spine. When the editor called, my first thought was that she was being nice to reject me personally! LOL! I screamed so loudly that the just-arriving physical therapist thought I'd reinjured my back....needless to say, she didn't stay for a session because I had too many friends to call about THE CALL!

I am still excited by each call...even being up to book 14 (and still a shock to me!) the excitement doesn't's different now because the call now comes from my agent informing me of the offer.

Teresa Bodwell said...

I have yet to get a call. My first two contracts came in other ways. The first was announced in front of a crowded room at a conference when the editor who judged the contest said she wanted to "talk contract" with all of the authors who had placed. I was walking back to my seat after receiving my First place certificate. Fortunately I was within grabbing distance of my chair when she spoke those words or I'm certain I'd have ended up on the floor.

The second came in an e-mail. Not the same thrill I had when the entire conference burst into applause, but definitely a rush!

Colleen Thompson said...

Congratulations on your sale, Terry! That's such a thrill.

My first call was the most exciting -- a three-way conversation between my agent, an editor and myself - that took place at a writers' conference I was attending. My critique partners were there with me in the hotel room, and that made it even more special. And of course, my c.p.s blabbed to everyone at the conference, so the whole weekend was a celebratory blur.

Though the calls of offers have since come from just my agent and I've been by myself at home each time, they're still wonderfully exciting. I don't go for days without eating or sleeping after each one any longer, but the experience also brings back that first, delicious thrill.

JoAnn Ross said...

Okay, climbing out of deadline mode -- before the edited mss show up -- I'm probably too late answering this, but the day I received THE CALL back in 1982, I was in the midst of making the Joy of Cooking brownies (best in the Universe) for a party my kid was having that night. Since they're tough if you stop anywhere along the way, I kept mixing and blending, and saying yes, yes, yes, to everything (of course including things I shouldn't have agreed to).

Actually, backing up, I hadn't even known there was such a thing as THE CALL. I figured you probably got a letter, like they do college acceptance. So, it came as a huge surprise.

After the editor hung up and the brownies were in the oven, I called my husband. He was out of the office. (No cell phones in 1982.) My kid was at school.

No one else knew I was trying to get published.

So, since the house was going to be invaded by adolescent boys in just a few hours, I went to clean the bathroom. As I was scrubbing the Vanish into the toilet, it occurred to me that becoming a published author didn't seem to be changing my life all that much. LOL