Tuesday, March 1, 2011

My Call Story

I just have to mention again how amazing the past few days have been :) The congratulations I have received from members of the romance community - both blogland and through Romance Writers of Australia have just blown me away. Romance writers really are the best!

So, I guess I'd better tell you what happened after the end of New Voices way back in November?

Well - it turned out winning the competition was the easy bit.

My original deadline for my book was Christmas. So off I went, typing madly away, and sending chunks of my book off to my editor for feedback. All was going well... right?

By the end of November, and 19K into the book, my editor called - there were issues with my story. So I
threw out at least half of what I'd written, and tried again.

This time I got stopped at 27K words. This was about ten days before Christmas, and the email and subsequent phone call telling me all that wasn't working...well, they were just awful. Of course my editor was right (If I was honest, I knew it wasn't working), but I was very low and felt like a complete failure.

Surely by now Mills & Boon regretted choosing me as their winner?

With my editor's encouragement, I took a break over Christmas, and didn't start writing again until 2nd January. Amazingly, my editor still seemed to have faith in me!

This time I threw out everything - leaving less that 3000 words from the original book. If you read my competition entries, both the pivotal moment and 90% of chapter two is gone. My hero has totally changed. The book is SO much better for it.

I was determined to write my way this time, and while still taking on everything I learnt from my mentors during New Voices (and my editor subsequently), to trust my instincts.

The feedback on my first few chapters was very positive, as was the feedback on the first half of the book a few weeks later. We decided on a new deadline - 10th Feb.

I wrote like a mad thing, with my support team (including Nikki and Rach) getting me through. But I did
it - I subbed the book on time. A whole book in five weeks - this was amazing for slow typing, procrastinator me!

I got my revisions back quick smart (via phone call), which I managed to turn around in four days, and then had some final tiny sentence level tweaks to make. 

Then, on Friday, I got "the email". My book is to be published, and they want my next one too :)

So while I didn't get "the call", I'll claim my revision stage call as my call :) 

My editor called me yesterday with more details about release dates and so on - my book will come out as part of a New Voices anthology in the UK in October this year, and then as a Harlequin Romance in the US and M&B Sweet in Australia in 2012. My next book is due later this year!

It was hard - much harder than I anticipated when I won New Voices - but absolutely worth it.

And no... it hasn't sunk in yet :)


  1. Can I say again how awfully chuffed I am for you, Leah! Very well deserved and long may you live on Cloud 9! Simply fantastic. Can't wait to get my hands on your debut :)

  2. Congrats Leah, you'll be debuting the month after me and I can't wait to read your book! Enjoy this time, it's fab! x

  3. Congratulations! And all the best!

  4. Wohoo so cool! And those anthologies are always gorgeous!

  5. Wow, Leah! That's fantastic news! congratulations!

  6. Well done again, Leah. It's hard work this stuff eh?

  7. So, so PSYCHED for you, Leah!!! Congrats again!!

    I'm THRILLED my debut book will be in the New Voices Anthology with you, Maisey Yates, and Barbara Wallace. What FUN!!

  8. You are such an inspiration! And I'm sure your rewrite was great - I look forward to seeing it in print! :-)

  9. That's really fantastic Leah! I can't wait to read it :)

  10. Congratulations, Leah! FWIW, I felt exactly as you did after I won the first competition (Instant Seduction). I kept thinking they were regretting choosing me because I had to revise that book twice, throwing out much of it each time. Hard work, but worth it in the end! Yay you! And welcome to M&B. :)

  11. Yay!! I thought it was fab when I read it on New Voices so if it's better still we're all in for a real treat when it hits the shelves and we can buy.

    Congrats again :-)

  12. Maya - Thank you! It's so weird (and wonderful) to imagine people buying my book :)

    Scarlet - I can't wait to read yours either! I think Internet gremlins stole a comment I wrote on your recent blog post where you mentioned me, so big thank yous for all your congratulations! And huge congrats to you, too!

    Nas, Sally, Lacey - thank you!

    Rach - I'll be in some fantastic company! I wasn't sure if I was allowed to post the other author's names, but they are Maisey Yates, Barbara Wallace and Aimee Carson. Wow!

    Aimee - I'm thrilled, too!!! I guess we're Riva buddies in the anthology :)

    Jackie - Hard work - yes! I've had some pretty huge things happening in my life while writing this book, and of course I work full time, so it's certainly been a great introduction to the reality of juggling my dream of writing with the rest of my life. I am also slllooowwww - so am SO jealous of your recent wordcounts!

    Julia - Thank you! What a lovely thing to say :)

    Lynn - Hi! I almost emailed you during the past few months to ask you how you handled your contest win and then finishing your book. As awesome as winning the competition was, some days I could do without worrying people will read it and think - "why on earth did they choose HER?" :)

    Joanne - Thanks! The core of the story is still the same, so I hope you enjoy it!

  13. I'm so glad I was told about this post. So excited for you. Thank you for sharing your story.

    Congratulations! You worked hard for this to happen.


  14. Hey, anytime you need a shoulder, shoot me an email! I'm happy to share my experiences! If you think I can say anything that will help, don't hesitate to ask. :)

  15. Leah, this is fabulous! You must be so excited about your book coming out in October!

    I found your call story inspiring- to see how you struggled, rewriting the start of the book twice, even with the editor's support. Then it sounds as if it was third time lucky. It somehow clicked and you had what was needed to power through and write just what Meg wanted, amazingly fast!

    I'd love for you to post more about what it was that made the difference for you in that rewrite.

  16. Hi Leah!
    I know first what you went through. My finished manuscript looked nothing like the one I'd first submitted. But the hard word was so worth it. Congratulations on a job WELL DONE! Can't wait to read your book!

  17. Congratulations, you must be thrilled! Even though writing is often a solitary craft, there are times when it's a true team effort, with great success too :)

  18. Very well done Leah. Looking forward to seeing all the changes and the whole story later in the year. A fantastic result ;)

  19. Thanks so much for sharing your story of new beginnings and revisions. It's really inspiring to see how hard you have worked. Can't wait to see the results.

  20. Hi Leah-Glad to hear you came out the other side still sane (somewhat)! I'm afraid I completely understand the pain of revision as you've described it and I haven't even sold anything yet...those Mills & Boon editors are amazing. Smart, talented and oh, so patient. I'm jealous you get to work with them on a regular basis. :) You can't put a price on their wisdom. Really looking forward to your book!! Good luck on the second one.

  21. Christine - thank you!

    Lynn - You may regret that when you receive a random rambling email from me at some point in the future :)

    Autumn - You've inspired me! I'm going to start a series of blog posts about what I think made the difference between versions 1 and 2, and 3 :)

    Wendy - it's awful, isn't it! The highs are worth it, but the lows are dreadfully low.

    Joanne - Very true! I have been very lucky to have such a patient editor, as well as some incredible friends and a very supportive family.

    Aine - Thanks! It spins me out that people will be able to buy it :)

    Julia - Thank you! I wasn't sure how much detail to provide but in the end thought "stuff it" and wrote it all :)

    Kat - Thank you! I hope your revisions end up with the same result :)

  22. Many congratulations and well done you for keeping going through all those rewrites. Very brave of you to ditch swathes of what you'd written but, as you say, the editors know best. They know exactly what they're selling and hopefully yours will sell by the shedload.

  23. Thanks Cara! Yes, it was scary to throw out so much, but it definitely needed to be done :)

  24. Leah, many congratulations. It took me nine months of revisions (including throwing out everything I'd written so far) before my first book received the "call". Lots of tremendous lessons learned that will stand you in good stead during a long and productive career. Welcome to the club!