My Call Stories
I think about them (my call stories) every year at this time—always around Thanksgiving. Not only did I get both my “You sold” calls during this season, but boy howdy, was I ever thankful. Writers, both published and soon-to-be published, understand the significance of this day. Non-writers…well, let me just say that getting that call is right up there with giving birth to your first child. Well, without all the labor. But it comes with a lot of heavy breathing, a lot of just feeling stunned and thinking… it’s about darn time, and eventually a lot of “oh crap what do I do now” feelings. Yup, as wonderful as this time is, it can still be a little scary.
Yes, I sort of have two calls stories—there’s the recent one to Dorchester that brought me back into novel publishing, and it’s motivational and inspirational. It’s one I’m proud to share. Then there’s the first call story. I’d never blogged about it until recently. I had, for apparent reasons, buried the memory, had barred it from my mind, and vowed to never, ever, let it become pubic knowledge.
Of course, that vow was made before . . . before I got to that place in my life that I decided that there were no secrets, no shame, that where my career and fans were concerned, their was nothing I couldn’t, wouldn’t talk about. Believe me, you’ll understand why in just a few minutes. You might even resent this place I’ve arrived at in my life.
Most recent call—2006
I’d been entering unpublished novel contests, and after a long list of wins, I’d snagged the interest of an agent. She had been sending some of my work out to publishers and I was still entering contests trying to get some editor’s attention. After another big win in a contest, I had my hopes up that I might be getting the call soon. And then it came early one morning before I even got dressed. My agent asked, “Are you sitting down?” (Take note that all publishing professionals like to ask this question.)
Heart racing, I replied, “I’ve been waiting for this for six years. I can take this standing up.” (Looking back, this response may have been due to my past ‘call’ experience. Believe me you’ll understand in just a few minutes.) “I’ve sold a book, haven’t I?”
Being a total New Yorker, her reply was quick. “No. You haven’t a sold a book."
The thought that ran through my head was . . . shoot me now. I mean I was so ready for it to happen, and from my agent’s tone, I just knew I’d finally arrived. Disappointment made my gut clench…and yeah, I remembered that feeling from the first call.
Then my agent continued, “You didn’t’ sell “A” Book. You’ve sold four.”
Breathless, and in my Alabamian drawl, I answered, “I need to sit down.”
I hadn’t given birth to one baby. I’d just been blessed with four. Oh, crappers! I did sit down, and I was still sitting, still wearing my PJs, still in shock, when my husband came home at six that night.
I’d been writing for nine years, I’d even finaled in the Golden Heart Contest with my novel, Two Hearts Too Late, a romance targeted to Silhouette. The book didn’t sell, but I knew it had promise. So, a few years later, I rewrote it from page one, and when I was six chapters into it, I entered it into another contest. An editor from Silhouette was the judge and if you finaled, you got to chat with the editor at the conference. I was one of the lucky finalists, and the afternoon before the awards ceremony, I remember the sophisticated editor looking at me all serious-like and saying, “I want to read the rest of this book. I really like this story.”
I remember thinking she was just being nice. She’d probably said that to all the finalists.
Later that night at the awards ceremony, I was awarded first place. And it hit me, wow, she really liked my story.
In a couple of months, manuscript complete, I packaged my 240 page story along with my hopes and dreams, and I mailed it. Sure, I was excited, but I wasn’t holding my breath. I’d heard of other writers getting this close and then getting the big rejection that hits you right in the gut. Hmm…speaking of gut pain…
Several months passed and I received a letter that simply said she’d read it, liked it, and had passed it to the senior editor. Okay, my hopes grew, I held my breath just a bit, but I reminded myself how easy it was for those hopes to get flushed down the toilet. And speaking of toilets…
The day the call came in, I was running around the house; my son, a toddler at the time, and my older daughter had both been hit with a stomach virus. Hubby was supposed to get some medicine on his way home from work. He’d called right before leaving the office to get the med’s information—we didn’t do cell phones back then—and while on the phone to me, his boss stepped into his office, and hubby said, “That sounds great. Let me get back with you.” Which was code for, I don’t want to discuss diarrhea meds in front of my boss, I’ll call you back when he leaves. Yeah, you know how husbands and wives understand certain codes.
Anyway, right when he hung up, that’s when it hit me. My stomach started rolling, gurgling, and I didn’t have a second to wait. Phone, still in hand, I ran. I mean, really ran to the bathroom.
One minute later, positioned on the throne, the phone rings. No, I didn’t have caller ID—and yes, like an idiot I answered it. Hey, in my defense, I was certain it was hubby and since we all really needed those meds, I took the call. Not only did I take the call, but I answered it 100% certain it was my hubby. “You’d better hurry,” I said. “Now I’ve got it. And it’s so bad!”
“Excuse me,” said this voice with a New York accent. “Is Christie Craig in?”
I know…I know, looking back I should have lied and said Christie was indisposed. Maybe I should have just told the truth and said she was presently sitting on the pot, bare-bottomed, a wad of toilet paper in one hand, and a phone in the other, but nope, I didn’t.
Nope, like an idiot I said, “This is her.”
“Hi Christie, this is Risa, from Silhouette Romance.” My heart started to flutter, right along with my intestines. Then in a very sophisticated voice she asked, “Are you sitting down?”
“As a matter of fact I am,” I answered.
So there you have it, my embarrassing publication call story that I swore I’d never tell. Today, I can laugh about it. Today, in spite of the embarrassment, I’m still so darn thankful for both those calls. And today to celebrate my third release with Dorchester, (yes, Divorced, Desperate and Dating, the sister book to Divorced, Desperate and Delicious, just came out) I’ll be giving away a copy of the new book, a pack of Christie Craig Christmas cards, and a “Silly” pen.
So make sure you post. And pop over to Killer Fiction: for a chance to win some prizes over there as well. Plus, check out the contest on Dorchester’s website for a chance to win a $20 gift certificate to Amazon.com.
I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday. And now that you know a bit more about me, perhaps you understand why it’s just fate that I use a little bit of potty humor in my books?