Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Guest Blogger: Vicky Dreiling

The writing world really is a small one. I first met Vicky through a mutual friend, author Kristi Gold. Then I discovered she also knew one of my RWA chaptermates, Lynn Raye Harris. So when Vicky got The Call, I had lots of folks to celebrate with! Please welcome debut author, Vicky Dreiling.

Like most authors, I started out as a reader. One day, I decided to write a historical romance for grins. When a friend called, I admitted my secret hobby. She just happened to have seen a notice for a class on how to write a romance and encouraged me to call for more information. I signed up for the class and joined Romance Writers of America. At one meeting, an author spoke about the benefits of entering contests. As soon as I heard published authors judged the contests, I figured this would be a great way to get critiques on my work.

Incredibly, my fledgling manuscript made the finals in all but one of the contests I entered. After learning I’d made the finals in the Maggie Awards, I decided to attend the Moonlight & Magnolia conference. I signed up for an appointment with an editor. There was just one big problem: I didn’t have a clue how to pitch a manuscript. This was a group appointment with twelve authors. When the first author finished her perfectly short pitch, I knew I was in trouble. I looked down at my legal pad (you’re allowed to guffaw now) and started rattling non-stop. My face heated. I knew I was botching the pitch. I came within inches of standing up, announcing I was a fraud, and telling the editor I wouldn’t waste her time.

Then the editor said, “Wait a minute. I know this book.”

Here is the improbable part. The editor had read three chapters and a synopsis in The Orange Rose contest. Keep in mind this contest did not announce the editor judges in advance, so I had no way of knowing who judged it. I’d been writing for six months and got my first full request with the worst pitch on the planet. I went on to win four contests and finaled in the Golden Heart. I ended up doing massive revisions for that editor I’d met without promise of contract. But the revised manuscript wasn’t strong enough for publication and got rejected.

Life got in the way shortly thereafter. After a divorce, I returned to college to finish my degree and started a new career in marketing. Writing fell by the wayside for several years. But as my personal life became more secure, the urge to write bit me again. One night while watching TV, I happened upon a crazy reality show with a hunky bachelor and twenty-five single bachelorettes. When that episode of The Bachelor ended, I knew I had to write a Regency-era version.

In early 2008, I finished the book. I was jubilant that I’d met my goal to finish my novel before a two-week business trip to London and Paris. As I waited for my flight, I checked my personal email. A published author who had read my first three chapters had told her agent about my book. The agent wanted me to query immediately. So I wrote my query letter in the airport and emailed it. Ten jet-lagged hours later, I arrived in London to find a request for the full. That particular opportunity didn’t pan out because the agent and I couldn’t agree on the premise for my book. I reluctantly turned down her offer to revise and resubmit, but shortly thereafter, I got requests from contests.

The most incredible happenstance occurred a few short weeks later when friends asked me to tag along to a conference. I pitched my book, but I was disappointed that I’d not been able to get an appointment with Lucienne Diver. That night, I arrived late to the conference dinner. There was only one available chair – next to Lucienne. I’m an extrovert, but even I was a bit nervous when I approached her. She welcomed me and asked what I wrote. I said historical romance and shut my mouth. She was sitting with her authors, and I knew better than to pitch in a social setting. But she asked me what my book was about. I looked at her sheepishly and said, “Um, it’s the bachelor in Regency England, minus the hot tub and camera crew.” She whipped out her card and requested the manuscript on the spot! But the accidents weren’t over. At yet another conference, I heard someone call out my name. Cue eerie music. It was Lucienne Diver. I started thinking this was some kind of sign. :-)

Shortly after that conference, I revised the manuscript and sent it off to requesting agents. Then something unexpected happened. Three agents offered to represent me. But I couldn’t ignore the hand of fate. I signed with Lucienne, and we sold HOW TO MARRY A DUKE in a three-book deal to Grand Central.

While I could never have predicted these fortunate events, there is a take-away I think might help unpublished authors make a big leap. Oftentimes, writers hesitate to take risks, mostly out of fear of rejection. I always ask myself this question: What do you have to lose?

Have you ever happened upon a lucky break in your writing career? Do you take advantage of opportunities?

My heartfelt thanks to the members of The Writing Playground for inviting me to share my journey. May the Magic Romance Fairies be with all of you.

I’m giving away one copy of HOW TO MARRY A DUKE in a random drawing, so be sure to leave a comment.

HOW TO MARRY A DUKE is available now. HOW TO SEDUCE A SCOUNDREL is set for publication in early July 2011.

Vicky Dreiling is a confirmed historical romance junkie and Anglophile. Frequent business trips to the UK allowed her to indulge her passion for all things Regency England. Bath, Stonehenge, and Spencer House are among her favorite places. She is, however, truly sorry for accidentally setting off a security alarm in Windsor Castle. That unfortunate incident led her British colleagues to nickname her “Trouble.”

When she’s not writing, Vicky enjoys reading, films, concerts, and most of all, long lunches with friends. She holds degrees in English literature and marketing. A native Texan, she shares her home with her daughter and a spoiled mini-lop rabbit that lives in a slightly gnawed cardboard cottage.

Visit Vicky’s website:

Backcover Copy of HOW TO MARRY A DUKE

Tristan, the Duke of Shelbourne is a man with a mission: find a wife he can tolerate as long as they both shall live. No love is necessary—nor desired. But how to choose amid a dizzying array of wealthy-yet-witless candidates? Hire London’s infamously prim and proper matchmaker. Then pretend she’s not the most captivating woman he’s ever met . . .

Helping a devilish Duke create a contest to pick his perfect mate is the kind of challenge Tessa Mansfield relishes. Her methods may be scandalous, but she’s determined to find the notorious bachelor more than a wife—she’ll bring him true love. Yet when Tessa watches the women vie for the Duke’s affections, she longs to win his heart herself. And after a stolen kiss confirms Tristan’s desire, Tessa knows she has broken a matchmaker’s number one rule: never fall in love with the groom.

P.S. If you've ever visited the Writing Playground website, you may be familiar with our Hall of Feet. To rekindle interest in our cute shoe fetish, we've asked our guest bloggers to send in photos of their cute shoes. Here are Vicky's!

First we have her glam shoes.

And then we have her Nick and Nora slippers. "The latter of course is the real me," she said.


Jeannene Walker said...

That is quite a journey. I can't wait to read this book. Love historicals.

Katherine Bone said...

Your journey to publication is such an encouraging one, Vicky. If only I could be so lucky. ;)

I got a fortune cookie last week that said: "Only the brave have fear." You stepped out in faith and that's a great example for all of us.

Can't wait to get your next book!

Angel said...

Vicky, What an utterly inspiring story! Congratulations on landing a wonderful agent and selling your work. And I can totally see why -- this book sounds great.

How did it feel to finally hold that book in your hands? :)


Playground Monitor said...

I think the luckiest break I happened on was finding my RWA chapter, which then led to finding the other four women on this blog.

I wasn't able to start reading your book until night before last but the opening is fantastic, and I'll definitely be finishing to what happens with Tristan and Tessa.


Cheryl said...

Congratulations on your book! The story of your road to publication is great and inspiring to those of us who long to follow in your footsteps! Can't wait to read it!

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Hi, Vicky! As you know, I'm a big fan! Loved your journey to publication. :) I have the book in my hot little hands, but have had to put it on the TBR now that the RITA books have arrived. Darn it!

Virginia said...

Hi Vicky, what a great story about your journey to publication. Your book sound fabulous and I can't wait to read it. Thanks for sharing.

Patricia Preston said...

Congrats. Love the cover!

Vicky said...

Hi everyone! Thanks to the lovely ladies of The Writing Playground for inviting me. And I hope you liked my Nick & Nora slippers. :-)

Jeannene & Kathy (Hi there!), the journey never really ends in writing, but so far, I've had an eventful one!

Angel, when I received the Advance Reader Copies (ARCs), I cried. Publishing my first book is truly a dream come true.

Marilyn, I hope you enjoy HTMAD! Will you be at RWA '11 in NYC this summer? If so, I hope to see you there.

Many thanks, Cheryl. I always tell aspiring authors to never give up.

Thanks, Virginia and Patricia.

Lynn - xoxoxo. Everyone, Lynn judged HTMAD in a contest back in 2008 - I cried when I read her comments. Lynn, I hear you on the RITA books - I've got some new releases from friends I'm having to put on the back burner.

Thanks again, everyone! Cheers!

Danielle Gorman said...

Loved hearing about your journey. I find it interesting to see how every authors journey is different but still the same.

Can't wait to read.

Danielle Gorman said...

Loved hearing about your journey. I find it interesting to see how every authors journey is different.

Can't wait to read.

Problem Child said...

Hi Vicky! Welcome to the Playground. I'm sorry I'm late, but.. well, you know how it goes!

That's a great story, definitely the kind that puts knots in the stomach as you get closer and closer.

And I've heard so much about you -- you also sound like you're a cool person behind that cool book.

Kim Swiderski said...

Congratulations and the story sounds like a really good one.

Sorry, I don't have any cute shoes to share.