Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Guest Blogger -- Cat Schield

I’m very excited to be with you today to share my journey to publication. In my mind, it’s a lot like sailing. Both can be fun. Both can be scary. You get bruised. You can’t control the wind or the publishing industry. You can only adjust your sails or what you are writing to take advantage of the environment.

Rarely can you get directly from point A to point B. Both journeys might require a series of direction changes in order to draw ever closer to your goal. Most of the time, long periods go by where nothing appears to be happening, but you’re making headway. Interspersed with the waiting are short burst of frantic activity when you change the boat’s direction or do a quick polish on that requested manuscript.

Why am I making this comparison? Because if it wasn’t for sailing, I never would have sold my first book.

In 2006 a sailing buddy of mine, Erik Westgard, pestered me to write an article on our sailing adventure in the British Virgin Islands. He’d been writing for magazines for years, but had his eye on the glossy pages of International Yacht Charters and Vacations. To my shock, they chose my article for their June 2006 issue. I was going to be published.

Despite having tried and failed to sell a book at various times over the previous two decades, this pub credit gave me reason to believe in my chances of become a published author. My voice had matured. My dedication had ballooned. This time around I was going to sell or die trying.

I knew contests were a good way to get feedback and bypass the slush pile. In the fall of 2006 I’d finished two manuscripts and started entering them in contests. A lot of contests. To my delight, I made the finals in the the first two contests I entered. I was on my way. Or not. The next few gave me some eye opening feedback. Undaunted, I fixed my problems and got my first request for a full in the summer of 2007. And my first rejection. Slow pacing and not enough conflict.

I began to study craft and revise. More contests gave me more feedback and more full requests. Late 2008, after receiving great feedback on all my rejections letters, I got a form rejection. At a loss for how to move forward, I decided a change of genre was in order. So, I started writing YA. But I never lost my dream of selling to Silhouette (now Harlequin) Desire.

When I pitched to Kevan Lyon at the 2009 Nationals, I had a book at Harlequin and a two time requested manuscript I’d never submitted. She looked at both. And signed me. The editor who’d asked to see A Case of Meddling, my Silhouette Desire targeted book, had left by this time, but the new associate editor was happy to take a look. And to provide revision notes three weeks later. Believing this might be the one, I quickly turned around a revised manuscript.

To keep myself distracted while I waited to hear something, I entered the Golden Heart. In the past I hadn’t had much luck, but this year proved different. Of the two manuscripts I entered, I thought A Case of Meddling had the best shot. I was wrong. The book that finaled was Fake Fiancee, Real Love. And to my shock, it went on to win the Golden Heart for series contemporary romance.

A month later, Kevan called to tell me we had an offer. A Case of Meddling re-titled Meddling With A Millionaire hit the shelves as a Harlequin Desire this month. Dreams do come true. Sometimes you just have to be patient and believe.

Cat Schield lives in Minnesota with her daughter and their Burmese cat. Winner of the Romance Writers of America 2010 Golden Heart® for series contemporary romance, when she’s not writing sexy, romantic stories for Silhouette Desire, she can be found sailing with friends on the St. Croix River or more exotic locales like the Caribbean and Europe. Contact her at her website.
Or follow her on Twitter or Facebook .

Meddling with a Millionaire

No Man’s Bargaining Chip

Emma Montgomery wouldn’t be manipulated into marriage as part of Daddy’s business deal—even if he cut off access to her trust fund until she complied. The talented jewelry designer would just make her own way. Or go down trying. Too bad her intended groom--maverick businessman and former crush Nathan Case--made her stubborn stance so difficult. The heat of his touch had her nearly betraying herself at every turn. Resisting Nathan and regaining her money were the name of the game—but meddling with this millionaire might land her right back in his arms!

Tell us about how patience and/or belief paid off for you. One lucky commenter will win a copy of Cat's book!


Problem Child said...

Hi Cat and welcome! Congrats on the release!

My first published piece was an article written for Bronco Driver magazine. Yeah. Go ahead and laugh. (I'm not a car girl, but...)

Instigator said...

Welcome to the Playground, Cat! I think all of publishing is a lesson in patience and perseverance. You just can't succeed if you aren't willing to keep trying.

Your cover is awesome!


Smarty Pants said...

Great story, Cat! You've just got to keep at it. I tried contests early on, but I found they judges either loved me or hated me and the feedback I got really sent me nowhere. For me it was revision letters and detailed rejections that helped me pinpoint my strengths and weaknesses.

So, my new Desire sister, what do I have to do to help you sail that yacht around some beautiful tropical place? :)

Playground Monitor said...

If you count letters to the editor, I had one in TV Guide and another in Cosmo. I don't have the copies anymore. They were lost in a move years ago. My first paid piece was in True Confessions. I'm still hacking away at the book world.

Thanks for joining us today. And yeah, your cover is great.


Interesting path to publication. Pretty book cover.

Cat Schield said...

Problem Child, I really needed the shot of confidence I got from that magazine article. I never got paid for it, but seeing something I wrote out there for public consumpting really gave me the kick in the butt I needed to stay with my dreams of selling a book.

Cat Schield said...

Instigator, I was really blown away by my cover. The art department took what I told them and crafted a gorgeous piece of art.

I am not a poster child for patience. The waits would have done me in if not for the fabulous community of writers I got to know. And it's true that you can win if you don't play.

Cat Schield said...

Smary Pants, I really think the contests helped me because I finaled quite a bit and got feedback from various editors. One of my earliest contests was judged by now Sr Editor for Desire. She nailed me on my characterization and boy, did I learn my lesson from that!

Cat Schield said...

Andrea, as for sailing, we'll have to talk because Erik is always on the hunt for crew (especially female ones). He's leading a sailing trip to Greece in October!

Cat Schield said...

Playground Monitor, I think as long as you're writing as submitting somewhere you're actively moving forward on your path to publication. Nothing like keeping hope alive with successes along the way!

Cat Schield said...

Hey Kelly, thanks for coming by. It always fascinates me to hear people's call stories. They're all so different. Mine was a thirty year journey. I didn't want to bore you guys with all the dirty details, but I submitted my first partial to Harlequin in the 80's.

robertsonreads said...

Welcome Cat!
I myself don't write be read romances. However, for me, I decided to sell my home & relocate closer to my sisters & mom. Trust me in this economy that's not easy. But I was determined and now I have the home of my dreams. Yes, it is still a work in progress (home was a foreclosure), but it's all that I could ask for. It's a garden home, level lot, 2 car garage, 4 bedrooms, 2 bath. I am 2 miles from each of my sisters and less than 5 from my mom. I am truly blessed.
I look forward to reading your publication.

Tina said...

Hi, Cat. I finished Meddling with a Millionaire just last week and loved it! I'm a Desire girl, have been reading them for years and years, and honestly, this is one of my favorites and is now tucked safely on my "keeper shelf." I really enjoyed reading about your writing journey. I'm a newspaper editor so I see my byline daily; however, I'm never going to be satisfied until I see my name on a Desire. (I recently subbed a requested partial. Trying to fight the nerves by polishing up two other manuscripts.) Patience and perseverance is key, though patience has never been one of my virtues. ;)

Cat Schield said...

Robertsonreads, what a lovely story. It's truly a leap of faith to put your house up for sale in this market. I'm very glad your story ended happily.

Cat Schield said...

Tina, so glad you liked Meddling With A Millionaire. I'm a long time Desire girl myself. Love those passionate alphas and their spunky heroines.

Good luck with the submission. It's exciting to see that the line is acquiring new authors. I hope you'll be one of them!!

Instigator said...

Wait, there's a trip to Greece? Did SP mention that were extremely co-dependent and can't go anywhere without the rest of us? :-D