Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Guest Blogger, Super Romance Author, Rogenna Brewer




















Before the Call-Disable Your Call Blocking!
I will always remember June 1, 1998 as my First Sale. But I didn't get "The Call" in the traditional sense. It all started with an email late on a Friday afternoon.

The Senior Editor for Harlequin Super Romance was trying to get a hold of me, but couldn't get through because of call blocking.

Who knew?

This was in the early day of phone features. The email instructed me to call in on Monday because the Senior Editor was going to be out of town for two weeks. So if I didn't get a hold of her then I wasn't going to get a hold of her for awhile.

It was the longest weekend of my life.


I tried not to get my hopes up. By that point in my career I'd received calls from both an agent and a publisher which amounted to nothing. But it was hard not to hope.


Monday arrived. I called. And got a busy signal--all day long. As the day slipped away I knew I wasn't going to last two weeks. In a last ditch effort I called the editorial assistant who had emailed me. She patched me through to the Senior Editor.

And we were cut off.

I called the assistant again. This time the Senior Editor took the call in the assistant's office and our game of phone tag ended with the sale of my first book SEAL It With A Kiss.

That phone call came 10 months after my first and only contest win. That contest win garnered me an 8 minute appointment with the editor who eventually bought my book--10 years and 5 books later I can hardly believe how much time has passed.

The Marine's Baby is in stores today and in a way it's never gotten any easier than that first missed phone call.

But wishing I knew then what I know now is kind of like wishing for a 20 year old body to go with this 40 year old brain. With experience comes wisdom. And someday I'm going to be wiser. But for now here's my wish list...

...I wish I had focused on my writing goals more, instead of on the broader goal of getting published.

...I wish I had entered more contests and submitted more manuscripts--full manuscripts.
And here's the biggie

... I wish I had made it less about the rules and more about the writing.

Write something today!

Rogenna

Go ahead and Enlist! Vistit Rogenna at http://www.rogennabrewer.com/


Today Rogenna is giving away a copy of The Marine's Baby to one lucky commenter. Please leave a method of contact.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When an aptitude test labeled her suited for librarian or clergy, Rogenna joined the Navy. It was off to bootcamp, followed by her first duty station, NAS Midway Island. She started in the CO's office and gravitated toward the Chaplain's where duties included operating the base library.

Rogenna met and married her sailor while serving her country. "The best part was that brief period of time when I outranked him." After receiving an Honorable Discharge she continued to serve as a Navy Wife and admits to being jealous of her husband's travels. "There's a reason for the slogan; Navy Wife, the toughest job in the Navy. It's like being a single parent--at least part of the time. Jeff's been to seventeen countries and was there for the filming of two major motion pictures aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise CVN65 (TOP GUN and HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER). We have three boys, one for each deployment."


With their Navy days behind them, the family currently resides in Colorado where Rogenna grew up. Before settling in to writing, she was a bookseller and a reviewer for several years. "The one constant has been the need to surround myself with people and books. I always wanted to be a writer/adventurer, but that aptitude test had great insight into my personality. And now I go wherever I want, whenever I want, through my writing."

56 comments :

  1. I didn't know there was a way to have call blocking unless you are on a do not ring register and then i thought it was only certain calls.

    Im glad you finally made contact.
    good post today.

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  2. Welcome to Seekerville, Rogenna.

    We have lots of folks around here who are interested in Supers...hope we can pick your brain.

    And BTW...GORGEOUS COVER as usual.

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  3. Great story Rogenna. I never heard of anyone having such a difficult time getting 'the call'. Poor you. That must have been so stressful, but so glad you finally made contact

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  4. Good morning all! Nice to see you here.

    Jenny I didn't anything about call blocking either. But at one time before the no call list it was a phone feature.

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  5. Hi Rogenna. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I love to hear how authors got their "call". I am a big fan of your books. The Marine's Baby sounds great.

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  6. What a story! And what great advice! This is the third time the message: "write something!" has come to me in as many days. I better hop to it!

    Kim
    kimfurd at hotmail dot com

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  7. Rogenna, Welcome to Seekerville. Thanks so much for stopping by.

    Great story about getting the call. Enough drama there ... and comedy ... for a book.

    Join the Navy, see the library, huh? You must have really come through bright and clear on that aptitude test.

    The Marine's Baby looks really good, great cover.

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  8. As a new writer, I appreciate the chance to use your experience to my benefit. Today, I will actually work on the short story that has been muddling about in the back of my mind for a week while I tried to figure out new promotional techniques for works I have not yet published. Thank you for a pointed message. You can reach me at katherine@lkharms.com. I hope I am the lucky recipient. I would love to read this book.

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  9. Rogenna, I think your advice is spot on! We'd all love to redo something in our lives, wouldn't we? You've certainly had a very exciting life. Too bad you couldn't be there with your husband for those movies. I wish you much success in the future.

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  10. Coincidentally I just watched Top Gun for the first time in years on Sunday night.
    My, my, my that Tom Cruise was seriously cute.

    "I have the need, the need for speed."

    :)

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  11. Rogenna, thanks for sharing your story!

    I wish I had focused on my writing goals more, instead of on the broader goal of getting published.

    This really stuck out to me. Lately, I've been wishful thinking. I wish I'd entered more than a couple contests in the last seven years since I started writing. I wish I had spent less time reading craft of writing books and judging contests and used that time to complete more manuscripts. I wish I hadn't taken three years to revise my medieval. I wish I picked a historical time-period more conducive to the CBA market. I wish I hadn't wasted the money and time querying agents and editors with a manuscript sooooo not editor-ready.

    Anyhoo, your comment got me to thinking that my journey to publication is going to be different. Should be different. I won't learn the things I need to learn unless I walk the path God has for me.

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  12. Mary, click on the link for Rogenna's book, SEAL It With a Kiss. Seriously great, good looking guy cover.

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  13. Mary, click on the link for Rogenna's book, SEAL It With a Kiss. Seriously great, good looking guy cover.

    Okay, this got me thinking...

    Last night I went to a moms fellowship at church. The leader asked, "If you were a dog, what kind would you be?"

    So that's waaaaay to introspective for me. Plus I'm not a dog breed expert nor do I want to resort to stereotypes or glorify myself by saying I'm a hound because I look good sitting around and doing nuthin.

    Instead I pondered what kind of dog I'd want to be.

    After much thought, I narrowed it down to two.

    Paris Hilton's chihuahua because I like the idea of being pampered and sleeping on a feather bed.

    The dalmation at the local fire station because...

    Before I could answer, one gal said, "danger?" and the other "adventure?"

    Hello. No. I like the idea of being around a dozen or so hunky guys who take care of my every need.

    Just between us, I don't recommend mentioning hunky guys in church.

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  14. Gina, Thank you for saving us all from learning that lesson the hard way. No hunky guy comments at church. CHECK

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  15. Hi Jennifer,

    That was only the beginning of difficult ;) It was much harder to sell the second book. I had five "ideas" shot down after that first sale.

    Hi Crystal,

    I love hearing call stories too. The thing is they are all unique.

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  16. Seal it With a Kiss...Nice cover, Rogenna.

    Thanks for that ADVICE, Tina. LOL

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  17. Kim, Mary, Katherine, herblady ;)

    Wow, Ladies! I'm so glad you stopped by. Yes, write soemthing every day. Harder to do than say, I know!

    ps. Top Gun is my favorite movie of all time!

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  18. If you haven't bought the book and aren't lucky enough to win it run out and buy it. It's a great story.

    Ro they do still have call blocking like that. if the number doesn't show up on caller id the call can't come through. I like to block my cell number when i use it to call people with work and a lot of times the calls won't go through without the number showing...I'm glad you were finally able to get through though.


    Gina Welborn, my first thought was the hunky guys in uniform...i didn't even think of the danger or the adventure as an option..guess we know where mind is at the moment...lol


    and seriously if you don't have the book run out and buy it now.....well worth the purchase price.

    Jeana
    ladyjeanamarie@yahoo.com

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  19. Rogenna, I love your wish list. It shows how much devotion you have to your craft.

    And your call story -- Wow, what a weekend that had to be!

    I love the cover of the Marine's Baby. It's so ender.

    Lorna
    seal4life@cox.net
    (And unfortunately, the seal in my life life is not a Navy seal.:) )

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  20. Hi, Rogenna! Thanks so much for being with us today!

    I loved your story of The Call. Not many people can say they blocked their editor from calling! LOL And also the story about your aptitude test. Amazing how everything works out for the best, isn't it? :)

    Missy

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  21. It was much harder to sell the second book. I had five "ideas" shot down after that first sale.

    Rogenna, this intrigues me. Looking back, what would you say is why those ideas were rejected? Timing? Market? Idea?

    And have you ever done anything with those five rejected ideas?

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  22. Rogenna, just hearing your Call story unnerved me. I can't imagine living it. Your cover and book look great!! Thanks for stopping in and sharing your fascinating life and excellent advice at Seekerville!

    Janet

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  23. The first paragraph of your bio blurb was as intriguing as your book! Talk about walking in a circle!


    I can appreciate your goals-in-hindsight because I'm feeling like I should focus more on the writing and contest entry for feedback than thinking about publication.

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  24. Congratulations on your new book. How exciting and stressful that first sale sounds. Each sale after must have seemed so much easier.

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  25. Oops! I forgot my info:

    mce1011[at]aol[dot]com

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  26. Rogenna!

    I've been working and counting the minutes to stop in and talk to you...

    You're working for my dream editors, my target line, my piece d'resistance...

    Supers.

    What a fun group of books, wide range of styles and awesome editorial staff. Girl, you rock!

    And they don't smack you down if you don't fill the book with blatant sex. I'm so there.

    So, Rogenna:

    Thanks for stopping by. Tell me all the insider news. Share it right now in front of God and everybody or e-mail me privately and fill me in on what kind of bribes work for Wanda, Paula and the rest of the gang.

    Only slightly kidding.

    Serious question:

    Do you find the atmostphere in Supers as open as it appears to be to readers regarding voice, book types and content?

    Write back and feel free to make me your new best friend. I'm okay with that. If you need monetary urging, I can take up a collection. Really. I have friends with money.

    Tina?

    Mary?

    Sandra?

    ;)

    Ruthy

    (trying hard not to beg like a two-month-old puppy...)

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  27. (trying hard not to beg like a two-month-old puppy...)


    And doing a bang up job of it, Ruthy. Good work.

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  28. Laughing in Denver.

    Which by the way is where Rogenna lives.

    Okay, Ro, let's talk sex or lack there of so Ruth can stop begging.

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  29. Mary, it's not nice to make fun of me when I'm panting and pawing at Rogenna's shins...

    Really.

    Leave me some vestige of dignity.

    Ruthy

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  30. Tina, great ice breaker.

    Sex.

    I love great sexual tension. Strong imagery without being crass. Warm emotions. Tina calls me a home and hearth writer and that's true.

    But I'm not afraid to have some fun in all aspects/rooms of the home!

    So I make a mean cannoli, a great clam sauce and I'm not afraid to stir up a little dust upstairs which is exactly how a good book should read. Doesn't need to be explicit, just apparent.

    And that's what I love about Supers. And some Special Editions that I've been reading/studying. HQ is leaving a door open (or shut, as it may be) so that the reader can pick and choose among the authors that work for her/him.

    Love it.

    Ruthy

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  31. A funny thing happened to me on the way to the blog...

    My husband called to tell me our son had been kicked off the school bus. Ty's 20 with Down's Syndrome and due to graduate from high school in 6 months.

    But without transportation we can't get him to and from school. So I had to leave work, meet with the school, make a few phone calls.

    But I'm back

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  32. Gina,

    The path you've taken so far was not necessarily paved with mistakes, but with lessons you've learned.

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  33. Stamped, interesting name. Do you scrap book?

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  34. Hey, Lorna.

    And Missy, thanks for having me!

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  35. To answer Gina's question about my second sale.

    Right after that first sale I attended national conference Olrando with 4 full blown synopsis for my editor to pick and choose from.

    Bad idea. None of them sparked her interest. The 5th was a one page idea I pulled out to try and save the meeting.

    She kind of liked that one, but I didn't get the response I was hoping for. She told me to change this, this and that.

    I worked on it for several months. Came up with 5 different openings, but couldn't settle on one. I again gave her the option.

    She told me just to pick an opening and stick with it. Well, I didn't.

    After a year of struggling with the second book I had nothing to show for it. My first book was out and I sat down and wrote the book I'd wanted to write all along--the sequel.

    The first book I pitched my editor at that Orlando Conference. Sign, SEAL, Deliver

    I prefaced it in with, "Good news/Bad new." I have something, it's not what you're expecting.

    Well, the sales numbers were in on my first book and they were better than good so now they wanted another Navy/Navy SEAL book from me. Which also happened to be the reason they rejected it in the first place...

    Lesson learned. Go with your gut and never try and sell on synopsis.

    I have often gone against mine to try and please.

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  36. Hi Janet, Patricia and Maureen.

    I just want everyone to know I'm reading every post and loving it here!

    And thank you Tina and Jeana for the plugs ;)

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  37. BTW, my third sale was also from a synopsis pitch in the first meeting with my editor.

    And the two that remain unsold our my two favorite books. They are prequels to my first book, but don't really fit the Super Romance line.

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  38. Wow, Rogenna, I read the excerpt of The Marine's bacy and it sounds GREAT! And that cover! Wowzers!

    Thanks for dropping by.

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  39. I wish I had focused on my writing goals more, instead of on the broader goal of getting published.

    Agreed. I can definitely learn from this quote.

    Thanks for the "I coulda had a V-8" moment, Rogenna!

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  40. Hi Ruthy!

    What I love about Supers is that they are the most mainstream of the series lines and open to almost anything.

    Before publishing with Supers I was getting rejected because my stories were "too mainsteam" for series and "too category" for single title.

    When Paula found me it was kind of a "duh" moment for me. I'd been submitting to everyone, but Super--kind of like saving the best for last. But I guess I should have started there and saved myself some trouble.

    If you want to sell to supers be sure to have plenty of conflict in your story--nothing forced because the editors will see right through that.

    I love the editorial staff. Paula bought me. Laura was my editor for my first 4 books and Victoria was the editor on this last one. She rocks. It was a mess when I delivered it to her.

    I'd written all the conflict right out of the story by marrying the hero and heroine in chapter 4. Plus I had made the heroine's first husband a not so nice guy (one I wouldn't mind killing off, I guess--because I always feel so guilty about that).

    This is something we tend to do as writers. When what we need to do is make them work for two hundred pages to get to the happy ending.

    So my heroine's dead husband became a nice guy. And the hero became badder and better at the same time. And I unwed them and turned it into a story with real conflict.

    The revisions were massive, but worth it!

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  41. Ruthy, You're going to owe me a Cannoli ;) There is no sex quota for Supers--as I've been told it's whatever is appropriate to the story.

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  42. Hi Rogenna, Thanks for joining us. What a story about the "Call" I can hear the moans and chuckles across the "net" I can feel that frustration. Wow if you survived that the rest of this crazy business must be a piece of cake. But not so. The stories of your other sales go to show the life of an author remains a "no guarantees" business even after publication. I'm glad you're doing well and that you got Ty back on the bus. Goes to show that a writer's "other life" goes on with its challenges too and the deadlines are still there. So we doubly appreciate your time.

    I'm anxious to see your response to Ruth's questions also about Super Romance. Ruthy, you're so cute when you beg. Thanks again Rogenna.

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  43. Pam, you're welcome ;)

    Sandra, you bring up a good point. Life always gets in the way. Always. Sometimes I want to kick myself because I've only sold 5 books in 10 years.

    Other times I'm amazed that I get anything written at all.

    When I went back to work I couldn't see how I was ever going to write and work full time. You have to set day/time to write. Tina turned me on to weekend writing.

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  44. Ruthy, did I answer your questions? Really I don't know what kind of bribe works ;)

    Do you ever visit Super boards at eharlequin? I'm sorry I don't get the chance to stop by much. There are hard choice to make when working and writing. But the editor do lurk and often come out of lurk mode.

    There are Super guidelines somewhere on the site too. But a lot of times editors don't know what they want until they read it. Because what they want is "tried and true with a twist."

    You wouldn't believe how fast I sold The Marine's Baby. The sperm bank premise is nothing new. Editors see so many it gets old. But they also know when something works it works. So they look for what they know works, with a twist.

    The twist in my story was the military man she never met. The guys putting their semen in storage was based on fact. So not only did it have a twist it had a very contemporary spin on an old premise.

    I was a little worried they wouldn't accept two half brothers with the same name. But in the white trash world in which I live ;) I knew it could happened.

    After I submitted the proposal fellow Super Author Susan Gable, who had been critiquing it, found a Dear Abby or Annie written by a grandmother who was upset because her grandson "Andrew junior" had a new half-brother named "Andy" after their dad "Andrew senior."

    You could feel the angst in the woman's letter and I couldn't wait to shoot a copy off to my editor. "Cause I'd come up with it long before that letter and she'd know it by the publication date.

    My point being, for Supers, the more "reality" based elements you can put in the book the better.

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  45. Rogenna,

    Do pop back in for the late night group, but so I don't forget --thanks for being with us today.

    At 9 mountain time I will draw a name and send the person an email requesting a snail mail addy!!

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  46. Rogenna, had to duck out and go to work...

    Gainful employment is imperative.

    And yes, you've given me lots of good info. Paula had requested a partial from a contest back in December and Natashya has requested a full (I know she's not super but I hear she's 'super') of a different book and I'm gearing my new series toward Supers specifically. Once I realized how open they are to various themes and differences in timing, I figured we might be a good fit. Like you, I've gotten smacked around for falling between ST and Contemp, but I like a good story that's got some quirks in plot and characterization.

    And every contest that comes along with Victoria or Paula or Wanda as a final judge, I'm earmarking. If I final, they're going to be saying, 'Her? Again?'...

    And I'm so excited to have you here! Yay! Yay! Yay!

    Ruthy

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  47. I need to ask a question which may have been answered but it hurts my brain to go hunt.

    what are supers?

    I have the cannoli's (even if i cant spell them) down pat.

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  48. Good Luck, Ruthy and everyone with your contest entries!

    Jenny, when we say Super or Supers we're talking about Harlequin Super Romance.

    I'm going to be checking in one last time to see if Tina has drawn our winner yet. Feel free to email me from my website www.rogennabrewer.com if you have any lingering questions after tonight.

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  49. Yes. We have a winner.

    Just waiting for an address and confirmation.

    Tina

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  50. CONGRATS to Maureen,

    She is the winner of The Marine's Baby.

    And Maureen is still in the weekly Seekerville drawing also.

    Thanks to Rogenna for the giveaway!!!

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  51. I love aptitude tests! Wrong! They are usually so far off. My oldest son is totally the opposite of what they recommended for him! Isn't waiting awful?! Just like medical tests results. Very trying.....Cindi
    jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

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  52. Great blog! I especially like what you learned. I haven't got "the call" yet but I'm at that stage where the waiting for it is killing me :-) I've got one ms floating around from contest to contest and I'm getting wrapped up in making it absolutely perfect. So wrapped up I can't just have fun and write the next story. I gotta let go, let God, and get on with my writing life :-) Thanks for the inspiration.

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