It's my Anniversary!
No, I wasn't a June Bride. But on June 17, 1999 at approximately 3:28 PM I sold my first book!
Before I go into more detail, let's do a flashback. I started writing romance by taking a course in the Fall of 2005 appropriately titled "How to Write a Romance Novel." In high school I wanted to be a writer, but I'd never known anyone who wrote a book and I gave up on my dream before it had a chance to get started. So I got married, graduated from college, had a baby and started on a career. Still, the love of story telling remained. I would make up different ends to movies and television shows, fall asleep not by counting sheep but by making up stories. I thought everyone did that! lol
So, I took the course and started writing my first book. I also joined a local Romance Writers of America chapter, went to a regional writing conference and then to the RWA National Conference (1996). I finished my first book in June of 2006 (six months after I started writing it) and promptly sent it to Harlequin. It was called Somebody's Baby. It was rejected, but with a request to start it at a different point and resubmit. Stupid me...I did not redo and resubmit. Fast forward to 1999 and four books later.
I'd sent a query to Steeple Hill on my current WIP (work-in-progress) "Faith on a Harley." The response came back quickly "Not interested." I entered the book in the Faith Hope and Love Chapter's Touched by Love contest. Although you just send your first three chapters, you had to have a complete book to enter (which I did). But while the judging was going on, I decided I didn't like the book and cut it from 270 pages to novella length (100 pages) and GOT RID OF THE EXTRA PAGES. Of course it ended up winning the contest and the first prize is a critique of THE WHOLE BOOK by Patience Smith, who was then an assistant editor at Steeple Hill. If you've been following along carefully, you now know I NO LONGER HAVE THE COMPLETE BOOK. And to make matters worse--or better, depending on how you look at it--Silhouette Special Edition (SSE) requests a full of my 4th book!
Knowing Steeple Hill will only reject my book (remember, they'd already told me they weren't interested in the story line) I concentrate on the SSE....which didn't sell. :( Then I returned my attention to Faith on a Harley. Mostly because I was getting a push from the contest coordinator to get the book in or she'd give the prize to the second place finisher, I finally get it back up to 190 pages (80 short of Steeple Hill's word count at the time) and send it in.
I was shocked to get a note back from Patience Smith several weeks later saying that she'd loved the book and wanted her senior editor to read it. I wasn't stupid (even though you might think that from some of the things I'd done), I knew this was a good sign...because only the senior editors can buy for the line. But as I used to tell people, I'd been to the trough before but never been allowed to drink.
Then....on June 17, 1999...the phone rings. I'd been out of town for my job and had gotten back early. It was a nice day and instead of going into work I went home, took a book and a cold soda out on the deck to relax. The phone rings...and I hear a voice say "Cynthia Rutledge?" I think...telemarketer and almost hang up. But I don't. Instead I say, "Yes, this is Cynthia." Patience Smith tells me who she is and asks me how I'm doing. I say the very witty "fine" and when she says "I think you're going to be even better when you hear what I have to say" I know this is "THE CALL" that every writer dreams of....
She bought the book and my revisions were to add 80 pages! "Faith on a Harley" became "Unforgettable Faith," my first book for Steeple Hill!
Every year, I send Patience a note thanking her for giving me a chance and letting my dreams come true.
Thanks for letting me share my story and my anniversary with you!
I now write as Cindy Kirk, but I still have my Cynthia Rutledge web site (www.cynthiarutledge.com) so if you'd like to check out the cover of that first book and read an excerpt, it's there for you! BTW, the book SSE turned down became my 3rd book for Steeple Hill "The Marrying Kind" It's on the web site, too.
Cindy Kirk learned at an early age the value of having an active imagination. If she didn’t like the ending of a television show or movie, she simply thought of a different one. Or if she had difficulty falling asleep, instead of counting sheep, she made up a story. When she was sixteen she penned these words in her diary: “I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t be a writer.”
But it would be several decades before her dream would become a reality. Now a wife and mother, Cindy is a writer of contemporary sensual romance. She invites you to get to know her by reading her novel and visiting her website at www.cindykirk.com and her My Space page at www.myspace.com/authorcindykirk