Friday, July 11, 2008

Expect The Unexpected

by special guest blogger Beth Andrews

Please join me in welcoming my friend and Romance Bandita Beth Andrews to our blog today as she shares a bit of her writing journey. Beth's debut release for Harlequin SuperRomance, Not Without Her Family hit the shelves in June and received a four star review from Romantic Times magazine! Beth will also have three more upcoming releases from SuperRomance in the coming months.

Hello Casablanca Authors! I love dropping by your wonderful blog and not just because of your super sexy covers  (Although, I have to admit, the covers are a definite lure - they are gorgeous *g*) Thank you so much for having me here today and a special thanks to my fellow Romance Bandit, Aunty Cindy for the invitation.

Although I’ve always loved to read, I didn’t always want to be an author. To be honest, the thought never crossed my mind until I had my first child. I really don’t remember what triggered my desire to write (Hormones? Lack of sleep? The extra 75--yes, 75!!--pounds I gained during that first pregnancy) but once I decided I wanted to put down some of the stories hanging out in my head, nothing could get in my way.

Well, except for that new baby who required an awful lot of time and attention. Okay, to be honest, although I realized I wanted to be an author at the age of 21, it took me 10 years before I actually sat down and wrote my first story.

What did I do during those 10 years? Took care of that first baby, had another one, dabbled in what I like to call the domestic arts, built a house with my husband, had another baby, watched an endless stream of Disney movies and I read. A lot.

And during those 10 years I never lost the desire to write and finally that Someday I’d been waiting for arrived! I had a new computer and, thanks to all day kindergarten, hours to myself each day. I sat down and wrote a book. (An entire book! Yay, me!) I sent my precious story off only to receive what seemed like thousands of form rejections. Ouch. No one told me writing would be so…painful.

Luckily, it was around this time that I discovered RWA. I joined and immediately began absorbing as much information about being a published author as I could. Over the next three years I took online workshops and attended conferences. I pitched to editors and agents and I wrote three more stories. Instead of all form rejections, I got requests for partials and fulls and personal rejections (much easier on ego *g*).

Then, in 2006, I found out I was a double finalist in the Golden Heart! Oh, happy day! This was the beginning of what I like to think of as a turning point in my writing career. I became more dedicated and over the next two years, worked with an editor at one of Harlequin/Silhouette’s lines. I even had stories passed up (twice!) to the senior editor of that line only to be rejected. The first rejection I took in stride, the second one…not so much *g* It was a week before the national conference last year in Dallas and I admit, I pouted when the editor called to tell me they were going to pass on my story. (Then I had French fries and a hot fudge sundae for dinner and felt marginally better *g*)

During the conference, I met with the editor and pitched some new ideas to her. She was very encouraging and we discussed what wasn’t working for the line and how I could strengthen my stories. I promised to send her a partial as soon as I got home.

I have to admit, even though I was once again a GH finalist that year, that was a tough conference for me. By Saturday night, all I wanted was to go home and try and figure out what step to take next for my career. And then, to my shock, I won the Golden Heart!

Yes, that really perked me up.

Back at home, I polished my partial and sent it to the editor. Then I debated. Something wasn’t working. I was obviously missing a key element that this line was looking for in a story. What if I wasn’t meant to write for this particular line? I’d read many Harlequin Superromances and loved them. What if Superromance was where I (and my stories *g*) belonged?

I debated for weeks about whether or not to send a query to Superromance. After all, I had an ‘in’ with an editor already and I loved the line I was targeting just as much as I enjoyed Supers. Plus, this editor had been so supportive and encouraging, I didn’t want to do anything to make her think I didn’t appreciate everything she’d done for me.

But still, I realized I needed to take my writing in a different direction. So, on August 21 (my husband’s birthday) I printed off a query and a partial to Supers and stuck it in a priority mail envelope. As I was getting ready to go to the post office, the phone rang. And rang. Irritated no one else in the house could answer it (and being in the bedroom with the only phone in the house that doesn’t have caller ID) I snatched up the phone and snapped out a “hello”.

It was an editor with Superromance. She’d judged my story in the Golden Heart and wanted to buy it. Freaky, huh? I stood there in total shock, staring at the envelope with my query to them and just couldn’t believe I was getting The Call.

I like to think that while getting The Call that day was unexpected, it also proved Supers was where I was meant to be *g*

What about you? What’s been the most unexpected development in your life or career? Have you set out to do one thing only to suddenly wind up going in a new direction and having things work out even better than you planned?

Beth has generously offered a free copy of Not Without Her Family to one lucky commenter. I'll announce the winner late tonight!


  1. Beth, popping over from the Romance Bandits to say hello! What a great blog. I didn't know about that weird coincidence that was the 'final' moment before you sold. How amazing! Sort of like fate was having a giggle at your expense, huh? Congratulations on NWHF. I can't wait to read it (you know it's at the top of the TBR pile chez Campbell). What are the books you've got in the pipeline and when can we expect to see them?

  2. Hi Beth! Another Bandita here. Can't wait for NWHF! And your story is such a banner for perseverance. I always think it must be difficult to work out where your voice and stories fit. It sounds like that's all you needed to know before your work was snapped up!

    I'd decided to put writing on hold while I had my second baby when the Call came. Whether I would have actually done it was another matter, but that call certainly made the decision for me. Life's funny that way, isn't it?

  3. Hi Beth,
    Welcome to our blog! Your story is a terrific tale of perseverance and dogged determination. So glad both have paid off for you. I'll look forward to reading your books!

  4. Great call story Beth, a talented writer and e.s.p too!

    I agree, everything about this business is unexpected, from the call after oodles of rejections, to the lady who rushes up to you at a signing waving your book and says she's been looking for you, to the edits that arrive in the middle of deadline desperation. You gotta love it!

    Super Romance is a great line to write for. One of my cp's Molly O'Keefe writes for them. She just loves working with Wanda.

    If you are ever in Toronto at Harlequin HQ, drop by our chapter for a visit.

  5. Good morning, Anna (well, it's morning for me *g*) I'm sure fate was having a good chuckle at my expense but that's okay because in the end, I'm having the final laugh :-)

    My next two books are connected to NWHF. The first is Dillon's story which I had a blast writing *g* Dillon's my first Bad Boy hero and I just love him! He's so tortured and sexy *sigh* Hope my editor loves him as well ;-)

    I'm working on Allie's story now and yes, I've fallen hard for her hero as well *ggg* He's a dreamy, laid-back cowboy with a secret agenda that forces Allie to make some really tough decisions.

    Oh, I guess I should mention that Dillon is the brother of my heroine Kelsey (in NWHF) and Allie is the sister of my hero, Jack.

    Thanks for asking!

  6. Hi Christine! It was difficult for me to figure out where my stories would fit best. Actually, it probably took me longer than it should have *g* But during those two years of working with the first editor I learned so much - all of which I believe helped me grow as a writer.

    Sounds like fate might've been giggling at you as well *g* Yes, life is funny but obviously you were meant to sell at that time - a fact for which I (and many others who read Scandal's Daughter) are extremely grateful

    I can't wait until your next book, The Dangerous Duke is out! Only two more months, right?

  7. Hi Marie! Thanks so much for having me here!

    And I see I have another reason to wish it was Sept - Line of Scrimmage sounds great! And your blog yesterday was so much fun *g*

  8. Hi Michele! Oh my gosh, your cover is gorgeous!! I'd better get my current story written so I have tons of free time to read this fall *g*

    I love Molly's books! And I actually made a trip up to a Toronto meeting back in Feb but it was such a long drive, I had to leave as soon as the meeting ended.

    Hopefully I'll get up there again when the weather's nicer and gas is much, much cheaper ;-)

  9. Beth, I absolutely loved NWHF! There's a real art to packing that much emotion and storytelling into a shorter book, and you nailed it. I'm so impressed -- and I love your call story. It's so good to know that fate will intervene when it's darn good and ready. :-)

  10. Hi Beth! Thanks for coming by our blog and sharing your story! As the publicist for Casa, I LOVE hearing about how authors got started writing, what inspired them and everything else that leads up to getting The Call.

    So to answer your question about unexpected turns--to be perfectly honest, it's becoming a Romance Fiction Publicist. When I started at Sourcebooks, I knew I wanted to work in PR, but I never expected to specifically work in Romance. That being said-I LOVE IT! I have the BEST authors and great material to promote.

    Great post! Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Hi Beth! Another Bandita swinging by! :> I love your call story. Talk about serendipity! Wow! Also, I hadn't realized how hard that conference was for you. I have this very dark and grainy photo of you at the podium after you won. Grins. If you squint, you can see a huge grin and not much else. Snork!

    Cannot WAIT to read NWHF. I finally found it at the B&N. Yeah!

    Congrats on the new books too, they'll be just as eagerly anticipated, I know. OH, and ditto what you said to Christine about Scandal's Daughter and the new Duke book...

  12. Great post, Beth! Thanks for visiting us.

    Sometimes I think every day is unexpected. And a lot of what I write because my characters are directing me. I'm never sure where they'll lead.


  13. Hey, Kirsten! Great to see another Bandita here *g* Thanks so much for saying you enjoyed NWHF.

    That's the thing about Fate - it has its own time schedule :-)

  14. Hi, Danielle! Isn't it great when things work out for the best? Your enthusiasm for your work really comes through in your post *g*

  15. Hey Jeanne! Thanks for stopping by! Yes, I was down at last year's conference but when they called my name that Saturday night, I was floating high *g*

    Oh, and I have to tell everyone about your fabulous debut, Dark and Dangerous (out now!) It's getting fab reviews including a 4 1/2 stars Top Pick from RT :-) Yay!!

  16. LOL, Linda. That's a good point. Today, for example, I expected to get tons of writing done. So far...not that much *g* Which means I'd best get to it!

    I'll check back in a little bit :-)

  17. Thanx so much for being here, Beth! And for sharing your story. As Jeanne said, serendipity at work...

    Thanx and smoochies to the other Banditas (Anna, Christine, Kirsten, and Jeanne) for popping by! Appreciate your support of us here at Casa. :-)

  18. Danielle,
    I am sooo glad that serendipity stepped in for you too. I'm tickled pink to have you promoting our books!

    Michele, I gotta agree, just about everything that's happened to me in the past year as been unexpected. I hope it continues because I'm loving it, but then I've always loved surprises!

  19. I can't hear your sale story enough - I'm so proud of you and thrilled that Supers were smart enough to snap you up!

    I loved Not Without Her Family and can't wait to read delicious Dillon's story! And to hear what you have in store for Allie.

    The most unexpected thing to happen was my husband getting a job over here in the USA. We have had such a wonderful time here, but sadly that comes to an end in August. But we plan to come back regularly!

  20. Great "call" story, Beth. Truth is, in fact, stranger than fiction.


  21. AC, thanks again for inviting me to blog with you all! Have I mentioned how excited I am about reading The Wild Sight? :-)

    Anna, I don't think NWHF would've made it into the GH finals without your help! I'm so lucky to have such wonderful friends and critique partners *g*

    I hate that you're leaving the U.S. though :-( Can't wait to see you in San Fran!

    Thanks so much, Pat! I guess that's what makes life interesting, right? ;-)

  22. Beth!! NOT WITHOUT HER FAMILY is an amazing debut!! I loved it--read it three times and had to give it away so I'd stop reading it--I'm under deadline woman!! *g* I gotta get another copy you can sign for me in SF ;-) Cannot wait for Dillon's story

    Cheers & Congrats!!

  23. Anna and Stacey, GREAT to see you both! Thanx for popping over from the Writers At Play playground. I had a blast over there on Monday. :-)

    Pat, you are sooo correct about truth being stranger than fiction! We writers need to include a certain amount of logic in our stories. There is no logic to life many times.

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  25. Stacey! My very favorite Western Writer!! I'm lucky enough to have a signed copy of your latest release, The Gunslinger's Untamed Bride *g* I can't wait to read Junipers story :-)

    Can't wait to see you in a few weeks!

  26. Beth, I love your call story and love even more your amazing journey to your first sale :-) NOT WITHOUT HER FAMILY is such a great book -- the heroine is smart, sassy and so strong yet vulnerable. You definitely rocked this story!

    Three cheers for fate *g*

  27. Thank you, Beth, for coming over to our blog and sharing your story. I love to hear about how people came to their successes. Looking forward to reading your book!

  28. Hi, fellow Bandita Beth! I'm half way through your debut book and, gal, are you EVER a Super writer!

    I don't think I've ever heard your call story because and it just sent chills up my spine. Honestly, isn't it wonderful when things just sort of plunk into place so nicely?

    Congratulations. You deserve all this success.

  29. Hey Tawny! Hip hip hooray *g* Since Fate brought us together all those years ago as CPs and friends, I'll definitely give it a cheer :-) Especially since I get to read your awesome stories for Blaze like your Sept release, Risque Business ;-)

    Hi Christina! I love the tag line on your cover - too funny! Thanks for having me here :-)

    Thanks so much for stopping by, Jo! I'm very grateful for the way things turned out, that's for sure *g*

    I hope you enjoy NWHF.