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The Double Call by Tracey Devlyn

I've really enjoyed reading everyone's big break into the publishing business.So many fascinating roads leading to an utterly unforgettable moment. Just goes to show you that even in this we have our own style.

As for me, I queried my agent and Sourcebooks within a few days of each other in March of 2010. Both requested a full manuscript. Almost exactly a month later, I received an offer from both Deb and Don. That’s, of course, the short version.

The long version? I’m not sure I can adequately convey the crazy roller coaster ride of emotion I experienced from April 21 – April 22, 2010, but I’ll give it a shot.

During the day, I work as a Human Resources Manager for an environmental agency. One of my responsibilities is overseeing our large volunteer force. Every year, we have a volunteer appreciation dinner to recognize our volunteers’ efforts and to give them a fun evening.

Guess when I got the call from my editor? Yep—the night of our appreciation dinner, April 21.

At the time, only two ladies at work knew of my “second job” and the struggles that entailed. My two confidantes were at my side when the call came, making the moment extra special. Well, I could have done without the blubbering part. I’ll get to that soon.

All three of us were sitting around a helium tank, blowing up balloons and tying them off. When my phone rang, I had a balloon stem wrapped around my two index fingers, so I couldn’t answer it. To this day, I don’t know why my heart started pounding in my chest at the sound of Bach blaring from the depths of my purse. There was really no reason to suspect that it was Deb.

But, as soon as I knotted the helium-filled balloon, I snatched my phone from my purse and looked at the caller ID. I didn’t recognize the area code. Again, no reason to believe it was anyone of importance. I receive wrong phone number calls all the time.

All the same, my heart raced faster. I could hear the blood throbbing in my ears and feel the heat spreading into my cheeks. I listened to the message on the voice mail, and started trembling. I garbled some incoherent nonsense, and my friends thought someone had surely died. Finally, I managed to tell them, “She wants to buy my book!”

The banquet folks probably thought we were a bunch of loonies, because much laughing, jumping, shouting, and blubbering ensued. As I mentioned before, I could have done without the blubbering.

You see, I don’t cry prettily like our heroines. My face and the whites of my eyes turn a nasty shade of crimson. I snort, I shake, I drool from my nose. Not. Pretty.

We finished decorating the room, and I went down to my car to call Deb. Being the optimist I am, I had been carrying around a file folder full of questions for editors and agents. On the way down to the parking lot, I called my husband and one of my critique partners.

By the time I reached my car, I had myself in an emotional tizzy again. After several deep breaths and a quick read through my questions, I pressed the redial button. Deb answered right away, even though it was nearly 7 pm her time. We chatted for a while, and then I mentioned that two agents were currently reviewing the full manuscript. As gracious as ever, Deb asked when I would have an answer. With great trepidation, I requested a few days. She agreed, and the call ended. But not before more blubbering commenced. Good Lord, I was a mess.

When I got home that night (Wednesday), I shot off an email to the two interested agents, letting them know I had a 3-book deal on the table…and that I needed to get back to the editor by Noon on Friday. If you’re thinking that’s a short amount of time to give them, you’re absolutely right. I have no idea what logic was spiraling through my mind during this process, but thankfully it all worked out. I spoke to both agents on the phone. One agent liked my voice and really wanted an historical author on her list, but she was still on the fence. The other agent spent an hour letting me know what he could bring to the table and how much he loved my fresh approach to the historical subgenre. By 5:30 pm on April 22, I had an agent.

So, within two days, I received two fabulous calls. I’ll never forget April 2010. Ever.

What moment in your history will you never forget?

* * *

Tracey Devlyn writes historical romantic thrillers (translation: a slightly more grievous journey toward the heroine’s happy ending). She's also a co-founder of Romance University, a group blog dedicated to readers and writers of romance.

An Illinois native, Tracey spends her evenings harassing her once-in-a-lifetime husband and her weekends torturing her characters. Her debut novel, A LADY’S REVENGE, hits the bookstores April 2012 (Sourcebooks, Inc.).

For more information on Tracey, including her Internet haunts and details on her upcoming novels and contests, please visit her website at




  1. Loved your blubbering tale, Tracey! LOL!!! That's great. Here's to not sitting on the fence (for the agent who lost out) and to the agent who could sign a winner and of course to Deb and the rest of the team that added more great romances to the line! :) Congrats!

  2. What a great story, Tracey! I couldn't breathe, therefore I couldn't cry. LOL

    However, I completely understand those tears of joy/disbelief/relief.

  3. Fantastic story. Aren't you glad you weren't being silly and sucking up just a little of that helium so you could do an impression of your supervisor when the call came?

  4. Carolyn, I thought the same thing! Imagine answering "the call" in a squeaky helium voice! Tracey, I cry about stuff like that too, and it's not pretty when I do it either. But there's nothing like the feeling of getting that call!

  5. Well, how can I top that?It sounds like you were actually pretty cool and level-headed, despite your excitement.

  6. What a great moment Tracey! We're all so proud of you! =)

    (ps, I definitely would have been sucking up the helium and yelling weeeeeeeeeeeeeee like the little piggie that wants to go home!)

  7. I laughed out loud when you said, "I don't cry pretty." I'm the same way. Oh, and my nose gets red, too! Great story.

  8. Thanks, Terry! I'm actually kind of glad the one agent was on the fence. It would have been a really hard choice if they both offered representation.

  9. Hi Ashlyn, The blubbering caught me off guard. To my knowledge, I've never cried from being overwhelmed with joy. Sadness, yes. Hurt feelings, definitely. But joy? Don't think so. LOL

  10. LOL, Carolyn. I never thought of that! Darn it. I hate missed opportunities!

  11. Hey Joanne, It's so overwhelming. I thought I would die when I had to ask Deb for a few days. I know folks do it all the time, but all I wanted to say was, "YES!"

  12. Shana--not sure if I was either cool or level-headed! But thankfully, I had prepared for the moment (that optimism again), which gave me something to focus on.

  13. Hi Carrie! Thanks for stopping by. Now I've got that commercial in my head of the little pig with his head out the van window saying, "Weeee, weeee, weeee..." LOL Is that a Geico commercial? I can't remember!

  14. Amelia, Yep, my nose lights up like Rudolph, too!

  15. Do we recall as vividly those few moments when we remained in the grip of our dignity? I think not. Such a threshold moment deserves some tears and discomposure, and the idea that your body knew it was The Call before your head did seems entirely credible to me.

  16. Fabulous story, Tracey! Love the balloons! Thank you for sharing.


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