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Surprise! It's The Call!

by Amanda Forester

My story of "the call" began with me coming down with a cold. I had planned to go to the 2008 Emerald City Writer’s Conference but I got sick, of course. Doesn’t that always happen when you plan a trip? I was feeling cruddy so I figured I might as well cancel. Sure, there were going to be opportunities to meet with editors and agents at the conference, but no one ever sells from one of those appointments – right?

I was at the point of cancelling, but I had actually finished my first manuscript. I had taken Cherry Adair’s “Write the Damn Book” challenge and had my shiny new manuscript all ready to go. The amazing Cherry gives tremendous support to up-and-coming writers, which is why she was awarded the RWA 2011 PRO Mentor of the Year! I knew if I went I would get a certificate (now framed on my wall) for completing my manuscript, and that more than anything else got me to pack my tissue box and head out to the conference.

At the conference, I pitched my manuscript to editor Deb Werksman from Sourcebooks and agent Barbara Poelle from the Irene Goodman agency. They were excited when I said I had a Scottish medieval and both asked for a full manuscript. So exciting!

I sent the manuscript out and went on with my life, fully expecting the obligatory letter, you know the one that starts, “Unfortunately we have to pass on a lot of good projects…” Instead, Barbara Poelle actually called me and offered representation. Oh wow! I mean, oh WOW! I’m pretty sure she said some other stuff too, but that’s all I heard.

A few days later I woke up and found I had missed a call on my cell phone. It was from Barbara Poelle. My heart sank. Barbara must have realized her mistake. No doubt she was calling to say she had accidentally offered me representation, she had meant to call that other Scottish medieval writer.

I made the call dreading the inevitable let down. Barbara said she had just talked to Deb Werksman at Sourcebooks and they wanted to publish it! At this point I was so confused I don't think I could make intelligible speech. My novel sold? You mean it really sold?! I thought that never actually happened to real people.

I was completely unprepared, utterly shocked, and totally stunned, but for all that it was pretty darn good! The Highlander's Sword was published spring of 2010, and is now available on kindle for only 99 cents!

The next year I sold two more Highland novels, and I was once again shocked speechless. I guess I'll always be surprised when someone wants to put my novels into print, but I can learn to live with it!

So what was your best surprise?


  1. Love your story, Amanda! It's funny because I was bedridden (or should have been) with a horrible bout of the flu--high fevers, all that sort of thing, but you know how emails are. Got to read them. So I dragged myself out of bed and checked my emails, knowing nothing important was going to be there anyway, and I should have just stayed in bed. I had a request for a full for 2 YA mss. The publisher even bought them! But then the publisher 2 years later when the mss were to be published, 1 month before the first book's release, closed the YA line. I should have stayed in bed! :)

  2. Not my best surprise, but a nice one: Because I ended up on complete bed rest at the end of my pregnancy, I had to drop out of law school for a semester. I finished up the curriculum by writing term papers about serial killers while looking after my new born. (Not my favorite memory.) Because I'd taken incompletes in some classes, I was technically bumped back into the smaller "half-semester" class behind me. When I got my class ranking, I found my GPA was on the top of that heap, and so I graduated "first in my law school class."
    This has made not one difference to my career path--NOBODY ever asked my law school rank--but it served as a reminder to me about that old saying about never knowing when you're winning, and helped me roll with some future punches accordingly.

  3. Moral: Crawl out of your bed, stop coughing and go meet the editor and agents! Moral of my story at RWA in NYC this summer: Crawl out of bed, eat Tylenol like M&M's and go meet my agent's boss (since she couldn't be there), Deb, and then Susie, and attend Grace and Robin Kaye's presentation...all with a mind boggling migraine headache. We are tough women, we are! Proof is in the blog and the comments!

  4. Such a great story, Amanda! I've attended a few of Barbara's workshops. She's so funny and smart. Congrats on nabbing two great ladies.

  5. That was a great buck up and handle it story. I know you are so glad you did. It paid off!

  6. Oh Terry - how frustrating!! I bet that day your e-mail made you feel better, but how sad it never actually got to print. Of course now you are doing your fabulous wolf series, so maybe it all works out for the best in the end.

    Grace - I spent some "quality" time on bed rest with my pregnancy too. It was the only time I ever sat still long enough to knit. My daughter has a pink heart blanket to show for it. Other than that I'm not sure what good it did me. Congrats though on being top of your class, that's pretty darn cool!

    Carolyn - this writing stuff is not for whimps! Migraines are the worst. Good for you for soldiering on. I'm so bummed I missed you at RWA this year. Next year I hope to be back!

  7. Tracey - thanks! Barbara is the absolute best and hilarious! Deb has taught me a lot about the romance genre and how to write for it. I am very blessed!

    Amelia - thanks! I've found getting that one great opportunity often means getting up and chasing after a bunch of different leads until you finally land that one big break. Trouble is you never know which one is going to work out until you try!


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