But let me bore you with some details first :)… I won’t make it too long, I promise. I began writing FLY AWAY PETA at aged sixteen. When I look back on my handwritten drafts in between the pages of a yellowed school note book (my maths book, to be exact!), I can see how far I’ve come in terms of finding my voice.
Scenes changed, the story grew, and the characters developed through years of maturity and several rounds of self-editing. The one thing that always remained true was the title: FLY AWAY PETA. No matter how many other stories I penned, this one would not leave me alone. Jaime and Peta wanted their story told and they nagged me until I finished it.
Convinced that it was now ready for submission, I sent it off to Harlequin. After six months of waiting, I assumed it had gone to the bottom of the slush pile. I enquired as to its progress and a few weeks later, received a letter of polite rejection. I was okay with that. It wasn’t my time yet.
Having had a break away from FLY AWAY PETA while I wrote TAMING THE TIGER and entered competitions, I found I could revisit the story with a less jaundiced eye. By this time I had also re-joined the Romance Writers of Australia. This was probably the smartest move I could make. Through the wonderful members and fellow writers, I learnt so much about the craft of writing. And as an added bonus, made some wonderful new friends. After a few more months of editing, procrastinating and more editing, I finally bit the bullet and said: ‘Enough! It’s now or never.’
Now comes the spooky bit. I have a thing for roses, hence my first thought was to submit to Harlequin. After all, it’s every emerging romance writer’s dream to publish with HMB. So while searching for alternatives for FLY AWAY PETA, I came across Eternal Press who are currently accepting non-agented submissions. The symbol on their website is a lilac rose. My gut feel said, ‘Send it!’ My head said, ‘What have you got to lose?’ And my heart said, ‘A rose is a rose, perhaps this is the right rose.’
On Monday 20, 2012 at 12:07 AM, I hit send, turned off my computer and went to bed expecting the six to eight week wait they promised. On Tuesday morning I turned it on to check my emails and there was an email from Eternal Press. I thought it was the usual response letting me know that they’d received the manuscript and would be in touch. And then I read it. ‘Your contemporary romance Fly Away Peta is accepted for publication by Eternal Press…’
I screamed, scared the dog into barking, cried, danced and cried some more. Then I turned off my PC and turned it on again to make sure the email was still there. It was. A few days later I sat with the contract in my hand and faced the reality of designing my debut book cover, writing blurbs and outlining a marketing plan as hubby dreamed of movie rights and a house in Sausalito, California from the armchair behind my desk.
That’s my call story…I’m still pinching myself. Thank you Kim Richards and Erin Lale at Eternal Press for making my dreams come true. The moral of the story? Never give up on your dreams. I really hope you enjoy FLY AWAY PETA and I’m looking forward to hearing from my readers.
FLY AWAY PETA, Eternal Press, release date August 1, 2012