Today is a significant anniversary for me! Exactly one year ago today, Natasha Bardon, editor extraordinaire at HarperCollins UK office, emailed me to say she would be “delighted” to offer me a contract for my adult fantasy, Among Wolves!!
Wait, maybe we should back up a bit. You need to hear the whole story. In August of 2012, I saw that Harper Voyager was accepting unagented manuscripts for a two week period in October. My book, Among Wolves, loosely based on 19th Century France and also the legend of the Beast of Gevaudan, wasn’t finished. I’d written most of it in a one year period, nearly a chapter a week, but other contracted writing projects took precedence and I had put it aside. It was the beginning of a series and I loved the characters. Somehow this opportunity seemed too good to pass up. Who wouldn’t want to be accepted by the same publishing house that hosts such greats as George R. R. Martin and Robin Hobb?
I took two weeks vacation to write and I finished my manuscript. I spent September tweaking it and when Oct. 1 arrived, I was poised and ready to send it off with high hopes. Harper Voyager promised to let authors know who the chosen few (reportedly limited to 15) would be in January.
Information filtered in. The editors had received over 4,500 manuscripts. Some sources claimed it was over 5,000. The rejection process was taking a long time and there were few updates. Several websites kept track of members involved in the project but speculation ran rampant. As the first anniversary after the appointed announcement came and went without comment, hopes plummeted.
I became convinced that my manuscript had been lost in cyberspace and never even reached the editors’ desks. But somewhere deep inside me, a tiny hope still flickered. Maybe…maybe…maybe…I was still in the running. I checked my email constantly as news of more rejections hit writers’ websites. When I opened my email, I was afraid to check and afraid not to. Then in January 2014, Bishop O’Connell posted that he had received an offer for publication. They were down to the wire, the choices were being made!
On Feb. 6th, 2014, my boss, who knew I had been waiting anxiously, walked passed my office and said, “Have you checked your email?” I said, “No.” “Well, check it,” she said and disappeared. So I logged in and there it was – an email from HarperCollins with the subject line “Digital Submissions.” I felt sure it was a rejection and my hope hit rock bottom. I didn’t want to give up the fantasy that out of all those manuscripts mine had somehow risen to the top.
When I finally opened the email and read, “Dear Ms. Wallace, we at the UK office loved your novel and would be delighted to offer you a contract for Among Wolves.” I literally stopped breathing and then I jumped up so fast that I sent my desk chair careening into my bookcase. Then, I jumped up and down and started screaming “Yes! Yes! Yes!” A rather impressive display for a woman my age 🙂 The I sat down and with shaking hands, texted my husband and my daughters. By then my boss and co-workers were converging on my office to see if was having a heart attack or something. The whole day remains as a giddy and joyous memory that I will never forget. I was literally bouncing off the walls and I loved it! Even now I will burst into a spontaneous exclamation of surprise and yell, “HarperCollins!!!”
It was especially significant yesterday, that I received my extraordinary cover options for Among Wolves, which will be released May 21, 2015 as an Ebook and in November 2015 in paperback. The second and third novels will follow at yearly intervals. I hope to be able to share the awesome cover I selected with you soon.
I guess my message today is “Never Give Up!” If you have a dream, it is worth waiting for and working toward no matter how long it takes. No one ever accomplished anything by quitting. Don’t ever give up on your dream – it is the shining light that makes you who you are.