The Call

So, did you celebrate yesterday with the Kool and the Gang song?

Well, as promised here is the story we’re celebrating.

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I started on this journey to publication May of 2008 by joining ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). I’d had this 87,000-word novel, Light of Truth, but no knowledge of what I should do as my next step.

A fellow writer suggested I join ACFW, so I did. I got connected with a fantastic critique group where I learned the art of handling critiques and rewriting. Over the next eighteen months, I wrote and wrote, attended conferences, and found some authors willing to walk me through my questions/mistakes.

Then I found RWA (The Romance Writers of America) and more specifically, the special interest FF&P group (Futuristic, Fantasy, and Paranormal). I got even more support, encouragement, and critiques.

I never really knew exactly what would happen, if anything, with my writing. Would it ever be good enough for publication? Good enough for an agent to take a risk on me? Or was I destined to just write and share it with my friends and encourage people in their writing.

I trusted God to lead the way.

Well, on Sunday January 10th, 2010, Violet Midnight won a contest & the first prize was a publishing contract—the story is HERE. Then, later that same night, I got a request for a full manuscript for Heaven’s Fire from an agent I really wanted representing my work.

Needless to say, more squealing ensued.

I mean, a contest win, then a request from a dream agent in a five-hour span?

MUCH ice cream and chocolate consumption followed as my sweet hubby and I celebrated.

So, I sent off my full to Dream Agent on Monday January 11th and then, a few hours later, my FIRST EVER book contract popped into my email box.

**Yes, I nearly fell over, yet again! I think I even found some more chocolate to eat!**

By Wednesday morning, I was finally starting to calm down a bit, but then, later in the day I got an email that shook me up all over again.

Dream Agent wanted me to call her about Heaven’s Fire.

–Gulp–

Of course I called.

Thirty minutes later, I hung up, disbelieving I’d heard Dream Agent say, “We’re interested in representing you, so think it over and let’s talk Friday.”

I must have hallucinated it. . . no other explanation.

It couldn’t happen that quickly, could it?

But then, on Friday, January 15th, it happened.

I signed on with Tribe Literary Agency. My rockstar agent is Cari Foulk.

So, thanks for celebrating this with me.

Ashley Hayes, the main character from Heaven’s Fire, demanded she get to come on the blog and tell the story, but I had to put my foot down this time. I promised her a week to host in the near future. . . so stay tuned for that.

BILLY COFFEY PART 2

Billys Blog Button updated

Okay, as promised, here is the play-by-play of “The Call.”

If you missed part one of the interview, CLICK HERE , otherwise, read on and see how it worked out for Billy.

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4. Ok, Billy, tell us about “The Call.”

It’s funny, I’d actually been reading Rachelle’s blog for a long time and knew she was the agent I wanted. I had one manuscript complete and sent her a query, but she passed. I finished my second, Snow Day, and sent her another query four months later. She passed again.

I decided to forget about finding an agent and focus on building my platform, which was my blog. At the time, I had so few readers that I was seriously considering shutting the whole thing down. That’s when God started working.

First came Katdish, who began reading my blog and emailed to ask if there was anything she could do to help me get published. My platform was struggling, and I told her what I needed most was more exposure. She’s been a pro at that.

Then I picked up a new reader. Anne Lang Bundy writes at Building His Body, and she enjoyed my posts so much that she emailed to ask me if I was looking for an agent. I said I was, and she said she could possibly get hers to take a look at me, who just so happened to be Rachelle Gardner. I told Anne that Rachelle had already passed on my book, but she said she would try and work something out.

Rachelle agreed to let me resubmit directly to her, and I sent a query and the first ten pages. She got back with me about a week later and requested a phone call. She wasn’t ready to offer representation yet, she said, but she wanted to take a look at the entire manuscript and a proposal.

A week later, Rachelle sent me a message on Twitter asking for another phone conversation. It was the Fourth of July weekend, and she suggested that we schedule a talk for the next Tuesday.

That was a long weekend.

By the time Tuesday rolled around, I had successfully managed to turn my stomach into an amusement park. I didn’t know what to expect, didn’t know whether to get my hopes up or not, and didn’t know if I could make it until 4:30, when she was supposed to call.

Thankfully, she sent another message via Twitter telling me not to worry, because this was The Call.

The amusement park in my gut kicked into high gear when I read that.

I paced around work for the rest of the day and then found a quiet spot on a hill with a good view of the mountains. Rachelle called me right on time, and was kind enough to put my nerves at ease right away by offering representation. She discussed how she worked, what her plans were for my manuscript, and if I had any future books in mind.

I knew from her blog that Rachelle was extremely knowledgeable when it comes to publishing, but she’s proven to be even more so. She’s not only a consummate professional, she’s also a very nice lady.

So no, I didn’t sign with an agent in the most traditional way. In the end, it wasn’t my queries but my blog and the people I met through it that helped me most.

Writing can be a lonely thing, but it’s so hard to find success on your own. I needed help, and that’s what God gave me. So put your work out there for others to read, go and visit other blogs, and yes, Twitter and Facebook, too. Get your name out there. Draw people to you. You never know what can happen…

**Thanks, Billy, for sharing part of your writing journey with us. We’ll be watchin’ for your books on the bookstore shelves some day. With Rachelle as your agent, it’s gonna happen!**