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Year 2000 was a turning point in my life; that year, I completed not only my first, 
but also my second-ever novels, both contemporary romances (yes, that's what I write!) 

The manuscript for my very first novel, TRUCK STOP, took 
First Place
in the Undiscovered Writer II Contest, sponsored by
Rendezvous Magazine and Love Designers Writers' Club, a chapter of Romance Writers of America TRUCK STOP was first e-published by SynergEbooks and received a four-star review in Feb 2002 Romantic Times magazine, as well as some other very excellent reviews elsewhere! (Check out Truck Stop's Reviews) ....also, although the contract with SynergEbooks has long since expired, I have Truck Stop available now on Amazon.com as paperback and also Kindle (be sure to get the 2nd Edition).

This particular webpage is Just For Fun, I'm having a great time with it!  It's also not so bad for an confidence boost when I start feeling down with all these rejection letters pouring in  <chuckle>  I figure it's just as well that I *do* get depressed about it now and again... I mean, Heaven Forbid that I should develop an EGO!  But also... honestly, I wanted to put it here for writers just starting out, to have some idea what it's like, the ups and downs, the highs and lows, of the Rocky Road to Publishing

The History of Truck Stop, or, How I Got Where I Am Today
(wherever that may be)

For anyone interested, here is the whole story... this is very long, and is probably only of interest to my close family & friends, and other beginning writers :)

 

The beginning:
early 2000

I'd been writing on and off all my life since as early as I can remember (I specifically remember 3rd grade, writing in bed at night under the covers with a flashlight when I was supposed to be sleeping), with stories and characters running around in my head, and dozens of partially started stories (some no more than a snippet of a scene) written down. I certainly never thought of myself as a writer. I was a daydreamer and made up stories in my head, right? Mom always encouraged me to write and to make a full book out of them, but I never saw it happening. It was "just stories." To take one and actually make an entire novel out of it? That was just so out of my league I didn't even consider it. Oh, I toyed with the idea now and then... the *desire* was there, certainly! But to actually do it... no, no, that something "real" writers did, not me.

Early in 2000, I was on AOL on a trial basis (just for fun.. I never had any intention of staying on), and somehow I happened across AOL's writers forums. Talk about a kid in a candy shop!  Finally!  Other writers!  REAL writers!  I'd never ever met another writer before... certainly never a "serious" one. But AOL was full of writers... published authors, nonpublished writers with and without finished manuscripts... and forums and classes, and mentors, and critique groups. Needless to say, I subscribed to AOL immediately. Anyway, in the process of finding out everything that was available in the Writers Club forums, and anything else on writing, I discovered Romance Writers of America (RWA). They have chapters everywhere (including online chapters now), and what's more, RWA chapters (and other organizations as well) regularly sponsor writing contests.  So I joined RWA and did some comparative browsing and, taking a deep breath, chose the Undiscovered Writers II Contest, sponsored by the Love Designers Writers' Club/Rendezvous Magazine, to enter.


Feb 2000

The Undiscovered Writers II Contest required the first chapter and synopsis.  Yeah.  Okay, well.....  I had several dozen story lines (112, to be exact, carefully numbered A-Z, AA to ZZ, and so forth up to HHHHH) that I'd come up with over the last 40+ years, most of them no more than a couple of sentences of premise and maybe a scene or two written.  A few... very few... have as much as a 2-3 chapters.  Out of those few, I chose Truck Stop, pretty much at random and because it was the one that appealed to me just then... totally subjective :)

So I started to "get it ready" to submit to the contest.  Mind you, I had three scattered (not consecutive) scenes and a basic idea for the main conflict.  That's it. And certainly not the *first* chapter. It was about a week before the deadline for the contest.  I'm not sure where the idea for the opening scene came from, presumably right out of thin air.  I guess my Muse decided to kick in just then :)  So I wrote one chapter.  Then I needed a synopsis, about three pages.  Oh yuck.  Geez, *I* didn't know three pages worth of what the story is going to be!!!  So I spent a day brainstorming and came up with something or other.  More like, I hammered out a story line from almost nothing, with lots of mental anguish and an overdose of caffeine!  And when I was done, I was actually feeling pretty pleased with myself.... after all, I'd never written a synopsis in my life!  And it actually looked to shape up to be a pretty good plot as well.  I had the pleasant feeling of having surprised myself :)   

So I stuck the whole thing in an envelope, along with a money order, took a deep breath, and trotted out to the mailbox.

May 8, 2000

Here comes the old SASE manila envelope.   Now, I know the manuscript is going to have been judged, and maybe critiqued.  I stared at it, wondering if my self-confidence level was really ready for this.  Oh well.  Being a glutton for punishment, I ripped it open.  There's a letter (parchment, even!) in the front and I pulled it out.  The first thing that met my eyes was the big caption:  

C O N G R A T U L A T I O N S!

Ohmigod.  I.... WON???!!!!  <<<palpitations>>>   I read the letter.  I reread the letter.  I re-read the letter.  And let me tell you something.  Reading it for the hundred-and-fifteenth time, six months later, it feels JUST as good as it did the first time!  LOL!

Now, the PRIZE for this contest, was to have the winning manuscript read by a Senior Editor at Silhouette.   According to the letter, they'd already notified her of the winning manuscript and author, and she'll be expecting me to contact her.  ZOWWIES!  (Folks, this is SIX months later that I am writing this, and I'm sitting here looking at their letter in front of me,  reading it over and over and over again and crying and laughing out loud!)  Oh, I digressed.... where was I?  Right, the editor.  So I called her. I figure that's okay because she already has my name from the contest.  I got her right away (Wow, a Senior Editor answers her own phone?  Way cool!).   She knew my NAME, as soon as I said it!  Yes, she has the letter from Rendezvous right in front of her.  Do I have a complete manuscript?  No?  Well, just send her what I've written so far then.

Well (ahem), all that I had actually written at that point was the one chapter.  And a couple of scenes from various points farther along the plot line.  Remember, I hadn't *expected* to win the contest!  I'd just wanted to see what would happen if I entered!  I didn't tell her that, of course.  I told her I had three chapters, and she said to send them.  So I wrote off two more chapters real quick and sent them in. 

My synopsis, by the way, had taken some heavy criticism from the contest judges, so I got out my (newly acquired) copy of Writers Market 2000 and looked up the section on synopses, and re-wrote that before sending it in with the three chapters.  Even to my inexperienced eyes it looked MUCH better!

June 12, 2000

There's a letter from Silhouette in the mail.  It's thin, obviously just one sheet of letterhead in there.  My first rejection letter.  <<<palpitations>>>  Okay, I told myself.  I expected it.  Heck, I even cleared off a wall in my office to hang them up on (I figured I could always take up darts as a hobby).  Still... I'd never quite managed to quench that dim spark of optimism, of hope.  I reminded myself that NOBODY gets accepted the first time around.  How many times did Margaret Mitchell have Gone With the Wind rejected?  Something like 24?  And John Grisham 77 times, I'd heard.  Not that I even pretend I'd ever be a Mitchell or a Grisham.... or Anne McCaffrey or Dick Francis, for that matter.... Oh, on with the story.  So anyway, I carried the envelope around in my purse for a couple of hours, steeling myself.  Lunch.  That's right.  I'll take it to lunch and open it there.  I'll have a good book along with me, one of my old tried-and-true favorites that never fail, and after I read the letter I can just stuff the letter back in my purse and lose myself in the book.  I can stop on the way home and buy some darts.  Great plan :)  

Only, it wasn't a rejection letter.  "Dear Ms... Congratulations on winning the Undiscovered Writers...." yada yada... "We would be interested in seeing your completed manuscript."  WHAT???!!!!!  <<<palpitations>>>   The only thing is, the letter wasn't from the same editor that I'd contacted previously, and to whom I'd sent Truck Stop.  It was an editorial assistant.  Hmmm.  Now I'm confused.  Did she happen to get a cc of the letter from Rendezvous and is not aware that I'd sent the partial to the Sr. Editor already?  Or did the Sr. Editor read the partial and pass it on to her?  Or did the Senior Editor NOT read it, and pass it on to her?  I floundered a bit between being ecstatic (maybe they'd READ it and wanted more!) and not knowing what to think at all.

So once more I decide to call.  This is, you understand, completely against ALL the rules, as I understood them.  One does not call editors.  Period.  I hoped that the excuse of not being sure who she was, would make it okay.  So I called the Editorial Assistant who'd sent the letter.  She answered the phone on the first ring.  I gave her my name... and I didn't even get as far as telling her the name of my manuscript, when she (bless her heart forever!) broke in:  "Oh!  Oh, yes, I know who you are!  You wrote the story about the truck stop, that won the Undiscovered Writer contest!"  <<<palpitations>>> (As you can see, writing creates a lot of stress on the poor cardiovascular system.)   She loved it, she said!  She'd read the first chapter that Rendezvous had forwarded to them, and had wanted to read more.  Then I sent the three chapters to the senior editor, which she'd also read, and she wanted to read yet more!   She wanted me to sit right down and finish writing it!  I explained that I was just in the process of packing to move to Arizona at the end of the month, and she graciously allowed that yes, that would be difficult to write when you're moving, but as soon as I was moved I was to get seriously writing.  As you can imagine, my frame of mind when I hung up the phone was rather... elevated!  I was practically levitating, LOL!

Once I got moved and ready to start writing, I had by this time (being involved in several writers forums on AOL), discovered more about contracts.  NO way do I feel ready to tackle that kind of a thing, should it be necessary.  I decided this was the time to start trying to find a literary agent... *before* Silhouette made me an offer ...and if Silhouette rejected it once I'd submitted the finished manuscript, then I'd have an agent ready to go looking.  Either way, I was covered.   I got out all my RWA magazines and my Writers Market, and carefully scanned each and every entry for a possible match.  Another consideration was that, besides Truck Stop, I have several more stories immediately in mind, and any number beyond that, but not all were necessarily within the same genre within romance, so that if my stories really are salable, I needed someone who could handle the several types of romance that I would be hoping to write.  And to be really honest, I'm not quite sure if category romance is the best way for me to go.  What if I sold it as category, and found out later that I *really* should have gone for single-title?  I figured an agent would know, and be able to advise me.  In the ensuing months, I'm a little more confident that category romance *is* where I want to be, but there is still the contract (assuming I get that far)... and all those other non-category romance novels I want to write.  Assuming I can sell Truck Stop in the first place, of course <grin>  I'm not being over-confident; planning what I want to do and what I want if I should sell it can't possibly hurt me, and it will keep me from selling myself short if an offer does come in.  The fact is, I don't honestly believe that I *will* sell it... it's too much The Impossible Dream for me to believe it will ever happen... but am having a LOT of fun thinking about it :)   Obviously :)

July 14, 2000

Out of all the agents and agencies, I came up with two top choices and another half dozen possibilities.  Taking a deep breath, I chose one of the two to send my first-ever query letter to, and mostly, you know, because I just liked the way she had worded her comments about what she was looking for, and also (so sue me) because she accepted email inquiries.  So I sent her an email query letter, and had a response the next day!  I have to admit I sat here for five minutes staring at her name on the "From" list in my inbox, wondering if I should wait a little while, or just get it over with <laugh>  However, it turned out to be an  (initially) positive response!  But she wanted at least the first 100 pages, and all I had was the three (short) chapters, totaling about 40 pages.  Maybe less.   In my new home in Arizona, in the meantime, I had just moved in and was still unpacking, plus suffering along in a heat wave with no cooling except for two small fans, with the indoors temperature running in the high 90s.  Not the best atmosphere for creativity.  However, three days after I'd heard from the agent, my landlord brought over an old, beaten-up looking air conditioner that worked like a real trooper.   It took him a couple of hours to install it, but by 10 that same evening I had begun writing.  And by noon of the fourth day of writing, I had 102 pages completed!  So off it went, Priority Mail.   

This, however, didn't have a happy ending.  When I  heard back from the agent, she says sorry, she is not interested in category romance.  Huh?  I'd told her right from the get-go that it was aimed at category romance... so why did she even bother asking me to send my ms in the first place?  And besides that,  I'd very been clear that I was *also* interested in pursuing the single-title market, and was in no way committed to writing for category.  Who knows what she was thinking.  Maybe she felt my work was contemporary quality and not single-title quality, although she didn't say so in the rejection letter. (And there's also the possibility that she just didn't like it, and the series romance thing was just a polite "out"). Okay, back to the starting gate <sigh>  On the bright side, I now have about 60 pages more than I did before I wrote her!  LOL!  There's a silver lining in every cloud :)

August 28, 2000

August 28, 2000.  Next on my list.  I decided heck with this... I chose the top FIVE on my list and sent out the queries.  I did have a favorite, above and beyond the rest, but this was only the query letter anyway.  So I sent her a synopsis (as per her guidelines in the Romance Writers' Report, RWA's monthly magazine).  And barely a week later, she CALLED me!  She said she didn't want to wait to write, she was very enthusiastic, and encouraged me to keep writing, saying that she wanted to see the completed manuscript as soon as I'd finished it!  YEAH!  Two weeks later, I got another call from another of the agents whom I'd queried.  She left a message on my voice mail stating that she, too, wanted to see the completed manuscript and would I please send it!  

Still acutely aware of my novice status, and not feeling like I really knew what I was doing (let's face it, just because you DO write, doesn't mean you know HOW to write!) so I had heard about Brenda Hiatt's "Writing the Romance Novel" , an online class.   I signed up for that, and completed it.  This is a marvelous class and I learned a lot, and not only that, with Brenda's encouragement, being in the class was a wonderful inspiration.

September 2000

Right about this time, I heard about the "Book In A Week" challenge... it's a mailing list and you set a goal for yourself at the beginning of the week... everyone does that.  Then every day, you write in to report on your progress (or lack thereof), and send and receive congratulations (or condolences, as the case may be) from others on the list, who are also posting to the list their own progress or problems.  It gave me great incentive (even with all the positive feedback I'd gotten so far, I would look at the 50+K words that I still needed to finish the novel, and my heart would quail).  In that week, I wrote 37 pages!  

By this time the story had started to pretty much write itself, and not only words but ideas were flying at me thick and fast. 

October 10, 2000

And on October 10, 2000, I wrote:

 The End

I was so excited.  I called my best friend, in California.  And as soon as she answered the phone.  I started crying.. and I mean all-out bawling.  Panic in her voice, she asked what was wrong.  I managed to sob, "Nothing!  I finished it!"  I then proceeded to cry for the next five minutes.  Then I started laughing uncontrollably.   Then all of a sudden I felt really sick to my stomach, I mean, I just sat there clutching it and wondering if I was going to really... (you know).  I didn't (you know), and it eventually went away.  More or less.  My stomach churned nervously for the entire next two days!

October 12, 2000 So now I've just finished doing a full read-through on hard copy and making red-pen changes, editing here and there and making sure there are no loose ends, and that every single word is just what I want it to be, that every single sentence conveys what I want it to.  Then I'm printing it out, taking it to Staples to have copies made, and will send it out... hopefully I can do all this by tomorrow.  I'm sending this to Silhouette, of course, and to the first agent who responded to my query; she is also my FIRST CHOICE and I am praying hard she will like my novel!  Anyway, I want to hold off sending to the second agent who requested the full ms, to give the first one a shot at it.  Not that I know diddly squat about either of them <laughing> but I like the way the first one represented herself in an article she'd written, and then she validated herself as My First Choice when she called and was so terrifically enthusiastic about my synopsis and query letter back in August :) :)  I guess there's just something about getting positive feedback that makes you really *LIKE* the person giving it, you know??? Actually I think Dale Carnegie addresses that exact theory in "How to Win Friends and Influence People." Well, I'm here to tell ya it's so! Love my book = love me = I love you too :)
 

This next part gets really nasty.  You know how some events, or sequence of events, are only funny in retrospect?  Well this was one of those times... trust me, this was NOT FUN!  Read it carefully, however, and learn from my mistakes, so you don't have to go through this yourself!!

October 16, 2000
Part A
Oh man.  What a day. Last night, halfway through printing the second copy of the full manuscript (323 pages each, one for the agent, one for the editor), I ran out of paper. No problem, I still had a 1" stack of the old paper.  But I forgot, the reason I switched brands is because my printer doesn't like the old paper. It doesn't grab it right. So I waste as many sheets as I get good copies. About the time it becomes clear that I'm now not going to have enough paper to finish printing the manuscript, I also run out of black ink. It was after midnight, so I just went to bed.  Because... Tomorrow is Another Day.

This morning I tooled on into town to Office Max.  By the way, I live rurally, some 15 miles from town.  I pick up 3 reams of paper (buy 2, get one free) of the kind of paper my printer *does* like, plus two black ink cartridges, one big, one little, and a big stack of Tyvek envelopes to use for the manuscript returns (which of course I hope won't be used!). My credit/debit card declines the purchase. Stupid thing.  So I run across the street to Safeway. Yep, the money is there. Weird. So I get cash out, and back over to Office Max. I go to pay for everything. The total is HOW MUCH? WHY?!  Because the big ink cartridge is not $19.95, it's $37.99.  Hells bells. No wonder my card declined it the first time around, the total came to more than I had available! (yes, it serves me right anyway for not  asking the price, and also for not looking at the total on the cash register in the first place). Well, I gotta have it. So I ditch all the other purchases and just buy one ream of paper and both ink cartridges; I'm not sure that I need the small ink cartridge,  but I'd better get it anyway, just in case. I'll come back and get the envelopes and more paper when I come back into town to mail the manuscripts, later today, when my paycheck will have hit the bank.

I change the big ink cartridge on the printer. It still doesn't work (printing is faded, fairly light, only borderline acceptable). So I change the smaller ink cartridge as well, although that one was new yesterday morning when I started printing and should NOT have run out yet. That doesn't work either. Same thing. I try bolding one page... EEEYUCK! really gross looking. Just before chucking the printer through the window (it's tempting! very, very tempting!) I try changing the settings, telling the printer that the paper is plain paper (which it's not) instead of ink jet paper (which it is). Mind you, this is the exact same brand paper I used an entire REAM of yesterday, bought just yesterday at the same store as I was at today, and it printed just fine. Anyway, telling the printer that this is plain paper, works. Very strange.  So I've got everything printed out and everything is hunkey dorey.

Finally, everything is all ready to go except the letter from the editor that she said I should enclose a copy of when I send the completed manuscript. I put it in my scanner and tell it to scan. I get a black window. huh? I scan it again.  Still a black window. I put a picture in to scan in color, just to see if it will work, and get a black window. <sigh> I unplug and disconnect the scanner, and turn the computer off. Reconnect and plug in the scanner and turn the computer back on. Same thing.  So, I reinstall the program. Nope. Okay, time to get out the big guns. I UNinstall the scanner program and turn the computer off. Turn computer back on. Reinstall the program again. Black window.  grrrrrrrrrrr hissss phffftttt.  I know it's not the cable going bad, because my printer cable is hooked to the scanner, and my scanner is hooked up to the printer port on the computer. If it were the cable, my printer wouldn't work either. Well, the printer has its problems but it at least *works*. <sigh>

So now, I have to get the letter copied, as well as get envelopes for SASE, before I can go to the post office.  But, I can't run to town just yet because I've only got an hour before my daughter gets home from school. <banging head on edge of desk>

On the bright side, after 6+ weeks of waiting, U.S. West FINALLY showed up this morning and hooked up my second phone line! hurray! he also said he's going to try to get me a discount off the hook-up charges, since I was kept waiting for so long. I'm not objecting! :) I can now work and surf at the same time! And at long last, my mother can call me!!!! :)

 

October 16, 2000
Part B
All ready to go, so off to town with my daughter.  The supermarket didn't have any envelopes that are big enough for the entire manuscript, and there's no time to get to the office supply store and back before the post office closes, so okay, I'll buy the SASE envelopes at the post office.  Ugh.  They are the big padded ones... no Tyvek.  Do I have a choice?  Nope.  So I am rushing to fill them out while the long line at the post office is moving fast.  Have YOU ever been to the post office when the line moved fast?  No?  Well, me either.  Until this Monday!  I was flustered, besides being jittery and frazzled anyway by the time we got to the counter.  I think the clerk was hugely entertained.  He was patience itself.  I took the letters to agent and editor out of the boxes so they wouldn't get rumpled when we stuffed the SASE envelopes into the Priority box with the manuscript (I made a mental note to go to Office Max immediately and buy some Tyvek envelopes for the next time!), then put the letters back in, and off they went!

AWRRRIGHT!  I did it!!!!  Christina and I high-five each other as we leave the post office, and once we're safely in the car, I let out a scream to rival a banshee.... Yaaaaahooooooooo!  We pull out of the parking lot.  We go to dinner to celebrate.  We're parking in front of the restaurant  when it suddenly hits me.  I didn't LOOK at the boxes when I put the letters back in!!!  Two boxes, two letters... I just slid a letter into each box!  The agent and the editor might get each other's letter instead of the right one!  <groan> Furthermore (since I'm flailing myself, might as well wallow a little), after all that, I forgot to get the letter from the editor copied to accompany the ms!  aaarrrgh!

I decide there isn't anything I can do about it now, so I put it aside.  We have a great dinner, and wind up brainstorming my next novel, "Dancer."  Christina came up with some really good ideas for plot twists, and she also makes a great sounding board, and between us we managed to hammer out a basic story line, as well as added some secondary characters and decided on their roles in the story.  Waaaay cool!

October 17, 2000 I decide to call the editor and agent.  I'd been undecided before about whether to call... after all, I talked to the editor only once back in June, and the agent in early September.  I'd pretty much decided not to... I didn't know the protocol about that, but in general they say you're not supposed to call, and the last thing I want to do is become a pest.  But now, there was NO way I was going to let my manuscript arrive at their desks with possibly the wrong letter enclosed, and NOT let them know in advance.

So, heart-in-throat, I pick up the phone and call the editorial assistant.  I started off saying my name and was just about to launch into a (brief) explanation of who I was, when she said, "Oh yes!  You are writing Truck Stop!  How's the manuscript coming along?"  I think I broke my jaw dropping it on the floor.  She not only knew my NAME instantly, but the name of my manuscript!!!  And it had been four MONTHS since we'd talked!  Like .... Zowwies!  So I tell her that it's in the mail, she is excited for me, we chat a bit.  I confess about having been really nervous/flustered about sending out my first manuscript ever, and the possible mix-up with letters.  No problem.  I get off the phone feeling VERY good!

Time to call the agent.  I say my name and she says, "Oh yes.  You're writing about the truck stop, about the runaway girl and the truck driver..."  <gulp!>  It's been six weeks since we talked, and she spends her days (presumably) reading truckloads (no pun intended) of manuscripts!  Furthermore, I hadn't even sent her any chapters, all that I'd sent so far were the query letter and the synopsis!  And she REMEMBERS me, AND my story!!!!  oh, MY!

October 18, 2000 7 a.m.  The lovely, nice, darling agent calls :) :)  She's gotten my manuscript (already?! zowwies!) and the RIGHT letter was in the box!  Well, hallelujah! :)

So all's well that ends well... for the moment!  The agent said to give her at least a couple of weeks to get back to me, the editor at least a couple of months.

November 8, 2000 I still haven't heard from the agent, and it's been three weeks.  Despite what she said on the phone, I know that it can be two to three months before I hear anything.  On the other hand, she'd sounded so enthused about Truck Stop.  On the other hand (I'm going to run out of hands here real quick), she hadn't actually read any of my manuscript; just the synopsis, which is all that I'd sent with the query letter.  The way things seem to work, only good news comes via phone; the rejections come in the mail.  So maybe she did read my manuscript and didn't like it, and it's on it's slow way back to me via slow boat to China (aka fourth class mail, which used to be "book" but is now called "media" rate).  

Thinking very very hard, and really agonizing about it, I try to decide what to do. I finally revert to the old tried-and-true flip-the-quarter:  heads I wait, tails I contact the other agent who is waiting for the full manuscript (I've gotten form rejections from two of the other five I'd initially queried, and one still outstanding).  Tails.  So I call her (her secretary, actually) and tell her I've finished Truck Stop, are they still interested?   Yep.  Way cool! When I tell her that I have 50K words done to date on Dancer (see below), and hope to finish it this week, she says to include the first chapters of that as well.  Oops!  I've never done a synopsis on Dancer, I've been too busy writing it!  So I spent all morning printing out Truck Stop and writing up the synopsis for Dancer.  But, I got it all out in the mail today!  I figure it will be 2-3 months to hear from her, since it's a huge agency, and I'm sure that before then I'll hear from My First Choice... one way or the other!  <<<PLLEEEEZE let her like it!  please please please!!!>>>

December 22, 2000 Okay, this is dumb.  Really stupid of me.  I am definitely losing my mind.  RWA has started a new Special Recognition Program, RWA Pro, for writers who have finished their very first manuscript and *submitted it* (very important) to an editor or agent.  (no, this isn't the part that's stupid.... keep reading)  Anyway, the writer gets a pin from RWA, in recognition for having achieved a tremendous milestone (and it is!).  So, I called the first (my fav.) literary agent and asked her if she could send me a letter stating that she had received my full manuscript of Truck Stop, for me to send to RWA as part of the proof they require.  Noooo problem.  That was a couple of weeks ago.  I've been working really hard at two jobs, plus getting ready for Christmas, and my brain is shot.  Face it, I can hardly remember what I did yesterday, and in fact spent all day yesterday thinking it was Friday (it was Thursday).  Anyway, so yesterday I went out to the mail box, and there... <gasp!> is a letter from the agent.  Just a thin envelope.  Ah, heck!  She's sent the rejection letter first class (surely an acceptance wouldn't be just one sheet of letterhead) and the manuscripts are wending their way back at book rate.   <<<palpitations>>>  I rip into the envelope, and can see right away that there's only one teensy paragraph.  It's gotta be a rejection.  I knew it.  I just knew it.  Then I read the thing.  It's the letter that *I* had asked her to send, stating receipt of my manuscript, for me to send to RWA!!!!  do I feel REALLY dumb???? oh yeah!!!!!!  aaaarrrrgghhhhh! I swear, I'm my own worst enemy!
January 18, 2001 I have gotten both good news and bad news.  The bad news first... I got rejected by an agent... a "real" rejection, not a form letter that they probably didn't read past the query.  But what a rejection!  Okay, so she didn't like my premise.  (I'm still trying to figure that one out.)   But!  BUT!!!  She said: "There's no question of your ability.  I think you have a very fluid, commercial style which is remarkably polished and self-assured... I think your writing has a lot of commercial potential..." And then, she said if I hadn't found an agent by the time I finished another manuscript, she'd be happy to take a look at that!  Waaaay cool!  I've been more celebrating than feeling bad, LOL!  To top that off, some writers whom I'd asked about the rejection told me that this particular agency is top-of-the-line and rarely take beginning writers at all, that they frequently turn down *published* writers, so that I could pat myself on the back because she'd invited me to submit to them again... and Lisa Craig, a writer in Colorado, reassured me: "Sometimes this takes years of writing to generate a rejection letter of this quality!" One member of Desert Rose turned out to be a client of this particular agent, and said that agents don't have the time to make polite meaningless noises; if she invited me to submit something else, she *meant* it! So, taking heart from all this.... I will keep on submitting!
July 16, 2001 A mere two days before I left for the Romance Writers of American Annual Conference in New Orleans, I got a rejection letter from Silhouette on Truck Stop. I was less surprised than I was disappointed, but in fact I'd pretty much expected it, given Teri's age throughout 90% of the book, and so I didn't allow the rejection to diminish one jot of my enjoyment of my first conference! :)  Since it was "Bennett's Story" I wound up pitching at National, see the journal down under that title for the story of my pitches there, and how I came home with FOUR requests for the manuscript! :)
August 16, 2001 An ePublisher, SynergEbooks.com, contacted me on rosedog.com.  She'd seen my excerpt of Truck Stop there and invited me to submit to them.  After looking over their website and scrutinizing their excellent contract carefully (in marked contrast to the awful one I was offered by PublishAmerica), I decided to go for it, for various reasons of my own.
August 29, 2001 Truck Stop was accepted!  It would be out in October 2001 as an eBook, and it would also a bit later be available as POD (print-on-demand) paperback.  I started working with the cover artist on cover art, and also got a bio written up to the publisher, etc.  As it turned out, we used the cover art I'd had all along for my "inspirational" binder cover for Truck Stop... a picture of Kenworth's T-2000 truck, scanned from their catalog and used as cut-out letters in text art for the title.  I called all over the country a few times, before finally getting hold of someone from Kenworth's Public Affairs office, who had me send her the graphic, and then sent me approval to use it on the cover of my book!  I was so thrilled that they let me do this!  I put an acknowledgement to them in the book, and plan to send them a copy when it comes out in print!
October 9, 2001 "Truck Stop" was released on SynergEbooks' website.
October 19, 2001 My first serious set-back; I heard from the the very first reviewer I'd sent Truck Stop to, and she said (after having read it) that she wouldn't write a review because (for reasons which she stated but were less than clear), it wasn't acceptable as a romance.  Huh?  I gotta say, this shook me to my toes!  I was just about to send off the money to have an ad (with Rising Stars of Romance) published in Romantic Times Magazine, as well as a review, and if they felt the same way, they were going to not just write a pithy note back to me, but were going to publish their opinion for all the romance world to see!!!!  Still, I'm nothing if not stubborn, and I had committed to my course, and dangit! It IS a romance!! With MANY more butterflies than I'd have had otherwise, I went ahead and sent in the money and the manuscript for review.  
January 12, 2002 At 11 p.m. I logged onto the Romance-Central message board, to be greeted with:  "Allie's Book is in Romantic Times!!!"  Followed by a second message, that it'd been awarded FOUR STARS!!!  Ohmigosh!!!!  (Vindication with a vengeance!)  Waltzing upon the air, the rest of that day and the next was pretty much a bust ***laugh***  Would you believe it, though?  NOBODY that I knew was online when I got the news, it was too late to call my friends on the East Coast, and my mom and best friend in California weren't home!  Arrrrgh!!!  You can't believe how awful it is to get that kind of news, and have no one to share it with but five vastly indifferent felines. I did wake up my daughter to tell her, but all she did was mumble "Great," and pull the covers over her head.  Teenagers! 
February 17, 2002 I got the word... Truck Stop was released as a paperback!
March 7, 2002 My first paperback copies of Truck Stop arrived.  Christina and I went to the Outback Steak House for dinner to celebrate!  Yes, okay, I cried!  I admit it :)   It's hard to explain... I knew they were coming, I expected to be pleased and thrilled... I even knew just what they were going to look like (after all, I'd designed the cover myself).  But I was in no way prepared for what it actually felt like to open the box and see that first book cover gleaming at me.  Well, it just defies description... even for me!
March 2002 As an interesting aside, the owner of a soon-to-be-open website, Romance At Its Best, contacted me to see if I'd be interested in having a review of Truck Stop, and/or be interviewed for the website, which was opening April 12th.  Naturally I was thrilled *laugh*   However, a few hours later, I was even more thrilled when the owner, Jessica, emailed me again.  She said she had been to this webpage of mine, my diary/journal, and wanted to know if I'd be interested in having a monthly column for her website!  Wow!  How exciting! Anyway, so Allie's Novice Nook has come to be and my first column was on "Promoting Your Book."  I'm also their Spotlight Author for May :)
ArabianStarBar

     I've also journaled a bit while writing my second book, first entitled "Dancer" but ultimately changed to "SwanSong".. then the sequel to that
(2nd in a 4-part series in fact,), "Bennett's Story" which was later renamed "Castles in the Sand," and others...
you can read it HERE if you like!

Mostly now, I do my journaling or chatter on Facebook :)

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