Be Warned: These are the scribblings of a writer unruly, unsupervised, and largely unrepentant

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Call

            I vividly remember the sunny day when I got "The Call". To anyone who has ever submitted a manuscript to a literary agent or a publisher, "The Call" means that long-yearned for phone call with the offer of a contract and an advance.

            At that point in my life as a writer I had suffered countless rejections, my hopes had been puffed up and then flattened more times than my bed pillows. To top it all off, I had just parted company with an agent who had gamely tried to sell my work to the "big" publishers for eighteen months, with no luck. I came close- I made it to the dartboard a few times, but never to the bulls eye.

            Then, out on my own again and determined not to be defeated, I began looking at publishers who accepted submissions from lowly, unagented writers. On December 9th, 2010, I sent a query to Sourcebooks.  I was advised fairly soon that they would like to read my full manuscript of "A Fallen Woman." In January, as we were all recovering from the usual over-indulgences of the season, they contacted  me again. I was asked to make some revisions and resubmit.

            And then I waited. I'd been here before— so I had learned not to get my hopes up. Meh. I feigned elaborate indifference as the days ticked by with no rejection appearing in my inbox. Of course, in the meantime, I continued sending my work out to other agents and willing publishers. The weeks passed into months.

            One day I had an email from Aubrey Poole, an editor at Sourcebooks. She liked my revisions and wanted to take "A Fallen Woman" to her acquisitions board, but first she needed to know if I had any other book ideas she could make into a series proposal.

            Did I?

            I had more ideas than I knew what to do with! More ideas than she could shake a stick at!

            So I typed up a series proposal and sent it in.

            Eventually, on March the 7th 2011, I checked  my email and there was a message from Aubrey. I almost daren't click on it to read the sad rejection I was surely about to get.

            But with a quaking heart, I clicked. And I read. How bad could it be?

            Aubrey Poole... wanted to know... when would be a... good time... to call me. Say what?! I read it several times before it sank in. I believe I walked out of my office to get another cup of coffee before I came back to read it yet again, as if I thought the message might mysteriously change into a form rejection while I was gone. Hey, one can never be too careful! Never too sure.

            When would be a good time?? Er...let me think about it...ANYTIME! It had, after all, been ten years since I started my mission to be published.

            So I sat on my bed in a warm patch of early Spring sunlight and talked to a real live editor, in person, for the first time. I felt as if I was ten years old. I don't remember what I said, but I suspect I giggled like a fool. I do remember every word she told me. Aubrey thought my book was wonderful and the acquisition board loved the series idea I had built around the fictional village of Sydney Dovedale. They wanted to offer me a three book deal with an advance.

            That same day, Aubrey emailed me the offer memo and then the contract, which was duly signed by my trembling, sweaty hand.

            All those years of struggle had finally paid off.

            The three book deal became a four book deal and then Aubrey asked me for a second series proposal which I got to work on immediately.

            I have to admit, over the years leading up to that contract, there were times when I came close to giving up. Rejections are never easy, but I started getting used to them with a dull, weary sort of acceptance. So used to them, in fact, that I began to wonder what I thought I was doing spending so much of my time typing away at a computer— typing stories no one would ever read. But I couldn't stop doing it.

            I think my family felt so sorry for me that they stopped asking about "that book" I was writing.

            But the ideas were always there, characters chattering away to me at all hours. They had to come out somehow.

            Thankfully, other people finally get to read their stories now too.

            "A Fallen Woman" was considered too serious for the title of my book, by the way, and after some discussion it was renamed "The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine". It was released online and in all good bookstores in June 2012. So that was my journey.

            And that's how Jayne Fresina finally got to see her books on a real store shelf!


The Sydney Dovedale Series (published by Sourcebooks Casablanca) includes:

The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine

The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne

Lady Mercy Danforthe Flirts with Scandal

Miss Molly Robbins Designs a Seduction


My first book signing at Barnes and Noble. Girly flowers courtesy of my sister.

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