First Sale…Interview with Joanne Rock

by Cheryl Mansfield

Q: Please share with your TARA sisters the details about your first sale. What day or time? Were you expecting “The Call?” What will you always remember about it? Are there any other details we can variously share with you? How long have you been writing? How many manuscripts did you complete?

A: Thursday, January 25th – 12:35 pm. I was not expecting The Call that day, but I knew my manuscript had been passed up to the Senior Editor at Harlequin Temptation and I was hopeful it might come within the next few weeks. Brenda Chin about knocked my socks off when she called to deliver the news herself. My voice reached the octaves that only dogs can hear when I squealed my joy to the world.

I’ve been writing for five years—quite intensely for the last three years. LEARNING CURVES is my seventh completed manuscript, but it’s only my second short contemporary. Before I targeted Temptation, I wrote medievals and one medieval paranormal.

LEARNING CURVES has been an exciting book for me from its inception. I pitched the story concept to Brenda at Nationals this summer, and I got great feedback from her before I even started writing. I’d never received editorial input on the front end of a manuscript before, and it was much more fun than receiving advice via rejection letter! Enthused that I understood what Brenda was looking for, I came home and wrote the synopsis in a rush of post-conference adrenaline.

The story got set aside as I worked on other projects that summer, but when I noticed the deadline for the Harlequin Blaze contest approaching, I decided to write the love scene for my story and submit it to the contest. My entry tied for second place in the unpublished division, warranting a call from Toronto and a request for the full manuscript. As I hung up the telephone that day, I vowed this would not be the last time an editor called me! Energized to write a book that would sell, I ignored the rest of the world, finished the manuscript and submitted it.

The sense of validation upon selling the book was every bit as wonderful as I’d dreamed it would be! The cheers from my writing peers kept my phone ringing and my e-mail box overflowing for days. One nice thing about having struggled at this for five years is that I’ve had the opportunity to meet lots of supportive writers in RWA. While my family was happy and proud, no one appreciated my accomplishment as fully as my writing pals. I saved and printed every last e-mail I received, and I’ve got a great scrapbook started for my writing career!

Cheryl Mansfield has been a TARA member since 1996. This article was first reprinted in “The Scarlett Letter” Tampa Area Romance Authors, March 2001.

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