Kathleen here. It’s been many years since I heard my name announced as the winner of RWA’s Golden Heart Award for unpublished writers, but I can still feel the excitement when I recall that moment. I’ve invited two 2010 GH winners–both members of Midwest Fiction Writers, my local RWA chapter–to share their experiences. Next week you’ll meet Lizbeth Selvig, winner in the Best Contemporary Single Title category.
Now meet Cat Schield, recipient of the Golden Heart for Best Contemporary Series Romance, whose HEA story is only the beginning…
I’m very excited to be wi th you today to talk about my journey to publication. In my mind, it’s a lot like sailing. Both can be fun. Both can be scary. You get bruised. You can’t control the wind or the publishing industry. You can only adjust your sails or what you are writing to take advantage of the environment.
Rarely can you get directly from point A to point B. Both journeys might require a series of direction changes in order to draw ever closer to your goal. Most of the time, long periods go by where nothing appears to be happening, but you’re making headway. Interspersed with the waiting are short burst of frantic activity when you change the boat’s direction or do a quick polish on that requested manuscript.
Why am I making this comparison? Because if it wasn’t for sailing, I never would have sold my first book.
In 2006 a sailing buddy of mine, Erik Westgard, pestered me to write an article on our sailing adventure in the British Virgin Islands. He’d been writing for magazines for years, but had his eye on the glossy pages of International Yacht Charters and Vacations. To my shock, they chose my article for their June 2006 issue. I was going to be published.
Despite having tried and failed to sell a book at various times over the previous two decades, this pub credit gave me reason to believe in my chances of become a published author. My voice had matured. My dedication had ballooned. This time around I was going to sell or die trying.
I knew contests were a good way to get feedback and bypass the slush pile. In the fall of 2006 I’d finished two manuscripts and started entering them in contests. A lot of contests. To my delight, I made the finals in the the first two contests I entered. I was on my way. Or not. The next few gave me some eye opening feedback. Undaunted, I fixed my problems and got my first request for a full in the summer of 2007. And my first rejection. Slow pacing and not enough conflict.
I began to study craft and revise. More contests gave me more feedback and more full requests. Late 2008, after receiving great feedback on all my rejections letters, I got a form rejection. At a loss for how to move forward, I decided a change of genre was in order. So, I started writing YA. But I never lost my dream of selling to Silhouette Desire.
When I pitched to Kevan Lyon at the 2009 Nationals, I had a book at Harlequin and a two time requested manuscript I’d never submitted. She looked at both. And signed me. The editor who’d asked to see A Case of Meddling, my Silhouette Desire targeted book, had left by this time, but the new associate editor was happy to take a look. And to provide revision notes three weeks later. Believing this might be the one, I quickly turned around a revised manuscript.
To keep myself distracted while I waited to hear something, I entered the Golden Heart. In the past I hadn’t had much luck, but this year proved different. Of the two manuscripts I entered, I thought A Case of Meddling had the best shot. I was wrong. The book that finaled was Fake Fiancee, Real Love. And to my shock, it went on to win the Golden Heart for series contemporary romance.
A month later, Kevan called to tell me we had an offer. A Case of Meddling will hit the shelves as a Silhouette Desire in July 2011. Dreams do come true. Sometimes you just have to be patient and believe.
Cat Schield lives in Minnesota with her daughter, Emily, and their Burmese cat. Winner of the Romance Writers of America 2010 Golden Heart® for series contemporary romance, when she’s not writing sexy, romantic stories for Silhouette Desire, she can be found sailing with friends on the St. Croix River or more exotic locales like the Caribbean and Europe. Contact her at www.catschield.com.