29 August 2021

Katrina, Ida, and a golden day in my personal history

The 29th of September, 2005, is a rare day in my personal life, which I shall never forget. Sixteen years ago, I was listening to the Weather Channel and watching a monster hurricane, Katrina, make landfall in Louisiana.  So clearly, this is brought to mind as I am now watching another hurricane, Ida, historically land on the very same day all these years later.  In 2005, Katrina was already sending heavy rains to our area—over a thousand miles away.  Where we lived (in the house that burnt down) we had a creek on either side of us.  Neither were more than a dip in the landscape, and were generally bone dry in the summer.  However, when heavy rains came, they could flash flood, and were suddenly rapidly moving mini rivers, and their width and depth could block us from getting out.  My hubby suggested we go to the store and stock up before that happened.  So, Mackintoshes on, we went out in the heavy downpour to shop.

While the day lives on for many because of the memories of Katrina, for me it was one that would impact my life with a force just as powerful.   A life altering event—it was the day I got The Call.  When I came in from shopping, I was nearly soaked in spite of the rain slicker, for the blowing storm was so heavy.  Going into the study, I noticed the light on the answering machine blinking.  I flipped on play, figuring it was just another sales pitch for something I didn’t want or need. Instead, I heard the sparkling voice of Hilary Sares, editor at Kensington Books, saying please call her because she wanted to buy my novel. 

As you can imagine my world was shaken with the impact of the raging Katrina!  I had been trying to sell my historical novels, and I felt like I was battling the world to get it done.  I had entered quite a few RWA contests in preparation—won several, finaled in more.  Only, I had people telling me Scottish books were done, over with, that no one was buying them anymore.  I had one author, who had close to thirty books out, tell me it was sad I was winning so many contests because no editor would buy it.  How discouraging!

So for a couple moments, I almost thought someone was playing a joke on me.  I sat down and copied the phone number on my pad.  Then, I googled Kensington Books.  The number seemed legit. So I called.  And to my surprise, I was put through to Hilary Sares.  And yes, she wanted to buy my book, Challon’s Lady.

My dream come true!  They say selling to a traditional publisher is on par with winning a lottery.  I, who was never lucky at anything, just hit that magical event.  After a year of trying, I sent the package to Hilary on a Friday afternoon.  I had been tracking what she bought for Kensington, and had a feeling she would love my tale of Julian and Tamlyn.  The outline and first chapters had landed on her desk Monday morning, first thing (thank you, US mail, for actually delivering it so fast), and within hours she was calling.

That lovely lady changed my life.  She took me from a nervous writer to author.  She gave me a brand that sells worldwide, and is translated in a dozen different languages.  So, I wish to thank the pretty lady, who loves to dance and push “virgins” to jump into volcanos, and for seeing in the talent in me, for giving me that golden moment of opening the huge box of author’s copies and holding my own book.  I cannot thank you enough.

Challon’s Lady was published nine months later as A Restless Knight.

original Kensington cover

Brazilian translation cover 

German cover and Japanese cover

Current cover

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