Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Guest Blog - Perseverance by Hope Ramsay

Today, we're delighted to have Hope Ramsay as our guest. Sharing her story should bring both wisdom and encouragement to all authors. (We also thank her for the nice things she says about our agency!) Here's Hope . . .

This September, a dream came true for me with the publication of Home at Last Chance.

No, this book was not my first published work. And the book didn't win the Golden Heart in 2010, when it finaled in that contest. Nor was it the full manuscript that sold the Last Chance series.

But it was the book I believed in. Even when no one else did.

See, the original first chapter for this book was finished on April 4, 2001. I can pinpoint the date because that first draft still sits on my hard drive.

The first version of this book, originally entitled Rules of the Road was finished in 2004, and garnered me an agent, who worked diligently throughout 2005 and part of 2006 to sell this book. While she pitched editors I wrote another story featuring Tulane's older brother, Clay, that came to be known as Welcome to Last Chance.

Alas, Rules of the Road was rejected by just about every editor under the sun. The lack of enthusiasm for this book even carried over to the sequel. My agent explained, gently, that in 2006 editors weren't looking for romantic comedy, NASCAR set stories, or any kind of contemporary romance set in a small Southern town. Urban fantasy was in. If you didn't have a vampire you were not cool.

So, for three years, Rules of the Road, Welcome to Last Chance, and a third, earlier book entitled For Love or Money, languished on my hard drive while I wrote a couple of very long classic fantasies. Then, in 2009, in an act of utter desperation, I did two things: 1) I entered Rules of the Road in the Amazon Breakthrough Contest, and 2) I entered For Love or Money in the Golden Heart. To my utter astonishment Tulane's story made it into the final 100 entries of the Amazon contest. And then For Love or Money finaled in the Golden Heart.

Those contest results didn't directly lead to immediate success, but they convinced me to dust off those Rhodes Family manuscripts and seriously pitch them. So one day in April 2009 I sat down across a table from Elaine English and pitched Last Chance for the first time in years.

I was pretty sure that no agent would want this series, which had been so soundly rejected over the years. But Elaine surprised and reassured me. She asked to see them all.

And to my utter astonishment, she agreed to represent me. Then she turned her crew of readers lose on my manuscripts, and she and her readers gave me a road map for some serious edits that turned two of these books into part of the four book proposal that she shopped around in late 2009.

And then, in early 2010, nine years after I wrote the first draft of the first chapter of Tulane' s story, Forever Romance bought the book. And just a few weeks ago, I walked into Barnes and Noble and saw the book sitting right out front.

That was, without question, the most gratifying moment of my very short writing career.

Thank you Elaine. Thank you Forever Romance. This story of a good ol' boy in a pink car has always been near and dear to my heart. It took a long, long time to write and to sell. I had to rewrite it at least a dozen times. And yet, the first chapter, featuring Sarah and Tulane on an airplane, has changed almost not at all since it was first written down ten years ago.

This, I think, is a classic example of perseverance. If you have story that you believe in, never, never, never give up on it. One day you might sit down across a small table from someone and talk about that book, and suddenly, you'll find an ally who believes in it as much as you do.

And the rest will be history.


Hope Ramsay said...

One last addendum to this story -- today, about 30 minutes ago -- I plunked down $40 and entered Home at Last Chance in the Rita. It was such a thrill to enter this book. I don't expect to final, but just having the opportunity to enter it was very exciting.

Loree Huebner said...

Encouraging and inspirational post to keep seekeing the dream.

Judith Ellis said...

Thank you for this blog. It's quite encouraging. This famous quote came to mind:

“Never, never, never, never give up.”

--Winston Churchill

And, Congratulations.