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I sold my first book during the summer
I was between my second and third years of law school, and I was desperate to find another profession. The law, I had discovered, was not for me. A year earlier, I had written the first three chapters of a historical romance called The Pirates Woman, gotten discouraged, and hidden them away in an old trunk. Daring to dream, I unearthed those chapters, armed myself with a copy of The Writers Market, and sent those fifty pages out into the publishing world. A few weeks later I got a letter in the mail: Jane Thornton at Belmont-Tower (now Leisure) loved the partial (partial? I didnt even know what that meant!) and wanted to see the rest of the book.
Wow! Yippee! Great! Wonderful! Uh, except there was no rest of the book. There were 50 pages, no more, no less. Oh my God, I thought, here was my Big Chance and I was going to blow it! If I didnt send them another 450 pages immediately, they might change their minds! The editor might leave! All kinds of things could happen! It had taken me three months to write those first fifty pages. How long was it going to take me to write another 450?
I rushed right out and rented an IBM Selectric typewriter. (This was way pre-computer.) My little non-electric portable was not, I feared, up to the task. Installing the typewriter on an old kitchen table dragged into the empty spare bedroom of our apartment, I went to work. I wrote from seven am, when my husband (same husband, after all these years, by the way) left for work until long after the sun went down. I took bathroom breaks, meal breaks and feed-the-cat breaks. Otherwise, I never left that room. I wrote until my eyes crossed, my fingers went numb and my back ached. I was, and am, a lousy typist, so every time Id make a mistakeand I made lots of
mistakesI would snatch the paper from the machine, wad it up and throw it over my shoulder.
After a few weeks, the room was filled with wadded up balls of paper higher than my ear, and the only clear space was a narrow path from the door to my chair. Since they no longer saw me, I think the neighbors started to suspect that my husband had done away with me. Toward the end they were hanging around the apartment at odd hours, peeping in the windows. The landlord even came by to make sure that, as he put it, everything was all right.
At the end of six weeks, I had finished the book. I mailed the 500-page manuscript off to the publisher, and I waited, and I prayed. I wanted that book to be published more than
I had ever wanted anything in my life. Being a published writer was a dream I had almost never dared to dream. Certainly I thought that it was a dream that was too big to come true.
Three weeks later, I received a letter from Belmont-Tower. When I saw the return address, I could hardly open the envelope, I was so nervous. Inside was a note from Jane Thorntonand a contract. They wanted to buy my book.
That book became Island Flame, published by Leisure in 1981. Since then, Ive written 24 books. My latest, a romantic suspense titled GHOST MOON, will hit the bookstores in February of 2000.
So whats the moral to my story? Dreams do come true. It happened to me, and it can happen to you.
Karen Robards GHOST MOON was a top pick in our Valentines issue. Fans can write to Karen c/o Delacorte, 1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036.
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