We never forget our first time. Last Monday started like any other Monday. I lumbered up to my office, Shakespeare Insults coffee cup in hand. I reserved this particular cup for mornings when I’m feeling extra surly. I read one aloud and cackled. “Mountain of mad flesh” always got me. Like I said, I’m not a morning person. Our cat, Madge, lay curled in my chair, as usual. I set him (yes, him—don’t ask) on the floor and like every other day, he scratched his way up my ancient chair and perched on top of it, ready to be my headrest.
I powered up my computer. Plan for the day: work on the rough draft of my WIP/PYM, read some notes on plotting, and plot. I turned on some music. The soundtrack from The Vikings, by Trevor Morris seemed fitting for my current mood. I decided to write out of sequence, to start wherever my mood took me. I used a different color of ink, to remind myself later that it was out of sequence, plus wrote in capital letters, “OUT OF SEQUENCE.” If that wouldn’t catch my attention later, nothing would. Madge got irritated with being my headrest and moved over to upset my research file.
My method turned out to be pretty successful, and by early afternoon I got 2000 words down. It wasn’t pretty, but it was progress. Then I got to thinking about my submission to TWRP—I had returned it to the editor and waited for its return around May 1.
Every few weeks or so since I submitted it, I followed a completely useless worry thread that went something like this: “what if I didn’t actually send the manuscript?” Or even better, “what if I sent the wrong version of the manuscript?” All of this was ridiculous and I knew it. I checked my email and my “sent” file for reassurance and turned on something a little more upbeat. Basia’s original lyrics and rhythmic optimism always distract me from my worry threads.
A short time later, I took a break to clean my pool, surprised to find a snapping turtle enjoying the ambience. That was a first. Was it a sign? As I fished him out, I heard my email notification go off, the one I kept strictly for editors. I eased the turtle on his way and ran into the house. I opened the email and read the words I’d been hoping to hear: “I’d like to offer you a contract.”
I am an emotionally stable person as a rule. I seldom cry. I let things roll off my back. But for the next two days I experienced a bona fide emotional hootenanny. I yelled to hubby, “I’ve got one! I got it, I . . . I. . . I . . . holy crap! I’ve got a contract!”
“What does it say, what does it say?”
“I don’t know. I gotta read the rest.”
In the midst of crying and laughing at the same time, which I’m sure I’ve never done before, I read the rest of the email to myself, and then to my husband.
I composed myself long enough to respond to my editor with a resounding, “yes, yes, a thousand times yes!” (Well, not really in Jane Austin’s words, but my sentiments exactly.) Then I gave in to my out-of-body experience. I spent a few hours savoring the feeling, turned on Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” and danced, cried and laughed at the same time. Then I started making phone calls to my family.
My life change didn’t seem truly real until I received the signed contract back from TWRP on Saturday night. This was really happening! I got my first set of edits the next day, and I can’t keep that song, “Happy” out of my head.
You see, it’s more than a dance of happiness. It’s a dance of gratitude, for my fellow members of SSRA, whose collective enthusiasm and support never fail to buoy me.
The idea for the sequel that we brainstormed at the last Pro-Be meeting is now part of my contract. Little did I know two weeks later, I’d be telling an editor about my sequel idea. I offer a special thank you to for the leadership and experienced published authors who are so generous with their knowledge, time, and energy, pouring over manuscripts, throwing brilliant plot ideas out for grabs, and making us rework those pitches until they sparkle. I couldn’t have done this without SSRA and RWA. I’ll never stop being thankful for my fellow members.
For all of you working so hard to make a connection and get that contract, never doubt for a minute that you can do it. Keep those words dancing on your pages and never give up. You’ll be next.
She spent her childhood running wild on an Idaho mountainside. Although she’s lived across the U.S., she is still an Idahoan at heart and a notorious potato pusher. She has a degree in Human Services and worked as a roofer, a hoofer, a computer data entry operator and a stay-at-home mom.
Music has ruled Jennifer’s world since birth. She shimmied out of the womb with a bad case of Boogie Fever, but soon fell in love with the lyrics, how the words fit together perfectly like a jigsaw puzzle. Jennifer has dreamt of writing romances since reading Wuthering Heights at the tender age of twelve, and now lives that dream, using music on a daily basis to uplift and inspire her writing. It’s no coincidence that Ian, the hero in Mercy of the Moon, uses music to win heroine Maggie’s heart.
She lives in rural Florida with her husband and Great Dane puppy, and enjoys frequent visits from her three grandchildren and three grown children. She feverishly lobbies for the return of breeches and would really love to see her husband of thirty-five years in a pair. Jennifer can be found online at: JenniferTaylorWrites.com