Jan 25, 2012

Getting "The Call"

by Emmie Dark, brand-new LoveCat

One of the most common questions I’ve been asked since I got “the call,” apart from “where do you get your ideas” (C’mon, seriously? I thought authors were joking when they warned me about that.) is “tell us about your call.”

In romance writing circles, “the call” is talked about in awed, hushed tones usually reserved for religious conversion. And perhaps the two things do have something in common. It’s true that as a writer, “the call” will change your life forever.

So, my call story? I’m glad you asked...! But let me take this opportunity to also provide a few handy hints for those of you still waiting for the call—now that you know how important this story will become for you in your writing life.

My first handy hint is as simple as this:


Whatever time of day (or night).
Whatever you are doing at the time (with certain, obvious, exceptions).
Whatever the caller ID says.

Because I so nearly didn’t.

It was early. Well, 7.30am is early for me. And the phone said “Blocked number”. For me that’s usually a no-brainer—let it go through to the keeper.

But some kind fairy somewhere was looking out for me, because some unknown instinct made me pick up the phone and take the call. And there was a little crackle of static on the line. Just enough to make me realise it was a international call. A part of me—the more pragmatic part—said, “Great another telemarketer, just what you need before you’ve even had a cuppa.” Another part of me—the more sublimely hopeful part—said, “You never know, this might just be it!” And then giggled, because that’s what sublimely hopeful parts of you do.

The silently giggling part of me choked when my caller introduced herself and said she was calling from Harlequin.

The rest of me made a gurgling noise that eventually resolved itself into some kind of greeting and confirmation that I was, in fact, me.

My second handy hint: have a pen and paper nearby and take notes. Because there is not a chance in hell that you’ll remember any of the important information from that call. And there is quite a bit of important stuff that will get talked about. Things like revisions, deadlines, contracts and the like. You need a pen and paper handy and you need to write it all down—trust me.

My third and final handy hint: work out how you're going to celebrate, taking into account various times of day that YOUR call might arrive. Had it been 7.30pm there's no doubt champagne corks would have popped at my house. But at 7.30am? With a day's work ahead? That made celebrating a little more difficult. I wished I'd thought that through in advance and bought some celebratory chocolate chip muesli and hidden it in the cupboard.

It’s funny, when I used to imagine being a published author, I didn’t imagine book covers, or seeing my name on Amazon, or a cheque arriving in the mail. I imagined that phone call. I imagined hearing the words “we want to buy your book”—that was the little visualisation that helped encourage me.

Now that it’s happened, I have no idea if they were the words that were used. It was something to that effect, anyway. And it was just as awesome as I’d always imagined. There’s a reason “the call” is so revered in writing circles—because it’s totally as splendid, awe-inspiring, breath-taking and amazing as you think it will be.

My first book, a SuperRomance titled Cassie's Grand Plan will be out in March. Are you waiting for “the call”? What celebrations do you have planned? Or if you've already had the call, how did you celebrate? 


  1. Love your call story, Emmie. They're what we dream of for so long, aren't they? When mine came, my husband produced the expensive bottle of bubbles he'd secreted away in the back of the gardening shed and then in the beer fridge that morning. Unfortunately it was off so we resorted to a lesser brand but believe me, it still tasted like the world's best bubbly. You work so hard for this moment, nothing is going to spoil it.

  2. Hi Emmie - wonderful call story - something special to remember.
    When my agent called to tell me the news my hubby got the bottle of bubbles out of the fridge - which unfortunately had been in there for seven years in hope of being popped - but it was flat and not fit for consumption. Lucky he had a fresh bottle stashed in another fridge.
    Really looking forward to Cassie's Grand Plan - great post.

  3. Ahh, yes, the revered CALL story. :-) What a great tale yours made, Emmie! But a phone call at 7.30am? Wow, that's pretty amazing.

    Mine was an email which I stared at and reread over and over and over, and about 5 minutes later burst into tears with a "about bloody time!" attached to it! LOL

    Friends and I went to the pub that night to celebrate with a drink or two but in October last year I marked the occasion with a dragon tattoo on my forearm. A dragon that waited 17 years to be born! :-)

  4. Hi Emmie. Thanks for sharing your call story and tips. It's fantastic to read about the good news coming through. Like Kylie I got an email that I read very early in the morning and didn't quite believe. I kept going back through the day and rereading it. The phone chat with my editor a few days later finally convinced me it was real though. As for celebrations, you know I can't recall that first one? I do know that bubbles were involved though. I have a pact with a writing friend that we celebrate each acceptance with a long lunch somewhere near water. Fantastic! We're a little behind with the lunches so that gives us something to look forward to.

    I'm looking forward to reading your debut book.

  5. Sue and Helen so sad that your bubbly was off! But I'm glad you both still found a way to celebrate. I think this is another handy hint to add to the advice column -- make sure your bubbly stays fresh! :)

  6. Kylie, I can totally understand how there would be tears! I don't think I cried, but probably because I was too numbed with shock!

  7. Hi Annie -- I love that you have a tradition in place. I need to think of something like that -- at least I'm hoping there'll be more celebrations in my future!

  8. What a great call story and congrats! Thank goodness you listened to your inner voice and answered. I'm still waiting for my call -- I'm hoping to have a story to share in the not-too-distant future!

  9. Emmie, I just love Call stories! It's such a thrilling, mind-numbing time. So surreal.
    Like Kylie and Annie, I received an email. Which I simply stared at for five full minutes. I whipped off a couple of emails and unfortunately that was all the time I had to spend on it until 11pm that night.
    I sold in early December and I had a whole host of end of year school stuff to do and attend.
    When I came home, hours later, my inbox was overflowing with good wishes.
    I'm sure I cried.
    Congrats again, Emmie! Can't wait to read your debut!!!

  10. Good luck Alli! Look forward to hearing your story. Don't forget to keep the champagne fresh! :)

  11. Great story Robyn! Whether it's an email or a phone call, I'm sure the feelings are still the same and so overwhelming.

  12. Hi Emmie,
    Great call story! I've got no idea how I'd celebrate but bubbles would certainly be involved. Hearing about flat, expensive champagne is a bit discouraging though. In order to make sure the bottle is fresh I think I should drink the one in the fridge each time I submit a ms. and replace it with a fresh bottle against the possibility of 'the call'. What do you think?

  13. Louise, I think that's a fantastic strategy. I remember buying some v expensive bubbles when I made my first submission. I drank them when I shortly thereafter received my first rejection! I like your "drink and replace" approach...

  14. Emmie, I really enjoyed reading your call story! How exciting! Thank goodness you picked up that phone! And you have many more chances to celebrate--like on your debut day! I so look forward to reading Cassie's Grand Plan--congratulations again! (but you might have to break yourself of that picking-up-the-phone habit now, lest you're besieged with sales pitches)! :-)

  15. Good point Kathy! And I like your reminder about the celebrations to come -- I actually should go buy a bottle of bubbles to have in the fridge for when my author copies arrive -- seeing my book for the first time will definitely be a cause for celebration!

  16. Yes, yes, yes! Emmie, I completely relate to your tips! I nearly didn't answer the phone because I'd just dashed back to the house for something while I was burning off to prepare for the approaching fire season. So I'm there in all my ashy, sooty glory thinking will I or won't I... I did. I guess that kind fairy was looking out for me that day too!

    I remember shaking like a leaf and not remembering much of what was said! Gosh, and you had to go on to work afterwards! I am in awe!

    Congratulations, Emmie! It's a great CALL STORY!


  17. I had an email, and I didn't read it first - dh gets up before me in the mornings so he saw it and he came running up to the bedroom to tell me. Lovely way to get the news.

    Like many others, we celebrated with champagne that had been put aside. (I'd also had one aside for first submission and first request of a full ms!)

    Congrats on your call, Emmie! I can't wait to read Cassie's Grand Plan. :)

  18. Congratulations Emmie! It's a great call story and thanks for sharing!

    Wishing you many more such phone calls to come in future!

  19. Call stories are the best. I have no idea what I'd do. Knowing me, probably scream!!
    But I remember listening to Janet Evanovich tell hers, (from the cds, when she gave the keynote speech at one of the RWAmerica Conferences) - and even after all the books and the massive success of the Stephanie Plums and being a superstar, she still broke down remembering the day years and years ago, after all those years of writing, when her husband told her "Your editor just called." Gorgeous.

  20. Thanks so much for sharing your story! I'll be sure and pick up a celebratory muesli!

  21. Thanks for sharing, Emmie. Living vicariously through others call stories while waiting for my own :)

    Not sure what I will do to celebrate, nothing planned at the moment. Guess it will be a spur of the moment thing - but I don't think it matters. Getting the call will be enough.

  22. Hey Sharon -- glad to hear I wasn't the only one who almost missed out!

  23. Thanks Rachel. I'm starting to think now that I was robbed of a certain amount of bubbles... might have to make up for that!

  24. Thanks Romance Reader and Jo -- I think, like Janet's experience, every call would be a milestone. My second book was via email (again in the morning) but it was still just as exciting.

  25. Julia, I think celebratory muesli was an excellent little idea of mine. I might have to market some!

  26. Good luck Anita. Fingers crossed we'll be hearing your story soon.

  27. Hi Emmie

    I love your call story - and can't wait to be able to share mine with you. I'm still waiting, so your blog was extremely useful.

    I like Louise's idea of never letting the bubbly get old. And your idea of keeping a continual stash of chocolate something in the house.

    Whatever I do, I'm sure it will involve lots of screaming, phone calls to family and friends, bubbles and good food.

    Can't wait to read Cassie's Grand Plan!


  28. Hi Emmie,
    I never get tired of hearing your call story. One thing, have you never heard of champagne breakfasts? They were huge in the 70s ;-P
    I have ordered Cassie's Grand Plan and can't wait to receive it so you can sign it for me!!

  29. Hi Emmie,
    Wonderful call story. I agree with Serena. Used to be a lot of champagne breakfasts around a few years ago.Can't wait to read Cassie's Grand Plan.



  30. Great call story, Emmie! I have no idea how you managed to go straight to work! My call story was really in two parts - the first when I found out I won New Voices (via Facebook!) and the second when my editor emailed me to say my book had been accepted, and they wanted my next one, too. Unfortunately I received both that email, and the subsequent phone call a few days later, while I was visiting my grandparents in hospital. So, standing in a hospital corridor I was quite subdued, and my grandfather died a few hours after my editor called. Not what I imagined in the many years of visualising my call, but I'm so glad I got to tell my grandfather before he passed away.

  31. What a gorgeous call story, Emmie. I received the call at 11:30 on a Monday night and was, amazingly, still up. I made the DH answer, though, as the only person who ever rings that late is a friend of his. He held the phone out to me and said, "It's Bryony Green from Mills & Boon." My heart stopped. I sat on the step by the phone and grinned like a loon when she said she wanted to buy my book. I don't remember too much after that. :-) Except I hardly slept a wink all night. *Happy sigh*

  32. Fab call story - you know how thrilled I was when you got "the call".

    Celebtrating with bubbles is the way to go, and as Serena said - how about a champers breakfast?!

    Well done - can't wait to see Cassie in print :)

  33. Great call story. Congratulations!

  34. Sorry it's taken me a while to get here and comment! Such a fab call story, and so true. You never know when an editor might call.

    Unfortunately when I received "the call" I was pregnant so couldn't celebrate with all the champagne I wanted to ... although I did break my otherwise strict no-drinking-while-pregnant to sip about a third of a glass of bubbly :)

    Enjoy receiving your first book in the mail!


  35. Emmie - I remember getting your email while I was at the RWA National Conference in NYC. I was at the bar with the GIAM crew and I checked my phone. I read your message telling me you had sold and I started crying and freaking everyone out.

    When I explained what had made me act like a crazy woman we all got another drink and toasted you. So, you see . . . someone was having drinks for your moment! ; )

    Enjoy every moment, my friend.