Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Book That Almost Wasn't

And it's PARTY time (cue streamers, confetti, and strippers here)!  Greetings, all!  This is Leslie McKelvey, checking in for the Party Pavilion.  The blog tour for my debut novel, Accidental Affair, begins tomorrow (February 4th) with Goddess Fish, so this is like a pre-blog-tour blog...if that makes any sense.  Where is the champagne...?

Accidental Affair is the book that almost wasn't...literally.  On Sunday, August 1, 2010, my hubby left for a task force assignment with the Department of Justice, return date unknown.  Being alone with three boys was nothing new (cops wives are accustomed to taking care of it ALL), but when I woke up on August 2nd I had NO idea the storm that was about to hit.

It was about ten a.m. when my middle son, Daniel, came screaming in the front door, crying.  Mom immediately went on alert and since David, the youngest, wasn’t with his brother, I just knew something had happened to him.

“David says he broke his leg,” Daniel cried.

I immediately grabbed my keys, left my purse, and screeched out of the driveway, following Daniel’s directions.  I came around a corner and saw David lying in the middle of the street, and I could hear him screaming from inside the van.  Every mother knows that sound.  I stopped the van and jumped out.

As I am kneeling on the ground, in the middle of the street, a police cruiser drove by.  I tried to flag the officer down, but evidently my frantic waving was seen as a friendly gesture and not a call for help.  The officer waved back and kept right on rolling.  Seriously?  I cursed the cop under my breath, scooped David up, and set a new land-speed record getting to the local hospital.

Long story short, David had broken his femur.  He was transported from the local hospital by ambulance to Children's Hospital in Oakland, CA, where he underwent surgery the following morning to insert two titanium rods into his leg (I wonder if he’ll set off airport metal detectors?  Might be worth the airline ticket price to find out..heehee....).  David and I then spent the rest of the week living in the hospital.  When he was discharged on Friday, August 6th, I took him home and the long process of rehabilitation began.

How does all this lead up to the book that almost wasn't, you ask?  Well, during the months of June and July 2010, I immersed myself in a submission blitz with the hope of finally getting a contract (I’d actually been trying to attract a publisher since my mid 20s, but that’s a story for another day).  Up until that point I received nothing but rejection letters.  Now, for those unfamiliar with the process, an author will submit the first 30 pages (this varies from publisher to publisher) of a manuscript to a publisher, along with a cover letter, a synopsis, and a self-addressed-stamped-envelope so the publisher can return your 30 pages to you.  Believe me it’s cheaper than reprinting the same 30 pages over and over.

Anyway, the day I got home from the hospital with David, I made a trip to our private mailbox to pick up the past week’s mail.  In that mail was a 9X12 white envelope from Black Velvet Seductions (BVS) Publishing.  I took one look at it, rolled my eyes, and tossed it on my desk.  “Another rejection.  Great.  Can this week get any worse?”

More than a week went by before I touched that envelope again.  It sat there on my desk, mocking me, pouring salt on the wound, whispering in my ear that I was a crappy writer and might as well give up now.  With a heavy sigh, I sat down and opened it, bracing for the traditional form rejection letter and hoping that perhaps I had at least received some constructive criticism.  Just as the letter opener sliced through the thick, white paper I had an epiphany.  I hadn’t submitted a hard copy of my manuscript to BVS.  I had submitted to BVS electronically via e-mail with the full manuscript as an attachment.  My hand froze, my heart stopped, I couldn’t breathe, and for a second the world stopped moving.

“It can’t be,” I thought.  “No freaking way.”

Swallowing the frog that had moved into my throat, uninvited I might add, I removed the contents of the envelope. 

Dear Leslie Wirtley:

Thank you for thinking of Black Velvet Seductions as a possible home for Accidental Affair.  I have reviewed the manuscript and am pleased to be able to offer you a contract for publication....


I sat there staring at that cover letter for almost five minutes, a million thoughts spinning in my head.  Had my mood been one iota worse the day I’d picked up that mail, my publishing contract would’ve gone straight into the recycle bin.  I would never have known someone thought my writing was good enough to publish.  So many “what-ifs” went through my mind.  Then, I heard a little whisper, not in my ear, but in my heart, and I truly believe it was God.

"After the past couple of weeks, did you really think I’d do that to you?"

God is so good.

The moral of the story?  Never, ever stop trying.  When you hit that bottom, real or imagined, it just means you have nowhere to go but up.

Stick around for excerpts from Accidental AffairTo celebrate its release I'll be giving away an autographed paperback copy to someone who comments on one of my posts.


Debby said...

Great story. I know how tough it is as my daughter was once in the hospital for six weeks.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Leslie McKelvey said...

Wow, Debby! I don't know if I could handle that. The one week was enough to last me a lifetime! Hope your daughter is okay. :)

Catherine Lee said...

Champagne makes blog tours much better...and is a great way to celebrate a debut. Congratulations!
catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

Leslie McKelvey said...

Thanks, Catherine Lee! Next time I will make sure to have a bottle of bubbly on hand!