Please welcome the inspiring Cathryn Hein, fellow Penguin author and horse nut. She shares her publication story with us, reinforcing the notion that we make our own luck. I must admit that these behind the scenes accounts of the publishing process are my absolute favourites! So … over to Cathryn.
Thanks, Jennifer, for inviting me onto your blog. I’m delighted to be here and having a lovely time catching up on your Ireland posts. What a wonderful experience! But rummaging around I also discovered the series you wrote revealing your journey to publication and that started me thinking about my own, and how far I’ve come since then. It’s funny how things come about. I used to think that my case involved a fair bit of dumb luck but, looking back, I can see that I made a good portion of that luck, or at least snatched an opportunity when it came my way.
Skip back to 2010 and I’d been writing seriously, with a view to publication, since mid 2005. I’d completed 6 (or was it 7?) full manuscripts, a couple of novellas, gawd knows how many short stories and, as is the wannabe writer’s lot, collected plenty of rejections along the way. But I’d dreamed of being a writer since I was young and I wasn’t about to stop. Plus I was getting closer, I could sense it.
In May, Karly Lane (whose book North StarI adored and Morgan’s Law is on my to-be-read pile) posted on a Romance Writers of Australia loop that she’d been contacted by an editor from Penguin Australia who’d seen one of her booktrailers and wondered if Karly had any more rural romances up her sleeve. My ears immediately pricked. An editor on the hunt for rural romance, my genre? Not a chance in hell I’d let that slide, so I emailed Karly and she kindly passed me the name of the editor.
Off went a snail mail submission to Penguin containing a rural romance that had received a bit of interest elsewhere, and for which I still harboured high hopes. A couple of months later an email bounced back saying thanks, but the book had too narrow a focus and didn’t quite fit what they were after. Armed with a better idea of what Penguin might be seeking, I shot back an email pitching Promises and asked if they’d be interested seeing it. They would. Off whooshed the synopsis and three chapters. That afternoon I had a reply from another editor, Belinda Byrne, who read it, loved it, and wanted the rest. It all sounded very promising but I’d been through this before with other manuscripts and publishers, and knew not to get my hopes up.
About a week or so after this was the Romance Writers of Australia conference where I was fortunate enough to meet and chat with Belinda about the book and my writing and I was left with a hopeful buzz of excitement. A buzz that turned electric when, one Thursday after the conference, I received a phone call from Belinda advising me she was taking Promises to Penguin’s acquisitions meeting the following Monday. I spent an entire day in disbelief, dazedly working on another manuscript, before finally realising it might be a bright idea to secure an agent. Multiple phone calls and emails later, followed by more phone calls and discussions across the weekend, I signed with Clare Forster of Curtis Brown Australia, my dream agent. Monday morning the phone rang. It was Belinda. Penguin wanted to offer on Promises. After all those years, all those words and books, all those false hopes and rejections, it had finally happened. I was to become a published author.
Now, two years later, I have two published novels and I’m close to handing in my third contracted rural romance. It’s been a learning curve, to say the least, with plenty of doubts and joys to add spice to the journey, but every moment has been worth it. My stories are on the shelves, the teenage dream reached. Luck or not it doesn’t matter. I made it.
Thank you so much Cathryn, for sharing your fascinating story with us. For those who haven’t yet read Cathryn’s latest novel. Heart of the Valley, you’re in for a real treat!
Brooke Kingston is smart, capable and strongwilled some might even say stubborn and lives in the beautiful Hunter Valley on her family property. More at home on horseback than in heels, her life revolves around her beloved ‘boys’ showjumpers Poddy, Oddy and Sod.
Then a tragic accident leaves Brooke a mess. Newcomer Lachie Cambridge is hired to manage the farm, and Brooke finds herself out of a job and out of luck. But she won¹t go without a fight.
What she doesn’t expect is Lachie himself a handsome, gentle giant with a will to match her own. But with every day that Lachie stays, Brooke’s future on the farm is more uncertain. Will she be forced to choose between her home and the man she’s falling for?
A vivid, moving and passionate story of love and redemption from the author of Promises.
Out now from Penguin Australia.
I love a happy-ending story! 😉 I’m not saying a good luck story, because as you say, Cathryn, it’s more about a body of work, keeping your eyes and ears open and taking a chance or a dozen. These rural romances seem to be booming. Good luck to all of you writing them! Thanks for hosting, Jennifer!
Thanks, Imelda. I think part of it is also keeping faith in what you write. No one was really interested in rural when I first started out but they sure are now. Markets change. You just have to hang in there.
Thanks for dropping by!
It’s great, isn’t it, to hear such stories? Cathryn’s combination of talent plus persistence is an inspiration.
There was a whole lot of whinging and swearing along the way too, Jennifer!