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All writers dream of the day that they are offered their first publishing contract. Most, like me, spend years querying agents and publishers only to receive standardized rejection letters, or worse, no response at all. What keeps us going are the occasional personal rejections, and our fantasies about how we'll react when we finally hear from a bona fide publisher who wants to acquire our work.

For me that day came on February 27, 2018. I'd queried Solstice Publishing only the night before, and since they had immediately confirmed the receipt of my submission, I was more than a little surprised to see an email from them the next morning. I clicked on it reluctantly and braced for another form letter saying thanks but no thanks. As I waited for the email to open, I was thinking, man, they must have really hated it to respond so quickly, and then I read those magic words that took my breath away and all but stopped my heart: "If this title is still available, we would like to acquire it. A three year contract is attached to this email for your consideration."

As incredible as it may sound, I didn't believe what I was reading. Thinking I was the victim of a hoax, or the target of a vanity publisher, I downloaded the contract and started reading. About halfway through, reality finally set in and I thought to myself, what the hell am I doing? And then I started calling and emailing every one I know to share the news. That's when it got surreal.

Although my closest friends were excited beyond belief, I was unnaturally calm. It was as if I had entered a fugue state, and could walk and talk and go about my business, but was not fully engaged. I felt like I was on the outside of my life looking in.

Somewhere along the line it occurred to me to respond to Editor In Chief K.C. Sprayberry to let her know that DEAR HEART was available and that I was excited to work with Solstice. My sister told me to be a savvy professional and not let my excitement bleed through, and my husband told me to be cautious, but my heart told me to be authentic, no matter how dorky or naive that would be. I was unbelievably grateful and could barely breathe because of the magnitude of it all. And that is what I expressed to Ms. Sprayberry, for good or for ill.


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