Please welcome today’s guest author Leslie McKelvey and make her feel welcome. Leslie’s a debut author, making her first ever guest blog appearance here at the Black Velvet Seductions Reader’s Blog. Leslie’s first book, Accidental Affair was published in November by Black Velvet Seductions. It’s been selling well and scooping up a bunch of five star reviews at Amazon and elsewhere since then.
Leslie will begin a three week blog tour next week on the 4th of February but you are being treated to a sneak peek today. Be sure to follow Leslie’s tour and comment on her posts at each stop to enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card. You can find a list of her other tour stops here.
Leslie’s been writing a long time, submitting manuscripts for a long time, and getting rejected for along time. So long in fact, that she almost threw away her publishing contract when it finally did arrive.
The Publishing Career That Almost Wasn’t
Have you ever been in such a mood that you know there is nothing to improve it? Have you ever worked your butt off for something with nothing to show for it, and seriously thought about throwing in the towel? I have. So have most authors. Writing a book is a lot like childbirth, only no one knows you’ve had a kid except your family and closest friends. Hours of labor, pain and indecision, uncertainty and doubt, and for what? Honestly, sometimes the goal does not seem worth the journey. The almost infinitesimal chance of getting published can easily be overshadowed by the effort required to get that contract. But, like having a child, the goal is worth the ragged, winding, often uphill path required to reach it. I learned this lesson about two and a half years ago.
August 2010 was a very eventful month for me. My husband left on Sunday, August 1st, for a task force assignment with the Department of Justice. Being alone with the kids was nothing new, and I didn’t even think twice about him not being around, until the following morning. On Monday, August 2, 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? Like any mother I just acted. I scooped him up and blazed a trail 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…). 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 this fit into getting published? 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 looked at 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….
INSERT SCREAM HERE….
I sat there staring at that cover letter for almost five minutes, a million thoughts spinning in my head. Had my mood been one smidge 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.
The Cover Blurb For Accidental Affair
Jack Vaughn is sure his life is over as he tumbles down the wooded hillside onto the deserted two-lane stretch of asphalt. Years of work ended with a single gunshot. Yet, it’s not over.
A good Samaritan stops to help him, despite the danger he poses to her.
Laine Wheeler knows better than to stop for strangers on the rural Montana highway near her home, but her conscience won’t allow her to leave an injured man behind.
What she doesn’t know is the man is an undercover ATF agent tasked with infiltrating a domestic terrorist group. His cover has been blown and helping him will put her life in danger.
Though there is an instant attraction Jack knows that beginning a romantic relationship with Laine would be both unfair and unwise, yet the farther they run the harder it gets to ignore the feelings that are surging between them.
An Excerpt From Accidental Affair
“Where are you taking me?”
“You need a doctor,” she said automatically.
His eyes shot open and his head snapped up. “No hospitals.” His head fell back, and when he spoke again, it seemed he was speaking more to himself than her. “They’ll be watching the hospitals. Monitoring the police bands, too.”
“Who are they exactly,” Laine asked cautiously, humoring him, “and why did they hurt you?”
He grimaced. “Let’s just say we play for different teams.”
“And what teams are those?”
“The less you know, the better,” he replied. “Just . . . please, no hospitals, no cops, or I’m a dead man.”
Laine thought for a moment. “Tell me something,” she said. “Are you a good guy or a bad guy?” She watched him and waited for a reply.
“I’m a good guy,” he replied.
“Of course you are,” she said. “Then again, if you were a bad guy, you wouldn’t tell me, would you?” He met her gaze in the rearview mirror and a chill went up her spine. His eyes were clear and gray, the color of charged storm clouds, and something in them told her even if he was a good guy he was more than capable of being bad.
“No,” he said, “I wouldn’t.”
He glanced down and she followed the direction of his gaze, gulping when she saw the pistol he held across his abdomen. It was a 9mm with a suppressor on the muzzle. This time, instead of a finger of fear, an entire hand grabbed her heart with icy claws and squeezed. Pictures of all the people she loved flashed through her mind’s eye as she cursed herself for a fool, tightened her grip on the wheel, and waited for the shot she wouldn’t hear.
“If I was a bad guy,” he continued, “I would’ve simply shot you and taken your car.”
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