by Lise Horton
The other day I got the call. My novel made the cut at Carina Press and so I have officially “sold” my contemporary erotic romance.
My first call was to my Mother. She’s been a supporter, cheerleader, critic, beta reader and grammar source since I began to seriously pursue my writing.
My second call would have been to my friend Milton Burton. A writer, an incredible mind, and my biggest fan, I can hear in my mind the big booming voice of congratulations. Sadly, Milton passed away a year ago today, and after nearly five years of support, missed my first publication, and the sale of my first novel.
The third person I told was an attorney at the entertainment law firm where I work. That may sound odd – I told her before I announced it to my RWA NYC chapter mates, or my cohorts on my Yahoo erotic writers’ loop, Let Me Get You Hot & Bothered – but it really is not.
This lady, a wonderful, creative talent in her own right as well as a brilliant attorney, is a member of a select group I came to call My Benefactors. A few years back, she and four other attorneys I worked for pooled their gift one Christmas and gave me a laptop. One of them scoped out the best model, based on what I’d mentioned I was looking for. It was a teary moment and one that I will never forget, because they were all exhibiting their full support for what I was attempting.
That attorney had produced and directed her own documentary while at film school, before law school. Another of the bunch was a stand-up comedian when he wasn’t parsing legal contracts. A third was a screenwriter hawking his own work to Hollywood connections. So they, more than some, perhaps, got me, got my dream and showed me the ultimate in support.
When I gave her the news, she started whooping, yelling, and dragged me out of her office into another attorney’s office to share the news. A third attorney heard the ruckus and came running in, also hugging me in congratulations.
Every single one of the attorneys I work for gave me heartfelt congratulations. Even my one boss who looked askance and asked if I’d gotten a big advance. I have a feeling he was nervous I’d get an E L James deal and leave him high and dry, assistant-wise. It was a delightful way to spend the afternoon.
No one even objected when I was less than functional that day.
Then came the surprise party we were throwing for a paralegal who was off to have her baby. There was cake and cheers, and lots of frivolity.
Suddenly my boss pulled out a bottle of champagne, and they filled glasses and passed them around to the entire department of attorneys and staff, and everyone toasted my book sale.
I hear often of authors, particularly those who write steamy or erotic romance, who have to keep their passion and work secret from employers. Here at my home away from home? Not only have they supported me all along, not only have they cheered my successes as they rolled in, from contests, to completing manuscripts, to sales, but they have told their spouses, who’ve also called to congratulate me. One has offered her husband’s photographic services for my author photo. The attorney who specializes in publishing has offered his help. The Marketing Director posted my news on the Firm’s Intranet calling my book “erotic romance”. My boss also tells everyone that I’m not the first assistant to “make good”, publishing-wise. Because many years ago another secretary stayed late at night to type her book.
She’s a client now: A NY Times Best Seller, with numerous films made of her books starring the crème de la crème of Hollywood talent.
And here at my job, the attorneys for whom I work, and others in the office, all insist they’ll be buying my book the moment it is released, even though they know full well that they’ll be needing those asbestos gloves when they do.
I’m very fortunate that my endeavors need not be hidden. And more fortunate indeed, that my employers are cheering me on.
With good luck, perhaps the success of our genre will make it a respectable pursuit and fewer and fewer authors will have to hide the fruits of their passionate labors from co-workers, friends and family.
For now, I simply thank my lucky stars that I’m already there.
Lise Horton is the 2012 President of the Board of RWA/NYC. The call she received from Angela James at Carina Press represents her the sale of her first novel, Words of Love. She's a veteran employee at the law firm of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz, and thanks them for years of support. She's now poised to start the next leg of the journey: Edits. Wish her luck! And visit her at www.lisehorton.com to keep up with her as she does.