In January, 2005, I wrote a five-year plan to get myself published. I was very specific in my goals. The following month, February, I took an online class with Jan Springer on writing erotic romance. As an exercise for the class, I started a story that I called "You've Been a Bad Girl." My critique partners encouraged me to enter that first chapter into the Just Erotic Romance Reviews (JERR) contest sponsored by Ellora's Cave (EC). To my amazement, in July, I won second prize.
Raelene Gorlinsky, publisher of EC, asked for the full. The only problem was I hadn't written it yet. She told me to send it along when it was finished. It took a couple of months to finish the story, which I wrote as a novella (about 40K words). I shipped it off to Raelene in September.
By November, I hadn't heard anything so I sent an email inquiring as to the status. I was told they couldn't locate the manuscript and suggested I resend. I also began querying agents.
By January, I'd signed with Jacky Sach of BookEnds. She had the manuscript for "You've Been a Bad Girl" and was pitching it to editors as part of a three-story trilogy. Tracy Bernstein of NAL Heat (a division of Penguin) came back and asked if I could expand the 40K-word novella into a 65K-word novel. I was terrified, but signed a contract.
You know the rest. Tracy asked me to shorten the title to Bad Girl, which was published in September, 2007.
This past October, I wrote a "thank you" note to the staff at Just Erotic Romance Reviews to tell them that I really appreciated the jumpstart they'd given me.
Imagine my surprise this morning to find this mention in Aggie Tsirikas' column in the latest edition of the JERR newsletter:
On a lighter note there were some extremely wonderful surprises in store that I hope will continue onto this year with more success and triumph to all who are associated within publishing. One of the most cherished moments was finding a message in my mailbox from an author who sounded familiar to me but a name I couldn’t place with any books I’d read. The mystery was solved when I read the message. The author’s name? Maya Reynolds who wrote Bad Girl. This book was published through NAL Trade (a division of Penguin.com) with an additional contract to write Bad Boy due for release this year after the phenomenal success of Bad Girl. And the mystery you ask? Ms. Reynolds entered this story in our 2005 Erotic Pen Writing Contest that we held with the support of Ellora’s Cave Publishing. And this bold step gave this author the impetus and opportunity to go forward and become published last year with her very first story.
I was thrilled.