Thursday, August 14, 2008

'The Call' or Bullet Hole's 'Lunch Special'

Drum roll please! The winner of my drawing for a canvas bag and autographed copies of my books CALAMITY JAYNE HEADS WEST and FIANCE AT HER FINGERTIPS is... ... ...Virginia! So, Virginia. Drop by my website at and go to my Contact Me page and email me your name and address information and I'll drop the goodies in the mail to you! Thanks again to everyone who helped Killer Fiction celebrate our first year together! You rock!


In the spirit of our inaugural anniversary celebration, all of the Dangerous Divas here at Killer Fiction are sharing their ‘The Call’ stories. I still love hearing ‘Call’ stories, but back before I was published, I really loved hearing these ‘dream come true’ stories. It gave me hope that one day I would have a ‘call’ story of my own to share. It kept me writing. Kept me dreaming. Kept me from setting fire to stacks of manuscripts and having a weenie roast.
My ‘call story’ goes like this.
Back when I first began to write for publication more years ago than I care to share with you nice folks--a divorced mom with a five-year-old and a set of three-year-old triplets-- I wrote historical romances. Western Historical Romances to be precise. Raised on horses, liberal doses of Duke Wayne, and possessing an abundant imagination, I figured it was a good fit. I joined Romance Writers of America and my local chapter and set out to write the ‘Great American Western Romance Novel’. From my RWA membership I learned that there were fabulous contests aspiring author types like me could enter, garnering feedback from judges and, perhaps, even catching the eye of a final judge editor or agent. Sweet. So I polished up the first chapters of my rousing western and sent it off to the Fiction of the Heartland Contest sponsored by the Mid America Romance Authors chapter. Guess what? I finaled! But that wasn’t the best part. The published author who judged my entry had taken the time to enclose a lovely, complimentary handwritten note with my score sheets. That judge? None other than Cheryl St. John, Harlequin Historical author and RITA nominee. Cheryl’s letter of encouragement made me dare to believe I might actually be published some day. And, believe me. I needed a reason to believe back then.

I finished the book and began the arduous process of trying to find it a home. I had nibbles aplenty. Requests for partials and fulls. But no sale.

So much for the ‘Great American Western Novel’.

Never one to mope for long, however, I decided to try my hand at penning a Harlequin Romance. My first and only attempt was titled, CHANCE FOR A LIFETIME. In case you hadn’t guessed already, the hero’s name was ‘Chance’. I know. Uber lame. The manuscript is stuck away in the top of my closet rarely unlikely to see the light of day--unless I have a particularly masochistic moment and decide to drag it out just for ‘fun’.

At this point I decided I needed to go in yet another direction. I’d always tried to see the humor in any given situation, tried to keep things fun--and funny--for the kids during some pretty unfunny times. So, I turned my hand to humor. I wrote an off the wall romantic comedy titled FIANCÉ AT HER FINGERTIPS and began to send it out into the world.

While I was garnering rejections left and right, two things happened. One. I entered the Golden Heart and, two, my mother brought a newspaper article to my attention. The article was about a young man who borrows his in-laws’ car and drives it to the mall to shop. He leaves the mall and drives back to his in-laws’ house, pulls up into their driveway and his father-in-law comes outside and says, “That’s not our car.” My mom thought the intriguing little fact that certain ignition keys also fit certain other vehicles might spark a story idea or two--and was she ever right! Once I found the perfect heroine--cockeyed cowgirl ‘Calamity Jayne’ Turner--I was off and running. In the interim I learned that I was a Golden Heart finalist for Fiancé at Her Fingertips. What a huge thrill.

With CALAMITY JAYNE finished, I began the task of sending out queries. Again. In the meantime I noticed Dorchester Publishing and Romantic Times Book Review formerly known as RT BOOKclub were co-sponsoring the first American Title Contest with the first prize to be a book contract. How cool was that? The contest was seeking contemporary novels! What a coincidence!

So I entered CALAMITY JAYNE and I was one of the ten finalists! What a wild ride. Unfortunately, I was booted off the AT Island in the third round. Majorly disappointed, I came home from work one day for lunch to discover Alicia Condon, Editorial Director with Dorchester Publishing had left a message indicating Senior Editor Chris Keeslar had read CALAMITY JAYNE and was really excited about it and would I please give him a call.
Would I? Are you kidding?

The rest, as they say, is history. I’ve published seven books with Dorchester since the American Title Contest in 2005--six ‘Tressa Jayne Turner’ mysteries, plus my Golden Heart finaling FIANCÉ AT HER FINGERTIPS, released in late April which, coincidentally, had been rejected by my very same editor years before. Just goes to show what persistence--and a rewrite--can do. My sixth ‘Tressa Jayne Turner mystery’ ANCHORS AWEIGH will ‘launch’ October 28th.
As a side note, although I didn’t win the Golden Heart back in 2005 my life has been enriched in so many ways by the awesome group of ladies--and gentleman--who make up the 2005 Golden Heart nominees dubbed ‘The Wild Cards’—including the incomparable Gemma Halliday. The Wild Cards are a constant source of support, encouragement, information, and inspiration. I count this as one of my most valued contest prize wins.
Speaking of prizes, if you post a comment I’ll put you in a drawing to win a nifty little Burpee book bag and autographed copies of my latest release, FIANCÉ AT HER FINGERTIPS, as well as a copy of CALAMITY JAYNE HEADS WEST, so you’ll be all set to go when ANCHORS AWEIGH sets sail October 28.
Oh. I bet you’re wondering how I plan to celebrate our auspicious anniversary here at KF. Right?
I’m painting my bedroom & baking zucchini bread. Don’t I
just sound like Dottie Domestic today?
~Bullet Hole Bacus~


Shari C said...

Congratulations on 'your call'!

Your stories sound like fun and exciting reads and I was happy to read this blog and discover them.

Kathy Bacus said...

Thanks, Shari! Hope you check out our 'Killer' blog often!

~Bullet Hole

Karin said...

I have some good zucchini recipes that are left over from our home gardening days. Do you know how many zucchinis you can get off of one plant – let alone two rows??? Anyway, I will bake some zucchini bread in your honor and you continue with the books!

Kathy Bacus said...

LOL, Karin! I love zucchini so the first year I had my garden in the country, I put in two rows of zucchini, as well. I never made that mistake again. I had it coming out my ears and a freezer full of zucchini bread.

I've since learned some wonderfully different ways to use zucchini!

Hmm. Thanks for the bread baking offer, but any chance you'd be willing to paint in my stead?? I'm doing the ceiling today and not looking forward to the delightful neck and shoulder pain to come. Ugh.

~Bullet Hole~

Christie Craig said...

Wow, I love reading these stories. You are so right, Kathy, hearing these stories when unpublished gave me hope. Hearing them now just confirms what we all know, writing is tough, but the winners of the game have to be as persistant as they are talented.

Great call story!

Crime Scene Christie

Kathy Bacus said...

You're right, Christie. Persistence ranks right up there with a love of story telling (or in our case, a gift for gab!)

I also think, in my case at least, I had to let go of one dream (writing historical romance)in order to free myself to pursue and attain another(contemporary humorous mystery romance). I imagine there will be many times as I'm building my writing career that I'll need to be open to new and different opportunities and options.

That's what makes this business so cutting edge,challenging--and crazy!

~Bullet Hole~

Terry S said...

I'm so glad you persisted! Thanks for sharing your story.

P.S. I hope there is a back and neck massage in your near future :)

bookworm said...

Those looks like some FUN books, thanks for offering them!

Meljprincess said...

What a great "call" story!

Cheryl St. John is one of the nicest authors I know!!

Enjoy the bread and the painting. After you do that would you come over and put away all my books? I only have 50+ boxes and 6 bookcases. *huge smile*

Mel K.

Kathy Bacus said...

Yep, Terry. The three ps apply in writing big time: persistence, patience, and perseverance.

Oh, and I forgot to add grocery shopping to my earlier anniversary day agenda. It's 'Mother Hubbard' time in my pantry. :(

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Thanks, Bookworm! It's true what they say: Girls Just Want to Have Fun! And I sure have my share writing these books!

~Bullet Hole~

Gemma Halliday said...

I love the Wild Cards, too! The 2005 GH was one of the best things that could have happened to my writing. (But, I guess I'll save that story for tomorrow. ;)) But, I know how awesome it must have been to finally see your GH book published. I'm still waiting for that day!

And, um, I'm coming over for zucchini bread. Mmmmmm....


Kristi said...

I just want you to know how nice it is to read this blog every day. You ladies make me laugh and I look forward to it.

I had read all your Calamity books and Gemmas High Heels and now I've been turned on to some of my favorite new authors.

Happy Anniversary to Killer Fiction!

Kathy Bacus said...

Negatory on the book work there, Mel. You would not believe how many books I had to stick in boxes just from my bedroom in order to paint!

So many books. So little time!

Cheryl St. John was a big help initially in giving me confidence to keep writing and submitting. I'm fortunate that she lives in a bordering state so I get to see her now and then.

~Bullet Hole~

Karen H in NC said...

Great 'Call' story, Kathy. Your stories sound like fun. Must read more about them.

Keri Ford said...

Great Story, Kathy! And I agree, 'Would I'? Puullleesssee. I'll sit on hold for 30minutes if I need to.

Enjoy painting! It's such a mess to get started and then clean up, but I have to admit, I like the actual painting time. Aside from paint in the hair, I'll even enjoy a ceiling.

Kathy Bacus said...

Thanks, Karen! It took me a decade to get a book on bookstore shelves but I'm so thankful I hung in there!

~Bullet Hole~

Faye Hughes said...


Loved your story - of course, I'm a sucker for happy endings. Can't wait to read the last Calamity Jayne book, even though it will be sad to see her go, but she deserves her happy ending, too.

Happy Anniversary!


Kathy Bacus said...

The GH final was really career-changing in so many ways, wasn't it, Gemma? Just to be a part of that special group and the pageantry involved with the final was thrilling. And the connections we formed remain with us to this day.

Better hold off on your travel plans, though, Gemma. I can't find my loaf pans anywhere!

One of these days I am going to get organized!

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Ah, thanks Kristi! We're so glad you enjoy coming to our little slice of Killer Komedy here at KF.

One thing is for sure: there's never a dull moment here! Or even if there is, we have a way of turning it into the surreal.

Stay tuned!

~Bullet Hole Bacus~

Kathy Bacus said...

What was tortuous about my call story, Keri, was that I had to leave and go back to work before I got a hold of the editor--and by the time I got back home, the offices in NYC were closed for the day!


I prefer looking at the newly painted room when all the furniture has been put back in the room and the draperies and pictures rehung and everything looks fresh and bright.

I'm SO far away from that moment.

~Bullet Hole~

PS I'm wearing a hat this time as I paint hte ceiling. Last time I looked like I'd aged twenty years due to roller spray. Home improvement. Gotta love it.

Kathy Bacus said...

Thanks, Faye.

My editor tells me Anchors Aweigh delivers a 'satisfying' ending. Easy for him to say. He didn't bawl like a baby throughout the writing of the entire manuscript and have a major meltdown during copy edits.

Please! Tell me there's life after Tressa!

~Bullet Hole~

Annette said...

Happy Anniversary, Killer Fiction! I'm loving all the stories about getting "the call". They're very inspiring to an umpubbed like me.

ellie said...

Happy Anniversary! Congratulations on your Call! Loved your story and all your wonderful Books. Enjoy this special time and celebration.

Shel said...

I'm still so sad there's only one more Calamity story left. I love those screwballs!

terrio said...

I'm still trying to wrap my head around "a divorced mom with a five-year-old and a set of three-year-old triplets." Seriously.

I'm loving all these stories. Huge congrats on all your success, thanks for being an inspiration to those of us out in the trenches, and HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, KF!

Faye Hughes said...

Damn straight there is life after Tressa! Seriously, Kathy! I look at it this way - If you can be a single mom to triplets, you can damn near do anything you put your mind to. lol.

As for Chris, hey, he's a guy. LOL.


jenna said...

Wonderful call story. Thanks for sharing your great story. My days are brighter when I tune in to your blog. Happy Days!

Kathy Bacus said...

Hi Annette!

I know just how you feel. Before I was published, there were naturally times I thought I'd never find a home for my stories. Hearing that someone else's dream came true despite the odds and challenges kept me going.

Glad my 'call story' gives you hope, too. Hang in there! You'll get there!

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Thanks, Ellie!

I plan to celebrate the anniversary by dropping onto the sofa this evening and watching fellow Iowan Shawn Johnson win an Olympic medal in gymnastics. Hopefully I'll be eating a slice of moist and wonderful zucchini bread while I'm doing it.

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Hey, Shel! There's more than one set of screwball characters floating around in this head of mine, I assure you.

But admittedly Tressa and the Grandville Gang are very special screwballs that I'll miss terribly.

Sniff. Sniff. Where is that darned paint rag, anyway?

~Bullet Holel~

flchen1 said...

Hooray on your call! I love reading about how authors get that first sale! And congrats on that first anniversary, Killer Fiction! Zucchini, huh? Will that work its way into a plot in the future? ;)

Kathy Bacus said...

After reading about the 'four kids in two years' wonder, is there any doubt in your mind I required a bit of escapism, Terri?

All I can say is, thank goodness for writing!

Thanks for the anniversary wishes! Hope we keep KF going for a long time! Lord knows we all have enough material for some time to come.

And if we don't, we invent it!

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

You're right, Faye. As one strong, independent woman put it:

Life is either a daring adventure--or nothing.

I reckon that goes for misadventures, too.


~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

You're right, Faye. As one strong, independent woman put it:

Life is either a daring adventure--or nothing.

I reckon that goes for misadventures, too.


~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Thank you, Jenna! It's nice to hear that a day without KF is almost like a day without sunshine!!!

Have a great day!

~Bullet Hole~

ruth said...

I am always entertained and uplifted with your stories. Congrats on your call and the lovely anniversary. Enjoy your day and Zucchini.

Kathy Bacus said...

Thank you, Flchen1!

I have already worked a pumpkin patch into one of my stories taken from a real-life episode of yours truly getting her foot stuck & losing her shoe in a pile of pumpkins at a local grocery store in search of the perfect and most sincere pumpkin.

So far most of my encounters with zucchini have been benign--if you don't count my early years with the over planting of hills & a bumper crop!

Thanks again for the anniversary wishes!

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Our aim here at Killer Fiction is to entertain, Ruth! I'm so glad we deliver...

Have a great day!

~Bullet Hole~

Tori Lennox said...

I'm so glad Dorchester had the smarts to buy your book!!! I just love Tressa Jayne & Co so much!!! :)

Gram said...

It just foes to show that whatever exciting happenings are in our life, we still have to take care of the daily chores. Fun article.

Minna said...

Great Story, Kathy!

diane said...

Best wishes on your anniversary and have a wonderful day. Loved hearing your story and all about your amusing books. Your own story is the best one.

Kathy Bacus said...

Ah, thanks Tori. So glad you've enjoyed the series. Hope #6 lives up to the Tressa tradition!

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Yep, Gram.

Reminds me of what my own grandma used to say:

Men may work from sun to sun, but a woman's work is never done.

Ain't it the truth?

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Thanks, Minna!

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Truth is always stranger than fiction, isn't it Diane? Often when I relate elements of my life story to various groups, I have to wonder if they think I'm making this stuff up.

Nobody, including the Dangerous Divas here at KF could make that kind of stuff up! Well, maybe this group...!

Thanks for the good wishes!

~Bullet Hole~

Sandra08081998 said...

I love reading first call stories. It inspires me to keep writing through all the rejections. Wow! You had your plate full with four children and you still managed to write great books. Now that is inspiring. I have one child and I can't seem to get it together to finish a book!
"Ghouls Just Want to Have Fun" was the first Tressa Jayne Turner novel I bought. I loved the cover on that one. Thanks again for the inspiration!

Kathy Bacus said...

LOL, Sandra! I'm actually finding it more difficult to get books done now that all my kids are teenagers.

I've decided to enjoy them while they are here at home. They leave for college soon.

Hugs on the rejections and good luck finishing the book!

~Bullet Hole~

cas2ajs said...

Another wonderful "call" story. I'm glad your perseverence paid off.

Cheryl S.

Refhater said...

Congrats on getting your call.

I really enjoy your Tressa books and am looking forward to the newest one's arrival.

I'm on my third set of each book in the series because the people I've lent my copies to won't return them. LOL!

anne said...

You are remarkable to have achieved this pinnacle of success. Happy Anniversary and congratulations on your call. This is well deserved so revel in this and have a great time.

tetewa said...

Enjoyed your story and good luck on the painting and I love zucchini bread. I recently remodeled my living room. Painted and put in new carpeting, love the domestic feel I have now while sitting and either reading a book or watching tv.

Estella said...

I love zucchini bread. So glad you persisted. Love the Calamity books.

Maureen said...

Congratulations on your blog anniversary. You really kept at it to get published and I think that's great

Kathy Bacus said...

Thank you, Cheryl!

Now I must display that same perseverance after tipping a can of paint all over my shoe and on my hardwood floor.

I kid you not. I had a total mess in my hallway.

My kids heard my scream and rail and pitched in to help me clean up. I am such a klutz! Lord only knows how the zucchini bread will turn out.

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

OMG, you are such a devoted reader, refhater! You made my day!

Thanks so much!

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Thank you, Anne! This year has really flown by.

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

I love eating zucchini bread, tetewa, but don't really enjoy the baking process or clean up all that much. Guess no one does.

Isn't it nice when hard work pays off and you get a great result? I'm hoping for the same in my bedroom.

Fingers crossed hat no more paint cans take flight...

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Thanks so much, Estella and Maureen!

~Bullet Hole~

Wendy said...

Hiya, Kathy! Of course, congrats on getting the call. :)

I haven't ever eaten zucchini bread but it looks good! I definitely want to try it.

Sue A. said...

You deserve so many congratulations! Top ten finalist! First call! Seven publishes books! Golden Heart nominee! Wow!

Kathy Bacus said...

Hey Wendy!

I absolutely LOVE to eat zucchini bread. It's moist and yummy--and best of all, it's easy to make!


~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

You're making me blush, Sue!

Thanks bunches!

~Bullet Hole~

Rebekah (the_littleminx) said...

Mmmm Zuchini bread. Yummy! Congrats on all that's been going on lately. That's wonderful.

Haven't read you books before, but think they sound great.


littleminx at cox dot net

Laura K said...

Wow, tried to post before. Hope this one sticks this time. Love the idea behind your Calamity Jane series.

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed reading your other books so I put this one on my TBR list

catslady said...

lol your an overnight success (didn't say how many nights). It's always interesting as a reader as to how much goes into publishing a book!! Congrats!

Virginia said...

Congrats on finaly getting that book published. It sounds like you went through a whole lot to do it. I love your story, and your books sound great.

Kathy Bacus said...

Hope you can check the series out some time, Rebekah.

Thanks for celebrating with us here at Killer Fiction. Drop by often!

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Thanks, Laura and Joye. I've had a hoot writing the Calamity Jayne series!

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Lots and lots of sleepless nights were invested in writing, that's for sure, Catslady. I sure received an education after I was published as there was so much I hadn't considered before 'the call'. I'm still learning.

Thanks for celebrating with us!

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Thanks Virginia!

It had been a lifetime dream of mine to write books and it looked like it would take a lifetime to achieve that dream.

I really love the fact that my mother found the newspaper article that started the series for me. She knew it had 'Kathy has to write a story about this' written all over it.

Boy howdy was she right!

Thanks again for celebrating with us this week!

~Bullet Hole~

kimmyl said...

Congrats on your book. I love zucchini bread. I checked out your website. You have a lot of terrific looking books there that I can't wait to try out.

Heather said...

Great call story, Kathy!

I like zucchini, but have never cared much for zucchini bread. Much prefer to have it fried or in soup.

Kathy Bacus said...

Hi Kimmy!

Thanks for taking a peek at my website & books. Let me know what you think if you get a chance to check one out.

~Bullet Hole~

Kathy Bacus said...

Hi Heather!

Deep fat fried zucchini is delicious. Of course, most any food deep fat fried tends to be yummy!

Thanks for stopping by!

~Bullet Hole~