Monday, June 09, 2014

Meet Romance Magician and debut author, Pam Mantovani !

Pam and I are both up here in Atlanta (aka Asphalt Land) and the past few years I have had the pleasure of working with her at GRW’s Moonlight & Magnolias for the past mmmph years - she as the Agent Editor Coordinator and me in the goodie room. We also have memberships with the Romance Magicians in B'ham, though we may not get to the meetings very often.
Last summer Pam didn’t just get The Call… well, not the way we’ve heard past stories from authors. But let’s let Pam give us the story….
Tell us how it happened!
Let me start by saying I’ve always had this sort of fantasy of selling at a conference – mostly because I wanted to be able to celebrate with all the many friends that I’ve made since starting on this writing journey. That said, I will admit that when I arrived at RWA in Atlanta I did so with a great deal of trepidation. I was at the end of the proverbial rope. I’d been pursuing this journey for more years than I care to count and while there are moments I cherish, I was frustrated and a little worn out with all the effort of trying. I’d come so close so many times and just couldn’t quite get the handle on that elusive element that would launch me over the line.
The first day of RWA was also my birthday, one of those milestone birthdays.  So, I happened to run into Deb Smith (NYT bestselling author and VP/Editor in Chief of Belle Books] in the lobby bar – we all know the lobby bar is where all the action takes place! She of course asked what was going on, etc. and I mentioned I’d had a manuscript out on submission.
 Deb, without batting an eyelash said, “Send it to me.” To make a long story short, I did so, and on Friday, once again in the lobby bar, Deb Smith approached and drew me to a spot  where Deb Dixon [Pres/CEO Belle Books] and Pat Van Wie [Sr.Editor] stood.  Deb Smith said they’d like to make me an offer for my book. I stared at her, the first words out of my mouth an accusation. “You couldn’t have possibly read that book already.” Her calm reply was, “I read enough to know I want to buy it.” This is a freaking NYT author telling me she liked my book enough to buy it!  Needless to say I was shocked. Deb Smith is talking at this point, something book related but honestly most of it was a buzz. I kept staring at first Deb Dixon, who just grinned at me, and then Pat, who said nothing. Finally, I heard Deb Smith say something about understanding if I wanted time to think, etc. I looked Deb Dixon in the eye. “For years, you always advised that when this moment happened to take time to consider. No.” With that I turned to Deb Smith. “Yes.” 
The rest of the night, the rest of the conference I felt as if I were in a bit of a daze. Happy, thrilled, of course but it just felt so surreal.  To make matters even more surreal, the book I sold at the conference is actually going to be my second release. Long story short: I had a manuscript being considered by another publisher but after more than a year of waiting, I submitted it to Belle. Less than 24 hours later, they told me they wanted it and if I agreed, they wanted to move it to my launch book rather than the initial sell.  After careful consideration I pulled the manuscript from the other publisher and agreed to sell to Belle.  Cowboy On Her Doorstep will be released in late July/early August 2014.

Did you know Pat Van Wie and Debra Dixon and Deb Smith earlier?

I met Pat Van Wie when I attended my very first writer’s conference – my registration was a Valentine’s gift from my husband. We became critique partners until she moved to Atlanta. Through all the years and various moves on both of our parts, we’ve kept in touch. She has always been one of my strongest sources for support and encouragement, and now she's my editor.   
I met Deb Dixon through Pat, after the two of them had met at a conference where they were both Golden Heart Finalists. Even before we met face-to-face, Deb Dixon critiqued my manuscripts. Then, she called and spent more than an hour going over all the points she’d made. That manuscript, I’m proud to add, was my first Maggie Winner.  
So now that you've made your first sales, how has life and writing changed? 
You know you hear so much about how, when you’ve sold, your focus changes. I’ve seen this many times with friends but I’m not sure I truly expected it. Time is much more of a premium than it used to be. There’s an entirely different mindset that comes into play now. It’s no longer just about the writing. Editing requires for you to look at the words in a different manner than in the creativity of writing. You know the characters you’ve written about, in some cases better than a few members of your family, but when it comes time to describe them on an Art Fact Sheet, it’s not as easy as you might think. The publisher wants more than “Good-looking, with brown hair and green eyes”. And don’t even get me started on how hard it is to write your bio…I mean, really, are you comfortable making yourself sound interesting? J Then there’s the acknowledgments page – how do you narrow down years of support and encouragement from so many people without it taking up more page space than the actual book?
Everything around you, from chatting with a check-out clerk at the grocery store to chapter meetings, Facebook postings, etc become promotional opportunities. You learn to leave caution or reticence behind – and yet also convey professionalism and modesty. When you’re out shopping you keep an eye open for items that can be included in author baskets and giveaways.  I did come up with a brand or logo that I’m using for promotional purposes on my business card, Post-it notes and pens. I have a blog site and have begun the process of having a newsletter. I’ve stepped a little out of my comfort zone and post more on Facebook and Twitter, along with quick shots on Instagram.
What appearances do you have lined up before Cowboy on Her Doorstep releases? 
Oh, the nerves are beginning to jump as I approach my first official author appearance! I will be attending the Heart Of Dixie Reader’s Luncheon on June 14. My critique partner, Christine Glover, and I have assembled a Debut Author basket. (Christine’s book, The Maverick’s Red Hot Reunion, will release on June 30 from Entangled Publishing.)  I’m also attending Moonlight & Magnolias, where I’ll have the thrill of signing my book!  Then, I’ll co-host a table with Christine, along with providing a raffle basket, at the Southern Magic Reader’s Luncheon on November 1.
When you’re not writing and promoting, what are you doing ? 
I have, so far, sold both a cowboy and a coach book to Belle – both of which take place in small towns. Since my editor mentioned in my edits, I’m starting a book featuring two minor characters from my debut book, Cowboy On Her Doorstep.  I also have another cowboy book ready to submit to Belle.
I try really hard to arise every morning, well weekday morning, at 5:30 so I can get in 35-45 minutes of workout. I find it really helps my focus and energy as much as the feeling of starting the day having already accomplished something. By time I’m finished at the Day Job, come home and done all the myriad necessary tasks, I’m ready to sit down and quilt while watching the Braves! Several years ago Deb Dixon and I discovered a mutual love of quilting and have partnered on several, award-winning quilts. She plans and sews the quilt top and then I add the hand stitching…it’s a good partnership. If you ever see me at a conference and I’m toting around a pink quilt, you can see our combined efforts. I’m not much of a night writer so I use that time to refill the creative well, either by quilting or reading. I’m trying to fashion a book where my heroine is a quilt shop owner. On the weekends much of my time is spent doing yard work. I like to mow the grass, mostly because it gives me time to mull over story ideas or plot points. We have a large garden pond in the backyard and spend our evenings sitting on the screen porch, lulled by the water splashing down the waterfall -along with a good glass of wine or a good beer. There is also a seemingly never ending list of DIY ideas for The Craftsman and I to tackle.  I’m blessed with a big, loving, extended family that enjoys spending time together.
So when can we all expect to see your first book - Cowboy on Her Doorstep - for sale? 

Unfortunately I have neither a hard release date nor the cover as of yet. I’m eager for the cover since BelleBooks and BellBridge have received numerous awards and recognition for their covers. I do know, an author I’ve known for some time, a NYT Bestselling author, has agreed to give me a cover quote!
I hope you all give a warm welcome to Pam when you meet her at one of her upcoming appearances, and be sure to keep an eye out for Cowboy On Her Doorstep coming to your favorite online retailer in ebook and treebook in just a few short weeks. 


Debbie Herbert said...

What a wonderful way to find out you had sold - in person! With Deb smith no less! (She is so fabulous. Her book, Alice at Heart, is my fav)

Many, many congrats Pam! So glad you stuck with your dream. And can I just say -- your hubby sounds marvelous!

Much, much success,


Stephanie said...

Hi, Pam. Christine has mentioned you so many times I feel like I know you. I don't think I've heard a more exciting first sale. Congratulations.

Suzanne Johnson said...

What an awesome story, Pam! Look forward to that cover reveal :-)

Meda White said...

This story never gets old. So happy for you, Pam. :D

Carla Swafford said...

Congratulations, Pam M.!

Pamela Mason said...

Debbie, we are Sister Mermaids! Love Alice at Heart! And I'm not a little bit jealous of Pam's fab experience -- I'm a LOT jealous!

Pamela Mason said...

Stephanie, you'll be seeing Pam much more around meetings and online -- I'll be bringing her along next meeting.

Pamela Mason said...

Suzanne, Meda, Carla...
I know! Right?! :)

Pam Mantovani said...

Sorry it's taken me time to answer all of you who have taken the time to comment. Thank you so very much. I'm feeling the love :)
Stephanie...I would never have had this story without her
Suzanne...thanks so much. I'm on pins and needles waiting for the cover :)
Thanks Meda...I have to admit I love telling the story!
Thanks so much Carla!
And Pamela is right! I'm hoping to attend more Southern Magic meetings...the one time I went I felt so welcomed and had an immediate bond with several of the ladies
Thank you all for your support and encouragement
Hoping the best for all of you!

M.V.Freeman said...

Congratulations Pam! Well done-so very happy for you! And well deserved you worked long and hard for this.

Cari Hislop said...

That was so lovely! How fantastic that your dream came true! It sounds like something out of a romance novel!

Congratulations on your two sales! The closest I've ever come to the world of cowboys was the time I tried to get a job in a cowboy outfitters shop (it smelled divine - all those new leather saddles, tack stuff and swaggering men in big hats) sadly on being asked what experience I had with anything to do with anything remotely cowboyish I had to admit I had none. I didn't get the job - pity!

Cari Hislop said...

That was so lovely! How fantastic that your dream came true! It sounds like something out of a romance novel!

Congratulations on your two sales! The closest I've ever come to the world of cowboys was the time I tried to get a job in a cowboy outfitters shop (it smelled divine - all those new leather saddles, tack stuff and swaggering men in big hats) sadly on being asked what experience I had with anything to do with anything remotely cowboyish I had to admit I had none. I didn't get the job - pity!