Thursday, November 14, 2013

#PitchMAS Success Story #5: Michelle Brownlow! @MK_Brownlow

As we gear up for December;'s #PitchMAS, our third #PitchMAS event so far, we have another fantastic success story to share with you! 

Please welcome M.K. Brownlow, whose Debut novel, IN TOO DEEP, is on 3 of Amazon's Top 100 lists! The sequel, ON SOLID GROUND is to be released December 3, 2013! 

Enjoy her amazing success story! 

Last November I joined the NaNoWriMo trend and wrote the first 50,000 words of a story that had been in my soul for two decades. It was a story, I felt, needed to be told. Emotional abuse is one of those topics that is quickly swept under the carpet because it’s hard to pinpoint what it is exactly. Well, those 50,000 words, which is now my 98,000 word debut novel IN TOO DEEP, is my heart’s definition of what emotional abuse looks like.

So, toward the end of November, as I’m still writing 16,000+ words a day because that’s what the Gods of NaNoWriMo chant as they crack their whips, I noticed #PitchMas as a trend on my Twitter feed. Feaky and Jessa do a great job making sure the word gets out early which is exactly why this worked for me. I watched Feaky’s blog and made sure I understood the guidelines so I could pitch my manuscript that would be done by the deadline of the contest. Fingers securely crossed.

I did it. I finished IN TOO DEEP and joined the #PitchMas hubbub. Now, I had to describe my whole book in 35 words? That could prove to be harder than actually writing it. But I did it.
Unlikely couple, Gracie and Noah, fall hard for each other. But when Noah’s stability takes a turn for the worse, Gracie finds herself in too deep. But could someone else’s love pull her to safety?

I was so nervous because, although I’ve been somewhat of a grand storyteller my whole life, I’d never put my muse out on display like that. But it was a nervous feeling that was a bit more exhilarating than it was scary. I hit send and hoped for the best.

When I saw my pitch go live along with everyone else’s, I did nothing for a couple days but hit refresh to see if I got any responses. (That’s a tad bit of an exaggeration…but not really) And, three times my stomach rolled over and fell to the floor because like a man standing on a dock for hours waiting for that one fish…I got three bites. Two agents and one publisher wanted to see more of IN TOO DEEP.

I sent off their requested number of pages and waited. It was mid-December at this point so I had Christmas shopping to keep my mind off whether this would pan out into anything worth getting excited over. (Yeah, right, I was a nervous wreck each time I checked my email.)

 One agent responded that she was passing on the book and I let my negativity get the best of me and assumed that’s what would happen with the other two bites. However, the editor from Sapphire Star Publishing emailed me soon after that rejection and said she was so intrigued after reading the first chunk I sent, she woke up the next day with Gracie on her mind and realized she needed to know the rest of her story. She asked for the whole manuscript. I died. But quickly came back to life to spend the weekend polishing it up and sent it off the following Monday morning.

I will never forget what happened next. It was Christmas Eve and my three kids were off school. We piled on the couch to watch a movie together and even though I was trying to NOT be on my phone while we were having some much-needed snuggle time, I kept refreshing my email. And about mid-movie I saw something in my inbox from Sapphire Star. My heart raced and without second-guessing, I opened the email.
“We loved IN TOO DEEP and would like to send you a contract for it as soon as we are back in the office after the holidays.”

BEST CHRISTMAS PRESENT EVER! Just a few days after signing my first book contract, I got an email from the other agent saying she wanted the rest of the manuscript because she was interested in representing me. This time I was the one sending a “Thanks, but no thanks” email. IN TOO DEEP was released six months later and hit three Amazon Best Seller lists the day before its release.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a contract for the sequel, ON SOLID GROUND, when my publisher closed to submissions. Of course, this threw me for a loop. I worried my readers would have to wait entirely too long for the rest of Gracie’s story if I had to do the whole slush pile thing. I was encouraged by a couple well-known Indie authors to go it alone and self-publish the sequel. It seemed like a huge mountain to climb but the author community is one that will never let a floundering newbie drown. And because of that, I can proudly say ON SOLID GROUND is self-published, already receiving five-star reviews on Goodreads, and will be out December 3rd of this year.

So, long story short, I went from contracted author to Indie author and had two novels released all in just under six months. I am ecstatic. And had it not been for Feaky and Jessa and their amazing #PitchMas contest, I wouldn’t be able to answer, “What do you do?” with, “I’m a romance author!” And you better believe I am going for it again this year!

Fantastic success story, Michelle! We're so glad we could play a tiny part in your dreams coming to fruition! <3  

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