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My experience on the far! A chronological history of my first two published novels.

The Price of Temptation

Q: When did you start writing The Price of Temptation?

A: On or about August 12, 2002.

Q: When did you finish the first draft?

A: September 20, 2002.

Q: When did you start querying agents?

A: I sent my first query by snail-mail, to a single agent, on April 10, 2003.

Q: So--what did you do from September-April?

A: Got family members to read and comment on the draft; revised; researched agents. Wrote a two-page synopsis, and a chapter-by-chapter synopsis. (Read the synopses here.) I also started my second manuscript, abandoned it, and began a third.

Q: What happened next?

A: Agent A's website indicated she would respond within 6-8 weeks. When 10 weeks passed without a reply, I shrugged and prepared a second mailing. This time, I prepared four e-queries and four additional snail queries. Printer trouble kept me from mailing out the hardcopies, but my email was working just fine. On June 22, 2003, I emailed four agents.

Q: What was your query like?

A: Here it is (I think I tailored it slightly to each agent):

Dear [agent],

 Stephen Clair, Earl of St. Joseph, doesn’t believe in love.  His heart broken once too often in his youth, he has protected himself with a brittle shell composed of drink, gambling, and pretty boys . . . until a new employee starts picking up the pieces of his life, and just maybe his heart as well.  Jamie Riley, Stephen’s young and inexperienced secretary, is drawn to the sophisticated earl, but from his own mother’s example knows too well the painful consequences of being used and discarded by a careless peer.  After an ill-timed seduction, Jamie flees Stephen’s London townhouse, only to find that he’s not as alone in the world as he’d thought.  When Jamie’s grandfather steps in and sets the conditions for Courting Jamie, the two younger men find that by playing by the rules, each can win his heart’s desire.

 Courting Jamie, a novel of 72,000 words, is to Regency romances what Vincent Virga’s Gaywyck was to Gothics.  It will appeal to readers of gay romance, and will also attract fans of traditional Regencies who like a twist on their favorite genre.

 I left graduate work in archaeology to concentrate on writing fiction.  My research training and love of history are reflected in my efforts to make my writing as historically accurate as possible, without sacrificing the sense of fun readers expect from a Regency.

 Please let me know as soon as convenient if you would like to see the completed manuscript.  I look forward to your reply.


Marlys Pearson

[with contact information here]

Q: What was your response time like for this round?

A: Unbelievable! The e-queries went out on Sunday, and on Monday I was rejected by two of the agencies, and a third (Wylie-Merrick) asked for the first 10 pages of the manuscript. (I never did hear from the fourth.) On Tuesday, Wylie-Merrick requested the whole manuscript. I printed it off and mailed it Wednesday. By using the USPS tracking service, I found out the package arrived at 10:51 on Thursday, and Friday afternoon Sharene Martin called to offer representation. I signed with them a little over a week later, on July 7, 2003.

Q: Did you ever hear from Agent A?

A: Yes. 13 weeks after querying, I received my SASE back in the mail, asking for an exclusive on the entire manuscript. By this time, I'd already signed with Wylie-Merrick.

Q: Did your agent ask for revisions?

A: Yes. I'd made the rookie mistakes of using too many adverbs, too many dialogue tags, and switching point-of-view within scenes. It took me a few weeks to clean it up and send off a new copy to the agency.

Q: When did the first round go out to publishers?

A: In late August or early September, 2003.

Q: When did the first rejection arrive?

A: By the end of September. Others followed in November and January. The rejections were encouraging, but no one was willing to take a chance on publishing Jamie. Quote from a Big House rejection: I think a gay romance is long overdue. Unfortunately, I don't think ThisBigHouse is the right place for [CJ] right now. More submissions followed; as did more rejections. We thought once we were close at a multicultural press (who considered gay to be multicultural), but they were bought out by a larger publisher who wanted them to stick with ethnic literature.

Q: Why didn't your agent dump you when it became clear the big houses weren't going to ante up a lucrative contract?

A: Some agents do just that. Sharene didn't. She's both intrigued by the notion of getting a real gay genre-romance out there, and is thinking in terms of long-term career. Anyway, she kept slogging away, seeking out smaller, niche houses--and eventually got the nibble from a small press.

Q: When was that?

A: November, 2004. The editor/owner of the press liked the first half of Courting Jamie, but utterly could not believe that when Jamie left the Earl's, his grandfather would take him in so easily. No, Jamie must suffer. If I rewrote the second half, he would take another look.

Q: So you rewrote the entire second half of the book?

A: Yeah. I finished it in February, 2005. Sent it to Sharene, got comments, revised some more, and it went back to the editor in mid-March. By knocking out the original second half, I was also deleting the titular Courtship, so at this point the manuscript was retitled Boy Meets Earl.

Q: When did you get the offer?

A: My agent emailed me on March 31, 2005. I opened the email on April 1.

Q: So what was the entire period of time, from beginning to write the manuscript to having it accepted by a publisher?

A: Two years, seven months and nineteen days. But who's counting?

Q: When will the book be available?

A: It's available now. (The official on-sale date was September 30,2005).

Q: Is it available from online retailers?

A: Yes. There's a list here.

Q: What about bricks-and-mortar bookstores?

A. Gay/lesbian bookstores would be most likely to have copies on hand, but since Seventh Window distributes through Ingram and Bookazine, virtually any store would be able to order a copy in for you.

Q: What's the book's title again?

A: The Price of Temptation. Full details here.

Q: How was the book received?

A: Quite well! We got good reviews in Books to Watch Out For, Bay Windows, and LoveLetter Magazine; readers on gave an average of 4 1/2 stars (out of a possible 5), and TPoT hit the #1 spot in English-language Gay Romance on as well as Amazon's French, German, and Japanese sites. It also made best-seller lists at A Different Light (U.S.) and Hares and Hyenas (Australia). And, I'm proud to say, it was named a finalist in the Romance category of the Lambda Literary Awards.

Discreet Young Gentleman

Q: When did you start writing your second book, Discreet Young Gentleman, and how long did it take?

A: According to my notes, the idea for it came back in the summer of 2003, and I wrote a handful of pages then. Then I got distracted by my first novel going on submission to publishers, and didn't continue. In fact, it was about a year before I really got writing again--something I very much advise against!--and when I did, I picked up with a different story first. I didn't return to DYG until last January. Finished the first draft in March, 2006.

Q: Did you have a contract with Seventh Window for this book, or was it written on spec?

A: On spec. After The Price of Temptation, I knew Ken at Seventh Window was interested in working with me again, but we didn't have anything formal in place. I was really, really hoping he'd like it, because I wasn't looking forward to making the submission rounds again. Thankfully, he did want to publish it. We had a contract in place by June, worked on some revisions, and got it off to the printer in September, 2006. Discreet Young Gentleman was released at the end of October.

Q: Is it a sequel to The Price of Temptation? Does it have any connection to the previous book?

A: No, it's not a sequel. Discreet Young Gentleman takes place in the August/September of 1815, just over a year before Price (which is set in October through December 1816). But if you look closely, you'll find at least two people referred to in DYG who will be very familiar if you've read PoT.

Q: How is putting out a second book different from a first?

A: On the one hand, it's a very proud moment--as a writer, you've proven you have more than one book in you and starting to build a body of work. On a personal level, I wanted to show the world that Price wasn't a novelty, and hoped that people who liked the first book would enjoy the second. But the two books are in many ways quite different: Price is more plot-driven, DYG more character-driven. I swapped the London setting of Price for a road trip through smaller English villages and cities, a cast of colorful supporting characters for greater focus on the leads. So, there are new worries--instead of "Will anyone like my work?" it's "Will readers stick with me?"

I'm happy to say that so far, reaction has been great. I've received some wonderfully enthusiastic notes from readers, and sales are brisk. Time now to devote my attention to the next book...

More soon--in the meantime, check out


This site was last updated 08/06/12