To put it simply, I have stories to tell, and in order to do so, I've decided not to push the boundaries of conventional wisdom: ie, that nonAmerican settings don't sell. Many of you have placed your stories in exotic and unique settings--China, the Middle East, South America, Africa--and here I am. Is it perhaps that Canada is not seen as exotic enough? That may be it.
Whatever the reason, I'm thankful and thrilled to announce my first sale, that of a contemporary romance novella to Barbour Publishing. It will appear in a collection with those of three other authors: Nicole O'Dell, Cara Putman, and Annalisa Daughety.
Barbour's call for proposals in December 2010 had clear guidelines, one of which was a 'unique American setting.' When I saw the invitation to submit, I knew it was a better opportunity to make a sale than any others I'd seen in awhile. Barbour was soliciting writers, asking them to team up, experienced and inexperienced together, to create these proposals. At least I knew this was one time not to push for a Canadian setting! The parameters had been set.
Nicole, Cara, Annalisa, and I chose the Lake of the Ozarks area in Missouri. It's a place I've been to several times years ago and where members of my family frequently visit, so I'm not coming to this setting completely cold. We added a geocaching theme to link the novellas together. Not familiar with the term? Here's the definition from geocaching.com:
Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS (global positioning systems) devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment.
My husband and I have done a bit of geocaching in our region of British Columbia, so adding this familiarity is a big help. One less thing to research! And taking the concept of treasure hunting into our novella collection gave us a scripture to base our common theme upon: Matthew 6:19-21 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
The concept of the anthology is: Treasure seekers unite at the Rainbow's End geocache hunt along Lake of the Ozarks, but some discover more challenges than they expected.
Besides the huge thrill and benefit of landing my first ever book contract, I'm blessed to accept representation by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency. We're working together to fine tune my proposal for a series of novels set in Northern Idaho, close to home for me. At this time, the universal themes of my stories are more important to me than where they're set. Though I have to admit, I wouldn't say no to writing stories set in the Canadian west!
At Rainbow's End will release in March, 2012, from Barbour Publishing.
Valerie Comer writes contemporary romance with green themes. Her day job is split between flooring sales and writing, and her not-day job is split between family, local food action, and farming. She lives on a small three-generation farm with her husband, her in-laws, her son and daughter-in-law, and an assorted menagerie. Visit her website and blog to find out more.