New Author Mira Lyn Kelly on Her Sale to Modern Heat

Need a bit more inspiration to enter the ? Then read this post by soon-to-be debut author Mira Lyn Kelly, who sold to Mills & Boon after entering one of our past writing contests! Mira had been writing for eight years (focusing on romance for four) and entered the in 2008. Her first book is scheduled for release in the UK by Mills & Boon Modern Heat in May 2010.

First, here's Mira's bio:

Mira Lyn Kelly grew up  in the Chicago area and earned her degree in Fine Arts from  Loyola University.  She met the love of her life while studying abroad in  Rome, Italy, only to  discover he’d been living right around the corner  from her for the previous  two years. Having spent her twenties working and playing in the Windy City,  she’s now settled with her husband in  rural Minnesota where their four  beautiful children provide an excess of  action, adventure, and entertainment.

With writing as her passion and inspiration striking at the most unpredictable times, Mira can always be found with a  notebook at the ready. (More than once she’s been caught by the neighbors, covered in grass clippings, scribbling away atop the compost container!)

When  she isn’t  reading, writing, or running to keep up with the kids, she  loves watching  movies, blabbing with the girls, and cooking with her  husband and friends.   Check out her website  www.miralynkelly.com for the latest dish!

by Mira Lynn Kelly

In early 2008 I sat at my computer, stomach twisted in knots, fingers poised over the keys ready to click SEND.

It’s a contest, I thought. An incredibly cool competition judged by the very people you want to write for. And if you place, they’ll give you some of that long sought after “direction” you’re so desperate for. What an opportunity!

Don’t be a chicken. Just send the entry…Do it.

After another half hour or so of mental berating, I finally hit send…and then went to breathe in a paper-bag for a while.

The result? I didn’t place in the Instant Seduction contest. But I did get a letter requesting my full manuscript.

Hooray!! An actual editor was going to read my story… the one I hadn’t finished writing… Yeah, that one. Agai

n, I went for the paper-bag, got my air intake under control and then sat back down at the computer and went to work in a big way.

As it turns out the manuscript I turned in didn’t work, but they liked my voice and asked if I had anything else to submit. By this time, I’d completed another manuscript, but again there were elements that just weren’t quite right…Yet.

Senior Editor, Bryony Green, worked with me to explain where the story was off mark and what it would take to bring it in line. I needed to up my alpha and expand my hero’s conflict. Search and destroy plot devices and focus on a more organic plot development. Let my characters drive the story. All in all, we were talking about substantial changes, but at last I had that blessed direction to help guide me through. She asked if I was interested in making the changes.

To all this, I answered enthusiastically, “Yes, yes, yes!”

Of course! The revision points we’d discussed made perfect sense. When the call ended, I sat back in my chair, thinking to myself, I can totally do this. No paper-bag necessary.

So I sat down with my manuscript and began to take it apart. At first the changes were a breeze. Language and mechanical stuff—no problem. Isolating areas where I could develop the hero’s conflict—Sure. Cutting those painstakingly crafted scenes that didn’t work—it had to be done. But as I delved into the layers of the story, I found myself struggling with certain changes and finally understanding what it meant to really dig deep. To know my characters down to the very essence of their being.

I needed to let go of how the story originally played out and let my hero and heroine go back and take alternate paths, make different choices, and drive the story to where it needed to go. It was tough and challenging and the paper-bag came out more than once during the process, but when it was done…I was stunned.

The story was so much more than what I’d originally envisioned. More intense. More believable. More, more, more. I loved it—now, if only Presents/Modern Heat would too!! So proofed and polished, back the revision went. My paper-bag and I spent more quality time together and the waiting resumed.

Until 8:34am, Friday, August 28th when the phone rang and it was wonderful, incredible Bryony on the line offering me a two book deal! Yay!!!!

In a life filled with some pretty spectacular moments, this definitely ranked among the best of them.

Congratulations to Mira!

Dreaming about your own sale story? For more about the Harlequin Presents Writing Competition 2009, click the image below:

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Comments ( 26 )
  1. Caroline Storer
    September 23, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Hi Mira. Great to hear your “story” it was fab! Congrats on the two book deal – and I look forward to reading your book when its out! Take care. Caroline x

  2. Mira Lyn Kelly
    September 23, 2009 at 11:25 am

    Thanks so much Caroline!! I can’t wait for it to come out. I’ve already got my sister’s friend in London lined up to take a picture for me when it hits the shelves!!

  3. Rach!
    September 23, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Congrats Mira – am suitably jealous 🙂 And can’t wait to read your debut!!

    Yay for contests!

    🙂
    Rach!

  4. may
    September 23, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    sept. 23/09
    Bonjour Mira,

    Big congrts! Many moons ago, i received a letter of the same sort that you recd from your editor asking for editorial changes. I interpreted my letter a little differently than you did your request. I was so shocked that an editor replied to my ms submission that i thought editorial changes to the ms were if made by me only for my benefit and certainly wouldn’t influence whether the editor wld publish my ms. Publish my story? Why wld anyone want to do this?! Stupid eh? It was a long time ago and some of the details are now clouded; but good on you and all the best for your writing romance novels future.

    May
    p.s. I sometimes think I’m just as goofy as i was those many moons ago. I could have made an excellent “I love Lucy”.

  5. sri
    September 23, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Hi Mira,

    That’s awesome.Congratulations!

  6. Kimberly Lang
    September 23, 2009 at 12:09 pm

    Hi Mira — I’ll welcome you publicly to the ModHeat Gang!

    I will always love Bryony for many of the reasons you list here, but primarily because she was able to explain to me — in a way I understood — what wasn’t working and why. (My revision letter was 3 pages long. When I finished cutting out everything that had to go, I had 48 pages of my book left. But, like you, once I thought about it, I knew I was onto something great…) Smooches to Bryony!

    When it comes to revisions this line “I needed to let go of how the story originally played out and let my hero and heroine go back and take alternate paths, make different choices, and drive the story to where it needed to go. It was tough and challenging and the paper-bag came out more than once during the process, but when it was done…I was stunned.” is 100% true. I may quote you next time someone asks about doing major revisions on a book. 🙂

    Good luck to all entering the contest!

    Kimberly

  7. Mira Lyn Kelly
    September 23, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    Rach,
    Thank you so much! I’ve been reading this blog for nearly two years, devouring every success story that came through. It’s so exciting to actually be up here sharing my own story today!! And yes! Yay for contests!! 🙂

    Sri,
    Thank you!!

    May,
    Lucy! I love it. I definitely have my share of those Lucy moments myself.

    Kimberly,
    Thank you ma’am!! It’s an incredible feeling to be included with all you wonderful girls. I still can’t totally believe it myself, and have tiny bruises up and down my arms from all the pinching myself!

    🙂
    Mira

  8. Kate Hardy
    September 23, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Congrats, Mira! Lovely story – and I’ll second Kimberly in welcoming you to the Modern Heat girls 🙂

  9. Linda Henderson
    September 23, 2009 at 3:30 pm

    Congratulations on your two book deal. Have you started your second yet ? I will look forward to reading your first when it hits the Presents line.

  10. Mira Lyn Kelly
    September 23, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    Thank you Linda! I have started it, in fact, I’m hard at work on the proposal right now. So hopefully I’ll have something to turn in within the week. We’ll have to see how my hero and heroine behave for me!

  11. Lynn Raye Harris
    September 23, 2009 at 4:29 pm

    Many congrats, Mira! I love, love, love that you and Tina Duncan are proof you didn’t have to win to sell a book! The contest is truly an opportunity for everyone. You just have to keep at it.

    And you did. Bravo to you for cutting that story and working hard. 🙂

  12. Jackie Ashenden
    September 23, 2009 at 4:37 pm

    Fabulous news and congrats, Mira!! What a wonderful call story.

    Jackie

  13. Aideen
    September 23, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Mira,

    Fantastic call story and fantastic news for us Mod Heat followers!! I can’t believe us readers will have the pleasure to read two spanking new authors, you and Lucy King. I bet Lucy is excited to no longer be the new girl.

    Fair play to you for never giving up on your dream, that’s some marvellous inspiration right there.

    All the best from Cork,
    Aideen.

  14. Tina Duncan
    September 23, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    Congratulations Mira! I also sold from The Instant Seduction Competition even though I didn’t place. We are proof that it’s possible if you’re prepared to put in the hard work and follow your dream. Can’t wait to read your debut novel.

    Regards
    Tina

  15. Kelly Hunter
    September 23, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Congratulations, Mira. Really looking forward to reading your story. You described the search and destroy of the unnecessary and the organic rebuild of a story so well.

    I know that process. Know it well…

  16. Christine Carmichael
    September 23, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    CONGRATULATIONS MIRA!!!!

    I dream of the day!!! I have finished two books, which were so awful I truly blush!! However, having read, read and read again (my brain was mashed I tell you!) I have finished my third – and feel a little excited (I may be delusional.)

    Thank you for your words of wisdom and excellent advice, especially on the editing process.

    I can’t wait for your book to come out – best of luck from Manchester, UK.

  17. anna cleary
    September 23, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Congratulations Mira and welcome to the fold! That struggle you so graphically describe happens to me often, and like Kelly, I can certainly relate to your need for a handy paper bag.

    I’m so looking forward to reading your book!

    all the very best
    anna

  18. Mira Lyn Kelly
    September 23, 2009 at 8:49 pm

    Tina and Lynn,
    I know, the contests are such an incredible opportunity! And a lot of fun too! Thanks so much!!
    🙂

    Kelly and Anna,
    Thank you, and I’m so glad to know I’m not alone in the revision process! (Paper bag at the ready, lol!)

    Jackie and Aideen,
    Thank you!!

    Christine,
    Third time’s the charm- best of luck to you!!

    🙂
    Mira

  19. Nicola Marsh
    September 23, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Congrats Mira and welcome to the Mod Heat family 🙂

    Enjoy every special moment of this magical ride!

  20. Robyn Grady
    September 23, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    Congratulations Mira!!! I so identify with your revisions anguish, being able to let go and let your characters take over. Can’t wait to read your first. May there be many, many more 🙂

    Robbie x

  21. Heidi Rice
    September 24, 2009 at 4:18 am

    Mira, what an inspirational story… And well done you for doing what needed to be done (with help of paper-bag!).

    Getting that Modern Heat hero just right is hard work, but rewarding in the end when you have a gorgeous alpha bloke you can fall in love with (and a heroine up to the task of taming him for you). Bryony’s a gem, I still remember my call from her, love the way she just threw that ‘and we’d like to offer a two-book deal’ into the conversation and nearly had me passing out with excitement.

    Am looking forward to reading your story.

  22. Anida Adler
    September 24, 2009 at 7:04 am

    I’ve always been impressed with stories I’d heard of how friendly and helpful the staff at HM&B are. It was a shocking contrast to editors (only magazines) I’d dealt with in the fantasy genre before making the move to romance. I’ve since come to the conclusion that it’s the romance genre in general that is populated by really nice people. It’s still remarkable in a publisher as huge as HM&B to find that kind of personal touch.

  23. Barbara
    September 24, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Congratulations, Mira! What a great line to write for. And, I agree, the contests are fun. I’ve been lucky to meet some wonderful colleagues along the way. They are now my critique partners.

    It is also nice to hear your story. Persistence and hard work is the key.

    Congrats, again from a fellow Midwestern-er. (Although now I live in Virginia.)

    Barbara

  24. Gail Fuller
    September 24, 2009 at 4:22 pm

    Congratulations, Mira! 🙂 How exciting! Great call story. I especially loved your quality time spent with the paper bag. LOL! You have definitely inspired me. Thanks!

    Congratulations to Tina as well! 🙂

    All the best,
    Gail 🙂

  25. Joanne
    September 24, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    Congrats Mira – how exciting!!

    What a great call story 😀 Can’t wait to read your book

    Cheers, Joanne 🙂

  26. mulberry
    September 25, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Oh how I love reading call stories! Fabulous, Mira, and massive congratulations.
    Your description of the revision process is so appropriate to where I am right now- stuck on edits of a story I knew wasn’t working but couldn’t quite see why.