Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Adventure Begins: Avon Buys Lord Lightning

Publishers Marketplace: Dealmaker: Avon (Imprint)

Jenny Brown's debut LORD LIGHTNING, the first in an astrology-themed series ... to Tessa Woodward at Avon, in a three-book deal, at auction, Emmanuelle Alspaugh at Judith Ehrlich Literary Management

Jenny Brown is my maiden name. I'm using it because I've used Janet Ruhl and Jenny Ruhl on other published nonfiction books.

This is a life-long dream come true and my excitement is tempered only by the fact that I have to produce another book as good as Lord Lightning for delivery next June.

What makes me the happiest about this sale, besides the fact it happened, is that Lord Lightning is the kind of historical romance I love to read. The details of the historical setting are accurate. The language has the feel of early 19th century prose, though it flows easily enough that a 21st century reader will enjoy it. My characters are driven by motivations that make sense in the context of their times. My characters are not only passionate and involved, they are witty and intelligent. If you enjoy Jane Austen and the genre of Jane Austen continuations, you will probably love this book.

Even the astrology my heroine uses is real astrology rooted in the techniques used in the Regency period. Astrologers will find birth data at the end of the book so they can create their own charts for my protagonists. But don't let the astrology scare you off. You don't need to believe in astrology to enjoy this compelling love story.

I'm pretty sure that it was the astrological theme that finally made me that rarest of aspiring novelists, the "debut author." That's because it helped me solve what some Regency writers call "the problem of the 10,000 dukes." Thousands of Regency romances have been published over the past 90 years, all of them set in the same, brief time period. Authors have created thousands more noblemen heroes than ever sat in the House of Lords in the Regency period or, for that matter, in all the centuries before or after it. Every detail found in every possible primary source has been worked into a plot by any one of dozens of talented authors and by hundreds of not so talented ones. This makes breaking in very hard, and I am very glad I was able to offer publishers something new, and even gladder I could do it in a way that did not involve zombies.

But none of this touches on what everyone is asking me about. So I'll cut to the chase: Yes, Lord Lightning does have sex scenes--and yes, they're hot. Not all my research has been confined to reading medical journals.

I don't have a firm publication date yet, but my wonderful agent believes it will be November 2010. That seems like a long time to wait, but I'll just have to live with it. I've been waiting to publish a novel since I was in elementary school.

From time to time I'll be posting here about Lord Lightning's progress and on other topics related to the novels and the astrological ideas that play a part in the series.

In case you wonder about the title of this blog, the whole series is tentatively named "Lords of the Seventh House." The Seventh House is the part of the chart that describes a person's marriage. In traditional astrology the "Lord" of a house is the planet whose own placement has a strong impact on how the house expresses itself in the person's life. Regency romance is all about Lords, of course, so I hope the title gives a hint of the fun that awaits readers.

Each of my books will feature a hero with a different Sun sign. Since I take the astrology seriously, the sun sign is only a starting point. Each hero has an entire chart filled with all the other planets that provide nuance and internal conflict.

I wish my readers didn't have to wait SO long to read about my deliciously wicked bad boy Leo, but that's how publishing works.

Meanwhile, it's back to work for me on my second hero, the Scorpio. . . .


Sandra said...

How exciting! I've been following your research blogs for a while and now I find out that you also an expert at my two other favorite interests: historical romances and astrology!

Hooray for you. I'll be watching for news when I can read it.


nonegiven said...

I'm not into romance usually but if this is a continuation of the chapter in the contest I would like to read it.

Jenny said...

This is not the book that was in the contest, but my other book which the agent thought was even better. The editor will be the one to decide if that other book gets published. It would need some tweaking to fit the astrological theme of this series, but maybe they'd release it outside of the series.

Shayne Parkinson said...

I'm *so* pleased for you, Janet! It's delightful to hear of such well-deserved success.

Jenny Brown said...


Thanks so much! The response of people from Authonomy has been really uplifting.

Dr Dreadful said...

Congratulations, Jenny. I heard about your good news from Judith Kinghorn over at authonomy and I came over to your blog because I'm curious about your route to publication. How did the auction work/come about? It's not a route into print I've heard of before.

Jenny Brown said...

Dr. Dreadful,

As I understand it, the auction is a ballsy strategy where the agent sends a manuscript to a set of competing editors and informs them she is considering an auction. This motivates the editors to read fast. As soon as one editor makes an offer, the agent informs the others and gives them a deadline by which they must submit their bids. The deadline is usually quite soon.

There are two options at this point: the editor who made the original offer makes what is called a "pre-empt" which is an offer so good that the agent takes the book off the market without hearing bids. Without a pre-empt the agent takes the highest bid.

The nice thing about an auction is that my agent got me an offer within one week of submitting my manuscript. She got me the final auction result another week later. She got me the best price I could have possibly got for the deal.

The downside, however, is that this strategy only looks like brilliance if it results in an offer. If there is something wrong with the book the agent didn't pick up on, and no one makes an offer, she's blown off most of the editors who might have looked at it.

For this reason, many agents handling a first novelist will submit to one editor at a time, wait for feedback, and then ask the writer to do more revisions if the feedback points in that direction. This way they may end up with a stronger book.

My friend's agent took that approach and she did do some significant revising after some editorial rejections. Each submission took up to several months, so that approach makes the submission process very long.

The speed with which my deal concluded was so intense that it took me a few weeks to feel confident that the agent wasn't hallucinating or pulling my leg. Seeing the deal announced in Publisher's Marketplace was when it finally sunk in it had happened.

KFran said...

Hey Jenny,
That's great news. I hope you keep us updated. Can't believe we have to wait over a year, but sounds like the 2nd and 3rd books will be cloeser together. I appreciated your straight forward advice on authonomy, and am glad of your success.
good luck
Karen of the Shadow's Map

Jenny Brown said...


Thanks for the kind words. I loved what I read of The Shadow's Map so I hope you are able to find a publisher for it.

Other Lisa said...

Hey, I didn't know you had a blog! I've already given you my hearty congratulations, but heck, you can't get too many of those, so congratulations!!!

Jenny Brown said...


This is the novel blog which I will be building over the next year or so. Since I like blogging a lot better than the dreadfulness of writing a first draft, I have to avoid the temptation to do too much to it now.

I've been beavering away at the new draft this week, though, and it's still alive, so I figured I'd reward myself.