No, it’s not about kids. That awesomeness hasn’t happened yet.

So, I’ve been sitting on some coolness for awhile now while contracts got signed and calendars got set, and it’s been sort of killing me not to share. 🙂

I got a book contract! By the end of this year, I will be A PUBLISHED FICTION AUTHOR!

Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to be an author. I wrote short stories when I was in elementary (mostly about unicorns), my middle school lunch breaks were spent working on my first magnum opus (a modern Anne of Green Gables), and high school saw my free time spent writing short romances and mysteries. My friends were always joking about catching me with a pen in my hand and I even had my first pseudonym figured out: Charity Kay. (I sold as Jax Garren, but I still have an affection for my first pen name!) As much as I loved to write, though, I didn’t take it seriously, as in learning the ins and outs of the industry. I just loved starting millions of stories (and finishing one or two).

During our photo shoot we found this guy painted on the wall of a farmer's market and had to take our own "Jax and the Beast" photos Is't he cute??

A few years ago — spurred on by a friend and the general notion that as I couldn’t seem to stop writing, I might as well TRY to get paid for it, — I joined my local chapter of Romance Writers of America and started contemplating writing as a career, not just a hobby. Now we’ve all heard stories of people (*cough* Stephenie Meyers *cough*) who dreamed up a story, wrote it down, and became bazillionaires. This is not my story. After four years of studying craft, writing bad books, rejections, writing good books, and more rejections, my sister and I had one too many cocktails of our own concoction and started talking about how we would rewrite that old Ron Perlman/Linda Hamilton TV series Beauty and the Beast (*cough* not make him look like a lion *cough*). A month later I had a completed short story inspired by that conversation, and I submitted it to Carina Press, an electronic first division of Harlequin Enterprises.* The story was read by Angela James, the head editor at Carina, and she wrote me back to ask if I would be willing to expand it into novella length and resubmit. I wrote a letter back that went something along the lines of, “Um, yes. *nods head vigorously*”

Suffice it to say, I now have a three book deal! My first release, How Beauty Met the Beast goes on sale in November, the second How Beauty Saved the Beast is set for February, and the final story How Beauty Loved the Beast will be released in May of 2013. Hauk (“Hawk” – short for Wesley Haukon), the hero, is a Heathen (of course!) and there’s magic and warring secret societies, Greek and Norse mythology, and a phoenix tattoo all rolled into the fairy tale of Beauty and the Beast. It’s very Pagan! And as it gets closer to the release date, I can’t tell you how much I would appreciate it if you lovely ladies and gentlemen of The Realm would help me spread the word!

Here’s the query letter I sent to Carina to describe the story:

How Beauty Met the Beast is modern fairy tale set in Austin, Texas.

Beauty… Jolie Benoit, the youngest daughter of a media baron billionaire, grew up in a world of luxurious hypocrisy and beauty at all costs. Now the black sheep of her family, she lives a bohemian life in Austin, dancing in a burlesque troupe by night and working on a doctorate in literature by day. When a scarred man introduces her to a magical world worth fighting for, she must learn to reject appearances to find the fulfilling life she’s always dreamed of.

The Beast… Five years ago Sgt. Wesley Haukon (Hauk) was scarred beyond recognition by a fire that was no accident. He doesn’t remember what happened (his first of many blackouts), but as the commanding officer and only survivor, the blame landed on him. A fugitive now, he has joined the Underlight, a colony of anarchists that live beneath the streets of Austin, Texas and fight the oppressive Order of Ananke, best friend of multi-national corporations and maintaining the status quo.

When agents of Ananke attack Jolie outside her theater, Hauk rescues her, blacks out, and wakes up in the morning with her in his bed – and no memory of how she got into the Underlight. His friends are suspicious that she’s a spy, but the scarred soldier can’t help falling for the rebellious heiress – even though no woman has ever seen past his ravaged face. When they learn that Jolie’s niece was kidnapped by the same group that attacked her, Hauk risks his place in the Underlight to help Jolie rescue her… and to give his scarred self a chance to win his beauty’s heart.

How Beauty Met the Beast is the first in a trilogy of novellas that chronicles the love story of Hauk and Jolie as they unravel the mystery of Hauk’s past and fight for the Underlight against the forces of Ananke.

I’ll post more when I get the cover (we’ll do a cover reveal!) and again when it gets close to the release date. I’m SO excited. I’ve been dreaming about this my whole life, and it’s amazing to finally get my foot in the door. I have so many books in my head that I want to write, and I look at this as the first step in the career of my heart.

* Yes, Harlequin is the “dime-store novel” publisher, but they have several divisions that publish different things. Carina is their electronic first division that does what’s called “single title” books – or regular book-books, not series lines. Harlequin launched the careers of Nora Roberts, Suzanne Brockman, Linda Howard, Debbie Macomber and so many other awesome, NYT bestselling genre writers. I’m thrilled to be working with one of the most powerful and profitable publishers in the industry!

+ Featured Image: My official author photo!! Taken by the illustrious and multi-talented k!