My First Book Contract

I have good news to share. I signed my first book contract in 2023 and the first story in my Best-laid Plans series will publish in June, 2024.

How did this book contract come about, you ask?

I’m excited to share I won the grand prize in the Scrivenings Press #GetPubbed writing contest. My novel, When Plans Go Awry, won first place in the Historical Romance category, and then went on to win the grand prize. The grand prize includes a book contract. My novel is scheduled to be launched into the world on June 4, 2024.

Denise M. Colby won the grand prize in the Scrivenings Press #GetPubbed 2023 contest for When Plans Go Awry, which includes a book contract
The contest results were announced on November 16. I think I will always remember this day. A pivotal turning point in my writing story. Where I went from aspiring to contracted.

What’s amazing is looking back over the past thirteen (yes, 13!) years of working on my stories, making friends, learning, and growing as both a person and as a writer. I’m so thankful for the journey.

The path has been a lot of winding cross-backed, up and down, narrow and wide dirt trails, with a few paved and flat sections along the way. Then, on November 16, these contest results were announced, and everything has changed — and I’m on a new path now!

Scrivenings Press welcomes Denise M. Colby to the family of authors with her first book contract for her grand prize entry When Plans Go Awry which will publish in June 2024

The word CHANGE was the perfect word for me in 2023. 

From a writing perspective I chose this word because I wanted to change how I approached my writing. To not be afraid to change my opening or what my characters said. I wanted to be able to try new phrasing and change my manuscript for the better. I wanted to embrace change in different ways including pitching and trying new contests.

And because of that, I can now add additional changes that have happened this year! 

  1. I finaled in a contest and got to submit my entire manuscript 
  2. That entire manuscript won 1st place in a contest
  3. And then won the grand prize in that contest
  4. That grand prize included my first book contract
  5. My first book contract is now a 3-book series titled Best-laid Plans
  6. And my first book, When Plans Go Awry, will be published June 4, 2024

Very Big Changes in My Personal Life, Too

Change has been up front and center in my personal life this year as well. With one college graduation and our youngest’s high school graduation, we are moving on from being booster presidents and weekly performances or activities to attend. Our middle son asked his sweetheart to marry him, and we are experiencing new things with being parents of the groom. We’ve been blessed with new responsiblities in our day jobs, and been able to travel quite a bit this year.

I’m so excited for June 2024. We will celebrate a book launch and a new marriage.

Celebrate my book contract with me!

To follow my publishing journey in 2024, sign up for my newsletter or follow me on my facebook or instagram pages. I will be building a street team to help with the book launch, so stay tuned for more details in the coming months.

As the year 2023 ends, all of these things are the best changes possible. And I’m so excited for 2024 and what is to come. I also can’t wait to share my 2024 focus word with you. That will be in my next post!

Denise M. Colby loves to write words to encourage, enrich, and engage with others. You can find similar encouraging posts on A Slice of Orange such as meeting writing goals or when your confidence wavers, and on her own website Moments of Encouragement. She also loves to write about her word of the year and share quotes that include that specific word in them. Each word builds a new layer in her writing journey (and her life). In 2022, her word was Work. 2023 year, her word was change.


Celebrating Progress

Denise M. Colby's Orange County Chapter of RWA Badge with Pins and Rose

It might be slow, but I’m making progress.

A great part of being involved in writing organizations are the opportunities to get your material in front of published authors, agents and publishers through contests. The feedback they provide are valuable and instructional.

My local chapter of RWA – the OCCRWA – hosts the Orange Rose Contest every year for unpublished authors. You send in the first 35 pages and a synopsis of your story.

The first time I entered was in 2015. I took all the feedback and made several changes and decided to enter again in 2016 to see if those changes made a difference.

First Place Certificate from Orange Rose Contest for Unpublished Writers
I Won!

What a shock to find out I won 1st place in the inspirational category!

I received this really pretty certificate and got to stand in front of my peers who all cheered me on.

Then a month later I found out that those who placed first receive an engraved award at our Annual Birthday Bash.

Here’s a picture of me Denise M. Colby receiving her awardgiddy with excitement after being presented with my award (yes I had to give a little speech).

OCCRWA Orange Rose Contest for Unpublished Writers' award

And then I found out,

my name was listed in the Romance Writers Report Magazine

Denise M. Colby's name in print for winning awardSeeing my name in print made it even more real.

I still feel as if I’m on cloud nine.

And, it gave me the confidence boost I needed to continue moving forward with my goal of publishing.

And what was the next step?  Turning Pro!

For an RWA member to turn Pro, you need to submit your complete manuscript to show proof of your work. In January of this year, I uploaded my document and held my breath. I received word they accepted it and voila! My status was updated to Pro.

What I didn’t know at the time – and I was jumping up and down when I found out – I would receive a rose from my Orange County Chapter for going Pro.

Denise M. Colby receiving her Rose for turning PRO with RWA
Receiving my rose

What’s the big deal about the rose?

Every month at our meetings, authors receive roses for selling books, novellas, and other stories. Each color rose means something – Red=Novel, Pink=Novella Length, Purple=Self-Published, Yellow=Non-Fiction, White=Articles, Peach=Turning Pro.

I’ve been watching everyone receive roses for a few years and couldn’t wait to receive one. I even purchased a vase a while back to hold my roses in. So when I found out I would be receiving one for going Pro, it was difficult to contain my excitement (just ask my husband!).

Not only that, I received a PRO pin to wear on my badge with pride AND I got my name printed in the RWA National Magazine on the PRO page.

It feels like all of this happened quickly, but I’ve been working up to this point for a while. It’s nice to be able to see progress in my work. I’ve included pics – I have to document it all – it helps encourage me when I have those days I don’t like my writing.

Now with these goals met – I have my eyes set on new ones for the rest of the year; Find a critique partner, edit Book #1 and finish writing Book #2.

As a writer, there is never an “I’ve arrived” moment in our career.

It’s not about the end result. It’s all about the journey!

Thank you for letting me share mine with you.

Blessings, Denise