Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Getting the Call with H.A. Raynes

Chase away the winter blahs with this inspiring story. H.A. found not only an agent but a friend. We should all be so lucky!

After three years and as many revisions with my writers group, I decided my manuscript was ready to be sent out. Using mainly, I spent a month compiling agents interested in thrillers (my genre) and currently accepting submissions. During this time I also fine-tuned my query letter (endlessly, it felt!). I ended up having two versions and played around a bit to see if one of them had more bite than the other. To give you an idea, in the end, I went with query #12. What a torturous process! Onward...

I gave myself a year to get published via the traditional route after which I would reassess and likely self-publish. From the time I started sending queries until the time I signed with an agent was about four months. But I was relentless and sent out multiple queries daily. In the end these were my stats: 







My first offer of representation was by a very small agency run by two women. Despite having no other standing offer at the time, I turned them down because I wasn't in love with the books they represented and couldn't find anything online to legitimize them as agents with clout of any kind. Also, they didn't go out of their way to get to know me at all...

My second offer was like a whirlwind romance. I sent a query. In a day the agent asked for a partial. The following day she asked for the full manuscript. The next day she emailed and asked for a get-to-know-you call. A call! I freaked out. I might have danced. It was amazing. Butterflies. The phone rang and I knew it was fate when, in a lovely British accent, she told me she loved my book. Talking a mile a minute about why she loved it, I just nodded on my end, jaw hanging. I think the one remotely articulate thing I uttered was in the vein of:  

"Uh huh...I'm so excited...Yes...No, I can't think of one thing to ask. I'm just so excited." 

She said she knew "just the editor" for it and, though she wasn't even 100% finished reading the novel, she wanted to hear my voice and see if we gelled. 

We did. And four months later I had a final version of my MS, newly edited, and signed with HarperCollins and their Witness Impulse imprint. Craziest thing of all, my agent lives a mile away from me. She started her publishing career in London, then went to New York and finally moved outside of Boston when she felt established in the industry (and added kids to the mix). Now I can meet her for lunch or a coffee to talk about the elementary school where her kids attended and my kids attend now. Crazy small world. 


H. A. Raynes was inspired to write Nation of Enemies by a family member who was a Titanic survivor and another who escaped Poland in World War II. Combining lessons from the past with a healthy fear of the modern landscape, this novel was born. A longtime member of Boston’s writing community, H.A. Raynes has a history of trying anything once (acting, diving out of a plane, white water rafting, and parenting). Writing and raising children seem to have stuck.

Nation of Enemies, A Thriller: 

2032. Turned away by London Immigration because of his family’s inferior DNA, Dr. Cole Fitzgerald returns to work at Boston’s Mass General hospital. He purchases ballistics skins for family, a bulletproof car and a house in a Safe District. As the War at Home escalates, Cole begins an underground revolution to restore civil liberties and wipe away the inequity of biology. Along the way he’ll risk his family, his career and his life when he discovers the U.S. government may pose a greater threat than the terrorists themselves.


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