To read more about the history behind the novel, click here: History links
Four Star Review from Romantic Times magazine:
Divorced by her husband, Annia is shocked to learn that her baby girl is to be taken away, perhaps to die. Marcus Peregrinus, the soldier who comes to take her baby, hopes to become prefect with the help of Annia’s ex-husband. Taking the baby is a way to get it, but he has no plans to let the baby die. Discovering how evil his new benefactor is, Marcus soon finds himself very involved in Annia’s life, to the point that it may endanger him, his family and the charitable work they are doing. An interesting look at Roman life in the early days of Christianity. The hero’s struggle to do what is right and still pursue the future he believes he wants is well represented.
Where the idea for this novel came from:
When I was doing research for my dissertation (on Shakespeare) and reading Greek and Roman drama, I came across information on this barbaric practice of infant exposure–where babies are set out to either die or be taken by slave traders because the father does not want the baby for some reason. It could be that there is not enough money to support the baby, or that the baby is in some way handicapped, or because the baby is a girl and the father does not want to pay the dowry. Anyway, all I could think about was the poor mothers. What would they feel after carrying a baby for nine months, and then having the baby taken away?
So, I wrote the first draft of this novel during National Novel Writing Month after finished my dissertation and was waiting to graduate
Selling the Novel:
I pitched the novel on a Harlequin contest. The editor asked for a full manuscript, then asked me to do some revising. I was thrilled!
I did as she asked, then waited for her to call, fingers crossed, hoping, praying that she would buy it.
I teach sewing, serging and embroidery classes on Thursdays, and usually turn my phone off to teach.
(My daughter makes fun me because I made these little cross-body bags to hold my cell phone so that I can have it with me all the time, just in case I should get “the call.”)
Anyway, one Thursday after I had finished teaching, I saw a missed call from a number with a 212 area code. It did not even occur to me that it could be the call I had been hoping for.
I thought it was a sales call from some telemarketer. I listened to the message and it was Emily Rodmell, editor for Love Inspired at Harlequin!!!!
My hands started shaking.
I pressed play.
A very kind voice said, “I want to talk with you about your manuscript, but I’m walking out of the office now. I will be back in the morning.”
Oh no!!! I have to wait an entire day to talk with her! Aghghghghghg!!!
Panic set in.
What if she is telling me the revision is not what she had hoped for? What if she is telling me that it really needs a lot of real work before she can actually consider it?
And now, I have 17 hours to wait before I can actually hear what she wants to say. NOOOOO!!!!!
SO, I called a friend of mine who writes for Love Inspired Suspense, Stephanie Newton, and she told me that a phone call is usually good news.
I am relieved. But then, I wonder what THAT means. What, exactly, is good news?
I am afraid to hope that my real dream–they want to buy my manuscript–is about to come true.
When my husband came home from work, I told him that we must do something to get away from the house and stay away as late as possible so that the time will pass more quickly.
Bless his heart, he took me out to dinner, then to a late movie, Outlaws (which by the way is really good.) we got home around midnight, and I went to sleep, but woke up about every two hours and checked my cell phone to see if it was morning yet. I felt like I was six years old and waiting for Santa.
Finally, it was morning. But, there were still two long hours to go before I could call.
I didn’t want to be rude and call before Emily had her morning tea, and settled in to the office. I set my sights on waiting until 9.
The minutes ticked by slowly.
At 8:42, I hit the panic button. What if she had a 9 am meeting? I couldn’t wait another minute.
I called her. What if she wasn’t in the office? What if she had already left for her meeting?
But, bless her heart, she answered, the phone.
“Hi,” I say, “This is Milinda Stephenson, and I’m returning your call about my manuscript?” trying to sound very calm and professional, but my hands are shaking.
“Oh, hi, Milinda,” she says, “I’m sorry I had to leave the office right after I called you!”
I’m thinking, what a sweet, warm voice. Surely she is not going to give me bad news! She said some nice things, and then she said,
“I just wanted to tell you that we want to buy your manuscript,”
I don’t think I could hear anything else she said. My ears were full of this whirring sound, and my brain had these little cheerleaders holding up a banner screaming one sentence, over and over, “We want to buy your manuscript.” Honestly, it was all I could hear.
Emily was an angel, and talked me through the details.
All I can say, is this: the many years of writing, the many drafts, the many completed manuscripts, every single moment was worth it. When it happens, it is like getting married, or giving birth. Seriously! One of the happiest moments of my life!!!