THE KEY & THE FLAME – In Dialogue from Manuscript to Contract

From the moment I revealed the cover of Claire M. Caterer’s debut, THE KEY AND THE FLAME, I’ve been excited for it. So of course, I was even more excited to read about Claire’s publication journey and thrilled to share it with you all. So without further ado, here’s a little bit about the book and the post by Claire herself.

The Key & The Flame 

Eleven-year-old Holly Shepard wants nothing more than to seek adventure outside of her humdrum American life. She gets her chance at last when her family travels to England and Holly receives an unusual gift: an iron key that unlocks a passage to the dangerous kingdom of Anglielle, where magic is outlawed and those who practice magic are hunted. When her friend Everett and brother Ben are captured by Anglielle’s ruthless king, Holly must rescue them. But that means finding—and using—the magic within herself and learning which magical allies she can trust. The Key & the Flame is the first in a brand-new fantasy adventure series.

I’m so excited to be back at IceyBooks for my blog tour! Big thanks to Hafsah for giving me the floor today. She asked for a snapshot of the journey of The Key & the Flame from manuscript to contract, which I decided to illustrate in dialogue:

Sometime in 2007, wandering the forests of the local arboretum with my husband:

Me: I love trees, don’t you? Think about how old they are, the history they’ve seen. A tree could be in two parallel worlds at the same time, and act like a passage between them … a magical passage. You know?

Him: Are we getting Chinese tonight? I don’t feel like cooking.

A random evening in 2009:

Him: Haven’t you been working on that book all day? Come watch a Buffy rerun with me.

Me: What, now? I just finished reading through the draft. See this notebook? That’s 150 questions that need answering. I need to figure out the rules of magic in my world. And revamp this whole character. Plus I have to outline the entire five-part series!

Him: Okay, forget it.

Me: Wait, which episode are you watching?

January 2010:

Me: It’s finally done! Now all I have to do is find an agent.

Him: How long could that take?

October 2010, another 25 queries later:

Me: Okay, listen to this email from Chris Richman from the Upstart Crow literary agency. He was reading my manuscript and, he says, “I don’t typically read in the middle of a work day, but I felt like I simply HAD to keep going”! He wants to be my agent!

Him: Reading in the middle of the day? He sounds like a slacker. And what’s an upstart crow, anyway?

Me: It’s a disparaging remark made by a 16th-century playwright about Shakespeare. Sheesh. To myself: So glad I looked that up before he asked.

April 2011:

Him: Are you writing another book?!

Me: This is my “bible.” It’s a big document all about my series. I can put characters in it, facts about my world, history, maps …

Him: Sounds kind of pretentious to call it a bible.

Me: It was Agent Chris’s idea. It helps me see the series as a whole while I’m revising the manuscript.

Him: He sounds like an upstart crow.

August 2011:

Me: My baby is gone. I can’t believe it. She’s really gone.

Him: What happened? Did the dog run away?

Me: No, my book baby! Agent Chris is finally sending it out to editors. It’s out of my hands. What if they all hate it?

Him: At least you’ll have the dog.

October 2011:

Agent Chris: I’ve got great news! Simon & Schuster wants to publish the book!

Me: What? No way. No way.

Agent Chris: Yes way.

Me: No way.

Agent Chris: Yes way!

Me: No—

Agent Chris: Hey, they’re buying the book, okay? Just deal with it.

Back with the husband …

Me: Guess what! We’re getting Chinese tonight!

Him: That’s great. I don’t feel like cooking.


Tune in tomorrow! The blog tour continues with an interview about Claire’s writing process plus a giveaway at I Am a Reader, Not a Writer.

Claire M. Caterer

Claire M. Caterer was born in the Motor City and raised in the suburbs of Kansas City with a large assortment of cats, dogs, birds, hamsters, mice, and other creatures. Her childhood was spent reading about and inventing imaginary worlds.

Claire holds a degree in French from the University of Kansas and spent several years working in publishing in New York City. Today she lives in the Kansas City metro area not far from where she grew up. She shares her home with her husband, daughter, two dogs, and a host of imaginary friends. Because she never properly grew up, she spends her time writing the kinds of stories she loved as a child and still loves to this day.

Find Claire on: Facebook | Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Add THE KEY & THE FLAME to Goodreads

And now, thanks to Claire, one lucky reader of IceyBooks can win a signed hardcover of THE KEY AND THE FLAME! Enter right after the page break – good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Hafsah Faizal is a YA author, designer, and blogger. Her designs have graced the sites of New York Times bestselling authors, bloggers, and more. She resides in Texas, with her family.



  1. Reply

    Peggy Eddleman

    April 4, 2013

    Hahahahaha! This was hilarious!! Loved it!

  2. Reply


    April 4, 2013

    I agree. I enjoyed it!

    Thanks for sharing the reactions along your publishing journey :)

  3. Reply

    Claire M. Caterer

    April 4, 2013

    Thanks, Peggy & Hong!

  4. Reply


    April 4, 2013

    This whole exchange make me giggle! And reminds me of conversations I have with my boyfriend!

    And now you have the book and the dog! :)

    • Reply

      Claire M. Caterer

      April 12, 2013

      Ha! No kidding! These conversations seem familiar to many people with boyfriends or hubs, for some reason. :)

  5. Reply


    April 4, 2013

    Hahaha, what an awesome journey! Sounds a lot like the kinds of conversations I would have with my husband too. :) Thanks for posting this – it was so much fun to read!

  6. Reply

    Tammy Sparks

    April 4, 2013

    That was an awesome post! I just adore Claire and can't wait to read the book!

  7. Reply


    April 4, 2013

    fantastic! Loved this so much.

  8. Reply

    Mary Preston

    April 6, 2013

    I laughed!!!