I wrote my first complete ms. at age 25 while I had two preschoolers at home. Another one followed. Both soundly rejected. After my boys entered school and I began a real job, the writing declined. Got serious again when the oldest boy was getting ready for college. That's when I began to go to conferences and join writing groups. Despite that I had degrees in journalism and English and was a full-time journalist, I bombed in the first contests, but as I began to place in contests, I got more encouraged.
The seventh book I wrote sold, four years after I joined RWA. By then the oldest boy was finished with law school!
Re. "The Call": I came home for lunch from work one day and had a message on my answering machine from the editor at Harlequin Historical who had asked seven months earlier for the complete. I knew it was going to be an offer because rejections only merited letters. My hands were shaking so hard, I could hardly dial the phone. Half crying by then, I called my husband's office to tell him. He said, "Why in the heck are you calling me? Call her back right now!"