The Prodigal Returns.
After injuring her best friend in a car accident, Cassidy Blake decided to leave town permanently. But now that her mother’s sick, she’s back to make amends. Sheriff Tate Lynch doesn’t want to forgive his former fiancée for his sister’s injury or for breaking his heart. And he certainly doesn’t want to admit he still has feelings for her. The community can see her commitment to the town as she helps rebuild a church destroyed in a storm. But Tate’s afraid of history repeating itself, even though Cassidy’s actions prove she’s a different person. Could the last secret she harbors about the accident drive Tate away for good?
Please welcome author Belle Calhoune, author of Reunited with the Sheriff. Belle and I met on the Harlequin Boards in June of last year while both pitching our story ideas to Emily Rodmell on her “speed date pitch" fast track. It was such an exciting time. Both of us would eventually receive full requests, but while Belle made a sale with Love Inspired my story has found a home with the Pelican Book Group. Just FYI, Belle was one of the first people to believe in my story and she's always been very supportive as well as inspirational. Belle, would tell us that story and describe for our readers getting “the call”?
After I stumbled onto the Harlequin forums I started looking at the various pitch opportunities. I thought it was so amazing that authors aspiring to write for Harlequin could actually get a chance to pitch to Editors. As soon as I saw the Love Inspired opportunity I jumped on it. I was a fan of the line and I thought my writing would fit well into it, particularly since I love to write about small towns and cowboys. If I remember correctly, I was the ninth person to sign up. Honestly, I had such a good feeling about the Speed date pitch. When we posted our practice pitches with Winnie Griggs I remember seeing your pitch and thinking it was awesome. I sent you an email telling you so, and our friendship was born.
With regards to the call, I had sent Emily Rodmell, Love Inspired Editor, the three chapter proposal she requested during the pitch. I had made some mistakes (a too early kiss and too many pages between hero and heroine), but she very kindly gave me some pointers and opened up the door so I could fix those problems and resubmit, which I did. After reading my revised proposal, Emily asked for the full (which I hadn’t finished).
After a few weeks of frantic writing, I sent her the full manuscript. A week later she sent me an email asking me for my phone number so we could discuss the manuscript. Happily...she called me and offered me a contract for my book, which was at that time titled, “Return of the Preacher’s Daughter.” It was an amazing moment, filled with joy and disbelief, as well as accomplishment. I felt as if I’d been waiting for that moment my entire life.
That's wonderful. How long have you been writing?
That is a tricky question since I’ve always written in some form or another. When I was growing up I was firmly convinced I was going to be a writer like my favorite author, Phyllis Whitney. My sister and I used to write ongoing soap operas and we would read each other’s stories. I was still writing stories long after my sister stopped. I wrote my first manuscript over a decade ago, but I only sent it to one publisher, who very kindly rejected it. It certainly wasn’t ready for publication . A few years ago I started seriously pursuing publication, but I’ve been writing for many years.
The premise behind Reunited with the Sherriff is so compelling. How did you get the story idea?
Well, I wanted my heroine to have done something that she couldn’t just undo with a snap of the fingers and an apology. I wanted her to go back to her hometown with her tail between her legs. I wanted her to have to walk a path towards redemption and to come face to face with the love she left behind. I remember there was a news story about a woman who was pushed into a swimming pool by her bridesmaid during a bridal shower event.
Although her friend meant no harm, the young woman was paralyzed. Throughout her ordeal she handled it with such grace, wisdom and courage. She refused to identify which of her bridesmaids pushed her, even though the story was national news. I kept wondering about the friend and how terrible she must feel about her friend’s condition and how her actions led to it. Boom. It gave me a little inspiration for Cassidy and Tate’s love story.
Describe your first time handling edits. How long did they take? Every writer, I think, has a different version of the story in which the heart palpitations begin and you wonder if you can whip that baby into the shape your editor requires.
The funny thing about being published is that you have the euphoria of getting “the call” and having your book published, quickly followed by an email from your Editor detailing your edits. All I can say is that it was painful. I had a month to do them, and because I am a bit anal about edits and writing, I finished them in two weeks. I got right down to business. For another week I just kept going over everything, and then I sent them back in a week early.
Although I never doubted whether or not I could do it, it was a bit scary. I had one chapter that had to be totally redone, which amounted to several thousand words. That freaked me out, but I had to listen to my Editor’s take on it...it was episodic. So, although editing is my least favorite thing in the world, I do think it is important to the process, and hopefully, makes me a better writer in the end.
Thank you for being here today, Belle. I've got my copy of your book, and Belle is giving away a copy to one lucky person, so leave your comment and entry below.
We'll announce the winner here and on our Facebook pages.
Here's where you can find Belle: