Friday, May 31, 2013

Welcome Harlequin Love Inspired Debut Author Belle Calhoune

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 fiancĂ©e 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 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:

Author Belle Calhoune on Facebook

The website

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The Contract is Signed and in the Mail

I started this blog in 2009, and when I did I had not completed my first novel. Believe me, I often wondered about blogging before I'd even written the book. My mantra at that time was "write the book"! Finally, in February of 2012 I completed my first book. I blogged about that too, and took a picture of it in the manila envelope as it went off on its journey to New York City without me. And yes, I then began to write the second book.

That first book was rejected, but at almost this time last year (late June of 2012) I had completed the proposal for the second book and joined Harlequin's "Speed date online pitch". I was fortune enough to receive a request for synopsis from that pitch, followed by a request for the partial, followed by the request for the full manuscript in early October. And yes, this time I'd finished the book in four months. Proof of Grace kind of fell off my fingers. Then again, I had time on my hands that summer. But more importantly, I'd learned how to write a book from beginning to end.

On the way, I met other fabulous authors who were on the same path. We became Facebook and Twitter friends, and we supported one another. There are lots of wonderful authors out there in the blogosphere. Many of the authors I met last year are now published, and I got to watch their journey too.

As for Proof of Grace, it made it all the way up to acquisition where it was eventually rejected with a rather nice personalized rejection from the editors. Still. Sniffle.

Oh by the way, by then I had begun my third book.

While I continued to write my third book I shopped for a home for "Proof". This month, I received an offer of contract. Proof of Grace will have a new title, unknown at this time, but it now has a home. A home with a great publisher I'm sure will appreciate and love it as much as I do.

And as for me, I'm on another leg of the journey.

Write. Query. Submit. Repeat.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

I'm excited today to welcome author Liz Flaherty to the blog. Liz, you are published with both Carina Press and your recent release is with Harbourlight Books. Would you give us a blurb of your latest release?

Early McGrath didn’t want freedom from her thirty-year marriage to Nash, but when it was forced upon her, she did the only thing she knew to do—she went home to the Ridge to reinvent herself.

Only what is someone who’s taken care of people her whole life supposed to do when no one needs her anymore? Even as the threads of her life unravel, she finds new ones— reconnecting with the church of her childhood, building the quilt shop that has been a long-time dream, and forging a new friendship with her former husband.

The definition of freedom changes when it’s combined with faith. Can Early and Nash find a Soft Place to Fall?

I love that cozy-looking cover. Please tell me a little bit about your journey to publication.

Well, it was bumpy and it took a really long time. My first book was a Kensington Precious Gems in 1998. It took four years to sell another book to a small publisher—one that promptly sold and the new owner didn’t want the book. Another year, another small publisher, who published the book but was…well, less than honest. Got the rights back. Sold the book again. The publisher closed its doors. Eventually, I sold a book to The Wild Rose Press and they also bought my poor, unwanted second book, Because of Joe. I’ve since published with Silhouette Special Edition, Carina, and Harbourlight.

How long have you been submitting your work to editors and/or agents?

Since the mid-1990s. I’m not sure what year. I’ve worked with three different agents, all of whom worked very hard to sell my books, but things just didn’t click. I’m without one now, and only time will tell whether I’m being smart about that or not.

How many years have you been writing?

Since I was in fifth grade, which is a really long time. For publication, since the 1980s, which I wrote a newspaper column. That was fun!

Do you have any advice for authors as yet unpublished?

I just answered that today on another interview, and I’m going to quote myself: Have a great time. Write every day. Don’t give up. Unless you’re not having that great time, then do give up.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received? Muriel Jensen sent me a letter once, and at the bottom of it, she wrote, “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” I kept that note until the ink had faded so much you couldn’t read it anymore.

What are you working on now?

Steven’s story. If you remember him from One More Summer, you’re probably not surprised I’m writing the story. You’re probably also not surprised that it’s difficult!

Where can we find you on the web? or or, once a month, at an exciting new blog

Thank you, Liz!

Thanks for having me, Maria!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Welcome Entangled Publishing Debut Author Jan Meredith

Welcome, Jan. You are about to be published by Entangled. I’d love to hear about your journey. What is the name of your release and give us a blurb if you will?

Hi, Maria. Thank you so much for hosting me here at Romancing the Writer. This is my first blog interview and I’m a little nervous, and when I’m nervous, I tend to rattle on!

I’m so excited to have signed with Entangled Publishing, and confident that Playing Doctor has found a happy home.

An out of town wedding, a chance encounter with a sexy stranger…it’s just what the doctor ordered. When a fellow RN jokingly predicts that Beth Roberts will meet a tall, ripped, and totally lick-o-luscious stranger who will fulfill her deepest desires, it was supposed to be from across a crowded room, not giving CPR to a wedding guest. A former victim of domestic violence, Beth has no desire to become involved with another man, but who could have predicted the ponytailed doctor with the mischievous smile would break through her defenses?

Dr. Gabriel North, a former pulmonologist, blamed himself when his wife died from a pulmonary embolus. After two years of battling guilt, he’s decided to move on and begin a new life with a new job in a new town. When he sees Beth at his friend’s wedding, his attraction is swift and strong, and he wastes no time in pressing his advantage. Gaining her respect as a physician is easy, but getting her to trust the man is going to take more than medical school has prepared him for.

How long have you been submitting your work to editors and/or agents?

Oh, gosh. This is telling my age!

I began writing in the late 80’s with a wonderful agent and still have two manuscripts with her suggestions scribbled all over the pages, but between family obligations and work, I never found the time to revise them and submit them to a publisher. Maybe one day I’ll drag them out, dust them off, and take another look.

Playing Doctor is the third book I’ve written, but the only book I’ve submitted to a publisher, the first time in March of 2012 after winning an editors pitch with Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance. It was also my first rejection, but with the most awesome two-page feedback letter from the editor. I took that advice and revised the book. Took some writing workshops and revised some more, submitted it to an agent and got my second rejection.

Two months later, I took a breath and submitted a partial of the manuscript to three different publishers. Much to my surprise, within a week, editors from all three houses asked to see the full manuscript. I couldn’t believe it, especially as one of the editors was Heather Howland, from Entangled Publishing. I immediately set to work on finishing my book.

In the end, I submitted Playing Doctor a total of seven times—six to publishers and once to an agent— with two rejections, two request for a partial, four requests for full manuscripts, one withdrawal before decision, and two offers for contracts, both at the same time. All of this happened between March of 2012 and March of 1013. It’s been an exciting year!

Entangled is a new publisher, and we’ve heard so many great things about them. How did you wind up submitting to them? Was it slush pile, via an online pitch, or ….?

A while back while researching potential publishers for submissions, I read an intriguing article about a group of “industry-savvy authors” who decided to start their own publishing company where authors were their priority. I was very impressed with their business model and when they announced their plan to launch the Brazen imprint, I decided to give it a shot.

I submitted the first three chapters of Playing Doctor to Heather Howland in May of 2012. Within a week, she emailed me and asked to see the completed manuscript. I’m a chronic self editor, and so it took me a while to get the story just the way I wanted it. In October, with the book still unfinished, I signed up with the Entangled Boot Camp with Savvy Authors and worked with Heather and her wonderful assistants, Tahra and Sue, and went on to do Smackdown during NaNoWriMo.

I was determined to finish my story, achieve my word count, and submit it to Heather for the Brazen imprint, but my characters kept telling me they were happy where they were. In the end, I submitted to the Ever After imprint, which is the longer of their two novella imprints. It was forwarded back to Heather Howland. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was when I got the email telling me she wanted to take my book to acquisitions, and then another email a week later offering me a contract. I’m thrilled to be a part of the Entangled family. Anyone interested in learning more about them can do so through this link.

You mentioned participating in the Harlequin Board’s fast track pitches. Do you recommend those to a new writer? And if so, why?

Yes, I did two pitches with Harlequin. The first was for their Mills & Boon Medical line which required a two paragraph blurb for the editors to view. Thirty-nine entered and six were chosen to pitch. The second was the Harlequin Blaze pitch in November. Thirty-four entered and eleven were chosen to submit either a partial or a full. I submitted my partial in November, but withdrew it in March before hearing back from the editor after accepting the contract from Entangled.

Would I recommend them to a new writer? Absolutely. Each time a new writer participates in a pitch—with any publisher—it’s a learning experience, an opportunity to hone your craft, to get constructive feedback from an editor, as well as feedback and support from the forums.

Do you have any advice for authors as yet unpublished?

Write! Even if it’s only one page a day. You can’t edit, submit, or sell what isn’t written.

Read! When you find a book that pulls you in, grabs you from the first page and doesn’t let go even after the last page is turned…read it again, this time as a writer. Ask yourself, what was it about this book that hooked you, pulled you in and kept you there, made you keep thinking about it after you finished it? What do you tell your friends when you recommend they read it? That’s the kind of book you want to write.

Learn! Take workshops. I love Savvy Authors and their workshops. I’ve learned so much from them and the interaction with the instructors and the other writers in the classes. And if you only take one, make it Jill Nelson’s workshop, Rivet Your Readers With Deep Point Of View. The difference it made in the way my story read was amazing. If you can’t take the class, at least get her book, as the class comes directly from the book.

Share! Get a critique partner (or five!) who also writes in the genre you write in. (Your friends will read your book, and they will OMG, LOVE IT! but will be unwilling to give you honest feedback for fear of hurting your feelings.)You know your story, the characters, their past and what’s made them the way they are today and where you want them to go in your story. But have you got it all on paper? Another pair of knowledgeable eyes will find the holes, pick up on the confusing spots, make suggestions and corrections that you had no idea were needed. You’ll be amazed at how much better your book will be afterward. Learn to take criticism gracefully and for what it is…the opportunity to make your book the best it can be.

Be cautious! Research the publishers you submit to. Talk to other authors who are published with them. Know the market and please know the difference between 40% of net v/s 40% of cover price when looking at the royalties.

What are you working on now?

The secondary characters in Playing Doctor have demanded a story of their own. Educating Eve is a friends to lovers romance about Ian Montgomery, a Navy SEAL, and Eve Winters, a life style/advice columnist.

All Ian Montgomery, Navy SEAL, wants is to get through his brother’s wedding and enjoy the peace and quiet of home while his injuries heal. The last thing he needs is his pain in ass nemesis from his childhood, who just happens to be the sister of the bride, invading his space while her home is undergoing repairs for water damage. As kids, she was the annoying little sister he’d never had, or wanted, constantly begging him to “show me how.” But little Eve has grown up, and rather nicely, too, and her latest request for his tutoring services are anything but childish.

When Eve Winters found herself coerced into writing a life style/advice column, she thought, meh, piece of cake! That was before the sex questions began to pour in. Her past relationships have been less than satisfying, leaving her wondering what all the fuss is about. How’s a girl supposed to give advice on something she’s clueless about? What she needs is a lesson on the smexy, and there’s only one man she trusts enough to do the job.

I’m also working on the story for a Beauty and the Beast trope about a cage fighter/restaurant owner and an old money socialite with a family determined to match her up with an acceptable mate, as well as two other stand alone books.

Will you be attending the RWA Nationals?

Yes, if all goes well, I’ll be at the RWA Nationals.

Where can we find you on the web?

Please excuse my poor blog as it’s a bit drab at the moment. At some point, my publicist will hopefully step in and give it a face-lift. However, I’m still happy to welcome one and all to stop by and take a look at the sneak peeks posted of Playing Doctor, as well as other works in progress.

Thank you for a lovely visit, and, happy reading to one and all!

Thank you for visiting, Jan!