Thursday, May 18, 2017

Thursday Throwback: The Italian's Chosen Wife

This was my very first Harlequin Presents, written in 2007. After writing hundreds of short stories and serials for various women's magazines, I wanted to try my hand and something a bit more substantial, and I'd had a long-held dream to be published by Mills & Boon. In fact, I wrote my first manuscript for them, A Dangerous Bargain, when I was just twenty-two. Sadly it didn't go anywhere. My second manuscript, Nanny on Board, was a Golden Heart finalist, which was very exciting, although I didn't win. I wrote two more manuscripts in my early twenties before I shelved them all and moved on to short stories.

Fast forward eight years, and I decided I was ready to try again. I submitted three chapters and a synopsis for the Presents line, which was a change as I'd always submitted to the Romance line (then called Tender) before. Weirdly, when I'd started the story, the more emotional, angst-ridden Presents voice was the one that came out! Five months later I got a very positive revision letter, asking for revisions as quickly as possible because they really liked my voice. Getting that letter was so exciting, and so very affirming after months of waiting and years of rejections.

I lived, breathed, and dreamed that book for the next two weeks while I revised and finished it--because yes, I committed the cardinal sin of not finishing a book before submitting! Two weeks later I posted it along with all my hopes, telling myself not even to think of expecting an answer for at least 12 weeks. (They'd said it could be 16 weeks before I got a reply.)

Then, just two weeks later, I was staring at my inbox wishing I'd hear something, when I decided to hit refresh--even though I'd hit refresh seconds before. And would you believe, a new email popped up--from an editor at Mils & Boon. They wanted more revisions, but once again it was very positive, and she asked if she could ring.

The next few days were frantic as I had phone calls, made revisions, and waited to hear from the senior editor--all incidentally while my husband was away and unable to be reached! Then, on February 9, 2007, I got the official call.

Getting published by Harlequin quite literally changed my life, not least financially. I had a career, an income, and the validation of my books in the shops. A lot has changed since then in the publishing industry, seismic shifts that I don't think anyone could have predicted. I still write for Harlequin, in addition to five other publishers at various times. I've writtten 48 romances for Harlequin Presents (I think--I tend to lose count but I know I'm in the high forties) as well as 20+ books for other publishers. It's been a crazy, amazing ride, and I'm so grateful to be able to do this for a living. And so glad for this book, which will always hold a special place in my heart. You can read more about it  here.

Incidentally, this is my favourite of all my Presents cover. The hero and heroine look almost exactly as I pictured them, the sensuality is understated (as it is in my books), and there is a lovely elegance to the scene. I'm giving away one paperback copy of this Presents to anyone who comments below or responds to me on Twitter with their favourite romance of all time.


Amanda Writes said...

My favorite romance of all time? Hmm...I've read many, many MANY books but one romance novel that made me swoon had been Sarah Morgan's Harlequin Presents - Doukakis's Apprentice. I still remember the story of that book as if I'd read it yesterday!

Gem Gem said...

Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie, one of my favourites.