A Harlequin Affair

Never say never, but I believe my long-held goal to become a Harlequin writer is finally finished for good. It’s not that I still don’t love the publisher and the books. I have ten or so rejections from them for various series dating back to my very first book back in the ’80s. “Our readers don’t respond to heroines in the arts,” read the rejection letter.

It was very kind of them to let me down this way, as years later I read the manuscript and promptly threw it in the trash. It was horrible. A practice novel. Next, I sent in a highly polished query and got a request for the manuscript. The reply to that was from an assistant to an editor. “You need to learn your craft.” Wow. That stung. But I made it my mission to study craft. I attended conferences, took workshops, read books. Then I reread the manuscript and revised it. Finally, a revised and improved The Paris Notebook is coming out next month via The Wild Rose Press.

When I got an agent, she sent a sure thing manuscript to Harlequin’s “Next” line. They almost bought it but in the end passed. My agent was more shocked than I was…that book, Sister Issues, revised and indie published is now available on Kindle and Nook.   

Harlequin sent my editor a form letter rejecting my fantasy novel Gypsy. I have since written a sequel to Gypsy called Travelling Girl and can’t wait to get them both on Kindle as indie titles.

Meanwhile, on the romance front, I wrote three novels and began a lovely relationship with a Harlequin editor who always gave thoughtful critiques, balancing ego-boosting praise with why my novel does not fit the Harlequin brand. This third time, she said I had written a “bigger” book. The love story was not central. And she was right. A teenage girl was begging for a pov. I had written much about her in diary form, just as a way to let her have her say. Now, I’ll let her in the manuscript, which is a follow up to Sister Issues and more rightly belongs on my Kindle book list.  

Getting that final rejection from Harlequin was really sad. I kind of knew it was coming, and I was prepared for it, but it still stings. It’s been less than 24 hours, and I know this mood will pass. And even though it didn’t work out between Harlequin and me, I will always appreciate them for their honesty and excellent advice. It has made me a better, tougher writer.

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