It was an incredibly grey, and incredibly wet November afternoon, when I received an email from Charlotte Ellis, a Harlequin editor, wondering whether I was free for a chat later on that day.
This was definitely unexpected… I read and re-read the email looking for clues as to what it could mean but no, there was nothing other those curious words that made me feel ridiculously anxious. I pulled myself together, answered Charlotte and then called my husband, who was encouraging but naturally none the wiser. For the next few hours, I made sure I was busy but also managed, to convince myself, that Charlotte was either being nice and letting me down gently or at best giving some feedback on the phone. Then it was time, that agreed time, so I grabbed a pen and paper, and sat down to watch my phone for what felt like an eternity. Eventually, the phone rang and I took a deep breath before answering….
I have to rewind a little and go back to the start of the year when I had decided not to get too disheartened after my last submission had been rejected. I reworked an earlier idea I had but also as a side-line, did something I’d never done before. I noted everything I personally loved about romance; everything that sung to me, gave me goose-bumps and also that irresistible ‘ahh’ moment. Those unquantifiable, intangibles that I wanted, I needed, to incorporate some of those into my writing.
Gradually, my MS took shape and by March I had written the first three chapters, worked out the synopsis and felt ready to send it through Submittable. I was then fully committed to doing what every writer wanting to gain valuable feedback from busy editors would do – I waited…. The plan was that in the interim, I would finish writing the rest of the book but life doesn’t always pan out, and soon, spring gave into summer.
By now, the expected time to hear back through Submittable came and went but knowing that I was attending the RNA annual conference in July, I decided that I would gain some feedback in person, from a Harlequin editor. This year, one of the editors attending happened to be Charlotte Ellis. What I instantly liked about Charlotte was that she had taken the time to read my proposal and offered good advice on certain scenes as well the synopsis. I took this to heart; re-working, adding and editing areas that needed my attention before sending it back. Incredibly, it wasn’t long before I received a request from her for the full manuscript. Naturally, I was thrilled but also quite daunted since I hadn’t actually finished the MS! However, a date that I would send the manuscript to Charlotte was agreed and I worked harder than I had ever done before to complete it. Working to a deadline was nerve-racking and exhilarating but, amazingly, I did it!
After a month of waiting, I answered that call and received feedback as expected. What wasn’t expected were the next few words that followed…. that I was being offered a two- book deal to write for Harlequin Historical! I was speechless. Truly I was… To say I was ecstatic, was putting it mildly – this was the stuff of dreams and then some!
My debut novel The Rebel Heiress and the Knight is set in medieval England and is a story of courage overcoming adversity, where love, trust and happiness, are hard to find…and harder to hold onto….
I really do hope you enjoy it! It has been a joy to write.
Look out for Melissa Oliver’s debut novel: The Rebel Heiress and the Knight, available July 2020!