Meet one of Harlequin’s newest authors, for Harlequin’s newest line, the super-sexy Harlequin Dare!
You know when you just get a feeling when you’re writing? A feeling that your book is kind-of writing itself, that it just… works? Well, I got that feeling about the book I wrote last fall, and I sold it to Harlequin’s new super-sexy Dare line in a three-book deal. But the real story behind any success is always a little messier than that, right?
Actually, when I pitched to Harlequin senior editor Kathleen Scheibling, she (ahem) might have even laughed at my premise – a billionaire writer as a hero. Through chortles, she asked, “He didn’t get his money through writing books, did he?”
You see, when you have an impromptu chance to pitch to a senior editor at Harlequin, you take it. Even if you’re totally unprepared. My solution: I meshed a story I was currently writing (writer hero with sordid past) with the Harlequin Dare’s guidelines (alpha/billionaire heroes!).
You’re looking for billionaires? Um… sure, my hero’s a billionaire!
Kathleen (who is quite nice and funny in person) asked a bunch of story questions and requested the manuscript. But I could hear from her questions that my story wasn’t quite on-market for Dare.
“…this time it really clicked that I needed to approach category romance differently.”
Then, on the ride home from the RWA meeting, I had a bit of an epiphany. This was the second time I had tried to squeezed a story I already had in mind into Harlequin’s guidelines, but this time it really clicked that I needed to approach category romance differently.
Instead, when I came home from the Harlequin presentation, I studied the guidelines and started from there. They wanted international big cities or vacation destinations – which one would be the most fun to write about? Hmm, my sister lives in Australia, and I love it there. Maybe Sydney? They wanted alpha heroes or anti-heroes, definitely guys with an edge. What kind of alpha would be fun to write? I love the security firm/ex-military stories. Maybe I could create one of those?
In other words, I approached this project the way I might approach a college writing assignment… a really, really long, challenging one, that is. And as with college writing assignments, most of the class may be able to get through it and meet the guidelines, but usually only a couple students make that assignment shine. Wouldn’t it be fun to be one of those students?
“…for the first time ever, I actually tried to plan out the book, not just pants it, making sure it stayed within Harlequin’s guidelines.”
So for the first time ever, I actually tried to plan out the book, not just pants it, making sure it stayed within Harlequin’s guidelines. Then I took off, writing my story about a security firm run by four alpha guys, set in Sydney. Oh – and it was supposed to be hot. Really hot. My previous books were all from the woman’s perspective, so writing in a crass, sex-minded guy’s voice turned out to be really fun. I just went with it. And the book was done and polished in three month, a record for me by far.
When I finally got the call a few months later, Kathleen remembered my billionaire writer. “Being memorable is a good thing,” she said, quite diplomatically.
I would probably have written off the whole experience as embarrassing if it hadn’t been the jumping-off point for a sold manuscript. Instead, I get to call it the beginning of my success story – the real version of that story.
To learn more about Rebecca, visit her website, rebeccahunterwriter.com
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And watch for Rebecca’s Harlequin Dare debut in 2018!