Harlequin Medical Author Amber McKenzie is an Overachiever!

Amber’s SYTYCW finalist–now in print and digital!

Amber first came to our attention during the SYTYCW contest of 2012. When her book became a finalist for the Harlequin Medical Romances we were delighted–and then she came to NYC and we celebrated with her and realized just how smart and talented and funny and nice she was! So we were delighted to see her sell her first book–and more!

So what does Amber think of the new Medical contest–send the first chapter in and get a response in 24 hours? Let us find out! 


What’s a girl to do when she has virtually no time and the career she has worked over a decade to achieve? Well for me the answer was simple, write a romance novel. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that simple.

Harlequin has been a part of my life since my adolescence. In hindsight I’m lucky they didn’t spoil me for all future relationships by teaching me all about the “perfect man”. What they did teach me was an enjoyment of the escapist nature of Harlequin fiction. I found that reading a Harlequin was a guaranteed way to enjoy a few hours envisioning a story that always ended happily. So much so that over a decade a catalog of ideas began to form in my mind. If I was writing a romance novel what would I do?

Then after a years of doing nothing but work and study – I was done and finally a practicing physician. And my best friend, Jennie, who the majority of times steers me in the right direction, encouraged me to put pen to paper and start writing. So I did. I can’t say that the process was fast at the beginning. I probably got half way through my story which I thought was perfect (everyone thinks their baby is beautiful) before Jennie, a Harlequin pro, didn’t like the direction it was headed. So back to the drawing board. A year later I was half done on my story and on vacation reading Harlequins when I saw it – The So You Think You Can Write 2012 Contest. All of a sudden my far-fetched plan to send a manuscript to Harlequin seemed a little less far-fetched.

Then I started writing, oh did I write. It was a bit difficult to meet the deadline with my work schedule and years of medical school and short forms had ruined any grammar skills I may have possessed. So I would write a chapter and email it to Jennie who fixed it and sent it back. I still have great photos of some of her comments she wrote using the review feature.

When the time came to enter and post my first chapter I was so nervous. I also had to make a decision. Would I announce to my colleagues, friends and family what I was up to? It was a voting contest so the more support the better. On the other hand did I want some of my colleagues, my patients—my parents!—to read some of the “adult content” my manuscript contained. Eventually my competitive side won out. I had a contest to win! So I posted to Facebook the details of my little side project and was overwhelmed with support.

And it worked! Top 25! Woot woot! Maybe my ideas were pretty good after all. Then one day after I had been up all night working and was in the shoe store looking for new waterproof work shoes (you don’t want to know) my cell phone rang. To this day I’ve rarely heard my Office Manager this excited, but Harlequin called looking for me! Me! And it got even better. We already had a planned vacation to New York the following week so not only did I get to be Top 3, I also got to go to Harlequin! Our tour of the Harlequin offices and getting to meet the awesome editors and staff is still a highlight of all our trips to New York. If my husband thought I was done surprising him with my “side projects” he was wrong, but VERY proud.

Being Top 3 came with a lot of responsibilities. I agreed to media promotions and my desk became covered with  messages from media outlets. I did telephone interviews from the recovery room after my operating day and was on the front page of one of our provinces major newspapers. My secret was definitely out then and my patients had a few questions but were overall interested and thrilled for my journey. I also tried to learn how to use Twitter during this time. Perhaps I’m still not rocking that particular social media option.

Then another round of voting. I didn’t sleep well the night before the big day. But it was all worth it because I WON! Okay no, I didn’t win, I was First Runner Up SYTYCW 2012. Which was a little disappointing, but then big picture, second place out of 800 entries for my first ever attempt at writing is pretty darn good. Plus I got to talk to Laurie and Sheila who were very encouraging and offered me a book deal anyway. So really it was like being the winner without all the official duties. I’m kinda the Prince Harry of SYTYCW 2012. And hats off to Jennifer Hayward and The Divorce Party which is truly an excellent book.

So in the end, reading a one page ad at the end of a Harlequin was one of the best things I ever did. From a single chapter submission I now have a total of a three book deal and an outlet for all things I think are romantic!

 So what are you waiting for? 

24 Hours in M&B is yet another great opportunity from Harlequin Mills & Boon.  Maybe this time next year, you can tell us all about your journey!

Just to show a little variety, here’s Amber’s book in the UK, Australia and France! 

Amber's Resisting in AU Resisting Her Exs Touch Amber's Resisting in FR duo