I Got the Call! Meet New Harlequin Presents Author Marcella Bell


My story of getting The Call starts right here on the blog. Perhaps that’s why, when I read the email inviting me to share my story in this space, I felt the same jittery, bubbly, cocktail of excitement that so many people have described feeling in anticipation of their own calls. 

The call comes in many different forms. The SYTYCW blog reminds us of that on the regular, which is one of the reasons I visited it often before I was lucky enough to experience my own call story. 

But, as I said, before I got there, I came here. 

Like my father, I’m what my grandfather called a, “permanent student.” I’m also a writer. Therefore, I study writing. Okay, let’s be real: I research writing topics online. That’s how I discovered SYTYCW. Maybe just like you are right now, I was delighted to discover this repository of inspiring stories, wonderful craft discussions, industry news, and opportunities to write for Harlequin. 

One of those chances came in the form of last summer’s Harlequin Presents Blitz. 

Impressed by the opportunity, I got to work immediately and quickly turned in my submission. And then I put it out of my mind, not because I am superhuman, but because, like most of you, I have been rejected enough to have developed some coping mechanisms (#knowwhatI’msayin’).

But rejection was not to be. Instead, I received an email from the editors offering feedback and kicking off the journey that eventually led to The Call. So that’s how my call story begins here on the blog. 

Though, perhaps it would be more accurate to say it began with the bookstore that I help run and the romance book club we host. After all, it was that which inspired me to try my hand at writing romance in the first place. Or maybe it was even before that, when I picked up my first romance novel at twelve, that magical age when it seems so many of us find the genre.

Regardless of where I start the story, what is most important is that it conveys my calling. One that, as all we writers hope and pray, leads to an actual phone call. 

My phone call came while I was riding on the interstate in the champagne colored sedan that belonged to my late grandfather. 

During a time of peak familial conflict over his estate, I remember closing my eyes and thinking to myself, I don’t want your money, Gramps. Just help me get a book deal

That I happened to be in his car when I heard the news seemed fitting.

At the time, I was nine months pregnant and had just wrapped up a doctor’s appointment, my husband and I in transit between my check-up and my upcoming shift at the bookstore. The window of time was tight because I live on the west coast of the U.S. and that was the only time that the stars aligned for a phone call that had to stretch over an eight-hour time difference. 

Like others I’ve read here on the blog, I had convinced myself that the reason we were chatting was to go over revision suggestions. I envisioned us discussing the kinds of things that are just easier to explain over the phone. While my husband drove, I sat ready with a pen and notebook in my lap. 

Obviously, I was wrong. Instead of receiving revision suggestions, my dreams came true while I sat enveloped in the warm embrace of my grandfather’s passenger seat. 

And there it is, the story of how I got the call. To the breadth and depth of brilliant writing advice out there, I add this: wherever and however your call story starts, don’t give up until the phone rings.