Hana Sheik submitted her story to a Harlequin Romance submission blitz in 2018. Set in Somaliland and Ethiopia, her story and characters captured the eye of editor Nicola Caws, who shared her feedback and acquired the book last November. Hana’s debut Harlequin novel, Second Chance to Wear His Ring, will be released in summer 2021. Congratulations Hana!
Harlequin: Tell us about yourself. Our readers want to know!
Hana Sheik: I was born in Somalia, but raised primarily in Ottawa, Canada, where I continue to live with my family. I’m also currently privileged to be a full-time author and an accounting student.
H: Why did you want to become a romance writer?
HS: I’ve always gravitated to romance stories. First with fan-fiction, and then I stumbled on Harlequin romances at my library—I only had to wait until I was 12 to get my own library card, and to check out all the romances that I wanted without my dad knowing (ha ha). I truly believe that romance fiction makes the world a happier place, and I’m thrilled to be a romance writer because of it.
H: What were the big steps in your journey to becoming a published author?
HS: Well, first I realized that I could actually finish a book—what a surprise! That happened in 2014, and though it took a while, and several completed manuscripts that will never see the light of day, I slowly and steadily noticed an improvement in my writing. So, by the time I noticed the Harlequin Romance Blitz in early 2018, I knew that I had to participate.
I didn’t stop learning the writing craft along the way. Through a few R&Rs with my editor, and extra help from my awesome critique partners, I discovered that most the magic in writing truly does happen during revisions and not the first draft stage.
Also, read, read, read. I knew I wanted to write for Harlequin after reading their romances and knowing that it was where I had to be.
H: What one piece of advice would you offer aspiring writers?
HS: As clichéd as it sounds, I’d say never give up. If writing is in your blood, and you live and breathe stories, then do yourself—and all of us—a favor and put your thoughts down onto the page. Don’t worry about whether it sounds good, or whether you feel like you’re hitting the right notes, or if you’re not being true to your voice. Most of that happens the more you write. I’m one of those people who believes everyone has a story to share. Why not share yours?
H: What did you do when you got the call from Harlequin?
HS: Let me first say—because she’ll be reading this post—my older sister is my good luck charm. I swear she is! Every time I’d go visit, or I’d be chatting with her on the phone, I’d hear word from my editor.
So, of course it had to be my sister’s birthday that I awoke to an email from editor Nic Caws requesting a call or a video chat. I chose to video conference because I can be awkward on the phone, and I went in expecting another round of revisions…or a very polite ‘thanks, but no thanks.’ Naturally, I was stunned (happily so) when she caught me off-guard with an offer to publish the book. And I’m still grinning as I type this, by the way. Also, I was with my sister, so I told her and my BIL first, and she said it’d be a birthday to remember. I wholeheartedly agree! 😊
Now let’s hear from the editor, Nic Caws!
“I adore the fun that can be had with an amnesia storyline, so I was hooked by Hana’s irresistible first chapter in the Harlequin Romance blitz. When I saw three chapters I was further impressed with her dramatic storytelling and vivid characterization! I was also drawn in by reading about Somaliland and Ethiopia, settings that I’d never seen before in a romance. Hana worked so hard on pulling out the emotion in this book, and I’m so thrilled and proud to be publishing it!”Nic Caws, Harlequin Romance Editor
Congrats again, Hana! And stay tuned for more I Got the Call stories from our debut authors!