The newest member of the Harlequin Blaze team, J. Margot Critch shares her excitement about getting “The Call!”
“Want to write for #HarlequinBlaze? We’re having a #BlazeBlitz!”
This was the tweet that changed my life.
On February 23, 2015, Harlequin Blaze Senior Editor Kathleen Scheibling tweeted about the upcoming submission event for Harlequin Blaze.
I’ve always loved Harlequin Blaze. I love the humour, the sexiness, the strong heroes, the sassy heroines. I had tried my inexperienced hand at writing one of my own, a rough first draft of a manuscript that I felt might be a good fit for the line. As part of the blitz, the editors were even providing feedback, something I needed for my very first manuscript, and all I had to do was submit a synopsis and the first chapter. So I took a deep breath, then took the plunge and hit SUBMIT.
From there I not-so-patiently waited for my feedback until one evening I received an email from editor-extraordinaire, Johanna Raisanen, just as I was heading out to supper with my husband. I couldn’t believe it – she was requesting my full manuscript! All through my meal I was beside myself with excitement, I don’t even think I tasted what I ate. As soon as I got home I polished up the manuscript and sent it along. Then came more waiting. After some time I heard back from Johanna and she had requested some revisions and asked me if I could resubmit it.
Now I’ll be completely honest for a second here: initially, I was bummed. I took what was actually a very positive thing and saw it as a rejection. It wasn’t until I discussed it with my husband and some author friends, that I realized what a great opportunity it actually was. I was still in this!
So I got back to work. I made some revisions, added some scenes, tweaked others and I resubmitted. A month or so later, I again heard from Johanna. She told me that she liked my submission and had passed it on to Kathleen. Still a newb, I wasn’t sure what that meant, and I spent a few more weeks constantly checking my email and the call log on my phone. I didn’t think for a second that the senior editor of Harlequin Blaze would be at all interested in my little manuscript, and I again thought it was the end of the line for me. But once again, my friends and family kept me cool, saying it was another good sign, telling me that I should enjoy the ride and the ups and downs that came with it.
Fast forward to September. It was a Friday and I had the day off from my everyday job, and I was sitting at my desk working on another project. I had left my phone in another room and when I retrieved it, I saw a notification for a missed call… from Toronto! With shaking fingers, I checked my voicemail and there was a message Johanna, calling to talk about my book.
I had gotten my call, and I’d completely missed it!
I quickly called her back and she said the words I’d waited to hear. Harlequin wanted my book! I was completely gobsmacked! I was in complete disbelief! I called my mom and my husband but I couldn’t stop from pacing around the house, my mind racing. I realized that I had absorbed no details from Johanna and it wasn’t until she tweeted about “making the call” that I realized that she was talking about me!
It’s been over a month since that phone call, and even though I’ve already signed a contract and I’m soon to be hip-deep into revisions, it still doesn’t feel real. Maybe it won’t feel real until the finished project, is in my hands. But I do know that when I submitted to the #BlazeBlitz last winter on a whim, I could never have believed I would make it to this moment – preparing to publish my own book.
So if I were to offer any sort of advice to writers out there, it’s this: Take the chance. Just go for it. Write the story that’s in your mind and your heart. Take part in writing competitions (whether it by SYTYCW or a submission blitz), and pitch parties. Put yourself out there.
Who knows? Maybe someday you’ll be agonizing over a keyboard, writing your own call story.
Watch for J. Margot Critch’s Harlequin Blaze book, In the Boss’s Bed in June 2016!
And contact J. Margot on Twitter @juanitamcritch
On Facebook at J. Margot Critch Author
or on her website, jmargotcritch.com