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.
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