Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Junque Cellar Treasures

Read. It'll inspire you to write as well as the authors who came before you. -Jodi Picoult

Whyte Avenue here in Edmonton is a street that has many unique and high end boutiques, second hand bookstores, coffee shops and restaurants and my favorite place-The Junque Cellar. I discovered this store when I was single and carefree, living in a loft style apartment (that was well overpriced) just off of the popular street and I fell in love immediately. I'm not a sentimental person or someone who gets lost in nostalgia very often, but this store brought out a side of me I didn't know I had.  Selling everything from old furniture from the sixties and seventies to records and old dishes-it was a wonderland of old, cool stuff.

And then way in the back of the store on several bookshelves I discovered them-Harlequin books from as far back as 1965:) I can't tell you how many hours I have spent standing in front of that shelf, reading the back blurbs, admiring the old covers...just touching them. (Weird, I know.) From the red rimmed pages to the old Harlequin logo and series number in the top left hand corner-they are perfect. The cover lists a price of 50 cents! And inside, written in pencil is the new inflated price of two dollars. At the time, I was poor but oblivious, so of course I spent grocery money on a bunch of them and these are the books, I can never part with.

Getting my first contract from Harlequin for a book I wrote, while surrounded by these old stories, was an amazing feeling. Writing category romance for a company as well established and known world wide for producing the best romantic stories anywhere is a great honor, but the thing I love most is that my book will be a part of a series. Therefore it doesn't matter how many times it may get reissued or reprinted in different formats...or if it goes out of print altogether-somewhere it will exist in a second hand bookstore (I pray in forty years they still exist) and an unsentimental twenty-something girl who'd rather read than eat may just pick it up and buy it-at an inflated price of course:) I wonder if there's a way to get royalties on that? lol

xo
Jen

15 comments:

  1. What an incredible moment, Jen!! I would spend my grocery money on the old Harlequins too! I remember them from when my grandmother shared hers with me and I would love to see some of those old covers. I agree that it is such an honor to write for a publisher that I've admired since childhood but most of all I treasure writing alongside such talented and gracious people as the Heartwarming authors like you :)

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    1. Thanks Karen! Your kind words just made my day:)

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  2. Jen, what a lovely blog post! Thanks for sharing that here. Harlequin offers authors something that no other publisher does - a sense of family, of continuity if you will. It's a pretty terrific feeling.

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  3. I'll never forget the image of my mom and her sisters in my grandmother's bedroom boxing up hundreds of her ancient Harlequin Romance books after she'd passed. Years later when I was staying at my cousin's cottage on Manitoulin Island, where my mom's family farm is, I saw two of Grandma's books, signed by her, dating back to the 1950s. I wish I could go back in time and save some of those beloved stories. And I wish my grandmother could've known that someday I'd end up editing series romances for Harlequin. She loved "her stories".

    *Was just going through Jennifer's The Trouble with Mistletoe yesterday looking for an excerpt and I can't wait for it to come out! It's such a great story...and just like Grandma, we all love our stories!

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    1. Sniff. I think your grandma knows.

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    2. That's so amazing, Victoria. I'm sure she would be proud! And thank you for the kind words about my upcoming release. I can't wait either!

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    3. That's an incredible memory, Victoria. A love of Harlequin definitely runs in your family and I'm sure she knows that you've carried on the tradition.

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  4. Jen - I, too, bought Harlequins out of the grocery money! My children were young and we met Ron after work every Friday night to have Chinese food and shop for groceries. I made a detailed list with the estimated price beside it and kept meticulous track as I shopped so I'd know if I had anything left for books. In those days, I bought Harlequin Presents with the beautiful artwork in a round inset on the cover. I loved Violet Winspear, Lillian Peake, Ann Hampson, and many, many others! I felt just as you did when I finally sold years later. I was part of an Army that brought peace through love rather than weaponry. As I keep saying - we are so, so lucky!

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    1. Beautifully put as usual Muriel! I totally agree.

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  5. I was introduced to Harlequin Presents as a teenager. One of my best friend's big sister handed me a box she was giving away. There must have been fifty in there. I remember one was about a poor secretary who saved her money to go on a cruise and of course met a wealthy tycoon.

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    1. I love reading the ones from the sixties and seventies written during the sexual revolutions (I think that's when that was lol-I'm not a history girl at all)-you can certainly feel the 'women's strength' coming through.

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  6. What a beautiful and moving post, Jennifer.

    I live in a small town with lots of antique shops. My favorite one doesn't carry anything fancy, but rather old books and nic nacs from daily life way back when. We also have a quaint used book store and my boys love going there because it's designed to look like you're in grandma's house. They browse editions of stories I read as a child, while I sneak upstairs to the room full of romances (Harlequins included):)

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  7. That book store sounds wonderful! Thanks Rula! And welcome again:)

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  8. Jennifer, love this post. I grew up reading Harlequins in the 80s and beyond though I'm sure I raided my mom's bookcase a time or two where she still had some from the 70s. What a gift for you!

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