This is my first post on the Harlequin Heartwarming blog, and I’m really excited to be here! Also honored to be in the company of so many wonderful authors, humbled by all of the devoted readers, and I look forward to getting to know all of you.
In addition to Heartwarming, I also write for Harlequin’s American Romance line. I’ve been a writer and an avid reader for as long as I can remember, and I gravitated to romance at an early age. Ten years old, to be precise, when I read Anne of Green Gables and Little Women. Many might not consider either to be a romance novel but after all these years, I still do.
About fifteen years ago I started to seriously write romance with the goal of someday being published. I read widely...everything from sweet to spicy to fan-your-face sexy, from traditional boy-meets-girl to woman-in-jeopardy to hunka-hunka vampire love. I was trying to accomplish two things: the first was to figure out what was trendy and what was not, and the second was to learn to tailor my work to the market.
I decided sexy romantic suspense was the way to go, but after completing several manuscripts and being a finalist in (and sometimes winning!) numerous writing contests, all I really had to show for my efforts was a file folder brimming with rejection. Eventually I realized what the problem was. While I loved to write, I wasn’t writing what I love. So I made a decision. I would write something different—something I truly enjoyed writing—that wasn’t targeting any particular sub-genre. If that didn’t sell, I would change directions and write for young adult and middle grade markets instead.
After I finished that last book and submitted it to Harlequin, I attended a week-long children’s writing workshop in the Rockies.
I returned home, filled with enthusiasm for the new direction I was taking, and a week later—yes, you guessed it—I got the call!
That first book was The Man for Maggie (Harlequin American Romance, June 2007) and I’m thrilled that last year it was reissued as Maggie’s Way (Harlequin Heartwarming, May 2013).
Why did that book sell when the others I’d written didn’t? Because instead of writing what I thought fit the current market trend, I wrote a story I loved. Instead of police procedure and awkward love scenes, I focused on creating the kinds of characters I'd fallen in love with in many of the stories I’d read over the years, characters I could relate to, characters for whom family, friends and community truly mattered.
Several years ago I overheard someone ask my husband what kind of books I write. When he told him I write romance novels, the man said, “Oh, like Fifty Shades of Grey.” My husband looked surprised and replied, “No, she writes fifty shades of pink.” And that’s been my tagline ever since.
Thank you so much for joining me today. My next Heartwarming, The Parent Trap, will be released on October 1st.
To celebrate, I’m offering a signed copies of that book and Maggie’s Way to one reader who leaves a comment. The name of the randomly selected winner will be posted at the comments of this post tomorrow. Feel free to share.
Happy reading! xoxo
Until next time,
Writing fifty shades of pink