My Call Story by Caitlin Crews
Please welcome new Harlequin Presents author Caitlin Crews to IHP today! Her first Presents novel, Pure Princess, Bartered Bride hits the shelves in North America with the February releases next month and is on sale now in the UK! North American readers can also order it now from eHarlequin.com (print) or the Harlequin eBook Store. ~Amy
Romance novels are really my one, true love when it comes to books. I found my first one when I was 12 years old in the local five and dime (my mother was more into spy thrillers) and I was an instant addict. Big, sweeping historicals. Sweet contemporaries. Shorter categories. My mother would drop me off at the local used book store, and pick me up again many hours later after I’d spent ages scouring the shelves and discovering so many new and new-to-me authors I’d stagger under the pile of books on my way to the car. I read and read and read. Many adults questioned my taste in books—teachers confiscated my books in school and demanded to know, in scandalized tones, what my mother would think.
I told them, truthfully, that she did not believe in censoring my reading material!
Fast forward a whole lot of years, and a whole lot of writing. I was first published in women's fiction/chick lit, but I spent all my time at RWA conventions swooning in delight every time I saw the great names of romance happen by. I felt like I was watching my own, personal awards show—and I got to sit in the same room with women who had created stories that I lugged around with me from home to new home, unable to part with their words.
I spent all my free time reading more and more romances, single title as well as category, just as I always had. But I found myself gravitating more and more toward Presents. I just couldn't seem to get enough of the stories– so big, so intense, and so delicious. I just loved them! And then, in the summer of 2008, I got a pair of wonderful characters in my head, and I dared myself to try and write in that fantastic Presents-style voice–which could not be more different from the other kinds of books I write. It was a whole new world for me!
I finished the chapters, polished them as best I could, and sent them in. And then I waited. Months and months, until, just over a year ago now, I got an early-morning email from the Presents office. They had read my chapters, had some thoughts/suggestions about the characters' motivations, would be interested in seeing the whole book–and did I know when I might be able to submit the whole of it?
Well. First, I danced around a little bit in my desk chair. As you do.
I picked a date that seemed reasonable, and assured them I would submit then. I don't know why I was so confident–I'd never written a Presents before. And I thought I could write one to a deadline?? Let me tell you, that was the roughest stretch of my life! But it was also exhilarating. I was so drawn into the story–so swept away by the world I was creating and the unbelievably alpha hero I was falling in love with as I worked my way through the story… I had no idea if anyone else would ever read or love the story, but I knew I did.
When I sent the manuscript in, I was surprised to get an email back almost at once from my editor, who told me that she was working at home, as London had been hit with a blizzard. Wouldn't it be wonderful if she was snowbound, I thought, and bored, and just happened to click open the book I'd sent her and dive in… Well, I have no idea if she did that, but I do know that about a week later, I got another email, this one saying that Harlequin wanted to buy my book! I couldn't believe it! I think I danced around my house–at seven in the morning! I definitely screamed! I was over the moon.
I’ve just finished my third Presents now, and I'm still over the moon, and I don't imagine the feeling is likely to go away any time soon. My first Presents, Pure Princess, Bartered Bride, is already on sale at eHarlequin and should be showing up in bookstores soon. It’s still very hard to believe!
It wasn't my first call–it wasn't even a call, in fact–but it was my first sale to my first love, and I couldn't be happier. Or more honored to be a part of the Harlequin tradition!