Our newest Superromance author, Jo McNally, on getting The Call!
It was a miserable Friday morning at my 9-5 job. In our five-person office, three people were on vacation, and the fourth was at a property hours away. So I was alone, trying to keep up with phones and emails and customers—it was not pretty. While I was on one call and watching helplessly as the other line rang, my personal cell phone lit up with a rare daytime call. I reached over to silence it, muttering a curse or two, when I saw “Toronto Ontario” on the screen.
There’s only one personal call that would be coming to me from Toronto.That would be Harlequin, and …
I. Can’t. Take. The. Call.
Victoria Curran left a lovely voicemail asking me to email her with a good time for her to call back. I’d met Victoria at the Romance Writers of America conference in New York City this summer, and she’d requested my manuscript for Superromance after a ten-minute pitch session. I quickly emailed her and said I wasn’t going to be able to get off the front desk for several hours. She took pity and asked me via email if I wanted her to put me out of my suspense. I answered, “Yes, please!” That’s when she told me Harlequin was offering me a contract. I immediately started shaking.
We made it official when we spoke later that day, and hearing a major publisher like Harlequin say that they love your book and your writing and your characters is something that’s very hard to describe. I’m not exactly young anymore, and to have a lifelong dream come true after thousands of hours of hard work . . . well, there aren’t many things more rewarding than that. It didn’t seem real (and still doesn’t a month later!) It’s been so much fun to share the experience with everyone in my life. My husband, family and friends are just as thrilled about it as I am. My 89-year-old mom is beside herself with excitement.
How does it feel? Well, have you ever fallen in love? do you remember that jittery, giddy, nerve-wracking period in the very beginning? When you’re not sure if you want to break into a song-and-dance routine or sit down and weep? When it all feels too good to be true, and you hope you’re not dreaming? You think of him/her all the time, to the point where you can’t think of anything else; you’re only partially functional at work, and you can’t get to sleep at night? And you can’t stop hugging yourself and grinning like an idiot?
Yup. That’s how it feels to get The Call. So don’t give up (like I almost did!) Keep writing and learning and reading, reading, reading. Develop tough skin and learn from the rejections that will surely come. Enter contests and listen to the feedback with an open mind. Because getting The Call is just the beginning.
I’m knee-deep in revisions right now, and I know that we may end up cutting scenes that I thought were simply brilliant when I wrote them. The title will not be the title I originally chose. But I trust my editor’s experience and knowledge, and our discussions have been collaborative and inspiring. Cole and Bree are still going to light up the countryside of North Carolina with their sassy rivalry-turned-romance. The deep emotional pull of Cole’s struggles with PTSD and Bree’s search for her true self in the wreckage of all her “formers” is still going to be there. They will laugh and fight and love. The book will be better for the extra work, and the whole point is to have a successful book.
The initial giddiness of getting The Call may be fading, but it has given way to the far deeper satisfaction of knowing that the premier romance publishing house in the world has decided that I am A Writer.
And that’s really the best feeling ever.
Stay tuned for Cole and Bree’s story coming from Harlequin Superromance soon!
Learn more about Jo at her website: JoMcNallyRomance.com
And say hello on Twitter @jomcnallyauthor