I’ve dreamed of seeing my name on a Harlequin cover. Somehow, being associated with that trademark diamond would mean that I’d officially “made it.” So, when I discovered So You Think You Can Write, I was both ecstatic and terrified. On the one hand, it was an amazing opportunity, and on the other hand, it was a lot of pressure for a nervous author to manage. What if I flopped and that was how they remembered me? I was a fledgling no name nobody and this was Harlequin. After careful consideration, I did what any self-proclaimed chicken little does, I stalked silently and from afar. I followed the So You Think You Can Write blog posts, celebrated with contest winners, and pretended to hit send on the tweet-length pitches I painstakingly created each fall, but I didn’t submit.
“I’d finally said it. I wanted to write for Intrigue!”
I went on to publish with other presses, but the desire to be a Harlequin author didn’t go away. Then, last spring, something crazy happened. I tweeted about how amazing my latest Harlequin Intrigue read was, and I spontaneously added, “I love these books! I want to write them!” I’d finally said it. A public proclamation. I wanted to write for Intrigue! I languished in my boldness for about ten minutes.
Then, there was a response tweet from my agent: “I can help with that.”
I swear my heart stopped. I nearly lost my coffee. My tweet hadn’t gone into the abyss as I’d imagined. It had been seen. My secret was out. What was I going to do about it?
First, I shut my laptop and went to hide in my room. Later, I started writing the Harlequin Intrigue book of my dreams. My story took a lot of work, and I shed a river of I-can’t-do-this tears, but eventually, I was ready to hit send, and my blessed agent submitted for me. Otherwise, the pages would still be clutched in my cowardly hands.
I was at tennis practice for the offspring when I heard my agent’s ringtone. I practically ran across the soccer field for privacy. You know. Someplace the other moms wouldn’t hear me cry. I sat in the grass and waited for the worst, but it wasn’t bad news. It was AMAZING news. She said, “They loved your writing, and they want to offer you an Intrigue contract.” As if that wasn’t enough to land me in the loony bin, she said my new Harlequin editor wanted to call and welcome me aboard. I had so many emotions when my editor called. I probably sounded like an alien trying to form English words for the first time. I babbled. I laughed inappropriately. I took notes. I kept thinking, be cool, Julie, be cool. But let’s face it, I am not cool. I’m a mess, and she kindly pretended not to notice. Bless.
“Don’t wait for years like I did to go after what you want.”
I’m shaking my head as I type, but somehow, I’ve done it. I took the incredibly long way around, but I am a Harlequin author. You can be, too. Don’t wait for years like I did to go after what you want. The reward is completely worth it.
Julie Anne Lindsey is a multi-genre author who writes the stories that keep her up at night. She’s a self-proclaimed nerd with a penchant for words and proclivity for fun. Julie lives in Ohio with her husband and three children. Today, she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world. Learn more about Julie at julieannelindsey.com and say hello on Twitter @.