Getting the Call: Meet Rebecca Hunter!

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Meet one of Harlequin’s newest authors, for Harlequin’s newest line, the super-sexy Harlequin Dare!

You know when you just get a feeling when you’re writing? A feeling that your book is kind-of writing itself, that it just… works? Well, I got that feeling about the book I wrote last fall, and I sold it to Harlequin’s new super-sexy Dare line in a three-book deal. But the real story behind any success is always a little messier than that, right?

Actually, when I pitched to Harlequin senior editor Kathleen Scheibling, she (ahem) might have even laughed at my premise – a billionaire writer as a hero. Through chortles, she asked, “He didn’t get his money through writing books, did he?”

“Um… no?”

You see, when you have an impromptu chance to pitch to a senior editor at Harlequin, you take it. Even if you’re totally unprepared. My solution: I meshed a story I was currently writing (writer hero with sordid past) with the Harlequin Dare’s guidelines (alpha/billionaire heroes!).

You’re looking for billionaires? Um… sure, my hero’s a billionaire!

Kathleen (who is quite nice and funny in person) asked a bunch of story questions and requested the manuscript. But I could hear from her questions that my story wasn’t quite on-market for Dare.

“…this time it really clicked that I needed to approach category romance differently.”

Then, on the ride home from the RWA meeting, I had a bit of an epiphany. This was the second time I had tried to squeezed a story I already had in mind into Harlequin’s guidelines, but this time it really clicked that I needed to approach category romance differently.

Instead, when I came home from the Harlequin presentation, I studied the guidelines and started from there. They wanted international big cities or vacation destinations – which one would be the most fun to write about? Hmm, my sister lives in Australia, and I love it there. Maybe Sydney? They wanted alpha heroes or anti-heroes, definitely guys with an edge. What kind of alpha would be fun to write? I love the security firm/ex-military stories. Maybe I could create one of those?

In other words, I approached this project the way I might approach a college writing assignment… a really, really long, challenging one, that is. And as with college writing assignments, most of the class may be able to get through it and meet the guidelines, but usually only a couple students make that assignment shine. Wouldn’t it be fun to be one of those students?

“…for the first time ever, I actually tried to plan out the book, not just pants it, making sure it stayed within Harlequin’s guidelines.”

So for the first time ever, I actually tried to plan out the book, not just pants it, making sure it stayed within Harlequin’s guidelines. Then I took off, writing my story about a security firm run by four alpha guys, set in Sydney. Oh – and it was supposed to be hot. Really hot. My previous books were all from the woman’s perspective, so writing in a crass, sex-minded guy’s voice turned out to be really fun. I just went with it. And the book was done and polished in three month, a record for me by far.

When I finally got the call a few months later, Kathleen remembered my billionaire writer. “Being memorable is a good thing,” she said, quite diplomatically.

I would probably have written off the whole experience as embarrassing if it hadn’t been the jumping-off point for a sold manuscript. Instead, I get to call it the beginning of my success story – the real version of that story.

To learn more about Rebecca, visit her website, rebeccahunterwriter.com

Or say hello on Facebook

And watch for Rebecca’s Harlequin Dare debut in 2018!

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Comments

  1. H. S. Stavropoulos

    Good for you Rebecca! I’m sure we’ve all done that under the nerve-wracking pitch moment. But, you did what most of us don’t do by reviewing the guidelines and writing the story!

  2. Ann Malley

    Excellent advice and congratulations to you for turning that pitch opportunity into a publishing contract. And for three books!

    Exactly how it came about just makes for an interesting story.

    Congratulations!

  3. Chrissie

    Congrats on the three book contract. That is totally awesome that you found the right formula. I’m a panster too, but I am learning to plot ahead. I tried to write for the Dare line, but wasn’t successful. Maybe I shouldn’t give up. I did get some pretty nice comments from Patience Bloom. anyway, I can’t wait to read the new line and now read your first book. Congrats again, you deserve it. 🙂

    • Ann Malley

      If we all focus on the editorial comments — that is really listen and modify accordingly — we’re sure to sell.

      The patience of folks like Patience reminds me of what it’s like being a teacher. It feels GREAT when a student actually gets it and you can give that “A”.

      Now, if only I can fix that student hat firmly in place and get down to work!!

    • Rebecca Hunter

      Thanks so much, Chrissie, and yes – keep trying! For me it was also a matter of finding the right-match line. When I saw the Dare guidelines, I felt like I knew what Harlequin was looking for because I had read a bunch of books in this sub-genre.