Tuesday, June 4, 2013


This past Friday, May 31st, I experienced the most intense writer's rush of all.

I got The Call!

I'm overwhelmed. Humbled. Nervous. Ecstatic. You name it...a slew of emotions. I couldn't name them all if I tried. I'm not even sure I can put together a coherent call story right now. Typing on an adrenaline buzz  is tough! Keeping my thoughts straight...tougher.

I hand wrote 8 pages of 'call' story/writing journey last night. Can you tell how much fun writing a short synopsis is for me? LOL. Don't worry. I know I was getting sentimental and reminiscing. I'm editing out huge chunks, but it's still long ;)

I started writing my first romance August of 2008. Total. Pantsing. I was oblivious to craft specifics or submission protocols. I just loved reading, writing and romance...so I went for it. Ignorance can indeed be bliss because in this case, it allowed my internal editor to stay dormant (I can't seem to get her back in that state;). I finished that manuscript after the second draft.

By the end of 2008, I'd discovered an insane amount of writing information online...and just how supportive the writing community is. I learned so much from author, agent and editor blogs it's not funny. Harlequin's forums and writing resources were another phenomenal source of writing education and friendships. I also joined RWA at this time. I'm so grateful for every single person or source that shared their knowledge and experience with me. I also became a craft book junkie :)

Fast forward through contest and critique feedback that led me to rewrite (as in overhaul) this first manuscript.

In 2009, I attended my very first RWA Nationals meeting. There, I met another first timer, Kaily Hart. We clicked and she's been my friend, shoulder, advisor and rock ever since. I think we were both a little nervous about attending our first meeting, but wow, the warmth and camaraderie was amazing. What an experience and I'm grateful to authors who reach out and make newbies feel welcome.

With all that I'd learned, I went home and rewrote my story yet again. I entered it in contests and subbed to agents. One agent requested a full that bumped me up to RWA PRO status (even if it earned an R). More resources. Then I entered it in the online (2010) Harlequin Superromance Pitch contest...and it won a chat room pitch opportunity with Editor Victoria Curran. I'd never been in a chat room. Pitching in one? Mortifying. I know I sounded like a complete, bumbling idiot, but she requested a partial. I sent it in.

That summer, I attended Nationals again and it was a totally different experience. I had writer friends from the Harlequin forums and meeting them in person was a blast. I also had the chance to meet Victoria Curran in person. I was so nervous. I mean, I was little me and she was THE Victoria Curran. She had my partial and I was convinced, if she'd read it already, she'd look at me and cringe. Of course, that's not what happened :). She was so great and nice and funny....and wise, constructive and encouraging when she sent me a personal R on the submission.

Victoria, if you're out there, I'm laughing at myself (with red cheeks). That manuscript was so not ready for editor eyes!

So what did I do? I re-wrote it again. Yep. I'm a bit OCD, project oriented and persistent (that sounds better than stubborn, right?). That book (what I consider my 3 for 1, since it was the same book rewritten 3 times) finally got stashed away (forever, RIP). My attitude at this time was let all the positive feedback keep you going and all the negative feedback guide you to the right craft books. Experience is never a waste of time. That manuscript was an invaluable learning experience. I also learned that:

1) I could finish writing an entire book (I'm too OCD to start one and not finish)
2) I could tackle edits and rewrites (knowing this boosted my confidence later on)

I was also blessed to gain another dear friend and extraordinary mentor and Fairy Godmother, Jeannie Watt.

After completing my second manuscript, I won a Brenda Novak Auction critique with Victoria Curran. She'd seen my work before and, although I knew she'd been promoted and would no longer be with Superromance, the line I was targeting, I really wanted that last opportunity to 'learn' from her feedback. I valued her opinion...which was spot on, of course. I still needed to work on conflict.

I rewrote that manuscript and subbed it.

On to manuscript 3. The One :)

When RWA Nationals in Anaheim (last year) rolled around, I still hadn't completed a new manuscript. I'd spent too much time on rewrites and reading craft books. I almost backed out of going because I felt so unprepared (no elevator pitch or anything), but my friend Kaily assured me that once I got on that plane, I'd relax and get excited about the meeting (thank you, Kaily, for not letting me back out). I'm a mother of three boys, so I was feeling fried and Nationals in my annual 'me' time. Even without a pitch, I could use time in my hotel room to start my next book. Well Kaily was right. I'm so glad I went.

While having dinner with Jeannie (and her writer daughter Jaime) the first night, I mentioned a story idea I'd had that sprung out of some of my unique life experiences. Later on, she asked if I was attending the Harlequin Heartwarming Open House. I'm ashamed to say I hadn't heard of Heartwarming. It was still 'newish', having gone through a digital test mode, but they were planning to launch new authors and stories the following summer (as in this month!). I had no idea about this at the time. Several more times over the next few days, I heard, 'So are you going?' (nudge, nudge) from Jeannie. I finally got curious and asked her what it was all about. She said we'd just be popping in to say hi to Victoria and congratulate her and Marsha Zinberg on the upcoming new author launch of the line...and then we'd leave. In and out. I believe I may have even asked her, just to be sure, that I wouldn't have to pitch or anything...and that anyone could go. Party crasher I am not :)...way to shy for that. LOL. Guess it's called an 'open' house for a reason ;).

We went...and right after Victoria and Marsha introduced the line, Victoria pointed out stacks of large 'idea' (aka pitch) cards and invited everyone to write a story idea down, pop it in the bag and they'd pick 5 ideas to ask for subs on. Panic set in. I can't wing stuff like that. I have to plan and prepare. Jeannie started walking out and I followed.

She stopped me and told me not to leave until I pitched at least one idea. In fact, she told me she thought I should pitch the one I'd told her about over dinner. I freaked. I told her I couldn't phrase a coherent pitch on the spot. She said of course you can. I said the room is too noisy...I can't concentrate. She said to sit in the hall then, but to do it. Mind you, Jeannie teaches that pre-teen/teen age group. She knows all the 'homework' excuses, I'm sure. And I didn't dare say no to her. LOL. Jeannie is awesome and sooo nice, but she's also intuitive and knew I needed that final nudge. Thanks, Jeannie!!!!

I did end up in the hall. I eventually migrated back into the room when the crowd had thinned to a few people. There I sat at a corner table, feeling like the last kid in a classroom during a school exam LOL (everyone was great and nice and the atmosphere was wonderful...these were my own insecure thoughts). I think I tore up at least 20 of those idea cards just to get three down. And the one that I ended up getting a full request on a month later? The idea I'd told Jeannie about.

So I wrote the story and sent it in. A few days later, Victoria called me with a revision request that pretty much entailed rewriting the entire ending and any related threads. I did the revisions and sent them in May 13th, and on May 31st (notice the number flip?...and it's 2013...heh, 13 is a lucky number;) I got the call.

Book 1 is due to be released January 2014, with books 2 and 3 (it's a series) in 2015.

I'm beside myself and so incredibly humbled to be working with yet another group of incredible authors and with Victoria. Victoria, thank you so much for this opportunity. I apologize profusely for any headaches, head-banging or hair-pulling that reading any of my earlier submissions might have caused :).

Thanks to everyone who has propelled my journey, knowingly or not. Thanks to everyone who has ever judged or critiqued my work and given me advice, support and friendship, or shared their experiences, whether through their blogs or on forums or through letting me pick their brains during interviews. Thanks to my family for believing I could do it and for understanding. Thank you all.

And sorry for such a loooong post!

Blame it on the rush!


  1. Rula,

    I am thrilled for you. Your journey speaks to what we can achieve if we know what we want and stick to our path.


  2. I am so happy and thrilled for you - you can't imagine! This is so well deserved. I wish you all the happy writing and good luck in the whole world!

  3. You are definitely forgiven for the long post. I'm soooo excited for you, Rula!!! Just wait. You'll soon be able to apply for PAN.

  4. Rula, congratulations! This is wonderful news!!

  5. Melissa - Thanks so much!

    J.L. - Thank you, and I hope you know that hearing about your experiences, accomplishments and all your hard work over at your blog, has truly been a source of inspiration.

    Carol - Thanks!Now everyone knows why my revisions have been so intense and I had to disappear for awhile :). I've love 'de-stressing' at the Tiki Hut!

    Stina - Thank you, fellow craft book lover! Always love your suggestions. PAN...yes...wow!

    Cathryn - Hey, girl! Thank you sooo much!

  6. Rula ~ what a great call story. Congratulations! I can't wait to read your books.

  7. Congratulations, hon! That is what I call one wild ride.

  8. Kaelee - Thanks! And thanks, too, for popping in at the harlequin party thread :)It means a lot.

    Maria - Thanks! Definitely a wild ride :)

  9. Hi Rula!

    I love your story. It sounds a lot like mine-after several very nice and encouraging rejection letters from Harlequin on other submissions, I've finally found a home with Heartwarming:) Welcome!! And Congratulations! I can't wait to read your series:)

  10. Hi Jennifer!

    Thanks for the warm welcome and congrats :). I'm looking forward to reading your Heartwarmings too and can't wait for your November release!

  11. Congratulations and welcome to the Harlequin family! I'm so glad you kept working on the story.

  12. Hi Barbara!

    Thank you so much! I'm humbled to be joining authors I've admired for so long.

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  14. Congratulations again, Rula! I'm so excited for you! Can't wait to read your first book!!!

    Amy (the unknown. I can't figure out how to log in anywhere. LOL)

  15. Amy!!! Thanks so much for all your support and for reaching out and making me feel so 'included' back when I first mustered up the courage to come out of lurkdome at the Supers authors harl thread and ever since :)

  16. Congratulations Rula! I loved reading your Call Story. So happy and excited for you!

    All the best!


  17. Congratulations Rula - this is so very exciting for you!!


  18. Nas and Nicole! So great to see both of you here. Thanks so much on the congrats!!

  19. Congratulations! That's so exciting. Dedication and hard work. That's you!

  20. Hi Anne! Thank you so much. I'm in awe at what you've accomplished with your dedication and hard work. You're a great example to follow :)

  21. WOOT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    So THRILLED for you, Rula!!! And cannot wait to read it!

  22. LOL, Jennifer...that was loud! :) Thank you so much! I love your books and your blog. Watching you succeed has been such a joy and inspiration! Thanks for all the support you've given me blogging :)

  23. Just saw this thread--we're sooo happy to have you at Heartwarming, Rula! And personally I'm about as excited as you are to have been part of your journey from near the start. You nailed this story!

  24. Victoria!!! It's such an honor to have you drop by my blog! It means so much to me :).

    Thank you so much for the extra warm welcome to Heartwarming. You've been a huge, integral part of my journey and I truly believe your feedback along the way has helped me grow as a writer. Thank you for believing in this story from pitch to end!!!