Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

It’s Jillyday! December 11, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 7:29 pm

Woot! What a two weeks it’s been….

First my writing buddy Maisey gets her Call from Presents, then today the winners of the Harlequin Presents Writing Contest are announced on I Heart Presents.

Another writing buddy, Jilly, aka Gill Clegg, won the Modern Heat section with her fabulous entry “The Boss’s Intimate Takeover”!

I am so pleased and proud to say I loved her chapter and thought she was a winner from the second I read it.  I may not be able to write a winning chapter but I can certainly recognise one!

Well done Jilly, heartfelt congratulations and lots of love!

Sisters rule!


31 Responses to “It’s Jillyday!”

  1. Maisey Says:

    I thought the same Jane. It was a winner. No question. Ready to go to print as is, IMO.

    Jilly is wonderfully talented, but so is everyone else in our group. Trust us, it’s becoming clear we’re experts. 🙂

  2. waitingforthecall Says:

    Seven Sisters, aka The Pleiades.

    Because we’re all stars!

    It’s just that right now some are shining brighter than others…

  3. Maisey Says:

    Just more publicly shining.

  4. Jackie Says:

    Fantastic news for Jilly!! Such an awesome talent.

  5. waitingforthecall Says:

    Awesome talent and one very cool person!

  6. priley65 Says:

    I don’t want to sound skeptical, but the HP winners have diverse and long publishing histories. Congrats to Gill. You were right you thought she’d place. Correct me if I’m wrong but I thought if you were a contracted Harlequin author you weren’t eligible to enter. Ms. Carr has a book coming out in March 2010 with Harlequin Spice. What chance do wannabes have? Ms. Marr is a literary agent, author, lawyer and producer….Go figure.

  7. Maisey Says:

    We can say of Joanne and Gill (Jilly) that they were true undiscovered voices. Jilly has been entering contests and submitting and writing faithfully and she really, really deserved this.

    As for Joanne, I heard from a crit partner that this was the second thing she’d written.

    And don’t count out subbing the traditional way! That’s what I did. I’m slush to The Call and I promise I’m not even related to anyone. 🙂

  8. priley65 Says:

    I want to congratulate you, Maisey and Gill for your writing success, also the other winners past and present. I know how hard it is to plow ahead without success. I’ve been writing for years submitting and entering contests with little or no success. HP has always been my first love. I started reading them back in the Janet Dailey days and before that my older sisters would read them to me at bedtime 😉 If you guess my age don’t tell. It’s encouraging to know that you can go from slush to published. Thank you, Maisey, for your encouraging pep talks. To be so young and have this opportunity is wonderful. How young mothers do it is an art within itself. I think I’m going to hang up my writing cap and then…another plot entrenches itself in my head and I’m off. If you want to succeed….

  9. Mel Says:

    Congrats to Gill and the MH runner-up.

    I could just about accept what I think is a dumb marketing move by awarding the prize to a multipublished author but for Joanne Grant to expect us to believe she only found out Susannah Carr was published when she rang her to give her the results -please, that just makes me feel used by this whole competition. We might believe in romantic escapism but we’re not morons.

  10. Maisey Says:

    Thank you! It’s much appreciated.

  11. waitingforthecall Says:

    Priley(I wish I knew your real name- is it Patricia?), I’m 49, and Jilly is actually a little older. I bet we grew up reading much the same stories!

    Her story is an inspiration for writers like us. She’s been writing on an off for years. She nearly gave up after her last rejection, nearly didn’t bother entering the contest as she was so sure she’d just get another R. She works full time in a brain-numbing job, and can only write at weekends.

    This isn’t just a young woman’s game, and it’s about persistence, and learning the craft skills of writing fiction, just as much as it’s about raw talent.

    Mel, I do believe that the editors just sat down and read the chapters they had, and selected the ones that fitted best with what they want for the lines, then contacted the writers and found out about them later. It’s for the entrant to certify that they meet the requirements.

    But I also feel some disappointment that the Presents winner was a multi-published writer. I felt the competition was meant to be targeted at unpublished writers (it was even promoted on the UK site with a banner ad “Calling all unpublished”).

    I do wish both Susanna and Maggie luck, and congratulate them on their success.

    I’m sure Susanna’s chapter was the best suited to the needs of Presents, and that technically she meets the rules of the competition. Provided she wasn’t actually under contract with Harlequin for her Spice Briefs at the time she entered, she would be within the rules, even if not quite the spirit, of the contest. I’m sure with her experience and ability her writing would have grabbed the editor’s attention if she’d submitted via the usual routes too.

    The good news is- we all still have the opportunity to submit any time we want. And good writing that fits what the editors want for the series will always be picked up. Maisey’s Call proves that!

  12. priley65 Says:

    Yes, my name is Patricia. Thank you for understanding. I believe the ladies that won and who are being picked up by HP are absolutely deserving and because a person is published doesn’t mean that they still don’t still have aspirations and goals. I applaud them 100% for reaching out to achieve their dreams. I also know that you’re never too old to reach your dreams. We’re all in this together, authors, going for what they want. We can’t all win. The contests have been a wonderful opportunity. Like the editors said they read all the entries. I, for one, know that I still have a lot of work to do to become successful. I’ve two books published, but not by any major market. So who am I too complain. I wish they’d have a contest strictly for unpublished authors in any market and maybe one for previously published authors. The separation, I think, would make a difference.

  13. waitingforthecall Says:

    I think that you are right, Patricia, separating things out a bit would make it fairer.

    The disappointment of not getting chosen is very real. Even though I am thrilled beyond belief for Gill, and know her chapter was waaaaaaay more suited to the line than mine, I’m still sad for myself that I couldn’t be runner-up. Questioning what I could do differently.

    I do think if I don’t get a full request on my comp entry I will reconsider whether Presents is the line for me. I probabaly should try other lines or even other publishers. I’ve been wondering anyway.

    Hey, well done on the previous publications! Who were they with? Harlequin is definitely the Holy Grail of romance, and not easy to break into, which is why I’m not surprised even a multi-pubbed author like Susanna wants to write for Presents. The only caveat I have is that if she writes that well, she would have been picked up via normal submission routes anyway, and maybe should have left the contest to less published or unpublished writers.

    Just wondering, do you have a critique partner? Not just friends, but someone who is also a writer who can read your submissions and give some constructive feedback?

  14. Jane Holland Says:

    I seriously cannot wait to read these winning entries!! Having entered the comp myself, I want to see what the editors were looking for and try to make improvements to my own work based on what the winners produced. It’s a shame there’s been some bad feeling, but on closer investigation, neither of the pub. authors have broken any rules that I can see. So hopefully everyone will soon relax and give these winners their due!

    My real love is Historicals. So I’ll be concentrating on that. But for all those still trying for Presents, good luck and well done to the winners this time round!

  15. waitingforthecall Says:

    Good luck with your Historical partial, Jane! What period is your special interest?

    I’m still hopeful of getting a full request from the comp, so we’ll see what happens.

    My next story I already knew wasn’t going to be Presents, as it just isn’t going to be right for the line. Like so many of us do, I read across all the lines, and have a feeling Kate and Adam’s story might be better targeted at Superromance.

  16. Maisey Says:

    Jaaaaannneeee, sub to whoever you want, but seriously, you goose, you haven’t subbed to the Richmond office yet! 🙂 If you’re not suited to Presents based on the comps, neither am I. 😀

  17. Amy Strnad Says:

    Hey, usually just lurk but wanted to add my congrats to the winners! I’m happy to hear about your CP partner’s success and I hope you get a request for a full (and me too, for that matter 😉

    And also, I saw Jane Holland leave a comment and I had to say *WOW* . . . Charlotte Lamb’s daughter!

    I started reading romance when I was 11 years old (30 years ago . . . yikes!) I’m not sure exactly how many of her books I read (a lot!) but I just wanted to say to Jane Holland . . . count me in as one of the zillions of readers that enjoyed your mother’s books.


  18. waitingforthecall Says:

    Thanks for delurking Amy! Gill doesn’t have a blog yet so I’ll let her know you sent congrats.

    Jane Holland has her own blog as a poet (she’s an interesting woman- go check it out by clciking on her name in her post!) and I think she runs a site devoted to Charlotte Lamb’s writing too. I think any of us reading romances in the 70’s and 80’s would have read many CLs.

    Yes, fingers crossed for full requests all around!

  19. Ferdous Says:

    Jane, you must be so pleased – two of your ‘sisters’ have now been selected by HM&B! I really believe it won’t be long now before you and the others in your group also get ‘THE CALL’. So please do write on, I can’t wait to see some of your superromance material. I’m not so clued up, years ago I used to read across but now I mainly concentrate on historicals as I just love ’em. Also, I can understand the heated debate about the contest, but at the end of the day we just need to continue practicing the craft and do our best and sooner or later, we will be picked up.

    Please pass on my congrats to Jilly, hope her blog is set up soon so I can tag on.


  20. waitingforthecall Says:

    Thanks Ferdous! I have to hope that some of their writing talent rubs off! Or maybe some of their hard work and perseverence. I have a feeeling I will be the last in the group to get that Call, but that’s okay.

    I can completely understand other contest entrants on I Hearts being upset at the way the contest has turned out. It’s always disappointing when a story we’ve sweated over doesn’t get the recognition we hoped for. It’s just a shame they are letting their disappointment speak so loudly.

    I was lucky, once I saw Jilly’s chapter I knew the best I could hope for was runner-up. She simply wrote hers soooooooo much better than mine. I had plenty of time to adjust my expectations!

    But’s not over yet, the emails to the other 540 of us will be sent out by the 18th. Any of us who didn’t win can still hope for a full request.

    I really don’t know if I’ll get one or not. My chapter was the best thing I’ve written, but that doesn’t mean it was good enough. Or it may be good enough, but not right for Presents. I suspect I’ve been chasing the wrong line, and my voice isn’t a good fit there.

    I’ll pass on your good wishes to Jilly!

  21. Canary Says:

    Hi Mulberry! I just read a lot of your blog and loved it 🙂 So thought of dropping a line. I entered the Harlequin contest this year, and though I have been noticing other entrants pouring their disappointments out, I am just too dejected at not winning myself to think about anything else… Can I take a minute to ask a question? I want to know how I can be a part of a critique group and hopefully improve as a writer to be published one day?

  22. waitingforthecall Says:

    Thanks for dropping by, Canary.

    I know that disappointmnet, we all feel it. Don’t give up on the contest just yet though, it’s not only about winning! I’m sure the emails going out to entrants next week will have some full requests and encouraging rejections with feedback, as well as the form rejections. Even getting a form rejection doesn’t mean our writing is bad, just that it may not be what the editors are looking for (Jilly and Maisey both got form rejcetions last year). The editors will be giving lots of information over the coming weeks and commenting on the winning chapters and synopses which is a great way to learn.

    Not everyone finds critique partners helpful but many writers do. I did a post on this a while back- https://waitingforthecall.wordpress.com/2008/11/19/critique-group-or-critique-buddy/
    Actually, this is such an important thing for me, I might do another post on it.

  23. Hi Mulberry,

    I enjoyed reading your post on critique groups. I really think your point on getting partners who are targeting the same publisher/genre is especially important. I just ended a really difficult critique relationship with someone who seemed to hate the alpha male and was so critical it was demoralizing.

    And I’m a slow writer, too. So let’s just keep at it until we finish. OK?

  24. Jane Holland Says:

    Hi Amy! Thanks for noticing I’m Charlotte Lamb’s daughter! Yes, she was a real inspiration. I tried 5 times in my twenties to write for M&B but got Rs everytime, so eventually gave up and went into poetry instead. Now in my 40s and trying again, this time with historicals – my period, WFTC, is Regency, since my favourite writer is Heyer.

    Heyer was my mother’s favourite historical romantic novelist too, by the way, closely followed by Jean Plaidy, so we had all those historicals knocking round the house when I was a kid, which developed my reading taste in that direction. The first stories my mother wrote were historical romances, btw, for serialisation in Woman’s Weekly. It was only later that she moved into contemporary romance and made her reputation there. Not many people know that!

  25. waitingforthecall Says:

    Anne, that is such an important thing. At the very least if not aiming for the same line, having a liking for it and an understanding of it, and a good current knowledge of the needs of that sub-genre. It sounds like the process you’ve been through would make it so hard to stay true to your vision of who your character is. A bad CP can be very destructive. Just like dating, there probably needs to be a trial period of feeling each other out before committing to the relationship. I think that’s where a group can be helpful- it’s less intense, and easier to not take on advice that you know doesn’t fit. The flipside of that is the issue in a group of reconciling conflicting advice.

    You mentioning being a slow writer raises another good point too- a good CP will understand that everyone’s writing process is different and not try to pressure her writing buddy to write like her. I actually write very fast first draft but it’s a total mess full of highlighing and crossing out and notes to myself for stuff to fix later, and then I edit veeeeeeery slowly. Usually there are whole chapters and sections I need to throw out. I’m working of finding ways to keep more focused (part of this is probably finding where my voice fits best). One of the other girls in my group writes in a somewhat similar way. The others tend to write slow but perfect it as they go, producing beautiful first draft that is just about ready to hit “Send” on. Another writes fast and edits fast- she’s just fast (and boy, am I jealous!). We need to consider that when we’re talking about our writing too. WE all get there in the end, we just come at it different ways.

  26. waitingforthecall Says:

    I love Georgette Heyer’s stories. The non-Regency historicals and the whodunnits too, though the Regencies are my first love. I read my first when I was 12 and spent my teen years tracking down all of them, reading and re-reading.
    Fingers crossed for you with your Historical partial, Jane!

  27. Jane Holland Says:

    Thanks! Are you a Jane too? Lol, it’s a good name.

    Sorry to see you getting coshed over on the iheartpresents site, just for trying to sound a note of reason. That whole situation is out of control. It’s one thing to be disappointed, but there’s no call for all that undirected bile and hostility. FWIW, I’m sure it’s only a small handful who feel so strongly. The rest of us are genuinely pleased for the winners and are just looking forward to – hopefully! – getting some useful feedback on our own entries.

    I’ve now started my own romance writing blog – http://janewritesromance.blogspot.com – so if you’re ever browsing idly, do drop by!


  28. waitingforthecall Says:

    Yes, another Jane! Definitely will drop by. And add you to my blogroll. I think the whiff of trouble may have attracted some trollsto I Hearts. I’m staying well out of it now as any comment seems to inflame things.

  29. priley65 Says:


    I’m out of town so I didn’t have any internet until tonight. I live in a rural farming community in Nebraska. The closest thing to writing partners is several hours away so I don’t have a critique partner and I never have. Before internet I had no feedback on my writing. I’ve written many completed manuscripts over the years. Most of my manuscripts have been targeted at HP. I’ve been told by several published Harlequin authors that have so kindly read some of my work, but never a complete manuscript, that I have an HP voice. I wish. You’re so lucky to have found a group of ladies to work with. You sound perfect for each other. It seems that you are now the other blog sight for contest woes. I’m sorry. You’re so good at answering questions and giving hope;-)

    Hello to everyone else posting here. Jane Holland I’ve read so many of your mother’s books. She is truly missed.

  30. Robyn Says:

    Jane, I’m a bad sister. Cannot believe that in all the excitement I forgot to stop by here to add my Jilly congrats (although, obviously, she heard me jumping for joy and screaming despite the fact I’m half a world away 🙂


  31. Jane Holland Says:

    Thanks, Priley65. It’s a pity my mother – who dearly loved to chat and gossip about HMB with other writers – missed the internet explosion … though I bet she would have written a lot less if she’d been online all day like me.

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