This week's newbie is true fresh meat ;). Her first book hasn't even come out yet!!! The Pink Heart Society proudly presents new Harlequin Presents author Jennie Lucas!!!
Jennie lives with her husband and two small children in the American Northwest. She spends her time playing with her babies, writing about romance in exotic lands, doing as little housework as possible, and sporadically counting points on Weight Watchers.
In most Call stories you may have read, the thrilled new author screams with joy, right? She hears that she’s going to be a published author, and every detail of that moment is forever emblazoned into her memory. It is the best, most memorable phone call of her life.
For me, finding out last October that I’d gotten a two-book contract with Presents was wonderful, mind-blowing, thrilling. But it wasn’t my best phone call ever.
It was my fourth-best.
I was always a dreamer—the chunky girl sitting in the library window, eating Caramello bars and reading romance novels. At fifteen, my world got a lot bigger when I begged my parents to let me go to a posh East Coast boarding school on scholarship. I had very romantic ideas about what it would be like. Instead, it was a shock to my Western, suburban, middle-class background to be suddenly living at a school filled with gorgeous, clever, slightly decadent trust-fund kids. But I survived, and afterwards I traveled, fell in love, and got married. My husband knew I dreamed of being a writer, so a few months after I finished college he suggested I quit my job to stay at home and write.
So for three solid years, I wrote and wrote. I started with an attempt at a Silhouette Romance that was rejected. I then wrote a bunch of really long historical novels that I didn’t submit to publishers. On my fourth manuscript, I had an epiphany about storytelling: Leave out the boring stuff and don’t pull punches. Yeah, you’d think that would be obvious, right? Not to me. Even though I’d been an English major, learning the art of storytelling—such a different skill than, say, grammar—was a long, grueling apprenticeship. For my fourth manuscript, a 100,000-word Medieval romance, I wrote as hard and mean as I could. I sent the manuscript out to a contest, knowing I’d get what I’d always gotten…silence.
Instead, I got my number one best call of all time. Tanya Michaels (http://www.tanyamichaels.com/) called to tell me that I’d finaled in the Maggie contest.
I screamed into the receiver, making her laugh. Then I remember my whole body shaking as I sank slowly to the floor. After I hung up the phone, I started to cry. Not just a sniff or two either. I bawled. Most women trying to break into this business also have something else to hold onto – they also hold a career, or they’re stay-at-home moms. But for me, I had nothing. For years, my husband had been blindly supporting me through rejection after rejection. I’d started to hate my stupid dream. The call from Tanya was my first encouragement.
My second favorite call came the following year, when I found out the same manuscript was a 2003 Golden Heart finalist. All the finalists from that year formed a gang called the Wet Noodle Posse (http://www.wetnoodleposse.com/), and that’s how I met the gorgeous Trish Morey (http://www.trishmorey.com/). But I came home from the
I wrote two tender romances, one of which won the Golden Heart in 2005. Trish, in an act of generosity that still floors me, offered to read a chapter of my third attempt at a category novel. I had just had my first baby, and my emotions were so strong that I wanted to try something new—to blend the drama and passion of my old historicals with a contemporary setting. Trish told me I had a Presents voice, but I knew I was wasting my time. Presents never buy American authors! But I loved writing the story so much I finished it anyway, then pitched The Greek Billionaire’s Baby Revenge to my dream agent in
Six weeks later, I got my third best call ever (via email)—she wanted to represent me!
I was six months pregnant with my second child, but I lumbered up from my computer and screamed. My husband was out of town, so I phoned him and screamed some more. Then I danced around the kitchen with my toddler, making her laugh as only an eighteen-month-old can. I must have read that email fifty times, wondering if I’d read it wrong. I hadn’t!
A month later, my agent called me. It was a busy time, since I was not only heavily pregnant (*very* heavily, since I was eating a tub of ice cream every night), but traveling every weekend for three weeks straight. My agent and I chatted for a few minutes, and then she said casually, “Oh, and I have some good news. Harlequin Mills & Boon would like to offer a two-book contract for Harlequin Presents!”
I don’t remember much about that day. I remember my husband hugging me and saying he was proud of me. I remember tangoing down the hallways with my toddler. For the next couple of days I blurted out things like a victim of Tourette’s Syndrome: “twobookcontract!” The next morning, I flew to
Jennie misses those tubs of ice cream, but she’s happy to have finally lost 54 pounds to reach her (non-skinny) pre-baby weight. Her first book, The Greek Billionaire’s Baby Revenge, comes out this August in the