Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Writer's Wednesday - THE CALL with Anna Cleary!

We love call stories, and this one is a doozy! Please give a big PINK HEART welcome to new author Anna Cleary, who joins us today with her call story!

Welcome Anna!

Hello there,

I’m Anna Cleary, and I write for the Mills&Boon Modern Heat line, which currently markets in North America as Harlequin Presents Extra. I am thrilled—no, more than thrilled—I am over the moon to announce that my first published book, My Tall Dark Greek Boss, which has already been out in the UK, Aus and N.Z, is this month blazing from bookshelves across America.

If only I were there to see it. Sigh.

The fact is, I am here in my study in Australia, shackled to my computer, (though not by diamonds), struggling to bring another pair of lovers to a passionate and romantic conclusion of their quest for true love.

But, gentle reader, I hear you ask, why do you want to do something so essentially psychotic?

I can only give a wry grimace and admit that all my life I’ve wanted to do this very psychotic thing. Dream up people—Yes, yes, all right—heroes, and create other people, heroines, in fact, into whose skins I can crawl so I can truly get the buzz out of the heroes. Does that make sense?

And yes, it’s painful, it’s terrifying, it’s hard labour, but it’s also fantastic fun, and at times even thrilling. In fact, even if I hadn’t received that fateful phone call on that Maundy Thursday eleven months ago, I’d still be here, tearing my hair out and sobbing with my heroine and suffering with my wounded, brooding hero (with very dark eyes and a stern, while at the same time extremely sensuous, mouth.)

It all started like this. I had a friend, who had a friend who wrote for Mills &Boon. And indeed she does write the most emotionally satisfying and romantic medical romances. You know her too—Meredith Webber. So when I confessed my lifelong passion to my friend, she suggested I talk to her friend, and Meredith suggested I have a shot at writing a Mills &Boon romance.

And then another friend made a pact with me. Let’s each write a first chapter in our winter holidays.

So I had a shot. I had several shots. As green behind the gills as I was, I submitted each and every finished manuscript to the editorial department at M&B. And thank goodness, the first five—or was it six? surely not seven? No, no, that was the one I wrote twice, and submitted again—were firmly rejected by those brilliant and discerning editors.

Funny thing, isn’t it? With each book you write, you think—This is as good as it gets. Baby, I’m so crash hot now with this one, I couldn’t possibly get any better. And then you write the next one and the next one, and see how ghastly those old ones were. Lucky for me I was in a writers group, and I had—still have—the most wonderful, warm, thoughtful, honest and talented bunch of other writers with whom I can exchange ideas.

At last I sent a story in—one with, perhaps, just a little extra soupcon of personal emotional truth—and I received an email. Then another email, and some suggestions re some changes. Change this, and this, and we might have a chat on Thursday.

What! Changes to my work of art?

It was a struggle to swallow my artistic ego, but I did it, though it left a lump. I sent the revised manscript, then waited. A chat on Thursday, I thought excitedly, sounds like a phone call.

Be professional, friends warned. Have a notebook handy to write things down. Think of it as a job interview. Be cool.

On Thursday I trawled the house all day long for a pen that worked, fearful of leaving the phone. By evening I was a nervous wreck. ‘I’ll just have to go and lie down,’ I told my daughter.
Then as soon as I dropped into a fitful doze, the phone rang. I heard my daughter answer it and say, ‘Yes. Yes, she’s here...’ then bawl, ‘MUM! I think its Mills and Boon.’

Well! I leaped from my bed and catapulted myself down the hall, crashing from wall to wall, glancing off every sharp corner of furniture along the way, eventually halting when my toe stubbed itself against the phone desk.

Black, blue and wincing, I quavered, ‘Yes?’

A light and lovely voice answered, a voice I’d dreamed of hearing all my life, one with the most delightful London accent. ‘Ms Cleary? We really love your book. We wondered if you would be interested in a contract?’

Interested! Words still fail me when I think of the miracle of that call.

And was I cool? No, I was not. The truth is I babbled. I was so excited, I hardly knew what I said. But a big Yes please! was in there somewhere. I was thrilled to bits, and have been ever since. And now I have a book doing the world rounds, and another coming out in July and August. It’s called Taken by the Maverick Millionaire—a Modern Heat in the UK, Sexy Sensation in Oz and NZ, and in America it will be branded Harlequin Presents.

And the most marvellous thing of all is that I’ve met a fabulous bunch of other authors. Wonderful, warm, witty, creative people from all over, with one fantastic thing in common with me. They love to read romance, and they love to write it.

Truly, the world needs to ask itself. What is it about romance writers that make them such special, lovely people?

Thanks Anna for the lovely, and INSPIRING call story! We certainly agree that romance writers - and readers - are the best people ever!

You can visit her Harlequin profile HERE! Don't forget to pick up MY TALL DARK GREEK BOSS, out in North America!


  1. What a great call story, Anna. Congratulations on the release of your first book--seeing it on the shelves is amazing, isn't it?! I look forward to reading My Tall Dark Greek Boss.


  2. Hi Anna! What a great call story. It's simultaneously exciting, thrilling, intoxicating and dead scary when you get that call and I swear it is impossible not to babble, so you're in good company there:-)

    I have your gorgeous first book on my bedside table and I can't wait to read it.

    Congratulations again. Is it only 11 months? Wow, what a ride!

  3. Thank you Kate. Lovely to hear from you. And you, Trish! And you're quite right.It is scary, because it feels just a bit unreal until you hear that voice on the other end of the phone. And I'm not sure it gets any the less scary, especially when you have a deadline looming.
    THanks both of you for dropping by to the lovely Pink Heart Society

  4. Hi Anna,
    Congratulations! There's nothing quite like seeing your first book on the shelf! I had the privilege of hearing your call story firsthand over an author lunch last year. Truly wonderful, exciting and such a thrilling experience. Can't wait to read the book ...

  5. Hi Anna

    Have read your first book, loved it and so looking forward to reading the next one!!

    Sounds like authors need danger money for all the bruises you get running to get that all important call!!

  6. See what I mean about romance writers? Here's another prime example. THank you Helen. That was a great lunch. And I believe you have a gorgeous book of your own gracing the shelves of North America this very morn. Looking forward to seeing you at lunch again quite soon! (But not before my April deadline)
    And Anonymous, whoever you may be, I thank you from the heart. There's nothing more likely to warm an author to the soul than those very words from a satisfied reader. Cheers!

  7. Great to hear your call story, Anna. Looking forward to reading the book too.


  8. Well, thank you Claire. And by the way, I'm chuffed you dropped in, because now I have this opportunity to tell you how much I enjoyed 'Best Friend future wife.' It was great.

  9. Hey Anna. Great call story. I loved your debut novel. I could have eaten Sam with a spoon.

    I have to say I really love the covers and the Sexy Sensation branding they have here in Oz. They look really young and hip but sexy with just a hint of naughty.
    Have you got a preference cover-wise?

  10. Hi Anna,

    Am thrilled to bits that you've joined the Sexy Sensation crew of authors. Or is that coven, band, gaggle?

    Your Tall Dark Greek Boss (who is btw now MY TDBG) is at the top of the tbr pile and about to be devoured. I've just handed in a story so am currently in reading heaven!


  11. That was so nice of you, Kate, to pop by. And I'm sure you know exactly how exciting it feels when you have your own gorgeous Greek hero on those same shelves. What with Sheikhs, Greeks and Italians, Frenchmen, Spaniards and wildly sexy bosses, the readers of America this month are spoilt for choice. What other kind of hero could a woman ask for?

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  13. Oh, Amy, Amy, Amy. Do I love that cover? That lad with the pompadour? What's not to love? No really, I like the UK cover. Sam isn't quite as young and innocent as that lad. And the boy looks nothing like the Crown Prosecutor I saw on the news one night who turned Sam Steel into Samos Stilakos in two shakes. Thanks, you fabulous woman, for dropping by.

  14. You too Kelly, an honour indeed from out own bona fide Rita finalist. I see that Harlequin this morning has Bedded by Diamonds up there on their front page. So they should. Looking forward to seeing Sleeping Partner there, Kelly. How are you spending your post-traumatic deadline time(PTDT) besides reading?

  15. Hi Anna!! Great call story :)I LOVE call stories - how did you celebrate that night (did you and your daugher get some wine?!) Who was the first person you called??!!

  16. Hello Anna,
    I loved your novel and look forward to reading your next one.
    When's that likely to be?

    I know, I know you say what? Strike while the irons hot, get the publisher, get the readers? I say? Go get em!

    And wow!!! We all dream of getting a call like that, good on you.
    Shirley Richardson
    AKA: Lydia S. Frew

  17. Nat! After your sensational call story, it seems like a damned cheek even putting one up there. But thanks anyway, you great woman.

    I think I had to leave off the wine a bit that night, because I had some emailing to do back and forth with London about all the exciting arrangements, and I didn't want to come across as tipsy. But don't worry, I've had plenty to make up for it since. I did phone my family though for some lomng distance screaming. All those doubting Thomases who said, 'Humour the poor old thing. She thinks she'd going to make it one day.'

    And hello Shirley. Lovely of you to pop in. Next one is coming in July, August, September, so I believe. After that--who knows when the next slot will come up. Thanks for your support.

  18. By the way Amy,I'm glad you felt like eating Sam with a spoon. If Sam had been eating you though, I doubt if he'd have bothered with the spoon.

  19. Great Call Story, Anna! I lurve call stories.

    And don't you think The Call is all the sweeter for not landing in your lap the very first time you write a book... ore even the second or the third...?

  20. LOL Anna. You're right, why waste good utensils? They're just going to need washing up!

  21. Love love love your call story Anna!!! Especially the ‘MUM! I think its Mills and Boon.’ Hilarious!

    My hubby gave me a look that said the same thing but I had no idea why he was grinning at me as I hadn't had the preceeding emails.



  22. Absolutely Michelle. Mind you, on reviewing those early efforts, there was never going to be a chance that would happen to me! My M.O. was to push the M&B envelope to the point where they would have had to change their lines to accommodate my unsuitable plots. How green was that?

    And thanks Ally. Are you sure you haven't heard it already? By the way, what do you think about those Oz/NZ Sexy Sensation covers Amy was talking about? I do believe the best one I ever saw was your Steamy Surrender.

  23. Not a lot of washing up happening at your place, Amy?

  24. Anna, I love call stories and yours made me smile - how wonderful! Good on you for persevering. Isn't it the best feeling when they say 'yes'?


  25. Amy. There's so much more worth doing, isn't there?

    And thanks Annie for your lovely visit. It's ONE of the best feelings!

  26. Hi Anna

    My Tall Dark Geek Boss (signed by you) sits with pride on my inspiration shelf in my study! There is a space on that shelf for Taken by the Maverick Millionaire, and any more you write too... I love the way your love for your characters shows in your writing.

    Hello - waving to you and everyone else chattering here today.( I know I am late - but better late than never...)

    Your call story has to be one of the most encouraging stories - in that you never gave up - book after book - you kept on - and on - reaching for that deal with the publisher you wanted to work with. And it happened!

    I couldn't be more proud of you.

    Bye 4 now

  27. THank you so much Tina. THat's so lovely of you to take the time out of your busy day to drop by. Any day now and that same voice--though maybe yours will have an American accent-- will be on the other end of your phone with a very similar message.
    So cheers, honey. Wish I was seeing you tomorrow.

  28. Thank you, all the dear friends and lovely people who chatted with me today, and a big thank you and around of applause for the Pink Heart Society, especially Donnna and Jenna and Ally for making it possible for me.
    And so goodnight, gentle people!

  29. Finallly made it to the right place to read your blog, Anna. Those who know me realise I am not computer savvy. Great stuff - the story not not being computer savvy. And great stuff too that your book is even now on shelves in the US - they will love it!. Am very glad I did make it because right there below it - not taking anything away from your babbling delight - were delicious photos of wee Ava - keep the cameras coming Ally. And you might not believe it, but I've actually written down my blogging password so I've got that right just can't get my user name - duh! So Meredith Webber will come up as anonymous until I go through the whole rigmarole again!

  30. Anna, my shelfmate with your Greek! Lovely call story - sorry didn't get a chance to pop in and say hello yesterday (mix of deadlines and school holidays!)

    Loved the 'I think it's M&B' :o)
    cheers, Kate x

  31. Well thank you Kate. Its never too late to pop by for a cuppa. And its good to see In Bed with the Italian Boss blazing off those shelves. By the way, I really like the cover on that one, Kate. The composition and colours are really very appealing. That's a gorgeous shade of red your heroine's wearing.