Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Call: Harlequin SuperRomance Author Kathy Altman

The Pink Heart Society is very pleased to bring you Harlequin SuperRomance  Author Kathy Altman's Call Story

Do you remember your first Harlequin? 

Mine was Mary Wibberley’s “Beloved Enemy.” 


I was 12 when I read it for the first time, and my obsession with horses quickly gave way to a fascination with brooding heroes and gutsy heroines and hard-won happy ever afters. Before long I was fantasizing about writing a romance of my own. I did a lot of plotting over the years, even managed a few scenes of a romantic suspense (scenes that make me shudder now and for all the wrong reasons), but I was less than disciplined. I allowed my attention to wane and I learned to ignore the you’ve left something undone sense of uneasiness that clung to me like Pigpen’s cloud of dirt.


What changed? I turned 40. I’d like to say I was finally mature enough to realize that dreaming would never hook up with doing without a little matchmaking on my part. But really I think I was just desperate to distract myself from rubbing alcohol and reading glasses. I don’t remember how I discovered www.harlequin.com or where I found the chutzpah to not only join my local RWA chapter but actually attend a meeting, but thank heavens I did! (And 8+ years of online courses and ebooks also explains why I now need those reading glasses more than ever!) 

5 manuscripts, 11 partials, countless contest entries, a handful of requests and two armfuls of rejection letters later, I finally sold! I should dub this the "call story that almost wasn't" since I nearly didn’t enter the online contest that led to my sale—I was revising a story already targeted to Superromance and I really wanted to get it done. But eventually I realized the Harlequin Memorial Day Challenge was too good an opportunity to pass up. I mean, how smart would it be to ignore the chance of getting feedback from the editors managing the very same line I wanted to write for? So I decided to enter. And that’s why I’m here.  :-)

I actually received 2/3 of a call first, and received the other 1/3 about a week later. I promise I didn’t pull that fraction out of a hat—there were actually three editors involved in the decision. In June, after I discovered I'd won the opportunity to have Superromance editors Victoria Curran and Megan Long critique my story, I was ecstatic. I was also far from finished. So I wrote and edited madly and with the help of one critique partner, two beta readers, and four seasons of Army Wives, I finished my friendly fire story and sent it in. And waited.


Several weeks later, Megan Long left a voicemail message letting me know she'd emailed the critiques I’d won. It took a few seconds for my heart to slide back down my throat. Good news, though not what I’d hoped to hear. Then she said she'd passed my book up to Wanda Ottewell, the senior editor! I was listening to this message as I drove home from work and I had to pull over into the nearest parking lot because I was crying too hard to see.

I heard from Megan again eleven days later. (Not that I was counting. Oh, who am I kidding, that was the longest eleven days of my life!) She called the morning of Halloween, though I didn't get her message until late in the afternoon, since we're not allowed to carry our cell phones into the building where I work. This time I listened to my voicemail before leaving the parking lot.  :-)

Megan’s message? Wanda said yes! I don’t remember how I got home, though I do remember helping myself to way too much Halloween candy once I got there. Good thing we only had three trick-or-treaters that evening, because there wasn’t much chocolate left. 

I managed to pull myself together—mostly—and called Megan back. And proceeded to embarrass myself by giggling. Incessantly. If anyone asks, I’m blaming the chocolate. Anyway, to my utter delight, Megan did not whimper "never mind" and hang up. Which means she is now stuck with me, and The Other Soldier is slated to be released next week, on July 3rd.

All of which means I really should have dedicated the book to Mary Wibberley, don’t you think?!

Please let me know in the comments—do you remember the first romance you read? The first Harlequin? What was special about it? If you’re a fellow writer and not yet published, how long have you been writing? Do you share my newfound obsession with Army Wives? How about Halloween candy? 

I have two copies of The Other Soldier I’d love to share—no trick, it’s my treat.  :-)  Many, many thanks to all of you Pink Heart Society blog readers for tuning in to read my story today! And an extra-special thanks to the lovely Pink Heart Society ladies for hosting me! Here’s to Happy Ever Afters!



37 comments:

  1. I have no idea the first romance except it was a Presents that my Mom borrowed from the bookmobile.
    I've been writing off and on since my early 20's but wasn't until the past 4 years I've done what you've done - gotten serious.
    I have watched some Army Wives but I'm not a fan of Kim Delaney (I remember when she played Jenny Gardener on All My Children!), but I do love me some Halloween candy.
    I remember the Memorial Day Challenge - I thought about entering but knew nothing about a soldier so I didn't try. I am glad to hear that Harlequin find a new author from it.
    No need to put me in the hat to win - I am a proud owner of a copy.

    MarcieR

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    1. Hi there, Marcie! You're my first ever guest blog commenter, so you should get a prize just for that! :-) I remember Kim Delaney from AMC, also--do you remember the Chuck and Donna storyline? My sister and I lived for summers so we could watch AMC. Not so much the list of chores Mom always left for us. And wow, thanks for already owning a copy of TOS! I appreciate that!

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  2. And I apologize for my bad grammar. Should be found not find. Hmm, maybe I need some candy...

    MarcieR

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    1. Yes, candy is definitely called for. The good stuff--the chocolate bars--not any of those mints or butterscotch candies! :-)

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  3. Hi, Kathy, and congratulations! My first Harlequin was A Rain of Diamonds by Anne Weale, but the one that got me really hooked was my first Presents, Sensual Encounter by Carole Mortimer.

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    1. Nancy, yes, Carole Mortimer! I'm partial to Presents myself. Those rich alpha males are definitely the stuff of fantasies. Thank you so much for your congratulations! It's so nice to see you here. :-)

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  4. Hi Kathy! Great to see you here and excellent call story. I remember my first Harlequin well, but I can't remember the name. I bought it when I was 18 years old, because I was curious about "those books" on the carousel racks at the grocery store. A couple hundred pages later I was hooked for life. (Thank goodness.)

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    1. Jeannie, we're also all very grateful that you got hooked on Harlequins! I can't imagine the Superromance line without you! I actually recently ordered a used copy of "Beloved Enemy" so I could re-read it. I haven't had time to do so yet but I look forward to indulging all over again. :-)

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  5. You know, I really would like to have a phone just like PHS's pink fur-lined call story phone up there at the top of the page... :-)

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  6. I can't believe your book is already hitting the stands! You must be thrilled, and your cover is wonderful! I remember the day you got The Call...so happy for you:-)

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    1. Hi there, Olivia! So great to see you! I know, July came fast, didn't it?! Thank you for the compliment about the cover--they did a great job, and I love the distance between the characters. I know your debut with Special Edition next year must seem like a LONG ways away, but it won't take as long as you think! ;-)

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  7. Great call story Kathy - I love the giggling bit - it's what I do when I'm nervous/excited too! The first romance I ever read was a Mills and Boon that I "borrowed" from my mum's bedroom one morning when I was about 12 during the summer holidays and she was at work. I devoured it within a few hours, and once finished placed it back on her bedside table (crease marked page still intack.) She was non the wiser (I think!) ;o) Caroline x

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    1. Caroline, thank you so much for stopping in! It seems a lot of us "borrowed" books from our mothers--a few times my mom had to "borrow" books back because she hadn't finished reading them yet! Oops. Harlequin definitely had a big impact on my teens--it sounds like it was the same for you. And it's nice to run into a fellow giggler! :-)

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  8. My first harlequin was a medical romance by Sarah Morgan. I was hooked! Halloween used to be a big deal in Scotland when I was a kid but it's definitely fallen away. More chocolate for me!

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    1. Scarlet, that is so wonderful that you're writing for the line that made you fall in love with Harlequin! LOL about the chocolate--we regularly receive less than a handful of trick-or-treaters here but DH continues to buy candy--I have yet to complain. :-) Thank you for your comment!

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  9. My first Presents was a book by Sharon Kendrick. In order to learn a new language, I picked it up in Italian when I moved to Italy. Congrats on your release!

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    1. Natalija, thank you so much for your congratulations! I really appreciate that. And WOW, I am SO impressed by your dedication to learning Italian! But what a great motivator--being able to read one of your favorite books. Yay, you! By the way, do you have a guest room? ;-)

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  10. Kathy --
    The Mary Wibberley rang a bell so I probably read a long time ago.
    So pleased for you. What a great call story!

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    1. Michelle, your encouragement and the guidance you regularaly provide on Harlequin's SubCare loop has meant so much--thank you!! Thank you also for this terrific opportunity to be a PHS guest! :-)

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  11. Time for me to leave for the pesky day job, but I'll check back in with everyone later. Have a terrific day! :-)

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  12. I can't believe your release date is finally here. I've had fun following your story since the Memorial Day contest, but I hadn't read your call story yet. It's a great one. Glad you only had to wait 11 days!

    Good luck with your release. I can't wait to read it.

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    1. Julia, bless your heart, thank you so much! You and I also have Lani Diane Rich's classes in common--I love her work and learned so much from her workshops. In fact, she's in my acknowledgements! I can't tell you how much I appreciate your good wishes, and you're so kind to help me celebrate my first release! :-)

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  13. I think the first romance might have been one by Emma Darcy. I remember her name and that I loved the book but I can't remember the title sadly.

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    1. Oh, I understand completely! I had to rely on google because I remembered what the cover looked like, but couldn't for the life of me recall the title. I always enjoyed Emma Darcy, as well--in fact, I have too many favorite Harlequin authors to count. :-) Thank you so much for stopping in, Jo's Daughter!

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    2. I can remember when I first dipped my toes in the pool of the online writing community and people said what a small world it was. I didn't really believe it. Now I am totally convinced. I keep running into the same people. It makes it all so much more fun.

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  14. Hi Kathy ~ Thank you for posting your call story. I'm looking forward to reading your book. I'm really glad that so many wonderful people keep trying to write. I love debut books.

    Sorry I can't remember my first Harlequin but I can tell you that Mary Burchell and Betty Neels were my favorite authors way back when. The chocolate treats sometimes don't last until Halloween, so I have to run out and get more.

    I love Halloween candy. I still have a couple of tiny boxes of Mike and Ike's in my leftover stash.

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    1. Kaelee, hello!! You make a good point about debut books--some readers can be nervous about trying out a new author. I'm so glad you're open to trying new things! :-)

      Yes! I've read many a Mary Burchell and Betty Neels. And LOL on having to replenish your chocolate stash--but gosh, you don't want that stuff to go stale before Halloween, do you?! So you were just doing the trick-or-treaters a favor.

      Thanks for stopping by!! :-)

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  15. I hate my husband's laptop. The last line in the middle paragraph should be the last line in the last paragraph.

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    1. No worries. :-) Sounds like you may have something to put on your Christmas list, though! :-)

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  16. What a great call story! I've already got your book preordered as an ebook :)

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    1. Aww, Snookie, thank you so much!! I really hope you enjoy the story. I've never written a military hero before--really had never considered writing one at all--but I'm so glad I had the opportunity to do it. I learned so much about the Army and kinda sorta fell in love with my hero. ;-) Thanks again for preordering my book!!

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  17. Hey Kathy! I love your halloween chocolate call story and I can't wait to read your book (which I've ordered).

    I've been reading romance for as long as I can remember, but I think my first harlequin was Brenda Mott's Cowboy For Keeps, followed by Jeannie Watt's The Brother Returns. I was hooked after that!

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    1. Hi there, Rula! Fancy meeting you here! I can see clearly how Harlequin hooked you. ;-) I remember when I was a young teen standing in my aunt's basement surrounded by rows and rows of Harlequins arranged in her wall-to-wall bookshelves. My fantasty was to get locked in her basement (along with a freezer stocked full of ice cream) so I could read those Harlequins, one by one. Of course that fantasy may also have had something to do with not wanting to go to school. :-) Thanks for stopping by, Rula!

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  18. Kathy,
    What a great call story. I'm looking forward to your debut.

    My Mother-in-law actually gave me my first taste of romance. I lived with her for five months between college graduation and the wedding. But her son, didn't live with us. So in preparation for becoming a good wife, she had me read some of her favorite romance novels. It seems to have worked so far. We've been married 19 years so far.

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    1. Kristina, thank you so much for coming over from the Super loop! :-) I love the story about your mother-in-law--it makes me curious about which books she had you read! :-) Congratulations on 19 years of marriage--that's both admirable and inspirational!!

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  19. Caroline and Natalija, you have each won a copy of The Other Soldier! Yay! Can you please contact me at kathy at kathyaltman dot com with your mailing addresses? Thank you so much!! And thank you again to everyone for joining me here at PHS to celebrate my debut! You all have been fabulous!! :-)

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