Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Call Story – Anna Sugden and a Give Away

Today debut Harlequin SuperRomance author Anna Sugden joins us at The Pink Heart Society to share her Call Story and to give away a signed copy of her new book. Take it away, Anna!



What a thrill to be here at The Pink Heart Society sharing my call story! I have to admit that over the long, long journey to publication, there were many times when I wondered if I’d ever have a call story to share. Indeed, it was call stories that kept me going - every time I’d read one written by an author who’d slogged for years, who’d written many manuscripts, been so close for ages and then finally made it, I’d tell myself “That could be you, so keep at it!”.

So, for all you aspiring authors out there - it took me nine years,  eight full manuscripts, four partial-plus-synopsis proposals, three Golden Heart finals, numerous other contest wins and placements and about a billion rejections, revisions, rejections with revision requests etc etc etc to make it. But, make it I did and you can too!

A Perfect Distraction began life back in 2006, as a manuscript called Bad Boy, Good Man. As a huge ice hockey fan, I was intrigued by the dichotomy between the hard man on the ice, who was a good man off the ice. In particular, the then-captain of my favourite hockey team -- the New Jersey Devils -- Hall of Famer, Scott Stevens. You can read all about him and how I met my hero here.

Bad Boy was originally written for Harlequin Special Edition, the line I was targeting at the time. In those days, sports star heroes were a no-go, but SE editor, Susan Litman, liked my voice and was prepared to give it a go. She read Bad Boy, liked it and requested revisions.

In the meantime, I’d thrown Bad Boy into several contests to see how it would do. I was surprised that it performed pretty well, finalling in every one I entered. In one contest in particular, the Fab Five, Super Romance editor, Wanda Ottewell, was the final judge and she gave me second place, with a comment that she’d have requested my book but she’d noticed that it was already in the Harlequin system. Having read several Supers, I had already begun to wonder if my writing would be better suited to that line, so at RWA Nationals that year, I met with Wanda. I asked if it would be okay to submit Bad Boy to her if things didn’t work out with Special Edition and she said yes.

Despite getting very close, Bad Boy was rejected by Special Edition. Disheartened, I decided to try my hand at writing something different and spent several years writing romantic suspense aimed at Harlequin Intrigue. Again, I got very close, but couldn’t quite make it over that final hurdle. It did, however, help me get my fabulous agent - Jill Marsal at Marsal Lyon.

Signing the contract!
By now, it was 2010. I was getting frustrated and disheartened at the lack of progress. I was still keen to have my hockey player romance published, so at that year’s Nationals, I met with Wanda again and asked if she’d still be interested if I sent her a revised version of Bad Boy. She said yes, so with a lot of critical help from my CP’s and my agent, I revised it yet again and submitted.

I received a very nice rejection from Wanda, with lots of constructive advice as to how to revise and an offer to read it again if I wanted to resubmit another revised version. I said I would. More work, more revision, more feedback from Jill and my cp’s and a final version went off to Wanda in the summer of 2012.

Fast forward to December 2012. It was getting close to Christmas, so I knew that I would hear one way or the other before the editors went off for the holidays. In truth, I was expecting one of those notorious Christmas Eve rejections. But, I was okay with that and had already figured out a plan of action for the new year.

On December 18th, at 3:55pm, I was sitting at my computer, hard at work, revising a romantic suspense for the editor at Intrigue, when the phone rang. Caller ID said it was an international call, so I assumed it was one of my CP’s calling for a chat.

It wasn’t, it was Jill.

Don’t ask me why, but the penny didn’t drop as to why she was calling. It didn’t occur to me that there had to be a very special reason for my agent, based in LA, to call me in the UK, instead of emailing! We exchanged pleasantries, then Jill said she had an early Christmas present for me.

I still didn’t get it!

With the benefit of hindsight, I think I figured it wasn’t a bad rejection, so in my mind I’d worked out that Wanda must want a few more revisions, but that they were more like tweaks. I thought that I must be really, really close and told myself that I would do whatever it took to get over the hurdle this time.

Duh!

Then Jill told me the news - Wanda wanted to buy Bad Boy!

I was so stunned and shocked I can’t remember what I said, but it was something along the lines of “Oh my God!” I didn’t scream or cheer, because it simply didn’t sink in that this was The Call! It didn’t sink in, even when Jill explained the details.

Then, all at once, something in my brain clicked and I realised this was it. I’d SOLD!

I started to cry and babble and laugh. Jill must have thought I was a mad woman, but she laughed along with me.

At that point, my lovely hubby walked in and saw me crying and panicked thinking something was terribly wrong. Until he heard me mention Jill’s name … then, he knew. J

Once I’d hung up and cheered, I told my family, then I finally got to make the calls that I’d dreamed of making to my dearest writing pals - the wonderful gals who’d kept me going through all those nine years, eight fulls etc etc. Except none of them were around! One was asleep, one was out grocery shopping, one was on a train into New York and two were working. Typical!


It took several hours, but I finally managed to get hold of them and the celebrations began. Including opening a special bottle of Mumm DVX champagne that my lovely hubby and I had bought back in 2005 and saved for the occasion. Thank goodness it hadn’t gone off! Oh, and I bought myself a special pair of shoes to celebrate too. [The pics show me drinking the DVX and showing off my shoes!]

In the true English tradition of buses (none come along for ages, then three come at once), I sold another three books in the series only a few months later!

A Perfect Distraction will hit the shelves on Sept 3rd. Then all of you will be able to read about that special Bad Boy hockey player who wouldn’t let me give up until I’d told his story!

Have you ever been so surprised by something that has happened that you didn’t get what was going on until minutes later? Have you bought yourself something special to celebrate a dream-come-true achievement? One lucky commenter today will win a signed copy of A Perfect Distraction and a small gold heart frame.

A face-off—head vs. heart 

For Jake Badoletti, this year is all about his career. He has a rare second chance to make the most of being a pro hockey player, so no parties, no scandals. Too bad he's met a woman who could sideline those plans. Maggie Goodman is not his usual type—right down to being a single mom. Still, the sizzling connection with this gorgeous brunette can't be ignored. 

With a little juggling and a lot of focus, Jake manages to have the game and Maggie. Then his performance on the ice suffers and a scandal erupts. Now he can't afford the distraction of Maggie…even if she is perfect for him.



Debut SuperRomance author, Anna Sugden, is a three-time Golden Heart finalist who loves reading and writing happy endings as much as hockey! When not reading or watching hockey, she loves football, good food & wine, making simple cross-stitch projects, and collecting memorabilia, penguins and fab shoes!

A former marketing executive and primary teacher, Anna lives in Cambridge, England, with her husband and two bossy black cats. Learn more about Anna, her heart-warming romances and her shoes at 
www.annasugden.com
 . You can also follow Anna on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

41 comments:

  1. Hi Anna ~ What a great call story. I love your shoes as well. Since I'm not a writer or a high heal shoe wearer I'm enjoying reading about your adventures. Another 3 books sold in the series. Are they connected or just all Super Romance novels? I think you lucked out with a beautiful cover as well.

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    1. Hi Kaelee! Thanks so much - I'm glad I'm giving you vicarious pleasure with my adventures and shoes!

      The next three books are all in the same series - about other players in the New Jersey Ice Cats. Book 2 will be out next summer ... assuming the characters do as they're told and let me finish the book!

      Thanks for the cover love too - I'm thrilled with it!

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  2. Huge congratulations Anna, it's so lovely to hear your news. Still remember meeting you at my first RNA conference and stealing your Janice Lynn bag!

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    1. Scarlet! How are you? I remember you too and have loved following your success! From fan-girl to Medicals superstar in next to no time :)

      Thanks so much :) Janice was one of my friends who wasn't there when I wanted to call and give her the news - she was working! In a lovely coincidence, she sold her first book on December 18th, a few years before!

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  3. I love your call story, Anna. I get teary eyed reading it, to tell you the truth :-) I'm so beyond words, beyond description happy for you!!! Even if I was asleep during that first call ;-)

    And I am, without question, totally in love with your shoes *g*

    Big happy hugs!!!

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    1. Aww *sniff* thanks, love! It was a great honour that you woke up to take my call! I couldn't have done it without you.

      LOL you know the shoes pic was for you ;)

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  4. Hi Anna

    What a lovely story love those shoes and the champagne must have been awesome, I am so thrilled that we have fianlly got to read about Jake and Maggie I got this one as a e book and I have read it already and so so loved their story it was moving and sensual it gave me hours of reading pleasure and I am so looking forward to more stories from you. I am glad you never gave up trying :)

    I did a course at work a few years ago and was made Tafe student of the year very unexpectally so I di buy myself a diamond ring :)

    Again huge congrats on a fantastic story

    Have Fun
    Helen

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    1. Thanks so much, Helen! It was support from readers like you that kept me going too!

      Thank you too for the lovely words about Jake and Maggie's story. It means so much that you loved my book - especially given how much you read :)

      Congratulations on your TAFE student of the year award! That's awesome! So glad you treated yourself to a diamond ring.

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  5. Hi Anna! So very very wonderful to see you here! You know how absolutely elated I was when you sold, don't you? I can't wait to read A PERFECT DISTRACTION. Love the shoes, too. They go so beautifully with that outfit. You deserve them! Enjoy your amazing success!

    I bought a gorgeous diamond pendant with my first advance and I've never regretted it. You need to treat yourself when these huge milestones are achieved!

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  6. Hi Christina! Thank you so much - I only wish we lived closer so we could celebrate in person! :)

    Thanks! I was delighted with the shoes - I was so worried that the season's shoes would all be those horrible platform soles, so was relieved to find one that was elegant.

    Oooh a diamond pendant sounds lovely - the perfect way to celebrate such a hard-earned milestone.

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  7. I would love to read this book, is it in a series? Do I have to read the others first? I am fussy like that...Congrats! Would love to win

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    1. Hi LS - thanks for stopping by! You're lucky - this is the first in the series, so you're good to go! There will be at least three more, but the first of those won't be out until next summer. Good luck with the draw!

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  8. Hooray!!! Congratulations, Anna! I'm so thrilled for you and a little weepy after reading your story. :-) Can't wait to finally read your Bad Boy! ;-)

    I have received a few phone calls that threw me off completely with their good news. For one of them, I tried to call my DH, my friends, my mom, even my brothers. No answer from any of them!! I had to sit on that news for almost an hour and it nearly drove me insane. LOL

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    1. Thanks, Kate - especially for all your support! I hope you Jake and Maggie's story :)!

      Isn't it frustrating when you're dying to share good news and there's no-one around to take your call? I remember that the first person I finally managed to reach was my dear friend Terri Garey and she was loading her car in the grocery store parking lot! LOL

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  9. Sounds like a great book. :)

    I usually buy myself a small gift to celebrate little victories. No major big gifts yet though. :)

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    1. Thank you, May! :)

      I'm all for small gifts to celebrate small successes too! We get knocked back so often in life, that it's a nice thing to be able to celebrate a victory for a change!

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  10. Woot! Congratulations, Anna! I'm so glad to see this fabulous book going into stores. I like sports romances and am pleased they're on a market upswing.

    I tend to buy hardback or fancy books to celebrate. Shoes and I don't get along, thanks to very narrow feet, and I seldom have occasion to dress up. I so envy those of you who can fit such pretty footwear!

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    1. Hi Nancy! Thanks so much - as one of the people who helped me get Bad Boy into tip top shape, I think you deserve a present too! ;)

      I'm pleased to see that there are more sports romances hitting the market too, and indeed more contemporary romances. Now if only romantic suspense would make a comeback.

      Hardbacks and fancy books work as treats too - can't wait for you to come over, so we can go shopping!

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    2. LOL Nancy - I have the same problem with shoes but because I have WIDE feet. No glass slippers for me, I'm afraid.

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  11. LoveloveLOVE this call story--and I'm sure I'll love the story of your Bad Boy, too :-). Congratulations, Anna! Sending wishes for nothing but the best for you and all your stories.

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    1. Terry! Great to see you here! Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Thanks so much - I hope Jake provides a perfect distraction for you as you get back to penning your wonderful stories. ;)

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  12. Anna - I was grinning ear to ear as I read your call story. I'm so thrilled for you. I know how hard you worked to make this happen. Persistence (and being a d**m good writer) carry the day.

    I've two occasions when mass celebrations were in order but no one was around to tell. The first was passing the CPA exam in one sitting. In those days, the news went to the accounting firm partner first - then he told the grunt...er...employee the news. But I never got the call. Didn't find out I passed until I got the mail. I opened the envelope hoping to have passed one part and screamed when I discovered I'd pass all four.
    What does one buy to celebrate an accounting achievement - a special pencil? LOL

    The second time was selling my first book, of course. And, like you, couldn't find anyone at home to tell. That must be a condition of success.

    So very, very happy and proud of you.

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    1. Thanks so much, Donna! Your faith in me and my writing helped me through some very tough times! I can't wait to start writing the book we plotted ;)

      Oh I think celebrating such a great accounting achievement is worthy of a very fancy present indeed. Perhaps you could have a belated celebration, combined with a research trip to England!

      I'm beginning to think you're right - there's never anyone around to share the good news with LOL

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  13. Congratulations, Anna!! I am so excited to finally get to read BAD BOY or The Perfect Distraction! I know it seemed like forever before you sold, but now it should be well worth the effort to have that book in your hands!!

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    1. Thanks, my dear Bandita sister! I know you enjoy a good sports hero - hope my hockey hunk can match up to your boys of summer ;)

      I'm still stunned to hold my book in my hands - I know those are my words, but it feels strange :)

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  14. Congrats on your debut release, Anna. I love your shoes. I don't buy big gifts to celebrate. It's usually a little piece of jewelry or maybe a new purse. I guess you're excited about the upcoming season.

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    1. Jane! Thanks for stopping by! The shoes are pretty spiffy, aren't they? *g*.

      I am looking forward to the new season, despite losing our best player ... only a year after losing our other best player! Still hockey is hockey. I wish we could get over there for the outdoor game, but I doubt we can.

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  15. Hi Anna! Hi Pink Hearters!

    Anna, so excited about your book about to hit the stands - and my mailbox. I've had an order in at the Book Depository for this for months! Can't be far away now. Congratulations on your first contract and the one that followed. That's brilliant. I've wanted to read your books ever since we met and you told me about your Golden Heart final book about the Texas rancher who inherits a sheep farm in Yorkshire. I still want to read that one! Love the shoes, by the way! Man, you could murder someone with those heels! Hope we get a chance to celebrate in person some time soon.

    When you asked about phone calls where it took a while for the penny to drop, I thought about my double RITA final in 2007. Romance legend Lorraine Heath called me mid-afternoon in Australia, which was unusual but we'd been talking about Aussie slang for a book she was working on, so I thought she just wanted to confirm something in person rather than by email. Well, knock me down with a feather when she eventually had to stop me chatting on about how Aussies are generally a little franker in their language than Americans to tell me the RITA news! I shrieked and babbled too, Anna, so you're not alone in your reaction!

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    1. Ah my day here is complete when my fellow Anna arrives! Thank you so much. I hope my 'sheep' book will be published one day too. It's my favourite story after this one - and a double Golden Heart finalist too :)

      Can't wait for you to visit so we can celebrate in style - I'll even wear the shoes LOL

      Isn't Lorraine a sweetie? She called me for my last GH final and was so nice. I'm glad I'm not the only one who just didn't get it!

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  16. Anna, HUGE congratulations! I get all squishy inside when I read your call story. So thrilled for you. And can't WAIT to read this story! I remember reading just a tiny bit of it years ago, and it's wonderful to see it coming out in this line you've loved for so long. Lifting a glass to toast you!--okay it's a cup of coffee as it's a bit early for alcohol here, but still...toasting you with Starbucks!

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    1. Cassondra! My dear Bandita sister and fellow plotter of things bloody *g*!

      Thanks so much. As I said to Donna, I can't wait to finally write the book we planned so long ago. That'll be book 3 in the series. You never know, I may even get to write that romantic suspense we plotted too. I'm saving that one for when I'm more seasoned ;)

      I'll raise the wine glass for you as the sun is well over the yard arm here. *clink*

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  17. YAY! Huge congrats, Anna! I'm so glad you got your happy ending! I'm still working on it with Harlequin. You just never know, do you? Cheers hon!

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    1. Thanks so much, Christine!

      You really don't know when things will work out for you or how. If my call story proves anything, it's that persistence pays off in the end LOL. As my lovely husband always says the only time you know you won't be published is when you give up!

      Keep at it - my fingers are crossed for you! :)

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  18. That was a great call story, Anna, and the book sounds fabulous. I can't wait to read it.

    Marcy Shuler
    bmndshuler(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. Thanks so much, Marcy. It's been such fun sharing my call story with everyone :)

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  19. Hi Anna - how wonderful to see you here - at last! Can't wait to celebrate with you in person very soon. I have a couple of extra special pieces of jewellery I bought myself to mark certain books - the ones with a 0 at the end of the number. But really, the book itself is the best celebration.
    love

    Kate

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    1. Kate! Thanks so much for stopping by and for all your support over the long journey! So looking forward to seeing you and the Babe Magnet in just over a week!

      You've treated yourself to some gorgeous jewellery - I remember a fabulous necklace! :)

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  20. Sorry for the late prize announcement - I've been using the patented Kate Walker method of choosing prizes using my cats and they've been otherwise occupied!

    Anyway, we finally have a winner ... congratulations to Kaelee! Please send your snail mail info to me anna at annasugden.com and I will get your prize package out to you.

    Thank you to everyone who stopped by!

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  21. Just keep up the awesome work Anne! Your the BEST! thanks so much for write and lovely story .


    Ice Hockey Equipment & Ice Hockey Bag

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