Saturday, October 18, 2014

3 New Authors, 6 books sold, 1 Line Closed - What's Next?

Today at The Pink Heart Society we introduce the #3Amigas - Newbie authors Amber Page, Nina Milne & Bella Frances who will be sharing their journey with us while they navigate the rapidly changing landscape of the book industry. 

One of our heroines will be joining us each month with an update and in between you can follow their progress on Facebook and Twitter. 

Hello, amigas! I'm Amber Page and it’s lovely to meet you…although I must admit, I don’t feel quite worthy of being in such esteemed company.
In fact, I still have trouble believing I am a published author at all! Why? Because All’s Fair in Lust and War, my debut novel for Harlequin KISS was the first novel I ever wrote.
And I finished the first draft in five days. Really.
See, I entered my first chapter into the 2013 So You Think You Can Write competition, never dreaming I’d make it to the semi-finals. But I did. And when I got word that I’d made the cut?  Three chapters were done.
But I wasn't about to give up without a fight, so I took the rest of the week off work and embarked on my very first writing binge.
The end result was not publishable. But it was good enough to catch an editor’s eye. Two drafts and four months later, I had a two-book deal.
All’s Fair in Lust and War was released in September, and the follow-up, Dating the Enemy, will hit eBookshelves on January 1, 2015. For those of you keeping score, that means I went from zero completed manuscripts to two finished books in less than a year.
It’s been busy.
I’m not quite sure what’s next. Harlequin KISS/Modern Tempted is no more, and I don’t have a new home yet. But I will find one—and you can follow my journey here, on my blog and on Twitter
I look forward to getting to know you!
Amber lives in Indiana, USA with her husband and daughter. When she's not writing, she's an advertising copywriter. You can find out more at her website or on her Facebook page.
Hi, I'm Nina Milne and I cannot believe I am here on the PHS, a blog I followed as an aspiring author. As a huge added bonus I'm here as one of the #3Amigas alongside the extremely talented and exceptionally lovely Bella Frances and Amber Page

This definitely counts an up moment on the roller coaster world of writing. Years ago I climbed aboard the roller coaster armed only with the dream of becoming an M&B author – I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. Rejections, requests, revisions, the plummeting falls and the soaring towards the skies - round and round the loop I went, all by myself. Then I found wonderful blogs like this one and discovered the existence of a romance community out there. Who knew? There were other people on the roller coaster with me. I truly believe this made such a difference.

In February 2014 I got THE CALL and I was superbly happy. A two book contract with KISS…I’d done it… I could step off the roller coaster. Dream achieved. Right? 

A scant few months later it turned out that KISS was closing down.

I’d be lying if I didn't say there was much drinking of wine, the rustle of multiple chocolate wrappers and the gnashing of teeth in the Milne household.   

But since then there have been some amazing UP moments…. Such as the release of my debut How to Bag A Billionaire – seeing it adorn the virtual Amazon shelves and the actual shelves of retailers was indescribable. Then there was the acceptance of my second KISS book Breaking The Boss's Rules, which is out in December.

I loved that UP and I’d like me some more. I am working on a manuscript aimed at another line within M&B and I am hatching other writing plans…the publishing world is a changing one and that means authors have to adapt right alongside it.

There are a lot of opportunities out there waiting to be visited.

So, I've bought a brand new roller coaster ticket and I’m damn well going to enjoy the ride.

Nina lives in Sussex, England with her husband and three children. Prior to becoming an author, she worked as an accountant and a recruitment consultant. To find out more you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

And I'm Bella Frances. My first blog for the Pink Heart Society could be titled ‘Rocky Road? Getting there – the Hard Way’, or ‘If at first…’ or ‘Are you STILL trying to get published?!?’ or any other number of titles that would give you some indication of long I've been tappety tapping away on my, I think typewriter, then A4 Notebook, then giant desktop PC and finally my treasured iBook (and iPAD for travelling).  

There was possibly a hieroglyph on some parchment way back at the start too!  But it has been so worth it.  And I’m still thrilled that I persevered.

Now please don’t think in the years between idly dreaming about being a romance author until now I was churning out masterpiece manuscripts, or even mediocre manuscripts; most of the time I was reading, dreaming, doing a little bit of writing, and then repeating that on an annual basis.  I wished I kept a notebook like ‘proper authors’ did.  (I've still never got round to that).  I wrote poetry, very very badly.  I wrote a children’s book, I wrote a script.  I wrote a couple of ‘ok’ short stories.  I wrote a review.  I wrote in the mirror.  You could call it a scattergun approach, but that would be to assume there was even a target in mind.

I have never confessed this before but it wasn't until I read J.K. Rowling’s Sirius Black (in a tug of war with my son; I won) that I suddenly knew I wanted to write a bad, damaged hero.  I’d always loved romance books and noticed that some heroes were becoming very, very bad.  I had to try.  So I did.  Ever lain awake in your bed kicking yourself, squirming and hiding under the pillow?  If anyone showed me that manuscript right now I would have to light a fire.  The standard letter of rejection was quite precise.  My ego was quite deflated.

But I am fairly resilient so I stopped all the other outpourings of drivel in various genres and started to think more seriously about how to improve upon the lowest grade of rejection letter.  I began to dream of getting a more personalised rejection letter.

So I wrote ‘the book of my heart’.  And I never sent it away. 

How pathetic is that?  I couldn't bear for anyone not to love it as much as me.  I knew that it didn't fit any of the Mills and Boon lines perfectly and so I just kept it, like your child’s old blankey.  You wouldn't show it to anyone, but you’d never, ever part with it.

Work, children, work, children and work then stalled my ‘flow’.  

Rubbish.  I got lazy.  I got distracted.  I made excuses.  I watched the telly.  I saw a programme about the inimitable Sharon Kendrick tutoring in Tuscany.  I longed to go.  But I couldn't get time off work. 

I read more and more Harlequin M&B.  I became more and more convinced I could write romance.  I got a new job (had been teaching) and suddenly got holidays out with term time.  I went to Tuscany.
Talk about an epiphany!  Travelling to the Watermill where Sharon tutors, I learned that at least four of the other guests were either published or soon to be.  Groupie Nerves overcame me, but my sole mission was to find out from Sharon if she thought I could do it.  If she said no, I was going back to garret of bad poetry.  She sent me an email that was so positive I think I was almost as high as when I got ‘The Call’.  Honestly!

Thereafter it was a bit of a smooth ride, with one unwanted platform change.  I sent in the first three chapters, as you do.  The full MS was requested.  Seriously!  That was even better than a personalised rejection!  I waited almost seven months.  Then it was rejected – but with personalised comments that were encouraging.  I was to submit another novel.  And I tried.  I really did.  But I was rubbish.  I took up triathlons instead.  Hint: not a lot of inspiration from them – best not.

Then SYTYCW13 happened.  I thought, OK!  I do TICW!  I submitted a first chapter.  I got to the Final 50 so they requested the rest.  I hadn't written it.  I contemplated coming clean: “Sorry, I lied, I haven’t got a book”. Option 2 was writing it in five days.  I tried the latter. 

Never, ever do that.  By the last few chapters I think I was just writing strings of nouns, he sat on the chair, table, rug, slipper, football and stared at her eyes, ring, curtains, fishtank.  Awful.  I didn't make the top 10.  Sigh. Deep inhale.  Tears? Probably. And then the loveliest editor in Christendom called me.  

Flo Nicoll works for Harlequin M&B and ‘liked my voice’.  She thought it perfect for Modern Tempted.  I wanted to tell her I didn’t know there was a difference between Modern and Modern Tempted but who was I to argue?

Flo helped me to craft Dressed to Thrill, from my SYTYCW entry and it was bought in February 2014.  I was in a Sainsburys car park.  I remember a lot of orange bags and then returning to my desk slightly delirious.  My next book A Scandal Behind the Wedding will be released in January 2015.  Flo’s advice and guidance have been outstanding.  

Only now there will be no more KISS/Modern Tempted L

What to do, what to do?  Give up?  Don’t be crazy.  I am currently on word number 41,279 of what I hope will be my third book.  And my best.  I haven’t changed my voice – it is still squawky, but I am pitching hard for Presents.  I have to hitch up the emotional intensity, but as I am on a constant rolling boil of emotions, that part I might pull off.  The very, very strong willed heroines and very, very bad heroes though?  I just hope they can make the jump with me.

Bella lives in Scotland with her family. To find out more you can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Was there a time you felt you'd achieved your dream but then had to change your plans? Do the rapid changes in the publishing industry scare or excite you? As a reader will you follow an author you love regardless of where they publish their books? Jump to the comments and join the discussion!

And don't forget to follow the #3Amigas on Facebook and Twitter for updates.


  1. It's so lovely to hear a little more about you all and I LOVE the hashtag <3 The closing of KISS was definitely a sad day but I know each of you will have a bright writing career ahead of you. Good luck and I can't wait to see what you all do next!! xx

    1. Thanks Stefanie! As a KISS reader I was double disappointed, but the writers are so talented that I'm sure we will all find our new niches. X

  2. Thank you! KISS closure was definitely a bump but I do believe that sometimes you can ride that bump in the road and it takes you to a great destination....

  3. Great column ladies - so lovely to hear your journeys! So excited about your launches and I look forward to installment #2 :)

    1. Thanks Jen. Its been an interesting journey!! I'm looking forward to installment #2 as well - watch this space. Nina x

    2. Thanks Jen! I loved your columns on Pink Heart Society and, like everyone else, am so inspired by your own journey <3

  4. Looking to hear how all three of you triumph!

    1. Thank you for the vote of confidence. I have everything crossed that the 3 amigas will prevail one way or the other! Nina x

    2. We'll definitely keep you posted Michelle - thanks so much!

  5. Great stories ladies, what a talented bunch you are! Really looking forward to following your next steps xxx

  6. Just loved reading these! Can't wait to see what's next for all of you x