Wednesday, June 19, 2013

"The Call" - I'm Going to be a Published Author!

I got “the call” today. It’s official, Harlequin is going to publish my novel See No Evil (although the title will probably change) as part of their Intrigue line!!!!  The book will be on shelves in April 2014.

To give you an idea of what Intrigue covers look like. :-)

It has been a long journey just to get to this point. The Harlequin eBoards has been a place of constant support for me over the last year. Published and aspiring authors convene there to rejoice, commiserate and sustain each other during the highs and lows of publishing navigation. We pass the virtual chocolate (or in my case, cream-cheese frosting) during rejections and throw virtual parties when someone receives an offer for publication.

Today was my party! And my online friends have requested my “call story.” What can we say? We’re romance writers. We love to hear of someone being swept off their feet and carried off into the sunset bookstore shelves.

It starts back in May of 2012, when the Harlequin Intrigue editorial team had a writing contest. They wanted unpublished writers to send a back-cover blurb of a potential book, as well as a 100-word snippet from the work itself. They would choose the top 5 and ask to see more. This is the blurb I sent:

Ten years ago Adrienne Jeffries was a profiler for the FBI with a talent so remarkable she became known as the bloodhound -- someone who could sense and track evil. But the price she paid for her abilities was too high, costing her almost everything. So she left the Bureau with no intention of ever returning.

FBI Agent Conner Perigo is trying to catch a killer who has eluded his team at every turn. He will use any means available -- including an unwilling ex-profiler with some sort of hocus-pocus abilities -- if it means finally getting ahead of the killer. What he doesn't expect is his attraction to Adrienne or his desire to protect this vulnerable beauty.

And she needs his protection, especially now that it seems the killer has targeted Adrienne as his next victim.

I was chosen for the top 5. After a chat room meeting with the editor discussing more details of the book, she requested a partial, which is a synopsis and first three chapters. I sent those in June.

In October, I received  (via snail mail) my request from Harlequin Intrigue for my FULL MANUSCRIPT. For those who don’t hang out in the Harlequin eBoards, a full request is a big deal. No publication offer is coming unless you first have a request for the full manuscript.  Of course, no offer may come even if they do…

So I took about six weeks to complete and polish my manuscript and sent it off in mid-December. 

Then the waiting game began again. The general rule of thumb is that it will take up to six months to hear back from an editor.  It’s hard. I even heard the story of a lady who had sent her manuscript, waited six months, emailed the editor only to find out it had never been received at all.

Never been received at all? I woke up in the middle of the night in February in a panic. What if the editor hadn’t received my manuscript at all like the other lady?  (That this had only happened one time of the 1000s of manuscripts received by Harlequin, made no difference to my psyche – don’t interrupt my neurotic fit with facts and logic!) I ran downstairs to look at December’s snail mail receipt signature from their office.

It was signed by Bob. Unreadable last name.


Although I was sure Bob Nolastname was stellar at his job and not just some homeless NY person who had wandered in off the street and taken refuge in the Harlequin mail room, I decided maybe I better double check. Not having a direct phone or email address, back onto the Harlequin eBoards I went. I finally posted under “Ask the Editors” section asking what I should even do.

Allison Lyons, Intrigue line editor, responded directly. She had my manuscript on my desk and was currently reading it.

Yay! – she had it! Terror!! – she was reading it!

At the end of April, Allison Lyons contacted me again. She liked See No Evil and wanted to pass it up to the Senior Editor for possible acquisition. So up to the Senior Editor it went. Finally the person who would ultimately decide.

At the Smithsonian just before The Call
Time slowed to an almost halt as I waited to hear.  Each Monday I said to myself (and anyone around who would listen): THIS is the week I will hear from Intrigue. I said that to myself for SEVEN Mondays. I checked my email incessantly, hoping for word.

Finally, this week we took a family trip to Washington DC for a couple of days. I decided I wouldn’t take my laptop or iPad or anything that would ping me when I got an email.  If Intrigue emailed me, it would be there when I got back.

Ends up they didn’t email. Allison, the editor from Intrigue, called. I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered.

So there I was in the middle of the dinosaur exhibit in Smithsonian Museum of Natural History – surrounded by dozens of blaring children – receiving one of the most important phone calls of my life.

Intrigue wanted to buy my book and hopefully publish more of my works in the future!

We didn’t talk for long, between my giddiness and all the T-Rex madness, it was hard to converse effectively. But Allison was very gracious and enthusiastic.

Before we hung up, her last words were: Welcome to the Intrigue Family. 

I feel like little orphan Annie running around Daddy Warbucks house:

"I think I'm gonna like it here!!!"

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sunday Showdown: AFI vs IMDb (#40-37)

It’s once again the Sunday Movie Showdown, The American Film Institute’s (AFI) Top 100 vs. the Internet Movie Databases’ (IMDb) Top 100. Trying to see who I agree with more – the Scholars or the Masses.

Four Showdowns this Week:
#40 The Sound of Music vs. American History X
#39 Dr. Strangelove vs. American Beauty
#38 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre vs. North By Northwest
#37 The Best Years of Our Lives vs. Apocalypse Now

#40 The Sound of Music vs. American History X. This is possibly the most polar-opposite- matching- while-still-having-a-similar-theme pair of the Showdown so far. X came out in 1998 and I had never seen it. On purpose. For 15 years I avoided watching that film. I knew it would be hard to watch, I knew it would
Ed Norton - gleefully violent
be violent, I knew Edward Norton would be wonderful. All true. I loved that the film ended by screaming the question: WHAT WILL HAPPEN NOW – MOVE FORWARD OR TURN BACKWARDS? And providing no answers.

But overall, I don’t feel like American History X deserved to be in a Top 100 spot. Especially not against a classic like Sound of Music. Seriously, who would pick skinheads over Julie Andrews? So my vote goes to Sound of Music. And not even because I’m going to be living near there soon.

American Beauty
#39 Dr. Strangelove vs. American Beauty. Honestly, I’ve seen Strangelove a couple of times in the last few years. I get it. It’s a farce. War is bad. The World Superpowers are idiots.  I am so sick of Stanley Kubrick. If I never have to watch another of his films, that will be just fine with me. So I definitely choose American Beauty. If you haven’t seen it, watch it right now. I had forgotten what a wonderful , witty, dark film it is.

#37 (We’ll come back to #38 in a minute) The Best Years of Our
 Best Years
vs. Apocalypse Now
. I had never seen the 1946 classic The Best Years, about three veterans return to small-town life after WWII. It’s a lovely, touching movie, well worth a viewing if you haven’t seen it. It’s a bit long (nearly 3 hours), but you’re drawn in to the lives of these three men and the women who love them.

But against Apocalypse Now? Just can’t do it. We all love the smell of napalm in the morning too much. Apocalypse is the best of the many Vietnam films I’ve watched for the Showdown (Full Metal Jacket, M.A.S.H., Platoon, The Deer Hunter...). It’s bat-sh*t crazy, but it’s a great movie.

Which leaves us with: #38 The Treasure of the Sierra Madre vs. North By Northwest.

Sierra Madre
North By Northwest

Ladies and gentlemen, for the first time in a year and a half of doing the Showdown, we have a tie. That’s right, I could not choose between these two fantastic films. I pondered this showdown for days and every time I thought I could give it to one of the two, I would think of something else with the other that was just as great.  Both of these have been in the Showdown before (North By Northwest won against The Pianist in #55 and Sierra Madre won against Unforgiven in #68). I could not choose. Maybe I’ll watch them both again in a few weeks and see if that brings any clarity, but for now we’ll have to call it a draw.

So, IMDb takes two this week, and AFI takes 1, bringing the total score to: AFI – 37, IMDb – 29. 

AFI’s Top 100
IMDb’s Top 100 (as of 1/1/12)


City Lights (1931)
LoTR: Return of the King (2003)
On the Waterfront (1954)
LoTR: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
LoTR: The Two Towers(2002)

Apocalypse Now (1979)
North By Northwest (1959)
American Beauty (1999)
American History X (1998)
King Kong (1933)
Taxi Driver (1976)
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Vertigo (1958)
Shane (1953)
Amelie (2001)
It Happened One Night (1934)
Alien (1979)
A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)
Wall E (2008)
Rear Window (1954)
Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
Intolerance (1916)
The Shining (1980)
LoTR: Fellowship of the Ring (2001)
Spirited Away (2001)
Paths of Glory (1957)
Taxi Driver (1976)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Double Indemnity (1944)
M*A*S*H* (1970)
To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)
The Pianist (2002)
Jaws (1975)
The Lives of Others (2006)
Rocky (1976)
The Departed (2006)
The Gold Rush (1925)
Memento (2000)
Nashville (1975)
City Lights (1931)
Duck Soup (1933)
Aliens (1986)
Sullivan's Travels (1941)
Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind (2004)
American Graffiti (1973)
Requiem for a Dream (2000)
Cabaret (1972)
Das Boot (1981)
Network (1976)
The Third Man (1949)
The African Queen (1951)
L.A. Confidential (1997)
Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966)
Chinatown (1974)
Unforgiven (1992)
The Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948)
Tootsie (1982)
Modern Times (1936)
A Clockwork Orange (1971)
Life is Beautiful (1997)
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
Monty Python & the Holy Grail (1975)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
Back to the Future (1985)
Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid (1969)
The Prestige (2006)
Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
In the Heat of the Night (1967)
Raging Bull (1980)
Forrest Gump (1994)
Cinema Paradiso (1988)
All the President’s Men  (1976)
Singing In the Rain (1952)
Modern Times (1936)
Some Like it Hot (1959)
The Wild Bunch (1969)
The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)
The Apartment (1960)
Rashomon (1950)
Spartacus (1960)
All About Eve (1950)
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)
Amadeus (1984)
Titanic (1997)
Once Upon A Time in America (1984)
Easy Rider (1969)
The Green Mile (1999)
A Night at the Opera (1935)
Full Metal Jacket (1987)
Platoon (1986)
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
12 Angry Men (1957)
Inglorious Basterds (2009)
Bringing Up Baby (1938)
The Great Dictator (1940)
Sixth Sense (1999)
Braveheart (1995)
Swing Time (1936)
The Bicycle Thief (1948)
Sophie’s Choice (1982)
The Apartment (1960)
Goodfellas (1990)
Up (2009) 
The French Connection (1971)
Downfall (2004)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Gran Torino (2008)
The Last Picture Show (1971)
Metropolis (1927)
Do The Right Thing (1989)
The Sting (1973)
Blade Runner (1982)
Gladiator (2000)
Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Toy Story (1995)
Unforgiven (1992)
Ben Hur (1959)
The Elephant Man (1980)

Next week, Bridge on the River Kwai vs. Citizen Kane. And Annie Hall vs. The Professional. I'm pretty sure I already know what my vote is for both of those.