Friday, February 7, 2014

Paths to Publishing: Melinda Curtis || SUMMER KISSES

How I Sold to Harlequin by Melinda Curtis

You’ve probably heard it said that when an editor buys your work, they also buy you.  Well, I really took that to heart.  I decided to target Harlequin Superromance before I was published, then watched for their editorial staff to be listed as attendees at various writer conferences.  That’s right.  I was an editor stalker.

And when I say stalker, I mean it only in the nicest sense.  I submitted work months in advance of the small conferences and then a few weeks prior to the event, I’d drop them notes referencing my submitted material and mentioning I looked forward to seeing them at the conference.  After a year, my stalking paid off and I received a revision letter on one of my stories.  I completed revisions and sent the manuscript back.

One weekday morning, as I was in the shower, my husband burst into the bathroom, yanked open the shower door, and held up a towel.  Now, some of you might expect a sexy come-on, but what I got was, “Paula is on the phone.  Get out now.”  Paula being Paula Eykelhof, senior editor at Harlequin.

Dripping, I scribed my next set of revision notes on several small sheets from our phone notepad.  I made the revisions and sent the manuscript back.  Months later, Paula left a message on my answering machine, asking me if I was attending a conference in Phoenix.  I hadn’t planned on it, but I immediately signed up.  A few days before conference, Paula asked me to meet with her after the conference sessions were over for the day.  She was late.  I was pacing.  When she finally showed up, she took me into the bar, bought me a glass of champagne, and told me she was buying my book.  I’ll always be grateful to Paula for creating such a special memory for me.

During the course of our drink, I told her I was relieved, because I thought she was going to ask me for another revision.  She laughed and told me I still had revisions to do.  She later gave me an 11-page, single spaced revision letter.  It took me eight hours just to make the revisions on the first chapter!

So what can you learn from my experience?
  1. Identify a line or editorial group.
  2. Politely submit and stalk – think like your grandmother (etiquette is key).
  3. Be open to revisions – you may love your book just the way it is, but publishing houses are “buyers” and they don’t have to buy anything they don’t like.

Rebecca MacKenzie's career as a caregiver for the elderly suited her perfectly. Ease their suffering, hop back in the motor home and move on. Caring without commitment. It was ideal for someone trying to outrun her memories…and mistakes. Someone determined to stay detached. Flynn Harris, her new patient's grandson, is weakening her resolve in every way. His scrutiny, his suspicion—and worst of all, his kisses—are more than distracting. They're dangerous. Because she's teetering on the edge of caring. And revealing her secrets. And…staying.

The truth pressed at Becca’s throat.
She swallowed it back.
Took a breath.
Risked looking toward Flynn.
Beneath his black ball cap, his reddish-brown hair glinted in the afternoon sunlight, almost as blinding as the rippling river. His jaw was a hard line. She couldn’t look him in the eye.
The truth pressed on her once more.
Becca swallowed it again.
She and the truth had an odd track record. Like the time her father walked out after learning Becca’s mother had Stage Four cancer. Or the first time Terry asked her to marry him. He’d walked out when she said she was scared and needed time to think.
 “You have two choices if you want the job.” Flynn’s voice was as unflappable as his jaw line. “You can tell me what you’re hiding, or I can do a background check.”
Tell him the truth? Which version? No one ever really wanted to hear the unvarnished truth. They wanted a massaged answer tailored to their expectations. Telling Flynn about the lawsuit placed her odds of landing the job near zero. But it was a definite zero if she walked away without saying anything.
“I want this job.” She swallowed and rephrased. “I need this job.” To repair her reputation before it fell from somewhere near barely employable to no-way-in-Hades employable.

Available for purchase at Amazon.

Melinda Curtis writes the Harmony Valley series of sweet romances for the Harlequin Heartwarming line. Brenda Novak says: “Season of Change has found a place on my keeper shelf”.  Melinda also writes independently published, hotter romances as Mel Curtis. Jayne Ann Krentz says of Blue Rules: “Sharp, sassy, modern version of a screwball comedy from Hollywood's Golden Age except a lot hotter.”  Melinda is married to her college sweetheart, and has three kids in college.  She follows the NFL because one young quarterback is from her hometown, and follows Duke basketball because Mr. Curtis has a man crush on Coach K.  Her latest releases are Valentine Rules, a mini-novella which can be found in the Love, Valentine Style collection or purchased independently, and Summer Kisses, a sweet romance for the Harlequin Heartwarming line.

Learn more about Melinda Curtis:

The author is offering one randomly drawn commenter a copy of Summer Kisses (ecopy or autographed print).


  1. What a great story about persistence (dogged but respectful). You picked your line and arranged a face-to-face with an editor. That's not easy to do and, of course, the encounters cost money (the conferences). Congrats on your success, Melinda. Wishing you many more happy stalkings!

  2. What a great success story, Melinda. But even without that plan, you wouldn't have gotten anywhere with Harlequin without a well written book. I know because I did many stalkings and submissions. Ha ha. So congrats! on that, and wishing you continued success.

  3. Thanks for the tips. And for the reminder to keep going and be flexible.

  4. What a great story! I can't say enough for my own editor -- she pushed, nudged, encouraged, and put in caps what needed to be done. Also, she worked with me for eight months before I received my contract. I almost gave up, but she never did... Wishing you continued success!

  5. Hi Melinda,
    Please forgive me for not commenting sooner. My daughter was home sick yesterday and I didn't get very much done (on the computer). Welcome and thank you for sharing your story with us. :)