Taking a Risk and Stepping Into the Unknown

About two weeks ago, I came a across a Tweet that said Harlequin was having a pitch challenge for its Blaze line. If you don’t know Harlequin, it’s a company that publishes category romance books every month. One of its lines is Blaze, which according to Harlequin is its sexiest line. I have a draft of a romance that I thought I might pitch to Harlequin (at the time I was thinking of its Desire line…one hot notch down from Blaze), but Harlequin submission rules still require snail mail and I hadn’t gotten myself organized to put together a complete package with SASE. But the Blaze Pitch Challenge said to email a one-page synopsis and first five pages, so I thought, why not. Actually, my thinking process was something like:

“I should do that”
“But my manuscript is only a rough draft. Maybe it’s not ready to pitch”
“What the heck, you can’t win if you don’t try”
“Ugh, I have to write a synopsis, which are 100 times harder than writing a novel”
“It’s just one page. Give it a go.”

Whew. So on the last day for submissions, I sent a one-page synopsis and first five pages of “Southern Comfort”, a straight forward romance about a sassy, feisty southern gal and brooding, but hot New York guy.

I’ve never done anything like this before, and while I’ve read many Harlequin books, I don’t know much about its editors or writers. And yet, I felt pretty good about what I submitted. Perhaps it was the universe rewarding me for taking a risk, because on Friday afternoon I got an email saying my submission was one of five selected to participate in the pitch. Whoop!

But then I thought, “I don’t know how to pitch through conversation.” The Harlequin Pitch Challenge uses online chat to converse with editors. I’m nervous mostly because I don’t know what to expect? What questions will be asked? How much of the book actually needs to be done? (Only about 1/3 of it I’d feel comfortable letting someone else read. The rest is just too rough and some scenes aren’t written yet). What will the editor want to know about the characters and plot. Will I be able to convey plot succinctly? How are pen names managed (I submitted using my real name, but let the reviewers know that I used a pen name). The email I received on Friday indicated that I’d get further details this week and I hope that means I’ll be able to prepare.

So now I’m editing two books, “Old Flames Never Die”, book two in the Valentine series, and “Southern Comfort” so I have something to send should the editor ask for it on Wednesday. And because it’s the Blaze line, I have to up the hot factor, which is harder than you might think. But I’m up for the challenge.

I feel a little stressed out with so much going on, but then I think, “Hey, this must be what it’s like to be a real writer!”