Monday, October 06, 2008

Happy 25th...Great Beginnings

Harlequin American Romance is a great place to call home. For many authors, including me, it was where we made our first sale.

Author Vella Munn remembers: I wrote nine books for American starting with Summer Season (42) in Feb of 84 and ending with Silver Waves (444) in June of 1992. Summer Season was special because it was my first fiction sale. I remember that day well. We were adding onto our house and I'd gone to town to pick up some supplies. When I returned, my husband said I'd gotten a call from some editor in New York. Oh how I tried to be cool and collected! Oh how I failed. I can't think of a favorite book because all were special in their own way and represented what was and is still important to me, the environment.

You'll hear more from book #3 writer, Barbara Bretton, who has become our line's unofficial historian, Oct. 12 and Oct. 20. She'll talk about her first sale, which was Love Changes, HAR #3.

I made my first sale in 1999, to Melissa Jeglinski, who has moved this past month to a career as a literary agent with The Knight Agency. I can remember the moment well. I pitched the book to her at the RWA conference in Chicago. She'd just been made the line editor, and all day she'd been listening to people pitch her books all day for her previous line. Before I even started, she asked, "What line?" and I said, "American." I gave her my pitch, and she said send it. About this time, all the RWA people started fluttering around crazily. I don't own a watch, and it seems that once I checked in (early, like RWA says to do), some overly worked volunteer prodded me into a line and then, like cattle, into the room. Seems I was 10 minutes early, and had bumped someone out of her spot. All was well as RWA realized I wasn't sneaking in, and then they put the woman in my time slot. Anyway, I had a 212 number on my caller ID less than 4 weeks after the conference and by Monday, a phone call at work that I had sold my first book. MJ told me "I met so many people that weekend, who were you?" and I said, "The one in the wrong time slot." Her reply, an enthusiastic "I remember you!" I've sold 22 books to Harlequin since 1999, and seen one of my chaptermates, Megan Kelly, sell two of hers.

American remains a great line, worthy of its 25 year history. This month Anne Stuart and Barbara Bretton and others will talk about their memories, and hopefully, some of the authors here will add some of their first sale stories in the comments below. Anne Stuart will be on Oct. 31.

PS--for a complete list of all series books, from #1 Tomorrow's Promise by Sandra Brown to curent day, go to

It's quite interesting!!!

Michele Dunaway
Twins for the Teacher, Harlequin American, March 2009


Megan Kelly said...

Thanks for the mention, Michele. I'm tickled to write for American, celebrating family and American values. My first ever sale was to the line. Kathleen Scheibling (Sr. Ed.) had placed a call for authors in Romantic Times magazine. I sent my partial, then the full when it was requested. Hearing Kathleen on my answering machine was indescribable--even as a writer who knows a lot of great words, I couldn't do the moment justice. :) I love this line and have been a fan forever. Of course I was a mere tot when it premeired [cough cough].

Marin Thomas said...

I sold my first book to Harlequin American in a round about way. I had submitted The Cowboy and the Bride to the Silouette Desire line--just goes to show I didn't know what line my voice fit. Thank goodness the editor at Desire did--she sent the book to the American editors and Paula Eykelhof who was in charge of the line at the time bought the book!


Anonymous said...

I pitched my first book for American Cinderella in Sneakers, to Mary-Theresa Hussey at the RWA New Jersey Conference. After a rewrite, she reccomended the book for the American line. Four revisions and almost three years later, Paula Eykelhof bought it. When my agent called on a Tuesday morning at 9:47-I could hardly speak. The moment she hung up I burst into tears. I was so loud, my husband came running up stairs. He thought someone had died! A year later, Cinderella Christmas hit the shelves. I'll never forget that phone call. I was so, so happy to be a Harlequin Author. : )

Kim Lenox said...

Congrats on 25 years!

Lee McKenzie said...

My first sale was to Harlequin American Romance and I got “the call” six weeks after I mailed the manuscript. A 416 area code showed up on the call display that day, and I knew it was the area code for Harlequin’s Toronto office.

It’s also the area code of a lot of telemarkers, but I decided to take a chance and answer rather than letting the call go to voice mail. If it was a telemarker, I could hang up. If it was an editor...

Yes, that’s really what went through my mind during those few seconds before I answered.

Kathleen Scheibling introduced herself and told me she’d read a manuscript the day before and she wanted to turn it into a book. My book!

At that point my daughter, who was on a break between university classes, came into the kitchen to find out what the heck was going on. I tried to listen to what the editor was saying while whispering to my daughter that Harlequin wanted to buy my book!

Finally, Kathleen graciously asked if she should call back in an hour.

After I hung up, my daughter and I danced around the house, hugging each other and laughing and crying all at the same time. Then she made me a cup of tea while I did my best to collect myself. An hour later, Kathleen told me that she didn’t want any revisions, but she did want a proposal for a second book I had pitched in my cover letter. A week later, one sale became two. The Man for Maggie was a June 2007 release. The sequel, With This Ring, was a December 2007 release. Since then I’ve sold two more books (titles and dates tba).

I love writing American Romances, I’m thrilled to be a member of the Harlequin family, and I’m honored to be associated with such a professional group of authors. Best of all, I’ve received some wonderful and heart-warming emails from American Romance readers. To all of you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.


PS: Sorry this is so long. I never get tired of telling this story ;)

Unknown said...

Michele- That book list is really something! I don't recognize some of the author names. Others have gone on to do spectacularly!

Sara said...

What a great list of books! And, authors!

Some have gone on to bigger things - but, are missed in HAR line...I just like the line.

Estella said...

I love the HAR books.
Congrats on 25 years!!

EllenToo said...

I have been reading the HAR books since the beginning and I love them. Congratulations on 25 years HAR.