This month sees the anniversary of the day I signed my first contract with Mills and Boon – “Whereby it is mutually agreed between the parties hereto as follows respecting a work of fiction of approximately 50-55,000 words entitled AN IMAGE OF YOU (hereinafter referred to as “the work”) the complete typescript of which has been delivered to the Publisher and accepted by the Publisher.”
Even now, reading that, I get a bit goosey. Remembering the phone call from my first editor to say they’d bought it, signing the contract, the day the first box of books arrived. My first sight of the cover. Holding my book. Opening it and reading the first few lines and knowing that it wasn’t all some mad mistake. Rushing to my parents to show them.
It has been a long journey, with a few ups and downs on the way. Some rejections — yes, contracted authors do get rejections — and a few books, not many, that have whizzed through without a word being changed, which is wonderful and yet vaguely disturbing. I miss that chance to give it a final tweak.
There have been covers that I’ve loved — my latest, a Riva called Tempted By Trouble is coming out very near the top! — and some I’ve hated. I’ll gloss over the titles. We all know that they are nothing to with the author and everything to do with marketing.
There have been award nominations, I have two Rita statuettes tucked away on the shelf under the stairs; sadly I had to give back the Betty Neels Rose Bowl at the end of the year. And I’ve been fabulous conferences in New York, Denver, Washington, Leicester and Egham and this weekend I’ll be at Caerleon for the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference. Forget “messing about in boats”; there is nothing, absolutely nothing, to beat spending a weekend with romance writers en masse.
And in April I delivered FLIRTING WITH ITALIAN, my sixtieth story, to Mills and Boon. A diamond moment if ever there was one.
What I remember most, though, are the wonderful friends I’ve made during the last twenty years. Writers, who are the only people who understand exactly how you’re feeling when the words won’t come. Or when they do. Editors who have taught me so much, made me write better than I knew I could. But most of all readers. God bless you for buying the books. Thank you for posting lovely reviews on Amazon. For befriending me on my blog and on twitter and writing to me when a book has delighted you. Rushing to buy the latest title.
You are the ones who keep this industry going. Your enthusiasm, eagerness for new stories, your joy, anticipation as you open a glossy cover, click “download” onto to eReader. We do it for you.
So here I am, raising a glass of champagne to all of you.
Thank you for twenty wonderful years.