Wednesday, October 09, 2013

A trip to romance headquarters — Kandy Shepherd

Years ago, like many aspiring romance writers, I started off by sending my fledgling manuscripts to Harlequin Mills & Boon in London, England. After all, they’re practically synonymous with romance!

My efforts came back with rejection but lots of encouragement. Eventually, I was published by first a small Australian publisher and then by Berkley Sensation in New York. I had success with self-publishing, too. But I still liked the idea of getting published by Harlequin Mills & Boon and never gave up on that dream.

London in early September-warm, sunny and with masses of flowers like those planted on this pub

A few months ago I got “the call” from the London office to say they would like to publish my reunion romance The Summer They Never Forgot  for Harlequin Romance (Cherish). It comes out in February 2014 in both the US and the UK. You can imagine how thrilled I was!

But wait…there was more excitement to come.

I had planned to fly to London (where I used to live) from my home Down Under in September to visit friends and family. “Why not come in to visit the office?” suggested my editor. Needless to say I said “yes”. 

You know you're in London when you see the red buses-this one heading for the Harlequin Mills & Boon UK office

My visit also coincided with the Association of Mills & Boon Authors annual lunch to which I was invited by my fellow writers. And then I got an invitation to the Harlequin party for authors that same evening. Suddenly my vacation in London was set to become a lot more interesting!

All those wonderful tales of romance are nurtured in this building!

The Harlequin Mills & Boon office—"romance headquarters"—is in Richmond, on the outskirts of London, on the aptly named Paradise Road. So many writers’ submissions have been sent off to that address with high hopes—though these days they’re mostly sent by email. It was such fun to actually see it.

How wonderful to get a welcome like this!

When I got there I was greeted with balloons, champagne and a multitude of warm, friendly smiles. Harlequin author Kimberly Lang from the US was also visiting that day and there was a big sign welcoming us both.

The editors told me they love it when authors visit—they certainly made this first-time Mills & Boon author very welcome. Interestingly, I found the actual office to be very like the magazine editorial offices where I spent many years of my magazine career. Then my editor—who I met face-to-face for the first time that day—took me out to an excellent lunch where we talked romance and, in particular, the details of my next book for Harlequin Romance. What a memorable day!

The Royal Horseguards Hotel is on the Thames  in a beautiful old part of London. (Photo from the hotel website.)

Next day I travelled into the heart of London to the very posh Reading & Writing Room, part of the Royal Horseguards Hotel. 

The Reading & Writing Room where our author lunch was held

It was fabulous to be in the company of so many smart, personable and interesting authors in such awesome surrounds.

The ladies room was by far the grandest I've ever seen-wish I'd got a snap of the chaise-lounge!

Romance writers, no matter where they come from, truly are the nicest people. I felt sad that we lived in different countries and I didn’t know when I might see them again—but I can always read their books!

The marble staircase was mindboggling

A few of us went to the legendary Fortnum & Mason for afternoon tea, silver service and all. Then we crossed the road on London’s famous Piccadilly to the glamorous Meridien for cocktails with the Harlequin Mills & Boon team. I had the best macarons—pistachio and coconut—I have ever had.

With Harlequin authors Katherine Garbera (left) and C.C. Coburn

To writers, editors can sometimes seem scary beings—I can’t say too many times how delightful I found the London team.

My London trip was full of surprises—including the warm, dry weather which I wasn’t expecting at that time of year.

Have you ever had something unexpected happen to you on vacation? Good or bad! (Bad: I came back home from my wonderful vacation with a nasty cold!) 

Please leave a commentI’d love to hear about it. Add your email address if you'd like to get a free e-book copy of Reinventing Rose.

Kandy Shepherd writes fun, feel-good fiction.

Her new contemporary women's fiction e-book, Reinventing Rose, is available now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Smashwords, and other e-book retailers. 

Kandy’s romances include the Amazon bestseller The Castaway Bride, Something About Joe, and the award-winners Love is a Four-Legged Word and Home Is Where the Bark Is.

Watch out for The Summer They Never Forgot, her first release from Harlequin Romance in February 2014.

Visit Kandy at her website


Liz Fielding said...

Visits to Paradise Road are always fun, Kandy - I'm so glad you had a good time. And it was lovely to meet you, however briefly. :)

Kandy Shepherd said...

It was marvellous to meet you, too, Liz. Let's hope it can be for longer next time!

Laurie G said...

The only bad vacation trip we had occurred when my then oldest son turned 5 and became so sick Thanksgiving Day that he couldn't walk and petechiae appeared everywhere under his skin. We ended up in the Children' Hospital ER. He was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease HS Purpurra.

johns lake at usa dot com

Kandy Shepherd said...

Laurie that sounds a dreadful turn for your vacation to take. Poor you and your poor little son. Thank heavens they were able to diagnose it so at least you knew what you were dealing with...

Michelle Styles said...

I too like going to HMB HQ. I was so sorry to miss AMBA this year and have enjoyed living vicariously through various posts.

Cathleen Ross said...

I never realised they greet you will a board with your name on it. That is so sweet. They're very nice in the London office, aren't they? What a special trip. Very well deserved seeing as you tried many years ago to get published.

Vanessa Barneveld said...

Kandy, what an amazing welcome and an amazing trip! Congratulations on signing with Harlequin! Here's to a long and happy relationship. I can't wait to read your next books!

I visited London for the first time in July this year. It was simply spectacular. There seemed to be a good surprise or stroke of luck at every corner. Great museums, bars, etc. I saw Liza Minnelli in the wild and Hugh Jackman at the premiere of wild 'Wolverine'. A highlight was climbing to the top of St Paul's Cathedral. Why, I could see the Mills & Boon office from up there!

Anna Campbell said...

Kandy, what a fabulous welcome to your new publishing home. I'm glad they made a huge fuss of you. I remember reading the start of Summer many years ago and thinking even back then, it was a winner. Can't wait to see the finished product!

In 2004, before I was published, I stayed in Richmond for a week and I made a point of checking out the Mills and Boon Offices from outside. I remember imagining Eton House on Paradise Road as a beautiful tall Regency building. Was a little taken aback to discover modern brick. That address sounds like something out of one of my books!

girlygirlhoosier52 said...

We'd been to England to visit my sister & BIL & their 2 children [he was USAF].. after a lovely 3 weeks, we arrived at our home airport. By that time I had a full on head cold and we also had lost a piece of luggage. I felt so bad that as I was telling the lost luggage guy my name and address, I used my former married name... I was kind of out of it. The lost luggage came the next day and was only dirty clothes... but boy, did I get teased by my hubby for some time after that episode!

rosebuding said...

Hi Kandy, Thanks for a lovely in site into the world of publishing and writers. I enjoyed reading your comments. I have not read any of your books, so I would appreciate a copy. A free or cheap book is one of the best ways an author can get known. I know I have found a lot of new authors this way and once you've read one, you have to buy more LOL. Thanks Ros for aus.

Kandy Shepherd said...

All the authors I speak to seem to have had the same happy experience at HMB headquarters, Michelle. The AMBA lunch was such fun, it would have been nice to see you there!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Thank you Cathleen. It was such a lovely surprise - I certainly didn't expect it either. Such a friendly, warm team of people, I enjoyed every minute of the day.

Kandy Shepherd said...

Thanks for calling by, Vanessa. It seems you had lots of surprises on your first trip to London. Envy at seeing Hugh Jackman! My husband stood next to Stephen Fry at a supermarket checkout - exciting for him as he is a fan but not quite the same as Wolverine!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Anna - I know what you mean. With "Eton" and "Paradise" in the address and with Richmond being such a historical place, you would expect Regency splendour as in one of your books! I'd seen the outside of the building before years ago when I'd gone to the Richmond Cinema. We were walking around to where we'd parked the car and I realised where I was. Who would have thought next time I went there it would be as a Mills & Boon author!
Thanks for your kind words about THE SUMMER THEY NEVER FORGOT, I do hope you enjoy reading it come February!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Oh my gosh, what a disastrous end to a wonderful trip, girlygirl. Thank heaven the airline managed to locate your lost luggage even with the wrong name!

Kandy Shepherd said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed the post, Ros. I hope you enjoy reading REINVENTING ROSE. I, too, have found new authors through a book I've got as a prize or a giveaway.

Linda Henderson said...

Congratulations on your new book sale, I can't wait to read it. I've never been overseas, just barely into Mexico.

seriousreader at live dot com

rosebuding said...

Thanks Kandy I look forward to reading your book. All the best with your writing. Ros

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Linda, I've never been to Mexico and have always wanted to! One day, perhaps. Thank you for the congratulations on the new book, I hope you'll enjoy it come February.

Sharon Archer said...

Hi Kandy,
It sounds like you had the most gorgeous time on your trip! How perfect was the timing of your travels coinciding with your sale to Mills and Boon! I've said before but it's so fabulous that I'll say it again, congratulations on that sale!

Love your pics - isn't that pub covered in flowers amazing!

Ugh on the cold you came back with - I feel your pain because I'm very full of a cold myself at the moment!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Thanks so much Sharon, the timing of the trip was fortuitous wasn't it?
That pub was amazing, it was such a hot day when I took the pic and the flowers were a blaze of color. They must have an intricate watering system in place!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Hi Ros, the first email I sent you seemed to get caught in a spam filter. The second one went through, hope you got it!

Annie West said...

Kandy, that sounds (and looks) like a marvellous trip! I'm so pleased you made time to catch up with the editors and authors. It looks like you got a very warm welcome indeed. You know, I think I have a photo of the same British pub? The baskets of flowers are amazing. I've lost track of the wonderful surprises we've experienced on holidays away. I think there's so much to experience it's just a matter of leaving yourself open to whatever is in the offing where you are. Here's hoping you have plenty more lovely travel experiences!

Kandy Shepherd said...

Thanks for calling by, Annie. I have to say I've been feeling quite restless since I've got home and wanting to plan more travel. You make such a good point about leaving yourself open to chance while travelling--sometimes what seems a disaster can turn into something truly memorable!