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 comment—I’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