While obsessively monitoring Tweets from the major romance publishing houses, I ran across an open call for an anthology from Harlequin’s digital-first publishing house, named Carina Press. The requirements: a Steampunk novella with the theme of winter or Christmas threaded throughout. It had to be anywhere from 18K to 35K, and it had to be in by May 15th, with the announcement by June 15th.
Despite the fact that I’d never read a Steampunk at that point (I've since fallen crazy IN LOVE with the subgenre), a plot bunny immediately sprang to mind – a high-tension caper-style romance with a twist, and a Christmas message at the end guaranteed to warm even Scrooge’s flinty heart. I got TICK TOCK GOES THE CLOCK to my beta reader buddy, the fabulous cozy mystery author, Hart Johnson, and out to Carina Press’s Executive Editor, Angela James by May 13th (a Friday, no less).
Then the nail-biting began.
From the time I was fourteen and decided I was going to be a romance writer, I’d dreamed of the legendary call from Harlequin, known simply as The Call. And on June 14th, the day before Carina Press was supposed to officially choose four authors for their holiday-themed Steampunk anthology, I watched Angela James’s Twitter stream like some creepy stalker. My heart tripped over itself when she announced she was making The Call to various authors. Yay! It was time! I grabbed up the house phone and cell phone and walked around the house ALL DAY LONG. I even took the phones into the bathroom with me (I know, you didn’t need to know that last part :P). Then, as I was getting ready for work, I checked her Tweets again and saw she had made all her calls. My phones had remained silent.
I wasn’t getting The Call.
Broken-hearted, I went to work. I couldn’t concentrate -- I accidentally brought one of my skating students close to tears over a miscommunication, and then I forgot where I'd left my skate bag. By the time I staggered my distracted way back home, I was resigned to opening a rejection email and getting on with my life. Sure enough, when I checked my email there was something from Angela James regarding TTGtC:
I'm sorry I was unable to reach you by phone today, but I’m so pleased to tell you I’d like to accept TICK TOCK GOES THE CLOCK for publication in the 2011 steampunk holiday collection. Though I do have some editorial notes, and your book will undergo developmental, line and copy edits, I loved this story and can’t wait to share it with readers.
Come to find out, I uh, didn’t check that little blinking light that means “PHONE MESSAGE, IDIOT” on the answering machine. Apparently I had gotten The Call the day before. I must say, my new editor has a bright and bubbly voice, and had I heard that message on freaking MONDAY, I wouldn’t have spent all of TUESDAY double-fisting phones around the house and feeling sorry for myself. *sigh*
But never mind! I’ve now been lucky enough to make another dream become a reality – yay! And I’m going to enjoy this happiness with abandon... until I get those first round of edits. :P