Earlier this week, I made the call to our fabulous new Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance author, Louisa Heaton. It’s been a long road for Louisa, but her persistence has been incredible. Finally, after 15 years of submitting to Mills & Boon, her dream has finally come true! In her first book, a surrogacy story with a twist, out in January 2015, best friends Callie and Lucas end up having a baby together – and it’s their journey to love along the way. Congratulations Louisa!
Here’s Louisa’s story…
Hello there! I’m Louisa Heaton and I’m a brand new Medical Romance author for Harlequin Mills & Boon!
You have no idea how long I’ve waited to write that sentence… You see, when I was a little girl, my mum had this pile of books at the side of her bed. A multitude of pastel coloured books, with these pictures on the front of a perfectly demure couple and an intriguing and beguiling title. I wanted to write one! I’d already been writing my own little romances. Short stories I took into school, scrawled on A4 paper, their edges curling, and let my friends read them. We’d stand huddled together in the playground reading the stories that I’d created! I loved their reactions. I loved when they asked for more.
Yet, I never thought I’d truly be able to write a whole book. Not one that Mills & Boon would like to publish. I loved the Medical series. As a First Responder on the Island where I live, I’m fascinated by medicine and health and knew I wanted to pitch my stories at this fabulous line of dashing docs and sensational heroines.
I submitted my first ever three chapters to Mills & Boon in 1999. Fifteen years ago! My first son had just been born and I would write when he was sleeping. The chapters were rejected, but I persevered. I submitted another story and was thrilled to be asked for the full. I sent it in, convinced that they loved it – why else would they ask for the full? But unfortunately, my work wasn’t accepted. However, the lovely editor gave me three pages of helpful advice pointing out where I just wasn’t quite hitting the right note, even though they loved my voice.
But by then I had a set of twins to give birth to…and then to look after. When they were about ten months old, I started writing again and submitted once more. I was back to square one, with an instant rejection. I had a fourth child, and then we moved house. Eventually, I uncovered all my old clippings folders and writing notes. I read through the letters I had received from the Mills & Boon editors, then I went out and bought Kate Walker’s ‘12 Point Guide to Writing Romance’ – and studied it closely. So, I began a new story…
This time, I decided to write a surrogacy story (with a twist, of course!). Surrogacy has always fascinated me and I knew the story I wrote would really have to impress the editors. Coincidentally, the Medical series was running Fast Track for submissions in June 2013, with a guaranteed feedback within two weeks. As promised, I received a double-quick response…and they asked for the full manuscript!
Attempting to keep my bubbling excitement under control, I submitted the full and tried to go about my daily life. And my wait began! Then one day, an email popped into my inbox – more pages of invaluable feedback, and would I work on some changes? Would I! The editor reassured me that these revisions were there because they had seen so much potential in my work…and so, I pushed the daunting prospect aside. Eek! I contacted Kate Hardy, a wonderful Medical author, and asked for her advice. She had tons of wisdom to share – for which I was extremely grateful.
I sent my revisions back in, and held my breath! More fab feedback, a few more tweaks, and I sent the manuscript back in. Each time I resubmitted, I could see my story becoming stronger and stronger!
Then my editor, Charlotte Mursell, called me – could I make two final changes…?
After sending the requested alterations back in, I relaxed a little, not thinking I would hear anything for ages – #24HoursinMandB, the new Medical Fast Track, had begun. Surely they wouldn’t have time to look over my work.
My editor phoned the VERY NEXT DAY! It was one of the best days of my life! Finally, after fifteen years, I had received ‘The Call’. My hands struggled to hold onto the phone, they were shaking that much. I listened in disbelief as Charlotte told me Mills & Boon wanted to buy my book. And they wanted to offer me a two book contract! My dream had come true.
Writing for Mills & Boon has always been in my heart, and always will be. So, if you’re an aspiring writer and you’ve been waiting for a long time, don’t give up. Please don’t give up! Perseverance got me here (stubbornness, my husband says!). But if you have a dream, then you need to chase it.
One day, you’ll make that catch.
If you’d like to follow in Louisa’s inspiring footsteps, then why not enter our 24 hours Medical fast-track competition, #24HoursInMandB…
Find out how you can enter here