Has it only been five years since I almost lost it all, giving new meaning to the “literary pitch?” I’d flown to Albuquerque to collect my very first win in a Romance Writers of America, chapter contest; this one with the Land of Enchantment Romance Authors in New Mexico. The moment I saw the contest posted in the RWA Report—the Rebecca Contest—I had to enter something, since Rebecca is the name of my oldest daughter. It’s a sign, I thought; hopefully a sign of good things to come. Darn if it wasn’t! My third completed manuscript, Matchmaker, Matchmaker, won!
You would think that when given the opportunity to make a pitch to editors at the LERA Conference, I would pitch my winning historical romance, Matchmaker, Matchmaker. Nervous and naive, I sat down with the likes of NAL and Five Star-Gale, and rambled on with another manuscript. I still don’t know what I was thinking . . . but I do know I wasn’t thinking! Russell Davis, the-then-Five Star-editor, actually congratulated me on my contest win at the beginning of my pitch, and I still didn’t get it! When politely asked to submit my manuscript of choice to Five Star-Gale, I snail-mailed my second, completed novel and not my contest win.
Months went by before I got “the call,” saying thank you but . . . no thank you. It’s the answer I expected, being rejected. But wait, the call wasn’t over. Five Star-Gale asked if I had something else I might want to submit. When given this golden opportunity, you bet this time I sent in my contest winner! Some time later I got the call again, saying thank you and let’s talk sale!
That one moment will ever withstand the test of time as “the moment” in my writing life . . . five years and counting.
Joanne Sundell’s first sale was in 2005, to Five Star, Gale, Cengage Learning. The prime market for Five Star Expressions is the library market, but Five Star’s books are also available on-line at Barnes & Noble and all bookstores. The Five Star Expressions line is a combination of romance and women’s fiction. Joanne’s particular interest is in historical romance with suspenseful elements.
To date, Joanne’s sales to Five Star include: MATCHMAKER, MATCHMAKER (06), A…MY NAME’S AMELIA (07) also out in Large Print, THE PARLOR HOUSE DAUGHTER (08) also out in Large Print, MEGGIE’S REMAINS (09), & THE QUAKER AND THE CONFEDERATE upcoming series (5/10, 9/10). Joanne’s first sale was reviewed nationally by Booklist, her second by Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly, and her third by Publisher’s Weekly and Booklist. A…MY NAME’S AMELIA garnered a top 4&1/2 star rating from Romantic Times Magazine.
History is always a strong character in Joanne’s books, with her first four stories set in colorful, turbulent Colorado history and her next, a two-book series set in Civil War Virginia. As important as it is for Joanne to convey a strong, credible, historical flavor of the time, it is equally important for Joanne to portray strong, credible heroines and heroes. A strong, determined heroine deserves an equally strong and determined hero. Joanne grew up reading romance, historical and contemporary, falling in love with heroes and heroines from Regency England to the American West, from London’s pubs to Colorado’s ski slopes, loving that moment when the hero and heroine meet and fall in love. That moment to Joanne is the moment when Jane Eyre meets Edward Rochester, when Elizabeth Bennett meets Mr. Darcy … that’s the heart-stopping, passionate moment for Joanne in romance. That moment is what led her to attempt traditional, old-fashioned historical romance.
With her three, Colorado-mountain-raised-children grown and off on their own adventures, Joanne lives part-time in Colorado and California, with her husband and their entourage` of felines and huskies.
Joanne is a member of Colorado Romance Writers, Romance Writers of America, Women Writing the West, Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, and Los Angeles Romance Authors.
e-mail Joanne: firstname.lastname@example.org