Thursday, March 27, 2014

New Writers - Meet Christy McKellen

You'll remember that at Fishguard this year we had something special to celebrate - when Rachael Thomas  had her first book accepted.   Rachael had had the ambition to be my13th in 2013 - that means, that of the people I know I have helped to be published after they've been to one of my courses, read and worked with the 12 Point Guide, she hoped to be the 13th  in 2013.  Unfortunately it was a little later that Racahel got her first acceptance (but she was the 14th in 2014!)  Someone else got in on that 13th place - brand new Modern Temptation author Christy McKellen.  I asked Christy if she'd come on my blog and talk to you about her first book - and that journey to publication .
So here she is today - please welcome Christy -

My journey to publication — Christy McKellen

Where to begin?

At the end, perhaps.
I’m Christy McKellen and I write for the KISS/Modern Tempted line for Harlequin Mills & Boon.
It’s quite a thrill to be able to write that, I can tell you. It took me six years of learning craft, reading my genre, writing, submitting, receiving form rejections, picking myself up and dusting myself off, reading, writing, entering competitions, learning more, resubmitting and so on, until I captured the interest of an editor.
I was lucky enough to be offered a two-book contract last July, after submitting a full manuscript on the back of a Twitter pitch I’d entered earlier that year. (You can read my Naked Call story here—yes, I did say naked): I’m currently writing book three for the same line.
Yup, things have moved on fast!
Rewind to the beginning of my journey.
When I first decided to try writing for Mills & Boon I didn’t know another soul who was doing it and had no idea how to go about it (apart from just sitting down and writing of course, but that’s only part of the process, as I soon discovered).
So I plucked up the courage to send an email to the lovely Kate Walker, whose wonderful books I’ve read and loved for years, asking for advice. (Not that she’s at all scary, but I felt a bit shy about contacting her out of the blue J).
Kate very kindly sent me an extremely helpful and encouraging reply back and the advice she gave me was absolute gold dust.
On her suggestion I joined the RNA’s New Writers Scheme,  which, as part of the joining fee, allows you to send in a full length manuscript for critique by an editor or published author.
I also discovered and read, cover to cover, Kate’s wonderful 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance, which is a fantastic resource for aspiring romance authors.
And then I wrote. And wrote. And wrote.
After only having the traditional submitting route available at the beginning of my journey to publication, it’s been fantastic to have had an increasing number of opportunities to get my stories in front of editors over the years. I made sure I entered all the competitions that Mills & Boon ran and even though I didn’t win, or even place in any of them, I met a huge number of other aspiring authors who I’ve had the pleasure of travelling along the long and winding road with.
I’ve made some wonderful online friends that way, including my hugely talented critique partners. For me, having a group of people who were roughly at the same point in the process as I was and happy to swap manuscripts for honest, constructive advice was an absolute boon. Writing in the dark can be a lonely and frustrating business and whenever I received a form rejection with absolutely no feedback I was always a little heartbroken, so having friends to cheer me on was essential.
There were many points when I wondered whether I’d ever get there, but I guess that’s normal. I know now that I wasn’t mentally ready or sufficiently skilled to take on the challenges of working as an author six years ago (marketing, writing multiple manuscripts a year, deadlines!) and in retrospect I’m glad I went through the motions (and emotions) to get where I am today. All the experience—particularly the rejections—have made me a better and more rounded writer (with a much thicker skin).
If you’re on your own road to publication I salute you and wish you the very best of luck. My advice for getting where you want to go is this: Believe in and nurture your voice—it’s what makes you unique—and never, NEVER give up.

B.K. (Before Kids) Christy worked as a Video and Radio Producer in London and Nottingham. After a decade of dealing with nappies, tantrums and endless questions from toddlers, she has come out the other side and moved into the wonderful world of literature. She now spends her time writing flirty, sexy romance with a kick (her dream job!).

Christy loves to hear from readers (and writers!). You can find her at or email her at
Christy’s debut for the KISS/Modern Tempted line HOLIDAY WITH A STRANGER is available now from all good book retailers.    Barnes & Noble  iTunes uk
 After three months travelling all Connor Preston wants to do is sink into his own bed. The last thing he expects is to find a stark-naked woman already there…  
Josie Marchpane wasn’t anticipating company either. Connor might be six foot four inches of pure muscle, and boast a disturbingly sexy smile, but a fortnight in the South of France is the one thing standing between Josie and her sanity – and she’s not about to give it up without a fight!Josie plays to win. The problem…? Connor does too. And, with only one bed between them, things are about to get interesting…

Christy’s second book for the same line LESSONS IN RULE-BREAKING will be available from May this year. 
Journalist Jess has always followed the rules when it comes to her career:
1) Never say no! Trying to extract a tell-all interview from bad boy of the art world Xander Heaton might be her own worst nightmare, but she’s just going to have to grin and bear it!
2) Absolutely no flirting on the job—professionalism is key to a journalist’s success. Even if Xander does have her imagining the most unprofessional scenarios….
3) If resistance proves impossible, remember the golden rule—never kiss and tell!
One night with Xander and she’s broken at least one rule…and discovered it’s much more fun breaking rules than making them!

Thanks for visiting, Christy.  I'm so looking forward to reading your book.
Oh - and PS - Christy mentioned the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance -  look out for big news on that coming   in April.


Rachael Thomas said...

Lovely to read your story to publication Christy and I'm looking forward to reading your debut!

Christy McKellen said...

Thanks so much, Rachel! Looking forward to reading yours too x

Susie Medwell said...

Great to read your call story Christy, and I am so sorry we missed each other at the FoR last year, maybe this year?
Kate has always been a great inspiration to me too - I love her books, was lucky enough to meet her once and I recommend the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance to everyone! Looking forward to reading your book.

Christy McKellen said...

Hi Susie

It would be great to meet up this year. I'm hoping to get to the RNA conference and maybe FoR too if I can squeeze it in. It's wonderful to have so many opportunities now to meet up with lovely on-line buddies in the real world.

Kate's 12 Point Guide is fab, isn't it! I recommend it to everyone too.

x C x


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