Meet New Author CJ Miller

CJ Miller had something extra to be thankful for this Thanksgiving–she recently signed her first contract with Harlequin Romantic Suspense!  She’s here today to tell us about getting ‘The Call’.

Thank you to Kylie for inviting me to share my call story with the blog readers 🙂

I submitted my manuscript to Harlequin Romantic Suspense (HRS) in June 2010 via the slush pile. I sent a query letter, synopsis, and the first three chapters. A full manuscript request, two revisions, and a year and 3 months later, I was waiting to hear back from Harlequin.

I had read that HRS was increasing their word count and I had assumed that when I heard back about my book, it would be either a rejection or another request for revisions to make the book longer.

I was cleaning up the kitchen and getting ready to start dinner when I heard the phone ring. It was a 212 number I didn’t recognize. I thought the call might be from a contractor we’d hired to install a new front door in our home. I answered and the person asked for me. She identified herself as Shana Smith from Harlequin and she said they wanted to publish my book. For one small moment, I thought it might be friends of mine playing a joke, since earlier that week, I had entered the Harlequin New Voices contest and they had read my submission.

I can’t recall all the details of the conversation, though I did manage to scribble down some notes on a pad of paper. I’m pretty sure I sounded incoherent when answering and asking questions.

My book has been penciled in to the Harlequin Romantic Suspense schedule for September 2012.

It took me three years, help from two amazingly talented critique partners, one mentorship (with the fabulous Kylie Brant), and over a dozen manuscripts (many more partial manuscripts and scenes) to get to the call that my book is going to be published.

The most frequent question I am asked is, “What’s the book about?” Double Witness, the working title which may change before it is released, is about a woman on the run who witnesses a crime and the detective assigned to her case who must keep her safe from the two men who want her dead – a deranged serial killer and her former boyfriend, the head of an organized crime ring.

The story takes place around Christmas, my favorite time of year. I enjoyed crafting the story against the backdrop of the holiday season. It allowed me to incorporate some of my family’s holiday traditions into the book.

What are your favorite holiday traditions?

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41 Responses to Meet New Author CJ Miller

  1. Kylie Brant says:

    Congrats again, CJ, on your upcoming book! I can’t wait to see the cover. Traditions…I love them at holiday time. And woe be the child who puts a crimp in them! (My oldest didn’t make it home for Thanksgiving…he’s being officially ‘shunned’ ). My kids look forward to coming home to see their favorite holiday decorations in the same place…I always hear about it if I change things up. But my favorite tradition is just spending holiday time hanging out with family. Even with all the schedules we work around these days it’s important to me to still carve out a time when we’re all together on Christmas or Christmas Eve.

    • C.J. Miller says:

      Some of my favorite childhood Christmas memories are decorating the house with my family. Our Christmas tree is filled with ornaments from vacations and special occasions and that makes me smile too!

  2. loisgreiman says:

    Huge congratulations, CJ. I remember my first call vividly. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life. Best of luck with your book.

    Holiday traditions–we usually get around to watching old movies…White Christmas, the Family Stone. And baking. Love the smell of baking amidst the sounds of laughter.

  3. C.J. Miller says:

    White Christmas is among my favorites. I’m also a big fan of Holiday Inn (stars Bing Crosby too).

  4. Congratulations on your contract! It’s so cool to hear about authors getting “the call” from a slush pile manuscript. It means there’s hope for the rest of us.

    As far as holiday traditions, my parents have a great one. They buy a Christmas tree ornament on every vacation they take, then when they decorate the tree each year, they use the time to reminisce about all the neat places they’ve been. I think that’s pretty cool.

  5. Kathleen O says:

    Congrats on your first book CJ.. I wish you well..
    I am big on movies. I have a whole collection, but I would have to say that my top three to watch of say a sentimental value have to be Miracle on 34th Street (orginal version, Maureen O’Hara, John Payne and Natile Wood) White Christmas and Going My Way..
    For Christmas with a bit of humour it would have to be National Lampoon’s Christmas Vaction and The Grinch Movie..
    For that more romantic flavor it has to be Love Actually and Bridget Jones Diary…yes it has a Christmas theme….Animated movies Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer has to be at the top of the list..
    So many of these movies I have watched over and over each year and a lot with my Mom, who passed away this year, So extra kleenex is going to used at some point watching these movies…

    • C.J. Miller says:

      I love the animated movies. I have some on DVD to share with my son.

      I’m sorry to hear about your mom passing. It’s great that you have those wonderful memories with her.

  6. Congratulations, CJ! Not only on your sale, but on landing a place on the Christmas schedule. Readers love holiday stories, and the Christmas season is SO romantic.

    Welcome to our ride, girl!

  7. Ah, traditions. Like yours, our tree is filled with memory ornaments going all the way back to the first year we were married. Hanging the ornaments is an exercise in nostalgia and these days in storytelling. I’m only too happy to tell the grandchildren why the tiny frog prince with the broken leg and the chipped paint goes just below the top of the tree.

    Lots of variety in our favorite music. I love “have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “The Christmas Song” (Chestnuts roasting on an open fire) because they remind me of Daddy. Mama was in the church choir, and I can still hear her singing my favorite hymns. Lovely soprano. (I can’t sing worth beans.) And, of course, there’s Clyde the Camel–what’s the name of that one?

    Hands down our favorite movie of the season is A Christmas Story–the one about Ralphie’s quest for the BB gun. We chime in on all the best lines.

  8. Leanne Banks says:

    CJ I love your call story! Thanks so much for sharing it. I remember when I “got the call”, I almost felt as if I were having an out-of-body experience! We love the movie White Christmas also. One of my fave traditions is having the whole family light candles and sing a Christmas carol together on Christmas Eve. Another that we have begun is a “Dirty Santa” exchange, also usually on Christmas Eve. Lots of fun!:) Welcome to the convertible!:)

  9. Brook says:

    Congrats on the contract, CJ! Just goes to show that hard work pays off.

    As for holiday traditions, nothing beats the food at Thanksgiving, and Christmas was made for making cookies!

  10. michelehauf says:

    Sounds like an awesome read! Congrats! What a way to celebrate the holidays!

  11. Cera Daniels says:

    Congratulations, CJ! September’s release is on the calendar for sure! 🙂

    We keep our holidays pretty tranquil around here. Aside from, well, weekends of insane bread baking bonanzas, the annual girlie pampering party and cookie/chocolate exchange, keeping the cat from making a nest in the tree…

    We also pick out one new ornament a year to fasten super-securely into said tree. This year will be more special than any other: our 2011 ornament is a pair of pink baby booties, and it’s our baby girl’s very first Christmas. Just one more reason to love the season 😉

  12. Andrew says:

    Great story CJ! Finding time to keep writing and get something accepted while working and then having a kid is really impressive!

    My favorite holiday tradition is getting together on Christmas eve and giving my brothers and sisters the gifts that I got them. It is so much fun finding thoughtful ideas for them, and then seeing their face when they open something unexpected but exciting!

    Cookies, as Brook mentioned, are obviously great!

  13. C.J. Miller says:

    I love giving gifts. The closet where I keep them has overflowed onto the floor. I need to start wrapping soon!

  14. catslady says:

    Congratulations. I love hearing the call stories and especially for your first!

    I started a traditiion of having a tree trimming party every year. It started because of an uncle who had no one and has grown over the years. Now my oldest daughter is having one too – so twice the fun. And I always read The Littlest Angel which leaves me sobbing every year lol. And we watch National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation every year too.

    • C.J. Miller says:

      The holidays are a great time to let the special people in our lives know we care, and family gatherings are a good way to do just that. Thanks so much for sharing your party idea!

  15. Congratulations CJ! I love that story. From slush pile to publication – fantastic! And isn’t it great how generous established romance authors are with their time and support. I think Kylie is terrific!
    As for holiday traditions, I’m all about the resolutions- I always have sooo many. Congrats again,
    Carey

  16. PatriciaW says:

    Congratulations, C.J.!

    Decorating the tree. Baking Christmas cookies. Watching holiday TV specials, like Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, both the animated and the live-action versions. Wrapping the presents on Christmas Eve and consuming a portion of the cookies and milk my children leave out.

  17. Cindy Gerard says:

    Sorry to be chiming in so late C.J. Welcome, Welcome and congratulations!!!

  18. Brian says:

    Congratulations on the publishing contract, CJ. I think playing football on Thanksgiving has to be my favorite holiday tradition. To get outside and play with family and friends in the crisp fall weather is just the best.

    I look forward to purchasing many copies of your book

  19. Jennifer says:

    Congratulations to CJ on all of her accomplishments. She has proven that hard work and dedication do pay off in the end and it is always worth it to follow your dreams and aim higher than you ever imagined you could.

    Holiday traditions- spending time with family, Pillsbury cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, watching the family dog open all his presents just like a child 🙂

  20. Jane says:

    Jane says:
    I am so excited for you. I know this is a dream come true.

    I enjoy holiday entertaining. I love when the family can spend time together. Memories are so special and I am always ready to add a new one.

  21. Marianne says:

    Congratulations on the book deal, hopefully more will follow soon 🙂 I can’t wait to read the finished product!
    I love holidays, and my favorite traditions are decorating the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, my dad making chili for dinner, and going to the midnight church service. Oh, and making Christmas-morning breakfast!!
    I hope your holidays are wonderful and you find some time to celebrate in between revisions 😉

  22. MarcieR says:

    Congrats!
    I read your chapter from New Voices after I heard you sold (on eHarl) and could tell just from that chapter why you did sell. That chapter had ‘it’. Hard to put words to what exactly ‘it’ is, but you know it when you read it.
    A Christmas story too. Love Christmas stories.

  23. Amanda says:

    Is it September yet?! Congrats on such a huge success, it is well deserved! I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a copy.

    As far as holiday traditions…I would have two favorites (1) Waking up every black Friday at 5am with my mom and sister to shop ’til we dropped and (2) my parents would pile me and my cousins into our car with Dunkin’ Donuts hot chocolate and drive us around for hours looking at Christmas lights. It’s not really about what you do, it is all about with whom to you do it– family is so precious! Have a great holiday season, CJ Miller!

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