Today, Harlequin, one of the world’s leading publishers of books for women, added a compelling epilogue to its tremendously popular So You Think You Can Write event by announcing Katrina Williams of Allen, Texas, as the winner of its unpublished author competition and awarding the Dallas-area resident with her very first publishing contract.
Ms. Williams, an avid Harlequin reader, impressed a judging panel comprised of Harlequin editors with her manuscript entitled The Divorce Deal. “I loved Katrina’s hero,” said Stacy Boyd, senior editor for Harlequin Desire. “But what really made her book stand out was her unique, fresh voice. I’m very excited to be working with her on her winning manuscript.” Ms. Williams has since sold a second book to Harlequin and begun to establish a permanent career as a professional author.
So You Think You Can Write is Harlequin’s annual digital conference offering aspiring novelists the opportunity to spend an entire working week with more than 50 Harlequin editors via social media tools such as podcasts, videos, webinars, blog posts, community discussions and Twitter.
Participants have the opportunity to learn valuable insider tips and have their writing samples critiqued by professional editors. The event, which ran from November 7 – 11, 2011, drew more than 17,000 unique visitors to the site. Ms. Williams’ manuscript was selected from 175 submissions.
“This is the culmination of a dream I’ve had since third grade,” said Ms. Williams. Asked to describe her reaction when she received “The Call” informing her she had won the contest, she replied, “I believe I hyperventilated. I know I cried. Just because I wanted to write for Harlequin didn’t mean I was good enough. Winning provided that validation. I honestly would have been happy being one of the finalists, but winning is just…wow.”
In fact, the judging panel was so impressed with the quality of submissions that they have expressed interest in manuscripts by a further five contestants. “We knew we would award one deserving participant with a contract but were delighted to read publishable manuscripts by so many other contestants,” said Kathleen Scheibling, Senior Editor of Harlequin American Romance and the organizer of this year’s contest. “We are thrilled that participants in the inaugural So You Think You Can Write conference, in 2010, took advantage of the expert advice and tips from Harlequin editors. The quality of this year’s entries tells us that So You Think You Can Write is achieving its goal of helping young romance novelists get started on the path to publication.”
Ms. Williams’ winning manuscript, The Divorce Deal, will be published as a Harlequin Desire novel in February 2013. Its release will be accompanied by promotions and a front cover design declaring it as a So You Think You Can Write winner.
So You Think You Can Write will return for its third conference and contest in the latter half of 2012.