Sydney Strand talks about how a Facebook contest led to the creation of an action hero and a cake pop maker.

When I first opened my Word document, the book I started was actually a three-line blurb for a Facebook contest. Yeah. Soak in that moment of weird for a moment.

Harlequin author Nicola Marsh was running a contest. The blurb with the best potential would lead to a request by her editor, who would then do a quick read of the partial.

So I pitched three ideas. Two got accepted. Sydney Strand Headshot

I wrote the first three chapters of what was then Mistake Not Made, and action hero Bo Garrett and his biggest regret, baker Cadie Calhoun, were officially created.

This isn’t the first time I created a story idea based on a call-to-authors. In 2004, I answered what was basically a classified ad from Penguin looking for journalists who wanted to write ripped-from-the-headline stories. And that is how my first published book, Black Tuesday (Dutton, 2007), was born.

Notice, though. From my submission until the date of publication … THREE YEARS HAD PASSED. And that was basically the same welcome I was getting from Harlequin. About six weeks after submitting those first three chapters, I was invited to send in the whole manuscript … BUT IT WOULD TAKE UP TO SIX MONTHS TO GET A RESPONSE.

That was the sign I needed. I had been contemplating independent publishing for about a year. The stigma attached to being a “self publisher” had dulled down. Also, I had two books under my belt through a traditional publisher. I didn’t feel like I was turning to self-publishing because traditional publishing didn’t like me.

I was turning to self-publishing because I didn’t like traditional publishing (at least not those turnarounds!).

And so His Favorite Regret (formerly The Mistake Not Made) was kept in my Dropbox folder and I started working on it for the express purpose of self-publishing it.

But when I put His Favorite Regret to the side to percolate as the crappy first draft it was, I realized that Cadie’s sister Sera needed her story. So I gave her a novella in December 2013. You can read about sometimes-selfish, always-funny Sera Calhoun in His Favorite Inconvenience as she gets to know Swedish hottie Dane Andersson a little bit better.

In the meantime, that second story Harlequin liked? It’s coming out in Spring 2014 as His Favorite Scandal. And the third story Harlequin passed on? It’s going to be a serial on Wattpad starting the end of January (as His Favorite Distraction – readers get to have input about what happens to my Harrison and my Jillian when they get shipwrecked together). More can be found out about these stories on my site:

Thanks for reading, and may you too always follow what’s right for you!


HFRegret 1_17_Color Block_beveled_yellow Cadie Calhoun Wade is having a helluva week. She’s the Thing of Honor for her sister’s wedding. She’s finalizing her divorce. The neighbor’s dog keep

s stealing intoher house and treating her feet like a salt lick. Her childhood best friend is also back in town. And not any ol’ friend, either. Bo Garrett just happens to be the most famous action hero in the world. And boy, has Bo missed his Cadie! They parted on such dumb, stupid, moronic terms. And now that he’s back in Phoenix for reshoots, he’s not about to let her slip away again. His agent thinks this no-name girl isn’t good enough for People’s Sexiest Man Alive. Cadie kinda sorta thinks the same thing. Which means Bo needs to work overtime to convince her otherwise. Luckily, an action star knows when and how to flash his smile and his muscles. Especially when it comes to the girl who was his biggest regret.


Sydney Strand grew up with two older brothers who were constantly watching anything that involved explosions and lots of blood. In the mid-80s, this meant lots of Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis movies. Today, Sydney is an avid lover of the action film ouevre. And with a young daughter in the house, baking is a weekly occurrence. She put those two loves together in Bo and Cadie’s story of reconnection and romance in His Favorite Regret. Sydney currently lives in the land of witch trials and moose and stocks up on Fig Newtons and batteries whenever a snowstorm is predicted. You can visit her at to see where else she hangs out online, to read about her past, current, and future stories, and to sign up for a newsletter that will get you entered into a monthly contest that includes gift cards! Books! Candy! Did she mention candy?


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