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  • Writer's pictureJenna Beall Mueller

Confessions of an RCW: The President's Daughter and a Hot Priest

Welcome to the first edition of Confessions of a Rom Com Writer, or Confessions of an RCW for short. Today’s post stars the President’s daughter and a hot priest, and I swear it will make sense later.

I’ve been writing stories for as long as I can remember. My parents were generous with the computer paper, and I would go to town writing (and illustrating!) the great love stories of Princess Lisa and Prince Jimmy. (Lisa was my pretty babysitter. Jimmy was the cute, artistic boy in my kindergarten class.)

The authoress (me) and her beloved Nala stuffed animal. This was taken around the time I was feverishly penning Princess Lisa and Prince Jimmy stories.

In high school, I wrote what I thought was a novel, but in hindsight, was actually a novella. It was about the President’s daughter—Bella, such a cool girl name—spending the summer in her hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio. (A story about the President’s daughter was SUCH a thing in the late 1990s and early 2000s, probably because of Chelsea Clinton and Jenna and Barbara Bush).

Of course, Bella falls for her best friend’s older brother’s best friend (say that three times fast), a guy named Maverick who is from “the wrong side of the tracks.” I remember writing a nighttime make-out scene in the swimming pool and thinking, “Wow! This is risqué!”

I didn’t complete my next manuscript until college. That one was about a woman named Annabelle St. James (Can you imagine being graced with such an elegant name?) who owned a bookshop in a small New England town. Had I ever been to New England at this point in my life? No, I had not. But had I watched hours of Gilmore Girls? Yes! Yes, I had! Therefore, I determined I was an expert on the region à la Stars Hollow.

Anyways, Annabelle is all swoony for her parish priest (!!!), who is young, handsome, kind, and charismatic, which is, um, interesting considering the priests I grew up with were none of these things. I guess you can say this is a testament to my imagination.

So, why do I tell you all of this?

POP, FIZZ, CLINK is the fifth manuscript I’ve written. (Sixth if you count the work-for-hire novel that was published in 2019).

I think it's often assumed that an author’s debut novel is their first—and I’m sure it sometimes is—but that often isn't the case. There are usually a handful of almost-successes and downright failures that preceded it. Not to mention all the partially started works, half-baked ideas, etc.

It can be so easy to pin all your hopes and dreams to a single manuscript. I’ve certainly done it in the past, especially with my first agented manuscript that went on submission. Every editor’s pass felt like such a stab to my heart. Focus on a new project, was usually the feedback I got during this obsessive time. But easier said than done, right?

But hindsight is 20/20, and I believe each of those manuscripts taught me something important. Annabelle St. James taught me to write about what I knew (which did not include New England, being a bookshop owner, or having a tryst with a hot priest). WHEN KISMET COMES KNOCKING (the manuscript after that) was my first time querying agents. And that dreadful work-for-hire novel taught me how to expertly map out the plot, chapter by chapter, of an entire book.

Do I wish some of those earlier manuscripts had achieved publication? Um, yeah. Totally!

But I also believe that POP, FIZZ, CLINK is so dazzling and deserving of this debut title. I love that the heroine has MS. I love that tiny houses are a major plot point. I love that my star finds LOVE when she isn’t feeling very lovable. Most importantly, I love that she finds herself.

If you’re in the trenches right now, keep going. Rest if you need to—I took a two-year break myself; more on that in another post—but don’t give up on your dreams. And just think! All those previous manuscripts will be waiting in the wings whenever you do strike it big, and publishers are clamoring for your work!

Keep writing. You can do it.


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