A publisher visit, city life & special moments

Feb 24, 2024 | 6 comments |

If you follow my Facebook author page or X (formerly Twitter) you may know that this week I visited Harlequin (part of HarperCollins) in Toronto, Canada.

Harlequin publishes my sweet romance Montana Carters books for Heartwarming, one of their series lines, and visiting the office was an exciting “first” in my author life.

The “country mouse” visits the city

Since returning to Canada from England in 2015, I’ve lived in a small town and rural area.

Downtown Toronto, albeit a shock to the senses (including emergency sirens in the middle of the night outside my hotel), was also a reminder of a life I sometimes miss.

From being spoiled for choice with restaurants and cafes to the latest fashions, variety of shopping and numerous cultural attractions, Toronto is a cosmopolitan, international city.

On the forty-first floor of a high-rise tower, Harlequin’s office has sweeping views of the Toronto skyline and Lake Ontario—a panorama that’s literally and figuratively much bigger than my everyday life.

The “author” meets her team 

Working alone in my home office and spending much of my time with fictional people who don’t actually exist, it’s easy to forget that when I finish a book manuscript a big team of people help bring it to publication.

First amongst these is my editor who helps me shape my story and make it the best it can be for readers. After several years of emails and Zoom calls, it was wonderful to meet and get to know my Heartwarming editor in person.

I also met several other editors whom I recognized from social media as well as members of the art department and PR and social media teams.

And from chatting about books, dogs and more, it was a joy to meet the “real” people behind online profiles.

There was also a delicious catered lunch, a perk of office life.

Filming social media content

Like other authors there that day, the main reason for my visit was to work with Harlequin’s PR and social media team to film online video content.

Although I expected it to be nerve-wracking, the friendly staff soon put me at ease.

I didn’t fall off the filming stool (the risk was real) and hopefully managed coherent replies to questions.


Harlequin’s office has a large “free” bookshelf and visiting authors, me included, were invited to “help ourselves” to anything of interest.

And while I had poignant memories of my late mother, a keen reader and for whom top Harlequin author Debbie Macomber was a favourite, I felt Mom with me in spirit.

It seemed more than coincidental when I spotted one of Debbie’s books on a shelf below the Heartwarming titles.


While my Toronto visit was brief, before heading back to the train station I diverted to the nearby Eaton Centre, a big shopping mall.

In my childhood, Eaton Centre seemed a magical place because on his own Toronto business trips my late dad got toys there for me that weren’t yet available in our hometown.

This week, I had some contemporary retail therapy there with sweet memories of my dad.

I love my small-town life but this country mouse also has a city side. And when I l exchanged my parka for the now vintage (but timeless!) black wool coat I bought years ago in London, UK, I rediscovered that urban part of myself.

Thanks to Harlequin for the warm welcome and making my visit so special in writing as well as life. 

Now to find shelf space for those books I brought home with me…


  1. Rosey

    I loved reading about your trip. So glad it was successful!

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Rosey. I’m glad you enjoyed my post. As you already know, I was delighted to spot your book, “The Gardins of Edin,” in a Toronto bookstore.

  2. Anne Kinch

    Sounds like you had a fun and meaningful time in Toronto. Your observations and memories brought memories of my own to mind, including happy ones of your mom & dad. So nice that you finally got to meet your Harlequin team! XX

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Anne. I’m glad my post brought back memories for you. When I was in Toronto I certainly thought of you, your sisters and your mom and dad too. Lots of happy times together.

  3. Anna Grace

    Your trip sounds so wonderful! ?

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Anna. It was indeed wonderful! I was excited to see one of your books on the shelf in the office too.


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