I mentioned on Thursday that I was intending to go to a book festival, here in Nottingham on Saturday, so I could attend a short talk by Mills and Boon author Kate Walker.
Well I did go, despite the miserable weather.
I met Kate while we were waiting to go into the Council Chamber for the talk, and I have to say she's a lovely friendly person.
All the talks scheduled in the chamber were only 45 minutes, so by the time people arrived, sat down and Kate passed around some freebies supplied by Mills and Boon (a bright pink Biro and a copy of a Riva book- a new M&B series aimed at younger women) and from Kate a bookmark, we had about 35 minutes.
Obviously with the time limit Kate was only able to give a quick run-down on writing a romance novel, but that was helpful for anyone there who considered writing a Mills and Boon novel.
"The books are constantly changing and adapting" which helps explain why they are still publishing romances over 100 years later.
The New Voices competition was mentioned- the closing date is in a few days apparently. But Kate was sure it would run again next year.
Also highlighted was that M&B are looking for your (individual) voice in submissions.
The important words for writing a romance are: characters, conflict, 'emotional punch' and a happy ending- whether there's marriage at the end of the story, or not.
Kate's current book 'The Return of the Stranger' is a rework of 'Wuthering Heights' that the publisher requested.
Now we all know the original story doesn't have a happy ending, so Kate needed to write a happy ending for her version- and we got an explanation of how she went about it in the Q&A session at the end.
I now have a signed copy of the latest book, and the cover model DOES have a neatly trimmed beard and moustache and looks very brooding in an attractive way... :-)
Kate's next book, due in March 2012, will be her 60th title, so I will be looking out for it when it is published.
I came away enthused, and reassured that I have got the right elements in my novel. I just need to work on knowing my characters a bit better.
So you'll know what I'll be reading this coming week...