Showing posts with label Mills and Boon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mills and Boon. Show all posts

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Kobo, Mills and Boon and W H Smith Romance Writing Life Competition...

April seems to be the month for competition announcements.

Following on from my Sunday post, about Choc Lit, there's now another opportunity for writers of romance in the UK, Canada, and the United States, announced today.

The winning writer receives a publishing contract with Mills and Boon, which includes print and digital release; plus it will be "jointly promoted" by all three names: Kobo, Mills&Boon, and W H Smith.

There's a prize for second and third place- a Kobo Glo HD.

Now to take part, you must have an active Kobo Writing Life account to enter, and they do give you a helpful link.

The first of many?
Their link takes you to a page, but you need the create an account via the link on the bottom left (in light blue/green) and you can then proceed to sign up to Kobo Writing Life as an author.

Now that bit is the off-putting part of the process- I'd assume they class signing up as being the active bit...

So what do you need to submit?

A maximum 500 word synopsis, and the first chapter of your romance manuscript, no longer than 5,000 words. These will be "reviewed by a judging panel".

(I'm sure I don't need to remind you, but just in case, give the ending on the synopsis...)

They're including all romance genres, and while saying it's not limited to their existing categories, I do wonder how much that will play a part.

And for those who want to submit a title they've self-published - you're in luck.

The deadline for entries is the 14th July- but you might want to check whether that is UK time, or US.

As the successful writer will be announced a month later, 14th August, the winner will need their complete manuscript ready for submitting to Mills and Boon in September-with the release date of the winning entry in early 2016.

And the manuscript needs to be 70,000 words, or more...

For full details pop along to the Kobo Writing Life page. It has all the links you need, including the one for the application form- make a note of how they want your manuscript put together before you click submit...

If you enter, good luck.






Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti and http://freedigitalphotos.net



Monday 1 December 2014

Mills & Boon Romance Writing Masterclass News...

Interesting email received today from Mills and Boon; they've announced that in January 2015 they will be holding their first Romance Writing Masterclass, at Paradise Heights in Richmond.

It's an " intense one day workshop" being held on Saturday, January 24th 2015.

Places are limited, but tickets go on sale next week- no idea of cost.

You're asked to email Author Lab, details on this page.

It looks like a long, hard working day.

Described as, "designed to take you from zero to sixty in your romance writing skills." Those attending will leave with "a clear understanding of the romantic fiction market and an idea of the next steps to take in the writing process."

(This doesn't sound like it's aimed at those who have been developing their romance writing skills for some time already...)

There will be a Mills and Boon guest author- presumably they will be revealed when the details are sent out.

The course will be run by Harlequin's senior editorial team, as well as the guest author.

And to finish it off there will be a drinks reception at the end of the day, and the "chance to sign up for our mentoring program."

This could be a costly day when you put travelling onto the potential ticket cost, and depending on how far you have to travel from, overnight accommodation might need to be added into the total.

There could be some cost to the mentoring program - if you look at how other mainstream publishers have been moving into the mentoring sector in the past year or two.

Perhaps M&B are looking to expand further into the romance market, and they see this as a way of nurturing what they want next; or maybe it's the start of a big future change...







Sunday 15 June 2014

Historical Heroes Writing Competition 16th June to 6th July...

Mills and Boon have a writing tournament for historical heroes for the next three weeks, and you could win a detailed editorial consultation on your full manuscript...

Each week Mills and Boon will be looking for first chapters that feature particular categories of heroes.

This Monday, 16th until Sunday 22nd June it's Regency/Victorian heroes.

Then from the 23rd to 29th it's for Medieval/Tudor Knights/Lords.

For the third week 30th June until the 6th July, it's Warrior Heroes. (This is where your Vikings and Highlanders fit.)

So when Monday rolls round what do you need to send?

A short pitch: Setting,- where and when; a short blurb. You've got 100 words to pitch your story, so you need to make every word count. And there's a link to their current historical books so you can see the sort of thing you're aiming for. Then the big question to answer, why is your hero the best, and "what makes your hero the most delectable man in history".

Your first chapter: 3000 to 5000 words. Don't forget your contact details.

You can only submit once to each of the categories...

Then the editors for the M&B Historical will pick their favourites from the three sections, and they will feature on the Mills &Boon website for a public vote. 

Finally three different chapters will go online on the 14th July and the public votes again.

Midday (GMT) on the 18th July the winner will be announced. 

The winner (Tournament Champion) receives a detailed editorial consultation of their 'full manuscript'. 

There will be a variety of tips, blogs and other snippets across social media, so look out for during the three weeks with the #HistoricalHeroes.

The full competition details are here

You'll also find the Twitter handles for the editors of the historical books, so you can follow them and hear the latest news on the competition, with the #HistoricalHeroes.

If you haven't read any of the M&B Historical then have a peek here.

It's good to see historical romance getting some attention...




Sunday 1 June 2014

A Virtual Romance Festival for Readers and Writers - 7-8 June...

This week it's back to work. I'll be resuming the novella edit, as well as starting on with a few other projects.

I've also signed up to next weekend's first virtual Romance Festival, taking place online - you do need to register, but it's FREE. Register on the Eventbrite page here.

Once you've signed up you can find out more, but just in case you're not convinced I'll give you a little more information. :D

This virtual festival is for both aspiring writers and those already established, and readers too; a way we can all celebrate romance, discover new authors, and books, and getting them to the readers.

Authors from Harper Impulse, Mills and Boon, Avon- both UK and US, and Piatkus, Carina and independents will be taking part- something for everyone...

Saturday is the author spotlight;  Sunday the reader spotlight.

For writers it will be a day to develop your skills. I'm looking forward to the book covers and elements on marketing and PR, to name a few.

Readers, there'll be give-aways, insights into writers and their books, and I quote, "Hot men!" :D

No doubt by the time next weekend arrives there will have been a lot more added, as this virtual festival is being supported by the RNA, various romance publishers not already mentioned, and numerous authors; a few names I certainly recognise: Jill Mansell, Carole Matthews, Eloisa James, Phillipa Ashley, Jessica Blair, and Sherrilyn Kenyon.

And there's lots more.

Whether we're writers of romance, or just readers of romance, there will be something for everyone to enjoy.

If you want to find out more then have a look at their social media links.

On Facebook it's /RomanceFestival

Twitter: @RomanceFestival

Website: see the Eventbrite link at the top.









Friday 14 February 2014

Romance is in the Air...

Happy Valentine's Day to you all.

I was the happy recipient of a large Valentine's day card, and a box of Black Magic chocolates when I got up this morning. My darling husband had left them on my chair at my desk... No possibility of missing them that way...

Reading the online newspaper headlines, before I ventured out into the yucky weather, I came across a hark back to the past of Mills and Boon.
Love and Romance

Apparently there is a Mills and Boon archive in the University of Reading's Special Collections.

There has to be an archive somewhere considering how long they've been in existence...

In this archive there is a book, 'Boons Mots: An Anthology of Artless Extracts from the writings of Mills and Boon's Authors' signed by The Editors...

There are a number of extracts from various novels by their authors, including Violet Winspear, who began her Mills and Boon career in 1961. There's even a questionnaire from her that it seems she sent to the editors.

She was obviously aware of writing for the readers when you look at some of the questions she asked.

Her questions went from A-Z, and Z had 4 sub-sections.

My favourites are H, and P... :D

Of the quotes, I did smile at the extract from Violet's 'The Passionate Sinner'. Perhaps the editors were just having a bad day, or remembered the questionnaire!

The writers' club I attend, once had a couple of Mills and Boon authors. Our bi-annual trophy for a novel is in memory of one of the long serving members, Gwladys Bungay, who was published by M&B as Gwladys Duke.

Whatever you may think of the article/extracts, it just shows that writers have always had same creative issues...





photo courtesy of http://freedigitalphotos.net and by grauer razvan ionut



Friday 3 January 2014

A Workshop in 2014 You Might Like...

2014...

If you've made any resolutions about attending workshops, and you want to write romance, and you can get to Leeds in May, then the following may be a possibility.

Writing Romantic Fiction with Kate Walker 16-18 May at Weetwood Hall, Leeds.

Kate is a very successful Mills and Boon (Modern) author - there are just too many titles to list, but her next book, 'A Question of Honour', is due out this June...

You may remember my blog post about attending Kate's one day workshop at Nottingham Writers' Club a while ago. If you missed it, then catch up here.

Kate kindly sent me the details of her May workshop so I could pass them on, so here they are.


Writing Romantic Fiction with Kate Walker

Dates:  16 - 18 May 2014

Place: Weetwood Hall LEEDS

Cost: £240 (Weekend residential- see the workshop page link below for more information and contact details.)

Romantic Fiction is big business.  This course is intended to provide information and advice for anyone who wants to learn how to write romantic fiction.  It gives an introduction to all the skills needed for success, from initial research to the final submission of the typescript. The courses are informal and fun.

TOPICS TO BE COVERED IN THE PROGRAMME
•             Creating realistic characters
•             Sustaining pace and conflict
•             Packing emotional punch
•             Writing sex scenes
•             Crafting a satisfactory ending.

If you're just starting out writing romance, or you’ve written a manuscript or two but are not yet published and are interested in honing your skills, this course is for you.

For further information Contact Lois Bird-Maddox ‘Relax & Write’ Course Organiser
Further details:  www.malagaworkshops.co.uk

There is a day visitor option, so contact the organiser for details...

I know that many of the writers, who attended Kate's workshop at my local writers' club, found it beneficial, giving them the confidence to start writing a romance, or for those already working on their stories to start submitting them.

Even if you can't go to a workshop like this weekend one, there are lots of one day workshops or courses being run by writers' groups and writing organisations in the UK.

Do look around for what's available, and book early- please don't leave it to the last week or few days - many organisers frequently have to pay room hire charges ahead of the date, and if there aren't enough bookings it can result in cancellation of the workshop.

(I speak from experience of organising workshops last year...)

If you do attend any workshops or courses, enjoy them, and put what you learn into practise; find what works for you and build upon it.

Happy New Year!!! :)






Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/ http://freedigitalphotos.net

Friday 15 November 2013

Fun and Learning at The Festival of Romance...

I finally have time to share a few snippets from my visit to Bedford last weekend for The Festival of Romance.

I had to write a piece about my trip to the festival for the Nottingham Writers' Club magazine, with the deadline of yesterday (Thursday).

I also ended up writing a couple of other items for inclusion in the forthcoming issue, in between appointments.

Next time I go, I will keep the week following, clear...

So what did I learn?

So much. From being able to talk to other writers, listen to them reading their work aloud, and on the Sunday from the editors of the various romance publishers talking about what they're doing currently, to what they're looking for in submissions - and encouragement to submit.

There were one to ones available, but I wasn't ready for that this year, so didn't put in a request when the opportunity was offered a few weeks prior to the festival.

After an evening of readings, from authors in historical dress, set against a background of drawings and paintings by the pre-Raphaelite artists in the art gallery on the Friday night, I was glad of a good night's sleep before Saturday's events.

There was the Romance Fair where you could buy a wide selection of books by various authors attending the festival. I moved onto the Coffee and Cake to listen to more authors reading excerpts from their novels.

I did the 3 hour workshop in the library run by Sue Moorcroft and Christina Courtney on 'Irresistible Heroes'. I learnt a bit more about one of my heroes in waiting, Hugo, during the practical sessions.

And following that the talk, How to Stand Out, Get Published and Stay Published, given by author Miranda Dickinson and her HarperCollins editor, Sammia Rafique. Miranda described her journey to publication, while Sammia explained her role in the author’s books. 
There was a very useful question and answer session. I wanted to know the current length they required, and for their books it’s at least 90,000 up to 120,000. (Other publishers have their own specifications.)

I can actually be seen at the Ball (on Table 4 in purple and glasses) in the video of the after dinner entertainment- I'm in the background for a while; amazing I was still wide awake as that was at 11pm and I'd been up since 7am that morning...

http://vimeo.com/icundell/professorelemental

Sunday was conference day, with an early start of 9.30am.

Spread throughout the day there were author led panels, including one on building an author platform.

The presence of editors from the main romance publishers was keenly anticipated.

Mills and Boon covered the 5 UK acquired series they deal with: Modern/Presents, Cherish, Historical, and Medical. Guidelines can be found on their website.

I've read their historical novels on and off over the years, and they have changed a lot in that time- length has increased too, they're now at 70,000.

Piatkus Entice is a digital first imprint at Piatkus Fiction.

The important message that came over was that stories needed to be a commercial proposition. And like all the other publishers they wanted 'voices' - fresh, engaging and consistent.

Carina UK - this is an imprint of Harlequin UK. They are a digital first publisher, with their first print title due out early 2014. They talked about their interest in trans-media projects, a different method of reaching readers...

And the good news is that they don't just publish romance. They're seeking, women's fiction, new adult, contemporary young adult, and erotica. And if you happen to have a WW1 romance ( considering next year's anniversary of 100 years since the outbreak of war) it could find a home.

Mira publish Women's Fiction and Crime, aimed at the older reader. Heroines 40+, well written, a hook, and commercial were important words, and they will accept unagented submissions.

Harper Impulse, another digital first publisher. Again like other digital first publishers length is not an issue. You could send a 1,000 word short story that could be read on a phone. They like to get a full manuscript, covering letter and short synopsis.

Generally: They all had a presence on Twitter. Many of the editors can be followed on Twitter; and writers having a social media presence was very useful.

Just as with any publisher, they want good stories, and fresh voices, stories that will sell.

But again and again the editors kept saying submit it! Don't worry if it's not perfect, or you're not sure it's quite right for them, just submit it.

There was so much useful information, that it was hard to take it all in. That's why I made good use of my notebook.

I learnt a lot, and have started putting into action the elements that I was missing- in social media.

But most reassuring was that my writing seems to be going in the right direction...






Monday 14 January 2013

Competition Opportunity- But Read the Terms and Conditions...

First day of my resolution to write a minimum number of words each week- I should add I'm not counting my blog posts in that figure, otherwise I would manage my target every Monday
morning... :-)

I was having a quick browse on Twitter this morning and saw details of a new competition 'Racy Reads' on ITV's 'Lorraine'. ITV  and Mills and Boon are running a competition for new writing talent, with the winner having their book published, and a trip to the USA to meet Jackie Collins...

Sounds great doesn't it?

I'm all in favour of encouraging new talent with competitions, but however attractive it seems on the surface ALWAYS READ AND UNDERSTAND THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS.

First to the basics. The competition runs from today, the 14th January, and closes at 12pm on the 28th January.

To start with you need to submit the first 1,000 words of your 'Racy Reads' novel. It can be done online, but - "Please note that an entry of 50 words or more over or under the 1000 word limit may be disqualified at the discretion of the producers."

The really important thing to note, is that "Entrants must be able to complete the novel with a 50,000 minimum word count by 5 June 2013 at the latest."

You can read about the selection criteria (among other elements ) in the terms and conditions here.

From the shortlist, up to ten finalists will be selected and they will need to attend a London location to meet a new final judging panel:

 "to present their submission, explain their storyline for a full novel should they be the winner and talk through the plot of their book, where it is heading and what will happen to the characters."

With me so far...

There will be a winner and two runners-up. The winning story will be available from Monday 15 July 2013 to Thursday 25 July 2013. Along with that comes six copies of their book and a £1,000 advance payment.
Plus there's " a three-night trip for the winner and a companion to Los Angeles, USA to have lunch with Jackie Collins. The lunch will be filmed for and broadcast on the programme."

Now to the nitty gritty general terms. And this is where I was really disappointed that they felt it necessary to include such terms. Hence my warning earlier on.

(The Promoter in this case is ITV, while Mills and Boon are the Prize Provider.)

"By making an entry and participating in this competition, you grant the Promoter permission to use the entry in any way it wants in relation to the Promotion. This means that, in relation to the Promotion, the Promoter can use, edit, reproduce, record, modify, translate, distribute, play, perform, broadcast, make available and display your entry and/or participation (or part thereof) and/or prepare derivative works of the entry and/or participation (without prejudice to any rights acquired by the Prize Provider) by any medium or method whether now known or later developed, including without limitation on the website or any other website in its sole discretion anywhere in the world. The Promoter may permit third parties to use the entry. You acknowledge that (unless you win the Prize) you will not receive any fee or royalty payment from the Promoter, the Prize Provider or any third party for the consents and grants given by you in relation to your entry and/or participation."

And a little further down; " You agree to waive any moral rights that may exist in relation to your entry and/or participation."

Sadly there will be unwary writers who will not understand that those terms mean they are giving up all their rights to that submission by entering.

Yes, this competition is a great opportunity, but remember only the winner gets paid for their hard work.

Yes, you are only giving up those 1,000 words by entering, but if your book is almost complete and you then give away those first 1,000 words, you're giving yourself an unnecessary headache.

If your story is good enough for Mills and Boon, then go through the normal submission process. I've been told by writers who know personally, that they are encouraging to potential authors.

On their website you can find information for aspiring M&B authors, here and also the submission details.

If you enter this competition with your eyes open to all the terms and conditions, then I do sincerely wish you good luck.




Friday 19 October 2012

Looking at the Pocket Novel Replacement...

The Pocket Novel replacement Easy Read is now available in stores, and it really is a different item in appearance as well as texture.

It's also being sold in places that it didn't previously appear for sale, as I found today.

Popping into the Marks and Spencer food hall in the city centre (for my favourite bottle of wine and four in a pack chocolate √©clairs) I passed the magazine display and there were the new reads. And yes they do stand out against the magazines behind them.

Knowing Sally Quilford was going to be one of the first authors in the new line I immediately reached  for her name before looking at the other offerings.

Romance with Liaison and Crime with Intrigue
Not only do they look like a book, but the cover feels like a paperback too.

(excuse the lack of correct colour in my picture, but I'm an amateur at Photoshop.)


The earlier change in cover design- which was an improvement- which had the thicker covers too, just didn't give the feeling of a book, unlike these new
designs.

Yes, they do make you think Mills and Boon when you look at them, but that
can't be all bad when you consider how well M&B books sell.

And with the current trend in black based covers for the latest trend- erotica- it's bound to get potential readers stopping to look at them.

These books certainly won't get their front covers damaged or creased as easily as the old paper pocket novels did.

In fact these could sit quite happily on a bookshelf alongside regular paperbacks.

The only complaint I do have, is that these new issues don't have the title/author name on the spine, so however you store them, you'll have to remember the number of your favourite for re-reading or be prepared to go through them all to find the one you want...

I haven't started reading either of my purchases yet, so how big a change there's been in substance I can't tell you.

But I do think they will be very popular, and with four to choose from each time, I'm sure everyone will find the one or ones they like.

If you pop over to Sally Quilford's blog you have the chance to win a signed copy of her Easy Read story, 'Bonfire Memories', the first in the Intrigue option.

If you've seen the new design in your local stores, how well displayed was it? Does it stand out against the products around it? Where has it actually been placed?

And if you've read any of the new stories what did you think of them?

I'm looking forward to reading your comments... :-)





Saturday 19 May 2012

Kate Walker Workshop...

My post is a little late because I've been at the Kate Walker workshop on Writing Romantic Fiction at Nottingham Writers' Club today.

Thanks to everyone who took part, especially those who travelled a long distance to attend, and of course the brilliant, Kate Walker.

I'm not telling you what I said that caused everyone to laugh or smile- I only realised what I'd said after the words had left my mouth- and it wasn't what I'd meant, but that's romance writers for you, quick witted... :-D

I can assure you it was not just a roomful of women either, we also had four men there to learn about, or improve, their romance writing skills.

We started with a few facts about getting romance published in today's markets- the words, marketing is 'cut-throat' was mentioned. And just as with genre fiction generally, the 'who can market you' is important- after all there's no point in producing a book for publication if you can't sell it.

Writing a romance  requires characters, conflict, emotion and the HEA (happy ever after). And we looked at each element in more detail.

I'd never thought about the readers expectations, but thinking about it, it makes sense. A romance wouldn't be satisfying if the two main protagonists could solve their problems easily and without any suffering.

There was even a writing exercise, and we were soon being very creative- the only sound was pens on paper and pages turning.

So here are a few of the snippets I learnt today:

Setting is not just the background, but it can also be the stage that your character has reached in their life.

'Feisty' is a current buzz word...

PTQ- Page Turning Quality. 60% dialogue and 40% narrative.

"Emotions don't have a logical basis, so can't be reasoned away."

If there's a secret involved, write it from the point of view (POV) of the one who doesn't know it, as that makes the most of the emotional impact...

BM and GM- Black Moment and Grey Moment- those points in a novel when things are looking bad, and possibly unrepairable. (I'd not heard these terms before.)

There's a lot more but you'll have to go on one of Kate's workshops to find out more...

And yes, sex did get mentioned briefly- we didn't have enough time to go into detail :-), but the scene must 'work' for you-have a purpose, as sexual intimacy can change everything (between the characters, their circumstances etc). We should also consider the emotional vulnerability of our characters at these times.

I certainly learnt a lot to add to the mass of writing information I've already absorbed.

Many of us bought books and Kate signed them for us. I got her '12 Point Guide to Writing Romance', now on it's Third Edition.

But I must also thank Mills and Boon for providing a freebie book for everyone attending the workshop- Kate signed those too.

And finally...

There's a new term that I must share with you- you've heard of the slush pile (the hard copy type) well there's even a digital pile- manuscripts loaded onto an e-reader for an editor to read- it's 'slush Kindle'...








Wednesday 28 March 2012

Which Romance Category?

Beside the advice to write about what you know, the other suggestion for undecided writers seems to be to write in the genre you enjoy reading.

While you can't currently go back in time, you can learn about and experience the past in the here and now.
So I can see the logic of the latter. Every writer needs to read within their genre, so they know the requirements of that category, what's had it's time in the spotlight, and other developments.

While I prefer to write historicals, I'm quite happy to read contemporary, or futuristic. I'll even read fantasy- charming vampires, and werewolves.

(But like any book, if the basic plot idea doesn't appeal to me...)

I've experimented with my writing as I've learnt, but no matter when or where I set the story there was always a romance involved.

As a teenager I wrote a romantic saga set in space- there was even a prequel about the parents of my hero. But that didn't have a happy ending- the father died in an air crash during a snow storm...

I can still remember elements of that saga- the hero and heroine's long marriage, numerous children and grandchildren (some were even part alien), but I never kept the hand-written pages. And as I was a bit vague on the scientific theory of futuristic space travel, perhaps it wasn't quite the category for me forty years ago.

Then there's contemporary. I enjoy romances set amidst a mystery or crime- as long as any murders included aren't gruesome, in fact if they are involved then I prefer the murder off the page. I don't want to actually read about it as it happens.

I've always loved history. I'm lucky my family don't mind the occasional trip to historic buildings and places wherever we are on holiday, but too many and I have to go by myself...

Perhaps I've trained my brain to see my characters in an historical setting? They certainly appear in costume; well usually, apart from a character I started developing when I attended Sally Quilford's pocket novel workshop last October. :-)

I have a couple of contemporary characters who popped in last weekend, 'Hal' and his lady- who I discovered is wearing that red and yellow corset I mentioned recently- and why.

I will probably have a use for them when I do the Kate Walker workshop in May.

(If you know of anyone who might be interested and can get to Nottingham on the 19th May, please pass the workshop details on, there are places still available, and it's very affordable.)

Perhaps in the future I'll be able to create contemporary characters, but at the moment the historicals continue to dominate.

Saturday 28 January 2012

News of a Writing Romantic Fiction Workshop...

As I've been talking about romance novels in e-books this week, I thought you might like to know that there's a Writing Romantic Fiction workshop being held in Nottingham on Saturday 19th May,
10 am-4pm (including a 1 hour lunch break).

Nottingham Writers' Club is hosting the workshop and the tutor for the day is Mills and Boon Presents author, Kate Walker.

Kate had her first novel accepted in 1984
and celebrated 25 years as a professional author in 2010.
Kate Walker
Here are some details of what the workshop will include...

It gives an introduction to all the skills needed for success, from initial research to the final submission of the typescript. With advice and exercises, Kate will guide you through creating realistic characters, sustaining pace and conflict, packing emotional punch, writing sex scenes and crafting a satisfying ending. If you're just starting out writing romantic fiction or you've written a manuscript or two, this one is for you.
The workshop also covers the main aspects of writing romantic fiction that from her experience of teaching over the years seem to create the most problems for unpublished writers.

(Information courtesy of  Kate Walker and Nottingham Writers' Club)

If you're within travelling distance of Nottingham and are interested then you'll find the details here .

There's a (PDF) booking form with the details of how much it costs, and it's easy to download and print off.

I'm really looking forward to the day...

Monday 9 January 2012

Stand Alone or Serial Romance?

I've read a lot of romance novels over the years (apologies for the cliché) and they've been a mixture of both types of books.

Every novel should stand alone even if it is one of a series-who wants to have to read half a dozen books to find out what happened with everyone else, to make sense of the current book?

I know Mills and Boon Presents often had mini series- brothers, a set of close friends (male or female)- characters from one book popped up in a secondary role in the others in the series.

Certainly some (originally) US published historical romances I've read, and enjoyed have followed family groups- Jo Beverley's, Mallorens, Stephanie Laurens',Cynsters, and Johanna Lindsey's Malory family stories. And some times you do need the family tree the authors' provided (in the books or on their websites) just to keep the relationships straight in your head...

I've lost count of how many Regency spying groups there's been with anything from four heroes up to half a dozen. Sadly I think that category has been over-used...But they're fun to re-read.

Perhaps it's the influence of all these books over the years, but my novel does have a secondary character who has his own story too, and his lady love has an interesting brother... But that's for sometime in the future when the current novel is complete.

I don't read as many contemporary romance novels as I should- I have a few on my e-reader to get on with-so perhaps these are more stand alone.

Or is this one of the difference between the categories, or even between romances published in the UK and the US?

As a reader, do you prefer single novels, or do you like to read a follow-on novel centred on one of the secondary characters from the previous book?

Saturday 8 October 2011

Author Talk at The Book Festival- Kate Walker...

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...

Thursday 6 October 2011

Moustaches For a Reason...

Not on me I'm glad to say...

If you read any historical romance the only time the hero appears unshaven is when they have had a life threatening injury and are unconscious or in some situation where shaving isn't possible.
Okay that may be a bit of an exaggeration but the hero doesn't usually have a beard or moustache. Even in Victorian settings, when facial hair was more fashionable, the heroes still seem to be clean-shaven.

Now you may wonder why I'm mentioning facial hair in a writing context, well there is a good reason.

A fellow writer on the Talkback forum-Steven Chapman- will be growing a moustache for the whole of November. He is taking part in the Movember fund raising event for The Prostate Cancer Charity.

"During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces in the UK and around the world. The aim of which is to raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and other cancers that affect men."

I live in a house of males- hubby and four sons- plus the numerous attractive males in the creative part of my brain, so it's not quite so strange to be giving a donation.

Steven reasoned that if all the people he knew gave even 50p each it would make a good amount.

So if you know a man who wants to take up the challenge, then point them in the direction of Movember. Or if you prefer you can make a donation to an individual, a team, or just a general donation- you'll find a link on the Movember page.

*  *  *

I'm off to the New Writers UK Book Fayre and Festival on Saturday and hope to see the talk by Mills and Boon author Kate Walker.

So my weekend post will be a little late...

Thursday 7 July 2011

Why Knock Romance Novels?

I was surprised to read an article in the Guardian  this morning reporting that "Psychologist says that 'a huge number of the issues that we see in our clinics and therapy rooms are influenced by romantic fiction'."

I think some Psychologists are a bit obsessed with blaming romance books for all feminine mental health and social ills...

Sadly this latest attack on Mills and Boon books comes via the Journal of Family Planning and Reproductive Healthcare. (Now I'm not knocking what they do, they are important services for women of all ages).

But we never see crime novels - and some of them feature really gruesome murders- being cited as cause for concern in clinics- unless I've missed that article somewhere...

Sadly you can't read what data Ms Quilliam based her opinion on- unless you are a subscriber to the BMJ or wish to pay £24 for one day's access to the article! But the Guardian item (linked above) does give more detail and some of it is not unreasonable.

" "If readers start to believe the story that romantic fiction offers, then they store up trouble for themselves – and then they bring that trouble into our consulting rooms," writes Quilliam."

They are fiction. And I'm sure the majority of readers know that.

So a serious question, do Mills and Boon romance novels give women unrealistic sexual expectations? Do they think everything will be hunky-dory forever in their lives, just because it always is at the end of a romance novel?

I'm quite sure there are ordinary men out there who could rival some of the sexual abilities of the heroes of these novels, even if they lack the riches and looks.

The saying 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder' is very relevant.

There have always been women unhappy in their marriages- it's been going on for centuries. Just because now you can get a divorce it doesn't stop feelings of failure and guilt (and visits to the consulting rooms mentioned )- and that is more to do with society's and other peoples expectations rather than the ideal happy couple at the end of the book.

You don't read a romance to be depressed by reality- at least I don't...

Young women (and young men) are bombarded with unrealistic images and expectations every day from glossy magazines to music videos to talent shows.
They eventually accept that it isn't the real world, but that comes with time and experience.

Romance novels display a lot of positives and that should be encouraged and welcomed.