Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

April Fool? April 1, 2008

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 10:58 pm
Tags: , ,


Somehow, April Fool’s Day seems appropriate to launch the tales of my adventures along the way to becoming (hopefully!) a published romantic writer! It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was in my teens, but the ambition somehow got lost amongst too much real life and too many story ideas that semed brilliant but died after around twenty pages. Then just before Christmas 2007 I had an epiphany of sorts- could it be that the reason my life felt so flat, so dull, so damned middle-aged be that I had given up on too many dreams? If so, which ones did I want to resurrect? It wasn’t really a difficult question to answer. I was the kid who wrote stories as soon as I could write, and made them into little books. I was the teenager who submitted her clumsily hand-written romantic short stories and poems to magazines, and wondered why they were rejected. I was the twenty-something who always kept a notebook, who wrote fragments  of stories in her journals, who started too many first chapters to keep count of. I was the adult who carried a secret dream around for a long long time, doing nothing about it, as Real Life got in the way or I chased after other goals. Writing it was. I made an impossible seeming commitment to myself- that I would be a published romance writer within two years.

I looked around for something to motivate me, give me a kick start, force me to get past the first chapter block, and discovered JanNo, like NaNoWriMo but in January. I finished the first draft of a a 50,000 word story in 28 days. The feeling as I wrote those magic words Chapter Two, and kept on writing was indescribable. The story is also indescrible- indescribably bad! Imagine an explosion at the plot factory, and you’ve got something close. Elements from different stories got jumbled in together. It couldn’t decide if it wanted to be fluffy chick-lit or a dark intrigue. It’s just possible I may be able to edit something out of it one day, who knows. It was fun, and it got me writing, and it kept me writing.

So my JanNo is finished, what next. January 28th I saw a post on a discussion board about the Harlequin Presents Instant Seduction Competition- send in a first chapter and a synopsis by February 14th to win the chance to work with an editor for a year. Insane to think I could do it from scratch in sixteen days, there were people having discussions about whether starting in November would give enough time. So of course, I decided to enter. And equally of course, I had no hope in hell of winning. Many of the entrants have been seriously writing romance for years, and working on the story they submitted for months. Thank God I didn’t win, by some amazing fluke! What would I have had to work on with the editor? Great experience for me though, as I enrolled on a crash self-study course in writing for that particular romance series. Character development, plot, dealing with saggy middles (the story’s not mine- I still haven’t found how to deal with the spreading waistline), creating conflict, notching up the sensuality….

There’s so much to learn! What this blog will be about is my progress as a writer, and particular as a romance writer aiming to get published. What I learn in the process, where I screw up, and possibly from time to time where I actually manage to get it right.


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