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!

Presents or not Presents? July 29, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 8:43 pm

I just read Sabrina Philips’ post about the opening of Presents stories on I Heart Presents.

Scary reading. Because I’ve been working on editing my first chapter, and I’m realising just how not Presents it is. Especially how much not Modern Heat it is.

The heroine’s life gets turned upside down, and yet nothing really happens. They sit around and talk!

How can I make something happen?

I can’t have strangers kiss, like the  delicious start of Kate Hardy’s Surrender to the Playboy Sheikh. That’s because my heroine is somewhat plain and has a Cinderella transformation, through not quite as extreme as the one in Julia James’s  The Italian’s Rags-to-Riches Wife. There’s no revenge or past history to hot up the opening scenes.

Despite the hot sex, maybe this story is really a Sweet Romance after all?

Not that I think sweets don’t have lots happening. I just see them as more a slow burn than the instant explosion of a Presents/ Modern.

Damn! I really wanted this story to be a Presents, and it’s not headed that way at all!

Edited to add- if you are reading this for the first time, make sure you read the comments! There is some don’t-miss advice in there.


Tagline, Title, Ten Lines competition July 26, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 10:00 am

Just found out about another new competition- this one is perfect for anyone targeting single title romance, no matter what the sub-genre.

It’s at Dawn Halliday’s website, and the prize is a critique of a partial, from her agent Barbara Poelle.

Dawn writes hot historicals, but looking at the agency website they handle all types of romance, from paranormals to “heartwarming” contemporaries.

Just amused myself following a link chain from her site ending up here before I stopped myself going any further. Fun, but not getting my story edited. (Excuse to self- I did learn a new word! )


More on character driven plot July 24, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 5:36 pm
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A three part series on character driven plotting at Writer’s Digest. Part 1. Part 2.  Part 3.

Thanks to Liz Fenwick for Tweeting the link!


Editing fail?

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 10:28 am
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No work at all on editing Luk and Emma’s story.

Work stress and generally feeling moody cow-ish. Took it out on my husband last night in an almighty row that blew up out of nothing.

Now if only I could turn that frustrated bitchiness loose on my characters and make them really suffer! I want everything to be rosy and sweet and happy in my little story world.  It’s not working.

Memo to self- no-one wants to read a story where they all live happily ever after on page one. 

We want to read characters going through hell, working hard to earn their HEA. Maybe it’s the old principle of catharsis, feeling bad about what happens for the characters helps us release our own feelings of grief and anger. Maybe it’s just that so much awful stuff happens in real life that we want some affirmation that it will all come good in the end, the hope it will work out like that for us as well the characters. One thing for sure, being light and fun and fluffy and keeping things nice for my characters is not producing a readable story!

I need to stop being kind to them and find their painful places, them poke at them a bit. Then a bit more. Then a bit more again.

A good blog post about  Jodi Thomas’s session on plotting from character at the RNA Conference over at Novel Racers today. It ties in well with what I know I need, as the focus is on finding out what our characters least want to do, them making them do it!


Modern Heat? Pass me a fan! July 18, 2009

Filed under: What I'm reading — Autumn Macarthur @ 6:49 pm
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9781408909386_Outside_Front_Cover_00000000-145-231-24-jpegOh my, I have just read a brilliant Modern Heat!

I know, I know,  I’m supposed to be working on editing Luk and Emma. But I can claim it as research for my story.

I was looking for a file I wanted and saw my e-books, figured just one chapter of this one wouldn’t hurt, would it? Then, drat her for writing so well, I read straight through until I finished it. A fab example of the perfect use of very strong yet simple internal conflict.

It was a June release here in the UK, Heidi Rice’s Hot-Shot Tycoon, Indecent Proposal

A delicious Irish hero, the deepest most emotional (gave me a pain in my chest as I read it!) yet 100% believable internal conflict I think I’ve ever come across, a funny feisty heroine swept off her feet into a new world of wealth and glamour, and red-hot sensuality. Hoo boy. What a mix!

Could just be my new measure for the ideal MH story.


Simplify, simplify! July 16, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 9:24 pm
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I had what I hope is a breakthrough on the internal conflict in Luk and Emma’s story today, while idly throwing around ideas for conflict in new stories during my commute.

I finally figured it out. I’ve been over-complicating things.

I’d given Luk too many conflicts, and stayed superficial with all of them. What he needs is just one conflict, but one that runs deep. That instantly gives it the importance to him that was lacking.

I can take out the cliches of the abandoning mother and the gold-digger first girlfriend who broke his heart. I can put back the bossy older sisters who I really didn’t want to cut. It give a nice echo of the past to the story too, as Luk’s life choices echo Emma’s grandfather’s, up to a point.

This is just what I hoped would happen when I spent some time focused on cooking up a new idea but with their story still simmering away in the background.

Now I just have to write it!


One Wedding and No Funeral July 14, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 7:49 pm


I’m having fun getting to know Ellie and Mace better, and especially thinking about what it is that keeps them apart.

Discovering they are business rivals after they’ve spent the weekend together is only the beginning!

More fun is that for research purposes I need to watch Four Weddings and a Funeral, a film I adore and haven’t watched for ages. Though I think this story will have only one wedding, and I hope no funerals, it’s just the film to get me in the right frame of mind.