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!

The contest pitch and Donna’s reply February 2, 2010

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 3:05 am
Tags: , ,

I’ll post the pitch I entered for Donna Alward’s Perfect Pitch contest and her reply here, as there were some requests on the contest thread at eHarlequin that the finalists do this.

Remember, as Donna says-

I probably shouldn’t call this contest the Perfect pitch.  No pitch is perfect.  Mine certainly aren’t.  The same way no book is perfect.  I always read through my finished product and see things I should have done to make it stronger.

There is plenty I would change about the pitch, in hindsight. At the time it was the best I could do, and it served it’s purpose, which is to give a sense of the story and make someone (in real life an editor or agent, in this comp Donna) want to read more!

The pitch email-

Dear Donna

Thank you for offering this wonderful opportunity to a lucky writer again! I hope you enjoy my pitch for “Third Time Forever” a story targeted at Harlequin Superromance.
Third Time Forever
The first time Meg and Nick met they had one magical day together. The second time they met they shared three blissful days…and nights! The third time they meet, can he convince her to make it forever?
Meg Reynolds knows that lasting love and happy ever afters are for other women, not her. A painful childhood cut deep. Emotional and physical scars taught her never to let herself need anyone again. She’s made a new “family” – the motley collection of residents she looks after in her rundown boarding house in a small seaside town. She won’t give that up for anyone or anything. So when her haven is threatened by legal action, she reluctantly turns to the last person she wants to accept help from. Nick di Angelo, the man she thought she was safe to have an uncharacteristic fling with, because she’d never see him again.
A successful lawyer, voted one of Sydney’s most eligible bachelors, Nick looks to have everything going for him. Life is good, but he wants more. He’s spent his life meeting his family’s expectations, giving up his own dreams in the process. Now to get what he wants, he’s going to have to risk disappointing them. He’s sure Meg is the one woman for him. But the gap between their worlds is so great. Neither could be truly happy in the other’s. How can he persuade her to take a chance on him, to create their own world and family, where both their dreams can become reality? Especially when helping her save what means the most to her may be the very thing that keeps them apart.
Thank you again!
Jane Mulberry Jones

Donna’s feedback (just to clarify- I’d already emailed to let her know I might have problems making the deadline and offering to withdraw)-

Jane – I know you’re on a tight timeline this week so I wanted to get back to you about your pitch as I know you’re working on chapter one this week.

You had the intro bit I appreciate with a greeting and title and target line.   I also like your first short paragraph – not a traditional logline, but it piqued my interest, which is the main objective.

My very first comment after reading the pitch was a notation saying “This could be a Romance”.  Part of that has to do with setting, and without seeing your “voice” I can’t say for sure, but this pitch screamed Romance line to me!

I was a little confused where it was set.  The hero is voted one of Sydney ’s most eligible bachelors, but in Meg’s paragraph you just say a small seaside town.  That could have used some clarification.

I thought you had a good set up with the goals in opposition to the romance and having to make a choice – this is standard conflict fare and as long as you go deep enough with your characters can work like a dream.

Now I’m going to make an observation and this might be exactly what you meant when you said you realized you started it in the wrong place….this story should DEFINITELY start with the THIRD time forever and not the temporary relationship they had earlier.  Open right with the action and the crisis point – where she is turning to Nick for help.  The rest is backstory that will feed into your conflict.

The other thing I want to say is you have a shared past story here.  Having been there, done that, fallen into the trap I will offer a caution that the shared past, while adding tension and conflict in the beginning, needs to move aside for a conflict in the PRESENT.  I dealt with this actually in the book I have out right now.

I’m looking forward to seeing your chapter Jane!
Try to have a sane week this week.


Hmm, and reading that again I’m thinking maybe the best place to start my story is where Donna suggests. So many possibilities! All these different branches, all different, but all leading to the same place, the Happy Ever After. To keep going with the tree analogy, any branch can get you to the HEA, but most may not be strong enough to support the weight of a story.


2 Responses to “The contest pitch and Donna’s reply”

  1. Ran Says:

    I like the pitch. Very cool. I would definitely be interested in giving it a read. So many romance novels seem totally fake – but this one sounds real. Best of luck to you!

  2. […] and Mace; Four Ds, writing blocks I’m wanting to write Meg and Nick’s story, the one I pitched to Donna Alward for her pitch contest. I need to get the first chapter done and polished to send off as she’s […]

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