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!

More on scenes and sequels May 16, 2010

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 3:07 pm
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Still reading my first draft and analysing the scenes, but the tool I’m using to record what I find isn’t good enough yet. I’m filling in the boxes, and I know what is wrong with my scenes, but I’m not seeing strongly enough how to fix them. (Part of the problem is I’m still using the old tool and not the new one I thought of last week!)

I read this excellent blog post on scene and sequel by Les Edgerton yesterday.

He talks about what is needed(and what writers do wrong!) in detail, but in briefly he says a scene is-

A. Goal
B. Conflict
C. Disaster.

Then the following sequel is-

1. Reaction
2. Dilemma
3. Decision (which becomes the goal for another scene).

My old questions for considering scenes- Who? Where? Action, Reaction, Decision- compressed things too much. It’s too simplified, and it totally omits the goal.

The new questions I made up are better (and why it took me all weekend to realise I wasn’t using them, I don’t know!)-

What does the POV character want?

What is he/she doing to get it?

What stops him/her getting it?

What does he/she decide to do about it next?

This leaves out a step  too, I think.  The reaction. I need to add in another question before the character decides what to do next- how do they feel about it?

LOL, maybe I’m making things too complicated!  But I want to go into the editathon with a solid robust plan for the rewrite. I only want to have to do one major rewrite, then just tweaks on the other passes through.

I think I’ll keep going analysing the first draft with the current questions (I don’t want to start totally over!) but will add a question about scene goal. 

Then when I’m planning the rewrite I’ll use the new questions to pinpoint just what needs to be in each section.

Fingers crossed it works!

Edited to add- Having added the question asking what is the character’s goal for each scene, it’s clear that a major problem is lack of clear goals. Things happen, but the characters, especially my heroine, aren’t proactive, they don’t go out there intending to change something. Cady seems especially passive, her only aim to to get through this and get back to her old life. Not good enough. This really needs work.


Internal conflict- arrgghh! August 2, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 12:01 pm
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I think the main thing for me is getting the internal conflicts to really be an integral part of who this person is- they can’t stay in a relationship with the other person unless they grow and change emotionally, but they won’t be the same person able to keep living their life the same way if they DO deal with whatever that internal issue is. So it’s a big deal, because their whole belief system about themselves and love and relationships has to change.

I also want to make the internal and external conflicts relate to each other. I was thinking “Yay, I’ve done that!” with the next story that I’m planning for the new HMB comp, but I’m wondering if it’s too tied up with their current relationships with their families of origin.  I seem to remember Jackie Ashenden being told the editors didn’t want that, that past issues were okay but current issues are a no-no. I wonder if that’s because often current issues mean family members might be too much in the story as characters themselves, taking some of the focus off the hero and heroine? So would it be okay if the conflict is current, but the relevant family members are kept out of scene as much as possible? Easy for him, because he’s an American in London, so his family are off scene anyway; harder for her, because her father plays a significant role. 

Anyway- here’s what I have for the next story. It’s very messy as I’m thinking this out as I go!

A key issue for this story (working title The Heiress and the Hotshot – wonder where I picked up that hotshot from?!) is that the heroine’s internal goal is to win her father’s approval as she’s always felt second best and unworthy of love and has worked very hard to prove herself to him by always being a good girl and doing what he wants. Then she meets the hero and they have have a weekend fling.

That sounds uncharacteristic but it does ties into her need to please and be seen to be doing the right thing, in a funny way- they get stuck in a lift together, which means she will be late getting to the friend’s wedding her date has just let her down for, he offers to drive her out to the country village where the wedding is being held, she asks him to help her out by posing as her date, they end up spending the weekend together. What she doesn’t realise is that he is her father’s business rival, so maintaining a relationship means giving up all chance of gaining her father’s love (not that there’s a “relationship”, as such, they agree up front it’s just going to be a fling). Her emotional growth is gaining her own internal sense of self-worth, which frees her from the need for Daddy’s approval. The first stage in this is dealing with her belief once she finds out who he really is, that the hero knew who she was all along and was only using her to get the upper hand in his business dealings. She went into their fling knowing it was only a short term thing, but she doesn’t like feeling used, it spoils the whole thing and makes it sordid and dirty instead of something special. He genuinely didn’t know who she was, and coming to believe that and that he had the fling with her just because he was attracted to her, and hey, it was great for him too, is the first step in her developing self-belief.

The hero’s issue is the opposite, he also grew up in a family with crippling high expectations, so extreme that his brother committed suicide as a way out. He dealt with it by running away and becoming a maverick free spirit who doesn’t value commitment or family at all, doesn’t even believe in love, seeing it as a tool used to manipulate people. So his journey to being able to love is even tougher, he needs to believe in love again and see being in a family as a good and desirable thing. I haven’t thought out his stages of emotional growth yet, but it needs to be escalating challenges to his beliefs too, like Nell’s.

What really makes the proverbial sh*t hit the fan for Nell isn’t so much finding out who Mace is, as later on when she finds out she’s pregnant. I think that will be a massive biggie for Mace too, but there needs to be more to it than that.

I dunno, does that sound like it would work, or is it all too tied in with family stuff?

Edited two hours later to add-

Oh my gosh, this is getting more complicated! Hanging out my washing not thinking about the story at all and the idea popped up that Mace also thinks that Nell must have know who he was along along and cooked up the whole broken down lift thing to help her father get  a hold over him in the business negotaitions (they are in her father’s flagship hotel at the time- he’s checked in under a fake ID to check it out from the inside before making an offer on it, and she lets him believe she just works there) and he says some pretty nasty things coming out of his belief is that women are manipulative and deceitful. When Nell’s father finds out she is pregnant, he demands she have an abortion. For the first time in her life she stands up to him and refuses. She knows she can’t tell Mace, she’s already heard his opinion of women who use pregnancy to trap men into marriage. So she simply disappears, taking herself off and getting a job in another hotel right away from London (the one they stayed at when they had the weekend fling?), determined she will stand on her own two feet and somehow make a life for herself and her baby. Mace finds out about the baby, and comes looking for her. He’s realised that he loves her, but he’s angry that she didn’t trust him enough to tell him herself, couldn’t see that he would be willing to change. He realises that this is a woman who is not manipulative, who isn’t making demands on him, and the fact that she didn’t try to make him change is paradoxically what allows him to change his beliefs, making their HEA possible.

Hmm, don’t know if this is going from bad to worse! Is this internal or external conflict?


Conflict July 11, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 8:35 pm
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Hmm. I know I’m supposed to be editing, but I’m thinking about my new story idea today, the one for the Presents/ Modern Heat competition.

My opening is possibly a little too coincidental, too cute a meet, but my real concern is the conflict. I thought I had it nailed, but I’ve just realised the conflict I have in my plot outline so far is much too externally based. The heroine has her emotional issues, which are hooked into nicely by the external conflict, but I have no idea at all about the hero’s conflict. It’s all too “women’s fiction” so far to work as a series romance, focusing on the heroine and her emotional changes.

 A bit of a flaw given that Presents is mainly the hero’s journey, and Modern Heat is probably both characters journey to overcoming their relationship blocks.

This is the exact same problem I had with my last story!

I did just find this excellent discussion on conflict on the eHarlequin writers’ forum (you may need to log in to the Forums to see it). The thing I’m really taking away from it is that there must be layers to the conflict. The easy, superficial answer just is not enough. There’s another layer under that and maybe another layer under that again until we get to why whatever the conflict is over is really so important to the character. And the conflicts need to link together. The heroine must challenge the hero’s defence mechanisms and coping strategies for dealing with his issues, and he must do the same to the heroine. They really do need to be the worst possible person for the other to fall in love with, and not just for obvious external reasons like they are business rivals.

Hooboy! I need to do some serious thinking on this before I write myself in too far.


Edited to add- I just tracked down another  discussion on conflict on eHarl I read a while back. I need to reread this now. I remember learning a lot from it at the time. I love Ellen Hartmann’s idea of coming up with ten reasons “why?”, so we don’t go with easy but cliched internal conflicts. Like the hero is commitment phobic because his Mom left his as a kid and his first girlfriend dumped him. (Luk’s weak motivation for being a work hard, play hard/ love ’em and leave ’em type. I must do better next time!)


Book in a Week progress report May 8, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 2:21 pm
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lukas-and-gabi Eileen noticed that my work count bar had gone back to zero. Had I scrapped what I already had on the story? Again?

Oops. Yes.

I wanted to completely rethink the whole thing and go back to the basics of getting to know my characters muuuuuuuch better. Go through the whole process of creating the book again, because I knew what I had wasn’t going to work. Too much external conflict, and the villain was a stronger driving force than either the hero or the heroine.

That had to change!

I signed up for April Kihlstrom’s Book in a Week workshop, mainly because the intensive writing week coincided with this week I have off between jobs. Her focus is strongly on character driven plots. Just what I needed. The first few weeks is spent asking ourselves questions about why we want to write this particular story, and about our characters. I had fun doing this! Fell in love with my hero. Felt I knew my heroine so much more. They’d shifted from being cardboard cut outs designed to fit the plot, to being the people who were going to make the plot happen.

Then this week I planned a grand write-fest. This coincided with the intensive writing week of the five week long workshop, which was one of the reasons I signed up. Worked out if I could average 7,000 words a day I would get a 49,000 word first draft done in 7 days. Which was fine for a Presents or Modern Heat as I would have space to layer in more lusciousness- sensuality, sexual tension, the stuff I know my first drafts tend to be light on.

Hah! My word count has been pretty much on target, my estimate of getting a first draft in a week was way off the mark. I have over 35,000 words and I’m nowhere near half way yet. I knew I was overwriting, and that I could chop probably 10,000 off the beginning without too much problem. Then things got even less predictable. Wednesday was a particularly exuberant day, I had so much fun writing! But oh,oh, it’s not a Harlequin Mills and Boon any more. The only way to make it one will be to chop out all the parts I love the most. (Though come to thing of it, I’m sure I’ve read a very similar quote somewhere describing the editing process as exactly that. It is possible that when I was having fun I was being self-indulgent and writing total bollocks.)

The thing is, now I have no idea what to do. Keep writing as I’m doing, and allow it to turn into an 80,000 word monster, or try to rein it in and make it what I originally planned? I want to just let it go wild and see what I get. If what I get is a huge crazy mess that can’t be edited down into a series romance, I can always aim for single title. A harder sell I know, but I do have the RNA New Writers’ Scheme to help. If my reader thinks it’s marketable, she’ll tell me, and make some suggestions where to try.

The main issue is, even if I go with it staying closer to Plan A, I can’t possible write this hero and heroine to their HEA by Sunday.

I really wanted to finish the first draft by the end of the week. With that gone, what’s to push me on? Yesterday was a real struggle. I hit my 7,000 words, just, through hard slog. I feel so demotivated, so tired.  If I’m only going to get two thirds  of the way through by Sunday, why knock myself out for the next few days for that? I can take it easier and be half way through instead. Start my new job Monday relaxed instead of exhausted. It’s now 3pm here, and I’ve written nothing yet today.

Of course, I’m not stopping, maybe slowing down a little.  I have a particularly good scene to start with today. I’ll use Write or Die to push me on. I’ll try hard to convince my husband that when I say “I’m writing now, please only interrupt me if it’s important,” that doesn’t include asking  me if we have any hummous in the fridge. I can probably get 5,000 today. But it does feel a bit, “Why bother?”

Okay. That’s where I feel I haven’t achieved my goal with Book in a Week. Maybe I’ll feel more motivated if I look at what I have achieved.

What I’ve gained (so far, may well be more to add to the list by the end of next week!)-

  • been given a method for planning a book and digging deep into characters that resonates with me and keeps me character focused and the plot character driven
  • discovered a tool to document my planning (Text Block Writer, a free program for organising notes) that works well for me,  and feels really intuitive
  • have created a template  in Text Block Writer that I can use for story after story that seems to help a lot with planning, keeping track of characters, and plotting. I’ve already worked out how I can use it for editing too.
  • discovered that I overwrite big time in first draft. Part of my way of continuing to work out the story as I go seems to be to write far too much. So if I want a 50,000 word finished story, better plan for at least 60,000 in first draft. Possibly this will change as I get better at writing. Possibly it’s just how I write.
  • found I like to write significant scenes twice, from both the hero and the heroine’s point of view. Probably when I edit, those two takes on the same event will condense down into one
  • know I can write over 7,000 story words in a day, if I try. Could come in useful!
  • worked out easy ways to save and back up my writing
  • discovered I probably don’t write Sweet. More Modern Heat or Little Black Dress. Need to wait until I finish first draft and reread to know for sure.
  • know I can manage to write without needing to go back and edit what I’ve already done. Keeping on writing forward at last!
  • even if I don’t get the first draft finished by Sunday, I know I can write an astonishing number of words in a week if I make writing my main focus
  • even if I don’t get the first draft finished by Sunday, two thirds of a first draft is a hell of a lot closer to finishing than what I had before

Okay, enough procrastination, I gotta go write!


Getting the form April 10, 2009

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 6:41 pm
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Image from Hoarded Ordinaries


I haven’t done any actual writing this week at all. Not one story word.

What I have done is a lot of thinking about the essential elements of a romance story, and a lot of working out what needs to happen in the Work in Progress.

I don’t want to plot it to death, but I’ve been feeling lost without a road map, and I’ve gone down too may tracks that turned out to be dead ends with this story.

My writing group think I’m being a perfectionist, trying to come up with the “perfect” story.  They could be right. But I think what I am trying to do is really get to the heart of what a romance story is, what needs to be there to make it a strong and effective story. What are the core elements? How do they fit togther? How do I handle POV, and the balance between the hero’s journey and the heroine’s journey?


Some writers seem to have it already internalised- perhaps quite unconsciously, absorbed from reading lots of stories.  I just don’t feel that I’ve got it yet. Maybe it’s magical thinking but I feel that once I get a deep understanding, the writing will just flow. I have the ideas, but I don’t know how to build the framework to hold them. This is an exercise in frame building, not just for this story but for all my stories.
I don’t feel stuck or frustrated with this process at the moment.   It’s all good stuff.  What has been frustrating is all this writing myself into a dead end stuff. I’m thinking I might do Book in a Week with this story. I get to spend three weeks planning, then a week writing first draft as fast as I can without thinking too much about it at all! If the plan isn’t working, don’t stop, just keep writing. But I don’t want to waste too much of that time writing stuff that is going nowhere.
I was like this at school. I could not write an essay to save my life, because I didn’t understand the form and what it was all about. One day it just clicked, and after that I could write an essay on just about any topic that would be sure to get good enough marks. I need the same inner conceptual shift to happen for romance writing. It’s that “aha” moment, when it all just falls into place, and once it happens, you’ve always got that skill or knowledge. I haven’t had that yet. I had it for essays at school, I had it for short stories at uni. Now I need to have it for romance writing.
The thing with romance writing is that though it’s not formulaic, there is a form. Once I have that clear in my mind, I can give shape to my ideas by using that to guide them. I’m too wild and all over the place at the moment. My imagination is undisciplined, it needs something to contain it, to guide it into shape.  There’s this essential balance between ideas, creativity, and individual voice on one side, which needs to be a bit wild and undisciplined; and the form of a story that the reader can relate to and understand on the other. Either one without the other is not a complete story.
My JanNo was a mess, all over the place, three different stories in one. My IS entry was more writing to what I thought were the conventions of the Presents form without real ideas to back it up. And sadly, I haven’t written anything that’s gone past three chapters in the year since getting my IS feedback.
Part of that is fear- if I finish and submit something I risk another rejection. Part of that is just that 2008 was a really crappy year when it was a challenge to get much writing done. And part of that is that I still don’t fully understand what makes a working romance story tick.
Overcoming the fear will just be a matter of doing it. Hopefully with my next job move I will overcome some of the work demands using up my brain. And right now I am focusing on the third problem, just not have a clear enough idea of what I am trying to do.
I have that lovely feeling of teetering on the brink of a breakthrough, I’ve almost got it, I’m almost there. And once it happens- WHAM! My ideas will be shaped by clarity and understanding. I will be able to let my writing just flow, with a form to contain and guide it.
Of course if I am still stuck in this process of working things out in a month’s time, our writing group’s disciplinarian had better start polishing those whips. ‘Cos then it’s clear it’s just another strategy to avoid actually writing. I really don’t believe it is.

Riding the see saw May 11, 2008

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 12:11 pm
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 Just when I though I had things reasonably figured out and I knew where I was going with my wriitng, I’m confused again, and totally undecided about what to do next. I had a day off wriitng yesterday, as I’d been neglecting my husband, we hadn’t had any decent “couple time” for ages, so we took a day off togther and went to the Barkway markets.

Had a wonderful day, the best possible spring weather, sunny but not too hot; a drive through beautiful rolling Hertfordshire countryside that looked just like my picture postcard imaginings of what the English countryside should look like before I came to this country; a fabulous huge market with all sorts of bric a brac and craft items for sale, in the grounds of the medieval manor house; and the church was open so we could see the old stone carvings. As a Australian of British ancestry, I always had a hunger for that sense of a history that was my history. The oldest buildings I’d ever been in there dated to about the 1840’s. There are awesome aboriginal sites that date back as far as 40,000 years, maybe even further, the longest continuous culture on the planet, but I always had the sense of being on stolen ground. The line of continuity had been broken, and rather than giving a sense of belonging or security, it gave a feeling of wrongness and guilt. Not so here in England. It’s an amazing experience to stand in a 14th century church and know that this is my history, my heritage. (it’s not just in the UK, oddly enough I had the same feeling in a tiny medieval French village church, and a Tunisian hill-fort). I love Australia, but I don’t feel the same sense of belonging there.

Anyway, that’s a sidetrack and not what I wanted to write about. I need to work out what I should be writing. The plan was- have the day off the story yesterday, and spend at least four hours writing story words today. I’m doing a lot of words that aren’t story words, but wriitng about writing, or wriitng around the story, character building, plotting, but not writing story. My strong feeling and part of my experiment in trying out different ways of writing was that I shouldn’t spend too much time pre-writing on this one, but just write, and sort out the problems in the edit. So today was the “write as many story words as I can before I have to go do the duty visit to my mother in law this evening” day. Except now I’ve got myself confused, and I don’t know which story I should be writing on.

My critique buddy Melissa (who has the most fabulous story plotted out and in progress, I so want to read it!) and I were wondering about which series our writing was the best fit with. I love Presents/Modern Romance, but I only started targeting that line because of the Instant Seduction competition. I had been having doubts about whther that was the best line for me to aim for, that maybe the sort of stories and the sort of heroes I like best weren’t a good match with Presents. Now there’s a Desire contest, as an additional distraction /possibility. (I’ve got this image of us in a  dressing room, with an armful of lovely frocks, trying on first one, then the other. “That’s gorgeous, but I liked this one too, and maybe it you tried that one again with this belt, what do you think?”)

I’m still not totally clear on the differences between this line and Presents, even after listening to the thirty minute editor podcast and reading the guidelines over at e-Harlequin. I need to read some recent release books from the series- I ordered half a dozen on ebay last night (thank goodness for that £10 PayPal voucher they sent me!). They still want an Alpha hero, though possibly he can be a little softer than the Presents hero often is; and I get the idea that more external conflict is okay, as long as the focus is still firmly on the developing relationship. I’m now wondering if James and Cassie’s story, the marriage of convenience story I plotted out then put aside as having too much external conflict for Presents, would be a viable Desire story.  How can I know without wriitng the thing? Now I am feeling so torn! James and Cassie’s story is back in my head, with scenes playing out like mini-movies.

This is exactly what I didn’t want to happen. My big fear is that unless I commit to completing a story, I will just jump from idea to idea to idea and never get anything completed. Sure, it would be fun, I’d only ever have to write what I felt like writing, but it sort of knocks on the head any chance of ever getting published. I’m on a sew saw ride, with James and Cassie one end, and Nick and Kate on the other, and me sliding helplessly around in the middle, going to whichever end carries the most weight for me at the time.

But maybe it’s okay, maybe this is just the way I write. I asked to be shown the way of writing that worked for me, that was most natural to me. Maybe it is just this. Have an idea for characters and a situation and what might happen to get them to their Happy Ever After, then put them to one side to work on another story. Meanwhile, the original story is simmering away on the backburner, until it’s done enough to be ready to use. I’m not sure if I will ever finish anything this way and I’m especially doubtful of how it would work if I’m wriitng to a deadline, where I just have to focus on the story that’s due, no matter what else is demanding to be written. On the other hand, I shouldn’t ask for guidance on my personal wriitng style, if I’m not willing to at least give what comes up a try!

I need to trust that if I find and follow my natural process, I’ll be more productive that way than if I try to force myself into a way that I think I should  work. Great article I found yesterday about following one’s own wriitng method (though I must admit she is not advocating jumping from story to story!)- Writing without a net .

So it looks like it’s back to James and Cassie’s story again. I’m going to take a chance here. After all, the worst thing that can happen is I delay getting eventually published by a few months if this is a wrong turning, and I still will have learned something about what works for me and what is right for me in the journey.


The big plan… May 7, 2008

Filed under: Writing and Life — Autumn Macarthur @ 10:18 pm
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Well, it’s not so big really. Just my strategies to get my manuscripts as good and as strong and as readable and hopefully as editor grabbing as they can be, before I submit them.

Not quite sure why I’m even worrying about this now, as the first draft of Nick and Kate’s story (aka The Tycoon’s Reluctant Bride) is moving veeeeerrrrrry slowly. I spent some time stressing about the infodump first chapter, which starts off not too badly, the first lines are- Kate Gallagher had been in love with her boss for years. Finally she decided to do something about it –  but then unfortunately the next two and a half thousand words are nothing but Kate and Nick talking, telling us all the backstory. Arrgghh! It probably needs to start two or three chapters in, when they actually get kidnapped.

I realised I was wasting precious wriitng time letting worrying about this paralyse me, and instead of trying to find a solution, the solution was to just go with it. After reading published writers who say they do exactly this sort of infodump beginning, as part of character development and setting building, then edit it out in the second draft, I realised it wasn’t a bad thing. Yes, it’s a cardinal sin in a submitted ms, but not such a disaster in a first draft. What I was slipping into was the perfectionist trap, probably the downfall of more wannabee writers than anything else. The cause of all those aborted first chapters that were all I had to show for years of trying to write romance, fantasy, anything! The trap of needing to “get it right”, in the first draft. This is posibly a hangover from my university days, when I was a lazy student and only ever submitted first drafts- I did not edit anything the whole time I was there.  I could get away with it when I was wriitng an 2nd year essay on Erikson’s Theory of Child Development, or whatever, but it’s extremely bad training for fiction wriitng. Anyway, I now have a new rule for myself, closely related to “permission to  write crap in first draft”. Today’s rule- “permission is granted to infodump in first draft”.  While I’m at it I’ll add tomorrow’s rule- “in first draft, it’s okay to break all the rules for publsihed stories”. Also “in first draft, grammar and spelling don’t matter”. There, nearly a week’s worth of personal wriitng rules in one go, that was easy!

It felt so liberating to let myself go for it, make my first chapter infodump central. I only wrote about twelve hundred actual story words today, but I feel as if I know a lot more about what’s going on and who these people are. Which can’t be bad.

The rest of the plan (besides making up my own silly rules) is to use whatever tools are available to help me to look at my stories and see what needs fixing, then find out how to fix it. Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance has questions to ask about the story for each main aspect like characters, conflict, sensuality. I think it could be a fantastic tool for identifying those areas of my stories that need more work. It also has questions to ask about the books we enjoy reading, to pinpoint what worked- maybe I will do a second reading and a proper analysis of some of the romances I’ve been reading. 

The plan was also going to include finding a critique buddy on the e-Harlequin board when the current story was written and edited. Having someone I can trust who both understands the romance genre and will be brave enough to tell me what totally sucks and what doesn’t quite hit the spot (that’s my family and friends out, on both counts!) reading and commenting on my story so my editing can be focused on fixing any issues has to help.  I really need someone honest enough and creative enough to find a postive way to tell me that my plot ideas stink, or at least need more than a teensy bit of tweaking,  if my hero is being a wimp or a cad, or my heroine is acting like an idiot (something that may be the case with my Kate, I’m afraid!). Fingers crossed I may have already found a critique partner a bit ahead of plan- I emailed someone today who’d left a message on the board, and I’m waiting to hear back. It’s okay if she’s found someone else to work with, I’m a strong believer in fate, what will be will be, although I also do my darnedest to make things happen too!

The other part of the plan is to join the Romantic Novelists’ Assocation’s New Writers’ Scheme  (I think I got those apostrophes in the right place this time!) next January – I missed out this year *&%# (insert swear word of your choice). I found out it’s essential to get in early as there are only 200 places. I’m not surprised it fills fast because it sounds amazing- for a small fee an experienced writer in the area of romance the unpubbed writer is aiming for gives a detailed critique, plus if she considers the work to be at publishable standard she may help it to find its publisher. After thinking about it, I’m glad I didn’t get in this year, because what I can submit next year will hopefully be that much better. Just like when I thought about it I was kind of glad I hadn’t won the Instant Seduction contest, because I really didn’t have enough to work on with the editor.

And of course, the most important parts of the plan- to write every spare minute I possibly can, read widely in the genre, spend too much time reading how other people do it on tgheri blogs and discussion groups.

So there it is, the Janey Jones Plan for Romance Wriitng Success, in Six Not So Easy Steps. Will it work? I just don’t know, but I do know there will be plenty of laughter and tears along the process of finding out!