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LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Plots

I have to agree, Janet, that the plots today are getting thinner and thinner. While the emphasis on characterization and emotion is all good, it seems to me that we can have that and a plot, too, as long as the plot fits with the characterization and shows these characters as they grow and change.

However, it seems that some of the editors actively discourage that sort of plotting, so it really makes sense these days to read lots of the current books to see what kind of things the editorial team is buying.

This trend is one of the reasons I'm enjoying re-editing many of my early books and making them available as e-books. "With No Reservations" and "A New Desire" are now both available that way (more info on my website) along with several others we've mentioned here. It's been fun to look at them again a few years later -- in some cases, quite a few years -- and do some updating, too.

Happy writing,
Leigh
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sophieweston
Posts: 42
Registered: ‎03-01-2007
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Re: Plots & Fiona Harper

Leigh, Fiona's prize winning first book is indeed called 'Blind date Marriage.' It was bought by HMB in the UK but it is true that they put it out as a Silhouette in North America, presumably as part of their move to marry the two lines.

The judges of the Joan Hessayon New Writers' Award had this to say about the book when we made the award:

'This very contemporary short novel is funny and charming and has real heart. The hero is an original, with his two distinct personae. You're on his side right from the cracking first page.

Among our pleasures were a delightfully brisk heroine, whizzy plot, her ageing rocker dad and the way the hero handles a truculent kid.

We believed totally in the world and the characters, including a scuzzbag would-be blackmailer. And there were some fabulous one liners that turned us green with envy.'


Fiona herself says on her website, 'BLIND-DATE MARRIAGE is about Serendipity Dove's quest for a little normality in her unconventional life. All she needs is a nice husband to provide her with two-point-four children and she'll be in heaven. But finding the perfect man is harder than she anticipated.

However, on a blind date she meets Jake, an intelligent, attractive accountant, and he ticks all the right boxes. Well, almost all of them. She's too busy falling in love to notice that, down in the small print, the ready for commitment box is glaringly empty.'


The plot is very solidly centred in the characters and their expectations of life - and how these change under the pressure of life and falling in love. But what is perhaps unusual for today's HMBs is the independent existence of the non central characters. Anyway, I think it's a cracking read and Fiona is a very talented writer. Can't wait to read her next book.

best
Jenny/Sophie

www.jennyhaddon.com
www.gettingthepoint.net
Frequent Contributor
lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
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Re: Plots

What a lovely selection of books we have recommended to us now! Could we have them all on one page jessica so we don't have to search to find them?

How odd that people don't stick with online writing courses, it's so easy with no stamps and paper to find. Plus for the impatient, like me, you get your answer really quickly and can make really fast progress, like I did.

Lynne.
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Ch-Janet
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Registered: ‎02-09-2007
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Re: Plots

[ Edited ]
Thank you for recommending that book, Jenny. Ann Charlton: That's a name I haven't heard for a long while. (1985?) I don't suppose she's still writing for HM&B now. I suddenly remembered another author I used to read: Mary Wibberley. I still have her writing book 'to Writers With love'. I wonder if she'll ever start writing romances again.

Off to read 'In The Arms Of The Sheik'now. I think the last Spohie Weston I read was The Bedroom Assignment. (loved the young, contemporary style)

Jenny, I saw on the HM&B site that your favourite books include
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, and Johnny and the Dead by Terry Pratchett

Will you ever write a science fiction novel?

Message Edited by Ch-Janet on 05-07-200710:11 AM

Frequent Contributor
LeighMichaels
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Re: Plots & Fiona Harper

Thanks, Jenny -- I'll be sure to read the Fiona Lowe book. I'm particularly intrigued to see how she handled the secondary characters...

Best,
Leigh
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sophieweston
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Re: Plots



Ch-Janet wrote:
Thank you for recommending that book, Jenny. Ann Charlton: That's a name I haven't heard for a long while. (1985?) I don't suppose she's still writing for HM&B now. I suddenly remembered another author I used to read: Mary Wibberley. I still have her writing book 'to Writers With love'. I wonder if she'll ever start writing romances again.

Off to read 'In The Arms Of The Sheik'now. I think the last Spohie Weston I read was The Bedroom Assignment. (loved the young, contemporary style)

Jenny, I saw on the HM&B site that your favourite books include
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin, and Johnny and the Dead by Terry Pratchett

Will you ever write a science fiction novel?

Message Edited by Ch-Janet on 05-07-200710:11 AM






Glad that you like 'The Bedroom Assignment', Janet. It's one of my favourites.

I do love science fiction, especially when it is really thoughtful about the human condition, as both Le Guin and Pratchett are, although they are very different in style, of course. Yes, I have got an outline science fiction story in my bottom drawer. It has a really scrummy alien-with-a-secret whom I adore. He may demand that I finish it some day, who knows? However, from the point of view of a professional writer, only one story idea is not enough to build a major change in a career. I'd need at least a new universe! So maybe I'll just carry on enjoying reading science fiction.

best
Jenny

www.jennyhaddon.com
www.gettingthepoint.net
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sophieweston
Posts: 42
Registered: ‎03-01-2007
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Re: Plots & Fiona Harper



LeighMichaels wrote:
Thanks, Jenny -- I'll be sure to read the Fiona Lowe book. I'm particularly intrigued to see how she handled the secondary characters...

Best,
Leigh




You won't be disappointed!
best
Jenny

www.jennyhaddon.com
www.gettingthepoint.net
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sophieweston
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mainstream authors and HMB

Janet, we were talking about why some mainstream authors find it impossible to write HMB. Rosie Thomas, winner of this year's Romantic Novel of the Year for her 'Iris and Ruby', makes a good point in an interview in 'The Guardian'. http://books.guardian.co.uk/departments/generalfiction/story/0,,2074158,00.html

'She initially thought she might write a Mills & Boon novel, "Because my then husband was a literary agent and he represented quite a big Mills & Boon name, and my first thought was, 'We haven't got much money and she's got lots of money.' But they really are hard to write. You can't do it tongue-in-cheek, and you can't do it dispassionately - you've got to be a Mills & Boon enthusiast. I'm full of admiration for those authors - they manage to make it so fresh."'

I'm sure she's right. You can't write HMB - or any other novel - well without conviction.

best
Jenny/Sophie

www.jennyhaddon.com
www.gettingthepoint.net
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Ch-Janet
Posts: 111
Registered: ‎02-09-2007
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Re: mainstream authors and HMB

[ Edited ]
Thanks for that link, Jenny. An interesting article. Because M&B novels are written in a very readable style, people wrongly assume that easy to read must mean easy to write.

I'm considering joining the RNA. I noticed that the summer conference in a different city each year? Do you use the same places on rotating basis or are there new places you're considering that you haven't used yet? I'm in Lincolnshire so waiting for the conference to come to Lincoln, but not sure if that could happen.

Leigh- Fiona Lowe is the HM&B Medicals author, Fiona Harper is the new Romance author.

Message Edited by Ch-Janet on 05-08-200708:26 AM

Frequent Contributor
LeighMichaels
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Re: mainstream authors and HMB


Ch-Janet wrote:
Leigh- Fiona Lowe is the HM&B Medicals author, Fiona Harper is the new Romance author.






Oops. I did order the right book, thankfully -- I just glitched on the name when writing that message. :smileyhappy:

When I give a talk on romance, I always mention that romances are *little* (smaller/shorter than many other sorts of books), *light* (not dwelling on evils or pain or nastiness), and *easy to read* (written in a way which is easy for the reader) -- and that makes people think they're easy to write.

Which of course is far from true -- as everybody here already knows.

Happy writing,
Leigh
Frequent Contributor
LeighMichaels
Posts: 297
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: usage question

Jenny, here's one that comes up a lot. In fact, I posted something last night on another thread and in rereading it this morning found a classic grammatical error which escaped me as I was writing. I wrote:

"Anybody who can make their way through this..."

The correct usage would of course be "Anybody who can make his or her way through this..."

But especially in casual use, that feels awkward.

How do you handle this sort of thing?

Is usage changing (another example of getting lazier, perhaps) so anybody/their will eventually be seen as correct?

Best,
Leigh
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sophieweston
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Registered: ‎03-01-2007
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RNA


Ch-Janet wrote:

I'm considering joining the RNA. I noticed that the summer conference in a different city each year? Do you use the same places on rotating basis or are there new places you're considering that you haven't used yet? I'm in Lincolnshire so waiting for the conference to come to Lincoln, but not sure if that could happen.

You'll be welcome to join the RNA, Janet, but you'll have to be quick off the mark. Unpublished members (by which we mean people who have not sold full length books; a number of our NW members have successful careers as short story writers for magazines) are a limited proportion of the membership. The list gets full sooner and sooner every year. This year we had to close it in March. You need to apply as early as possible after January 1. The application form is on the website, www.rna-uk.org.


And yes, we take the conference round the country, trying to make it accessible to as many of our memberse as we can. I doubt whether we'll come to Lincoln. We did look at it a couple of years ago and could not find a venue that fulfilled all our requirements. Leicester, however, has been really popular with our members and this is the third time we'reg oing back there. It's dead easy to get to by rail, too.

best
Jenny/Sophie
Frequent Contributor
sophieweston
Posts: 42
Registered: ‎03-01-2007
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Re: usage question

Leigh, I'm not a purist about "their" instead of "his or her". It's what people say, after all, and it's perfectly clear. We've almost given the word an additional meaning of "possessive of an unknown person", which I think is cool. And useful.

To quote Orwell, I think that to interrupt the flow of narrative in a lively novel with "his or her" would be "barbarous".

I do get grumpy, I admit, about some modern usage. One such is "different to". We hear it all the time in the UK media, including the classy end (BBC Radio 4, no less). I always mutter under my breath, "different from, different from". I hate it because the word "to" brings things together but if you are differentiating them, you are pushing them apart, hence "from" has to be right. But that is just a pet peeve.

Another one - since I'm riding my hobby horse - is the way people mix up "less" and "fewer". "Less" is for something that can't be counted, fewer for multiple bits. I always remember 'Less cheese, fewer biscuits".

best
Jenny/Sophie

www.jennyhaddon.com
www.gettingthepoint.net
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Ch-Janet
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Registered: ‎02-09-2007
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Re: RNA

"You'll be welcome to join the RNA, Janet, but you'll have to be quick off the mark."

Thanks, Jenny. Is there any limit on the number of full members joining the RNA each year or could I join at any time?
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lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
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Re: mainstream authors and HMB

Janet as well as the conferences there are local groups which are also fun. I'm not sure if there's one in Lincoln though.

I'd love you to join and meet up at a conference too, or a party in London. It is great fun and I always think you learn much more than you intend at any gathering of RNA members. just like here we chat about different publishers and editors. Even if it's not one we directly have anything to do with it helps you think about things for when we're in that position. I'd love to meet up with all my American friends too, but that will have to wait until we've sold Janet, then we can go together!

This thread has been so interesting. I've learnt a lot, it helps so much to hear about the variety of books that HMB print, and which we prefer and why.

Lynne.
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sophieweston
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Registered: ‎03-01-2007
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Re: RNA



Ch-Janet wrote:
"You'll be welcome to join the RNA, Janet, but you'll have to be quick off the mark."

Thanks, Jenny. Is there any limit on the number of full members joining the RNA each year or could I join at any time?




No limit on full members, who can join any time. The qualification is that you have to have published a full length romantic novel or serial of at least 30,000 words in the UK. A self published novel does not count for these purposes.

best
Jenny/Sophie

www.jennyhaddon.com
www.gettingthepoint.net
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sophieweston
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Punctuation changing meaning

Lynne, thank you, thank you, thank you. I've been trying to think of an example of when punctuation changes meaning and you've given me one.

Spot the difference:

I'd love to meet up with all my American friends too, but that will have to wait until we've sold Janet, then we can go together!

I'd love to meet up with all my American friends too, but that will have to wait until we've sold, Janet. Then we can go together.

You probably remember that Shakespeare played a good punctuation game in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'. When his Athenian workmen put on their play for the Duke and Hippolyta, poor Peter Quince has to give a prologue to introduce it and puts the full stops in all the wrong places. So he comes out with exactly the reverse of what he means, incuding:

All for your delight we are not here

and

That you should here repent you, our players are at hand.

'Until we've sold Janet' is definitely in the same class! Great stuff.

best
Jenny/Sophie

www.jennyhaddon.com
www.gettingthepoint.net
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lavenderlass
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Re: Punctuation changing meaning

Glad to be of service Jenny! Needless to say, I didn't check it before I posted,

Lynne.
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sophieweston
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checking messages



lavenderlass wrote:
Glad to be of service Jenny! Needless to say, I didn't check it before I posted,

Lynne.




Actually, I do check messages before I post them and, even so, errors slip through. I used to think it was because I was careless. That's what my father always said when I was small. But actually, I think it's to do with the brain remembering what it meant to say, not reading what's on the screen. Or the page either.

I was talking only this morning to fellow HMB author Sara Craven and we agreed that, if you have time, it's always a good idea to let a manuscript sit in a drawer for a couple of weeks before you send it off. That gives you time to switch out of Engaged Author mode and to transfer to the Reader bit of your brain. Whenever I've done that, the typos - and the hero's changing eye colour - leap out at me.

But, oh boy, it takes discipline. Whenever I write the last word of a book, all I can think of is printing it off and sending it to the editor immediately. How about you, Leigh? Are you any good at simmering down and sitting on the mss for a bit?

best
Jenny

www.jennyhaddon.com
www.gettingthepoint.net
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lavenderlass
Posts: 270
Registered: ‎01-02-2007
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Re: checking messages

I must admit I never reread my emails, I just don't have time. Since moving here my mother's health has got worse, she has heart failure and keeps needing help and new drugs but we both know the time will come when she's run out of options. Also a great single parent friend of mine has only just been diagnosed with a really aggressive cancer and is having horrific treatment. We talk for ages about her illness and it's consequences, so many people are reluctant to listen, but I guess I just have a natural listening ear.

It has slowed me down with my latest wip but boy, do I have material for my 3rd! I have a whole week alone soon so will catch up then. In a way it makes me more determined to write and be published because I am so lucky not to have my life threatened in that way.

I've sent finished but not left alone for a while manuscripts to the NWS before and regretted it because my (excellent) reader had to comment and explain things to me that I ought to have already known. I do that less now especially since Leigh's course because I know where my weak points are and can correct them myself.

Lynne.
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