Light and Flirty Modern Heat: Yeah, Right.

I’m worried about my sub. So what else is new right? Well after reading the transcript of the editor chat on eHarlequin, I’ve got several worries:

Firstly, I’m worrying that my sub is too angsty for Modern Heat. The problem is that I love deep, emotional internal conflict. And I love a strong, tortured hero. However, I also like humour which makes an uncomfortable mix between Presents/Modern style internal conflict with the Modern Heat flirty/sexy hero. With MH, you can’t have your hero standing around brooding endlessly. There has to be some humour/flirtiness there, which makes it hard if you have a deep internal conflict for him. I think my hero isn’t too broody (which makes him sound like a chicken!) but towards the end, he’s pretty conflicted. Will this be a sub-killer?

Secondly I’m worrying about the whole ‘fresh twist on an old theme’ thing. The fact is, my setup isn’t particularly fresh or original. They meet in a nightclub – how original is that? I like to think I spiced things up with the presentation of it a little but maybe I didn’t. The whole fake engagement thing I had going on there was supposed to make it a little bit different to the marriage of convenience thing but I’ve now taken it out, I haven’t even got that. Is my sub too boring?

Thirdly, I’m not sure I pushed the boundaries enough. I wanted to get this one right and in doing so, I’m worried I may have played it too safe. The transcript seemed to imply new and innovative is the way to go, but really, how far can you go as an aspiring author? What, exactly, can you get away with? Perhaps, as Kate Walker says, it’s all in the execution. In the sub that was rejected, my hero and heroine didn’t physically meet until page 6 or so but they did have a sexy online conversation. This was not mentioned as a problem in the feedback I received so maybe you can get away with a certain amount of rule breaking.

Lots of worries, huh? Anyone else worried about their sub? Perhaps I need to put up the scarecrow again…

17 thoughts on “Light and Flirty Modern Heat: Yeah, Right.”

  1. Hi Jackie, first time in your blog.

    I’m also a first time entrant for a HMB contest and quivering with fear (the cliche is an indication of at least one of the many reasons why…sigh).

    My submission is up to two (long) chapters Can’t stop trawling those 40 pages and over-analysing every single line…what am I saying with this, how does it reflect on the hero/heroine, is it sprinkling conflict or saturating and giving too much away, is it showing or telling? Is there enough conflict hinted at in the 1st page, are there too many POVs, is the hero Alpha enough (he sure will be in chapter 4, but meanwhile, have I given him all the expected characteristics…?

    As for my synopsis…
    I’m half way through it and freaking out over the double space, yikes. I’d hoped the condition had been a mistake but have since found verification that it’s not. It’s an exercise in tightness and squeezing every possible drop out of every word/sentence. Heavens, 2 pgs, double space!!

    While I’m targeting Presents, there are definite MHeat traits surfacing (light bantering) which I’m inclined to keep (hedge my bets).

    No easy task…

  2. Definitely get that scarecrow out Jackie. FWIW I think you have the sexy, light tone of MH and think you’re worrying unnecessarily.
    They like you, you’ve fixed some of the problems of your earlier subs and you’ve got some really cracking stories lined up to sell ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Jackie,

    As unpublished authors we really don’t have the confidence to push the envelope all that much. Yes, it may work to do something so out of the ordinary that every editor in London hears about our ms. But most likely it would be for the wrong reasons. I’m not saying we don’t have the ability to pull it off, it’s just that we are still trying to prove ourselves.
    Probably not making much sense but let me put it this way; I’ve read books by some authors that should never have been published and never would have been had they not already established themselves previously. I read a harlequin lately that I literally ripped with both my hands. This author has been writing for decades and I couldn’t believe the tripe that she was trying to pass as a ‘book’. It was all just one long description of feelings that had nothing or little to do with either character.
    Better stop that talk now or I’ll get into trouble!!!
    Another thing you bring up and it’s very interesting also is the set up, as in how and where the H & h meet. Yes, I get that books are a form of escapism and we all want to be transported somewhere fab and etc etc but think about it. How many places can people actually meet? There’s nothing at all wrong with the nightclub meet (it’s where I met himself). As it’s Mod Heat I don’t think they’re likely to meet aboard some shuttle en route to Mars, UNLESS you can take that and deliver it properly. Normal people and remember the characters in Mod Heat are normal, meet in normal circumstances that can result in some not-so-normal consequences. I don’t read Moderns because of the lack of humour, I need to laugh/giggle when I’m reading and Mod Heat is therefore my perfect choice.
    As I’ve read your entry in the comp I feel justified to say that I really like your style and dialogue and I have no doubt you’ll get that elusive contract soon. So don’t sweat the small stuff (be alpha about it) and keep plugging away.
    I guess my whole point at the end of this essay is that Aideen really shouldn’t drink 4 coffees before 9am…..

    All the best,

  4. Hi Veronica, thanks for posting. I totally know where you’re coming from with the over-analysis – obviously considering my post! It’s hell isn’t it? I think the thing is we write the best we can at the time and that’s all we can do.
    Yes, the synopsis is hell. But you know, I’ve been practising with one pages synopses and I’ve managed to do two. Hard but do-able. You just have to totally excise your voice from it and stick entirely to plain, unvarnished facts.
    Good luck anyway!

    Lorraine, you’re a star. Thanks. I need to stop it with the wibbling!

    Aideen, you can drink four cups of coffee and post on my blog anytime! Thanks so much for the pep talk. Yes, I think I’m getting too hung up on the recommendations and advice. Sometimes you need to actually put away that advice and just write what you enjoy writing. I think what I’m trying to do is talk myself into accepting that it might be rejected. You see, my sub avoids all the problems of my rejects and so I’m wondering if I’ve now been too confident with it. Argh, it never stops huh?
    Anyway, I’m chuffed you like my style! It’s lovely to know that if I ever get anything accepted, there will be a few people who will buy my book. ๐Ÿ™‚
    You’re so right re the setup. Nighclubs, bars etc, they’re logical places for people who wouldn’t ordinarily meet to actually meet. And everyone relates to them, can imagine them. Normal, relatable stuff. As Rach told me, it’s how you write the characters and your voice that makes it original. Lucky you guys are such great blog people eh?
    Hope your writing is going great!

  5. I might be trespassing here, but what the…

    You’re concerned about your story opening in a night club. Is it really about being original or using the setting for a specific purpose, thereby making it original?

    Emma Darcy’s The Secret Baby Revenge opens in a nightclub. It’s not incidental as the heroes have a passion for Latin dancing and the heroine’s mother has a dance school which is under threat. So it’s all tied in. Her settings always appear to be worked into the story and sometimes even reflect part of the conflict – hero lives in a million dollar property immediately drawing up a dividing line between them, especially if the heroine is driving up in a van. Her latest, Ruthless Billionaire, Forbidden Baby begins at a wedding (this is carried through the story) and that’s worked into the conflict as the hero is anti marriage.

    I know, I know, these examples aren’t Modern Heat.

  6. Stick up that scarecrow and breathe! It’s easy to say not to worry unnecessarily but not so easy to do. It only takes one little pin prick to burst the bubble of hoping your current WIP nails it and I think as writers we like to tie up all the ends.

    I have faith in you. I’m sure your sub is phenom. They want to buy voice. Stick with that mantra because you have loads of voice and cracking ideas. Keep the faith.

    Says the person who unpicks her ms and cries doom on a regular basis. But you just gotta keep trucking and aim for ‘that special one that sells’.

  7. Hi Jackie. Mutual ((HUGS)) on this. I was on-line last night and asked a question – it was fun – my first time on-line. All in all I thought it was very informative. But with you all the way on the “crows of doubt” ever circling closer. I balked at the “avoid well used cliches”. Yikes I’m sure mine is full of them, not to mention getting in most of the whole back story in the first chapter. Sigh…Ah well. I’m going to sub it and cross my fingers. Take care. Caroline x

  8. Veronica, the setting of a nightclub doesn’t really have anything to do with the characters alas. But I guess, if I think about it, it does add a certain scene setting element to their conflict which is all about safety vs risk. Nightclubs can be a little risky to some. The reason I’m angsting slightly is that an editor made a comment at the RWNZ conference last year about how a lot of subs start off in bars or nightclubs. But there’s nothing in herently wrong with that.

    Hey Judy! I’m feeling moderately less wibbly today if it’s any consolation. Yeah, you’re right, they do buy the voice. I don’t know about the sub being phenom – I just hope it covers the bases they wanted! (trying to talk myself down again, can’t you tell?). Thanks for your faith, it means a lot.

    And thanks for the hugs, Caroline! Yep, all we can do is sub it and hope for the best. A few wobbles here and there is par for the course. Good luck. Where are you subbing to? Presents?

  9. Jackie-you SO know what you’re doing! Stop doubting yourself-I know easier said than done. They know what they’re doing over at that M&B office-they wouldn’t ask you to resubmit to them if they didn’t like your voice and your work. Remember that!

    Laura…who just made the mistake of re-reading her MS that is sitting at SSE in NY right now. Never re-read. Ever…unless you’re doing revisions of course.

  10. Laura, you know what? Maybe I do know what I’m doing. After year of pursuing this, I HAVE learned a whole lot and what I have written has improved hugely. Yeah, I should trust myself a little more. I’m just trying not to get my hopes up I guess.

    Anyway, no, don’t re-read a sub if you haven’t heard! That way lies madness. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Wish I had a pair of fresh eyes to use for that final read! Or maybe I should use my reading glasses more often (still in denial)

    My umpteenth read before submitting wasn’t enough as I later came across a blatant mistake – the perils of cutting and pasting. (was I on a chocolate/caffeine high or what…)

    The heroine’s demand fell on silent (yes, silent) ears instead of deaf (not that the later is any better)

    It’s been over 12 wks without a response so I assume it’s withering away in the slush pile, perhaps just as well.

  12. Hi jackie,

    Popping in a bit late to this discussion, but your worries about deep angsty conflict caught my eye. I love heroes with deep angsty conflict too, and every one of the ones I’ve written have had it, it does make it harder sometimes to get that light flirty tone (and boy do I struggle with that sometimes) but if you pull it off the eds will be even more impressed. So go with your heart, having read the first chapter of your last comp entry I know you can pull it off!

    Heidi x

  13. Heidi, I think that’s why I love your books so much – tortured heroes! Thanks for your lovely comments – I hope I can pull it off too. Will have to since torturing my heroes is what I love doing best. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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