I should of course be writing, not doing lots of blog posts, but my two oddly titled WIPs are proving difficult. Can’t get them to flow right. Probably because I’m too busy trying not to think about my revisions and whether I’ve done them right!
Anyway, the best thing I’ve found to do for inspiration is to read more Modern Heat (or the horribly titled Sexy Sensation as they are down under). Now this is something that I should have done right at the beginning, when I first started trying to write a Mills and Boon. Other authors tell you this, the guidelines tell you this, but do you think I did it? Nup. My reasoning was that somehow my voice would end up sounding like whatever I was reading at the time. Which is stupid. Because when I read Ian McEwen, I don’t end up writing like he does (wish I did!), or Michael Ondaatje, or Heidi Rice or any one of a hundred other authors that I read.
Right, so after my first rejection, I thought, hmmm, best I actually read some of these things. First one I downloaded was Natalie Anderson’s Pleasured by the Secret Millionaire and I read it from a writer’s point of view and not just enjoying it as a story. Reading that was probably the best thing I ever did because I had one of those ‘aha moments’. I noticed that all the hero and heroine ever did was meet, talk, have a love scene, part. Meet, talk, have sex, part. Meet, talk a bit more, have sex, reveal deepest secrets, happy ever after. AND THAT’S IT!
Now, that’s overly simplistic of course and you may know this already but for me this was a revelation. There were no car chases, no complicated sub plots with extended family members, no hiding from stalkers, no shootouts. And definitely the hero and heroine did not stay apart for longer than half a chapter. This was my first realisation about internal conflict.
After that I decided I needed to buy them every month and so I did, religiously. Good thing too because when I met Jenny Hutton (MH editor) at the RWNZ conference last year, she asked me which Modern Heat authors I liked. If I hadn’t been reading them, I probably would have said something dumb like “Um…Essie Summers?”
Moral of the story? If you want to write for a line (or any publisher), read the books. All the time. I buy them every month. It’s good to see what M&B are publishing in terms of plot and conflict. You get a feel after a while for what might work in your own writing and what probably won’t.
As to which ones I like, well, I prefer the grittier ones. Like Natalie Anderson, Heidi Rice, Kelly Hunter. What about you guys?