Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Writing competitions and tips

First of all huge apologies to everyone. I was supposed blog on Monday and I didn’t realise. My spot is always the first Monday in a month, but seriously, I could hardly believe a whole month had passed since I last blogged.

Anyway I’m here and talking about writing. I have done a series of mini blogs about my road to publication if anyone wants to check it out. coincidentally my first two books Dr Campbell’s Secret Son and Her Very Special Boss (my second book set in the rural African hospital where my husband worked) have been re- released as part of anthologies. You can find my blog here.

Anyway with that shameless plug over, I have been following the global Harlequin competition So You Think You Can Write. As always I am stunned by the writing talent out there, but I do see the same mistakes too. (That’s one of the reasons I did a blog about my road to publication. I think it’s easier to point out mistakes that you made and let people learn from those. (If they want)

So as a writer my best tip to would be writers is: Expect it to be hard work, but keep at it and don’t give up. I know I’m still learning my craft- trying to improve all the time- and therefore I’d love to know what tips readers would give writers. (And we are all readers) What disappoints you? What do you love in a book? What makes you keep the book? What makes you turn the page?

Personally I love plenty of action blended with lots of emotion and an ending that I didn’t see coming. I want a book that I can’t wait to return to.

What about you?

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10 thoughts on “Writing competitions and tips”

  1. Hi Anne!
    I love books that engage me from the start. This doesn’t mean non-stop action from page one, because often that confuses me. I’m going – who’s this person, why are we here, what’s going on. For years I was afraid to start off a book by slowly building to something, because everyone said you had to start with a bang. I’m no longer afraid to start where my gut tells me and build from there. But then, I’m hardly a household name am I? LOL
    I went and had a look at your re-release in the anthology, and it is very nice! What a great group of authors.

    1. I’m lucky to be in an anthology with them! Her Very Special Boss is my personal favourite and I much prefer the man on the cover of the one with Dr Campbell’s Secret Son. I’m sorry to say that the hero on the original cover was so not how I imagined my Jamie.

      I have just finished The Last Kestral. That certainly starts with a bang but the rest is at a slower pace that builds in intensity and horror. I read a Thomas Harris book the other day and loved the breakneck speed of it, but sometimes I enjoy a lovely, nicely paced romance that I can savour and cry or giggle over. (One of yours will do nicely for that.)

      Personally I don’t like too much description. I want to know where I am and get a sense of place but then I want to move on. I’m also put off if an author appears to be trying too hard- i.e if every noun is qualified by an adjective- or two or three. Having said that I guess I have been guilty of both in the past. How much more difficult it is to see faults in one’s own writing. (Although that use of one is absolutely correct in context it seems pretentious. Now why should that be?)

      Anne x

  2. Hi Anne! Great post. I like a book that starts with a character I can relate to and who I will be gunning for. Currently reading a book by a fairly well-known author (not a genre romance book) and I’m persevering through it knowing that at some point I WILL care about the characters, but right now (a third in) I don’t.

    I don’t like screeds of description at the beginning either. I like to find myself immersed in action (doesn’t have to be guns blazing- just something happening) that is interesting and makes me ask questions: why is she there? who is she? what’s the problem she’s going to have to solve (ie the conflict), I need to be engaged and really wanting the protagonist to succeed. How do writers make us do that? The sixty five million dollar question!

    Louisa x

    1. Hi Louisa
      Mmm. I think I might give up if I were one third of the way through a book and I didn’t care about the characters. I used to finish every book I started but I am more likely to give up now. There are too many good books waiting to be read or re-read. (Which is not to say that the books I give on are necessarily bad- just not for me.)
      One book I did have to persevere with in the beginning was We Need to Talk About Kevin- ( it is really, really difficult to care about the main characters for obvious reasons) but I was so glad I did. I thought it was a fantastic read.

  3. I’d say establish the h and h first. Readers usually identify the first person they meet in a story as THE person – hero or heroine. Don’t confuse them by starting with a secondary character. Why am u saying this? Because my muse wants me to open my current story with a woman who is not the heroine. I am resisting :-/

    1. Mmm. Maybe your muse is trying to tell you something, Amy. Could it be that you have the wrong heroine? On the other hand why don’t you go with it and see where it takes you? Sometimes as writers we need to experiment.

    1. Me too, Susan. As long as they keep me turning the page wanting to know what happens. And if the writer can surprise me at the same time- or teach me something new…

  4. I love action and suspense in a book as well, Anne. And I do tend to want to be dropped into the story at a crucial point–where something changes for one of the characters.

    And I agree about the SYTYCW contest. Some fantastic entries over there, including some medicals! Can’t wait to see who the finalists will be.

    1. As I said I am pretty stunned by the talent out there. So my best advice for writers hoping to be published..Don’t give up (unless even your nearest and dearest are telling you that it’s time) and while you’re waiting keep on trying to improve.

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