First of all, I must say how thrilled I am that the Pink Hearters have let me launch the second edition of my how-to write book. Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance here on the blog for this month’s Findaboo! I’ve been friends with a couple of the of the editors – Trish and Natasha - since before either of them were published and I’ve watched and enjoyed their journey to publication and subsequent success .(Insert loud cheer here for Natasha’s RITA nomination! ) Both of them represent in person just what I’ve always loved to see, new writers with strong individual voices and oodles of talent coming through to add new strength, new blood to the line of writers who maintain the fabulous tradition of category romance books that is now being celebrated in the Mills & Boon Centenary year.
They’re also the perfect example of why I love to work with and help those new writers who are not yet published but are working, learning their craft, trying and submitting and picking themselves up, dusting themselves off and starting all over again when they encounter rejection . . .and hopefully one day too getting that magical Call that says ‘we want to buy your book.’ Category romance needs new authors – new writers are the lifeblood of the genre, the ones who will take it into the next decade, the next generation – to the next centenary. I can’t teach the new writers how to write, but I do hope that with my workshops, my talks, and above all else, with my how-to books, I can help them, avoid some of the most common mistakes and so hopefully get there a little bit faster.
On Tuesday April 8th, the second edition of my award-winning how to write book, the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance will be published. As I write this, I’m eagerly waiting to get my hands on the first copies of the new edition, fresh from the printers. And I’m also planning to go to the London Book Fair where the publishers (Studymates) will be holding a special party to launch this new edition on Tuesday 15th. So it seemed like a good idea to take a quick look back and see how the 12 Point Guide ever came into being.
It was all Dee Tenorio’s fault. Some of you will know Dee – she is one of the hosties over on eHarlequin.com’s Community message boards. When (around 1999) I joined the message boards for the first time there was a special thread called the Teahouse of the Writer’s Moon – and from that grew the Writers’ Group the Gonnabeez. Not Wannabes – Gonnabeez. That determination was important. The Beez, led by Hostie Rae named me their Queen Bee (if you’ve wondered where the Queen Kate nickname came from that’s what started it) and I often worked with the group, offering advice, answers to Questions for Kate, joining in chats and occasionally running online classes. And that’s when the 12 Point Guide started.
I was chatting with Dee who was looking into writing for Presents. She had often done some ‘12 Step’ programmes on eHarl (like the ones for AA!) and I said, well, the twelve most important points about writing Presents are . . . And we were off. Later I realised that really those 12 points were the ones that mattered for any category line, not just Presents. And so the 12 Point Plan was born. That appeared as several on line classes and when my original how to write book, the Straightforward Guide to Writing Romantic Fiction appeared I used a transcript from one of these classes to illustrate those 12 Points. The 12 Point Section of the book was the one that got the most interest – people kept writing to me asking for more information, RWA groups asked me to run the 12 Point Workshop – and in the end I had a booklet made with all workshop in it. Those booklets were first on sale at the Romantic Novelists’ Association Conference in Guildford in 2003.
That was the booklet that the publishers Studymates saw when they were considering starting a set of Writers’ Guides. This could be made into a full book, they said. Could I expand the workshop, turn it into a 60,000 word book – basically 3 times the length it was. Yes, I can do that, I said. In the next couple of months? Errr - Well, that was hard work but I did it. I knew exactly the tone I wanted. I wanted the books to sound as if I was talking to the reader so that it was a print form of actually being at one of my courses (sadly, without the visual aids of Snoopy cartoons and - you guessed it – Hugh-in-a-towel). I think I succeeded – at least, lots of people tell me I did.
Any How To book has to earn a reputation. But I knew that , and I was thrilled to see how its reputation did spread by word of mouth. Along the way it picked up a couple of awards from CataRomance – the Reviewers’ Choice for Best Book For Writers and the Readers’ Choice Best Writers’ Guide. And then, last year, I learned that it was getting very close to being sold out.
So that’s the biggest change in the second edition. It’s not only revised and updated but it’s expanded. And most of the expansion comes in a great section called From The Writers’ Desks. This has tips and writing hints and information from 21 of the currently published authors writing category romances today. Names like Michelle Reid, Anne McAllister, Sandra Marton, Liz Fielding, Nicola Cornick – and some you’ll recognise from the Pink Heart Society – Trish Wylie, Natasha Oakley, Ally Blake. 21 fabulous writers who all took the time and trouble to answer my questions and pass on their advice and hints to would-be authors. I owe them all a very special debt of thanks.
So on Tuesday April 8th, the second edition of the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance will be published. I’ll be honest and say that the first edition hasn’t made me a fortune. But that’s OK. It has made me rich in a much better way. Rich in friends who have bought the book, learned from it, ended up published (as a result of their own talent, but with a little boost from the advice I offered). There are other friends too – friends who are not yet published but will be one day soon I hope - friends that I’ve met because they attended one of my 12 Point Guide courses. I’m hoping that the second edition will increase the numbers of those friends and - fingers crossed – add to my tally of newly-published authors who have had The Call, with a little step-up from the book.
Next week I will be running a special Launch Party for the 2nd edition over on my blog. There will be a special Writers’ Q&A and messages – and prizes from many of the authors whose contributions have helped to make this new edition even more useful than the first. I hope you’ll come along and join in the party – and maybe win a prize or two. And to start off the celebration, I’m offering a signed copy of one of the very first new 12 Point Guides, hot off the press. All you have to do is to post a comment today and I’ll get Sid the Cat on the job of picking a winner on Sunday. And I’ll throw in a copy of my latest M&B Modern release Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife (the one that's out in June in Presents) as well.
And special thanks to the PHS for letting me launch this new edition here today.
You can find out more about the second edition of the 12 Point Guide, or the rest of my books by visiting my website here. And don't forget to come to the launch party on my blog next week.
I suppose I should be telling you how I haven’t noticed the time because I have been so busy writing ‘The Artist and The Ugly Duckling’ but I can’t lie to you… since we last spoke I have only written 2000 words on it. That doesn’t look too bad except the 2000 words were written on my flight to Newark sometime at the very beginning of the last month. I would have written more, honest, but if you visit My Blog you will see that I had such an AWFUL trip home I have been in recovery ever since. So forgive me please? And if not… here is a picture of Lucas to distract you!
Now I have learnt enough to know that the bizarre plot was completely insane and wouldn’t work but there were some parts of it I liked; the heroine’s job as an agony aunt, the wedding setting and the hero in a kilt.
And then these ideas collided with another and BAM! New idea. So I dodged the geese and the less than shy bully boy squirrels that victimise us innocent users of the park and raced to work where I could write the outline down.
This would be the end of it but that evening (once more braving the gangs of marauding squirrels)
This did bring to mind the whole competition idea. I was talking with a friend who lives in the US where entering competitions with the RWA are a rite of passage for the wannabe writer. Now I don’t know much about them but all the decisions that you have to make to get the right competition are confusing. You must chose a competition for the right reasons, is the final judge an editor or agent you want to get your work in front of? Or does the judging criteria give you good feedback on your work? With all the different names like the Molly and the Tara I did start to think I was hanging outside some West London private school gate with the yummy mummys! So at the moment I’m not going for them. But I think I will enter the Golden Heart but that is at the end of the year.
I’m also very well aware that all this competition talk and starting new projects is a distraction from the whole WRITING THE NEXT BOOK. But the fact I am writing at all is a plus point at the moment. Work recently has been a barrage of papers being written and the thought of coming home and writing thousands more words fills me with horror. Instead I have been admiring the photos I took in Nashville…
And I have been indulging in reading. Lots of reading. Tonnes of reading. Well that is research as well isn’t it?