Thursday, August 28, 2008
Janet asked: What about character careers for this line. Can heroines be artists or have quirky jobs? And can heroes still be in normal jobs such as fire fighters or do they now need to be super wealthy?
This is one of the most fun things about this brand shiny new line for me. There are firm favorites when it comes to fantasy, n'est pas? Tall dark and handsome is a classic. Alpha male is a classic. Millionaires are often billionaire's nowadays but that's inflation (I've patented the squillionaire btw so if you use that term please give me a shout out - I'm thinking ahead with the world economy the way it is and all...) - cos stinking rich is a fantasy right up there with the Prince from fairy stories. Sexy, well do I really need to point that out?
Now let's look at those fantasies from the point of view of Modern/Presents - THE top selling line. Why do they sell the way they do? Because they tap into the fantasies my friends. Some may not be particularly PC in this modern age but we're talking FANTASY and PURE ESCAPISM here. Remember that. And then remember that Modern Heat has frequently been dubbed 'Presents Younger Sister'.
So what does that mean?
I'll give you my take on it shall I?
It's a brand shiny new century our brand shiny new line finds itself in. From a marketing point of view I'm assuming we're here to help tempt a new generation of readers across into the line. Quite possibly the kind of readers who might consider a milder mannered heroine as TSTL. (that's too stupid to live for those not in the know) This may well be the reader who doesn't 'get' the fantasy of being blackmailed into bed by a gorgeous rich alpha male. Nope, this would be the reader who if she walked in that heroines shoes would be seeking a restraining order or a court case for harassment or might merely engage a swift upwards jerk of a well placed knee...
The Modern Heat heroine would agree with that reader (She may well feel bad about the latter but she'll justify it by telling herself he had it coming...) And if there's gonna be any seriously hot horizontal OR vertical OR balance defying action coming out of any blackmailing it'll be on HER TERMS as much as HIS. Or she'll put up one hell of a fight. This heroine may be as susceptible to a decent fantasy as the rest of us with a pulse but she'll go into it with her eyes wide open (or she'll THINK she does). And this kinda gal can be as quirky and original as you like when it comes to her career BUT she will have expectations of that career the way all women her age will. Chances are she'll have plans and goals and will be climbing an invisible ladder in some form or another. Modern day women will get that. They might envy little Miss TSTL when it comes to being waited on hand and foot, her ability to buy Manolo's and having this stunningly sexy male tend to her every...erm... well you get where I'm going - BUT she'll wonder what the hell TSTL does to fill the time and keep her brain active while she waits around for him to finish running his empire. Where are her girlfriends for the gossip factor? How many gay BFF's does she have? Why doesn't she understand texting lingo? And why in the name of all that's Cosmo didn't SHE have a go at seducing HIM???
Now I should point out here in bold lettering for emphasis that NOT ALL MODERN/PRESENTS HEROINES ARE TSTL!!! It's all in the interpretation my friends. And readers tastes are as individual as authors voices. I KNOW. I'm a reader FIRST. So please - no hate comments. I bruise easy.
So hopefully that answers the first part of the question.... if not feel free to elaborate and I shall follow suit. Any old excuse me ;)
Now. Modern Heat heroes. Let's just take a moment to sigh shall we?
We could also add a superlative YUM at this point. This guy is fantasy in hyperdrive. He's the main reason readers are drawn to the line and I for one GET THAT!!! To my mind he's the guy who in a few years has the potential to be an ideal Modern/Presents hero. He's sex-on-legs. He's confident to the point of slappable but carries it with so much disgustingly irresistible charm you kinda forget about the slapping while staring at him in stunned disbelief from a new-found horizontal position. What stops him from becoming the kind of tyrant some readers perceive Modern/Presents heroes to be? (and again I hasten to add NOT EVERYONES OPINION) Answer? Our Modern Heat heroine.
Is this guy rich? Editorially we have moved in that direction, I don't think anyone will deny that. After all we want to appeal to existing Modern/Presents readers as much as we hope to bring new readers to the line, right?! What you do to keep it fresh and to add that Modern Heat dash of brand shiny new century is to find ways of making him rich in todays world. Read Forbes online. Read Hello magazine. Have a look see where modern day millionaire's (and lemme tell ya there are more of them nowadays than there ever were and a great many of them are younger now than they ever were! Hence the rising number of Billionaires....) are making their money. Internet entrepreneurs..... telecommunications... media... the younger generation of moneyed families and European royalty... These guys are OUT THERE. And they play as hard if not harder than many young millionaires did decades ago. Just read a paper or two for the associated scandals! And remember as a society we are living longer - so even if these guys are inheriting money the chances are they won't be a CEO (unless they built the company from scratch) or being handed the keys to the kingdom as fast as they might have done a few decades ago (unless their parents were useless and they've stepped up to the plate and salvaged the family fortune). These guys have time to play. And if they're building on their fortunes at the same time? GOLD my friends. Pure Modern Heat GOLD.
Me? I like to mess with my millionaires. (I WISH!) The delicious Gabe for example made his money in construction. He's a hands on kinda guy. He worked for every cent. And he isn't changing who he is for anyone....well.... except possibly my heroine that is ;) And Adam? Well for a good portion of the book Adam is perceived as being the family rebel. He left when he was 21 and has returned on a stonking great beast of a motorcycle with ATTITUDE. To the naked eye he doesn't appear to be filthy stinking rich. But he is. He's also got a genius level I.Q. And the one, in the end, turns out goes hand in hand with the other. Mind you - it's also part of his conflict. A BIG PART. I like to play with the fantasy some. Mind you I also like it when my heroines are irreverent about the importance of money. But then for a Modern Heat hero who has worked his perfectly toned buns off for that security it's a tad annoying not to be respected for having earned it...
My advice would be to look at the classic fantasy hooks of the Modern/Presents line as much as you study the Modern Heat line. Then think of how you can put an original twist on the kind of reader favorites that make the line the mega-seller it is! Bottom line? A Modern Heat hero could probably become a Modern/Presents hero.... A Modern Heat heroine? Might be a harder sell...
But that's just my opinion.
Please remember the easily bruised statement...
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Melissa asked: How do you keep the light, fun, flirty tone throughout the whole book? I've done it once and not sure how I can recreate it.
And then Aideen said: ... is the conflict in Modern Heat really a lighter version of the conflict we see in Modern? Or is it just dealt with differently because of the editorial guidelines? Does that make sense to you? If a person has to think of ways to draw out a sustaining conflict for a whole book, does that tell you something?
Now. You may well be reading those questions and thinking HUH? They're not the same Trish - get off the cough medicine! But work with me here. There is usually method to my madness. Mostly. More or less. Okay then - it makes perfect sense TO ME.
Cos for me the one kinda comes from the other. In Janet's question in the last post we touched briefly on how a heavy backstory/conflict can weigh down our story with angst. Simplify the conflict and you may think it means it's harder to maintain throughout the story but I'd disagree. To prove my point I had a think back to the conflicts I've used in Modern Extra's/Modern Heat so far. Pre-present editorial guidelines I had Firefighter whose job and firefighting family were his life versus Firefighters daughter who refuses to get involved with a firefighter who might die like her father did... then we had lacking in confidence stay-at-home overweight self-help book writer versus uber confident never-stays-home gorgeous Middle East Body guard... So in the first one I had the heroine fall for the kind of guy she swore she would never get involved with and the hero fall for the one woman who might cost him everything else he held dear - simple but effective I hope you'll agree. In the second I had polar opposites and yes, it was pretty much as simple as that when it came down to it.
The fun and games then came in showing they couldn't fight the attraction between them regardless of the reasons they already had for not getting involved. Sometimes the wit came from things they said to fend each other off. Sometimes it came from sarcasm (but that was probably mostly ME). Sometimes it was because their 'other half' had done or said something to remind them of why getting involved in the first place was a bad idea... But every single time it was action and reaction - bouncing back and forth from each other in the same way the sparks are flying. Does that make sense?
Break it down a little more in a Modern Heat context. 50k odds of a word count. Now, how many K is the average sex scene content for me... Lemme just go look up the stats on that from a couple of my last ones (the current editorial ones)... *snigger* okay 7600 and *ROFL* 12K!!! I KNEW Adam had made Gabe look like a puddy cat! But I digress...
Let's just say 10k is sex. That leaves 40k. And that my friends is not a whole heap of room. Trust me. 4500 for my first chapter set up and 1400 of an epilogue and that left me 32 odd k for the whole rest of the story in my last one (less actually cos it was the one with the higher sex word count). Consider how much of that is dialogue from a dialogue heavy author like moi and are we seeing where we might have a little bit of a problem fitting in anything too heavy or convoluted conflict wise??? Mmm-Hmmm... And that book had a PLOT too!!!
So what did I do? Let's break it down into the basics. I presented my heroine with the kind of guy she would never in a bazillion years have seen herself getting involved with. I gave a woman who believed in love and happily ever after even though she'd been bruised a coupla times the kind of guy who was too sexy to deny but who was never, ever gonna be a happily ever after and made no bones about that fact. There was a small misunderstanding at the beginning that she allowed to continue for safety sake. He drove her crazy, she fought back. He discovered the truth and pursued her, she discovered that when it came to sexual attraction and a potent male mother nature was on her game and the imperative to mate with the strongest of the species was tough to fight... (by now understandably I WANT HIM)... getting horizontal is of course amazing and has an emotional impact (much to my alpha male's surprise and of course he fights it) and suddenly perceptions and convictions CHANGE. The last part of the story then becomes how they overcome their initial perceptions of each other (showing growth) and move forwards into a future that goes beyond the last page (often with compromises on both sides). TA-DA!
Now this book DID have back story. It was fairly heavy emotionally. It also had a father with Alzheimer's... which technically was one step towards a body count but it wasn't over done on
the page. You'll hear TV show fans talk about what happened in 'Offscreensville' and with this book there was plenty in Offscreensville that was touched on on the page and hinted at but never explained in detail. You have a clever, smart, savvy reader with an imagination of their own (they picked up your book so they're obviously beautiful and have excellent taste too!!!) and they're more than capable of filling in any blanks on their own should they feel the need to. The crux of the conflict of this book was simple. End of.
Sustaining it? Ahhhh.... now that's a whole other blog....
More questions answered when I have more words on the page. Keep em coming ;)
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
I saw this in the guidelines: "Although conflicts should be realistic and believable, in this series it is not necessary for the hero and/or heroine to have a massive tragic and/or traumatic pasts to create those conflicts."
I've noticed that in the recent Modern heats I've read, there is less mention of the characters' backstory than in previous books in the line. Is this a slight change for the line? Or just something I'm reading too much significance into?
Okay. Here's my two cents worth. And remember that part of the diversity of this line is the varying different approaches to the same thing and the many, MANY different voices...
So - In my opinion - what I think this means is that there doesn't need to be a high body count for there to be a believable emotional conflict that will sustain your story. Natasha Oakley and I used to kid around about this in the Romance line when she was going through her three hankie weepie phase. We'd talk body count. Dead mother, dying father, baby teetering on the brink... the higher the body count the better we felt. But by using that kind of emotional conflict we're setting a 'tone' for the book that can be quite depressing, aren't we? And a Modern Heat is all about that fun, sexy sassiness we all love, so a high body count drama isn't gonna help... ALSO a conflict that heavy is gonna eat up your word count and in a Modern Heat you're gonna lose a goodly portion of your word count already on the s-e-x. So keep it simple and then twist it a tad I say - at least that's what works for me these days. And yes. The line has changed in the last year or so, without a doubt. So some of the stuff that worked a year ago won't necessarily work now. And we dropped 10k off the word count from last year too so less room for backstory...
I'm not saying a zero body count is a necessity either mind you. But what I AM saying is if there has been a heavy conflict or loss in the past the chances are your characters will have dealt with it and moved forwards before your story starts and it's something more internal that holds them back from the other person during your story... If that makes any sense at all???
Ask more on this topic if you need to and I'll keep going ;) AND YES JANET to emailing again :)
Monday, August 25, 2008
As you may have heard by now - Modern Heat is having a competition to find new authors ;) This an a-m-a-z-i-n-g opportunity for aspiring writers to get their foot in the door with one of the most exciting lines out there at the moment! Exciting in what way Trish? Well you tell me how often writers have a chance to be there at the get-go of a bright shiny new line?! And the growing success and associated buzz attached to this line is testimony to how well it's been received by readers. Last year when I was at Nationals in Dallas Modern Heat or Extra as it was then was barely mentioned. Industry people were aware of it's existence and that it was coming to the USA but it was all very *civilized* if you know what I mean. Calm is maybe a better word. Or professional. A kind of wait and see approach from those in the know... The month after Nationals was when the first four Modern Extra's came out as Promotional Presents and sold straight onto the Waldenbooks Best Selling Romance list waaaayyyyy above projected sales expectations and well, the rest is now history - already ;)
This year at Nationals in San Francisco it was DIFFERENT. This year you mentioned the words Modern Heat and suddenly you were being asked a bazillion questions. People KNEW what it was but still wanted to know more. They knew it was doing well and wanted to know more. People who had been reading it were bemoaning the fact they were finding some titles difficult to get hold hold of. How could they tell which ones were Modern Heat's in the line-up? (and in fairness they have a point here with the changing of titles and covers et all - though I do think that will get easier next year with titles being darn close if not the exact same as in the UK/Ire/Aus and NZ - as demonstrated by my book here His Mistress: His Terms which is a December Presents) Bottom line? They wanted to know MORE!!! And they knew the authors names well enough already to seek them out and come speak to them in corridors or elevators ;) This year it really felt like the line had ARRIVED (if that makes sense). It made me feel very very proud to be a part of it!
And now's YOUR CHANCE to join the crew! COMPETITION RULES as as follows:
1. To enter, submit by e-mail a Microsoft Word file of a typed, double spaced, first chapter (no greater than 5,000 words) of a story you have written which is suitable for the Modern Heat series, and a synopsis (no greater than two pages in length) of the complete novel, along with your name, address, e-mail address and phone number to: email@example.com
2. All submissions must be in English and be received no later than September 15th, 2008. Story concept must be original and must not have won a previous prize/award nor have been previously submitted, reproduced or published.
3. Entries will be judged by a panel of members of the Harlequin Mills & Boon editorial staff, based on the following criteria:
• Writing Skills
in equal measure.
In the event of a tie, duplicate prizes will be awarded. Decisions of the judges are final.
4. Submissions will not be returned and may be used for promotional purposes only. All rights of the submitted work will remain with the author. Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited, at its discretion, may request to see one or more full manuscripts from contest entrants after the close of the competition. No responsibility is assumed for lost, late, illegible, incomplete, non-compliant, non-delivered or misdirected submissions.
5. This contest is open to entrants who are 18 years of age or older and is void wherever prohibited by law; all applicable laws and regulations apply. Employees and immediate family members of Harlequin Enterprises Ltd and Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited, including contracted authors, their parents, affiliates, subsidiaries and all other agencies, entities and persons connected with the use, marketing or conduct of this Contest are not eligible to enter. By acceptance of a prize, the winner consents to use of his/her name, photograph or other likeness for purposes of advertising, trade and promotion on behalf of Harlequin Enterprises Limited and Harlequin Mills & Boon, without further compensation, unless prohibited by law.
6. Winners will be determined no later than September 30th, 2008, and will be notified by e-mail. Winners will be required to sign and return a Publicity Release and Affidavit of Eligibility certifying his/her eligibility and that the submitted chapter and story outline are his/her own original work, and it has not won a previous prize/award nor has it previously been submitted/reproduced/published, within 10 days of notification. Non-compliance within that time period may result in disqualification and an alternate winner will be selected. Harlequin Enterprises Ltd and Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited, their parents, affiliates and subsidiaries are not responsible for errors in the electronic or printed presentation of this Contest. Winners agree that Harlequin Enterprises Limited and Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited, their parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, agents and promotion agencies shall not be liable for injuries or losses of any kind resulting from acceptance of or use of their prize.
1st – winner will be awarded the services of a Harlequin Mills & Boon editor for one year [1st October 2008 – 30th September 2009], who will offer advice and guidance on contest entry, plus subsequent, previously mutually agreed submissions of partial or full manuscripts aimed at the Modern Heat series.
2nd - consultations for two runners-up on their first chapter and synopsis aimed at the Modern Heat series (50000 words) with a Harlequin Mills & Boon editor.
Only one prize per person. No cash alternatives.
8. For a list of winners (available after 1st October 2008), send a self-addressed, stamped
Harlequin Mills & Boon Limited
18-24 Paradise Road
Surrey TW9 1SR
Now over at the IHeart Presents Blog you can find advice on writing for the line from many if not all of the Modern Heat authors (moi included at some point this week I think and then again in September) I've been reading through them and lemme tell ya folks there are some absolute GEMS in there! And you definitely get the vibe of the line. So get thee there I say!
My first blog will be on dialogue but if you have ANY QUESTIONS you want to ask me about Modern Heat or writing for the line then don't be the least ikkle bit afraid to ask either there or on here or by email through my website and I'll post the answers here for all to see. Consider it open house if you like and swap notes or ask each other questions or egg each other on. Seriously. Me Blog es su Blog and all that...
I'll be here. Writing frantically. While still dying. Can't begin to tell you how ill I am. Managed to stand up straight and throw a ball for the dogs for ten minutes today and was so dizzy and tired I had to go lie down for three hours to recover. They make STRONG GERMS in the States is all I can say! (Mind you my Mom reckons I was sick like this last year when I came home too...Me? I don't have that good a memory) And I really haven't got the time to be ill. Have I mentioned I have a London trip and TWO - not one but TWO public appearances at Irish Literary Festivals in September??? No? Well yes I do. And another book due October. No pressure.
Right. Shall now go take more cough medicine, paracetamol, fluids and the like, refill my hot water bottle and get back to Hollywood and my screen-writing couple who are currently locked away in his Malibu beach house...
Thursday, August 21, 2008
So while I battle my way through the mountain so that I can clear the decks enough to bring you the gazillion pics I have and some tales from my travels, I'll leave you with a few of the reviews that have been coming in for my September Romance The Millionaire's Proposal and then I'll come back in a few and tell you about the Modern Heat competition I'll be blogging for over at the Iheart Presents blog.
"I’d somehow missed the fact that The Millionaire’s Proposal was a Harlequin Romance, and as I unpacked the book I found myself groaning inwardly. Yes, I was prejudiced and wasn’t expecting much. Imagine then my surprise when I found myself totally blown away by the book–not only enjoying it, but actually giggling and sighing as I read! Harlequin Romances have come a long way since I was first introduced to them 15 years ago!" Armchair Interviews
"Trish Wylie takes the reader on a glorious worldwide trip to exotic and classic locations, from New York City to Fiji to Paris, while at the same time giving the reader a glance into the most intimate places of the heart --- an ability to feel wonder, a vulnerability, an innocence together with a powerful attraction. The dramatic conclusion makes this a romance whose insight into love will resonate with anyone who has loved or hopes to love deeply." Merrimon Reviews
"Kerry and Ronan are perfect for each other and I fell in love with these two characters right from the beginning of the story. Bravo to Ms. Wylie for writing a romance that not only has two wonderful characters but also beautiful settings and an ending that will leave you breathless. I truly enjoyed this book and I know that it is one that I can read again and again. The Millionaire’s Proposal is a romance to treasure! " Simply Romance Reviews
"A chance meeting on an airplane with travel writer Ronan O'Keefe radically changes hotelier Kerry Doyle's plans for her three-month dream vacation -- but definitely for the better. Seeing familiar locales through Kerry's eyes is a wonderful experience for Ronan too -- and he'll get another book out of it, eventually. But even though their flirtation soon becomes something much more powerful, Ronan refuses to have a holiday fling with Kerry, because he thinks she deserves a happy ending that he can't give her. Trish Wylie's The Millionaire's Proposal (4.5) is fresh, amusing and charming, and it has a solid core of emotional truth too. A keeper." Romantic Times