Monday, July 1, 2013

July 1st – Canada Day and Heartwarming Launch!

by Victoria Curran, Senior Editor

How appropriate that the new Harlequin “clean” series of romances launches out of the Toronto head office just in time for Canada Day. They even gave us the day off up here in the nosebleed north in honour of it! I predict fireworks….

This is an exciting moment, as the first full month of original Heartwarming mass market paperbacks roll out to our book club members and are digitally downloadable “virtually” everywhere. Four big, emotional stories every month from July 2013 onward, starting with Annie's Neighborhood by Roz Denny Fox, Her Cowboy Soldier by Cindi Myers, Family Practice by Marisa Carroll and Home to Sparrow Lake by Lynn Patrick.

It’s been a sometimes exhilarating, sometimes daunting journey, and we’d like to thank the writers who contribute to this blog, along with the rest of our Heartwarming team—without you and your wonderful stories, we couldn’t have reached this moment.

At 70,000 to 75,000 words, these aren’t short stories. And I’d like to ask the authors on this blog how hard it’s been to write a longer romance…when the attraction is far more than simply physical, and emotional tenderness takes precedence over sensuality. I suspect for some writers, the “cleaner” storyline is easier to write than others, but I’d love to hear it firsthand!


One thing I do know: It’s vital to have high stakes and deep characterization to hold up the romantic arc in a bigger book. The stories that our editorial team (Editor Kathryn Lye, me, Editorial Assistants Dana Grimaldi and Claire Caldwell, and guest editors Laura Barth, Adrienne Macintosh and Paula Eykelhof) find more difficult to contract are the ones where the inner obstacles remain psychological ideas in characters’ heads but don’t drive the action of the story, or the obstacles are between the hero or heroine and other, secondary characters…in essence throwing the pair together against the rest of the world.

Fundamentally? We want Heartwarming readers to wonder how on earth the heroes and heroines will ever find their way to a happy ending together, an unpredictable journey to a predictable ending. And that’s exactly what I wish for all the readers who open the pages of the four July launch books—I hope they can’t put the books down and can’t wait to turn those pages!

And that’s also what the past year has been for the Harlequin team working behind-the-scenes on launching original Heartwarming stories: an unpredictable journey to a happy ending. It’s time to celebrate!

--VC

14 comments:

  1. Happy Canada Day and Heartwarming Day!!

    I think the longer romances give us the opportunity to create better characters and their environment, which is especially important with a small town series. While it can be challenging to avoid a saggy middle, the story just feels so much more complete. I definitely prefer to write sweet romance. My biggest challenge is keeping the language as clean as possible lol:)

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  2. Happy Canada Day and Heartwarming Day!!

    I think the longer romances give us the opportunity to create better characters and their environment, which is especially important with a small town series. While it can be challenging to avoid a saggy middle, the story just feels so much more complete. I definitely prefer to write sweet romance. My biggest challenge is keeping the language as clean as possible lol:)

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  3. I love writing for the line, and I'm ever so glad for that big word count! It gives me elbow room to delve deeper into the characters and their motivation.

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  4. As the newbie to romances without sex, I'm still learning my way through plotting. I'm finding, though, that I appreciate the depth of an emotional struggle that can't be solved (or at least, worked on) behind the bedroom door, but that has to be confronted and dealt with in words and action. Makes me think and analyze more deeply.

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  5. The longer word count can be daunting, but once the characters establish themselves, I love having the room to make the story deeper and more riveting for the reader. As I love to read romance novels myself, I strive to find that balance to keep the book a real page turner. So far, it's a job I wouldn't trade for anything in the world! Thanks to Harlequin for making Heartwarming dreams possible.

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  6. Victoria, Happy Canada Day. I hope you have loads of fun on your day off. As for the length and the line, I love the longer story which lets readers bond with our characters after learning some details about their backgrounds. Readers like different things in stories they read. I know some folks page through a romance looking only for the hot spots. Those aren't our readers. I believe our readers like story first. I think they want to visualize the setting and feel connected. I hope they develop a kinship with our characters as they meet them. I can't wait for my subscription to the line to arrive.

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  8. Sorry about that - I deleted myself. How's that for a humbling experience!

    I was going to say that what I like most about writing for the line is that it IS different. Stories for Heartwarming carry an emotional punch - for example, of dreams shattered, then reimagined, or the courage to stand up and fight for what's right while staying true to yourself. Those are the kind of stories I want to tell, so I'm very happy to have found a place for myself here.

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  9. Happy Canada Day, Victoria!

    Between Canada Day and the Fourth of July, it's the perfect celebratory week for Heartwarming's 'all originals' launch! The fireworks will feel extra special for sure :)

    I think Heartwarming's story length gives the author room to develop a depth of story where the reader is completely immersed in the setting and characters' emotions. The reader goes beyond enjoying a story to 'living' it...feeling like they know these characters...they're friends or family, so to speak. For me, those are the types of stories/series/settings (written by my favorite authors) that I can't wait to return to.

    I don't mind not writing sexy stories. For me the hardest part is being extra sensitive to language used. There's a broad range of what's acceptable to folks out there. What one might think of as an ok word, another might consider swearing. I'm with Jennifer on that one :).

    In terms of writing, I think not using swear words (or sex) forces the author to make their characters think and express their thoughts and emotions more meaningfully. I know it's common to teach kids to say what's really bothering them, rather that resorting to using 'empty' words to express anger, frustration etc... Guess we get to practice that advice here! And it makes for richer character development in my opinion :).

    And the icing is that an even broader range of readers get to enjoy these incredible, heartwarming stories. I can't wait to read the new releases!

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  10. Oops, I read my comment and need to clarify. I'm referring to 'meaningful' words and don't mean to imply that sexual relationships aren't meaningful. They just don't belong in the pages of Heartwarming...but I think seeing the H/H reach their happy ever after, only assures the reader that when they do share an intimate moment (after THE END), it will definitely be a meaningful one.

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  11. I was drawn to Heartwarming the moment my agent forwarded Victoria's email about this amazing line that felt so deeply emotional, character-driven, and wrought with real life issues. The drama and pathos of our uniquely personal, yet relatable experiences are the kinds of stories I want to tell.. Especially with the promise of a HEA- even if it seems beyond imagining while reading. The "clean" aspect isn't daunting to me as I began my writing career as a Young Adult writer. There are boundaries most teen lit writers don't cross and it's the wonder and awe of such pure romances I love capturing the most.

    Happy Canada Day, Victoria :)

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  12. Happy launch day, everyone! And happy Canada day!

    I'm so excited for this line: the story lines, the authors, the beautiful covers... It's great to be a part of this.

    I was drawn to the line because I wanted to be able to write stories that my grandma could read and enjoy. The Heartwarming line is where I've found a home for my stories and writer friends as sisters :)

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  13. I do lots of book signings. Often, I'm sitting next so someone who write a lot more sensual than I do. I tell people who are looking at our books, "I write Snap, Crackle, and she writes Pop." Well, Snap and Crackle take a lot more time than Pop. It's the build-up that heats the story really. Some of my favorite shows stopped being my favorite when Pop happened. Wings is a great example. When Helen and Joe got together, the quest was over. I think a big part of our journey is to realize that cupid, characterization, and conflict have to join 'clean' to make Gramma happy. I have a sticky note on my computer. It reads: What can go wrong next?

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  14. I absolutely love Heartwarming, telling myself I'd finally found a home in Harlequin that was right in line with my beliefs. I met Victoria in Anaheim of last year and we spoke, for the length of a pitch, about the series. I told her I'd love to write like Rox Denny Fox, Shelley Galloway and Linda Barrett, just to name a few, and the manuscripts I had complete were right in that genre. But like Victoria said, it's hard to write a book that sustains the tension, the emotional cross-purposes for 70,000 words. Thank you for giving voice to our more sweet, tender desires for romance. Maybe someday . . .

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