I succumbed. I wasn’t going to put myself through it again. I really, really wasn’t. It’s a distraction, stress I don’t need; but, as the clock ticked down to the opening of So You Think You Can Write (SYTYCW) I caved. A global romance writing competition? Of course I was going to enter. Who was I kidding?
This year HM&B has combined elements of their two autumnal competitions - Mills & Boon’s New Voices and Harlequin’s SYTYCW. The first was a public first chapter competition with entries open to public comment and grading, which led to the dreaded ‘rose bombing’ and some very public dissatisfaction with comments received. The second also required a first chapter to enter but these weren’t available to view and entrants needed a finished manuscript in case they were selected to go through.
This year we submit the first chapter as per but they ARE available to view and subject to public vote, possibly comments but if so that functionality isn’t available yet. The top 24 then need to submit full manuscripts and three of those are then posted for public vote. Terrifying stuff. But so worthwhile. Previous competition winners have achieved publication and last year’s runner up Charlotte Phillips has three books waiting to be published. Three. In less than a year.
My chapter features two characters familiar to anyone who regularly read this blog. Some things haven’t changed; Minty still hides behind a carefree, frivolous mask and avoids all commitment, Luca still wants stability and a family. But many things have. These characters have been written and rewritten. And rewritten again.
First version: Chick lit lite with Minty deciding to marry her gay best friend because he was too afraid to come out to his traditional Italian family. Cue the arrival of his suspicious, handsome cousin Luca.
Second version (4 rewrites before entered into NV11): Minty is tricked by her gay best friend into a fake engagement when his cousin, Luca, comes to town
Third/Fourth version (NWS version) After one scandal too many Minty’s father cuts her off and she immediately finds herself back on the front pages linked to her flatmate’s cousin Luca, who chivalrously offers her an escape – and a job, at his Italian ice cream business.
Fifth version (RNA conference pitch) After her father cuts her off Minty’s flatmate offers her a job at his family business back in Italy. Only he’s forgotten to tell his cousin Luca, who is looking forward to welcoming him back into the business, that the job is for Minty not for himself.
Sixth version (SYTYCW) is very different. No flatmate, a stronger set up and more sparks straight off – I hope! You can read it for yourself here: One Kiss or Two
Let me know what you think…