Modern/Modern Heat Presents Competition

The line my mother used to write for, now known as Modern Presents - I hope that's right! - had a contest recently, which I entered with a first chapter and synopsis. I didn't win, alas, but four talented writers did and you can read all about their success at iheartpresents.

Some have queried the fact that two of the winners are already published authors, one even with a history of publishing with Harlequin, when many felt the competition was aimed at 'aspiring authors' - which they interpreted as meaning 'unpublished'.

Looking at their books, it seems to me that no rules have been broken. Though I daresay all will be made clear in due course. I myself am published, of course, and still entered within the rules, because I am not under contract to Harlequin. So I have sympathies on both sides of this debate.

However, this contest and the subsequent communications flying about the eHarlequin world have jolted me into updating this blog - neglected for too long!! - so that's one good thing to have come out of it.

The main advice my mother used to give aspiring authors was that, as a romantic novelist, you have to believe in romance, heart and soul. She used to say that readers can spot a fake instantly, the sort of writer who is only in it to make money. To write series fiction well, you have to genuinely love the genre you're working in and believe in its validity, whatever others may say of it and however many rejections you receive on the long path to publication.

Charlotte Lamb didn't have a long path to publication, of course. With talent like hers, it's not surprising that she placed her first full-length novel immediately - with Robert Hale - and never looked back.

For the rest of us mortals though, the path is certainly long and frequently thorny. But one thing we can all do is be genuine about romantic fiction. Because if we're genuine, according to my mother's advice, we can't go wrong.


  1. Your mother gave good advice.

    I also entered the contest and didn't win (obviously), but wish the four lucky winners well. And, fingers crossed, some of us may get some vaulable feedback.

  2. Well, can I just say finding this site is such a special treat!! I looked up your bio at eharlequin and squealed so loud my husband thought I'd lost my mind (again). As I mentioned over at eharlequin, I cut my romance reading teeth as a preteen on Charlotte Lamb books.

    And your mother's advice is very true. As an avid harlequin reader (and aspiring writer)I can say unequivocally . . . we know a fake when we see one!

    Thanks so much for sharing a piece of your mother's wisdom. It means so much to this total FANGIRL!

    Amy Strnad

  3. Thanks, Amy! I squeal all the time, don't worry about it. ;)

    I wish I could remember MORE of my mother's wisdom and share it. Though quite a lot of it probably filtered through unconsciously over the years, since we spent so much time together - especially once I had small children keeping me at home.

    Yes, I can see myself as a Romance Guru. Erm, one day ... perhaps not quite yet. Better get some romances published first, ahem!!


  4. Hi Jane

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Your mother gave wonderful sound, totally apt advice but then I'd never have expected anything else from her. She was a powerful force in romance writing and like so many others I learned a lot of my craft from reading her books - along with a lot of enjoyment.

    I have very strong memories of the few times I met her. She was a powerful force as a person too!


  5. Thanks, Kate. Yes, most people would say I've inherited that 'powerful force' thing from her in bucketfuls -- only the bulk of it seems aimed at my kids during the school run each day!!

    I can see I shall have to take all this more seriously in 2010, join the RNA and come to a few conferences. Spread the love, as they say!


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