Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Writers' Wednesday - Writing Resources on the Net

Today on Writers’ Wednesday, Fiona Harper is telling us one of her favourite places on the internet for writers' resources, articles, networking and support.

I first discovered when I was browsing the internet shopping for books, and thought what an interesting site it was - not only a place to stock up on your favourite romances, but a wealth of resources for writers too. A couple of years later, when I decided to take a leap of faith and write a romance novel myself, I hunted it down again, and I’m so glad I did.

Now, don’t be mistaken that you only have to be interested in writing category romance to benefit from what’s on this site. Sure, there’s plenty of advice specific to writing for Harlequin, but there’s lots of great general advice on the craft of writing too. Let me take you on a little guided tour…

Let’s start at the very beginning…
First of all, make your way over the home page. If you’ve got a story, or an idea for a story, first stop is the writing guidelines, to see where it might fit. There are guidelines for all the Harlequin and Silhouette lines, Luna (fantasy and paranormal), MIRA (single title), HQN, Kimani Press (African-American), Red Dress Ink (Women’s fiction), Spice (erotic fiction) and Steeple Hill (Inspirational). Not only are there guidelines for each imprint and series, but tips on how to format your manuscript and how to submit your work.

Ready, steady, go!
The next place to browse is the Learn to Write section. How about writing a book in a year? If you’re one of those people who has always wanted to write a book but never got round to it, or someone who has got the first three chapters done and never got any further, this might be the place for you! Each month there are workshops on different aspects of novel writing – plot, characterization, conflict, voice, sexual tension, editing… And just so you don’t feel all on your lonesome, there is a special section of the online community for you to chat about your experiences and urge each other on.

Once, you’ve got your feet wet, why not try the writing challenges? There are often contests to win a chance to get your work looked at by an editor, and a chance to find out which lines are actively looking for new authors. Talk about straight from the horse’s mouth!

You can also check out the profiles of some of the new authors to see how they managed to clamber their way out of the slush pile, and a further set of articles on subjects as diverse as query letters, publishing terms and proofreading.

Come and join us!
Now, I think the best bit by far of eHarlequin in the online community. Writing can be a lonely occupation and here’s your chance to meet aspiring and published authors and chat about just about anything! The beauty of this kind of socialising is that nobody minds if you turn up in your pyjamas or you haven’t got any make-up on. I’ve made friends from all around the world, including other writers in my home town!

Now, before you jump on in, it’s wise to read the community guidelines and maybe lurk (read messages without posting) just to get the feel of the place.

If you’re serious about your craft, start with The Write Stuff – a board full of threads (discussions on various topics) on different aspects of writing, from grammar to research to the struggling writers club. How about checking out the discussion on writing a good sex scene is currently going on in the Writing Techniques thread?

If you want to chat, try Café Social. There are threads for people with all sorts of interests. If you are interested in writing for a particular line, there are threads dedicated to each one. I was blown away the first time I visited the In The Mood For Romance thread (Harlequin Romance) and realised I was chatting with, and getting advice from, some of my favourite authors! Star struck? Moi?

I'm going to let you in on a little secret - when I decided I wanted to write a book, I wondered if I was insane. What made me think someone like little old me could do something like that? Was I having delusions of grandeur? Serioulsy, I thought that writers were a completely seperate breed of human being. Higher mortals who didn't breathe the same oxygen as the rest of us, but specially-imported, rarified air. But, after spending some time on the eHarlequin community, I realised that many of the other writers were women just like me – busy mothers who were juggling kids, a home and a part-time job – and it gave me the confidence to believe that maybe I could do it too!

So, don't be shy! Come on down for the annual Christmas Open House (December 19th) and introduce yourself!

And, of course, once you’ve worn yourself out reading all the articles, doing the challenges and discussing the beauty that is Hugh Jackman in a towel (a pause, while everyone fans themselves), you can find some great books to read and get them sent to your door. Which is just as well, if you’re like me and you are shopping in your jammies! Or you can buy them in eBook format and not have to wait at all!

If, also like me, you’re not in North America but in the UK, a good place to buy is Harlequin’s sister site Mills& and there is a link there at the bottom of the page to all the different international sites. What are you waiting for? Check it out!

Fiona Harper's next release English Lord, Ordinary Lady, in the shops in February, will be available a whole month early if you get it from or the Mills&Boon website.

1 comment:

  1. Eharlequin is where I first went when I started and I'm still there.

    Loads of information and like you when I first got advice from people whose books I'd read, I was seriously star-struck! LOL