Saturday, April 05, 2008

FINDABOO - 12 Point Guide II

This weekend, Pink Heart Society columnist Kate Walker launches the brand new second edition of her award-winning 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance which she hopes will help more of you Findaboo (finish the damn book).

The story so far . . . Or how I got to this point.

First of all, I must say how thrilled I am that the Pink Hearters have let me launch the second edition of my how-to write book. Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance here on the blog for this month’s Findaboo! I’ve been friends with a couple of the of the editors – Trish and Natasha - since before either of them were published and I’ve watched and enjoyed their journey to publication and subsequent success .(Insert loud cheer here for Natasha’s RITA nomination! ) Both of them represent in person just what I’ve always loved to see, new writers with strong individual voices and oodles of talent coming through to add new strength, new blood to the line of writers who maintain the fabulous tradition of category romance books that is now being celebrated in the Mills & Boon Centenary year.

They’re also the perfect example of why I love to work with and help those new writers who are not yet published but are working, learning their craft, trying and submitting and picking themselves up, dusting themselves off and starting all over again when they encounter rejection . . .and hopefully one day too getting that magical Call that says ‘we want to buy your book.’ Category romance needs new authors – new writers are the lifeblood of the genre, the ones who will take it into the next decade, the next generation – to the next centenary. I can’t teach the new writers how to write, but I do hope that with my workshops, my talks, and above all else, with my how-to books, I can help them, avoid some of the most common mistakes and so hopefully get there a little bit faster.

On Tuesday April 8th, the second edition of my award-winning how to write book, the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance will be published. As I write this, I’m eagerly waiting to get my hands on the first copies of the new edition, fresh from the printers. And I’m also planning to go to the London Book Fair where the publishers (Studymates) will be holding a special party to launch this new edition on Tuesday 15th. So it seemed like a good idea to take a quick look back and see how the 12 Point Guide ever came into being.

It was all Dee Tenorio’s fault. Some of you will know Dee – she is one of the hosties over on’s Community message boards. When (around 1999) I joined the message boards for the first time there was a special thread called the Teahouse of the Writer’s Moon – and from that grew the Writers’ Group the Gonnabeez. Not Wannabes – Gonnabeez. That determination was important. The Beez, led by Hostie Rae named me their Queen Bee (if you’ve wondered where the Queen Kate nickname came from that’s what started it) and I often worked with the group, offering advice, answers to Questions for Kate, joining in chats and occasionally running online classes. And that’s when the 12 Point Guide started.

I was chatting with Dee who was looking into writing for Presents. She had often done some ‘12 Step’ programmes on eHarl (like the ones for AA!) and I said, well, the twelve most important points about writing Presents are . . . And we were off. Later I realised that really those 12 points were the ones that mattered for any category line, not just Presents. And so the 12 Point Plan was born. That appeared as several on line classes and when my original how to write book, the Straightforward Guide to Writing Romantic Fiction appeared I used a transcript from one of these classes to illustrate those 12 Points. The 12 Point Section of the book was the one that got the most interest – people kept writing to me asking for more information, RWA groups asked me to run the 12 Point Workshop – and in the end I had a booklet made with all workshop in it. Those booklets were first on sale at the Romantic Novelists’ Association Conference in Guildford in 2003.

That was the booklet that the publishers Studymates saw when they were considering starting a set of Writers’ Guides. This could be made into a full book, they said. Could I expand the workshop, turn it into a 60,000 word book – basically 3 times the length it was. Yes, I can do that, I said. In the next couple of months? Errr - Well, that was hard work but I did it. I knew exactly the tone I wanted. I wanted the books to sound as if I was talking to the reader so that it was a print form of actually being at one of my courses (sadly, without the visual aids of Snoopy cartoons and - you guessed it – Hugh-in-a-towel). I think I succeeded – at least, lots of people tell me I did.

The first edition came out in June 2004. I was lucky enough to be able to launch it at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference at Coogee Beach in Sydney. And of course H-i-a-t came along as well. I’m not sure if I have to put the success of the 12 Point Guide down to that, but I never dare run a workshop now without THAT picture appearing somewhere in the event. (any excuse!)

Any How To book has to earn a reputation. But I knew that , and I was thrilled to see how its reputation did spread by word of mouth. Along the way it picked up a couple of awards from CataRomance – the Reviewers’ Choice for Best Book For Writers and the Readers’ Choice Best Writers’ Guide. And then, last year, I learned that it was getting very close to being sold out.

That was when the publisher and I started to talk about a second edition. I could have just had the first edition reprinted, with a few updates. There were things that needed to be revised – names of lines that had changed, slight differences in what the editors wanted. But I wanted it to be bigger, better that the first edition - and I wanted to make it a celebration of some of the best in category romance.

So that’s the biggest change in the second edition. It’s not only revised and updated but it’s expanded. And most of the expansion comes in a great section called From The Writers’ Desks. This has tips and writing hints and information from 21 of the currently published authors writing category romances today. Names like Michelle Reid, Anne McAllister, Sandra Marton, Liz Fielding, Nicola Cornick – and some you’ll recognise from the Pink Heart Society – Trish Wylie, Natasha Oakley, Ally Blake. 21 fabulous writers who all took the time and trouble to answer my questions and pass on their advice and hints to would-be authors. I owe them all a very special debt of thanks.

So on Tuesday April 8th, the second edition of the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance will be published. I’ll be honest and say that the first edition hasn’t made me a fortune. But that’s OK. It has made me rich in a much better way. Rich in friends who have bought the book, learned from it, ended up published (as a result of their own talent, but with a little boost from the advice I offered). There are other friends too – friends who are not yet published but will be one day soon I hope - friends that I’ve met because they attended one of my 12 Point Guide courses. I’m hoping that the second edition will increase the numbers of those friends and - fingers crossed – add to my tally of newly-published authors who have had The Call, with a little step-up from the book.

Next week I will be running a special Launch Party for the 2nd edition over on my blog. There will be a special Writers’ Q&A and messages – and prizes from many of the authors whose contributions have helped to make this new edition even more useful than the first. I hope you’ll come along and join in the party – and maybe win a prize or two. And to start off the celebration, I’m offering a signed copy of one of the very first new 12 Point Guides, hot off the press. All you have to do is to post a comment today and I’ll get Sid the Cat on the job of picking a winner on Sunday. And I’ll throw in a copy of my latest M&B Modern release Spanish Billionaire, Innocent Wife (the one that's out in June in Presents) as well.

And special thanks to the PHS for letting me launch this new edition here today.

You can find out more about the second edition of the 12 Point Guide, or the rest of my books by visiting my website here. And don't forget to come to the launch party on my blog next week.

We carry on with our FinDaBoo Saturday with a report from our special correspondent, the lovely Biddy!

So it is April already is it? That means that my partial has been in Richmond with M&B for three months now. I’ve done my time… Can I get an answer now? Please?

I suppose I should be telling you how I haven’t noticed the time because I have been so busy writing ‘The Artist and The Ugly Duckling’ but I can’t lie to you… since we last spoke I have only written 2000 words on it. That doesn’t look too bad except the 2000 words were written on my flight to Newark sometime at the very beginning of the last month. I would have written more, honest, but if you visit My Blog you will see that I had such an AWFUL trip home I have been in recovery ever since. So forgive me please? And if not… here is a picture of Lucas to distract you!

I haven’t been a complete slacker there have been things fermenting and bubbling in this vat I call a brain. As I trudged across St James Park on the way to work last week I was thinking through some old stories that have stalled which are in the back of my cyber drawer. One in particular I started mumble mumble ago which started life as a M&B called ‘The One Before The One’ which quickly morphed into a bizarre romantic suspense chicklitty book called ‘The Brazen Bridesmaid’ which included a hero in a kilt, a dead body, a cat and a drunk heroine.

Now I have learnt enough to know that the bizarre plot was completely insane and wouldn’t work but there were some parts of it I liked; the heroine’s job as an agony aunt, the wedding setting and the hero in a kilt.

And then these ideas collided with another and BAM! New idea. So I dodged the geese and the less than shy bully boy squirrels that victimise us innocent users of the park and raced to work where I could write the outline down.

This would be the end of it but that evening (once more braving the gangs of marauding squirrels)

I decided to open my Romance Matters, the RNA magazine and there on page three was an article about entering The Elizabeth Goudge Trophy. It is open to anyone going to the RNA Conference and the theme this year is ‘To Have And To Hold’. PA-CHING!! New idea meets competition… my competitive spirit is ignited and Wooo Hooo!! Of I go. 500 words of the entry is written… go me!

This did bring to mind the whole competition idea. I was talking with a friend who lives in the US where entering competitions with the RWA are a rite of passage for the wannabe writer. Now I don’t know much about them but all the decisions that you have to make to get the right competition are confusing. You must chose a competition for the right reasons, is the final judge an editor or agent you want to get your work in front of? Or does the judging criteria give you good feedback on your work? With all the different names like the Molly and the Tara I did start to think I was hanging outside some West London private school gate with the yummy mummys! So at the moment I’m not going for them. But I think I will enter the Golden Heart but that is at the end of the year.

I’m also very well aware that all this competition talk and starting new projects is a distraction from the whole WRITING THE NEXT BOOK. But the fact I am writing at all is a plus point at the moment. Work recently has been a barrage of papers being written and the thought of coming home and writing thousands more words fills me with horror. Instead I have been admiring the photos I took in Nashville… it is research surely?

And I have been indulging in reading. Lots of reading. Tonnes of reading. Well that is research as well isn’t it?


  1. Can I blame Kate's inspiring post and Biddy's funny one as the reason I haven't written anything in the last ten minutes? Please... pretty please!!

    Great book Kate - I read the first one when I started writing romance and it looks rather worse for wear but has been very helpful!! Congrats on the second edition!

  2. Kate - congratulations on the launch of the 2nd edition. I'm sure there are lots of gonnabees out there waiting for it. Looking forward to the launch party too.


  3. Congratulations Kate, fantastic.

    ... is there ANY topic that you can't manage to legitimately work Hugh-in-a-towel into? (Five Karma Points for Services to Womankind duly awarded. Bonus point to Biddy for including Gerard and Ewan in the same post.)

    I'm now adopting the Gonnabee label. that's so much better than Wannabee. Don't want to be a Coodabeen.

  4. Kate, congrats on the second edition, am dying to get my hands on it. Essential reading for a wannabe (dont have the confidence to be a gonnabe yet, love the name though)!
    Biddy, can I just say that The Brazen Bridesmaid sounds like a lot of fun? Esp the hero-in-a-kilt and the drunken heroine!

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  6. So glad to see the 2nd edition coming out, Kate. It's a book I always recommend to Gonnabees (and not just because you quoted me!). It's a book from "the front lines" and so hopeful writers really get a good look at what's expected while they are working to get there. Knowing Hugh-in-a-towel is there waiting can't be a bad incentive, either!

    Biddy, I love the bully boy squirrels notion! (Gerry and Ewan aren't bad either). There are some months like that. Having just had one, I'm speaking from experience. Good luck with the partial. May the words from editorial all sound like "YES! WE WANT THIS BOOK!"

  7. Hi Rachael

    I'll take the blame for you not writing - so long as you go back and write some more now!
    Thanks for the compliments about the book - I hope the well-worn edition has helped you.
    Now go write! ;o)


  8. Hi Annie

    One of the best feelings is when a gonnabe becomes a 'Be' - a published writer. I'm looking forward to the launch next week too. I hope you'll drop by


  9. pomo . . . any topic I can't get H-i-a-t into? Hmmm? No - I don't think so ;o) I'm sure I can find somew way to work him into most thingsv - research - inspiration - writing - how to books - lectures . . my office! . . . (oh plese!)

    And didn't Biddy do well too (Hi Bids!)

    Yes, go with the Gonnabe label - it sounds so much more defijite and optimistic and hardworking - not a demanding wannabe . Good luck!


  10. Tapsi - hi! The Brazen Bridesmaid is a lot of fun. I hope you can get your hand son the book. Whereaboutsa re you? I might be able to help. Or if you come by the launch next week there should be more information then.
    Go on - have confidence - be a Gonnabe! I'll keep my fingers crossed for you


  11. Hi Anner - well, i knwo that you have shares in H-in-a-T so I'd expect you to appreciate that. And thank you for appreciating the 12 Points. I thin you've been there from the beginning - and quoted in it more than once. Thank you


  12. Biddy - hugs for the bad month - and the bully boy squirrels and thanks for Ewan and Gerard. And I do hope you hear soon - and get good news - my fingers are getting welded together from being crossed for you



  13. Congratulations on the 2nd edition, Kate. I'm so looking forward to getting my hands on it. The Launch Party sounds like fun too.

    Good luck with the partial, Biddy. And of course reading is research!

  14. Hi Rachael – any excuse for not writing is valid! Honest. I swear by Kate’s book, my first edition is well thumbed and is the only reason I managed to finish a manuscript last year AND get a requested partial.

    *bows to Queen Kate*

    Pomo – Yay! Go with being a Gonnabee! That is what I tell myself.

    Tapsi – It was a lot of fun to write until it fizzled out around chapter eight BECAUSE I hadn’t read Kate Walker’s book! It is true! I hadn’t done my character questionnaires and they got all tangled.


  15. Anne – Next time you are in London I will show you the bully boy squirrels! They terrorise the tourists. They stand in the middle of paths demanding nuts and treats to allow you pass. And I am glad I am in such illustrious company with bad months. And who knows what editorial will say *bites nails *

    Kate – You know you are my cyber mum, mentor and general all round good egg. I’m glad you enjoyed Ewan and Gerard. Thank you for the 12 step first edition… it moved me from Wannabe to Gonnabe.

    Michelle – Thanks for the good luck.

    Just to let you all know I have written another 1500 words in the last week and have put in a query to M&B on the partial… ARGHH!


  16. Kate--your book sounds fantastic. When I was writing my second book I realized there was a lot I didn't know so I've been frantically educating myself. I'll look for the new edition!

    Biddy--those squirrels. Too funny! My yard is frequently full of neighborhood boys with light sabers. Good luck with your partial and your contest plans. I sold my first book through a contest so it can be done!


  17. Kate, congratulations on the second edition. Thank you so much for the first one. I think the reason the first one is so good is that it is conversational. And practical. The exercises at the end of each chapter really make you think.

    LOL on the renegade squirrels, Biddy! Gotta love 'em, though.


  18. Hi Ellen - thank you. And congratulations on selling your first booko. It's good to know that contests can have a result.

    I hope that if you do find a copy of the 12 Point Guide it helps you.


  19. Hi Linda! Lovely to see you here. You couldn't have paid me a nicer compliment than to say that the 12 Point Guide is conversational - that's exactly how I planned it! I had some trouble getting it past a couple of pick copy-editors , though. They didn't get any of the jokes and kept trying to edit things back to 'proper text book language'!

    And I'm so glad the exercises work - that makes it sound like a keep fit book ;o) -


  20. And the winner is . . ..

    Sid has spoken - well, he's chosen the right cat treat and the prize of a copy of the 2nd editon of the 12 POint Guide goes to


    Pomo I'll try to contact you diretc, but if I don't get to you can you email me kate(AT)kate-walker(dot)com so I can arrange to get the prize to you

    Don't forget the launch party over on my blog


  21. YAY on the 2nd edition, Kate! An invaluable book - great to reach for when you're stuck.

    And yay for the outline and the checkup on the partial, Biddy! We believe in you!

  22. no waaaaay! Oh that's so cool! Thanks Sid, thanks Kate!

    Couldn't be better timing.

    (Sid must have known we love cats... we have a seriously spoilt feline. He shows his appreciation by sharing his mice with me.)