Julie Miller joins us this weekend with some insider info on the upcoming Intrigue Pitch at eharlequin!
Thanks for having me back at Pink Hearts this month—it’s great to be here!
Do all you aspiring writers out there know that Harlequin Intrigue Senior Editor Denise Zaza is hosting an Intrigue Pitch contest on www.eHarlequin.com next month? Entrants need to submit a one-page synopsis of their completed ms by November 4th—and the finalists she selects will get to do a live chat with the editor. There have been many manuscript requests from these eHQ Pitch contests in the past (across several Harlequin/Silhouette lines), and some have even gone on to sell! You can find more details on the contest at http://community.eharlequin.com/content/editor-pitch-harlequin-intrigue .
Because of the contest, on the Intrigue Authors Group blog and other discussions there at eHarlequin.com, we’ve been chatting a lot about writing for Harlequin Intrigue—some of the qualities that are unique to the line, like fast pacing, larger-than-life heroes, ending scenes with hooks, heroines who are smart/scrappy/strong, villains who demand the best and more from our hero/ine, sexual tension and deep emotions, how much sex can there be in an Intrigue, the differences between Intrigue and Silhouette Romantic Suspense, and so on. And as we were discussing what kinds of stories work well for an Intrigue, I got the idea for my blog post here.
Traditional romance storylines.
Yep. Amidst all the shoot-em ups and explosions and clues and daring escapes, the most popular storylines for Intrigue are ones that feature traditional romance story hooks. Of course, with Intrigue, we take that familiar story and twist it up with danger and heart-stopping passion and villainous show-downs. That traditional story of a woman with amnesia or a hero in uniform or a Cinderella tale or friends becoming lovers or reunited lovers or cowboys and on and on are all storylines that sell really well in Intrigues.
Take my December 09 Intrigue, BEAUTY AND THE BADGE. Hmm… Any clue what that storyline will be about? I’ve taken a romance classic—the Beauty & the Beast fairy tale—and turned it into an Intrigue. I made my hero, Detective Kevin Grove, a “beast”. He’s big, he’s bad, he’s scarred inside and out, and yes, he’s not handsome. But, ooh, does he ooze masculinity. And he’s got a protective streak in him that runs straight down to his bones. Both traits that make him a perfect Intrigue hero. My heroine is the beauty who wakens him in the middle of the night, needing his protection. She’s also the one woman who can break the spell of mistrust that encases his heart. She’s stumbled on to murder and conspiracy at the company she works for, and has nowhere else to turn. There’s even a wise grandmother/fairy godmother who plays matchmaker. He’s gruff—she’s stubborn. He’s sexy—she notices. When he falls, he falls hard, knowing he’ll probably wind up with a broken heart—but she’s the one with the magic, remember? It’s her love that ultimately saves him. After they get the bad guys and he saves her life, of course.
So I thought it’d be fun to turn some traditional romance story themes into something Intrigue-ing. I’ll start you off with a couple of examples, but I challenge you to put your own suspenseful twist on a favorite romance storyline of yours. What’s something you’d like to see in an Intrigue?
Plain Jane—spinsterish secretary sees her boss get murdered. Her boss’s handsome son, a cop, comes to her, demanding answers to the murder. When he see that the killer has his eyes on her, too, the cop steps up as her personal bodyguard—keeping the witness safe. What he doesn’t count on is how close quarters with the surprisingly sexy secretary not only fuels his passion, but soothes his grief and awakens his heart as well.
Cinderella—another secretary takes her lady boss’s place at a charity fundraiser ball, dressing in jewels and a ball gown. She even dances with a mysterious Prince Charming whose strong body and quiet charm make her feel like a real princess. But, terrorists attack at midnight, ending the evening prematurely. Mistaking her for her boss, the terrorists kidnap her and other wealthy patrons, holding them for ransom, intending to kill them off one by one until their demands are met. But Prince Charming turns out to be a government agent. The two of them use all their skills to free the hostages and escape themselves. She loses her shoe in the chase and spends most of the story barefoot. At the end, realizing how well they work together, and how well they love together, the hero presents her with a new pair of shoes… and an engagement ring.
Get the idea? You don’t have to be as detailed as I’ve been. I tend to be long-winded. Have fun - and good luck!
I’ll give away a copy of one of my Harlequin Back List titles to one lucky poster. You can see all my books on my website at www.juliemiller.org.