Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Learning Curve of the New Author: The RNA New Writers Scheme

My timing is all wrong.  Today, as you read this I'll be flying down to London from Scotland to head to the RNA Summer Party.  Hopefully I'll be meeting with my editor and getting a guided tour of Mills and Boon Headquarters that I'll be able to tell you all about next month.

Part of the RNA Summer Party also includes the Joan Hessayon Award.  The award is generously sponsored by Dr David Hessayon, the gardening expert, in honour of his late wife Joan, who was a longstanding member of the RNA and a great supporter of the New Writers’ Scheme.

The New Writers’ Scheme, which has been run by the RNA since 1962, is unique among professional writing associations. It aims to encourage fresh talent in the writing of romantic novels that reflect all aspects of love and life, contemporary or historical. Manuscripts submitted by unpublished writers are read by an experienced writer or editor who provides valuable feedback. Any manuscript that is subsequently published as a debut novel is eligible for the award. The eligible books are judged by a panel of experienced RNA members.

I was a member of the New Writers Scheme for 2 years.  I still cringe to think of the first manuscript I sent in.  The poor reader definitely had her work cut for her.  55,000 words with virtually no point of view.  Sigh.......

My reader was very patient and circled the small parts of the manuscript that did include POV and wrote "this is good, you need some more of this!"

But the good part about all this was that I had a goal.  I could put pen to paper and finish a manuscript to a deadline. All NWS manuscripts have to be in by August 31st.  In lots of ways it's good to have a deadline to work to.  Lots of people end up sending in partial manuscripts in the last few weeks in August.  But I had planned ahead and had mine ready for the beginning of April.  And my reader gave me five pages to feedback - it pays to be ahead of the crowd!
Second time around my manuscript went to the New Writers Scheme at the same time I'd won a pitch contest on the eHarlequin website and captured an editor's attention.  The rest, as they say, is history!

The New Writers Scheme has had a bumper year and that is really fabulous in a time where we're still in the middle of the recession.

The full shortlist is:

Scarlet Wilson                           It Started With A Pregnancy                HMB

Tanith Davenport                     The Hand He Dealt                              Total-e-Bound

Liz Fenwick                             The Cornish House                              Orion

Evonne Wareham                    Never Coming Home                           Choc Lit

Lynda Dunwell                        Marrying The Admiral’s Daughter      Musa Publishing

Rhoda Baxter                           Patently In Love                                  Uncial

Linda Mitchelmore                  To Turn Full Circle                              Choc Lit

Gina Rossi                               The Wild Heart                                   Wild Rose Press

So good luck to all the contenders and I'll have some pictures for you next time!

West Wing to Maternity Wing?   Released May 2012  
Famous neonatologist Lincoln Adams is looking after the US President’s newborn daughter when nurse Amy Carson arrives at the hospital, posing as his very pregnant wife!  Amy’s had first-hand experience of Linc’s skilful hands, and he’s the only person she trusts to look after her precious cargo.  But trusting him with her fragile heart is another matter…..