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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The Harlequin Historical Undone pitch contest results were announced today. I lost. :'(

Not only did I lose...there were only 20 entries, 5 of which were chosen to win an online pitch session with an editor. I didn't make it. Only 20 entries! Ack! Meaning I didn't even make the top 25%.

Not happy. I thought my final pitch was a good one. Maybe my idea just doesn't work for their line. Or do I suck, and I just don't know it?? I don't know. I can still submit through normal channels, but I'm not sure I want to. My idea was to hopefully get published with Harlequin and eventually write Undones on a regular basis. Since they're so short, I'd have time in between to write full length stories to indie publish.

So I guess I'm torn now. Because, knowing the indie business as I do, I know that if I submit my story to Harlequin, it could take six months or more to hear back...during that time, if the story were indie published, I could be making money on the book. Then again, if I were going to risk "wasting" time and possibly money by submitting the story, doing it with a short story would make more sense, since I have less time invested in a short story vs. a full story, and short stories are probably less likely to make as much money if I published it myself than a full story would.

*sigh* Hard to decide. :-\
 

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First off... take a breath... okay, done?  Now... SMILE  ;D

Why?  Because (1) you finished writing a book and (2) you took the courage to sub it into a contest.

You didn't win or place, eh, oh well.  No big deal... it was one contest. 

As far as subbing for publishing vs. indie... that's a big decision but ask yourself this... what do you want out of publishing?  AND... do you have anything else written?  If so, you could indie publish that while you send this piece out.

I've been where you are... it's tough.  Really tough.  But nothing ventured nothing gained, remember that.  You could indie publish this book while writing the next book and go from there. 

But don't be hard on yourself, it takes guts to sub something to a contest.  Like I said... SMILE!  ;D

-jb 8)
 

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Jim's advice is really good. Give yourself a hug! You did something really brave.

After that, why not go for putting up that short story? It's a small enough project not to be too daunting, and it will give you a feel for the self-publishing process. Maybe you'll love it, or maybe you'll think it's more trouble than it's worth, but if nothing else it'll give you something else to think about :)
 

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Chin up.  There are many reasons to get rejected by Harlequin that have nothing to do with the work.  Getting the balance of sensuality right for Undone is kind of tricky, since it is not exactly erotica, but hotter than the usual line book.

I'm supposed to be writing one this minute, to go along with my November HH.  And I will admit I'm goofing off.

If you don't mind sharing, what was your pitch?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks, guys. :)

The more I think about it, the more I think maybe I should publish it myself. After chatting with some Undone authors on AW, and hearing about the horrendously long wait times (one person waited TEN MONTHS for an initial response), I don't know if I'm suited for traditional publishing at all. I'd love to work with HQN, but ten months is a long time to wait, especially if you're rejected.

How much could I get done for that story in ten months? I could have professionals edit it, do a cover, and format it for me, I could publish it, and I could market the heck out of it in a ten month period. There is the possibility that I could make more in that ten months than any advance I would receive from a traditional publisher.

I mean, it wouldn't be so bad if they actually bought the book, but if they didn't? Ten months wasted. And the story was written specifically for the Undone line. Who else would buy it? My only other choice would be to indie publish. So maybe I should save myself the time and just do it.

So...if I do, the question is: do I continue working on that story and get it published, or do I finish my current WIP that I really love. Tribe still has a long way to go, and I really want to get it out soon. But Puritan's Passion also needs work. I need to double check facts, do some more polishing, hire an editor and a cover artist. And that begs the question...do I want to spend money right now on an editor and cover art for a short story?

Ugh, too many decisions. I'm almost wishing I hadn't written that short story. Then the decision would be easy...keep working on Tribe. But now I have a plethora of choices. ::) Which one is right? AAAAAGH!
 

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Congrats on entering! And I'm sorry you didn't win.

I'm shocked there were only 20 entries. Some years ago, when I was looking into these kind of contests--entered a few and didn't win--there were dozens of entries. It might be time to look into them again if they're not pulling in the numbers of entries they used to. Better chance of winning with fewer entries.  ;D (But everybody will think that now, so next time there probably will be dozens of entries. :D )

Lanette
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Christine...you asked for it! ;)

My CP suggested that maybe there is too much plot for the Undone line. I wondered if maybe it didn't sound sexy enough. But it was really hard trying to squeeze in the setting, the characters, the GMC, and the sexiness into a two paragraph pitch! I thought I did a good job, but maybe it was too much. I don't know.

This was my final version:

The Puritan's Passion is a "second chance" love story with a Scarlet Letter twist.

Nathan Mather fled Andover ten years ago as a condemned miscreant and returns under a pall of mystery. No one knows he is a man haunted by the memories of the night he lost it all, when his home burned to the ground with his pregnant wife inside. When he stops at a farm seeking board in exchange for his labor, love is the last thing on his mind. But it isn't long before he's willing to endure stripes if it means holding Rebekah in his arms.

Feisty widow Rebekah Howland refuses to marry another callous, taciturn man…even if it means forsaking her dream of filling the empty cradle by her hearth. With overbearing neighbor Silas Sibbes volunteering to work her farm as a pretext to gain her favor--and her land--hiring Nathan is just the thing she needs to keep Silas away. What she doesn't need is the tantalizing thought of Nathan's hands sliding up the heated skin of her thighs. In the aftermath of the witch trails, when villagers live in fear of each other, retribution and profit is only an accusation away. If Rebekah's passion for her scandalous lover is discovered, both of their lives could be in peril.
 

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You entered--you did the brave thing. Kudos. Keep writing. We all have these moments--and you're among friends.

Christine Merrill said:
Getting the balance of sensuality right for Undone is kind of tricky, since it is not exactly erotica, but hotter than the usual line book.
This is why I can't write Romance. I have no idea how "balance sensuality". :-\
 

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Emeline Danvers said:
And the story was written specifically for the Undone line. Who else would buy it?
You might try Carina Press. They publish shorter lengths. (At least, they used to, but I haven't checked their requirements in ages.) I don't know what their wait time is now, but I bet it's far less than ten months.

Lanette
 

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Emeline Danvers said:
The Puritan's Passion is a "second chance" love story with a Scarlet Letter twist.

Nathan Mather fled Andover ten years ago as a condemned miscreant and returns under a pall of mystery. No one knows he is a man haunted by the memories of the night he lost it all, when his home burned to the ground with his pregnant wife inside. When he stops at a farm seeking board in exchange for his labor, love is the last thing on his mind. But it isn't long before he's willing to endure stripes if it means holding Rebekah in his arms.

Feisty widow Rebekah Howland refuses to marry another callous, taciturn man…even if it means forsaking her dream of filling the empty cradle by her hearth. With overbearing neighbor Silas Sibbes volunteering to work her farm as a pretext to gain her favor--and her land--hiring Nathan is just the thing she needs to keep Silas away. What she doesn't need is the tantalizing thought of Nathan's hands sliding up the heated skin of her thighs. In the aftermath of the witch trails, when villagers live in fear of each other, retribution and profit is only an accusation away. If Rebekah's passion for her scandalous lover is discovered, both of their lives could be in peril.
Well, I want to read it! I love this setting. If you do self-pub (or pub elsewhere), don't forget to announce it. And please PM me. :) Thanks!

Lanette
 

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Emeline Danvers said:
Christine...you asked for it! ;)

My CP suggested that maybe there is too much plot for the Undone line. I wondered if maybe it didn't sound sexy enough. But it was really hard trying to squeeze in the setting, the characters, the GMC, and the sexiness into a two paragraph pitch! I thought I did a good job, but maybe it was too much. I don't know.
I can't speak for the company or judges, or anything. But my guess would be, this sounds like a longer story. You could easily have something that could be expanded into a full length novel. Or they could have decided that the setting was too different, compared to what the audience is looking for. If you're talking US historical, Western is an easier sell than the east coast. Witch trials would be a great source of conflict, but it might be a risky buy for them.

But, personally, I like the sound of it. Widows are good for Undones, since they already know what's what. Currently, I have written myself into a corner with a virgin left over from the full length book. I do not have the word count necessary to explain the birds and the bees to her. Perhaps she is just a quick study.
 

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aaronpolson said:
This is why I can't write Romance. I have no idea how "balance sensuality". :-\
Actually, I'll give a serious answer to this, since I am thinking a lot about it for the current project. For an Undone, you want a story that is under 20,000 words, generally around 15-17,000. They don't want erotica. So, no one night stands, and there will be an expectation of a happy ending. And since it is historical, there are a lot of time periods where 'nice girls don't'. This is why it's helpful to have a widow, or a courtesan as a heroine.

Since it is a short story, if your characters don't already know each other, they need to be introduced and to talk for a bit, since it will seem odd if the couple jumps into bed after a hello and a handshake. You need to have a believable romantic arc, because the love story is part of what brings readers to Harlequin. But there will definitely be love scenes plural, which will eat into the word count and leave less space for plot points and additional characters. But if you are tying it to an existing story, as I am doing, you have to seed some of the plot points in, to get the reader to buy the other book.

That's what I mean by balance. The reader might believe the sex but not the relationship, or it might be the other way around. You want them to be in teerested in your other story, but that story, shouldn't be a distraction. It's complicated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Lanette-  Awww, thanks!  :-*  I liked the setting, too.  I haven't seen anyone else do it.  I think they equate Puritans with no sex, LOL.  But you'd be surprised, historically...just because fornication/adultery were illegal, doesn't mean people didn't do it!  ;)

Christine--  That were things I wondered about...if they thought it was more appropriate in a full length version, the Puritan setting being too risky, the witch trials, etc.  Actually, the story takes place just after the trials ended.  They were just supposed to be an overshadowing element, but it was hard to get that idea across in a blurb. 

It's funny that you should mention the widow!  I was going to make her a virgin widow, until I listened to the RWA talk "The Virgin Widow's Heart Stopped When She Saw the Workshop That Would Change Her Life...Recognizing Cliches."  :-[  Oops.  Rookie mistake. (Yes, that really was the title, LOL.)  Suddenly my virgin widow became a sexually frustrated widow with some other issues.  8)  And that ended up giving the character more depth, so it worked out. 

 
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