Monday, October 27, 2008

2009 Manic Readers Romance Novel Writing Contest

Welcome to the 2009 Manic Readers Romance Novel Writing Contest - NAL Publishing editor, Becky Vinter

Contest Rules:
1. Entries will be accepted between January 3, 2009 and February 28, 2009
2. Entries must be written to the theme of "Men in Uniform". Heat level: Steamy!
3. This is a novel length (80k - 100k) contest. Entry length of the excerpt is 1000 words (computer count). Entries over 1000 words will be disqualified. Excerpt can be any part of the story as long as it follows the above theme. Excerpt must be from a new, not yet published, manuscript.
4. Entrants must be registered with the Manic Readers website
5. All entries will be submitted via a submission form on the Manic Readers website, more info on that coming soon.
6. All entries will be kept anonymous but assigned an entry identification number
7. Beginning March 1, 2009, Manic Readers will post 20% of the entries at the beginning of each of the following weeks:
March 1st
March 8th
March 15th
March 22nd
March 29th
8. Each week registered users can vote for their top two entries (one vote per entry)
9. The top two entries from each week will be posted April 5, 2009 and read by Becky Vinter
10. Contest is open to unpublished writers and published authors not published with NAL Publishing
11. One entry per person – multiple entries will be disqualified
Contest Prizes:
1. The top 10 entries receiving the most votes will be read by Becky Vinter
2. The entry with the most votes will be named “Readers’ Choice”
3. Becky Vinter will name one of the top 10 entries “Editor’s Choice”

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does the manuscript have to be finished in order to enter the contest?

A: That’s up to you. However, if the editor really loves your excerpt she may ask you for the full manuscript A few FAQs about the contest

Q: Is this a short story contest?

A: No. The 1,000 words is simply an excerpt from your manuscript.

Q: Can the excerpt be from a published or previously published work?

A: No. The excerpt must be from a new story not yet published.

Q: Does the manuscript have to be finished in order to enter the contest?

A: That’s up to you. However, if the editor really loves your excerpt she may ask you for the full manuscript.

Q: How long does the manuscript need to be if she does ask me for the full?

A: Novel length--80k to 100k words.

Q: How steamy can the excerpt be?

A: The best way to know how steamy your story can be is to read a few of the NAL romance books. They range from normal mainstream, to pretty hot stuff and Ms. Vinter said she liked steamy!

Therefore, a sweet story wouldn't work for this particular contest.

Questions & Answers:

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Art of Romance

The Art of Romance: Mills & Boon and Harlequin Cover Designs

Total entertainment for devoted romance readers!

Found on Redlines and Dealines Blog:

Oprah Loves the Kindle

Thanks to posts today from Dear Author and Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, if you're' asking Santa this year for a Kindle, here's a discount:

The Kindle is $50 off through November 1, for a total of $309.00. \

From Oprah's website:

This summer, Oprah received a gift that she says changed her life. "I'm telling you, it is absolutely my new favorite thing in the world," she says.

Meet the Amazon Kindle™, a wireless portable reading device with instant access to more than 190,000 books, blogs, newspapers and magazines. Whether you're in bed or on the train, Kindle lets you think of a book and get it in less than a minute.

As a special offer for Oprah viewers, is giving $50 off the price of Kindle. Enter the promotional code OPRAHWINFREY during the checkout process at to receive the discount. This offer is valid through November 1, 2008.

Code for $50 off the price of Kindle: OPRAHWINFREY

Go to to learn more and order your Kindle today!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Night Owl Authors Share Holiday Treats

Pop over to The Night Owl Authors blog Link:

2009 Romantic Times Convention

What sets the RT BOOKLOVERS CONVENTION apart from any other book industry convention? We mix business and networking with fellowship and fun.

• Begin each morning with a meet and greet mixer hosted by various authors and publishers.
• Then choose from a rich variety of over 125 informative workshops for readers, writers and booksellers.
• Cap off the afternoon with a fun-filled stimulating networking party.
• At dark, it's time to get ready for our sumptuous evening events.

Attendees will receive lots of FREE books and promotional items from authors and publishers.


• PUBLISHED AUTHORS and ASPIRING WRITERS can attend over 100 workshops to learn how to write and get published, how to network, how to promote and how to increase sales.

• READERS will enjoy a special three-day program with games, giveaways, prizes and lots of FREE BOOKS as well as attend bestselling author lectures in an intimate setting. Authors are at the ready to answer all your book-related questions.

• BOOKSELLERS will value a special three-day program that will take you into the future of bookselling with tips on how to increase sales and revenues and how to compete with the chains. You will also learn how to use the internet to supplement your income.

All of the workshops, luncheons, dinners and events are included in the registration fee.

When: Wednesday, April 22, 2009 11:00 AM - Sunday, April 26, 2009 11:00 PM

Wyndham Orlando Resort
8001 International Drive
Orlando, Florida 32819

Work shop descriptions:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The publisher of romance novels is celebrating its centenery, and is set to defy the credit crunch with a new series of racy titles!

Quoted from THE FIRST POST October 20, 2008

How big is Mills & Boon?

Huge. Harry Potter may have shifted 400m books in 11 years; Mills & Boon sell the same amount every two. In the UK it releases 50 romantic titles a month. Its novels, translated into 25 languages, are sold in 109 international markets, and this year it began publishing for 300m English readers in India, where the books, uniquely, are popular with men as well as women. There are also editions in Polish for immigrants to the UK, with titles such as Tejemniczy Ukochany (Mysterious Lover) and Ksiaze Pustyni (Desert Prince). In fact, in the time you've taken to read this, 10 Mills & Boon books will have been sold in the UK – the company calculates that one is sold here every three seconds.

Do they all follow a tried and tested romantic formula?

Yes, a formula already clearly marked out in pre-WWI titles such as The Virgin's Treasure: a Romance of the Tropics ("This was not England but the tropics, where blood runs hotter, and where incredible things happen with amazing swiftness"). The action takes place over 188-192 pages; man and woman meet; there's conflict, but, against the odds, true love will out. The absolute certainty of the plot-line is a key selling point. "Your troubles are at an end when you choose a Mills & Boon novel," read a postwar advert. "No more doubts! No more disappointments!"

So are all the books much the same?

Yes and no. They come in ten distinct, highly stylised, colourcoded genres. Medical Romance – involving pretty midwives, hunky surgeons and "Mediterranean Doctors" ("French medical heroes are winners with Medical readers," says the senior editor); Historical Romance ("Regency tales remain ever-popular with our readers and cover the range from drawing room antics to the salacious underworld inhabited by pickpockets and prostitutes"); Modern Romance (where heroes are invariably "swarthy" and with titles like Taken by her Greek Boss; Surrender to the Sheikh); and so on. Some genres, eg the flame-coloured Blaze, are more lust-fuelled than others (in the pink Romance genre, there is "a lower sensuality level", says the editor, "and more focus on emotional depth"); but the overall flavour is much the same.

How sexually explicit are they?

Sex scenes between married couples first appeared in 1963; by the 1970s, unmarrieds were at it, too. In 1973, masturbation makes its first appearance, and in 1982, oral sex. ("There are other places to kiss," says the swarthy hero of Antigua Kiss, as the heroine surrenders to "waves of ecstasy".) Under its new Canadian owner, Harlequin, which bought M&B in 1971, the couplings (lesbian, interracial) got saucier. And now it is introducing a new genre, Spice, which will feature casual sex and bondage in a context where there may be no "emotional connection between heroes and heroines". The first in the series, Spies, Lies and Naked Thighs, will go on sale in the UK next year.

Would this horrify the founders?

Possibly not. The publishing house founded by Gerald Rusgrove Mills and Charles Boon back in 1908 may have started life with
books on solid, worthy subjects (eg travel and crafts) and published well-known authors like PG Wodehouse and Hugh Walpole; but it always had a keen eye on the bottom line. Its first romantic novel, Arrows in the Dark, was such a success that exploiting the romantic longings of its female readers soon became its stock in trade. "I'm certain the bulk of novels are devoured by women before they reach the men," noted Charles Boon in 1913, who made the use of new marketing techniques a key part of the brand.

What sort of techniques?

It was Charles Boon who started to develop a "personal" touch with the readers by offering a "souvenir chapter" free to any home address, a policy refined by Harlequin in the 1970s, when they started delivering books directly to readers' doorsteps, along with special gifts and reader questionnaires. Mills & Boon seldom misses a trick to attract new readers: for example, when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, it sent staff into the streets to hand out 750,000 free copies to the romance deprived women of East Germany. And it is also renowned for the way it attracts authors to its stable: Charles Boon, determined to make the company "the Promised Land" for budding writers, started the idea of offering housewives the chance to become pioneer novelists, and today the company still receives around 1,500 unsolicited manuscripts a year. Every one of them is read by its team of 20 editors, though only a dozen are accepted. Writers come in all shapes and sizes: the renowned Jan Tempest, for example, was an elderly recluse (real name: Irene Swatridge) who ran a Devon sheep farm.

And is M&B likely to continue for another century?

Almost certainly. Although regularly slated by feminists for perpetuating the idea of the dominant male, its strong, masterful heroes continue to find a vast audience. Back in 1970 one of its popular authors, a shy spinster called Violet Winspear, caused an outcry by saying that her male characters "must frighten and fascinate. They must be the sort of men who are capable of rape." That may have overstated it, but the editor's instructions to would be authors are still clear on the point. The hero "must have achieved a certain level of wealth and success. He's alpha, in that he's strong; he oozes beguiling confidence and charm (he's got a great body!)". And there's good reason for this intransigence. When the company tried an experiment with ordinary-Joe "beta" males ("like Tom Hanks") as heroes, reader enthusiasm was dismal.

Can it survive the credit crunch?

Undoubtedly. It has always done well in hard times: it prospered during WWII and regards the Great Depression as its golden age. If there's one industry likely to boom when things are going bust, it's escapism

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Meet New Presents Author, Sabrina Philips

I just popped over to I Heart Presents and saw the post about new Harlequin Presents Author, Sabrina Philips. Here's the link for Sabrina's interview:

Sabrina also appeared on The Pink Heart Society website a few months ago and here's the interview link:

Harlequin Presents/Mills & Boon - Sabrina's website:

Author Sylvia Day American V Contest

Romantic Times will soon be sponsoring American Title V contest for aspiring authors. Author Sylvia Day is sponsoring a wonderful contest on her website. Link:

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The New Zealand Herald - Spicing up the romance

Sunday Oct 05, 2008
Tom Peck

Masterful men are still a feature of Mills and Boon’s foray into erotica fiction.

It's official: romance is dead. After 100 years of swooning feminine ladies kissing manly men on faraway islands, Mills and Boon is launching its first line of explicit erotica.

The British publisher's new imprint, Spice, marks a sharp departure from Mills and Boon tradition: even up to the 1970s, unmarried couples were not permitted to have sex between the covers of its books. A raunchier series launched in 2001 featured whipped cream and handcuffs, but only "in the context of an enduring emotional relationship".

No more. The Spice paperbacks will be "more about sex for enjoyment," says Claire Somerville, Mills and Boon marketing director. "It doesn't have to be linked to an emotional connection between the heroes and heroines."

Good news, no doubt, for Breezy Malone, the heroine of Spies, Lies and Naked Thighs, who will swap her archaeologist's trowel for the leather corset of a covert FBI sex agent and set out to seduce the terrorist behind her incarceration in a Middle East prison.

Since Gerald Mills and Charles Boon founded the company in 1908, the temperature between the pages of their 35 million titles has grown progressively hotter. "We started off as a general publisher, big on sport and craft books," says Somerville. "It was in the 1920s and 30s that they realised people wanted to escape the hardship of the times, and that what women wanted was light fiction.

"Much later, in the 50s and 60s, some of the writers wanted to break out and depict society in a more realistic way. One writer [Jan Tempest] was told to edit out an illegitimate character. Divorce and illegitimacy were unacceptable for the Irish market, which was very big for us."

But that didn't last long. Phillip Larkin wrote: "Sexual intercourse began in 1963 (which was rather late for me)." Was he referring to Mills and Boon? It was then that sex scenes between married couples were included for the first time. By the 70s, this had been extended to unmarried couples.

The market for erotica has grown hugely in recent years. Partly in response to Virgin Books' Black Lace series, first published in 1993, Mills and Boon launched its Blaze imprint seven years ago.

"Pretty much anything goes," says Somerville, "but all in the context of the enduring emotional relationship."

Mills and Boon's books are "a social barometer for the 20th century", adds Somerville. "That's what's so interesting about them. You can chart the development of social and sexual mores, the history of women and the evolution of women's role socially and sexually, all through Mills and Boon."

In celebration of its 100th anniversary, the publishing house is also launching itself on the television-viewing public. Consuming Passion: 100 Years of Mills & Boon promises to be "very raunchy", according to the producers. "The 90-minute drama will interweave the stories of three very different women, and shed light on the impact and influence the books had on women's lives over the last century," says Ben Stephenson, head of drama commissioning at the BBC.

The drama is based on the lives of the people behind the scenes at the publishing house. The first is set in 1908 and concerns Mary, wife of Charles Boon. While Charles struggled to establish his business in London, he and his wife were fighting another battle - in the bedroom. Its outcome would determine the future of Mills & Boon.

Today the company's books are a publishing phenomenon. A Mills and Boon paperback is sold in a UK bookshop, on average, once every five seconds and is translated into 25 languages.

Over the years Mills & Boon has counted some big names among its published authors including P.G. Wodehouse and Jack London. Helen Fielding, author of the hugely successful Bridget Jones novels, was rejected for not being good enough.
Despite the success and the famous names, the very mention of Mills and Boon is enough to cause sniggers of derision among most of the literati.

"I think it's partly because the books are cheap," says Joanna Bowring of Mills and Boon. "They're considered disposable literature." And though the heroines have evolved since the early days to reflect changes in women's lives, the heroes remain much as they were a century ago.

"There's always been a subtle undercurrent of force throughout the books, and that's never changed from the earliest ones," says Bowring. "Even later, when other aspects are influenced by feminism and by the shifting attitudes outside the novel, the men remain masterful and stern."

Monday, October 06, 2008


Just comment to this post. In 2008, what book you've read has stayed with you and why? I look forward to hearing from you.


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