Like, WAY outside. For example, I have not written one word of a contemporary romance since my first, “Ah, why not, I’ll just try it,” attempt well over 13 years ago. While it was the novel of my heart, it wasn’t very good, it was such a blatant Mary Sue that it would make EM James’inner goddess blush. But hey, every girl back then wanted to jump David Boreanaz, am I right? You A-girls know who I’m talking to!
The point, though, was getting out of fanfiction (I’m looking as you, again, Ms. James), making up something myself (even if the story was… weak, if steamy) and being able to say “I did it!”
I did, and I’ve been doing it (albeit in a different genre or two) ever since.
But with my health and general ennui over the past few years, I haven’t even wanted to wade into my beloved vampire fiction. I don’t care how “over” people say it is, I still read it, and I imagine others do too. However, when the urge to write came on again, I decided to stretch my wings. Try something completely different.
How about a Harlequin Romance? Specifically, a Harlequin Desire?
I heard you groaning. I know, I know. I confess I have not been a fan myself. I’m not fond of secret baby stories, or cowboy stories, or some of the other formulas. Which isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong with someone who does like them. I mean, bloodplay isn’t for everyone.
But fangs, fur, and wings can be a crutch. If you don’t have a paranormal universe, how do you, for instance, write conflict for just plain people? How do you have the waitress and the CEO get together at least somewhat believably, then to bed, and then at least heading down the aisle in around 180 pages without making the reader throw you in their cozy fireplace? How do you build a regular old human character with style, dynamics, layers, without giving them pre-programmed sexy like lycanthropy, a big motorcycle, ink, the ability to manipulate magick, or other fun stuff?
It is really, really difficult. I decided to take the challenge, and enter a Special Call for manuscripts Harlequin Desire was holding in March. I had to have a query letter, a proposal, and three chapters to them by today. I found out about it at the beginning of the month. That meant I had a little less than 4 weeks to outline, draft and write (and re-write. And re-write) chapters, then write a long proposal and query letter.
Writing for Harlequin may not be lucrative or “cool,” but it’s something new, something challenging for me that I can also learn to do while I keep working on my beloved paranormals and Urban Fantasies. Projects are never too small if they give you a chance to hone your craft!
The manuscript is submitted. Wish me luck!