Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Vikings and Harlequin

I mentioned before that I was re-working my Viking novel for a Harlequin Historical submission. Harlequin has a long history of putting emerging authors on their feet. Did you know Kay Hooper started with Harlequin?
Though this is a path I am interested in following, I do not intend to abandon my self-published novels. Just this evening So Many Secrets got its first Amazon review and I could not be more thrilled. I may be entering The Gates of Nottingham in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award later this year as well. I have copies of both novels at home awaiting a book-signing which I had put off because the holidays did not seem to be the best time to do it, so that should be happening this month as well.
I checked the Harlequin website for any novels involving Vikings and found only one short story contained in a volume of three. An Amazon search came up with this. Barnes and Noble produced this. As you can see, there really hasn’t been many novels published through this company with a Viking protagonist.
This seems strange, given the romance genre’s penchant for strong, tall, brooding, dominant, scantily-clad warriors. Just the word Viking produces a strong image and I think that is good for this type of novel. I also noticed while browsing that most of their Viking novels seem to involve the hero and heroine in a captive/captor situation, which my novel does not.
This is why I think my novel would be a great fit for this company. It would be in keeping with their general standards but it would also be something a little new.
So what do the edits involve? Well, I’ve already written ten new pages which push the romantic relationship a little further. My hero, Yngvarr is a quiet man, but I realized that if this was going to work for Harlequin he would need to open up about his feelings more. There were exchanges between Yngvarr and Ceara which were touched on in the early drafts but needed to be fully fleshed out to work in a romance. For example, because Yngvarr is stranded in Ireland with only the clothes on his back and winter is approaching, Ceara knits him a sweater. I mentioned this, but for a romance novel I know it can be a more touching scene. I’m actually going to work on that later tonight.
My physical descriptions were also too weak for a romance novel in the early draft. I described Yngvarr as uncommonly tall and lean, with white-blond hair, a strong forehead, and a slightly hooked nose. Do you see my mistake here? No mention of the muscles! No swooning over his sheer good looks! Don’t worry, it’s fixed. Ceara is, of course, beautiful, but contrary to most romance heroines she is very tall (6’1”) and very curvaceous. What can I say? I have an extremely tall family of women and I think tall women need a shout-out. After all, it can be a little hurtful that most heroines seemed to top out at 5’4” with 5’7” being giantess height. I don’t want my tall girls feeling left out.
I’ve sent Harlequin the query and synopsis already. Their website says they generally take 6-8 weeks to process queries, but it could take up to three months. So, I decided that by sending off the query I would give myself the incentive to really focus on my re-writes. Honestly, in four days, they are practically done. When I focus, I focus.
I’ll let you guys know what happens next!

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