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Go big or go home

Just like with my last MS, Counting on You, Slow Burn has ended up at around 65,000 words. Just the right size to cut it down to a 60K category romance that I can submit to Silhouette Romantic Suspense. Except, that was never my goal. From the outset, this was intended to be a single title.

There's nothing at all wrong with writing category books. Many, many of my favorite romance authors cut their teeth in that world and some still write for Harlequin or Silhouette while also pumping out single title books. In general, the writing in category books is just as high quality (sometimes better) as single titles, despite popular opinion by those who don't read them.

What they are, is shorter reads. They're books you can sit down and finish in a few hours. The plots are necessarily less complicated, but the development of the story and the characters is still there.

For me, there are two problems with switching my goal to category length.

  1. If the book is a category, there's only one market these days: Harlequin/Silhouette. If they don't want it, the book is toast.
  2. I want to pitch this MS to an agent at the conference this summer (and submit a query to several more), but if I cut it down to fit the category guidelines, I can't pitch it as a single title anymore, and there's no point in meeting with an agent.

I don't want to create two versions of this MS, and I feel like I need to keep pushing until I figure out how to create something big enough to meet the single title qualifications. As I work on my plot revisions, I'm torn between adding more words and cutting them.

In the end, I think I've decided to finish the changes and see where I end up, but I'm really hoping I can get it up to at least 70K. That will give me something I can pitch this summer and start sending out queries on.

I'm not trying to skip a step by bypassing the proving ground of category novels, but I have to go with my heart, and right now it wants me to push for a single title length book.

If that makes the road harder, then so be it. I have to be true to myself and my own dreams.

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Harlequin: Surely, you jest

Harlequin Enterprises, one of the most well-known and respected names in romance publishing, caused quite a furor a few days ago with its announcement of a self-publishing venture, Harlequin Horizons.

This has authors and agents ranting about predatory practices toward uninformed wannabes, and tarnishing the Harlequin brand for its paid authors. For great level-headed coverage and an explanation of the whole ordeal, check out the pubrants blog.

My inbox has been overflowing with emails from the author loops I'm on, with every reaction from mild disappointment to downright fear. Especially since RWA and the Mystery Writers of America both revoked Harlequin's status as a legitimate publisher.

Right now, the situation is still fluid, and I'm guessing that in a few weeks–when the emotions aren't running so high–everyone's questions will be answered, and some sort of compromise will be reached that satisfies both sides.

In the latest round, Harlequin has decided to remove its name from the venture, but the conflict of interest still exists, so the controversy isn't over yet.

I'm not in the Chicken Little camp, but I'm not ready to let Harlequin off the hook, either.

The Daily Squirrel: Arizona

It was hot. The scorched, dry air stole her breath as she stepped out of the air-conditioned building onto the soft asphalt of the parking lot. Immediately, sweat trickled down her back and beaded on her nose. Her legs felt baked as if she were standing next to an open oven door. It might be a dry heat, but it didn't matter. Dry or not, it was stinkin' hot.