Write Your Romance in 150 Days Check-in: Ask the Editors

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If you’re participating in our Write Your Romance in 150 Days challenge, you’re over halfway to the finish line. Congratulations! It takes determination, discipline and hard work to complete a novel. Now’s the perfect time to give yourself a pat on the back. Celebrate your progress with a glass of champagne or your favourite chocolate indulgence!

It’s possible, however, that you’re not feeling victorious at all. You might be facing roadblocks in your writing. Maybe you’re a plotter who can’t stop tinkering with an outline and get Chapter One on paper. Or a pantser who’s not sure where to take her characters. Maybe you’re questioning the whole premise of your book! Or perhaps life got in the way and you don’t know how you’re going to carve out the time you need to write.

The So You Think You Can Write editors are here to help! We want to answer your questions about your work in progress. Wondering about what to include in your cover letter? Need tips on how to avoid procrastination? Hit a wall and don’t know how to proceed? Have a question about tropes, dialogue, scene-building, characters or style? Ask us!

Post your questions about writing, editing or submitting your WIP in the comments below between now and midnight EDT Wednesday, October 18, 2017 and we’ll post our answers on Friday!

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  1. The deadline is fast approaching and I’m worried my story won’t be finished. Would you recommend holding off sending it if the last three chapters are a little hurried and not as polished as the rest (and submit later through the normal channels) or should I go ahead and submit to the challenge? Thank you.

  2. WIP Question: My 150 WIP has 40 something h/h.
    It’s a second chance at love, for them. The pair get dumped into a murder investigation. I’m keeping the mystery part of the story cozy. The story doesn’t fit intrigue, (my fav). Would editors still be interested in the premise?

  3. Isabella

    I have two questions: When the 150 Days Challenge is over, will we be able to submit a query, synopsis and 3 chapters, or full MS as requested material?

    My second question is, I have a full MS with Desire right now, does that mean I can’t submit, if asked, for the Challenge?

    • Chrissie

      Kim I think they might, but the word difference is a lot 55,000 to 70,000 (SuperRomance) abd you’d have to cut it waaay back. It might ruin the story. 🙁

      I sent a cowboy story in that was declined the editor said because it was too long for any line they had since SuperRomance has gone bye-bye. 🙁

  4. I’d love an update on the features the editors would like to see in submissions for the Cherish line. In 2015 the editors said, in preparation for the SYTYCW, that they wanted a variety of jet set locations, gorgeous glam settings, no small towns settings, no cowboys and they weren’t keen on children and family as secondary characters–all the focus needed to be on the hero and heroine. But the recent releases have cowboys (they never really went away) small town family situations, children as secondary characters and secluded snowbound settings. I’m guessing there was a backlog of stories to be used up before the new requirements filtered into the line, but it would be good to have some tips on what the Cherish editors are really hopingt to see.

  5. Dina van't Veer

    A couple questions.
    I discovered this challenge after it was started. I am diligently working but am unsure if it will be done by your deadline. Can I still submit it after the end date? I’m alright with it not being part of the 150 Day Challenge but now I have embarked upon this journey and hope it can be accepted at any time.
    Also, I love the Harlequin Presents and that is what I am aiming towards. If I submit to any of those editors and they feel it would be better suited for a different line, will it be passed along or just rejected? Also do I only pick one editor for my target line or all of those editors in the Presents line?
    Thank you for initiating this awesome, life altering undertaking.

  6. I have two questions. #1: The story I’m writing for the challenge is targeted at Harlequin Intrigue. I noticed in a lot of the Intrigues I’ve read that the hero and heroine more or less live together during the course of their investigation and are running from the bad guys. In my story they aren’t under the same roof nor are they running from the bad guys but they spend most of the time on page together. Would this still be acceptable for Intrigue?

    #2: I guess I missed that the 150-Day Challenge was a contest. I thought we were just being challenged to write a book in 150 days. Is this going to be like SYTYCW contests in the past or how is this going to be at the 150 day deadline?

  7. Chrissie

    Maybe this will answer some of your questions. I cut and pasted form the original challenge page:

    Join us here on the SYTYCW blog for the next five months as we cover some of the key components of writing a book. Look for advice on:

    Writing a Great Opening Scene
    Characterization
    Conflict: Internal & External
    Plotting
    Sensuality
    What Series are You?
    Submission Tips

    Let us know if you have a topic in mind and we’d be happy to address it. The editors will also be here to answer your questions.

    Join us on this exciting journey to writing a romance in 150 days. And get ready to submit your manuscript to any of our twelve series beginning December 1, 2017.

  8. Ruby Mae O'Dell

    This question is for LIS editors:

    I have two polished manuscripts, ready to be sent in. They’ve had excellent reviews from beta readers and I feel confident they’ll be great sellers as the premises are of such I’ve never seen before (and I’m an avid reader) while still hosting the best selling tropes in the romance genre.

    My questions are these:

    Should I submit before the deadline or wait?

    What is LIS policy/rules regarding the “Dear Reader” note at the end? What is and isn’t allowed to be put in that section?

    Thanks! Many Blessings!

  9. Do any of the lines accept romances told in 1st person POV, either single or dual?
    I know Desire had a call for those at one time but my stories tend to have some supsense/action elements that Desire isn’t looking for.

  10. Sweet romances don’t have sex – except married couples can go behind closed doors. Can there be a scene behind those doors, after the fact, without any sexy stuff but with conversation dealing with the fallout of the door having been closed?

  11. Nicci Carrera

    Hello, and thank you for the opportunity to ask questions! I am starting a book I am targeting to Harlequin Romantic Suspense. I want to use a Western theme. I notice most of the RS books I read with that theme are set in Montana, Wyoming or Texas. We have ranches in California too and was interested in that for a setting. Would California be a viable setting for a ranching series? If not, would Nevada?
    Thanks so much,
    Nicci

  12. Thanks for the encouragement and a place to ask some questions.

    Firstly, I’m aiming for the Heartwarming line and have picked up several recently published stories as guidelines. In the Heartwarming stories I’ve read, there seems to be a lot of immediate antagonism between the H&H, mostly told from the heroine’s POV. I don’t have that in my manuscript.
    I tell the story from the POV of both the hero and heroine. The first two turning points are driven by the hero, and predominantly deal with his external and internal conflicts. It’s his actions at the third turning point that force the heroine to face her internal conflicts, and the situation becomes untenable to her. My heroine isn’t passive during any of story, she’s a strong character. Although there are clues and twists in the story that hint at how she will react, it’s not until the third turning point that her internal conflict comes to the fore.
    My question is – if the conflicts are cumulative, and the stakes for both H&H escalate through all four main turning points, is it okay that the story is a slow burn rather than antagonistic from the beginning? Should I be aiming for a different series than Heartwarming? Should I re-structure my novel?
    Secondly, in her article on submitting to Harlequin (March 24, 2017) Stephanie Doig raises two issues I’d like clarified please. Firstly, she mentions the possibility of submitting to a specific editor. Will that be the case for the 150 day challenge or will manuscript go into a pool for a particular series? Secondly, she mentions the importance of having an on-line presence for marketing “to promote their books across your platforms as well as ours.” I don’t, as yet, have an on-line presence. This will be something I will work on once I finish and submit this manuscript. Should a website be dedicated to writing, or can it reflect other interests? Is there an example or two you could give me (us) that would illustrate what you’re looking for? I did start a twitter account (yay me).
    Thanks again for inviting questions. I hope I haven’t blown the bank. 😉

    • Chrissie

      Kate – you can start up a web page on Wix or WordPress for free. Of course, they have pay versions but the free ones are fine. I use Word Press and it was a job to learn because I am not computer savvy. I leave that stuff for my hubby. lol. Use the name you will be writing under and you have to own that domain too. I bought mine many years ago and have kept it up, even when I wasn’t writing. You might want to start a website now and you can use the blog on that same website to talk about your up and coming story or what your interests are or anything that might draw a few readers. Make sure you add those links to your email so your presence there is known. Play a lot on Twitter, it moves fast, but there is a lot of good info and contests and other things advertised there that help writers. Don’t go overboard following everybody. Be picky or you will never get through your tweets! I’m still learning it after a year. 🙁 any questions? You know where you can find me. And there’s always my website…

    • Lakisha friday

      I wondered the same thing too. Just when I had planned to turn a couple stories that I thought would fit that line its gone. I’m like No way! I was going to send a story in so that left me with figuring out what line to send to but if you go to their books I’ve seen a few by Brenda it might be Jackson as her last name but she’s an African American author with Harlequin and a few of her books were western and maybe heart warming. Just look into it.

    • Chrissie

      Lakisha and Jennifer – I feel the same way. I loved Super romance and Nocturne and Blaze but now I have to see where my work will fit into what’s left. Hmmm…I think all lines will take any author’s books as long as they are good. Best of luck to us all for finding new favs to target! 🙂

  13. Mary Thomas

    The manuscript I’m working on is targeted for Love Inspired Suspense and set in Amish country. I’ve read as many Amish based LIS books as I could find. My question is – do the editors prefer that that both the hero and heroine be Amish and at the end of the story they stay in the community? It is acceptable for the story to have a strong Amish element but the hero and heroine either are not Amish themselves or do not end up in the community? I’m not suggesting that a hero or heroine who starts out in the Amish community leaves during the course of the story. I’ve seen it done both ways – non Amish hero and heroine living near Amish community and Amish hero and heroine living within an Amish community. Thank you.