Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Listening and learning: another way to procrastinate

Until earlier this year, I will admit that I was only vaguely aware of podcasts and podcasting. However, then Harlequin began to put editorial podcasts on its website and I started to listen. And a new procrastination tool was born. You can download them to an ipod or you can do as I do and listen via your computer.
The editorial podcasts are basically two editors talking in depth about one particular line. Each podcast lasts between 20 -40 minutes. They are not only interesting from a writer's point of view but also from a reader's point of view. Ultimately they are a masterclass in what each line is about.The editors have tried to explain what televisions shows/movies the line is most like. Romance used Love Actually to sum up the line -- lots of stories each month but each being about love. SSE chose Brothers and Sisters.
At the moment, the recent podcasts have been from the London office. So Senior Editor Tessa Shapcott and Editor Sally Williamson explained the differences between Modern and Modern Heat as well as the difference between Presents and Presents Extra. Presents Extra are grouped around a specific theme. And they talked about titling and why titles are chosen the way they are. With the Historical podcast, Sr Editor Linda Fildew and editor Joanne Carr talked about popular time periods, themes and heroes. In the most recent podcast on Harlequin Romance, sr editor Kim Young and editor Meg Lewis dispel some of the myths about the Romance line as well as explaining what it is about the line that makes it so special. They also explained that within the line secondary characters provide flavouring. This is different from some of the other lines where secondaries play key roles. Medicals should be coming up next Thursday.
Earlier podcasts included ones on Nocturne, Blaze, Superromance, Intrigue, Special Edition, Desire etc. And the intention is to do all the lines.
For me, it has been an education in what makes up series romance, plus I have discovered several new authors. And as it is sort of working, I can justify the listening. I know when I listened to the historical podcast, I came away with a ton of notes about how my latest books could be improved. And in several places, I thought -- ah that is what my editor meant when she said xyz.
Has anyone else listened to the podcasts? Or does anyone know about any other good podcasts?


Dina said...

I don't listen to them.

Michelle Styles said...

Ah well, I know the feeling and indeed until these particular podcasts came along was of meh opinion. However, I tried them and found them very interesting.
They also have a variety of authors speaking about their books. I believe the current podcast is Suan Wiggs, but Gina Showalter also did a podcast.
What I would say about the editorial podcasts is that if you are interested in writing for H/S, they are an important free resource as they go into much more depth than the guidelines. But then I can be one of these people who wants to know -- why.

Malle said...

Malle, from Harlequin here. I produce the podcasts and we are planning for round 2 of the editorial guidelines now, so if there is anything in particular anyone wants included, let us know! I'll come by and check comments or you can email directly

Thanks for your kind words, Michelle! Your recap of what is working in the editor podcasts is exactly what we hoped aspiring writers would appreciate - and help us find new talent!

On a slightly different note, but still connected, the winner of the Harlequin Presents writing competition at the I Heart Presents blog was acquired by the UK office this week!

Maureen said...

I have seen different podcasts that I might find interesting but have yet to figure out how to listen to them.

Michelle Styles said...

Malle -- the podcasts are brilliant. Keep up the good work!

Maureen -- with the podcasts, there is a place to click to hear them. And it acts just like you were listening to the radio through your computer. My children have the ipods, and I don't use them so I couldn't help there, but I think it is fairly straight forward to down load.

Jennifer Y. said...

Hmm...I have never listened to podcasts, but they do sound interesting.

Estella said...

I have never listened to a podcast.

Jennie Lucas said...

Oooh, thanks Michelle! I'll have to check it out!!


GladysMP said...

I laughed when I saw the term "POD" and read what you were refering to. We have just suffered through Hurricane Ike here in Houston and POD around here stood for "Point of Distribution" where they were distributing ice and MREs (meals ready to eat)to those needing them because of the hurricane's destruction. We were without water, phone and electricity at first. Finally got them back in that order, but the electricity took two weeks. The mountain of debris outside on our curb was picked up today. Taking a bath by flashlight was a first! With an all-electric kitchen, I couldn't even heat water (after we got water back) for coffee. Ike was quite an experience.

Michele L. said...

I have never listened to a PODcast. They really sound interesting though! I even have an I-Pod and have never even used the thing! I won it in a contest.

Have a great week Michelle!

Michele L.