Like the Godfather, one should never refuse an editor’s offer of an opportunity...so was the wisdom imparted to me by a seasoned author when I sold my first story. And I took it to heart.
Early in September, the phone rang. My editor said in a cheery voice that she had a wonderful opportunity for me. Without waiting to hear the opportunity, I said yes. Cue relief in her voice and she began to explain. The Digital part of Harlequin thought a free online serial would be a great way to highlight the North American release of my duo –A Question of Impropriety and Impoverished Miss, Convenient Wife. The kicker in this opportunity (there is always one) was that it needed to be done by 17 September or basically 2 weeks. I had never written a serial before and equally I am not entirely convinced that I can write short. There are reasons why I write historical including it has the highest word count of all the series lines that Harlequin publishes. Add just agreeing a new contract with a challenging first deadline and having written the duo back in 2008, I could just about remember the world and the characters . But I had said yes and so I became determined. My editor was also very good about reassuring me that the serial only needed to be loosely linked to the books. It was not supposed to be a prequel or sequel but a stand alone.
Writing a serial is different from writing a short story or a novel. Readers may start the serial in different places. There needs to be a cliffhanging ending of some sort to each segment and it can’t be the same sort. The length of each segment is predetermined plus there is a set number of episodes. However it was a real chance to showcase my writing.
I started by reading as many of the online serials as I could. If you haven’t discovered this great Harlequin resource, give it a try. It can be a fantastic way to try a line or an author whom you are curious about. And as I didn’t have a clue on how to begin, I thought it best to read a few. I soon decided what I liked and why, so I began to write, and made my deadline.
There were a few revisions and I learnt a few things through the revisions process. It was the first time I had encountered Track Changes edits from an editor and was finally able to see a line edit in detail. Among other things she highlighted repetition of words. Seeing it highlighted truly brought it home.
Anyway, it was an education and hopefully my future writing will show that I have learnt a few lessons...
The first chapter of the FREE Online serial is now up at eharlequin and you can read it here. It finishes on 3 January.
The blurb reads:
Tyne Valley, 1813
When her sister eloped with someone other than her betrothed, Lady Anne Dunstan knew two things. One, that she completely supported her sister's making her own choice about who she would marry. And two, that Anne—the responsible one—would have to clean up the mess
What she didn't know was how her sister's intended, Jason Martell, would take the news. Or how Anne would respond to the force of his presence, his rugged good looks, his less-than-gentlemanly advances.
Or to his proposal of marriage.
Copyright © 2010 by Harlequin Books S.A.
I do hope you will take the opportunity to read it. Eharlequin has helpfully provided a discussion thread for the serial.
And in case you are wondering why it is copyright Harlequin rather than Michelle Styles. With free reads, Harlequin buys the entire copyright out right -- through out the universe both known and unknown.
So do people enjoy serials? Do you read them all at one go, saving them up or do you read them as they are put up?