Friday, June 17, 2016

Susan Stephens: Celebrating 50 Books!

Don’t make my mistake! I had submitted several manuscripts to Mills & Boon long before I got ‘The Call’, but received such lengthy revisions I was certain I would never get it right. I didn’t submit anything after those first rejections for around 10 years. When I tried again the same thing happened, and I almost gave up.


One last try, I thought. The result was my first book, A Spanish Inheritance. And, yes, I received lengthy revisions, as this printed out e-mail shows – but the difference this time, was that I stuck at it. 

What was I doing wrong? Not reading enough current books in the line, and being too tentative with my story lines. It’s all very well having old favourites that have been on your bookshelves for years that you still love reading, but the market moves quickly, and you need to move with it.

Research what the editors are looking for. Mills & Boon Modern/Presents/Sexy is big and bold. Don’t think delicate watercolours—use oil paints big and bold. These stories are in the style of a Grand opera, rather than musical theatre, and it’s glamour, passion and unimaginable luxury all the way.

Conflict doesn’t mean a couple bickering their way through the book. Internal conflict and emotional conflict plays a larger part than external conflict.

What’s keeping your characters from each other? If they want each other, why can’t they be together?

Why? The most important word for any author... Ask yourself ‘why’ all the way through your story. Why is the hero behaving like this? What made him this way? And the same goes for your heroine.

Remember that every statement you make in a book will have consequences – be sure those consequences fit your master plan.

Don’t muddy the water with too many secondary characters. Keep the focus on your main protagonists, and how they react to situations and each other. How they react to situations tells the reader who they are.

My last piece of advice? Don’t take as long as I did to have the confidence to submit your work!

Okay, a PS. Love your readers, because the romance community is the best group of people in the world. I owe everything to my readers—so, if you’re a reader, thank you. And if you’re an aspiring author—discipline, determination, love what you do, and the very best of good luck to you from me!



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