#FreshStart - Michelle Styles
It’s the beginning of a whole new year; what time could possibly be better to become more motivated and inspired? You have a whole 365 days ahead of you, and now is the time to start making them count, so we're asking authors what they've got planned for the year ahead!
Michelle Styles shares her hopes and plans for 2019, including being part of a new Viking continuity and developing some of the changes she's made over the last year.
It started with cake and tea as many things do.
Fellow Harlequin Historical author Jenni Fletcher came to visit last summer and we ended up brainstorming the possibility of doing a Viking continuity. We put tentative feelers out. September and AMBA rolled around, so I pitched the idea to the editors (it helped that I had had several G&Ts by this point). The editors were thrilled. We were then able to get the rest of the authors on board—Michelle Willingham, Harper St George and Terri Brisbin. It is the first time Harlequin Historical has done a Viking continuity and the authors were all involved in coming up with the over-arching story line. It is also the first time I have done anything like this. And it was an honour and pleasure to work with these authors whose work I have enjoyed over the years.
There are now deadlines and publication dates. So part of 2019 will be spent crafting my portion of this tale about five Viking brothers who seek to revenge the murder of their father and find love along the way. The continuity will be published starting in March 2020.
My editor has also let me know that I will have revisions in the new year for another Viking story. It is the start of trilogy set in Mercia so I want to keep working on that. The thing I like about writing Vikings is that gives me a chance to hold a dark mirror up to society and explore themes which might be difficult otherwise.
Work-habit-wise I want to grow on some of the changes I enacted in 2018 after reading a trio of authors— Roseanne Bane's Around the Writer’s Block (about work habits, brain science and not allowing your limbic system to take over), LaShaunda Hoffman's Building Online Relationships—out awhile but full of excellent ideas on social media—and Steven James' Story Trumps Structure—about writing organically—as well as Troubleshooting Your Manuscript—about editing your manuscripts with the chart on show vs tell is worth the price of the book alone, one of the best I have ever seen.
Romancelandia, in particular on the series side, has seen many changes over the last twelve months but there is more to come. There remains a real appetite to see more diverse story lines, rather than simply pay lip service to the long overdue idea of full integration, particularly in the retail space. The Harlequin editors certainly remain committed to seeing it happen and are actively seeking a wider range of stories from diverse authors which meet with the series guidelines. In 2018 the welcoming of diverse story lines has gone from implicit in the guidelines to explicit. I had a long conversation with a very senior member of Harlequin about the situation at AMBA. It is very much a case of following Maya Angelou’s excellent advice about do your best until you know better and then do better.
Because of traditional print publishing time-lags—for example Historical often has nine to twelve months from sign off to publication—we will see far more diversity within the overall series output in 2019, rather than having it confined to a single line. The nature of series means more diverse story lines will be in the hands of the direct to consumer reader, a reader who is really the backbone of the entire industry. That reader is often a busy woman who chooses to have the editorial she likes delivered to her. In short, she trusts Harlequin to give her the read she wants. Given the Harlequin’s track record of delivering on the editorial, I am convinced this very important reader will wholeheartedly embrace more diverse stories in 2019. And success will beget success.
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