10 Things You Need To Know About The Alpha Male

Do you love reading and writing about Alpha males? Then see if these top facts strike a chord…!

  1. He may have an enormous private jet/ sports car/ luxury yacht but there’s nothing this guy needs to overcompensate for…
  2. His bespoke suits/ cowboy boots/ scrubs look amazing on his muscular frame…and even better on the bedroom floor!
  3. He only laughs when something is either really really funny, or if he’s made the joke.
  4. He’s got so much testosterone that he’s rarely spotted clean-shaven…
  5. If he doesn’t agree with something, you’ll soon know about it.
  6. He doesn’t have to ask what you what you’re thinking, he knows…Especially in the bedroom!
  7. Speaking of which, this guy is seriously fertile. Like, seriously. 😉
  8. His metabolism is insane – no matter how many glasses of champagne, rare steaks, or romantic dinners for two he has, he remains pure rippling muscle. (Plus you’ll never have the awkward ‘who’s paying for dinner’ chat.)
  9. Whatever you do, do NOT ask him about his relationship with his parents…not unless you want to unleash his deepest darkest emotional conflict! In fact, commenting on his family is generally to be avoided…that way lies a revenge plot.
  10. Most importantly, he’ll never say ‘I love you’ unless he really means it

So, what are we missing – what else do you think we should know about the Alpha male!? Help us compile the definitive list below :-)

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Weekend Writing Tips: Joanne Grant

Hi everyone,

We really hope you’ve enjoyed all our Weekend Writing Tip videos so far! As of today, you can look out for these videos every other Friday – editorial food for thought to consider over the weekend :-)

Today, we’ve got the UK’s lovely Senior Executive Editor Joanne Grant on to talk about the all-importance of character motivations!

Enjoy your weekend, and happy writing!

The SOLD editors x

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Interview with… Tyler Anne Snell

Tyler Anne Snell first sold to Harlequin in 2014. Her standalone debut was Manhunt and since then, she has written the first book in a new four-book Intrigue series releasing in 2016. What she loves most about writing for Harlequin is the wonderful community of authors and readers it carries. Buy her debut here!

Follow Tyler on Twitter, Facebook and her blog!

Snell1. What book first got you hooked on Harlequin?
The first book I ever read in one sitting, cover to cover, was a Harlequin Intrigue! However, it was when I was in middle school and I’ve lost that particular book since then. I’ve tried to remember its title but have had no luck! One of these days I’ll track it down! Just know, it was certainly exciting!

2. How did you celebrate selling your first manuscript?
My fiancé (or husband, depending when you read this!) brought me home some flowers and an awesome little cake after I told him the news! But, aside from calling some friends and family and updating my social media, I didn’t go crazy! Instead I ended up immediately re-reading my book, ready to make the changes that needed to be made!

3. Which of the many books you’ve written has stayed with you the most and why?
Manhunt will always have a special place in my heart. It was the first book I ever published or sold, though I’ve been writing several under the radar for quite a while. However, this first book in my new four-book series that I’m currently working on (still untitled at the moment) excites me to a whole other level! Following a female private investigator and a man from her past that’s a bodyguard, there’s a lot of fun tension and thrills throughout it! Although, Manhunt definitely is thrilling!

4. What’s top of your TBR pile?
Hot Six by Janet Evanovich! I absolutely love the series and come back to it every now and then and realize all over again that it’s utterly addictive!

5. What book do you wish you’d written and why?
Real Murders by Charlaine Harris! I’m a huge fan of Harris and have read her every book. Real Murders starts a series that follows one of my favorite protagonists, Aurora Teagarden, through an exciting and emotionally charged story arc. I would have loved to write in the point of view of Aurora Teagarden! She’s brilliant, relatable and feisty!

6. What’s harder – first or last lines?
Definitely first lines for me. Like first chapters, first lines set the tone for the entire book. A first line has to really have a good punch to hook in readers. It’s why I spend so much time going over what it will be and, more often than not, why I end up changing my original choice. The last lines are easier in the fact that it’s like a reward for readers and the characters for making it through the story. Somehow that makes it easier to write for me!

7. How do you choose your characters’ names?
Oh goodness, I don’t have a good answer for this! Sometimes I’ll pick one from a list of names I’m always compiling—from books, shows and people I meet—and sometimes it will just pop into my head! Once I have a name, I rarely change it again. There are a few nods, though, throughout my books that are for close friends and family. I try not to be too obvious with naming characters after them!

8. How do you push through writer’s block?
I have a music playlist that can help knock loose a scene or idea on occasion. If that doesn’t work I’ll either write on another book for a bit or even read. The worst writer’s blocks usually get resolved after I step away from the Word documents and rewatch some of my favorite television shows! One or two episodes later and I’m good to go!

9. What’s the best career advice you’ve ever had?
My father has always told me to be confident in whatever pursuits I’ve had. And, more importantly, to be passionate about them. Self-confidence and passion go a long way no matter what your dream or career revolves around!

10. Your preferred writing snack?
A Hershey’s chocolate bar with almonds and lots of coffee or sweet tea!

11. Who is your favourite fictional couple?
Wow. This is a hard question! There are a lot of fictional couples I enjoy! At this very moment Margaret Hale and John Thornton from Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South comes to mind! I suggest you watch the BBC, four-episode adaptation. Trust me, it’s amazing! Great chemistry and tension between those two!

12. If you could rewrite your life, what would you change?
I don’t know if this counts but I would have made myself two inches taller. Nothing more, nothing less.

13. What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I love, love, LOVE Jackie Chan and Kurt Russell. I don’t know when the love for either started but it certainly hasn’t stopped. My mother-in-law even put a picture of Kurt in the center of a collage for me as a Christmas present!

14. What is your most overused word?
It’s fine. That’s not one word but it’s something I say way too much! It’s fine.

15. If I wasn’t a romance author, I would have liked to be…
A private investigator OR detective. I like solving puzzles and getting into the mind of someone else.

16. When was the last time you said ‘I love you’?
Not more than five minutes ago when my same-named beau brought me coffee!

17. What does love feel like?
I think the phrase “friendship on fire” has always come closest to describing the feeling for me. A maddening mix of comfort, trust and passion!

18. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Playing video games. Thanks to my father, I love to play them daily and even have a tattoo on my arm that represents one I’ve grown up with.

19. What’s your most romantic song?
“Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service always makes me swoon when I hear it!

20. Every hero needs a…
woman to keep him on his toes!


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Advice from the Archives: Creating Memorable Characters

This blog from SYTYCW 2013 is all about how to make your characters stand out from the crowd!

If the clothes make the man, then characters make the story. I’m a firm believer that if you don’t have fleshed-out, fully-realized, believable characters, you don’t have a book. No matter how earth-shatteringly great the prose may be.   Just think of your favorite book from childhood or adolescence. I was (still am!) a great devourer of anything written by Jane Austen. What comes to mind when you think of the superb masterwork Pride and Prejudice?  The characters that breathed life into its pages, of course: Elizabeth Bennett and her eternally drool-worthy beau, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, and their memorable supporting cast. If Mr. Darcy isn’t the goliath of romantic icons, the very prototype against which all romantic heroes are judged, I don’t know who is. What a STUD—the swooning masses are forever indebted to you, Ms. Austen! Who you decide to people your novel will determine so much about your book. Its timeliness, its credibility, its likeability, relatability, etc., the list is never-ending.   It’s a no-brainer, right? So when you sit down to craft the next great American romance novel, acknowledge and respect the importance of creating characters that the reader will want to return to again and again. With the right characters in place, the reader will follow your pen anywhere your mind can dream up.

Below is a guide to help you on your way:

Create characters that the reader hasn’t “met” before. For the reader to be reeled in from page 1, she has to care. And that just isn’t going to happen if you introduce her to characters that feel rehashed or regurgitated from somewhere else. Trust in your talent and creativity. An unexpected twist in characterization will go a long way in making the people in your book different. Which leads me to my next point…

Avoid clichéd characters.  Not only is it your duty to offer the reader unique characters, but hold back from giving her something you think she wants. Don’t be afraid to give your hero/ heroine flaws. In fact, don’t be afraid to torture them. Sure, they can be good looking, but give them a complex or two. Perhaps the heroine has struggled with an eating disorder in the past and is very insecure about her looks, or your hero has a disfiguring war injury that reminds him of the horrible turns life can take. Conversely, don’t fear putting in the unexpected when you create a villain. Give an editor a bad guy with greasy hair and bad breath and she’ll roll her eyes.  Give yourself permission to push the envelope. But be mindful not to cross over into the category of the bizarre. Don’t alienate your intended audience. Stay within the parameters of the imprint for which you’d like to write.  For example, a bloodthirsty demon hell-bent on revenge has no place in a Special Edition.

Relatability is key. Per my point above, write characters with your audience in mind. First, do your homework. Read (many!) books from the imprint you are targeting, and you’ll get a pretty good sense of what kinds of characters fly there. A surefire way to get a reader to put your book down is to give her a character in which she can’t see herself. A well-drawn character should have many facets: fears insecurities, self-doubts, internal conflict, appropriate emotional reactions, a source of pride—you get the picture. Just think about what runs through your own mind on any given day. Your characters deserve such complexity, too. Books should provide escapism, yes, but first the reader has to buy what you’re selling. The fantasy should be grounded in some kind of reality that the reader can relate to.

Create believable dialogue. Speaking of “keeping it real,” this is a biggie. There’s nothing that turns off a prospective reader or editor more that stilted, unnatural or—perhaps the biggest sin of all—dated dialogue. Voice betrays a character’s age. If your heroine is in her twenties, she should not be saying, “Gee, you are one lousy fellow. I am going to listen to my David Cassidy eight-track now, because he is way more far out and dreamy.“ You can write romances at any age, but if you’re older than the characters you are creating, talk to younger relatives and watch contemporary TV and movies to pick up cues on current lingo. (But please don’t overdo it—simple and straight forward dialogue is best!) Also very important: if you write dialogue for a child character, spend time with a child of a similar age to get vocal abilities and patterns down pat. No 1-year-old I’ve ever met speaks in complex, grammatically correct paragraphs (yes, I have seen this before).

Get feedback. Join writers groups and find a trusted critique partner. He or she will be your best friend when you can’t see the forest from the trees on those early drafts.  Learn to take (constructive) criticism. Yes, this book is your baby, but if you want to share it with the world—and possibly profit from it—be open to making changes that will give your baby the best possible shot of making it in a flooded market.

Love your characters. And don’t be afraid to let one go if he or she isn’t working for you. When you lovingly create a character, warts and all, it shows. Invest the time and energy (and, oh, the agony!) and it will pay off. Be patient. The vast majority of literature’s greatest characters were not created in a day.  Chances are, if you fall in love with your hero, the reader will, too. And that, dear writer, will be the ultimate gift.

Please consider these tips on characters when crafting your next Romance masterpiece. Happy writing—and good luck! We hope to meet your “people” soon!

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Dear Editor – send us your questions!

As you know, here on SOLD we love to answer our readers’ editorial queries – about manuscripts you might be working on right now, manuscripts you’re considering writing in the future, or general editorial queries as you work on honing your craft!

You can see questions we’ve previously answered in our ‘Dear Editor’ column here, but we’d love for you to submit more! So, if you have a burning question that you’d love to see answered, either tweet it to @HarlequinSYTYCW using the #DearEditor hashtag, or leave it in the comments section below.

Looking forward to hearing from you :-)

The SOLD team x

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Weekend Writing Tips: Julia Williams

The Weekend Writing Tips are back! This Saturday, we’ve got Editor for the Harlequin Medical Romance series, Julia Williams, here with her top tips on doing your research!

Check out our guidelines here, and happy writing!

The SOLD team x

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Interview with… Scarlet Wilson

Scarlet Wilson first sold to Harlequin in 2011. Her medical debut was It Started with a Pregnancy and since then, she has written fifteen books. What she loves most about writing for Harlequin is the diversity of writing for two different lines, Harlequin Romance and Harlequin Medical Romance. Make sure you check out her most recent Harlequin Romance, A Bride for the Runaway Groom!

Follow Scarlet on Twitter, and her blog!

1. What book first got you hooked on Harlequin?0515-9780373743377-bigw (1)
Pleasure, Pregnancy and a Proposition by Heidi Rice.

2. How did you celebrate selling your first manuscript?
By telling my family. My other half knew I was trying to write but my mum, dad and sisters didn’t. It was a big surprise to them.

3. Which of the many books you’ve written has stayed with you the most and why?
I like them all and would give a different answer every day. Today’s favourite is The Prince She Never Forgot. I always said I wouldn’t write a snowbound book or a made-up kingdom book. I’ve now done both. The Prince She Never Forgot is set in a made-up kingdom.

4. What’s top of your TBR pile?
The Girl with All the Gifts by M R Carey

5. What book do you wish you’d written and why?
The Returned by Jason Mott, I loved the whole human nature aspect of how people reacted so differently when their loved ones returned from the dead.

6. What’s harder – first or last lines?
I don’t mind either, but I think I enjoy writing last lines more.

7. How do you choose your characters’ names?
It’s odd. I always thought I would choose names I liked. But it doesn’t work that way at all. When I was writing my second book things just weren’t working. I changed my heroine’s name from Rose to Abby and that was it—it just flowed! The name has to be right for the character.

8. How do you push through writer’s block?
I don’t really have writer’s block. See below!

9. What’s the best career advice you’ve ever had?
Write every day and I do. I write 1000 words every day no matter what else is happening. I have to be disciplined about writing because I work full time and have two kids with activities every weekend and most nights of the week. I can write 1000 words in half an hour and have written in the car, at the side of the football park, in my bed—anywhere!

10. Your preferred writing snack?
Chocolate—always chocolate.

11. Who is your favourite fictional couple?
This was one was hard. At the moment it would probably be Eleanor and Park from Rainbow Rowell’s book.

12. If you could rewrite your life, what would you change?
Nothing. Life isn’t for rewrites.

13. What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
I’m a complete Star Trek fanatic, I even wrote an episode myself where I was Captain Picard’s daughter. I’m a little disappointed to never have made it into the TV series.

14. What is your most overused word?

15. If I wasn’t a romance author, I would have liked to be…
In real life I’m a nurse and health visitor and I like those jobs, but in my imagination I think I should have been a female Indiana Jones or an astronaut.

16. When was the last time you said ‘I love you’?
I say it to my boys every day.

17. What does love feel like?
Butterflies in your stomach and a little breeze blowing over your skin!

18. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
This year it was going to RWA in New York. I couldn’t wait.  I’ve wanted to go for a few years but things just fell into place this year.

19. What’s your most romantic song?
It’s not romantic but I love “Last Christmas” and make my other half dance to it every year.

20. Every hero needs a…

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Advice from the Archives: Can Heroes Ever Be Too Bad?

Do you love writing heroes with edge? Ever wondered how much edge is too much? Then this blog from last year’s SYTYCW competition is for you!

How bad is too bad? Can a hero ever behave so badly that even the love of a good woman can’t redeem him?

Now these are big – HUGE! – questions. For lots of readers, the hero is what draws them to romances, so giving them a hero they can fall in love with is vital. And many readers (myself included!) especially love a bad boy hero. For us, the redemption of the rake, the marrying of the playboy or the taming of the rebel is what it’s all about. To mess with this formula – to write a hero who behaves in such a way as to kill the readers’ love and respect for him – could be seen as a cardinal sin in the world of romance.

But what exactly might this behavior look like? And is it actually irredeemable?

Call me a soft touch (or maybe I’m just biased towards my heroes J), but I’m of the opinion that almost no behavior is irredeemable. As long as it’s superbly motivated and executed, it’s possible for readers to understand and accept pretty much anything, even if they don’t necessarily approve.

Of course, there are some behaviours that, in all honestly, we would not recommend you tackle! Rape, cruelty to animals, racism, homophobia, murder… these all cross a line that is *very* difficult to uncross. (Although… murder, if it was to protect someone he loved?  I could be persuaded to forgive and forget… Go on, who’s with me??) However dark-hearted or debauched these men are, they should have a code of honour that prevents them from becoming depraved. We don’t care how deep it’s buried, or how long it takes these heroes to find it, but that honour needs to be there in order for us to believe he’s really deserving of the heroine’s heart.

There are other reasons it might be difficult to warm to, or forgive, a hero. Confusion over what an Alpha male really is can be a major culprit here. Yes, Alphas can be arrogant and demanding and sometimes, downright rude. But they’re not total a**holes, even if at times, they’re close. And they are certainly not self-obsessed, over-sexed  misogynists. At the heart of it, heroes ultimately need to believe their heroines are their equal, and as such, deserve respect. That means not kicking off about using contraception, no double standards about their heroines’ sexual histories, and – my pet hate – not demanding a pregnant heroine gets an abortion.

But the biggest sin of all, in my book? The most unforgiveable crime? To be boring. Our books promise women escapist romantic fantasies, and the heroes are integral to that – whether they’re brooding desert sheikhs, honorable small-town sheriffs, and a million delicious variants in between.  As a romance writer, you’re part of the entertainment industry, and you have to remember that what you might want from a relationship in real life (stability, emotional availability, no relationship baggage) isn’t necessarily going to make for the most exciting reading experience. And realistic details about heroes (leaving the toilet seat up, anyone?) can be the kiss of death. Super bad boys win out over blandness any day. So, as you write your SYTYCW entry, have a think about how you’re going to make your hero – bad boy or otherwise! – stand out from the crowd. And just remember – the badder he is, the better those motivations need to be!

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Finish Your Novel Weekend!

Wattpad Write For Harlequin

The finish line is in sight! Will your novel be ready by the So You Think You Can Write contest deadline of 4:59 p.m. EST, Monday, September 21st, 2015? Harlequin Community is here to help you on this last leg of your writing marathon! (If you need any help entering your manuscript, you can read this blog post for all the details!)

It’s Finish Your Novel Weekend! Join your fellow writers on this thread over on Harlequin Community and share your writing journey!

Community is free but don’t forget you need an account to join the conversation. Register at harlequin.com.

On Saturday and Sunday, follow this schedule:

9:00 a.m. EST Today’s Goal

Whenever you have to accomplish a task, it’s good to have a goal. But it’s got to be specific, and you have a better chance of success if you share it. What are you going to get done today? Is it a certain number of words, pages, or chapters?  Maybe you have edits to finish, a last page to write, or you just want to get the %*@5#! book done! Share your goal and you’re one step closer to the finish line!

10:00 a.m. EST 1000-Word Sprint

Write 1000 words in an hour. Go! Check in with us in an hour and let us know how you did!

12:00 p.m. EST 15 Minutes On, 10 Minutes Off

Scheduling short bursts of focused effort offset with breaks can sometimes increase productivity. If you find yourself lol’ing at cat gifs instead of completing that crucial black moment in your romance novel, you might want to try this method: Set a timer for 15 minutes and work solidly until the timer goes off. Break for 10 minutes – and make it a real break. Get away from your desk, have a snack, do yoga, or watch that Idris Elba James Bond trailer. Repeat 3 times. Let us know how you did!

2:00 p.m. EST Go Outside!

Sometimes a change of scenery and a bit of exercise is all you need to get your focus back. Take a walk around the block and notice your surroundings. (Book ideas don’t just come from other books. Maybe you’ll bump into your next romance hero!) Take a picture of your neighbourhood and share!

 4:00 p.m. EST 1000-Word Sprint

Write 1000 words in an hour. Go! Check in with us in an hour and let us know how you did!

 5:00 p.m. EST Scene-ery

Got a favourite scene that showcases your sparkly fiction-writing talents? Share it with the group! But not too much – save some surprises for your winning manuscript! 😉

 6:00 p.m. EST Today’s Goal: Celebrate!

You’re so much closer to the finish line than you were before! How did you do? Share your success and celebrate!

fireworks - free use

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Challenge Yourself!



The annual So You Think You Can Write conference is happening next week, September 14-18, and includes three of our ever popular writing challenges! Enter now for a chance to win editor feedback!

writing challenges

Challenge One: The First Page

Send your romance manuscript’s first page in by 10 am EST Monday, September 14 and you may be one of 5 entries randomly chosen to receive personalized feedback at 12 pm EST, Tuesday, September 15 from our editors!

Email: ucanwrite@harlequin.ca, subject line “FIRST PAGE Challenge.” Entry can be no more than 1 page, double-spaced, size 12 font.

Challenge Two: The First Meeting

Show us the first time your romantic leads meet. You can include up to three sentences giving us a quick summary of what’s happened so far, and up two pages from your manuscript showing your first meeting.

Send your first meeting entry in by 10 am EST Wednesday, September 16 and you may be one of 5 entries randomly chosen to receive personalized feedback at 3 pm EST from our editors!

Email: ucanwrite@harlequin.ca subject line “MEETING Challenge.” Entry can be no more than 2 pages, double-spaced, size 12 font, plus your 1-3 sentence summary giving context for the scene.

Challenge Three: The 100-Word Pitch

Send in a 100-word pitch for your story by 10 am EST Friday, September 18 and you may be one of 5 entries randomly chosen to receive personalized feedback at 2 pm EST from our editors!

Email: ucanwrite@harlequin.ca, subject line “PITCH Challenge.” Entry can be no more than 100 words. (Your pitch is your story in a nutshell, showing off your romantic leads, plot, and hooks in order to pique the editors’ and voters’ interest!)

Are you up for the challenge?

For more about the conference and a complete schedule of events, visit soyouthinkyoucanwrite.com.


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