The I Heart Contest. Yet another journey into the dark heart of contesting.

A few months back, on a bet, my crit partner and I entered the I Heart Harlequin writing contest. Then, after several weeks of putting it off, I wrote a chapter and synopsis one week before the deadline. I even managed to dredge up a plot that worked without giving me too much heartburn/acid reflux.

I do not write contemporary, nor do I generally dream up the kind of stories that are the staple of the Harlequin Presents or Modern Heat lines. And this kind of writing is more difficult than you can imagine, because it requires a great deal of emotional character angst shoveled into a well worn story line. What I like about Harlequin editors is they come right out and tell the contest participants not to write anything too fresh or creative. (Whew! What a relief.) They want you to use the time tested plots “we have all come to know and love––just change up the characters a bit.” Well, I have to say, at least they’re honest.

Here is a kind of sample scenario:
Handsome Rex Ruthless billionaire, coerces young attractive waitress, Dixie Doosey into sleeping with him. Either that or he will foreclose on her Grandpa Gabby’s ranch. Then somehow (don’t ask how, it’s just too unbelievable) the rich hunky dunkster realizes he has fallen in love (sigh). Now he must do everything in his bank account to win her back, like pay off the huge tax lien on grandpa’s property. Then the enchanting waitress will have sex with him again, oh no, I got that wrong––I mean so that the she will marry him. HEA.

By the way, the story above was not what I wrote. If I had written the love tale above, I might have had a chance at winning.

There is an alternate plot that revolves around a love child custody battle and heroine abduction but you don’t really want to read that blurb, do you?

So, that’s it. Needless to say, I didn’t win. My crit partner is sad about the fact that I lost, because she wanted me to win badly. I suspect it would have given her great pleasure to see me struggle to complete a 55,000 word Modern Heat manuscript with the help of a Harlequin editor (for a whole year).

Boing. (The sound of my brain imploding.)

G. Jillian Stone

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is currently finishing the second book in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website:


2 responses to “The I Heart Contest. Yet another journey into the dark heart of contesting.

  1. OK now I really must read one of your books. I enjoyed that read. I grew up reading them & Mills & Boon (Same Company different country). I drove my librarian crazy I’d take out 30 a week, every week so I learned that the max on our library was 160 books at a time. (I’d return 15-20 the following week but take out 30 more). I’d read 2-4 a day. I’d (well I still do) have at least two books with me at all times. You never know when you’ll have an opportunity to grab a quick read.

  2. R Tianna,

    I could have used you as a consultant when I was writing the chapter and synopsis for the contest!


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