Christina Hollis author, Harlequin, Mills and Boon, Top Tips, Writing Guidelines

Three Tips To Instantly Improve Your Chances of Getting Noticed…

The publishing business is a crowded market. Everyone’s either looking for the next Harry Potter/Fifty Shades, or trying to write it. When the book of your heart is finished, here are three tips that will help your work get noticed.
1: Give Them What They Want.
Know your audience.  Write first to please yourself, but if you want to entertain others as well, make sure you tailor your work to their likes and dislikes. Check out author guidelines, like the ones produced by romance publishers Mills and Boon. the sort of books you want to write. Popular authors get to be that way because they know what readers like, and expect.  
2: Keep It Clean!
This has got nothing to do with sex – the level of heat you’re happy with is up to you. When you’re showcasing your manuscript to agents or publishers, first impressions count. They can make or mar a reader’s experience of a text. While William Shakespeare would still have been a genius if he’d scratched ogham with a stick on unnumbered wax tablets, his texts would have been chucked straight in the midden without a second glance. He knew how to present his work. Times have changed, but some basic facts remain the same. If an editor’s got a dozen manuscripts to read, the ones presented in the commonly accepted, easily readable fashion are going to be dealt with first.  It’s human nature to assume that if a writer can’t be bothered to make an effort with presentation,  their ratty text might not be worth reading.  It you’re sending off a paper version of your manuscript, make sure the lines are double spaced, and printed in an easily-read font (Times New Roman 12 point is a good one) in black on only one side of white paper. Always include a front sheet with title, word count and all your contact details. Type “The End” in the appropriate place, so the editor or beta-reader isn’t left wondering, and add your details again. That’s it – no fancy bindings, Gothic script or coloured ink. Clean and clear. If you are sending a submission by email, make sure you know whether your contact wants attachments, or samples in the body of your message. If you use a Mac, make sure you supply your text as a Word document too, just in case. And always, always keep copies.
3: Aim Carefully.
Times have changed. In the Seventeenth century, the only people who wrote fiction were geniuses and people with time on their hands, and there weren’t many of either. These days, it seems like everyone wants to be a writer. With the world population now around 7 billion, that’s an awful lot of competition.  Whether you go down the route of getting an agent or going straight to a publisher, make sure you choose carefully. Research firms and individuals via the Internet, or an up-to-date specialist publication such as The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. Don’t send your steamy sex-saga to a publisher who only deals in children’s books, for a start! Make sure you send off exactly what is asked for, too – no more, and no less. If your book isn’t finished, tell them so, and how long it will take you to complete it.
Finally – good luck!
Christina Hollis, Harlequin, Mills and Boon, Romance, The Count's Prize

The Count’s Prize

I’ve had such lovely messages about my latest release for Harlequin, The Count’s Prize, I thought it was about time I included it in my blog.  It’s set in my favourite part of Italy, where the landscape inspires romance that tempts Josie to break her rule about never mixing business with pleasure…
He was standing so close to her, Josie could feel his presence as well as catch the delicious drift of his aftershave. It gave her a tremulous feeling deep within her body.

What’s happening to me? I’ve come here to work, she thought in alarm, glancing up at him.
Dario was gazing out across the view, lost in thought. At that moment, as though feeling her gaze fall on him, he turned his head and their eyes met. Another sensuous ripple thrilled straight through her. 
And, as if knowing what was going through her mind, Dario granted her a slow, sweet, irresistible smile.
Copyright, Harlequin Mills and Boon Ltd. 2012

I’m delighted that so many of you have been in touch to say how you enjoyed Josie and Dario’s story. In making my heroine a successful archaeologist I was going out on a bit of a limb but the reaction of readers was so positive, it gave me an idea for my current work in progress. The discovery of a dazzling treasure leads to danger…
Watch this space for further developments!
Christina Hollis author, Mills and Boon, Romance

My Latest Release

We don’t have another Bank Holiday here in England for months, and with the Rainy Season apparently here to stay, I thought you might like a little distraction. My July release for Harlequin Mills and Boon, The Count’s Prize is available from  
Josie is a sensible academic, who’s landed the job of a lifetime. The catch? It’s based at the home of notorious playboy Dario. Josie and Dario are drawn together by irresistible forces, but she has more sense than to entrust her damaged heart to a rogue, while his flippant exterior hides a pain darker than he can face.
Here’s a little taste of it…

It was only when her hands slid around his waist that he stirred and gave a wordless moan of longing and regret Then he reached around and grasped her wrists. That one simple movement woke Josie from her trance. With a spasm of alarm she realised how close she had come to total surrender. She stood back and stared at him, shocked.
Dario’s expression was a mask of regret. His eyes squeezed shut as he whispered, ‘No…I can’t…I’m sorry… Arietta…’
Josie’s longing drained away replaced by the old familiar mix of anger, shame and humiliation.
‘You could at least call me by the right name!’ She spat.
That broke the spell.
‘I should never have done anything at all,’ he said grimly, dropping her hands and striding away across the glade to his horse.

Josie and Dario’s story has echoes of Cinderella. I love that theme, but of course there are lots of others. What’s your favourite? There’s a signed copy of The Count’s Prize on offer for a comment drawn at random  week on Wednesday, 20th June. 
Christina Hollis author, Mills and Boon, Romance

Some Good News on A Dark Day…

It’s been a real, old fashioned November day today, murky and damp. I’m still struggling to shake off a horrible virus, and was in two minds whether or not to go to church today. I compromised and took the car (which I hate) instead of walking (which I love). I’ve missed the past couple of weeks, so I didn’t realise that today we had a baptism. It was lovely – the church was packed, and there were lots of children, which makes a welcome change. The little boy who was Christened was very good, considering how strange it must have been for a two-year-old. His extended family seemed to enjoy themselves – fingers crossed we see some of them again, sometime!
My other bit of good news is that I’ve had another story accepted by Harlequin Mills and Boon. Details still need to be finalised, but Dario and Josie’s story will be appearing in 2012. Watch this space for details!
Finally, news of my Big Blog Tour. I’m blogging here at the moment and for details of my next appearances with the free book offers etc, check here

chocolate, Christina Hollis, cuckoo, Mills and Boon

A Day Off…

Yesterday, I turned in the manuscript of my latest Mills & Boon Modern Romance, provisionally entitled Fire and Ice. As my editor is taking a few days well earned rest, today I squeezed in a sneaky day away from the computer. That meant spending some time in the garden. I’d love to say this is a picture of my handiwork, but sadly, it isn’t! I also went for a nice long walk, listening out for the cuckoo. No luck – the wind is still a bit chilly for him. I’ve been trying to walk a minimum of twelve thousand steps per day to counteract the time I spend sat at the keyboard, but it’s hard work! I need lots of encouragement, and with the beautiful river Wye 3,500 steps away (a figure burned into my brain), that’s one obvious target. Unfortunately, to get there I have to pass the only shop for miles around. It sells chocolate.
Enough said…