Author Lynn Raye Harris on the series romance panel she participated in at the convention.

Greetings from Columbus, Ohio! This is only my first RT Convention, but I can assure you it won’t be my last! What a fun place to be. I’ve been here since Tuesday, and it’s been a non-stop fest of meeting people, having fun, and talking books. The RT staff has been incredibly organized and gracious, and the events are all rockin’.

This being my first RT, I was a bit surprised to find all the wonderful writers’ tracks and panels. This convention is not just a party (though there are definitely some great parties). Today, for instance, I sat on a panel of authors talking about the series (or category) romance and how to tailor your story to sell to the right line.

Julie Miller, Ann Voss Peterson, Nina Bruhns, Delores Fossen, Lisa Childs and I chatted with readers and aspiring writers for nearly an hour. We write for such diverse lines as Harlequin Presents, Intrigue, Silhouette Romantic Suspense, and Nocturne – and we had plenty to say about how the lines work and how much we love what we write.

Basically, no matter which line you’re targeting, you must absolutely love that line. You need to read the books, and you need to bring your own voice to the promise of the line – copying your favorite author is not the way to sell your book. The editors want to see how you take the themes and make them your own.

If that sounds cryptic, I swear it isn’t! Each category line holds a promise for the reader; they know when they pick up a Presents, for instance, what kind of story they’re going to get.  Think about your favorite series line – you know exactly what I mean by the promise of the line, don’t you? You know when you pick up that book what kind of story will be between those pages.  It can be hot and sassy, sizzling, spooky, dangerous, or deeply emotional – but at the core it will always be a satisfying romance between two wonderful characters that you care about.

Someone asked if we felt like category romances were the red-headed step-children of romance. While we’ve all experienced misguided people asking us when we plan to write a “real” book, I think the consensus was that we love the lines we write for and we love the fast-paced, satisfying reads that a category romance delivers.

Everyone in the room agreed that category romances were comfort reads. You can pick one up and finish it in a few hours. And yet, while the pace is quick and the read can go fast, these books absolutely are not easy to write.  The authors put a lot of care into their craft – I know I do! – and we have a lot we need to accomplish in fewer words.

In short, writing the series romance is a challenge! But it’s a challenge worthwhile. If you love these books, if you want to write them, then go for it. Put your pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, and make the story your own. That’s what will sell your book: a great story with characters the reader cares about.

- Lynn Raye Harris