The Harlequin Medical Month Blitz is fast approaching—and we couldn’t be more excited! To help you prepare your submissions, we asked our current Medical Romance authors for their best hints and tips for aspiring writers. As expected, our wonderful authors rose to the occasion, jumping at the chance to share some of their knowledge and experience. Many of them were even acquired through a Blitz themselves! We hope you find that their stories and advice inspire you to give it a go too…
“The Medical Blitz! What an amazing opportunity to get your work in front of an editor. If you’re on the fence, I’m here to tell you to give it a chance. Over ten years ago, when the Blitz was called a Fast Track (2011), I decided to take a chance. In 2013, I got the call and 35 books and counting, I’m still here and still loving the stories I get to create.
I do understand how nerve wracking it can be. My best advice, do your research. You don’t have to be a medical professional to write for Harlequin Medical Romance. I’m not. You need to know terminology, but don’t get hung up on the graphic details. Focus on the characters and what keeps them from achieving their HEA…which you as the author will fix with your awesome book.”
– Amy Ruttan
“One of the best lessons I’ve learned when writing books is that I should just write. Not stop and edit as I go. Not incessantly mull over something I’ve already written. But just move forward and write. If I don’t, the book will never get done.”
– Denise N. Wheatley
“In 2019, Harlequin ran a Medical Romance Blitz. I have no medical background, so while I grew up watching ER and rooting for heroes and heroines on Grey’s, I never considered writing one. But it was an opportunity I felt I couldn’t pass up. I had NOTHING ready when the blitz was announced, but all I needed was a synopsis and first chapter. So, I set off.
Here are three steps that helped me prepare, and then write, the story that became my debut, Unlocking the Ex-Army Doc’s Heart:
- Let’s talk characters! Get yourself some strong heroines and loveable heroes (remember that Harlequin is actively looking for LGBTQ+ leads!). Focus on characters that have flaws, but are relatable. Readers want to see themselves in your characters.
- Your setting needs to play well with your story. For example, I picked remote Alaska because my heroine was running from people. The good news is the Medical Romance line lets you set your stories almost anywhere. Cruise ship – we’ve got it. Remote island clinic – sure. Busy hospital in Boston or London – absolutely.
- Side characters…drop em. I know, I know. This is hard to hear. Man, even with nearly 15 medical romances under my belt I want a cute bestie or strong brother. However, you only have fifty thousand words. That is not a lot. Writing tight for category is a skill, and the truth is you don’t have a lot of room for fully developed side characters.”
– Juliette Hyland
“My advice to anyone entering the Medical Blitz is to start at the point of impact for your characters. You’ve only got one chapter to catch your editor’s attention, so get straight into the action!
I was picked up through the So You Think You Can Write competition. Keen to stand out, I rewrote the chapters I had to open with a handsome French doctor watching my heroine in a burlesque class. Though I didn’t win, I did get to work with an editor. Jackpot! That chapter later went on to be part my first book, French Fling to Forever, and nearly ten years on I’ve written twenty-five books for Harlequin.”
– Karin Baine
“Congratulations on deciding to submit! That’s the first step in what can be a life-changing process! If I can offer one piece of advice before you submit to the Medical Romance Blitz, it’s to make sure both characters have clearly set goals that are outlined in the first chapter (preferably in action). The two characters’ goals should conflict with each other until they find a way to work together (in a medical setting!). That’s the brass tacks that helped me figure out the meat of my first medical story.”
– Kristine Lynn
“Trust your editor when they tell you something about your work—they are there to help your story be better. Remember Harlequin Medical Romance is about romance in a medical setting, not where to learn medicine. Lastly, emotion matters. Make sure it is on every page.”
– Susan Carlisle
“I was “discovered” through a Medical Blitz back in February of 2016. My submission was pulled from the blitz slush pile by a wonderful editor. I worked with her for over a year, tweaking first my submission, then writing and submitting more and more of the book, until I finally got The Call in December of 2017. My first book with the line, One Night with the Army Doc, released in August 2018 and now I’ve written over fifteen books for Medicals!
My tips for anyone entering would be:
Make sure you follow the submission guidelines to a T, including word count, formatting etc. The editors get lots of submissions for these blitzes and want to know they’re working with someone who can follow directions. Don’t give them an easy reason to turn you down by not following the submission guidelines.
Read any notes you receive back on your submission several times. Do a first read-through, then let it sit a bit. Come back to it a few days later and read it again, then think about the revisions. Give yourself time to understand and percolate on them first. And finally, if the editor says they want to see the submission again after you make the changes, take them up on it! They are super busy and wouldn’t say they want to see it again if they don’t mean it. This could be your big break, so work hard, make the suggested changes, and resubmit, if asked. You can’t win if you don’t play the game!”
– Traci Douglass
“My tip would be to read the line you are hoping to write for, see what is already being written and see what fires in your imagination! There are so many great stories, especially for the Medical line, and a whole array of worlds to drop your love torn characters into.”
– Rachel Dove
We hope you find these tips encouraging as you prepare your submissions ahead of Medical Month in May. Remember, you can submit your contemporary Medical Romance submission between May 1 and 12 and receive a response, including editorial feedback, by May 31! Please submit your entry to the Medical Month Submittable Box.
Good luck and happy writing – we look forward to reading all your fabulous submissions!
The Harlequin Medical Romance Team x