Several years ago, I heard that Harlequin romance read every manuscript they received, and so I began writing short romance novels, tailoring them specifically for that market. I won’t lie–I’ve always believed they would publish anything. One book I read had a character named Darren, also spelled Darrin. I couldn’t help but think of the two Darrins on “Bewitched”.
I’ve read about a hundred Harlequin romances (for research more than pleasure), and I’ve probably liked about five of them. Most of the titles (and characters) are forgettable. (Though much meatier, I can barely name any of the Lisa Jackson and Sandra Brown books I’ve read.) However, there is a market for these little books, and so I’ve been working on a handful of titles–I just need to write the stories that go with them!
I ended up writing two novels, “Regina Fair”, a light, fluffy romance for the Harlequin American romance line, and “A Splash of Blue”, a darker novel for one of the other lines. I came up with “Regina Fair” for the title (it was originally “Regina’s Rainbow”) when I read that Audrey Hepburn’s “Sabrina” was originally “Sabrina Fair”; someone thought that sounded too highbrow (fearing they would think “Vanity Fair”), and so it was shortened.
My protagonist, Regina Morrow, is a refined girl who works a blue-collar job (she is a grocery clerk). I wanted to show (and not tell) that a girl could have class without money and/or a white-collar job. Plus, a character like that is more relatable than most of the contestants that compete on “The Bachelor”.
“A Splash of Blue” is about a young woman who runs away from her mother’s smothering love to become a mermaid for Soda Springs water park (based on Weeki Wachee Springs in Florida; I’ve been there, and it is truly a relic from the 1950’s). This title is reminiscent of the 1965 movie, “A Patch of Blue”.
I do think the greatest books have the most memorable titles (“Gone with the Wind”, “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”), and a catchy title (like a book cover that pops) is important, as are character names. Did you know Pansy was Scarlett O’Hara’s original name? Or that Mickey was born Mortimer Mouse? I can’t imagine it either.