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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Madelle's 10 Minutes of Radio Fame

by Madelle Morgan

In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, Alan Neal, the funny and charming host of an Ottawa afternoon radio program, challenged listeners to co-write a serial romance novel - a crowd-writing experiment. Then he invited me on the radio show to give the writers some advice. 

I enjoyed this experience tremendously, laughed a lot, and thought I’d share it with you.

Over three days, each volunteer was given an hour to write a scene for “Annualized Advances”. I still have no clue what Annualized Advances means. The title makes me think of a tax bulletin written by an accountant, not a romance.

The story drifts all over the place, as you’d expect when each writer only had an hour to dream up the next bit. Given that half of the writers of Annualized Advances were men, you’ll understand that the story was heavier on action than romance. Although Charles, the hero, starts off as a wimpy Member of Parliament (MP) with no money, status or power, a subsequent contributor corrected that by making him a former JTF2 member. JTF2 is the acronym for Joint Task Force 2, an elite special ops group in the Canadian Forces.

The female writers rocked the romance, but the men were too shy to write the mushy stuff!

The women made valiant attempts to keep the hero sympathetic. After a male writer has Charles kill off a bad guy in Chapter 3, in the next chapter a female writer ensures the victim turns out not to be dead after all! She has Charles and Robyn kiss, albeit with the victim supposedly dead in the back seat. FINALLY, some romance, written by a woman of course:

We were lost in each other's embrace, seeking, exploring like a couple of teenagers, except that we were parked in a garage on the edge of Lower Town with a dead body in the back seat.
And then: a sound.
"He's alive, the idiot is alive!  My career, hell, my life is not ruined! I didn't kill him!" (says Charles)
The romance heats up in Chapter 5: Budget Boudoir (or does it?) when the hero and heroine cuddle on a bed in IKEA after hours. Alone at last! 

The bed is warm, the lighting is dim and even a bit romantic, a lovely setting really — except for the faint smell of Swedish meatballs that still lingers.

 You’d think that the next writer (a man) would seize the opportunity for the characters to take the relationship to (ahem) the next level under a cozy down comforter. But no. Just as Charles starts to make his move, you guessed it, the store manager shows up and the characters have to run away. IKEus Interruptus.

Before I share the link to the story, here’s a short explanation of the Canadian content. Ottawa is Canada’s federal capital, the Canadian equivalent of Washington, DC. The House of Commons and the Senate are located on Parliament Hill, aka “The Hill”.

 Ottawa's Parliament Hill  Image Credit
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and those of the Members of Parliament (MPs) of the governing party and the opposition are located on or around The Hill as well. A “backbencher” is an elected Member of Parliament who has no other role; i.e., has not been appointed to Cabinet or another prestigious position by the Prime Minister. Backbenchers basically have no power. They get to vote the party line and that’s about it.

You can read all eight chapters of Annualized Advances here. A chapter entitled The Lover’s Vortex references the Polar Vortex that’s enveloped so much of North America in frigid temperatures. It’s been a long cold winter and this fun project came along at the right time.

The only benefit of the prolonged cold spell is an extended ice skating season on Ottawa’s wonderful 4.7 mile Rideau Canal. 

The Rideau Canal Skateway

What did I think of the serialized romance?

On February 12 Alan Neal invited me on his show to advise the writers, who’d only written the first three chapters at that point. Hear what I had to say on CBC Radio.

A virtual high five to Alan Neal and his producer for the creative idea. Now, what did you think of Annualized Advances, and more importantly, were you amused?

On a related note...see more advice on writing romantic action adventure stories at


Judith Ashley said...

What a cool story! Haven't listened to your interview but I did read all 8 chapters. Very creative!!!

Madelle Morgan said...

I thought it was very cool that a MALE radio personality spearheaded this idea to crowd-write a romance, and have men participate.

Maybe more men will check out a romance novel thanks to the project!

Judith Ashley said...

Very cool that Alan Neal and his producer came up with this idea but even More Cool that they thought of you!