December 2009


“Writing every day is a way of keeping the engine running, and then something good may come out of it.”  T.S. Eliot

Happy New Year to you all. Do you have any writing resolutions for the New Year? I have several projects I hope to tackle in the New Year. I’m busy clearing my desk this week so I can start fresh in 2010. Do any of you have resolutions you’d like to share?

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InnerVision Books is an epublishing company founded this summer by veteran romance author Donna Hill and her business partner, Pittershawn Palmer. InnerVision is open to submissions of novels featuring African-American and multi-cultural characters. From their website: “Our vision for our fiction both literary and contemporary fiction is to create a new genre which we call “Reality Fiction.” These stories encompass cross-cultural topics such as societal, familial, religious, political concepts, no matter the genre.  Main character: one must be African American the other must be of a different ethnic group.  Characters must be taken out of their comfort zones, i.e., an African America who finds themselves involved with an Amish character… how the two lifestyles clash but evolve making them evolve as well.  (ex. “Witness” featuring Harrison Ford), i.e., and African American character who finds themselves forced to confront someone with HIV when their mindset has been pure homophobic ex., “Philadelphia.”  An African American who has moved from their day to day setting to live in another country or community.”  Novels should be at least 225 pages, novellas 100 pages. They also publish erotica. See their writer’s guidelines for all the details.

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Her Christmas Wish (Harlequin American Romance Series) is still available in stores and online. And coming next week, you’ll be able to buy copies of my two new books, The Father for Her Son (Harlequin Superromance) and Baby, It’s Cold Outside: Blame It on the Blizzard\Deep Freeze\Melting Point  In January, I’ll be doing a blog tour to promote my books. I’ll post schedule updates here. Please stop by and say hello when you can.

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The Bristol Short Story Competition welcomes entries from the UK and throughout the world. Entry fee is 7 pounds (about $11 at current currency rates). Prizes will be awarded: 

Ist- £500 plus £150 Waterstone’s gift card

2nd- £350 plus £100 Waterstone’s gift card

3rd- £ 200 plus £100 Waterstone’s gift card

The other 17 writers who feature on the shortlist will be presented with a cheque for £50.

All 20 shortlisted stories will be published in Volume 3 of the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology.

Stories may be in any genre, no longer than 300 words. You may submit via email. The dealine to enter is March 31. See their guidelines for all the details.

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Advice to new writers? Always the same advice: Learn to trust your own judgment, learn inner independence, learn to trust that time will sort the good from the bad — including your own bad.”

                                                                                     Doris Lessing

Merry Christmas to all. I hope you have a joyful holiday season.

Speaking of Christmas, The Christmas Spirit,  the sequel to the wildly successful Christmas Miracles book from St. Martin’s Press, is seeking contributions. “We seek true stories that emphasize the significance of the Christmas season. So often, we get caught up in the busy-ness of the season—the shopping, the family drama, and the event planning—that we lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas. Sometimes, through God’s grace or what some call a twist of fate, we’re able to step back and grasp the real meaning of Christmas and our lives are enriched. These are the kind of stories we are seeking.” The book will be published in fall 2011. The completed manuscript is due in the spring of 2010. Bestselling author, Debbie Macomber, has agreed to write the foreword.  For more information, visit The Christmas Spirit website.

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For an interesting look at what publishers are buying right now, check out the Agent in the Middle blog.******************

Have a funny Christmas Story? College Life is sponsoring a Funny Christmas Story contest. There are only a couple of more days to enter, but you can do so online, for a chance to win a Nintendo DS or an Amazon Gift Certificate.

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Feel free to forward or reprint this blog. All I ask is that you give me credit and include the full link to the blog in your reprint.

Reading about imaginary characters and their adventures is the greatest pleasure in the world. Or the second greatest.”  Anthony Burgess

This week I’m looking at the Spotlight on Kensington Books from the Romance Writers of America’s national convention in Washington, D.C.

The spotlight was presented by Steve Zacharias, CEO of Kensington, Editorial Director Audrey LeFehr, Publisher Laurie Parkin and Karen Auerbach, Publicity Director.

 Kensington publishes in hardcover, trade paper, mass market paper and ebook formats. This is their 35th year. They are an independently owned publisher. Ms. Parkin reported that Kensington’s business has grown every year for the past three years, in spite of the economy.

Karen talked about marketing at Kensington. They do a lot of online advertising, including videos. Every author receives a questionnaire, which helps them plan a marketing campaign. She said the best thing author can do to help the marketing department is to get the manuscript in on time, because the campaign starts there. If they don’t have a manuscript, they can’t implement a campaign and a good campaign takes time. A website and blogs are also helpful.

 Audrey LeFehr spoke next. She says historical romance is doing particularly well for Kensington. They are still open to contemporary romance. They prefer sexier books. They like paranormal romance, romantic suspense and African American romance. They are also interested in women’s fiction (aka “quality fiction”) which they publish in trade paperback. They are open to “interesting ethnic fiction” and cited books by Indian and Chinese authors on their list. They are also interested in historical fiction.

 In Aphrodesia, Audrey needs “really original ideas.” One example was Wolf Tales, by Kate Douglas, about shape-shifting wolves. The concept needs to be carried over many books. “I need to see something in Aphrodesia you can’t get in romance. It can’t be just a very sexy romance – readers get that in Brava.” In Brava, the focus is on racheting the level of sexuality up. Brava covers are being redesigned. The books come out in trade paper and mass market paperback. Kensington accepts both agented and unagented authors. Send a cover letter, the first three chapters and a synopsis no longer than five pages. You may query only by email. The editor’s email addresses are listed on the guidelines page. Find Kensington’s submission guidelines here.

Editors who were not at this Spotlight, but who are acquiring are Editor in Chief John Scognamiglio, Assistant Editor Megan Records and Editor Selina James, who heads Kensington’s Dafina African American Program. **********************************

Gumshoe Review is interested in short fiction mysteries and nonfiction articles about the mystery field. Maximum 1000 words. They pay five cents a word. Email submissions to Editor Gail Surrette at editor@gumshoereview.com Visit their website for more information.

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 Danielle Perez will be the new executive editor at New American Library, starting January 4. Ms. Perez will be acquiring commercial fiction and nonfiction. She was previously with Ballantine, Bantam Dell and Random House.

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Her Christmas Wish is available now. It’s a fun holiday romance set in Crested Butte, Colorado. Any Denver area readers can pick up a copy Friday, December 11 at the Barnes and Noble on 16th Street Mall, from 11 – noon. I’ll be signing copies as part of a fund-raiser for the Colorado Humanities and Center for the Book Motherread, Fatherread program, which promotes parents reading to their children. Please stop by and say hello, and maybe pick up a few Christmas presents.

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Feel free to reprint on pass along links to this blog. Share the information freely, but please give me credit. Thank you!

“Just the knowledge that a good book is waiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier.”  Kathleen Norris

It’s time once again for my annual Gift Guide for Writers. You’re sure to find something here for the writers on your gift list. Or send this blog to those who might be shopping for a gift for you.

I don’t know a writer who isn’t crazy about office supplies. My local Staples is to me what the hardware store is to my husband. Right now, I’m jonesing for these computer key covers from Computer Gear. I just know that martini glass or the one that says Duh! would come in handy.

Let your inner child out to play with this Crayola Executive Pen from ThinkGeek.

See Jane Work has gorgeous file folders, notebooks, notepads, file cards and everything you need to take your office from blah to brilliant. I might not actually be more organized with these file folders, but I could delude myself into thinking so.

One of my favorites every year are the Literary Action Figures from Shakespeare’s Den.  Edgar Allen Poe, Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen and more. Taking time out to pose these figures at your computer may be just the inspiration you need. 

Any booklover (and writers are all booklovers, right?) would love this Personal Library Kit from FredFlare. Bookplates, stamp–everything you need to mark your books before you loan them out.

I’ve always loved journals. Writing by hand is a great way to record inspirations or work out plot problems. I know many writers who are inspired by their dreams, so why not gift one with this Dream Journal?

Speaking of writing down your thoughts, this Z-Pen looks intriguing. Write in longhand and upload it later to a computer.

Books, books, books! Writers will always appreciate books or a gift card to a book store. A couple of interesting references include The Wrong Word Dictionary and The Thinker’s Thesaurus.

And there’s always one of my books. They make great stocking stuffers, or inexpensive gifts for your hairdresser, pet sitter, or some other romance reader in your life. Her Christmas Wish is available now.

Now it’s your turn — do you have a favorite gift you’ve received, related to writing? Or one you’d like to receive?