September 2010


You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair – the sense that you can never completely put on the page what’s in your mind and heart.  You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names.  You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or because you want to change the world.  Come to it any way but lightly.  Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.”  P.D. James

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This week I continue my summary of Publisher’s Spotlights from the Romance Writers of America Annual Convention with a look at St. Martin’s Press:

The Spotlight on St. Martin’s Press was presented by Jennifer Enderlin, Rose Hilyard and Monique Patterson

“We love discovering new, never-before discovered authors,” Jennifer Enderlin began. She also said, “The best way to find out what we publish is to read our authors.”

St. Martin’s publishes all kind of women’s fiction, romance, suspense, mystery and young adult. They are always open to submissions. They offer new authors multi-book contracts. They don’t have slots to fill and don’t chase trends. They buy books they love.

Jennifer explained “the anatomy of a trend spiral.”

1. An author writes a fabulous book that is unlike anything else out there.

2. The book does really, really well.

3. A fewother similar books follow and do well also, though not as well as the first book..

4. Authors, agents, publishers and marketing types start talking about this type of book.

5. Editors buy furiously.

6. Authors start putting together proposals in this new hot area.

7. Publishers start creating lines for this type of book.

8. Editors buy books to fill holes in the line.

9. The reading public is disappointed.

10. Books stop selling.

11. Lines fold, contracts are cancelled.

12. Authors get bitter.

13. Another authors writes a fabulous book that is unlike anything else out there.

“There are no shortcuts to success,” Jennifer concluded.

She then outlined “How can you tell that you’re writing the book you were born to write:”

When you’re in the zone in the book, do you hear music in your head?

Do you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about your book?

Do you find you can’t wait to get back to your book — like a love affair?

Do you find yourself reading parts of the book out loud to other people — not necessarily other writers — in delight?

Would you be writing this book even if no one ever bought it?

Do you find yourself hesitating to ask for others’ feedback on the book because you love it so much?

If none of these ring true for you “back away from the keyboard.”

How to submit to St. Martin’s

1. Finish your book.

2. Get an agent. You need professional representation. It’s not necessary to submit to St. Martin’s, but it’s to your advantage.

3. You can send a brief query letter to any of the St. Martin’s editors, even if you don’t have an agent.

4. Enter contests. That’s a great way to catch the eye of an editor.

“In this business it can be so hard and so heartbreaking sometimes, but attitude is everything,” Jennifer said. “Don’t let disappointment turn into jealousy and don’t let jealousy turn into bitterness and don’t let bitterness turn into creative death.”

“When we’re looking for authors, one of the first things we’re looking for is voice,” Monique Patterson said. She cautioned people not to play it too safe and not to hold themselves back.

Rose Hilyard loves high concept stories. “What the story is about makes someone want to pick up the book and talk to their friends about it,” she said.

They all buy all kinds of stories.

To query:

Send Jennifer a one-page, paper query and the first ten pages (no email.)

Send Monique three chapters and a synopsis via snail mail.

Rose says don’t send to her for the next six months since she’s so far behind.

If one of them passes on your query, don’t be afraid to query one of the others.

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Look for my newest release in stores next week. The heroine of Dance With the Doctor is a belly dancer — a hobby I’ve pursued for almost four years. 

And coming later this month, from Aspen Mountain Press, a re-release of one of my first historical romances, A Willing Spirit. Set in Texas before the Civil War, A Willing Spirit features a widow trying to keep her ranch going with the help of a half-breed ranch hand, and a meddling ghost. Originally published by Berkley, A Willing Spirit received the Texas Gold Award for Best Historical Romance in 2000. I’m thrilled readers will have a chance to read this book again.

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If you have a completed sweet romance manuscript, here’s your chance to pitch to an editor. Lia Brown of Avalon books will take pitches through Thursday at the Seekerville blog. Check it out at Seekerville.

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As always, feel free to share the information in this blog. All I ask is that you give me credit and provide a link back. Thanks!

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Rejection slips, or form letters, however tactfully phrased, are lacerations of the soul, if not quite inventions of the devil – but there is no way around them.
– Isaac Asimov

This week I begin my look at the Publisher Spotlights from the 2010 RWA National Conference in Florida. If you weren’t able to attend the conference, or if you attended but didn’t make it to all the spotlights — or if you know anyone who’s interested — watch this space for a new publisher to be featured each week. First up — Avon Books.

The Spotlight on Avon Books was presented by May Chen, Editor; Esi Sogah, Associate Editor; Amanda Bergeron, Assistant Editor and Tessa Woodward, Associate Editor.  They began the presentation with a look at some of the new books Avon is putting out in the coming year: historical romance, suspense, paranormal romance, futuristic urban fantasy, thriller, and gothic romance. They will also be putting out books – both reprints and new titles — from a number of former Dorchester authors.  Though they publish a little bit of erotica, they’re not really looking for it right now. Avon is not looking for any American westerns.

Under the Avon A imprint they publish women’s commercial fiction, historical fiction and romance in hardcover and trade paperback.

Avon Inspire is their inspirational romance line. These stories are 60,000 to 90,000 words. Faith based love stories with Christian characters. American set contemporaries and historicals. No foul language, alcohol or drug use or premarital sex.

Generally, the books are 90,000 to 100,000 words. Unagented authors should query first by email to avonromance@harpercollins.com – no attachments, please. Check out their submission guidelines here.

They get “a lot” of queries every day – they don’t ask to see a lot out of those.

Though all editors buy all types of books for Avon, they talked a little about their personal preferences:

May Chen — darker stories with complex, layered plots.

Esi Sogah – people with baggage who overcome their pasts – darker stories.

Amanda Bergeron – Dark paranormal, funny and lighter historicals – Regency and Victorian. She doesn’t care much for time travel. She also loves small town, contemporary romances – especially former flames reuniting.

Tessa Woodward – “anything good in romance”. 

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My October Superromance, Dance With the Doctor will be in stores soon, but it’s already available online as both a paperback and as an ebook at eHarlequin.

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This weekend, I’ll be at the Mountains and Plains Booksellers Convention in Denver. If you’re a bookseller attending the convention, please stop by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers booth on Saturday morning and say hello.

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As always, feel free to pass along the information in this blog. All I ask is that you give me credit and provide a link back to it. Thank you.

I attended the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Colorado Gold Conference this past weekend. A great event, as always. Below I share some news from the editors I heard there.

But first, St. Martin’s Press and Jeffrey Archer are sponsoring a Short Story Competition. Grand prize is publication of a e-book version of the winning story. Submit your story of no more than 5000 words by October 1, 2010. Find all the details here.

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If you’re 50 or older and you write speculative fiction, check out the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Older Writer’s Grant.  You could win a $750 grant to use as you see fit. Check out the application details here.

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Terri Bischoff, Editor with Midnight Ink, was one of the guests at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writer’s Colorado Gold Conference. Midnight Ink is a division of Llewellyn Books and publishes trade paper editions of mainstream mystery. They produce 25-30 books a year. Their forte is soft-boiled mystery and cozies, but Bischoff is open to all softs of crime fiction. She’s particularly interested in acquiring a quilting mystery seires and a police procedural series featuring a female cop protagonist.

Benjamin LeRoy, publisher of Tyrus Books, also spoke at the conference. Formerly with Bleak House Books, LeRoy is interested in crime fiction, particularly dark literary fiction. He isn’t interested in “evil seriel killers or fast-paced explosions”. Rather, he’s interested in the effect of crime on everyday people.

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Dance With the Doctor is available at eHarlequin.com. The book received 4 stars from Romantic Times Book Review, which called the story “well written and heartwarming. Myers’ characters have real depth, and her portrayal of their emotions is spot on.” The book will be in stores next month, but you can order a copy now here.

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As always, feel free to share the information in this newsletter and pass it on to friends. All I ask is that you give me credit and include a link. Thanks!

Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history.  ~Joan Wallach Scott

Change is everywhere these days in publishing. On the heels of Dorchester’s announcement of their withdrawal from the mass market paperback market in favor of an ebooks first model comes the news that they’ve laid off most of their editorial staff. Editor Chris Keesler is holding down the fort there.

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Former Dorchester Editorial Director Leah Hultenschmidt has moved over to Sourcebooks, where she’ll be Senior Editor for their Casablance line of romance and women’s fiction. She will also be acquiring YA.

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Five Star books has announced the closing of their 5-Star Expressions line for romance and women’s fiction this week. Five Star publishes hardcover books primarily for the library market. No more Expression books will be released after January 2012. Five Star’s Mystery imprint continues to thrive and may publish some romantic suspense titles under the mystery line.

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Summerside Press publishes several different lines of inspirational romance in trade paperback format and welcomes submissions from agented authors. Editors Rachel Meisel and Susan Downs are looking for “realistic, relevant, wholesome and positive” fiction for the following imprints:

Love Finds You.. These stories are set in real American towns try to give readers a real flavor for the setting, in the bounds of an inspirational, romantic story. The stories may be contemporary or historical. Summerside publishes one Love Finds You…title each month.

Historical Romance. Summerside historical romances, set in the United States, cover a wide range of time periods, from pioneer days to World War II.

When I Fall in Love. Summerside’s newest imprint of inspirational romance, launching this fall, features nostalgic love stories built around a popular love song. The stories, set from the 1920s to the 1970s, feature love stories that relate to the theme of the song, set in the time period when the song was released. Plans are to release six of these titles in 2011. You can read about all the Summerside romances and find their guidelines here.

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My October release, Dance With the Doctor will be available September 1, in ebook and print format, at eHarlequin.com. The book will be in stores October 5. The book received 4 stars from Romantic Times and tells the story of a belly dancer and a single doctor dad brought together by the doctor’s daughter.

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Feel free to share information in this blog with others. All that I ask is that you give me credit and include a link back. Thank you.