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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