November 2015

Only in grammar can you be more than perfect.” William Safire


This week I continue my recap of publisher spotlights from the Romance Writers of America convention in New York City with a look at the Spotlight on Grand Central Forever and Forever Yours

Amy Pierpont, Editor in Chief began the workshop. She was joined by, Editorial Director, Leah Hultenschmidt, Senior Editor Michelle Bidelspach, Editorial Assistant Megha Parekh,  Editorial Assistant Lauren Plude, Dana Hamilton, Associate Editor Alex Logan, and Editorial Assistant Jessie Piece. Grand Central is part of the Hachette Publishing Group, which publishes all kinds of fiction and nonfiction under a variety of imprints. Forever is the imprint devoted to romance and Forever Yours is the digital first romance imprint.The company is very open to new authors. In 2014, Forever and Forever Yours had 14 debut authors – never before published.

The editors on the panel were polled about what they are looking for in submissions. I was listening to a recording of this workshop and none of the editors identified themselves in the recording, so I apologize that I cannot tell you who said the following, but mentioned as likes were:

Books that make them sob.

Books that make them laugh out loud.

Books that shock them.

Navy Seals, Scottish Highlanders, Bikers, Bad-Boys, Billionaires, Cowboys “our next book boyfriend.” Hot guys are always in.

Page-turning stories – a book that will keep you up all night.

Emotional books

“Crack-alicious” books

Series with a strong hook across the series.

Forever publishes mass market and trade paperback, as well as ebooks. They are looking for full, single title length manuscripts (85,000 to 95,000 words). Generally, they accept agented-only submissions, however if you attend a session they give at a conference or pitch to them at a conference, you may email an editor and mention that and they will be happy to take a look at a query. For unpublished authors they want a full manuscript. If you are previously published, they will accept a synopsis and first three chapters. Only submit to one Forever editor. If your submission isn’t right for that editor, she will pass it on to another editor on the team if she believes the manuscript is better suited for that person.

Forever Yours publishes ebook first and Print-on-Demand. They accept manuscripts from 15,000 words to over 100,000 words. Books over 50,000 words are eligible for POD. You do not have to be agented to submit to Forever Yours. The editors like to see a proposal and sample chapters, but the manuscript should be completed and ready to go when the editor requests it.

Next followed a discussion of some of Forever and Forever Yours’ marketing efforts, which include online ads, interaction with bloggers, social media posts, reviews, ads in magazines, and activities on Goodreads. Hachette has a hug presence at BEA and lots of different conferences. They have two newsletters that go to readers and a newsletters targeted to reviewers.

The publicity department pitches books to media. Publicists work with authors to brainstorm potential media outlets and to plan blog tours and book blitzes. They do Q&As, excerpts and giveaways on blogs. They host Facebook parties and Twitter campaigns. They try to help authors with their promotional efforts. They tweet quotes and create quote-graphics from their authors’ books. They are also very active on Instagram.Hachette does paid placement for books in physical bookstores and with online retailers.

The editors encourage authors to follow them on Twitter. They tweet about stories they are looking for and have bought books authors submitted as a result of these tweets.


The Poisoned Pencil, an imprint of Poisoned Pen Press, is accepting submissions of Young Adult mysteries, 45,000 to 80,000 words. The books are published in both ebook and trade paper editions. The book’s protagonist should be between 13 and 18 years old. The editors appreciate “off-beat approaches” and also welcome submissions from teen authors. The company pays a $1000 advance. Find our more details here.


Arizona State University’s College for Liberal Arts and Sciences, and The Imagination and Climate Futures Initiative are sponsoring the 2016 Climate Fiction Short Story contest. Submit your short story of up to 5000 words which offers a vision of a future Earth impacted by climate change. Stories will be judged by award-winning author Kim Stanley Robinson. There is no fee to enter the contest. The grand prize winner will receive $1,000. The deadline for entries is January 15, 2016. Get all the details here.


My altar-ego, Cynthia Sterling, has a new historical romance for sale. The last pirate features a daring heroine, a handsome sea captain, a roguish pirate, buried treasure and a killer hurricane. And of course, romance!  Look for it wherever ebooks are sold. TheLastPirateOTHERSITES


As always, feel free to share the information in this blog with others. Repost, reprint, retweet, etc. Please give me credit as the source of the information and include a link to this blog. For more about me, visit my websites here and here, or check me out on Facebook

I refer to the need for learning to punctuate properly because in a work of art punctuation often plays the part of musical notation and can’t be learned from a textbook; it requires instinct and experience.” –– Anton Chekov


This week I continue my recaps of the publisher spotlights at the Romance Writers of America annual conference in New York City, with a look at the Spotlight on Harlequin Single Title

The session was moderated by Malle Valick, and was presented in a Q&A format. The panel consisted of Susan Swinwood, Executive Editor of HQN Books; Nicole Brebner, Executive Editor with Mira Books; and Natasha Wilson, Executive Editor for Harlequin Teen; Michelle Renaud, Director of Romance Publicity and Events; and Amy Jones Marketing Director for Mira and Harlequin Teen. Harlequin has three single-title imprints: Harlequin HQN, Mira and Harlequin Teen.

Mira publishes general fiction, including women’s fiction. In women’s fiction, they are interested in multi-layered, often multi-generational stories. Romance may be part of the story but is not at the central core of the story. HQN focuses on romance, publishing all sub-genres – historical, contemporary, paranormal, suspense, etc.

Susan talked about trends in romance – she sees sports heroes and heroes in the music business as well as the urban west as a setting. Billionaire stories are still very popular, and shorter editorial (novellas) are growing in popularity.

Nicole mentioned that very dark stories and psychological suspense remain popular, there an increased demand for lighter stories.

Natasha spoke about trends in teen stories – she sees science fiction and space opera, as well as environmental-disaster based stories as becoming more popular. Horror is popular with teens right now. Also, diverse characters are always welcome and popular with readers.

The editors next talked about things they see too much of that will have a hard time of being accepted. Mentioned were dystopian stories, paranormal stories, and new adult stories as things that will have a hard time standing out in the crowd and getting accepted in the current market. Urban settings are become more popular as the list of small-town romances and women’s fiction becomes saturated.

On the historical front, Mira publishes historical novels, while HQN publishes historical romance. The market for historicals is strong right now.

The next topic was pitching to editors. The panel stressed researching the publisher and knowing what they publish. Be able to summarize your story concisely (the 30-second elevator pitch was mentioned). Be able to tell the editor what makes your story unique. If a publisher already publishes five western romance authors, how are you different? What will attract readers to your book? Talk about your platform, if you have one – a blog with a lot of followers, a big social media presence, etc.

Malle asked the editors to describe a book they would love to publish. Nicole would love an epic historical novel that covers an interesting era in time and is filled with drama and emotion. Susan wants “a great big love story” – something modern, with a fresh voice, that captures the excitement and passion of falling in love. Maybe it’s told in a different way – in first person perhaps. Natasha would love to see something that feels different from anything else on their list.

The next question Malle posed was “Why publish with Harlequin?” The panelists cited Harlequin’s global reach, the company’s reputation as romance experts, and a team approach to producing books.

Most of the rest of the spotlight was taken up with questions from audience members, which included how to engage on social media, the author/editor relationship, would the editors be interested in a book about xyz? If you are interested in any of these things, by all means buy a copy of this workshop (available through RWA for members only). I’m not going to summarize all of that here because those things aren’t really the scope of this blog.


Evernight Publishing is a digital publisher of romance, erotic romance and urban fantasy. The editors are open to submissions of 5,000 to 10,000 words for anthologies, 8,000 to 14,000 words for their Romance on the Go series, 15,000 to 35,000 word Naughty Fairy Tales, 25,000 to 50,000 word Planet Alpha Stories and any other manuscripts of 15,000 to 100,000 words that fall into the categories of urban fantasy, romance or erotic romance. Authors in anthologies receive 50% net royalties; all others receive 45% net royalties. Check out their submission guidelines here.


Harlequin is having its biggest ebook sale ever through November 17th. Get all series backlist titles for only $1.99. You can snag all my backlist from Intrigue, Blaze, Superromance, Heartwarming, American Romance and more!



Blue Mountain Arts is seeking prose and poetry for Mother’s Day themed greeting cards. They want writing that captures genuine emotion related to relationships with mothers, step-mothers, grandmothers and mother figures, but they specifically do not want religious themed submissions. They accept both email and snail mail submissions and pay $300 per greeting card, or $500 is they decide to use your work in a themed gift book. The deadline for Mother’s Day submissions is December 12, 2015. For more details go here.


The Quantum Shorts contest invites writers to submit a short story of no more than 1,000 words, inspired by quantum physics. There is no fee to enter the competition, and the first prize is $1500. The People’s Choice winner receives $1000, a special youth winner receives $100 and the authors of second and third place stories receive $1000 and $500. You can read all the rules and link to a page of inspirations and read past winning stories here. The deadline to enter is December 1, 2015.


As always, feel free to share the information in this blog with others. Repost, reprint, retweet, etc. Please give me credit as the source of the information and include a link to this blog. For more about me, visit my websites here and here, or check me out on Facebook

Reading takes us away from home, but more important, it finds homes for us everywhere.

Hazel Rochman


This week’s recap looks at the Spotlight on Carina Press from the Romance Writers of America convention in New York City.

Editorial Director Angela James presented this spotlight, along with personnel from the marketing, publicity and the Harlequin Author Network.

Carina Press is the digital-first imprint of Harlequin Books. In addition to being published digitally, select Carina Press titles are also released in print and audio versions. Carina celebrated its fifth anniversary in June 2015.

Carina uses a variety of channels to market its titles, from social media and the Carina website, as well as online advertising and other specialty campaigns. Carina also has resources to help authors promote their own books. Carina publicists works with traditional and online media, including bloggers and online influencers.

The Harlequin Author Network is an online portal for Carina and Harlequin Authors. They can check publication schedule, review book covers or publication schedules, track sales and know when foreign editions are coming out. HAN also offers marketing tools and training for authors and keeps authors up-to-date on what’s going on behind the scenes at Harlequin and what is coming up.

Kerri Buckley, senior editor of Carina Press also spoke at this Spotlight. She talked a little about the publishing process. Every manuscript goes through a minimum of two rounds of revisions and four rounds of proofreading. Authors have access to everyone in the company.

Carina publishes a variety of fiction, including New Adult, contemporary and historical romance, mystery and suspense, science fiction and fantasy romance, paranormal romance and erotic romance. They do not publish inspirational or young adult romance. Some of the best-sellers for them right now is sexy, urban, contemporary romance. They are not looking for small-town contemporary romance. They are very interested in sexy, paranormal romance – but no psychics, ghosts, angels or mermaids. Demons, shifters or vampires are okay. Paranormal needs a strong hook to succeed. They would also like to see an erotic science fiction romance (with aliens!). Romantic suspense sells well for them – stories can be either heavy on suspense or heavy on romance. The editors would love to see erotic romance over 75,000 words and more male-male romance.

Carina is happy to work with hybrid authors (those who publish both traditionally and self-publishing.) They want to know what you’re doing as an indie author and collaborate with you on career-building and schedule titles so as not to conflict. They will put a blurb for your indie books in the back of your Carina books.

Carina does not pay an advance. They pay a royalty rate of 40 percent (50 percent for titles sold through the Carina Press website or the Harlequin website.) Their time to market is approximately six to 12 months. They pay royalties quarterly. Carina is open to both agented and unagented submissions. They prefer complete manuscripts, but will also consider queries and proposals.  For more information, go here. 


Books to Go Now is a small press based in the Pacific Northwest. The company publishes both digital and paper editions of most titles, and focuses on romance, though they also publish Mystery and Suspense and New Adult. New Adult stories should be told in first person. In romance, the editors are particularly interested in contemporary, paranormal, erotica and erotic romance, steampunk, time travel and BDSM. They prefer work between 10,000 and 30,000 words. They promise a reply within six weeks. Get all the details here.


The Austin Chronicle is holding its Annual Short Story Contest. The contest is open to all writers, whether you are a Texan or not. Submit your short story of no more than 2,500 words by the deadline of November 11, 2015. Prizes totaling $1500 will be awarded to the top five stories. Read all the guidelines and check out some of the past contest winners here.


Patchwork Hearts combines quilting lore and romance for a rich, emotional love story set in a turbulent time in our nation’s history — just after the Civil War. Check out this title by my altar ego, Cynthia Sterling.



As always, feel free to share the information in this blog with others. Repost, reprint, retweet, etc. Please give me credit as the source of the information and include a link to this blog. For more about me, visit my websites here and here, or check me out on Facebook