Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Year's Treat

What would you like to know?

Some have said they wanted to find out more about those intriguing figures who work in the editorial department. Many acquire and edit (among other editorial responsibilities) some of the over 100 new titles Harlequin Enterprises publishes every month. Others deliver key creative and support services to ensure quality and manage the process.

While this keeps them quite busy, some of these figures of mystery have graciously agreed to be profiled and will appear in upcoming posts.

Happy New Year!

Did you know the year of the Rat begins February 7, 2008 and ends on January 25, 2009, the first in the cycle of 12 animal signs in the Chinese Zodiac?  I know many don't share my fondness for rats, so let me share the following:

"A Rat Year is a time of hard work, activity, and renewal. This is a good year to begin a new job, get married, launch a product or make a fresh start. Ventures begun now may not yield fast returns, but opportunities will come for people who are well prepared and resourceful. The best way for you to succeed is to be patient, let things develop slowly, and make the most of every opening you can find. 

"In Chinese, the Rat is respected and considered a courageous, enterprising person. People born in the Year of Rat are clever and bright, sociable and family-minded. They have broad interests and strong ability in adapting to the environment and able to react adequately to any changes.

"They are gifted in many ways and have an easy going manner. They are active and pleasant, tactful and fantastic, and are able to grasp opportunities. They seem to have interests in everything and hope to participate in doing it and usually do it very well."

A few famous people born in the year of the rat: Charlotte Bronte, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kristen Scott Thomas, Lauren Bacall, Lucrezia Borgia, Margaret Mitchell

quoted from

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ruminating on Rudolf....

The holiday season seems a time for aspirational tales, fables with a moral, stories that deliver that Happily Ever After. Of people behaving not as they 'normally' do, but rising above themselves, their hearts growing several sizes larger—if they are a Grinch—or perhaps just discovering they have a heart—if they are a Scrooge—or countless other examples.

Which is why I have always found Rudolf The Red-nosed Reindeer such a puzzling anomaly in the midst of all the Holiday inspiration. It is such a unshrinking, unpleasant, utterly accurate depiction of man's inhumanity to man—or within the animal metaphor, reindeer's incaribouity to its fellow kind.  There is no Yuletide moral compass to note what I would see as Naughty and Not Nice behavior. But perhaps no one else feels as I do.

Do people pay attention to the text? Are all the Rudolph song-singers, players and supporters advocating that if someone looks different from you, you should indeed: "laugh and call him names/They never let poor Rudolph/join in any reindeer games." So ridicule, exclusion and humiliation is the correct response to someone who doesn't look or act just like you?

Not to say that that isn't many people's fearful, small-minded response at being faced with someone different from themselves.  But it demonstrates a lack of confidence, compassion, imagination, vision that is so. . . pathetic and sad.

Of course, the moment someone powerful and important finds the element of difference of use: "Then all the reindeer loved him/as they shouted out with glee,/Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, /you'll go down in history! "

Again, a totally accurate life-lesson: You will be excluded and vilified unless and until you become important. Then everyone that spurned you will adulate and worship you. Do you think Robert May was a clear-eyed realist, or a total cynic? Hmmm.  Hard to say.

We learn everything we really need to know in Kindergarten, and it's not pretty. I think some spend much of the rest of our lives trying to do better, be better human beings than we were then.

Here's hoping that the coming year gives us all the gift of accepting—indeed of celebrating our differences—a common theme for romances.  For therein lies our strength.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Talking about talk shows and Donna Hill...On The Line

Linda Gill, General Manager and queen of all things Kimani emailed me to say, "We have a fantastic book being released shortly -- January 2008 publication -- ON THE LINE.

"It's edited and written by Donna Hill along with 18 of the hottest African-American authors and it's fabulous! I wanted you to let your readers know that Donna has set up a special blog just for the book, and has also created a short book trailer."

It's not every day that I get that kind of special enthusiasm from an editor, so when they talk, I listen--and share the news.

Donna Hill, Co-Author and Editor of ON THE LINE, had this to say about the experience, "Bringing together the voices and talent of 18 authors into a seamless novel I knew was going to be a major challenge! However, they are all so incredible at what they do, that magic happened.

"The result is, what I think, the most unique novel of its kind, and I'm sure readers are going to love the drama, fall-out funny, eye-opening and even poignant moments in On The Line."

When I connected with Glenda Howard, Executive Editor, Kimani Press, who is also Donna's in-house editor, she shared the following: “It is not often a project idea comes across your desk that you are immediately intrigued by. But, in this instance the gossipy talk show host made such an interesting character -- In fact, wickedly delicious! Then, to have 18 amazing authors contribute their stories makes this a sure-fire hit!”

Doesn't it sound intriguing? On Sale December 26th. Run, don't walk to your nearest bookseller! Or let your fingers do the walking....

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Congratulations to...Krista Stroever!

And a very warm welcome to Theodore Carr Fierman, born November 14, 2007, weighing a healthy 8 pounds. 6 ounces and looking, I might say, fabulous!

Congratulations to Krista and Dan!

Krista Stroever is Senior Editor, Steeple Hill/Love Inspired.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Harlequin Presents looking for new authors!

This just in: Announcing a brand new writing competition from the world’s best-selling romance series!

It’s an exciting time for Harlequin Presents: from January 2008, there will be 12 of our intensely passionate romances available every month. And with this increase of titles comes a great opportunity for aspiring authors – we will be looking to buy more books for publication!

The old saying goes that first impressions are lasting impressions – and when it comes to reading a Harlequin Presents, that certainly holds true. If the first chapter doesn’t immediately grip the reader with its pace, passion and intensity, then she won’t continue to turn the pages.

So Presents is inviting unpublished writers to show us how they can grab the attention of our readership with first chapters that really sizzle. The INSTANT SEDUCTION competition offers prizes that are chances of a lifetime for the lucky winner and runners-up:

First prize – win yourself an editor for a year!

Two runners-up will be given editorial critiques of their first chapter entries and also a personal telephone consultation about their writing!

Visit the blogsite for full details of the competition – and the chance to prepare for publication with an exclusive series of writing tutorials prepared by the editorial team at Harlequin Presents, including advice on First Chapters, How to Write a Synopsis, Loving the Alpha Male and Generating Emotional Conflict.

These are quintessential stories that capture the pacing, power, passion--and satisfaction--of love. Just about every top selling romance author on the New York Times list started her career as a Harlequin Presents reader, so learn from the masters of conflict, seduction, drama and intensity.

Writers...start your computers!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I Heart Presents...

I don't actually heart Presents, I love them! But do check out the I Heart Presents website. It has many interesting posts, one of which is my own guest post on November 8th which I totally forgot to link to: You always remember your first! Now I have added an insightful comment on why I don't think reading romances should be called "escape."

You can also learn about the launch of Amazon's Kindle, Alpha men, Amnesia & so much more...check it all out at the I Heart Presents website.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Bus Driver's Syndrome

That's the term my friend Ellen Kushner has coined.

I guess I would have called it Grocery Clerk Disorder if I'd thought to label it. You know what I'm talking about. You are in a large grocery store. You manage to locate an actual employee who will speak to you. You ask where the ant traps are.

You are told "Aisle 6," then, if prompted, they may even add "on the left," and if they've gone that extra mile, for sure they'll tack on the killer line: "You can't miss it!"

Yeah. You can't miss it. They leave out the last part of that sentence. You can't miss it...IF YOU KNOW WHERE TO LOOK.

Which of course you don't, because you aren't the all-knowing grocery clerk, who I guess just can't conceive of anyone more clueless than themselves.

Ellen coined BDS when she got on a bus in a strange town, told the bus driver she was new to the area, had never been on this route and needed to get off at the Library. Could he please let her know when her stop came up, as she was totally unfamiliar with the town.

He said, "No problem! You can't miss it. It's the stop right after where the old A&P used to be."

Sure can't miss that, now can you?

Why is it so difficult to put oneself in another's shoes for a moment, see the world through their eyes, to tell them NOT what we know, but what they need to know, what they want to hear?

A) Is it ego? The delight in knowing something someone else doesn't and wanting to hold on to that mystery, even if it's just the location of the ant traps? Even if sharing information is your job?

I am thinking of the occasional tech-help types that I am sure are getting their small revenge for prior slights by clinging to the mysteries of their tech universe, cackling with their flock of techies about the cluelessness of non-techies because they don't know the Secret Order of the Button Pushing to Open the Portal of Knowledge.

B) Is it lack of imagination--they just don't get that everyone is not filled with the same knowledge they posses? Do they assume the Jungian collective unconscious is broad enough to include where the ant traps are situated if everyone just concentrated hard enough?

C) Or does it fall towards either profound uncaring laziness or a spirit of cockeyed positivism that, Candide-like, everything is possible in this best of all possible worlds. That what you are looking for, asking about, whatever, is going to just jump out & bite you on the butt and they really don't need to lift a finger to help that happen?

D) I'm thinking B). In many situations people are just so focused on themselves they really can't conceive of thinking about things from a different perspective, as a different person with a different frame of reference and knowledge base. Worth remembering.

I recently learned how to print photos at the CVS machine & was thanking the very nice guy that helped me (a lot!). He demurred & said it's easy. Yeah. IF YOU KNOW HOW TO DO IT. The first time is rarely easy. You know, its hard out there for a virgin...

So what do you think,

E) Some of the above?

F) All of the above?

G) None of the above?

I'm sure you have your own BDS stories of your own....

Monday, November 12, 2007

More Congratulations! Kitt, Miller and Wiggs...

Sandra Kitt makes Library Journal's Best Romances of 2007!

Congratulations to Sandra Kitt whose Kimani title CELLULOID MEMORIES was among the titles chosen by the magazine as the best romances of 2007.

Here is what Library Journal had to say:
A writer goes to L.A. to visit her dying actor father, who deserted her as a child, and gains a new understanding of the man she never knew. With her insightful flair, Kitt has written a poignant, thought-provoking , but gently humorous romance that illuminates the black experience within the entertainment industry. (originally a starred review in the 6/1/07 issue)

Wiggs and Miller Chosen by Amazon Among Top Ten for 2007

The awards continue to come for our books in 2007. Amazon’s editors have made their picks for the best romances of the year, and Susan Wiggs and Linda Lael Miller have both been chosen within the top 10!

THE WINTER LODGE by Susan Wiggs was selected and the #1 book in romance for the year by Amazon’s editors.

MCKETTRICK’S HEART by Linda Lael Miller ranked at #7 on the list.

Check out the Best of Romance list and the complete Amazon list.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Congratulations to...

Susan Wiggs and Brenda Joyce for making Publishers Weekly’s 150 Best Books of 2007!

Three thousand books are published daily in the U.S.(!) and PW reviewed more than 6,000 of them in 2007, in print and online. From that astounding number, they've compiled a list of 150 of the best books for the year in several categories. In the Romance category, two of the five books chosen were HQE titles.

Here is what PW had to say:

The Perfect Bride (which I haven't read yet, and am looking forward to! Update! 11/16 just finished it--really enjoyed it & now am linked into the de Warenne Dynasty! Delightful.)
Brenda Joyce(HQN)
Joyce's seventh de Warenne novel is a first-rate Regency with deliciously damaged leads; fluff-free, Joyce's tight plot and vivid cast make for a romance that's just about perfect.

The Winter Lodge (which I have read and really enjoyed. Guess PW knows a thing or two)
Susan Wiggs (Mira)
Complicated, flesh-and-blood characters inhabit Wiggs's idyllic but identifiable Lakeshore Chronicles, weaving a refreshingly honest smalltown tapestry of romance, domestic drama, mystery and generations-old Polish recipes.

I just happened to be in Seattle and got at chance to visit with Susan recently. Here she is at an autographing I got to attend in Pioneer Square--hey, it was at a cool bar/ restaurant and all I have on me is my phone photo, so don't complain.

Susan lives in a totally amazing house on Bainbridge Island--as you know from Allison's previous post the Pacific Northwest is peppered with writers. I think it's the weather. No, I was so busy admiring the house, I totally forgot to take any pictures. I don't think my phone would have done it justice! Here's another nice dark one of Susan for you!

Seattle is the home guessed it, the Seattle Mariners! Yes, and Starbucks. I'm a tea drinker, and a boring one at that (no flavors, no funny business), so this was not a pilgrimage. Still, interesting to see the very first Starbucks, with (I think) the original branding.

It is really nice to have a place to stop and sit down the "third space," but the everywhereness of Starbucks was beginning to get a bit creepy, so I found a lovely no name spot to have a delicious latte and pumpkin brioche. No that is not a typo. And there is a reason there aren't pumpkin brioches year round, but it's not because they aren't delicious.

I love pumpkin, so this is my season and I feel compelled to order everything pumpkin at least once. Yes, I've tried the latte. It's liquid pumpkin pie filling. It's delicious, I lick it off the bowl, but it's a little weird buying a whole cup of it. I worry if I drink too much of it it will give me a disgust of pumpkins. Can't go there.

This amazing fellow was in the Seattle Aquarium. When you see something like this, you realize those incredible creative types at Pixar and Disney really aren't that creative. They just go to the Aquarium and the Zoo and the Botanical Garden. Nature is totally amazing. Look around!

When you go to Seattle, you have to check out the Experience Music...Project? Theatre? and you can't miss the Science Fiction museum, which is attached. I loved it.

I think we either need to establish a Romance museum or a museum of genre fiction or something. The sf museum was pretty great. It's reading intensive, but there are some fun film clips and interesting history.

I snapped this photo of Dolly, the first clone, in the museum. Isn't she sweet looking?

My aunt is a sculptor and had created a piece called "Dolly Tells All" which we had, so I was really excited to get a glimpse of the "real" Dolly.

Real? Photograph? Sculpture? Clone? Replicant? Is it live...or is it Memorex? And how much and when does it matter? Interesting questions for our time--for any time, for that matter!

I too had a great time in Seattle!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Allison Lyons reports on the Emerald City Writers' Conference

When I heard that Allison Lyons, Editor, Harlequin Intrigue in the New York office was heading out to Seattle, Washington, October 26-28 to attend the Emerald City Writers' Conference, I asked her to post about it—and she was kind enough to agree.

Here are Allison's thoughts and impressions:

Overall, I thought the conference was wonderful. The editor/agent co-chairs, Joleen Wieser and Gina Robinson, did a wonderful job of making all six of us publishing professionals who attended not only feel welcome, but they also made sure a reasonable working balance and pace was maintained, which was appreciated.

Friday night there was an editor/agent panel where each of us presented what we were looking for and then took questions from the audience. There were about 250 attendees, so there were a lot of questions! Attendees seemed more focussed on querying the agents than the editors—perhaps there were more at that stage in their career—but afterwards, people approached me to pick my brain on a number of issues.

On Saturday, I had two sets of group appointments and found that people were writing on a wide variety of things—there wasn't any specific genre I got pitched more than others. Since my focus is romantic suspense, I was happy to get a few of those ideas presented to me and wound up asking for about three or four projects that could fit Harlequin Intrigue guidelines.

If an idea didn't suit anything I was looking for—for example fantasy, which could work for Luna—I would redirect the prospective author to the right editor here. The writers were appreciative of my time and anything I could do to help them achieve their dreams. As there are a lot of different opportunities at the many imprints under Harlequin Enterprises, I was glad to be able help to make the connections.

In the afternoon there was a bookfair, which made it easy for me to find authors I'd missed seeing since they were seated alphabetically to sign. There are a lot of Harlequin Enterprises authors in the Pacific Northwest!

That night, the editors were taken out to a lovely dinner with the board members. Outgoing president Pat White (a Harlequin Intrigue and Silhouette Nocture author) was very warm and helpful in telling me where to visit while I stayed in Seattle the next couple of days. Everyone there seemed thrilled that we were able to attend and made us feel as though we really helped make the conference special.

Some of the authors in attendance included Christina Dodd, who was the keynote dinner speaker on Friday, Jayne Ann Krentz, the keynote luncheon speaker on Saturday, Stella Cameron, Megan Chance, Julia Quinn, Alice Sharpe, Jan Hambright, Pat White, Terri Reed, Susan Andersen, Cherry Adair, Jane Porter, Susan Mallery, Ann Roth, Ann Defee, Susan Lyons, and a lot of others! HQE authors attending represented an incredible scope of lines, from a number of Harlequin and Silhouette series as well as Steeple Hill, MIRA and HQN. There was an editor from Grand Central Publishing and from Dorchester as well as several agents, so a variety of publishing and agent perspectives were offered.

In terms of hot topics, there was a lot of discussion about whether or not Historicals are dead. For those Historical fans, you'll be glad to know, according to the group, they're not! And many people seemed interested in writing paranormals—good for Silhouette Noctures!

What a wonderful bunch of writers--whether published, or yet to be published, it was interesting talking to them. I had a great time.


Allison Lyons

And just to let you know a little bit more about Allison, she began her career at Harlequin as an editorial assistant on the Silhouette Intimate Moments (now Silhouette Romantic Suspense). Editorial is really an apprenticeship, and now, after nearly a decade and several promotions, she’s found a home at Harlequin Intrigue as an Editor.

Since romantic suspense is so popular, you can be sure that her desk is never empty. That said, even with an author base of 19 highly active writers, she still gets excited at the thought of finding new authors who come to Intrigue knowing how tough it is to get published, but who are willing to put in the time and effort to get it right. Her focus tends to be on romantic suspense submissions, but she’s open to hearing about projects that would fit any of Harlequin's lines.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Spotlight on Harlequin

For those who may have missed the info on, here it is:


Fall '07: What’s new for Harlequin Enterprises/Series and Single Title Imprints, all formats. What is HQE publishing ? What is HQE looking to publish?

- Information about & HQE looking for
- HQE Publishing Program



• As of September 1st, Harlequin is delivering 100% frontlist in eBook format—the only major trade publisher offering 100% of their frontlist
• Spice Briefs launched to great success in August 2007: original, exclusive eBook content
• Created “one-click buys” for the passion series for the avid reader & made it available to all eBook retailers (i.e. package all 8 Presents titles together as one unit)
• Continue to create eBook bundles of selected backlist, for example all of Caridad Pinero’s “Calling” titles together in the Calling Collection (October)
• Creating new eBook product by “chunking” anthologies--each novella with be its own eBook. Part of an Holiday promotion – 12 Christmas short stories for your digital stocking!
• New programs are in development!


• Ongoing program with delivering 5 – 6 titles (offering both series and single titles, debut and established authors) per month
• Launching an audio continuity featuring 2 Blaze titles every month for $9.95
• Ongoing radio program on XM radio: Sonic Theater channel. Our website is ttp://, and Harlequin Romance Radio is aired at 1 am and 9 am Eastern time on channel 163.

Social Media

• 2nd Life author reading event on September 25 with M.J. Rose, featuring her book THE REINCARNATIONIST
• Launched & ongoing Harlequin Author Spotlight podcasts
• Launched and ongoing I Heart Presents blog (at
• Will be launching a new romance blog in October
• MySpace profiles: SpiceBriefs complete—check out
• MySpace profiles to come: Harlequin, Kimani Tru, MIRA
• Launched digital author toolkit – updated monthly—check out


Writing guidelines for Spice Briefs

Fall 07 - Top titles for Spice Briefs:

GILT AND MIDNIGHT by Megan Hart (September)
TOKYO RENDEZVOUS by Jina Bacarr (November)

SPICE – Susan Swinwood

Writing guidelines for Spice

Fall 07 - Top titles for Spice:

There are two fall titles for Spice in '07:

CAINE’S RECKONING/Sarah McCarty, November

Both are fantastic books – Nancy’s is a collection of erotic stories based on a traditional fairy tale; each chapter of the story is devoted to one of the twelve princesses as she searches for the solution to her sexual frustrations.

Sarah’s book is the first in her historical western erotica series: the men of Hell’s Eight. Each of these eight Texas Rangers are tough, sexy, hardened men…until they meet the women who make them weak.

HQN & LUNA - Tracy Farrell

Fall 2007 – Top Titles for HQN:

October is a stellar month at HQN, topped by Brenda Joyce’s next Masters of Time paranormal, DARK RIVAL and a new Carly Phillips contemporary, SEALED WITH A KISS.

November features a new Shannon Drake historical from Heather Graham, THE QUEEN’S LADY, a Diana Palmer seasonal hardcover reissue, LONG TALL TEXAN LEGACY and our 2nd NASCAR collection, NASCAR HOLIDAY 2.

December delivers an original romantic suspense story from New York Times bestselling author, Beverly Barton, A TIME TO DIE.

What HQN is looking for:

HQN publishes strong, complex single title romances. Our current focus is on acquiring author who write historical and contemporary single titles, but we are always looking for other romance sub-genres, paranormal in particular, if the material is exceptional.

LUNA Fall '07 – Top Titles:

October, Jeri Smith-Ready continues her RITA nominated series with VOICE OF CROW.

November, C.E. Murphy begins her new Negotiator series with HEART OF STONE.

December, Diana Palmer makes a guest appearance with THE MORCAI BATTALION, a completely revised version of the only fantasy novel ever written by the author, originally published in 1980 and out of print for decades.

What LUNA is looking for:

We’re primarily looking for urban fantasy and otherworld fantasy and are no longer looking for historical fantasy at this time. We’re particularly interested in loosely-linked series of stand-alone titles featuring strong female leads, unique storylines and a fresh narrative voice that will appeal to fantasy, romance and mainstream readers alike.

MIRA & Red Dress Ink – Margaret Marbury

MIRA Fall '07 – Top Titles:

76 SEASIDE AVENUE by Debbie Macomber (massmarket paperback)
THE REINCARNATIONIST by M.J. Rose (hardcover)
WHERE ANGELS GO by Debbie Macomber (hardcover)
THE SÉANCE by Heather Graham (massmarket paperback)
LAST KNOWN VICTIM by Erica Spindler (mass market paperback)
MENDING FENCES by Sherryl Woods (mass market paperback,)
THE LAST NOEL by Heather Graham (hardcover)
THE WIDOW by Carla Neggers (first time mass market paperback)
SILENT IN THE GRAVE by Deanna Raybourn (tirst time mass market paperback)
DEMON’S KISS by Maggie Shayne (massmarket paperback)

• For MIRA, we are primarily looking for strong historical fiction and commercial literary fiction

Red Dress Ink Fall '07 – Top Titles:

SORCERY AND THE SINGLE GIRL by Mindy Klasky October tradepaperback

• For Red Dress Ink, we only looking at exceptional, smart and funny chick lit.
Sorcery and the Single GirlThe ReincarnationistEyes of CrowRogue AngelThe Widow by Carla Neggers74 Seaside
The imprint STEEPLE HILL - Joan Marlow Golan, with Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense, Steeple Hill Cafe; KIMANI PRESS - Linda Gill, with Sepia , Arabesque, New Spirit, Kimani Romance, Kimani TRU, GOLD EAGLE - Feroze Mohammed, with the Mack Bolan, Stony Man, Deathland, Outlander and Rogue Angel series and WORLDWIDE LIBRARY with its Mystery series are also part of the HQE family, but are not listed in detail here.
SERIES - Harlequin & Silhouette - Birgit Davis Todd & Mary Theresa Hussey

The fall of 2007 has many of the themes and initiatives that are clear reader favorites and important for the series business throughout the year.

As always, our focus is on finding, developing and publishing “good stories, well-told." And to get those stories, our editors work with authors through all phases of story development - and then with art and marketing to ensure those stories get the right packages.

We also try to emphasize connected miniseries in our publishing schedule. There are multiple continuities appearing in the series lines, including the conclusions of The Royal House of Niroli from Harlequin Presents, Mission: Impassioned from Silhouette Romantic Suspense, Dynasty: The Garrisons from Silhouette Desire, Montana Mavericks: Strike It Rich from Special Edition, Dark Enchantments from Silhouette Nocturne, Secrets We Keep from Harlequin Romance, Texas Legacies: The Carrigans from Harlequin American, Million Dollar Secrets from Harlequin Blaze and many more.

Harlequin and Silhouette series programs are known for their long-standing commitment to authors, with many authors celebrating 25, 50, even 100 book milestones with us. We work with both new and established authors to develop long-running, successful series with their own characters, as well as encouraging strong, standalone titles that lead new readers to discover new favorites.

As a mark of this commitment, we have multi-New York Times bestselling authors Diana Palmer and Linda Lael Miller publishing in series this fall.

Another strong component of our publishing program is our continual search for new authors. We are one of the few publishers accepting unagented material, and we also run contests to find new authors. Check out the Harlequin Superromance Conflict of Interest Contest at in Writing Challenges. The contest is open to all writers and the deadline is fast approaching!

Just this fall, from September to December, we are publishing more than thirty new-to-the-company authors, many of them first-time-ever authors as well. With three new authors in Harlequin Presents, and first-time authors in Silhouette Desire, Harlequin Everlasting, Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Blaze, Silhouette Special Edition, Harlequin Superromance, Harlequin Intrigue as well as in our Kimani Press and single title programs, Harlequin is a wonderful place to be discovered--and some amazing authors have published their first books with Harlequin and Silhouette.

We also have some great programs in place for readers to discover these authors! Along with our marketing and terrific bookstore support, there are a number of digital and hard-copy sampling programs in our future. We firmly believe that if you try a Harlequin or Silhouette title, you will love it! And so we plan to take advantage of as many outlets as we can to start the "addiction"...

We also experiment with anthologies within the series to highlight strong authors and themes, and encourage exploration of innovative ideas and stories to attract new readers.

Do be sure to visit our website at to get the latest updates on word counts and tips from the webhosts as well as from past articles done about writing. We also have frequent visits from editors to talk about their individual lines, and fellow authors are a terrific resources as well.

In short, the fall of 2007 is all about the strengths that writing for HQE Series always displays: commitment to excellent stories by terrific authors, published across the nation and around the world.

Pick up a book and join us!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Check out for what's coming up this fall at Harlequin Enterprises

When Jane Litte asked for an update on what's going on with series and single titles at Harlequin Enterprises for dear this fall, I have to admit, I sighed. There's always so much going on, a lot of information to compile, a lot of people to ask, and they always have a lot of other things to do. And, of course, there are always a lot of things you forget! Oops. Sorry!

But we were delighted to be invited--it's an elegant site. Thanks to Starr Mills who did the heavy lifting in pulling it all together, and all the contributors, please check out dear for an update from many of the HQE gang. The two Ja(y)nes have a lovely site, so you'll enjoy visiting.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Bertrice Small on Fantasy & Reality

First I read LARA by Bertrice Small. I wanted more! I wanted to stay in the world she'd created. Luckily, A DISTANT TOMORROW and THE TWILIGHT LORD were already out, and I could return to Hetar right away and didn't have to wait months to read them. I hate waiting, don't you?

In her world-building, Bertrice blends lyrical and lush descriptive prose with a very matter-of-fact level of pragmatism. Lara is a remarkable character—but then so is her creator! I wondered what she was up to when she wasn't traveling between worlds, waging wars, adjudicating peace, forging alliances or spending time with her multi-faceted characters.

So I emailed Bertrice and asked...Wassup?

And she said...."You sent that using a Blackberry! Gawd, I am impressed. As I've said, I'm no techie. I do have a cell phone, but I never remember to turn the thing on. On the other hand, my bio is always up to date and I have a web mistress & update everything at the beginning of the year. For someone who is creative, I seem to have a practical streak. (Isabel says see? It's that left and right brain thing going on). Bertrice continued:

"I really don't wrestle with fantasy and reality. For me, they seem to be quite separate. " But then she added:

"Are you a believer in things not seen? Well, being of Celtic heritage, Irish/Scots/Welsh, I am. And I seem to have a wonderful guide for my fantasy series. For the first time in my life I never know what I'm going to write when I sit down to do a day's work. But I put my fingers on the keyboard, and it comes. I count it a great blessing to be allowed to be the conduit for these wonderful stories.

"I've spent today working on a few re-writes for Tara Parsons, my HQN editor. What a bright lovely girl she is. I have been most fortunate in my editors over the years.

"I'm also in the midst of subcontracting the renovations on a house we bought this spring. My adventures in all of this might prove amusing. Or not...!

"We decided to downsize. I found the Retirement Community idea lovely—the thought of never having to cook a meal again was incredibly tempting—but the folks there were old!

"Then I checked out the over 55 condo community in our village, but it is now "over 80" and the condo board chairman told me I couldn't have my DirecTV. The satellite would spoil the "integrity of the buildings." Good grief!

"Then a neighbor on our street died, and while I knew the house needed work, it's all on one floor. We bought it. It has a lovely living room with a raised hearth fireplace, a dining room as big as my own, which means I get to take my furniture, but the 3 tiny bedrooms, and the two 1957 bathrooms are going. They will become 2 large bedrooms, and 2 modern baths.

"Moving from a house we've lived in for 28 years which has 4 bedrooms, and 4 full bathrooms requires some paring down! Our son and his family are moving into the old homestead.

"I made certain, however, before taking time off from my work to get THE SORCERESS OF BELMAIR into my editor, Tara. (Isabel says thank you from all editors for your professionalism!) THE SORCERESS is scheduled to come out next May and there will be 3 more books in the series. And after that? I have absolutely no idea, but it will come. Of that I'm certain.

"Now I've decided I like fantasy better than reality. When I write fantasy I control the world in which my characters live. It's great to be a goddess!

"But when you're renovating a house to live in, reality strikes hard. The end of the house being completely rebuilt is now totally demolished. I go down after I stop working in the early evening almost every day.

"So far, on most days it looks as if nothing is or has gotten done. But yesterday the narrow window half way up the wall in what will be my new office was gone, and a brand new big window put in! I'm beginning to see how the light will fall in that room now, and where I might place my desk.

"It's progress, but reality is too darned slow for me. If it were fantasy I would have had that new office finished at least two chapters ago!"

All the best,


We all build our worlds—sometimes in fantasy, sometimes in reality. And life needs both, doesn't it?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Happy Hallowe'en! Time for Sorcery & the Single Girl

Sorcery and the Single Girl5139GM8TRVL._SS500_

Mindy and I go way back--you can check out my prior post last Hallowe'en! And I've returned with another post, because she's got another book. Unfortunately, I'm in the middle of volume one of the six volume Memoirs of Casanova--I know, hard to believe I've gone so long without having read them, isn't it?--and haven't had a chance to read Sorcery, so I'm going to have to let other expert witnesses speak for the excellence of the reading experience!

Here's what Publishers Weekly had to say about Sorcery and the Single Girl

"Klasky emphasizes the importance of being true to yourself and having faith in friends and family in her bewitching second romance featuring fledgling witch Jane Madison (after Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft). Young librarian Jane believes getting into the elite Washington Coven, ruled by the prodigious Teresa Alison Sidney, is of major importance. If Jane wants to hold on to her familiar, her valuable book and gemstone collection and David Montrose, her hunky protector and instructor, she has to meet the coven’s standards for knowledge and skill. When slickly seductive Graeme Henderson starts laying it on suspiciously thick, and David insists that friendly coven witch Haylee can’t be trusted, Jane must decide what’s most important: trying to impress the popular coven snobs, or taking control of her power and doing what she knows is best for herself. Klasky’s moral lesson is obvious, but readers who identify with Jane’s remembered high school social angst will cheer her all the way. (Oct.)

Romantic Times BOOKreviews
"This is an irresistible tale . . . surprisingly charming and insightful."

Booklist on Girl's Guide to Witchcraft
"Fans of Shanna Swendson's Enchanted, Inc. series will find much to love in Klasky's zesty blend of fantasy and romance as well as in her winsome heroine."

and the first Amazon review of Sorcery...

Even better than the first book!, September 23, 2007
This author keeps getting better. Well-written and paced, funny and fabulous. I was so sad to see this book end that I started over and read again. One caveat, you should read the first book before this one. I can't wait for book 3 in 2008. Please check this series out. You will not be sorry! By A. Sugarman "book maven" (San Francisco, CA United States)

I very much enjoyed A GIRL'S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT, the first of this series, along with many others. I have to confess I am also from D.C. and loved the local touches. I can't resist sharing the other compelling advocates for her storytelling ability from the reader reviews on GGTW:

Wonderful First Book of the Series, August 29, 2007
I absolutely loved this book. It was light (without being too fluffy), magical (without being too science fiction-y), and romantic (without being too Bridget Jones). The characters are relatable and the story is fantastic. Great read for a chilly fall evening. By A Leo "Amy" (Haverford, PA United States)

Fun read!, May 1, 2007
GIRL'S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT is a fun read. Mindy Klasky has successfully put a paranormal twist to the chick lit genre that is quite entertaining. Jane's transformation throughout the story is wonderful to behold and inspirational in many ways. Her ability to find a positive even in the most horrendous circumstances is certainly admirable. However, it is Neko who steals the show! Neko is an absolutely fantastic character. Who can't help but love a cat in the guise of a man? His little quirks make him endearing and I certainly hope to see more of him in the upcoming sequel. By Deborah Wiley (Winter Haven, FL)

Witchy Librarian , February 16, 2007
Not what I expected but an easy read featuring a Librarian as the main character. Being a Librarian it was nice to see one of us represented as a normal person, well aside from her being a witch that is. By I. Lefkowitz "The Butterfly Chick"

Mindy Klasky is Chick Lit and RDI's version of J.K. Rowling , November 15, 2006
Jane Madison is a witch. But she does not know it. Has this beginner witch bitten off more than she chew, or will her catman familiar and her warder help her through it? I absolutely loved this book! I could not put it down, and I can't wait for the sequel to it, Sorcery and the Single Girl which comes out next year. By Nikkie (Charleston, SC)

Fun supernatural ride, October 19, 2006
Girls' Guide to Witchcraft is about plain-Jane Madison, a librarian who doesn't get a lot of attention from men. This book was a fun and fast-moving look at what happens in a girl's life when she discovers she's a witch. A lot of books about witchcraft focus heavily on how spells can go wrong; this story was more light-hearted. I'm looking forward to the sequel in October 2007 By Bearette24 (New York, NY)

I want more! , October 18, 2006
I haven't been able to put this book down. It's funny and smart and great fun. I can't wait for the sequel! It's well-written, the characters seem so real, okay, even if the lead character is a witch and her familiar springs to life as a fabulous gay man. They still seem real and you immediately care about them and can't wait to find out what happens to them next. More please! By LauraRebecca "LauraRebecca" (USA)

terrific coming of age chick lit tale , October 9, 2006
In some ways this is a terrific coming of age tale as the heroine goes from self pity to confidence in her skills though she believes the magic enabled her to do so. The story line is fast-paced as Jane balances her normal life as a librarian and family member with her bewitching new life that attracts males like Pooh Bear to honey. Mindy Klasky provides a beguiling enchanting chick lit tale a refreshing story line that casts a spell on readers. By Harriet Klausner

Fun Read, October 6, 2006
Having read her Glasswright Series, I've been a fan of Mindy's work for years, and was excited when I heard that she had a new book coming out. Billed as Chick-Lit, this romantic contemporary fantasy follows librarian Jane Madison through the trials and tribulations that come with learning you're a witch. Overall, I was enormously pleased with Girl's Guide, I really look forward to the next installment of this series. If you still need a reason to go buy it you should know Mindy is donating 10% of her profits to First Book, the international non-profit organization that is all about getting kids their first book. By Tina R. "Avid Reader" (Howell, NJ USA)

Chick Lit Keeper, October 4, 2006
I loved this book. I couldn't put it down and read it in one weekend. There isn't much "teaching witchcraft" in the book as the title might imply, but the message at the end is nice. My only complaint is that the sequel doesn't come out until October of 2007. By Book Addict (Midwest)

And if you want to get to know Mindy better, you can visit her blog.

So what are YOU going to be for Hallowe'en? Better start planning!

I always wanted someone to create a book of no-costumes. Things you might already have in your wardrobe that you would be comfortable in, could look good, if not fabulous in, yet with a little tweak, would actually be a costume or a character. And not the dorky "I'm coming as 'myself' line." Something clever. Maybe dressing entirely in white, ideally a white floaty skirt and then a solid yellow baseball cap or hat and you could be a fried egg, sunny side up.

Of course there is also the power of the set--consider if you had appropriately colored lycra outfits and wraparound sunglasses and four friends! The Power Rangers could become your signature piece. Passé for some, but there are a number of 3-5 year-olds that would still be really impressed.

Let your imagination soar--and work some magic!

Monday, September 24, 2007

When you want just a taste of Spice…

Spice Briefs--because size doesn't matter! (really!)

That's because Spice is...growing

Launched in August 2007, Spice Briefs will offer short erotic stories in e-book format.

The exceptional editorial that has driven Spice to the top of the print market will be carried over to the digital world, giving readers the chance to experience Spice in multiple formats.

• Short erotic stories (5,000 – 15,000 words) in eBook format

• 2 new titles every month by some of the top names in Erotic Fiction

• $2.99 US per eBook and $3.49 CAN

• Spice Briefs will be available in all e-book formats and are available for download at under Spice or through, as well as by author/title from eRetailers such as :,,,

If you'd like to experiment between the covers (virtual ones, that is), check out how to be brief, but to the point with writing guidelines on Spice Briefs.

Or listen to an expert with the Inside Scoop with Nancy Madrone or check out So you want to write Erotica

A natural extension of the Spice brand, Spice Briefs will expand the opportunities to capitalize on the popularity of Erotic Fiction in the digital world, grow promising new authors, and create new print opportunities by publishing anthologies.

What was it that little girls are made of? Sugar and...Spice and sometimes Spice Briefs

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Harlequin Podcasts are here!

Harlequin Author Spotlight Harlequin Podcast

Get the story behind the story with this series of author interviews from Harlequin, the global leader in series romance and one of the world's leading publishers of women's fiction.

Meet debut authors and New York Times bestselling writers from a wide variety of genres – romance, chick lit, fantasy, suspense--and learn what inspires them to write.

Check out the link!

Author Spotlight Episode 1: Deanna Raybourn and Jane Porter.

Author Spotlight Episode 2: Brenda Novak, Hope Tarr and Cara Summers

Listen up!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Congratulations Debbie on # 1 on USA Today and New York Times! A first!

74 Seaside

The seventh in Debbie's bestselling Cedar Cove series (hint, the address tips you off to the placement in the series, SEVENty four Seaside Avenue) hits the USA Today List at #1 . Look for it in the same location on the September 19th New York Times Paperback Bestseller list (Mira, paperback original).

Debbie is not only a prolific writer and gifted storyteller, appearing frequently on the USA Today, New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists, but she can knit! She even taught me to knit.

She's a miracle worker and an inspiration to many, indeed Debbie published her first book, Heartsong, an Inspirational romance with Silhouette in 1984 and has written over 100 titles since! She's written award winning stories for both Silhouette and Harlequin for many series--Special Edition, SuperRomance, Americans, and Romance to name a few! She created groundbreaking continuity stories and writes her signature bestselling single titles for MIRA.

Her work is available in countless languages and formats around the world--including eBooks. Or have a listen to Debbie's interview at --it's a free download.

Look for Where Angels Go a new Shirley, Goodness and Mercy title coming out in gift hardcover in October!

Where Angels Go

Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Note from Susan Grant

Susan Grant wrote in to say:

I was so happy to see “ET” listed as a top 10 read from the boards this past week in the newsletter! I popped over and saw a few of the comments on different boards. It was great to see that so many had invested in these characters and were expressing hope that I’m continuing the series.

I wanted to let everyone know that I am! Moonstruck comes out next June, and kicks off the Borderlands series, which is a richer, somewhat darker, more emotional spin-off of the Otherworldly Men series. It centers around the Drakken, the Coalition, and Earth, all former enemies who must now learn to work together in peacetime.

In that book--which I feel is one of the very best I have ever written--I pair up Admiral Brit Bandar, the Coalition’s greatest war hero and Drakken hunter with a former Drakken pirate known as “the Scourge of the Borderlands” as her (forced) second-in-command. Then I toss in an undeniable attraction too powerful to ignore. Heh, heh. I’m so mean to my characters!

Two months later The Warlord's Daughter (tentative title) comes out in August. In that book we’ll see Ellen, Evie’s teenage daughter, who’s spending her summer aboard a starship as part of an internship before she becomes a cadet at the Royal Galactic Military Academy. In true hell-on-wheels Ellen fashion, she will have her adventures as a secondary character! Yes, she’ll have her own book once I grow her up a bit more.

All the best,

Susan Grant

Isabel adds that How to Lose an Extraterrestrial in 10 Days is out now, along with My Favorite Earthling and Your Planet or Mine?.

If you'd like an update on Susan's day job, check out Susan Grant's Come Fly With Me Blog.

Isn't the Internet amazing? As a reader, I would just stand in front of the bookshelves and ask these questions into the stratosphere: "Why don't you write a sequel?"

And then be filled with dread that even if great minds thought alike and my words of wisdom took root and would I ever even know, except by the merest chance, or a lucky break, or obsessive haunting of bookstores and used bookstores (knowing I'd likely miss it when it first come out).

Now we have RSS, links, blogs, searches and multiple opportunities to connect and communicate. I am glad to do my small part to share info and spread the word into this new cyber universe we call home.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Does Blogging Make a Difference for an Author?

Suzanne McMinn, author and one of my fairy blogmothers, (see prior post) just sent me a comment one of her readers sent to her.

Suzanne wrote: Hi, Isabel! We talked some time ago about blogging, particularly in relation to how it can help authors. I know it's been helpful for me in drawing readers, though I don't often get direct confirmation.

Given the general lack of hard 'evidence,' I wanted to share an email I recently received that I thought was very well-expressed. It came from a reader about how my blog specifically caused her to buy my latest book.

I thought you might find it interesting and would enjoy seeing it in the reader's own words, about her view of the effectiveness of an author's blog in relation to sales. (She says she doesn't think she expresses it well, but I think she does.) Her email attached below:

Suzanne McMinn

Available Now: SECRETS RISING, July 2007, Silhouette Romantic Suspense

Reader Letter

Subj: Your Blog/Web Site
Date: 8/1/2007 11:51:02 AM


I wanted to mention that when I first found your web site, I had just finished reading "Deep Blue." I Googled your name, found your site and have been visiting every week day since. That's what? About a month or six weeks ago?

I know I stated in one of my comments how impressed I am with your site, how much discipline you do have to update it and make it so fun. I wanted you to know that your web site and blog are the reasons I ordered "Secrets Rising," and will continue to order and read your books. Not that I didn't enjoy the Pax books; I did! I just meant that your site is very effective, in my opinion, in garnering readers/fans. I love the personal touch and that makes *me* want to keep coming back again and again.

I'm probably not expressing myself well enough--a health professional told me yesterday to give up coffee and I'm fuzzy-headed at the moment. LOL. The bottom line is that I think your web site is a very effective marketing/promotional tool and I hope you are able to continue to make such successful use of it.

All the best.

Kim of Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Isabel wrote: I don't think blogging is for everyone, but I think it is one way to connect with readers and for some authors and some readers, or even a particular project, that can be a valued opportunity.

Here, I think the reader really articulated her position and thoughts well. She expressed the desire and comfort of getting to know the artist & of feeling connected/respectful/interested in the mind that was creating the stories she is immersing herself in, the characters she is caring about, the worlds she is stepping into.

It makes a lot of sense to me, especially in this day and age of spin, denial, and the fact that for many, truthfulness has been replaced by "truthiness" and for some, that just isn't appealing. Finding a place where the words and the music are in harmony is a beautiful thing.

Many people, especially romance and women's fiction readers, repond to sincerity--that's what we talk about when we say, "Write from the heart." Sounds like you deliver!

Monday, July 23, 2007

RWA Conference Report

brought to you by Shirley Hailstock

The Twenty-Seventh Annual Romance Writers of America Conference (RWA) was held in Dallas, Texas July 11-15, 2007. Here are my comments regarding this year’s event:

I thought the PAN (Published Authors Network) workshops were the best ever. Not that the other years weren't good, but this year topped them!

The PAN Retreat was a three-hour panel of book buyers, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Levy and Books-a-Million. They talked for about 40 minutes, introducing themselves, explaining what they were doing, what author programs they had, what co-sponsored programs they did with publishers, etc. The panel then responded to questions for the next two hours and RWA members were not shy--they went to the microphones and asked tough questions.

Levy has a bus tour they are doing with Harlequin. They did it last year with 17-18 authors, travelling through two states with signings at Wal-Marts (Levy and Anderson News distribute to Wal-Mart).

Sue Grimshaw, romance buyer for the Borders Group, talked about the shelf-talkers and space that publishers pay for to give authors an extra push. Authors cannot send information to her for these, everything must come through the publisher.

The Books-A-Million buyer controls 212 stores and buys all fiction, not just romance. She told us that while authors cannot send to the individual stores, she could distribute to the stores. On covers, however, overly sexy/suggestive covers don't work for her stores. She doesn't mind receiving ARC's (Advanced Reading Copies) however.

All of the buyers said historicals are making a comeback. They see the number of titles sold increasing and customers asking for more. They also said to be active in any of the programs your publisher had supporting you--but we already knew that, didn't we?

At the Levy workshop they showed a film of last year's bus tour. Pam Nelson, Director of Advertising and Promotion, spoke about their Spotlight Program, where they have authors come to the warehouse outside Chicago and sign 6,000 (not a typo!) books. They give them two days to do it and some authors don't finish. David Baldacci holds the record: He finished in 4 hours (again not a typo!). The books are then packaged and sent to stores and Wal-Mart for displays.

Levy's bus tour is possibly going out in October. Separately, they're working on an African-American tour. (I didn't go there with the why a separation. I'm tired of fighting the fight). Pam told me that tour will be in August and goes through Illinois and Indiana. I don't know who’s on it, but some authors have already been contacted regarding it.

Madeline Hunter and Sabrina Jeffries reprised their workshop on The Numbers. Information was presented candidly, and we received a worksheet with graphs showing how books do the first week out and then subsequent weeks. The handout also had a grid that showed what bookstore chains, independents (if known), distributors report to what best selling list (NYT, Bookscan, Publishers Weekly and USA Today).

There were some questionable reports. Sabrina stated that she'd gleaned information from several sources, including the websites of the lists, but some information may not be reported on the site. For example Wal-Mart numbers are not included in the the USA Today site, but there was a time when they were. We don’t know if they were just removed at the request of Wal-Mart or if they no longer report their numbers.

(NB: Isabel would like to add that while there is a lot of information and numbers, very little actually adds up in a dependable, repeatable, or satisfactory manner. If you are selling more books than previously, that is likely a good thing! Lists can drive you crazy and are not always as meaningful as they seem).

I attended the Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Jayne Ann Krentz workshop. Jayne talked about inventing Amanda Quick when she'd killed herself as Jayne Ann Krentz. She said she had been writing as Jayne Castle and Jayne Ann Krentz, but then she'd sold three paranormals under the JAK name. It was a genre 10 years ahead of their time, before the word was even coined, and the books tanked: no one wanted to touch the JAK name.

So she stripped her next work of all the trappings and what was left was a marriage of convenience plot. As marriage of convenience was popular in historicals, she invented historical author Amanda Quick. Her agent (Steven Axelrod) submitted it as "Amanda Quick, the pseudonym of a popular romance author," but he didn't say what her real name was. The book sold and she went on.

I went to the NAL spotlight. The editors used the forum to poll the room to see what people were reading Vs what they were writing. They asked if we were tired of vampire romances. Interestingly, most of those who responded said they wanted better stories--they weren't tired of them, but they didn't feel they were were the best they could be.

They spent a lot of time on paranormals--so much so that I questioned whether that was all they were publishing! A powerpoint presentation was running of bookcovers... and a lot of them were paranormal, but they are open to all kinds of romance fiction. We talked about book trailers, but no one in the room said a trailer would entice them to buy a book.

The Friday night parties were great as usual! I got to three of them. At the Kensington party, they practically gave Vivian Stephens a standing ovation. Kate Duffy's smile was from ear to ear and the applause was loud in acknowledging of Vivian’s contribution to the romance genre. The Putnum/Berkley party was fun too. I spoke to a lot of editors and some new authors there.

Harlequin's party was too loud to have conversations, so we just had to dance and sing and shout to a live band and eat way too much chocolate. Oh, I went to and came from the party in a stretch-Hummer! It looked like I was either very classy or a hooker, take your pick :)

Nora Robert's party before the RITA ceremony was packed with friends and colleagues and I got a chance to chat with many of them. Nora had on a gorgeous dress and lovely jewelry and looked fabulous.

The Golden Heart (highest award for an unpublished romance) and the RITA's (highest award for a published romance) were beautifully done. Three magnificent screens allowed the greater part of the 1,920 attendees to see the action up close no matter where they sat.

A few short film clips were sprinkled between the awards. They were very well done and showcased an author in a "guess who..." mode. They was a scene with a voice over giving clues, then a photo would appear with their signature on the bottom. They did Nora Roberts, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Anne Stuart.

Vivian Stephens, (one of the founders of the RWA), was a major hit. The moment Linda Howard saw her, she couldn't get to her fast enough! One Golden Heart winner thanked Vivian for founding the forum under which she won. Later, at the dessert reception, she came over to Vivian and was so emotional I think if she'd said one more word, she'd have burst into tears. It was very touching to see.

Sunday we had the usual woes and delays trying to get home. My plane left late, but amazingly, they made up the time in the air. Now I'm bouncing back and ready to write, another great RWA under my belt!

Who could be better at bringing you the news from Dallas than former RWA President Shirley Hailstock? When she's not keeping busy checking out the conference scene, she's writing--Shirley has three books coming out in 2008. She'll complete her Clayton Family series (On My Terms) in January from Kensington. She started the series in Silhouette Special Edition with two books, A Father’s Fortune and Love on Call.

In February, her first Harlequin Next will be published. While it takes on the challenges of interracial romance, the story also explores the bonds between mother and daughter. There isn't a firm title yet for the Harlequin Next or the upcoming June book from Kimani Press. This story is about a woman who has ordered a ball gown and gets a wedding gown instead! When she puts it on, the hero shows up infuriated that she’s wearing his sister’s dress. Well, you can just image how things unravel from there!

Thank you, Shirley for keeping us in the know!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


brought to you by Karen Harper

The second annual Thrillerfest Conference, sponsored by International Thriller Writers, was held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City from July 12 – 15. A great contingent of Mira Books authors and editors attended. They appeared on various panels, emceed presentations and oversaw programs and awards. Heather Graham even donned black hose and a chorus-line-style tuxedo to sing backup with the Killerettes for the Killer Thriller Band at the banquet the last night. And she sang a duet with author Michael Palmer called “Ode to Pink Slips”—a writer’s rejection of rejections!

Your intrepid reporter for the gathering is Karen Harper, New York Times bestselling Mira author, who was panel master (both moderator and panelist) for a workshop called “Psycho: Thrillers that Haunt You.” In honor of our title, we all began our discussion wearing masks of either Janet Leigh as Marian Crane, (her notorious expression was from the famous screaming shower murder scene) or Tony Perkins as Norman Bates.

Trivia for the day: Janet Leigh authored two Mira books in the 1990’s. I got to meet her at a Mira author party in California where she surprised us by admitting she was nervous to meet us!

On our Psycho panel, we covered such topics as how to get readers into the story and some great ways to surprise, shock and scare them. We also discussed how a scary setting can either be an apparently calm one that lulls you into complacency before danger strikes (after all, JAWS starts with sunny summer beaches; small towns make great noir) or settings which are creepy from the get-go, such as in JURASSIC PARK or a weird mansion as in the classic Gothic romances.

I talked about how well the peaceful Amish countryside worked for my romantic suspense novels, DARK HARVEST and DARK ANGEL. The Amish areas look calm and quaint but the Amish lives isolated lives. With their massive, dark barns and the tall corn fields growing right up to their houses, who knows what is out there which could harm them?

Below are some ThrillerFest tidbits about or by Mira authors and editors:

Miranda Stecyk, Mira editor: “I’m amazed to hear authors talk about the amount of research that is needed for a thriller. I’m also impressed by the sharing and mentoring that goes on among these authors and by their support of debut authors.”

Michelle Gagnon, Mira author of TUNNELS: “I got a lot of good info from M.J. Rose about to blog or not to blog. She’s a master blogger, but she suggested not starting your own unless you have a lot of time, are working with other authors or are very famous. She advised plugging your blog comment in somewhere else for a while. It wasn’t what I thought she was going to say.” M.J. herself is a Mira author. Her thriller THE REINCARNATIONIST will be out this September.

Heather Graham, New York Times bestseller and longtime Mira author: “I use prologues to grab readers. Always start your books with what is most gripping, the big bang, then bring your reader up-to-date.”

New Mira author Rick Mofina was in charge of awards for Best First Novel, since he was a finalist last year. Rick has a long career as a reporter and author. He’s a Canadian who writes like he’s an American. His forthcoming book is A PERFECT GRAVE.

New York Times bestseller Alex Kava was in charge of the awards program and also two panels, one on serial killer stories and one featuring the award nominees. Alex said she “loved the laid-back conference atmosphere, even in busy NYC.”

Longtime Mira author Erica Spindler was also in attendance. A New York Times and international bestseller, she has a Mira book, LAST KNOWN VICTIM, coming in October. Erica was the panel master for a workshop which asked: Do thrillers about child crime cross the line?

Mira author and New Yorker, Jason Pinter, was on a panel which discussed how writers and publishers can work together to attract readers to buy their books.

At the final night awards banquet I sat with Mira staffers Executive Editor Margaret Marbury, editor Linda McFall and new Mira author J.T. Ellison, whose first novel, ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS, will be out from Mira in Nov. 2007. They all enjoyed the conference’s blend of professionalism and fun.

Margaret was interviewed on the first day of the convention as one of the top thriller editors in the business. Mira published the anthology THRILLER which has contributions from many great thriller writers. The collection is newly out in paperback and the Barnes & Noble on-site store had a lot of copies which were going into a lot of conference bags which bore the logo, MIRA: FICTION AT ITS BEST.

Several attendees flew in from the Dallas Romance Writers of America Conference for the NYC gathering. (Unfortunately, the conferences were the same time this year.) Carla Neggers arrived for the last two days of the Thriller conference—even though her luggage didn’t make it in time. Tara Taylor Quinn, Mira and Harlequin author, was expected but did not make the panel Heather hosted because of travel complications.

My take on the entire Thriller Writers experience was that it was a supportive group of very talented people who love writing and value their readers. And NYC was a great venue because so many publishing professionals were available to attend. As busy as everyone was at the conference, there was always that attraction of NYC: so many places to see, to eat, and to love in the Big Apple.

And now that the second ThrillerFest is history, we are all inspired and getting back to thinking up something truly thrilling to write....Wait 'til next year!

Karen Harper's recent titles are INFERNO, a short story in MORE THAN WORDS, and HURRICANE. But check out the great offer of THE STONE FOREST, BLACK ORCHID and THE FALLS--all available at an amazing $3.99 price.