Monday, November 03, 2008

Helpful hints for presentations...

Guest posting today, November 3, 2008 on
Tote Bags 'n' Blogs on some presentation tips...

Friday, October 31, 2008

AAP, Authors Guild, Google Announce GroundbreakingSettlement over Google Book Search Library Project

I wanted to share with you the recent press release and annoucement regarding a tentative settlement (pending court approval) regarding the lawsuits brought by the Associate of American Publishers and a class action suit by the
Author's Guild against Google.

This is a highly complex issue with strong opinions in every direction! Put perhaps overly simplisticly, these organizations actions were in response to Google's plans to digitize copyrighted material (entire books) without the right's holder's permission.

I wanted to share this information, and the material below was taken from and is available on the AAP website. It has been a very long and arduous process to get to this agreement. I applaud the participants and I think it is a remarkable and positive step that will significantly benefit all parties.

October 28, 2008

AAP, Authors Guild, Google Announce GroundbreakingSettlement over Google Book Search Library Project

On October 28, 2008, AAP announced a groundbreaking settlement agreement in the Google litigation that will expand access to out-of-print books online for millions of American readers, allow rightsholders, if they wish, to include in-print books, and will create a mechanism for payments to authors and publishers by establishing a Books Rights Registry.

AAP President and CEO Pat Schroeder stated "AAP is proud to have been a part of the process that has produced this historic, landmark agreement. We believe this settlement, the product of many years’ hard work, is a great 21st Century solution."

For More Information:

Press Release
Joint FAQ
Settlement Documents
Statement from AAP Chairman Richard Sarnoff
Settlement Website(Google)
Author's Guild Website

Past Coverage:

Click here to view the full complaint from 2005

Thursday, October 23, 2008

- The Great American Romance Novel

I've agreed to help a friend (not HQE) with a project to create a list of the best American Romances of all time, and I need your expertise, if you're willing to share it.

1). So tell me, what would be your top ten American romances of all time be? (it can be more than ten, if you're inspired). While I'd love to see them ranked and have you tell me why you made the choices you did, just a list of titles/authors would be great.

2). I also want to include a range of categories within the genre: i.e. Contemporaries, Historicals, Paranormal, Futuristic, Fantasy, Westerns, Civil War, Saga, Romantic Suspense, Romantic Comedy, Multi-cultural, Inspirational, etc., so welcome your favorites in a particular category you're fond of.

What do I mean by American? Well, an American author or one living in America. What do I mean by Romance? Basically a focus on the developing romantic relationship between a man and a woman with a satisfying and positive ending.

Yes, there are some stories out there that don't entirely fit that definition that I plan to include--I have to include GONE WITH THE WIND.  While it doesn't have a traditional happy ending (HEA), I've decided that (dreadful sequels aside) we know in our hearts the book stops, but the story is far from over. S o while I'd say a firm "no" to, say, LOVE STORY, I do want to hear your favorites, just alert me to any caveats or concerns about fit that you might have.

So would love to hear your thoughts to ensure this list is a stellar collection of truly wonderful stories.

Thank you!


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Harlequin Podcasts!

I'd been meaning to do a post on the Harlequin Podcasts. I'm proud to say I've learned how to use an iPod, I've discovered the many free podcasts available on iTunes and have discovered the joys of hands-free, eyes-free 'reading.'

Then I saw Michelle Styles' excellent post on Leena Hyat's Tote Bags 'n' Blogs . Well, I thought it was a great presentation of the podcasts from a perfect source--a published author. Michelle and Leena kindly agreed to let me post Michelle's excellent piece, so here it is!

Until earlier this year, I will admit that I was only vaguely aware of podcasts and podcasting. However, then Harlequin began to put editorial podcasts on its website and I started to listen. And a new procrastination tool was born. You can download them to an ipod or you can do as I do and listen via your computer.

The editorial podcasts are basically two editors talking in depth about one particular line. Each podcast lasts between 20-40 minutes. They are not only interesting from a writer's point of view but also from a reader's point of view. Ultimately they are a masterclass in what each line is about.The editors have tried to explain what televisions shows/movies the line is most like. Romance used Love Actually to sum up the line -- lots of stories each month but each being about love. SSE chose Brothers and Sisters.

At the moment, the recent podcasts have been from the London office. So Senior Editor Tessa Shapcott and Editor Sally Williamson explained the differences between Modern and Modern Heat as well as the difference between Presents and Presents Extra. Presents Extra are grouped around a specific theme. And they talked about titling and why titles are chosen the way they are. With the Historical podcast, Sr Editor Linda Fildew and editor Joanne Carr talked about popular time periods, themes and heroes. In the most recent podcast on Harlequin Romance, sr editor Kim Young and editor Meg Lewis dispel some of the myths about the Romance line as well as explaining what it is about the line that makes it so special. They also explained that within the line secondary characters provide flavouring. This is different from some of the other lines where secondaries play key roles. Medicals should be coming up soon.

Earlier podcasts included ones on Nocturne, Blaze, Superromance, Intrigue, Special Edition, Desire etc. And the intention is to do all the lines.

For me, it has been an education in what makes up series romance, plus I have discovered several new authors. And as it is sort of working, I can justify the listening. I know when I listened to the historical podcast, I came away with a ton of notes about how my latest books could be improved. And in several places, I thought -- ah that is what my editor meant when she said xyz.

Has anyone else listened to the podcasts? Or does anyone know about any other good podcasts?

Thank you Michelle!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

- Do you have a teenager?

This may be a tricky issue, as some children may view parental advice with suspicion, but I've just experienced a major hand-shaking event with various friend's children & friends of theirs. 

I feel compelled to alert parents: in addition to the drug, alcohol and sex conversation, you need to tell/show/explain to your child how to shake some one's hand. Yes, I experienced a lot of 'dead fish,' 'limp noodle,' 'wet dishrag' and 'consumptive squeezes.'

I wondered if anyone had explained to them what a handshake was supposed to be--not that all adults are free of the aforementioned problem, but this seemed excessive, perhaps indicating cluelessness.

I don't want to go all Dale Carnegie on you, but he has a point. A handshake is a big first impression, and surely it's not too hard to offer a firm grip, a brief squeeze and release. You can even throw in eye contact for extra credit.

Maybe it's an issue of a child/young adult not feeling confident, but I don't care--act it, at least. Surprisingly, confidence will come and people will give you the benefit of the doubt for starters.

Reach out an touch someone...properly.

Monday, September 08, 2008

- Tell - Online Reader panel

Here's information from a recent press release on a program Harlequin is launching to open the door to reader's comments and suggestions: gives readers the opportunity
to contribute to the future of romance reading.

Toronto, ON (August 18, 2008) – Harlequin Enterprises Limited, the global leader in series romance and one of the world’s leading publishers of women’s fiction, announced today the launch of Tell Harlequin (—an online advisory panel that allows readers input into the direction of future novels by voicing their opinions and sharing their book experiences directly with the publisher.

Tell Harlequin is an online advisory panel designed to enhance Harlequin’s relationship with its readers through an ongoing dialogue whose insights will help guide the evolution of the publisher’s business and allow Harlequin to publish the best in women’s fiction. Participants on the Tell Harlequin panel can make their voices heard on topics such as cover designs, new
miniseries ideas, new series concepts, new promotional ideas and more. The staff at Harlequin will then consider Tell Harlequin suggestions along with the publisher’s own plans as it develops editorial for the future. Contributors to Tell Harlequin receive free Harlequin novels and sneak peeks at upcoming books, participate in entertaining online surveys and exchange opinions and ideas with other readers.

For more information please go to

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

- Are you my friend?

OK, I am somewhat anti-social as well as being older than 20something, but that hasn't protected me from getting sucked into a social network!

Here's my etiquette dilemma:

What do you do when you get a "friend" request from someone who you're not sure you know. Yes, you check out their lists of friends & you may find people in common, and that may jog your memory. But what do you do when, in the 'family' of the romance, there are a lot of people who might know of me, just as I might know of them, but we don't actually know each other, have never spoken or met.

Are they my...friend?

When I launched into the uncharted waters of virtual reality, I ran around & made all my friend's children 'friend' me (the 20somethings were everywhere). Then I discovered authors, and found good friends there. But for me there was a delicacy—I felt I had to actually know someone to friend them. I wasn't using the site to do business or reaching out to strangers to expand my circle. I was just trying to find my friends—people I knew, had worked with, had met—virtually or actually.

When I make a friend request, I try always to write a message saying Hi, often reintroducing myself and reminding them how we knew each other. That seemed, well, friendly. Like when you see someone at an actual event, you say 'Hello, I'm ... and we know each other from ....' Even if you know them well, you still say Hello! And if you don't know them, of course you introduce yourself.

But that's not the M.O. for most others.  I often just get queries with no message or greeting and I don't know whether they're someone I've connected with or not.  Perhaps their vision is to expand their network to include someone with shared interests.  And while that's a reasonable goal, it's not my direction at present.  

Which means I've actually ignored friend requests when I didn't know for certain that I knew the person personally (sorry), and it makes me feel so ungracious! All these requests are impersonal—no note, no greeting, just click here and you'll be added to my list—I don't even need to say Hello. And there's also no place on the sites to share your philosophy or to alert people of your feelings on friending.

I worry that I might actually know them, that I ought to have remembered them—I've met them at a conference, they're a Harlequin author, I took them out to dinner, they were kind enough to host me at an event, or may have read my blog (thank you!).

But just like at an event, if someone came up to you and said, 'You don't know me, but I'm a fan of your writing/met you briefly @ a conference/heard you speak...& would like to connect' you'd be happy to get to know them. They've reached out, shared something of themselves, we'd found common ground and become new friends, or a friendly acquaintance. Or just a business colleague who chats and hands you their card.

Seems to me the same framework could—should—apply in this virtual world. Friend is a word that means something, and that matters to me.

Many years when I was a 20something my older brother's buddies would complain bitterly that often the girls they were checking out & were interested in wouldn't "put out." My girlfriends noted that that was likely because they weren't "putting in"—actually reaching out & putting themselves on the line.

I'm not comfortable ignoring people, but I do think I'm not going to put out unless the requester 'puts in.'

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The MacGregors are everywhere!

Look for Nora Roberts' The MacGregor Grooms, heading your way July, 2008--and you can still get The MacGregor Brides. Check out the cover connection--don't they belong together?

The MacGregors are everywhere--and here's my story. Took a trip to South Africa. Here are my phone photos to prove it. First some establishing shots:
Cape of Good HopeThis is the Cape of Good Hope. Doesn't this look like the very tip of Africa? While it's not the Southernmost tip, it is apparently the Southwesternmost end.

Tip of AfricaThis is the actual Southernmost tip of Africa, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet (note sign). Not nearly as dramatic as the Cape!

Ostrich + OceanAt times driving around felt like Northern California, sea to one side, mountains on the other--but every once in a while something would wander by and remind you you really weren't in "Kansas" anymore!

MacGSo as mentioned, there we were, driving around in South Africa and what do we see? Yes, we were faced with an impossible choice--Robertson (Nora Roberts' family name) or Macgregor (a Nora Roberts family name). Which would you pick?

NR+ IS shadesLuckily for me, I picked...Nora Roberts! Here we are at her summer event. Yes, my husband has stopped eating her potato salad long enough to take a special phone photo of us.

FYI in South Africa, we stayed in the charming town of Mcgregor at a lovely B&B, sleeping under a MacGregor tartan coverlet. At breakfast, the hostess explained about the Scottish immigrants that had originally settled there and I sent her a complete set of Nora's MacGregor series, of course!

So here's my pitch. This is a photo of me as a bridesmaid at my brother's wedding (yes, of course I cropped out my head, it was an art concept I was going for). Some time ago I'd given a copy of the cropped picture to the art director because I thought it would be a great concept for a cover.
IS bridesmaid
Months (if not years) later, I see the Brides cover--pretty similar, eh? I think I was the inspiration. That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Presenting...Harlequin Hungary (Photo) and Mary-Margaret Scrimger (Interview)

My conundrum: I had a photo, but no interview. An interview with no photo.

So I decided to combine them, though they have nothing to do with each other, except both represent contributors to the editorial team. Here's a picture of the wonderful Harlequin Hungary editorial team, with a note from their editorial manager, Dr. Imre TÉGLÁSY:

TeamHarlequinHungary 07jpg

"In the background you can see the Picasso painting of the Harlequin child--of course!

"On your left side: Zsuzsanna GLAVINA, senior editor, Vicky SIMORÁDI, senior editor, Dr. Imre TÉGLÁSY, editorial manager, Iren BODA, secretary, Katalin KOLTAY, technical editor, Dora BAKAY, editor.

"Thank you. Köszönöm!"


Thank you very much--Köszönöm szepen--to the whole editorial team for taking Harlequin editorial to market in your country! (sorry, don't know how to print the proper accents).

I also am delighted to introduce Mary-Margaret, the next installment of the popular editorial interviews:

Mary-Margaret Scrimger

Assistant Editor, MIRA Books and SPICE

"My responsibility is varied: I’m responsible for MIRA back covers and prelims; I read a lot of SPICE submissions, particularly SPICE Briefs right now; also, I also work with the Nora Roberts team on Nora Roberts' backlist.

"I’ve been with Harlequin for 3 years and have recently been promoted to Assistant Editor. Before Harlequin I had a variety of jobs but most of them were part-time or summer jobs to get through school.

"The most important thing for me with work is that I enjoy it and have motivation to do it. If I were working for a financial company or law firm then I don’t think I could get out of bed in the morning.

"Working in publishing is pretty amazing because I get paid to do what I do in my spare time – read. Plus, learning how a book is put together from the inside has given me a new perspective.

"One of my strongest childhood memories is my Dad reciting Robert Service's poems to us as bedtime stories. Because of my Dad all of my sisters and I have The Cremation of Sam McGee memorized and it is my favorite childhood book.

"I think any story can be interesting depending on the way it is told. I have no interest in brick laying but a few months ago I read a beautifully written story about a brick layer. The author had the skill to pull me into the story and show me a different side of brick laying that I had no idea existed! Those type of books appeal to me--ones that show me hidden secrets that we couldn’t even imagine.

"It really depends on when you ask the question! Right now I’m really into German movies. I bawled in THE LIVES OF OTHERS and GOODBYE LENIN. My all time favorite movie is probably a very unknown movie called SLC PUNK"

Thank you Mary-Margaret for taking the time to share. While I haven't memorized the whole of The Cremation of Sam MacGee (impressive) it is a favorite. And I often flash on the refrain during appropriately strange moments:

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

- Introducing...Leena Hyat

I met Lee in one of those virtual encounters that are commonplace now, but remain conceptually amazing to me: the links we forge from shared interests and common passions without ever actually meeting – or needing to!

The internet also allows us to virtually check each other out – so I visited one of Lee's blogs, Tote Bags 'n' Blogs (Join us for the latest news, views, and reviews from authors on authors...) and found a boatload of posts from authors I know & love. She has her finger in a lot of pies, with websites, reviews and a business but took the time to share her thoughts – though she noted she was more used to being on the publishing rather than the writing side of a post!

One of the best jobs in the world…

When I was young, I wanted to be a writer and an artist. I wanted to create. I wanted to fill the world with color and beautiful words that touched the soul: words that inspired strong emotion and also made you smile; colors that evoked passion and shouted ‘Look at me! Here I am!’

My favorite places to hang out included the art room at school and the library. I could get lost in both. I didn’t have to worry about not being good at fractions or formulas… or conversation. 

But my roots belong in a conservative family where art and writing didn’t sound like promising careers and professions like medicine, law and business administration did. I held out for art college but then life happened and here I am today with a business administration background, a whole lot of color and lots of wonderful words to get lost in.

I’ve got one of the best jobs in the world. I work with some of the best, award-winning authors in the romance industry on administration, publicity, and promotion. My clients range from the newly published to the fully established, New York Times bestselling authors, and every day I’m surrounded by a lot of words… and a lot of gorgeous colors, too.  I’m doing everything I love to do most. It’s perfect and totally suits me.

I fell into this job quite by accident – it’s funny how life often leads us in a roundabout way to the path we were always intended to take. I’ve been an avid reader since forever, and several years ago, just after my husband and I moved to Washington state, I was looking for a fun hobby as a way of making some new friends. I happened across a website looking for reviewers. 

I still remember the first book they sent me to review. It was a 600 page eBook… Yikes! I didn’t think I’d get through it – 600 pages of reading at my computer?? Gah! But I did get through it. And I enjoyed it too. 

I guess I had a knack for reviewing because pretty soon I was reading and reviewing over 14 books a month and loving every minute. It was fun and it got me really interested in learning about writing and publishing industry.

It also made me start getting ideas about putting pen to paper for my own stories. But again, life happened. I reconnected with a then-category romance author at a book signing and like a typical aspiring writer, I got into an email correspondence with her over the next several months. 

She just happened to need some help with the business side of writing due to her packed schedule and time constraints and asked if I could help. It was only supposed to be for a short while because I wanted to get back to my own writing… but I fell in love with the job and word of mouth from my clients sealed the deal.

I still work on my own writing when I have time, but I’m not in any rush for now. I’m having way too much fun with my day job! I’ve got a small website and I deal with authors and readers every day. I get to do all the fun stuff like watch an idea for a story grow step by step and bloom in full color. I’m lucky enough to help with research, read chapters or brainstorm through difficult scenes, design bookmarks and flyers, set up contests and plan fun ways to publicize the book. 

As a team, the author and I get to work on different ways to keep her/their name in front of readers, even during months when there is no new book on the shelves. We come up with smart ideas to get the most bang for her buck and still make an impact on the reader in a strong way. It’s interesting and unpredictable in so many ways, it keeps me on my toes and keeps me smiling – in color!

So tell me, when you think back to your childhood hopes and dreams, did you ever think then that you’d end up in the profession you’re in today?


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Presenting...Diana Ventimiglia

Dianne VentimigliaName: Diana Ventimiglia

Title: Associate Editor, Desire

Born: Long Island

Lives: Astoria, Queens

What is the last book you bought? Between You and I (and yes it is actually spelled that way; I gasped too)

Last non-job related book you read?
The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, currently reading
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Whose books are must-haves for you?
Anything Hemingway and Nick Hornby. I won't say I'm obsessed but I am.

If you were going to the Oscars, what color would you wear? Probably yellow or emerald green.

When you have a terrible day, what comfort food do you have to have?
Burgers and Cupcakes...there's actually a place that sells both and it is the best place on earth.

The movie you need to watch at least once a year:
About A Boy, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (that is certainly the gift that keeps on giving the whole year through), Super Troopers, and When Harry Met Sally...I could watch that movie everyday for a whole year.

What is your theme song?
Sex Bomb by Tom Jones (this could be because I want to go on a date with him) Walk the Dinosaur by Was not Wuz...if you haven't heard it check back to 1986 and you'll thank me.

Go to movies/netflix/buy?

When you’re not at work, what do you do?
Go to the gym, write, draw, hang out with friends, walk to Magnolia's to get cupcakes.

Where would you live/what would you do if you didn’t have to worry about working?
I think I would live everywhere...or at least try to visit as many places as possible...I'd also study some languages...Italian, French, Japanese.

Who is your longest friend that you still talk to weekly?
My friend Kevin that I've known since middle school.

What was your favorite class in school and why?
Art because there were so many things to experiment with and tools to express myself.

How would you like to become famous?
I'd like to win Project Runway...but first I'll need to learn how to sew....

What do you wish you had invented?
Hmm...cell phones, although I really hate them sometimes.

What other occupation would want?
I would love to be a photo journalist for National Geographic/Anything business... absolutely not want?
Traders, brokers, blah, blah. I don't think I could ever muster the energy to like it.

If you had the option of living one hundred years in the past or future, which would you choose and why?
I've always wanted to go back in the past and see what New York looked like, what my home town looked like, etc.

Which TV show/movie would you like to be on and which character would you play?
Dee from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia...because I have a girl crush on her and I love that show.

What is your least and most favorite household task? Oddly enough I like cleaning the bathroom...I hate doing dishes

What was your favorite childhood book? When did you last reread it? Norma Jean Jumping Bean!!! If anyone has ever heard of it or seen it please let me know!!! I haven’t read it in years!

What would other students have said about you way back when?
They would have said I was outgoing and had really big hair...I'm not kidding, I used to pick out my curly hair in middle school because I didn't know what to do with it.

Do you believe in ESP/magic/ghosts/aliens?
I totally believe in ghosts and they scare the bejesus out of me!

What’s something your colleagues don’t know about you?
I used to figure skate competitively.

What is your favorite sound?
The rain.

Do you have pets?
No, but would like to sneak one into my apartment!

Name one guilty pleasure:
Celebrity magazines--love them!

Who are your role models?
My mom and my friend Mara who has the biggest heart of anyone I know.

And, to paraphrase James Lipton from The Actor’s Studio, when you arrive at the pearly gates, what would you like God/Allah/Mohamed/Moses (insert any other deities here) to say to you?
That I was a kind person who cared about people...and that they have a Burgers and Cupcakes 2 blocks down that way.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Presenting...Allison Lyons

Here's a series of questions Allison answered for an internal wiki that she agreed to share. Some of you may have already 'met' Allison when she posted earlier with her report on the Emerald City Conference.

Allison Lyons
Allison Lyons
Editor, Continuities

Where were you born?

Where do you live now?

Where would you live if you didn’t have to worry about working?
In the mountains

What was your favorite class in school and why?

Favorite book you’ve worked out that is out? Ever?
Too many to choose from.

What is the most fun part of your job?

How would you like to become famous?
I wouldn't...ever

What do you wish you had invented?
The electric fan

If you had the option of living one hundred years in the past or future, which would you choose and why?
Past--I always wanted to know what it was like in turn of the century New York

Which TV show/movie would you like to be on and which character would you play?
Jane Tennison on Prime Suspect

Amelie as Amelie

What is your least and most favorite household task?
Washing floors

Making the bed

What was your favorite childhood book? When did you last reread it?
The Tiny Little House, by Eleanor Clymer--can't remember the last time I read it

Did you ever look back on your high school quote? What do you think about it now?

Yes and it makes no sense--then or now

Do you believe in ESP/magic/ghosts/aliens?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

- Presenting...Mary-Theresa Hussey, Executive Editor

MTH Presenting...Mary-Theresa Hussey

Did you know that when Harlequin Presents launched, it was intended to simply be a verb, that is Harlequin was "presenting" the author to the readers? Well, here I am to present Mary-Theresa Hussey, Executive Editor of the Silhouette imprint.

What does she do? She is responsible for overseeing the overall direction for all Silhouette lines: Desire, Special Edition and Romantic Suspense at the moment, as well as working with her own individual author base.

She is a remarkable reader with an amazing memory and is the unofficial "go to" person for all queries received that start: "I read a book about a guy with a girl and an escaped bear and a car race, but I can't remember..." But let me let her speak in her own words! Tell us, how did it all begin?

"I began as an Editorial Assistant for Silhouette Romance, working for Tara Gavin in '89. She said she knew she wanted to hire me when I sat down, saw Diana Palmer and Ann Major covers on her wall and knew the characters names!

From that point on I moved from Silhouette Romance, Special Edition and Intimate Moments, back to Silhouette Romance to be Senior Editor and then Executive Editor for Silhouette. I was also lucky enough to be in on the start of LUNA Books, and still work with many of those authors."

My list is fairly eclectic. I’d love some Romantic Suspense or Desire writers, and currently work with Red Dress Ink and MIRA authors as well as a lot of paranormal/fantasy writers for Romantic Suspense and Nocturne as well as LUNA. While I’m not as active in acquiring as some other editors--I have a lot of management responsibilities as well--I do keep an eye out for strong projects to bring forward for the company.

"I first started reading series romance when I was 11. We were in Ireland and I ran out of my Nancy Drew titles and my aunt (also Mary Theresa), gave me a batch of Mills & Boon titles. The first one was a Janet Dailey title called THE MASTER FIDDLER and I was hooked by Cholla (yes, that was the hero’s name!). After that, I discovered the stash in the library and used book stores and I’ve never looked back!

"Even in college I used a friend’s local address to get access to the library so I could feed my addiction throughout the year. (I'm pretty sure the statute of limitations has run out on that crime. :-) ) I still love the books we publish, and my only frustration is that I’ll never get to read them all!

"I read a lot of Presents, Desire, Romantic Suspense, Special Edition, Intrigue and Blaze and a smattering from the other lines. I’ll also read a bunch of the MIRA and HQN titles as well. And of course all the LUNA titles I didn’t work on! So when I graduated and discovered I could actually get a job working for this company and get these books for free…Well, my fate was sealed!

"I was a series addict from a young age! Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, Rick Brant, Cherry Ames, Vicki Barr, Trixie Belden, The Happy Hollisters , The Bobbsey Twins, Tom Swift, Tom Corbett and more were followed by Tolkien, Heinlein, Norton and others. Characterization, dialogue and fast-paced plotting are and were key. Along with romance, I still love fantasy, romantic suspense, mystery, thriller and larger than life stories.

"The best part of this job is access to the wonderful people—authors and colleagues and readers. Even when I’m reading a manuscript that won’t be publishable, I feel that there’s a sense of hope and positivism in romance that I don’t always find when reading other genres.

"For me, the most difficult part of the job is rejecting manuscripts and dashing hopes. It’s especially hard when it comes to projects that aren’t really very bad, but there’s nothing special about them. As we say, we can often work with a storyteller who needs structure, but someone who has structure but no voice, well, that just isn’t something that an editor can easily fix.

"On the positive side, one of my most recent and exciting purchases has been for debut author Rachel Vincent’s werecat series. STRAY came out in '07 and ROGUE is out right now--April, 2008. [Isabel interjects that she's just learned Rachel will make her debut on the April 13th New York Times Bestseller list at #32, whoo hoo!]. I’ve already read PRIDE and the proposal for PREY. She’s got a wonderful voice and energy and enthusiasm and I really look forward to everyone else reading these projects.

"I have always felt that series novels have a 'formula' in the same way that other genre fiction or certain types of poetry does. There’s a structure, a rhyme scheme, an expected conclusion and a theme, but the writer’s voice and subject matter make it sing...or falter.

"And at the heart of genre fiction is the characters. The reason readers can return to a familiar story idea is the characters are believable, relatable and filled with emotion. The ability to have a reader live vicariously through the character is what makes a real storyteller.

"It’s not an easy thing to do either—I’ve tried maybe twice to write something and never got beyond two pages. The commitment needed to finish a book is intense, and the work is hard! I have total respect and admiration for those who make it look easy and who can face the screen or empty page day after day.

"As for what it takes to make a good editor, most editors I know are intensely curious about a lot of things, but always about people. They watch movies, read magazines, obsess about TV and pop culture. They respond to the zeitgeist, but what interests them is the individual in the situation. They also have to have great memories and incredible patience, as they read a manuscript multiple times!

"They must be willing to invest themselves by striving to help the author say what she wants to say as clearly and cleanly as possible, walking a delicate balance between being a “first reader,” a representative of the publisher and an advocate for the author. Communication is key, and making sure that the end goal—of a “good story, well told”—is achieved.

"If I wasn't going to be an editor—and money, skill and talent were no object!—I’d probably like to be a photographer for children, landscape or even weddings. But it makes a nice hobby at least!"

Their loss is our gain—though Matrice is also our unofficial photographer and in between the numerous piles of books, her office has many beautiful photographs of children and landscapes and family events. Truly, a renaissance woman.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Presenting...Emily Rodmell

Emily Rodmell Name: Emily Rodmell

Title: Assistant Editor

Role: I edit and acquire for the Steeple Hill lines.

Tell us about yourself: I've been at Harlequin since 2004. Before that, I worked as a newspaper editor at several newspapers in my home state of Florida, and then worked at Scholastic here in New York City. I started at Harlequin as an Editorial Assistant, was promoted to Assistant Editor and am now acquiring and editing books for Steeple Hill.

For Steeple Hill, I’m looking for inspirational romance, romantic suspense and historicals for our three Love Inspired lines: Steeple Hill Love Inspired, Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense and Steeple Hill Historicals.

We're especially focussed on building our author base for the Love Inspired Suspense line. In addition, I’m also looking for women’s fiction and non-fiction for our single title line. Note that Single Title submissions must be agented, though.

In the past year, I've acquired three brand new authors that we’re very excited about. Missy Tippens’ debut novel Her Unlikely Family will come out in the Love Inspired line in February, 2008. Lynette Eason’s debut novel, Lethal Deception, will be published by Love Inspired Suspense in February, 2008 and her follow-up books, River of Secrets and Holiday Illusion, will be released in August and November. And Dana Mentink will also be writing for Love Inspired Suspense. Her first novel with us, Killer Cargo, will be released in June 2008 and her second, Flashover, will come out in January 2009. They have all been very busy writing!

We’re actively acquiring for the Love Inspired Suspense line these days, and we’re very open to new authors. For publishing in general, I would suggest researching the lines you submit to. Make sure your book will fit in, but also make sure that it has a special, unique quality to it. Don’t send in a cookie-cutter manuscript. But also don’t send it something that is so complely different that it doesn’t fit the line.

What are your pet peeves? Manuscripts that were submitted without the author reading our guidelines first. If you’re going to submit, make sure that your manuscript fits within our word count range and doesn’t contain material inappropriate for the targeted line.

What kind of stories appeal to you now? For my personal reading, I like novels with strong heroines. I also enjoy journalistic memoirs and current events titles.

Do you have a favorite book? My favorite book of all time is Gone With the Wind.

Emily sounds like a true romantic--a requirement to be successful at this job. Thank you.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Presenting...Elizabeth Mazer

Elizabeth MazerName: Elizabeth Mazer

Title: Editorial Assistant, Steeple Hill/Silhouette

Role: Responsible for providing administrative and editorial support to the Senior Editor of Love Inspired/Love Inspired Suspense and the Executive Editor of Silhouette Books primarily through evaluating submissions, providing author support and guiding manuscripts through the stages of production.

Publishing Background: I began at Harlequin in my current position in April, 2007. Prior to that, I worked in the editorial department at what was then known as Bookspan (now Bertelsmann Direct North America) first with Crossings Book Club, and later with Book Development.

Submissions: We’re actively looking for new authors for Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense, and the Silhouette lines, and will consider both agented and unagented submissions.

As for formatting, I’d prefer to receive a full synopsis along with the first three chapters. Please list the specific line you’re targeting.

Pet Peeve: Insufficient research! Misspelling my name, or the name of the line in the cover letter can make it very hard for me to give the rest of the submission serious consideration.

The author has to sell me not just on the qualities of her book, but also on how well her story would fit into our line, and I become very hard to convince when I sense that the author hasn’t done her homework.

What I Want to See: Strong, sympathetic characterization. The harder I have to work to relate to the characters, the more likely I am to give up on the book altogether!

Thank you, Elizabeth. So there you have it--I couldn't add a thing. Which comment, coming from an editor, is a real compliment!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Romance Writers of America® Supports Authors in the War Against Internet Piracy

Just wanted to post the following from the RWA® for general interest:

RWA® to provide a clearing house of file-sharing sites and instructions for copyright holders to protect their works.

Romance Writers of America (RWA), a professional association representing 9,800 romance writers, is committing its resources to providing information on how to protect copyrighted works and help fight the growing problem of Internet piracy. As theft of intellectual property affects all creators, RWA hopes to raise awareness of this issue and assist authors with the knowledge to demand take down of unauthorized copies of their works by establishing a clearing house for authors of all genres.

RWA recently published a list of websites that contain unauthorized downloads or other copies of copyrighted romance novels. The list includes contact information for the website administrators and links to each website’s takedown procedures. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act requires online service providers to promptly block access to infringing material (or remove such material from their systems) when they receive notification claiming infringement from a copyright holder. The information provided by RWA includes instructions for sending notice to these websites as well as a sample takedown letter.

The database containing the list of these websites and other related information can be found under “RWA News” at the association’s website, (The direct link to the data base and instructions is Due to the nature of piracy and the fact that this service was originally intended for RWA members, the list is by no means complete; writers are encouraged to report similar, additional sites by sending information to

Change can only happen through the combined efforts of everyone affected. Agents, publishing professionals, and writers are urged to utilize and contribute to the database maintained by RWA. Permission to forward this release is granted and strongly encouraged. For more information or questions regarding RWA’s list of Internet piracy sites, contact Carol Ritter, Professional Relations Manager, at (832) 717-5200 ext. 127.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

- Channel Your Inner Guy...

Just attended a presentation given by a very smart and talented group of people, but I came away with a powerful impression about girlspeak and boyspeak and a compelling message for people of the female persuasion:

You have got to Channel your Inner Guy when you speak publicly!

Both men and women presented. Both were smart, articulate, but the impact was night and day. Now there were some great women speakers and some not so great men, but there was a steriotypic role tendency that I fall into myself that hit me over the head listening.

You know where I'm taking this. Girlspeak meant presenting their recommendations tentatively, their language filled with caveats, 'mights,' 'coulds,' efforts to please, to question, to solicit approval, information couched with options and alternatives. If they were a dog, they'd be approaching you head down, ears flattened, tail low and wagging frantically.

And of course the guys would say their piece much more directly and quickly, with focus, specifics, to the point, putting their opinion out there, appearing to know everything, taking the risk. If they were a dog, they'd be sitting up straight or standing, ears pricked, legs apart, tail high, barking loudly for attention.

At worst, boyspeak delivers the not-too-subtle tyranny and bullying of 'my way or the highway,' 'there is one correct opinion & you have just heard it, no conversation, questions or dissent will be tolerated' and other forms of oppressive language. And girlspeak is sensitized--in the worst case, over sensitized--to that, and can go too far to compensate. But let me tell you, boyspeak was a lot easier to listen to!

Frankly, it is exhausting to listen to girlspeak. My stomach was clenched the whole time wondering where the sentences were going, whether there was any certainty or clarity I could hang my hat on, or whether it was all just a morass of possibilities that I was now supposed to figure out and sort through without clear direction, just a few gentle hints and hopes expressed.

I think there's a happy medium--a combining of forces that is what a good relationship is all about--that captures the best of both.

It entails channeling your inner guy--you've seen it in the yin yang symbol, or C.G. Jung's animus/anima: finding that core piece of "other"--of our own direct opposite--that we carry within ourselves.

It means speaking clearly, confidently, directly, with passion and commitment to your point of view--but setting things up briefly at the beginning and/or at the end in a way that opens the door to feedback, or sets up the points to be discussed, what those discussion goals are & how that feedback will be managed.

All tentative and qualifying terms need to be ruthlessly eradicated from the general text. If you can't bear to get rid of them entirely (I can't) they go into a one sentence direct, opinionated qualifier. You don't need to say the recommendations are just your opinion (duh!) and for heaven's sake don't be apologetic about having an opinion; you insult the person who is asking you for it.

No one is interested in how nervous you are or how unqualified you feel; they just want you to tell them what you know or recommend in as clear and compelling a manner as you can.

Just shut up about everything else. Ask yourself, would a guy ask that? Say that? Worry about that? No. So forget it.

Later, you can graciously open the door to comments (but don't stop channeling your inner guy).

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

- Presenting...Joan Marlow Golan, Executive Editor

Joan in Rome joan-marlow-golan

I wanted to take the opportunity to introduce you to a remarkable woman: Joan Marlow Golan, Executive Editor, Steeple Hill Books. Here's Joan!
"As Executive Editor of Steeple Hill, I manage Harlequin’s inspirational books imprint, with an editorial staff of five in addition to myself. The Steeple Hill imprint consists of three original series, Steeple Hill Love Inspired ®, Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense ® and Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical ®--LIH will be launching this February--as well as a single title program that includes Steeple Hill Women’s Fiction and Steeple Hill Cafe®.

"The greatest asset at Steeple Hill is our authors. Steeple Hill authors have twice won the highest awards in inspirational publishing, the Christy Award and the RITA® Award, as well as myriad prestigious awards from the American Christian Fiction Writers, various regional RWA awards and other honors. Our books have been featured in the media, including The New York Times, USA Today and on The Today Show and even Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show!

"In addition to managing the imprint, I am the proud editor of Steeple Hill authors Hannah Alexander, Judy Baer, Vanessa Del Fabbro, Annie Jones, Catherine Palmer and Janet Tronstad as well as HQN New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller and radio personality Delilah, with whom I’m developing three non-fiction titles for Harlequin’s new non-fiction program.

Q: What is your work history?

A: I just celebrated my 10th anniversary at Harlequin—in some ways I feel as if I’ve been here forever, because it’s such a good fit, it feels like “home.” My first job here was as Senior Editor of Silhouette Romance, and then I became Senior Editor of Silhouette Desire. In 2003, I was asked to manage the Steeple Hill imprint, of which I’m currently Executive Editor.

"I began my publishing career in 1979. I'd spent six years getting a doctorate in English and American Literature from Harvard University and was a diehard bookaholic. When I realized that there was a job that involved actually getting paid for reading books, I knew that was the job for me. I was determined to break into publishing despite being told by many that I was “overqualified and underexperienced” for an entry-level job.

"Ultimately, my entrée into the industry was as a Book of the Month Club reader. It took me three months to get that position—I kept calling the BOMC Editor-in-Chief, Al Silverman, and since I knew he was a Yankees fan would chat with him about Reggie Jackson, Billy Martin and company, and every month he’d tell me he wasn’t hiring but to call him back next month.

"My first full-time job was as a nonfiction editor at now-defunct Hart Publishing Company, where I edited the bestseller THE 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History by Michael Hart, which has spawned many imitators. I went on to fiction, and then I discovered romance publishing—it was love at first sight, and for most of my publishing career I’ve been a romance editor.

"I began my romance publishing career with Richard Gallen, a packager, and then became an editor at Berkley’s Second Chance at Love line, which I eventually managed. When my daughter was a toddler, I decided corporate life wasn’t sufficiently family friendly and mommy-tracked myself for seven years, continuing to freelance.

"Working at home eventually got lonely, but I still wasn’t ready to reenter corporate life, so I got into religious publishing as an editor for Catholic publisher Liguori Publications. After four years, Liguori decided to close their New York office, and by that time I was ready to come back to the corporate world—and Harlequin was ready for me. My friends think I have the dream job . . . and I’m inclined to agree! I especially value the warm relationships built up over years of working together, both in the author/agent community and with Harlequin colleagues.

Q: What are you looking for in submissions?

A: Please note that while we accept all submissions for Steeple Hill series, we do not accept unsolicited manuscripts for the single title program, which includes Steeple Hill Cafe®. As an editor I look for:

- Characters I care about

- A compelling, distinctive author voice

- A story that hooks me with the first sentence and won’t let me put it down.

Q: Do you have any advice for writers for Steeple Hill?

A: Yes.
- Please read our guidelines before submitting to Steeple Hill:
Steeple Hill Love Inspired
Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense
Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical
Steeple Hill Women's Fiction
Steeple Hill Cafe

You will also find them on—scroll to the bottom of the homepage and click on Writing Guidelines.

- Remember that Jesus got His points across by telling wonderful stories and do likewise.

- Keep in mind that if you do not interest an editor on page one, they aren’t going to read much more (if the editor is me, I am not going to read any more).

- Try to read your work not like an author but like a consumer who has picked it up in the bookstore and is sampling to decide whether or not to buy it.

- The best way to endear yourself to your editor is to deliver your mss. on time.

Q: What are your favorite childhood novels?

A: My all-time favorite novel, which I reread every few years, is LITTLE WOMEN. I also consider it the ur-inspirational novel—not only are many of the chapters named after elements from John Bunyan’s Christian classic PILGRIM’S PROGRESS, but the four March sisters each make an inner pilgrimage to spiritual enlightenment and each finds her mission.

It’s also a very well-written book with a dynamite first line—“'Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,' ” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.”

At various times in my life I’ve identified with each of the sisters, but now I identify most with Marmee—who is a great role model for me as a manager. I have to admit, for me life doesn’t get any better than lying in bed rereading LITTLE WOMEN—I find the March family endlessly fascinating, not to mention never having gotten over my childhood crush on boy-next-door Laurie.

- Another book I adored as a child and is back in print again today is HALF MAGIC by Edgar Eager. Four children, whose widowed mom works so that they are often left to their own devices, find a magic coin that grants wishes—but only by halves. This leads to some terrific adventures and profound life lessons for all of the children. What I really love about this book is the author’s voice. I used to read HALF MAGIC to children I babysat for and they all loved it, too, as did my own kids. I enjoyed it just as much rereading it as an adult. If you’ve never read it, treat yourself!

- Both of these beloved books have great dialog. Dialog is really important in making a novel work—it can provide sparkle, humor, reveal character and fill in the backstory as well as making the pace sufficiently brisk that the reader doesn’t get bored.

Q: Is being an editor what you imagined when you first decided to become one?

A: Actually, not so much. I thought all editors did was read and edit! So what do I do besides read and edit? I participate in a lot of meetings and spend untold hours responding to and generating email, and using my computer, with which I have a love-hate relationship. I also talk on the phone, which I still prefer to email for a real discussion (I respond to the human voice and tend to “hear” books as I read them).

Q: Is there any activity you prefer to reading?

A: I do enjoy other forms of entertainment and am particularly passionate about opera and theater. In the almost two years since my husband died, I have become an avid gardener as well, and planted over 400 bulbs this fall so that I will have “Little Amsterdam” in front of my house in the spring. I enjoy traveling and spent a memorable week in Rome, Italy, in October. I also take a Qi Gong class, meditate, and say the Chaplet to the Divine Mercy, the prayer I feel especially called to, every day, and I’m a lector at my church.

But to answer the question, no, nothing does it for me like a good book—and I founded a bookclub in my community that has been meeting for over a decade! I especially enjoy poetry and biography in addition to fiction, with Linda Pastan and Mary Oliver my two favorite contemporary poets at the moment. My favorite quote is by Logan Pearsall Smith: “People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.” Amen!

Joan in Rome

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Copyright: It's your body of content. Don't let people use it without permission.

I wanted to share a recent press release from the Association of American Publishers. Most publishers, including Harlequin, are members, and I am on the board.

The AAP wrestles with many issues that impact publishers, but the rights of the copyright holders to control their information—both in terms of freedom of speech/challenging censorship, as well as against misuse and piracy—are big issues.

Publishers Announce Agreements with Universities on New Copyright Guidelines for Course Content in Digital Formats

Three universities—Hofstra, Syracuse and Marquette—have reached agreement with the AAP on new copyright guidelines affirming that educational content delivered to students in digital formats should be treated under the same copyright principles that apply to printed materials.

Announced on January 17, the guidelines, which were developed separately by the three universities, govern how librarians and faculty members distribute copyrighted content through library electronic course reserves systems, course management systems, faculty and departmental web pages and other digital formats.

AAP worked with each of the three universities in cooperative efforts to establish easily understood and commonsense standards that help faculty and staff understand and interpret their rights and responsibilities when using copyrighted content in educational settings. Each of the guidelines reflects the specific needs of the particular university and is consistent with the principles of fair use while providing helpful guidance as to when permission from the copyright holder is required to copy or post materials in digital formats. AAP believes the guidelines, which are similar to those adopted by Cornell University last year, will serve as models for others colleges and universities.

In the last two years AAP has initiated discussions with a number of universities after observing that unlicensed digital copies of course materials were gradually replacing the licensed physical copying of articles, book chapters and other copyrighted works. While it is well established that physical copying of materials for distribution to multiple students, often in compilations known as coursepacks, generally requires permission from the copyright holder, faculty and staff seem less aware that permission is similarly required for distribution of electronic copies of such copyrighted materials. The new guidelines at each university clarify that the use of copyrighted works in digital formats requires such permission.

To view the copyright guidelines, go to:


Now you'd think asking universities—asking anyone—to treat making and disseminating digital copies of copyrighted material in the same way paper photocopies of the same amount of material would be treated would be a no-brainer, wouldn't you? i.e. you'd need the same permissions—a process with an established protocol at Universities (established, I have to add, after a lawsuit some years ago, but in place for over a decade).

Unfortunately not.

I applaud Cornell, Hofstra, Syracuse and Marquette for taking a stand. It is the right thing to do, but they won't get universal accolades.

So why should we care that some professors are cheerfully doing their fellow professors out of any income from their scholarly work, now being read gratis on line? In fact some of us may be thankful, for the generous 'cost savings' those schools are passing on to parents and students from this practice.

Well, if you are generating income from being a storyteller, it is of collective concern that not only is a new generation being raised to think anything digital should be free and that copyright theft is acceptable by their peers—they are hearing it from their teachers and parents. Not good.

So your ox may not be getting gored right now, but just wait! If any part of your livelihood is based on copyright—as a writer, reader, publisher—and you don't support the principal of copyright protection in how you live, how you raise your kids, how you value other's work, consider the consequences. Please.

I do wonder what will happen when these kids actually need to make money from their work—will the 'everything should be free' tune change? Or will they just continue to live with their parents during their creative phase? Or will we see a dearth of new artists, because they can't make any income from their creative work? Will only those creative self marketers survive? Interesting....

In fairness the system for determining and acquiring rights is cumbersome and needs a major overhaul. Also many copyright holders and businesses have chosen to make their material available gratis for many reasons.

That is their choice. I believe the content creator or rights holder should be able to have that choice. It's your body of content. Don't let people use it without permission.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Today is Category Romance Day @ Romance Novel TV

Thursday, January 17th--today!--Romance Novel TV will be devoting the day to category romances.

They have special Guest Blogger, Jane Litte, from Dear Author and a new video segment featuring the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books .

It’s all about how much they love category romances and what Harlequin has done for the genre. So check it out, stop by and comment.

See you there!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Moment of Joy....

The Briton Arrives!
The Briton Arrives!

Joan Marlow Golan, executive editor of Steeple Hill, just shared a lovely story from author Catherine Palmer. She sent the above photo with a note to Joan, and her agent, Karen Solem.

I thought you might want to see this photo of Tim and me moments after we opened the box containing our copies of The Briton. Even now, we are still in a bit of a daze that the manuscript which sat in our closet (and moved from house to house with us) for 25 long years is now in print and available now!

When I finished the original draft (in longhand in 4 college-ruled notebooks), Tim purchased the very first kind of Macintosh computer ever made. It cost a fortune, and we were as poor as church mice. Tim said, "This book is the best thing we have going for us," and he backed up his statement with the outlay of money for that computer.

I wrote so many books on that little tan machine with its dot-matrix printer. The Briton won enough contests that Pat Teal wanted to work as an agent with me and many editors looked at that manuscript and others.

Finally I began to sell, but God had His own timing for The Briton. I'm glad He saved it until I had been writing so many years and had the skill to reshape it. Tim also played an essential part in the book -- supporting my writing of it and editing the content countless times in various incarnations through the years.

I'm delighted Karen was my agent. I'm pleased I was in the Christian market when it sold. And I'm thrilled He chose Steeple Hill as its publisher.

Many thanks to both of you for making this dream come true.

Love and blessings,


Sharing the moment with Tessie!Tim and Catherine Palmer with The Briton
Sharing the moment with Tessie! -- Catherine and Tim Palmer

We each have our own path before us, filled with challenges and setbacks, of facing the unexpected and disappointments. How truly delightful it is to have a moment of joy--and to be able to share it.

The Briton by Catherine Palmer is available now from or other on or off-line bookstores.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Congratulations to...Tara Parsons!

Hunter EggertHunter 4

Editor Tara shared that after 40 long weeks (and one false alarm) Hunter Townsend Eggert has finally made his appearance! Born: 12.24.07.

tara, mark & hunter
Hunter 2 hunter 3 Hunter 1

Thanks to word from Margo Lipschultz mother and child are doing well, and young Hunter already has his own e-mail address!