Monday, November 28, 2005

A visit to RWA

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving holiday. I spent a good chunk of mine readying this year's submissions to RWA's Golden Heart contest. Since I had nothing new to submit, I decided to enter two books of mine I had completed a few years ago but needed some rework. That way I'd have a reason to revise them with an eye towards submitting them to one of the smaller presses. They are outside-the-box historicals, so until recently I didn't really have a market for them, and frankly, I don't expect much from the GH either. However, it was a good fire-under-the-bottom way to get those rewrites done, so I figured, "why not?"

One of the stories was my first book, and I spent most of my revision time applying all the lessons I have learned about writing since I first wrote it. I managed to bring it down from 123,000 words (!) to about 118,000. Still a lot of words, but I think most of those cuts were deleted "was's" and adverbs. Sheesh. I didn't actually have to do much to the story itself. The other story just needed a better ending, which I hope I gave it. That clocked in at 85,000 words.

I have the benefit of living not too far from RWA's national headquarters, so after checking and rechecking the subs, I packed them up and drove them on over. I have to say, the RWA building wasn't what I expected. Not worse, just not what I expected. It is in a modest, unassuming building in a neighborhood with the same characteristics. What amused me most when I drove up is the RWA sign: in the same building as half-a-dozen dentists and a branch of Prairie View A&M University is "Romance Writers of America." What must those dentists think? :-) The office was an ordinary suite-style office, with pale carpeting and walls and an overworked but very pleasant young lady named Dionne (sp?) standing over the copy machine. I delivered my precious babies to a very large stack--and I mean large, people--of manuscripts in various "urgent mail delivery" style packages. I had the overwhelming desire to stay and help sort through them, but I forced myself to go out the door. I don't know how they keep track and log every manuscript that comes in, but they do, and quite successfully.

Anyway, it's a done deal now, so I have no excuse not to get back to my real life (groan).

Take care,

Friday, November 18, 2005

My dear friend sells!

Yippee! Gotta put in a plug for my dear friend Janet, who just sold her first medical romance to Harlequin Mills & Boon. Janet has been plugging away at writing romance since 2000, and we've been critique partners since 2001 (my lord, has it been that long?). Janet also writes henlit romances, with fabulous, funny, down to earth characters (just like her). I can't wait until one of those finds a home.

Our fabulous Four F's critique group (don't ask me what it stands for; I'd have to kill you if I told you) has changed members from time to time, but we've all seen how hard Janet has worked to improve her craft. The book, currently entitled Code Pink--Surprise! will be sold under her new pen name, Lynne Marshall. Even though at this point it will only be sold in the UK, I'm betting I can cruise when the time comes and snag a copy for a personal autograph. You should, too. It's a really sweet, sexy, warm story, with characters named Tarzan (Terrance) and Jaynie.

I'm pleased as punch to have had a tiny little bit to do with seeing this talented author finally get her due. Congrats, girlfriend!


Thursday, November 10, 2005

What's doing at Tor?

Cindi Meyers, that font of knowledge, reports that Tor Publishing is broadening its scope more into the romance side of the industry, looking also for Chick Lit and Paranormal Romance. Tor has been known mainly for its science fiction and fantasy lines up to now. I have a few friends who have had paranormal romances requested from them, so I know this to be true. I sat in on a panel by their publishing house in Reno and decided their editor, Anna Genoese, looked about twelve years old (sigh) but was very sharp.

In the area of Chick Lit (think Bridget Jones Diary), they want more than clothes and shopping. Cindi reports the stories need to be "smart, compelling, and realistic." You can get more on the guidelines for Chick Lit at

For paranormal romance, think beasties (vampires, werewolves and the like), fantasy, futuristic, horror, etc. It seems romance and science fiction don't make for a great combination in their opinion. Guidelines for paranormal can be found at

They are also looking for erotica, which is defined by Tor's editors as not "NC-17 romance novels...[but] true erotic novels." Okay, since I don't read erotica, I admit that one stumped me, so I asked a friend who writes it, Eden Bradley, what the difference is. She said the former (NC-17) probably falls in the category of...well, the sexier category lines, like Harlequin's Blaze, Temptation, and Desire, or Kensington's Brava line, which are romances with lots of sex, while the latter (a true erotica) is more about the sex, fairly graphic, plenty of it, with romance supporting the story, and possibly with elements some might find objectionable (e.g., bondage). You can find out more about this genre if you are interested at Eden's site,

(A romance is currently defined as a story that has a satisfying conclusion in which there is an implied or actual commitment at the end between the couple involved. RWA is still wrestling with whether that couple should be identified as male and female, or two people.)

Cindi also reports Tor is still publishing mainstream fiction as well, and they are looking for romances involving older heroines, say over 35 to about 50, as well as seeking YA (Young Adult) fiction, too.

Good info to know!


Monday, November 07, 2005

I don't think this is what they meant by Thanksgiving...

Sunday, I spent an hour with my boys, after grading essays for six hours, decorating a picture of a turkey that the third grade teachers decided would be a great “bonding” project for the students’ families to do together. Yeah, bonding. We did it at 8:30 at night, the three of us with Elmers glue and a mess of sequins, shouting, “I don’t care what it looks like, just GLUE it on!”

Actually, when it was done, it was kinda cute...we named it the Glam Diva Turkey, cause she sure as heck sparkles like one. I just hope the teachers don’t think the boys are gay when they bring it in...Looks a little like Judy Garland’s shoes in Wizard of Oz (“There’s no place like click...there’s no place like home...”)


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Susan McCarty Removed from List at Berkley

Well, it's getting so you can't tell the players without a score card. I see in the RWA e-notes that Susan McCarty, editor at Berkley, has been removed from the list of acquiring editors. I'm assuming that means she left. I know she did a lot of contest requests, so this may be an issue to a few of you out there.

Susan has had Dreamweaver since she requested it from a contest win back in November 2004. I did check its status in July, and was told she would get to it "some time this summer." Summer came and went, but I'm not one to bug editors unnecessarily, so I've held off contacting her again.

Now, I'm too late. Same thing happened to me with a manuscript (Alonsa's Choice) I had sent to Dorchester some time ago. Kate Seaver had requested it from a pitch TWO YEARS ago. When I heard she left Dorchester, I tried to follow up on it, and was told "um um it's probably with a reader. We'll track it down and get back to you." That was two months ago.

It is hard to get a rejection, really it is. But it is even harder not to have a chance at being rejected. I know editors have more on their plates then they can humanly get to in a lifetime, but this is my life, and my manuscript, and it sure would be nice if someone could keep track of where it is and let me know. You know?

I joked that since Kate moved from Dorchester to Berkley, maybe I ought to call her up and ask her to read Dreamweaver because, in a way, she owes me one! :)