Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Joan Marlow Golan, Executive Editor, Steeple Hill Books, Welcome to Seekerville!!!

Joan Marlow Golan, oh my stars, how fun is this, welcome to Seekerville! And may I just say that I love coming down to the city, browsing Fifth Avenue, stopping into St. Patrick’s Cathedral and St. Peter’s Church abutting Ground Zero, buying nuts from the nut vendors in Battery Park and saying ‘hey’ to the wild turkey that lives in Battery Park and has no idea he’s a touch out of his element.

I’m a country gal at heart, but there’s nothing like the lights of Times Square or the quaint in-the-street-bazaars of Union Square to make me feel like dancing in the streets. Talk about a rockin’ place. And of course I would be remiss to leave out baseball… specifically Yankee baseball. And Jeter, NY’s totally wonderful and talented (did I mention good-looking????) shortstop and Yankee captain. Sigh…

Okay, back on topic! I’ve stocked the cappuccino bar, we have a group of wanna-be authors manning the coffee/cappuccino/tea/juice area and they’ll be working hard through the day to impress you, no doubt. Their earnest desire makes them affordable labor. And I’m okay with that.

Our Steeple Hill authors in Seekerville have provided the food. Oh my goodness, Deb Giusti has gone all out with a delightful never-ending fruit tray set up in Georgian splendor, Missy Tippens has provided us with pecan and peach pies, absolutely amazing fare. Cheryl Wyatt has put together an overflowing cookie basket including your favorite oatmeal raisin cookies. Janet Dean has come through with a Midwestern favorite, her famous egg bake.

Camy and Glynna are helping with the Knights of Columbus mid-day fish and seafood extravaganza. New recruits Audra Harders and Tina Radcliffe are on Mountain time, whatever THAT is, so we’ve got them on afternoon tea detail. But Tina’s got great Italian roots so I’m expecting nothing but wonderfulness from our Colorado contingency! Treats from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory are never turned away from our door. And we’re doing prize drawings all day long to celebrate your time with us. YAY!!!!!

I’ve done lemon cream pies because, well... lemon cream is just such a good way to celebrate spring. Zesty. Sweet/tart. Fun. So Joan, dig in, make yourself at home, and we’ll be glad to refill you cappuccino mug as needed. We are at your service today in Seekerville!

1. Joan, what brought you to New York originally? To Harlequin? To publishing? Can you give us a little Joan Marlow Golan history?

When I was 15, I came to New York (from a suburb of Hartford, CT) to visit a cousin who was moving from one Greenwich Village apartment to another and had asked me to help. I fell in love with the Big Apple, vowing to return one day and live in a Greenwich Village apartment of my own. It took close to another 15 years, but I did it!

As for publishing, that was an obvious choice—I’ve always been better at reading than anything else, and my epitaph should probably be, “People say that life’s the thing, but I prefer reading.” (That’s a quote from essayist Logan Pearsall Smith.) I have been a lector in church for more than 30 years now, and it’s the one ministry I’ve always been sure God called me to.

I didn’t really want to graduate from college, because I loved all that reading, so I decided to go to graduate school and get a doctorate—that way I could read for another six years. Then I found out there were people who actually got paid to read—editors—and that sounded like the dream job to me.

Although I’ve always been addicted to novels , my first publishing job was in nonfiction, and it wasn’t till the 1980’s that I found romance ( or did it find me :) )? A talented editor and very gracious lady named Judy Sullivan was then Editor-in-Chief of Richard Gallen, a romance packager, and she brought me on board to edit both historical and contemporary romances. While working for Gallen, I met Isabel Swift, who was then the Gallen liaison at our distributor, Pocket Books. Fifteen years later (in 1997), Isabel, then Editorial Director of Harlequin’s New York office, would offer me a job as Senior Editor of Silhouette Romance®.

In the interim I was an Editor at Berkley for five years, four of them working on Second Chance at Love romances , and then I “mommy-tracked” myself and freelanced so I could have more time with my family. In the 1990’s, I made a gradual transition back to corporate life, first working for a religious nonfiction publisher with very family-friendly hours. Eventually, when my husband was ready to share more of the child-rearing responsibilities, I began to think of returning to romance publishing.

I asked an agent friend if Harlequin might be interested in starting an inspirational romance series, and to my disappointment she told me that Harlequin already had one in the works. There went my hopes of persuading Harlequin to create a job for me! But the next day my agent friend called me back and said Isabel Swift had just called her and asked what I was doing, as she wanted to interview me for a Senior Editor Position. I was hired and have been happily ensconced at Harlequin ever since. :)

2. And how did you come up through the Harlequin ranks?

After 10 months as Senior Editor of Silhouette Romance®, I became Senior Editor of Silhouette Desire,® where I was reunited with many authors I had worked with at Second Chance at Love. In 2003, there was an editorial reorganization of the company, and I moved over to Steeple Hill, first as Senior Editor and then as Executive Editor. I was thrilled to be offered this exciting opportunity that drew on my skills and experience with both romance and inspirational publishing, and with both series and single title publishing. I’ve been here ever since.

3. Joan, the world has suddenly rediscovered teens and tweens. The push for YA reading is long overdue. That is honestly what turned me on to romance as an adolescent, reading sweet Cherry Ames, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden and Penny Parrish books. Does Steeple Hill have any plans for doing their own YA line to help meet the growing trend for Christian teens who want good reads that reflect their beliefs.

At the moment, Steeple Hill has no plans for a YA line—the Love Inspired franchise continues to expand, and we’re now publishing six Steeple Hill Love Inspired® contemporary romances, four Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense® novels and, starting in January 2011, four Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical® novels as well. Mothers and grandmothers do pass these books on to tweens and teens—they like the wholesome way love and romance are presented in our books and want their daughters and granddaughters to read them.

The Harlequin umbrella does include two secular YA imprints. In August 2009, parent company Harlequin launched Harlequin Teen®, which publishes secular teenage fiction, as does Kimani Tru®, winner of many YALSA awards from the American Library Association (ALA).

4. Joan, Steeple Hill is doing a remarkable job of meeting its readers’ wants and needs by providing great monthly reads. We’re second to none when it comes to getting books in the hands of the readers and so much of that growth has been under your guiding hand. Kudos to you and the staff of Steeple Hill for a job well done on a continuing basis with a strong growth curve. You’ve never shied away from starting new lines, taking chances, trying new things. That’s laudable.

One question I’ve gotten repeatedly with Tina and Melissa’s visits and now yours, regards longer reads. I won’t wax on about how I loved the single title line, but it seems I wasn’t alone in that.

Do you foresee any chance that Steeple Hill might start a longer line again, maybe in long contemporaries, historicals or another sub-genre of Christian fiction? And yes, of course, feel free to make any delightful new announcements destined to rock the world of publishing RIGHT HERE IN SEEKERVILLE!!!! ;)

We’re proud of the outstanding editorial we published in Steeple Hill Women’s Fiction, our single title line, including two Christy® Award winners and the first dedicated Christian chick lit imprint, Steeple Hill Cafe®, but the series franchise represents the greater opportunity for us in the current marketplace. At present we have no plans to relaunch a single title line. Instead, we’re focusing our efforts on expanding the Steeple Hill series.

5. I must say, thank you for suggesting the oatmeal raisin cookies. I’m feeling good about myself right now because I’ve seen the commercials. Oatmeal is good for me. And oatmeal times seven (yes, I’ve eaten seven cookies, I was a little nervous over this whole thing and skipped breakfast. Besides, as I said, oatmeal has healthy benefits. I can FEEL my cholesterol diminishing as we speak. I’m chasing it down with Starbucks cappuccino so it can’t be alllllll bad, right???)

One of our visitors wants to know if you read all potentially contracted openings. And she also wants to know what you look for in a piece of work. What grabs you in a proposal? What makes you want to say yes?

I read every first complete ms. or proposal of any writer who is brand new to Steeple Hill so I can keep current with our author base, but with two excellent and discerning Senior Editors, Melissa Endlich at the helm of Love Inspired and Tina James managing Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired Historical, I am less involved in day-to-day management of the series.

Melissa and Tina have superb editorial judgment, and they are the ones whom you need to wow, as well as others on the SH editorial team—our acquiring Assistant Editors, Emily Rodmell and Elizabeth Mazer, and Editorial Assistant Rachel Burkot, who reads all submissions addressed to me.

The first chapter of every contracted book is read either by myself, one of the Senior Editors, or Series Vice President and Editorial Director Randall Toye, at the time the complete ms. is accepted. It is one of our company’s relevance initiatives to ensure that every book opens compellingly, because if the book browser isn’t “hooked” by page one, she’s unlikely to read any further or to buy the book.

What grabs me in a proposal is a great opening line—I find dialogue especially effective, or a sentence that propels me into the middle of some drama. “Setup” openings and descriptions of the setting do not grab my attention, and I especially dislike book openings that depict heroine or hero in a car/bus/train/plane reflecting on the backstory in paragraph after paragraph of interior monologue, with no dialogue at all. Generally book openings work best when we are introduced to more than one character, as this not only allows for dialogue but also sets up relationships and defines character relationally. In romance, relationship is paramount. Ideally, we meet not only the heroine but the hero as well as close to page one as possible.

Also, I need to care about the protagonist(s) by the end of Chapter One or I won’t invest any more time in them. And to hold my interest, you need to supply sufficient, convincing conflict, and pace it well. If conflict is your Achilles heel (and lack of it is one of the major reasons we reject mss.), I highly recommend the book THANKS, BUT THIS ISN’T FOR US by Jessica Page Morrell, who offers excellent advice on the subject. As she states, “The best conflict stems from your protagonist’s worst fear presented at the worst possible moment.”

6. Joan, we all know that rejection is a necessary but difficult part of a writing career. It stings on both ends, and particularly when an editor sees promise in an author but things aren’t quite right…yet.

What’s your advice for the newbie approaching Steeple Hill multiple times? Any words of wisdom to help them up, over that gate and into the winner’s circle?

There’s a certain “magic” that an author has to have and can’t be taught—the ability to conjure up a fictional world the reader wants to enter and never leave, and to populate it with relatable heroines and to-die-for heroes, as well as engaging secondary characters. A good ear for dialogue is also a must, and I’m not sure if this is innate—like musical talent, it may well be.

But there’s also craft, which can be learned, and here are a few of the books I recommend to aspiring writers whose manuscripts are meeting with rejection:

THANKS, BUT THIS ISN’T FOR US by Jessica Page Morrell
STORY by Robert McKee

The major reason mss. are rejected by editors are because:

1)The opening wasn’t compelling, so we didn’t read any further. For editors, as for everyone, time is a precious commodity, and if our initial investment of time in a ms. isn’t rewarding, we aren’t going to continue investing time in the hope that there will be a payoff later in the book—especially when the odds are that there won’t be.

2)The characters don’t engage us. Even flawed protagonists—and we’re all flawed—have to be relatable and not totally off-putting at first meeting. The reader isn’t going to stick with an unlikable character in the hopes that halfway through the book s/he’ll be transformed. Life is too short to spend in bad company—even fictional company.

3)There’s not enough conflict, or not convincing enough conflict, or the stakes aren’t high enough, so we’re bored—and if an author can’t make us care what happens, how can we sell this book to consumers?

One of the things I like best about Harlequin (and no, I’m not buttering you up here, this is just good business!!!) is that they guard the bottom line.

7. As a writer, I’m a small businessperson. In a time when some publishers (even with the growth of Christian fiction) are scaling back, Harlequin’s careful practices keep them solvent and at the top of their game. This means they’re not afraid to pull back and stop a line that isn’t holding its own (and we know those decisions are not easy or carelessly made), but it also means they’re unafraid to put muscle behind success.

Your tenure at the helm of Steeple Hill epitomizes success. The lines have expanded, you’ve taken chances, you’ve broadened the reader base and the sales’ venues and you’ve done it in the step-by-step style that equates business savvy.

What are your favorite accomplishments at Steeple Hill? And do you see any of the current lines expanding again in the near future? And one of our visitors is wondering about your favorite aspects of your job. What delights you?

Favorite accomplishments:

First, let me acknowledge a debt to my predecessors, Tracy Farrell, Melissa Jeglinski, Tara Gavin and Anne Canadeo, and to their editorial teams, who built up the Steeple Hill author base and set the standards for high quality editorial that we maintain today. I’ve built on their success, which is a lot easier than starting from ground zero.

I’m proud of the Steeple Hill authors, both the long-time authors and those who’ve been added under my watch, and of our talented editorial team –Senior Editors Melissa Endlich and Tina James, Assistant Editors Emily Rodmell and Elizabeth Mazer and Editorial Assistant Rachel Burkot--who’ve established and built relationships with our authors and encouraged and helped them write so many wonderful books for us.

On expansion:

We’re expanding Love Inspired Historical in January 2011, so I’m not ready to think about the next expansion just yet (see Matthew 6:34, for Jesus’ wise advice on living one day at a time). But as you know, Harlequin is a company that excels at anticipating and responding to markets, so you can be sure we will continue to grow and to capitalize on new formats, like iphone apps.

Favorite aspects of my job:

When I was an Editor and a Senior Editor, I had the continual thrill of discovering new authors and making those mutually delightful phone calls whereby the editor transforms the writer into an author who has actually sold a book.

As an Executive Editor, I am a manager and also have corporate responsibilities, so it is vicariously, through my awesome team’s acquisitions (14 brand-new authors were acquired for Steeple Hill in 2009!) that I now experience this thrill. I still find encouraging and building the few authors I work with supremely rewarding, but now I also have the equally rewarding responsibility of developing and supporting an editorial team, with each team member contributing her strengths and the team as a whole learning and growing together.

Special Note: Several of those new authors were former beachside hut residents of Unpubbed Island, soon to be turned into a tropical writers' retreat resort location.

Finally, I love being part of the Harlequin community, with all the advantages of working for a forward-looking global corporation that also offers the positive emotional climate of a close-knit family. I value the support I receive from managers, colleagues and direct reports, as well as the collegiality of the unique Harlequin culture and the long-term employees who’ve helped to create it. And of course I am grateful to and for all the talented and gracious authors who’ve made it possible for me to earn a livelihood in such a congenial fashion. Thank you and God bless you all.

8. E-books. Kindles. A whole new lingo hovers on the publishing horizon and it’s got to strike a hint of fear into booksellers’ hearts while it probably pumps a smidge of anticipation into publishers’ wallets. We’re gazing on the advent of a whole new generational era of book sales. I’ve already gotten e-book reviews and letters from e-book readers on Winter’s End (come on, guys, you KNEW I’d slip my debut title in here somewhere, right? It’s such a great read!!!!!) and some of my best buds are now Kindle owners. And Kelly Pickler, a cute new country music star, was just saying she bought a Kindle because she travels a lot and can’t take a bajillion books with her on the tour bus, but her Kindle can. That pretty much sums it up right there.

What do you see as the future in e-books and do you see the time frame as generational, growing as the current twenty-somethings take over as the principal readership over the next two decades? And keeping along the electronics-crazed trends, do you see Steeple Hill going with electronic submissions/revisions/galleys anytime soon?

Just to put it in perspective, I read recently (I think in Publishers Weekly) that ebook sales grew 176% in 2009 but still represented only 1.8% of all book sales. That’s less than two percent. So, to paraphrase Mark Twain, the report of the death of the printed word has—so far—been greatly exaggerated. I am a big believer in black swans and chaos theory—in other words, I don’t make predictions because tomorrow an innovative technology may be invented or perfected that will make all of today’s predictions moot.

As a Baby Boomer, I do have to take issue with the statement that 20somethings will be the principal readers over the next two decades. We Boomers are living ever longer and healthier lives, and as we retire will (hopefully) have plenty of time to read. I would be thrilled if 20somethings were keeping pace with us, but given all the other entertainment choices out there, not to mention trying to juggle work and family life, I’m not sure this will be the case so soon. I do have hopes that as they age, the 20somethings will also grow in wisdom and develop a deeper appreciation of the joys of reading. No doubt they will embrace ebooks in greater numbers, but again, I shy away from predictions that could leave me with egg on my face.

Over the next few years, I expect all of Harlequin, including Steeple Hill—and indeed, the entire publishing industry—to go totally electronic. The cost savings is huge. We already have e-galleys, and some editors have been editing electronically for a few years now. Ultimately we will likely all be editing on ipads or whatever the latest and best gadgets for this are—unless some other kind of new technology comes along that makes the electronic/digital world obsolete.

9. Joan, we’ve got a broad base of visitors here in Seekerville and we love each and every one of them. Some are quiet visitors, some are more vocal, but your visit brought questions from readers and writers alike. Thank you for that!
A couple of authors stepped up to the plate with these questions. (note the baseball reference. It IS spring after all.)

Sales numbers talk, as well they should. The question from one author is: How much? Do authors need specific sales numbers to be granted new contracts and what can an author do to boost their sales numbers?

I’m not sure if you’re talking exclusively about Steeple Hill, which is a series business and as such has a somewhat different business model from that of the single titles.

In the series business, there is no “magic number”--the series rather than the author is the primary brand, so orders are hefty for first-time authors as well as established favorites. This is a great reason to become a series romance writer, especially as it’s getting increasingly difficult for first-time authors to compete with established “brand name” authors in the single title marketplace.

In series publishing as in any business, sales are important, and we periodically review with authors how their books are ranking—in the top or bottom half or third of the series—and do our best to build and develop our authors. We are proud of the wonderful opportunities our series have given to women writers, in some cases enabling them to work at home so they could have more time with their families, and in other cases making a crucial difference in supporting their families or being self-supporting.

An author can boost sales by consistently writing “good stories, well told.” Frequency of publication, particularly when books are linked in a miniseries, contributes to boosting sales as well . To build your author name, you need to get it out there—ideally by publishing at least three books a year—with compelling, un-put-downable books that meet and exceed reader expectations. (We don’t ask much ;)).
Ultimately, author strategy is best discussed with the individual author’s editor, so I won’t speak about it anymore here.

10. Joan, the publishing industry has all kinds of standards across the board and within specific publishing houses and within specific lines of those houses.

How does Steeple Hill feel about authors writing for multiple houses as long as the workload doesn’t jeopardize quality or quantity of what’s expected for Steeple Hill?

The best way to build a career at Steeple Hill is to publish at least three books a year with us (or a minimum of two for the longer Love Inspired Historical), to establish and build a presence in one or two series and become an “author brand.” To write 3-5 books per year, as most top-performing series authors do, involves a commitment of time. Each author has to prioritize and manage her time in a way that enables her to realize her goals—and not all authors have the same goals. Each author should discuss her career goals with her editor, who can help the author develop a build strategy.

Debbi Giusti is a great example of continually publishing 2-3 books/year(Ruthy note)

In her wonderful poem “The Summer Day,” Mary Oliver poses the question, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” and that’s the question we each have to answer for ourselves. Of course, we hope our talented writers will make writing for Steeple Hill a major priority in their lives! We also greatly appreciate timely delivery of manuscripts—late delivery is our single biggest problem and can sabotage an otherwise talented author’s career.

11.And conversely, is Steeple Hill interested in picking up more occasional reads from authors who are contracted with other houses for longer books but would like to pen the shorter works that Steeple Hill is noted for?

We always welcome talented authors, and each submission is considered on its own merits. As I said earlier, there is a greater opportunity to build an author who can write three or more series books per year, but there are publishing opportunities for authors whose output is more limited as well. All of our series are open to new authors, and in particular, Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical®, which is now expanding, offers a major opportunity to new and experienced historical romance authors. We would be especially thrilled to find more authors who can write at least two Love Inspired Historical romances a year.

12.And tagging onto that question, do you see the possibility of longer works of inspirational fiction being picked up by MIRA more often, or perhaps developing an inspirational branch of MIRA?

Again I am reluctant to make any predictions, given that we live in an ever-changing world (and one in which, to quote the musical Cinderella, “Impossible things are happening every day.”). Let’s take it one day at a time, and for now, please submit to Love Inspired Historical, Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired!

Joan, you’ve been wonderful! Marvelous!!!!

14. One last bundle of questions to wrap this up and I apologize for scheduling you here on a day when the Yankees are playing Baltimore at home mid-day. I’m sure you’d rather be at the 1:05 game, cheering the home team on!!!! (okay, yet another shameless plug for the boys in pinstripes.)

Joan, where would you like to see Steeple Hill go in the near and distant future? And what are your current needs for your delightful Love Inspired lines? Is there anything you’re short on or would love to see come across your desk?

Well, of course we’d love to see Steeple Hill books go straight into readers’ shopping carts :).

As far as the needs of our lines go, in Steeple Hill Love Inspired® Senior Editor Melissa Endlich would love to see more medical-themed novels, and cowboys, babies and “bonnets” are still in great demand. But also, please surprise us with your innovative stories!

An example of originality in Love Inspired is your own [i.e., Ruth Logan Herne’s] WAITING OUT THE STORM (July 2010), in which heroine is a shepherd and the hero a vet (who doesn’t like sheep!). This fresh element is skillfully integrated into the story and made entertaining as well as poignant, and fits beautifully with the biblical themes of Christ as both Good Shepherd and Lamb of God.

For Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense®, Senior Editor Tina James wants to remind you that stories should be equal parts romance and suspense. Themes that appeal most to Love Inspired Suspense readers are stories about small towns, or stories with strong regional emphasis (Texas or small town secrets). Also, clearly identifiable hooks such as heroes in law enforcement (cop/fireman/sheriff/FBI/Secret Service) or cowboys do better than more nebulous heroes, like amateur sleuths.

Tina is also interested in seeing stories set in Amish country, stories about bodyguards to royalty and prodigal-son themed stories. And of course she welcomes innovative stories, such as SABOTAGE by Kit Wilkinson (June 2010), in which the heroine, a horsewoman, is an Olympic hopeful, and the hero, her temporary groom, has actually been hired by her father as a personal bodyguard.

For Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historicals®, we are always looking for compelling stories with a western setting. But we need non-western stories, too. Which could mean any of the following time periods: Americana (post-Civil War), European historical eras (Tudor, Regency and Victorian England, 18th-century Scotland, etc.) and 20th century (turn-of-the-century through World War II). Again, we invite you to dazzle us with your originality, as Christine Johnson did recently in SOARING HOME (November 2010), the story of an aspiring aviatrix in the World War I era.

Joan, thanks so much for being here today! We love our Steeple Hill partners and Melissa’s quest to help empty Unpubbed Island is a blessing ten-fold. We appreciate the hard work you guys do there on Broadway and I love that you have a Starbucks downstairs. This is, indeed, a wonderful thing. ;)

We are grateful for your time, your benevolence, and that sweet, genteel nature that shines through in person, on the phone and in print. We are truly blessed to have you at the helm of the wonderful editorial staff of Steeple Hill and here in Seekerville today. God bless you in all that you do.

Visitors, remember hourly drawings!!!! Multiple winners throughout the day!!! And great food!!!!

Leave us your e-mail in your comment, please, and we'll be announcing winners throughout the day with a complete list in our Saturday Weekend Edition with Ace Reporter Tina Radcliffe.

And God's blessings on you all!



  1. I'm on my way to bed so I'm sort of cheating to get in first.
    However, I will say, I have been in New York City ONCE in my life.

    And on my drive back to Nebraska, I wrote a song.

    The 'I've got New York City In My Blood but I'm Standing Here In Nebraska Mud' Blues.

    No, it's never been published. I'm sure we're all shocked!

  2. Waaa I'm still sad about the single title line but I'm excited that there is a YA series now even if it is secular! I would totally read YA books from Steeple Hill in a heartbeat! And I LOVE that there will be 4 historicals out every month...but how am I gonna find the time to read them all LOL!

    Oh yeah I'm a 20 something and all I do is read and have done so from an early age and I must say that ebooks will NEVER replace the good ol' print books in my heart!

    XOXO~ Renee

  3. Thank you Joan, from a visitor relishing a view into the publishing world. :)

    Though I don't write romance, I learned a lot from your being here today.

    Mary, hope to enjoy your song. Sounds like you need to get it to Nashville ASAP, as it's underwater. Does it have a lost my dog, my girlfriend left kinda blues vibe?

    I've never been to NYC at all and am looking forward to it one fine day!

    Thanks again to Seekerville - and great job Miss Author of Winter's End and Waiting Out The Storm.

    And now - to bed.

    Y'all have FUN!

  4. A fabulous interview! I'm excited to see the Historical line expanding to four. Not sure my husband will appreciate it since I make a habit of buying them.

    The information given has been very helpful. I guess I better get to revising.

  5. Hi Joan:

    I’ve read over 100 Love Inspired books over the years and last month was the first time I’ve encountered an abortion theme LI. Was this a first and do you intend to issue more abortion themes in the future? I won’t give the title because it would be a major spoiler.

    Also, are there any plans to issue more larger print books.



    vmres (at) swbell (Dot) net

  6. One thing I love about Steeple Hill is that they seem to push those bounds a little, like Katie's Redemption, where she comes back pregnant (loved that book).

    I have a question if anyone can answer it for me, I'd very much appreciate it. I know with some publishing lines divorce is not a kosher topic. Would a divorce (the hero's wife divorces him without his consent) make the story unmarketable?

    Thank you in advance.

  7. Loved the interview and found lots of helpful information in it. Thank you both.


    I've already confessed that I've never been to New York. But I would love to go if I could visit the Harlequin offices. :)


  8. Hi Ruth and Joan

    Thanks for this detailed and insightful interview (and the food looks delicious!) I really enjoyed reading about your journey into editing Joan and I’m also delighted to hear that the Steeple Hill line is expanding. :-) I love reading Love Inspired books, particularly the contemporary and historical series and agree that originality in setting, era and subject are very appealing (loved the recent ancient Rome setting for example). It’s also interesting to hear your take on the future of ebooks. I much prefer traditional books, but living in New Zealand, it’s often easier to get my books as ebooks. Thanks for your time and for sharing this wonderful information!

    Best wishes


  9. Thanks for sharing this interview! I love the variety in the Love Inspired books, and the size (so easy to take with you when you're traveling!). I've enjoyed several of the suspense titles recently, and I'm so glad for the inspirational escapes the books offer. :)



  10. Thanks so much for being here with us, Joan! Your interview was so awesome!

    And Ruthy, great interview questions as always!


  11. Good morning Seekerville. I'm up a little earlier this morning than usual. Joan, the info you've given us has been wonderful.

    I've only been to NY once to visit my husband's family, and it was a totally interesting experience for a Southern country bumpkin like me. Everyone talked so fast I had to keep asking them to slow down. I don't know if my explanation of "I'm Southern not stupid" worked or not. Everyone kept asking me to repeat things until I figured out they liked hearing me say things in an 'accent.'

    Anyway, Joan, I'd like to ask what advice would you give to those of us trying to make that first sale? And what makes the best impression to you of a new author?

    Thanks for breakfast Seekerville. I needed it this morning!


  12. Mary!

    I know that song! Didn't the Jay-Huck-Billy Blues Band put out an acoustical banjo version circa '91?

    Let me just add removing the words DID NOT help in the least. Great job, Connealy. ;)

    'Morning guys and gals! This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad therein!!!

    Joan's here! YAY!!!!

    Renee, Joan may touch on this later, but SH has used divorced heroes and heroines in books. I have on in the Jamison series, (not contracted as yet) but I ran the story line by Melissa and she liked it so I hope it will be out next year. Like anything else, so much is about how it's handled, how it's woven in.

    Divorce happens. And sometimes (don't hate me guys, I've been married since I was 19...) for good reasons, right? But unfortunate. For sure.

    Welcome, morning visitors! I've put the coffee pot on. Starbucks will be by later to help with the crowd and the food + the company.

    A day to remember!!!!


  13. Good Morning Seekers!

    What a wonderful interview Joan~Thank You.

    I enjoy reading Love Inspired books. Maybe one day I can temper my style enough to write one. :-)

    Good luck & God's Blessings to you ALL.


  14. Hi Ruthy and Joan

    Many thanks for the super interview and all the yummy goodies to eat.

    I love your probable epitaph,Joan, it reminds me of one of my favorite quotes
    “When I have a little money, I buy books. If any is left over, I buy food and clothes.” ~ Erasmus

    Best wishes

    Ruth Ann Dell

  15. Greetings,
    Such an interesting interview. Lots of info. I really love the Love Inspired Suspense books. I would love to read them all.
    Trinity Rose

    wandaelaine at gmail dot com

  16. Joan,
    Such a joy to have you with us in Seekerville today!

    I treasure the memory of our first meeting at ACFW in Nashville. You were so gracious with your kind words to a newly acquired author. Often when I'm pounding away at the keyboard late at night, I'll reflect on your encouragement and the warm welcome you gave me at that time. The highlight of every conference is having a few minutes to visit with you, Joan.

    Thanks for all you do to make Steeple Hill a leader in Christian fiction. I am so grateful to be able to work with such a dynamic, energetic and creative team.

  17. This is an unprecedented first. Fourteen guests in the parlor and I'm still in my jammies. OH MY!!! We must have an important guest in the house. And Mary is singing?

    I confess. I am a Buffalo, NY native. I have traveled a lot, including Europe and I have never been to NYC. The airport doesn't count. Next year RWA is there and so am I.

    Welcome to Seekerville Joan. It is a thrill to have you here.

    Your journey is truly fascinating. I love to read the road God has rolled out for each of us.

    Thank you for helping so many Seekers off the island too (along with your lovely editors).

    Uh, oh, I am starting to kiss up...better go get breakfast before the room fills up entirely.

  18. Wow, what a great interview! Thanks for asking and/or posting such terrific questions, Ruthy!

    lisajordanbooks at yahoo dot com

  19. As Ruthy mentioned in her blog, the breakfast bar is open. Yes, I brought a lovely assortment of fresh fruit. I also brought grits, both plain and cheese, for the Girls Raised In The South! :) Guys too, of course.

    Coffee's wonderful, Ruthy! I'm on my second cup.

  20. Not sure why my earlier post on meeting Joan at ACFW in Nashville didn't include my name and photo. Ah, technology!

    Joan, again, thank you for welcoming me when I was new to Steeple Hill. Your warmth and grace touched me then and continue to do so each time we meet at various conferences throughout the country.

  21. What a great interview! Thanks, Joan, for sharing such interesting info. Many of my favorite books are from the Steeple Hill lines.

  22. Ah, Deb!!! I was fairly sure we had a secret, anonymous, prefers-to-remain-so-guest, lurking in the shadows which is PERFECT for a suspense writer like you!!!!

    And Joan's warmth and welcoming spirit came through when I first met her in Nashville too. And having met me, she STILL allows me to write for them.... :)

    Go figure.

    Hey, FIRST DRAWING IS AT 9:00 AM...


    Followed by 10:00 drawing for either THE HUSBAND TREE OR WILDFLOWER BRIDE by MARY CONNEALY.


    Please leave your e-mail with your comment... and feel free to disguise your e-mail with 'at' and 'dot' to avoid poaching.

    Like I even know what that means, LOL!!!


    Ruthy (Deb, I'm actually starting to LIKE grits!!! Who knew????)

  23. What an informative post. Great way to start my day. I just wish I would be by the computer all day to enjoy the fun.
    Keep putting out great books.

  24. Good morning and welcome to Seekerville, Joan! And thanks to both you and Ruthy for the fabulous interview! I'm thrilled to be one of those 14 "newbies" who signed with Steeple Hill in 2009 with my first Love Inspired, "Dreaming of Home." Thank you to you, Melissa and the rest of the team for this amazing opportunity to share my stories with the Steeple Hill readers!

  25. Joan, we're excited to have you in Seekerville! Thank you for coming! Awesome interview questions, Ruthy.

    I'm thrilled to be a Love Inspired Historical author! I've had the privilege of meeting you once, Joan, and was blown away that you remembered my debut, Courting Miss Adelaide, was an orphan train story.

    Breakfast is served. I just pulled my ham and cheese egg bake from the oven. It's piping hot and delicious. Dish up some of Debby's fruit and dig in while we chat.


  26. Hello Joan! What a great interview - I even learned a thing or two and now can't wait to apply them (there are cowboys lurking in the dusty corner of my mind, I know it :)).

  27. Welcome to Seekerville, Joan! This is truly a landmark day for us having you here, and I can say that because it can't be construed as sucking up since I do not write for Steeple Hill.

    Uh ... not that I didn't try, mind you!

    I have to say that the most current Steeple Hill books I've been reading are some of the best I have ever read, and I read A LOT! Of course, most of them are Seeker books (smile), but I do read others as well, so my opinion is not completely skewed.

    Thanks again for being here today, and Ruthy, as always -- stellar interview, girl!


  28. Welcome Joan, so great to have you here with us. And Ruthy? Great interview. I agree with you, I think you covered all the bases : )

    Do the Rockies play the Yankees?

    I so agree with Debby, the highlight of every conference is getting the chance to spend a few moments with you. My first ACFW conference was in Denver 2004 where I was thoroughly discouraged over my appointments with agents and editors who told me no one read cowboy stories anymore.

    When I won the Noble Theme in Contemporary Romance, the joy was mute until you leaned across the table and congratulated me. You asked what my book was about and I think I said something like *cowboys. You wouldn't be interested. I guess no one is.*

    Well, let me tell you folks. Joan pulled her chair up closer, looked me in the eye and said, "I like cowboys."

    Joan, you have no idea how tightly I've held your simple statement of encouragement to my heart.

    I am so proud and overjoyed to be writing for Steeple Hill. For being part of such a huge organization, the care and love you and Melissa, and all the editors and staff have for your authors shines through.

    I look forward to peeking in on the happenings in Seekerville all day!

  29. Wow! What an interview! (And pecan pie and Rocky Moutain chocolate treats for breakfast.)

    And if I'm going to write for Steeple Hill, I've got a lot more work to do. :-)


  30. Great interview, ladies. Thanks for participating, Joan.

  31. Hi Joan,
    Thanks so much for sharing your insight and encouragement!


  32. What an awesome interview! I'm so happy to hear LIH is expanding. I think I'll be sending in my historical. *grin*

    Thanks for the entertaining and wonderful interview ladies!

  33. 9:00 WINNERS!!!

    Winner of a copy of Ruthy's 4 1/2 star debut novel "WINTER'S END" is Pam Thibodeaux!!!!

    Winner of a gift of wonderful melt-in-your mouth chocolate is: Debbie Mayne!!!!

    Ladies, stop back at the courtesy desk during the morning break and we'll be glad to hand out your prizes. Identification is accepted in the form of passport, birth certificate and enhanced license from state of residence.

    (Okay, kidding! We'll contact you via e-mail!!!! And a complete listing will be available in Saturday's Weekend Edition)

  34. Joan, Thanks for the insights. Love writing for your line. You gals are a sharp bunch! (And thanks for the kinds words about Sabotage, much appreciated ;-)

  35. Welcome, Joan! We're so glad to have you with us today! Thanks for the wonderful, informative interview--and a chance to get to know you better. And thanks for the opportunity to work at SH in my dream job!! :)

    I know the RWA conference is up in the air right now, but I hope we'll get to see you there or at ACFW this year!

  36. Walt, enjoy the pecan pie for breakfast! And for those who haven't had them, the peach pies Ruthy mentioned are actually fried pies. Yum! :)

    Now, thanks to you, Debby, I need to go make some grits for breakfast. I have a craving.

  37. Thank you,Ruthy, for answering my question. I have a story line plotted out, but I keep coming across guidelines that say absolutely no divorce, which was discouraging. I guess I'll finish writing it and see where it goes.

    reneelynnscott at gmail dot com

  38. I won chocolate? Yum! I love this place!

  39. Wow! Great interview and I know the comments are going to rocket skyward today.

    I'm on the run, but I'll be listening in as the day progresses.

    Pass me a couple of those oatmeal cookies, Ruthy.

    They're healthy, you say?

    Gimme a handful, then!

  40. Thank you, Joan, for sharing your wonderful journey. How blessed we are to have you at the helm of Steeple Hill.

    I'm thrilled to join Glynna and the other fortunate newbies in the Class of 2009. Thank you for the lovely shout-out for my debut, "Soaring Home." The Steeple Hill editors are wonderful to work with, truly the best. For those of you still on Unpubbed Island, yes, your dream can come true!

    As a librarian, I also follow the changing formats with interest. Though ebooks are increasing in popularity, print still has a strong following. And you're right - the next trend might be just around the corner.

    Thank you to Ruthy for the fabulous interview and to all the Seekerville authors for the yummy treats. May God bless you!

  41. Wow, what a treasure trove of information. I truly appreciate the Steeple Hill line and all its writers. It is always first on my order list.

    Great interview! And looking forward to reading all the comments from folks as well.

  42. Oh yeah, email


  43. Uh, Ruthy? How'd I get put on seafood service with Pacific Coast Camy? As a New Yorker you may not have noticed, but Arizona isn't exactly catch-of-the-day country (unless you want trout?). And Red Lobster won't open for HOURS... :) So I'm countin' on you Camster!!!

  44. I love Steeple Hill Books, unfortuantely since I have been unemployed I have been unable to be part of it. I try to get as many as I can at the library. Used to be that they had each month's titles available, but not any more so it's sort of hit and miss although I do check every month.


  45. Debby Mayne, you little sweetie, you...

    Chocolate is a gift from God.

    We'd be remiss to not appreciate it.



  46. Glynna, Glynna, Glynna....

    We've actually got the Knights of Columbus coming in to do the fish fry and seafood extravaganza so all you and the Camster have to do is help serve.

    Remember the loaves and fishes.

    Pass the baskets. There'll be plenty. I promise!


  47. I have to admit I'm feeling a little discouraged because my book is being submitted to Steeple Hill for consideration and I opened with one of those things that annoys Jean. Bummer :(

    What is it about a cowboy that causes a girl's heart to speed up? I grew up on my grandparents' dairy farm and there's nothing sexy about the scent of cow manure...just saying...

    How is a rancher different than a farmer?

  48. There will be 4 historical books coming out every month how exciting!
    I love historical fiction it is my favorite!
    New york sounds like a such a wonderful place I would love to go and visit one day!
    I have a question for you if you don't mind:)
    If you read a book, and really like how long does it take before it is decided if it will published or not?
    Thank you for your time I hope you a have a great day:)

  49. Thanks, Ruthy, for such a wonderful, thought provoking interview.

    Joan, thank you for visiting Seekerville and taking the time to answer the questions. It's always great to get some insight into the publishing industry.


  50. 10:00 WINNER!!!!!

    Congratulations to Lisa Jordan, winner of her choice of The Husband Tree or Wildflower Bride by Mary Connealy!!!!


    Lisa, please follow one of the ushers to the courtesy table to collect your prize!!!

    And could you bring me a nice, steamy cappuccino on the way back? I'm kinda busy here....

  51. I love,love, love Steeple Hill and the people at Harlequin.

    This has been a great interview, Ruthy, and I've enjoyed getting to know Joan. Her journey into a career in "reading" is one I wish I knew about back in my day. :)

    And thanks so much, Joan, for sharing a little about what kinds of themes you're looking for in future Steeple Hill reads.

  52. Lisa, Lisa, Lisa....

    Let's not wax literal, darling.


    Right now I'm planted in the middle of dairy farms in upstate NY. Dave's family has a large number of farmers. We're surrounded. And (like Mary Connealy) most of our kids classmates were cousins of one sort or another.

    I made a rule: NO DATING ANYONE FROM TOWN!!!!

    Shallow gene pools and all that...

    BUT WE'RE TALKIN' FICTION, dear girl...

    Where we overlook the manure... And the grub-flecked boots.

    Although my hero in Waiting Out the Storm notices them on the heroine... :) Hey, farms are farms, right?

    But she CLEANS UP REAL NICE!!!!


    And isn't that the mark of bein' a country girl or boy?

    We clean up nice! And yes, I'm laughing at you (slightly and with love) from WNY...

  53. Margaret Daley...

    Oh, I love this woman.

    I love her gentleness, her toughness, her savvy, her strength and the fact that she worked and produced several books/year for Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense for a long time and I have never heard her whine, complain or a cross word come out of her mouth.

    Margaret is a true professional.

    And stinkin' cute besides. Thanks for comin' over today!

  54. Just when I think this blog can't possibly top itself, IT DOES!

    Fabulous, Fabulous interview.

    Joan, thanks for sharing the stages in your editing career as well and "inside" information on Steeple Hill. I love the variety of LI books topics.

    RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

  55. I really enjoyed this interview! I love the Love Inspired books. Thank you.

  56. What a fascinating interview! And the refreshments delightful!! It really helps aspiring authors like me to hear this kind of information about how a publishing house works and what they are looking for. Steeple Hill has so many great authors and have done a wonderful job with them!

  57. Julie Hilton Steele, you just won your choice of Debby Giusti's romantic suspense novels!!!!


    I will not sway you with my favorites. I will not. I will...


    Send me chocolate and I might be persuaded to tell you why I LOVE Killer Headline....

    But I'll only tell you if it's really nice chocolate.

    M&M's qualify as really nice chocolate to country folk like me.


  58. Ruthy. Shallow gene pools and being everyone's cousin? I thought those jokes only applied to us Southerners? :-)

  59. Hello Joan,

    Thank you for this very informative post. As someone who has been rejected twice by Steeple Hill, this has been very helpful. I'll keep on trying!

    You have a job that I would love! I wish I had known about such positions when I was a fresh, young thing!

    Keep up the great work! Love the Love Inspired line.


    sbmason (at) sympatico (dot) ca

  60. Next drawing at 12:00 is for a copy of Glynna Kaye's debut novel:

    Dreaming of Home...

    Lovely, lovely story.

    And the cutest little kid I ever did see EXCEPT the little girl they have as "Skeeter" on the cover of Waiting Out the Storm...

    Tee hee...

    Yes, that was a blatant plug. Glad y'all noticed!!!

  61. Oh, sure, I ask a real question and Ruthy mocks me...sigh.

    Yay! Thanks for drawing my name. Can't wait to read Mary's Wildflower Bride.

    To celebrate Cinco de Mayo, I'll share our Mexicali rice lunch. Ole!

  62. Walt....

    Dave's grandma (I LOVED that woman, she was so wonderful...)

    Had eleven children. All very nice. All married but one.

    Kids. They all had kids.

    Then those kids had kids.

    Most of them settled here.

    Boys took over father's farms.

    And settled here.

    Then they had kids, which means that half the west side is related to us.

    Then the other half of his family...

    Came over in 1635. One of the boys married a Mayflower descendant. That is my claim to fame. Sad, right?

    But then they traveled west from Massachusetts Bay Colony and some settled here in upstate. A LONG time ago.

    Hence the relationship to the other half of the west side of the county.

    My side? A lot of brothers and sisters but only 3 cousins.

    Three.... one-two-three...

    And only one got married and had children.

    So it's Dave's fault that my children couldn't date until college. All his fault.


  63. Lisa, darling, I only tease the tough...

    Remember: That which does not kill will only make you stronger...


    And thanks for the rice!!! That will go delightfully as a side dish for our Seafood extravaganza that the Knights of Columbus are bringing aboard!

    But not yet.

    It's too early for lunch fare, even here in the East.

  64. Joan, thanks so much for your wonderful insights into the Steeple Hill lines. I love them all! And I just ADORE working with Emily Rodmell.

    Ruthy, great interview as always. You have a gift, my friend. :)

    So, what's for lunch? I'm starved!

  65. Ruthy,

    I understand. Given that I married a Japanese woman, I never worried about things like that. :-)

  66. Too early?? Are you kidding me? Sometimes lunch time can't come fast enough. Because you know what follows lunch? Yes, that's right--naptime, sweet blessed naptime. And all the angels (and childcare providers) rejoice!!! Today is one of those let's rejoice for naptime days...sigh.

  67. Insightful, informative interview. Perhaps the best one ever in Seekerville. Thanks bunches to Ms. Golan and Ruthy for taking the time to share with us.

  68. Lisa, I hear you!!! :)

    And yes, Walt, that's it exactly. We've brought in spouses from Long Island, Minnesota, Fairport (an east-side suburb so that's a big step up for us!!!! ;) ) and...

    One local gal who is NO RELATION.

    And we love her.

    Lawyer boy is in Manhattan and Finance boy is in Boston (and still a Yankees fan despite the furor that ignites...)so I understand the Japan connection.

    Ya' do what ya' gotta do. :)

  69. EXCELLENT interview! Joan, it is wonderful to have you here.

    Best of luck everyone on the drawings. How exciting!


  70. I'll not tell you a little Steeple Hill story. Feel free to skim this, no questions here that need a response. :)

    I remember reading a copy of RWR magazine...oh so many years ago...and reading this article about Harlequin starting a Christian fiction line.

    I'd been writing for a few years at that point. I had all these romances on my computer that were increadingly homeless as all novels becamse more...let's call it SECULAR. I wasn't going to put sex scenes in my books, especially not between unmarried couples. I just couldn't see putting into some book a morality that I personally didn't believe in....just to get a book published, which was of course my wildest, fondest dream.

    So I was mainly targeting Silhouette...very sweet. One line. In the whole universe. And I got kind of close with Silhouette, all the way up to a requested full manuscript with my second book, which is Clueless Cowboy, and HP that is part of the 3 in 1 collection Black Hills Blessing which released in March.

    Or course later I realized there was a bit of Christian fiction out there.
    Love Comes Softly released in 1979
    Grace Livingstone Hill was out there.
    Redeeming Love released in 1991, so more modern Christian fiction existed, but I'd never read it.

    So, all the sudden here's Steeple Hill and it was a thrill for me. It opened my eyes, you might say to the possibility of Christian fiction. My work wasn't specifically Christian, it didn't have a faith thread. But my characters conducted themselves as Christians. The faith thread was unspoken but it was right there.

    I can still remember reading that article and thinking, "I've been writing for a line of books that hadn't been invented yet. Until now."

    So thank you for helping me find the doorway to the world of Christian fiction.

  71. Wow!! I just stopped in as I normally peruse the post but today's was great!! Nice and long:) I really liked finding out where Steeple Hill wants to go. It amazes me that so many books can be published but they are all sooo different. Sure some of the plots are somewhat the same, but I am sure you know what I mean. Thank you so much for the great interview!!


  72. Great interview. I'm on the run, so I didn't read it all, but I loved the part where she talked about why they reject. Good to know!

    What a busy day for you ladies- thanks so much for the chances!! :)

    Email in profile.

  73. What I great post. I enjoy the Steeple Hill books - I am late in getting in on this party -but better late than never.

  74. I really love the Historical and the suspense myself:) I would love to see some more around the Civil War though. Maybe it is just me, but there aren't too many out there.

  75. Hi Joan, That was an awesome interview. I love to find out little things about authors and the art of writing. You shed light on some of those for me. Thanks to stopping by to chat.

    I did visit NY in 2004 (I think) and went to grown zero and rode the train at grand central station to and from CT where we were staying for 1 day. I would love to go back some day and see the theater district.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

  76. What a wonderful and informative interview this was. I thoroughly enjoyed it and found it very interesting. I was actually born and raised in New York City and my children were all born in New York City. We chose to leave there when our youngest was 6.


  77. I MEAN.....

    I'll NOW tell you...

    A typo in my lovely story. I need an editor.

    Normally I'd let it stand but since I'm dusting Seekerville on an hourly basic to keep it nice for Joan and all the others who've come to our party, I decided to dust that comment up, too.

  78. Wendy, Casey, Charity....

    Oh, man, you guys could be sisters in a trilogy, you know that, don't you????

    You're in, gals, and thanks for the kudos and stopping in!

    Grab some food. Lunch is coming later!


  79. Joan, we're thrilled to have you visit us in Seekerville today, and Ruthy, what an incredible interview! Just jam-packed full of insights into the Love Inspired lines. Folks, this kind of insider info doesn't come along every day, so soak it up while you can and take Joan's wisdom to heart!

  80. Wonderful interview! So many great insights! Thank you ladies for all your time putting this together!

  81. JO!!!!

    A real New Yawkah!!!! ;)

    Good to meet you, girlfriend! And welcome to Seekerville! We're a far cry from the Big Apple in some ways, not so far in others.

    And RWA is slated for NYC in '11 so I think the streets of Manhattan best prepare for a Seeker invasion.

    Oh my stars, how much fun will that be????

    And Miss Kallie, hey!!! What a great place to visit and/or live...

    I love New York. I love the chance to study people. And yeah, they look at me weird. And my son keeps telling me to stop talking to random strangers like they're my new bff...

    But I can't.

    Or won't. :) Maybe a combination!

  82. Thank you all for your lovely comments. As this is a work day for me, I can't respond to all posts, but I will answer a few questions.

    Vince, I don't know the book in question; unfortunately I don't get to read every single book we publish, but I've passed your question on to the team and perhaps will get back on this later. I can provide some clarification for future reference--although it would not be acceptable to have a committed Christian character in a Steeple Hill book having an abortion, it would be possible to have heroine who had had an abortion in the past, before coming to Christ, and is struggling to forgive herself in the present story. One of our recurrent themes is how God loves sinners though He hates sin.

    For all of you who asked about divorce--there are instances where characters can be divorced--for example, in cases of adultery or before the divorced character was a committed Christian. Renee, are you sure it's legally possible for a person to get divorced without partner's consent? I don't want to get into discussion of individual cases, though--this should be discussed with your editor.

    Dianne--Advice for how to make that first sale is to write a book
    that an editor can't put down. As I said in my post, the most important things are to open compellingly, create characters we care about and create convincing, well-paced conflicts. I'll add to that an appealing author voice.

    Lindsey, for a first time author, the editor needs the approval of both the senior editor and myself to buy the book--it takes as long as it takes for the senior editor to read the book and recommend it to me for approval. Rather than keep the aspiring author waiting until I have the chance to read the complete ms., which could be months away, I read the senior editor and acquiring editors' memos and the first chapter of the book, and then give the thumbs up. I can't recall ever giving a thumbs down, by the way.

    Alas, seekers, I have much work to do today and must leave you. It is so heartening to hear from all of you who love to read and write our books--God bless you all! Blessings, Joan Marlow Golan

  83. Ah,Ruth, would that fact that I am bringing you chocolate truffles handmade as I raced down to South America, picked the cocoa beans, ground them, harvested the sugar cane and milked the cow for heavy cream...just for you.

    I am excited to know why you loved Killer Headline if you are now willing to share.

    If that is too fancy, I am happy to dig out the M&Ms.

    Seriously, I haven't read as many of the suspense line as I probably should have so am thrilled to get one of Debby's books. Thanks. And can't wait for those upcoming mentioned by all the authors here.

  84. Trinity Rose, you're the 12:00 WINNER OF GLYNNA KAYE'S DEBUT NOVEL, "DREAMING OF HOME"!!!!

    Congratulations, sweet thang, and thank you for coming by today!

    God bless you, and I love, love, love the name 'Trinity Rose'...

    Pastoral. Lovely. Romantic.

    Yay, you!!!!

  85. What a fun day -- great interview, Ruthy! There was so much good stuff in the post that reading it took all my lunch break. Will have to come back later to enjoy the comments. :-)


  86. Thanks for all the great info. I'm excited to hear you're expanding. I've really enjoyed the suspense novels, and am sure the historicals will be just as good. Just haven't had time to get those in.

    Thanks again for taking the time to share such good information.

  87. Oh dear, I'm coming in a bit late today, but wanted to say hi and welcome to Joan.

    Ruthy really pelted you with the questions, didn't she? No surprise ;-)

    I started reading Steeple Hill stories because of Seekerville, so those authors are near and ear to my heart -but since then I've branched out to others as well. They keep getting BETTER. Ruthy's novel, Winter's End, was the most recent one I read and it was fabulous.

    Two of your points - hook and protagonist- really made me rethink a few of my mss. I'm going to go back and check that my first few lines 'catch - and hold' attention.

    Sad to say - I've NEVER been to NYC, but I've dreamed about going. Maybe someday.

    When I visited Chicago, people kept reminding me "Stop waving and smiling at everyone on you meet."
    Old habits die hard. At least I didn't try to hug 'em. :-)

    so...this is a amateur's question, but what's all this 'expanding' and 'long series' mean? I understand 'single title', but I'm making vague (and probably wrong) guesses about the rest. Doesn't series mean...well...books in a series, related?

  88. I love LI suspense especially and this was great insight into how this LI industry works :-)

    I have never been to NY City, but I have seen it from the New Jersey side (my dad had a thing about taking the family to the big, bad city).

    Thanks for a good interview!

    ryanx6 at msn dot com

  89. Pepper,

    All the terms can be confusing, especially since they use the same word for multiple meanings. LOL!

    In this case, we mean "series" as in category-length books rather than series as in a running series of books such as my Wings of Refuge Series.

    Series romance just means shorter books, like all the monthly Harlequins and ones like the Heartsong Presents. Series romance is opposite of Single Title romance. Single Titles just means the bigger books...the ones that stay on the shelves for a year or better.

    Series (aka category or shorter length) books normally have a short shelf life. A month or less. Hope this makes sense.

    When we've been discussing "series" here, we mean to say "short books" in the way of wordcount and the fact that they are mass market produced and monthly.

    Hope this helps.

    Also, as far as "expanding"
    we are referring to the number of books Steeple Hill puts out per month per line. It's not talking about expanding the word count or anything. Just the number of books Steeple Hill releases per month.

    Hope this clarifies some.


  90. Pepper, forgot to say that "long series" is a term used interchangeably with "single title" or "longer length" book.

    Series=category=shorter length & shorter shelf life books


  91. This has been interesting to read. The Steeple Hill books that I've read I've really liked, but I read so crazy fast that I usually stick to longer books (just to give an idea, I'll breeze through any of Julie's Daughters of Boston books in a day). I wish SH would publish more longer books as well.


  92. Oh thanks, Cheryl
    The fog in my head has returned to its usual density instead of double the thickness.
    I'm feeling somewhat back to normal.
    Series (in this conversation) = shorter/category novels, such as the various different categories Harlequin offers.

    Stand alone = longer novels, such as Julie's or Mary's books?

    What would your Wings of REfuge series be called? Besides, 'good' :-)



    You just won a copy of Myra Johnson's lovely "Romance by the Book"!!!!

    Hooray for you!!! And girlfriend, thank you so much for stopping by and chattin' it up with us today!

  94. The 2:00 drawing is for "The Substitute Bride" a February, '10 Love Inspired Historical release by Janet Dean!!!

    Hey, I think the seafood lunch is arriving!!!

  95. Thanks Joan:

    In the book, the heroine has had an abortion when she was young. She then became a Christian and is now hoping that God will forgive her. The hero is active in the Right to Life Movement! This makes this book have about as much conflict as I’ve ever read in a LI. At first, I was not happy that this book surprised me with the abortion issue but I have since thought it out and have even purchased Francine Rivers’ “The Atonement Child” to delve deeper into the issue.


  96. Wonderful interview Joan and Ruthy! I learned so much about Steeple Hill and publishing.

    I grew up in Connecticut and I LOVE NY! Where have I heard that before???

  97. Single Title Meaning?

    Can a Single Tile Book be short? A lot of short novels have long shelf lives depending on the author’s popularity.

    Doess the term ‘Single Title’ have a specific meaning for the romance genre?


  98. Are there any of those cookies left? My tummy is rumbling for something sweet! MMmmm....

    I loved this interview. It was so in depth and insightful. I've wondered about e-publishing and I really want a Kindle, even though I dearly love the feel of a book in my hands and the smell of the printed ink up my nose! Thanks for your thoughts!

  99. Thanks so much for an insightful interview.

    valerie at valeriecomer dot com

  100. Wow, we've had a busy morning in Seekerville thanks to Joan's visit and Seeker giveaways. I'm excited we're almost ready to draw for a signed copy of my book, The Substitute Bride!

    I've only been to New York City once and that was for the RWA conference. I took a bus tour, walked, road the subway, took in a play, saw ground zero and ate at Sardis and a deli and still attended workshops. I'm hungry for more. I'm hoping when RWA returns to New York next year that I'll get to see the Steeple Hill offices. Any plans to gather authors in, Joan?


  101. Vince, I'm sure others will jump in here, but Single Title usually means a longer book (85,000 words and up), that may be a romance but has more leeway for plot, secondary characters, development and ratio of romance involved.

    So a family saga would usually be a Single Title.

    But some long contemporary romances are dead ringers for Single Titles so it kind of depends on publisher, and on where they tuck your story.

    But a Single Title doesn't have to be long....

    And some series romances have been in the 70,000-80,000 word range.

    I think most are a little shorter than that now and the trick with doing a strong, shorter book (as I'm learning because we all know I talk to much) is to focus more on the direct story and let the outer cast and developments envelope the story. That way it's wrapped in layers but the core is the romance.

    If anyone else can describe this better, jump in. I still get confused myself.


  102. Hi Joan and Ruthy!!

    Joan, WONDERFUL interview : )

    You mentioned something about readers liking regional emphasis and your example was Texas. Is that why we read so many books that are set in the south, in general? I was just wondering because it's not too often that we read something set in New England or Alaska or Hawaii or somewhere different like that.

    I also just wanted to put in my two cents about historicals...I think there should be more mail-order bride stories!!! I LOVE them and Janet's The Substitute Bride was remarkable *smile*

    I wish I could've stopped in earlier because of the drawings...oh! And of course you guys too *wink*

    I'm only 18, not quite a 20something yet, and I recieved a Kindle for my birthday this year. I have to say, I was really nervous about getting one for fear that it would take over my paper books. However, I've found that I do LOVE my Kindle! The books are cheaper, which I'm sorry, but as a graduating senior headed to an expensive college, I've gotta take advantage of this. It's also much easier to read then I expected. On a different note, I still read paper books all the time. I'm someone who can multitask when I read, so I'm usually reading at least 2-3 books at once. So now I keep at least one going on my Kindle and one paper book. It's FABULOUS! Just to defend ebooks a little, while also attesting to paper books : )

    So, there you go! I'll be around before I go to my tennis match, so hopefully I'll talk to you before then. If not, wish me luck!!

    In honor of the tennis match and my sister's friend's birthday *wink* I made cupcakes decorated like tennis balls! LOL!

    Talk to you later,

  103. Forgot my email...whoops!!



  104. Wow, I don't know what to say that hasn't already been expressed.

    Fantastic interview!

    So much helpful and insightful information.

    Being one of those "quiet" people, I rarely comment, but always read, and this was a truly fabulous post.

    Thank you, Ruthy and Joan, for taking the time to educate those of us hoping to publish with Steeple Hill.

  105. Oh! And another question....

    Any insight as to what the next Continuity Series will be?? I'm LOVING this one, though I still have to go get Deadly Vows *tear* Can't wait to read it!


  106. Hi Denice!!!!!!!
    I haven't talked to you in a long time.

    Are you coming to ACFW???

  107. Wow! this has been a fun catch up! Seekerville has converted me to Steeple Hill. Once I started reading this blog daily I began tracking down the authors' works which, of course, led me to Steeple Hill. That was back in January and I've been a regular customer since then. I've ready twenty plus books and haven't been disappointed yet! So thanks to the editors who have such a keen understanding of what goes into a great inspirational romance -- and to the authors who write them.

    My only complaint is that I can't get my hands on books published in previous years. I understand that is the nature of series publishing -- but, it's still frustrating for a reader when she finds a new 'fave' author. It does compel me to buy up books by an author I like, though. :-)

  108. Vince--Irene Hannon here, the author of the book you asked about that featured a heroine who had had an abortion. I thought Joan summed up the thinking beautifully when she said "One of our recurrent themes is how God loves sinners though He hates sin."

    My heroine made this decision long before she became a Christian, but the memory of her choice haunts her. As a strong pro-life proponent, I wanted to write a story that showed the lingering emotional repercussions of this decision. And yes, there was lots of conflict, because as you noted, the hero was actively engaged in the pro-life movement. So this book allowed me to deal with a very difficult issue as well as with the nature of forgiveness--both human and divine. Forgiveness is a recurring theme in my work. It plays a prominent role in my romantic suspense novel, Against All Odds, as well.

    By the way, in my February 2010 Love Inspired book, Child of Grace, I'll be featuing a pregnant heroine who makes a very different choice. Please watch for it!

  109. Kav,
    I definitely agree with you about finding past books! There's only one used bookstore around here, so it's very difficult and only select items are there...

  110. Farmers and cowboys: I was raised on a dairy farm, but my parents also raised beef cattle, so I guess Daddy was a farmer AND a rancher.

    Most people think of farmers as those who grow crops, run a dairy, or grow pigs, sheep, chickens, etc.

    On the other hand, a cowboy is the guy who raises beef cattle. Well, technically, the cowboy is the hired guy who rides the range. The owner would be a rancher, I guess.

    In this day and age, a cowboy might ride a 4-wheeler or use a helicopter to herd cattle just as much -- if not more than -- a horse.

    BUT, the romantic in me says he still needs the horse! lol

    Chicken farmer
    Pig farmer
    Sheep farmer (herder?)
    Cowboy and/or Rancher

    Weird, huh?

    Mix it up. It's okay to have a "farm" and call it a "ranch". Dh and I raise beef cattle. He herds cattle with 4-wheelers, hauls them to the stockyard in a cattle trailer, and feeds large round bales of hay with a tractor.

    But he rides horses for fun, and looks real hunky in a cowboy hat.

    So, give your dairy farmer a horse, a swagger, a cowboy hat, and a drawl, a herd of beef cattle, and somebody to run the dairy side of things, and he's a COWBOY. But even he could milk the cows if push came to shove.

    Why, when I was 10, the whole family went on a day-long fishing trip and I didn't want to go. I wanted to stay home and read. A whole day by myself with nothing to do but read.

    Ah. Bliss!

    3:30 arrived and they weren't home, and it was milking time. I had 100 dairy cows penned, the machines up and running and was putting the milker on the first cow when they got there.

    Mama and Daddy were so proud.

  111. Hi everyone,

    Great interview Joan.

    I can answer the questions about the upcoming continuity series for Steeple Hill. We've got some great ones in the works.

    Starting in July in Love Inspired, we have Alaskan Bride Rush. It's a series about a small Alaskan town full of single men that becomes innundated with women when a magazine article profiles the guys. Love matches ensue. :)

    The next Love Inspired Suspense continuity is called Texas Ranger Justice and starts next January. It follows a group of San Antonio Texas Rangers trying to find out who killed their captain...and falling in love with the women who help them along the way.

    Then, next April, we have a historical prequel to Alaskan Bride Rush coming out in Love Inspired Historicals.

    All of these series are really amazing, and I hope that you'll all pick them up when they come out.

    Emily Rodmell
    Assistant Editor
    Steeple Hill

  112. Kav and Hannah,
    Your points about not being able to find books published some time ago have been noted. Today some of the authors are doing a "book of your choice" drawing, which is a good way to gather some of those "older" titles.

    Congrats, Julie, on winning the drawing at 11! I'll contact you about which book of mine you'd like to receive. Killer Headline is my latest release. Set in Montana, it deals with the Witness Protection Program.

  113. That seafood diner sounds great Ruthy! And the day seems to be going great all these giveaways are so exciting I hope I get the chance to win one before the day is over!:)

  114. Joan,
    I loved the Second Chance at Love line. Marian Oaks, a Georgia Romance Writer, published in that line, and I've never forgotten her debut novel--a touching story about an older hero and heroine finding love later in life. Very nice read!

  115. Joan, thank you for answering my question. You made me smile!:) I love the sound of your editor. I pray that day comes soon.

    Without going into details in this particular case I know it was possible for divorce to occur without consent. You've given me a burst of excitement, I guess I better get busy!!

  116. Hi Emily,
    Thanks for all you do at Steeple Hill! And thanks for mentioning the great upcoming continuities.

    Emily is a fantastic editor who always makes my stories better! Plus she's on top of everything!

    Don't know how you do it all, Emily. You make it seem so effortless.

  117. Thanks again to all you lovely writers and readers for your supportive comments.I think all but two questions have been answered. Kay and Hannah wanted to know about how to find older books--are you aware of Love Inspired Classics? These are 2-in-1 collections, with two books by the same author in one volume, and are available at Wal-mart, the book chains and other outlets as well as from our Direct to Consumer unit and

    Also, Hannah, about the settings. As you can see from Emily's post, we are doing a whole continuity series set in Alaska. And Anna Schmidt did a historical set in Nantucket--I believe the final title was SEASIDE CINDERELLA. There have been other books set outside the South as well, but it is true that the South, the West and Midwest are popular settings. Texas has always been popular in both Christian and secular romance--maybe because all of those cowboys .

    Time for my three o'clock meeting, so I'll be signing off for now. Again, thanks to all for your comments and support. Blessings, Joan

  118. Joan,

    Thanks for all the great info on Steeple Hill. I'm so excited to know that you're increasing your historical line. I've consistantly purchased those books and love reading them.

  119. Pepper, don't're not the only one confused. LOL! I have seven books in print and still have NO idea what a dangling modifier is. Always learning...

    Anyway, I guess they'd call Wings of Refuge a Series series. LOL!

    When I think of a stand-alone book, I think it encompasses any book (even books that are part of a particular series) that has a complete beginning, middle and end to the story. Meaning it's not a To Be Continued type of thing. Even though all my Wings of Refuge books are part of a series, they each still stand alone as stories. That way if someone comes in (many readers have) in the middle of the series, they won't be lost and they needn't have read the previous books to understand what's going on.

    Stand-alone simply means the story stands on its own.

    Hope I'm not confusing you all the more. LOL!

    Maybe someone else can explain the terminology better.

    All you really need to know is that you need to strive to write THE best book you can and write it according to guidelines of the house and line you are targeting.

    Be familiar with current books in the line...that's a must I think to get a feel for the books.

    Basically just know the word count. You'll get more of a feel for what the terms all mean as your career progresses and you hear the lingo more and in context that will help you understand.



  120. Pepper, don't're not the only one confused. LOL! I have seven books in print and still have NO idea what a dangling modifier is. Always learning...

    Anyway, I guess they'd call Wings of Refuge a Series series. LOL!

    When I think of a stand-alone book, I think it encompasses any book (even books that are part of a particular series) that has a complete beginning, middle and end to the story. Meaning it's not a To Be Continued type of thing. Even though all my Wings of Refuge books are part of a series, they each still stand alone as stories. That way if someone comes in (many readers have) in the middle of the series, they won't be lost and they needn't have read the previous books to understand what's going on.

    Stand-alone simply means the story stands on its own.

    Hope I'm not confusing you all the more. LOL!

    Maybe someone else can explain the terminology better.

    All you really need to know is that you need to strive to write THE best book you can and write it according to guidelines of the house and line you are targeting.

    Be familiar with current books in the line...that's a must I think to get a feel for the books.

    Basically just know the word count. You'll get more of a feel for what the terms all mean as your career progresses and you hear the lingo more and in context that will help you understand.



  121. Wow, not sure why that last comment posted twice. LOL!

    I'm excited about the Alaska series.

    Congrats to all the winners so far!

    Glad some of you lurkers stepped out too.

    Best wishes to all of you targeting Steeple Hill. It is a WONDERFUL imprint to write for. The editors are amazing at what they do. So appreciative that they took time out today to answer our questions.

    Here's to hoping the last two Seekers on Unpubbed Island and that many Friends of Seekerville will be able to join the Steeple Hill family someday soon too. What a blessing.


  122. Ruthy, you should take the pictures of the cupcakes and cookies down. I ate them all. Now it's just like you're TEASING people.

  123. Since Steeple Hill is my target market, (I write inspirational suspense) it was wonderful to read this incredible interview. Thank you SO much for posting! I learned more in this one blog than I have from RWA and ACFW combined (well practically, smile).
    I am currently searching for an inspirational author as critique partner. If anyone else is doing the same, feel free to contace me.

  124. My favorite Love-Inspireds are the suspense (first)and historical (second).

    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

  125. Thank you for such a wonderful interview! As an aspiring author for Steeple Hill the Seekerville blog and especially interviews such as this one that showcase industry professionals is both motivating and helpful. Thank you so much!

  126. Joan and Ruthy,

    Thank you both for the great interview. Joan, I really appreciate your time with us and the insightful advice on writing a stand out book. It's also a real joy to know that SH is being guided by such a godly and knowledgeable woman. I love writing for LIH. I hope I get to meet you one day soon.


  127. What???!?!?!!!!

    ALL the cookies are gone!?!

    I'm with Mary...take those tempting pictures down! I was so hungry for cookies, I went to make some, but was out of eggs! Go figure!

  128. Glad I made it back. Looks like I missed a lot.

  129. Hi Mary!!!

    Don't know if I'll make it to ACFW this year, but I sure want to.

    Would be great to see you and the other Seekers again.

  130. I have chocolate cheesecake.
    And chocolate chip cookies.

    Can we replenish for the starving herd?

  131. I missed lunch and cookies.
    What's next?

  132. Pepper!!!

    Are you calling me a heifer?!?! lolol

  133. Hi Joan:

    I can’t pass up this opportunity to ask questions.

    Is there any chance that Steeple Hill will have a POD hardbound option in the future?

    I think it is almost ‘criminal’ that an author can work up to ten years on her first book and then that book is on the shelves for only thirty days – if that long!

    Janet Dean’s “Substitute Bride” sold out on eHarlequin in just days!

    Just consider this: an author’s first book is often outstanding. (To be sure, an author is not going to get ten years to produce her second book!)

    I just know that English professors would love “Winter’s End” because of its no compromise realism but it won’t be in print by the next semester. I’d love to see a ‘keeper’ POD option for all 4 ½ star books -- at least.

    Also, the best series I’ve ever read is a Steeple Hill Café set called “The Sisterhood of the Dropped Stitches” by Janet Tronstad. This series is ideal for cancer patients to read during long spells of chemotherapy. (They are always asking for reading material.) All four books are out of print and only the last one is available as an eBook. I’d love to see you reissue these books as a gift set. A POD option would be ideal.

    I know there are 'rights' issues but I think LI books are just too good to be looked at as if they were monthly magazines.

    Yes, I know by publishing monthly you give a lot more authors an opportunity to publish and that’s good – especially for readers. That’s why I’d like to see the best of both worlds. Monthly plus POD.


  134. Sherrinda,

    I'm blushing.

    Unique opportunity to view all of my freckles in glowing color.

    Nope - I refer to my kids as a herd. It's the noise, not the size ;-)

  135. Joan, this is so exciting to ‘talk’ to someone who’s name is so familiar to me. I really like that you called up a pub house as established as Harlequin with a new imprint suggestion. Now that takes chutzpa. LOL

    I buy most of my LI’s straight from since 3 of us read the Love Inspired imprint in our house. When the box comes in the door, I distribute it into individual TBR piles:
    - Hubby and teen daughter want the LIS’s at the top of their piles and the LIH’s at the bottom with the LI’s sandwiched in between. Sometimes, there’s a real scramble for the eHarl parcel with the teen practically climbing over her dad to get to her favorite authors first.
    - As for me, it’s the LIH’s at the top, then the LI’s and the LIS’s at the bottom.

    I’ve had 2 constants in my life since I was 14 yo… my relationship with God… and my wish to be a Harlequin author. And it’s such a blessing to write while combining the two. (No, I'm not pubbed... yet.)

    To Ruthy and the Seekers, thank you. (Don’t start me blubbering.)

    anitamaedraper (at) hotmail dot com

    Anita Mae.

  136. Ooops!!!! Sorry, had to actually work for a bit there!!! :)

    Catching up on the 2:00 WINNER OF THE SUBSTITUTE BRIDE....

    By Janet Dean!!!!



    Congratulations, dear girl! I totally loved this book.

    I love mail order bride stories. Just love 'em. It's not all that far removed from an Internet marriage, you know?

    Janna, I'll hook you up with my buddy Janet.

    And has anyone brought cold drinks on board? It's warm here and a cool, iced tea (I'm an admitted Snapple junkie) or lemonade... Just sounds good!

  137. And we've got to pick another winner for the 3:00 time slot...

    The 3:00 giveaway is a copy (when they arrive) of my soon-to-be-released Love Inspired novel "Waiting Out the Storm"...

    Can I just say I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!

    LOVE IT...

    But I digress....

    And the winner is:


    Oh, YAY, BIG GUY!!!!

    SWEET!!!!! :)

    I hope you're happy about this, my friend. Let me know what you think, okay???

  138. Upcoming 4:00 drawing is for winner's choice of any Daughters of Boston book by our very own Julie Lessman!!!!

    Oh my stars, this is so much fun!!!

    Hey, I love that you guys have just kept right on partying while I was away and


    Oh, thank you for stopping in, sweet thing!!! I know Joan is pressed for time today.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

  139. Sorry, Ruthy, I've been sipping on hot lemon-honey tea most of the day to ease the sore throat.

    Maybe next time I'll bring some sweet sun tea.

  140. And Irene Hannon...

    Welcome to you! Cyber hugs aplenty!

    Thanks for taking time to come on over and play with us and I'm so glad you jumped in on Vince's question.

    So nice to 'talk' with you!!!

  141. Mary, no worries, you know my kitchen.

    I've got more.... ;)


    Could you tell that was actually my kitchen? My china that I earned as a sales manager in Tupperware about 30 years ago... Oh, yeah, I was a Tupperware lady. I can sing the jingle if you want to hear it.

    No?? LOL!! I don't blame you!

    And the cappuccino and cookies?

    Oh, yeah, during my apple dishes stint.

    Okay back to writing...

    I love writing. I love working with Steeple Hill. I love working with Melissa. She's got a no nonsense approach that works for me because even though I'm a bit of a snark, I'm anxious to please and want to do this right. She's not afraid to lead and I'm okay with that.

    And in my spare time now I study what other writers are doing right. By that I mean that I scan for award winning authors like Irene Hannon and Linda Goodnight and others and I read their stuff to help me discern what's strong, what's 'talking' to the reader, the reviewer, what it was in any one particular story that makes it notable.

    Good stuff to learn when you're a newbie like me.

  142. Joan, thank you for sharing so much valuable information about you and Steeple Hill. It was fascinating.And, of course, as a historical author, I'm thrilled to see that line expanding.

    Ruthie, great interview!

  143. Hi Irene:

    I love your ‘Lighthouse Lane’ series. I’m reading “A Father For Zach” right now. I still have two books yet to read. Reading about being on Nantucket is like a little vacation for me. I also think you have the most likeable and memorable characters in this series – especially the older characters.

    As for the book in question, I kept hoping that the ‘secret’ would not be an abortion because I identified with the hero and my views are the same as the hero’s. I would not want to face the hero’s choice because I would not have been so forgiving as he was. It would have taken me a lot longer to think things over. Wouldn’t you want to confirm that she could still have children if you were a man? Of course 90% plus of your readers are women and I think they will love the hero but, from a male POV, it’s a hard read.

    BTW: I think you meant February 2011 for “Child of Grace”. Thank God they don’t have retroactive deadlines. : )


  144. Ruthy, I totally love your perspective on learning.
    And lovely china.

  145. I think I will have a glass of lemonade to make it through the afternoon.
    Enjoy the afternoon.

  146. Jenna, I'll add to your shout out...


    There, sweetie, that might help.


    And I found Sandra Lee Smith who braved being my critique partner through FH&L and God love that woman, she has been a trooper. And a steady, stalwart friend.

    Keep hunting, Janna. The right person will turn up. And don't be afraid or remiss to pray about it. And not everyone is a good fit. That's okay. Keep trying, no harm, no foul until you get the right person. I promise it will happen.

    In the meantime, here's some cyber chocolate. Hey, did Tina and Audra get here with chocolate and the tea service yet???

  147. Oh Janna,
    What do you write?
    email me at pepperbasham(at)yahoo(dot)com

  148. I'm grazing at the table a little late, but if there's still coffee--it's all good. What a great post, Joan. Thanks for all the helpful information.

  149. Wow, there is so much information in this post. I'll probably have to read it a few times over. Thanks Joan and Ruth.

    I am one of those writer's that would love to see the longer Single Title line for Steeple Hill. Cause that's just the way I write.

    I will not admit to being wordy in any shape or fashion?


    Three books a year. I have the books I just don't have the house. Oh well.

    I have a book that could probably be split further than the four I've cut it into already. Maybe, I should try to get that one out.

    Joan, will Steeple Hill looked at books that have been self-pubbed?

  150. Pepper, stop calling names. Sheesh.


    Sherrinda, we've got tea coming, oh, my goodness, here it is!!!

    Ah, yes, cold drinks, hot drinks, tea, coffee and all the fixin's...

    And so beautifully presented, Tina and Audra, you girls are wonderful!!!

    And I noticed the Knights of Columbus has cleared out with the scraps of fish you guys didn't eat...

    What a great crowd those boys drew! Yay, KOC.... And the broiled cajun haddock????

    Oh my stars, it was so good! And tiny potatoes boiled and drenched in butter.


    Okay, I think I have to prepare for another drawing here...

  151. Thanks for the explanation Cheryl and Ruthy on single title, etc.. I'm still trying to figure it out exactly but perhaps it doesn't apply to what I'm up to and won't matter so much. Or something. :)

    Would y'all like some of this 6 layer chocolate cake? I can run by and bring another for afternoon "tea"... but I prefer whole milk with it. It is SOOO GOOOOOOD.

    ksf895 at citlink dot net

  152. Okay, the 4:00 drawing (yes, I know I'm tardy, but I am WORKING, too....) Kind of...

    4:00 drawing!!!!

    This is for the winner's choice of any of Julie Lessman's delightful romances from the Daughters of Boston series...

    A Passion Most Pure
    A Passion Redeemed
    A Passion Denied

    And the winner is:

    Dagnabbit, this hat is getting full!!!!


    The winner is:

    Oh, this couldn't be more perfectly done unless the winner's name was Faith or Beth...


    You won your choice of Julie's books.

    YAY!!!!!!!!!!! Here, honey, have a cookie on me. This is soooo exciting!!!

    Joan, you rock for making us THIS POPULAR today!!!

    Bless you!

    And Emily! ;)

  153. The next drawing will be held for winner's choice of Debby Giusti's books and I was very naughty before and mentioned how much I'm enjoying Killer Headline....

    And I enjoyed them all, but this one has such a great basis, and redheads and...


    Need I say more??????

    I thought not.

    Drawing in the 5:00 hour since I'm a little off-schedule here.

    Following Deb's book we have Missy Tippens' His Forever Family or A Forever Christmas...

    Then a "Sushi" book from our west coast sweetheart, Camy Tang, affectionately known as the "Camster" in these here parts....

    Then Tina Radcliffe ramps it up a bit with an offering of "The Art of War for Writers: Fiction Writing Strategies, Tactics, and Exercises"...

    Oh my gosh, she's got your number, folks!!!!

    AND THEN....

    YES, THEN...

    FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER... (Oh, I remember when this was me, oh, so long ago...Well, okay, a few weeks ago, LOL!!!)

    We're offering one blessed person a copy of CARA LYNN JAMES DEBUT NOVEL, JUST NOW ARRIVING IN STORES:





    Yup. Whole thing. All seven books.

    So stay tuned. Once you're in, you're in...

    But we love the way you guys like to party about good writing and awesome opportunities.

    You rock. And I'm LOVING these Rocky Mountain Chocolates.

  154. Wow! tons of give aways today. Congratulations to all of the winners so far.

    Does Seekerville have a forum?

  155. Sounds like a lot of great books. You are the best.

  156. You all are just so very awesome and I love your work. I love the Steeple Hill line of books.

    May God richly bless you all today!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  157. You all are just so very awesome and I love your work. I love the Steeple Hill line of books.

    May God richly bless you all today!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  158. RUTHY! You're not supposed to be eating them. You're supposed to be giving them away.

    We can't take our eyes off of her for a MINUTE!

    And, sooooooooooo cool. I bought a copy of LOVE ON A DIME!!! Cara's book was in Parables in Omaha yesterday. YAY!!!!!!!!!

    It's so beautiful. And I'm already reading it and loving it. Cara--girl, good job.

  159. I don't know what a forum is?

    Do we have one?

    The others might have created one and not told me.

    I get on their nerves.

  160. Since it's Cinco de Mayo, I've invited a Mariachi Band...Los provide music for our evening festivities.

    Ruthy, fireworks at dark, right?

    Did I miss the 5 PM drawing? Crossing my fingers for everyone to win.

    Darlene, so good to see you in Seekerville!

    Darlene is one-half of the dynamic Grammar Divas, as well as a wonderful cp and a dear friend!

  161. Okay, the winner of your choice from Debby Giusti's romanctic suspense books is...


    Holly, congratulations, ocean dweller!!!

    Gotta love a good mermaid!

    How fun that you stopped in and won.

    YAY, YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!


    We'll get ahold of you and cheer in person. Kind of.


  162. Yay, Janna!! I'm thrilled you've won a copy of The Substitute Bride. It's fun to get one of my books in front of a new reader. At least new to me. Sending you an e-mail for your snail address.

    Blessings, Janet

  163. Ooops, sorry about the romanctic, Debs....

    Dagnabbit, and I'm trying so hard to look radically cool.

    This is not easy for me, as you can see!

    Renee.... do you mean an online messaging room-type forum?

    Or a mission statement about how we'll boldly go where no group of 15 somewhat aging but really fun women have gone before???

    Because we've got the last one nailed.

    The former????


    Not so much.

    Mary, get on that, won't you dear??? Build us a forum.

  164. Congrats to all the winners.

  165. This will be my last post tonight, so let me answer a few remaining questions.

    Tina, if we had rejected the ms. previously, we would not want to see it again as a self-pubbed book, but if it was never sent to us to consider in any previous form and if it meets our guidelines, including wordcount, we would consider it. Please review our guidelines on

    Vince, We have no plans for any hardcover Steeple Hill books, POD or otherwise, but we do sell large print rights to Thorndyke and Center Point and I believe their editions are hardocver.

    Carla, and all the other authors I haven't yet met, I would love to meet you too! I'll be at RWA in 2011, and if you haven't met me then, be sure to do so then. I'm sorry I won't be at RWA this year, but I'll be rooting for Carla, who's deservedly a RITA finalist
    in 2 categories--inspirational and best first novel.

    Again, thanks for all your comments and affirmation. We feel very blessed to have so many wonderful writers writing books for us at Steeple Hill/Love Inspired,and we hope all you seekers will be joining them soon. Blessings, Joan

  166. Wow, you go away for a day and look what happens to Seekerville!

    Joan, thank you for answering so many questions.

    Ruthy, great interview, as always.

    Mary C. you slay me.

    Thank you to all the Seekers who have been so generous with giving away books, and congratulations to all the winners!

  167. Joan, thank you so much for your wonderful answers both to the interview and to our visitors today. You've made this a special day in Seekerville and this turnout is a tribute to you and Steeple Hill.

    And let me say again what a pleasure it is to work with you, write for you and the wonderful team that makes up Steeple Hill Books.

    We are blessed, for certain.

    Have a peaceful, blessed night!


  168. Ruth, I'm about halfway through Cara's book, Love on a Dime and I'm loving it so far so I think whoever wins it will be happy! :-)

    XOXO~ Renee






    Oh, no, we're partying in Seekerville and if anyone has questions for us about working for Steeple Hill or writing for Steeple Hill, please ask.

    We'll do our best to answer them.

    So... 6:00... The winner of either His Forever Family OR A Forever Christmas is....



    Sweetie, step to the back of the room (don't trip over anyone's feet, and feel free to nab some chocolate from the treats table...) and the gals at the courtesy desk will take care of you!!! (which means Missy will e-mail you, LOL!!!)


  170. Runner 10!!!

    Can you e-mail me at

    Pretty please????

  171. Erica, welcome, my sweet!!!

    Hey, girlfriend, did you bring food???

    We're waiting for the supper team to arrive with our late-day tea spread....

    I can't believe I'm still hungry.

  172. Joan, Thanks so much for joining us today. I'm late on so imagine you're home by now, but in case you get to this tomorrow, thanks again.

    We really enjoyed all the inside info and tips. Have a great week.

  173. Joan, Thanks so much for joining us today. I'm late on so imagine you're home by now, but in case you get to this tomorrow, thanks again.

    We really enjoyed all the inside info and tips. Have a great week.

  174. Oooh! The supper van just pulled up. Had it catered ALL the way from New Mexico, Zuni mountains.

    We've got zesty Enchilada Pie and warm sopapillas dripping with honey. We have authentic southwestern Indian bread, baked on stones and stuffed with meat, cheese, pinto beans, mild green chilis. Mexican rice on the side.

    Crispy corn chips with homemade cheese sauce and chunky picante sauce for dippin'.

    Also, little colorful sombrero-shaped cookies for dessert.

    Eat up!


  175. Cheryl!!!




    And we have another winner!!!!

    Oh, yes we do, if we can pull her away from the supper wagon!

    How exciting!!!!

    And the 7:00 winner of a "Sushi" book written and donated by our very own Camy Tang (aka "the Camster")...


    Jenna (not the Janna we had earlier, we've all got that straight, right??? Jenna Victoria is looking for a critique partner. Janna has the cute baby in her arms...)

    Congratulations, Sweet Thang!!!!!

    Hooray for you! And us! Thanks for coming over today, playing with us.

    And come on back anytime. We're not all that smart, but feel free to pick our brains about stuff. We'll share.

    And we've got great food.


  176. Thank you so much, Joan for sharing the tips you did. I am a long time reader of Steeple Hill books as well as a wishful writer! Have a blessed day!

  177. Wow, what an interview! I really appreciate that Joan would take time from her busy schedule to offer up all that great information. Thank you.

  178. I came very late to the party, but learned so much from the posts and replies. Very informative. Thanks ladies!

  179. HI DARLENE! Hasn't Blogger been torturing you? That was the rumor I heard but obviously you and Blogger are now besties because they let you in.


    We're going to be a much classier blog now.

  180. Blogger's had some issues this afternoon, I've heard.

    I'm sorry about that, guys!!!

    But I'm glad you made it 'in'...

    and oh, welcome!

    And aren't you totally loving the time Joan took to answer those questions (gulp.... waaaaay too many in retrospect...)

    And how gracious she is????

    Gotta love her!!! And Steeple Hill.

    Solid stuff.

    Kathy, Carrie and Debbie!!!

    So nice to have you guys here!

    And we're getting close to picking a winner for Tina's offering for today...

    The Art of War for Writers!!!

    Ah, I know there's a bunch of you guys waiting on that one!!!


    And then the Cara-First-Book train rolls through alongside the Wings of Refuge express offered by Cheryl Wyatt.

    Great food, Cheryl-kins. Lovin' it!!!

  181. Thank you for the great interview. It was very informative. A lot of information to take in. :) I'll have to reread it again. I can't wait to see where the future of this line goes. I'm really getting into the suspense line right now. I love the protecting the witness series too.

    cynthiakchow (at) earthlink (dot) net

  182. Gee I started reading these comments and I'm into a new hour by the time I finished. But at least I got here in time for the mariachi band!

    This was an amazing day. Thanks Ruthy and Joan and all the commenters.

    Ruthy you must be exhausted!

    debraemarvin (at) yahooo

  183. Sorry I am late with the tea.

    To make it up to you all I am bringing after dinner coffee, and tea...and a dessert tray.

    Pignoli, chocolate and almond biscotti, roccoco, crescents, canali and amaretti.

    And we have some lovely tiramisu on the tray..quantities limited.

  184. It's been great to read the interview and all the helpful questions and answers.

    Love Inspired books are exactly that: 'inspirational!' and it's exciting to hear about all the future continuity series that are planned. I also love the originality of settings and eras in this line. :-)

    Thanks again ladies!


  185. Deb and Cynthia, so glad you got here!!!!

    I know, what a hoot.

    And I love some of the cool comments, the questions, the totally awesome visitors, some new, some well-established with Seeker-ville-mentality about let's just do it!!!

    Get it out there, fix it up, get 'er done!

    Okay, we need a winner of Tina's amazing book The Art of War for Writers: Fiction Writing Strategies, Tactics, and Exercises by James Scott Bell...

    Oh my stars, this is a great book. A great strategy...

    And I love the name: The Art of War..."

    Oh, yeah. Prepare. Strategize. Defend. Offend.


    I've got that last down pat, LOL!!!

    And here we go!!!
    Donated by our own Tina Russo Radcliffe, whose debut novel will be released by Steeple Hill Books in January '11, the winner is:

    Denice Stewart!!!!!

    YAY!!!! Denice!!!! Congratulations, sweetness!!!! How totally awesome!

    If you've never read James Scott Bell or had the opportunity to do a workshop with him or on his methods, this stuff is amazing.

    Tina will be in touch with you!


  186. Ruthy, I'm definitely talking about the message board.

    Thank you for putting this together it was a fun, informative day. It's great when anyone in the publishing industry can step away from their busy schedules and answer our questions.

  187. Tina, the tea is lovely.

    Just lovely. And I could do with a bit of relaxing about now, except....





    HELEN GRAY!!!!







    Thank you so much for being part of our day, our fun with Joan Marlow Golan.

    And be sure to help yourself to tea. And biscotti.

    And I think a pillow somewhere close has my name on it, calling softly....

    ruthy.... ruthy.... ;)

  188. Hi Kids, I'm back! Whew what a day to be in meetings and miss all the Seekerville fun!

    Look at all the partying going on! Cinco de Mayo is alive and well!

    Okay, pass the enchiladas. I missed the seafood express, I'm not going to miss the Mariaci band : )

  189. Ruthy:


    I just got in from church and saw your message that I won Cara's debut book. Yes, I'll be happy to let you know what I think.

    Right now I think I'm happy to be a winner.

    I needed a pick-me-up.

    Just read that the conference has been moved to Orlando. Doubt that I'll get to make it now.


    helengray AT boycomonline DOT com

  190. WHOA, BABY, what a turnout!!! I've been out all day and come back to 191 comments???? HOLY COW!! STEEPLE HILL ROCKS!!

    And, HOLLY, you sweet thing ... you finish one of my books in a day??? Evelyn Woods has nothing on you, girl!! :)

    Congrats, CHARITY, on winning one of the Daughters of Boston books!

    Great interview, Ruthy and Joan, and a great day on the blog.


  191. Great job, Ruthy!!!

    Special thanks to our honorary guest, Joan Marlow Golan!

    And to Emily Rodmell for stopping by with info on the continuity lineup!

    The day was so much fun!!! Whoo-hoo!!!

    Congrats to all the winners! Okay, that's everyone who visits Seekerville, right? But special congrats to those who won in the drawing. Julie and Holly, I sent you an email--so glad you won during my hours!

    The party isn't over yet...grab some food, a cool beverage and enjoy the fireworks and mariachi band.

  192. Thank you for the interview and overview, Joan! It was great to learn more about Steeple Hill! May we enjoy many more uplifting stories from this wonderful imprint!

  193. Joan and Emily! So great to have you with us today!

    Can I wrap up a doggie bag of chocolates for you??

  194. Well, I'd say Seekerville overflowed the Island. So many people today we could form a human chain and escape to the mainland.

    Look Out Publishing World!!! LOL

  195. Joan, I'll never forget the comment you made to Audra. And now she's one of LI's newest authors.

    Great interview, insight, and honesty!

    Leslie Ann aka LA from Five Scribes

  196. Glad to see the party continued once I crashed.

    And you guys are great at clean up. I've got some boys that could take lessons from the bunch o' youse.

    Key word: boys.


    In the aftermath of a mid-week party is often some let down, however....

    Seekerville is totally psyched to be part of the incoming wave of Christian fiction, on board to swarm the shores with romance on fire for God and celebrating MOST of the differences between men and women.

    We all understand that, right???

    No offense, Walt and Vince. :)

  197. I'm arriving late...was gone yesterday to teach Bible Study and do my normal Wednesday things.

    Thank you for much for blogging with Seekerville today and thank you for such interesting information. We all appreciate your honesty.
    Sandy Elzie

  198. Hi All:

    This was a great day. And I can't pass up being number 200! Wow!