Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Seekerville Welcomes Emily Rodmell!!!

It's a pleasure and honor to have Steeple Hill Assistant Editor Emily Rodmell with us in Seekerville today!

Emily is sharing a lot of great information about publishing and special insider tips on how to catch an editor’s eye. She promises to stop by, as her busy schedule permits, to answer questions and is also providing one lucky winner with a complete set of September Love Inspired Suspense books!

We’ll be doing hourly giveaways from 9 A.M. until 4 P.M. Leave a comment and your email address to be included. The drawing for Emily’s very generous gift of four Love Inspired Suspense books will be held at 5 P.M., and everyone who provides an email address will be eligible to win, including those who may have won earlier in the day.

Emily is a wonderful editor with a knack for knowing how to make a good story even better. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in journalism and also attended the New York University Summer Publishing Institute. Prior to her position at Steeple Hill, she worked at the publisher Scholastic and as a newspaper editor for several daily newspapers. Emily admits that she still misses the sunny Florida weather and lives for summer days she can spend lounging in Central Park with a good book—hopefully, a Seeker book!

Please join me in welcoming Emily to Seekerville...

Happy birthday, Seekerville. My name is Emily Rodmell, and I’m the assistant editor for Harlequin’s three inspirational lines: Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired Historical. I have the pleasure of working with some of the Seeker authors, including Debby Giusti, who asked me to drop by today to talk with you all and to share some details with you about my job and offer some tips on writing for the Love Inspired lines.

At the Love Inspired lines, we currently put out 12 books a month. Love Inspired, which is our contemporary romance line, publishes 6 books a month. Love Inspired Suspense, which is our contemporary romantic suspense line, puts out 4 books a month. And Love Inspired Historical, our historical romance line currently puts out 2 books a month, but we’re very excited that starting in January 2011, the line will be expanding to 4 books a month.

While many people have the perception that the life of an editor is glamorous, we’re really just regular people who go to work every day in an office. We drink lots of coffee (or in my case frappuccinos) and sit at our desks and computers for many hours just like your average accountant or bookkeeper. The only difference is that instead of working with numbers or lists, we have the privilege of working with books. I think most editors would tell you that they love going to work because it’s awesome to get paid for doing something you love--reading. But our jobs entail much more than that.

In any given year, I can be responsible for shepherding 40-50 books through the production process. That includes acquiring the books, figuring out titles, liaising with the art department, working with the author on revisions, editing the book (with occasional help from freelance editors), checking copy edits and typesets and collecting material such as dedications and discussion questions.

I’m also the “continuity coordinator” for all three lines, which means I conceptualize and work with the authors on our popular multi-author series such as: Alaskan Bride Rush, Alaskan Brides, Texas Ranger Justice, Protecting the Witnesses and After the Storm.

All the editors at Harlequin are considered “acquiring editors”. That means a big part of our jobs is acquiring manuscripts that we can publish. Harlequin is a great place for new writers to start out as we’re one of the few publishers that does not require an agent to submit. And the Love Inspired lines are definitely seeking both published and unpublished fresh voices for all three lines. So send us your stories. 

The photo of the Steeple Hill editorial staff (below) was taken at City Hall Park across from the Steeple Hill office. (L to R: Editorial Assistant Rachel Burkot, Assistant Editor Elizabeth Mazur, Senior Editor Melissa Endlich, Executive Editor Joan Marlow Golan, Assistant Editor Emily Rodmell, Senior Editor Tina James)

Last year we acquired 15 new authors across the three lines, and we’ve already topped that number this year. In my years with the company, I’ve brought in 16 new-to-Love Inspired authors and have had the privilege of working with them and the fabulous group of veteran authors I inherited from my predecessors. I’m always looking for the next great manuscript, and it could be yours. If you want to get an idea of what type of books caught my eye and made it out of the slush/contest/author appointment/agent submission piles, check out 15 of those authors’ first books they wrote for us. I’ve listed them below.

Her Unlikely Family by your very own Missy Tippens. (Missy was the first author I acquired--ever--and will always hold a special place in my heart for that.) Love Inspired.
Lethal Deception by Lynette Eason for Love Inspired Suspense.
Killer Cargo by Dana Mentink for Love Inspired Suspense.
Return to Love by Betsy St. Amant for Love Inspired.
Dead Ringer by Sharon Dunn for Love Inspired Suspense.
Double Take by Jenness Walker for Love Inspired Suspense
Survival Instinct by Rachelle McCalla for Love Inspired Suspense.
On Wings of Love by Kim Watters for Love Inspired.
Soaring Home by Christine Johnson (coming Nov. 2010) for Love Inspired Historical.
Montana Hearts by Charlotte Carter (coming Dec. 2010) for Love Inspired.
The Unexpected Bride by Debra Ullrick (coming May 2011) for Love Inspired Historical.
Instant Daddy by Carol Voss (coming May 2011) for Love Inspired.
Marrying Miss Marshal by Lacy Williams (coming August 2011) for Love Inspired Historical.
Freezing Point by Elizabeth Goddard (coming October 2011) for Love Inspired Suspense.
The Outlaw's Secret (tentative title) by Karen Kirst (coming September 2011) for Love Inspired Historical. I had the pleasure of offering Karen her first contract yesterday, so she's very new to the LIH family.

All these books started as a query or a proposal from an author I didn’t know (or their agent) and caught my attention in some way. Books don’t have to be perfect for us to buy them—in fact most manuscripts often need revisions before they’re ready for publication. But a great story and a great voice can trump a few typos or plot issues. I’m always willing to work with writers to fix any issues as long as there is something about the story that really makes me want to keep reading. The only thing that is hard to overcome is a boring manuscript. If I don’t want to keep reading, our readers won’t want to keep reading. So if chapter one doesn’t engage me, I won’t get to chapter two. But if you can inspire me to not be able to put down your book until the end, you’re on your way to a shot at writing for us.

Since so many of you are aspiring writers, I’d like to offer you a few writing tips to help you better target your submissions whether you’re aiming for the Love Inspired lines or for another publisher.

Read the guidelines and do your homework. This is the most important advice I can give to authors. Our guidelines are available on our website at http://www.eharlequin.com/. If you’re targeting us, or any other publisher for that matter, the first thing you should do before submitting is read the submission guidelines. The second thing is to read the books that the line publishes. I can’t tell you how many submissions I get a year, where it is completely obvious that the submitter has no idea what we publish. We’re a romance imprint. So romance must be the focus of your manuscript. If you send in poetry or literary fiction or a family saga, you’re wasting your time. We’re also an inspirational imprint, so a sexy, paranormal story isn’t going to work for us. Love Inspired Suspense is a romantic suspense imprint, so if you send in a cozy mystery, it won’t work. Reading the books will give you a feel for the tone of any line and should be the first step of any writer who wants to work with us.

Write what you know. While part of the joy of writing can be living out a fantasy by exploring things that are exciting and outside of the realm of your everyday life, it is important to make sure that you’re knowledgeable about your topics and settings. If you live in a small town in the Midwest, it’s probably not a good idea to set your book in a place like New York City unless you’ve visited extensively (and to be honest, our readers tend to prefer small towns anyway). Or if you’re writing a book about medical professionals, basing your medical setting or actions solely on what you see on Grey’s Anatomy probably isn’t the way to go. Any city or job or setting is going to have its own quirks (and readers who live there or work in that field will be oh so happy to point out your mistakes), so it’s always best to write what you know.

Write what you love. Your story is going to shine if you’re passionate about it. If you’re trying to write something you don’t like but are doing it because it’s popular, that’s going to show up in your story. We want to see stories that writers love writing, not stories that are simply chasing a popular trend. If you don’t love what you’re writing, neither will readers.

Be original. The Love Inspired lines are looking for a very specific type of story, but my greatest thrill is finding a story that fits into what we publish, but does it in a unique way. Let me give you some examples from our Love Inspired Suspense line.

In March of 2009, I bought author Rachelle McCalla’s debut book, Survival Instinct. Now Love Inspired Suspense thrives on stories of law enforcement heroes and heroines in danger. It’s the bread and butter of the line, and we have a lot of really talented authors who do that type of story. But I read a lot of them, so when I got a query about an ordinary hero and heroine abandoned on a deserted island who had to find their way back and then unravel a diamond smuggling ring, I took notice. It was a unique idea that still fit into what we published. That got me excited. The same goes for Jenness Walker’s debut LIS Double Take about a heroine who is a cover model for a thriller novel and finds that someone is reenacting the book out on her. And for an example of upcoming, unique editorial from one of our veteran authors, check out Dana Mentink’s book Turbulence, in which the hero and heroine survive a plane crash and find that was the easiest part of their day. The person who caused it won’t give up until he or she finishes them off.

Make sure your book has a definable plot and hooks. Writers often focus too much on back story and give the actual plot short shrift. Make sure your book has an interesting, compelling conflict that drives the story—something more than just “they meet and fall in love”. If you can’t describe the hooks or essence of your actual story (not the back story) in one or two sentences (like I just did for Survival Instinct, Double Take and Turbulence above), then you probably need to take a hard look at your conflict and plot.

Do revisions if requested. This might seem obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a manuscript or proposal that had potential but wasn’t quite there, and I wrote the author a detailed revision letter offering to take a second look at the story if they revised it and then never heard back from them again. I often wondered if they realized how close they could have been to publication. Did they think I was just being polite? If I offer encouragement, it’s because I’m interested in the book. Now this doesn’t guarantee publication. But if one book doesn’t work, maybe the next one will, and building a relationship and showing me that you’re willing to work with us can go a long way. Many people have tackled daunting revisions and gone on to great careers. I bought author Lynette Eason’s first book after telling her to chop 30,000 words off of it. Talk about daunting. But she’s gone on to sell more than a dozen books to us and some to another publisher as well. Revising can pay off.

And since most of Seekerville is published now days and you have a lot of published guests, here are a couple tips for published authors.

• Keep growing in your craft even after you’re published. While it’s awesome to read craft books and attend workshops and have critique partners before you’re published, it’s equally important to be constantly learning and growing after you’re published as well. If you want to have a long career, don’t rest on your laurels. Everyone has room to improve, and the market is always changing. Make sure you’re moving forward instead of standing still.

• Don‘t underestimate the importance of marketing. Often times for a first book, an author will go all out. Blog tours, book signings, newspaper interviews, etc. But by the fifth book, they barely remember to update their website with new information. If you don’t get excited about your books and get out there to promote them, then how can you expect readers to be excited about them? Also, try to think outside the box when it comes to marketing your books. Rather than relying only on book review blogs and online interviews for your marketing plan, also try to get your book in the hands of people who wouldn’t ordinarily read it. For instance, if you live near a military base maybe consider donating books or talking to a group of military spouses about your writing. The same could be said for hospitals, retirement homes, schools or any other number of organizations. Today’s junior high English classes are full of the readers of tomorrow. And personally handing someone a book can be your greatest opportunity for cultivating a lifelong reader.
I hope this has been helpful to you all, and I hope that whether you’ve published 15 books or zero that you’ll consider the Love Inspired lines when you write your next manuscript. We’re eagerly awaiting your submissions. I’ll be around today if you have any questions about writing for the Love Inspired lines or about editing or acquisitions in general. I also have a thread on the eHarlequin message boards at http://community.eharlequin.com/forums/steeple-hill/editors-corner-chat-emily-rodmell where I occasionally drop in to answer questions about submitting, so feel free to pop in there if you come up with any questions in the future.


Thanks, Emily, for being so generous with your time and information. The Seekers and Seeker Friends greatly appreciate you being with us today.

The coffee bar is open courtesy of Starbuck’s and the buffet includes their breakfast treats—Egg Frittata on Artisan Roll, Huevos Rancheros Wrap, Cheese Danish, Blueberry Scones, Banana Nut Loaf and more--so fill your plate and grab a cup of your favorite brew as we chat with Emily.

Be sure to leave a comment and your email to be entered in the hourly drawings -- 9 A.M. to 4 P.M -- with the mega giveaway from Emily of four Love Inspired Suspense books at 5 P.M. A list of the winners will be posted in the Weekend Editon on Sunday!

Contact Seekerville through seekers@seekerville.net, if you are a winner, to provide your snail mail address.  Please note our giveaway rules in the right lower column of Seekerville.


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Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

Hi Emily! I'm excited to see that LI is publishing 4 historicals each month! Woohoo! I LOVE all the Love Inspired books though since I'm short on cash $5.50 is a great price for a reader like me!


Tina Russo Radcliffe said...


Welcome to Seekerville, Emily.

Thanks for being such an informative and generous birthday party guest.

(we'll invite you to all our parties now that we know how cool you are.)

Amber S. said...

This was such a great post! Thank you so much for all the information, Emily! (By the way, I love the name! My sister's name is Emily.) :)

Being an editor sounds like a lot of work, but it sounds wonderful, too! Right now I'm an English major at Corban University, and it is my hope to get involved in the Christian publishing business. My dream is to be a novelist, but I have a passion for editing and the whole process of publication, as well. I love blogging, and coordinating blog tours, author interviews, etc. would be so amazing! :D

Anyway, thank you again for the tips for writers and for the information about your own job. I have to ask: what sort of education did you have in order to get your job? Did you have to go on to get your Masters degree? And what did you major in? I would LOVE to know, because I kind of want to know how far I need to go in my schooling and what areas I need to be sure to study in order to qualify for a job like yours. :)

Oh, and I would love a chance at the giveaways, too! Thank you!



Project Journal said...

Hey Emily!
It's so nice to see you over here in Seekerville today!! You've been visiting us at Goodreads, which has been a lot of fun! It's reassuring to know that you all really do want to know what your readers want : )

I'm with Renee, the whole 4 historicals each month is a VERY exciting thought!!

I'm a college student, so cash is SUPER tight for me, like everyone else. It's great to know that we can get exceptional quality books that are good for the soul at a pretty good price : ) It's just tough to see the prices go up. I know at our Walmart (the only place I have to buy them) they just went up about a dollar. I know it's not much, but a dollar's a dollar. Where I used to spend between $10-15 for four books, I'm now spending closer to $20. I know you can't do anything because you have to make a profit and in the long run, I want the authors to get a fair share. It's just difficult on the wallet I guess when I don't have any kind of steady income (can't continue my job because I'm too far away and I didn't get any of the work study positions I applied for), it's hard. Lol....

Okay well I'll stop complaining now

: P

Have to head to bed, I have an EARLY class in the morning!! So, unfortunately I'll miss at least two of the drawings due to class : ( BUMMER! But at least I'm not missing the whole time. Thanks again Pepper for filling in for me last time : )
Talk to you later!

Amber S. said...

P.S. Do Harlequin and the "Love Inspired" lines offer any internships? This is my junior year, so I think I'm getting close to prime time for applying for internships. :D


Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

I have to throw one random..really really random thing in here.

I just watched the movie See, Jane Date, based on the book by Melissa Senate former Harlequin editor.

It certainly made me think differently about an editor's job.

I thought you guys just went from power lunch to power lunch, like we eat bon bons while writing, lol.

Walt M said...

Emily, great to see you in Seekerville. Though I love all three of the LI lines, I’m particularly fond of LIH and am looking forward to when you expand to four titles a month.

I note that LIH is seeking both Biblical fiction and missionary stories. Would a story set in mid-first century India interest you? The hero, a Roman citizen, is traveling with Thomas, supporting his missionary activities in India when Thomas is framed and imprisoned for a theft. The heroine, the daughter of a local official and betrothed to another official’s son, hates Romans but hates injustice more. After unwittingly destroying the evidence that would have freed Thomas, she agrees to work with the hero to prove Thomas’s innocence. Neither of them realize that those behind the set-up will not stop with their plans, even if it results in the both their deaths and the death of the holy man.

cynthia said...

Thank you for all the great tips for aspiring writers. They are very helpful. It's interesting to hear about the different types of stories that do well.
Thanks for the chance to win from the giveaways today.
cynthiakchow (at) earthlink (dot) net

Nicole Zoltack said...

Hi Emily. I really enjoyed your post. I love that Harlequin doesn't require agents.

Elizabeth@In Pursuit of His Excellence said...

Hi Emily! Thanks for all the wonderful information! It's awesome! I just realized I do have a question! I'm a New Zealander - but my dream is to be published in America. Would you ever be interested in books set in New Zealand? Seeing that is what I know! :)
I might just catch the last few drawings when I get up in the morning. It's 7pm on the 5th here - we are 18 hours ahead of most of you! :)

Elizabeth@In Pursuit of His Excellence said...

Maybe I'm still confused - perhaps it's 17 hours! ;D Or maybe it depends on who posts the Seekerville posts! Julie Lessman knows how out of the loop I am as she helped me sort out the correct NZ time for her FB party on Friday! Finally got it sorted, thanks to her wonderful patience!!

Anyway, I would love to win one of the LI books!!

e dot johnsen at clear dot net dot nz

Dianna Shuford said...

Emily, thanks for all the good info. I grew up reading silhouette/harlequin books, and as a result have always loved reading (& writing) romance. The Love Inspired lines are perfect for me because they're shorter contemporary books at an affordable price. I can also let my teenage daughter read them without worrying about the content.

What is the number one mistake you see new authors making that keeps the Love Inspired lines from acquiring their manuscripts? I'm looking to query Steeple Hill in the near future so being proactive in the areas I'm messing up is paramount for me. :)


Helen Gray said...

Here's the coffee pot!!


Great to have you here. This is an encouraging post. Thanks for:

1. Being so open to subissions.
2. Sharing that manuscripts don't have to be perfect--but fixable.
3. The Tips Lists


helengray AT boycomonline DOT com

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Emily, you made that post so chock full of information and inspiration that I'm printing it off to hang alongside my computer. And I love that pic of you guys in the park!!! I'm going to print that one and hang it in my office.

Talk about spot-on advice! Huge thank yous for being here, for taking a bunch of us off Unpubbed Island (I'm still washing sand out of my hair) and I'm sending huge, sincere thank yous to the entire Steeple Hill staff. These editors and assistant editors aren't afraid to talk you through anything, to work with you, counsel, advise, laugh. I cannot invent a better experience and I'm a WRITER, for pete's sake, so yes, take Emily's advice and submit, submit, submit...

Loving the coffee, fresh, perfect! And Emily and I share a love of frappuccinos. Yum.

And I LOVE going to NYC, browsing, visiting, hangin' out. Next year, RWA: NYC and Harlequin. SWEET!

Ausjenny said...

Hi Emily I am the one from the goodreads LIH forum.
Love what you wrote and although I am not a writer I did find it interesting.
Can I ask what is the difference from a Suspense and a cozy mystery?
I have read a few of the suspense books and have loved them. I love the other lines also and am loving the Alaskan Brides series (Have 2 on order the last two will be a bit late) Its cheaper for me to buy from america than to buy here in Australia where they are about $9 but come about 2 months after launch date. and then only in the city.
I have quite a few books on the bookshelf to read and have a friend in the states who sends me a couple every so often.

Hey Elizabeth what time is Julies party for you on Friday? im about 2 and a half hours behind you (unless you didn't start daylight savings on sunday then its one and a half hours)
ausjenny at gmail dot com.

Debby Giusti said...

Good morning, Seekerville!!!

Helen, thanks for taking care of the coffee pot. Starbuck's is setting up their breakfast bar and providing frappuchino's in honor of Emily.

Great questions from everyone!

Crystal Laine Miller said...

Seekerville continues to be a great source of information with so many great guests. Happy birthday, Seekerville! Thanks, Emily, for such a packed blog.

I have to admit, I'm always up for a Steeple Hill prize--part of the reason for posting....

I also am interested in how you decide on your continuing series. Do you do research on what your readers would be interested in concerning setting? Both Dry Creek and Mule Hollow are series I've read and they definitely are part of the "hook" for me.

Does the story come in first and you decide to make that setting a series? Or do you decide on the setting and then find an author or a story to fit into that setting? What brings it all together?

Thanks so much being available today! Love all the lines at Steeple Hill and am a long time reader. Am really pleased you are expanding your LIH line. Will you do "setting" series in that line, too?

Walt M said...

Just realized that I forgot to leave my e-mail address.


Debby Giusti said...

Seems everyone loves reading Steeple Hill books. Great reads at a good price!

Debby Giusti said...

Everyone who leaves an email and is eligible to win will be included in the following drawings:

9 AM Drawing:
Made to Order Family by Ruth Logan Herne
IOU ~The Rancher’s Reunion by Tina Radcliffe

10 AM Drawing:
Protecting Her Child by Debby Giusti and $10 Starbuck’s Gift Card
God’s Spirit Within Me by Sandy Wardman (AKA Sandra Leesmith) and Carole Frankel

11 AM Drawing:
One Imperfect Christmas by Myra Johnson
IOU ~ Rocky Mountain Hero by Audra Harders

12 noon Drawing:
The Substitute Bride by Janet Dean
IOU ~ Rocky Mountain Hero by Audra Harders

1 PM Drawing
Countdown to Death by Debby Giusti and $10 Starbuck’s Gift Card
God’s Spirit Calls Me by Sandy Wardman (AKA Sandra Leesmith) and Carole Frankel

2 PM Drawing
Waiting Out the Storm by Ruth Logan Herne
Carol Award Winner ~ Cowboy Christmas by Mary Connealy

3 PM Drawing
IOU ~The Rancher’s Reunion by Tina Radcliffe
Courting the Doctor's Daughter by Janet Dean

4 PM Drawing
Dreaming of Home by Glynna Kaye
His Forever Love by Missy Tippens

5 PM Drawing
Emily’s generous gift of the four September Love Inspired Suspense books to one lucky winner! All those who comment and leave their email—even those who win earlier in the day—will be included in the 5 PM Mega Drawing.

Debby Giusti said...

Tina Radcliffe, our wonderful Web Mistress and Steeple Hill author --Tina's debut novel, THE RANCHER'S REUNION, will be out in Jan 2011 --
just provided another prize.

Tina is adding a Steeple Hill book of the winner's choice to the 4 PM drawing.

Thanks, Tina!!

Julie Hilton Steele said...

First, what a wonderful post. I would like to thank you and the rest of the staff for bringing so much pleasure to my reading life!

You answered a lot of the questions I had. It surprised me that you don't hear back from people who need revisions.

Finally, thank you for giving us new authors to anticipate in the future.

Peace, Julie

Ausjenny said...

You may not want to hear this but I picked up about 13 book when I was in Melbourne in July for $1 each. most were from last year (we are about 2 -3 months behind)
I do enjoy the LI lines.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Ausjenny!

Thanks for being such a loyal reader. Elizabeth too!!!

Caroline said...

Hi, Emily.

Thanks for all the great information. One can tell from your post that you LOVE your job...that is wonderful for you and for us!

God Bless.


PS-HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Seekerville!!!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Seekerville!

I wanted to drop in to say hi to Emily and Debby and the rest of you. Ruth, I'm already counting down the days until we get to go to RWA in New York!

Laura Scott
The Christmas Rescue LIS 11/10

Lynette Eason said...

Happy Birthday Seekerville! And Hi Emily. Great post! Thanks for sharing your wisdom. And yes, cutting 30,000 words (1/3 of the book) was VERY daunting. You know the first thing I thought when I saw that? "She's crazy!" LOL. And I set it aside for about a month without doing anything with it, but it kept drawing at me until finally I told myself I COULD do it. Sat down. Did all the revisions requested in about a week. And submitted. And I'm SOOOOO glad I did. And I'm beyond thankful to you, Emily, for taking a chance on me. And thanks for the mention here. I love being used as an example. (um...a good one.) Okay, enough of the sappy stuff.

So, if you potential Steeple Hill writers get that revision letter that looks overwhelming, just tell yourself you can do it--then do it.

It's worth it!


Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Yes, had to add a book because, TINA CAN'T COUNT.

Off to watch Sesame Street.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Laura and Lynette,
Thanks for stopping by.

Lynette, thanks for letting us know you gulped when you got Emily's instructions to cut 30,000 words in your story and then got the job done.

Hope you've inspired other Steeple Hill-interested writers to follow any suggestions provided by wonderful editors like Emily and then resubmit!!!!

Kirsten Arnold said...

Thank you for such an informative post. You answered many of the questions I had, but I still have a couple.
1.) I recently took a course and the instructor told me that many editors don’t like the heroine to have what’s considered a man’s name (i.e. Charlie). I was a bit shocked since so many women today have what was traditionally considered male names and some are even named after their fathers. I asked a writer friend if she’d heard this and she hadn’t and had just finished a book where the heroine’s name was Bret. Is this something that editors frown upon, or as long as it fits the story and character is it okay?
2.) How much passion between the hero and heroine is allowed in a Love Inspired Suspense? I read the guidelines regarding all love scenes offstage (not a problem) but is there a strict “these characters kiss too much” policy? Or if it fits their personalities and the story do you let the characters and author decide how much passion goes into a story?

Thanks again!

Glynna Kaye said...

Welcome, Emily! So good to meet you for the first time at the Steeple Hill Late Night Chat at ACFW this year! (I met Tina last year--now only have my OWN editor, Melissa, to meet!) Putting out that many books a year is a HUGE job for you editors. Thanks so much for joining us today with such helpful info!

Jennifer Faye said...

Great interview!!! Thanks for being here. The LIS line is awesome!!!

Question - I've heard it said that it hurts a new writer to submit to numerous lines that you should focus on the one line where you can see yourself writing 40 or so books. What if you enjoy numerous lines but aren't sure where your voice fits best? Is it okay to write different stories for two lines and keep submitting until something sticks since each submission is entered into the HQ and tracked? Or is this frowned upon by the editors?

Debby Giusti said...

Amber...we'd love seeing you land a publishing job after graduation. You'd request submissions from all Seekers and Seeker friends, right?

Hannah, get to class and don't worry about the drawings. Your name is in the pool! We'll let you know if you win.

Crystal, you asked how a Steeple Hill series is created. I pitched my Magnolia Medical series and got the go ahead from the editors. For my new Military Investigations series, which will start with THE OFFICER'S SECRET in May, Emily asked if I'd be interested in writing about military crime investigators. Since my dad, hubby and son are all military guys, I said YES!!!!

Emily handles the continuities. She comes up with the story lines and asks various authors to write one of the books in the series. Tough job! Lots of work editing all those stories! Don't know how she does it!

Jennifer Faye said...

Oops. Guess I was supposed to leave an email address for the drawing.


KC Frantzen said...

Welcome Emily. Splendid photos. And amazing info.

Thank you for specifically mentioning books to military folks. We help with Joni and Friends Wounded Warrior Getaway. They are the only ones I know of who invite the entire family free of charge for a long weekend of physical and Christ-centered spiritual refreshment. It's such an honor to volunteer to help these hero families. Thanks to the Seekers who continue to exhibit Grace in providing books for them.

Walt, your story sounds intriguing!

Thank you again Emily for such an info-packed post.

And yum Debbie-good breakfast this AM. Month-long party before the holidays... ;)

May at maythek9spy dot com

KC Frantzen said...

Oops too. D-e-b-b-y. (Have 3 special Debs with 3 special spellings!)

Patty said...

Hi Emily! It was great meeting you at the ACFW conference last month along with all the SH authors. You and Tina gave all of us newbie authors a wonderful welcome! I still get teary-eyed thinking about seeing my LIH on the bookshelves next summer!

Thanks again,
Patty Smith Hall

Digging for Pearls said...

Thanks for the information Emily. I was wondering what draws your attention the most with a cover letter and synopsis? What makes you say, "I want to see more?"

Jodie Wolfe

Audra Harders said...

Good morning, Emily! Welcome to Seekerville. So glad we now have the chance to cluster around you on our home turf rather than elbow to elbow conferences : )

Talk about a post packed with information. Thank you for being so open to the do's and don'ts of submitting to Love Inspired.

I'm so glad you pointed out the manuscripts with twists that caught your eye. Reading the lines you're targeting is important, but thanks for including the importance of personal flair.

I grew up reading Harl/Sil romance. I can't believe I'm now and author for the publishing house I adore!

Thanks for all your insight, Emily!

Debby! Great breakfast buffet! I'll grab a fritatta before running off to work!

Emily Rodmell said...

Good morning everyone,

Wow. You guys are early birds here at Seekerville. I'm happy to be celebrating with you today. It's cloudy and rainy today in NYC, so it's nice to come to a party first thing in the morning. :)

I'll do my best to answer as many questions as I can today, but I will probaly inevitably miss some. But maybe some of the Love Inpired lines' authors can chime in if I can't get to everything.

Emily Rodmell

Linnette R Mullin said...

Hi, Emily! Thanks for taking a day of your time for us. I'm just under 38,000 WC on my first novel and have been praying about agents and publishers. I've reviewed your guidelines. They are much the way I remembered. Do we submit the manuscript on-line or do you prefer paper manuscripts? Whichever you prefer, where would I send it to?

Also, I've posted the first few chapters on-line as a pre-marketing tool to hook readers. Is that a problem? I've seen other authors do it and thought it must be ok. If you think it would hinder me getting published, I'll remove the chapters.

Thanks for your helpful advice and your encouragement.

lr (dot) mullin (at)live (dot) com


Kav said...

Emily, thanks so much for sharing all that great information. Your enthusiasm is contagious!

Elizabeth has brought up a good question -- regarding whether the Love Inspired lines would accept manuscripts set in different countries. I am Canadian, and while I have set my wip in 'small town, North America' I think it would be fun to actually write about places I know. However, I don't think I've read a 'Love Inspired' that is set anywhere but in the states.

Also, would non-American writers be considered by Harlequin?

Pepper Basham said...

Welcome, Emily. How wonderful to have you here.
Thanks for all the important tips -and I REALLY appreciated you mentioned to:
Write what you know
Write what you love

when I first started writing about the Blue Ridge Mtns of Virginia & Tennessee I thought I'd have 1 to 2 really good story ideas - but every place has hundreds of stories hidden away in it, if you look hard enough :-)

I met with Tina James at ACFW and it was a great experience. She was very sweet and encouraging, and actively seeking. That's always a positive sign for aspiring authors ;-)

Emily Rodmell said...



I majored in journalism with a minor in English. English seems to be the most common major for people in publishing, but I also have colleagues with a wide variety of other unrelated majors. Internships and experience are the most important things you can get. Publishing is an apprenticeship business, which means that you basically learn the trade on the job. I don't think a Masters degree is needed. I certainly don't have one. But I did do several internships and attended a post-graduate summer publishing program at NYU.

We don't currently have an internship program at Harlequin. We used to though, so it's possible it will be revived.

For LIH, as long as the romance is the focus of the book, we're open to any setting or time period.

We're open to foreign settings such as New Zealand for our historical line, but we still prefer that stories for our contemporary lines be set in North America. However, I never say never. If someone sent me an absolutely fabulous book set in another country, I'd consider it.

Linnette R Mullin said...

Lynette, thanks for leaving such an encouraging comment!


Janet Dean said...

A huge welcome to Seekerville, Emily! I'm blessed to have had you as an editor, along with Melissa and Tina. You're all lovely people and great edtiors!!! Thanks for sharing tips on getting published at Steeple Hill. And the excellent ideas for marketing our books!

We're giving away loads of prizes as we celebrate birthday day #5!!


Emily Rodmell said...


The most common mistake new authors make is simply not knowing the lines. Reading the lines will give you not only an idea of what types of stories work for us, but also the tone of what we publish.


I'm excited for RWA in NY next year as well. Guess we'll have to clean up the office with all the authors coming to visit. ;)


Cozy mysteries tend to feature amateur sleuths solving minor crimes. Romantic suspence novels more of an "edge of your seat" danger. The hero or heroine might be running for their lives rather than trying to figure out who stole the town statue.


Thanks for inviting me. I see you've answered Crystal's question, and you were spot on. :) Most of the time the authors pitch their series, but sometimes we'll put an idea out there for them.

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Emily,
Help yourself to the coffee and breakfast bar!

We're so glad you're with us today.

It's almost time for the first drawing!!!!

Joanne Sher said...

Wow - look at the awesome advice :) Put me in the drawing - LOVE this place.

Debby Giusti said...

Drum roll please....

Our first winner is

Kirsten, you won Made to Order Family by Ruth Logan Herne and an IOU for The Rancher’s Reunion by Tina Radcliffe, which will be a Jan 2011 release.


Next drawing at 10AM! Leave your comment and email to be entered.

Kirsten Arnold said...


Thanks so much!


Linnette R Mullin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linnette R Mullin said...

Emily, what are your thoughts on a prologue that mentions only the heroine, but is less than 300 words and is? Hero shows up on page four of chapter one.

The reason I have the prologue is because I've been told that the reader needs more information to be able to sympathize with Beth and her decision to leave town. It might be possible to do without it, but I'd like to know what your thoughts are.



Kirsten Arnold said...

P.S. Debby, The Military Investigations series sounds very exciting. What a fascinating topic to write about!


Annie said...

Hi, Emily! How cute are you in all these pictures? Good to see your face and read your thoughts on Love Inspired.

Happy Birthday Seekerville.
annie jones

Pepper Basham said...

Oh wow, Emily & Debby,
I kind of like the idea of someone coming up with the idea and asking me if I could write about it.

I always thought the author had to come up with the ideas (I always seem to have plenty, btw), but I like the challenge of someone else posing an idea.


Charlotte said...

Today is such an exciting day! I am looking forward to the posting of all of today's winners!!!!! This is such an exciting month-long birthday party!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Julie Lessman said...

WOW ... what a meaty post, Emily!! Just reading it gets me revved to try my hand at the LI Historical line, which as a die-hard historical writer and reader, I LOVE!!

Thank you for taking the time to reach out to aspiring authors and published ones as well -- Love Inspired is truly a unique publisher to foster talent in such a broad and helpful way.

Have a blessed day!


P.S. Thanks to Elizabeth from N.Z. and Jenny from Australia for planning to attend my Facebook party!! It's actually on Thursday, Oct. 7 at 7:00 PM CST in the U.S., then Friday, Oct. 8 at 1:00 PM Auckland time for Elizabeth, and Friday, Oct. 8 at ll:00 AM Sydney time for Jenny. Thanks, guys!!

Emily Rodmell said...


We do prefer that character names are not androgynous. It makes for less confusion about which is the hero and which is the heroine on back cover copy.

We also generally prefer that authors focus on emotional tenderness in kissing scenes rather than passion. But it's a case by case thing. There's not a specific limit on the number of kissing scense.


Before you're published, you can submit to as many lines as you want (as long as you don't do send in more than one manuscript to the company at a time). However, after you publish, we do prefer tha you stick with one line to build your name and fan base.


You ask what makes me want to see more from a query. Basically, a great story, and good writing. If I'm intrigued by your idea, I'll ask to see more.


We do still ask for paper submissions through the mail. I know it's archaic, but that's the way it's still done at the moment.


We welcome foreign authors, but as I mentioned in an earlier comment, we do prefer that the contemporary lines be set in North America. Canada is acceptable.


Nice to see you. Congrats on the 4.5 stars Top Pick in RT for Their First Noel.


I hope you do decide to try your hand at LIH. Writing for the lines can be a great way for established authors to grow their fan base and get an extra book or two in the market each year.

Missy Tippens said...

Welcome, Emily! Thanks so much for sharing all about Steeple Hill! I'm still grateful every day that you found my manuscript and worked with me on it!

Y'all please take to heart her comment about revising if an editor gives feedback! Emily worked with me through two sets of revisions before she sent it to her senior editor recommending they buy it. I basically had two endings (had to cut one out). LOL And I think I had to chop off about 2k words. Had to make my hero's mother nicer. Cut a few scenes that didn't work well for LI. It was so nice to have an editor telling me what did or didn't work!

And I'm blessed to continue working with her. Thank you Emily for making my publishing dreams come true! :)

Vickie McDonough said...


Thanks for the detailed info on submitting books to the Steeple Hill lines. I'm also excited to see more historicals coming next year. I can't read enough of them. I'm thrilled that my friend Lacy Williams sold to y'all, and I'm anxious to read her book. She's such a sweetie and has worked hard.

It was great meeting you and Tina at the ACFW conference.

fictionfan1 [@] cox [dot] net

Margaret Daley said...

A great post, Emily. When do you sleep? You are one busy editor.

connie said...

I've had a question about lying in the Love Inspired lines for a long time but have been afraid to ask.

My current WIP follows all LI guidelines except the herione and hero's relationship is based on a lie.

What kind of exceptions do you make for lying? The deception is important to my story, but isn't glorified.


bcountryqueen6 at msn dot com

CarolM said...

I have a daughter named Emily. We recently saw Ramona and Beezus and I realized that she is Ramona /eye boggle/.

Anyway - thank you for the wonderful advice! It is very appreciated!

carol at carolmoncado dot com

Jennifer Faye said...

Emily, thank you for answering my question. Sometimes it's so hard to figure out exactly where you fit especially when more than one editor has shown an interest in your work but the ms you've sub'd just isn't the one.

Another question: What pet peeves do you have that would turn you off from requesting revisions?

Holly said...

This was such a fun, informative post. I've dabbled in writing some, but it's so interesting to read what goes on behind the scenes.


Cindy R. Wilson said...

What a great post! Thank you for stopping by with these tips, Emily. I love the advice, write what you love. Being passionate about not only writing but the topic you're writing about can definitely show in your work. Thanks again!


Kim Watters said...

Happy Birthday Seekerville. May you welcome in many more. Good morning Emily. As one of Emily's authors I ditto what Missy T. said. (it's early here and I'm having a hard time thinking-more coffee please) Emily is great to work with and I'm honored she picked me up for the LI line. Writing for Harlequin has always been a dream of mine since I was a teenager. Thanks Emily. :)

connie said...

I'm glad you asked about the prologue, Linnette.

One of my historicals has a prologue that I believe is necessary. I was at a writers seminar and a NYT best selling author told me to leave it in. But several contest judges told me to take it out. I feel like no matter which way I write, it's wrong.


bcountryqueen6 at msn dot com

Renee said...

What a lot of helpful, detailed information, Emily! You've piloted some great book and authors. Thanks for helping get such fun reading material into our hands!

Zach and Sarah Baker said...

Hi Emily, this was a great interview. As an inspy historical writer, I have a question about the guidelines about no alchohol--what if it's historically accurate for the characters to drink wine? Are some allowances given for historical accuracy or do I need to eliminate all references to drinking from my work?

Sarah Baker

Carrie Turansky said...

Thank you, Emily! This was a very interesting post. I especially liked reading about the unique stories you've acquired. I'm thrilled to write for Steeple Hill!
carrie (at) turansky (dot) com

Debby Giusti said...

Time for the next drawing...

And the winner is


Congrats, Holly, you won
Protecting Her Child by Debby Giusti and a $10 Starbuck’s Gift Card, plus God’s Spirit Within Me by Sandra Leesmith, writing as Sandy Wardman with fellow author Carole Frankel.

Linnette R Mullin said...

Another question for Emily:

Thanks for answering about the manuscript. What is the address and which editor should I address it to?



Lacy J. Williams said...

Hi, Emily! It was so great to meet you in Indy this year and talk revisions and marketing. Thanks for posting at Seekerville!

And thank you, Vickie M for the plug. :) I love your books too. :)

If anyone cares to see a book trailer of my book that comes out next August, one is up at marryingmissmarshal.com .

Happy birthday, Seekerville!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh my goodness gracious, what a lovely crowd so early!!!


And Emily, huge thank yous for answering on the spot questions. Amazing editors like you are what make these days so special in Seekerville. Hugs to you from WNY...

I brought chocolate again, I figured the mid-morning munchers would be needing something to stave off nervous attacks about having and Editor In The Room...


And Emily, thanks for encouraging Julie!!!! (grinning here...) If we can get Julie to write for LIH, that means I get Julie at the Harlequin party. I'm not sure the world is ready for that, but I'm willing to chance it.

Deb, you throw a great party, chica!

Emily Rodmell said...

I wanted to take a moment to wave to all of my authors who've stopped by to say hello. It's a pleasure to work with each of you.

Other questions:


Lying as neccessary to the plot is really looked at on a case by case basis. It can't hurt to submit and see what happens.


You asked what pet peeves would make me reject a ms rather than ask for revisions. Really it's more a matter of catching my interest. If I see something that has a lot of potential, but isn't quite there, I'll give the author a chance to revise. But there are many reasons why we would choose to simply pass and they range from a story just not being right for the line to the writing not being at the level we would need to see in order to publish it. But that doesn't mean the writer can't try again with a ms in the future. Writing is a learning process, and craft tends to get better the more you write.


We generally prefer that characters not drink unless there's a good reason for it. It being the drink of the time isn't really a good enough reason as it could simply be avoided (i.e. the author not mentioning what they're drinking).

Edwina said...

Your post was incredibly helpful and I appreciate the time you invested in writing it. The Love Inspired line (all 3 divisions) is one of my favorites!


flchen1 said...

Emily, thanks for sharing today--I love learning more about the process that brings me the books I love to read!

Rose said...

I just love, love, love when Seekerville hosts editors!

Emily, thank you for all the information. It's great to know that Harlequin doesn't require agented submissions and that you'll help an author perfect their story.

RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

Emily Rodmell said...


In general, I've found that most prologues are not needed. You're more likely to grab a reader's attention by getting right into the story with a snappy opening line and some action rather than explanation about what led a character this point in her life.

Who to submit to:

There are five editors that acquire for Steeple Hill (myself, Tina James, Melissa Endlich, Elizabeth Mazer and Rachel Burkot), and manuscripts can be submitted to any one of us. If one of us has requested your proposal from a contest or an author appointment, obviously, submit to that person. Or if you're agented, your agent can choose the editor they feel most comfortable with. Beyond that, it's really your choice.

I will say though that if you send in an unsolicited, unagented ms to a senior editor, it will most likely end up on her assistant's desk (Elizabeth is Tina's assistant and Rachel is Melissa's). So it would probably be better to send it directly to one of them or to me.

Sherry Cahill said...

Thanks for an informative post. I love when editors discuss what they are looking for.

Love Inspired is such a great line. The plots are so strong, characters are interesting, and settings are familiar.

Thanks for stopping by.

Erica Vetsch said...

Always fun to have a visit from one of the Love Inspired editors!

Thank you for all the great advice!

Debby Giusti said...

Ruthy, thanks for the mid-morning chocolate! Colas and teas are available as well.

I know everyone is working hard today, especially Emily!

Isn't she wonderful to answer our questions!!! Thank you, Emily!!!

Janet Lee Barton said...

Hi Emily,
Thanks so much for giving us all such great information about what the editors at Steeple Hill are looking for. I am so happy that LIH is going to four books a year. I love reading LIs too, but historicals have always been my first love. Love all the advice for all of us, both unpubbed and published.
And I so agree with writing a story that you love. I do think it comes through, just as you said. Thanks again for taking the time to talk to us.
And thank you Seekerville!

apple blossom said...

Happy Birthday Seekerville. It was good to get acquainted with Emily a little thanks for the interview.

I love the LOVE Inspired books.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Project Journal said...

Seekerville is hopping again today!! ; ) LOL! It's great!

Oh, so Debby is the 9-5 being run a little differently this time? Otherwise I'm crazy....probably I'm crazy!

Anyway, Emily I was wondering if there was any certain reason that LI aren't usually set in New England? You were saying on Goodreads that there's a new continuity coming up based in New England. I have never read on set in NE and have only heard of one in Vermont I think (what a great place to choose out of all the states!! *wink*).

ALso, if you could share some of the upcoming story ideas? I know everyone would love to hear about them!!

Meghan Schuessler said...

Great post Emily. And I'm loving all the give-aways Seekerville! :)


KC Frantzen said...

Didn't know you were writing about TN? Are you around here somewhere?
(I've obviously been on another planet...)
Thanks again for everything. Thought I'd check back in.

may at maythek9spy dot com

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Hannah,
Anyone who leaves a comment and his or her email is in the drawing pool, from which one winner is drawn each hour.

The winners go back into the pool of all those who leave a comment and email for the final 5PM drawing of the 4 Love Inspired Suspense Sept releases Emily has graciously provided.

So, Hannah, you're still in the drawing! :)

Debby Giusti said...


Time for our 11 AM Drawing!

And the winner is...


Congrats, Connie, you've won One Imperfect Christmas by Myra Johnson and an IOU for Rocky Mountain Hero by Audra Harders, which will be out in Jan 2011!

connie said...

I'm so glad Steeple Hill offers historicals around 70,000 words.

I prefer shorter books and almost all other historicals are long.

Thanks so much for putting out good, clean historicals.


Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

Emily, I have a question, are there going to be LI Historical suspense novels? I know there are some already that have kind of a suspense element to them and I was just wondering if they would ever get their own line LOL? WOW can you tell I love my historicals?!

XOXO~ Renee

connie said...

YEAH! I'm a winner.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Carrie Turansky said...

Hannah - My first LI, Along Came Love, was set in Vermont. I loved researching that setting. I live in NJ and love to read and write stories set in the NE.

Dana Mentink said...

As an LIS author, I've got to say I'll alwayw be grateful to Emily for giving me a chance to write for this fabulous line. I'd like to agree that revising is just part of the game. As much as I dread rewriting, the books are ALWAYS better because of imput from editors. So don't be afraid to take the criticism and revise, if you're given the chance to do so! Thanks for the great info, Emily!

Lisa Jordan said...

Great post, Emily. Thanks for inviting her, Debby. Love Inspired has held a place in my heart since the line debuted. I still have the first books. I have boxes and boxes of LI books. I really should consider sharing some of them. I still buy. Just finished Ruthy's Made to Order Family. Loved it. :)

Jenness Walker's Double Take is one of my all-time favorite romantic suspense novels. The quality was exceptional, especially for a debut author.

lisajordanbooks at yahoo dot com

Sandra Leesmith said...

Emily, Welcome to Seekerville. What a great post with information for both the unpublished and published author. You make great points for us to remember.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk with us. We really appreciate it.

It has been a pleasure over the years to meet most of you at conferences.

Have a great day.

jenness said...

Thanks so much for the mention, Emily, and for all your work to make Double Take better. And thanks for the insights in this post!

Project Journal said...

Carrie, that's what I thought!! But I didn't want to misquote myself *wink* Yep, it's ALong Came Love?? Right? That's the ONE book that I've seen that was set in NE lol....I actually own it! It's right in the front of my shelf, but I've been tackling some other books other than LI for a while now. Can't wait to get back to my LI!!!

And thanks Debby. Gotcha now, I wasn't worried! Lol....

Back later!

Julie Lessman said...

Thanks so much, Emily -- I agree 100% and am very excited about seeing if A.) I can write an LI and B.) If I can even get one published! That is, if I can stem the word count. With four 500 plus or minus books out there, I'm not real good at that, you know, but the way I look at is ... if Ruthy can pare it down to 70,000 - 75,000 words, I'd like to give it a try. Of course, that's usually the first chapter for me ... :)

If we can get Julie to write for LIH, that means I get Julie at the Harlequin party. I'm not sure the world is ready for that, but I'm willing to chance it.

Uh, not sure what THAT means, but I do know that I would LOVE to attend a HQ party -- I fight shards of jealousy everytime the Seeker LIs talk about them ... :)


PatriciaW said...

I've already missed half the day, but I'll pop in and out from here on.

Welcome, Emily!

Debra Ullrick said...

Thank you so much, Emily, for sharing your expertise with us. Because of your excitement over some of the books you mentioned, I purchased them on my Kindle so I didn't have to wait to read them. *smiling*

And thanks for being such a fabulous editor. You rock!


Debra Ullrick, author of The Unexpected Bride

Linnette R Mullin said...

Thanks for the info, Emily!

I'm having trouble locating the physical address to send the manuscript to.



Mary Connealy said...

Emily, thanks so much for being on Seekerville. We really appreciate busy editors who come and help us demystify the whole process.

You're doing great work at LIS

Angela Bell said...

Thanks for the great tips. :)

Seekerville throws the best parties!


Debbie Kaufman said...

Happy Birthday Seekerville!

Emily and Debby: Thanks so much for the informative post. I am a huge fan of all the LI line, especially the LIH, a line in which I have read almost every one published! I, too, am so excited about the move to four per month!

I do have a quick submission etiquette question.

I submitted a partial to a Steeple Hill editor with whom I had a wonderful meeting with at Nationals courtesy of the Brenda Novak auction. No worries about the response time here, as it is easily within your normal timeframes, but I did get a request for a full from Bethany House after they judged my Maggie entry. IF Bethany indeed wants it after reading the full, should I in turn contact Steeple Hill if I haven't heard yet?

~~~Susan Hollaway said...

Hi, Emily! I really enjoyed reading your piece. It was full of great information. As a writer who hopes to be sending you a manuscript in the future, I appreciate all that you had to say. Thanks so much.

Susan Hollaway

Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

YES JULIE!!! Go for it! I would love to own a Julie Lessman book that would actually fit in my purse LOL! I'm kidding, my purse is so big I could probably fit the entire Seekerville collection of books in it. :-P

XOXO~ Renee

Patty Wysong said...

LI books are my favorite, which is probably why they're my target. =] =] Thanks so much for the post today, Emily. And Happy Birthday, Seekerville! Love you guys!

patty [at] pattywysong [dot] com

Susan Anne Mason said...


Thanks for this very informative post!

I love the LI lines and I'm so glad the Historicals are expanding. I don't write historical but I love reading them!

I think I should have been an editor. Too bad I didn't think about it 30 years ago!

Does Steeple Hill use outside readers to give a first scan to manuscripts? Almost a pre-reader, if that makes sense? That's something I would love to do as well. If you could do it from home that is, since I don't live in New York! LOL.

Thanks again for taking the time to share your inside view with us!


sbmason (at) sympatico (dot) ca

Beth K. Vogt said...

Well, I'll dive into the 100-plus comments and add mine! I got so caught up in reading Jenness Walker's novel, Double Take, I jumped out of my chair when someone walked in the room and surprised me! So I agree with Emily that it's a great read! Thanks for all the great information.

Jessica Nelson said...

Wooohoo! This is awesome! Thanks so much for all the info you shared.
You're the first editor I ever had professional contact with. I'd finaled in a contest and when I looked you up, I realized you went to the same high school I did!
Anyway, thanks for sharing all that info. It's good to know, and congrats to you and all the authors you work with on those upcoming books! They sound great!

Charlotte Carter said...

Hi Emily - Thanks for the mention of my December Love Inspired, 'Montana Hearts.' It's about a heart transplant recipient who falls in love with the organ donor's widower. But does he love her for herself? Or because his late wife's heart beats in her chest?

This is my first Love Inspired, and I'm delighted to be part of the LI family.

Emily, you're so right about authors continuing to improve their craft. I've authored more than 50 books and still take classes when I find a good one.

Charlotte Carter
Visit my blog: www.CharlotteCarter.com

Crystal Laine Miller said...

I was up at 4 AM this day, and when I left my comment/question, I totally forgot to enter my email for the drawing! I certainly want to be counted in for that, even though I belong to one book club at present.


Oh, yeah. And thanks to Debbie and Emily for answering my question. I always wondered about that part.

Emily Rodmell said...

Well, I just got back from a real party and now I'm back at the virtual party. One of the Harlequin editors is getting married on Saturday, so we just did a little good luck toast. I'm off to lunch in bit, but I thought I'd attempt a few more of your questions.


Books set in the South or the West tend to sell best for us, but I do try to get in a few different settings when I can. The continuity you're referring to is going to be set in Massachussetts.


There are no current plans for a historical suspense line.


Our address is
233 Broadway, Ste. 1001
New York, NY 10279


We don't accept simultaneous submissions, so if you want to submit the book to another house before we respond, contact the editor who has it to remove the book from submission. (Though I would recommend waiting to hear back first).


We use outside readers on occasion, but it's rare these days. We have two fabulous EAs who take care of the reading for us.


The same high school? That's funny. It was the smallest place ever. I grew up in Tampa, Florida.

Walt M said...

Emily, thanks for your earlier answer. I appreciate it. I am also curious about the question someone else asked about the level of suspense appropriate for a LIH.

mary bailey said...

Emily, thanks so much for the behind-the-scenes look at the life of an editor and for the great advice! Your love and enthusiasm for your job are evident. So glad Love Inspired is going to be expanding its historical line.


Casey said...

Wow, talk about INVALUABLE advice! THANK YOU EMILY!! I soaked it all up like a dry sponge. So thank you Emily and thank you Seekerville.


Debby Giusti said...

Another drum roll please....

Time for the noon drawing.

The winner is

Congrats, Janet! You won The Substitute Bride by Janet Dean and an IOU for Rocky Mountain Hero by Audra Harders, which will be out in Jan 2011.

Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Thanks for the wonderful post Emily!

You are always so very encouraging!

Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

Patsy said...

I love all Love Inspired books. I had never even heard of them until a lady at church gave me some of hers to read. Now I'm additced! Love them! Great birthday party going on on seekerville (my birthday is in Oct also!).

Linnette R Mullin said...

Thanks, Emily!

I didn't find guidelines for Steeple Hill Women's Fiction. Do you not accept unsolicited manuscripts for that genre?

Also, who do I address on the envelope? Love Inspired with your name below it?


lr.mullin (at) live.com

KarenV said...

Hi Emily! I enjoyed reading your post, so much helpful information! Love the pictures, too, especially the one at the park.
When I got "the call" from you yesterday, it was truly an out of body experience! Can't believe I was able to make normal conversation. lol
I'm still in shock, actually. Thanks again for taking a chance on me. : ) I've been reading the Love Inspired books for years, and I like that I can read romance and be encouraged at the same time. I'm thrilled to be part of the team!!
Karen Kirst

Jessica Nelson said...

Oh man!
My first comment got lost. Grrr.

Anyway, Emily, I guess my memory is WAY off. Like two years ago, when I was looking up stuff about you before sending in a contest entry, I thought I read that you'd gone to Crystal River high school.


I guess not! There's goes my cool little thing. :-)

Have a great lunch, and thanks for answering all the questions.

Jessica Nelson said...

Hi Linette,

I don't think Steeple Hill has an open Women's Fiction line anymore.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh! Oh! Oh!!!

We have a NEWBIE sighting in Seekerville!!!

Debut author Karen Kirst just popped in!!! Karen, tell us about yesterday while Emily's at lunch! Details!!!

Details!!! We LOVE FIRST SALES here!!!!

Big hugs to you from one of last year's newbies!!!!

Betsy St. Amant said...

Good to "see" you here Emily! Thanks for the mention of us "author kids" of yours. We enjoy working with you too! =) This is great info even for us already published LI authors.

(back to work now...I have a deadline from SOMEBODY... ::wink::)

Beverly said...

Hi Emily! I'm glad I joined you on Seekerville today. You always give such helpful information. Thanks.
Now I'm off to write the next great American novel aka LI.

Christine Johnson said...

Welcome Emily! It's great to have you here in Seekerville for the fifth birthday celebration, and I loved meeting you in Orlando at RWA. You have excellent information in your post.

As one of Emily's new authors, I agree with her that it's important to do requested revisions. My debut, Soaring Home (Nov. 2010), needed some hefty work. At first I hyperventilated, LOL, but the suggested revisions did improve the story a lot. Emily and all the editors at the Love Inspired lines have an excellent eye for what will make the story sparkle. I am so grateful for their expertise!

Thank you for answering our questions here today.

Christine Johnson

Debbie Kaufman said...

Emily: Oh, thanks so much for saving me from such a glaring submission faux pas. I will hold off on any other submissions :) That's why I love these types of interview Q & A's cause I always learn something new.

Debby: Forgot to leave my email for today's drawings
dlkaufman AT bellsouth DOT net

Ruth Logan Herne said...

And Emily it didn't surprise me at all that you gave a shout out to Dana's book.

Such a talented gal, a strong writer, so fun, great twists and turns.

And all these authors!!!

Lunch has arrived, a buffet set up by Cracker Barrel, with enough carbs to guarantee a probable virtual weight gain.

But totally worth it!

And try the lemon pie, it's one of my specialties.

Emily, this is so much fun!!!

Elizabeth@In Pursuit of His Excellence said...

Thank you so much Emily for answering my question! Hanging around Seekerville these last few days has inspired me to get cracking! Well, plus the fact that life is settling down a little here - though from my experience 'normal' doesn't hang around long! :) Hmmm...not sure that I feel called to write historical, but I guess you never know! I think I'll try for the 'absolutely fabulous' book first! :)

AusJenny - Julie helped me figure out that her party on the 7th!! (Sorry for adding confusion to your US reader friends, Julie *hiding head in embarrassment*) will be 1pm for me on Fri, 8th.

What a cool party this is turning out to be! I'm getting hooked on Seekerville!

Thanks again, Emily! And the rest of you lovely people!

Emily Rodmell said...


I didn't go to Crystal River High School, but I did work at the local newspaper in Crystal River for about a year and a half. Maybe that's where you got the reference. :)

Debby Giusti said...

Patsy, so glad that lady at church introduced you to Steeple Hill!!!

Linnette, no Women's Fiction, but lots of other great reads. Just like addressing any business envelope, I start with the editor's name. Next line is for the publishing house followed by the address.

Debby Giusti said...

Congrats to Karen Kirst for getting "The Call!"

Ditto Ruthy...we want the details! :)

Terri Reed said...

Emily, what great information and advice you've given. I can tell you all Emily is a joy to work with. Actually, all the Steeple Hill editors are wonderful to work with. I have foudn the whole staff responsive, caring and really know this business.
Thank you to Debby G. for letting me know Emily was blogging today. I appreciate it.

Debby Giusti said...

Christine, so good to meet you at RWA this past summer!!!

I had the good fortune of judging Soaring Home in a contest. Great story!

Debby Giusti said...

Another winner for the Big Birthday Bash in Seekerville...

Our 1 PM winner is


Congrats, Eva, you won Countdown to Death by Debby Giusti and $10 Starbuck’s Gift Card, plus God’s Spirit Calls Me by Sandy Wardman (AKA Sandra Leesmith) and Carole Frankel

Linnette R Mullin said...

Well, I've actually accomplished 1002 words while checking in and out of Seekerville today. That isn't much, but I'm at the difficult "middle." Haven't won anything, yet, but I'm not giving up!



Andrea Chermak said...

As an author starting over in the business, it's great to get fresh, accurate market information from the source. Targeting LI was a big decision for me, but the more I see of the books you, Melissa and Tina are producing, the more impressed I am. They're great stories, and the packaging really stands out among the other books on the shelves.

Emily, thank you for not only doing your job so well but for being accessible to us authors. I'm looking forward to meeting you in NYC!

kristen said...

What a fantastic post. Thank you so much.

kristengjohnson (at) gmail (dot) com

Casey said...

I agree with Pepper about what Emily said about writing what you love, because if you don't it will show. WOW, thank you for giving me that permission! I am writing women's fiction, so I know it isn't a good fit for LI, but it is the story I want to write, I am loving writing it. I just don't know how well WF is selling right now. But to be told to write what you want and love is so FREEING! Thank you again Emily. :)

Andrea Chermak said...

Just had to respond to Linette, who said she got "only" 1002 words written while blogging here. That's AMAZING! Go to the mirror and give yourself a huge smile for getting so much done today. How many people say "I'm going to do this or that" and never get around to it? Every day, we have a chance to accomplish something that matters to us. You're one of those rare people who actually make it happen.

Way to go!

~~~Susan Hollaway said...

I seem to be having trouble leaving a comment. Forgive me if they show up multiple times.

Emily, I enjoyed your post very much. So much information! Thanks for sharing.


Tina Pinson said...

Thanks Emily,

Wow lots of comments to wade through here.

Your post is a wealth of information.

I have sent to LIH before and plan to try again.

I see you're planning to add more to the lines, which would say that print books are still the draw. Have you noticed a change in your print sales because of ebooks?

Are you planning any changes because of the impact ebooks have had on the markets?


Pepper Basham said...

Welcome, Karen.
And thanks for agreeing with me, Casey.
Finally, somebody who agrees with me. I knew there had to be one person in teh world who was brave enough to admit it ;-)

I love Seekerville - just so you know...and I'm stalking (as Audra would say) ;-)

Linnette R Mullin said...

Jessica, thanks for your imput. I'm assuming you mean that it's not open to solicitation. Or are they going to discontinue the line?



Debby Giusti said...

I'm having trouble with blogger today as well. Plus my Internet went down for a period of time. Did you hear me scream? :)

Back on line and much happier!

Linnette R Mullin said...

Pepper, I'm glad I'm not the only one "stalking." LOL


Julie Lessman said...

YES JULIE!!! Go for it! I would love to own a Julie Lessman book that would actually fit in my purse LOL!

Cute, Renee ... very, very cute ... :)


Debby Giusti said...

No stalkers in Seekerville. Everyone's welcome!

Eva Maria Hamilton said...

Yeah! I won! Thanks Seekerville!

I already feel like I've won so much having all of you talented writers to learn from! And today Emily too!!

I am planning on submitting to LIH soon (once I edit and re-edit my wip lol) and the info I've learned here has been invaluable!

Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

Tina Pinson said...

You can download Julie's books with a kindle on your ipod, and that fits in your pocket. of course it will take nearly amillion pages to get through the book when you consider the length of the story and the size of the screen.

so just how long are those books, Julie? Inquiring minds want to know... okay I'm curious to know.

Janet Dean said...

Wow, Seekerville is a hopping place!! Love, love, love parties! Almost time for Deb to pull the name of another prize winner. Thanks, Emily, for making this day extra special by taking the time to respond to questions.


Jessica Nelson said...

Linette, you're referring to Steeple Hill Cafe, right? That was discontinued.
Now there are the three, Love Inspired, LI Suspense, and LI Historical.
None of those are women's fiction though, only romance or a subgenre of romance.
Hope that helps!

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Wow busy day in the hood. I volunteer me to go for snacks.

Any requests?

Emily what is the strangest thing you have gotten in a query package/envelope?

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

I also would like to know if it's true that editors do 90 percent of their reading submissions outside the office. Thus the 'cat ate your manuscript' myth could actually be true.

Jessica Nelson said...

Ha! That's probably how my brain got all muddled!
Thanks for letting me know. :-)

And I don't think I said so, but thanks to all you amazing Seekers for providing such awesome posts and guest posts!!!!

Helen Gray said...


Hi Emily:

I'm back with a couple questions.

1. What is your attitude toward aspiring authors who submit new manuscripts after having been rejected on previous submissions? Do you moan with an "Oh, no," or welcome the persistence?

2. Who reads the manuscripts that editors request at conferences? Do the read those themselves, or do they still go to assistants, first readers, etc.?



Debby Giusti said...

Is it 2 PM already???

Another winner in Seekerville!

The 2 PM drawing goes to ...

RENEE (SteelerGirl83)!!!!

Renee won Waiting Out the Storm by Ruth Logan Herne and
Carol Award Winner Cowboy Christmas by Mary Connealy.

Congratulations, Renee!

Phyllis Wheeler said...

Thanks for all this great advice!

wheelerpw "at" gmail.com

Susie said...

Thanks so much for speaking today... it was great to read your insightful comments and pieces of advice for aspiring writers.
Can you describe a typical day for you?


Tina Pinson said...

Julie, No need to answer the question concerning book length. I see... after wading through the comments, you answered it already.

but you must know, seeing the length of your books gives me hope for a couple of my own.


So, Emily, I'm a little slow on the take off, but Steeple Hill doesn't require an author to be with agent. They do, however, require a query. I learned something new then because I thought you needed an agent.

Sounds ironic since I sent to you before, and didn't know that, but I did so through a prior agent who thought I should try your historical line.

Barbara Curtis said...

Thank you for sharing your advice on what Love Inspired is looking for. I enjoyed reading your column.

Barbara Curtis said...

Thank you for sharing your advice on what Love Inspired is looking for. I enjoyed reading your column.

Tina Pinson said...


I would like an oreo blizzard and a foot long chili-cheese dog. then perhaps some pepcid complete for the heart burn that surely will follow.

Okay maybe we'll forgo the chili-cheese dog

Can you tell I'm getting hungry. It is lunch time afterall.

Eva Maria Hamilton said...


Emily wrote this earlier (hope it helps encourage you - I know it encourages me :) )

"But that doesn't mean the writer can't try again with a ms in the future. Writing is a learning process, and craft tends to get better the more you write."

Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

Debby Giusti said...

Tina P, no agent needed when submitting to Steeple Hill!

Helen, I'll hop in on your questions, in case Emily gets tied up. As she mentioned earlier, she's always willing to look at new material. I believe her comment was knowing writers improve as they write.

And since Emily is always reading, I bet she reviews the submissions she requests. If not, she noted Steeple Hill has great editorial assistants who have a good eye for great stories.

Emily Rodmell said...

Good afternoon everyone,

The day has flown by so far. Guess that's what happens when you work and go to parties.


Ebook sales have increased though I don't think it's affected print sales that much yet.

Strangest thing in a package or query:
Probably the person who handwrote a 9 page query letter and said that he was going to handwrite every copy of every book we would sell for him because he didn't want the Soviets to encode secret messages in the printer ink.

Reading outside of the office:
For some editors, it is true that they do most of their reading outside of the office. Others do it in the office. I guess it just depends on the person. If I read at home, I have to contend with bird feathers rather than cat hair.

Submitting again after rejection: We welcome new submissions after rejection. A number of the authors that I've bought didn't sell on their first try.

Who reads ms requested from conferences:
In general, if the editor is below senior editor level, they read all of what is sent to them (because we don't have assistants). Senior editors have the choice of what to read and what to pass to their assistant. They're more likely to pass slush than requested material, but if they're overloaded it's possible that conference material might be read by an EA.

Typical day:
One thing I love about this business is that there is no typical day. Every day could be different. It's just a matter of prioritizing what needs to be done for that day (edits, reading, art fact sheets, meetings, contracts, ect) and doing it.

Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

Oh hey! I won! Cool! thank you so much Seekerville!

XOXO~ Renee

p.s. Hey Tina P. I don't have an iPod or a Kindle so don't discourage Julie from writing a LI book! :-P

Tina Pinson said...

Thanks Deb,

I went back and read Emily's Post again. She what happens when you skim too much.

Emily, curious to know... did you offer a contract to the man who hand wrote every copy? that's pretty out there.

Makes a body wonder how good his handwriting was.

Emily Rodmell said...

No I did not offer him a contract, as the story was as out there as the format. But I did save the letter for posterity.

Casey said...

Oh my goodness! Soviets implanting something in the printer ink? Wonder what those stories would be like. Don't think I would want to know! Not sure what else to chat about... can I say I would love to read Janet's book?? Hers are on my wishlist. :)

Linnette R Mullin said...

Jessica, no, I'm not talking about chic-lit. It's "Steeple Hill Women's Fiction" and here's the link: http://www.eharlequin.com/store.html?vcname=backlist&cid=323


lr.mullin (at) live . com

Linnette R Mullin said...

Emily, what is the most bizarre story that's ever come across your desk?


lr . mullin at live . com

PS...glad there's no stalking because everyone is welcome. Thank you!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Pepper, I believe in you.

I even like you.

So there.

And Andrea, hey, girl!!! Always an honor to have you stop by and chat with us, and yes, you will love these editors at LI. Just love 'em.

I'm restocking the chocolate candy counter, help yourselves, there's a new veggie tray that Audra's bringing in (good job, Audra!!!) and that cauliflower is gorgeous, isn't it?

Ah, Sandra's just gotten here with some afternoon liquid refreshment for the non-coffee-all-day drinkers. Sandra, big thanks from WNY!!!

I love parties.

Emily Rodmell said...

Since someone mentioned querying, I thought I'd give you all the basics of what we want you to send in.

For unpublished authors, start with a query letter, and we'll ask for more if we want to see it. You're welcome to include a synopsis and chapters if you have it. We would eventually need to see a full manuscript before we can buy, but we'll request that from you.

For published authors, send in a proposal (publishing history, synopsis and three chapters). If you're significantly published (published by a large house or you have multiple books in the market), that's all you need to send. If you are published in a different genre or with a smaller house, it is possible that we'd ask for the full before making a decision, it just depends on the situation.

Casey said...

Yes, Pepper, Ruthy and I agree with you, so there just be something wrong with the rest of the population.

Agree? ;)

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Tina, if you're doing DQ, can you put me down for a strawberry banana blizzard? The fruit allows me to pretend it's health food.

Elizabeth@In Pursuit of His Excellence said...

Congratulations on the win Renee! :) I've 'seen' you a lot lately, commenting on the blogs hosting Julie Lessman! :)

And Julie - it WOULD be fun to read a shorter book by you...though I wouldn't want you to stop writing the long ones - they are such a meaty read!! Love them!!

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks, Emily, for clarifying the submission process!!!

Thanks, too, for being with us today and for providing so much valuable information.

Debby Giusti said...

Thanks, Emily, for clarifying the submission process!!!

Thanks, too, for being with us today and for providing so much valuable information.

Debby Giusti said...

Did I mention blogger problems? :)

Tara Randel said...

Hi Emily. I noticed in your bio that you are a USF grad. I live just outside of Tampa. Have to tell you, its beautiful here today!

My question is: what is your turn around time to read a submission? I've submitted to LI and was curious about a time frame.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Emily, the 9 page hand-written query...

That's one for the archives. Oh my stars, lovin' it!!!

Being a new Steeple Hill author, I'm learning as I go along and it's been a great education. I love that the editors avidly work with their authors, encouraging them, moving them forward.

That's a huge plus for us newbies.

And one of our bits of advice here in Seekerville is to write, write, write, not letting yourself get hung up on getting your first story perfect.

Is that sound advice from an editor's perspective?

Debby Giusti said...


The 3PM winner is


Susan, you won an IOU for The Rancher’s Reunion by Tina Radcliffe and Courting the Doctor's Daughter by Janet Dean


runner10 said...

Loads of great advice.


Debby Giusti said...

Sorry, I have to leave the party, but my son is coming home from Iraq. My family and I are headed to the post where his plane will land.

Thanks for making today so much fun!!!

Special thanks to my wonderful editor, Emily Rodmell!!! You rock, Emily!

PS: I'll try to get back online later if I can find wifi! :)

Myra Johnson said...

Just chiming in with my welcome to Emily! What a great day in Seekerville!

Even though I've yet to capture a Love Inspired editor's eye, it sure is fun tagging along with my LI-pubbed Seeker sisters at conferences, etc., to hobnob with the editors. And I've heard the Harlequin bunch really knows how to party!

Thanks, Emily, for the thorough and informative post about publishing with LI. Also thanks for taking time from your busy day to pop in and answer everyone's questions.

BTW, congrats to Connie, our 11:00 winner. Looking forward to sending you a copy of One Imperfect Christmas!

Martha Ramirez said...

Nice to meet you, Emily! Thank you so much for taking the time out to share all these great tips.
My WIP is geared toward LIS and I am very excited! Love LIS books and authors:)
Hopefully one day I will have the honor to work with you.

Linnette R Mullin said...

Emily, thanks for the tips on submitting!


lr . mullin at live. com

Walt M said...


May I ask a follow-up on your comment on unpublished authors and queries. You made the comment "You're welcome to include a synopsis and chapters if you have it." Are you saying that SH accepts queries on unfinished manuscripts and will tell an unpublished author if they might be interested in reviewing the finished product once it's completed?

Casey said...

Oh congrats Susan! :)

Elizabeth@In Pursuit of His Excellence said...

I just had a look through Missy Tippens website last night and would love to win her book this hour! :)


Emily Rodmell said...


You're making me jealous with the talk of Tampa weather. The one thing I hate about living in the Northeast is the cold.
We aim for a 3 month turnaround time on submissions. It's not always possible, but that's our goal.


No. We want authors to query us when they have a complete ms, but we're willing to take a look at more than just a query letter if they have it. For instance if you think that you could better show your writing by sending in a chapter with your query letter, that's fine.

Barbara Phinney said...

Wonderful wise words! Thank you, Emily. It was lovely to see some pics of you gals, too.

KarenV said...

Thanks for the warm welcome, ladies! I've learned a lot from following Seekerville. I've found answers to questions I couldn't find anywhere else.
So the call...it came yesterday morning while my eldest son and I were reading about Mary, Queen of Scots (we homeschool). When I saw the area code, the thought crossed my mind that it could be a New York call, and when Emily introduced herself I could hardly believe it! At some point, she asked if I had any questions - of course I was so overwhelmed and thrilled it was like a dream! Needless to say, my son didn't finish his lessons for the day! I spent the rest of the day on the phone spreading the news, and my neighbor was kind enough to babysit our boys so my husband and I could enjoy a celebration dinner.
My feet still haven't touched the ground!

Janet Dean said...

Waving to the winners of my books: Janet Lee Barton, winner of The Substitute Bride and Susan Hollaway, winner of Courting the Doctor's Daughter. Thanks gals for sharing in the fun today!


Susan Anne Mason said...

Wow, Debby! You must be so excited to see your son.

Enjoy your happy reunion!


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