Friday, October 12, 2012

Seekerville Welcomes Love Inspired Associate Editor Elizabeth Mazer!

Love Inspired Associate Editor
Elizabeth Mazer
Debby Giusti here! I'm thrilled to welcome Love Inspired Associate Editor Elizabeth Mazer to Seekerville today.  Her post focuses on the Love Inspired Suspense line, but Elizabeth promises to answer any questions you might have about all three of the Love Inspired imprints: Love Inspired, Love Inspired Historical and Love Inspired Suspense.  Plus, she's hosting a First Page Contest (see contest tab for rules and information) and giving away the four LIS releases for October and November, a total of eight books in all. That spells G-E-N-E-R-O-U-S!!! Thank you, Elizabeth.

Now, please help me welcome Five-Year Veteran, Love Inspired Associate Editor Elizabeth Mazer to Seekerville! 

Thanks for being with us, Elizabeth. Seekervillagers would love to learn more about you.  Will you tell us a bit about your background and what you did before coming to Love Inspired? Did you always want to work in publishing? 

I didn’t actually pick publishing as my career path until I was halfway through college, but let’s just say that when I made up my mind, no one was surprised! I spent most of my childhood (and adulthood, for that matter) with my nose in a book. My first post-college job was in publishing, though not actually with a publishing house. I worked for the company that was then known as Bookspan that ran direct mail book clubs such as Crossings, Book of the Month Club, etc. I made the move over to Love Inspired in 2007, and have been happily settled here ever since. 

What’s a normal day like at the office? 

Normal? What’s that? J Truly, one of the things I love most about my job is that no two days are the same. There’s always a never-ending pile of papers to go through—acceptance reads, edits, new submissions, copyedits to review, typesets to approve—but it rarely gets monotonous because each book is so different. I work with authors on all three Love Inspired lines which means I get to tackle stories that range from sweet romances to edge-of-your-seat suspense, to historicals that take me all over the map, and all the way through recorded history. 

What about when you’re away from the job? Do you have any hobbies? Favorite types of foods or restaurants you frequent? What do you do for fun over the weekend? 

I’m a movie nut (everything from classics to contemporary—but no horror; I’m too much of a wuss), so heading to the cinema is always a treat. For special occasions, I love going to see live theater. A ticket to a Broadway show is my usual birthday present to myself. This year, Shana Smith (now Love Inspired’s new associate editor!) and I took advantage of a two-for-one special to go see Newsies. Great show! 
The beautiful Woolworth Building is Love Inspired's
New York City home.

What do you enjoy most about New York City

Opportunity! In New York, whatever interests you (theater, music, art, food, fashion), you can find an outlet to explore it and learn new things. Of course, that can be the downside to New York, also—there are so many options and so many venues to suit every interest and taste that it can get overwhelming. Sometimes I feel guilty for not getting out more, seeing more, doing more…but I know I’d drive myself crazy if I tried to do it all. 

Thanks for that sneak peak into your life, Elizabeth. Now let’s talk about Love Inspired Suspense.
 Which types of stories work best for Love Inspired Suspense? Woman on the run? Medical? Gothic? Legal thriller? Amateur sleuth? Do you have a personal preference? Any feedback from readers about what they like to read?

I feel like our readers really respond to characters—particularly heroines—who they can relate to. Personally, I’m always fascinated by the change that comes over a character when she goes from a law-abiding woman who always plays it safe, just like me, to someone willing to buck any authority to do what needs to be done. What brought her to that point? A threat against her children? The murder of a beloved sibling? The desperate need to clear her name when she’s falsely accused of a crime? What would I do in her shoes? That can be the most interesting way to build a character—think of something that she would never, ever do…and then come up with a set of circumstances that would make her do it. 

As we all know, the opening of a book needs to hook the reader. What specific elements should be included in the beginning of a Love Inspired Suspense?

Danger! J It seems like a given, right? But here’s the twist—it can’t just be random, force-of-nature danger. We need to know, right from the start, that there are malicious, targeted forces at play, and that they’re gunning for the hero or heroine. Running out of gas when you’re driving in the desert? That can be dangerous, but it’s not actually suspenseful—no one’s out to get you, you just made a mistake in not refilling the tank. Waking up to discover you were knocked unconscious and dumped in the desert by someone who wanted your death to look like an accident (as in Shirlee McCoy’s excellent September 2011 book Lone Defender)? That’s suspenseful danger…because even if you make it out of the desert alive, you still aren’t safe. Someone is still after you. 
The LI editorial team as of the 2011 holiday party (from left to right—Emily Rodmell, Tina James, Melissa Endlich, Joan Marlow Golan, Elizabeth Mazer, Rachel Burkot). New additions (Kathy Davis, Acquisitions Editor of Heartsong Presents; Shana Smith, Associate Editor of Love Inspired; Emily Brown, Editorial Assistant of Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired Historical)
will be joining LI for the 2012 holiday party picture!

We’ve been told Love Inspired readers like small town settings. Does that hold true for LIS? Can authors use a city environment, and if so, how can they give the story a small town feel? What about foreign settings?

Yes, small towns definitely work well in LIS, but it’s possible to create a sense of community in a city or a foreign setting. It can be based around work (such as a private investigation agency), around faith (a close-knit church society), around family background (an immigrant group). A strong sense of community can be a great counterbalance in a suspense story—a network of people to help and support the hero and heroine as they battle against the villains who want to hurt them. They can also help raise the stakes. When an Amish teenager turns up dead in Kit Wilkinson’s story Plain Secrets (July 2012), the police investigator hero is the only man for the job because of his own Amish background—but taking the case means returning to the community that he left behind, including the woman who rejected him and the father who hasn’t spoken to him since he left. Building a strong community in your story can also give you some very interesting questions to ask—like who’s allowed in? Who is excluded? Who knows the secrets? Who can be trusted? Who’s looking for a way out—and how far would they go? 

In LIS stories, secondary characters are sometimes killed. Heroines are captured. Heroes are wounded. Are there any guidelines for murder and mayhem? Anything you frown on or don’t want included in the stories?

Don’t kill the pets! You can set the heroine’s house on fire if you want, but you’d better make sure the heroine’s trusty mutt has a dog door to slip out the back, or a window he can jump through. Nothing gets angry letters sent our way like an animal-killing villain! 

What’s the ratio between romance and suspense for LIS? How early in the story should the hero and heroine get together, and how quickly should the romance develop?  Any tips on how to keep the romance alive when the characters are on the run?

Always, always 50-50. We need the love story and the suspense story to kick off right at the beginning and not getting fully resolved until the end. That means that feelings need to take time to develop. As far as keeping the romance alive…we actually tend to face the opposite problem. As the hero and heroine deal with life-or-death situations, we get a lot of stories where they start depending on each other and trusting each other too fast. That’s why it’s so crucial for an author to nail in place good, solid conflicts—both internal and external—that make the characters convinced that a relationship between them could never work. I’m always telling my authors, be meaner to your characters! Give them angst, give them insecurity, give them “rules” they feel they have to follow that they struggle with right up until the end. In Liz Johnson’s terrific upcoming book A Promise to Protect (December 2012), the heroine has a villain with a deeply sinister agenda driving her into the protective arms of the Navy SEAL hero…but on the emotional side of the coin, she’s also got some beautifully-realized, deep-seeded personal conflicts that make her afraid to trust a man with her safety. The romantic conflict actually deepens the suspenseful conflict because the heroine has so much at stake—not just her life, but also her heart. 
Love Inspired Associate Editor Elizabeth Mazer (L)
with Love Inspired Editor Emily Rodmell (R)

Cops? FBI agents? Private investigators? Any hero/heroine professions in short supply that you’d like to see in future submissions?

Surprise me! (I mean it—really surprise me.) Give me something I haven’t seen before.
Give me characters with no special training who have to learn as they go and scramble to stay a step ahead of the bad guys on their trail. Give me characters with unusual training who figure out a way to make the most of their specialized knowledge or abilities to find a hidden truth, or defeat a villain who arrogantly believed everything was going according to plan. Challenge yourself to think outside the box and think of ways even the most danger-free professions could become a matter of life or death. What could an accountant know that someone might kill for? How about the postman? Suddenly I’m picturing a story where a shoe salesman, while fitting a customer, catches sight of a tell-tale scar that identifies a wanted man. Or maybe take a dangerous job—deep-sea diving instructor, test pilot, search-and-rescue volunteer—and think about how the dangers of their job might go from general and random to targeted and personal. What does a wilderness survival expert do when he realizes the training exercise he’s on is being manipulated to end in someone’s seemingly-accidental death? 

Internal conflict can be a stumbling block, especially for beginning writers. What advice can you offer to help writers develop effective internal conflicts for their heroes and heroines?

For starters, dig deep. And as I said before, be mean to your characters! Mess with their heads. Give them pasts where their hearts were broken, their trust betrayed. Make them afraid—really, deeply afraid—of something that they’d do anything to avoid. And it doesn’t always have to be love that they fear. In the lovely and talented Debby Giusti’s August 2012 book The Colonel’s Daughter, what the hero fears most is failure—the idea that he could let down the people who rely on him. That fear nearly cripples him when he begins to doubt himself and his abilities. Internal conflict works best when we can see a character truly struggle with it, torn between what their head tells them is the “smart” or “safe” option, and the choice their heart wants to make. 
Elizabeth meets with LI authors
at ACFW 2011.

Writing for LIS means juggling three story arcs: faith, romance and suspense. Any tips on how to weave the three threads into a seamless plot?

My advice would be to “tie” those threads together as much as you can. In Susan Sleeman’s upcoming story No Way Out (May 2013), the heroine isn’t just dealing with danger, she’s dealing with betrayal, from someone she’d really trusted. So even as she’s adjusting to the physical danger of her new situation, she’s also struggling to deal with the emotional turmoil of wondering who she can count on, and whether she’ll ever be able to trust enough to let a man into her life again. The hero helps with both problems. J And of course, there’s nothing like danger—physical or emotional—to make a character search for an anchor to hold on to. That’s where faith usually comes into our stories. 

How do you feel about prologues and epilogues? Any pet peeves or favorite scenarios?

Because our stories are so deliciously fast-paced, it’s possible for the entire story to take place over the span of just a handful of days. And while we definitely want resolution to the romantic plot thread, with the characters finally willing to admit their feelings for each other and embrace the opportunity take a chance on a committed relationship, it seems a little weird to have a guy propose marriage when he’s only known the heroine for 36 hours. So yeah, I’m a fan of epilogues where we can see the characters a few months down the road with a solid relationship in place that the characters are finally ready to take to the next level. On the other hand, a prologue has to work pretty hard to prove its worth to me. If it’s just about set-up, then I usually ask the author to reconsider. It’s so powerful to dive right into a story that starts when the action kicks off—we can get the background later. 

Are you accepting submissions for all three lines:  Love Inspired, Love Inspired Historical and Love Inspired Suspense? How long should writers expect to wait before they hear back on their submission?

We are eagerly accepting submissions for all three lines! As for turnaround time, we’ve actually got a fun event coming up specifically targeted for LIS submissions, and that’s our Fast Track. Between October 15 and October 26, authors can email their synopsis (no more than 2 pages, single spaced) and first chapter to and we will guarantee a reply by November 26. We’re hoping to get people as excited about LIS as we are at the prospect of bringing in new authors, so please spread the word! 

What do you wish every writer knew before she or he submitted to LIS?

Make sure you have strong suspense and romance threads that begin at the start of the book and don’t conclude until the ending! 
Elizabeth (L) with Love Inspired’s new 
Associate Editor Shana Smith (R)

What are your top FIVE tips for submitting to LIS?

5. Do your homework! There’s no better preparation for writing LIS than reading LIS books—and we’ve got so many excellent authors writing for us that “homework” has never been so much fun.

4. Know your characters. I answered a lot of questions in this interview, but you may notice I asked a lot of them, too. These are questions you need to be asking yourself—what does my character want? What is essential to them? What would drive them to break the rules? What do they love? What do they fear? Check out the book GMC: Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon. It’s a great craft lesson in how to solidify your characters.

3. You’ll always learn from research—but start with what you know. There’s nothing like a book that feels truly grounded in its world. When Lenora Worth writes Southern-set stories, they feel so vividly real that you could swear you smell the magnolias in the air. If you entrench your story in something very familiar—a medical drama you can easily envision after twenty years working as a nurse; a deadly chase in the dense forests near where you grew up; an eerie mystery that bears a striking resemblance to an old family legend—it’ll feel that much more real to your readers. But no matter how well you think you know a subject, still do some research on it—hit the library, go online, set up a time to interview/brainstorm with a friend who has a background in the subject or setting. You never know what new ideas might spark!

2. Figure out your villain’s game plan, and make him stick to it. Heroes and heroines don’t always know what they’re doing—sometimes they’re thrown into danger with no warning, and have to scramble to figure out what to do. That’s not the case with villains. They always have a plan—there’s always something they want to get, or something they want to do, or something they want to hide. And they always think they’ve planned everything so well that they’re going to get away with it. Make sure you know that plan. Make sure that everything the villain does ties into that plan. If the bad guy wants the safe combination that no one but the heroine knows then he’s not going to try to scare her by running her car off the road—she’s no good to him if she’s dead or in a coma. On the other hand, there’s nothing stopping him from threatening the people around her. He needs her alive, but he could easily kill her best friend, or her baby sister…or the guy she’s started to fall for.

1. Sit down and write! It’s okay to begin a book and not be certain how it’s going to end. It’s okay to begin a book and change your mind about how it’s going to end! Characters and plotlines will take turns you never expected, and go in directions you never planned—don’t stress over it. You can fix it or polish it or even ditch it and rewrite it after it’s done. For now, just put the words on the page, and see where they take you. 

Can you give us a brief overview of the process a submission goes through before it is either rejected or selected for publication?

When someone sends in a submission, it gets logged in by the person who received it. And since I know some people have misconceptions, let me say that there is no “designated” person who reads the submissions our group receives. If you address it to me (on the envelope, please—not just on the cover letter), I’m the one who’s going to read it. (The only exception to this rule is Tina James, the senior editor for Love Inspired Suspense—she has an assistant, Emily Brown, who gets her mail.) We do our best to get to submissions quickly, but a major chunk of our time is devoted to handling our books currently under contract, so it generally takes 60-90 days to evaluate submissions.

Let’s say you send me your proposal—synopsis and first three chapters. I’ll read it to see if I think it could work for our line. If it’s not right for us, I’ll write back to let you know. If it has potential, I’ll request the full manuscript. I don’t have the authority to buy a book on just my say-so—it has to be approved by Tina, so as I’m reading the complete, I’ll be keeping notes on the strengths, weaknesses, possible issues and potential solutions to put into a memo. If the story needs substantial revisions, I’ll send it back along with a letter laying out my concerns. If I think we should go ahead and buy, I’ll give Tina the memo and the manuscript. She’ll read them both, and decide whether she agrees with me. If she does, it goes to Joan Marlow Golan, our executive editor. She makes the decision about whether we can go forward with a contract offer—she’ll give the go-head to Tina, who will give the go-ahead to me. Then I get to make the call. 

Editors say they enjoy making “The Call” to debut authors. What’s the funniest response you’ve received from a writer who just learned LI was offering a contract?

I don’t want to embarrass her so I won’t name names, but one author I could barely even reach! She hadn’t included her phone number on her cover letter, so I tried looking it up online with just the address. When that didn’t work, I emailed her to ask if she could give me a call—she replied, full of apologies, and said she actually couldn’t call me because she was home taking care of a sick child and her house phone didn’t have long distance service. She gave me her number, so I tried calling her, but I got no answer. Ten minutes later, she emailed me again to apologize—she’d been vacuuming and hadn’t heard the phone ring! On the next try, I was actually able to speak with her. By then, I think she was pretty sure I was offering her a book contract because otherwise I’d have given up! 
Melissa Endlich, Betsy St. Amant and
Elizabeth at the ACFW 2011 Carol Awards

Where do you hope to be in FIVE years, Elizabeth? Any predictions about Love Inspired’s future?

In the five and a half years I’ve been with Love Inspired, I’ve been amazed at our growth. When I began in 2007, we published 8 books a month—4 Love Inspired and 4 Love Inspired Suspense. Love Inspired Historical hadn’t even launched yet! Now, we have 14 titles a month in our retail calendar (6 LI, 4 LIS, 4 LIH) plus 4 books each month from our direct-only line, Love Inspired Heartsong Presents. In that time, I’ve also risen from Editorial Assistant to Associate Editor. So clearly, if we stay on track with our growth patterns, and if our fantastic authors keep bringing in dedicated, enthusiastic readers hungry for more great stories, then another five years will see all our lines expanding and flourishing, with me well on my way to my clearly merited position as Benevolent Overlady of All I Survey. J

Thanks, Elizabeth, for providing such valuable information today.  We’ve learned so much about the LIS line and what makes a great story shine.  In honor of your visit, we’re serving a typical Southern buffet breakfast: scrambled eggs, country fried ham, buttermilk biscuits, sliced fruit and grits.  Enjoy!

Leave a comment to be entered in today's drawings.  Thanks to Elizabeth and the Seekers we have the following books to give away...  

Four lucky winners will each receive two Love Inspired Suspense stories from Elizabeth.  

The LIS October releases: Critical Condition by Sandra Orchard, Survive the Night by Vicki Hinze, Danger on the Mountain by Lynette Eason, and The Doctor’s Defender by Terri Reed. 

Seeker Giveaways:

A House Full of Hope by Missy Tippens.

Wanted: A Family by Janet Dean, and the novella Last Minute Bride, by Janet Dean, featured in Brides of the West.

Yuletide Hearts by Ruth Logan Herne and A Family to Cherish
by Ruth Logan Herne.

Dreaming of Home by Glynna Kaye, Second Chance Courtship by Glynna Kaye, At Home in His Heart by Glynna Kaye, and High Country Hearts by Glynna Kaye.

The Officer’s Secret by Debby Giusti, The Captain’s Mission by Debby Giusti, and The Colonel’s Daughter by Debby Giusti.

A surprise package from Tina Radcliffe.

Four Heartsong Presents giveaways from Mary Connealy.

Grab a cup of coffee and let's talk to Elizabeth about the books we love to read from Love Inspired!


  1. WOW! If I wrote romantic suspense, this would be like Christmas! Lots of good stuff here for all of us.
    Fave tip - sit down and write.
    Which is why I'm going to kick myself off the internet RIGHT NOW. =)

    P.S. Elizabeth and I have the same taste in movies. Pretty sweet. =)

  2. Tons of great stuff here!!!! And those prizes?


    I love reading LIS [recent fave: Rachelle McCalla's Reclaiming the Crown series], but I tried writing suspense once.

    The manuscript is buried in the bottom of the virtual filing cabinet, behind the very real arsenic.

    Where it shall stay for all eternity.

    I do have a question about the LI line. Rachelle's books [incl her upcoming ones] take place in a fictional European country. I've noticed the same kind of thing in a scan of other Harlequin book covers at Walmart. Are you open to that sort of setting in the LI line like you are in suspense?

    If the right story came along of course.

    I'm not eligible for the contest [stinkin' MS isn't done ;)] but woohoo and good luck to all who enter!!!!

  3. ELIZABETH!!!!! Love you, lady! You'll be glad to know that not once yet in my 43,877 words to EPE3 has Kate attempted to kick Caleb's kneecaps out...


    Everyone, Elizabeth is SO awesome and she, as well as the other LI editors, are AMAZING at what they do.

    Elizabeth, you'll find LOTS of future LI author potential in the Friends of Seekerville who visit today.

    Folks who follow Seekerville are serious about their craft.

    Good to see you, E! Back to the bandit :-) story, which I am enamored with because of your editorial guidance. YOU ROCK!

    PS...everyone, I've started a campaing on Twitter to get Elizabeth tweeting. Hashtag is #GetElizabethMazerTweeting. Be sure to post and RT. HAHAHAHA

    E, you NEED to tweet! Seriously. You'd be so fun and informative.

    Thanks for coming to Seekerville. You are an amazingly talented editor and you have learned from some of the best editors in the industry. Honored to be working with you.


  4. Hi Elizabeth and Debby! I loved this interview! I have to say it's been a while since I've read a LI book, the last being Stacy Henrie's LADY OUTLAW but it's not because I don't enjoy them I just don't have a lot of time to read anything outside of review books.

    My fave line is the LIH historical novels but these LIS sounds great! I find it interesting that you want a 50/50 balance between the romance and suspense. In the past when reading the LI and other Harlequin books I noticed that the first kiss usually happened about halfway through. I always tore out the paper inserts in the middle and usually got a peek at the first kiss or whatever LOL! Is that something that's done on purpose or is that just coincidence?

  5. What an outstanding interview! Thank you for being here Elizabeth, and Debby for asking her.

    Excellent info that will need further reading and thought!

  6. Oops, logged in on the wrong account.

    Welcome, Elizabeth!

    Huge fan of LI!! I can't seem to pick between them. I guess it depends what kind of mood I man, but I do love historicals. Oh, but I do love suspense. Then there are the sweet contemps. How does one decide?

    Does the ms need to be complete for the Fast Track? I thought I read that it needs a projection date of completion.


  7. Hi Elizabeth:

    I know you have at least one author who writes in all Deep POV, Jill Elizabeth Nelson. What do you think of Deep POV? Are you looking for more, less, or none? I am doing an analysis of Deep POV and your answer would be very helpful to me. Thanks.


  8. Great question, Vince. I'm interested in the answer too. I for one am a fan of deep pov in some places. And I love Jill's book.

  9. Definitely going to spread the word about your LIS bonanza! How exciting. Here's a Q: Is it possible to have a historical/suspense hybrid? Thanks for not laughing at my silly question :)

  10. I really enjoyed this interview. Learned so much. Thanks!

  11. I'm getting my comments in now before I lose Internet for a few hours.

    Great contest! I hope y'all fill the inbox with great pieces. I'll be cheering y'all on.

  12. Elizabeth, thanks so much for all the answers you provided to questions I didn't even know I had in my head.

    I have noticed more and more of the Love Inspired Historicals have a suspense element to them.

    Is Harlequin specifically looking for Love Inspired historicals with more suspense?

    Are there any plans for expansion of the historical line?

    Please put me in for Elizabeth's giveaway, Tina's surprise or Mary's Heartsongs. I have all the other books! Someone else deserves that chance.

    Peace, Julie

  13. Thanks for being here, Elizabeth.

    This is bound to be a BIG day, so I've got a dozen coffee pots lined up. If that's not enough, I'm sure there'll be some generous souls provide refills now and then.

    The 2 complete manuscripts I wrote with LIS in mind have been relegated to never-never-land. So nothing to fast track.


  14. Wow! Loved this post!

    Hi, Elizabeth.

    Waving to Shana (we talked a few days ago). Nice to have a face to,put with the voice. :)

    Now, I can say I LOVE SEEKERVILLE!!!!!!!!!!

    This was the contest last year that Melissa was heading and it ended in 'the call'.

    I don't think there's another site on the 'net where publishers and editors share as freely with potential authors. It's not 'please format this way' and where to put your page numbers It's writing tips, pet peeves and tips on pacing.

    You can't beat this place. :)

    And that building... Wow. Gorgeous. Uhhh, I have pumpkins. And a half box of plums on my porch.

  15. RUTHY---

    The sell out comment was from your comment... something about people saying you were a sell out for adapting.

    And then I worried you were going 'Fifty Shades' on us. There's money and then there's... goods and services, a la Homer Simpson, haha!

    Don't want you to lose sleep over figuring that one out. :) Although, by now you're probably awake over there in New Yawk.

  16. Great interview! Thanks for sharing.

  17. Wow, Elizabeth! What a great post. Thank you for sharing and a fantastic giveaway!

  18. Lots of great comments. As Nancy mentioned, everyone is excited about having Elizabeth Mazer with us today.

    Her post is packed with information about Love Inspired and especially the Love Inspired Suspense line.

    Thanks, Elizabeth.

    Wonder if Nancy worked through the night?

    I'm pouring my first cup of coffee. Thanks, Helen.

    Did everyone read the contest rules? Get your submissions ready. You have until midnight SAT to submit.

  19. Ah, today is going to be a busy, wonderful day. Helen, I'm not sure 12 pots of coffee is going to be enough! lol

  20. Carol,

    Great question about the fictional foreign setting. I'm sure Elizabeth will stop by this morning with an answer. Foreign settings work well in Love Inspired Historical, as we all know, but I'm not sure about contemporary romance.

  21. Cheryl, thanks for adding your praise for Elizabeth. She is a gifted editor who always provides excellent suggestions on how to improve a story. Plus, she draws smiley faces and hearts in the margins of the manuscript when she's editing. :)

    You're right about SeekerVillagers! They are serious about their writing. I'm excited about the First Page Contest and the opportunity Elizabeth is providing today.

  22. Hi Renee,

    I've heard of folks reading the end of the book first but never the middle. How funny!

    Often that first kiss does comes close to the midpoint of the story.

    You're missing a lot, Renee, if you're not reading LI, LIH and LIS releases. Maybe you'll be one of our lucky winners today.

  23. Hi KC and May,
    Thanks for stopping by Seekerville. I'm sure the fall leaves are gorgeous in your area of the country. Enjoy the day.

  24. Christina, good question about the LIS Fast Track.

    I pulled the following information from the LI website: Attach your first chapter and a short synopsis (no more than two pages) to the email as well as a short query letter, letting us know how much of the manuscript is complete.

    Check it out at:

  25. Vince, you always ask great questions. Thanks for the shoutout about Jill Nelson's writing!

  26. Great question, Kathleen!

    I know some historicals have a suspense thread, but we'll have to wait for Elizabeth to find out how much suspense LI is looking for in their LIH stories.

  27. Dianne, thanks for stopping by. Everyone who comments is entered in the drawings today. Good luck!

    Christina, losing Internet? YIKES! What's going on in your part of the world?

  28. Elizabeth,

    Thanks for sharing with us today.

    You've given me some great ideas about a couple of spots to change in my story. I think I'll have an accident pull my heroine's brother out of the story for a while so she is forced to lean on hero. I'm so excited I can't wait to start on this change.

    I've created a small town for two of my stories.

    Do you prefer fictional small towns or real small towns?

    Thanks for the contest. I'll be sure to enter.

    Jackie Layton

  29. Julie, thanks for always supporting the Seekers by buying and reading our books!

    Another question about suspense in LIH!

    All the Love Inspired lines are doing so, so well, which is because of the wonderful editors like Elizabeth. Not long ago, LIH went from two books to four books a month. I wouldn't be suprised to see more growth in the future.

  30. Elizabeth, welcome to Seekerville. Great to see you here.

    I second the question on the appropriate level of suspense in an LIH. I would love to know. (The LIH manuscript I have under review by LIH has a suspense element in it. The three LIH manuscripts I'm working on also have suspense elements in them.)

    Also, what is your opinion on villain POVs in an LIH or LIS?

    Lastly, do you have any numbers on male readership and do you often get submissions from male authors?

    I'm definitely in for the LIS giveaways. However, I already have nearly all of the Seekerville items (still up for the last two items on the list).

  31. Helen, I'm ready for a second cup of coffee. Twelve pots! You know we'll have lots of visitors to Seekerville today.

    Sounds like it's time to start a new story, Helen. One thing is certain, writers improve by writing. You'll be surprised how much you know now that you didn't know when you started that first suspense some years ago.

  32. I also want to give a shout out for the supportive nature of Seekerville. I got my first request for my medieval Japan LIH due to a blurb I posted here. It's a great place!

  33. Great interview!I like there to be at least a little suspense in the books I read.Preferably a lot!

    Katie N.

  34. Wow--what a great post, and so many wonderful tips from Elizabeth. Thank you! I write a different genre, but it was so fun to read this post, see the pictures and her her natural excitement about what she does.

    I've enjoyed a number of LI books. So fun to learn more about it here. :)

    Elizabeth, you gave a great tip here about characterization that spoke to a place where I'm stuck with one of my characters. Thank you!

    I am hoping to stop back later today--there are great questions already posted. Kids home. Company. Could be iffy. :)

    I'm cheering on those of you who enter the contest!

    DEBBY--so nice to see you today. :)

  35. Wow, this post was full of helpful information. I have never written suspense, but just reading today's post makes me want to try my hand :)...Thank you so much for stopping by and talking to us. And thank you for the wonderful contest opportunity. I will definitely be polishing my inspirational manuscript this weekend.

    Happy Friday everyone!

  36. Good morning Seekerville!

    Hi Debby! This was a very helpful post. Many of the things that were said applied to writing in general, and not just suspense. After all, we sort of have to keep our readers "in suspense" to keep them turning the pages.

    I told Debby I thought that the suspense that she writes is hard, but so is writing! We all have to remain open to learning new things to grow, change and improve. These intriguing questions about elements of suspense in LIH novels proves that point. So, as I await Elizabeth's answer, I will help myself to some of Helen's coffee and my grandmother's apple cake with cider glaze. Feel free to help yourselves!


  37. Virginia wrote:
    "I don't think there's another site on the 'net where publishers and editors share as freely with potential authors. It's not 'please format this way' and where to put your page numbers It's writing tips, pet peeves and tips on pacing."

    Thanks, Virginia, for your kind words about Seekerville. You know we want EVERYONE to publish! Plus, we're blessed to have wonderful editors, like Elizabeth, who are so willing to work with writers at each stage of their journey to publication. That's huge!

    Congrats, again, on receiving "The Call." Share a few of your thoughts that day when you answered the phone.

    You weren't the writer Elizbeth almost couldn't reach, were you? :)

  38. Good Morning, Elizabeth.

    It's always great to get the insider info from an editor.

  39. Very interesting interview! Thanks for the information. I'm still in the midst of writing my historical suspenseful romance (that's what I'm calling it right now) and haven't given much thought on where to send it. It's fun to read about the possibilities, though. Great giveaway!

  40. Oh, Elizabeth, welcome to Seekerville!!!!

    I love the prizes, but more than that I love your humor... Oh my stars, you make me laugh!

    Peeps, let me just say that I have a wonderful time working with the amazing staff at Love Inspired... they're wonderful.

    And visiting them in NYC is so awesome... ROAD TRIP!!!!

    Hey, fresh coffee!

    And chocolate stuffed croissants....


    red velvet cupcakes from Crumbs Bake Shop in Lower Manhattan...

    Gotta love us some cupcakes...!!!!

    Hey, look, they packed some Toffee Coffee and Salted Caramel cupcakes too!!!

    The best for you, Elizabeth!!!

  41. Waving to Edwina and Amy! Did you get some of the yummy breakfast?

    Pam, the coffee's great! Helen is watching the pots in case we need more.

  42. Jackie,

    Another great question about fictional settings.

    For small towns--or military posts--I like to make up a fictional setting. When I use Atlanta as a backdrop, I talk about certain areas in the city but not specific streets, unless they're major roads or highways.

    You mentioned pulling your herone's brother out of the story for a period of time. Evidently he was getting in the way of the romance. :) Brothers are like that, aren't they?

  43. Wow! Seekerville pulls out all the stops once again!

    Some great opportunities for LIS in the future. I'm tempted to pull out the old suspense I wrote and do some spit and polish work.

    Elizabeth, thank you for such an informative post about what LIS editors are looking for. No surprises, I like that. (Keeping the surprises for the stories) The examples were great, too!


  44. More great questions for Elizabeth. Thanks, Walt!

    Also thanks for your kind words about Seekerville and for always supporting us!

    I'm not sure how many men read LI books, but Romance Writers of America provides the following stat:

    "Women make up 91 percent of romance book buyers, and men make up 9 percent.

  45. Katie N, I agree with you! I like to read suspense, although all the LI stories are "Keepers" in my opinion.

  46. W-E-L-C-O-M-E!

    We've all been practicing our bold and italics for your visit.

    Thank you for such a totally helpful post!!

    You are living the dream. NYC. Reading books. Working with all those great peers at the LI offices.


  47. Jeanne T...

    Thanks for the contest cheers! Sounds like a busy day for you. So glad Elizabeth's post helped you with your own story.

    Enjoy your company.

  48. Speaking of dead bodies.

    Do you prefer dead bodies in stories or just trying to avoid being a dead body in a LI?

    Seriously though, is a LIS suspense always centered around a murder or attempted murder?

  49. Annie, polish your story and then submit your first and last pages by midnight SAT to be entered into the contest.

    (Click on the Contest Rules Tab located under the Seekerville Island photo to learn the details about submitting.)

    Such a great opportunity for everyone interested in publishing with Love Inspired!

  50. Once again the Seeker ladies out do themselves!

    Enter me for the books, any duplicate copies will be donated to our church library.

  51. i love the pic of your office entry! Who wouldn't be settled in their job if they could work there!i am not a writer of novels, but love to check on Seekers because i do write reviews on novels i've read. Thanks for having Elizabeth here, and thanks, Elizabeth for coming.

  52. Piper wrote:
    After all, we sort of have to keep our readers "in suspense" to keep them turning the pages.

    You're so right, Piper! No matter the genre, readers need to be hooked and emotionally involved in the story to keep them turning the pages. An element of suspense, whether true danger or a mysterious twist, increases reader anticipation, which is always good.

    Thanks for sharing your grandmother's apple cake. A special treat on a beautiful fall day!

  53. Hi Rose,

    Thanks for stopping by Seekerville. I loved spending time with you at ACFW! Enjoy the day.

  54. Christina,
    Good luck with your story. Keep Love Inspired Historicals in mind when you're ready to submit.

  55. Ruthy always come to Seekerville bearing yummy bakery treats. No calories for virtual goodies. Love it!

    Thanks, Ruthy!

    I'm nodding in agreement to your mention of the amazing staff at Love Inspired. You're so right. They are wonderful! And we are so blessed to work with them.


  56. Kirsten,

    Lest you have any doubt, let me offer this word of advice:

    A second word of advice:

  57. Tina's right about the BOLD and ITALICS html I just learned.

    Notice how I'm trying to incorporate my new skill into my writing. :)

  58. Bridgett,
    I love church libraries. Especially when they're stocked with Seeker books!

  59. Good morning, Elizabeth! Wonderful to have you join us in Seekerville!

    Exciting post about everything Love Inspired. I love all the opportunities available in LIS for writers of all levels.

    Writing suspense is such an artform. I know our own Debby Giusti is a master.

    Thanks for sharing. I'm looking forward to following all the comments today!

  60. This is an incredible resource- oh my gosh! I love love love suspense but I like a historical setting. I really have to look at a way to make that work.

    But not right now...

    because I just applied some MARY CONNEALY chapstick and I don't know whether to laugh or shoot someone.

    THank you TIna and Seekers. My gift basket came in the mail. Loving it! A Seekerville Jar Opener? Who needs a man around when you have one of those?

    I think I want to write for LI just so I can walk through those doors of the Woolworth Building.
    that deserves a big "Oh My Stars"!

  61. Welcome, Elizabeth!! I have to tell y'all I was blessed by having Elizabeth do the line edits on my upcoming (April 2013) book. She did an amazing job! And was so encouraging with her smiley faces. :)

    Elizabeth, thanks for all this great info on the LIS line. I'm amazed by the LIS writers and how they deal with the extra suspense thread. Very fun!

  62. Hi Marianne,

    The Woolworth Building is spectacular. Step through those doors and glance up. You'll find a vaulted marble ceiling, studded with mosaics, that looks like it belongs in a fairytale palace. Wooden elevators, from the early 1900s, whisk you up to the tenth floor where you'll find Love Inspired. Huge glass doors open to an outer office where shelves of books line the walls. It's all so magical and exciting.

  63. Lots of great advice! Thanks for sharing with us today Elizabeth. I love reading LIS and as an influencer for Susan Sleeman I'm in the middle of Dead Wrong but you've got me drooling over No Way Out. Love the Justice Agency.

  64. Deb, I've had the honor of reading an opening submission of one of your suspenseful historicals! Excellent writing that hooked me from the first line!

  65. Jamie, glad you enjoy all the great LIS stories! Thanks for spreading the word.

  66. Did I hear Ruthy mention SALTED CARAMEL CUPCAKES?


  67. Wonderful to have you in Seekerville, Elizabeth! Thanks for the informative post!! And for the fast track opportunity for those writing suspense. Fun to see the lovely photos.

    I love writing for LIH and appreciate what you and all the editors do to improve our stories.


  68. Welcome, Elizabeth, to our 5th anniversary month-long birthday party! And what a MEATY post, full of great information! Thank you so much!

  69. Saw the comment about church libraries. Will do the same for any duplicates. My sister's church has a book club in addition to their library and would definitely love to have them.

  70. Thank you, Elizabeth, for all the insight today! Love seeing your pics and getting a glimpse into your life and the world of editing our stories and helping us be better writers.

    I agree with Virginia. Seekerville RAWKS! Where else can you get such good advice/help/encouragement and opportunities to get your work to an editor?!

    I was literally screaming after I got THE CALL this January! (I did not scream on the phone because that would be rude. :-)

    So Excited to be working with Love Inspired! They are so wonderful and gracious to this newbie writer, and I'll be forever grateful they saw something in my story worth polishing. Thank you, thank you, Thank You!

    Missy,I'm not sure who did my line edits, but I got smiley faces, too. They were the perfect thing to talk me off the editing ledge when I got to feeling like a dope. When I'd see them I would hear Julie Andrews singing, A Spoonful of Sugar helps the Medicine go down...

    Okay, I'll quit rambling...

    Oh, guess what? At Walmart this week, I saw the Heartsong Presents books on the shelf! Love that LI picked up that line and now they're even more accessible for me to find. Happy Day.

  71. Wow Elizabeth, Great info for us. Welcome to Seekerville and thank you for visiting with us. You LI editors rock!!!

    Thanks again and have fun today.

  72. Kirsten, you should go for it.

    Elizabeth, I printed off a blog post you wrote called Top 10 Tips for Writing for Love Inspired Historical back in 2010. It has been a constant go-to guide for me. It's taped right in front of my computer so it's the first thing I see when I look up from writing.

    Today's blog post is filled with great information. Thank you, Elizabeth for explaining what LIS is looking for in writer verbiage. *g* Or at least in a way my brain understands you make it all sound doable. I love the way you explained the weaving of the threads. I think it's the best explanation I've seen.

  73. Seekerville is THE place to get all the great insights on LI and all their inside info! Way to go, Seekerville! ;-)

    And I love that LI publishes so MANY BOOKS! May love and romance TAKE OVER THE WORLD!!! Mwahahahaha!!!!!!!!!!

    Okay, going back to my edit cave now. Must finish edits TODAY!!!

  74. Elizabeth, thank you for all of your wonderful advice. I love what you said about the villain having a game plan and sticking to it! I've never thought of it that way. :)

  75. Thank you for sharing yourself w/ us today, Elizabeth...

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  76. I'm going to say something that qualifies as MASTER OF THE OBVIOUS but it's so true it bears saying, when anyone gets a chance to read a post like this, directly from an editor pay VERY CAREFUL ATTENTION. Elizabeth is telling you things that really matter to her and to LI, so take it all very seriously.

  77. I'm am just thrilled at the growth of the whole LI line.
    I'll tell a brief LI story here.
    I'd been writing for quite a while, very sweet romances, and I was targeting Silhouette because they were doing the kind of sweet romances I was writing.
    In fact I'd gone quite a ways into the process with Silhouette with my third (or maybe second?) book before ultimately getting rejected.

    Then ... I think in a Romance Writer's of America Magazine article I read about LI.

    This was early to mid 1990s.

    It was like a whole world opening up to me. Christian Fiction?
    I just didn't know it existed.
    I'd read Grace Livingston Hill and probably even Janette Oke but I just hadn't clicked to it yet that there were actually CHRISTIAN publishers.
    But reading that little article about LI opened my eyes.
    And here I was with all these very sweet books, with characters conducting themselves as Christians but with the faith thread unspoken.

    And it changed my focus and my whole way of writing and my goals. I really appreciate Love Inspired for being part of that.

  78. Thanks, Walt, for spreading the word about Love Inspired books!

  79. Clari, so glad you're part of the LI family. :)

    I screamed after my call, too! And walked around in a daze for days!

    Waving to Missy and Janet! Glynna too! All such wonderful LI and LIH authors.

  80. Thank you for posting your TRUE STORY yesterday about the wedding conversation. Please allow me to share a similar one. While working as a Hospice nurse, I wrote a poem entitled Pathway To Paradise and illustrated it with an original painting. I shared it with a patient's family as their father was dying and, to make a long story short, they asked to use it on the cover of the bulletin at his funeral. Some of my family members have used it at funerals, it is framed & hanging on the walls of many of my dear friends & loved ones, and I recited it as the eulogy at my own dear father's funeral. A simple, heartfelt poem from a nurse (not a writer) ended up somehow touching so many. We never know, do we?

  81. Christina, you and I both agree about Elizabeth's ability to teach as well as edit! Plus, she breaks difficult concepts into easy-to-understand bites!

  82. Debby, that is definitely HUGE. Those little bites are like petit fours.

  83. Melanie, Donna and Karen K...

    Thanks for stopping by today. You're all in the drawing.

    Good luck with your edits, Melanie!

    Elizabeth's comments about villains are spot on, aren't they, Donna?

  84. Mary,

    Thanks for sharing how Love Inspired had a role in your journey to publication!

    I was targeting HQ Intrigue when Krista Stroever, at that time the Senior Editor for Steeple Hill, came to my local Georgia Romance Writers' meeting and talked about the expanding LIS line. I pitched my story, added a faith arc and eventually sold.

  85. Hi everybody! Thanks so much for the warm welcome--and the great food! Now, to answer some of your terrific questions.

    Carol: I double-checked with Melissa Endlich, senior editor on Love Inspired, and she said that fictional foreign countries aren't what she's looking for right now. We love giving readers characters that are familiar and fully relatable with that "down home" feel to them.

    Cheryl: Hi there! Glad to hear our bandit is coming along nicely. :-) I'm so excited to see how the story turns out! And feel free to use Twitter to peer-pressure me into tweeting all you like--since I'm not on Twitter, it'll entertain all of my friends and not cause me any inconvenience at all. ;-)

    Renee: I hope you enjoyed Lady Outlaw. I worked on that one, and I think the author did an amazing job!

    Christina: For the Fast Track, it's okay to have a WIP. Just let us know how close you are to completing it.

    Vince: I'm not quite as familiar with Deep POV, but if the author feels it works best for the story, I'd be open to it.

    Kathleen: It's possible to have suspense elements in a historical story. In Regina Scott's delightful Regency series The Everard Legacy, there's a bit of a suspense plot running through the books--but the romance must always be the main focus. LIH is a romance line first and foremost!

    Julie: Suspense isn't something we're specifically looking for in LIH, but we're open to it, in the right story. No plans to expand the LIH line at the moment, but anything's possible down the road!

    Jackie: As far as our "official" policy goes, we'd be fine with either fictional or real small towns. If you want my opinion, though? I'd say go for fictional. That way, you get to decide exactly where it works best for you for there to be a diner, or the police station, or the local newspaper, etc.

    Walt: I'd say it would be all right to have suspense take up perhaps 30% of your story. The 50% suspense and 50% romance we ask for in LIS wouldn't be quite appropriate for LIH since it's not a suspense-driven line. But yeah, 30% should be all right. As for villain POV, we'd consider using them sparingly in an LIS, but never in an LIH. Not sure what our numbers are on male readership (though Debby's right that in the genre overall, women far outnumber men) but we'd certainly be open to a male writer. In fact, LIS has had two husband/wife writing teams: Ron and Janet Benrey, and the couple writing as Hannah Alexander.

    Jeanne: I'm glad my blog post helped! Characterization is always crucial, in any genre.

    Tina: Your post made me laugh! Okay, let's talk about dead bodies. Murder can do a great job of upping the stakes--if the bad guy is willing to kill, then the hero and heroine know just how real the danger is. On the other hand, it's completely possible to get that sense of danger closing in without actually killing anybody. Liz Johnson's first book The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn has the hero kidnapping the heroine to keep her from getting killed!

    Jamie: Thanks for the enthusiasm about The Justice Agency series. They're such fun, exciting books!

    And thanks to everyone else for the wonderfully welcoming comments! Now, time to post this and see what new questions have come in...


  86. What a fun way to get to know you, Elizabeth!I've read many posts from editors before,but I really feel like I learned so much from yours. As an aspiring author whose goal is to see my name on the cover of an LI book, I feel like I have a handle on how to submit to LI. I'm going to print this post so it's close at hand as I work on a future submission. Thanks for presenting great information in a friendly, chatty way!

  87. Lovely, Joan. God was using you and your poem to comfort those who grieve.

  88. Thanks, Elizabeth, for answering the many questions posed today. We know how busy you are at LI and greatly appreciate you being with us!

  89. Christina,
    Good luck with your writing and visit Seekerville often. We all learn from one another.

  90. Welcome Elizabeth. Thank you for the wonderful information you included here. Even though I don't write suspense, I found some tidbits to use as a historical writer.

    Do you have any advice for those writers who submit to LI, and are sent back a letter with suggestions for revisions? Is there a certain time period for making revisions? Any advice to making it to 'The Call' stage? :)

    Also, which editors will be participating with the Fast Track?

    Thanks again for the wonderful information here.

    Jodie Wolfe

  91. Elizabeth, I was laughing outloud on the call to the debut author. I can picture myself doing something like that. So funny.

    I think it takes a very intellent person to write suspense and that's why I've never completed one.

    Thanks for all the valuabe information.

    Connie Queen

  92. Hi Jodie,
    I'd say a month is a good amount of time to take when revising a submission. Of course, we welcome it if you can get back to us faster! And we're still interested in seeing your revisions even if they take longer. My best advice would be to really pay attention to what the editor is asking for. If you're not quite clear on what she wants, it's okay to ask! The sooner the author and editor can get on the same page, the better. As for the Fast Track, we'll all be participating--every editor on the Love Inspired team works across all three lines, so for projects like this, everyone pitches in.

  93. Thanks Elizabeth. :)

    Jodie Wolfe

  94. Elizabeth, thank you! This was such an amazing post. I feel like I just took a course in writing for Love Inspired Suspense. I'm really excited to work on a submission for you. Thanks SO much for sharing your time and expertise with us today.

  95. I think it almost required police intervention for Ruthy to get her CALL!!! But it happened. YAY!!!

  96. This comment has been removed by the author.

  97. Hi Elizabeth:

    Do you think LI would be open to a baseball player hero? You have an author who could just knock it right out of the park: Ruth Logan Herne. I’m sure with your NYC connections you could get Ruth interviews with the Yankee players and their wives. I’ll bet some of the wives have read Ruth’s books! I watch those beautiful wives on TV and wonder: what young girl wouldn’t want to be a Yankee wife? (In fact, what older girl wouldn’t want to be, either?)

    BTW RUTH: is there anyway you can get down to the Bronx and help the Bombers beat the birds? You have until 5:00 pm. We could take up a collection. I’ll donate $50 if you’ll actually go. No kidding.


  98. Elizabeth, it's delightful to have you as our guest in Seekerville today! And wow, what a jam-packed post full of amazingly helpful insights into LIS--definitely a keeper!

    Here's a question that occurred to me. Currently LIS novels have contemporary settings and characters. Do you foresee ever adding historical suspense to the line--stories where the suspense thread would necessarily be stronger than in the typical LIH?

  99. Hi, Elizabeth!
    Your enthusiasm for your work jumps out of your words!
    I write for LIH and loved reading how you get a manuscript published! Thanks for all the wonderful information you provided here in Seekerville!
    Good luck to everyone who participates in the LIS Fast Track and of course good luck to the editors, too, since they will be reading all the submissions! :)

  100. Jodie, great question about getting revisions back to LI.

  101. Too funny, Vince, about Ruthy and her "in" with baseball's stars! She does love the game!

  102. Hi Eva,
    Thanks for being with us today! Congrats on your success!

  103. Hi Vince,
    Maybe a minor league baseball player would work for us, but big major league stars don't quite fit with the guy-next-door heroes in small town settings that we like to see. Still, I think we have had a few stories about former athletes (mostly bullriders, I believe) who come back to their small town homes ready to settle down and find love. Something like that would always be welcome!

  104. Did Mary Curry mention a submission?

    YAY, MARY!

    I hope lots of SeekerVillagers are getting their submissions ready. Such a fantastic opportunity thanks to Elizabeth's generosity.

  105. Hi Myrna,
    It's definitely fun to have hints of suspense in a historical story, but I'm not sure we'd really be able to build a whole line in that direction. Inspirational historical romantic suspense might be just a little too specific for us!

  106. Panera's is providing lunch! Lots of great sandwiches, homemade soup and chips.


  107. Oh, PULEESE, VINCE.

    Did you just say what woman wouldn't want to be a trophy wife.


    There's more murder and mayhem in that job title than any other.

    But I don't think LI goes for the sports hero plot.

  108. Oh my stars, great comments, numbers, questions! I'm doing lunch shift to help the waitressing crew... And yes, I still have all my table hopping skills, LOL!

    We brought fresh coffee from the Yankee Belle Cafe....

    And we've got cold tuna and chicken salad, fresh burgers (Connealy is flippin' 'em in the kitchen) great chewy rolls, lettuce, condiments... And salad for all of you who are gazing at the calendar, determined to look SMOKIN' HOT in a red Christmas sweater...

    I'm just sayin'... :)

  109. I know I'm missing out Debby. :-( I read these books like crazy back in the day and I loved them all, they were pretty much my start in Christian fiction. I used to buy them at every yard sale and flea market not to mention go nuts at Wal-mart buying them LOL! I just pulled out a stash of about 50 from under the bed the other night, they were some of my favorite titles so I got excited about rediscovering to find the time to read some.

  110. Ruthy- MORE red velvet??! LOL just kidding! I will take some of those Toffee Coffee and Salted Caramel cupcakes. Now those sound right up my alley. :-)

  111. Yes... SALTED CARAMEL CUPCAKES from Crumbs, right around the corner from Elizabeth and the gang...

    Do you think we can talk her into swinging by there on her lunch????

    Oh, SUHWEET!!!

    (Hey, I've got a kid that lives there, and I've never gone to this bakery...I wonder if they're closed on weekends??? One would hope NOT!!! :) )

  112. Melanie said that she loves that LI publishes SO MANY BOOKS...

    Twenty (yes, 20!!!!) per month with the two additional LIS novels coming up.

    Adding Heartsong to the their mix???


    I hear so many happy comments that they're delighted to be able to see Heartsongs out and about.

    I'd like to try a Toffee Coffee cupcake right about now... :) And a Caramel Macchiato from Starbucks!!!

  113. This is an amazing number of fantastic books listed here.
    Thank you for your generosity Elizabeth!

  114. Elizabeth thank you for all the wonderful information. My favorite books are the Love Inspired lines. You gave a wealth of information and I plan on submitting.

    Again thank you

  115. Great post. Just tweeted it because it contains great info for anyone who wants to write for LIS>

  116. Debby- thanks for the super guest speaker. This was a great post.

    Thanks Elizabeth for all the great information. Definitely useful for me. I'm especially excited about the fast-track submissions coming up. Don't be surprised if you see a submission from me.

  117. Thanks for responding, Elizabeth. Actually, I was just wondering if the current line might ever be open to including stories set in historical eras. Yes, a separate line would definitely be a mouthful!

    And Ruthy, salted caramel cupcakes??? Just yesterday I had a serious craving for Ghirardelli sea salt caramel chocolates--YUM!!!!

  118. Hi Myrna,
    Since we've got the historical line, we probably wouldn't be looking for a historical in the suspense program--but if the writing was really good and compelling, then we might be open to considering a more evenly split romance/suspense book occasionally in LIH.

  119. Oh bless you for putting it out there that readers don't want to read about the gruesome demise of pets. I still haven't recovered from the heartless murder of a dog in a suspense I read -- big name author too. I actually gasped and closed the book and I thought, "She seriously did not do that. Not ____" But she did :-( I haven't quite forgiven her but I still love her books anyway.

    What a great post -- and I have questions. Embarrassing because they are so...newbeish...but here goes.

    What is the correct chapter length for Love Inspired? Could somebody give me an idea as in double spaced number of pages? (I'm blushing as I write this but I really don't know!)

    And to signify scene changes when not starting a new chapter what is the preferred method? Extra spacing, *s or -----? Inquiring minds want to know.

    I'm wrestling with mystery vs. suspense. My story is heavy on the mystery with elements of suspense so I'm not sure if it fits the Love Inspired Suspense line. If it doesn't can you do mystery in Love Inspired?

  120. I really appreciated the encouragement to "be mean to your characters" (LOL)! That's one thing that challenged me for years. I like life to be safe, organized, and cozy--and, for a long time, those are the sorts of situations into which I wrote my characters. Then, after going through a period of time when I was reading a lot of romantic suspense and mystery (along with traditional romance), I decided to start drafting a mystery manuscript with romantic elements. Every scene I wrote, I'd ask myself, "How much worse can I make this for my heroine? How much more can I complicate her situation?" Writing that manuscript felt great! Now I'm going back through some of my other manuscripts and asking myself what, if anything, else I can do to challenge my heroines and heroes. I still find it hard to do sometimes--but I know the advice is good: "Be mean to your characters!" Thank you!


  121. Hi Kav,
    No need to be embarrassed! Page count for a chapter can vary depending on what font you use, and what margins, etc. but I'd say aim for about 3,000 words. Definitely use * or # on a blank line to indicate a scene change. As for mystery...I'm sorry to say that without a real sense of danger that starts at the beginning of the book, a mystery story wouldn't be quite right for LIS or for LI. Don't lose heart, though! Your story might be a great fit for someone else's publishing program.

  122. Thank you Debby. I'm plugging along with the historicals ... and an idea for a LIS is brewing with all the information today.

    Getting this much insight is priceless.

    Thank you Elizabeth!

  123. Hi Margaret,
    You're exactly right! It can be a struggle to be hard on your characters, but it makes for a much stronger story.

  124. Yay, Renee!

    I knew you loved LI. Welcome back!


  125. Hi Janet,
    You're in the drawing. Good luck.

    Grab some lunch while you're here. Panera sandwiches or Ruthy's burgers. Lots of goodies for dessert!

  126. Yay, Melinda!

    So glad you're submitting!!! Whoo-hoo!!!

  127. Dianna, you need to submit. You're such a good writer.

    Great spending time with you at M&M!

  128. Kav, there are no silly questions. Especially not in Seekerville. Every question is important. :)

  129. Lots of interesting stuff here, going to read it again.

  130. Margaret,
    Like you, I started out being very nice to my characters. They did everything right and never got hurt. Boring! Once I realized they needed to suffer, my writing improved.

  131. Deb M,
    Yes, yes, yes! Write that LIH! You need to be published!

  132. DEBBY--

    No, that wasn't me! I got the call from Melissa, and I was sort of confused by the e-mail. It said 'talk about your submission'.

    And I didn't know if that was a nice rejection or if we were going to talk about characters, 'cause you know I always love to talk about books and writing. And she seemed like a really nice person, so even though I hate the phone, I was cool with a Melissa call.


    But I just answered the phone anyway, and when she said she liked it, I said, 'oh, good, me too!'.

    Huh. How's that for author arrogance? but I really DID like my own story. :D

    And I've never worked with any other publisher, but the Rachel and the line editors were so very gracious.

    I had some trouble understanding exactly what I was supposed to do when I got the edits. So I spent 3 weeks, re-writing it all, thinking I was sending the whole file back to them. Every change Melissa made, I wrote in my file, making sure the formatting was perfect.

    ERRRRR. NO. You just make notes of changes you don't agree with (who wouldn't agree?) and send back those hard copy pages. And they did explain that. I just didn't udnerstand.

    I was like 'Rainman' during the editing process. Except I didn't have Tom Cruise in the picture.

  133. Ruthy- glad you figured out I wasn't being snarky.

    I would never try to out-snark Ruthy.

    She might fly over here and lure my toddlers away with her special baby-loving powers.

    Oh, wait. That actually sounds okay right about now. :D

  134. Hi Misty,
    Thanks for joining us today. Grab some lunch. Coffee? Maybe a Salted Caramel cupcake?

  135. JOAN! Your words touch me deeply... like your poem, we never know when the ripple effect of some little thing bears lovely fruit...

    Now you've made me smile and get teary-eyed all over again! Thank you.... Nurse Joan!

  136. Elizabeth--

    This is a weird question... But I used tor ead all the Harlequins my grandma had in her basement.

    And those 1950's books are really interesting for hero and heroine studies.

    Do you all ever talk about the evolution of the line? How men went from being mysterious/ cruel/ over successful to boy-next-door?

    The heroine had to evolve from the pretty, clueless secretary... That was a given.

    But it seems (at least in this line) the hero has lost his cruelty and distance and usually his money. :D

    Does Harleqjin have all those old books in storage somewhere? We need a Harlequin Museum!!!

    Neat exhibits, buttons to push that would read excerpts, covers on display, interactive drama where you could try on costumes. :D

  137. Virginia,
    How fun to hear about your call from Melissa! You should like your own story so your answer was perfect.

    Edits can be confusing, especially at first. There's so much to learn.

    Remember I just learned how to BOLD and do Italics on Blogger.

  138. THE CALL!!!

    Out of town.

    No internet.

    Watching a really cute kid who HATED SITTING IN STARBUCKS WITH ME AND MY COMPUTER...

    And a call from home saying "Harlequin just called you!!!!"

    SWEEEEEET!!! And then I had to discern who was calling, find a way to access my e-mail, e-mail Melissa with my out of town phone number, and within a minute...

    A MINUTE....

    The phone rang.

    And we've been working together ever since. LOVELY!!!! AND....

    I still have her message on my voice mail. I will never delete it, hearing her voice saying they were interested in contracting "Winter's End".... I grin just thinking about it!!! But it almost did take an armed escort to have it happen, LOL!

  139. A Harlequin Museum. What a great idea, Virginia.

    A few years ago, HQ sent authors a large calendar that featured twelve of their early covers. So fun to see how HQ started.

  140. Ruth- Honest to goodness I think the universe is trying to tell me something.... I went on Pinterest 5 minutes ago and low and behold one of my friends pinned the link to this recipe: Thought I'd share with all you red velvet lovers on here since you might not see it on the other day's "cake post." ;-) Since this one has Oreos I might attempt to try it and see if I like.

  141. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SEEKERVILLE!!! TOO AWESOME!! SO HAPPY FOR YOU (and those connected to you). I can't tell you how much I enjoyed this interview-type post. I will definitely be returning to REread it as soon as I possibly can!! I hope to one day join the team here, since I'm writing Christian romance. It'd be absolutley wonderful if I can meet you all!! It was great getting to know you, Elizabeth (sorry, I forgot your last name.)

  142. Sounds yummy, Renee. Thanks for sharing!

  143. Page,
    Stop by often. Once you comment, we consider you family!

    So glad you enjoyed Elizabeth Mazer's post!

    Remember our birthday celebration lasts all month.

  144. Hi Virginia,
    Yep, there has definitely been plenty of evolution over the years! Some Harlequin lines do still have very wealthy, alpha heroes (particularly in Harlequin Presents and Harlequin Desire), but there's a lot more emotional accessibility to the characters now. In my opinion, I think a good bit of it stems from stories now having hero POV along with heroine. Once you're in the hero's head, you can see the conflicts he's struggling with, such as the emotions he's not sure how to handle. That way, even when his behavior seems cold or unfeeling, you still get a sense for what's motivating it--which makes it a lot easier to forgive. And we as a company have created new lines like Love Inspired that were built to provide a different sort of escape for our readers from the very dramatic, very high-society, aspirational stories that people usually think of when they think of Harlequin. Love Inspired is sort of the "comfort food" of the romance industry, instead--warm and sweet and a salted caramel cupcake. :-)

    As for a museum, funny you should ask, because we actually had an art exhibit of Harlequin covers through the years for our company's 60th anniversary! It was in a gallery near the office, and it was awesome! As for the books themselves, we do have some archives in our offices, but better yet, the Harlequin Treasury has a stockpile of e-editions of Harlequin books under several lines from the 1990s. Check it out under the listing "exclusively in ebook" in the bookstore at

  145. Nice! this post is awesome, and these are terrific prizes!

    I'd love to be entered to win!

  146. What a great interview today! Romantic suspense is my genre so it was particularly helpful. Thanks, Debby and Elizabeth.

    It made me blush to read your comment about never killing a dog. The inciting incident on the second page of one of my earlier manuscripts involved the MC finding not one, but three, of his showdogs poisoned. I queried one Christian agent and promptly received word that it wasn't her kind of story. It probably didn't help that there were early suggestions the MC might be gay, too (he wasn't), but I've decided that story is too edgy to make it in the Christian marketplace.

    I think I'll take another cup of Helen's coffee, and maybe a leftover biscuit, and go have a look for something that might be a good fit for LIS.

  147. I love romantic suspense, but never thought about writing it. Assumed I couldn't. But this really opens my eyes. Thanks for breaking the LIS line down so completely, Elizabeth.

  148. In fact, I've got a great story in mind. One I started a while ago but haven't finished. I think I'll revisit it once I complete my current wip and submit it the normal way.

    Best wishes to all the contest entrants, and thanks to Seekerville and Elizabeth for another great contest.

  149. Katelyn, thanks for stopping by! Come back often.

    Carol, I'm smiling at your first story. My first manuscript will never see the light of day!

    Waving to Patricia! Perhaps a future LIS writer, eh?

  150. Thanks for the info, Elizabeth! Much appreciated. Have a plotline [or three] rolling around in my head but didn't know whether to write them to LI guidelines or not. So... now I know.

    Of course, there's about 42 other storylines wandering around in there somewhere. Surely one [or more] of them would fit LI ;). Will have to ponder that...

    Busy day in Seekerville! Think Elizabeth may end up beating Julie and Ruthy combined ;).

  151. Carol, yes, yes yes! Start writing that LI story that's rolling around in your head. As fast as you are, you'll finish the book next week. :)

  152. This was a very enjoyable read, lots of great information. I am new to Seekerville and this was a pleasent surprise. Thank you for your willingness to share Elizabeh. I will keep your suggestions in mind while working on my characters.

  153. LOL Debby! I dunno about that ;).

    Gotta figure out which one would lend itself to LI and go from there :).

  154. Awesome article, Debbie and Elizabeth. I've added a number of new questions to my brainstorming list. I've been discovering the joys and terror of not knowing how a story ends this month, after changing my villain. And Elizabeth's point about the villain sticking to his plan was like an ah ha moment of a key thing I missed of what he would do. Yippee!!! Off to write more. BTW, tickled to see that my book is one of the giveaways. :)

  155. Thanks for the wonderful interview and the information on LIS. I'm excited to see the line expand and for the opportunity to submit to fast track!

  156. I can't wait to get home from work and catch up on all the bonus tips in the comments. This was definitely a banner day in Seekerville.

    Just in case I miss you, Elizabeth, thanks again for spending so much time here answering questions. It's so inspiring to write for a publisher who actively is seeking your work and telling you how to make it fit what they want. Great way to start my weekend of writing!


  157. I'm polishing and planning to submit a story!

  158. Hi Tammy,
    Don't be a stranger, as folks used to say. Each day we feature great writing information, yummy food and the coffee is always hot!

  159. Sandra, glad you had an ah-ha moment while visiting Seekerville. Of course, I know Elizabeth was your inspiration! She's inspired all of us today.

  160. Yay, Terri! Another submission!!! Good for you.

    You can't get The Call unless you submit. :)

  161. Mary Curry wrote:

    "It's so inspiring to write for a publisher who actively is seeking your work and telling you how to make it fit what they want."

    I agree, Mary.

    Have a very productive writing weekend.


  162. Terri Dawn Smith...

    So glad you're submitting! YAY!!!

  163. When Mary Curry sent me some of her LIS type story-

    I ...couldn't... stop... reading.


    SUSPENSE from the first words. That woman can write ANYTHING.

    Do I sounds jealous?

    No, not at all...

    *lies through her teeth*

  164. Thanks for the great post, Elizabeth and Debby. What tremendous information.

    Good luck to everyone taking up the contest offer!

  165. Time for me to head home. Thanks for all your great comments and enthusiasm, everyone! And thanks especially to Debby for inviting me to come. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

  166. wow I'm gonna have to go back and read this when I get to work! :-) I don't read the suspense line very much - a lot is too scary for me or I don't like the common themes or find something too unbelievable even for a christian book. I liked the cozy ones - happened to find one at walmart several years ago 'murder by mushroom' I think it was called and it said 'cozy' - it was pretty good and I could identify with the heroine -she had to look up a winner recipe for the after church lunch, competing with veterans of course! and the dead person was eating her casserole at the time of death. ALso read another that was good The Inn at Shadow Lake and of course wanted to continue since it sounded like a sequel was up next then saw at the end of the book that the author had passed away before the book was published(so all ya'll with a series dangling make sure to finish just in case ya know?! I'll never get the other guy's story now...)but some stuff I find unbelievable is when a bad guy is after the heroine and the author makes it a point to stress how the couple is separated esp at nighttime - I mean seriously? someone's trying to kill me and the hero is gonna get a separate room and leave me all by myself? sorry but christian or not the FBI/military special ops expert/guntoting knows how to shoot hero ain't leaving me by myself to get killed :-( granted this has only happened a couple of times but I just couldn't finish one book and the other I did get through and it was a good story overall except for that detail and one other little thingy. just seems there are other ways around that area without separate rooms and the heroine being guarded from a distance..maybe meet up with female partner or have a house with others in it, or better yet give the heroine her own gun! :-)
    anyways I agree totally about killing off pets!! I'm not wild about secondary characters being offed either - at least not the good guys! see? guess that's why I dont' read the suspense line much LOL!
    very good article-thanks!

  167. Uh oh, I think I missed Elizabeth! I will shoot you off an email. I so enjoyed meeting you last year at the ACFW conference. Great and helpful article. Thank you for taking the time to spell that all out for people. Hope your weekend is wonderful and filled with fun NYC activities!

  168. Elizabeth, thank you so much for coming and giving us so much valuable information about LIS. I really, really appreciate it!

  169. These are books that I trusted with my daughters as they were growing up! Then I got hooked on them!

  170. Melody, I love that.

    Did you know LI is looking for quotes from readers that they can use in promoting the books? I bet they'd love to hear your comment. You can post it on the eharlequin site here:

  171. Please enter me Love LI books; have given over 80 to my church library.

    I am noticing Walmart....3 stores I visited....don't carry many LI now....I am so disappointed. One store had ONE book! I asked at that store - WHY...did not get satisfactory answer.
    Anyhone else having that problem?
    I can use my Kindle, but I do like the print books so I can share them!
    Jackie S.

  172. PLEASE ENTER ME!!! This is AWESOME!!!

    Amada (pronounced: Chavez


    Exodus 14:!4

  173. im so late commenting but love the post and hearing about the LIS range. I read Zero Visibility and read it till 2 in the morning a night before I ended up in hospital. The book grabbed me from the first sentence and I could not put it down. I love that about LIS books.
    I was just thinking do any books have a the female as the hero of the book. (or the one protecting the male?)
    I read Sandra last book and really want to get her new one at some stage. (Hopefully will be reading more soon).
    If you have a few extra prayers I am having a really hard couple of days. I am not sure why I am feeling so overwhelmed and sad but I know its grief and today I am struggling to stop crying and feeling very lonely, not sleeping isn't helping and could really use some prayer.

  174. I love to read "Love Inspired" books.
    The books are just the right size to put in your purse when you are waiting for your appts.
    Thanks for entering me in the book giveaway.
    Janet Estridge

  175. Awwwww, Jenny. I wish we could be closer to help you more. Try to imagine Seekerville engulfing you in one giant hug - sort of like a cyber-tsunami only good.

    Like I told someone else recently, make sure you're drinking lots of water. You can be dehydrated without even feeling thirsty and that totally saps energy. Of course grief does too, so I hope it helps to know we're lifting you in prayer.

  176. late to the party. too busy at work to justify a "break" to absorb the HUGE amount of information that is extremely beneficial.

    thank you!!! to the power of 10

    put me in the drawing, please. now i must go back and read this post again to continue to absorb and learn.

    Thank you ladies of Seekerville for throwing such a wonderful birthday bash. you are giving out an embarrassment of riches and blessings. thanks!

  177. Yes, most definitely sit your fanny in the chair and write. I love suspense. Lynette Eason is one of my absolute favorites at racheting up the tension.

    Wonderfully helpful post!!

    Please enter me for the giveaways, too.


  178. What a great giveaway! ! ! You ladies are the best.


  179. Thank you, Elizabeth, for such insight and direction -- so clearly expressed. Some of the questions in your post were exactly what I needed. They've 'unstuck' me at a crucial part of a WIP.

    The first LI book I read was a historical -- Victoria Bylin's "Wyoming Lawman." I still pick it up to reread favorite scenes :-)

    Nancy C

  180. Ha, Debby, I DID work through the night. Getting ready for Cheryl's contest starting Monday, hehe. ;-) Then I had a long blink and worked a 12 hour day at the office so I am worn out!

  181. Virginia, glad you and Mary Curry are working together. A great team, no doubt!

  182. Waving to Lyndee!

    Thanks for being with us today.

  183. Elizabeth,
    Thank you for being so generous with your time and energy today. You've provided a wealth of information and answered so many of our questions. Thanks for stopping by often and for providing great insight into what makes a successful LI read. We're so very grateful and feel honored that you could be with us.

    Enjoy the weekend. We'll be busy polishing pages and submitting to the contest.

    Good luck, Seekerville! Fingers crossed for everyone who submits!

  184. Susanne,
    Thanks for sharing your likes and dislikes. I'm making note of your suggestions about giving the heroine a gun (will do!) and bringing in a female partner, which I did in The Officer's Secret. I greatly appreciate the feedback.

  185. sounds great, thanks. would love to win.

  186. Carrie, I'm sure Elizabeth will read the later comments tomorrow!

    Cara, thanks for stopping by!

    Melody, how funny that your daughters read LI stories first. Glad you finally decided to read them yourself! :)

  187. Melody, please leave a comment on the website Mary Curry provided. Thanks, Mary, for the suggestion! I'm sure LI would love to read Melody's comment.

  188. Hi Jenny,
    Sending lots of prayers and love across the miles. Also hugs!

    Your mama's looking down and sending her love too. Plus, she wants you to be happy.

    Glad you enjoy LIS. A number of the stories have strong females who protect the heroes. In The Captain's Mission, my CID heroine had to follow the bad guys into danger. She was one feisty lady.

  189. Hi Janet,
    Folks often tell me that LI books are perfect when flying. Small enough to fit in a purse or carry on, as you mentioned, and short enough to be read in a four-hour flight.

  190. I'm agreeing with Mary Curry. We're praying for you and with you, Jenny!

  191. Hi DebH!
    You're in the drawing! Glad you're home from work. Enjoy the evening.

  192. Hi Julie,
    I love Lynette's work too. You're in the drawing. Good luck!

  193. Waving to Wendy and Nancy C!

    So glad you could be with us today. You're both in the drawing.

  194. A long blink! That's too cute, Nancy. Except you need to sleep, girlfriend!

    Get some shuteye tonight so you can enjoy the weekend.


  195. Hi Pat C! You're in the drawing. Good luck.

  196. Interesting post! Love the LI line of books! Just finished enjoying reading one by Seeker Missy Tippens. :) Thanks for the generous giveaway!

    jswaks at gmail dot com

  197. Would loive to win! Thanks for the chance!

  198. Jes, Missy's books are wonderful. Glad you enjoyed her story. Thanks for stopping by Seekerville!