Thursday, November 13, 2008

Melissa Endlich, Senior Editor, Steeple Hill Books, Welcome to Seekerville!

Born and bred in New York, Melissa Endlich has worked in the publishing industry for over fifteen years, the past nine at Harlequin/Silhouette. In February 2008, she helped to launch Love Inspired Historical, the brand new line of inspirational historical romances. Currently she is the Senior Editor for Love Inspired. After so many years in the publishing world, Melissa still considers herself very blessed that she is paid to read books that she would gladly read for free, and considers it a mission to help spread love and faith through inspirational romance fiction.

And there you have it, Seekerville.
Good morning, all! Ruthy here.

Yes, it’s here at last, the day you’ve been waiting for. Melissa Endlich, Senior Editor of Steeple Hill Books, is here with us in Seekerville. Huzzah! Huzzah!

You guys sent me a bunch of great questions for Melissa. Totally awesome. I cut and pasted my way into a semblance of a good interview, sometimes combining similar thoughts. Great minds think alike and all that stuff.

Thanks to all of you who visit, chat and eat calorie-laden pretend food. I know you’ll give a resounding and warm welcome to Melissa, the senior editor whose publishing house contracts four distinctly voiced Seeker authors: Cheryl Wyatt, Deb Giusti, Janet Dean and Missy Tippens. In our midst we have a strong example of the scope Steeple Hill encompasses and the varied story lines they welcome aboard.

Having said that, Melissa, you know that Seekerville is built around the contest concept. The Seekers met by continually bumping heads in contests, vying for that spot on an editor’s desk, sharing wins and finals. We coalesced and formed our own unit, vowing to pray one another into publication. Just over a year ago we formulated our blog, using the combined talents and competitive natures of fifteen delightful women to reach helping hands to other newbies and wannabes.

Steeple Hill goes above and beyond in contest judging. How often do you find bright, new voices through the contest circuit, even if you don’t necessarily buy that initial manuscript?

I think some of the best (and bravest) authors are out there on the contest circuit, getting feedback from writers and editors. We love judging contests at Steeple Hill Books because we’ve had a really good track record finding authors from various contests, including the RWA Golden Hearts, the ACFW Genesis, and many regional ones, both big and small. Over the past few years we’ve found amazing writers, including Janet Dean, Missy Tippins, Shirlee McCoy, Leigh Bale, Ruth Axtell Morren, Debra Clopton, Carla Capshaw. The list could go on and on!

I think entering contests is a great way to get your name and projects out there, to get feedback from editors, to know if you’re on the right track. Sometimes we’ve seen entries from authors and they weren’t quite right, but we loved the writing so much that we asked to see another project. You just never know what could happen if you enter a contest!

Melissa, Steeple Hill is noted for the strong faith ribbon entwined throughout their stories. Does Steeple Hill have any plans to look at or consider books with a softer faith thread, written through more of a Christian world-view, i.e. Lisa Wingate (NAL, Bethany House) style?

Seems to me that the Love Inspired lines of books have varying levels of faith, depending on the author. Some of our stories have softer faith threads, some feature stronger faith journeys. Readers come to Steeple Hill for a safe, reliable Christian read, but each author offers something slightly different.

Both new and established authors have asked about your timeline at Steeple Hill, from signing to publication. Does it vary from line to line? What time-frame would you consider ‘usual’?

Wow, great question! Actually, the timeline from signing to publication does vary quite a bit from line to line. It all depends on how booked up the schedule for the line is, meaning does the line have room in their schedule? Since Love Inspired Historical publishes 2 books a month, and we are lucky enough to have many wonderful and prolific authors, the time frame from signing a contract to publication might be 12-24 months. For LI and LI Suspense, the timeline could be considerably shorter. For instance, I just contracted a suspense title this week, and we scheduled it for August 2009. That’s only 10 months to publication.

It’s rumored that sports heroes are taboo in contemporary romances in general. What’s your take on that? As a mother of four boys, who doesn’t love Brett Favre? Those Wrangler commercials??? Donovan McNabb? The Manning boys? Derek Jeter????? (Be still my heart on that last name, God love him.)

I hear you, Ruth. I’m a hockey fan myself, and those guys are super yummy! Not sure how these rumors get started. I don’t think sports heroes are necessarily taboo. They’ve certainly popped up in secular contemporary romances (see Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Rachel Gibson, Deirdre Martin). For the Love Inspired lines, I think our readers aren’t interested in the glitzy and glamorous aspects of these people’s lives, but how they’re really just like you and me: dealing with life and faith and love. Just recently I bought a project where a former pro football player discovers he’s the owner of a run-down camp for kids, and when he comes to town to fix up the place, he finds his faith in God again, while falling in love with the woman who lives across the way. Of course doesn’t hurt that this guy is tall, dark and handsome. 

Melissa and Tina Colombo, new Senior Editor for Steeple Hill Historicals

Melissa, the editorial staff at Steeple Hill has just undergone some major changes. Krista Stroever has moved to Silhouette Desire and Tina Colombo has come on board to work with you, Joan Marlow Golan and Emily Rodmell. What kind of effect might this have on the three lines you offer, Love Inspired, Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired Historical?

Any time there are changes in staff, there are bound to be some changes on the lines. My reading tastes are certainly different from Krista’s, and Tina’s are bound to be different from mine. But that being said, both Tina and I know what we are looking for—wonderful stories, amazing characters, and a sense of the faith of those characters. Basically, a good story well told.

For the contemporary author aiming at Love Inspired, what kinds of manuscripts and/or settings are you seeing too much of? And what would the editorial staff like to see more of?

What works best for Love Inspired are stories that are focused on home, family, children and small town life. Our readers just can’t get enough! Think warm stories of people falling in love and finding home (whether it be a true place, a family of their own, and/or a place in God’s heart.). What hasn’t done so well for us in the past are show business professions, married but separated hero and heroines reuniting and urban settings.

Lately, I’ve been totally obsessed with that tv show “Jon and Kate Plus 8” on TLC, about a couple and their twins and sextuplets. I’m fascinated by how they make their lives seem so normal, even with all those kids running around. Is there a way to somehow weave multiple births in an inspirational romance? You tell me!

Also, with all the focus on Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin in the last few months, people’s attention have been drawn to the great state of Alaska. Talk about the last frontier! I think contemporary romances (or historicals, for that matter!) set in Alaska could be really interesting, as how many of us have ever been there?


Melissa, I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but since the word is out there, tell us about the rumored “list” of what you don’t want in a Steeple Hill book. Does it exist? Is it fairly normal, listing things a Christian author wouldn’t use in general? Is it an author’s guideline, to reduce edits? Is ‘the list’ one of those cyber-rumors, like the ‘rumor weed’ in Veggie-tales, growing exponentially each time someone spreads the word farther?

I’m sure unpublished authors out there have built up “the list” in their minds as this big scary thing, but fear not! It is a fairly normal list of things no Christian publisher would use in their books, like curses, bodily functions, and so on. It also details situations that we do not accept in our books, like drinking alcohol, gambling, sexual relations, etc.

This helps authors, as well as editors and copyeditors to know what is acceptable and what is not, so that when we work on manuscripts, if a line pops up like, “John took a swig of Jack Daniels as he laid his cards on the poker table.”, we know this is unacceptable behavior and it must be changed. 

Melissa, a very naughty LI author asked about pics of your office, but then I looked around my office, shuddered and refused to put you on the spot like that because no one who is as busy as you should have an immaculate office.

So there, Cheryl!

But we’d love to hear about the average day in the life of an editor. What’s it like? Can you take us behind the scenes, give us a glimpse? If you have pics you’d like to post, I’ll post them for you. I think everyone who hasn’t been to the offices wonders what the inner workings of Harlequin look like.

The secret is revealed, here on Seekerville!  I get to work around 9am, turn on my computer, and fill up my water bottle (I try to drink a lot of water. Our building is really dry.). I answer emails for a half hour first thing in the morning. Anything that needs an immediate response, I try to answer right away. I always have a to-do list on my desk that alerts me to things that are due into Production, like line edits, copyedits, back cover copy, art fact sheets, etc. Also, what projects on my desk need my attention (e.g. what needs to be read, etc.)

Depending on what’s due to production, my day might be filled with trying to finalize titles for the month for Love Inspired, and making sure that the art fact sheets have enough information for the marketing and art people to get a good sense of what the selling points are for the books. Or I might be approving back cover copy, or reading contracted proposals from authors, and giving them the go ahead to write the complete manuscript.

I don’t do a lot of reading manuscripts or editing in the office, because there are just too many distractions, with email and phone calls and visits from co-workers.

And when I’m taking a quick break, I’ll walk down the hall and chat with some of my fellow editors/co-workers. I see it as a chance to catch up on what’s happening in the office. (Full disclosure: we talk about tv or movies too! ).

And for those of you who are dying to see inside a NY editor’s office here you go!

Melissa, I love these pictures of Sarah, Elizabeth and the all-encompassing SLUSH pile. And here's a pic of a certain knight in shining armor, all decked out for a great occasion in NYC. Recognize him, Cheryl?????

All right, dear girl, we’ve put you on the spot enough for one day. We are grateful that you nabbed time out of your crazy schedule to stop by and chat it up with us. Thank you so much for being here, talking with us, sharing your wisdom.

Melissa, the buffet is loaded with cyber food. In honor of your New York heritage, we’ve ordered up a breakfast buffet from Murray’s Bagels. Everyone who IS anyone knows New York bagels are the best, no questions asked. Murray’s crew has brought over a delightful spread of bagels and toppings from assorted cream cheeses to lox, onions, olives, etc. You name it, we’ve got it. We also had them bring us a ginormous fruit platter. Nothing like fresh fruit to balance the layered flavors of a well-topped bagel. Coffee bar is to your left, girls, and the cappuccino line starts just beyond. Cozy in, grab a cuppa, have a seat and let’s chat.



  1. Hi Melissa!
    Wonderful Interview Ruthy.

    One question I asked several years ago and still wonder....will SH ever loosen the guidelines on sensuality if done tastefully?

    3 or 4 yrs ago the answer was a stout "NO" but with other publishers opening up...I wonder?

    If you're here and can answer I appreciate it, if not, HAVE A BLESSED DAY and Thank YOU!


  2. Welcome to Seekerville. Let us know if we can do anything for you.

    Those photos are just awesome. Thanks for sharing them with us.

  3. Good morning, Melissa, and thank you so much for visiting Seekerville! It's still early, but I expect your visit will draw many visitors today who are interested in learning more about Steeple Hill and specifics on what the SH team is looking for in the various lines. Thanks for making time for us in your busy schedule!

  4. Melissa,

    It's great to "talk" with you today.

    Would you be able to let us in on the status of Steeple Hill Cafe? And is it true you aren't doing cozies in LI Suspense anymore? I heard a report from RWA national that said the Cafe is backlogged and you're only looking for suspense and not cozies.

    Also, I think the guidelines say first person POV is okay for some of the lines, but I haven't seen many. Is first person taboo at the moment? :)


  5. Welcome to Seekerville, Melissa! It's great to see your million-dollar smile this morning. Thanks for giving us a peek at your offices and pix of Tina, Sarah and Elizabeth. Oh, and a huge thanks for buying my book!

    Any idea how many hours you spend reading contest entries and submissions on your own time?


  6. Lovin' the bagels and cream cheese. I brought DH who is looking for pickled herring.

    Great interview and thanks to Ruthy and Melissa for putting it together.

    I couldn't think of a question at the appropriate time. Came up with one. Do you think readers might be drawn to warm optimistic stories because of the slow economy? What happens to book sales in times like these?

  7. Melissa – Quite often in Love Inspired there are several books linked – either through the same hometown or through friends/siblings of the first book’s hero/heroine. Should an aspiring LI author plan have at least three related stories completed before submitting to an editor? Or would you prefer to work together with a new author on developing subsequent books for a trilogy/series?


  8. Welcome to Seekerville, Melissa and WOW, what a great interview, Ruthy!! Thanks to both of you for a great morning read.

    And, Melissa, thanks for your comment that some of the "best (and bravest) authors are out there on the contest circuit." Although I totally agree, YOU would certainly be in a position to know!

    And one last thing -- I want to thank you for being such a warm and approachable editor. In 2005, I had an appointment with you at RWA, and I have NEVER been treated so warmly in a pitch before. Your eyes lit up at the mention of WWI era I was writing about and you encouraged me greatly. Pitching to an editor is hard enough when your knees are knocking, but when it's to someone kind and encouraging like you, well, it's a positive experience that goes a long, LONG way to erase the bad ones.

    God bless you in your endeavors.


  9. Great interview. As a Steeple Hill author it was great to see the inside of the office and to put a face to the names of some of the editors we work with.

    I'm wondering if there have been any WWII books contracted for LIH. I love reading about the WWII era.

  10. Thank you so much for appearing and answering some great questions, Melissa.

  11. Melissa –

    Are there any storylines/situations that you and the other LI editors are seeing WAY TOO MUCH OF when you’re judging contests and reviewing queries/submissions?

    Thanks again!

  12. Melissa!!!

    I wanted to stop by and say howdy -- waving through the mist that has descended on the low country this morning. You'd think I'd landed in the moors...


    GREAT interview. I especially loved the picture of you in your office (you look fantastic, by the way).

    I have a question for you, inquiring minds and all that. Once you start reading a new manuscript, how long does it take you to know if it's something that might fit one of your lines? Or rather, when do you start sitting straighter in your chair???

    Again, so good to see you here.

    ~Renee~getting back to work, now. I promise!

  13. Great to 'see' you, Melissa! It's so nice to have an inside look at what's going on at Steeple Hill.

    Marta Perry

  14. Melissa-

    I really enjoy the LIH line. I’m also a Japanese history buff. (I lived in Japan for four years and am married to a Japanese woman.) Would a story set in late 16th century Japan be of interest to you? The heroine, a Christian, faces the sudden responsibility of finding a husband who will take her family’s name. The hero, a samurai’s son, finds Christ while trying to reconcile with his own family. Both hero and heroine face additional challenges when the shogun issues an edict banning Christianity.


    Walt Mussell

  15. Hi Melissa,
    It's great to get to hear more about your work at Steeple Hill and take a peek at you in your office. loved the photos. I remember my visit to Steeple Hill. Everyone was so friendly and made me feel welcome.

  16. Great interview, Ruthy and Melissa! Thank you both for taking the time to post this. Love the pictures, too! :-D

  17. Very interesting, and nice pictures. Melissa, didn't I meet you in Halifax years ago, when you came to RWAC, and to meet with Julianne MacLean?

  18. Ruthy and Melissa, this is a great, informative, and warm interiew. Takes the scary out of editors, for me.

    I do have a questions for Melissa, if you should stop back in. I've heard that one does not need an agent to sell to SH, but looking at that slush pile makes me wonder. Does an agented author have much advantage over a non-agented one in your house?



  19. Great interview! Thank you! I had to stop by to put some substance to my dream. LoL.

  20. Hi all, thanks for all the comments! How will I ever keep up? :) I'll try to check back in periodically to answer as many q's as I can. In answer to the question about Cafes, we're aren't seeking out any new first person stories. We find our readers don't like them as much as the standard third person ones right now. And yes, we are only looking for romantic suspense right now. No cozy mysteries, please.

  21. Oh, my, we're running low on bagels!

    And toppings!

    I put a quick call into Murray's and they're sending additional trays. On top of that, I got some great nut tarts and carrot cake at The Carrot Cake Store, a sweet bakery that borders Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.

    And Starbucks has sent a coffee set-up, complete with additional syrups. I'll be glad to play barista for you guys!

    Great questions. You guys rock. And Melissa was wonderful to work with, easy-going, nice and fun. I think that smile of hers tells it all.

    And I DID bring some pickled herring with me, Ann. Tell hubby to dig in.

    Also SO NICE to see SH authors popping in! Blessings on all you guys! Grab some food and feel free to chat it up with us. Good to have you here.

    Taking orders for coffee blends as we speak, guys and gals!


  22. In answer to Glynna's question, new authors to any of the LI lines don't necessarily have to have series in mind when submitting. But I have to say that if a new author does have a series, it would show me that the author has done her homework, knows what works for the line, sees something that another established authors HASN"T done yet, and fills that niche. This makes me WANT to work with the author more, because she's proactive, and not waitng for her editor to tell her what to write.

  23. Julie L--thanks for your warm comments. Guess I just love what I do (working on books, talking to writers) and it shows! :)
    Blessings, Melissa

  24. Whoo-hoo! No questions. I just came to enjoy the food and soak up the atmosphere.

    Loved the pics!!

    Ruthy, pass me a bagel with cream cheese, and some of those luscious strawberries.


  25. Answering Lisa Mondello's question: yes! We have bought some WWII books for LIH. Renee Ryan wrote an amazing, suspenseful book set in Nazi Germany. I'm sure Tina Colombo would love to see more WWII stories, though. :)

  26. That was a great interview!

    My question is:

    I subbed a really bad synopsis over a year ago and was rightfully rejected. LOL
    Since then I've totally reworked the manuscript and the synopsis. Is it okay to resubmit it?

    Thank you for stopping by! I've really enjoyed learning about you and harlequin, plus I like all those Seeker books you edited. :-) Have a great day!

    And Ruth, thanks for taking the time to do this. Your interview rocks.

  27. How long does it take me to know when a manuscript is good or not? Sadly, not very long. If I've got a complete ms, I like to read chapters before the synopsis, to read it like a reader would. If the writing is strong, if I think I'd like to know more about the characters, if the situations seem real and not contrived, I keep reading. If none of these things are happening, an editor can tell in a chapter or so.

    But to reiterate something I've said before, I WANT the books to be good. I WANT to find projects to buy. I actually get sad when stuff isn't strong enough to buy. Rejections are the hardest part of this gig for me.
    --Melissa E

  28. In answer to Walt Mussell's question, LIH is definitely looking for different settings and time periods. I love Japan as well, and think this sounds like an amazing story. Is this a complete manuscript? If yes, send it to me! :)

  29. Hope you don't mind, I'm back again with another question, Melissa.

    How interested is LI in stories based in small Canadian towns? I've read a few where the story is located out west, Carolyn Aarsen's come to mind, but none elsewhere. Would any based in Ontario be of interest to the LI line? Or should new Canadian authors study up on the States and base their stories there?

  30. Good morning, Melissa,
    What a good interview. And lovely pictures. Nice to see everyone hard at work. LOL. You look great.

    Now I am heading back to my WIP.

    Linda F

  31. Hi Melissa!

    It's great to see you here on Seekerville!! That slush pile looks scary. lol

    What a fantastic interview. It's good to know you're a hockey fan. I knew you were cool! :-)

    I have two questions for you. Are there any plans for LIH to expand to more than two titles per month?

    And, now that LIH has been out for several months, has there been any feedback from readers concerning their favorite time periods or time periods they'd most like to read? I know westerns are really popular, but are there any others?

    OK, I'm back to my revisions,which will be finished soon. I promise. :-)

  32. Good morning, Melissa.
    You will be happy to hear that I just sent you the extras you asked for. Yes, folks, she's working hard!

    I don't know how editors manage to keep everything straight but I'm delighted to have Melissa as mine. We've worked on numerous projects together and, with other editors participating in series work, I have plenty to keep me busy - and in line. Well, sort of.

    Now, back to work on my latest ms.

    Valerie Hansen

  33. Welcome Melissa.

    Thanks so much for your advice and direction. We've got a lot of writers in this company and I hope they're all paying CLOSE ATTENTION to what you've said.

    Oh, and Ruthy must really, really respect you because I've never seen her admit the food is IMAGINARY before.

  34. Welcome, Melissa!! I'm so glad you joined us today. I loved the photos!! But that pile... Woo. I think it rivals my to-be-read pile. :)

    We appreciate you answering the questions!


  35. ROFL!!!! Sir McKnight! I almost forgot about him.

    Melissa, SO great having you here.

    And your office is so CLEAN!

    Thanx for the pics.



  36. Good morning, everyone. Wow - all these fantastic questions and everyone stopping in to say hi. It's like the ACFW conf all over again. (only event I have to base it on, LOL)

    Thanks for the insights into your world, Melissa. So, you do have a window in your office, but I can't seem to make out much of a view. I guess that helps to keep you grounded, eh?

    I've only entered contests since the spring and I'm amazed at the time and effort judges put into the process. I entered because I needed confirmation that I could make people forget their own troubles for just a little while in their day. I needed the confirmation that my new CP’s knew their ‘stuff’’. I needed someone to add that little comment, ‘I would have liked to read more’ or ‘If this had come across my desk, I would have requested the ms’. Those few words fuel a writing energy boost that can go on for weeks.

    So Melissa, I'm sending you an appreciation hug and thank you for yourself and to pass on to all those other eharl editors who judge these contests. Thank you.

  37. OH, what a great interview. Thanks for sharing.

  38. In answer to Eileen Watson's queston would LI like stories set in Canadian towns, I"ll quote the Governor of Alaska: "you betcha!". Yes, small towns anywhere in North America are great. I'd love to see stories set in small town Ontario. LI has some great Canadian authors, but we can never have enough. It lends a little variety to the line.

  39. Dropping in.

    Hi, Melissa! Thanks for stopping by to share with us. No questions at the moment because everyone else got here first--Note the crumbs on the buffet table!--but I'll keep thinking.

  40. Hey Melissa, nice to drop in and read your comments. Always good, even as an old time Love Inspired author, to find out what's going on. One day I hope to meet you and Tina face to face. Take care and have a great day. As for me and my house . . . back to work!

    Carolyne eh?

  41. Great interview! Sometimes it's hard to remember editors are people too. Melissa, you sure seem like a "real" person :D

    I also would like to revist the contest questions. So many RWA chapter contests have SH editors as final judge (for inspy). First, I applaud all of you for doing that...taking the time to help all us hopefuls.

    Going on the premise that part of the reason to enter is to get your ms in front of an editor: what if LI/LIH/LIS isn't your target? Say your novel is longer, a single title type. Obviously if my novel is 90K words, you aren't going to pick it up for LIS. If you (or any of your SH co-workers) are the judge, is it still worthwhile for me to enter? (except for the warm, happy feeling of winning, of course!)

    Thanks again for all you do - I love the LIH and LIS books :D


  42. Melissa,

    Thank you for your interest. The full is not ready yet. However, I just sent you an e-mail, detailing where I am in the process. If you'd like to contact me, I can be reached at I will send you the full when it's ready.


    Walt Mussell

  43. Sandwiches are on their way from the Broadway Cafe. You guys sure do know how to appreciate a good bagel. Yowza.

    And I ordered hot potato chowder to chase the chill of a cool gray, November afternoon.

    Such a lot of company! Thank you all for making Melissa feel welcome. You're doing a great job.

    Melissa, if you'd rather have cold tea or soft drinks, I've got a cold bar set up at the back left of the conference room, just beyond the fireplace nook. Help yourself.

    And Mary, Mary, Mary.

    Of course I know the food is imaginary.

    But so are the calories! So I deliberately brought the piece d'resistance, a full-fledged tiramisu, enough for everyone. Dig in.

    And don't give another thought to the scales. Seekerville scales are set to self-destruct if pushed over 120 lbs.




  44. Great interview- thanks for all the insight and sharing your life/job with us!

  45. Melissa,

    Does the Love Inspired line ever run contests like The Harlequin Presents line?


    Rose Ross Zediker

  46. Hello Melissa and Cathy Shouse

    Janet Tronstad’s “Sisterhood of the Dropped Stitches”, a four book series, (three books published so far), uses a very unique multiple First Person POV that I find absolutely compelling. The emotional impact of this technique is so strong you just have to read it to fully appreciate its power. Is SH open to other types of experimental POVs or is the “Sisterhood” a one of a kind venture? These books are labeled as “Café” books but they come with the normal LI subscription. I’m not sure SH knew what to do with them. I hope you are able to publish another series like the “Sisterhood”.



  47. Hi Melissa!
    So great having you join us today. Thanks for all the info. Loved the pics and your office. But, oh my gosh, that slush pile!

    Okay, here's an important question. Emily said "Ugly Betty" filmed some scenes in the SH/HQ New York building last summer. (Bet that was fun to watch!) Have any of the scenes aired on the program yet?

    Congrats on your promotion!!!

  48. I loved reading this interview! I am so glad I saw the post on ACFW I can't remember if it was Ohio or Southeast---I don't care---just happy I saw it and was able to read it. Thanks so much---

  49. I actually have a question similar to Tammy's re targeting lines.

    I entered my inspy in the long contemp cat of a contest which didn't have an inspy cat. The final judge was from Harlequin.

    I finaled. I didn't win (I wasn't last either, though):-) and although the ms wasn't requested, the Harl judge said it was perfect for the cat except I needed to 'make the connection between Charley and Henry sizzle'.

    This was actually good news to me b/c I wrote it as an inspy, not a SuperRomance and I find it easier to add 'sizzle' than try to downplay it.

    But, my question is, if the Harl editor had thought it was a good choice for the SH line, wouldn't she have asked for the ms and passed it on?

    This same ms has finaled in another contest with another Harl editor as the final judge. Again, not an inspy cat. If this judge doesn't request to see the ms, would I be wasting my time subbing to SH?

    And, you ask, why would I enter it in these cats if they weren't inspy? Because the final judges were from Harl and I needed to know how far the entry would go without the inspy umbrella.

  50. You ladies are fattening me up with all the scrumptious goodies! :) It's almost 3 pm in NY, and it's time for a chocolate break. Godiva anyone? Or do you prefer See's?

    To answer Janet Dean's early question, how much time on my own do I spend reading contest entries and submissions? It really depends on how many contests and submissions are on my desk. Some weeks I'll have 1 -2 contests, then months with nothing. So it really varies from week to week, month to month. Right now, I've got 2 contests, The Golden Pen, and the Fiction From the Heartland, on my desk.

  51. Time flies when you're having fun, eating bagels, gabbing with the girls! I truly apologize if I didn't get to all your questions. But I've had a blast here at Seekerville. You've all made my visit warm and wonderfully blessed. I hope you all have a wonderful evening!
    God bless!

  52. You're making my heart pound, Melissa, since one of those entries is mine. :-)

    Great interview, and thanks for your time. Lots of great questions, too!

  53. Welcome to Seekerville, Melissa! Thank you so much for dropping in to visit with us. Please come back to see us again, soon : )

  54. Melissa, thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts. It's been fun getting to know you better.

  55. Thank you, Melissa, for being such a great guest at Seekerville, and for taking the time to answer so many of the questions. I've learned loads!



  56. Great interview and awesome information! Thanks to you both.

    (I knew who the naughty author asking about desks was just as soon as I read the question, LOL!)

    Love the pictures of the office. Looks very clean and busy!

    I'm working on a submission to add to your teetering pile.

    Thanks for your time and sharing the info.

  57. What a wonderful, wonderful day!

    And congratulations to Walt for getting a request in Seekerville today. I thought your story sounded great too, but alas, I'm not an editor.

    But I am a reader, and it sounds like a rollicking good read.

  58. Hi Melissa!
    What a great interview. Thanks for sharing some of the highlights of being an editor and the inside "secrets" of Love Inspired's success - terrific editors like you!

    Carol Steward

  59. Thanks again for visiting Seekerville, Melissa! You're welcome to pop in any time!

  60. Melissa,
    So wonderful to meet you on line!

    I love the Steeple Hill Line and am hoping to be published in this line one day (sigh).

    A Harlequin editor told our Toronto group that she uses free lance readers to 'pre-read' entries from the slush pile. Does Steeple Hill do this? If so, what credentials would you have to have to be hired as a reader?

    Thanks for sharing a peek into your life - which is so fascinating to us writers. Take care.

    Sue Mason

  61. Great interview and info. And as a NY born and bred girl whose been living in the midwest for the past 20've got me craving NY bagels!

  62. Today would be the day I didn't check my inbox until nighttime....(but I was working on my NaNoWriMo ms. all morning, and then I was out most of the rest of the day).

    Congratulations on your promotion, Melissa! I love the books.
    Wonderful interview, great questions, and thank you SO much for visiting Seekerville and answering just about everything I wanted to know! I was especially interested in the sports figures, because the novel I've been revising with Margaret's help has a wounded football quarterback as the Hero, who returns to his hometown... If that's not taboo, then maybe I'll leave him as a professional player who has some tough choices to make...

    The one question I'd have, if you were still here, would be: Is a supernatural element always going to be taboo in LIS? (No, it isn't the above-mentioned story; that's targeted at LI.) If you see it and answer, thanks!


  63. What a delight to get to know you a little better, and thanks for providing so much enlightening information!

    Hope to see you again in person at an upcoming conference. (ACFW maybe?)

    Enjoy a beautiful and blessed day!

    Big hugs,