Saturday, April 14, 2007

Crazy April!!

What a crazy month!! I'm exhausted, and April's not even half over!!

Taxes are always fun, then our daughter hurt her shoulder pretty bad, which has necessitated tons of doctor trips. In between that, both boys have had colds and sinus issues, meaning every time I try to work on my May 1st deadline, one kid or another is having trauma!!

Speaking of kids, they want their bathroom painted, but it turns out that the wallpaper already on the walls was applied to the drywall without any sort of primer. Meaning, with every micro inch that comes off, so does a chunk of drywall. Ugh.

Plan B is to apply plaster. Now, Trading Spaces is one of my fave shows, and Doug is all the time doing Venetian plaster techniques, but I don't think I'm going to get that fancy. Last night Son #2 and I picked up a jumbo tub of gunk (the thing weighs 48 lbs!!), that I'm hoping will be lovely by the time I'm done slapping it on. Stop laughing!! LOL!!!

Meanwhile, it is my solemn vow to hold a yard sale sometime before the end of the summer (stop laughing at that, too!! ). We've hauled junk from misc. places all over the house, but seeing how it's either rained or snowed every Saturday for the past few weeks, then next week I'm off to OKC with my fave friend and author, Margaret Daley, for the OKRWA meeting, then the weekend after that, I'm off to Ladies' Weekend at a friend's lake house, it looks like it'll be May before we finally have our sale. Double ugh as the stuff pile keeps gathering dust.

In fun news . . . I have a book out this month called THE RIGHT TWIN!! I love, love this story, though it was a nightmare to write, trying to keep all the names straight. If you enjoy movies like the The Parent Trap, then this is a good read for you!!

If you'd like a shot at winning an autographed copy, sign up for my mailing list at

Happy Saturday!! I'm off to plaster!!

Laura Marie ;-)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Ellis Island

On my recent trip to NYC, I made the pilgrimage to Ellis Island. For anyone who hasn't been there, I can highly recommend it. It was poignant, it was educational, and more importantly, it renewed my realization that we are so blessed to live in this country.

Can you image the hardships our ancestors endured to become Americans? As I was viewing the displays (which may I say, were extremely well done), my empathetic side took over. I could visualize leaving behind my family, my country, my language - and then getting off the boat at Ellis Island with nothing but what I could carry. Would I pass the medical exam, and even more importantly, would my children be deemed healthy. Think about the terror that question would create for a mother. But thousands of people went through that process and became productive members of society. And those folks were our ancestors. Let's give them a round of applause for their tenacity and bravery.

As an author, I could see that the plot possibilities were limitless. So, if you're ever in New York - take the Ellis Island trip. Ann

Ann DeFee
Georgia On His Mind - August 2007 - Harlequin American Romance
Summer After Summer - September 2007 - Harlequin Everlasting Love
The Perfect Tree - November 2007 - Harlequin American Christmas anthology

Guest Post: Johanna Raisanen

Greetings to all our HAR authors and fans! Thanks for inviting me to the party. I was asked to write about what it’s like being an HAR editor. Well, I’m not sure what I do in a day could accurately convey what goes on, so I thought I’d give you a snapshot of a week.


Arrive at work for 8 am, which usually means running in the door at 8:10. Curse Monday mornings. Boot up computer and change outgoing voice mail message. Head to the kitchen to make a cup of tea and pour some milk on my cereal, then eat breakfast while checking emails.

Finish revision letter I’d started last week and email to the author. Pull out manuscript I read on Sunday and start new revision letter. Going through the manuscript page by page I make notes and suggestions. Cajole fellow editor Wanda Ottewell to go out for lunch with me. Back in the office, I meet with Kathleen, HAR senior editor, about scheduling issues, book titles and upcoming deadlines for RWA registration. Email final version of the revision letter to the author. Finally head home around 5 pm.


Spend some time chatting with coworkers about last night’s episode of Dancing with the Stars over a cup of tea. Read over and approve art fact sheets and respond to emails before an art meeting at 11 am. Kathleen and I head up to the 8th floor to meet with the HAR art director and marketing product manager. It’s up to us editors to tell the rest of the team what each book is about, give scene suggestions and pass along the author’s input. The art director takes our ideas and works up sketches for approval later in the process.

Spend lunch hour eating at my desk and inputting Dear Reader letter, dedication and author bio into our prelim template (prelims include back cover copy and all the front pages before the book). Look over copy submitted by freelance copy writers and finish up the prelim package and email it to Kathleen.

At 2 pm attend a brainstorming meeting to help come up with new ideas for limited continuities. Then call a west-coast author on her lunch hour to answer questions she had about her revision notes.


Work-at-home day. Since it’s almost impossible to actually edit in the office, most editors take at least one and sometimes two days to work on line edits or reads at home. I also work on some other series (as most editors do) and will start my Superromance line edit at 8 am. Lunch break consists of taking my dog for a walk in the park, giving me an opportunity to get some fresh air, too! Quit editing for the day around 6.


Finish line edit at home. (330 pages in 2 days. Whew.)


Check in with Kathleen to see if there’s anything I need to know after being out of the office for two days. Head to the 8th floor where the good photocopier is and make three copies of the finished line edit. One copy for me, one for the author and one for the freelance copy writer. Kick the photocopier a couple of times to try to fix a paper jam. Finish photocopying on the 6th floor. Hand the line edit in to production and breathe a sigh of relief that I’m on time.

Back in my office, I tackle the slush pile. I read and evaluate manuscripts from unpublished authors and write correspondence. If the manuscript is turned down, I write a rejection letter. But if I find a true gem, I write a report for Kathleen giving reasons to buy the book. At the end of the day, I get an email saying there’s cake in the common area! Yippee!

So that’s a typical week for an editor. Meetings, edits, revision letters, art briefs and a whole lot more. And some fun along the way. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else!


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Oh the places you'll go

One of the fun things about being an author is attending writing conferences. At the end of March I took the opportunity to attend the Published Author Special Interest Chapter's Power Conference. I flew into Newark, took a car to Manhattan, and Thursday night began with the industry reception where published authors mingled with editors and agents. By the time I left on Sunday morning, I was tired and exhausted, but yet at the same time reenergized.

Writing is a solitary business. It's you and your computer, and a bunch of names you know via email. It's fun to meet everyone and connect with everyone.

The picture above is of me and Lisa Childs (I'm on the right). Lisa will have a four book series out in 2008 with Harlequin American and I should have two releases as well. I'll also have two releases out with Harlequin Special Releases: Stories set in the World of NASCAR. Lisa and I are at the M&M store in Times Square, posing with a "writer." We'd met two years ago at PASIC, and decided to room together this year. We'll also be presenting a workshop on revisions at RWA in Dallas this summer. It's a subject we both know a lot about. :)

BTW, Ann DeFee, Tanya Michaels and Ann Roth also attended and I'm sure they've got some great stories to tell as well! Lisa and I also took a great trip to Mars 2112, which is another story. All in all, conferences are a great way to recharge the batteries and they reconfirm that a writer is never alone. So now I'm off to go write those books.

Happy writing,


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Pain and the Glory: Titles

I just found out a couple of days ago that I get to keep my original title for the Harlequin American that comes out next January: Good Husband Material.

You might not realize this, but more often than not we authors do not keep our original titles, for myriad reasons. Sometimes the author's original title is simply a clunker. Thus, my original title for a paranormal romance, The Crimson Cat (sounds like a cozy cat mystery) became Witchy Woman (much catchier, recalls that old Eagles' song). The Doctor's Fake Fiancee, a Harlequin American, was thankfully changed to the much snappier Plain Jane's Plan.

But often the reasons for making a change are harder to understand and seem quite arbitrary. For example, I had a Silhouette Intimate Moments that I called The Bounty Hunter, and it got changed to Midnight Confessions. That's an okay title, but I preferred the stronger-sounding original. A few years later I wrote a Harlequin Intrigue that I called Breathless. And what does it get changed to? Bounty Hunter Ransom.

I once had a perfectly lovely title, Taken by Storm, which was about storm chasers. It fit beautifully, but for reasons I will never understand, the title was changed to Hell on Wheels.

Sometimes titles are changed not because they are bad titles, but because they don't fit in with the line. My very first Harlequin American was originally called The Perfect Seduction. "Great title," my editor said. "If it were a Harlequin Temptation." Instead, the book was re-christened Virgin Promise, cashing in on a popular buzzword of the day.

For my firefighter trilogy released this year, I thought up an oh-so-clever series of fire-related titles: Sparks Fly, The Heat is On, and Fanning the Flames. But those were all no-go's; they didn't say enough about the stories. After about a hundred alternate titles flew back and forth between me, my editor and the senior editor, we settled on The Family Rescue, Her Perfect Hero, and An Honorable Man. But I'm tellin' ya, the search for three catchy titles that also fit together nicely and accurately reflected the stories almost drove us all crazy!

Now I'm working on an idea for a trilogy revolving around a fishing charter service. These are my tentative titles:

His First Mate
Catch of the Day
Her Safe Harbor

Any bets on whether they'll survive, should the trilogy sell to Harlequin American?

--Kara Lennox

Monday, April 09, 2007

From Start to Finish

Recently I received an e-mail inquiring about my book-writing process. My first thought…I have a process? Then I considered the book I'm writing now for my *Heart of Appalachia* series and decided that yes, I do have a process--though much different from when I began writing. My first three books for Harlequin American had been written, re-written and re-written. I used characters charts, outlines, worksheets…anything I could get my hands on to help me write the story. Now the only thing on my desk is a pocket folder. Every project gets it's own folder and sometimes I have as many as three or four folders on my desk at one time.

In a nutshell, I begin with a bare bones synopsis that I always deviate from--hopefully, because I've made the book better than the synopsis. I write a chapter a week, taking two days to write a rough draft, then I spend the rest of the time revising the chapter before sending it off to my critique partner. When I'm on a roll I'm able to complete 5 chapters a month. During the week I'll tweak the previous chapter my CP offered feedback on, so by the time I write THE END the book is in good shape.

BUT…there's still work to be done. You see, I'm a sticky-note writer. When I add new characters, insert new information or whatever, I use sticky notes as reminders of changes I've made to the plot, character, setting etc as I write each chapter. By the time the book is complete the cover of my folder and the inside pockets are plastered with sticky notes.

My next step is to go through every sticky note and fix the place in the manuscript the note addresses. After that, I do a computer read and tweak small stuff--mainly looking for inconsistencies that jump out at me.

Finally, if I have time I print off a hard copy of the book and do a read for word repetitions, sentence variation etc. If I'm down to the wire, then I pass on the hard copy read and send it off to my editor, knowing that I'll be tweaking those sentences during the revision stage.

Anyone else care to share their Start-to-Finish story?

Happy Reading!
Marin Thomas

Sunday, April 08, 2007


I’m stopping in to wish everyone a HAPPY EASTER and a happy love filled day.

It has been a very strange Easter here in Texas. There’s snow on the bluebonnets. At Easter! We’re probably going to remember this for a very long, long time. We rarely have snow here, but Saturday the white stuff was falling just about all over the place. We got flurries and mostly ice at my house, but North Texas received much more of the real stuff.

Can’t help but think that it much more like Merry Christmas.

Due to Mother Nature my mind is in a warped pattern and I really need to be writing. We went to early services, spent the day with family and ate too much. Will diet tomorrow.

Now I’m staring at a blank computer screen. My eyes keep straying to the window and the yard with the icy snowy spots that have not melted. I know I’m not dreaming, but it sure feels like it.

Happy Easter—spring or winter.