RWA has stones!

Romance Writers of America was informed of the new venture between Harlequin Enterprises and ASI Solutions to form Harlequin Horizons, a vanity/subsidy press. Many of you have asked the organization to state its position regarding this new development. As a matter of policy, we do not endorse any publisher’s business model. Our mission is the advancement of the professional interests of career-focused romance writers.

One of your member benefits is the annual National Conference. RWA allocates select conference resources to non-subsidy/non-vanity presses that meet the eligibility requirements to obtain those resources. Eligible publishers are provided free meeting space for book signings, are given the opportunity to hold editor appointments, and are allowed to offer spotlights on their programs.

With the launch of Harlequin Horizons, Harlequin Enterprises no longer meets the requirements to be eligible for RWA-provided conference resources. This does not mean that Harlequin Enterprises cannot attend the conference. Like all non-eligible publishers, they are welcome to attend. However, as a non-eligible publisher, they would fund their own conference fees and they would not be provided with conference resources by RWA to publicize or promote the company or its imprints.

Sometimes the wind of change comes swiftly and unexpectedly, leaving an unsettled feeling. RWA takes its role as advocate for its members seriously. The Board is working diligently to address the impact of recent developments on all of RWA’s members.

We invite you to attend the annual conference on July 28 – 31, 2010 in Nashville, TN, as we celebrate 30 years of success with keynote speaker Nora Roberts, special luncheon speaker Jayne Ann Krentz, librarian speaker Sherrilyn Kenyon, and awards ceremony emcee Sabrina Jeffries. Please refer to the RWA Web site for conference registration information in late January 2010.

Looking forward to seeing you at the Gaylord Opryland!

Michelle Monkou
RWA President

Unreasonable Expectations

So Harlequin Horizons. seereus auther

I debated on whether I should post about this. But sometimes I just can’t be silent. This is one of those times.

I’m not with Harlequin. I have no dog in this fight. I’m not aspiring. I’m not interested in self-publishing or vanity publishers (this is an example of the latter). I’m not looking to sell anything at the moment. I have enough work to be going on with for quite a good while. That makes me pretty impartial, inasmuch as I can be.

A traditional publisher going into vanity publishing bothers me. But here is why I am particularly bothered. Go and read the verbiage in the press release. Add that to the descriptions of the packages. Go on, read some of it. I’ll quote some for effect:

“The Booksellers Package is designed for authors who desire to leave a lasting legacy in the form of a hardcover book. A hardcover book shows the world that you are a serious author ready to make your mark on the writing world.”

“Have you always dreamt about being the center of attention at a book signing event featuring you, the published author? If so, then the Marketing Plus Package is for you.”

If those bits don’t set off warning bells, I’ll be really surprised. It’s not about whether someone chooses to self-publish or go vanity press. It’s about the expectations within those parameters. Between the packages and the press release, Harlequin is painting a vivid picture of what it will be like for those who go this route.

Every author believes in herself. She has to believe she’ll make it someday. So she looks at Harlequin as a better option because of the name. The price is a little higher, sure, but so many benefits! She’ll pay this money up front, but she’ll make it up in contracts. It’s actually like a shortcut out of the slushpile. So much better than waiting and querying!

But how many people is this going to be true for? How many Christopher Paolinis will be discovered in the HQN “reader slush pile”? And how many more may have kept on slogging without that false hope? How many would never have done this if not for Harlequin’s name?

And that, in a nutshell, is my objection. Comments welcome.

ETA: This is not even the biggest problem. New information has revealed that in each HQN rejection, the author will receive a reference to the Horizons program. We’re told this is okay because the authors will have to “opt-in.” Yesterday, I predicted something like this might be in the works, and if it was an agent doing this to rejected clients, we’d all be screaming bloody murder. In what world is this okay?

More ETA:

Romance Writers of America’s mission and purpose is to advocate for the professional interests of career-focused romance writers and, despite recent changes within Harlequin Enterprise, we have not wavered from that mission. RWA does not have any professional partnership or collaboration with Harlequin Horizons, including its self-publishing marketing package.

The Board of Directors and Executive Director took the necessary steps to remove mention of RWA’s Romance Sells catalog from the Harlequin Horizons Web site.

Michelle Monkou
RWA President

I am hoping this is not the end. I am hoping this is the first step.

Still more ETA: HQN is claiming that this is an author-facing brand. That is, you can trust them with your book because they’re HQN. but you’re not actually going to get any brand association for your money. So don’t worry, paid authors, your brand won’t be diluted! I’m not alone in thinking this is rather a lot of double-talk and less than reassuring.

On royalties: The content is completely owned by the author. Royalties are 50% net from both eBooks and print.

Even more ETA, the fun never stops!! “An author called the number listed on the HarlHo site. She got a representative who sounded like they were reading a script who advised that, ‘with your book available, other editors in New York will read it. You may receive offers from publishers such as Harper Collins and Random House. And
Harlequin Horizon will field these offers for you.'”

HAHAHAHA!

Faq update q: Do you ever sleep?

New FAQ: Do you ever sleep?

I actually get this one pretty often. The answer is yes. I sleep, generally from midnight to eight a.m., unless I’m up later, giggling maniacally with Moira Rogers (Bree & Donna) in IM. This happens about once a week. I compensate by sleeping later. But since I suspect this question has its roots in speculation regarding my productivity, I will elaborate.

Yes, I’m prolific. I work a lot, I’d say forty to fifty hours a week. Here’s what my schedule looks like:

If I’m drafting a book, I write for three hours in the morning. I don’t check email or mess around online. Generally, that’s 3K words. To keep the writing moving that fast, I block the scene the night before in bed as I’m waiting to fall asleep. I know what I’m writing in the morning, so there’s no blank staring time. When I’m writing, I write: typity typity type. Once I’ve finished my words, that’s not the end of my work day. I spend the other five hours working on edits, revisions, galleys, or whatever else has come across my desk. I also do promo and networking. At five, I knock off work. I make dinner for my family, and we hang out with the kids until 8:30. I spend 1.5 hours alone with my husband. At ten, we split up so he can have some quiet time (to play video games and watch bad Japanese horror movies.) From ten to midnight, I will do one of three things: (1) read a book, (2) chat on IM to one of my friends, (3) work more. It really depends on my mood as to which. Sometimes I combine options two and three. This is my life, five days a week, and it allows me to accomplish a lot.

I am never doing nothing. I always have something percolating, and I never take more than a week off between projects. Weekends off keep me charged up and ready to keep working.

Skin Tight excerpt

People have gladdened me with their reaction to Foster. He’s the toughest hero I’ve ever written (in the sense that he’s closed and difficult), mostly because he feels he has nothing to live for. It’s not angst; it’s blackest despair. He was tough as hell to write, and I was over halfway through the book before his inner landscape lightened even a little bit. He will break your heart, and then kiss it better. We don’t call him BatPunisherMan for nothing.

This is a year after their first encounter in Vegas. Without further ado, one of my favorite scenes:

“Thanks for an…interesting evening.” Mia stood beside her car, poised to climb in and drive away. She badly needed a respite from him and his mixed messages. In the best of circumstances, she’d never been good at reading men, never been skilled at deciding when they were sincere and when they were just using her.

She already knew this man was a liar. Why was she still standing here?

They’d both parked in the side lot, so like a gentleman, he’d walked her to her car. Shadows pooled here, the streetlights lining the drive more than forty yards away. People could see them from inside the restaurant, but they would glimpse only dim figures. She took comfort in the fact that he could hardly toss her over his shoulder and carry her off.

Now she just needed to get through the farewells and get home to someone else’s cat. Mia found the prospect depressing.

“Does that mean it’s over?”

If only he didn’t have a face like a broken plaster saint, rough and chipped but full of heart-breaking beauty. She could imagine him standing watch over a chapel by nights, all icy marble and immovable lines. Only the fierce argent of his eyes gave lie to the indifference of his pose, propped against her car.

“Yes.” Though she tried to make her voice sound firm and certain, she noticed a little waver in the middle of the word.

Unfortunately, so did he. “I promised you a ride in my G37.”

“Technically, you didn’t. You teased me with the prospect of one, as I recall.”

He studied her with nerve-wracking intensity. “How ungallant of me. Surely you must let me make it up to you?”

She’d never excelled at mating games. They made her feel stupid, a rare sensation, to be sure. In her professional life, Mia preferred facts and figures. In her personal life, she took her romance in the form of tragic poetry, where she could let someone else’s pain wash over her without risking her own heart. One such disaster had been enough.

“What do you want?” she burst out, losing patience with him.

He stilled, a sleek silhouette in the moonlight that turned his eyes to quicksilver. Mia had the feeling he would slip as readily through her hands, should she try to hold him. “Do you really want me to answer that?”

She took a deep, steadying breath. “Yes.”

“I want to take you home and strip you naked,” he said deliberately. “I want to tie you down, so you can’t get away and then I want to—”

“Enough,” she whispered, sick. “If you’re just going to make fun of me, forget it.”

His brows arched. “You don’t believe me?”

“I’m not the sort of woman who inspires sexual obsession.”

“And I’m not the sort of man who develops them,” he murmured. “But you have me dreaming about the taste of your skin nonetheless.”

She managed a laugh. “God, you’re such a liar. Just stop already. Whatever you want, you’re not seducing it out of me.”

He stepped into her space then. His hands framed her hips, drawing her up against him in a movement more intimate than a kiss. At first she felt only the warmth of him, and then the world flickered. It was as if he skimmed her few romantic entanglements and plucked a thread at random. For a few seconds, he was Mark Rigby, her college sweetheart, and deliciously aroused, eager as he’d been only in the early days of their relationship.

But this was too bittersweet a fantasy to hold her—the reality of Mark’s abandonment was too indelible for her to dive into a dream where he stayed. Once, she’d thought they were meant for each other. She’d scrawled their names in endless loops, believing the alliteration a sign. But his words still echoed in her head: Mia, I’m sorry. You’re just… I don’t know. You think too much. You have no spontaneity. When I look at you, I see our future scheduled to the last second and it scares the shit out of me. I like you, but you take away the magic. I need someone who doesn’t need to be in control all the time.

Someone like Valerie.

It wasn’t Mark’s fault. The lack lay in her. He was happily married with three kids, and a mortgage. He could commit, perfectly capable of loving someone. Just not her.

The truth could never been changed, no matter what weird ability this man carried. Since she knew what to do now, Mia thought her way past the illusion. She broke it carefully into pieces and cast it away. Within a few heartbeats, she saw his real face again and felt his arousal. That much was true, at least.

She saw the instant he realized. Mia gazed squarely into his eyes, her gaze roving over his features. I see you. She didn’t say it aloud, but she might as well have. A shudder worked through him. He skimmed his hands up to the indent of her waist, where his fingers splayed wide. Mia let him tilt her body, pressing her back against the car door.

“When I touch you, I stop caring about anything else. There’s only you, looking up at me. Don’t dismiss that. Don’t take it from me because… it’s never happened before. It can go no further, or everything is lost, but just for this moment, let me pretend it can.”

“I never liked playing make-believe,” she said unsteadily, fighting the urge to rock against him. “It’s better to accept things as they are.”

Mia imagined the picture they presented to anyone glancing out the window: his body pinning her against the car, and hers, yielding. The idea of anyone witnessing this moment sent a rush of furtive desire cascading through her veins. Tiny pinpricks of heat gathered at the lee of her legs, urging her to move.

“Who did this to you?” he whispered tenderly. “What made you afraid of dreams?”

Life, she wanted to say, but the answer sounded too sad to speak aloud. It seemed too close to self-pity; she loathed how easily he found her vulnerabilities. She stared up at him, sad and shaken, more naked than if he had stripped her and tied her to his bed.

Somehow he read the truth in her face, and his mouth curved into a melancholy smile. “No wonder my curse cannot keep you. I should take you home with me, for who could match a man without a heart better than the woman who cannot dream?”

The gentle gibe ignited her. Instead of shrinking back, she pressed into him. Mia stretched on tiptoes, her mouth a whisper from his. “Do you ever do anything but talk?”

Blue Diablo UK cover

So I got permission from Jo Fletcher to share this with everyone. Yay! Hell Fire will be in a similar style, only red and black. I think it’s dark and sexy, and I really dig it. Blue Diablo This isn’t the final version. I’ll get that soon and I’ll add it to my Blue Diablo page.

What do you guys think? I’m interested to see how the dark, sexy, tattooed cover does in the UK. I’m taking predictions! And hey, why don’t I give away a copy? It’s on sale at Book Depository anyway. Make your predictions here about how this cover will move books and you could win Blue D.

Ultimate Winners & places you can win

The Nook Winner = Riles
Buy.com Winner = RKCharron
Book certificate Winner = Sonya Allstun
A Drop of Red Winner = Maered
Bone Crossed Winner = the book girl
Arc of Waking the Dead = Tiffany

Email me your names and addresses to collect your winnings. Note; I am going on vacation on Wednesday, so if I don’t have your info tomorrow, it will be the following week before we can wrap up prize delivery.

Congrats to everyone. Y’all were great.

ETA:
There are four five places you can win Skin Game right now. (If you know of more, let me know and I’ll add the links).

Romance Bandits

Fantasy Literature
The Book Pushers
Novel Thoughts
Rosie at Nobody Asked Me.