Posted by Jamie Michele Mar 3 2017, 1:00 am in contemporary romance, Harlequin, Industry, literary fiction, publishers, series romance, women's fiction
Harlequin is pregnant!
The venerable bastion of second-chance Amish SEAL daddies and billionaire rodeo secret-baby doctors will give birth to two new single-title imprints in 2017 and a yet unnamed “explicit and graphic” romance series in early 2018.
Unconventional. Emotional. Multi-layered. Breathtaking. Edgy. Issue-driven.
A commercial women’s fiction imprint on par with HQN and MIRA, Graydon House is anchored by Dianne Moggy (VP Editorial) and Susan Swinwood (Executive Editor). This select hardcover and trade imprint will release its first title in September 2017 with How to Be Happy by Eva Woods, which was acquired in a six-figure deal and is reputed to be like if Me Before You had a baby with Beaches. Women’s fiction superstar Kristin Higgins will be releasing Now That You Mention It with Graydon House, so this is definitely the place for your highly emotional family and friendship sagas, but darker veins do run through Graydon House.
“We’re seeing a real shift towards bigger, more layered commercial fiction where the characters are dealing with a variety of relationships—with siblings, spouses, friends, lovers—and that’s where Graydon House’s focus will be,” said Swinwood in a press release. “The unconventional love story, modern relationship fiction, with topical issues for book club discussions, women coping with the ups and downs of life, careers, dating, marriage, divorce, even death.”
Among the releases on the docket for 2017 are an intriguing time-slip mystery by Nicola Cornick as well as Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda, which sounds from its description to be riffing on the sinister marriage themes explored by Gillian Flynn’s blockbuster Gone Girl.
Frankly, I’m still not clear on the distinctions between all of Harlequin’s single-title lines, but I know that Graydon House is the place to send your “big” women’s fiction…if you have representation. Like Harlequin’s other single-title imprints, Graydon House only accepts agented submissions.
Posted by Liz Talley Jun 6 2013, 12:01 am in Harlequin, liz talley, New Orleans, privilege, racism, romance, Ruby Release, Susan Elizabeth Phillips
When I set out to write this blog post, I had a million things racing through my head I wanted to say, but as I sat down and faced the blank page, all the brilliance faded. In its stead was “Whaaaat?” Which is the thought I’m often left with after long days of donning too many hats. I mean I totally have hat hair 24/7 because I’m always wearing a different one. So I’m tugging on the writer hat even though I still want to wear my “Greatest Aunt Evah” hat because yesterday I got a brand new bundle of joy – Samuel Matthew – whose sweet baby newness healed the grump in me and reminded me about what is truly important in life.
Okay, so writer hat in place…I’m ready.
First, this month marks an anniversary of sorts for me. Three years ago (waaaaaay back in 2010) my first book Vegas Two Step released. Seeing that first book was so damn wonderful – I can never go back and capture the enthusiasm of holding a book – MY BOOK – in my hands. Never. This month marks a new benchmark for me – the release of my tenth book His Uptown Girl. The thrill, though not as intense, is still very much present.
This book is a bit different from my others in that it takes on some touchy social issues. Yeah, I did that. I never thought I would take on anything so emotionally charged as racism and privilege, but somehow it happened. Which is ironic, considering several months back on Dear Author, I made a comment about another author’s book that sparked conversation about privilege and racism…and instituted a new commenting policy at the site. At the time, I did not bring up the fact I’d tackled the same issues in my upcoming book, but I had. Yep, little ol privileged me had written a book dealing with the very things I’d been accused of. Huh.
So this book is a bit outside the box for Superromance (and Harlequin) in that my heroine (very white and privileged) falls in love with a musician (racially mixed and not so privileged) and includes the viewpoint of a nineteen year old African American (very black and very underprivileged.) The book has smoky bars filled with jazz, gang turf wars and showdowns with intolerant former in-laws. It’s not your average bear when it comes to romance. Will it sell well? Probably not as well as my Vegas makeover book or the retelling of A Christmas Carol or my surprise marriage books. Definitely not as well as other traditional Harlequin books about the sheriff trying to save the ranch, a heroine surprisingly pregnant or a military hero dealing with PTSD. I probably won’t earn out on this book. And I probably will get some ugly letters (a la the Cheerios commercial). In fact, I’ve already had some friends say “I’m not interested in reading that.” And I know some readers will say, “Thanks, but I don’t want to face that sort of reality in my escapist reading.” And my response is “That’s okay.” You see, I wrote this book for myself and I wrote it as gritty and realistic as Harlequin would let me. Because I believe that even in romance we need books that have flawed characters. We need books that take on social injustice. We need books that can actually change the way readers see the world.
I never set out to write a book like this. I’ve firmly clung to the idea that I write books that allow women (and men) to escape the harsh reality of everyday life. I write fluff. I like fluff. I like knowing my book is a gift of sweet happily every after. Totally good with it. Not saying this book doesn’t deliver some laughs, some sweetness and a big bow wrapped around a shiny, happy future. The book has that….but it also addresses some of the uglier truths that still exist in our world, and I am satisfied knowing I wrote something more weighty than a mistaken identity or a runaway bride. I wrote something real and honest. Something more than I ever thought I would.
So back to the original intent of this post – flawed characters. You see, I like flawed characters. I like to get mad at them, dislike them and watch them change before my eyes, learning lessons we all need to learn. Flawed characters are interesting to read about, even when you don’t like them much. I’ve always thought Susan Elizabeth Phillips was brilliant at creating flawed characters. I can remember reading her books and getting mad at the characters. So mad that I took it out on my husband. Poor man had to pay for the stupid, egotistical mistakes of some fictional hero in one of SEP’s books. I’m telling you – I’d get my feelings hurt BY CHARACTERS IN A BOOK. That’s how good a writer that woman is. Creating emotion is the chief goal of a writer and making a reader think about the world in which they live through the characters is a happy side effect. Characters who don’t have it together, think they know what is right (and are wrong) and say things that make you want to slap them and hug them at the same time are sheer deliciousness. I gobble them up and then go back for seconds.
That’s what I gave His Uptown Girl – realism with all its warts and scars. I think it makes the book more interesting. It gives the book teeth. Grrr!
So now I’d love to know what you think about addressing social issues in romance books – is it a do or a don’t? And who are some of your favorite flawed characters?
FYI – You can find His Uptown Girl on sale in stores and online. Here’s a link to the book on Amazon where you can read an excerpt:http://www.amazon.com/Uptown-Girl-Harlequin-Superromance-ebook/dp/B00BAT1QJ4/ref=tmm_kin_title_0
Posted by Jamie Michele Oct 19 2011, 12:01 am in category romance, conflict, craft, Harlequin, writing romance
Billionaire heroes so domineering, hard-headed, and Alpha that they dismiss all women as silly, dangerous distractions that must be avoided. Ugly duckling heroines so sweet, shy, and virginal that they are actually virgins.
You guessed it: I’m talking about Harlequin Presents novels.
Posted by Jamie Michele Dec 15 2010, 12:01 am in Harlequin, submission tips, Way too much work
If you’ve been wondering if your romance novel might fit into Harlequin’s super awesome universe of series romance, then you’ve come to the right place. Sure, sure; reading the the books themselves is the best way to get a feeling for what line might suit your style. But everyone could use a hand now and then, and I figured the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood is all about sharing knowledge, so why not spend all day making a decision tree that might be of interest to no one but me?
Judge me not, Ruby Friends. Everything I do, I do it for you.