The final Q and A

Well, folks, this is my last post. As of right now, I managed to answer everyone’s questions (I think). Thank you for your warm welcome and your participation. Maybe I can drop by again sometime.

Here’s today’s soup pot of questions and answers: 

Samantha says: “Medical anthropology! That sounds so cool. Does having that kind of background help you with thrillers and suspense novels?” and Melissa_G adds: “Do you still read periodicals on developments in the field of anthropology? Professionally, do you ever get grief from your family about the change in career? You know, for shifting from “serious” fields of medicine and anthropology to something that, let’s face it, most don’t treat respectfully, romance.” 

I love anthropology and I try to read the latest. My family never thought much of of the subject in the first place, and they are not the kind to be concerned with the seriousness of careers. (I never wanted to be a doctor. If I had, then the career switch might have elicited a different response.) I have always read (especially romance) and I have always loved books, so I think my parents felt that editing romance fit me. As for the usefulness of my anthropological knowledge, I find my medical background very useful, but more in traditional romances than in suspense. I interned with a midwife and did a lot of research about pregnancy and birth. So when those heroines get pregnant or have secret babies I know quite a bit about it! (I even helped create a mini-series called Merlyn County Midwives for Special Edition, back when I first started at Harlequin.)

Carolyn asks: “If a submission has been rejected by one of the [lines or imprints] under the Harlequin umbrella, does that preclude the author from re-submitting to another one?”

It depends on why the book was rejected. If the project was just not right for that imprint (not enough romance for HQN, for example), then feel free to submit to a different line or imprint. But remember to mention your previous rejection, and any reasons given by that editor, in your cover letter. If the project was rejected for story problems—uneven pacing, underdeveloped characters, or inconsistent plotting, for example—then those will need to be addressed in a revision before you resubmit. Again, note the previous rejection in your cover letter, as well as how you’ve addressed the problems.

Marion S asks: “When judging a contest, do you request manuscripts from contest finalists, or primarily the one you place 1st?”

I don’t always request manuscripts from contests, not even for first place. When deciding whether or not to request a full manuscript, I look at each contest entry as if it were a regular submission. 

Chuck_H says: “I really don’t get that ‘hard to finish thing’. My stories demand that I write them.  I try to only work on three or four at a time so I don’t get burned out. The words often flow faster than I can type. Sometimes, I have to write unpunctuated run-on sentences and go back later when the flow slows to fill out the narrative. I’m writing a story about a love triangle involving a young male programmer (27), a young mentally challenged female (23) and a 74 year old ghost. The action includes my personal take on possession, both voluntary and otherwise. All three learn a lesson about true love.  My question is about publication. Is Harlequin interested in romantic suspense written by a male author? If so, what sort of edit/rewrite hurdles am I looking at?”

First, let me say that your ability to write quickly is a blessing. I know many writers who would love to have that talent. At Harlequin, writers who can write two or more books a year gain audiences much more quickly than slower writers. And, yes, we are interested in romantic suspense, or any fiction, written by male authors. We have several men who write for us, in MIRA as well as in the category romance lines. Editing and rewriting hurdles would depend solely on the quality of the story you submit. 

Mary J: “What is the most difficult part of being an editor?”

Being tactful in rejections and revisions. When I first started in this business, that was the thing I really had to work on. As a freelance writer with numerous editors, I figured all writers were professional and focused on the final product. (“Here’s what’s wrong and here’s how to fix it.”) I now know this isn’t the case. I try very hard to focus as much on the merits of a manuscript as on the problems. 

Amy S: “How many manuscripts do you read a month?”

It varies. I often have to re-read manuscripts that have been edited or revised, and I read partial manuscripts or proposals in addition to new submissions. I would say I have at least 3 or 4 things to read each week. 

Liz Falkner asks: “Specifically, how do Harlequin Intrigue and Silhouette [Romantic] Suspense [SRS] differ?” and Aisling adds: “I don’t understand the difference between say the Blazes and the Desires. Could you clear that up?”

Each category romance line is a little different from the others, but all are the same in wanting good, well written stories. Intrigue and SRS are both romantic suspense lines, but Intrigue has more mystery and suspense and SRS has more romance. Blaze is an erotic, single-in-the-city type of read, and Desire is more sensual, dramatic and intense. If you are interested in writing for one of our category romance lines, then go to our writing guidelines on to find out more. 

Lois Winston asks: “Could you tell us if there’s anything new on the Silhouette/Harlequin horizon for those of us who write humorous single title?  And what’s the status of NEXT, RDI, and HQN?  Are they still buying new manuscripts on a regular basis?  Anything in particular they want or don’t want?”

Harlequin doesn’t have any plans right now for a new program dedicated to humorous single titles, but most of our imprints are interested in acquiring a diversity of well written novels, humorous ones included. NEXT, Red Dress Ink and HQN are all acquiring manuscripts. Again, you can find out more about what they are looking for on

Caro asks: “What advice would you give someone in Australia, currently working with a small online publisher as a copy editor, hoping to find further work with one of the bigger companies in the US?”

Unfortunately, I don’t know much about this. I’d suggest looking for freelance positions via media sites such as Mediabistro

Lila says: “It was my understanding that there is a head editor for each line and all inquires for that line must be directed to that person (specifically Tara Gavin for Nocturne). Some of your posts made me think that you edit and acquire for a lot of different lines. Are these simply your personal authors? My second question… and possibly the dumbest one ever, is, how/why are the lines divided up the way they are between main Harlequin and Silhouette?”

There is one senior editor for every line and that person is a good resource for questions and submissions concerning that line. But any Harlequin editor can acquire for any line or imprint (though some choose not to do so). My author base writes for many different programs. And I have evaluated submissions for almost all of our lines and imprints. If an editor requests your work, she’ll tell you who to send it to, or if you submit a project to someone who is not interested in working on your targeted line she may redirect your project to someone else.

As for your second question…I wish I knew. There are complex factors involving marketing, sales, company history, shelf space and, I’m sure, many other things. 

Cathie: “Are you one that leaves the work at work, or do you too take home some reading?  Or do you sit back and do your own reading?”

I do take work home with me, but I try to take only those books I know I will enjoy. That way it feels a lot less like work. I do like to save time for my own reading, which I enjoy a great deal and which keeps me in-the-know about the competition.

Josh Lanyon asks: “It seems like Harlequin has done every possible kind of romantic mix with one exception: GLBT, especially the currently hot M/M pairings so popular right now in e-books and small press. Any plans for GLBT romance in the future? Has it ever been discussed?”

It has definitely been discussed, at least once a year since I started at Harlequin. So far, multiple factors have conspired to keep us out of this market. Maybe one day we’ll see this change.

Sally Jane Driscoll asks: “What happens if you’re the final judge for a category as broad as series, which could include entries targeted to radically different lines? For example, how would you choose a winner when faced with an excellent Luna or Silhouette Romantic Suspense entry and an equally excellent entry for a line that doesn’t even seem to fit the same scale, like SuperRomance? Do you simply choose the best writing and the best story, no matter what the targeted line?”

For RWA’s contests, most books are categorized by length and subject matter, although that doesn’t mean they are the same sub-genre or style. When judging I consider the best writing and the best story before picking a winner.

7 thoughts on “The final Q and A”

  1. Yet again, thank you Stacy for your answers. And a second show of gratitude with a big HUG for taking the time to be one of those folks who does a nice rejection letter. Some seem to live for being nasty.

    Have a wonderful, loving Valentine’s Day 🙂

  2. Stacy you’ve been great to answer all of the questions and you’ve really given me an insight into the world of writing, editing, publishing. Thank you

  3. It has been great to get all the answers for the great questions. I hope there will be lots of great books for you to enjoy and edit in the future.

  4. Stacy — I just wanted to say thanks so much for such detailed answers and to everyone who dropped by to ask!

    My own note on the GLBT comment and that is that we’ve hinted at such elements in DEATH CALLS. Stacia, a vampire elder who first appears in this book, has an interest in both Diana and Ryder. It fit the book and definitely added complexity to Stacia’s character.

    Stacy already knows how much I’m itching to explore Stacia in future stories and if you were intrigued by this vampire elder, be sure to look for DESIRE CALLS which is a free novella that will be available at in April, I believe.

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