Ask an editor: What do you love?

I think it’s only fair to follow the “what do you hate” post from earlier in the week with a post of the three things that are just about guaranteed to grab me when I’m reading

1) Injure the heroine: Yes, I’m a bit sick in the head, but I love it when the heroine is in mortal danger, and it makes the hero realize he can’t live without her and loves her. I love it when the heroine is shot, stabbed, traumatically injured in some way (not rape, ha!) and it creates a moment of loss for the hero so horrible, he can’t believe how bleak and colorless life will be without her (but you can do it without the melodrama of my description, lol).

2) Grovel: I love love love a good grovel. If the hero or heroine have wrongly accused their love interest of something, if they’ve thought they did something heinous, and treated them accordingly, and then find out…oh noes! they were wrong, then I love a good grovel. And I mean make it good. Make the person delivering the grovel mean it, and work for it. I don’t want easy forgiveness, I want them to crawl on their knees with the grovel. But this is a fine line, because I also don’t want the other person to drag on granting forgiveness for too long. And I don’t want the hero/heroine to lose their strength while groveling. I want them to grovel because of the strength of their personality, to make them seem even stronger. I also don’t want a grovel just because the other person feels wronged (and they really weren’t).

3) Insurmountable odds: I adore a book that creates a conflict so strong, so wrenching, that I have no idea how the hero/heroine are going to overcome it. The caveat here is that I need to also know and believe that they ARE going to overcome it (ie, have some sort of happy ending). I don’t want to be taken through the wringer and not get some sort of positive payoff in the end. This is why I love romance. I know the positive payoff is there. It’s also the reason I sometimes peek at the end of non-romance books, so I know if I should invest my emotional energy in the book and characters, or walk away.

Your turn. What things in a book will instantly grab you?

Ask the editor: What do you hate?

I am so fortunate. Today I said on Twitter and Facebook,A? “Do you have a burning question for an editor? I need a blog topic.” I got a tremendous response of some really great, amazing questions. Not all of them about editing, either! So I’m going to be using my blog, and the Carina Press blog, to answer the “ask the editor” questions in the coming weeks. If you’re not on Twitter (or Facebook), and you have a question, feel free to leave it in the comments!

Today, @romancinkatrina asked: Three things that make you hurl a book across the room faster than seeing a spider on the wall.

This seems like it should be such an easy question, right? But I really had to think about it, because I couldn’t immediately think of the huge hot button issues that I always know won’t work for me. But I did finally come up with a few things I came up with that are issues for me in reading:

1) Rape: no, not the use of rape in a book in general, but when the main character (usually the heroine but sometimes it’s a hero) is shown as having been raped recently, especially within the book’s timeframe, but seems to suffer no emotional or psychological trauma, and just merrily goes on their way. Rape is a horrible act, and using it as a plot device or a character device, simply to add conflict to the book, and then disregarding all the consequences of that conflict makes me insane, and it strikes me as disrespectful of all the people who’ve suffered this. Don’t show the heroine (or hero) as jumping into bed with their romantic lead soon after the event, don’t ignore that the tragedy of having this happen has the potential to change how they act and react, and who they are. Don’t make it just a convenience. Don’t just use it because you want something horrible to happen to your characters to show you’re not afraid to torture them. (for the record, I remain impressed with how Patricia Briggs handles this in the Mercy Thompson series)

2) Big Misunderstandings: I’m not a fan of this plot device, so it can pretty often make me want to kick someone’s characters in the head. The problem, for me, with the Big Mis, is that it’s just so often the result of two people who are too stubborn and stupid to just say “Why did you do this” and instead play these passive-aggressive games that keep them apart. Passive-aggression doesn’t make ANYONE likeable, and when the only conflict keeping two people apart is stubborness and stupidity, I figure they don’t deserve to be happy anyway!

3) Unclean sex: Oh, just ew here. I apologize to anyone who’s easily embarrassed, but this one’s going to be a little more graphic (Dad, stop reading). There’s a few things in erotic romances that bother me in regards to “unclean” sex. I’m no prude but I draw the line at books that portray the hero going from the back hole to the front with no sanitary clean up in between. Do you have any IDEA of the kind of bacteria and illness that can introduce to women’s bodies? Say it with me, “ewwwww!” Also, if you’re going to show your hero/heroine in a masturbation scene, and something happens immediately after where they have to go answer the phone/door, etc., can they PLEASE wash their hands somehow. Because again…ew. That makes me want to run for the hand sanitizer and bathe in it.

Bonus: I’m not entirely sure “hint of tuna” while kissing would make me stop reading, but if a book becomes too gross as far as bodily functions and “reality”, I will toss the book. I’d like some mystery in the relationship, please.

I also won’t continue a book if I can’t connect with the characters or if I don’t understand their motivation. Sure, I might not agree with their motivation, but I need to know why they’re doing something. Unlikeable characters I don’t understand can be a deal breaker for me in a book I’m reading.

Okay, you got mine. Your turn. What will make you throw a book (or wish you could throw it if you’re reading digitally) faster than seeing a spider on the wall across the room?

All Romance eBooks feature

As part of All Romance eBooks’ 28 Days of Heart campaign, I’ve been featured as the 12th of 28 romance bloggers. You can check out the interviews of all 28 here, or scroll to day 12 to read my interview!

Read on for more about the 28 Days of Heart Campaign:

In conjunction with our 28 Days of Heart Campaign to raise funds for, and awareness of, heart disease, All Romance is also taking the opportunity to shine a spotlight on some of the wonderful romance blogs that help make the eromance reading community thrive. Every day in February, our newsletter will be profiling some fantastic romance blogs that we know you’ll love as much as we do.

During the month of love, when everyone’s attention is focused on matters of the heart, All Romance eBooks (ARe) is helping to fight the number one killer of women, heart disease, with their 28 Days of Heart campaign.

Beginning February 1, 2010, ARe, the digital bookseller that owns All Romance ( and OmniLit (, will release one new novella per day for twenty-eight consecutive days. All proceeds from the sale of these shorts, which will be offered exclusively on and as individual eBooks, will be donated to the American Heart Association.

The stories cover all the genres, from Gay to Interracial, Paranormal to Historical, Contemporary to Sci Fi. They were generously donated by both best selling and up-and- coming authors from some of your favorite publishers including Kensington, Berkley, Pocket, St. Martin’s Press, Ellora’s Cave, Cerridwen, Samhain, Total E Bound, Loose Id, Phaze, Liquid Silver, Torquere Press, Siren, Amber Quill and more!

The stories range between 10,000 and 20,000 words, so they are a perfect sweet (or more accurately spicy) Valentine treat. Each includes a forward by author Charlaine Harris (of True Blood fame) as a show of support for the charity the stories will benefit. Indulge yourself this year for Valentines Day—enjoy one of each, and know you are helping a worthy cause at the same time.

Look, Ma! New job!

I think most of you have seen the news by now, but let me back up for a minute and be a little girly.

Seventeen years ago next week, when I was seventeen years old, my mom passed away suddenly. It’s a hard age to lose your mom, and I was just coming out of that difficult teen period and just beginning to be able to hold civil conversations with my mom again, when she died. But though I’ve now lived just as many years without her as I did with her, there are still memories I will never shake and she still contributed to who I am today.

One of those ways, unbeknown to her at the time, was my love of romances. I still recall the trips I’d take to the used bookstore with her, where she’d trade in a brown grocery bag full of Harlequin category books, and get another bag in return. She’d browse the shelves with a list in hand of the numbers she hadn’t gotten yet, and off we’d go with that bag of books, which would set next to her recliner until she’d gone through it. After she’d read through them, they didn’t actually go back to the bookstore, but moved on to my grandmother and aunt, who traded a similar bag back to my mom in return.

I have always been an avid (and precocious) reader, and in fourth grade, I snuck into that brown bag of Harlequin category romances and pulled a couple out. Hey, it was a large bag and she wouldn’t miss them as long as I returned them quickly, right? That night, and for countless nights in the following years, I read those Harlequin romances into the early hours of the morning, often by flashlight. My love of romance was born with those purloined books, and it hasn’t abated since.

So it’s with great pleasure that I get to say today* that I’ve accepted a position as executive editor of Carina Press, Harlequin’s new digital-only press. Some things come full circle, and I’d like to think this is one of them. Thanks, Mom.

*this links to a post I did for Dear Author, with more on my emotional journey in the past months

Informal call for submissions

Sometimes I put out an anthology call and I’m going to be doing one of those very soon, but in asking for ideas for my next anthology, I realized I would have liked to have gotten some holiday novellas. Historically, I have saved my December release spots for novellas, often erotic romance novellas and generally holiday-themed novellas. In the past, authors from within my “stable” of authors have provided these novellas but only one has indicated any interest this year so I’m putting out an informal call for submissions.

If you have a holiday-themed novella you’ve been working on, something that’s completed (or soon to be completed) I’d love to see it. Visit our submissions page for all submission information, including the email address to send it to. All questions about this should be directed to the submissions email, please don’t use my contact form here for questions related to this. I will also answer questions in the comments, as well.

In the query letter that accompanies your submission, please note that you’re responding to my request for holiday-themed novellas.

I’ll probably be looking to have those books contracted and scheduled no later than the end of July.

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