Celebrating the old and the new. A contest!

Four years ago, I joined a new, not-yet-heard of publishing company called Samhain as its very first editor. I later became executive editor and enjoyed watching as it grew, as readers and authors discovered the company and in turn helped it grow. Over the course of those four years, Samhain has released just over 1000 titles. I edited nearly 250 of those. Almost one-fourth of the books in the backlist are titles I had some hand in shaping, and though I’ve moved on to Carina Press, I’m still proud of the company, the authors and the books.

Today marks the day the last book I edited for Samhain releases, Night is Darkest by Jayne Rylon. In order to celebrate my last four years with Samhain and its authors, and celebrate my new adventure at Carina Press, I’m offering a contest!

HarlequinToteOne winner will receive a prize package consisting of a number of fun things including print books, Think Fresh, Think Digital mints from our rogue digital session at RWA this past summer, a black notebook portfolio with Samhain logo on front (I gave these to Samhain staff and editors last year for Christmas. I still use mine!), a Samhain mug and some other Samhain goodies. And, not only that, but the prize winner will get one of these most awesome Harlequin vintage bags. Seriously? The bags rock because they’re fun and HUGE. So the grand prize winner will get all of that plus whatever else I dig out of my giveaway bin (and there’s a ton of stuff in there).

I’ll also send a small package to 3 other winners that contains mints, the portfoloio and some random odds and ends that don’t suck.

To enter, all you need to do is a leave a comment on this post telling me what you love about digital publishing. The contest is open internationally, to readers and authors alike, and I’ll draw a prize winner on Monday December 7th.

Moving on…

You know when you sit and try to imagine what life will be like or what you’ll be doing in one, two, five years and even your most wild imaginings don’t quite get it right? That’s where I’m at right now.

Last spring I was approached by someone I admire tremendously and have always held a bit of awe for, Kassia Krozser, about the possibility of joining her and her partners in their new publishing venture, Quartet Press. I said no. I wished them luck, said I’d do what I could to spread the word and help them succeed, but I said no. After all, I’d already helped start and build one publisher, had watched it grow and gain traction in the publishing world and really, who has the energy to start over from scratch and do it all over again? But it turns out Kassia and her partners weren’t ready to give up on me. They came back to me months later, wanting to discuss what it would take, and flattering me enormously (hint: I am not immune to compliments and ego strokes. A girl does like to be reminded of her worth from time to time, after all). Apparently, they thought I had something to offer, some skills that would be an asset to Quartet Press, and a presence in the digital community that was valuable to not just them, but to authors and readers.

Eventually, they hit all the right notes for me and Josh (whose birthday it is today, btw, so thank you, babe, for sticking it out with me these past few weeks while I was a basket case of nerves and decisions). So here we are today, with this press release and me confirming that, yes, in a decision not made easily or lightly, I have resigned my position with Samhain and have taken on the position of editorial director at Quartet Press.

When I joined Samhain in 2005, I didn’t know what to expect. I was excited and hopeful. Though digital publishing had been around for years, in some ways it was still in its infancy. People wondered how Samhain could be different than the other publishers out there. I had some ideas, but what I did know is that I was going to do my damndest to help build the best company possible. Four years later, I know so much more about digital publishing and I think it’s been clear over the years that I’m both passionate about it and passionately believe in it.

One of the reasons I ultimately decided to make the difficult decision to move to Quartet Press was because I do believe in digital publishing. I think there’s a lot of room for more quality publishers, whether they’re publishing romance or something else. I think that more quality publishers within digital publishing can only benefit those already there, including publishers, authors and readers. On the upside, I helped build this with Samhain once, a publisher I continue to love and have faith in, and I believe I can do it again. On the downside, starting all over and proving myself and my publisher one more time. No pressure there.

Cheer us on, or wait and see. Regardless, I hope you’ll all come along for the ride.

The view from the other side of the desk

(Edited to add: This is a guest post written by Shannon Stacey)

You’ve seen the view from the Executive Editor of Samhain’s side of the desk here, but I thought today I’d give you a glimpse of the view from the other side. What’s it like, as an author, to go through the editing process? I’ve done it eight times, so I’ll give you a quick overview and then I’ll offer up a few specifics that might help if you’re thinking of submitting to Samhain.

(Obligatory caveat: Angie has been my editor throughout all my contracts with Samhain. Other editors may do things differently, plus the working relationship between an editor and each of her authors varies. Therefore your mileage will, as well.)

FOREVER AGAIN was published in January of 2006 (it was one of Samhain’s four launch titles), which means we probably started the editing process in the fall of 2005, therefore Angie has been my editor for almost four years. I’m not really sure how she feels about that…

Anyway. I’m a fairly clean writer, so our process is generally two rounds of edits and a round of final line edits.

Round One: Oh my achin’ ass. These hurt. The comments in the documents (edits are done electronically through track changes) are scary enough, but it’s the general impression in the body of the email that really makes you cry. This is where you hear your hero’s a flaming asshole or your secondary guy (and future hero) is a little creepy. Maybe you didn’t develop the romantic arc clearly enough on the page so the HEA isn’t believable. Or the dreaded I just don’t love it. In the document there are cheerful little speech bubbles pointing out plot holes and awkward sentences and timeline issues and pet words and…just about everything a writer can possibly do wrong in a book.

Round Two: With the heavy lifting out of the way, this usually seems a little easier, but the magnifying glass is out for the fine tuning and a thousand little errors need to be fixed. Okay, not a thousand. (Well, again, your mileage may vary.) If there was a large issue that required substantial rewriting, those sections will be edited and there’s the question of whether it effected other parts of the story.

In both rounds, commas are fought for and typos are fixed. Issues are hashed out. For two books in a row, Angie and I went ’round and ’round about the capitalization of Navy. I lost in both cases. I’ve learned through almost Pavlovian conditioning to trust Angie’s judgement. When I disregard her suggestion, the reviews criticize that element. When I implement a change she suggested, the reviews love that element. Seriously.

Once the book’s edited within an inch of its life, it goes to…Final Line Edits: This is a crucial step in the book’s process and, though I stet a lot of issues dealing with voice and such, I’m always blown away by the number of things the final line editors catch. Usually syntax/grammar/spelling/typos and such, but they’ll also speak up if they think a comment needs to be made. The FLE for NO SURRENDER questioned the clarity of an event from 72 HOURS that’s mentioned, as well as commenting on the timeline of the ending.

Just for fun, here are my five favorite editorial comments from Angie:

5. Is this a word?
4. Something about this sentence just isn’t right.
3. Hello run-on sentence!
2. I don’t think this is a word.
1. This sentence is just kind of…ugly.

If you’re thinking about submitting to Angie, there are a few things you can do to help ensure your manuscript doesn’t make her do something rash. Like running off to Las Vegas, where she’ll stand around on the street sucking down suspiciously disguised beverages, for example.

10 Things You Might Want to Doublecheck in Your Manuscript Before Subbing to Angela James:

1. Make sure none of your adverb adjective combos or whatever they’re called are hyphenated. (“Softly-mounded” for example.) I keep putting them in, she keeps taking them out.

2. Be certain, especially in love scenes, that none of your characters’ body parts are autonomous. Hands and eyes that go a’roaming remind her of Thing from The Addam’s Family. Funny, but not so much with the sexy.

3. Check, doublecheck and triplecheck your timelines. She bags me every single time I convince myself nobody will catch a timeline glitch. They’re one of her “things”.

4. If you’re one of those writers who fires off a draft, figuring you’ll polish it up if she accepts it because that’s what editors are for, you might want to submit to a different editor. At a different publisher.

5. Watch for a lot of thens and and thens. I’m especially guilty of this synopsis-like construction during love scenes and fight scenes—scenes that I’m heavily choreographing in my head and trying to translate onto the page. (Yes, the following comment exchange is for two paragraphs in a love scene and there were more on the page. Ouch.)

6. Pronoun confusion. Make sure every one of your pronouns clearly belongs to the character/item/whatever it’s supposed to. Angie’s very hung up on pronoun clarity. Also— Reflexive pronouns. Umm…I’m still not sure what that even means. Certain usages of himself or herself, for example, will earn an editorial handslap. Since I don’t quite get this rule, I just write and then change it when she points it out. Better for you, though, if you do it right.

7. The dreaded ECHO. I’m not sure how an author can really check for this other than reading very, very thoroughly, but using the same word too often too close together is a common author quirk and a common editorial comment. If you can get rid of this, you’re that much cleaner. She has some kind of magic Repetition Radar.

8. Make sure modifying phrases are modifying the correct subject. This is HUGE with Angie. Another of her “things”.

9. Don’t give a lot of characters names beginning with the same letter. She’ll notice. And right now you might want to avoid naming all of your characters “C” names because…well, just because. (A little inside tidbit from NO SURRENDER: The young woman the DG has to rescue will always be named Claire in my heart. In the book it’s…something else. Isabel? Isabella? Something that doesn’t start with a C.)

10. The standard warning to avoid starting multiple paragraphs with the same word, whether it be a name, the or and. And watch the junk words—just, so, that. She hit FOREVER AGAIN so hard on my “that” usage, I still shudder to remember the edits. I think it took several books for her to break me of that habit. Do a find on “that” and challenge every single one.

As a matter of fact, she was rather traumatized the first time she had to ADD “that” to one of my books. I, of course, gloated.

Okay, if you made it all the way through that overly-long post, comment to enter to win a DIGITAL book from my backlist! Ask a question if you’ve got one or make a comment or just say hi and at 9:00 am est Friday Sunday I’ll randomly draw a winner!

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.

Samhain is open to submissions

Samhain is open to submissions.

In the most recent issue of the RWA’s Pro newsletter (Prospects) it was reported that Samhain is closed to submissions. We’re unsure where the erroneous information came from, but we are not closed to submissions and have no plans to be. We continue to accept submissions in all genres of romance, as well as science fiction/fantasy/urban fantasy all with romantic elements. Submissions guidelines can be found http://samhainpublishing.com/submissions. All questions and submissions can be directed to editor@samhainpublishing.com

We hope you’ll help us out by posting this correction on your local and specialty chapter loops.

Thank you!

Angela James, Executive Editor

**permission to forward granted**

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