Monday, June 3, 2013

Brand squeaky new romances!

by Victoria Curran, Senior Editor

It’s June 2013 and I can’t believe it! We’ve been working toward this date for so many months now, it’s hard to grasp that it’s official: our two-year testing of the “clean” romance market—by distributing re-edited Harlequin reprints through our direct-to-consumer and digital channels—has gone so well that we’re introducing the first two original Heartwarming books this month. And as of July, all four stories a month will be original works. It’s a true milestone and very exciting.

Thank you to all the authors who contribute to this blog for being part of the launch, and to all the readers who are proving—through your steadily growing numbers—that you want a clean romance that’s still deeply emotional. And more good news, we just found out that the Harlequin U.K. office is going to test the original Heartwarming titles, selling the first ten digitally, starting in August. I feel like we’re riding on the little engine that could. Stay tuned for more good things ahead for this wonderful series.

            I had the pleasure of working with Marie Ferrarella on her June launch book, Innkeeper’s Daughter, which is the poignant story of a man who returns to the California holiday home of his childhood for his father’s funeral, and ends up (spoiler alert!) finding love through the sorrow at Ladera Inn by the Sea. And by the title of the book, you may have already guessed who helps this dutiful son through his grief…?
 
 
            Marsha Zinberg, who has been the driving force behind establishing Heartwarming and who retired after 30 years with the company at the end of last month, much to our chagrin(!), edited Ingrid Weaver’s Winning Amelia. It’s a chase-the-missing-winning-lottery-ticket romance that mixes a little suspense into the lives of two deeply conflicted leading characters. I know Marsha was very pleased with the story, and we’re sure everyone who reads it will be, too.

            I cannot overlook how important the refreshed Heartwarming books have been in helping us build this series from scratch. One of the two final refreshed stories we’re publishing is Roz Denny Fox’s The Hope Dress—and we’re delighted that Roz has not only contributed with reprints but she’s written Annie’s Neighborhood, a new work which will be out in July. Roz is a master storyteller and we’re happy to have her.

            The fourth June book is Inglath Cooper’s The Mayor of Macon’s Point. Inglath’s stories about love and family never fail to touch her readers’ hearts.

            Which brings me to my own family…all right…I’m a singleton! But I’ve got a new tiny addition to my home, and I can’t resist sharing a picture of Millie, who is probably three weeks old today. Her mom deposited her at the front revolving door to 225 Duncan Mill Road—Harlequin—on May 16. It was a rough start for the kitten, who hadn’t opened her eyes yet and only weighed 3.5 ounces. But Editorial Assistant Claire Caldwell and I rushed the feisty little squirmer to our local animal rescue the next morning and they fostered her through the most vulnerable days. She’s more than doubled her weight and I have a new, profound respect for moms of human babies. Cats grow out of this helpless stage a lot quicker than children!

            Embrace the ones you love, and enjoy your summer reading! --VC

31 comments:

  1. It'a an excellent line that has something no one else has thought of offering the readers. That's why it can't help but succeed. The books are fun, and family oriented which is at the heart of all of Harlequin, and it offers variety within the line - from suspense to rich romance. Like cream, it'll rise to the top.

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    1. Thank you, Aimee! From your keyboard to His ear (even if we're not the faith-based line...). And thank you for your story, Homespun Christmas, just in time for the holidays.

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  2. I want more details about the kitten. What did you name her? Who found her?

    When I was in college, I was at the laundry mat and something plopped on my foot. I thought I'd dropped a sock. It was a kitten, definitely a litle older, maybe four weeks. Yup, like you, I wound up with a new child.

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    1. Oh, ack, the name was there. Millie, hehehe, for Mills and Boon, right? I was so busy look at the photo and thinking, "Maybe I need a kitty friend for Tyre....

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    2. Mills and Boon didn't even cross my mind--too funny! I was thinking that her mom dropped her right at 225 Duncan MILL Road--which is Harlequin. So Mill, Millie. Not as imaginative as Mills and Boon, I don't think... (My five month old male cat is in love with her; but goes from love licks to batting her across the kitchen floor within seconds. Ah, the teen years.)

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  3. I didn't realize Marie's and Ingrid's were new! That is too cool.

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  4. I'm so excited to be a part of this exciting time for this new line:) Sweet romances have always been my favorite to read and now I get the opportunity to write them as well. I know this line will be popular with readers and I can't wait to start reading these June releases!

    xo
    Jen

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    1. Glad to have you with us, Jen. Can't wait to meet you in Atlanta at the RWA conference this year. Hey, is anybody else going???

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    2. It's my birthmother's 75 birthday, so I'll be at her party instead. Next year, I'll be at RWA with bells on!

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    3. Aw, we'll miss you, Pamela! I'm glad I got to meet you last year. You are such a mover and a shaker! Give your mom our Heartwarming wishes.

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  5. Also, the kitten is too adorable. We have four cats in out home that were all rescued by my husband years ago:)

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  6. Victoria, Not long ago I subscribed to our line and I can't wait to see what books I receive. I'm looking forward to giving some copies to friends I also hope will want to subscribe.
    Have to say the kitten is the cutest thing and it's plain his mother knew where to leave him.
    And thank you for your kind words about my efforts. I love the covers and I know I'll love all of the new stories.

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    1. Well, I have to say there was a bit of a showdown here over the kitten. A woman on the 2nd floor from Public Health also wanted Millie. But eventually I wore her down. Phew. (I'm trying to keep her in the kitten loop as she grows.)

      Aren't the Heartwarming covers GORGEOUS? We're so happy with them. Tara's Orange Blossom Bride makes me tear up, it's so beautiful....

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  7. How fun at this point in my life to be part of the birth of a Harlequin line! I am thrilled! And how appropriate that Millie should be dropped into the midst of our launch - should she be our mascot? Good for you, Victoria. Am a cat lover also. Am always amazed that people BUY cats when it's been our experience that if you wait long enough, one will find you - and then tell all his/her friends! Congrats to all of us! Happy Heartwarming!

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  8. Thank you for pointing out the birth analogy, Muriel! I was so close and yet I didn't see it. I'm thrilled we've got you signed up for three more Heartwarming romances. Bring on the deep emotion!

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  9. I LOVE Heartwarming. Congratulations to all of you who are a part of it--and thanks for sharing!

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  10. Hi everyone! I'm popping over from the Harlequin forums, but I'll admit that I've lurked here. I've enjoyed all of your wonderful posts and agree that this is an extraordinary line. Congratulations to all on the 'new story' launch!

    Victoria, your Millie is so adorable! I'm glad she made it through the rough start. Post more pics in the future so we can all watch her grow :)

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  11. Hey, everybody, please welcome Rula Sinara to Harlequin Heartwarming!! I've been working with her on a truly wonderful submission that began its journey on an Idea Card at the Heartwarming Open House for new authors at RWA last year in Anaheim. I saw the full in November (I think, Rula?) and requested a revision and...it came in very recently and she's nailed it beyond what I could imagine for it.

    Rula is the newest author to the Heartwarming group with a two-hanky story about an American single mom veterinarian rescuing orphaned elephants in rural Kenya. I won't say anymore about the book or Rula will issue spoiler alerts.

    Congratulations and welcome, Rula!

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  12. Thanks, Victoria! For the congrats and your kind words.

    I'm so glad I went to that Open House! And I'll be forever grateful that Supers author Jeannie Watt told me about it and wouldn't let me leave the room until I wrote a pitch.

    I believe you contacted me with the full req in late Aug and you saw it in Feb...followed by revisions. Your feedback, Victoria, made all the difference. You're an amazing editor!

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    1. Stop it, Rula, you're making me blush! But yes, I owe Jeannie a single malt for forcing you to pitch me at the Heartwarming Open House.

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  13. Welcome, Rula! I love elephants, so there goes an addition to my TBR stack! You are remarkably insightful of what someone else is trying to do, Victoria, and no one is more thrilled with my new contract than I am!

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    1. Spoiler alert, Muriel: One of the orphaned elephants is going to bring you to tears. You were warned!

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    2. Okay, I can deal with it if I know it survives. You can reassure me privately if we don't want to give anything away.

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  14. Thank you, Muriel! I'm looking forward to your stories and I love your idea of Mascot Millie:). I am truly, truly humbled to be joining such an amazing group of writers.

    The June releases sound amazing and the covers (like all Heartwarming covers:) are absolutely gorgeous!

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  15. Victoria, the Heartwarming covers are gorgeous!! And I'm so pleased with my cover, it made me tear up the first time I saw it. I think the line is going to be a total success. Awesome stories, authors and editors. And kittens too.

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  16. Thanks, Tara! I'm looking forward to getting many more Randel books with beautiful covers in the Heartwarming lineup. Hard to top the cover you've got though. Just love it. (Yay to kittens!)

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  17. Millie is sooooooo cute! I love cats and she is adorable. Congratulations, Victoria on your new pet and your new line- both of which warm the heart. I couldn't be prouder to write for such an amazing line and to work with such talented editors such as you and Laura Barth. There is a lot of buzz about this line for good reason. The appeal of wholesome, tender, deeply romantic love stories is universal.

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  18. What an adorable cat! And I do think that the pet finds the owner, not the other way around....

    I do love the Heartwarming covers. They are very inviting and appealing to the reader. When my sister saw mine, she asked if she could get the cover model's phone number LOL.

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  19. I'm absolutely thrilled to hear the UK will be releasing digital copies of the first 10 Heartwarming stories. Wonderful news as I had no idea how I would be able to read them :)

    Thanks so much for letting us know and congratulations to all the team on your new line!

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