Friday, September 6, 2013

Heartwarming originals: three months old! …by Victoria Curran, senior editor

It’s September, that fresh start and nippy mornings time of year, and we’re three months into the launch of Harlequin Heartwarming originals! Time to check in and see how we’re doing, don’t you think? First off, thank you to Pamela Tracy for launching this blog site in the winter, it’s an amazing way for Heartwarming to come together as a community. I hope more of our authors— contracted and hopefuls— join and speak up, and more lurking readers come out of hiding to share their invaluable insights and let us know if we’re hitting the mark.
 

Congratulations to social media-wonder and author Karen Rock, whose first Harlequin, Heartwarming’s Wish Me Tomorrow, is out this month and at the top of Goodreads’ Listopia for Best Debut  Romance of 2013 (http://bit.ly/1dobWow) with the highest score! Karen may have tremendous media savvy and a strong following, but it all starts with good writing, and her book is so touching—the story of a cancer support group leader who falls for one of the survivors…but has to face the risk that the cancer might return. Talk about a high-stakes romance: the two risk losing each other at the same time as they find each other. Minimum two hankies for this one.
  
We’re proud to include author Kristine Rolofson, who used to write for Harlequin Temptation (before it became the hotter series Blaze), as a Heartwarming author. In fact, we hauled her out of writing retirement—and she has sent me some great shots of her cowboy boot collection and one of her fanning herself with her share, as fiddler, of her band’s take after a performance. Well, I don’t care how much the band makes, Kristine, we want more Heartwarming books like The Husband School, the first of the Willing to Wed miniseries out this month. Similar to the reality TV show "The Bachelor," in Kristine’s premise, there’s a town full of Bachelors, and the TV producers ship the would-be brides to Willing, Montana, to see if romance can bloom…on camera…with a little bachelor-coaching at the local diner.   The Husband School was also chosen to be a free sampler to promote Heartwarming on TryHarlequin this year. Numbers just came in last night and the book has reached #41 on Amazon because of the promotional pricing. This can do nothing but good for exposure to the entire series, so get your free download at http://amzn.to/146vium.


 
I love Carolyn McSparren’s romances (we used to work together at Harlequin Superromance) because they always include animals and I’m a bit of an animal-mush. And Taking the Reins, her first Heartwarming, is no exception. In this case, we’re introduced to a handful of military veterans each wounded in some capacity and each at a ranch to learn the new skill of driving horses and, in the process, find healing and…wait for it…romance!
The fourth book out in September is A Forever Home, the second Heartwarming by Lynn Patrick, a two-person writing team with a rich history at Harlequin. The first book, Home to Sparrow Lake, was chosen as a Top Pick and given four and a half stars by RT Book Reviews magazine. I wish I could say Lynn’s second book set in Sparrow Lake was received as well, but unfortunately RT Book Reviews is no longer reviewing Harlequin Heartwarming. I’m still in discussions with the publisher about this and may have to settle for RT online reviews but I’m not giving up the battle for the print magazine yet because they seem to be under the misunderstanding that Heartwarming books are only available in digital and are short-format romances, which just isn’t the case. Wish me luck.

And finally, I’m so happy to announce that within the past year, Heartwarming has contracted ten authors new to Harlequin. This is quite a benchmark achievement and it’s fantastic to work with new voices. Welcome, all.

32 comments:

  1. Victoria,
    Awesome post, and you have me itching to read each book right now. Drats, if only I didn't have to go to work.
    Our blog is awesome. The authors are no longer just peers, we're friends! Soon you'll see two new bloggers: Flo and Marion Elkorn. Yeah. We're in the process of adding them now.
    Every fan note I'm getting for my August release Katie's Rescue tells me how much they like the animals. I'm sitting here now typing and my cat Tyre has his paw on my left hand. It goes up and down as I type. his head his curled on my wrist. Ah, what a life. But now I must go wake the eight year old and get him ready for school.

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    1. That's fabulous that Flo and Marion (oops, Ekholm!) will be joining the blog. I count them as two of the ten authors new to Harlequin that we've acquired for Heartwarming--and the ink isn't even dry on Marion's contract yet. So exciting!

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  2. I love September-it's always been my favorite month of the year-new beginnings, the holidays just around the corner-ahhh, it always goes too fast. And I suspect now-with my revisions, it will go even faster lol:):)
    I can't wait to read these books, and Congrats to Karen!!

    Good luck with RT, but no matter what happens-the readers will love our Heartwarmings and that's what really counts:)

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    1. Thank you, Jen! It's such an honor to be with the other amazing romances on the list :)

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  3. Sorry about the timing of the revisions, Jennifer. But, oh, won't October be all that sweeter!

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  4. I am so looking forward to getting the new books. I've finished reading most of August's offering and love every one. It's great to see how much support you give to the line and all of the authors. I hope RT comes through. Maybe flattery...ha! But a lot of readers do pay attention to the reviews in their magazine. I'm so happy to welcome all of the new writers, but Marion has been a friend for a long time who is truly a writer who has stuck with the craft and her love of writing to finally get the call. Every sale is exciting but none quite so special as the first. Wishing everyone of good Friday and fun weekend.

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    1. I threw your name at RT, Roz, along with some of the other established Harlequin authors. No go yet, though! I didn't realize you and Marion have been friends--small world. Her book is going to be quite a strong story in our lineup; looking forward to seeing the revision!

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  5. I am so excited to be one of this number of talented, hard-working and so, so kind Heartwarming sisterhood! Every book I've read so far is the kind of story that stays with you for a long time - something I'm sure our readers are looking for. Instead of our "bouquet of pencils" for September, we have a "bouquet of books that sound wonderful." All our covers have been spectacular, but Carolyn's is above and beyond! Congratulations to all of us, and GO KAREN!

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    2. Muriel, let's not forget the one brother in our group.

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    3. You'r right, Aimee: sister/brotherhood! I once edited Ken Casper for Superromance and quite enjoyed bragging about having the only male author in the lineup. Now Dana Grimaldi gets the bragging rights, drats.

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    4. Muriel, it's funny about Carolyn's cover. I agonized over it and went back to her about it...because these horses aren't exactly draft horses. But in the end, she agreed with the art director that the poignant emotion this particular image evoked was worth fudging the animal details just a little bit.

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  6. Heartwarming is a very special line. David and I are delighted to have been able to contribute to it. The camaraderie between all Harlequin authors is pretty darned unique in our industry too. That's one of the major reasons we love working for Harlequin.

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    1. Oh, David! Please don't feel slighted. We all love having you among our number! Though you're usually quiet, you weigh in now and then in the most illuminating ways. So, simply edit 'sisterhood' to 'family.'

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    2. Muriel, no problem. Ask Aimee if I'm really a `silent' partner. For so many years I was also teaching, which meant that Aimee was our spokesperson during business hours, and we still do most of our story telling between dawn and dusk. I was raised in a Heartwarming family, and it's good to be back where everyone's voice is heard.

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  7. Aimee, I'm glad to have your proposal from Dana on my desk. I just need a little more time before we can get back to you! Time seems to be...hard to come by nowadays. I blame it on the launch of a certain line of clean romances....

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  8. Victoria, no worries. Take your time. We've got current projects on our desks right now, and we're working on marketing strategies for Homespun Christmas.

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  9. I just finished Karen Rock's book and loved it! And I have Kristine Rolofson's up next. :) Hooray on contracting TEN new authors this year! That's amazing, and just goes to show that bringing back clean, wholesome romance with emotional depth is something that's really resonating with authors and readers.

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    1. Thank you so much, Noelle :) I'm thrilled to hear that you enjoyed Wish Me Tomorrow! You share our passion for emotionally deep, tender romances and I know you'll love the books in this line. Thanks so much for stopping by the blog. You made my day :)

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    2. Yay, Noelle! Thanks for chiming in about Karen's book. I don't know if any of you watch the TV show The Big C, but I saw an episode of that about an experimental cancer treatment the heroine was undergoing and it reminded me of a moment during the editing of your book, Karen. I was just going to tell that anecdote...but I realize it would give away too much of the ending of your book! All to say that there was a challenge with this book in balancing a happy ending with a wrapped-up ending. Maybe I should just stop now while I'm ahead...!

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    3. I just finished it, too. It was wonderful!

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  10. Victoria --
    I wondered what happened when the reviews disappeared! I'm hoping you can talk RT into bringing them back. Everyone deserves that recognition, so readers can get excited by the available books.
    Patricia (half of Lynn Patrick :))

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    1. I'll do the best I can, Patricia/Lynn. (Is it just me or do other people get confused about whether they should call writers by their real name or their pen name?) We got such wonderful reviews in June and July, too!

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  11. Victoria, we're so lucky to have you taking care of our 'family'! Thanks for keeping after RT and for everything you do. The Heartwarming covers are gorgeous and the tender emotions come through. The stories have also been amazing and unforgettable. I've read Karen's book (excellent and touching) and can't wait to read the rest (especially after reading this post :)!

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    1. Aw, thanks, Rula. Added pressure! (Kidding. I truly do feel responsible for getting the word out there because these stories are so good.)

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  12. Thank you so much, Victoria, for everything that you've done to make this such an incredible line. I couldn't be prouder to write for you, Laura and Harlequin Heartwarming. Until I saw your note to my agent, I'd never seen myself as an adult fiction author. I loved Young Adult literature because it was a place that, for me, seemed to delve deeply into those emotional spaces I like to explore. Yet your description of Heartwarming caught my attention and, ultimately, my heart. I knew that I'd found a place for the heartfelt, contemporary stories for adults I'd always longed to tell. I'm glad you took a chance on this rookie author!

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  13. Okay, you guys are killing me with kindness--stop it! (I'm the youngest of ten, I'm not used to this!) But thanks for reminding me to draw attention to the other editors because we really are a team. That team may have undergone a big transition in the spring when Marsha Zinberg retired, but we're all working so hard up here in Toronto that I want to send a shout-out to Laura Barth, Adrienne MacIntosh, Kathryn Lye, Claire Caldwell, Paula Eykelhof and Dana Grimaldi, each a strong editor in her own right and each contributing to help raise the bar at Heartwarming. Some on a more full-time basis than others!

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    1. Yes! A huge thank you to the entire Heartwarming team!!!

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  14. As a reader only, I found it very confusing that most of the Heartwarming stories I was interested in were renamed stories from other Harlequin lines.

    I recently won and read Syndi Powell's story which was a debut. I enjoyed it a lot. She managed to hold my interest in a story theme that didn't totally appeal to me at first. In general I was happy that the print size is bigger and the stories are a bit longer.

    I now need to take a closer look at what is out there each month as these stories sound new. Well I know for sure that Karen Rock's is new and I'm waiting for Rula Sinara's book next January.

    I think I will still be double checking if the story is a reprint or not but I will start to look at Heartwarmings each month in the Harlequin bookstore. .

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    1. Kaelee, thank you for looking out for my release in January! You made my day! :)

      And you're right in that prior to July 2013, the Heartwarming stories were reprints edited to fit the line. Harlequin was testing the market for these types of clean, tender romances (hence the reprints). The stories did so well that all new stories were launched in July 2013 (there were 2 new stories in June as well). So everything from July on is brand new. Hope that helps clarify :). And thanks for being a loyal Harlequin reader, Kaelee!!!

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    2. Thanks Rula ~ I'll check out the Harlequin bookstore from June on.

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  15. This is such a wonderful line to write and read! I've enjoyed getting to know the authors and readers. Thank you, Victoria, for helping us find our vision and our readers!

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