In the spirit of the new year and getting off to your best beginning yet, I’ll be critiquing opening paragraphs over on the Casa Author blog today.  Pop by and show me what you’ve got!


I’ll be a panelist on Friday afternoon for Romance in the Backseat’s Book Bloggers and Publisher’s Conference.  Which made me realize that I’ve been really behind in the blogging. Topics will include how authors, bloggers and publishers can all work together, whether authors should blog, building your audience and more.

But my lack of posts is hardly for lack of good stuff going on.

As many of you likely know, it’s bracket time.  Forget basketball and vote for your favorite romances in the Dear Author/Smart Bitches DA BWAHA TourneyJennifer Ashley‘s THE MADNESS OF LORD IAN MACKENZIE (Historical) and THE STRANGELY BEAUTIFUL TALE OF MISS PERCY PARKER by Leanna Renee Hieber (Paranormal) both made the big dance.

Releases for books through October 2010 can now be found on the Coming Soon page.

Feeling the luck of the Irish?  Win a bundle of books by signing up for our Romance newsletter. And even if you don’t make it in time for the drawing, we still have all kinds of exclusive freebies only available to subscribers.

As we’ve had a number of emails recently regarding the issue…

We at Dorchester respect authors’ right to post comments and responses to criticism. That said, it should be made clear that in no way do they reflect the thoughts or opinions of our company.

For those who have asked about Candance Sams in particular, we were glad to publish her book and wish her well in her future career.

From a pool of 150 aspiring writers, the works of ten talented authors posted in online serial installments since June 1 have been chosen to continue on in the America’s “Next Best Celler” novel contest, hosted by Dorchester Publishing and TextNovel.com. The finalists are, in no particular order:

Enchanted Season by Alicia Pace

Stay by Candi Wall

How to Lose a Demon in 10 Days by Saranna DeWylde

Confessions of the World’s Oldest Shotgun Bride by Gail Hart

The Hooded Man by Courtney Sheets

Primitive Nights by Candi Wall

Courting Demons by Kerri Nelson

Tossing the Gloves by Christy Finn

Vampire Vacation by C. J. Ellisson 

Muse Struck by Liane Gentry Skye
Over the next two months, the second stage of the contest shall progress. Continue to watch and participate in the process as one exceptional finalist is chosen to win a publishing contract! 

Here’s how the suspense will unfold:

  • For the next few weeks, finalists in coordination with editorial contacts at Dorchester will critique and improve their jacket copy, posting finalized versions at dorchesterpub.com and http://www.textnovel.com from November 23– 30. Readers are encouraged to comment and let us know which jacket copy they think is the best and why. We will review these comments and based on this review, announce the fan favorite jacket copy on December 4.
  • On December 11, taking into account all editorial and voting considerations as well as fan comments, Dorchester will announce the Final Five at both www.dorchesterpub.comand www.textnovel.com.
  • Each week, the entries will receive a critique from qualified romance readers, posted to both websites, and one will be eliminated.
  • On January 15th, we will announce our Next Best Celler Grand Prize Winner!


  • Nov. 23 – Finalists’ Jacket Copy posted
  • Nov. 23-30 – Voting for Fan Favorite
  • Dec. 1 – Finalists’ Manuscripts Due to Dorchester Publishing
  • Dec. 4 – Fan Favorite Announced
  • Dec. 11 – Judges Introduced, Final Five Announced
  • Dec. 18 – Fifth Place Announced, with criticism
  • Jan. 4 – Fourth Place Announced, with criticism
  • Jan. 8 – Third Place Announced, with criticism
  • Jan. 15 – Winner and Runner-up Announced














Here ends the official release. 

I can tell you that it wasn’t an easy process to winnow the entries down, and we had a lot of debate over this top 10. 

Over the next few days, Alicia Condon, Chris Keeslar and myself will be going over the summaries for each story and working with the authors to give them marketable back cover copy.  We hope the entrants will find this kind of feedback valuable as they pursue their publishing career. 

Once all the new summaries are posted, we’ll be inviting comments here at RomanticReads for your favorites.

Congratulations to all the finalists, and good luck!

Get 30% off all Dorchester titles with a purchase of $20.  Just use code BEATHEAT.  And to save even more when buying from the Dorchester website, check out these tips.


Congratulations to Marjorie Liu, whose FIRE KING is #23 on the upcoming New York Times mass-market paperback bestseller list!


If you’re looking for some light, refreshing  reading, Gemma Halliday‘s UNDERCOVER IN HIGH HEELS just received first place in the Madcap Awards, celebrating the best in romantic comedy.

I’ve covered the basics of pitching in other posts: use comparisons where appropriate, keep it short, don’t be afraid to ask the editor questions.

But as I was thinking back to the pitches I took at the New England conference in March, there were a couple of people who got immediate brownie points.  They could’ve said pretty much anything and I would’ve requested their work. 

For those who are prepping their own pitches for RWA, here are those magic words:

  • “I’ve been a member of the Love Spell book club for years, and I really loved the Immortals series and some of the new authors you’re bringing out, like Elisabeth Naughton and Kathryne Kennedy.”
  • “I’ve been reading Leisure since I was a teenager.”

You might see this as sucking up (heck, it probably is a little bit).  I see it as someone who already knows the kind of stuff we publish.  And having those details counts for a lot. 

So go find a book represented by or edited by the person you’re going to pitch.  Read it.  And use it.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to to go to Nationals this year, but if I were going to be there, here are the panels I wouldn’t miss and why:

  • The Google Book Settlement – Jan Constantine, General Council of the Authors Guild.  The Google thing (as I technically like to call it) is very confusing, changing every day, and will impact a lot of people.  It’s vital to understand how it affects you and what rights you have. Thurs., 2-3 p.m.
  • What Not to Write – author Eloisa James and Avon editor Carrie Ferron. This is basically a trend session, and those are always interesting.  However, they also need to be taken with a grain of salt and the knowledge that what’s a taboo at one house could be perfectly acceptable at another. Thurs., 2-3 p.m.
  • How to Use Networking without Becoming a User – Tanya Michna.  I don’t know the presenter, but the topic is certainly eye-catching. So much of promotion and even selling can be about who you know or someone putting in a good word for you. But how do you reach out to people without seeming needy? Thurs., 3:15-4:15
  • Straight Talk, Librarians to Writers – John Charles, Susan Gibberman, and Deborah Schneider.  The library market is vital.  These longtime champions of romance in libraries will help you make the most of the market – going over what libraries can do for you, what you can do for them, and most especially how to deal with librarians who might not be so inclined to feature romance. Fri., 8:30-9:30 a.m.
  • Writing the Hot Historical – agent Lucienne Diver, Janet Mullany, Pam Rosenthal.  I want hot, emotionally complex historicals.  But with humor too–see Neurotica below. Write them and send them to me.  Fri., 8:30-9:30 a.m.
  • Online  Promotion – Lori Foster, Jenna Petersen, Michelle Buonfiglio, Danielle Jackson.  These ladies are the experts – from both sides of field, both authors and reviewers.  Fri., 11-noon
  • Neurotica: How adding humor can jumpstart your career like crazy – author Emily Bryan.  No matter what your writing style, you always need a touch of humor.  And Emily is a master.  She knows how to really hook readers with that first line, too.  Fri., 2-3 p.m.
  • Learn to Rewrite – author Anna DeStefano.  Every author is going to have her own process when it comes to edits and rewrites. But if you struggle with revisions, having some extra tips never hurts. Because an author who can’t revise or refuses to rewrite won’t stay published long.  Sat., 8:30-9:30 a.m.
  • Make it Happen: 10 tips to breaking in or breaking back in – authors Christie Craig and Faye Hughes. So many authors are in this place.  I think the biggest key is going to be persistence.  But that’s only one.  Christie and Faye have nine more.  Sat., 8:30-9:30 a.m.
  • Anatomy of a Bestseller – editor Chris Keeslar, authors Angie Fox and C.L. Wilson. This was originally my proposal, so of course I think everyone should go. 😉  Angie Fox and C.L. Wilson both hit the national bestseller lists with debuts. Being the rational, scientifically minded person that I am, I wondered what traits the books might share that could have helped them sell so well without any kind of name recognition. This panel will discuss some of their commonalities as well as specific efforts from the authors and publisher.  Sat., 11-noon
  • How to Catch Flies: Professionalism and choosing your business reputation – agent Laura Bradford, Jennifer Schober. There are a few authors I’d met at various conferences and without even reading a word, I thought I’d like to work with them.  They seemed pleasant, professional, well-organized, and promotional minded. This panel will give you an idea of how to project that  image. Sat., 12:45-1:45
  • The Billionaire Tycoon’s Secret Promotional Baby: Making the Most of Online Marketing – authors Carrie Lofty, Ann Aguirre, Barbara Carridad Ferrer; Smart Bitches’ Sarah Wendell; DearAuthor’s Jane Litte. Though there might be some overlap from the other Online Promotions panel, with publishers not having as many ad dollars, online promo is more important than ever and having numerous strategies at your disposal is essential. 
  • Why Publishing is Making You Crazy and What You Can Do About It: the Tao of publishing – agent Steve Axelrod, author Julie Anne Long. Learn what you can control and what you can’t in the business and focus on what matters most.  There’s so much author anxiety out there right now that this is a fantastic reminder of what to let go of and how to do it. Sat., 2-3 p.m.
  • Dorchester Spotlight Editor Chris Keelsar presents what Dorchester does, what we’re looking for (hint: dragons), what’s next, and some exciting new projects and opportunities.  Bring your questions!  Sat., 2-3


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