Friday, February 8, 2008

Interview With Leah Hultenschmidt

I’d like to welcome our guest editor today, Leah Hultenschmidt. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

What exciting new projects are happening over at Dorchester Publishing?

Oh my gosh, where to start? We’re always hopping with new projects, so this is a toughie.

Some new authors you’re definitely going to want to try this year include New York Times bestseller C.L. Wilson with her super debut Lord of the Fading Lands and Lady of Light and Shadows. And when you feel like you’re going to go through withdrawal waiting for C.L.’s next books, we have Kathryne Kennedy’s spectacular Enchanting the Lady, which author Erin Grady has described as “the imagination of J.K. Rowling combined with the romance of Julie Garwood.” And J.D. Warren brings us a wild paranormal romantic adventure in Bedlam, Bath & Beyond.

Plus, the high-action Shomi line has its three newest titles coming out, American Title winner Jenny Gardiner makes her debut with Sleeping With Ward Cleaver, and Marjorie Liu has her latest in the Dirk & Steele series with The Last Twilight.

Can you give us a little history about Dorchester Publishing?

Dorchester is the oldest independent mass-market publisher in North America. We specialize in genre fiction – Romance, Westerns, Horror, and Thrillers. Our imprints include Leisure Books, Love Spell, Making It, Shomi and Hard Case Crime. For more, visit

What are your top five pet peeves a new writer makes?

I’m not sure about coming up with five, but all it takes is one or two. Mostly, it’s that they let the pacing fall. If you can keep me reading, you’ve got a great shot at getting an offer.

What are your top five pet peeves a published author makes?

Again, I don’t think I really have five. It kind of takes a lot of peeve me. But I’d say a big one in this category is that sometimes an author who already has a contract gets a little comfortable and the level of writing isn’t up to par with the book that got her published in the first place. Fortunately, my authors are pretty good about *not* doing this. Mostly because they probably know I won’t let them get away with it. I’d rather have a good book turned in late than a messy one that meets its deadline.

What old trend or new trend do you see in publishing for Dorchester?

I think writers are going to continue to mix genres in bold new ways, like with historical paranormals, mystery romances, and romance with high fantasy. I noticed before the New Year that I was getting a lot of submissions with demons. It seems that demons are the new vampires. But once you know about a trend, it’s already in its peak. So the best thing to do is be aware of the market, but write what interests you most.

What catches your eye in a new writer’s work?

Before I read a word of the sample pages, I’m looking in the cover letter to see if the author’s idea is something new and different. Is the story interesting? And then, can it keep my interest? And then, do the characters have depth? Would I want to read more about these people? Do I care what happens to them? If you can get a ‘yes’ to all those questions, I’ll probably buy the book.

For the submission process, what do you want from an author? What is your response time?

My ideal submission is a cover letter that tells me the genre, the word count, and brief plot description; a 3-7 page synopsis covering all the major plot points; and a brilliant first three chapters that leaves me begging for the rest of the manuscript because I NEED to know what happens next. It typically takes about 4-6 months for a response, unless we can see right away that the work is something we don’t publish. The “no” responses are much faster. ;-) Also note that we accept agented and unagented submissions.

What new author have you recently signed?

I work with a lot of new authors. Some new ones to check out this summer include: Trish Albright, Siren's Song (July) – This is an adventure-filled historical, and it immediately reminded me of “The Princess Bride” crossed with “Zorro,” and maybe a little “Pirates of the Caribbean” thrown in for good measure.

Angie Fox, The Accidental Demon Slayer (August) – Stephanie Rowe, Michelle Rowan and Tate Hallaway have all already given this book some great quotes, so if you like their light paranormals, I’m betting you’ll like Angie’s too. The heroine’s voice is incredibly engaging, as is the most hilarious Jack Russell terrier I’ve ever seen.

Alissa Johnson, As Luck Would Have It (October) – I just fell in love with the characters in this Regency-set book, not only the main protagonists, but all their friends as well. Like Julia Quinn or Eloisa James, Alissa has created this wonderfully romantic world that I never want to leave.

Any other chocolate nuggets you can give authors looking to break into your house?

Our editors judge a lot of contests. Both Angie’s and Trish’s books were bought from contests I judged. That can be a great way to break in—and faster than the slush pile!

Thanks Leah!

Check out Dorchester's Website at:


Kathryne Kennedy said...

Hi Leah! (waving)
Wonderful interview! Thank you so much for mentioning ENCHANTING THE LADY.:} said...

Hi, Leah. I'm Kathyrne's critque partner and just knew she's have a hit with Enchanting The Lady.I may be bias, but I love her stories and I'm thrilled with her book cover.It's fabulous! Have a great day, Donna MacQuigg

Jennifer Ashley/ Allyson James / Ashley Gardner said...

"I’d rather have a good book turned in late than a messy one that meets its deadline."

Why do I have the nagging feeling she's talking to me here? :-) Seriously, Leah is the best editor I could ever have. She has helped me so much, and she has a terrific understanding of what makes a wonderful romance and the market it will sell in. I highly recommend her. :-) said...

Hi Leah,

You aren't my editor, but we've met. I can certainly agree that "getting comfortable" will NOT a sale make. :-)

Not sure about other publishers, but Dorchester has a stable of fantastic artists, both the writing kind and cover art kind.

I thank you for your comments and helping us understand your likes and dislikes.


Anonymous said...

Hi Leah!
I'm an unpublished writer attending my first Desert Dreams conference in April. Thank you for the candid interview. I hope to meet you soon. Thanks again for the insight.
Best Wishes,
Mary Jo LaBeff

Sandra Leesmith said...

Thanks Leah for your advice. You have encouraging words for those of us trying to break into the market. I like the fact you are open to new ideas and unagented work. Thanks for taking the time to interview and I look forward to meeting you at Desert Dreams. Sandra Leesmith