Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Interview with editors Lori Graham and Laura Kelly

I’d like to welcome our guest editors today, Senior Editor Lori Graham and Editor Laura Kelly from the Crimson (suspense) line of The Wild Rose Press. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy.

Thank you. We’re happy to be here.

What exciting new projects are happening over at Crimson?

Lori: The most exciting project is that Crimson Rose month is coming up in November. First, we are doing a submission call. We are calling for “Men in Uniform”.

To back that up, we have a special free read and some opportunities for prizes. The free read is “A Girl, A Guy and A Goon” by Cindy Green and it will feature a man in uniform and kick off our promotion. Next we have three opportunities for prizes. First, we will be starting a blog on 11/1 regarding our favorite man in uniform and how the blog will work, inviting comments to serve as people’s registration in the blog drawing. The winner will be chosen at random at the end of the month and given a free Crimson download. Also, for those downloading a free read, their name will go into a random drawing at month end for a free coffee mug. The final opportunity will be in the polls. Our Marketing Director will be posting polls every couple of days. Folks will have to go to the website and check out the covers and blurbs for the books of the poll and then vote for their favorite. The winner of each poll will win a free download of one of the books in the poll.

It will be a great time to check out our incredible Crimson writers.

Can you give us a little history about Crimson?

Lori: Crimson has been around since the inception of The Wild Rose Press and is our second largest line as far as sales. There is never been a dull moment as over 60 authors provide us with murder, mayhem and intrigue while still building some incredibly romantic stories. We currently have seven editors and are getting ready to add our eighth. The majority of our current works are the longer rosebuds or roses but we would love to get a few more rosettes and miniature roses (shorter stories) if anyone would like to try their hand at it.

What are your top pet peeves a new writer makes?

Lori: If you are a new writer getting ready to submit to any publishing house, take the time to study their website and guidelines. It is very frustrating to an editor to receive a manuscript from someone who obviously doesn’t know anything about their company.

Laura: Stories that begin with backstory, and not where the action begins. I don’t want to wade through six pages of what happened before the story begins, before the story begins. Stories where the characters seem to have only two emotions—anger and lust. I like to read about well-rounded characters with a full range of emotions, not two characters who snipe at each other and trade barbs until they can’t control themselves any longer and fall into bed, then hop out of it and start sniping at each other again. I like the story to progress in stages as a real relationship should, with them getting to know each other’s quirks and fallacies as human beings. Stories with too much narrative. A romantic suspense story has to do double duty. It’s a mystery/suspense and a romance. Therefore it has to hit the ground running. Too much narrative slows down the pacing.

What are your top pet peeves a published author makes?

Lori: As a published author, it is easy to fall into the mindset that everything you do is publishable quality and to be honest, most of it is. However, don’t give up the routines that got your published in the beginning. Still proofread, continue to use your critique group and partner with your editor.

Laura: I would have to agree with Lori on this. We hate to write rejections and especially rejections to authors we have already worked with, but we don’t have time to edit careless mistakes that could be caught by a good proofreading. Sending in a manuscript full of typos and bad grammar shows you are not being respectful of your editor or her time and expertise. We’re here to edit story structure and plot deficiencies, not bad grammar and spelling.

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

Lori: Given the way our society is evolving, we are seeing a bit more international intrigue and manuscripts based on some terrorism. I don’t know that this is a trend but just a new avenue for intrigue.

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

Lori: Hero and heroine development – if the writer has taken the time to really create characters that I can enjoy that makes a huge difference. Then there is the villain. I need to be able to either “hate” the villain or be able to understand why the villain did what they did.

Laura: Good, clean dialogue. A lot of new writers don’t realize every line of dialogue doesn’t need to be responded to, and you don’t need to include every thought the character has. I see this especially when authors are trying to close a scene, or get the people out of the room. Just end the scene with a pertinent piece of dialogue and cut to the next scene. The reader will realize they left the room and got into their cars and drove across town and….

So when I see a manuscript with realistic dialogue that does what it’s supposed to do and moves the story along, and a minimum of narrative, that catches my attention right away.

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

Lori: Mainly for them to have followed the submission guidelines. Put together a great query letter and synopsis to grab the editor’s attention. (Hint – have someone read it and the synopsis. Someone who hasn’t read the story.) Please don’t make the synopsis a “See Spot run” sentence structure.

Laura: Our response time varies, on the number of submissions received and on hand at the time. We try to get back to every author on a query within 30 days, a partial within 60 days, and a full within 90 days. We now have a process where manuscripts for contract consideration are submitted to our senior editor for approval, and that takes time, too. So we might not be as quick at getting back to authors as we were in the beginning.

What new author have you recently signed?

Lori: Jenni Holbrook

Laura: AJ Brower

What new project made you grab that hidden piece of chocolate in your pencil drawer?

Lori: There have been a few so I am going to need a diet soon.

Laura: Hot Contract, by Jodi Henley, No Second Chance, by Maggie Toussaint, and this month’s release by Kathleen Mix, Deadly Paradise, is really gripping. I like stories that simmer with danger and move at a really fast pace.

But I am pleased with how all of my stories turned out once the editing process was complete. I don’t let them ‘out of the house’ until the author and I are satisfied that they sparkle.

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

Lori: Study your weapon of choice and the characters you are developing. To get the suspense truly high, you need to know all of it inside out. However, while you are developing the suspense, don’t forget about the romantic aspect and build the sexual tension. (Another hint – take some time to look through the suspense novels already published with a house to get a feel for what is possible.)

Laura: I agree with Lori, here. We do all kinds of stories. I have edited Hawaiian terrorists, horse farm and corporate sabotage, serial killers, kidnapping stories, murder mysteries and international intrigue. Each one had its own flavor and beat, and was unique in its own way. I love the diversity in Crimson.

Last, but not least, please read your manuscript aloud to yourself before you send it in. You will be amazed at the glitches you catch if you do this. If you reach a section where your mind starts to wander and you bore yourself, you know that section is slow and needs re-writing. You can catch excess repetitions of words and phrases this way, too. And stilted or non-essential dialogue.

To query us, first, go and read our submission guidelines on the website, http://thewildrosepress.com/publisher/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=33&Itemid=44then send your query to queryus@thewildrosepress.com. All queries go through a main clearinghouse person, and are then forwarded to the senior editor of that line, in our case, Lori, and she assigns the work based on an established rotation.

Thanks, Lori and Laura!

Thank you. It was a pleasure to be here.

Check out The Wild Rose Press Crimson offerings on our Suspense page at



Cindy K. Green said...

I just wanted to pop in here and say hi to Lori and Laura! I've worked with Lori since I first signed with TWRP and I've learned so much in the process. Thanks Lori! I hope we have some more terrific Crimson submissions in the future.

Skhye said...

Wonderful interview! I'll share it with my blog subscribers! Skhye

Margay said...

What a great interview. I love getting behind the scenes info like this!

Hywela Lyn said...

Wonderful interview Lori and Laura. I love getting to know more about authors, like this, and hopefully to learn something myself along the way.

Maggie Toussaint said...

What a fun interview! I enjoyed learning more about the editorial process at The Wild Rose Press. And I'm thrilled for the mention, Laura, of my NO SECOND CHANCE. It was a pleasure to work with Laura on fine-tuning this high stakes novel.


Tamra said...

Hi, Lori and Laura! Lori is my editor for my YA series. She has done excellent work polishing my first two manuscripts.

:) T.

Whispers, The Series

jodi said...

When I go to conference this year, I'm bringing I love Laura Kelly bumper stickers, she's great at what she does and didn't laugh at...yeah, well...Hawaiian terrorists. :) I love TWRP.

Sheryl said...

The reading out loud advice is probably the best advice I've ever had. I was shy at first--that's what comes of rejection over the years, I suppose, lack of confidence. But it works! What's more, your confidence grows as you read. Try recording it, and you will soon see/hear the flaws. It really does help. Thanks, Laura! :)

Lily Stone said...

Enjoyed the interview!

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