Editors, Part VI: Love…exciting and new…

Hello, readers –

Ask and ye shall receive! I sent a fervent prayer in the general direction of the sky yesterday, in the hope that the last editor scheduled to attend the PNWA conference would produce a bio for us by the end of the week – and lo and behold, when I opened my e-mail this morning, there it was. This, courtesy of the fabulous Brenda Stav, who does so much thankless good work for the PNWA throughout the year that we really all should get together and heap her with leis and thank-yous at the conference.

In case you are tuning in mid-series, and can’t imagine what I am gibbering about, my fair fingers have been flying like the wind for weeks now, trying to dig up and pass along information about the agents and editors scheduled to attend this summer’s PNWA conference – and thus available for appointments with YOU. (If you are looking for information on the attending agents, check out my posts from April 26 to May 17. May 18 on is the series on editors.) I had promised myself to try to finish up before Memorial Day weekend, not only because I know a lot of you will be grabbing precious writing time then, but also because there is a SIGNIFICANT discount for conference attendees who register prior to June 6th.

And if you are having trouble working up the nerve to pitch to a real, live agent or editor, fear not: I shall be giving a free (Free! Free!) class on June 24th, courtesy of the PNWA, on prepping yourself for exactly such a situation. Not to mention the fact that I and some intrepid souls who have successfully fought in pitching wars past (translation: we all have agents) will be manning a Practice Your Pitch booth at the conference, to help you iron out any last-minute problems or justifiable jitters.

And you thought I didn’t love you.

Speaking of love, on to the editor du jour, Raelene Gorlinsky, Publisher at Ellora’s Cave AND Managing Editor of Sensual Romance Reviews. Her blurb should be going up on the PNWA site any second now, but here’s an advance copy:

”I don’t remember a time when I couldn’t read and didn’t have a book in my
hands. I was a shy child, so books were my best friends and provided all the
excitement and emotion I could want. Romances, fantasies, and cozy mysteries
have been my preferred reading since I was a teenager. My favorites these
days are paranormal and futuristic romances with a high sensuality level.
I’ve got over 3000 books in my home-there are no more walls available to put
bookshelves against. Even my “hobbies” involve books-I collect antique
dictionaries, illustrated children’s fantasy books, fantasy art books, and
fancy bookmarks.

”I spent twenty-five years in the information communication profession, as
technical writer, editor and manager. I started editing part time for
Ellora’s Cave because it was an interesting variation from my day job in a
computer department. It’s a lot more fun to work on ‘He caressed her body
with his eyes’ than ‘Key in the serial number and press Enter.’ In January
2004 I moved to Ohio to take on the job of Managing Editor at Ellora’s Cave,
allowing me to use my organizational, managerial, and editorial skills on a
wide variety of projects. My position is now Publisher, and I supervise
fifteen editors, deal with over 200 authors, manage our digital releases,
still edit several authors of my own, and am enjoying this job more than any
other in my life.”

I have to say, I find this blurb refreshing – yes, it says what she likes to read, but it also provides something one almost never sees in this sort of context, insight into what the editor in question might be like as a person. This isn’t just a blurb – it’s the kind of confidence that a new acquaintance might reveal over a daiquiri. In an industry that is getting increasingly cold and businesslike, I can only applaud her openness. And, apart from gleaning that she MIGHT have had a FEW friends who thought she was insane to give up her computer job to do this (which makes me approve of her even more, frankly), this blurb tells me that this is a habitually enthusiastic person — also increasingly rare in the industry.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: to walk into your meeting with her having prepared a fabulous sensual detail or two in your pitch that will make Ms. Gorlinsky chortle with joy. If your heroine ever has silk against her skin, or rolls about with a paramour in a blackberry patch, or has herself covered in a piquant combination of confectioner’s sugar, dark chocolate, and paprika so someone could lick it off, FIND A WAY TO WORK IT INTO YOUR PITCH.

Seriously, looking over Ms. Gorlinsky’s publishing record, I wouldn’t be particularly surprised if one of her group pitch meetings were raided by the vice squad. If you are not sure that your pitch is torrid enough, try this experiment: over lunch with a coworker in a crowded public place, try giving the pitch. If your coworker does not either blush, glance over his/her shoulder to see if anyone else is listening, or think that s/he is being propositioned, you might want to think about ways to spice your pitch up a little.

For those of you new to pitching, this may sound like a joke, but actually, it isn’t: like a synopsis, a good pitch should be representative of the style of the writing in the book. I’m not suggesting that you show up for your pitch meeting garbed only in a corset and Saran Wrap™, of course (although it would be an interesting approach), but if the book you are pitching is intended to titillate, at least one solid detail in your pitch should, too. If you are pitching horror, some tidbit in your pitch should nag spookily in the hearer’s head later that night. If you are pitching comedy, go for a laugh.

And so forth. You would not BELIEVE how often I have heard good comedy writers give the impression that their books were turgid, good novelists convey that their books were boring, and good mystery writers convince hearers that the solution to their plots could not be more obvious. It just breaks my heart. This is a performance, people! Show that you understand not only how to write, but how to entertain as well.

Okay, now that I’ve guaranteed Ms. Gorlinsky some pitches to remember, I dug up a bit more information about her reading preferences. This, from Sensual Romance reviews, gives a few more specifics about her tastes in books. Check out especially the middle of the second paragraph:

”My life revolves around reading (800 books in my TBR mountain), writing (book reviews for fun; technical writing as a profession), and ‘rithmatic (how many more years until my teenage son graduates?!?). When not busy with all that, I am owned by three Pembroke Welsh Corgis who require not only feeding and walking and adoration, but also must be shuttled to obedience classes and tracking practice and dog shows. I collect Barbie dolls, old dictionaries, Corgi paraphernalia, and the books of my favorite authors.

”My reading tastes cover romance, light mystery, and fantasy books. I definitely prefer contemporary settings, although I read a few historicals — and future-set fantasies. I love paranormal romances (vampires! werewolves!), romantic suspense, romantic comedy, and romantica/light erotica. I prefer mature, experienced heroines; usually don’t care for tortured heroes or very ‘dark’ books; can’t stand baby books; and am burned out on time travels. The only series books I read regularly are SIMs, Blazes, and some Temptations. I make exceptions if a favorite author writes a book for another line. My favorite publisher is Ellora’s Cave.”

Now we’re cooking with gas! I love it when agents and editors tell writers directly what they hate; it saves us SO much time. But heavens, what IS it about this year’s PNWA conference that has attracted so many agents and editors enamored of vampires? Should I wear my garlic necklace?

And what IS romantica, you ask? On another website (her web presence really is substantial), Ms. Gorlinsky is kind enough to tell us:

”Romantica is a term to describe a genre that combines hardcore erotica and romance. The sex scenes in romantica are very graphic, detailed, and plentiful, including graphic language, but entwined is a romantic, loving relationship that will reach a level of monogamous commitment by the end of the book. Romantica is perfect for the reader who enjoys extremely hot, graphic sex and fantasy-type situations, but who also finds satisfaction in traditional romance and wants to see characters fall in love.”

There you are, you see: these books are about, as the little old ladies in my tiny hometown would say, having your wedding cake and eating it, too. (If you’re from a small town, I’m sure you’ve seen them, the charming old women who snicker behind their purses at weddings, hissing at one another, “Can you BELIEVE she’s wearing white?” but still who like enough the bride enough to buy her a fondue pot as a wedding present.)

If you are thinking about pitching to Ms. Gorlinsky, you would do well to read the entire article from which this description is excerpted, because it is full of very useful definitions. She delineates between sensual romance, romantica, erotica, and pornography in a very businesslike manner, for those of us who were curious. (As a mainstream novelist who reads a lot of literary fiction, I had not known, for instance, that a ménage à trois could not fit into the first two categories. Really? I wonder what an editor of chick lit would make of that restriction.)

If you want more tips on what Ms. Gorlinsky likes, I think you can do no better than to read her book reviews on Sensual Romance Reviews, http://sr.thebestreviews.com Ideally, if you can find a review of a book that you also read and liked, you will be able to pick up many clues to Ms. G’s tastes. I also found a fairly up-to-date rundown on her upcoming series and publishing trends.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what Ms. Gorlinsky has to say for herself at the editors’ forum. I really, really want Ms. Gorlinsky to show up at the conference in a majestic hat and boa, trailing clouds of My Sin wherever she goes, don’t you? In my mind, she has attained the majestic proportions of Elinor Glyn, the novelist/screenwriter who discovered Valentino – and taught him that it was far sexier if he kissed women inside their sensitive palms or the insides of the wrist, rather than on the comparatively tough back of the hand. Ms. Glyn’s 1907 blockbuster THREE WEEKS was considered so scandalous that reviewers suggested that only married people should read it – although the actual writing, by the standards Ms. Gorlinsky lists in her article, and despite a quite steamy episode involving candles, a tiger pelt, and an older woman stalking a callow young Englishman as though she were going to pounce upon him and eat him, might not even rise to the level of sensual romance.

If you have ever written a sex scene, pause every so often in your merrymaking and lift a glass to Elinor Glyn: she charmed open a whole lot of doors for novelists who came after her. And take a second sip in honor of Henry Miller and D.H. Lawrence, while you’re at it. Heck, go ahead and toast Aphra Behn, the first woman known to have written a play in English and been PAID for it, whose 1688 story THE FAIR JILT enlightened the English-speaking world about possible other uses for the confessional.

One final note: when you are making your editor meeting ranking choices, please be careful about confusing Raelene Gorlinsky with Liz Gorinsky of Tor. Yes, I know, it seems like a silly piece of advice, since they publish such different work, but people make silly mistakes when they’re in a hurry.

Tomorrow, the last of the editors, and perhaps a word or two about the good folks teaching the Sunday seminars. Phew! In the meantime, keep up the good work!

– Anne Mini

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