It’s Christmas Eve! Bob is off shopping and then I’m looking forward to settling in to watch Ironclad. It’s set during my favorite period – the King John medieval era. It features a woman with a sword :).

What are you up to tonight?

Your Harlequin/Mills & Boon Historical Romance Submission

Here is the seemingly boilerplate generic message I received on December 18, 2018 for my medieval romance novel Being Aware. I’m curious to see if it identically matches what other authors have received.


Dear Lisa

Thank you for submitting Being Aware for our consideration.

We have read your submission with interest; you certainly know how to conjure up the historical period evocatively and authentically. The story is well structured, with charming characters and you have a very natural, fluid writing style. However, whilst we appreciate the care and attention that has gone into the preparation of your submission, regrettably we feel that your story is not sufficiently developed for publication on our Historical list.

We are always looking for new Historical authors, although the standard we require in a first manuscript is very high. Please do not be discouraged by this rejection, however, because we feel that your style and voice show a great deal of potential.

Here are our top tips to make your next submission stand out from the crowd:

1. Break the mould; show us something new by putting your own unique twist on popular storylines. The best way to do this is through your characters – what makes your hero and heroine different from all that have gone before?

2. Focus on the internal emotional conflict of your characters. It’s easy to get carried away conjuring a vivid time period and dramatic plot but this shouldn’t be at the expense of the emotional depth and intensity between the hero and heroine.

3. Use secondary characters to add richness, depth and authenticity to your story but don’t let them take over!

4. The current word length for our Historical series is between 70,000 and 75,000 words. If you feel you have a longer story to tell, you might like to consider whether HQN or Carina Press may be more appropriate.

We are pleased to have had the opportunity to see your work, and thank you for thinking of Harlequin Mills & Boon.

Yours Sincerely,

Editorial Department

Find more writing tips at

Harlequin rejected Being Aware

Harlequin rejected Being Aware, book 15 in my medieval romance series, with a generic form letter. One problem is they present the form letter as if it’s personal advice, but it’s not. It’s a boilerplate of “typical problems”. For example in one section they said if I wanted to write longer than their 70k-75k range I could go with imprint X and Y. But my book is plunk in the middle of that range. Also, they said I should think about ways in which to make my heroine unique. She’s deaf and a swordfighter. I’m not sure there’s too many of those out there :).

I understand the challenges of sending rejection letters. I’ve run a literary magazine for over 12 years now. And yes, our initial rejection letter is a form letter. We make that clear. But we also offer personalized follow-up for anyone who wants it. If Harlequin only wants to send boilerplates, that’s fine. They just need to make that clear in the letter. Otherwise they’re misleading authors who think they’re getting actual suggestions on how to improve their content.

In my case, really, the issue is I shouldn’t be submitting to them. They say right on their guideline pages that they want extremely Alpha Male heroes – “This is where the alpha hero began! From a rake with a wicked glint in his eye to a gasp-inducing muscled warrior brandishing a dagger or a gorgeous kilted Highlander, there’s a man for everyone! ” – that’s just not what I write in this series. Gasp-inducing muscles? No. My heroes draw my heroines in with their honor. With their dedicated compassion. So I just need to find another publisher to explore, as I play with options.

I’m an ENORMOUS proponent of self publishing and feel it gives you far more money, control, and options. Still, I would like to get one with a publisher just to be able to prove that empirically for these stories. I love testing options, as you guys know :).

Anyway, the book is loading live now, and I’ve lost three months of sales to this experiment. Onward and upward!

The Pig of Providence

I know you guys are waiting on book 2 in the New Haven Nights series. I needed to get this short story written for an upcoming compilation series which releases for Christmas. This is set during Christmas in Providence, Rhode Island, Now that it’s done, I’ll go back to finishing book 2 in the New Haven series.

What are you guys up to today? Anything fun?