May Hearts Talk Wrap Up

The latest edition of Hearts Talk is here. This is available only to members, but here is a little peek….

Conference Special: Agent & Editor Interviews

Pitching at this year’s conference? Read on for interviews with 11 agents and editors who have volunteered for the hot seat. And if you can’t make it in person this year, you can still make the most of this opportunity to get the inside track on what these publishing professionals are looking for…

Angela James, Carina Press

Executive editor of Carina Press, Harlequin’s digital-first press, Angela James is a well-known advocate for digital publishing. She has enjoyed a long and varied publishing career that has included ownership of an independent editorial services business, work as a copy editor for electronic book and small press publisher, Ellora’s Cave, and executive editor for Samhain Publishing. She frequently travels to regional, national and international writing conferences to meet with authors and readers, and present workshops on digital publishing for both authors and readers of all genres of fiction.

What she’s looking for: All adult fiction except Inspirational.

Amy Thomas, Penguin Australia 

Amy Thomas has worked in publishing for eleven years and is Senior Editor in the Books for Children and Young Adults at Penguin Books. She has worked with authors such as Melina Marchetta, Alison Lester, Kirsty Eagar, Sofie Laguna and Isobelle Carmody, to name a few.

What she’s looking for: Books for children & young adults.

Jeanmarie Morison, Penguin Australia

Jeanmarie is the Executive Editor at Penguin Books for Children and Young Adults. Before joining Penguin, Jeanmarie was a Senior Editor for Harper Collins Children’s Books in New York. Jeanmarie has also worked for ABC Books for Children, Allen & Unwin and Random House in Australia.

What she’s looking for: Books for children & young adults.

Belinda Byrne, Penguin Australia

Belinda Byrne is a commissioning editor at Penguin Australia specialising in women’s commercial fiction. She can’t imagine another job as creative and rewarding as working with talented authors as they build their writing careers. Belinda has had the privilege and pleasure of working closely with bestselling authors such as Rachael Treasure, Katherine Scholes, Kerry McGinnis, Andrea Mayes, Lee Tulloch, and Kate Veitch, and is delighted to be introducing new voices like Mandy Magro and Cathryn Hein to a broad Australian audience.

What she’s looking for: Commercial women’s fiction, especially with authentic Australian characters and settings.

Ali Watts, Penguin Australia

Ali Watts started her publishing career as a teenager, as `photocopy kid’ at Penguin Books. She went on to work part-time as Administrative Assistant to the Design Department, while completing her BA in English Literature at Melbourne University. She then transferred to the Adult Publishing department as Editorial Assistant, and enrolled in RMIT’s Graduate Diploma in Editing and Publishing. Penguin took her on as a Trainee Editor, then over the past eighteen years she has worked her way through the ranks from Editor to Senior Editor, Managing Editor and finally to her present role as Associate Publisher on the Michael Joseph list. She now specialises in commercial women’s fiction, working with authors such as Monica McInerney, Rachael Treasure, Gretel Killeen, Fiona McIntosh and Katherine Scholes.

What she’s looking for: In terms of the books I publish, my overall brief is `commercial women’s fiction’ – and of course any women’s novel usually needs a good dash of romance. I publish family dramas (Monica McInerney) historical sagas (Fiona McIntosh), chick-lit (and `hen-lit’, as it’s sometimes known), `nostalgia’ stories for the Baby Boomers (authors such as Estelle Pinney), rural fiction (Rachael Treasure, Kerry McGinnis and Fiona Palmer), contemporary fiction and paranormal romance. The setting can be anywhere or any time at all – what we’re looking for is a story that you can’t put down, characters you can’t forget and ideally more than one dimension going on with the plot. (Some Mills & Boon style romances can be too one-dimensional for us.)

Bernadette Foley, Hachette Australia

Bernadette Foley is a publisher of adult fiction and non-fiction at Hachette Australia. She started working in book publishing in 1985, and has been with Hachette for almost seven years. She has also worked in-house at Pan Macmillan, UQP, Allen&Unwin, HarperCollins, and as a freelance editor for most of the leading trade publishers. With Dr John Dale she established the Graduate Certificate in Editing and Publishing at the University of Technology, Sydney, and was a member of the Australia Council/APA committee that set up the Residential Editorial Program for mid-career editors. She was a recipient of the Beatrice Davis Editorial Fellowship, which gave her the opportunity to work with publishers in New York and subsequently was on the selection panel for this fellowship. Among the authors she publishes are Bronwyn Parry, Helene Young, Gabrielle Lord, William McInnes, Lian Hearn, and Phillipa Fioretti. Bernadette loves stories that you can dive into and swim around in.

What she’s looking for: Fresh new voices.

Lucy Gilmour, Harlequin Mills & Boon

Lucy Gilmour is an Editor for Harlequin Mills & Boon, works in their London office and is acquiring for all M&B lines. Lucy joined Harlequin six years ago after finishing her classics degree and spending two years working in the French Alps, perfecting the skills every editor needs; extensive wine-tasting knowledge, learning the language of love…and chatting to (ok, serving drinks to) impossible gorgeous Mediterranean men! She acquires across all of the UK acquired series giving her the chance to work with some of her favourite heroes – the Alpha males of Mills & Boon Sexy and Sweet, the devilishly handsome doctors of Medicals and Mills & Boon Historical’s Regency Rakes!

What she’s looking for: Any UK Series.

Erika Tsang, Avon

Executive Editor Erika Tsang had a bright idea when she joined Avon in 2002: let’s add paranormal romance to the list! She scooped up Lynsay Sands, Kerrelyn Sparks, and Jeaniene Frost while no one was looking, and now they appear regularly on the national bestsellers lists. But historicals are still her first love, and she continues to work with such stars as Suzanne Enoch, Laura Lee Guhrke, and Beverly Jenkins.

What she’s looking for: She would like to add more paranormal and historical romances to her list, as well as ethnic titles and high concept women’s fiction.

Annette Barlow, Allen and Unwin

Annette Barlow has worked in the publishing industry for over 25 years, in bookshops, in sales, in editorial and for over 10 years as a publisher. Her list comprises fiction titles including the internationally successful Kate Morton, the intriguing collection of romance stories, How do I Love Thee? edited by Valerie Parv and wonderful newcomers like Tess Evans’ The Book of Lost Threads. Her non-fiction titles include Valerie Parv’s very popular romance writing guide, Heart and Craft and the stunningly romantic memoirs from Marlena de Blasi, the first being Thousand Days in Venice.

What she’s looking for: Popular women’s fiction.

Beverley Cousins, Random House

Before moving to Australia with her family in 2007, Beverley Cousins had twenty years’ experience in London publishing (first for Pan Macmillan and then Penguin Books UK). Following a year’s secondment with Penguin Australia, she moved to Random House Australia as Fiction Publisher. During her career, she has published a number of brand-name authors, including Minette Walters, Colin Dexter and Janet Evanovich, and currently looks after bestselling authors Judy Nunn and Susan Duncan, among others.

What she’s looking for: All types of fiction, especially women’s fiction.

Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary Agency

Kristin Nelson established the Nelson Literary Agency in 2002 and in the short time since has sold over 100 books to all the major publishers. She has landed several film deals and has contracted foreign rights on behalf of her clients in many territories. Kristin specializes in representing commercial fiction (mainstream, women’s fiction, romance, science fiction, fantasy, young adult & middle grade) and literary fiction with a commercial bent. Clients include New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling authors such as Ally Carter, Jamie Ford, Gail Carriger, Simone Elkeles, Courtney Milan, and RITA-award winners Sherry Thomas and Linnea Sinclair. Website:  Blog:

What she’s looking for: Commercial and Literary/Commercial fiction.

Clare Forster, Curtis Brown Australia

Now a Melbourne-based literary agent with leading agency Curtis Brown Australia, Clare is a former book publisher of many years’ experience. She has worked for Penguin and Harper Collins and began her career with University of Queensland Press. She has worked with authors on successful books in many genres of fiction, and particularly enjoys mainstream commercial women’s fiction. Please note: For those scheduled to meet with Clare, a blurb, headshot, synopsis/outline and first 30 pages need to be emailed to the pitch coordinator no later than 22nd July.

What she’s looking for: Whether your genre is romantic suspense, romantic comedy, historical saga, crime or thriller, Clare is interested to hear from writers who have a strong story to tell with memorable, appealing characters and wellcreated settings and plots. You must be seeking publication by mainstream publishing houses in Australia (with thoughts of other English-language markets and world domination to follow, of course!).

For full article, go to our website. For members only.

From Here to Eternity: Latest News!

20th Anniversary Conference, 11th -14th August 2011, Melbourne

As this issue of Hearts Talk arrives in your mailbox, the Early Bird registration period for Conference 2011 is closing to record numbers. If you’ve missed that April 30 deadline, fear not. Registration is still open for all events, although some

conference sessions have sold out and others are nearing capacity.

The bonus sessions have proven extremely popular with an extra Pitching Workshop on Thursday and two “Now We’re Talking” chats added to the Friday afternoon program. For details visit our conference website pages and look for Bonus Sessions.

Conference Contacts:

Louise Reynolds –

Bronwyn Jameson –

For news and updates, follow us on Twitter: and the RWA group page on Facebook.

Finish the Book – Then Celebrate. Now! by Marion Lennox

Last week I phoned my son and he was in the pub. His work team had just finished a major project and were celebrating.

‘Celebrate’, I thought wistfully. I’d just finished a book and had celebrated by washing the dog 🙂

It occurred to me then, that just because we lead a solitary life, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have celebrations of our own. So I asked around—how do my fellow authors celebrate hitting send?

For full article, go to our website. For members only.

Exclusive Interview: Robert McKee

Story Master Robert McKee is returning to Australia in June to give a series of seminars. He graciously took part in a Q & A via telephone from London, offering some insights into what romance writers could expect from his Love Story seminar.

Do you make a distinction in your seminar between a ‘love story’ that may end tragically (such as Titanic) and a romance (live happily ever after)?

In my Love Story lecture, I identify 6 sub-genres of the Love Story. Firstly, there’s courtship drama and courtship comedy. In happily ever after stories there’s courtship comedy, romantic comedy, & screwball comedy. And then under courtship drama, there are two sub-subgenres as well –they are what I call complex romance and pure romance. More often than not, pure romance ends in a happy ending while complex romance often ends in a tragedy. So that’s two sub-genres, and they each have two sub-subgenres.

In addition to that, I talk about the marriage comedy and marriage drama. Then there’s a love story variation, another sub-genre called the passion tragedy, those which obviously by name, end in tragedy and they’re driven by extreme sexual obsession and passion. And then there’s finally the sex comedy which is a comic version of the passion tragedy, and is a delightful farce like Boeing Boeing and so forth. So I guess the answer is that I have a very comprehensive analysis of love stories into both their sub-genres and subsubgenres. There’s a rich variety in that umbrella of genres.

For full article, go to our website. For members only.

RWA Noticeboard

RWA Event 50K in 30Days is BACK!! 1-30 June 2011

The beginning of winter is a great time to burrow down into your writer’s cave and get some serious wordage happening. 50K in 30 Days is an opportunity to work with other writers, pacing and supporting each other through a month long writing marathon.

ROMA Award Nominations Now Open

Have you been impressed by the quality of any media coverage of our industry during the past year? It might have been a news item, a feature piece, or an interview that captured the essence of what Australian romance writing is all about.

In the past we’ve all seen or heard negative news stories and sexist comments about bodice rippers or suggestions that our stories are totally lacking in literary merit. Like me, you’ve probably cringed over the put downs.

RWA, however, chooses to focus instead on the many serious, rational and insightful stories that are being published and broadcast about our genre. We see this as a positive step towards the encouragement of improved relations between romance writers and the media.

The ROMA Awards were established in a response to discussions on media and marketing at a RWA Gold Coast conference about six years ago.

For full article, go to our website. For members only.

Of course don’t forget our regular columns:

  • From the Prez with Alison Ahearn: This month introducing our library liaison, Doreen Sullivan.
  • Events Calendar with Doreen Sullivan
  • Contest Page with Deb Bennetto > This month featuring Volunteering  Little Gems 2011 Report by Lis Hoorweg
  • Market Watch with Sami Lee
  • The Last Word with Jo McAlister
  • Member Announcements (News & New Releases) with Bronwyn Stuart (Welcome to the team, Bronwyn!)
  • The Writer’s Life with Marion Lennox > This month ‘Finish the Book – Then Celebrate. Now!’  (see above).
  • Ask Auntie Fi with Fiona Lowe

Dear Auntie Fi, I’m over the moon because I’ve just been offered my first book contract. I know I need to get advice on it but how do I find a lawyer or similar who works in this area? ~Contracted in Clayton

Dear Auntie Fi, How much editing is too much? When should I say enough is enough and send my ms off to a publisher/agent? ~Chewing Nails in Sydney.

For full columns, go to our website. For members only.


Not a member? Please view our sample issue from February 2010.

To receive our wonderful monthly newsletter, we invite you to Join RWA for all the details.

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