Monthly Archives: October 2012

A few thoughts from Charles Martin

The e-book revolution, so far, has largely been in fiction, but there are many people who like nonfiction, read nonfiction, and buy nonfiction. Our new line of non-fiction, is intended for the same audience that reads science fiction: literate — but not necessarily literary, not afraid of big concepts, at home with the idea that there is a reality that can be described and understood.

The ideal Naked Reader Press non-fiction book is, first of all, well-written, interesting, and fun to read.  It can be serious or light, but it must be based on facts, verifiable facts, with enough support to allow facts to be checked, quotes to be verified, and arguments that even someone completely new to the topic can follow.

Some examples of books like what we’d like to see:

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What I’m looking for – T. M. Lunsford

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve had a lot of time to think about what has always drawn me to romance to a genre and the only answer I can come up with can be summed up in one word: hope. I spent some time visiting Disneyland this week and it really brought me back to my roots as a lifelong romantic and every story I thought about that I’d loved since childhood centered around a profound sense of optimism and hope. In the realm of adult literature, every other genre focuses on the more tragic elements of human life (murder, greed, power etc).  While romance certainly includes all of these things, it is also the only genre that solely focuses in on the hope that should be an inherent part of life, no matter what the circumstances. The hope that things can get better, that the two characters can work their way through some substantial problems and build a partnership full of hope for the future.

So what does this mean for me as an editor? Well, obviously, I want to see novels that fit into the Romance Writers of America definition of a romance novel. I want a central love story. I have no objections to intrigue, suspense, what have you, as long as the relationship is at the heart (ha) of the story. And I want an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending. As an English major, I saw too many depressing, unsatisfying endings to things that are considered “great love stories” (for more on my feelings about this visit my blog). Tragic endings need not apply.

I want characters that I can’t ignore. I’ve run across several books lately where the hero and heroine are not the most interesting people, which is an automatic turn off in a romance. And bland secondary characters? Almost as bad. What do I mean by characters I can’t ignore? Well, take Stephanie Laurens’s Cynster series.  I’ve been reading these books since I started in on romance over ten years ago (I started young). Like all series, they’ve had their ups and downs as far as story goes and some of the characters are not the most engaging. But where the hero and heroine don’t always work for me, the secondary characters have yet to fail. And a majority of the heroes and heroines are so good, so grab-you-by-the-throat-interesting, that I still buy the mediocre books to get check in with the previous characters to see how they’re doing.

Breaking down genre preferences, I’m a huge fan of historicals (Regency and non-Regency alike). As long as there are intricate details and great characters, I’m in. Yes, Regency dominates the genre. Blame Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen (my idol). I’ll never object to a Regency that is well-researched and interesting (Julia Quinn is an absolute master at these). But I also like to branch out a bit. Some of the books that have made my favorite/keeper list that aren’t strictly Regency are Eloisa James’s Georgian duchess series and Lisa Kleypas’s Victorian Hathaway series. Branching out of the Regency can be a lot of fun. I’d love to see more Victorians and maybe an Edwardian/Downton Abbey-esque book tossed in for good measure. It’s also okay if the hero and heroine aren’t both Lord Whosits Duke of Whatsits and Lady Soandso. A little class-tension never hurt anyone, especially if it’s not your standard lord-marries-governess story.

In the same vein, I’d love to see some gritty western romances and steampunks (especially steampunk). My 2011 book obsession? Meljean Brook’s The Iron Duke. Seriously, could not put it down. I want a steampunk book with great world-building and compelling, but realistic characters.

Those of you familiar with NRP books, you know that we’re connoisseurs of all things paranormal. In paranormal romance, I want a healthy mix of quirky and sympathetic characters. I’m a bit of a nerd, so I’ll take just about anything you throw at me on the paranormal romance side.  My current favorite paranormal series as to be by Linda Wisdom. Her Hex quartet and her Demon trilogy are hilarious and intense and I adore them. With both paranormal and steampunk, I want to be pulled into the story so much that I don’t even notice that it’s not just a regular romance novel.

Based on some of my own work, I’ve been on a huge contemporary romance kick right now. Like a majority of romance readers, I worship at the alter of Nora Roberts (her Bride Quartet and The Witness are some of her best work yet), so I like variety in my contemporary romance. A current trend is for series and I’m all for them. Jill Shalvis’s Lucky Harbor books are a perfect example of the spirit that I’d love to see in straight contemporary romances. There’s tension and real world problems, mixed in with characters that you could be friends with in real life.

Bottom line? I want to see well-written, unique, interesting stories about heroes and heroines that I can root for all the way through.  Every detail matters, especially in romance, so make them count.

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We’re baaaaack!

I know it’s been a long time since I posted anything here and I apologize. It hasn’t been because there was nothing going on at NRP. Quite the contrary, in fact. There was a great deal going on behind the scenes, things we wanted to talk about but figured it best until everything was in place. Well, it is now and you’ll find that we will be blogging much more often — about what’s going on at NRP, in the publishing industry as a whole and on other topics of interest. So please check back often.

Now, to our news. The NRP family has expanded. We have a new acquisitions editor as well as new editors for our romance/suspense line and our new non-fiction line. So, without further ado, I’ll make the introductions.

First up is our acquisitions editor. Courtney Galloway has been assisting with our slush submissions since the beginning of NRP. She has a keen eye for new authors and for spotting stories that will do well. She will now be wrangling the slush for us and joining the editorial board.

T. M. Lunsford has stepped in as assistant editor for romance/suspense. Taylor is a talented author in her own right and has shown a flair for editing. We’re excited to welcome her to our editorial staff and she’s promised to hit the ground running. You’ll be hearing from her in tomorrow’s blog about her background and what she’s looking for in submissions.

Charles Martin is our new assistant editor for non-fiction.Many of you know Charlie from his work as a journalist and contributor over at PJ Media. We’re thrilled to have him onboard and he promises to have a blog post for you very soon describing what he’s looking for.

The last new member — although she really isn’t — to our family is Sarah A. Hoyt. Sarah was one of the first authors to be published by NRP and she has, for some months now, acted as our art director. She has now accepted the position and I’m thrilled. Her understanding of what it takes to have a successful e-book cover is invaluable.

Finally, for those of you who have been asking, Kate Paulk’s novel, ConSensual, will be released Wednesday of this week. Here is a short sample as well as a look at the cover. Enjoy!

1. ConSensual Encounters

Nothing says you’ve left normal reality like walking into a hotel lobby and seeing a Clone Trooper chatting with a Sith Lord. The sign on the back of the Clone Trooper’s armor, ‘Come to the Dark Side. We have cookies. Tonight. Room 1226’, was really just corroborating evidence.

The lure of Dark Side cookies notwithstanding, I took myself to the reception desk and got signed in. I’ll give them this: the staff didn’t seem at all upset by the strangeness manifesting in their hotel. Maybe it’s a southern USA thing, but none of the southern con hotels I’ve been in have ever been anything less than welcoming.

Well, unless the convention was sharing space with one of the more fundamentalist religious conventions. But that’s another story altogether.

ConSensual being one of the bigger southern conventions, I doubted that would be an issue. It was held in one of those sprawling southern cities that takes about five times the land area of a northern city to hold the same population, and usually has so many hotels it’s not hard for any one event to make an exclusive booking.

Whatever they do with them outside the convention season isn’t my business.

I can never keep the hotels straight. This one was one of those modernist faux-elegant jobs with lots of shiny metal and glass, a multi-level gallery area where all the ballrooms and convention areas were, the inevitable bar and house of bad coffee, and the tower containing the actual rooms off to one side.

Since it sat in the middle of one of the less salubrious parts of the city — or at least it looked that way coming in on the airport shuttle — I expected there would be some interesting late night encounters.

I dropped my backpack off in my room: as always, several levels away from the party floor. I’d been able to book the northern side of the hotel this time. After the last con, where a murderous lunatic had crushed garlic into the air vent and opened the curtains while I slept, I was a little paranoid about sunlight and other things.

Yeah, I’m a vampire. I drink blood. Most of the rest is myth, but I am violently allergic to garlic, and while I’m old enough to go walking in the sun that doesn’t mean I like it.

I’d also taken the precaution of registering and signing for my room with one of my alternate identities. I keep a few for backup, in case something happens. Last con, it had, with a vengeance. You don’t get more something than a nutcase performing ritual sacrifices so they can summon Himself Below.

Anyone looking for my hotel room using the name I was registered in with that con would find precisely nothing.

My room was decorated in modernist Hotel Awful, complete with the kind of paintings on the walls that made you wonder who was having who on. This set looked like someone had splattered paint around, ridden a bike through it, then cut up the canvas and sold the results. A similar pattern adorned the bedspread and the upholstery on the chairs. At least everything else was basic beige.

One thing I’d learned from years going to cons, it was always possible to get more mind-bogglingly tasteless.

Back in the lobby area, I braved the con registration queue to collect my badge and the little plastic bag with the program and half a dozen flyers, then scanned the area to see if any of the immortal regulars had arrived yet.

The usual mix of convention exotica mingled and chatted, some costumed, some not. The inevitable Klingons clustered with Clone Troops and Imperial Stormtroopers — possibly giving tips on how to hit the side of a barn at point blank range. A woman in what could only be described as Regency in Space chatted with a White Witch whose pointy hat was at least as tall as she was. The construction had to be reinforced with wire because there was no other way it could have stayed upright. The thing probably made a functional antenna, and with the way the wide brim drooped to cover her ears I gave it maybe half an hour before people were speculating it was an alien mind control device. I knew she was a white witch because her hat and dress were white. She even had a white wand, although thankfully it didn’t have a star on the end. That would have been too much.

This being the south, there were any number of corseted women, although all of them seemed to have forgotten that the usual location of a corset is under the clothing. The inevitable uplift certainly distracted the fanboys. Precisely why the corsets should be paired with tied on wings that could be either butterfly or fairy wings depending on your viewpoint wasn’t something I intended to investigate. Some things are best left to the imagination. Or preferably, forgotten altogether.

At least there were no chain mail bikinis yet. Hopefully with the hotel air conditioning set to the typically southern preference of ‘glacial’, there wouldn’t be any. Not that I was holding my breath or anything.

Well, not until I saw who was sitting out front, eying the con-goers with the kind of disapproval that should have had them dropping dead of sheer fright.

He wasn’t here for the con. I’d bet my life on that. I might never have met him, but everything I’d heard about him suggested that he’d find fen irritating at best, and most of the authors offensive. What he’d think about the publishers — particularly the demonic ones — didn’t bear scrutiny.

I hoped I was wrong, and he was just some random businessman who happened to have a rather strong resemblance to one Vlad Tepes, also known as Dracula. The closer I got to him, the less likely that seemed.

For starters, he was definitely a vampire. I can pick most immortals by scent: it takes a vampire older and stronger than me to mask the faint cold smell of my kind, and then… well, nothing smells of nothing at all. No scent meant old, powerful, and probably not with good intentions.

He was also the right age — five hundred years, give or take a few. Him being awake in the middle of the day meant only that he’d grown strong enough to tolerate daylight and lose the sense of time that protects younger, weaker vampires. For a vampire his age to tolerate daylight, he had to be stronger than most, which fitted with the bits and pieces known about the man. If this truly was Dracula, the likelihood of him limiting himself was somewhere close to the chances of the sun rising in the west.

I could reasonably assume that he had given up his favorite means of execution: this wasn’t an era when putting people on sticks and letting them die slowly was something that could be done discreetly. That didn’t mean he hadn’t found other ways of torturing people who got in his way.

All of which meant that since I was the only immortal regular around, I had to warn him off. Joyous.

At least this didn’t count as saving the world. Once was enough for that.

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