Tuesday, March 15, 2016

{Guest Post + GIVEAWAY!} Why I Love Writing for Love Inspired Suspense

Laurie here! Today we have a special treat in store -- a guest post from author Liz Johnson! I asked her to share a little bit about how launching her career with Harlequin/Love Inspired helped prepare for the release of her first full-length contemporary romance, The Red Door Inn. Take it away, Liz!


When Laurie asked me to share a little bit about my experience writing for Love Inspired Suspense, I did a little happy dance. Okay. It was a pretty big dance. Full arm movements and some sort of jumping-jack action. Quite honestly it was more exercise than I’ve had in a week. (But we won’t go into that.)

How could I not be excited? Love Inspired and its sister lines, Love Inspired Suspense and Love Inspired Historical, have given countless authors their first shot at publication—me included. In fact, my first published novel, The Kidnapping of Kenzie Thorn, was also my editor’s first acquisition. And we’ve been together for the last seven years.

There are so many reasons why I’m thankful to have started my writing career with LIS, but I’ve narrowed it down to my top four. If you haven’t thought about writing for Love Inspired, I’d highly recommend it. Here’s why.

1. They’re willing to take a chance on a first-time, unagented author. I know this because they took a chance on me. My editor plucked me out of the slush pile, and the rest is . . . well, it was a lot of hard work getting my manuscript into shape. She asked me to make revisions. I cringed and slashed pages. And we repeated that three times, until I received THE CALL. I didn’t have an agent. I didn’t have any connection with other LI authors. I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing. But my editor took a chance on me. And LI actively looks for debut authors every year. In fact, they regularly hold amazingly fun contests—like the 2015 From Blurb to Book Contest, which gave entrants an opportunity to pitch their book ideas directly to LI editors then submit proposals and eventually full manuscripts. Last I checked, the Love Inspired editors had signed eight new authors from that contest! (And I do want to add that while I started off without an agent, I’m so glad to have one now. I adore my agent and am grateful for her wealth of knowledge, direction, and industry expertise. (LAURIE: Me, toooo! Not biased at all hehe!) If you’ve already signed with one, you’re leaps and bounds ahead of where I was when I first submitted.)

2. The opportunities are deep and wide. Most publishers put out anywhere from two to four new fiction titles every month. The LI lines put out 16 brand new titles every month. That’s 192 new books a year! The editors are consistently looking for new authors across categories—contemporary romance, historical romance, and romantic suspense. If you write in any of these niches, there might be a spot for you.

3. The editors are top-notch. I feel like I can just leave it at that, but, of course, I’ll expound. First, my editor is always available to me. She offers to brainstorm plot ideas or talk through any questions I might have on her feedback. Second, she always has great ideas. She knows what the LI reader is looking for and how to help my manuscript reach that specific reader. Third, she doesn’t settle for okay. She pushes me and challenges me to write better, to write tighter. Fourth, she fills the page columns with not only editorial notes but also smiley faces. And who doesn’t love to get a smile in the midst of the hard work of editing?

4. It builds a solid foundation for whatever dreams may come. LI has built a brand that its readers have come to depend on. When you read an LI book, you know you’ll get a sweet, short romance with a guaranteed happily ever after. As I writer, I love that structure. And I also recognized when, a few years ago, I had a story idea that wasn’t going to fit into the LI model.

There are certain guidelines for writing LI books, and as I contemplated my new idea, I felt like the embodiment of that old adage. You have to learn the rules before you can break them. (I’m sure my English teacher never said that, but I write by it.) I’d spent years learning the rules of writing a romantic suspense for LIS, and at some point I knew I was ready to break them. And I did with my book The Red Door Inn, my first contemporary romance set on Prince Edward Island. It had a few too many point of view characters, way too many words, and a storyline I knew my LIS editor would question. But I loved the characters, and I couldn’t get them out of my mind. So my agent and I kept working on it together. We received a couple rejections, spent a couple years waiting, and then finally a call. This story that I loved had found a home.

But I had a lot of work ahead of me. The manuscript was done, but that didn’t mean the work was. Thankfully I’d spent years learning how to work with an editor, meet my deadlines, and market my books. These are key skills in today’s publishing market, and I was so grateful to have a firm foundation in them when I was offered a contract on The Red Door Inn. While there’s a learning curve with any new-to-you publishing house, I was much more prepared to take the leap with this book than I would have been without my years writing for LIS.

I love writing for LIS, and I hope to write for them for a long time to come. I’m grateful for the foundation they’ve given me and for the opportunity to explore others stories on my heart.

Have you considered writing for Love Inspired? What’s most appealing to you about them? What has made you hesitate to submit to them in the past? Let us know in the comments for a chance to win a copy of The Red Door Inn!


About Liz Johnson: By day, Liz Johnson works as a marketing manager, and she makes time to write late at night. Liz is the author of nine novels—including her latest Love Inspired Suspense, Navy SEAL Security, and her first contemporary romance, The Red Door Inn (Prince Edward Island Dreams, book 1)—and a New York Times bestselling novella. 

She makes her home in Nashville, where she enjoys exploring local music, theater, and making frequent trips to Arizona to dote on her nieces and nephews. She writes stories of true love filled with heart, humor, and happily ever afters. Connect with her at www.LizJohnsonBooks.com or www.Facebook.com/LizJohnsonBooks.

 About The Red Door Inn: Marie Carrington is broke, desperate, and hoping to find sanctuary on Prince Edward Island while decorating a renovated bed-and-breakfast. Seth Sloane moved three thousand miles to help restore his uncle's Victorian B and B--and to forget about the fiancée who broke his heart. He wasn't expecting to have to babysit a woman with a taste for expensive antiques and a bewildering habit of jumping every time he brushes past her.

The only thing Marie and Seth agree on is that getting the Red Door Inn ready to open in just two months will take everything they've got—and they have to find a way to work together. In the process, they may find something infinitely sweeter than they ever imagined on this island of dreams.


Jeanne Takenaka said...

Liz, what a great post! Congratulations on your newest book. I keep hearing great things about it. :)

I actually pitched to an LI editor last fall. I had all the right elements, but my main character would have had to be drastically changed to fit what LI readers like. So, that particular story wasn't a good fit. I haven't ruled out writing for them. I have many friends who do right now, and who love it. I know they're a great place to (at the very least) get your start in publishing.

Fun post today!

rachel m said...

This is a truly great post about how every single experience is worthwhile in a writing journey.

Liz, you are an example of a teachable and awesome writer. I am sure your editors think you are the dream!

Love it! love you! love Red Door Inn.

justcommonly said...

What a great post! I've pondered about writing myself, but really just don't think I can do it. I love sharing about books I read, but writing one myself doesn't really interest me right now, but never say never!

Thanks for having Liz here.


kim hansen said...

Sounds like a good read.

Unknown said...

Liz, you and The Red Door Inn are everywhere this week. Well done! Great post :)

Unknown said...

Excellent post! Very encouraging, too :)

Heidi Reads... said...

I love reading Love Inspired books! They are great to read in between longer novels on my reading list :)

colorvibrant at gmail dot com

Jill Weatherholt said...

Hi Liz! I apologize for commenting so late. Congratulations on your book! The cover is really beautiful and so different from the typical LI line. Like you, my first contract, last August, was through Harlequin's Blurb 2 Book contest. It's been an amazing ride. My editor is so sweet, and also like you, I was her first acquisition. Currently I don't have an agent because I haven't had the time to even start the search. :) This was the first book I've ever written, so needless to say, the entire experience still has me feeling numb...but in a good way. Congratulations again!

Laurie Tomlinson said...

Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us, Liz! I can't wait for everyone to read The Red Door Inn. It's fantastic <3

Kaizen Fashion Project said...

I'm not much of a writer so it's not something I've seriously considered, but I'd love to win and read this book :)

heatheranne99 at gmail dot com

Susan Anne Mason said...

Great post! I have one book published with Love Inspired and they are wonderful. I'm hoping to write for them again!

Liz Johnson said...

Thanks to everyone who's stopped by today!

Laurie - Thanks so much for hosting me! What a treat to share with you all today!

Rachel M - You're absolutely right! Nothing on this writing journey is wasted.

Patricia Beal - I'm glad you're seeing me all over this week! :) It's been so fun to be featured on so many amazing blogs--especially this one!

Jill W - Congrats on your contract with LI! That's awesome! I'm so glad to have an LI contest success story with us today!

Susan Anne Mason - I'm glad you had such a great experience with LIH too!

Liz Johnson said...

Jeanne, I hope you'll keep thinking about LI if you have the right fit. Some characters and story lines don't fit their model, but many do, and it's a great team! Good luck with your writing!

Gail H. said...

I'm not a writer, except I do write reviews. I would love a chance to win this book. Thanks!