Countdown to the Conference Interview Five

Hello everyone and welcome to the fifth installment of Countdown to the Conference. Today we have senior editor Patience Smith with Harlequin Silhouette Romantic Suspense. I got to be greedy on this interview as I’ve had it for a few days and read over it a few times as I’m pitching to Ms. Smith at conference 🙂 I’m looking forward to it and without further hogging of it I present you all with Ms. Smith’s interview.


Sayde:     Tell us what you think is hot and what’s not?

Ms. Smith:

Vampires still seem to be hot, along with zombies and knitting stories, but I’m feeling some other trend is dying to take over or return.  Maybe romances set on the Jersey Shore?  In the office, we religiously follow trends and discuss them.  A great story will override any trend or, possibly, inspire a new one.

Sayde:      What types of work are you most interested in seeing at the 2010 Silken Sands Conference?

Ms. Smith:

I’m most interested in projects suitable for Harlequin/Silhouette with a focus on series romance.  I can acquire for all the lines so just about anything goes!  (except Fantasy, but only because I haven’t read one)

Sayde:      This question goes back to the “writer rumors”, but so many times I’ve heard that agents/editors will throw out a manuscript if they see grammatical errors. Personally, this is a huge one for me as I am grammatically challenged.  Many times authors will edit and edit then send to a contest and have their manuscript ripped to shreds because they used “ing”, “ly” or “was” to much for the judges liking. Do you look for these issues when reading requested material or is it more about the story?

Ms. Smith:

If a project is riddled with errors, I can’t take it seriously.  It means that the writer didn’t take the time to edit her work.  Even if the writer is grammatically challenged (J), she should work that much harder to turn in a polished product.  If I see a typo or two, I’m unfazed since every book has a mistake. That said, it’s important that the writer go over her work a few times and have someone else search for typos.  It’s the professional thing to do, and writers need to turn in their best work.  Oh, and editors are notorious for their own errors.

Sayde:       What is your opinion on emarket vs. traditional print? I know this is a hot topic and we all appreciate whatever comments you can give us.

 Ms. Smith:

I’m fairly old school, but can claim I haven’t researched this topic enough.  Writers should seek whatever means to get published because that’s the goal (other than total enjoyment of writing process).  Ebooks give writers broader opportunities.  As for me, I will read just about anything as long as it’s printed on paper, so go for it.  No matter how it’s done, good stories get noticed.

Sayde:       I know that when I am researching an agent or editor, I Google them,  check their Facebook page, and tweet them. I read their posts and blogs.  I try to see if their tastes would lean toward my writing style or not. And I try to get a feel for their personality to see if we might “mesh well” if the opportunity ever arose. If you have a manuscript on your desk, do you ever check the same accounts for that author?  Do you ever check to see what he/she is posting? If so, have you been influenced by what you’ve learned?

Ms. Smith:

I never check those accounts for an author.  There’s no time, unless I’ve already bought her work. After this, it’s a nice way to network.  Otherwise, though, I just want to read the proposal and then I’ll be curious about profiles.

Sayde:       If an author has queried you and you’ve rejected that query/partial and the author emails you asking for details on why you’ve rejected their ms, what is your process here? Do you give specific reasons on why the manuscript may not have been for you?


Ms. Smith:

Sometimes I’ll give a reason for rejection in the letter itself.  If I send out a standard rejection, it’s because the proposal was way off.  The writer needs to go back, rethink and rewrite.  Because we get so many submissions, it’s difficult to respond in detail to every project.

Sayde:       As a final wrap up could you tell us some of your pet peeves in the industry? Or is there anything happening in the industry you’d care to comment on or discuss?  We’d love to hear some of your views and opinions on the state of the craft and the market.


Ms. Smith:

I have a few pet peeves, but they mostly have to do with reading a bad story.  I will say that it humbles me at every conference to see the overwhelming support between writers.  I’ve had a few careers and am amazed at how so many of you stick up for each other, with your work and your lives.  This seems unique to romance writers.  Of course, there are battles and grievances, but working with romance writers is an editor’s dream come true. It’s inspiring to me and makes me remember why I love my job.


Thank you Ms. Smith! What a wonderful interview and I look forward to meeting you at the Silken Sands Conference. Just a quick note concerning Ms. Smith’s final answer. Everyday I am humbled as well by the support offered not only by my fellow Sizzlers, but by my critique partner Rebecca Zanetti and my good friend and supporter, author Brandi Hall. A little over a year ago I walked into my first Gulf Coast Chapter of RWA meeting and was met by some amazingly talented writers and even friendlier people. At times the writing industry can seem so cold and harsh but I encourage every author, whether you are well established or just starting out to make friends with other authors because the friendships you forge are those of support, wisdom, and encouragement. I’m an advocate for joining RWA and supporting your local chapters as well as special interest chapters so please take a moment today to research those chapters a little and may you all be blessed with a wonderful support system as I am.  Thank you everyone and remember to check out Thursdays conference countdown interview.

5 Responses

  1. Sayde, you were up early! I checked in figuring the interview wasn’t up yet and lo and behold, here it is. I was especially eager for this one, too. Lots of great information. I look foward to meeting Ms. Smith at conference. I’m looking for typos even now. Caught a few more last night. None really because I can’t spell, more because of fat fingers hitting the wrong letter on occasion. Polish, polish, is my motto.

    Amen 100 per cent on the support group. Haven’t met a romance writer yet that isn’t eager to help and offer words of wisdom and encouragement. We are truly blessed.

    • Sfcatty, that would be I was up late last night! I posted it after midnight so I wouldn’t have to worry about waking up at the butt crack of dawn to do it as I knew you lovely ladies would be waiting. Y’all should know by now I LOVE to sleep!!!

  2. Every interview adds some bit of knowledge that we need as writers, and I’m so appreciative for each contributor’s time and advice. Sayde is the one to thank for coming up with the idea, and having the cojones to send out our questions! But isn’t it beter to sound stupid once, that stay stupid forever?? lol

    Ms. Smith’s comment on polishing the MS has been the most consistant concept from every interviewee. Makes me grateful for how supportive our chapter of Romance Writers is with critiquing. (Yes, I spelled it with capital letters! The group I was lucky enough to find and join deserves them!) Can’t telll you guys enough how lucky you are to have individuals with such an educational, historical, legal and professional background to turn to for advice.

    And shoulders to cry on. That’s such an important thing as well. The best part is when someone shoves a snot rag at you, commands you to blow your nose, then points at your computer and demands you use what your just learned and get back to work.

    Yep, I’m tooting GCCRWA’s horn because they never do. I’m hoping this conference brings more members to RWA and our own chapter.

    There are too many members to list here. All of them interesting and contributing of their time and talents. Come to a meeting and see for yourself.

    So I’m issuing a challenge to the new readers of our blog. Leave a comment! Please! You don’t have to be a member to do so. And we LOVE them! In fact we NEED them to know what the burning questions are.

    They’re what we thrive on, and we want to know what your questions are! Jenn (snicker) will do her best to find the answers!

    Love yu guys!

    • “Better to sound stupid once, than stay stupid forever.” Yep, I meant to include those typos! And I’m not even telling a lie! (Um, ‘scuse me, kinda busy looking upward for lightening bolts at the moment…)

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