Love Romance? So does Sourcebooks editor Deb Werksman!!

Hello all. I am so pleased to be able to share my interview with you all today. A few months back I had the absolute pleasure of pitching to Sourcebooks editor and 2010 RWA NYC Golden Apple, Publisher and Editor of the year award winner Deb Werksman online through . While doing so my computer locked up and poor Mrs. Werksman had no one pitching to her for nearly ten minutes as I tried everything to get my computers(yes more than one failed me) to work. I explained what happened and she was nice enough to try the pitch again! Thank goodness.

After my pitch with Mrs. Werksman her passion and excitement for the romance genre motivated me to send her two of my manuscripts(not at the same time though) and while neither was something that she was interested in acquiring I am still looking forward to sending her more! So without further babbling from me here is Mrs.Werksman’s interview. Thank you to her for participating in the anniversary of the blog. The winning commenter from Rebecca Zanetti’s blog post was our blog friend the wonderful Danica Avet. And again today I will be giving a free digital copy of my short story Riding Double to one commenter.

What made you become an editor?

Becoming an editor was a natural progression for me. I was an English major, went to law school for a year (long enough to get trained on contracts) then decided I wanted to be in the arts. I’ve always been an avid reader—it’s what I love best!

How did you go about becoming an editor?

Worked in art galleries in NYC for 5 years, where the thing I enjoyed most was working on catalogues. Then in 1989 my husband and I started a magazine, which led to publishing calendars and books, and in 1998 I sold my company to Sourcebooks. I was offered to keep whatever job in the publishing company I wanted, and acquiring editor was the natural one.


Did you ever think of becoming an agent?

No, I haven’t. I like being on the “buying” side of the conversation!


If you get a manuscript on submission on you like it but just don’t love it do you ever offer any advice on what would make you love it?

Yes, I actually do this fairly often. I always try to give value to authors, and if I see something, I’ll say something!

How many new authors to you acquire a year and what typically are the genre’s that stand out the most for you?

I make sure to have debut authors on every list, so every season (Spring and Fall) I’m launching at least 2-3 new authors.

I’m acquiring single title romance fiction in all subgenres, so there isn’t one that particularly stands out for me. Every subgenre has its challenges. With romantic suspense, the biggest challenge is the credibility/world-building. The author has to deliver not only a fast-paced, action packed romance, but it’s also not enough to just place hero/heroine in law enforcement or the military—the author has to really deliver the world of special ops, or the world of the FBI, etc. With historical romance, because there’s so much of it, the challenge is a hook that will make the stories stand out. I think that’s the big challenge in paranormal now, too, especially with vampires. In erotic romance, the balance between the sex and the love story is the biggest challenge, and in contemporary, it’s again the world-building and the hook.

I have five criteria that I use to evaluate every submission, whether it be from a debut author or an author with a track record, so this is where it all starts for my list:

A heroine the reader can relate to

A hero she can fall in love with

A world gets created that the reader can escape into

A hook I can sell with in 2-3 sentences

The author has a career arc—this book is the first in a trilogy or a series, or the author has ideas for further books in this subgenre—in other words, if the readers love this book, the author is prepared with what to offer readers next, and next, and next…


I attended the 2010 RWA Sourcebooks book signing and noticed right away that there were several authors who were published with Pride and Prejudice “spin offs”. Is this something to watch for? I admit it instantly caught my attention and I got each one I could. My mom currently has those books so I have not had the pleasure of reading them yet, but they do look interesting.

Sourcebooks is the country’s leading publisher of Jane Austen related fiction, and I’m publishing about 1 new title a month, and sometimes a few more than that. The film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice in particular sparked a real outpouring of imagination and lots of wonderful continuations, retellings or modern renditions are out there. Jane Austen seems to be immortal!


What is the next step in editing for you? What are your future plans?

The next step for me is growing Casablanca even bigger, expanding my list of women’s fiction and historical fiction (right now I do a few of each every season, and while I’ll stay selective, I think there’s room for growth). I could be happy editing romance fiction for the rest of my life!

Again thank you so much to Mrs. Werksman for taking the time to participate. For more information about Sourcebooks and Mrs. Werksman as well as all the fabulous authors and books with Sourcebooks please head over to . For another great blog to follow with the occasional chance of pitching to Sourcebooks follow And remember leave a comment and enter to win another free digital copy of Riding Double.

A FATED Interview, Guest Blogger Rebecca Zanetti’s First EVER Interview!

Hello everyone! Today I am honored and proud to have my critique partner author Rebecca Zanetti join our blog guests. Rebecca and I have been critiquing each other’s works for a little over a year and I can say without doubt that everything I’ve read from her is beyond excellent and should go on the TO BE BOUGHT list right now! Just add her name to the authors on your must read list now, it’ll be well worth it.


First let me tell everyone that Rebecca’s first book entitled FATED will release on February 22, 2011. Secondly this is Rebecca’s first ever interview and to anyone who leaves a comment today I am going to draw for a winner of my ebook . Also don’t forget to stop by Rebecca’s website to get the latest on her, her books, and pictures of the beautiful landscape she is surrounded by. So without further babbling let me all introduce you to my critique partner and valued friend author Rebecca Zanetti who can tell me any day of the week that “this is well written but…” !





What was your motivation for becoming a writer?

First thanks for having me here on the Sizzlers – I always follow this blog!  I think like a lot of writers, I always knew I wanted to write a book someday.  One day I finally put my rear in the chair and started writing.  Of course, it helped that Dec 08 and Jan 09 we were pretty much snowed in.


I jumped on the Twilight train and wrote a paranormal YA.  (Which I just finished revising into an adult book per my agent’s suggestions).  Then I wrote a chicklit I’m currently revising.  I had this vampire story mulling around in my head that wouldn’t leave me alone, but I’d heard that vamps were out.  So I wrote the book for myself just for fun – figuring I’d take it out and read it once in awhile.  It sold in five days. (I say this with total love Bec, but you’re bragging here heifer J )

Can you tell us if your background as a lawyer affected the way you write, or your story lines?

You know, law is about boiling a lot of facts down to one main theme and articulating that theme to other people.  Writing is much the same.  And believe it or not, your voice as a lawyer (how you get the facts across genuinely to a jury or judge) is similar to your voice as a writer – it’s all you.  Also, both worlds are competitive and a bit scary but well worth it.

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest you’ve seen a lot of beautiful country, does the back drop you are surrounded with show up in your books? And if so are there any places in particular that you use for inspiration?

I love the water and mountains.  We live near lakes and rivers, which you’ll find in my books, and FATED has several scenes where the good guys are underground in mountainous caverns for safety. 


I understand that you are pretty close to your family, how does this play into the story lines you write?

My family is amazing.  My husband is a six-foot-five stubborn Italian, and you’ll find parts of his personality in most of my heroes.  My sisters are spunky, fun and adventurous and you can bet my heroines resemble them both in making good decisions and those that have us groaning.  And my folks have been married for over forty years, so I truly believe in happy endings because I have proof they exist.

Most of the readers on the blog have heard your amazing “Call” story in my words but I’d love for you to tell them about you getting the call from both your agent and your editor within hours of each other.

Almost a year to the date after writing my first chapter, I felt guilty because I didn’t want to get on the treadmill.  It was a Thursday, which is a good day for me to work out.  So I figured I’d assuage the guilt by sending out a query or two – and I figured why not send out FATED even though it was a vampire story.  The next day Megan Records at Kensington requested the partial.  I sent it; still not really thinking anything would come of it.  The following Tuesday, agent Caitlin Blasdell requested the partial at around nine in the morning.  A half hour later Megan requested the full.  Two hours later Caitlin requested the full.  They both called with offers the next day.


I was stunned.  It just happened so fast, what a difference five days can make. (AGAIN, I love ya but you’re bragging heifer! Actually it’s not bragging if it’s all true and well it’s an amazingly TRUE story!)

We had a ball this year at the RWA national conference and I know it was your second conference.  How was it different this year now that you’ve sold?

I went to DC last year by myself not knowing a soul.  I hadn’t joined any online chapters and I was truly anonymous, which was a lot of fun.  I’m pretty shy but that “first timer” ribbon really does help because I met some very nice people, went to every workshop I could and learned so much.  Each night I ate dinner in my room and then watched a movie and went over my stuff from the day, which was pretty relaxing.


Umm…no relaxing this year.  J   I’m in several online chapters that all had get-togethers, I spent some time with my agent and Kensington had a terrific cocktail party.  The Kensington group is wonderful – truly a nice mix of people who love books and are willing to help out a newbie in any way possible.  I had six cocktail parties or get-togethers on Thursday night.  (yes, my feet may never recover).  I brainstormed with my truly excellent critique partner (yes, our blog host today) and sleep wasn’t necessary.  I volunteered at the literacy signing and ended up winning an RWA free conference for next year.(OH YEAH! I TURNED THAT DAMN TICKET IN. NEXT YEAR I REFUSE TO!)  And…I attended every workshop I could with schedule permitting.  I love workshops—and I love learning.

  And now to my favorite part, the EXCERPT!! I just adore Rebecca’s stories!                                                                                                                                         

Slowly, Talen pushed to his feet and strolled across the conference room.

Cara took a step back, her breath hitching.

Smiling, he leaned against the closed door. 

She’d need to go through him to get out.  God, he was huge.  Even if she had known how to fight, she doubted she’d stand a chance when faced with such size and obvious strength.  A feminine fear and a flutter she refused to identify whispered through her, and her spine straightened with a sharp snap.

“I won’t hurt you.” His voice lowered, deepening to a tone that increased her flutter.  He relaxed his stance against the door, his muscled arms crossing.  “I won’t let anyone harm either of you.  Ever.”

Okay.  Fine.  He was too big for her to fight, but she did have a brain.  “Listen, Talen,” she kept her voice soft, soothing.  “It’s great your dating pool just opened up and all, but I’m not looking for—”

A dimple winked in his cheek, stopping her words.  She fought to keep her tone mild.  “Am I amusing you?”  Her chin lifted.


“Why?”  She could even feel his amusement in the air, damn it.

“Your people.  I’ve never understood why you ignore fate.  She has her own plans.”

“Fate?”  He was throwing destiny at her?  Come on.

He nodded. “Fate.” 

“Wow.  That’s poetic, Talen.”  Sarcasm replaced the softness.  “But there’s no way fate is involved here.”

“You’re wrong.”

“Prove it.”

“Okay.”  He lifted his right hand, palm out.  A crest, an intricate one, spread across his calloused skin.  Thick and black, a webbing of arcs together formed a knot with what might be an elaborate ‘K’ in the middle.

“A tattoo?” She quirked an eyebrow, wondered if he had other tats on that magnificent body.

“No.  A brand of sorts.  It appeared earlier after I took your arm.”

“A brand?”  She snorted.  “Bullshit.”

Talen shrugged.  “It’s true, Cara.  The Mark usually doesn’t appear until the mating act, but there are exceptions.”  Golden eyes pinned her.  “Our bond must be strong.”


Talen lifted a shoulder.

Her mind rebelled at the physical evidence before her eyes.  “I said, no.  I choose to ignore your fate.”  How could the mark have appeared?  Conviction sat easily upon his face and her stomach rolled at the question of how far he’d go to follow his fate. 

“That is your choice,” he agreed.

“Damn straight.”  She searched his face for a trick, determination tightening her own jaw.  A raised eyebrow met her glare.  “But you don’t know anything about me.  I could be married.”

“You’re not.”

“How do you know?”

He shrugged.  “My brother Dage shot your file to my blackberry.”

Blackberry?  Vampires used blackberry’s?  Come on.  “Where were you?”  Damn her curiosity.

“In a meeting with my other brother, Conn.”

Geez.  Sounded like a family oriented creature of the night.  Or day.  Or whatever.  She tried another tack.  “Besides, I have a date tonight.”

She wasn’t sure what her goal was, but she didn’t reach it.  A genuine smile played across his lips, and he uncrossed his arms.  “You’re not going to make it.”


Doesn’t that just make your toes curl? I love it! Don’t forget to leave a comment and be entered to win a copy of RIDING DOUBLE. Also you may follow Rebecca on twitter and Face Book as Rebecca Zanetti. Thanks everyone and congrats to Rebecca for a year filled with success and to many more!

It’s Time to Cowboy Up

Hello all! Today I’m doing a impromptu post. I hadn’t planned on putting anything together as I’m sure everyone is tired of hearing about me and my cowboys but today we must Cowboy Up. This saying hits home because while I’ve been taking a short break from writing and editing I realized I have edits due to my editor on Monday! I haven’t even started yet so tonight my plan is to Cowboy Up and get those damn edits finished!!   

The edits I am talking about are for my new release in my “Cowgirl Tough” series. The second book, a separate story from Riding Double will feature familiar names who will be striking out in relationships of their own. In THE HARDER THEY BUCK readers will be introduced to a new setting and new faces. This setting and characters will lead to my “Wicked Cowboy’s” series. I’m thrilled to present the readers here on the Southern Sizzle Blog with the first ever excerpt of THE HARDER THEY BUCK:   

Oh yeah let me warn y’all this is an erotic romance with heavy steam! It’s Hot! Handle with care 🙂   

            The others she’d slept with at Minx had all been good-looking men, but this guy took the cake. He was a man made to lust after and never touch; touching would lead most women to sure heartache. But tonight Melanie would touch him and relish every second of it. The guy was ripped from top to bottom. Well what bottom she could see as he still had on his pants.   

            His eyes racked over her nude body before a small curve lit his lips into a smile. Her breath caught in her chest the smile, so familiar yet so strange. He stepped into the room one foot slowly descending to the floor at a time. With each stride she backed toward the bed. Her heart hammered against the confines of her chest and her pussy already ached. The look of pure desire shining through his veiled brown eyes sent a quiver of desire to her soul.   

             She was in deep shit and knew it. This guy would take her however he wanted and she’d love every second of it. But he’d demand her submission and that was something not easily given by her. Something she’d never given to anyone. Her feet caught on one of the plush rugs on the floor and she stumbled backward. A strong large hand snaked around her upper arm and righted her. She gazed at the man, not knowing what to say or do but then he did it for her.   

              He tugged her flush against him and stroked her back with his other calloused hand. Bright brown eyes bore into hers and she knew deep down to stay still and silent. Let him get his eye full and then she’d be able to get some release. Her skin tingled with each inch he touched and heat, white-hot and scorching heat melted her inside out. She struggled not to pant as he slowly ran his hand to her waist.   

               Melanie sucked in a breath when he eased away studying her body. His hand circled her waist, grazing her skin with his short clipped fingernails and she trembled when the pressure increased. His hand skimmed her narrow waist as he slid around her body to stand behind her. The scent of mint from toothpaste and the spice of cologne wafted in her senses.   

                All thoughts left her mind when the heat from his skin singed hers.  

 Thanks everyone for stopping by today and reading the first ever excerpt of THE HARDER THEY BUCK coming from The Wild Rose Press soon. Don’t forget that RIDING DOUBLE is available now at The Wild Rose Press.

Tuesday’s Industry News: Agents, Editor, Author Friendships Are They Good or Bad

Hello all. I posted a tweet a few days ago asking questions about traditional print vs. digital publishing to gather information about todays post. However I’ve decided to change my post topic today. This past week I received two rejections on my latest paranormal suspense. One from an editor that I pitched to online and had a few emails back and forth with. I really like this editor and want her as mine! Lol, that’s not stalkerish is it?? The second rejection came from an editor that I liked immediately after meeting her. She was funny, blunt, and very knowledgable all things that I like.

So what happens when you form a relationship of some type with an editor/agent? Do you automatically expect to be published by said editor or contracted immediately by the agent? Well I certainly hope not because you will be in for a rude awakening. The publishing world is business and just because someone is your “friend” does not mean they owe you a publishing contract or agent contract. If they do offer you one out of friendship then you should not accept it. Why? Well lets see if I can put this delicately; do you really want an agent or editor that puts her/his friends first when some of his/her other friends may not write worth a shit? That puts you in a situation where not only that person looks bad, but so do you.

Even after getting an agent or editor this still does not change in my opinion. That agent or editor can be your friend of course but we want those people representing us to be honest, to put your work first not your feelings. This may seem harsh and unfair but honestly it’s for the best. Never take rejections personally and let them mess up a relationship you have formed, are forming or would like to form. Agents and editors are there to sell your work. It’s our responsibility as writers to make sure it’s the best it can be, and to understand that friends are just that, friends.

On a different note today I’d also like to let everyone know that my second short story in my “Cowgirl Tough” series has officially been offered a contract which I will sign this week. This story is the second love story in the series and contains all the characters from Riding Double ,the first story of my series. Thanks everyone.

Tuesday’s Industry News: Tips for Self Promoting

Hello everyone! So I missed last Tuesday’s blog and I’m so sorry for that mishap. Today I’m back in full force. Well not full force, I have a bit of a problem. You see as I’m researching ways to promote Riding Double I’m running around not settling on any one WIP. I’ve started five new WIPS this month! FIVE and written a chapter on each one, thats five chapters plus change. That could be a great first quarter to one full length book or half of a great short story(I say great because I’m trying to think positive). Instead I’m running from WIP to WIP and in-between I’m going crazy over what to do for promoting. My critique partner is having great fun with this also. As she said “I’m the one usually never settling, what the hell is wrong with you?” I don’t know!!!

I’m hoping once I get my mind off the release I’ll settle some. I emailed Ms. Cat Johnson who we had on the site a few months back for her new release Bucked to get her advice on promoting. She emailed me back with some suggestions on what to do for promoting and I’ve started.  So I’ll give you all three of my favorite tips and we can discuss them.

1. Setting up Author Pages.

Now I had never really put much thought into this as I figured the stuff I sent my publisher would work but turns out you can create your own author sites on some book seller websites with more information on you and your book. For example on if you have a book sold through them you have the great chance to go to and set up an author page. I loved it. I got to add more about myself, my book, book reviews, I even added an interview that my ‘laughing at me because I can’t settle’ friend Rebecca Zanetti did of me. I uploaded a photo and all. Loved it. Now have I ever really checked out an authors page? No, but it was cool to do one and I hope people check it out and maybe buy my book because they decide “Yeah I like her, sounds cool” because you know I am 🙂 That last comment was a test, my author friend Brandi Hall “visits” the site every so ofter and I make comments like this to her all the time while she rolls her eyes and tells her cat I’m a dork.

2. Free Reads

Okay I love free reads, I mean really they are the best. When Cat suggested that I write one in hopes that readers would get a taste of my writing and want more I was all over that. In fact I started one (#5 of my WIPS). But I sent an email to my editor about it and well for her it has to have a beginning, middle, and happily ever after. I didn’t want it to have a HEA, no I wanted to introduce a character let him have some wild times then pick up his story later. Alas not going to happen. SO I’ve adjusted and have it going in a way I kinda like. Now have I ever read a free read then went “Gotta buy this chicks books now”? Not really, I will say that after reading a free read if I like it I will go and look at the other books offered by said author.

3. Articles

Now this is one that I had already done before I got any advice. A friend of mine along with some of her friends( I think 2 maybe only 1) started and recently invited me to participate in the weekly newsletter. When she asked if I wanted to I said “Sure, why the hell not”. I gotta admit I loved it. It gave me a chance to write an article I’d been wanting to write for some time and it helped promote my book. It was a win win and I’d love to do another one as I’ve got all kinds of stuff to rant about(Hear that Liz?? I’m making a list!)

So as readers what makes you want to buy a book? Do reviews matter? Do free reads help? Does seeing a person’s biography and picture help? Tell me what helps you decide.

And my writer friends what do you do to promote?

Thanks all


Oh and just for shits and giggles here is my current WIP list:

1. Hell’s Transporter- Paranormal Suspense filled with demons, fallen angels, bull riders, and more.

2. Steam Punk(haven’t named it yet)- Steampunk filled with a smart mouthed southern woman who likes to invet contraptions to help save her plantation from the Yanks although and one New Orleans bred and born inventor of the HOT kind.

3. Spirit Heart- Western Romance filled with Comanche’s raiding, loving, and kidnaping and one pissed off half Comanche and half white woman who has been taken by Running Horse in order to be saved from his brother Kicking Buffalo. Did I mention this woman is mad?

4. Saige’s Story(haven’t named it yet)- Erotic Romance short filled with emotions of loss, griefing, finding love again and hot sex with a playboy bull rider who is lost in his own self pity.

5. The Free Read- Erotic Romance free story. Woman kicks her cheating husband out, divorces him and then shows up her first love. The injured bareback rider who now works for her brother(Bo from my book Riding Double) hot renewed love begins.

Breaking News!!!

Hello everyone! This is a quick breaking news post. I hate to post on Runere’s day but I’m too excited to wait for my day!

I received a google alert and was so nervous when I saw it was my first out of house review for Riding Double. I very slowly clicked the link and this is what I found:

Review: This story is one that will stay with me for some time. Billie is a wrecked woman. Sex is the only constant in her life, but it’s doing little to soothe the ache in her caused by him. Then she meets Chet. He’s sexy, rugged and ready to ride. Yee haw. She might have discovered whether he could make her forget him, but their erotic encounter is complicated when he shows up. The him in this story is Bo. He and Chet are rodeo roomies. Damn, they are both so hot and doable. I wanted them as much as Billie does. But Billie and Bo have a scarred history and deep wounds that continue to fester and won’t heal. But she needs Bo—more than she’ll admit. Ms. Grace delivers a story with emotional punch that will steal your breath. The sex is some of the best I’ve read. Riding Double is a story not to be missed. The characters are flawed and their coming to terms with their connection to each other was beautiful to read. The sex is scorching and the poignant moments will bring you to tears.

Posted by romancereader at 10:09 PM
This was posted at Seriously Reviewed!
And our dedicated follower Danica Avet has just landed herself an agent! Congrats on that lady and I’m proud of you! Can’t wait for more DETAILS!

Tuesday’s Industry News:Nathan Bransford’s Query Advice

Hello everyone! First let me say thank you to everyone who has said good things about Riding Double. I will be announcing the winner of my retweet contest and commenter contest today sometime.

All right onto today’s industry news topic: Queries. Oh how we love to hate them. I am sometimes referred to as the query queen or submission goddess(ok so I made that one up) because I usually don’t hesitate to hit that send button and release my newest baby to the world.  So today as I was surfing the web trying to decide on what my topic would be I found a nice blog post by agent Nathan Bransford. I’m getting back into query mode so it helps me to read blogs by agents/editors to see what is going on it their world and well Nathan Bransford is telling us all about queries.


Focus your query on the work you are currently shopping and devote the majority of the words in the query to it.

Sometimes when writers have experienced a taste of writing success they feel this is going to carry the day in a query and focus almost exclusively on those accomplishments.

For instance, all of these things are good, solid writing accomplishments that you should be proud of:

– being accepted to and/or graduating from an MFA program
– placing in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Competition
– placing short stories with prestigious journals
– being nominated for a Pushcart
– self-publishing and receiving praise from strangers

Congrats! Very well done. But none of these things, at least for me, are going to result in a partial request on their own, and I wouldn’t make these accomplishments the focal point of a query.

Even if someone had a great deal of success and had been published and sold a lot of copies, I still need to connect with the current project the author is shopping if we’re going to successfully work together. That current project is what I want to know about. It’s what I’m going to be basing my decision on.

Yes, mention your accomplishments, but your current project should be the star of the show.


Ok, I think this answers alot of questions I hear from people. Yes we can mention things but lets not make those the total focus. The story has to shine in the query or the other stuff is pointless. Hope this helped everyone.

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