Superromance

 

It's a sad day for Harlequin.

We received news this Monday that five of the series romances are being shut down, including Superromance, where I started my writing career. As a result of the shrinking business, many of my longtime colleagues and friends will be laid off.

Series                                          Last Pub Month

Harlequin Western                          June 2018

Harlequin Superromance              June 2018

Love Inspired Historical                  June 2018

Harlequin Nocturne                        December 2018

Kimani Romance                              December 2018

There's been lots of chatter and criticism on social media about why these programs failed or are being cut. As I work for Harlequin as a full-time employee and am bound by certain rules, all I can say is that these programs were specifically chosen because they make up a minuscule percentage of series earnings.

I wasn't surprised that Superromance was disappearing--since I published Her Son's Hero in 2011, I saw the series go from full runs of regular and large print in retail, to large print only, to direct to consumers only. It was only a matter of time before they disappeared altogether, and there are lots of reasons for it: increasingly competitive pricing with ebooks, a shrinking mass-market paperback business, shrinking DTC demand, a dwindling hunger for women's fiction in series format, branding issues, decreased marketing budgets...it's a tough game right now in publishing.

All that said, I'm still employed, and I still have my young adult weird West series, THE DEVIL'S REVOLVER, coming out soon from Brain Mill Press. I might go back to romance one day, and it would be an honor to write for Harlequin again. But for now, I'm sitting down with a glass of whiskey.

Please be sure to follow me at www.vsmcgrath.com for updates on THE DEVIL'S REVOLVER. You can also follow @VS_McGrath on Twitter and on Facebook.com/vsmcgrath

 

 

On my birthdayFunny how much time can go by when you're pregnant and have all the best intentions for keeping up your blog...

So, yeah, I'm 8.75 months into my pregnancy, with a due date of Oct. 25. Most of my time over the past few months has been focused on completing my contracted books with Harlequin Superromance. My fifth book, Red Carpet Arrangement, will be out January 2016, and I've completed a first draft of my sixth Superromance, another foray into the small town of Everville, which will either be out late 2016 or early 2017.

Pregnancy has not been easy. I mean, compared to some women's experiences, I've had it easy. The baby's healthy, and while I've experienced about 80% of the symptoms that go along with pregnancy, I haven't suffered any serious issues. Mostly I'm fatigued and sore, with the numerous bodily complaints common with pregnancy and many of those no one ever talks about. (Carpal tunnel syndrome and nose bleeds? Really, body? You don't think I've suffered enough?)

On top of the pregnancy, my husband and I decided to finish our murder basement and turn it into a more usable space. We've hired a contractor to dig, underpin, install a new bathroom and finish the space into a multipurpose room. When it's done, we'll have a second bathroom, a laundry room and a big space to do with as we please...which probably means scattering toys everywhere for the coming baby. It's a huge job, and we've already had several delays, but I knew that was likely. Considering that the baby is currently head down and wearing my cervix like a yarmulke, I'll probably give birth before the job is complete, meaning those poor construction workers will probably see me waddling their way, declaring, "Guys...hate to bug you, but could one of you drive me to the hospital?"

I'll be off work in less than three weeks, taking two weeks before the due date to relax and nest. While I know I'll probably disappear into the internet ether once more when the baby comes, I hope to get a few blog posts in, and maybe even manage a weekly update post where I just post random stuff I find cool. (Shill: you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter for a lot of that, too. I'm also on Pinterest and a bunch of other social media platforms.) Having a baby is a whole new adventure I'm both dreading and looking forward to--exactly the kind of experience I like to share.

Some other things going on in my life:

  • Had my legs waxed for the first time in my life. I've always wanted to have that experience, and now that I can barely bend over to shave, it seemed like the time to try. It was not as painful as I thought it would be...which I hope means something good come labor time.
  • Had to get a new netbook laptop. It's the Acer 2 in 1 Switch tablet. Budget friendly, compact and versatile, but it has flaws, the main one being that sometimes while working on Word, the cursor jumps around randomly, or typing stalls and doesn't appear. Not a terrible piece of machinery, but not perfect, either.
  • The Blue Jays are doing well! After 15 years together, I only recently learned my husband enjoyed watching baseball, and he got an MLB.com membership and has been watching steadily since August. We are watching them play the Yankees as I write this.
  • I'll be signing books at Toronto Word on the Street this coming Sunday. Check out the Events page for more details!

Well, that's it for now. Apologies for not being consistent with content here. Making a human is difficult work, and while I have so much to say about it, I will save you from the gritty details...for now.

ARFR 9780373609024 416x663My shiny new cover for my March 2015 release, A RECIPE FOR REUNION, just arrived! Whaddya think?

Check it out:

Nothing about working with his former high school crush, Stephanie Stephens, is ideal. Still, if Aaron Caruthers intends to save his grandmother’s bakery, he must. Good thing he has a lot of ideas he can’t wait to implement. He never imagines Stephanie would have her own ideas for the business. Or that they would clash with his!

It doesn’t take working with her long for Aaron to realize his impression of Stephanie as a helpless ex-cheerleader is way off. And the more of her kindness and strength he sees, the more attracted he is! Now to convince her…

Back to the Good Fortune Diner
Back to the Good Fortune Diner

It's always nice to hear good things about your book a year after it's been published. I love Sarah for talking about BTTGFD so much, and selling it to New York Times bestselling author and X-Men and Marvel universe writer Marjorie M. Liu, an author I've admired for a long time.

Marjorie and Sarah talk about some awesome stuff, including what it's like to be a woman of color writer. I fully agree with what she has to say. You can read the transcript here. You can also listen to the podcast here.

An excerpt:

Marjorie: You’re killing me. The description of it, like, the way you describe this book sounds amazing.

Sarah: I thought it was so great.

Marjorie: That is a total must-read.

ENDORSEMENT FROM MARJORIE M. LIU, YOU GUYS. And she hasn't even read it!

And further:

Sarah: ....The thing about Superromance is that often I think they, the writers are encouraged to pack as much as humanly possible into these little tiny books, and so sometimes there’s so many big issues that they can’t reconcile all of them, but the fact that they brought them up in the first place, I’m just like, this is great! Please feel free to rip my heart out and hand it to me –

Marjorie: See, I –

Sarah: - it’s totally fine!

Marjorie: I have to tell you, like, just your base description of this book sounds like it would be, like, if, if it was published outside Harlequin, like in some quote-unquote, like, highbrow, literary press –

Sarah: I know!

Marjorie: - people would be talking about it, like, across the nation.

Just in case...If there are any "highbrow literary presses" out there interested in a new adult fantasy set in the final days of the Wild West, you should contact my agent. 8 )

In Her Corner CoverIt's my book birthday! IN HER CORNER should be in stores today and should remain on shelves till the end of the month! Pick up your copy before they're all sold out -OR- order online from your favorite bookseller!

Discussion questions for your book club will be up soon! Keep and eye on the Books page!

Harlequin.com | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca | Chapters.Indigo.ca | BarnesandNoble.com | Kobobooks.com

One quick happy note: an endorsement from the inspiration and my hoped-to-be model, Tahmoh Penikett, in Tweet form:

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 2.00.05 PM

 

Also check out my blog at SuperAuthors today for a chance to win a copy!

First: The title and release date of my third Superromance has been announced!

In Her Corner, about a female MMA fighter Bella Fiore training with Her Son's Hero alum Kyle Peters, will be released March 2014 from Harlequin Superromance. Watch for more updates on the Books page. The campaign to get actor Tahmoh Penikett on my cover continues, too, so please, tell your friends to sign the petition!

Second: I've signed with an agent! The fabulous Courtney Miller-Callihan of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates will be shopping around my Western-set fantasy and handling my romance writing career, too. I love telling people I'm with the same agency that represents Dan Brown. 8 )

It's been an exciting week!

 

UFC 157: Ronda Rousey, left, versus Liz Caramouche

UFC 157 will be the first time women will be competing in the Octagon, and as I am writing a romance based on this exact idea (tentatively titled What Defines Her, not yet scheduled for Harlequin Superromance), I thought it warranted some discussion.

Women's MMA is nothing new. Women have been competing in MMA events for years through other fight promoters, many of which have sadly folded or been bought up by the UFC. The significance of women fighting in the UFC, however, is in the scale. The Ultimate Fighting Championship is the world's largest promoter of mixed martial arts bouts, and tens of thousands (if not a million or more) viewers will be tuning in to this fight between Ronda Rousey and Liz Caramouche. Considering that UFC president Dana White once infamously said he would never allow women to fight in the league, this about-face is significant.

Mixed martial arts isn't without its critics, of course. It has been likened to human dog-fighting, a brutal blood sport pitching two testosterone-fueled muscle heads in what some people believe is a glorified bar brawl. It's nothing like that. MMA requires years of training and discipline, and the men and women who do it are some of the best athletes in the world. I touched on this in Her Son's Hero. 

Despite the hard climb MMA has had to make to legitimize itself, some people still think that because of the violent nature of the sport, women shouldn't fight. Dozens of reporters and critics have had their say and will say it more eloquently than I can. (I recommend this article by Tamos Rios) My beef lies in a few simple facts. (WARNING: rant ahead.)

The media has traditionally treated female competitors in male-dominated sports as novelties, and fans often criticize them much more harshly than they would men. Twice the amount of pressure and expectation is placed on them to be both good at their sport and conform to society's standards of femininity. If they are too beautiful, they are dismissed as being nothing more than eye candy; not beautiful enough and they are mocked mercilessly. There is no pleasing the armchair misogynist whose most hateful words often only emerge anonymously on the internet. And there's no telling the make-me-a-sandwich-rape-joke-making asshats that they are wrong because the armchair misogynist will support their backwards beliefs...just as long as they don't have to leave their keyboards to do so.

Now, I'm not the biggest fan of MMA in the world. I enjoy the occasional match, but I don't watch every single fight. I couldn't tell you the difference between all the submission holds, and I don't practice martial arts. Some would say that I am not worth listening to since I obviously don't understand the subtle complexities of the sport. (I call this the Sarkeesian effect, but that's a rant for another day.) But does a lack of nitty-gritty knowledge automatically disqualify a person from having a vested interest?

I started writing What Defines Her late last year knowing that the heroine would be confronting exactly these issues and a lot more besides. Professional athletes face a lot of challenges as public figures. And I'll admit that I can only scratch the surface of what Rousey and Caramouche have faced in the lead up to this match. (I highly recommend watching the three-part UFC 157 Primetime series on my Pinterest board.)

Rousey vs. Caramouche shouldn't have to be a big deal, but it is. As long as we cling to predefined gender roles, women doing extraordinary things will continue to surprise and fascinate and threaten and terrify those who cannot accept change, versatility or plurality.

Good luck to Ronda and Liz tonight. I'll be watching and rooting you both on!

1 Comment

Fellow Superromance author Mary Sullivan asked me to be a part of this chain blog event entitled THE NEXT BIG THING—a series of questions and answers about what's happening next in my writing life.

Sadly, I couldn’t find anyone to chain after me! So, if you’re an author and would like to take part, email me and I’ll set you up!

Back to the Good Fortune Diner, coming January 2013!
Back to the Good Fortune Diner, coming January 2013!

1. What is the title of your book? Back to the Good Fortune Diner.

2. How did you come by the idea?

Pulling from my own personal experiences, I wondered how different my life would have been if I’d grown up in a small town instead of a big city.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary category romance. (Harlequin Superromance)

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters if it were a movie?

Ellen Wong (known for her role as Knives Chau in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) would play Tiffany Cheung.

Chris Hemsworth would play the hero, Chris Jamieson.

 

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Big-city prodigal daughter returns to her sweet and sour small-town roots and reunites with her old high school crush.

6. Will your book be self-published or traditional?

Traditional—with Harlequin Superromance, in stores and online January 2, 2013.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Four months, plus one month to edit, before I sent it to my editor.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Sarah M. Anderson’s A Man of His Word, which is a great Harlequin Desire about a white high-powered executive and a Native American attorney. Anderson deftly handles the racial issues and prejudice the heroine faces without shying away from the real awfulness.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Being Chinese Canadian myself, I’ve always wanted to write a contemporary Chinese heroine and see more diversity in romance.

10. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

The book does deal with issues of racism and interracial relationships, but more broadly, it is about coming to grips with your personal and cultural identity.

 

Hey authors! Wanna continue the chain? Email me at vicki@vickiessex.com and you can be a part of this chain of awesomeness!

So the blog tour begins for the release of Back to the Good Fortune Diner! I'll be talking about all kinds of things regarding the book, writing interracial romances, and more. Come and see me at these awesome websites—I'll be giving away copies of BTTGFD to commenters!

You can also find this list on the Events page.

Back to the Good Fortune Diner, in stores January 2013!

Dec. 10, 2012 Madison J. Edwards
Dec. 12, 2012 Superromance Authors
Dec. 19, 2012 Sherry Isaac
Dec. 21, 2012 Romance and Beyond
Dec. 29,2012 Pink Heart Society 
Jan. 2, 2013 Superromance Authors
Jan. 4, 2013 Get Lost in a Story (GLIAS)
Jan. 8, 2013 Drunk Writer Talk
Jan. 16, 2013 Cristal Ryder
Jan. 22, 2013 Lindsay Hautenen/Layna Pimentel