Marcia’s Romantically Yours
Issue # 46
marcia king-gamble

Dear Romance Writer,

How has your summer been so far? It’s been a busy time for me and way too long between newsletters. But I’m back! And here to catch you up on what’s been happening with me.

Last month I attended the annual romance writers convention held in Washington, D.C. I love conventions because they are always a good opportunity to catch up with friends and hear what’s going on in the industry; and what better venue to have a convention than the home of our president. I’ve always liked The District of Colombia because it’s wonderful, and vibrant with a plethora of things to see and do. That should give you a hint it wasn’t all business. The evidence is on my website so be sure to stop by and visit. Log onto my ‘Appearances’ page to see me in action.


Overall the conference was an incredibly uplifting experience and I returned from that event to fabulous news. I sold a mainstream book and of course I’m over the moon. This was a story that had been bubbling within me and just been dying to be told. The scheduled release date is 2011 and that gives me plenty of time to work on another fun project. But mum’s the word until the ink dries on that contract.

Recently I was interviewed by Wordhustler is a cool site that makes the submission process much easier, freeing you up to do what you’re supposed to be doing – writing! It’s a great service for those who are ‘unagented.’ But don’t take my word for it, log onto the site and see how it works.

In the next couple of weeks I’ll be heading for New York and then onto Pennsylvania. I am excited and inspired by the thought of walking along nature trails, inhaling the fresh, clean, smell of country air, and getting up close and personal with wandering deer.

Call me crazy, but it’s the little things that make me happy.

Enjoy what's left of the summer!


Marcia King-Gamble
Editor -- Romantically Yours


Tools of the Trade

WordHustler ( This is the site I mentioned and worth a visit. The owners provide an innovative service to busy authors. Wordhustler streamlines the submission process, ensuring your manuscripts get into the right hands. They also keep track of submissions and even print and ship.

Interview with Marsha Zinberg/Executive Editor Feature & Custom Publishing Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
Marsha Zinberg began her career at Harlequin as an Assistant Editor. 26 years later she’s still with Harlequin and loving every moment of her role. Marsha is responsible for limited continuity projects and all backlist programs. She’s the person responsible for NASCAR. She’s one smart, savvy, lady and very down to earth.

RY: Please tell our readers how you got started in publishing. Was this a life long dream?

MZ: I suppose working with literature was a life-long dream, as I was a bookworm from the time I first learned to read. I was one of those children who always had her nose in a book. I came from a pretty traditional background, so I thought perhaps I’d teach or be a librarian, until I hit university, and was consumed by the opportunities there. I completed a master’s degree in what was then called “English Language and Literature”, and always thought I’d go back for a PhD. But instead, I thought I should earn some money, and it was then that the idea of working in publishing became a reality for me. Obviously, I never looked back!

RY: Now here you are twenty- five years later. What are some of the most successful projects you headed up? Why do you think they were successful?

MZ: Actually, I’ve been with Harlequin for twenty-six years. Successful projects? Well, wefirst developed the idea of out-of-series continuities in the very early nineties, and they made a big impact initially because they were different, and readers loved the notion of coming back to an established and continuing set of characters, just as they would for a television series that they returned to every week. T.V. had Dynasty, and we had Crystal Creek!

We also were pioneers in the area of romance anthologies, and the idea of novellas by three favorite authors grouped around a theme--particularly something to do with Christmas--was very successful for a number of years. I’ve been handling anthologiessince the very beginning of their development at Harlequin and Silhouette. Now that there
are so many anthologies out there, the market has become a bit saturated with them, but these kinds of things always go in cycles. As a variation, we also pioneered a number of different configurations of reissue anthologies, and we had a program called By Request, featuring two and sometimes three full-length romances by favorite series authors grouped
by theme. Readers loved knowing they were getting three stories about single dads or Western Christmases in one volume--and they were also attractively priced, which certainly added to their popularity!

RY: During your tenure you must have seen many changes. Can you share with us some of your special memories?

MZ: In a recent blog tour that I wrote in June I mentioned the fact that when I began at Harlequin, editors did not even have their own typewriters, let alone computers! If we wanted to write a revision letter to an author, we walked down the hall to a little room that held three IBM Selectrics, and composed our letters there. So obviously, the way that we
do our business, the way we receive and handle manuscripts, and the impact of technology generally on our industry has been mind-boggling.

I remember being part of an experiment in the early 90s to edit manuscripts on-screen. It's 2009, and I still prefer to edit a hard copy with a pencil and eraser! That, at least hasn't changed.

RY: Harlequin celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. If you had a crystal ball and were able to predict the future, what kinds of plots and storylines will continue to appeal to readers?

MZ: There are some basic truths in romance fiction that never change. A gorgeous, hunky, single man interacting with a baby or young child makes women melt inside--I think it always has and always will, so single dad stories are going to appeal. The absolute moral compass of the laconic Western hero is always going to appeal as well, because romance readers are drawn to a hero whom they know might be prickly as a cactus on the outside,but is someone they are confident they can trust and depend on when push comes to shove. And wedding stories continue to contribute to the hope and optimism in the human spirit--that there is a happy ending out there for everyone. That’s why I think our books have universal and continuing appeal, and those basics are not going to change--at least, they haven’t in the entire time I’ve been working at my job!

RY: It’s said that 52-55% of all mass market books sold are romances. Why do you think romance continues to outsell other genres?

MZ: I guess I must have anticipated this in my answer to the previous question. People WANT to believe in happy endings, they want to be entertained, and there is a marked uplift and “feel-good’ vibe guaranteed when you read a romance. People thirst for that in their rushed, harried, perhaps not-so-perfect lives, and to see it depicted in fiction. Also,
of course, it gives them hope. They identify with the heroine, and feel that if she can overcome whatever adversity or conflict she has and come out a better, happier person, then perhaps they can too. And they can get all those good feelings for a pretty good price, as well!

RY: How has the recession affecting the publishing world? What changes have come about as a result?

MZ: Harlequin, I’m happy to say, is having a very successful year, and though, as other publishers, we conducted business with caution as 2009 opened, I think we are optimisticthat the economy will improve. There have not been huge changes to our general way of doing business or our results. We may be an anomaly in the publishing world, but we’re all very happy with the year so far!!

RY: Have you ever considered writing? If yes, what Harlequin line would you write for and why?

MZ: I have “considered” writing many times, and in fact, I write a great deal--just not, at present, romance fiction. I write something that I consider speeches! I’ve been helping out friends and family for years with this sort of thing, and finally decided to make a business out of it. I write all kinds of speeches for people all over North America--whether it’s in honor of a 90th birthday or the opening of a hospital wing. But obviously, I LOVE writing wedding speeches--I think I bring a special sensibility to it, doing what I’ve been doing for 26 years, and people seem pleased with the result!

RY: There’s been a lot of buzz about Harlequin’s famous firsts. Can you share with us what these firsts are? How did this idea get conceived?

MZ: As you know, there are a large number of best-selling and New York Times-listed authors who got their start at Harlequin/Silhouette, and we came up with the idea of looking back through our 60 years at the accomplishments of some of our authors. There are a few of us (myself being one) who could actually remember when some of these authors were
first published, and we thought it would be fun to republish those first books and have people enjoy how their favorite authors got started and have developed. I’m talking about people like Debbie Macomber, Linda Lael Miller, Diana Palmer, Heather Graham, Barbara Delinsky, Carla Neggers--.and countless others. Some of the books were written as much as
twenty-five years ago, and so much has changed in contemporary society, there was quite a nostalgia factor there! Also, we wanted a personal touch, and since many of us in-house have strong and on-going relationships with these authors, we asked them to share some of their memories of “the good old days” in a letter that we printed at the front of each book. The program just fell into place based on our memories and theirs!

RY: What advice would you give to a writer trying to break into the field?

MZ: I always tell a writer trying to break into the field to study the market. To critically examine her own style, and then spend time in the bookstore figuring out what publishing house or line is closest to what you can and want to write. Then, target that house or line specifically. In other words, do your homework. Join a professional organization, and learn
as much as possible about the business and how others have succeeded. The wonderful thing about romance writers in particular is that they are so supportive of others in their profession. Take advantage of that--study and learn before you take the plunge!

RY: Finally, what would a typical day in the life of Marsha Zinberg look like? What does Marsha do for fun?

MZ: Well, a typical work day encompasses dealing with on average eighty or so emails, lots of phone calls, two or three meetings, and whatever reading I can squeeze in in-between. If I need to concentrate on an edit, I often will do that from home, as do some other editors when pressed. It’s very hard to concentrate on editing with all the distractions in the office.

Fun? That would be the weekend. First and foremost, I love seeing my immediate and extended family, who are all in Toronto and close. I have three adorable grandchildren, aged 4, 18 months and a year, and I can never get enough of them. Then there is gardening in the summer, flower arranging in the winter, working out with my sister,
lunches and dinners with friends, film and theatre. And travel with my husband! Love that too! Oh, and I do read a bit.!


Start your Engines: Rev Up Your Writing Career
Sponsor: Southern Tier Authors of Romance (STAR)
Location: Owega Treadway Inn
Owega, NY.
Fee: $75-80
September 12, 2009
Keynote : Kathryn Shay


Readers and Writers Holiday Conference
Sponsor: Central Ohio Fiction Writers
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Fee: $110-$125
Date: September 18-19, 2009
Keynote: Roxanne St.Claire

Moonlight and Magnolias
Sponsor: Georgia Romance Writers
Location: Hilton Atlanta Northeast
Date: October 02-04, 2009

Romance in the Mountains
Sponsor: Utah RWA
Location: The Lodges at Deer Valley
Park City, Utah
Fee: $149-$165
Date: October 9-10, 2009
Keynote: Rachel Gibson

2009 NJRW Put Your Heart in a Book
Sponsor: New Jersey Romance Writers
Location: The Woodbridge Hotel & Conference Center, Iselin, NJ.
Fee: $179-$199
Date: October 23-24, 2009
Keynote Speaker: Karen Rose


Who's Looking?
Loose Id
Looking for well written love stories if 20,000 words and up. For guidelines see

Silhouette Desire (NY Office)
Silhouette Special Editions (NY Office) for guidelines click on “write.”

Harlequin Presents (London Office)
Log onto for guidelines. Click on “write.”

Did You Know?
74.8 million people read at least one romance novel in 2008.
24.6% of all Americans read a romance novel in 2008 versus 21.8 % in 2005.


Romantically Yours is a FREE monthly newsletter. I would love to hear from you. Please send comments, news, research, or story ideas directly to Marcia King-Gamble at