Announcing the Harlequin Heartwarming Blitz!

We Want Your Book!

Heartwarming Blitz graphic

Do you have a clean, emotionally satisfying contemporary romance that celebrates community, family connections and true love?  If so—we would love to see it!  We publish romance novels that are 70,000 words, but do not have sex scenes.  Romantic sparks—yes.  Chemistry and attraction—a must!  We also ask our authors to deliver engaging plots and subplots, realistic and appealing characters and a deeply moving love story.  Heartwarming novels are warm, poignant and rich.

No explicit religious or Christian content.  No paranormals, please.

Harlequin Heartwarming Logo

Submission dates: Monday, April 4th  – Friday, April 22nd  2016 at 11:59 p.m. EST

What Harlequin Heartwarming needs to see:

  • A cover letter that introduces your book and includes any previous publishing credits, writing contest wins, or affiliations.
  • A 4 – 6 page synopsis. What happens in your book—tell us the key moments, the crucial twists and turns, and how it ends!  Show us what drives your story forward, including the internal and external conflicts your hero and heroine face to get to their happily ever after.
  • The first chapter of your manuscript (up to 25 pages).

What you get:

  • A quick response! Skip the slush pile and hear back from Harlequin within 20 business days after the submission period ends.
  • Editorial feedback for every Heartwarming appropriate story received.
  • The possibility of having your novel published in Harlequin’s Heartwarming romance line!

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For the full writing guidelines for Harlequin Heartwarming, check out our page on Submittable here:

On April 4, 2016 you can submit your proposal for #HWBlitz here:

And check out the hashtag #HWBlitz on Twitter, as well as following @cpmcaldwell, @Lye1892, @VictoriaCurran2, @DanaGrimaldi and @Deirdre33. We’ll be sharing tips, insider know-how, our wishlists and more throughout the #HWBlitz.


Any questions? Leave a comment. We can’t wait to hear from you!

71 replies on “Announcing the Harlequin Heartwarming Blitz!”

Are there special tropes or situations that you would especially like to see now? Are there any tropes or situations that you aren’t looking for right now?

We for sure have some tropes/situations we’d like to see more, and less, of. Keep an eye on this blog–we’ll have a post with editor wishlists up this Friday. 🙂

But sneak preview, Kimberly: careers that have higher stakes and action built into them often lead to more exciting storytelling. Consider: firefighter vs accountant; Army vet vs filmmaker. Stay tuned for Friday’s post!

Hi Kimberly,
Absolutely! One of the great things about Heartwarming is the broad range of tones/story elements. Looking forward to your submission. 🙂

Does the manuscript have to be complete at the time of entering the contest or can it be submitted later on, if picked for publication? Also, can people outside the US enter? Thank you.

Hi Roberta,
We would want to see a full manuscript before offering a publishing contract, but if we like what we see during the blitz we may request the full and go from there. That said, no need to have the full completed in order to submit a partial to the blitz! And yes, we’re definitely open to submissions from outside of the USA.

I’m also wondering about hooks – are things like reunion romance and babies and children also popular in Heartwarming? Thank you

Hi Donna,
Thanks for the question! Those hooks are definitely reader favorites in our line.

Absolutely, Donna! Our fans love the secret baby and single parent tropes (I’m a bit of a sucker for that struggling single dad, myself). These stories are grounded in everyday realism and what could be more real and resonate with our readers than trying to do right by children while you’re working through a new relationship?

I entered the recent Desire Call for Submissions and am awaiting feedback – am I able to participate in the HWBlitz? The Desire feedback may or may not be received by the end date of this opportunity and that is why I am asking if I am eligible.
Thank you.

Hi Marcie,
You can totally enter the HW Blitz if you already entered the Desire call, provided it’s a different manuscript targeted to our line. Hope to see your entry! 🙂

Is there going to be a thread on the Harlequin boards for entrants to ask questions like there is for the Desire and LIH submission calls?

Hi Fiona,
Yes, we will be having a Community discussion as well as a Twitter chat. Keep an eye on the Contests page on this site–we’ll have a full schedule of events up on Monday.

I have a story I think might work for Heartwarming but it is a marriage in trouble story. I know there isn’t any smex allowed but can husband and wife enter the bedroom off page?

It’s all in the execution, Fiona, which means it’s difficult for us to tell from the few details you’ve given us in the question. We grapple with this one on a case-by-case basis! How suggestive authors can get with a married couple heading to the bedroom…. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. (Helpful? Not!)

What a great opportunity! I write inspirational romance so my stories don’t quite fit Heartwarming’s guidelines, but I love, love, LOVE this story line. My one disappointment? Our local big box store doesn’t carry them yet. But I’m still hopeful. And thank you, lovely ladies, for being so accessible to your adoring fans! 🙂

So excited about this opportunity – I came here with a couple of questions and am happy to see they have already been answered! So my partially-completed, suspense-element, reunion-romance will be good to go? 😉 That is, unless I hit on something else between now and the deadline. So many ideas…and it’s a fun excuse to do some extra reading in the Heartwarming line. This way it counts as “research”!

I submitted to Heartwarming through submittable and the full MS was requested end of January. I’m waiting to hear back about it. So my question is, should I submit another story to the blitz or should I wait to hear on the story already submitted? Thanks

Excellent question, Carol. And I’m not sure what the answer is! In a case where we have no strict guidelines to fall back on, I defer to my mom’s standby rule when playing Euchre: Kill as you go. If you have a new idea for the blitz, submit it. OR, if you want to make us speed up (!), submit your original idea again. Your call. (One of the other editors may jump in here and correct me. It’s been known to happen!)

Hi there, so nice to see so many opportunities with HQN. Would a story that takes place in LA with a bit of glitz and glamor in quirky situation be too much for this submission call? Do you prefer the smaller town feel. Thank you!

Hi Kim, thanks for the question. It could still work for us, personally I’d love to see more cities/urban settings in the series.

Are you interested in stories set around a festive time of year (4th of July, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day, Christmas)?

Good question! You’re welcome to sumit more than one proposal. Though from what we’ve seen in the past, keep in mind one carefully planned and executed submission may be stronger than two or more hurried ones. Looking forward to seeing your HW ideas!

Hi! No, the manuscript does not need to be complete when you submit to the blitz, there’ll be time afterward for that. Good luck!

sorry for repeating the question. I forgot I had sent it late last night. Hope everyone is well, and excited for this challenge. 🙂

I’m still in the #MedicalBlitz queue or I’d totally love to submit to this!!! Heartwarming and Medical are my favorite lines. 🙂 I’ll be sending lots of love and support through the forums for you guys! GOOD LUCK!!!!!! The blitzes are AMAZING!

Hi! This is a great opportunity! I have a story that has a second generation Greek American heroine. There’s a lot of reference to her family culture, but not to take away from the romance…Is that something Heartwarming might be interested in?

Absolutely, Angie! Our readers love stories with strong family elements, and we’re definitely seeking submissions with characters from different cultural backgrounds.

Hi there! I have a question about chapter length. You ask for up to 25 pages, but page length can differ according to font, spacing, etc. What is the typical word count for a Heartwarming first chapter? About how many words would you like to see in the entry? Thanks for answering, and thank you for this fantastic opportunity to receive editor feedback!

I don’t think we have a typical length for our chapters, Cathy. Some authors write very short, snappy ones and others tend to write longer. The only time I pay attention to that is when the length doesn’t seem to serve the story and calls attention to itself. Or, for instance, if there’s one very wee chapter in the middle of long ones–that can read like a mistake.

I have a book series set in the SC Lowcountry, and my question is regarding chapter length for the MS. If I am using 1inch margins and 12 pt. Times New Roman, how many pages on average make up a chapter for HW? Right now, I have 13 pages, but could combine chapter two with chapter one for a total of 23-24 pages. Thanks so much! Love, love, love LI and HW.

Hey, Kim! I’m out of my realm here. I don’t think we have a set number of scenes per chapter. We don’t have series parameters that are this technically specific… Does that feel liberating or confusing to you?

Hi Kim,
I don’t think there’s any typical number of scenes for a chapter. That said, three pages of a character’s thoughts doesn’t feel complete, and if there’s too much variation chapter-to-chapter, the story feels choppy and not carefully thought out. As long as the scenes are moving the story forward and there’s a chapter break after a few scenes (and it feels like a natural break in the action, time or location) I think it works for the reader.

Should the hero and heroine be together for most of the book? In the heartwarming I am reading now the hero and heroine are apart for a good chunk of the book where she Dela with issues and experiences dome character growth. I was wondering if this is unusual for the series?

That’s a bit of a departure, for sure, Kim! The romance is at the heart of our books, which means traditionally the hero and heroine appear in the books together.

Sorry. I’m typing on my phone early in the morning and didn’t read before I posted the above comment. The heroine deals with some issues and experiences some character growth.

No, just being at the proposal stage is fine to submit at this point. If we’d like you to develop the idea further, we’ll be in touch once the blitz ends later this month, and then we can arrange further dates and details with you. Thanks!

How do you prioritize elements, like story, character, writing? Can characters make up for a less nail biting plot? Does a good plot help make up for slightly weaker writing skills?

Hi Anne!
I’m not sure we prioritize per se. All of those elements have to be present and developed in the manuscript. Sometimes stories are more character driven than others, and vice versa with stories that have more about the plot (for instance, they have more external action). But both types can be accommodated in the series.

If the story and writing have potential we’ll work with the author to help improve her skills through the editing and revising process.

Dear Sam,

Quite possibly, yes, a bit hard to say further without more details. No harm in submitting and getting some feedback either way. Thanks!

My story is not faith-based, but the Heroine is a Catholic who attends Mass regularly. It’s in there as a reflection of her personality. Is that okay?

Dear authors I sent first three chapters of a story to harlequin.They were not accepted. however when I published the entire story of 16 chapters on public bookshelf only as e -story it got published and I have some very positive comments for it. Can it now be published by harlequin?

The concerns the Harlequin editor had would still be in the manuscript if it hasn’t been substantially revised, so, likely we would not now be able to accept it for publication. We wish you all the best with it, perhaps a new proposal suited to the series would be best.

Hello, I’m in the final stages of formatting my story for HWBlitz. Very excited! My question regards the synopsis. Do you want to see a chapter by chapter structure, or a general overview of plot points? TIA, Sarah

I sent my entry Reunited Hearts on Friday am but I’m concerned that I can’t see it on submittable. Can someone please confirm it was received? Thank you

I have so far written four novels but to classify it . but it involves family . basically about a lady who had loved a guy but could make a move because he was a student where her parents are respected educators. She ended up seeking his sperm from axfertelity specialist who is a friend. Unfortunately her daughter had to die after she was declared brain dead. And her organs she donated to this guys daughter who was waiting for organ donor.

I know this contest is over, however I have a self published manuscript, and I’m wondering if I can submit it through regular channels, or do I need a new manuscript. Thank you, Deborah Hawthorne Tainsh, Panama City Beach, Fl

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