Focus on Harlequin Heartwarming….

Harlequin Heartwarming is our newest series–but the stories are already becoming favorites for readers! Victoria Curran, senior editor for Heartwarming, is looking for new authors and is happy to give a few tips…

At Harlequin Heartwarming we’re eager to acquire world rights for “clean” romances of 70,000 to 75,000 words where the attraction is far more than simply physical, and emotional tenderness is a priority over sensuality.

These big, contemporary books give women of all ages a chance to enjoy emotional, satisfying love stories steeped in wholesome family values. These emotionally complex stories could be compared to two other Harlequin series: Superromance (without the sex and cursing!) and Love Inspired (without the faith element).

The books can be international; currently we have one British author, Eleanor Jones, who sets her stories in the U.K. and a couple of U.S. writers (Melanie Mitchell and Rula Sinara) who’ve set their first Heartwarming stories in Kenya, Africa, where one heroine saves human lives and the other heroine saves orphaned elephants.

And because Heartwarming books are longer reads, we invite authors to explore secondary romances or secondary character arcs: we want to give our readers a complex, satisfying read. These books focus on the high-stakes romance between the hero and heroine while also exploring the community and relationships around them.


Original Heartwarming books launched in June 2013 with Innkeeper’s Daughter, Marie Ferrarella’s poignant story of loss and love, and Ingrid Weaver’s Winning Amelia, which is a chase-the-missing-winning-lottery-ticket romance! In July, 2013, we began publishing four books a month.



In September, new author Karen Rock (sister-in-law to Blaze author Joanne Rock) debuts with Wish Me Tomorrow, the two-hanky story of a survivor who, living in the shadow of a possible cancer recurrence, falls in love with his support group leader.

We’ve signed new-to-Harlequin author Cerella Sechrist, who has made a name for herself in inspirational publishing: her December 2013 book, Gentle Persuasion, is set in Hawaii as the hero tries to escape the high-pressure world of corporate America and the heroine is a recruiter determined to drag him back from paradise.

Among so many good books, keep your eye out for Kristine Rolofson’s poignant and humorous bachelor reality-TV series Willing to Wed, and Homespun Christmas by guest author Aimee Thurlo (Harlequin Intrigue), set in New Mexico as a heroine strives to save her dying hometown.

We’re very excited at Heartwarming to have offered several authors their first book-publishing contract—in some cases, a multi-book contract. The group brings a fresh voice and vision to the team of writers and we can’t wait to see their books come off the press! A warm welcome to: Melanie Mitchell, Syndi Powell, Karen Rock, Rula Sinara, Jennifer Snow and Amy Vastine, whose book first came to our attention last fall when she submitted to the So You Think You Can Write 2012 contest.

To meet the rest of our authors, check out the Heartwarming series page or go to the author blog at

You’ll find all the technical details at the Heartwarming Writing Guidelines or follow #HarlequinHeartwarming on Twitter for more info!

 Leave a comment below for Victoria–she’ll be checking back for the next week!

16 replies on “Focus on Harlequin Heartwarming….”

Good question, Treassa! Within 12 months, we’ve bought Tara Randel, Karen Rock, Syndi Powell, Jennifer Snow, Cerella Sechrist, Melanie McEwen, Rula Sinara, Amy Vastine, Carol Ross and Renee Johnson. So…10?

Having said that, Tara Randel and Cerella Sechrist had both published inspirational books previously…but they are new to Harlequin, like the others. I think a couple of the other authors had also published digital shorts, and Karen Rock almost simultaneously was contracted by another publisher to co-write YA romance. It’s so hard to define “new” authors nowadays. But they’re all new to Harlequin.

What do they have in common? They all want to write clean romances and tell moving, character-driven stories with romantic obstacles that make readers wonder how on earth the couple at the heart of the book will ever get together.

Thanks for asking, Treassa…although I posted a reply once and lost it so I hope I’m not putting up multiple responses that say the same thing–ah, tech.

Within the 12 months building up to our launch, we’ve acquired ten new authors. New is a difficult quality to define, though. Cheryl Johnson, Carol Ross, Amy Vastine, Rula Sinara, Karen Rock, Melanie McEwen, Cerella Sechrist, Jennifer Snow, Syndi Powell, and Tara Randel are all new to Harlequin. But Tara and Cerella both had established inspirational writing, and Karen Rock almost simultaneously went to contract with a different publisher for her first Y.A. books. Jen Snow had previously published digital shorts, I believe….

They all share the desire to write clean romances and the ability to tell compelling, character-driven stories of a longer length–with active romantic obstacle that makes readers wonder how on earth the lead characters will ever find their happy endings.

thanks for answering so quickly! Are you looking for proposals or complete manuscripts? Should I submit electronically or through snailmail?

Submit electronically, Treassa. I think a partial with a synopsis is enough for us to start with. Thanks!

Hi Victoria,
I have a story I believe is a match for the Heartwarming series. It’s actually the 2nd book I’ve written about this couple. A few weeks ago I came across the guidelines and have been thinking about it ever since. Now there is also info out about SYTYCW2013 and I’m torn between submitting it directly or entering it in the contest. I believe I read somewhere that it can still be submitted if it doesn’t win the contest…is that correct? Thanks.

Just wanted to pop in and confirm that you can both submit projects directly and through the contest–it is not an either/or situation. Too, just because you don’t win the contest–or even final–doesn’t mean you won’t get noticed, as over 15 non-finalists from our various SYTYCW contests have been bought!

Thanks, Mary-Theresa. I agree, Cindy: I would submit both to Heartwarming directly and to the contest. I hate to admit it, but as much as Heartwarming is hot to acquire books, we also have a lot of deadlines in front of us, so it can take time. If you submit to both, it’ll be like a race for us to get you first!

Thanks for the info, Victoria.
I am going to take the advice and submit to both Heartwarming and to the contest. Should I direct my submission to you or someone in particular?
Thanks again to both you and Mary-Theresa for answering my questions. I’m off to prep my manuscript for electronic submission.
Let the race begin!

Hi again…I was working diligently on my submission and decided to check the guidelines one more time.
When I looked the first time, I remember thinking-
Romance, family and community-check
traditional values, but exhibit flaws & overcome hurdles -check
Conflict should be an emotional one -check

I somehow missed the part about no pre-marital sex. Is this a strict rule? In my submission it does happen, but it’s not graphic or explicit…in fact,it’s written in a very “old school” style,hints of feeling, etc. I’m more interested in character development and this is a character driven story, but the encounter is integral to the story line and feels like a natural development as these two have known each other since childhood and loved each other a long time. The book is about so much more than the 1/2 of a percent this encounter takes up,it was the other 99 1/2 percent I was matching to the guidelines.Out of all of the Harlequin lines this resonated with me and felt like a match. I just wanted to clarify whether or not it’s a strict rule. I know you’re busy, and I apologize for this lengthy post, but I don’t want to waste your time or anyone’s time on the SYTYCW contest staff by submitting something that doesn’t fit the line.
Thanks again.

Hey, Cindy;
Yes, it’s pretty much at the heart of Heartwarming (no pun intended): a clean read with no sex or cursing. On occasion we’ve had stories where married couples had sex, but the bedroom door was firmly shut. And we’ve had stories where a couple has had premarital sex before the book began, resulting in pregnant heroines or secret baby stories, such as Rula Sinara’s Jan/14 Heartwarming, The Promise of Rain. But we haven’t had a story where an unmarried couple had sex during the course of the story, even with the bedroom door shut. Does your sex scene need to reach…hm…how do I say this?…a climax? (I’m blushing!)

Hi Victoria,
Okay, now I’m blushing…ah…ummm…I guess now that I’m thinking about it, I’d have to say yes since there’s a secret baby involved. This is so ironic, I had to force myself to write these scenes, thinking that was what readers expected…If you don’t think it will be a match I understand.
Thanks so much taking this time with me to answer my questions.

I didn’t know how to get back to the comments! I’m not the most tech-savvy editor in the Toronto office, fyi…. You can direct it to me, Cindy. In the end, it may go through one of the other editors on the team, but all acquisitions come through the senior editor for approval. Ta!

I had a hard time finding my way back here too and finally bookmarked the page.
If it turns out you think there’s a possibility it would the line, I will send it to your attention.
Thanks again.

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