In my 6+ years with Harlequin, I’ve had the chance to work with fantastic authors on plenty of amazing lines, but Love Inspired Suspense holds a special place in my heart. LIS books are just plain fun. Who can resist quick pacing, clever plotting and edge-of-your-seat danger combined with smart, sassy heroines, heartwrenching emotional stakes and deliciously strong, protective heroes? LIS books are life turned up to eleven, with hearts and lives on the line until the characters have nothing left to cling to except love, faith—and each other. Does that sound like a good fit for your writing? I hope so! If you’re wondering how to know if your story is right for Love Inspired Suspense, start by seeing if it fits these rules:
Your story starts with a bang
LIS stories are as compact as firecrackers—55,000-60,000 words of danger, excitement, and all-conquering love. We’re not looking for a slow build; we want a story that drops the reader right into life-or-death stakes. Check out Susan Sleeman’s book, No Way Out. The heroine overhears something dangerous on the opening page, and by the end of the first scene, she’s literally running for her life. There’s nothing like a story that gets your heart pounding from the start!
Your villain has the characters—and readers!—on pins and needles
What do the best villains have in common? They’re unpredictable. The hero and heroine, constantly striving to do the right thing, stick to the straight and narrow, but the bad guy walks a crooked path and there are no restrictions on what he or she might do. The villain could be waiting behind any corner; carrying out any threat; bribing or blackmailing any person the good guys think they can trust. (Give Guarding the Witness by Margaret Daley a read to see how danger finds that heroine in spite of witness protection!) Even when no one’s shooting at them or chasing their car off a bridge, the hero and heroine are always at risk as long as the villain is free. So let’s see the tension bleed through on every page as they try to anticipate the next attack, knowing that danger is coming—somehow, somewhere, and most likely right when they least expect it!
Your romance comes from the heart
LIS, along with the other Love Inspired lines, starts from a Christian worldview. Among other things, this means that our love stories are 100% about love, without sensuality or eroticism coming into play. Danger might drive the hero and heroine closer together, but that closeness is achieved when they open their hearts, letting go of fear and distrust to depend on each other. Riptide by Elizabeth Goddard is a reunion romance, and the love the characters feel for each other is as palpable as the pain they’ve caused one another. Watching them overcome the past and rebuild their faith in each other is so moving and satisfying precisely because the intimacy is emotional instead of physical.
Do you have a story that might be right for Love Inspired Suspense?
If so, there has never been a better time to submit! Our program is growing, and we’re eagerly seeking new authors. Check out our guidelines for more info and go here to see how to submit. Or read some of our amazing authors in print or digitally to get a feel for our style. Maybe they’ll recall an old project you’ve got buried in a drawer. Maybe they’ll inspire you to fire up the computer and dive into a brand new story. Or maybe they’ll just remind you of how engaging and satisfying a good inspirational romantic suspense story can be, until you find yourself curling up in a comfy chair with a new LIS.
Whatever happens, keep me posted! I’d love to answer questions or just chat with all of you about the opportunities in LIS. You can also find some of the editors on Twitter at #LoveInspiredSuspense for more details.
Associate Editor, Love Inspired Suspense
Elizabeth will be checking in this week to respond to any questions about Love Inspired Suspense–leave your comments below!