For this next Conference Sneak Preview, I’m pleased to introduce you to the talented Rhonda Penders. She serves as editor-in-chief of The Wild Rose Press and is also a romance author in her own right.
TWRP started in May 2006 as a small press and e-publishing company. Today the company is home to over 1,200 romance titles published in both electronic and print format. The company’s premise has been and always will be “a kinder, gentler publishing company.” The company was built on the belief that a publishing contract is a team effort between editor, author and publisher and Rhonda holds tight to that mission statement. Rhonda’s writing background includes everything from small town newspaper reporting to several years writing confessionals for Dorchester magazines. She has several full length novels and short stories published under the name Roni Adams.
As TWRP editor-in-chief, Rhonda will participate in the pitch sessions during the “Write Time! Write Place! Write Now!” Conference. In addition, she will be conducting a breakout session titled, “How to Lose and Editor in Ten Days” where she will share tips from her five-year experience as the co-owner of a small publishing house. She will also present a breakout titled “The Difference Between Women’s Fiction and Romance” where she will explain what is a romance novel or what the difference is between women’s fiction and romance.
Sarah: Rhonda, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about yourself and The Wild Rose Press. We’re looking forward to hearing your take on the market and especially what types of novels you’d like to see.
Rhonda: Thank you so much Sarah. I am looking forward to joining you next Spring at your conference and I appreciate the chance to answer your questions ahead of time.
Sarah: To get us started, could you explain what you do as editor-in-chief of The Wild Rose Press?
Rhonda: My main role is to oversee the editing department. In particular to be there in the event that a situation arises that requires my attention. For example if an editor has an issue with an author or an author has an issue with an editor. I’m also there to help in the acquisition process. While our Senior Editors make the final decisions on what is acquired, I’m brought in when something isn’t exactly clear cut.
In addition to my role as Editor-in-Chief, I also work very closely with the Marketing Department and a large chunk of my day is spent on helping with promotion and marketing plans.
Sarah: While visiting your web site, www.thewildrosepress.com, I noticed that separate genres have different names, like contemporary romance is the Champange Rose line or romantic westerns is the Cactus Rose Line. Could you explain how TWRP is organized? And how does an author figure out who they should submit a query to?
Rhonda: TWRP is organized into several subgenres of romance. The Historical Department, for example is broken into four main categories – Cactus Rose – (Western Historicals), American Rose (historical romance that took place on American soil), English Tea Rose (these include the Regencies, Highlanders, any historical romance taking place overseas) and Vintage Rose is for romances that take place between early 1900’s and 1980. Hard to believe but 1980 is Vintage!
Our Contemporary Lines are split up by level of heat – Scarlet is of course our erotic line, Champagne is the next hottest, and then there is the Sweetheart which is our sweeter romances. Yellow Rose is a line devoted strictly to modern day cowboys, cowgirls or ranchers. These stories can be hot and spicy or sweet but if the story is set on a ranch anywhere it’s a Yellow Rose. Crimson Rose is romantic suspense and the Paranormal Department is made up of Faery Rose and Black Rose. Faery Rose is the lighter paranormal such as good witches, sprites, faeries and Black Rose has to do with vampires, shapeshifters and demons, etc.
As far as which line to submit an author should review the website to see where the manuscript fits. For example if it’s a contemporary romance and the hero and heroine have sex but its behind closed doors or not fully described only implied than that would put it in the Sweetheart Rose line. If the romance is set on a ranch and the hero is a cowboy then it’s a Yellow Rose submission.
Sarah: So, what kind of novels do you publish at The Wild Rose Press? Is there anything that you haven’t seen, that you would absolutely love to receive a pitch on?
Rhonda: We only publish adult romance, although in several different subgenres. I can’t think of anything we haven’t seen but I will say that right now short stories are all the rage. They are selling quite well and we can’t seem to get enough of them – and that goes for all the lines not just one.
Sarah: I noticed that the Black Rose Line has an open submissions call for Pagan holiday stories between 20,000-40,000 words. Is this a submission call for a series? Could you explain what this is, and if or how it’s different from a query for a full manuscript? Are there other lines that have open submissions between now and April?
Rhonda: From time to time our editors will ask for something specific such as the Pagan holiday stories. They will be released under the Black Rose line as part of the Pagan holiday series. We have a few series running right now such as Cowboy Kink in the Scarlet Rose line and The Millionaire Club in Champagne.
Sarah: It can be intimidating to participate in a pitch session even for veterans. Could you give us some advice on what to expect, especially for any first-timers, if we pitch you? Any words of advice on what to do or pitfalls to avoid?
Rhonda: The first thing I tell anyone who pitches to me is to relax. I’m just an everyday girl who puts her jeans on one leg at a time just like you. I’m a writer just like you and there’s nothing to be nervous about. Generally, once people meet me some of the fear eases when they see I’m completely normal and easy going.
Sarah: TWRP also publishes e-books. What type of response, regarding e-books, are you receiving from readers? Are they popular?
Rhonda: eBooks are extremely popular and the entire industry is exploding in popularity. A few years ago, readers couldn’t imagine not picking up a print book to read their favorite romance now they are in love with their Kindles or iPhones or Nooks and are constantly looking for more ebooks. Print sales are diminishing more every year.
Sarah: In addition to your role at TWRP, you’re also a romance author, publishing under the name Roni Adams. You recently released a new book, ‘The Chauffeur Wears an Evening Gown.’ It sounds like a lot of fun. Could you tell us about it? Where did you come up with the idea?
Rhonda: Wow you do your homework, Sarah. Lol. The Chauffeur Wore an Evening Gown is a short story published in our Champagne Rose line. It actually kicked off the Millionaire’s Club. In my story my heroine fills in for her brother as a chauffeur to JR Stone. JR Stone is on his way to the Governor’s Ball to accept the biggest award of his night when his date calls to break up with him. He convinces Erin to help him out and pretend to be his date but once the night ends JR is determined to win Erin’s real love.
Sarah: Finally, I think it’s fair to say that TWRP is dedicated not only to helping its authors but also ‘rose’budding authors succeed through its Rose Trellis program, which helps writers connect with other writers through critique groups. In your experience, how valuable is it for writers to connect with other writers, either through critique groups, conferences, and organizations like the Missouri Writers Guild or Romance Writers of America?
Rhonda: I honestly don’t know how authors, especially new authors, can make it without the support of other writers. Our Rose Trellis was designed to connect writers with other writers to form a critique partnership or critique on-line group. It is extremely beneficial for writers to be able to connect with each other and organizations such as the Missouri Writers Guild, RWA and other writing groups whether in person or online give writers a huge edge over a writer who doesn’t have that type of connection.
Rhonda, thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions and sharing your insights into TWRP. If readers would like to learn more about Rhonda, they can visit her author website or www.wildrosepress.com.
You can schedule a pitch session with Rhonda today by registering for this year’s conference over on the Missouri Writers’ Guild web site. In addition, if you register before Dec. 31, you’ll lock in the early bird registration rates and get even more savings!
Click here to register for the “Write Time! Write Place! Write Now!” conference to lock in your early-bird discount.
Thank you for visiting, and let us know what you think. We always love feedback, so if you have any additional questions for Rhonda or conference questions for Tricia, feel free to ask them below in the comments. One lucky commenter will win a Missouri Writers’ Guild Tote Bag with the 2012 conference logo.Comments must be posted by December 5th. As always, sharing this interview via Twitter, Blog posts and Facebook will earn you extra chances to win! Just let us know how you spread the word when you comment.