This is an old blog that I started in 2006. I keep it because it has a lot of historical data and people still come here. As of September 2016, no new updates will be made here. All new blog posts and writing/publishing related news will be posted over on my new site at

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Interview with Rachel Burkot at Love Inspired, Seeking New Authors

Please welcome Rachel Burkot, editorial assistant for Harlequin’s Love Inspired (LIH) line!  They published Christian fiction through Steeple Hill.

About Rachel
She loves the variety of daily tasks involved in book production—and the opportunity to read on the job! After going through school hiding a book under a desk and getting in trouble for reading during class, Rachel decided that helping authors make their books as strong as possible would be the ideal career. The hopeless romantic in her is still counting her blessings that she found the perfect home at Harlequin. 

      For new authors, could you tell us a little about Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired Historical (LIH) line? Must authors submit through an agent?  
      Our Love Inspired Historical books are engaging stories that take readers back in time for a captivating romance of a different era. Our books span a range of historical settings from all time periods, up to World War II. Story length is between 70-75,000 words. We are actively acquiring authors for all three of our inspirational lines (Love Inspired contemporary romance and Love Inspired Suspense too), but especially for LIH! And no, you do not need an agent to submit.

2.    What time period do you see most in LIH and does this mean you would like to branch out into some other timelines or primarily stick to what you already have based on demand?  
      Rather than by time period, I tend to group our LIH books by genre. We do Westerns, Regencies, Amish, Roman Empire, wartime. We’re open to any time period up to World War II and are always willing to consider something new, as long as the story fits within our guidelines (

3.    A lot has changed in Christian fiction in the last few years. What are some changes at Steeple Hill as a result and what trends are you seeing for the next year?  
      Particularly at Love Inspired, we’re pushing for unpredictability and unique stories.  We’d love to see some different character occupations, as well as fresh plots, new twists and surprising hooks. Keep readers guessing on where the story is heading from page 1. We’re always looking for compelling, can’t-put-it-down books with relatable characters, strong heroines in particular. Definitely check out what we’re excited about right now by getting your hands on those LIH books! In particular, 

      I recommend Hearts in Flight, a July release by new author Patty Smith Hall, featuring a headstrong heroine who flies planes for the Women’s Army Special Pilots. Also, The Aristocrat’s Lady, a September LIH by Mary Moore, another debut author, is a great example of what we’re looking for with unpredictability—because the heroine has a secret that will keep readers turning pages!

4.    If Steeple Hill has rejected a manuscript in the past, but it has been revised, are you willing to take another look at it?  
      Yes. Especially when I give an author detailed revision notes, I’m absolutely expecting them to revise and resubmit.

5.    What are some pet peeves you don’t want to see with submissions?  
      Stories with too much description or back story. Characters who are flat and one-dimensional. Contrived or convenient plot elements. Insufficient conflict keeping the hero and heroine apart. Instead, be creative and original. Stay true to the characters you have created. Concentrate on telling a strong story well. Start with a bang. Grab readers’ attention right away, from the first line. Create relatable, sympathetic characters, especially heroines whom romance readers can identify with. Give them sufficient goals, motivations and conflicts, both internal and external.

6.    Is there anything else you would like to share with authors who may be considering LIH?  
      Since the increase in the LIH line from 2-4 books per month at the beginning of 2010, opportunities abound for writers! We would love to see your submissions, and we welcome both brand-new and previously published authors. We've bought almost 20 new authors for LIH in the last two years, and we’d love to acquire more. Send your submissions to Love Inspired Books at 233 Broadway, Suite 1001, New York, NY 10279.

Rachel, thank you for joining us today! 

Aspiring authors, feel free to leave a comment or ask Rachel any burning questions you might have. Now is your chance!


Great interview Rachel! And great reminders of what's important in a submission.

I love how you mentioned to keep the readers guessing. It reminds me of what my agent has said regarding the protagonist: Failure is an option. We need to keep readers wondering if the protagonist can possibly succeed! :)

Thanks for the great info, Rachel and Jennifer!

Hi Rachel,

I don't think I've met you yet, but I'm one of your new LIH authors, and I love the things you are doing with the line. Like adding new authors and stories that move a little faster and have a higher sense of adventure.

Thanks so much for this interview Rachel and Jennifer.

Naomi Rawlings

Thanks to Rachel and Jennifer. Such encouraging information to know a line is actively seeking submissions and excited about publishing new and pubbed authors.

Morning, Rachel! And cute picture!

Thanks for recommending Hearts in Flight! I always love looking for little nuggets of history where women have played a significant role--most get overlooked in the grand scheme of things. But, to me at least, women need to know that our gender played just as much a role in developing this country as the men--and that our foremothers' faith in God is what helped them have the courage and strength to face a usually hostile situation.

Okay, I'm getting down off my soapbox now! ~grin~

I'm doing my part. I have emailed everyone I know to get their msc's polished for the LIH line.

Great to see you again, Rachel.

How's autumn in NY?

Nice to meet you, Naomi, and welcome aboard! Patty, I get exactly what you're saying and could not agree more :-) And Tina--thank you for being such a dedicated scout for LIH. Fall in NYC is shaping up very nice. It's just turned cool, though supposed to get hot again before the crisp weather is here to stay. Ah well, we'll cling on to the warm weather before it goes away for good!

Nice to meet you, Naomi, and welcome aboard! Patty, I get exactly what you're saying and could not agree more :-) And Tina--thank you for being such a dedicated scout for LIH. Fall in NYC is shaping up very nice. It's just turned cool, though supposed to get hot again before the crisp weather is here to stay. Ah well, we'll cling on to the warm weather before it goes away for good!

This is fantastic. For submission to LIH, is it just a query and synopsis or query, synopsis, and 3 chapters. I got confused at the eHarlequin website. Oh and how long are reviewing times running.


Thank you, thank you for saying "all" historical eras. Too many times we're told not to write medievals...I'm cranked to see the openness to them in LIH!

Thanks everyone for swinging by. LIH has so many great opportunities for new and seasoned authors.

Like Deb, I'm stoked that you're open to medievals...and Regencies! And my favorite, the Highlands of Scotland.

Thank you for being so approachable like this. You're publishing house is a great blessing to many with all 3 LI lines.

Also, I wanted to mention that comments on my blog are moderated and must be approved, soooo if you don't see your comment right away, it just means I haven't gotten around to approving it yet. I'll pop in and check to approve comments throughout the day.

Hi Gayle, you can send a query, synopsis and 3 chapters for LIH. We allow a 3-month review time, but we try to get to each submission as soon as we can!

Hi Gayle, you can submit a query, synopsis and 3 chapters for LIH. Our standard review time is 3 months, but we try to get to each submission as soon as we can!

First, I just love Rachel. She excels at making me look good and keeping me organized.

God bless Rachel Burkot!!!!

And I love this shout out for LIH authors!!! What an amazing opportunity. Just awesome!

Hey, I brought cookies to share to celebrate Love Inspired's continued growth. How can we not cheer that on!!!!

Chocolate chip/M&M cookies... to die for.

Help yourselves ladies, and Jennifer, thank you so much for having Rachel on today! She rocks!

I would love to see more old-world historicals in our line, too.

Although I love US history, I can't help but be amazed by Irish and Scottish history... The Celtic times... the hardships that befell so many.

If only there were more hours in a day. But I love my contemps, too, so I'll leave the historicals to you gals and keep having fun in the northern hills.

Gotta love me some snow! ;)

Thank you for taking the time to share this information. I love reading positive news on the publishing front. It seemed so gloom and doom lately.

I wish the LI line continued blessings!

It was wonderful to put a picture and face with the name. Jack and I are very excited about the opportunities that Harlequin offers. We spent months researching exactly where we wanted to send our manuscripts and the Love Inspired by far excels any of the other publishers that we looked at.

We are in the process of completing our 2nd manuscript for LIH which takes place at approximately the turn of the 20th century in a small town. Lots of fun.

I would love to have your job and be able to read all day as well.

Look forward to perhaps meeting you before too long.

Barbara Horn


Thanks for clearing that up. I sent about a month and half ago, they synopsis and query (and a self-addressed envelope). Should I resend with chapters?

If you have a series, should you mention that in the query or wait until LIH wants to move forward with book one?

Excellent article, very helpful and informative.

Christine Lindsay, author of award-winning Shadowed in Silk.

This was a great interview with Rachel. Thank you, Jennifer, for featuring her today!! Looks like a great opportunity for new authors. And now that Aristocrat's Lady has my attention I must pick it up!

Thank you very much, Rachel and Jennifer, for this informative interview.



Jennifer, thanks for having Rachel on your blog!!!

Waving to Rachel! Great info about LIH.

I attended the Moonlight and Magnolias Conference, in Atlanta, last weekend, and spread the word about submitting to LIH! Hopefully, you'll see some great stories from that group of writers.

Speaking as an author who writes for LIS, the Love Inspired editors know how to make a book shine! My editor, Emily Rodmell always provides valuable input that strengthens my plot and makes my characters more compelling.

So....polish your manuscripts and submit! Good luck to everyone who has a story they want to sell!

Wonderful information to know and follow, Rachel and Jennifer! Thank you for your candidness.

Julie, Please don't get discouraged with all the doom and gloom news reports. Sometimes a bad economy is good for authors and publishers b/c people are doing less travel and looking for cheaper entertainment, thus books over new computer techy gadgets and expensive games. :)

Patti, I love your outlook. I'm itching to write a story that is on my heart set in 1929 that shows a woman paving the road through progress. I just have to get some other books written first.

Thank you for getting the word out.
How about pre-Colombian, specifically Caribbean and Central America?

Great interview! I have a question for Rachel: would you consider a heroine who starts out as a pretty unethical person in the beginning of the story (she tells lies when its convenient, cheats, etc.) if she reforms by the end? This is for a western.

Thank you, Jennifer, for hosting Rachel and this informative blog.

Rachel, I have a Romany (Gypsy) inspirational story, which is polished and ready to send. I appreciate knowing that LIH is actively seeking new authors. :)

How cool to Babette guideline link too.

Gayle: No need to resend--whichever editor looks over your query and synopsis will contact you if they'd like to see chapters. It certainly doesn't hurt to mention you have a series, but we'd move forward with book one first, so it's your call.

Jane: Hm, we've never really done Caribbean or Central America--I'd be happy to take a look!

Kate: Having an unlikeable heroine is tricky. I understand you'd want to show her that way for the purpose of her eventual transformation, but remember that if a reader doesn't sympathize and/or empathize with the characters--particulary the heroine--from page 1, they may put the book down before the big transformation. It typically works better to have that all in her past, and begin with the fresh start.

I hope to have my ms polished and ready in the next couple months.

Thanks for the guidance of what you are looking for!

Katy Lee

Jennifer, thanks for having Rachel on your blog!

Thanks, Rachel, for sharing your excellent advice on writing for LIH! I love the stories and covers and I'm proud to write for the line. When I first heard Love Inspired would launch the historical line, I was thrilled for that open door. The door is open wider with four books a month. I'd encourage any historical author to submit.


Rachel, thank you for taking the time to look at and offer suggestions to improve my Mountie story.

Anita Mae.

Great interview and great information. I write contemporaries, not historicals, but I know others who will love to hear this. Thanks!

I'm late to the party, but I wanted to thank the entire Harlequin 'family' for the great opportunity! I'm truly enjoying working with the team :)

Thanks everyone for popping in and sharing the news with your friends.

Rachel, a special thank you for being a guest on my blog today. I hope you and Emily will find time to rest in between all those manuscripts that are sure to be coming your way.

Blessings everyone!

Jennifer, thanks for the interview with Rachel! I had an opportunity to meet with the vibrant Elizabeth Mazer, Rachel's fellow editor at LIH, while at conference (after Lisa Jordan excitedly told me that LIH was looking for more historical romance manuscripts!) Thanks for sharing all the information, Rachel.