Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Interview with Tina James, Senior Editor at Love Inspired Suspense

Welcome, Tina James, to Suspense Sisters Blog. We appreciate you being on here. Thank you for coming.

1. Tina, what do you do for Harlequin Love Inspired?

Hi! I’m glad to be here! I’m the senior editor of Love Inspired Suspense, which is our contemporary inspirational romantic suspense line, and I’m also the senior editor of Love Inspired Historical, which is our inspirational historical romance line.

2. What are some examples of Love Inspired Suspense books you would recommend someone who wants to write for LIS read?

To get a sense of the line, here are some recent Love Inspired Suspense books that readers might want to look at: Shirlee McCoy’s September 2012 book Navy SEAL Rescuer, Valerie Hansen’s September 2012 book Standing Guard, Terri Reed’s October 2012 book The Doctor’s Defender, Margaret Daley’s November 2012 book Christmas Stalking and Jill Elizabeth Nelson’s December 2012 book Betrayal on the Border.

3. What kinds of stories are you looking for in the LIS line?

Love Inspired Suspense offers gripping suspense, compelling romance, and an inspirational message—all within one series. Each month we offer four edge-of-the-seat, romantic suspense stories (of 55,000-60,000 words) that reflect wholesome and traditional values. In stories ranging from dramatic border rescues to small-town trouble, Love Inspired Suspense readers will encounter heroic, courageous characters faced with dangerous situations who’ll triumph and find love.

Themes that appeal to Love Inspired Suspense readers are stories about small towns or communities, and stories with hooks such as law enforcement (cop/fireman/sheriff/FBI/Secret Service), cowboys, military or Amish. However, readers also love it when there is a fresh approach to a story. If authors have chosen a tried and true story line, they should strive to have unpredictable elements in the plot to surprise readers on the journey. I would also like to see some stories that feature characters in dangerous careers or situations done in a unique and original way.

4. What are the common mistakes people make when submitting to you?

Some of the most common reasons a story will not work for Love Inspired Suspense are: there isn’t enough danger/suspense or threatening situations that the hero and heroine must deal with; the hero and the heroine don’t have any emotional involvement in the danger and they don’t each have personal stakes in the mystery/suspense; the hero and heroine aren’t likeable or sympathetic; there isn’t a substantial emotional/romantic conflict between hero and heroine.

5. Any pet peeves?

One of my pet peeves is stories that open with a lot of backstory or setup focusing on the heroine in a car/bus/train/plane, reviewing the reasons why she is returning to or leaving her hometown. An ineffective opening won’t grab the reader’s attention. However, the reader might keep turning the pages if she realizes that the heroine is mulling over her past as a madman is shooting at her. The opening line of a story should act as a hook—it should raise questions and compel the reader to keep reading.

Another pet peeve is when the first chapter doesn’t give a sense of what the overarching suspense plot is and what is at stake for the hero and heroine.

6. How can someone submit a story to you?

Published authors can send a proposal (synopsis and three chapters) to me or one of the members of the Love Inspired Suspense team (editor Emily Rodmell, associate editor Elizabeth Mazer, or editorial assistant Emily Brown) at 233 Broadway, Suite 1001, New York, NY 10279 or have your agent get in touch with me. For unpublished authors, we ask that you submit a synopsis and query letter. If we think your author voice, characters and plot fit Love Inspired Suspense, then we will request the complete manuscript.

7. Any exciting LIS books coming out in the future?

Starting in January 2013, we’re excited about Love Inspired Suspense’s new six-book continuity series, Texas K-9 Unit, featuring K-9 cops who, along with their doggy partners, track down the crime syndicate that is causing trouble in Sagebrush, Texas—and of course, fall in love. Authors include Shirlee McCoy, Margaret Daley, Sharon Dunn, Valerie Hansen, Terri Reed and Lenora Worth.

8. Any words of advice for writers?
Aspiring Love Inspired Suspense writers should familiarize themselves with our guidelines and our books. By reading our books, writers will get a very good sense of what the readership likes and, by implication, what doesn’t work.

Guidelines and submission information are available on our website at (click on “Writing Guidelines”).

Love Inspired Suspense is actively seeking authors and we have great opportunities for both new, unpublished authors and previously published authors.


  1. Thank you, Tina, for stopping by and explaining about what Love Inspired Suspense is looking for. I know you are actively looking for suspense stories so this will help writers see what you are looking for.

  2. And thanks, also, for mentioning my work. I LOVE writing suspense for Love Inspired. And the addition of a black Lab in my upcoming EXPLOSIVE SECRETS, part of the K-9 series you mentioned, was a special treat since I wrote it with a similar canine pal sleeping under my desk!

    Valerie Hansen

    1. My K-9 pal is a little Westie. We're fortunate to have them!

  3. Hi Tina,
    I'm new to the LI family, writing under the name Belle Calhoune. I love reading all the different Love Inspired authors. Having seen the wonderful covers for the new K-9 series, I have to say I can't wait to read them!!! I dream of writing a LIS one day.


  4. I just found this blog and was glad to see what Love Inspired requires. Thanks for taking the time to let aspiring authors know. :)

  5. Thanks for sharing. I particularly appreciated the answers to question four. I received a very positive response during the LIS fast track event and was asked to revise my synopsis to show the very things you listed, so I know I'm on the right track.

    Blessings and thanks again,

    Anna T.S.

  6. Thanks so much for stopping by, Tina! Great information!

  7. Tina - thanks for the great info on LIS!

  8. So glad I saw this! I have a manuscript I'd love to submit (after a bit more editing) and this has encouraged me to do it sooner rather than later! Thank you for sharing this :)

  9. This was quite interesting. I'm a regular monthly subscriber to the large print love inspired suspense books and love it. All the books have met the criteria outlined above and the books that I've read from this subscription rated 5 stars with me. Blessings, Susan Fryman

  10. Tina--

    I enjoy reading both LIS and LIH, but write historical suspense,(gothic)and wondered if Love Inspired Historical will eventually have a suspense line?

    Thank you for the information in your post, and blessings!

  11. I'm so glad that you could join us here at the suspensesisters blog. I look forward to reading the K9 series. it sounds wonderful!