Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Jerrie Alexander interviews Rhonda Penders, Wild Rose Press Editor-in-Chief

Jerrie Alexander's THE GREEN EYED DOLL will soon debut with the Wild Rose Press as part of its Crimson Rose line. In the meantime, as she tries to contain her excitement, she took time for our benefit to interview, Rhonda Penders, editor-in chief of her new publisher. I'm pleased to call Jerrie my friend, and I'm excited for her. Please welcome her to The Five Scribes.

I recently attended the SARA conference (a wonderful writers group in San Antonio) and had the privilege of meeting Rhonda Penders, editor-in-chief of The Wild Rose Press. She spoke openly and honestly, answering all the questions presented. Oh, and she wore killer peep-toe heels that matched her toenail polish perfectly!

I'm thrilled she graciously agreed to do a Question and Answer session with me for The Five Scribes blog. I put out the word I was taking questions for Rhonda, and the writer's responses filled my inbox. Thanks to all who submitted. I combined some questions in order to keep the list manageable. Ya'll forgive me if I missed any. I'll jump right in and turn the questions over to Rhonda!

Q - What motivated you to start The Wild Rose Press?

Rhonda - RJ (my business partner) and I had both been involved in publishing from an author standpoint. We knew what we didn’t like and what we would do different so we decided to do it. The old adage of find a niche and fill it certainly is what prompted us to start the company.

Q - What kind of projects excite you?

Rhonda - If you mean what type of books or short stories excite me then it would be the answer every author hates hearing – a good story. Give me a story that makes me turn pages and I’m excited. I’m excited because I know a reader will love it and I know that translates into sales for the author. That’s what excites me when we can give a reader a good solid read for her money.

Q - What drew you to become an editor?

Rhonda - Helping other writers. There were a lot of writers out there who had great stories to be told if only someone would give them a bit of guidance. That’s what a good editor does at least in our company, she doesn’t just do line edits she helps you as the author find the right path for the story to take.

Q - What should we expect once an editor is assigned our manuscript?

Rhonda - If it's from The Wild Rose Press you should expect consistent communication, clear concise requests for revisions, an overall feel for a timeline – when she will get edits to you, when she thinks it will be done, etc. Communication at our company is number one.

Q - When a manuscript obviously needs a lot of work to make a good book, how do editors determine when to give that manuscript a shot or reject it?

Rhonda - If a book speaks to our editor, if she really feels it, she will generally send it to a reading team, two or three readers will read it and give feedback to the editor. If they love it the editor will use that information as well as her own gut instincts to make a decision. On the other hand, if an editor isn’t crazy about it but sends it to the reading team and they love it, a lot of times she will give it a second look due to the feedback received. Much the same as you know when a book is going to be good (as a reader) the same goes for our editors.

Q - What specific elements do the editors look for in a romance novel?

Rhonda - Number one is the feel good, happy ever after ending. The characters are huge of course – the reader has to fall in love with your hero and want to be your heroine or at least her best friend. If your reader doesn’t identify with your characters the story is sunk before it begins. Although romances do fall into some of the same formulas if you want to use that word – every one is different. Show me something unique, different, exciting. Make me want to read your story.

Q - What are common red flags a writer should avoid?

Rhonda - In romance POV is huge. Don’t argue with us about POV. There are only 2 in a romance – hero and heroine. The only time there are more is occasionally the villain if it’s a suspense. Don’t tell me what the NY times best sellers are doing, you aren’t a best selling author yet – you have to play by the rules. Don’t head hop. Make POV shifts clean.
Make sure your characters are relatable.

Q - What specific things can a writer do to ensure a good partnership is formed with their editor?

Rhonda - Treat your editor professionally. She is not your buddy or your best friend – she is there as a business partner. Keep it polite and professional at all times.

Q - What are your pet peeves?

Rhonda - My own personal pet peeves with authors are any that suddenly think they are divas because they sold a lot of books or were published with us or someone else. We treat all our authors the same, and expect that in return. We are a kinder, gentler publishing house and we want our authors to grow with us and feel a part of the team. We don’t need or have time for divas.

Q - What do you wish every new writer knew about the editing process?

Rhonda - That you sign a contract with us and that if we request certain edits it is understood that you are agreeing to those edits when you sign that contract. Most times, editors will tell you up front how extensive the edits will be but arguing with your editor is never a good idea. That said, if something feels wrong to you or bothers you, it is never a bad idea to speak up, ask for clarification or ask to discuss a certain change. Second, I would say you need to realize your editor is working with several authors not just you and to cut them some slack of they aren’t answering your email within hours. Our editors have been trained to respond to emails quickly and efficiently but they are also human.

Q - How many projects does an editor typically have going at one time?

Rhonda - At our company it is generally an average of 12-15. They could be in the initial query stage or in edits but we ask our editors to carry that general workload.

Q - How often do you terminate contracts with writers? What are the most common reasons?

Rhonda - We have never terminated a contract with our writers. If after the contract period is up, we may review it and determine if it makes sense to continue carrying the product but we have never had to terminate a contract. On the other hand, we have agreed to cancel a contract if there has been a problem and an author has asked to be removed from the contract for a valid reason.

Q - As an editor, are you less (or more) likely to consider work from an author who has previously indie-published something else? In other words, does prior indie-publishing help or hurt an author's chances with WRP?

Rhonda - To be honest, if an author has been published somewhere else we may look at that but each work has to stand on its own. We all know there are publishers out there who don’t have high standards or maybe even the same standards as we do. We’ve all read books that we wonder how on earth they got published – we aim for quality. We need to review the work and make sure it’s up to the standards we set for our books before we will contract it no matter who the author is. That said, if an author has been published with us before that definitely does speak to her quality of writing but it's not a given that everything she writes is going to be contracted.

Q - How does an editor become an editor? Is there a specific training or certification process or required degrees or a certain minimum amount of experience required?

Rhonda - At our company there is a training process that editors go through and a lengthy shadowing process. We don’t require any certain degrees or certifications but an editor does have to pass our stringent requirements.

Q - As a writer do I have input on which editor to work with?

Rhonda - No. If you are published with us, you have the option of using your same editor even if you write in a different line and if you know you work well with an editor you can certainly make a request to work with her again but it doesn’t mean that will happen.

Q - Is it impolite to ask what projects the editor has worked on in the past or for author references?

Rhonda - I would honestly tell you that any editor on staff would be insulted by this question, however, it certainly is within your rights to ask. All editors on our staff are qualified to edit and while some have specialty lines like Scarlet or Historical, they are the best in the business (my opinion ;).

Q - Lastly, tell us...How To Lose An Editor In Ten Days?

Rhonda - Ahh that is a question you need answered by hearing my presentation ;) I will be giving this presentation at our annual retreat in San Antonio October 2012 – watch for dates to come. I am also speaking in Charlotte, NC and St. Louis, Missouri in April as well as to the Silicone Valley RWA group in June.

About Jerrie Alexander's The Green Eyed Doll

A woman running from her past. A Texas sheriff who ignites a flame she thought lost forever. A killer who paints his victims to look like porcelain dolls.

Catherine McCoy, in spite of her aversion to the law, is attracted to the cowboy sheriff at her latest stop. Catherine begins to believe she’s found a place to start a new life. Keeping secrets is a mistake, one that could cost her dearly.
Sheriff Matt Ballard hunts for a killer in the middle of the longest heat wave and drought on record. A green eyed redhead moves to town and captures his heart. When he learns she’s lied about her past, the bond of trust he thought they had formed is broken.
Catherine disappears, but the killer has a surprise coming. She’ll fight to the death before being abused again. But will her determination be enough?

About debut author Jerrie Alexander ~

A student of creative writing in her youth, I set aside my passion when life presented me with a John Wayne husband and two wonderful children. A career in logistics offered me the opportunity to travel to many beautiful locations in America, and I revisit them in my romantic suspense novels.

The characters went with me, talked to me, and insisted I share their dark, sexy stories with others. I write alpha males and kick-ass women who weave their way through death and fear to emerge stronger because of, and on occasion in spite of, their love for each other. I torture my characters, make them suffer, and if they’re strong enough, they live happily ever after.
I live in Texas, love sunshine, children’s laughter, sugar (human and granulated), and researching for my heroes and heroines. I also love hearing from fans at http://www.jerriealexander.com/.

Thanks again to Rhonda and Donnell. And now a question for you folks who stop by today. Have you stumped your toe with an editor? How'd you patch things up?

Our pleasure, Jerrie. Thanks, for bringing our readers this very informative interview!


Beth Trissel said...

Terrific interview Jerrie and Rhonda. I'm a big fan of the Wild Rose Press, a wonderfully unique publishing community. I'm also impressed by Rhonda's open toed shoes and matching polish.

Barb Han said...

Good morning! Thanks so much for a great post!

Are multiple submissions okay at The Wild Rose Press? Can an author submit to more than one line?

Also, I'd love to know more about the Millionaire's Club and what motivated you to start it.

Take care,

Barb Han

Avery Flynn said...

Great interview. It's always so interesting to get a different perspective on the process. Thanks Rhonda and Jerrie!

Jerrie Alexander said...

Beth, thanks for stopping by. My daughter went with me to San Antonio. She noticed the shoes and matching polish first. I'm a bit of a shoe freak and Rhonda's were nice!

Mackenzie Crowne said...

Very informative post, Ladies. As a brand new author I am absorbing the knowledge gained through the process like a thirsty child, and have to say, the professionalism and respect goes both ways. Every contact I've had with TWRP personnel has been a positive one.

Jerrie Alexander said...

Good morning Barb! I don't know if Rhonda will be stopping by, but I'll see if I can get your questions answered.

Thanks for commenting and asking two great questions!

Jerrie Alexander said...

Avery, nice to see you here! Rhonda was really nice and willing to share her perspective and answer every question I asked.

Thanks for posting today!

Jerrie Alexander said...

Mackenzie, this will be my first time as a new author too! Exciting times. My experience with TWRP has been very positive. You'll find them very responsive.

Good luck with your career.

Donnell said...

Good morning, everyone! Didn't Jerrie do a nice job with this interview. I think it also gives editors an opportunity to tell readers exactly where the company and the author stand so they work well together. Great job, Jerrie!

Jerrie Alexander said...

Thanks Donnell! We have some new questions, and I'll try to get answers before the day is over.

And thanks for having me as a guest today. I appreciate you a ton.

Good luck and many sales with your new book...The Past Came Hunting. It's an awesome read.

Jeanne Guzman said...

Nice interview Jerrie.

Marsha said...

Great interview questions, Jerrie. Thanks for being specific with your answers, Rhonda. Very informative. Super blog, Donnell, buying your book today. :) Marsha

Roni said...

I am going to summarize a few of your questions here :

Q. Are multiple submissions okay at The Wild Rose Press?

Multiple submissions (to more than one publisher at a time) are fine – but please let us know immediately if the manuscript becomes contracted somewhere else. Multiple submissions tend to waste a lot of time for our editors on reviewing something that may not, in the end, be available. But yes we do accept them. Can an author submit to more than one line? As long as its not the same manuscript – yes. Many of our authors write across the lines.

Q. I'd love to know more about the Millionaire's Club and what motivated you to start it.

The Millionaire’s Club brings to mind the old Harlequins – the rich Executive and the secretary for example. Some of the best romances are using the old tried and true – secret babies, millionaire heroes, etc. Our first offering here is The Chauffeur Wore An Evening Gown by Roni Adams and it’s a fantastic example of this type of story. For the most part MC falls into our Champagne line but it could be a Crimson Rose or a Sweetheart as well.

Q. Oh! Rhonda said she's speaking in STL next April. Do you know where she'll be. I want to attend.
Thanks again,

I am speaking at the Caroline Romance Writers in April as well as the 2012 Missouri Writers Guild. I am also speaking to the Silicon Valley RWA chapter in late June

Rhonda Penders

Roni said...

Thank you for the warm welcome, ladies. I will do everything I can to answer your questions here off and on today but do feel free to email me anytime at rpenders@thewildrosepress.com


Jackie P said...

This is certainly helpful info! Great questions and answers. Thanks to Jerrie, Rhonda and Donnell:) And I have your book, Donnell, "The Past Came Hunting"..I just brought it home to read!!!

Donnell said...

Oh, my gosh, Jackie! Wow, thank you! I hope you'll let me know if you like it! Thank you!

Lauri said...

Wonderful post Jerrie and Rhonda. The Wild Rose Press is a wonderful publisher that treats writers with the utmost respect. I highly recommend them to inspiring authors.

Clover Autrey said...

I've been published with TWRP for a while now and can attest that everything Rhonda said pans out. They do treat all the writers the same and always have effortlessly worked for each writer's success.

Great interview Jerrie

Donnell said...

Clover, last post from me and then it's all about The Wild Rose Press, but I just think your post is too cute on your about me... Interests getting to take a nap now and then. Thanks for the smile :) I so relate!

Calisa Rhose said...

Matching peep shoes and polish... :) Where and when in St. Louis in April? What is the cost? I need to go visit my brothers in April and need to plan my visit! No, I wasn't planning to go visit, but I am now! I would love to meet you. And Jennifer Jakes and a few other WRP authors in that area. (Mac?)

Great interview Jerrie and thank you Rhonda for being so open to this Q&A. I will definitely hold on to these answers.

Jerrie Alexander said...

Wow! I popped out for a few minutes and missed you guys.

Thanks for all the comments and questions, Jackie, Marsha, Jeannie, Lauri, Clover and Calisa.

Extra thanks to Rhonda for taking time out of her day to drop in and answer additional questions!

E. B. Davis said...

Great interview!

Ms. Penders, do you ever publish short story anthologies, say for holiday markets, such as Valentine's Day?

Jerrie Alexander said...

Thanks for stopping by E.B. I'm glad you enjoyed the Q&A.

Rhonda was most gracious and answered every question I asked! I enjoyed meeting her!

Cate Masters said...

Wonderful interview, ladies. I love TWRP, from the expert editors to the talented cover artists to the amazingly supportive Roses who fill The Garden. Rhonda's created a wonderful place for authors to grow. Thank you!

Helen Hardt said...

Just stopped by to say hi to Donnell and Rhonda! I'm published with TWRP and had the opportunity to edit for them a few years ago (I'm now a freelance fiction editor.) TWRP is a great company to be associated with. I value my experience there. Have a great day, ladies!


Jerrie Alexander said...

Cate and Helen, thanks for stopping by. I think Rhonda's going to try and stop back by, but she has a full plate and we'll understand if she doesn't.

Roni said...

Ok a few more answers to questions. Someone asked about going to St. Louis. The website for all that information is

I believe its April 20 and I'm speaking and taking pitches. You can visit the website for more information on that.

Someone else asked about Anthologies. I will be blunt and honest here and tell you that we do not want anthologies. The reason is they do not sell. I mean not even two copies. We have tried them off and on but they simply are poor sellers so we steer clear.

I never say never - but right now we are not working with anthologies.

Thanks for the questions and keep them coming.


Leigh D'Ansey said...

Thanks for a great interview. I've loved working with TWRP. I know my writing has only improved with the input of the editors assigned to me. I can rarely find two matching socks so I'm overawed by Rhonda's matching toenails and peeptoes:)

Jerrie Alexander said...

Leigh,the shoes and the polish were a perfect match. You gotta love that!

I haven't received my edits yet, just signed the contract not too long ago, so I'm excited to work with my editor.

Thanks for sharing your experience with us.

Roni said...

Gotta share that while the shoes were killer, they gave me blisters that took a week to heel. Ahh the price we pay to wear red high heels.


Lynne Marshall said...

Great interview, Jerrir and Rhonda. Thank you so much for both the candid questions and answers.

I feel very lucky to be a part of the Wild Rose Press family.

Jerrie Alexander said...

Rhonda! You handled the pain with grace. Being a shoe freak myself, my first check is the shoes.

Well, maybe shoes aren't the first thing I check on a man, but that's a whole different blog! :)

Jerrie Alexander said...

Lynne, thanks for stopping by. I love that every last comment about Rhonda and her team has been so positive. I appreciate the honessty.

S.G. Rogers said...

Thanks for the info, Jerrie and Rhonda. It's so nice to know TWRP has a heart as well as a head for business.

Jerrie Alexander said...

S.G. Thanks for dropping by. You're so right, it really is encouraging.

Jerrie Alexander said...

I'm headed out to a volleyball game but will check in as soon as I return!

LaVerne Clark said...

Excellent interview Jerrie. And thanks so much to Rhonda for taking time out for us all here.

I don't have any new questions - the ones asked were very thorough and thoughtful. Just wanted to say a special thanks to Rhonda and the team at TWRP. Being from NZ at the bottom of the world, I worried I might feel isolated and excluded. Silly me : ) Once you're an author for TWRP, you're family, no matter where you come from. I can't sing their praises high enough - and thats probably a good thing - I can't sing worth spit ; )

Any chance of making it downunder one day Rhonda??

Debra St. John said...

Hi Jerrie and Rohnda,

Great interview ladies.

I truly have found Wild Rose to be a kinder, gentler publisher. I am always thrilled and honored to tell people I'm a Rose. It's rare in this business to find such a perfect mix of professionalism and kindness. Thanks so much!


Lilly Gayle said...

Please let me know when Rhonda will be in Charlotte, NC. I live about 2 hours from there and would LOVE to meet her and hear her speak. I'm a member of HCRW and have visited the CRW group. Are you speaking at a CRW sponsored meeting/seminar?

Eleanor Anders said...

Excellent interview!

Jerrie Alexander said...

Back from the game and see we've had a few visitors. Thanks LaVerne, Debra and Lily for your kind words and for stopping by!

I don't have exact dates for Rhonda's appearances, Lily. If I hear I'll let you know!

When I heard Rhonda was speaking in San Antonio I drove almost four hours. Trust me it was worth it. She was informative, entertaining and gracious.

Vonnie Davis said...

Great interview. Loved the shoe angle since I'm a mental shoe whore. I drool over them while my knees mutter, "Are you crazy? We can't walk in those."

Being a member of the Garden is a happy, maturing process for many of us. I know I've benefited greatly from their professional, yet nurturing attitude.

Diana Layne said...

Loved the interview, Jerrie, thanks for thinking of it!

Leslie Ann said...

Fun and honest interview. I love that.

Jerrie, you'll have to do a quickie follow up blog and tell us what Rhonda says at her presentation ... How to Lose an Editor in Ten Days!

~LA of the Scribes

Jerrie Alexander said...

Eleanor, Vonnie, Diana and Leslie Ann, thanks so much for commenting.

I hear you Vonnie, my knees complain loudly some time.

I have to credit Donnell for the idea! When she heard I'd been to hear Rhonda speak, she asked, "What did she say? Why don't you do an interview with her?" So I asked and Rhonda was game!

I'll have to wait until Rhonda comes back to Texas, but I'd love to visit you writers here at Five Scribes again!

Rhonda Penders said...

Chiming in a day late or so but a fwe questions came up. First would I ever consider going down under - yes and no. I would love to see Australia - I detest flying although I do it when I have to. I would love to get there someday and I never say never - how's that for an open ended answer?

As for NC - ok the dates I will be there are April 13 and 14 and yes I believ it is an RWA chapter event -


The Carolina Romance Writers group - if you can't use that link above visit their site and you'll find all the info.

As for Texas - San Antonio October 11 - 14 - for our annual TWRP writers retreat - would love to see all of you and have you attend my workshop on losing an editor in 10 days.

Any further questions or comments - feel free to email me at rpenders@thewildrosepress.com

Thanks and thanks so much for all the praise about my garden - it warms my heart to know we have and continue to succeed with our mission of making authors feel at home.


Donnell said...

Rhonda, The Five Scribes blog and members are delighted to be a vehicle to get messages like yours out to writers. We thank Jerrie Alexander and you for sharing. I'm sure you know how much work authors put into their novels. You make dreams come true. You indeed have a beautiful garden.

Thank you!

Donnell Ann Bell

Maddy said...

Fascinating. I came here for some background information as I'm going to a meeting this morning and feeling a little nervous. Now after reading the interview and all the interesting comments I feel far more comfortable, like I've dropped in on a far more friendly group than I could possibly have guessed. Thank you.