Monday, June 1, 2009

NAL Editor Tracy Bernstein in the Manor!!!

All of you on the blog know me as Charlotte Featherstone, but some of you might not know that I write erotic contemporaries, (and soon, erotic paranormals) under the name Sophie Renwick. Well, tomorrow is the official relase date of my debut erotic contemporary, Hot In Here And I'm really excited about it!

A few months ago, I asked my (Sophie's) editor to come and visit us and tell us about herself and her job. Tracy is an awesome editor, and I count myself very lucky to have her in my corner. She's a hands-on editor, and I love that. We've brainstormed plotting snaffoo's, sex scenes, and my new Annwyn world. She's read countless rough drafts, and helped me forge my contemporary voice!

Without Tracy, Hot might not have made the light of day!
So, without further ado, here's Tracy B (as I call her). Don't be afraid to comment, ask questions, she doesn't bite, regardless of what you've heard about editors! Tracy is going to be checking in periodically throughout the day, too. I've already warned her about our rakish lord. Perhaps you might want to rouse Lord Craven-Moore, I'm sure he'd love to make an appearance! :)

Leave a comment, question etc for Tracy and you'll be entered to win a signed copy of Hot In Here!

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m the mother of two (brilliant and talented) children, a proud native New Yorker, and started in publishing many years ago (I won’t say how many!) as a summer intern. I fell in love with the business immediately and have never done anything else. Since then I’ve worked at publishers large and small, literary and commercial. I absolutely love my current job at NAL because it gives me the most freedom to do all kinds of books.

What type of books do you edit?

Everything from memoir, health and parenting to women’s fiction, romance and mysteries. On the side I run our Signet Classics program, so I can pretend I’m Jane Austen’s editor!

In your free time (I know, that’s funny ) what kind of books do you read for pleasure?

For fun I definitely prefer to read fiction, but my taste therein is pretty broad: I love historical fiction, women’s fiction, comic novels, historical mysteries, dark suspense. . .

What makes a book hot for you?

A really conflicted relationship! I think that push-pull is what makes a relationship hot – and a book gripping.

What makes a book better for NAL’s Signet line as opposed to the Heat line (In regards to heat/sex)?

Signet books can be very explicit and steamy, but no matter how erotic they get they follow the basic rules of romance: the hero and heroine love only each another and they end up happily ever after. In Heat, those rules do NOT apply!

What kind of book would you love to get your hands on?

Some amazing new kind of contemporary romance. It’s time to reinvent the genre! Anyone have a great idea?!

What genre/theme/ are you tired of?

Nothing, really. A great writer can make anything seem new.

I know we shouldn’t write to trends, but do you see any trends emerging?
Romances that are darker and grittier.

Favorite celebrity crush.

Hugh Jackman. And Pierce Brosnan. Oh, and Jimmy Smits.

Favorite type of hero.

Someone surprising, someone who defies the heroine’s expectations. (Of course he has to be strong and sexy too!!)

I hate heroine’s who are....

Foolish, who make stupid choices. We all make bad choices, but stupid I can’t forgive!

What’s your favourite scene in Sophie’s Hot In Here?

Wow, that’s personal! Well, OK—the one in the alley that starts with an ice cream cone and ends with. . .something else entirely!

Thanks for visiting today! Since we're getting personal, my favorite scene is when they're in Tuscany and Bryce makes Jena that omelet and they share it! Sigh...wish my husband would tear the page out of that book and follow the instructions! :)


Lea said...

Hi Tracy and Sophie:

Wonderful interview, the questions and answers were well thought out.

I read an ARC of Hot In Here and reviewed it on my blog. I loved Jenna and Bryce's story, and found the small town family dynamic written into the story especially appealing.

I would love to see more of the Ryder brothers and McCabe sisters. Trey, is an especially intriguing character and the conflict with Sarah is ripe for a great story. Not only that, Trey as a tortured, conflicted hero jumped off the page.

So, any hope for a sequel ladies?

As for a favorite scene in "Hot In Here"? I would have to say, when Bryce and Jenna reconciled at the family home. I'm a sucker for happy endings.

Best Regards

Charlotte Featherstone said...

Lea, what's your favorite genre to read?

What's your least favorite?

Lea said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lea said...

Hey Charlotte:

Well, I would have to say I enjoy erotic contemporary and erotic paranormal romance sub-genres, equally.

I do read some light contemporary romance too and throw in a little UF. However, my favorites are books from the romance sub-genres I noted above. :)

Least favorite would have to be historical. The reason being is that I think I must have read a thousand of them in the late 80's and 90's, which I suspect lead to a burn out situation. Now, I have to preface that by saying one of my blogger friends ::cough:: um, shall we say encouraged me to read a historical not to long ago and it was a pretty good read. However, my heart just wasn't in it. This may change though, I think I just need a good long break. lol

Sorry to ramble.. ::blushing::


Amanda McIntyre said...

Welcome to the Manor, Tracy. I've heard much about you(all great, btw!;) You mentioned hoping to catch a great contemporary? For a particular line at NAL or in general? And how do you feel about blended genres?

Nice to have you in the house;)

Amanda McIntyre

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...

Hi Tracy and Sophie/Charlotte!

What great interview, I loved your answer to some tough questions!

I happen to be a genre junkie, I just can't pick one and stick to it, as some of my blogger buddies have commented on. When I'm reading a particular genre, be it contemps, historics, paranormal rom, mysteries, or UF, I think, wow this is it! I hate to say it, but I love them all. YA of all types have been another favorite and I can't seem to get enough.

I too read an ARC of Hot in Here, and I loved it. I loved Bryce and Jenna's story. I don't think it could have gotten any better! If two characters were meant to be together, it's Bryce and Jenna. I'd would LOVE to read Trey and Sarah story, about their past which I feel is going to be interesting considering their attitude toward each other. Trey has been abused by life to become the adult he is today. I fell a little in love with Trey...I can feel that he's been wronged somehow and needs to tell his story, he needs his HEA.

Youngest brother, Titus, also caught my eye. Strapping young man that he is. We definitely need to hear more about this character, his hopes and dreams, and what will it take for his HEA. I don't want to leave out the bookish Emily, she's screaming for someone to pay attention to her. I can feel her beauty crying out for attention as well.

I think my favorite scene is Hot in Here was at the lake in Tuscany when Bryce tell Jenna that she's is one and only....*sigh* was beautiful, loving, sweet, and sexy all at the same time. As a Midwestern girl, I also loved the family farm and the McCabes. I know people like them, I grew up with them. I loved it too. It hit so close to home, my hubs is a farm boy.

OMG -- I'm going on too long, so sorry! Thanks for stopping by Tracy and letting Sophie/Charlotte's readers get to know you!

Dottie :)

Barbara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Barbara said...

Hi Tracy and Sophie!!

Great interview!!

I'm a HUGE fan of Sophie's alter ego Charlotte Featherstone. I think--in all honesty--she does such a phenominal job with emotions and dialogue in her scenes. So to learn she was coming out with a contemp and a paranormal series was like striking gold.

I was also very lucky to have read a ARC of Hot In Here. Although, I knew that it would be very different from her past work I really enjoyed Bryce and Jenna's tale. However, I gotta be honest, it was totally Trey who stood out in that book.

As a reader, I happen to favor heroes that aren't so open emotionally. Let's face it, that's just too easy. I like dark, mysterious, brooding, sexy men. They make you want to read on, to be there as the heroine peels away the layers until they finally find the real man beneath. Ugh, LOVE IT. J.R. Ward's example.

It makes for scenes packed with emotion, tons of angst and Trey...totally fit the bill. What woman wouldn't want to be only one who could tame a bad boy like that?

I can't wait for his story.

As for editing...

How do you work as an editor without losing your love of reading?

Unlike a reader who can simply sit down and enjoy a book, do you ever find yourself reading for pleasure, and yet, checking for changes that could have been made as you read?

Amy C said...

Hi Tracy and Sophie.

Great interview and I'd like to say that NAL Signet publishes some really great romances!

Unlike the others, I haven't read this book yet :). It sounds great and everyone has great things to say about it.

I enjoy different romance genres but I prefer fantasy and historical (Medieval and Scottish).

And Sophie, there are several pages from books I wish my husband would read and follow them ;).

Maija P. said...

Hugh Jackman is also my celebrity crush :)

Sophie Renwick said...

Tracy, what do you think of the burgeoning new YA market? Does NAL have a young adult line?

Does editing something like that appeal to you?

Not that I'm thinking of writing a YA...Bran is currently all I can handle! :)

Sophie Renwick said...

Wow, what's with Trey?

I've atually got quite a bit of reader email, all really loving Bryce, but all mentioning Trey! What is it with him?

You know, maybe that's just me and secondary characters. Some just speak to me really clearly. It's kind of like my historicals, Lord Wallingford got a lot of attention in Addicted!

And in the soon to be renamed Annwyn Chronicles there's this secondary character I LOVE!!!!!

Thanks for all the comments, guys!

Sophie Renwick said...

Lea, I know what you mean. I overdosed in Regency period novels and now I can't pick one up!

Maybe one day....

Sophie Renwick said...

Hi AmyC! I picked up Ann Bishop and I'm going to dig in once deadlines are done.

I've been really getting into fantasy, although, I will say that I do miss the romance aspect. I'm a die hard romance junkie.

Tracy Bernstein said...

Amanda, when I said the contemporary needs to be reinvented I was thinking of the genre generally, not about something NAL is particularly looking for. For exmaple, hooking up NASCAR with romance was a great idea that I wish I'd thought of!

Tracy Bernstein said...

Hi, Barbara,

Your question is one I get asked all the time! The answer is I love to read so much that I could never, ever get tired of it, no matter how much I do for work. You're right, though, that when I'm reading for pleasure I sometimes have to consciously relax my "editor" mind and quit picking at things, like "Why does every character in the book have a name that starts with C? I would change that."

Cecile said...

Hello Ladies!! Wonderful interview!Thank you Sophie and Tracy... because it is nice to see who is on the other side of the pen, so to speak! It was very nice of you, Tracy to allow us a peek into your world!

Tracy, do you ever come across a book that just makes you shake your head dumbfoundly and say "they can not be serious" as far as books coming across your desk?

In the past, I use to read just plain romance and erotic novels, but like Lea said, I think I just got burnt out of the same HEA endings and the same sex scenes that I actually stopped reading for a good while. Then life came into play... new hubby... daughters school and her life... Couldn't find time for myself; much less time to read. Then (finally) when things evened out, and I found more time for myself... Twilight came to the big screen! And I have been reading ever since. Finding the paranormal world was awesome. I love it because there is so much room for "Play" to the imagination. Now, I am dipping into everything! Thanks to all my friends here... I even own historical (which I was never interested in) to so very hot and interesting erotic novels.

Cecile said...

Oh and Tracy... a girl after my own heart... "Favorite celebrity crush. Hugh Jackman. And Pierce Brosnan. Oh, and Jimmy Smits"
OMG!!! Hugh Jackman is the new Wolverine movie... his nekkid butt!!! **Sighing remembering that scene**

Sophie Renwick said...

Hi Tracy!!

Thanks for stopping by!

I have a question, and it arises from reading my draft of Velvet Haven for the millionth time...

As an editor, editing for Heat, do you feel yourself becoming desensitized to the erotic elements? And, does the cerebral erotic elements work as well for you as an editor as the physical descriptions?

Back to VH....:)

Amanda McIntyre said...

Given that, Tracy,(and sorry for any misunderstanding) but why contemporary more than any other genre, if I mak ask? Do you find that popularity in genres is cyclic?


Sophie Renwick said...

Cecile, you're too funny!
I'm a fany of Gerard Butler and Mr. Rugged himself, Sean Bean!!! (And I don't typically like blond guys!) gonna cop to liken' Hugh's nekkid butt?

Amy C said...

Sohpie, Anne Bishop does have a bit of romance in it. It all comes together in the third book, and in my opinion, one of the best because of all the events that happen in between. And the characters are just amazing. They never leave me! I actually just finished the newest one of hers in the Black Jewels world, The Shadow Queen. It was very good! And had some of that wonderful romance. I really think Anne Bishop would do super if she ever wanted to do a straight romance. Don't get me started on Ms. Bishop! Everyone has their favorites and, well, she's mine :).
I would really love to hear what you think.

Barbara said...

Sigh...Sean Bean and Gerard...RAWR. Oh and let's not forget Clive...sigh...

Cecile said...

Now ladies... if we go this route... Let's not forget about Richard Armtiage, Matthew Mcconaughey (Saraha - yum), Russell Crowe, Antonio Banderas, Will Smith, Jude Law, Christian Bale, Denzel Washington, Orlando Bloom and the list goes on...
Then we can go old school... James Dean, Paul Newman, Robert Redford and Sean Connery... Damn.. my brain is overloading with images right now... ***error has occured, please restart your brain***

And that is NOT counting our very fine...(because I don't know their names) cover models!!!!

VampFanGirl said...

Hi Tracy and Sophie/Charlotte!

Fantastic interview. Those were some tough questions! We bloggers don't always get a chance to view things from an editor's perspective.

I find myself extremely lucky to have been introduced to Sophie/Charlotte by Barbara of Happily Forever After. I can be somewhat hesitant to read outside my fave genre but I've come to trust Barbara's taste implicitly and boy am I glad that I picked up 'Addicted' and was given the wonderful opportunity to read an ARC of 'Hot In Here'.

I enjoyed both Bryce and Jenna immensely. Bryce's possessive and take charge attitude in his attempts to win Jenna was exhilarating to read. His uber alpha nature definitely satisfied my inner hussy and I've yet to read the word custard without thinking of Bryce and Jenna's first love scene.

Like many others, Trey also stood out for me. I'm desperate to know where all this angst between him and Sarah arises from. Plus, I have a feeling that Trey is hiding a deep and dark secret, one that's defined him and shaped him into who is. I love, LOVE, dark heroes. Please tell me that there is future publishing in the works for the Ryder brothers!

My favorite scene in 'Hot In Here'?? Hard to say since I enjoyed the entire novel but I guess it would have to be the first love scene. I can't get the custard out of my mind!!

Thank you again Tracy for taking the time to visit the manor.

:) VampFanGirl

Kristina Cook/Kristi Astor said...

Thanks so much for visiting us here at the Manor, Tracy--and Sophie, congrats on the official release of HOT IN HERE! As Sophie/Charlotte's critique partner, I read a lot of the book as it was being written, but it's always a treat to hold the 'real' thing in my hand and read it as a 'book' rather than as a manuscript-in-progress!

Tracy, I have to ask...did you manage to see Boy from Oz with Jackman on Broadway? I missed it, and am STILL kicking myself!

Jane said...

How often do you communicate with the author when you're editing their book?

My Blog 2.0 (Dottie) said...

OH Wow, Gerard or Hugh....such a dilemna

I love Gerard in PS I love you and Nim's Island (best Dracula too), and Hugh Jackman is just fantastic... how would one make such a hard decision?

Tracy, has an editor, how to you know when an author is on the right track? Just curious... can you share some words of wisdom?

Dottie :)

booklover1335 said...

So many of the commenters have already read ARC's of Hot, I am soo completely jealous, and I really can't wait to read the "favorite" scenes. That is cruel and mean to those of us who have not already read it :)

Like another commenter, I am also a romance genre junkie, and while I do like the "darker and grittier" romances, sometimes I want something light and fun too, but my fav genres have to be erotic romance (both comtemp & historical), and romantic suspence (love that hint of danger)

Congrats on the new book!

Sophie Renwick said...

Booklover, thanks for commenting!

I did hand a few electronic ARC for review on blogger site. I needed to spread the word about my new name! :)

Good luck on the win. Ask the kidlet with the Dale Earnhardt Jr hat who does my drawings. She might be persuaded to pick your name in exchange for a New Moon poster. That child is completely obsessed! lol!

Lil said...

Really enjoyed the interview. I love romance and enjoy reading it in nearly all of its forms. Really just depends upon my mood. Have been leaning towards erotic romance in these last few years and yes, have noticed that they tend to be darker and grittier nowadays.

Kristina Cook/Kristi Astor said...

Oh, forgot to mention my favorite scene in HOT IN HERE--I actually really love the scene in the beginning when they're at dinner and Bryce first notices--and is somewhat terrified of--his sudden attraction to Jenna! I love the way he's just totally gobsmacked.

Tracy Bernstein said...


I'm devastated to say that I didn't see Hugh Jackman in "The Boy From Oz," but I did see him in "Oklahoma" (with an excellent American accent. I also attended the Tony Awards a few years ago when he was the host, and he was unbelievably charming. During each commercial break he chatted with the audience and he was just to-eat-with-a-spoon delicious.

Tracy Bernstein said...

Hi, Dottie,

When do I know an author is on the right track? Probably the same way you know -- when you can't stop turning the pages! We have so many submissions to read, manuscripts to read, competition to read. . .but if you keep us turning those pages despite everything else we know we need to get to, you're a winner!

Tracy Bernstein said...

Sophie, you ask if I've been desensitized to the erotic since working on so many Heat books. Nope -- not yet, anyway. Maybe it will happen someday but so far I'm still reacting as I imagine any reader does. I'm more curious as to whether WRITING sex scenes makes YOU desensitized to reading them. Like watching sausage being made and all that. As to the cerebral vs. the physical, well, I am a fan of both. We all know that sexual tension can be highly erotic;in the same way our thoughts/expectations/anxities/fantasies can also be as erotic as actions!

Tracy Bernstein said...

I typed a whole response to Amanda that's diappeared into cyberspace, so I will try to recreate it. I think contemporary romance (straight-up, non-series) has been eclipsed by the paranormal. So it's time for it to bounce back with something new. A blend of contemp. romance and something else, most likely.

And yes, I do think readers' interests change over time, but it's not cyclical -- i.e. fads pass and rarely return.

Amanda McIntyre said...

"We all know that sexual tension can be highly erotic;in the same way our thoughts/expectations/anxities/fantasies can also be as erotic as actions!"

This is so true, Tracy and changes , IMO as we grow older, experience new things. In my writing, I've discovered that things I used to think of as "taboo" aren't quite as daunting as I once thought;)

There is a fantastic psychology to the emotions that are used in writing erotic romance.

Amanda M

Sophie Renwick said...

Tracy, do I get desensitized writing sex???? Well, it's a complicated question. The answer is, honestly, sometimes.

I think my desensitization comes with the idea that I *MUST* write another love scene. Or, worst for me, what new position can I write about? (blush) But if we're being honest here, that's the trouble for me.

I become yadda yadda yadda after about the third read through of what I've written. When I get that way, I stop reading and move onto another part without sex, but that has sexual tension. When I come back to it, and if I get that all too familiar, 'damn, that's hot' feeling, I know I'm on the right track.

For instance, just last night I was lamenting that a few of the sex scenes in VH needed amping. I was kind of moaning and groaning about that, and then all of a sudden a really hot scene came into my head, and I love it!

That was a really long, convoluted answer (but you know me, I'm wordy :) for yes, sometimes I'd rather die then have to come up with a new, original love scene.......

Lea said...

Sorry, ladies I'm lurking here and wanted to say I couldn't agree more with Amanda's comment:

"I've discovered that things I used to think of as "taboo" aren't quite as daunting as I once thought ;)"

It's interesting because just last week, one lady's I've gotten to know on line found an old Virginia Henley novel, "The Falcon and the Flower", which was one of the first books of her's I read back in the late 80's early 90's.

At the time, I can remember thinking how erotic, as in STEAMY it was. However, now if I picked up that novel, I know I would consider it "tame" in comparison to the erotic romance I now read.

I think there certainly has been a evolution in the genre and maturing of romance readership as a whole, therefore authors and publishers have responded to that demand. I like to think of it as a maturation of "erotic prose", which IMHO is a good thing. So, yes, what was once considered 'taboo', is no longer.

Anyway, my two cents. lol


Tracy Bernstein said...

Someone also asked about YA. NAL does publish a line called Jam that features heroines of late high school or college age. But it's not our main thing. I don't have any real reason for saying so, but I just don't feel like it would interest me to edit those.

Cecile said...

I think in the all the talk about men... my questions got left off... for Tracy
Do you ever come across a book that just makes you shake your head dumbfoundly and say "they can not be serious" as far as books coming across your desk?

Tracy Bernstein said...

Oh, Cecile, do I shake my head at some of the things that come across my desk? YES! I can't believe how bad some submissions are--from bad grammar and typos to ping-ponging point of view, trite situations and stereotyped characters. It shocks me when aspiring writers can't see the gulf between the level they're at and professional writing (but it shocks me even more when something so bad comes via an agent!).

flchen1 said...

LOL! Great interview, Tracy--thanks for visiting! As a book lover, I really enjoy learning more about the process books go through before I get them in my hot little hands :) (I've done some work in writing and editing as a technical editor, so that seems to be a whole different ball of wax ;))

How fun that you edit all kinds of different books--do you get to pick and choose, or do you get direction as to what type you get next?

And hi, Sophie/Charlotte! Congrats on Hot in Here--it sounds fabulous and I've been hearing lots of good comments! Looking forward to reading it myself soon!

Anonymous said...

hot hot
lvoe the cover
love a man who can cook
cute crushes

what is your favoirte thing to cook

please ente r me

Allison('s)Reads said...

Hi Tracy and Sophie, very neat interview/post. Sophie, very much looking forward to Hot In Here. Tracy, question for you (and perhaps Sophie too and anyone else who'd like to comment): do you think the Signet or Heat lines target very different readers? In what ways/how are the readers different? Thanks!

Tracy Bernstein said...

I'll just finish up my visit with you by saying that in terms of Heat (i.e. erotica) and Signet (romance), there is definitely some overlap of readers but there are also readers who want one or the other but not both. It's the old Venn Diagram scenario -- remember that from school? Some readers really want that romance convention of one man-one woman and a strict story focus on that relationship. Some readers may be tired of that or just find they prefer the no-holds-barred world of erotica. And of course some readers enjoy both.

Also, I do get to pick and choose the books I edit, but since I want to be successful and keep my job, of course I'm sensitive to trends and what's selling! But what's great is that, at this point in my career, I don't have to do anything I don't want to do!

Thanks, everyone, for your great questions!

Blodeuedd said...

I loved the book, got a nice ARC :D
And I would sure love to read more about Trey and Sarah, and their story and just as they are.

Karin Tabke said...

I love the ice cream scene too!