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Wednesday, 11 December 2013

A New Yorker in London

A day in the life of...
Lynn Marie Hulsman

The manner in which books are made today differs starkly from half a century ago, starting with the point of acquisition. In those days of face-to-face appointments and the gentleman’s handshake, my initial “virtual” meeting of my editor would have been unimaginable. Even now, the majority of authors physically walk into their editors’ offices to seal deals and sign contracts early in their partnerships. Since I’m in New York and my editor, Charlotte Ledger, lives in London, our initial meeting was a long time in coming.

On the morning of the big meeting, I felt nervous and out of my element. I’d flown to England to attend The Festival of Romance in Bedford, at which my editor would be representing my publisher, HarperImpulse at a romance fair and writer’s conference. I’d arrived in the town the night before, later than I’d hoped. It had been dark, and my brain had been exhausted from the strain of negotiating foreign maps, currency, and customs. Jet-lagged and unfamiliar with both town and event, I missed the first attraction of the festival: A costumed reading of excerpts from historical romances that took place in a local art gallery.

Determined to start fresh and get it right, I woke bright and early. I breakfasted alone, despite the fact that the Park Hotel’s dining room was filled with festival attendees. Shy and self-conscious, I ate quickly and was among the first to arrive at The Corn Exchange, the venue for the authors’ and publishers’ stalls. Many of the HarperImpulse writers already knew each other, adding to my feelings of awkwardness. On top of that, some were seasoned in the skills of presenting at these gatherings. I tried to pitch in as the others set up their table tents, laid out their bookmarks, and arranged dishes of chocolates to lure in curious romance readers. Feeling very much an extra wheel, I kept my eye on the door for any sign of my editor. She would be my lifeline, I hoped. I’d soon feel at home.

Despite the miles between us, I felt I already knew her on some level. It had been a leap of faith to hand my romance novel, Christmas at Thornton Hall, over to a stranger for a critique. I consider it act of intimacy. Charlotte had made it possible for me to do by giving me permission, in the form of buying my book. Her welcoming letter was filled with the promise that she already liked what she’d read, and would help me make it even better. When I received my revisions, I couldn’t bear to open them for nearly two weeks. When I overcame my fear, I found that I agreed with 99.9% of her suggestions, and was giddy that I’d made such a match in the form of an editor. How could we not have a warm connection in person?

At last, I saw Charlotte sweep into the room. Unfortunately for me, she was all business as she approached our table. She was in problem-solving mode: The shipment of POD books meant for the display had never arrived. 

She greeted me, and was cordial, but it wasn’t exactly the moment of hugging like long-lost sisters I’d dreamed of. Feeling fragile as a newbie author and a fish out of water, I succumbed to my demons, and allowed myself to feel uncomfortable and out of place.

Things could not have felt more different at that night’s awards ceremony. Unburdened and relaxed, Charlotte apologized for her earlier distraction. Cutting me off at the bar, she insisted on buying wine to toast. Throughout the presentation, we joked and laughed and when HarperImpulse won an award for innovation, Charlotte shared the honor with the team, including me, whose book hadn’t even pubbed making me feel included.

After, I retrieved my coat, planning a solo return to the hotel. I exited the building to find Charlotte waiting for me. She kindly spent the walk back telling me point by point what she liked about my book.

That day, a dream came true. I had an editor. I felt seen and valued by her. It had been worth the trip.

Christmas at Thornton Hall
Need a fun, festive treat to warm you up on cold winter nights? Don't miss this terrific d├ębut from a witty new voice in romantic comedy!

When Juliet Hill unwittingly discovers a most-definitely-not-hers-rhinestone-studded lace thong in her high-flying lawyer boyfriend's apartment, this usually feisty chef is suddenly single and facing a very blue Christmas - with only a ready meal for one to keep her company!

   So when she's personally requested to cater for the family at Thornton Hall three days before Christmas, it's not long before Juliet's standing at the (back) door of the impossibly grand ancestral pile.
   The halls are decked, the guests are titled, those below the stairs are delightfully catty, and all-American Juliet sets to work cooking up a glorious British Christmas with all the trimmings.

   But other flames are burning besides those on the stove... Sparks fly with Edward, the gorgeous ex-soldier turned resident chef, and are those sidelong looks Juliet's getting from her boss, the American tycoon Jasper Roth?

As the snow starts to fall on the idyllic Cotswolds countryside, so does the veneer of genteel high society and there are more than a few ancient skeletons rattling out of the Hall's numerous dark cupboards!

HarperImpulse novelist Lynn Marie Hulsman's varied employment background includes stints as a copywriter for a direct marketing agency specializing in casino advertising (Free buffets! Loose slots!), ushering at Manhattan Theatre Club where she ran smack into Steve Martins' chest, irritated Jeremy Irons's agent, and saw John Slattery naked over 50 times, editing materials for major pharmaceutical companies (Ask her anything about the prostate: She knows.), creatively ideating to re-brand major household products for huge corporations, and passing out cheese cube samples (a decided low point).

As a performer she's been seen onstage at Caroline's, Stand Up New York, and headlining with her sketch group Hits Like a Girl at The Big Stinkin' Comedy Festival in Austin,TX. She can't tell you what she's ghost written (obv!) but she's co-written two books on cookery, and is sole author of the forthcoming cookbook The Kentucky Bourbon Dessert Cookbook. She does not believe in white chocolate.


  1. I know exactly how you were feeling. The first time I attended book festivals and such, I felt so out of place. Ahhh, but my social butterfly soon kicked in, and I started asking authors about their books--they are more than willing to talk, suddenly I was making friends, and I've bumped into those same authors at other events and we have a good time, but I find that I must be the one to get the "party" started by asking the about their new releases etc. before I know it, they are all chatting, sharing marketing ideas, and having a good time. Good luck with your books!

  2. I must admit I felt nervous too when I went to my first (and it was in my own country, couldn't do what Lynn did. Palpitations just thinking about it!), and for some reason I thought writer-folk would be snooty, and so unlike little ole me, I couldn't have been more wrong!

    To anyone thinking about it... do it!

  3. LynnMarie, what a lovely, lovely article! You write from the heart, and your conference adventure is touching...so many can identify with your feelings. But it was all well worth it as you say! Thank you for sharing this experience with us!