HOLD ME Countdown – Meet the Editor: Rhonda Helms

13 Days To Release Day!


Today I thought it would be fun to have a special celebrity guest star on the blog.

Writing a book is hard, but editing somebody else’s book has to be even harder.  With skill, wit, and infinite patience, the editor can help the writer uncover her true story.  Then she helps her polish it up all nice and pretty so other people can actually understand what in the heck is going on.  In other words, a good editor ROCKS.

I was very, very fortunate because HOLD ME was acquired by a really terrific editor at Carina Press – Rhonda Helms.  Rhonda is great at what she does and is just an all-around wonderful person.  I asked her if she’d mind answering a few questions about editing and Carina Press for the blog today, and she graciously agreed.

Here we go!

1.  How do manuscripts get to your desk?  In other words, how does the Carina Press submission process work?

Two ways: we have one main inbox where submissions come, and then Angela disperses them to us. Or, authors can send me submissions directly (including my current authors).


2.  What attracts you to a manuscript? What do you think makes a manuscript really work?

Oy, this is a big question, haha. The biggest thing that draws me to a manuscript would be characters who pull me into their world. We can work on plot issues, but it’s much harder to make a lackluster character shine.


3.  What common mistakes do you see?

The biggest issues I see are too much info dump (especially at the beginning), characters who are dull or unappealing, or a story that is technically clean but doesn’t have any spark to it. The latter one is the most painful to reject, because I can see it’s clean and well-written, but doesn’t draw me in.


4.  Do you always read the whole manuscript?  Or do you cut your losses after a certain number of pages?

I start by reading up to the first 3 chapters. If it has me hooked, if I see potential, then I read the rest. But there are times I don’t finish the whole manuscript if it falls apart. Some stories I only make it through the first few pages before rejecting.


5. What’s your favorite part about being an editor?

Ooooh, one of my fav parts is telling my current authors we want to acquire their manuscripts. Also, I love the content editing process.


6. I know you are also a multi-published author of YA and adult fiction.  Does working as an editor make working on your own fiction harder?

Oh wow, good question. I’ve learned SO MUCH about writing from being an editor, about characterization, plotting, etc. But the drawback is, I’m really hard on myself. When I draft, I have to give myself permission to let go and write utter crap. I can always go back and revise later.


7.  Carina Press publishes all genres of adult fiction over 15,000 words.  What are you looking for?  Are there any areas where you or Carina would love to see more submissions?

I love romance, but I acquire in pretty much every genre. For me, strong characters sell the story. I’m not looking for perfection–I’m looking for that spark. I’m happy to work with authors if the story pulls me in. I do have a fondness for steamy romances, futuristics, historicals and genre blends (e.g., western fantasy).


Thank you, Rhonda!  I can’t tell you how much I appreciated you taking the time to answer a few questions.

You can find Rhonda at: http://www.rhondastapleton.com, http://www.rhondaedits.com/, on Facebook and on Twitter.  She’s also in charge of the Carina Press Facebook page. And reading her posts often makes me laugh very loudly.  Which can be a little embarrassing if I’m reading them on my smart phone at the mall.


Rhonda Helms is the author of STUPID CUPID, FLIRTING WITH DISASTER, and PUCKER UP, a trilogy about a teenager who becomes a cupid, using PDA technology to make love matches for her high school. Out now with Simon Pulse! The 3-in-1 version, STRUCK, will be out in December.

She also writes adult romances. SUPER ZERO, a superhero romantic comedy, is available in ebook!

Rhonda works as a freelance editor for Carina Press, Harlequin’s e-publishing imprint, and she freelance edit manuscripts.



  1. Rhonda Helms says

    I heart you! 😀 Thanks for having me on your blog.

  2. Nice interview, Betsy! Your book–and editor–look lovely 🙂

  3. Great interview! I have a question for you – how does an author know when his/her book is ready to launch into the submission stage?

  4. Aw, what a great interview, ladies! Thanks for sharing.

    I love reading Rhonda’s posts on the Carina Press Facebook page too. A star!

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