Marsha Canham's Blog

May 3, 2011

Have you met the Loopies?

Filed under: Caesars Through the Fence — marshacanham @ 2:43 pm

I believe I’ve mentioned them a few times over the past several months, but perhaps I haven’t given the background or list of authors who comprise this lovely little group.

Years ago, when I first started writing for Dell, it was one of the most prominent publishers for romance novels and their list of top notch authors would have set your fingertips tingling.  A bunch of us who had become acquainted at conferences (where Dell used to host big dinners and parties for their authors)  decided to join up on an email loop and we built a website called the Authors Mansion. Extra brownie points if you remember that LOL.  We built a virtual mansion and every author had their own room.  I don’t remember too many of the individual rooms, but I do recall that Virginia Henley claimed the Master Bedroom, it just sort of fit *g*

We got up to around 18 authors at the high point, but then Dell went through several cycles of bloodbaths and dropped authors left and right, dropped editors, even sacked the VP.  They seemed to be trying to cut corners by letting their midlist authors go, in favor of paying out multi-bazillion dollar advances to a handful of Big Names whose books, we can only hope, never lived up to their promise.

Hmm. Anyone see the Dell imprint around anymore for romance?  Seriously, it went from being one of the major houses to write for, to being a dud.  Call me bitter, I don’t mind.  At the time, I was because I was cut loose in the second round of slayings.

Anyway…the Mansion eroded and fell to ruin.  A few of us were determined to stay in touch, if only to vent our disappointment, our anger, our sense of disbelief over being just flung aside after we’d all produced so many good books and been so loyal to the publisher.  Most of us found other houses to write for, and at least nine of us stayed together as Loopies for the past *gasp* nearly 20 years, folks.  At an RT conference in Ft Worth, those of us who attended made a splash as Norma Desmonds.  Sort of suited our personalities LOL.

Featured here, left to right are moi, Connie Brockway, Julia London, Virginia Henley, Jacquie D’Alessandro, and Sherri Browning Erwin.  Missing from the vampy campy mug shot, is Kathleen Givens, Julia Ortolon, and Jill Gregory, who either didn’t attend the conference, or thought we were nuts.

One of our close-knit group, Kathleen Givens, passed away last year and she is very much missed.  She had a great sense of humor, a dry wit, and a huge generous heart.

Most of you know I’ve been on a writing hiatus for the past six years.  I was the first in the group to throw my pen out the window and say F**K it when the publishing houses started to all slide downhill.  Advances got smaller, there was little or no publicity or marketing for something you put a year into writing.  Editors got chopped and the ones who clung to their jobs by their fingernails had to pass along new directives to the authors: keep the books short, limit them to one or two genres, no more big blockbuster historicals, (hell if you could figure out a way to leave out the history entirely, leave it out)  no more cover input, no more this, no more that, blah blah blah.

So I quietly retired.

Most  author loops would have dropped an author who wasn’t authoring anymore, but the Loopies stood behind my decision 100%, and believe me it was a hard one to make.  Writing was all I knew, all I was good at.  But staying on the loop, *kept* me in the loop, if you know what I mean, so that last year, when I decided to emerge from under the turtle shell, I didn’t feel quite so deaf dumb and blind about what was going on in the publishing world.  Thanks to Loopie Julie Ortolon, I’ve been able to get my name back out there by reissuing my backlist books as ebooks.  I’ve even become militant in trying to get back the rights to some of the books Dell is holding onto since they’re doing NOTHING with them at all.

So occasionally, you’re going to see guest blogs here from the Loopies.  Jacquie D’Alessandro had a new book released today, Summer at Seaside Cove, and while publishers promise you the world while your pen is hovering over the signature line on a contract, they do very little in actual fact. Sort of like birds who grow fed up with having birdlings in the nest and just hoof them out, expecting them to either learn real fast how to fly, or crash and burn.  And our thoughts about that…



  1. Your wonderful success with your backlist ebooks is inspiring, Marsha. Publishers could not have made more mistakes had they been sabotaged. Too many wonderful authors have suffered for their publisher’s sheer stupidity. You’re clearly a survivor.

    Comment by Phoebe Conn — May 3, 2011 @ 3:54 pm | Reply

  2. Rock on, Marsha! Your post brings back lots of fond memories of my fellow Loopies. One of the best parts of the Backlist eBooks movement is the chance to re-connect with great friends — and great books. As your success proves, we are sooooo much better off without the “help” of a NY publisher. Long live indie authors!

    Comment by Shelly Thacker — May 3, 2011 @ 7:01 pm | Reply

  3. Just glad you are writing again.

    Comment by Juliet — May 3, 2011 @ 7:18 pm | Reply

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