AN INSIDE VIEW OF THE BOOK INDUSTRY
Good deeds don’t go unpublished at Harlequin
More than lip service
Sue Cobley (left) and June Nielsen are two of five
woman whose charitable work within their communities has led to the inspirational Harlequin
book More Than Words.
By Diana Jordan
“One of the values of romantic fiction is that people
can take charge of their
lives. They can make good things
happen. They can overcome
obstacles,” Emilie Richards tells
The Connection, reflecting on a
bold new form of philanthropy.
Richards is one of five romance
authors selected by Harlequin
Books to write an original work
of fiction about a real woman who transformed the tumultuous lives of others.
Richards adds that the finished compilation,
More Than Words, is “a very personal, very
touching, very empowering way of practicing
the values that we preach.”
The spark, Harlequin executive editor
Marsha Zinberg says, was set off when the
publisher challenged a task force
to focus on the creative endeavors
of women, with philanthropy in
mind. Two years later, Harlequin’s
More Than Words emerged. Ultimately, five women were awarded
$10,000 apiece for the charities
they founded and their true stories
were translated into works of fiction
by the noted romance authors.
Bestselling author Diana Palmer
sees the romance in the idealism of
her winner, Sue Cobley. Cobley lived in her
car with her five children after her ex-hus-
band tossed them out of their home. Still, she
approached restaurants to donate their food
at the end of the night, which she gave to the
homeless. Cobley ended up creating the char-
ity Chefs to the Rescue in Boise, Idaho.
“Here’s this woman in such desperate circumstances, and she’s going out there to try
to make the world a better place, and it
inspired me to do a little better on my own,”
She says her story, “The Greatest Gift,”
was so close to Cobley’s real story that Harlequin encouraged her to fictionalize it more.
She did. In Palmer’s story, Cobley’s character now has three children instead of five!
Richards laughs that she told her agent
that if one of the five chosen charities was a
quilting group, that’s hers. The avid quilter
and romance writer was delighted when she
was paired with the founder of Quilts from
Caring Hands, June Nielsen of Corvallis,
Oregon. On average, members of the nonprofit sew one quilt a day for at-risk children.
“Somehow, being wrapped up in that little
We’d like to know what you think of the
Costco Book Club. To be eligible to win
an autographed copy of Mark Spragg’s An Unfinished Life, please answer the following Book
Club Survey questions.
GARTH DELAMAR TER
Please print your answers, name, membership number, address and daytime phone number on this form and send it to: Mark Spragg,
The Costco Connection, P.O. Box 34088, Seattle,
WA 98124-1088, or fax it to (425) 313-6718.
Volunteers at Quilts from Caring
Hands make quilts to at-risk kids.
bit of fabric gives them the courage to begin
to heal,” Nielsen says. This, she adds, makes
the women quilt faster … and pass the
to benefit their
“You don’t have to be rich. You don’t have
to be famous,” she notes. “You can make the
world a better place.”
Ph: Mem. #:
Inspired, Richards sewed the quilt depicted in her story, “Hanging by a Thread,”
donating the lavender-and-yellow quilt to
1. Are you a member of the Costco Book Club?
Please circle: Yes No
2. If yes, do you read the e-mail Book Club
Please circle: Yes No
Then she reflects on Cobley, homeless
with five kids, and how, inspired by marrying
a need for food among other homeless people
with the restaurant industry’s nightly surplus,
“she just rolls up her sleeves and does something about it. It’s a romantic notion.” BB
3. How many of the Costco Book Club
selections have you purchased in the
past two years? Please fill in: __________
Harlequin’s Zinberg says she is “in awe
of what the authors have created. The book
will touch hearts on so many levels … when
the readers see through fiction how the women
fly with these ideas.”
4. How can the Costco Book Club better
address your reading interests?
Please fill in below:
Winners Sue Cobley (Chefs to the Rescue),
Kathryn Babcock and Jan Richardson (
Shelter-net), June Nielsen (Quilts from Caring Hands)
and Tera Leigh (Memory Box Artist Program)
are all Costco members. Dena Wortzel
(Motheread/Fatheread) lives in Wisconsin,
where there is no Costco.
Diana Jordan interviews hundreds of authors
for her show Between the Lines, which airs
nationally every day on the Associated Press
THE COSTCO CONNECTION
No purchase is necessary. Entries must be received or
postmarked by midnight, October 1, 2004. Void where prohibited. Employees of Costco and their families are not eligible.
Winners will be notified by mail. One entry per household.
More Than Words will be available in
most Costco warehouses in October.
Learn more about the five charities at
An inspirational thread runs through
Harlequin’s philanthropy and the stories
created for More Than Words. Palmer says
she hopes that the compilation will inspire