In my novella A Scandalous Affair (third in the Merry Widows series), the Marquis of Hartwell is merely misunderstood – and he prefers it that way. Afflicted with a speech impediment since he was a child, he’s never quite been able to overcome it. So instead of facing constant humiliation while he moves amongst London society, he prefers to not speak at all. Which earns him the rather dark nickname of “Black Hart”.
Of course, the handsome, brooding ‘Black Hart’ intrigues my heroine, Lady Pomeroy, to no end. Widowed and lonely, Daphne feels the first sparks of attraction to a man no one knows anything about. That doesn’t stop her though. In fact, she’s more determined than ever to discover the mysteries behind the facade she knows Hartwell hides behind. And soon, he’s more than willing to share everything with her…
So tell me, do you find yourself intrigued by the reclusive, dark hero? Or do you prefer a man who’s more open, with nothing to hide? Do tell.
From the moment Daphne, Lady Pomeroy, meets the mysterious Marquess of Hartwell at a masquerade ball, she’s determined to seduce him. The handsome, charming man cannot possibly be the cold, calculating lord who Society calls “Black Hart.” Risking everything, the lonely widow invites the elusive Hartwell to her dinner party . . . for two.
Hartwell’s arrogant reputation is built on a lie. For he has a shameful secret that keeps him in the shadows: a stutter—his downfall since childhood. He’d rather keep his mouth shut than look the fool. But he’s shocked to discover that in Daphne’s company—and in her bed—his stutter vanishes.
After one wanton evening together, Daphne is hurt when the lord lives up to his Black Hart name. Yet his reasons for leaving surprise even him. Now he must confess everything or risk losing Daphne forever…
Bestselling romance author Karen Erickson writes what she loves to read — sexy contemporary romance and sensual historical romance. Digitally published since 2006, she currently writes for Carina Press and Samhain Publishing. A native Californian, she lives in the foothills below Yosemite with her husband and three children.
Magic. It’s a five letter word that holds so much possibility.
We use it all the time to describe a baby’s first laugh, a romantic moment, the illusions of a Vegas showman, or even the most mundane objects. I even have a blender called a “Magic Bullet.”
In books and movies, magic can be the basis for how the world works, the properties of a box that hurls you into hell, or a bearded old man who studied it his whole life and waves a wand to make crazy stuff happen.
So what is magic, exactly? The word is almost as slippery to define as “love.”
In the world of the Hidden, where Monster in My Closet takes place, the nooks and crannies of the human world house an astounding array of monsters, urban legends and mythical creatures. Are they magical? We could argue that their very existence makes them so. But if we said that, we’d have to say the same of humans. We’re probably just as amazing to them.
The individual creatures often have abilities we might call magical. Closet monsters can travel from one closet to another through portals. That might be magic. But maybe it’s just their nature. Maybe there’s a scientific reason, like the portals are always there, but the vibrational frequency coded in a closet monster’s DNA makes it possible for them to see the portals and travel through them.
And then there are brownies—tiny, industrious little people with pointed ears. They can’t fall. If they get knocked off the table or out of a tree, they float to the ground. Is this magic? Maybe. Or maybe they have hollow bones like birds, or tiny-helium producing glands that keep them afloat on their way down. You don’t know. Have you ever dissected a brownie? (Please don’t. They have families, and the paperwork would be mind-numbing.)
What about the fire-breathing pigmy dragon, Bruce? Is the fire magical, or is it a chemical reaction that occurs from chewing brimstone? Molly the brownie says Bruce is sick because the furnace in his belly is broken. Is that magic? Is it science? What happens when he has a tummy ache? I don’t really want to think about the ramifications of a fire-breathing dragon with gas. Talk amongst yourselves on that one.
The point is, in the world of the Hidden—and here in our own world, too—strange things are everywhere. It might all be controlled by science we haven’t cracked yet. Or maybe magic is real, and we’re trying too hard to explain it away.
Much is Hidden. Magic is everywhere.
But only if you believe.
What’s hiding in your closet? Under your bed? In that baffling hole that appeared in your garden? Tell me about the mysterious something you glimpse at night, just as you’re falling asleep. I might need ideas for the next book.
I stopped believing in monsters long ago. But I knew I wasn’t imagining things when I found one in my kitchen baking muffins. I’d seen him before: lurking in my closet, scaring the crap out of my five-year-old self. Turns out that was a misunderstanding, and now Maurice needs a place to stay. How could I say no?
After all, I’ve always been a magnet for the emotionally needy, and not just in my work as a wedding planner. Being able to sense the feelings of others can be a major pain. Don’t get me wrong, I like helping people—and non-people. But this ability has turned me into a gourmet feast for an incubus, a demon that feeds off emotional energy. Now, brides are dropping dead all over town, and my home has become a safe house for the supernatural. I must learn to focus my powers and defeat the demon before he snacks on another innocent woman and comes looking for the main course…
Normally on Mondays I’d have a You Tell Us question, but this week we’re doing it a bit different and offering up some information! Our roving Harlequin reporter Amy Wilkins was live tweeting the different Harlequin spotlights. Unfortunately (or fortunately for you guys!) Twitter broke and she had to create a transcript instead. I’m sharing that here, keeping in mind that I spoke for a full hour and shared a lot of information! These are some of the points Amy picked out, but if you’re interested in the full spotlight, you’ll be able to purchase it from the RWA website. I’ve also put up the slideshow on SlideShare for anyone to browse.
If you have any questions about the spotlight, the presentation or Carina Press, please feel free to ask them in the comments here, or if you’d prefer to ask privately, please email email@example.com and we’ll respond via email!
Due to technical difficulties (we think RWA broke Twitter ), we couldn’t live tweet the Carina Press Spotlight at RWA on July 26. Instead, here’s a transcript of what we would have tweeted (plus some more we probably couldn’t have said in 140 characters, too! Silver lining J )!
Spotted at the Carina Press spotlight: Shannon Stacey, Ruth A. Casie, editors Rhonda Helms and Mallory Braus and many more!
Carina Press executive editor Angela James has a lot of announcements, but is starting with what Carina Press (CP) is about and how it came to be.
CP is a digital-first imprint of Harlequin. Our first ebooks were published 2 years ago in June.
CP was conceived because of the opportunities for romance and other genres in the digital market. Harlequin staff work on CP because they love it & the books.
There is a lot of variety in Carina Press books and the CP team!
Currently release 2-4 books per week, plus a number of special projects like the Carina Press Editor’s Choice collections, invitation-based anthologies/collections, and a new print project (more about that later!)
Select CP books are also available in audio and print.
CP has a 5-8% acceptance rate for submissions. 8% includes returning authors and agented submissions. The 5% rate reflects unsolicited submissions (aka slush).
Royalty rate is 40% of net receipts from 3rd party retailers and 50% net receipts from CarinaPress.com sales; no advance.
CP ebooks are DRM-free.
We acquire worldwide rights and all rights because Harlequin is a global company and it does use a variety of rights (keep reading for more).
Speed to market from acquisition to release is an advantage with CP and professional covers.
CP publishes a variety of content, most adult fiction genres (just no women’s fiction, inspirational, YA or nonfiction). That includes genres WITHOUT romantic elements!
With Carina Press, authors get editorial support, marketing support, assistance and feedback on marketing plans, cross promotion on Harlequin properties and newsletters, and more. Also have meetings and workshops online and by phone with authors 3-4 times a year where we can share news and authors can ask questions.
As Harlequin authors, CP writers get online author training webinars and videos as well as meet one-on-one with digital team at Harlequin’s Digital Day at RWA on topics like social media training, website reviews, etc. Also webinars on developing author skills like self-editing.
About 30 people work on Carina Press either freelance or as part of Harlequin. Includes 14-16 freelance editors and very low turnover rate.
CP has refined strategy since first books went on sale. For example, narrowed genres CP publishes and reduced number of titles on sale each week from 4-6 to 2-3 so able to focus more attention on each book until CP could grow. We’re now ready to increase to 4 new releases a month so send in those submissions!
CP accepts all heat levels from erotic to sweet romances, plus books without any romantic elements (e.g. mystery, sci fi, fantasy). 15,000 words and up. Will also look at previously published material but particularly looking for a package of backlist titles.
Top genres in print: 1) Contemporary Romance 2) Romantic Suspense 3) Mystery à different because of Harlequin’s Direct to Consumer subscriptions, especially Mystery.
CP has 265 contracted authors, including 30% debut authors. CP is very interested in debut authors because we love their enthusiasm and we want to build their careers.
Key message from Angela: no matter who you publish with, be ready to build your career with a publisher with multiple books. It’s a lot easier to build an author with more than 1 book.
Over 2/3 of authors have multiple books contracts with CP or return for more than 1 contract.
CP books have hit the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists as well as individual retailers’ bestseller lists (e.g. Amazon and Barnes & Noble). CP/Harlequin team works with retailers for promotions.
CP helps build authors with consistent cover design for author branding. Even debut authors with 1 book get individual and group promotions (e.g. targeted ads on blogs and sites for individual authors or specific genre; 99 cent pricing promos this summer).
Now have CP books published in the UK, Italy, Germany, through Harlequin’s international offices. 70% of CP titles are sold in audio from Audible.com. Audible currently picks up about 90% of new releases each month. Other new uses for content include backlist ebook bundles (e.g. Christine d’Abo Long Shots Books 1-3 bundle of first 3 novellas) and new print opportunities.
The Future of Carina Press:
- More targeting of specific genres. E.g. getting great attention on fantasy and fantasy romance. Will have 2 weeks of fantasy in February 2013.
- More special projects like themed collections and continuities.
- Scheduling more connected editorial from individual authors strategically. CP may hold back releasing the first book in a series so can release a book every 6 months or so for a bigger marketing push and suit the authors’ schedule. CP currently has 20-25 series on the go.
- Updated submissions guidelines coming soon!
- Increasing CP marketing support, such as more digital sampling, and even more use of print and foreign rights. Print on Demand is coming (no start date yet) and Harlequin is printing a trade-format anthology of erotic romance novellas by Delphine Dryden, Christine d’Abo and Jodie Griffin in November called The Theory of Attraction. It will be the first print book sold under the Carina Press imprint!
Authors can expect honesty, commitment and insight into the publishing process from CP.
Audience got to vote on the cover for 2 future releases: Lynda Aicher’s first book, an erotic romance called Bonds of Trust. Also voted on the cover for Susanna Frasers’s An Infamous Marriage.
Question from the audience: How do you feel about self-published authors submitting to Carina Press?
Answer from Angela: CP is happy to look at submissions from previously self-pub’d authors but do prefer to see new content (but will always look at it!).
Angela’s personal call for submissions (more here: http://carinapress.com/blog/2011/12/submissions-call-from-angela-james-something-i-rarely-do-anymore/ )—she’s looking for: sports-themed romance, “space westerns” in the vein of Firefly, novel-length (i.e. 70k words or longer) erotic romance, novel-length paranormal romance with a fresh twist. Also looking for new opportunities for serialization.
For info on what other Carina Press editors are looking for, check their bios on the CP Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/CarinaPress) or the Carina Press blog at CarinaPress.com (here: http://carinapress.com/blog/2011/10/carina-press-call-for-submissions/).
This past week, we’ve been at the Romance Writers of America National conference. On Saturday, the big awards ceremony was held and winners of the Golden Heart (unpublished) and RITAs (published) were announced. I am so thrilled to announce that Fiona Lowe and Carina Press became part of publishing history with a win for Boomerang Bride in Single Title Contemporary Romance. This year was the first year digital-first titles won the award, and Boomerang Bride became the first digital-first novel to win a RITA. We are thrilled to continue pioneering in digital-first publishing (and on a personal note, I’m still doing a little happy jig in my chair, feeling like the hard work spent promoting digital the past decade is paying off!) and we anticipate many more to come. We’ve always believed in our product, and our readers have shown us such an outpouring of support and love for our books, so it’s an extra bonus to be acknowledged with an award such as the RITA.
It was absolutely thrilling to be able to be a part of the awards ceremony with Fiona and accept on behalf of her fabulous editor, Charlotte Herscher. We’re so happy to have both Fiona and Charlotte as part of the Carina Press team, and we look forward to their next book together, SAVING THE BRIDE, which releases in 2013.
Thank you so much to RWA and all of those who judged the conference. We appreciate the opportunity, and the award!
In celebration of Fiona’s win, we’re offering Boomerang Bride at the reduced price of $3.89 for one week only, until next Monday. So if you haven’t had a chance to read this award-winning book that’s made publishing history, here’s your chance!
I was having a discussion about historical fiction on Twitter not too long ago and someone brought up an interesting question: How far back in time does the setting of the book have to be before it’s considered historical? We can all probably agree that a story set in the 1800s is definitely historical, but what about books set in the 1970s, 1980s, or even 1990s? Are they contemporary or historical? One person argued that if she could remember the decade, then the book isn’t historical. For someone like my grandmother, this would mean only books set before the 1930s could be considered historical fiction but for a 12-year old, a story set in 1998 would be considered historical fiction since they weren’t even alive during that year.
Personally, the fewer cultural and societal norms that I can relate to in the story, the more likely I am to consider it to be historical fiction. For example, I don’t remember the 1980s but many of the events, clothing, and music still influence my life now, so the decade isn’t very “historical” to me. On the other hand, I consider the 1960s (or as I like to think of it, the Mad Men era) to be historical because typewriters, rigid gender roles, and black & white televisions seem so far removed from my everyday life.
I think, as a rule of thumb, the fewer people alive from a particular era a book is set in, the more “historical” the book becomes for readers.
What defines historical fiction as “historical” for you?
Let’s be honest… we all love a pretty face. But there are other reasons to be attracted to someone. A sense of humor for instance. I adore people who make me laugh. If someone can make me laugh, you can guarantee that I want them to be part of my life.
In Dangerously Close, the third book in my Adrenaline Highs Series, Ashley loses her sight early in the book. She can’t see that her neighbor is a world famous rock star hiding out from rabid fans and the media. As she gets to know him, she discovers he’s funny, sexy and ultimately everything she wants in a man. And in the reverse of that situation, Seger/Mel has been wearing blinders for so long that he’s never taken the time to grab a good thing when it’s in front of him. Until he meets Ashley. She’s the first woman to treat him like a regular guy, something he treasures more than anything else. So even though she can’t “see” him, she gives him everything he needs. Even though she’s scarred, he sees that as part of her attraction, part of her that makes the whole woman he falls desperately in love with.
How about you? How important is physical attraction in a relationship? Is it the personality that counts or the looks? And hey… if you get both, it’s like winning the lottery!
To celebrate the release of Dangerously Close AND RWA’s National Conference in Anaheim, California, I’d like to give away a copy of Dangerous Race (the book I’ll be signing tonight at the “Readers for Life” literacy autographing), to one lucky commenter. See how the Adrenaline Highs series first started! I’ll announce the winner here after the conference on Sunday!
I think most of us wish we had a little more romance in our lives.
I know I do. Being physically disabled is great for parking, but it makes it really hard to meet guys. However it’s not just single guys and gals wishing for a little more love. We lead busy lives and often married and dating couples are left feeling a little, well, neglected.
It’s why, I believe, so many of us enjoy romance books. We’re living vicariously through the heroines of our favourite stories, enjoying their romances so we can ignore that the most exciting thing that happened to us today was finding a quarter on the sidewalk.
But here is the important thing: Romance is a thing we create for ourselves, not something we sit passively waiting for someone else to bring to us.
You don’t need a partner—you can be single and still have romantic lives. If you’re dating or married, you don’t have to wait for them to show you they care. You can make romance happen for both of you.
There are lots of ‘romantic challenges’ stopping us from having the fairytale life we dream about. We’re busy, we have kids, we can’t find a date and we wouldn’t know how to be romantic if we wanted to. I empathise, really.
So I have created what I hope is a solution. Once a week on my blog, Macabre Seduction, I write about an activity, craft project or tip to make your life more romantic. Each tip has a ‘single’ and a ‘dating’ version and they’re designed to be flexible in regards to time and money.
The blog updates on Wednesdays, and if you try any of my romance tips, I would love to hear back from you on the blog. Tell me what worked, tell me what went horribly wrong and tell me if you would do it all again.
Since we’re all here, and I can sense my gorgeous and charming editor frowning at me across time and space, I’ll mention my upcoming book, which is coming out on the 23rd of July. It’s my first ever novel and it’s so ridiculously raunchy, I can’t believe I actually wrote it.
But Zaide, I hear you say. Where do I find all these wonderful blog posts and first novels?
When I first came up with the premise for Sight Unseen, I stared at the one-sentence log line for a long, long time. Then, having convinced myself I could never write this book, I slid it away into a drawer. The next day, I pulled it out again and stared some more. I read it, re-read it, tried to tweak it… then slid it inside the drawer again. This went on for about a month.
Why was I so reluctant to tell this story? I was clearly excited about it. The idea kept tugging at my heartstrings, and even woke me up in the middle of the night a time or two. But the main character was blind. What did I know about being blind? Absolutely nothing. I was terrified I couldn’t do the story justice. And worse, that I couldn’t do Danny justice.
But Danny wouldn’t leave me alone. His story continued to build in my mind. I found myself thinking about him when I washed dishes, or vacuumed, or hiked in the mountains. Eventually, I had no choice but to give in. I spent months researching blindness. I read books, talked to a mobility instructor, and interviewed people who’d been blind from birth, as well as a couple who’d gradually gone blind. I even wore a blindfold around the house for an entire day. I have a scar on my leg to prove it.
When I finally started Danny’s book, I wasn’t any less scared. But armed with all the information I’d gathered, and driven by this idea that just wouldn’t leave me alone, I set to work.
I’m surprised, delighted, and amazed by the end result. Danny and Logan still haunt me, as does their story, even now, more than a year after I finished writing Sight Unseen.
I’d love to read more books featuring blind characters. Have you read any? What about books featuring main characters with another handicap? Do you typically enjoy these types of stories?
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Daniel Van Doren was once a renowned writer, until he was blinded in the car accident that killed his lover. Now, all he sees are ghosts in need of help. They follow him everywhere, and the only way to be rid of his ethereal visitors is to help them resolve their unfinished business here on earth so their spirits can find peace.
Ghostwriter Logan Riley is assigned to pen Daniel’s biography. He plans to reveal him as a fraud, but when they meet he’s struck by Danny’s quiet sincerity—and a growing attraction. Which makes sticking close to Danny to find out the truth more than a little distracting.
When they are attacked by a violent poltergeist Logan begins to believe Danny’s not just telling the truth, he’s in grave danger. A spirit has learned how to harness the energy of the living to break through the barrier between worlds to harm Danny. And Logan may be the one to blame …
“This book had me hooked right from the first word… genuinely refreshingly different. I devoured it in one sitting.” — Ciara Ní Ghabhann – Caveat Lector
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About the Author
Hunter Raines is the author of numerous short stories and novellas, and holds an Honors B.A. in English Literature. When she’s not working or writing, she can be found curled up in her library of more than four thousand books, or playing video games with her husband. Find her on her website, Twitter, and Facebook, or join her Yahoo Group.
Yeah, okay, this might seem like kind of a copout topic but see, it’s like this. This weekend I spent nearly all day Saturday working on 2 powerpoints for RWA next week. And then I spent too many hours packing. So I think I used up all my clever on the powerpoints. Plus, I really want to be sure you know about some of our key things happening at RWA, so you don’t miss us. You want to find me and say hello, right? I hope you will!
Wednesday at 5p-8p is the Literacy signing at the convention center.
Around 20 Carina Press authors will be signing!
Thursday at 9:45a is the Carina Press Spotlight in the Platinum 1 room.
This is one of the powerpoints I’ve spent hours creating and there’s going to be a small ton of info offered in the presentation, along with a fun opportunity for you to help us make some decisions on some cover art!
Thursday at 9:00p is the Harlequin Pajama Party in the Marriott’s Newport Beach room.
Open to all conference attendees, this is a fun party hosted by our community guru, Jayne Hoogenberk. It’s always a great time, a good excuse to wear cute pajamas (but pajamas are not a requirement. Err, I mean, you can wear party clothes. Some type of clothing is a requirement.)
Friday at 9:45a-11:15a is the Harlequin signing.
Carina Press authors Shannon Stacey, Fiona Lowe and Marie Force will be signing along with many other incredible Harlequin authors. Come and check us out!
Friday at 3:15p to 4:15p is the Social Media Mavens panel in Platinum 2
This is the second powerpoint I created. I’ll be leading a top-level discussion on author involvement in social media with my boss Malle Vallik, as well as authors Julie Rowe, Adrienne Giordano and Jaci Burton. We’ll be offering some advanced tips, resources and thoughts on social media.
Saturday at 11:00a-12:00p is the Harlequin PAN session.
I do know that there will be some new Harlequin projects that will be revealed/discussed, including one of great benefit to Harlequin authors, so be sure to attend if you’re a PAN member!
Sooo…you tell us, are you attending #rwa12? Will you be at any of the above functions? What workshops or parties are you most looking forward to at #rwa12?
For Immediate Release – Harlequin responds to Complaint
TORONTO, July 19, 2012 – Harlequin announced today that they have been made aware of a class action lawsuit brought against them by three former authors.
The publisher wishes to make clear that this is the first it has heard of the proceedings and that a complaint has not yet been served.
“Our authors have been recompensed fairly and properly for their work, and we will be defending ourselves vigorously,” said Donna Hayes, Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of Harlequin.
Harlequin is one of the world’s leading publishers of books for women, with titles issued worldwide in 34 languages and sold in 114 international markets. The company publishes more than 110 titles monthly and more than 1,200 authors from around the world. Harlequin is a wholly owned subsidiary of Torstar Corporation, a broadly based media company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TS.B). Harlequin’s website is located at Harlequin.com. Harlequin has offices in 18 countries, including offices in Toronto, New York, London and Sydney. For more information, please visit Harlequin.com.