It’s submissions week at Carina Press! Every day this week, we’ll have a new call for submissions. Friday will be a special opportunity, for one week only, for all authors sending submissions to Carina Press. I suggest holding your submission to send after you read the blog post that day (but that’s up to you, don’t say I didn’t warn you!) We’ve also updated our submissions guidelines, so please be sure to read the new information and guidelines before submitting.
So, yes, I’m doing a submissions call for my very own made-up genre. I think this is called letting the power of my position go to my head? But what good is power if you can’t try to acquire what you want to read?
I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary lately and I’ve noticed I’m enjoying two categories that actually share some similarities. The first is New Adult, which I posted a submissions call for yesterday, and the second is what I’ve been calling contemporary crack. What is this crack?
Story elements: High drama, high intensity, often multiple conflicts (relationship conflict and another external conflict, along w/hero and heroine internal conflicts), loving relationships between hero and heroine, sensual sex scenes, frank language. Think a bit of soap operas, with situations that can be a little over the top (except your story should have a happy ending). Series potential is good, but not necessary.
Give yourself permission to write things you might not otherwise write, just to see what happens, but even while making it over the top, wrap it in elements of believability. Make the reader feel as if you might just actually be able to meet these characters and imagine these situations, even while knowing these things will never happen.
Characters: Alpha heroes (sorry, there’s no room for beta heroes in contemporary crack), heroes are often possessive, protective and sometimes jealous over heroines, whom they clearly love. Heroes are into their heroines (this may be clear but conflict still drives them or keeps them apart).
Heroines are smart, sassy and have a backbone. They’re not afraid to talk back, care about their friends, get into trouble and protect their man as much as he protects them. No doormats allowed but we don’t want anyone bitchy either!
Characters might be a bit larger than life, sometimes it works if you have a sports figure, a billionaire (because why go for a millionaire when you can go for a billionaire ;) ), a military man, etc. But you can also have two people who seem ordinary, acting in extraordinary ways.
Other themes: These are meant to be page turners, fast paced and addictive. Let your imagination loose. Maybe you have a heroine in jeopardy (nothing brings out a hero’s protective instincts more, yeah?), a reunion story where two characters with high sexual tension meet again and finally get their happy ending, or even the unlikely couple, where opposites attract and don’t let go.
Can I give you examples? Everyone asks who I think of when I think of this type of book. Kristen Ashley, Lora Leigh, Maya Banks. Julie Garwood’s old historicals. JR Ward’s paranormals. The Harlequin Presents line has definite elements of what I’ve described (perhaps why I love them?) Feel free to share other examples of authors you think fit into what I’ve described above!
Let’s face it, I’m not entirely sure this is the type of book you can sit down to write. It may be that this is one of those things that’s just your voice and style. But I want to read more of it, and I want to publish more of it, and I figure if I don’t define it and ask for it, my chances of doing either are diminished. Plus, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone actually try to define it and ask for it so…I’m giving it a go, because I have nothing to lose, right? So if you think you can do it, or you have a manuscript that already fits, go for it! I’m totally game to read these submissions.
(Someone is bound to ask: while I do specify contemporary here, if you think you can write this book in another genre, whether it’s paranormal, historical, futuristic or otherwise…you should totally go for it because I’m in search of the next page turner in any form.)