The Thrill of Uncertainty

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I love reading romances. Naysaying literary snobs who claim romance lacks suspense—since everyone knows the couple will end up together—miss the point entirely. A great romance will make the reader wonder how the hero and heroine will overcome their obstacles to ride off into the sunset together.

I also love reading other genres too, the ones with no guarantee that the guy is gonna get the gal (or vice versa), or that the heroine will even survive. Some readers can’t deal with the feeling of betrayal when a story doesn’t have a happy-ever-after, so they read nothing but romance.

But I love the not-knowing of other types of fiction. There’s an extra edge to the thrill, like walking the high wire without a safety net. If the protagonists survive, I’m that much happier for truly having been afraid that they might die. If a novel with romantic elements ends with the h/h together, it’s all the more satisfying for the outcome having been uncertain. And if a couple doesn’t get their happy-ever-after, I can still have mad love for the story, if well told. Two of my favorite films are Casablanca and Gone with the Wind, even though Ilsa and Rhett leave Rick and Scarlett at the end.

I find non-romance fiction to be palate-cleansing. Ambiguous endings can be thought-provoking and challenge readers to interpret them. Science fiction does this too. It asks the big questions, and I love the way invented worlds can provide insight on societal values.

Sad endings can be cathartic. I’ve wept over the death of beloved characters. Sometimes I feel a little cheated by it, but often a story is even more memorable because of the effective way a character’s death is handled. I think Wuthering Heights, Anna Karenina, and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince have emotionally powerful and memorable endings.

Some genres have conventions that satisfy readers as thoroughly as a romance’s happy-ever-after. In an epic quest fantasy, the protagonist will succeed in his/her quest, even if the final shape of that success is different that initially envisioned (and even it takes more than one book to get there). In a thriller, the disaster will be averted, even if the villain escapes to cause mayhem in the sequel. The mystery genre demands that the mystery be solved by the last page. It might not be solved in a way that enables an arrest, but the reader will know who and how and why the crime was committed.

Luckily for me, Carina Press publishes more than romance. You’ll find fantasy, mystery, science fiction, horror, steampunk, paranormal, action-adventure and historical fiction titles on our site.

Aside from romance, what types of fiction do you enjoy reading? If you’re a die-hard romance reader, when was the last time you took a chance on a story without a guaranteed happy-ever-after?

Carina Press Spring 2012 call for submissions!

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Note: please note that the submissions guidelines must still be followed in order to submit a manuscript in response to this call. Please visit our submissions page and follow the directions there.

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Hellooooo! So, the freelance editors for Carina decided it was time to do another call for submissions. We love doing these, because we get so many awesome stories in. Of course, PLEASE note that in the end, what we really want is a good story—so even if yours doesn’t fit the descriptions below, don’t hesitate to send it to us anyway! Sometimes we don’t know what we want until we get it in our inbox. You can find out more info on all the Carina freelance editors on this page.

Rhonda Helms: I’m open to almost every genre, with or without romance. But there are certain types of stories I’m eager to read more of right now, including:

military of any genre (esp. romance, thriller, sci-fi), steampunk (haven’t had a good one in a while!), atypical fantasy with great world-building and intriguing rules/uses of magic, westerns (esp. ones that use western elements to blend genres), sci-fi/futuristic with aliens and technology, romance (any steaminess level), stories with a mythological element, historicals (esp. if they feature real historical figures/events), stories set in unusual locales of any genre, super-funny romances that make me laugh until I cry, books of any genre with kick-ass heroines, deep and resonant tear-jerkers that move me but still have a satisfying ending, stories that blend genres to create a fresh and compelling world, and anything with a strong multicultural facet (please—want!!).

Melissa Johnson:

While Melissa is eager to read submissions of any genre, she currently yearns for a romance that crosses class or culture lines—whether contemporary, historical or paranormal. She feels it takes a particularly thoughtful author to make these conflicts deep and sensitive, and is thrilled when someone pulls it off. In general, she loves characters who learn from each other, see and love each other’s flaws, and grow over the course of the story.

Alissa Davis:

I look for books I can’t put down and characters I can’t forget. I edit lots of m/m, erotic romance, contemporary romance and historical romance and would love to see more of those. I also wish authors would send me medical romance, erotic historical romance, and m/m fantasy romance, and runaway bride romance. I have a weakness for geeky beta heroes, but mostly I hope to see sympathetic, well-drawn characters with real issues and a legitimate conflict keeping them from finding their HEA.

Mallory Braus: Mallory looks for characters first. Three-dimensional characters—with depth and vulnerabilities and quirks—pull her into a story faster than anything else. She’s looking for all genres, but there are a few things she’s especially keeping an eye out for:

–A zombie hunter romance!

–Psychics – Especially if you have psychic FBI agents or members of a special government agency…

–I’ve been keeping an eye out for quirky characters. Nerdy/dorky heroines or heroes. Funny relatives. Etc.

–Dark romantic suspense or gritty thrillers.

–Historical Mysteries. I’m especially looking for any late 19th to early 20th century mysteries.

–“Band of Brother” type series. Examples would be Nora Roberts’s trilogies, Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters, or J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. Where an emphasis is on the building of multiple characters’ relationships over the course of multiple books.

–Stories with unique worlds/setting, including, but not limited to: steampunk, post-apocalyptic, futuristic sci-fi and urban fantasy.

Alison Dasho: Alison wants:

–Sci-fi, especially future humanity dealing with first contact, alien class issues, or cyborg/android integration. What defines humanity? Do robots have souls?

–Fantasy adventure, especially lighter, funnier worlds. I’d love to see a manuscript that tells a rollicking quest story, maybe with trolls and wizards and unicorns and dragons, and has superb worldbuilding and a quirky sense of humor.

–Mystery and crime, especially dark tones and morally ambiguous issues. I’m interested in how the victims cope with the crime after the fact, or how the criminal who maybe got away scot-free in terms of legal justice is forced to contend with karmic justice. I tend not to like paranormal elements in my crime fiction, but will make some exceptions. I would love to see kidnapping fallout stories. Is the kidnap victim grown up and how is s/he dealing with those memories? Is the kidnapper in jail, or contacting the victim for some reason? I’d also love to see wrongly-accused stories — not necessarily like The Fugitive, where the protagonist himself must prove he didn’t do it, but more explorations about how the protagonist feels when faced with an accusation. Powerlessness, reliance upon a flawed justice system, etc.

–Contemporary romance, especially complicated. Both hero and heroine with pasts — maybe she’s a widow, maybe he’s got a criminal history. I love stories where everyone is opposed to the hero and heroine being together at all, let alone earning a HEA.

Denise Nielsen: I’ve had a hankering to read any of the following

–Historicals

  • Dark, edgy historical – Victorian or Edwardian era, gothic elements, steampunk, suspense
  • Classic historical – vikings, highwaymen, revolutionaries, sea captains – strong female leads
  • Jazz era historical – think flappers, luxury

–Contemporary

  • Modern reinterpretations of old stories (myths, legends, history) in a believable contemporary setting
  • Unlikely hero-heroine relationships that work out against the odds
  • Open to the interweaving of parallel stories past and present

Jeff Seymour:

In addition to my usual requests (SF/F, unusual romance, mystery, thrillers, horror, anything you’re afraid doesn’t fit neatly into a genre), I’d love to see some short, fast-paced adventures with series potential. Elements of any other genre welcome—just introduce me to a character and a world I can devour in an evening and still want more of.

Deborah Nemeth: I love intelligent writing, stories that make me laugh or cry (or both), and sharp, motivated protagonists. I’m particularly drawn to exotic settings, rule-breakers and multicultural characters.

I’d like to acquire some unusual historicals, m/m fiction, thrillers, and steampunk. In mystery/suspense I’m always looking for an interesting sleuth(s) to build a series on. I enjoy everything from cozy mysteries to romantic suspense to procedurals. I’d also love a mystery series set in the past (any historical era) or in a future space opera/space western setting. I’m also seeking contemporary romance with strong conflict and strong protagonists—SEALs/Rangers, firefighters, cops, carpenters, cowboys, activists—in any heat level. I love epic fantasy that combines adventure with compelling characterization and unique world-building. In paranormal and urban fantasy I’d rather see a fresh twist on ninjas, superheroes, dragons, fae, ghosts, djinn, Norse gods, psychics or fairytales than vamps, werewolves, demons and zombies.

Angela James: My list is mostly full, but I have a few specific things I’m still pretty avidly looking for, and all center around a good story. I will overlook a lot in writing if the voice, characters and story are compelling:

An erotic contemporary novel-length (70k+) stand alone or series, m/f or multiples, but I’m not seeking GLBT only at this point. A space opera or futuristic romp with strong romantic elements, unique, maybe with some of the Western flavor of Firefly, but with a definite adventure feel. Sports-themed contemporary romance, any sports (yes, racing and MMA are sports!) where sports play a role in the book, whether through the characters or setting of books. Novel-length (70k+) contemporary romance trilogies or series (not stand alone contemporaries), setting can be small town, big city or exotic locale, I’m open in that regard. I’m just looking to build my contemporary list in general!

So, if you have anything that fits the editor requests (or just a great book in general!) to submit, visit our submissions page and follow the directions there. You can address your submission to one of the editors above, or the editorial staff in general. Thanks, and we look forward to reading your manuscripts!

The Importance of Misery

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When I was a kid, I tortured my dad with difficult questions.

When Adam and Eve took a bite from the apple in the Garden of Eden…was that a metaphor for them having sex? How can Grandaddy be a Christian minister when he believes in evolution? And the big one that has plagued humanity for ages: Why must there be evil and misfortune in the world?

Now, my dad is the kind of person who’ll make a go at answering any question, but he had no struggle to answer this last question.

Evil and bad things happen so that we can appreciate the good in the world. How much would you love a sunny day if you’d never been cold in the rain? How incredible does your food taste when you are hungry?

I hated this answer when I was a kid. For rainy days and mild hunger, it was barely acceptable, but for hatred, despair, rejection, persecution, poverty, disease, war, torture—you know, big time suffering—it sucked. I figured I could appreciate good things just fine without knowing misery. And what about perpetrators of evil and misery? Were they supposed to get something valuable for having done bad?

As I’ve grown up and experienced a tiny bit of the hardships life has to offer, I’ve discovered that I do like to think the bad times make me more appreciative of the good e.g. experiences with minimum-wage jobs make my later careers paradisiacal, trying to slow the progress of my lung disease has made me rediscover dancing and rock climbing—activities I wouldn’t have made time for otherwise.

I attribute purpose to hardship in order to make a coherent narrative of my life, and most humans do this: we’re storytellers of our lives. We love stories, and those with extremes of elation and tragedy are the most beloved.

So maybe instead of: Why must there be misery in the world? I should ask: How can humans accept and make sense of misery in the world? And maybe one of the answers to this question is stories.

I’m pulled into stories in which the characters go through an intense range of human emotions and experience. In a book I recently edited, Rebecca Rogers Maher’s Snowbound with a Stranger, the heroine is mired in numb loneliness and the hero has intense tragedy in his past. Their joy in each other means so much more to me because of the darkness that has blanketed years of their lives.

I also love characters who’ve been bad themselves. In another book I recently edited, Dee J. Adams’s Dangerously Close, the rock-star hero was a dissolute womanizer. His clean-up and growth are a beautiful thing to experience. His force of will engenders admiration and hope in me, and I can see how doing bad might just give someone an enhanced understanding of good.

Another question I could ask is: Can there be empathy without suffering?

One of my favorite emotions to experience in a story is empathy: my empathy for a character, and the empathy one character feels for another. When a heroine feels fury at a wrong done to the hero, or when a hero is distraught over his inability to change a horror in the heroine’s past, or when the empathy comes from the realization of the pain one character has caused the other—these are the moments that get me choked up, and the scenes I reread later.

Empathy feeds the couple’s determination to make a good future together and makes me root for them. On another level, empathy gives me confidence in humanity. If we feel each others’ pain, maybe we can savor each others’ happiness more deeply, and maybe we will be less willing to inflict pain on others. While reading stories probably won’t end misery in the world—a decent portion of suffering isn’t even caused by human action—I do think stories improve us.

Has the suffering of a character ever made you profoundly empathic, possibly given you insight into something you haven’t experienced personally? Has the empathy between a hero and heroine ever stuck in your mind long after you finished the book?

Gothic Dreams

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My husband and kids were away camping in the snow this past weekend and I had the rare opportunity to have the house to myself. This naturally led to me curling up by the fire with the dog and the cats, a glass of wine and a pile of books.

And I did something extremely foolish.

I’ve been teaching gothic literature this week and though we focused in class on Edgar Allan Poe, we also talked about gothic novels (such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights as well as more current reads such as The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield) before moving on to modern films (such as The Woman in Black.) We discussed the key archetypes of the genre: the old country house miles from everywhere, the darkness, the feeling of suspense that marks the action, the main character on his or her own, and the sinister feeling that something isn’t quite right.

You would think knowing all that and living as I do in an old country house miles from everywhere…well, let’s just say I should have known better than to indulge while I was alone for the weekend.

Instead, I read Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier. And wished I hadn’t. It looks innocent enough by light of day – but it was quite another thing at night! My house was dark and quiet. Too quiet. The back door creaked as I opened it to let the dog out into a snowy, wind-whipped night, and standing there waiting for her to come back in, I felt a chill as if I were Mary Yellen standing on lonely Bodmin Moor waiting for smugglers to rattle by.

Next I finished Kate Moreton’s The Distant Hours, which is another book just filled with a charged atmosphere and gloom and deep layers of secrets that must be revealed.

Then I took my Kobo to bed, and wouldn’t you know, I couldn’t resist another peek at Janis Patterson’s The Hollow House which we published last year, and which I thoroughly enjoyed. It too has elements of gothic throughout—the invalid, the secrets, the house itself. Delicious.

After all that, I let the dog sleep on the bed…something she is never allowed to do under normal circumstances.

Do you like gothic elements in the books you read? What books have you read and enjoyed in this genre?

Two Videos, a Free Book and a Link

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Angela just sent me an email politely asking where my blog post was. The deadline is on my calendar, but I had not opened my calendar yet. So a few fun things from the past few days.

I like memes. It’s interesting to see how people take a little bit of structure and then get creative. A current meme is stuff people say, and the publishing video was making its rounds earlier this week:

Stuff (or sh*t) Editors and Agents say

Not that the concept of memes in new. In fact, at Harlequin, we decided to highlight the variety of our series by having several authors start with the same opening paragraph and then tell the story as they wanted, and as suited the series they wrote for. We gathered the stories together and asked Christine Bell to write a new steampunk story to represent Carina Press. You can download it free at Harlequin.com. Happy early Valentines Day!

This the opening paragraph:

Charlotte winced as an inebriated party-goer stepped on her foot, but she kept moving determinedly toward the doors that led to the balcony. The Duncans would be delighted with their party; it was clearly the event of the season, and their daughter had been successfully launched into society.

Unfortunately, the noise, the heat and the crowd combined with Charlotte’s pounding headache to make her want to escape for a breath of fresh air. Reaching the balcony doors, she opened them to find two people engaged in a passionate kiss.

“I’m sorry.” The words escaped her mouth before she realized it would have been better to make an exit without being noticed. The couple jumped apart.

Charlotte felt the blood drain from her face as she stared at her fiancé.

“John! I thought you were dead!”

All this, of course, made me a look for a meme about what Canadians say, see below. No, that is not how we Canadians say “out and about” (warning: swearing!).

Last I wrote a post at my blog about why authors should care about synopses — how a publishing companies uses it. Several people have commented they have found it useful so if you wonder why we make authors write synopses, you can find out.

Happy Groundhog Day!

A History of Crushes, Star Trek edition

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I love outer space.

So big, vast, and full of nothing-and-everything.

I gravitated to sci-fi at an early  age, helped by a father who let me read from his bookshelf (oh to be young and discovering Douglas Adams again…). Though I read sci-fi for a few years, my tastes widened and in high school, I found myself lost more often in a fantasy, and then in the crime fiction world. But my other media habits, tv and movies, remained firmly rooted in boldly going where no one had gone before.

And it was in those tv shows that I discovered not only the joys of space exploration, but also … boys.

Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered in 1987, and I was seven years old. Maybe a little young to be developing crushes on heroes, but thankfully, ST:TNG had a character who was a safe crush for my target demographic:
Wesley Crusher

Oh hi, Wesley. Be still my adolescent heart.

This kid hit all my “perfect boy” checklist items:

  • Smart
  • No really, so smart
  • Nice to his mom
  • Capable of saving the ship if need be
  • A little awkward and shy
  • Seriously, the smartest kid ever with a super bright Starfleet future

What’s not to love? I know many TNG fans mock Wesley for … well, for everything about him. But when seen through the eyes of a seven-year-old me, he was perfect.

When Star Trek: Deep Space Nine began in 1993, I was just entering my preteen years, and I’d matured. “Smart” still topped my list of admirable boy qualities, but I was ready for someone a little older, a little wiser, a little like…

Dr. Julian Bashir

Yes, Dr. Julian Bashir. Genetically enhanced by his parents, he was super smart. And kindof (okay, very) awkward. And he was a doctor — he helped people! And he had a bizarre friendship with a Cardassian.

I was proud of my new grown-up crush.

When Star Trek: Voyager aired, I was ready for a bad boy. A loner [Dottie], a rebel. A smart guy, sure, but a guy who was more concerned with breakin’ the rules and doin’ his own thing than acing any test. A guy with a sense of humor and a hefty respect for nostalgia.

Enter…

Tom Paris
Vanilla bad boy Tom Paris.

Sure, he’d been in prison. He had a past. But he had a heart of gold, and his badness was never that bad. He seemed just dangerous enough for a shy teenage girl like me. And that episode when he disobeyed orders to help the ocean planet? So great. Take that, Prime Directive!

With Star Trek: Enterprise, I’m sad to say I didn’t really watch it as it originally aired. I was a senior in college, and I watched the first episode, heard the theme song, and decided to hate the show on principle. Lately, my husband and I have been working our way through the series on Netflix, and I’ve discovered the wisecracking chief engineer:

Trip Tucker

I hated him in the first two episodes, but Trip Tucker has grown and claimed a small piece of my sci-fi-crushing heart. Smart, good with his hands, and funny — and at some angles, he kindof has a Brad Pitt thing going on, maybe? But more than anything, Trip falling in love with and getting his heart broken by a Vulcan… I hope T’Pol comes to her senses before the series is over. Those two kids are so good together.

And there you have it. A walk through one girl’s discovery of boys via a sci-fi franchise.

Now, none of these crushes hold a candle to my BSG crushes, but that’s a post for another day…

Confessions of a Lazy Reader

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Confession: I’m a lazy reader. When I first begin reading a new story, I don’t want to work too hard to be drawn into the author’s world. I want to be captivated almost immediately, so that I sink into the story and soon forget that I’m even reading. If I meet more characters at once than I can easily keep track of, or if I have to wade through too much background information, or if there’s a lot of mundane activity on the page, I may start yawning and move on to another book.

And if the main character is aimless as well as being depressed or bored, I will be bored too…until I’m outta there. If I’m browsing in a bookstore, this means no sale for the published author. And if I’m reading a manuscript submission, this means a rejection.

As a lazy reader, I want the author to do the heavy lifting for me. I want it to be easy to figure out who’s who, and what their background is, and how every character is related to everyone else. I want the author to grab me by the throat, wow me, and not let me go until the ride is over, whether that ride is quietly emotional or full of high-stakes thrills.

I can be hooked by vivid, outsize characters. By an exceptional voice. More than anything, I’m hooked by a character’s goals. If I get caught up in what the protagonist is trying to do, or prevent, or avoid, it’s more likely that I’ll keep reading. And I’m more likely to care when I understand what’s at stake if they fail, and when the characters are so engaging that I start to connect with them and root for their success.

The more unusual the situation is, the more my interest will be piqued. The unexpected is such a delight and will stand out from the same old tired openings. I especially love the juxtaposition of elements that don’t usually go together. In Madeleine Wickham’s 1998 novel The Gatecrasher, the heroine goes to funerals to pick up men. The heroine in Jenny Schwartz’s Angel Thief is in charge of the heavenly library, so we don’t expect an angel to break into someone’s house to steal an ancient book.

Although I’m lazy at the outset, once I’m hooked, a story can become progressively more complex and layered and challenging—in fact, I very much prefer it that way—provided the additional characters, subplots, political agendas, suspects or complications are added in gradually so I’m never overwhelmed (or bored) by an information overload.

How about you? What needs to be on the first page to entice you to keep reading? Have you read any books with standout openings lately?

The step before Happily Ever After

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Happy Thanksgiving to our U.S. readers! For a bit of a fun holiday post, I thought I’d let you in on some non-editing related work I’ve been doing the past few weeks.

When I got engaged in October, the romance reader in me looked forward to riding off into the sunset and maybe one day getting a baby epilogue or two. Most stories end as soon as Boy-Gets-Girl, and I can understand why. Girl-Gets-Stressed-By-Wedding-Planning doesn’t quite have the same ring. Right now, my fiancé and I are tackling what feels like the biggest decision…where to host the special day. Here are some book-themed places we’ve seriously—and not so seriously—considered.

We both agreed that we wanted to forgo the standard hotel ballroom for our reception in preference of a space with a more unique look. And my thoughts immediately turned to a place that, to paraphrase Carrie Bradshaw, “houses all the great love stories.” The Boston Public Library.

Bates Hall Reading Room, Image via Wikipedia

Boston Public Library, Image via Wikipedia

 Beautiful, no? But since our budget is not of Mr. Big proportions, we’re thinking literary grandeur on a smaller scale (OK, maybe it’s just me thinking the literary part).  For example, can’t you just picture Jane Eyre tying the knot in the gothic goodness of Harvard’s Adolphus Busch Hall?

Adolphus Busch Hall, Image via Harvard Art Museums

Or Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy hosting their nuptial dinner in a dining room similar to that of Boston University’s Castle?

BU Castle Music Room, Image via Boston University

Of course, if it was up to me, we’d totally have a Hogwarts-themed affair at Harvard’s Annenberg Hall (aka the freshman dining hall). After all, who needs seating arrangements when you have a Sorting Hat?

Annenberg Hall, Image via Harvard University

Which of your favorite fictional characters’ weddings would you most like to crash?

Carina Press call for submissions!

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Hi guys! Several of us freelance editors decided it was time to do another call for submissions we’re dying to get in. Of course, PLEASE note that in the end, what we really want is a good story, so even if yours doesn’t fit the descriptions below, don’t hesitate to send it to us anyway! Sometimes we don’t know what we want until we get it in our inbox. :-) You can find out more info on all the Carina freelance editors on this page.

Now, that said, let’s dish:

Rhonda Helms: I’m always open to pretty much every genre, with or without romance. Sometimes I don’t know I want something unless it hits my desk. But there are certain genres I’m eager to read more of, including: steampunk, atypical fantasy, sci-fi/futuristic, romance (any steaminess level), cross-genre urban fantasy, stories with a mythological element, historicals (especially if they feature real historical figures/events), stories set in unusual locales, gladiators (I LOVE them), thrillers with unusual twists, horror, super-funny stories, books with kick-ass heroines, and anything with a multicultural element.

Gina Bernal: Romance of any subgenre with military heroes or heroines, contemporary romance without suspense elements (including but not only small-town settings), historical romance with an adventurous bent (still searching for those elusive pirates), shapeshifter paranormals, urban fantasy with a unique twist (i.e. beyond the usual vampires and werewolves), and creepy though not necessarily gory psychological thrillers.

Melissa Johnson: Melissa would like to see submissions of any genre that have great worldbuilding, believable and original characters, and deep and difficult conflict.  She works with authors across the range of genres and niches that Carina publishes.  She is especially excited to see manuscripts with series potential that hint of a vast world and even bigger story in the author’s head.

Alison Janssen: I want to see more:

  • Scifi, especially space opera.
  • Gaslight and/or steampunk. (don’t we all, lol!)
  • Medieval.
  • Small town contemporary romance (or contemp. where setting plays an important part).
  • Redemption stories—any genre, really. I love, love, love themes of characters struggling to redeem themselves in the eyes of a parent, lover, community —or even their own eyes.

Denise Nielsen: It’s harder than it seems to narrow down genres I’d love to see. Just as my mind settles on one thing, another pops up. I’m still looking for solid contemporaries, steampunk and/or suspense stories or novellas, but with the gloomier weather kicking in, I find I am more in the mood for plots and characters that have a darker edge. Not so much shape shifters, but more danger and mystique, more human characters with secrets. I would love to see something gothic come my way with a hint of suspense perhaps…think smugglers, highwaymen or soldiers of fortune; think mysterious heroines and a world where not everything is as is seems.

Historicals are still something I’m keen on and anything to do with norse or medieval themes would especially capture my interest. Feel free to incorporate legend and myth to give it more of a fantasy flavour too. I also maintain that a novel set among the spies and resistance fighters of world war II would be intriguing…there is so much room for developing a strong heroine in that period. What I don’t want is a history lesson…the focus needs to be on the characters, but please do weave in authentic historical details to give depth to your story.

Take a risk with cross-genre blends, or stick to your favourite genre. But do it with strong characters who take an active role in their own plot. Give me conflict (both internal and external) and character development, and if there is a romantic element to your story, show me the fire—whether that is a slow burn or instant passion—between the heroine and hero.

Lynne Anderson: I’d particularly love to see cross-genre stories, and interracial, multicultural, and/or LGBT relationships. However, I’m always interested in reading well-written, engaging stories in all genres (truly—I enjoy them all!), of any length. What catches my attention is a distinctive writing voice, a certain flair with language, unusual premises, new and interesting takes on standard tropes, and imperfect, genuine characters with depth. I look forward to reading your submissions!

Deb Nemeth: On my wish list are high-stakes thrillers and cleverly constructed mysteries featuring a compelling detective who a series can be based on. One of my favorite genres is historical romance, especially English and Irish settings from Celtic to WW2 but also any European (medieval, Crusaders, Renaissance, buccaneers), as well as unusual settings such as Asia and Africa. I can’t get enough steampunk, so if your invented world is full of gears and gadgets, I wanna read it. I’m also actively seeking contemporary romance mss with strong conflict—something more than an I’ve-been-hurt-before hesitation to commit—and passionate characters. I’ve been longing to acquire Asian-inspired urban fantasy, space westerns, futuristic mystery/suspense and Arthurian fantasy. In all genres I’m looking for m/m and multicultural stories, and I’m open to all heat levels. I’m attracted by intense characters, both lawmakers and lawbreakers, and crisp writing.

Elizabeth Bass: What would I like to see more of? Historicals! Romances, of course, but I also would be interested in historical mysteries or thrillers. I’ve really been craving more Western historicals, Regencies, and books set in the medieval period. (Although from the Carina submissions I’ve received and acquired, I’ve discovered any historical period can be great if the writer finds the story to make it click!) Also, it would be fun to see submissions from authors who have branched out into twentieth century historicals–romances, mysteries or thrillers set during the World Wars or the years between. I’d love to see more thrillers or police procedurals with a hero/heroine detective who has series potential. Cozy mysteries, too.  I’ve been rereading Sparkle Hayter’s Robin Hudson series and I’m craving a fun cozy series with a woman detective. Finally, a great zombie/creature apocalypse thriller in my inbox would make my day.

Mallory Braus: Mallory looks for characters first. Three dimensional and relatable characters—with depth and vulnerabilities—pull her into a story faster than anything else. She’s looking for all genres, but there are a few things she’s especially keeping an eye out for:

  • I’m still hoping to find a zombie hunter romance in my inbox. Though, I will read all things zombie related.
  • Psychics – Especially if you have psychic FBI agents or members of a special government agency…
  • I’ve been keeping an eye out for quirky characters. Nerdy/dorky heroines or heroes. Funny relatives. Etc.
  • Gritty thrillers.
  • Historical Mysteries.
  • “Band of Brother” type series. Examples would be Nora Roberts’s trilogies, Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters, or J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. Where an emphasis is on the building of multiple characters’ relationships.
  • Stories with unique worlds/setting, including, but not limited to: steampunk, post-apocalyptic, futuristic sci-fi and urban fantasy

So, if you have anything that fits the editor requests (or even just a great book in general!) to submit, visit our submissions page and follow the directions there. You can address your submission to one of the editors above, or the editorial staff in general. Thanks, and we look forward to reading your amazing stories!

Drinking the Kool-Aid

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So, did you preorder a Kindle Fire tablet yet? I have to admit that, up until Wednesday morning, I had avoided drinking the Amazon Kool-Aid. My trusty Sony PRS-300 (love making collections to sort books!) and original Kobo have served my ereading needs well, and as a coupon hound I’ve enjoyed taking advantage of special sales at a variety of ebook retailers. But ever since the iPad debuted, I’ve been lusting for a tablet…I just couldn’t fathom dropping $500 on a gadget I didn’t really need. Want, want, want, yes. Need? Not so much. However, the Fire’s price tag (minus a couple gift cards) set off my shopping impulse and I surrendered.

The thing I wonder is, how—if at all—will owning a tablet change the way I read? Back when the original Kindle launched and ebooks became big news, I confess, I was a naysayer. I didn’t think a gadget could satisfyingly replicate the experience of holding a book in my hands. Then I borrowed a colleague’s first-generation Sony for the weekend… “Duh, Gina you big goober,” I probably said to myself, “it’s the stories that make you love reading not the feel of the paper.”

Now I’m a huge fan of dedicated Eink devices—though I may occasionally sniff a new paper book now and again. I love how I don’t have to choose only a couple books to bring on vacation. How I can start a new book at midnight without leaving my bed or even reaching for the nightstand. And especially how well ereaders hide my book hoarding tendencies from my significant other.

I also know how much fun it is to waste hours playing Angry Birds or streaming random PBS documentaries on my iPod. Will having a nifty new gadget with more than just books on it mean my reading time will have even more competition? Or will the color browsing and same-place access to book blogs and Amazon’s one click make book shopping that much more fun? Guess we’ll see come November!

What’s your favorite device to read on? Are you tempted by Amazon’s new Kindle offerings? How have ebooks changed your reading habits?