The (Sometimes) Famous Side Character

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By Joshua Roots, author of SUMMONED CHAOS

I’ve always been a huge fan of Side Characters, the men and women of fiction who help the Hero/Heroine along the way. Playing a supporting role, they’re the ones who often get to say the things the Main Character can’t or won’t. Other times, they’re the ones who find an important clue that helps solidify the MC’s theory of whodunit.

The thing is, Side Characters sometimes get the short end of the stick since they are, on occasion, catalysts for motivation. Life is probably a little safer if you’re Hammer McThunder*, but what about Charlie Von Labcoat**, his fast-talking scientist buddy? The guy decides to work late in the lab only to be gunned down by international criminals bent on stealing the latest time-travel technology he’s been working on. Next thing he knows, he’s dying in McThunder’s arms. Sure, the MC gets to utter some awful catch phrase like, “It’s time to drop The Hammer” and then spends the next 200 pages hunting down bad guys, but that’s no solace to Charlie.

Poor, poor Charlie.

But not all Side Characters are under the Sword of Damocles. Sometimes they’re there to break up the tension. Add some spice to an otherwise dark situation. One of my absolute favorites has to be Zathras from Babylon 5. Stuck on a planet tending The Great Machine and with nothing but insects for conversation/food, the guy didn’t have a lot going for him. And yet, the few episodes where he appeared made a huge impression on me because he wasn’t 2-demnsional. The character had depth and humor, something that separates an outstanding Side Character from the ones that are Just Okay.

It didn’t hurt that he had some of the best lines in the series.

Side Characters can also serve as a point of reference for the reader by contrasting with the Main Character. Watson, no intellectual lightweight in his own right, is there so that we see the true extent of Holmes’ intellect. The fact that Watson is a deeply fleshed out person with motivations and desires, rather than simply being a story-prop, makes Holmes all the greater.

No matter what role the Side Character plays, the critical component for me is the connection. During the opening scene of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when Indy’s partner, David, is killed, I remember thinking, “That stinks. Oh, hey Shorty!***.” There was no development and, as such, no sense of loss.

But Obi Wan? Oh man. Talk about a huge disturbance in the Force when Vader turned him into an empty robe.

In the end, Side Characters can make or break a story/series for me. Doomed from the start, used as a humor-tool, or serving as a reference point, I’ll struggle through a book if the supporting cast is lack-luster. But give me me a handful of well-defined, strong characters that I can connect with and I’ll gladly stay up till 4AM to gobble down every iota of awesome.

So what about you? What are some of your favorite side-characters and why?


Oh look, books!



Author Bio:

Joshua Roots

Joshua Roots is a former Marine, car collector, and beekeeper. He enjoys singing with his a cappella chorus, playing video games, and reading comic books. He is still waiting for his acceptance letter to Hogwarts and Rogue Squadron. He and his wife will talk your ear off about their bees if you let them.


Connect with Josh: Twitter | Website | Blog | Goodreads

*You can almost smell the testosterone wafting from this fake name.
** Alas, poor Charlie. I knew him, Horatio! Also, another made up name.
*** Shorty!

The Kowalskis and Musicals

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By Shannon Stacey, author of FALLING FOR MAX

Readers who remember Max Crawford from his introduction in All He Ever Dreamed know he’s not a typical hero for me. He’s shy and a little awkward, and there’s rumor going around Whitford he’s a serial killer. (Don’t worry. They’re mostly kidding.)

Max came about while I was writing Josh and Katie’s story because I realized Whitford didn’t have a sports bar and I needed a place where they went to watch games. Enter Max Crawford, with his awesome leather couches, big-screen television, and mysterious goings-on in his basement. Because his place had become the go-to place on game days, he’d developed friendships with some of the Kowalskis, as well as other residents of Whitford, which wasn’t something that came easy to him.

He was quirky and I fell in love with him immediately. What I wanted was for a fictional woman to fall in love with him, too. But Max works from home and Whitford’s not exactly known for singles hot spots so, when he decides he’s reached a point in his life when he’d like a woman to share it with, he starts at the Trailside Diner.

Tori Burns, who works part-time at the diner, sees Max strike out at his first attempt at conversation, and she’s intrigued. Not only is he Whitford’s man of mystery, but she likes him and thinks he’s funny. It seems to her, with a little bit of coaching, Max can find the woman of his dreams.

He took a sip of his coffee, probably giving himself some time to think. “How do you think you’re going to make me more dateable?”

“We’ll spend some time together and I’ll get to know you a little better so I can help you play up your better qualities. And, like I said, we can have practice conversations. It’ll be fun, like one of those dating makeover shows.”

“So that makes you Professor Higgins and me Eliza Doolittle?”


“From My Fair Lady.”

“Isn’t that some old musical? Like from the black and white days?”

Of course, as Tori goes about helping Max become more “dateable”, she discovers she likes him just the way he is. The problem is that she might just like him a little too much.

There are a few references to My Fair Lady in Falling For Max, and my feelings about the classic musical fall in line with Tori’s reaction when she watches it. (Sorry, you’ll have to read it.) My sister, who’s currently in college, loves it. (Okay, spoiler: I don’t love it. But I’m not telling you why. You really have to read it.)

How you do you all feel about musicals? If you’ve seen My Fair Lady, did you love it or not? (I must admit I sing “I Could Have Danced All Night” a lot.) What’s your favorite musical? I grew up rewatching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at every opportunity, but The King & I will always be my favorite. What’s yours?

About Falling For Max:

CARINA_0814_9780373002290_FallingForMaxMax Crawford has reached the point in life where he’s starting to think about settling down. Unfortunately, he’s always been a little awkward when it comes to social interactions, and working from home doesn’t help. He spends so much time alone, painting beautiful, historically accurate model trains that half of Whitford has begun to joke that he may be a serial killer. Not exactly prime husband material.

Tori Burns has found happiness in Maine, thanks in large part to her shifts at the Trailside Diner. She likes the work, and she loves the local gossip. When shy, geeky Max Crawford becomes a regular, she’s intrigued. When she finds out he’s in the market for a wife, she’s fascinated…and determined to help.

Molding Max into every woman’s dream turns out to be much easier than expected. But has Tori’s plan worked a little too well? As she turns his comfortable life all sorts of upside down, she’ll have to find a way to show just how she’s fallen for him…the real him.

About Shannon:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shannon Stacey lives with her husband and two sons in New England, where her two favorite activities are writing stories of happily ever after and riding her four-wheeler. She can also be found blogging (almost) daily on her website, and is often spotted running amok on Twitter, Facebook, and the community. Her current release, Falling For Max, is available now from Carina Press.

Author Spotlight: Karina Cooper

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Steampunk is a fun genre that takes what we know of history and adds a fantastical twist with steam-powered technology. This is the world of Cherry St. Croix, heroine of Karina Cooper’s St. Croix Chronicles. Keep scrolling to find out more about the latest St. Croix adventure, as well as world-building advice from Karina!

Playing with Magic by  Karina Cooper

When I was a kid, devouring every fantasy book I could reach, I developed a fascination not just with magic as a thing that exists in adventures, but as a thing that exists in this world. While I can’t claim to believe in fairies—sorry, Tink, hang in there!—I do believe in a lot of the fundamental theories that people these days call “magic”. These beliefs, these desires, tend to color everything from our various religions to our efforts at bettering ourselves.

One of my favorite tools is a Tarot deck. Call it whatever you want, magic or a memory tool or just a random chance draw that may or may not be useful, the foundation of every card is drawn in exquisite balance towards —are you ready for this?—good advice. It doesn’t have to shed fairy dust to be helpful! A single card can remind you of something that you’ve forgotten: the need to take a breath between projects, the opportunity to reflect on your well-being, and even reassurance that we can overcome the conflicts in front of us. Like flash cards for the incurably stressed (guilty!).

When astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson talks about the mysteries left in this world, I always feel a shiver of delight. I think a little magic, a little dream, a little wish for something better isn’t by default a bad thing. What do you think? Is there magic left in this world?

Engraved by Karina Cooper

engravedCherry St. Croix returns to the fog-ridden streets of Victorian London, where the balance of power threatens all that she loves.

I will not wither without laudanum. Sober and determined, I have chosen another way—alchemy, and the pursuit of wellness it embodies. My name is Cherry St. Croix, and though freedom is finally at my fingertips, I return to the blackened streets intent on righting the wrongs I’d left behind.

All is not well in London low. Caught in a war between gangs, men are torn limb from limb, and I am called on to ascertain how. The immoral Karakash Veil is no doubt involved, and Micajah Hawke, a prisoner in his own Menagerie, cannot soften the danger this time.

Armed with the alchemical arts I have learned, my ever present guardian, and what few friends are left to me, I embark on a campaign to rescue the ringmaster I cannot abandon, save the Brick Street Bakers from annihilation, and finally face that which frightens me the most—my own heart.


What Readers are saying about the St. Croix Chronicles

mrstrangeway“A great prequel to one of my favorite steampunk series. It’s a must-read for loyal St. Croix fans and a perfect introduction for readers who have been interested in starting the series.”

–Goodreads review, The Mysterious Case of Mr. Strangeway


“This entire series has been a fast paced thrill ride, containing non-stop action and heart gripping emotion. Corroded had me white knuckle clutching my kindle till the end and left me wanting more.” –Goodreads review, Corroded

“Oh man. Yet again, Karina Cooper had me glued to the edge of my seat for the entire ride. Once the story really got going, I knew there was no putting it down until I finished.”

–Amazon review, Tempered



“This book shows that weaknesses can be overcome and insanity is merely one step away from sanity. Mysterious and filled with supernatural suspense. Can’t wait for the next book in the series. Thumbs up to Karina Cooper!”

–Amazon review, Tempered



You can find out more about Karina Cooper on her website and on Twitter!

Congratulations to Carina Press Prism Award Winners and Finalists!

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On Thursday, July 24, the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal (FF&P) Special Interest Chapter of the Romance Writers of America announced the winners of the 2014 Prism Awards at #RWA14.

Carina Press authors were in attendance and received some pretty serious accolades. Please join us in congratulating Cathy Pegau, PJ Schnyder and Jeffe Kennedy on their recognition from FF&P.

Best of the Best and Futuristic Prism Award Winner

CAUGHT IN AMBER by Cathy Pegau

Caught_In _Amber_finalRecently out of rehab, Sasha James is determined to keep her head down, complete her parole and never touch amber again. The chip in her neck controls her cravings for the highly addictive drug, but also tracks her every move. Not that she goes anywhere other than work and the halfway house she calls home–a far cry from her luxurious former life as lover of the mining colony’s top drug dealer, Guy Christiansen.

Agent Nathan Sterling has no desire to see Sasha fall back into amber, but his sister has become Guy’s latest conquest and the unexpectedly attractive Sasha is the key to getting her back. So in exchange for an introduction, he offers Sasha the one thing she can’t refuse–her freedom. From the chip, her parole and even the planet if she wants. Though he would be sorry to see her go…

Torn between her growing attraction to Nathan, fear of Guy and the allure of amber, Sasha accepts. But who will save her if Guy refuses to let her go a second time?

Cathy’s DEEP DECEPTION was also a finalist in the futuristic category!

Connect with Cathy: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Novella Prism Award Winner


SingForTheDead final coverBook two of London Undead

Kayden, a lone were-leopard allied with the London werewolf pack to keep the zombie infestation in check, is used to working solo–until he discovers a beautiful fae woman surrounded by the aftermath of battle. He’s immediately drawn to Sorcha, but quickly discovers she’s much more than a pretty face.

Half Bean Sidhe and half berserker, Sorcha trained over centuries to become the perfect warrior. She agrees to work with local weres to investigate a new type of zombie capable of coordinated attacks–and is partnered with Kayden. He’s strong, darkly handsome and completely unafraid of her. And his kiss fills her with insatiable desire instead of bloodlust.

As Kayden and Sorcha work together, their attraction grows and their deepest scars are bared to each other. But with the force behind the deadly new zombies poised to overwhelm the city, Sorcha can only pray that the next time her bloodlust strikes, Kayden isn’t among the fallen…

PJ may have been a little excited about her win. ;)

Connect with PJ: Twitter | Facebook | Website | YouTube

Fantasy Prism Award Finalist


Rogues_Possession_finalBook two of Covenant of Thorns

A human trapped in the world of Faerie, in possession of magic I could not control, I made a bargain for my life: to let the dangerously sensual fae noble known as Rogue sire my firstborn. And one does not break an oath with a fae. But no matter how greatly I desire him, I will not succumb. Not until I know what will happen to the child.

Though unable–or unwilling–to reveal the fate of human-fae offspring himself, Rogue accompanies me on my quest for answers. Along the way he agrees to teach me to harness my power, in exchange for a single kiss each day and sleeping by my side each night. Just as I am about to yield to temptation, I find myself in a deadly game of cat and mouse with an insane goddess. Now my search for the truth will lead me to the darkest of all Faerie secrets.

Sequel to Rogue’s Pawnavailable now! Rogue’s Paradise releases September 8!
Connect with Jeffe: Twitter | Facebook | Website

Visit the Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal website to learn more about the Prism Award.

Genre Spotlight: Contemporary Romance

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To the romantics out there, this spotlight is for you! Contemporary romance is a wonderful genre… but why not let author Stacy Gail tell you why:

Stacy Gail on what makes Contemporary Romances unforgettable…

What is it that makes so many contemporary romances unforgettable? You know the kind I mean. They’re the books on your “keeper” shelf, and they’d have to be pried from your cold, dead hands before you’d ever give them up! I’m the same way, and all my faves have certain elements that make them stand out and just plain work. Such as:

Heroine Addiction: I LOVE strong heroines! They’re not the helpless damsels in distress of old waiting to be saved. Hell, no. They might be in distress, but my favorite contemporary damsels can save themselves, thank you very much. (But if there’s a powerful shoulder to cry on later, that’s cool too ;) )

I Can Relate: My favorite stories are populated by characters I can relate to.  No matter the backdrop—a cityscape, a small town, the athletic world or the great outdoors—my favorite contemporary romances resonate because the character’s thoughts and emotions feel like my own. Get me to fall into a character’s head, and I’ll be your lifelong starry-eyed fangirl.

Oh, The Feels: Contemporary romance often deals with real life issues that strike without warning. Nothing rips me up faster than characters enduring modern-day pressures like foreclosures, car accidents or a stalker ex who just won’t freaking stop. When you combine those factors with the internal pressure-cooker of falling in love, everything’s amped up until the characters (and readers!) feel like a quivering, raw nerve.

Super Hero: Last but not least, I NEED A HERO (sorry for the earworm, heh). Contemporary romance heroes are more sensitive to the needs of their lady-loves than ever before. I get swoony over the Alpha male who taps into his inner gladiator to protect the love of his life, while still respecting her inherent right to think for herself. Domineering Alphaholes… well, they’re still out there. But fans of contemporary romance (like me!) love a sexy hero who’s confident enough in himself to not perpetually strong-arm his significant other into doing everything his way.

Today’s contemporary romance is more complex than ever, and Carina Press gets that. Carina’s authors are some of the best in the genre, so if you haven’t tried them out, now is the perfect time to see for yourself. Happy reading!


What’s New in Contemporary Romance…


One Hot Second by Stacy Gail

onehotsecondParker Radclyffe is up against a wall. Thorne Mansion, the mysterious Italianate castle she’s come to Texas to restore, isn’t the problem. No matter how intriguing the relic is, it’s merely an ember compared to the blazing magnetism of its owner, Chandler Thorne.

When his family mansion burned down, Chandler had to watch over a hundred years of proud history go up in smoke. After more than a year, he finally has everything in place to rebuild, including a renowned conservation architect to oversee the restoration. But when he lays eyes on Parker he realizes he’s gotten more than he paid for. Maybe more than he can handle.

Parker is a military brat who never sits still long enough to get burned. Chandler is her opposite, a man with deep roots and deeper family secrets. It won’t be easy to find the common ground it takes to build a home together, but Chandler is a Thorne in every sense. He plans to stick with Parker until she sees that love is more than worth the risk.


Midnight Vengeance by Lisa Marie Rice

midnightMorton “Jacko” Jackman isn’t afraid of anything. He’s a former Navy SEAL sniper, and he’s been in more firefights than most people have had hot meals. Lauren Dare scares the crap out of him.

Gorgeous, talented and refined, she’s the type of woman who could never be interested in a roughneck like him. So he’s loved her fiercely in secret, taken her art classes, and kept a watchful but comfortable distance. Until now.

Lauren had finally found a home in Portland, far from her real identity, far from the memories of her mother’s death, and outside the reaches of the drugged-out psycho who’s already tried to kill her twice. One tiny misstep—a single photograph—has shattered it all. She has no choice but to run again, but this time she’ll give herself a proper farewell: one night with Jacko.

Their highly charged emotional encounter changes everything. In Jacko’s arms there cannot be fear, there can only be pleasure. Anyone wishing her harm will have to pass through him, and Jacko is a hard man to kill.


Across the Line by Kate Willoughby

acrossthelineBook two of In the Zone

Calder Griffin needs to get back in shape. Sidelined last season by a knee injury, he’s determined to return to the San Diego Barracudas and play the best hockey of his career. This might even be the year he gets out of his talented older brother’s shadow.

For months, Becca Chen has poured her energy into Cups, the restaurant she owns, desperate to prove to her parents that she can succeed in the career of her choice, not theirs. But after she spends a five-hour plane ride flirting with charming, magic-on-the-ice Calder, she tells herself she needs a fling.

Becca and Calder can’t keep their hands off each other, but they know the relationship can’t last. They live on opposite coasts, and they’re both too devoted to their careers. All they have to do is prevent their feelings from crossing the line from lust to love…

See how Calder’s teammate Tim found love in On the Surface.


Some Like It Deadly by Heather Long

somelikeitdeadlyBeing the best friend to a prince isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. As attorney and spokesperson for the royal Andraste family, Richard Prentiss lives under a microscope. Fair or not, he’s not able to date like a regular person. So when his personal assistant retires, Richard knows her pretty replacement, Kate, is strictly off-limits.

Kate Braddock’s resume includes special forces training and enough profiling work to pick a threat out of a crowd. None of that prepares her to resist the charming, down-to-earth attorney she’s assigned to protect. Determined to treat him like any other body to guard, she struggles to maintain her distance. It’s her job to step in front of the bullet with Richard’s name on it, nothing more.

When threats against the royal family take a deadly turn and his new assistant foils two attempts on his life, Richard’s grateful—and more than a little intrigued. There’s more to Kate than meets the eye, but what is she hiding? He’ll have to trust her with his life when the danger proves to be closer than either realized…

Book three of Going Royal


Click here for more Contemporary Romance!

Geeks Take on Hollywood!—by Julie Moffett

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CARINA_0714_9781426898730_NoBizLikeShowbizLexi Carmichael, geek girl extraordinaire, is back and this time she’s headed to Hollywood. For those of you not familiar with the series, Lexi is a geek first-class—a gamer, hacker, book nerd and fangirl who double-majored in mathematics and computer science and has zero social skills. Her day job for a hot new cyber-intelligence firm has landed her a job trying to track down a Hollywood hacker who is messing up the online voting for a popular reality dating television show.

The hacker is targeting a show called Geeks Get Some, featuring real-life geeks. After a series of mishaps, the producers convince Lexi to continue her investigation from the inside. What should be an easy hunt for the hacker turns ugly when he sets his sights on her. Add to that a studio obsessed with ratings, a bunch of nerdy contestants, and her own confusing love life, and unraveling this mystery might make her a star…or get her killed.

Need a laugh or two? Download NO BIZ LIKE SHOWBIZ from Carina Press here.


I love writing about Lexi, her friends and their adventures. Who knew geeks could be so much fun? Haven’t tried a Lexi Carmichael adventure yet? Well, you’re in luck! Just for answering the following question on this blog, I’ll enter you in a random drawing to WIN any ebook of mine and some geeky swag to go with it. The question is: “Would you rather be in front of or behind the camera in Hollywood?”


By the way, feel free any time to drop me a line at my website, my Facebook page or on Twitter. I really enjoy chatting with readers, writers, and totally random people. In the meantime, “Get Your Geek On!”


Julie Moffett is a bestselling and award-winning author who writes in the genres of mystery, historical romance and paranormal romance. Learn more about Julie and her books on Facebook, Twitter and her website. She has won numerous awards, including the Holt Medallion 2014, EPIC 2011 Award for Best Action/Adventure Novel, PRISM Award for Best Romantic Time-Travel and Best of the Best Paranormal Books of 2002. She has also garnered nominations for the Daphne du Maurier Award and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.

The Foods of Home—by Inez Kelley

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  • Pepperoni rolls (no sauce! It is not a pizza sub!)
  • Sweet tea (brewed, not powdered)
  • Spinach on my pizza
  • Fried potatoes and Ramps (wild onions, very strong)
  • Venison loin
  • Slaw dogs (Hot dogs with chili and cole slaw)
  • Blackberry jam
  • Applebutter

This list above are foods I consumed within one week of coming home to West Virginia. The mountain views are gorgeous, the air is clean and we had a snake in our yard. But food brings you home in a way nothing else can. Something about those regional favorites that you can’t get anywhere else just cement the feeling of “home” in your belly.

Even if items were available elsewhere (and some are) they don’t taste the same. We’ve gotten many strange looks when we asked for pepperoni rolls in other places. Most times, people assume it is like a sub with pizza toppings. No. It is a hunk of pepperoni baked into a soft roll. That is it. The greasy perfection of it cannot be matched. Occasionally you will see if offered here with cheddar cheese baked in. Never mozzarella. It stems from when the poor Italian coal miners back in the day needed lunches and the pantry was low. They’d wrap a slab of pepperoni in bread dough, bake it and head to the mines. Being poor can sometimes create something wonderful.

Sweet ice tea… self explanatory. When I ask for sweet tea, I do not want to be offered raspberry tea or unsweetened tea with a sugar packet. BLECH! Sweet tea, all day, every day, everywhere.

Spinach on pizza seems normal to me (chain stores often offer it here) but the only places it was offered elsewhere were ‘gourmet’ pizza shops. And they call us hicks?

Fried potatoes and ramps are pure WV heaven. It stinks, true, but the taste is worth it.

Venison loin. I’ll take it over a steak any day.

Slaw dogs. I craved these while pregnant and while living out of state. Keep your ketchup and mustard.

Blackberry jam from a fair vendor, sold in a mason jar. I bought it by the case before I left and family sent it to us when the supply ran out. My children have NEVER eaten grape jam at home. They call it ‘school jelly’ and hate it.

Applebutter made in a caldron over an open fire, the air flavored with apples and cinnamon, once again sold in mason jars. It is the taste of fall in a glass container. Mild is my preference but my husband Big G likes it spicy enough to scorch his tongue. And in my state, applebutter is one word, not two.

I could go on and on with this list. Sausage gravy and biscuits, fried green tomatoes, rhubarb pie, fried bread, potato candy…

What food says “home” to you? And where do you call “home?”


Should’ve Been Home Yesterday

Sweet as Maple, Stubborn as Hickory and Strong as Oak:


Thirteen years ago, Webb Hawkins and Clay McCreedy were best friends, more like brothers than business partners. Determined to push Hawkins Hardwood into the future, their lives were intertwined on every level. Until Webb came home and realized little Molly McCreedy had grown up.

Stay away from my baby sister. It was the one thing Clay had asked of Webb, but it was a promise Webb couldn’t keep, and his actions did more than ruin their friendship—it changed everything. Now Clay is dead, Molly is pregnant after a night of memories and alcohol, and a guilt-ridden Webb needs to put things right.

As what begins as a marriage in name only slowly grows to include the love Webb and Molly have always kept carefully buried, a series of fires erupts across Black Cherry Canyon. And an infamous eco-terrorist sets his sights on Molly—the ultimate pawn in his vendetta against Hawkins Hardwood. To save one, Webb may have to let the other go

INEZ KELLEY was born and bred in the mountains of West Virginia. She currently resides there with her lumberjack husband, their teenage drama queen, Spawnetta, and the Demolition Duo – Damien and his twin, the Omen.

Signup for Inez’s newsletter to get sneak peeks and contest entries. You can visit her at her website  Follow Inez on twitter at @Inez_Kelley or on Facebook at

Carina Press Not-at-Nationals Pitch Session

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Feel like you’re missing out by not attending RWA Nationals this year? Good news! Not all of the editors here at Carina Press are attending either! And those who couldn’t attend this year are taking your pitches in the Carina Press Not-at-Nationals Pitch Session hosted right here on the Carina Press blog!

Have a manuscript you want considered by our fabulous editors? Now’s your chance! Post your pitch below in the comments section and check back to see if an editor has requested your material!

Editors participating in the pitch session:

Deborah Nemeth @DebNemeth
Alissa Davis @AlissaDenay
Melissa Johnson @MelissJohnson
Tina Burns @TinaBurns


Authors are invited to pitch their 200 word (maximum) query and first 100 words or first paragraph for submission. The contest will run from July 23 – July 27 – pitches submitted after this date will not be considered. Please check back on the blog! You must submit your pitch with a valid email address. Authors whose pitches are chosen will be contacted via email. Editors will request materials from authors by July 28. Send your submission no later than July 31, 2014 midnight Eastern. The link you receive will expire after that, and you will be unable to submit via this route. Good luck to all!


1) A complete, ready-to-send, manuscript that falls within the commercial fiction genres that we publish. (Please view our submissions guidelines here)

2) You must be prepared to send your manuscript within 3 days of the Carina Press Not-at-Nationals Pitch Session.

3) The manuscript cannot be one that has previously received a pass letter from us.

4) The manuscript cannot be one that is currently under review with another Harlequin imprint

5) You may pitch more than one project.


1) Post your pitch as a comment on the “Carina Press Not-at-Nationals Pitch Session” blog post which is where the editors will be monitoring the pitches. this blog post will go live on July 23, 2014 9am Eastern.

2) Please do not post pitches for one book in the same blog comment. Enter a separate comment for a new book pitch

3) Please do not post your pitch for the same book more than once

4) Watch for a reply from a Carina Press editor.

5) If an editor lets you know that they’d like to see your submission and your manuscript is NOT currently on submission with us:

a) The editor will contact you via your email address which is required to comment on the blog post. Please be sure to use a valid email address for this purpose
b) Please follow the submission guidelines here and include all required information via the received Submittable link.

If more than one editor asks for your submission, you may choose which editor to send to, though you may also wish to indicate the second editor who had interest, in case the first editor chooses not to read it.

d) Send your submission no later than July 31, 2014 midnight Eastern. The link you receive will expire after that, and you will be unable to submit via this route.


  • You don’t need to direct your pitch to a specific editor. The editors participating will be monitoring the blog comments throughout the day. However, if you want to bring it to the attention of an editor you think it’s particularly suited for, you are welcome to do so. At the bottom of this post is a list of participating Carina Press editors.
  • Please don’t post your pitch more than once on the blog. This includes not changing your pitch five times and posting it five different ways, please. This allows all authors equal opportunity to be seen. Thank you!
  • An updated list of what different editors are looking for is available here. You can see editor bios here.
  • Information about what we publish, our submissions guidelines and specific FAQs can be found here.
  •  Feedback is welcome! Please email us at if ever you have specific, constructive feedback you’d like to share.


Even if your pitch isn’t selected by an editor, that doesn’t mean your project isn’t right for us. In the end, it’s the words you write in the story that will get us to acquire the book, not the words you wrote for the pitch, so if you’ve written something we publish, please still submit it to us. Your chances of having the manuscript acquired are just as good as those whose pitches we single out.

*Permission to forward this post, use it on blogs and author forums is permitted.*

Submit your pitch in the format below. Please be sure that your query and first 100 words/first paragraph adhere to the word counts below.




Manuscript Word Count:

200 maximum word query:

First 100 words or first paragraph of your story:

The Magic of Editing—by A.M. Arthur

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On my last visit to the Carina blog, I yakked a bit about coffee and how I got addicted to it. I’m not going to bore you with a repeat of that experience, but suffice it to say that coffee makes a strong reappearance in Maybe This Time. Ezra Kelley loves himself a good cup of java and is a self-professed coffee snob. Me? I’m good with a can of Folger’s. And don’t worry. This revisit to the world of coffee is actually a gateway into a different topic: the magic of editing.

While initially drafting this book (which was a writing speed-record for me because Ezra and Donner would not shut up), coffee was mentioned a few times in an off-handed way. Ezra drank it because I drink it, so why shouldn’t everyone do it? But as I delved deeper into the story, I realized that Ezra had no direction. He kind of floated through his life with no real goals for his future, and a lot of that is because of his upbringing, as well as a response to a trauma when he was sixteen. But a character who’s stuck in a rut and won’t break free doesn’t make for a very interesting novel, does it? He needed a way out of that rut.

Ezra’s lack of focus is what makes Donner Davis so good for him. Donner has a steady job, a hobby that he loves, and he has family that supports him. He’s the exact opposite of Ezra in those ways, and his steadiness is what kicks Ezra in the butt and makes him want to do something with his life. Thanks to his friendship with Alessandro and Jaime (from No Such Thing), Ezra’s new direction seemed pretty obvious to me: a coffee shop.

At that point in writing, Ezra knew crap about coffee. So I did some Googling of my own, went back to edit a few scenes, and viola! A coffee snob is born. It’s a fun character quirk that gives an aimless man much-needed focus, and a chance at an independent future.

What about you? If you could be an independent business owner, what is your dream business? A restaurant? A kitschy clothing store? A used record album shop?

maybe this time CARINA_0714_9781426898716_MaybeThisTime

Maybe This Time 

As a regular at gay hotspot Pot O Gold, Ezra Kelley avoids his tangled emotions with the simplicity of one-night stands and attachment-free hookups. Until the night bartender Donner Davis picks him up off the floor after a misunderstanding and too much tequila. Ezra can’t remember the last time someone was . . . nice. It’s more than he deserves.

Witnessing his lover’s death two years ago has Donner trapped in a holding pattern—living in his sister’s basement, working at the Pot and flirting with the customers. He’s not above spending a night with the gorgeous Ezra, but love is not in the cards. That’s more than he’s ready for.

A passionate night leads to a connection that neither man expects, and they take the first steps to something that looks like a real relationship. But Ezra’s been running from himself so long he doesn’t know how to live any other way. And Donner can’t risk his heart just to lose everything again. They’ll both need the strength to let go of the past if they want to get it right this time.

About the author

No stranger to the writing world, A.M. Arthur has been creating stories in her head since she was a child, and scribbling them down nearly as long.  She credits an early fascination with male interpersonal relationships (and “The Young Riders”) with her later discovery of and subsequent affair with m/m romance stories.  When not writing, she can be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself with her cuisine experiments.

Contact her at with your cooking tips (or book comments). You can also find her online (, on Tumblr ( and on Twitter (@AM_Arthur).


What Carina Press editors are looking for: July 2014 edition

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Looking for the July 23-27 Carina Press Not at Nationals Pitch Event information post?  Click here: #CarinaNANPitch

Ah, summer. It’s always a busy time at Carina Press–some of us are off to RWA Nationals next week, some of us are heading out on vacation, some of us are sticking closer to home. We’re all hungry for enough excellent submissions to keep us reading well into November. A full breakdown of what each individual editor is looking for right now is down below, but I also wanted to take a moment to highlight six areas Carina Press is especially interested in as we build out our 2015 publishing schedule:

  1. Male/Male: While we’re always looking for contemporaries, we’d also love to see different genres with a m/m romance at the center. Mysteries, romantic suspense, sci-fi, you name it! And we are really hunting for New Adult m/m–all  heat levels considered.
  2. Erotic Romance: Sexual tension is a must in this genre, and we’d really like to see projects with strong series potential. BDSM welcome but not required. 70,000 words and up, please!
  3. Romantic Suspense: True detective/FBI/true suspense, organized crime, and more. High stakes and real danger rule, and again we’re very interested in building a killer (ha!) series. 70,000 words and up preferred.
  4. Historical Romance: Send us your kilts, please! Scotland-set historicals are on our wish list this year, along with Regencies.
  5. New Adult: As noted above, M/M New Adult is a particular area of interest for us in 2015. We’re also looking to acquire other subgenres of NA, beyond contemporary.
  6. Mystery: Cozies, amateur sleuths, detectives, offbeat mysteries & grittier crime fiction. We want ‘em all.

As always, just because something is not listed above does not mean we aren’t  acquiring it. If we publish it, we’re looking for it–and if you’ve written something that fits within our submission guidelines, we want to see it!

Angela James, Editorial Director:

Right now my personal wish list focuses heavily on two things: a dark erotic thriller that pushes the edges of exploring forced seduction, fantasy and eroticism, and a romantic suspense series that features mercenaries who are anti-heroes and anti-heroines.

Otherwise, some of my wish list remains much the same.

  • I long for a super, super sexy (but not necessarily erotic) contemporary romance with sexually charged dialogue, sexual tension build-up and a dirty-talking hero.
  • I’d go to bat in the acquisitions meeting for a great cowboy rebellion-type space opera, still (I wonder how many years I’ve been asking for that Firefly-flavored story? 8? 10?)

Mostly, I would really love to see projects that push the boundaries, make me squirm a little in discomfort, but still deliver a satisfying romance with a happily ever after and a great sexiness. All alpha heroes welcome, including those who are kind of jerks to start off with, but spunky heroines who aren’t doormats are an absolute must!

Kerri Buckley, Editor: I’m actively acquiring in all genres except for sci-fi. Here’s what I’m crossing my fingers to find in my submission inbox ASAP:

  • Dry, funny, or sarcastic mysteries, cozy or otherwise. If your gumshoe has a standout or off-color sense of humor, please send him/her my way
  • Darker, grittier mysteries, particularly psychological thrillers
  • Heroine-driven romantic suspense. Kickass girls with guns/knives/lasers/nunchucks. Unusual, non-traditional professions a bonus: female firefighters, submarine captains, military unit leaders, etc. Emphasis on the suspense (rather than the romance) or a 50/50 split
  • Contemporary *and* historical projects set in Eastern Europe and/or involving Eastern European families, traditions, mysticism, lore. A lot of flexibility here, but no time travel, please
  • An Army Wives-like contemporary series where the focus is on the homefront rather than the battlefield

Freelance editors actively acquiring (* indicates the editor will be participating in #CarinaNANPitch July 23-27):

Rhonda Helms:Here are some types of submissions I’m always eager for:

  • New Adult (contemporary, sci-fi/fantasy/futuristic, historical)
  • LGBTQ romance
  • Romance in any steaminess level from sweet to spicy, though I love super-hot stuff. ;-)
  • Laugh-out-loud romantic comedies
  • Contemporary, historical or sci-fi/fantasy/futuristic erotic romance
  • Genre blends (LGBTQ western? Paranormal Victorian? Hit me with ‘em!)
  • Multicultural and/or PoC (people of color) submissions
  • Action-packed sci-fi/futuristic non-romance (or with romantic elements)
  • Epic fantasy series with clear, thorough worldbuilding and unique/atypical elements

And now, a few specific submissions I’ve been craving:

  • LGBTQ romantic comedy
  • A regency/Victorian romance or western romance featuring PoC
  • A fresh take on the upstairs-downstairs romance (like Downton Abbey)–contemporary or historical
  • A sexy romance featuring heroes or heroines who work with their hands, like carpenters or skilled tradesmen/women (series are great!)
  • First-responders romances featuring firefighters, police officers, EMTs, etc. (series are great!)
  • Military romances (series are great!)
  • A dark, atmospheric, sexy gothic romance–contemporary or historical
  • Edgy/envelope-pushing New Adult romance, any genre
  • Edgy/envelope-pushing erotic romance, any genre

Deborah Nemeth*: I’m looking for stories with flawed, passionate characters and high-stakes conflict. In my favorite books, the protagonists have to suffer before saving the day or getting their happy-ever-after. I’m drawn to antiheroes and clever characters, and I have a special fondness for alphas, geeks, soldiers, cops, athletes, cowboys, blue-collar heroes/heroines, and bad boys who walk on the wrong side of the law.

Here are some things on my current wish list:

  • Romantic suspense so adrenaline-fueled it will keep me reading all night—military, revenge, espionage, terrorists, serial killers, stalkers, conspiracies and cover-ups…
  • Male/male, especially New Adult, mystery, romantic suspense or contemporary romance
  • Mysteries and crime fiction, particularly brain-teasing cozies and gritty procedurals, with strong hooks, sharp sleuths and series potential. Also fast-paced capers and heists with elaborate cons à la Ocean’s Eleven and The Thomas Crown Affair
  • Historical romance that will transport me back in time, especially Regency but also Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian and the courts of the Tudors and Plantagenets
  • Contemporary romance with solid conflict and sparkling dialogue in any heat level/setting
  • Edgy New Adult with a fresh voice and emotional intensity that pushes the envelope
  • Political and palace intrigue, whether in fantasy (think Game of Thrones), historical romance (Tudors) or contemporary settings (West Wing, House of Cards, Scandal)

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 wants to dive into the complexities of character relationships. And even more, discover characters who may be morally ambiguous—people who do bad things for good reasons. The more complex the character, the more layered and complicated, the more she wants to read about him/her.

She’s looking for all genres, but there are a few things she’s especially keeping an eye out for:

  • New Adult! I’m especially looking for those that feature quirky characters
  • Stories with gothic elements
  • I’ve been hoping to find a sweet M/M
  • Historical Romance—While I don’t edit Regencies, I am always looking for intriguing historical settings. Anything WWII set or prior is fair game
  • Romantic suspense
    • An especially thrilling find would be a suspense that’s set amongst the Amish (non-inspirational)—like Witness or Karen Harper’s romantic suspense series
  • I adore quirky characters. Nerdy/dorky heroines or heroes. Funny relatives, etc.
  • Gritty thrillers. Bring on bad boys/girls, ambiguous morals, complex characters!
    •  I recently became hooked on the show Leverage, and the banter and continued growth as we follow the band of thieves kept me hooked to the end.
  • Historical Mysteries. Especially turn of the century, urban settings (like The Alienist).
    • Think Copper or Hell on Wheels
    • If you have a character similar to Jax, from Sons of Anarchy, but in a historical setting, Mallory will bribe you with pie to send the book to her
  • Cozy mysteries
  • “Band of Brother” type series. Examples would be Nora Roberts’s trilogies, Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters, or Nalini Singh’s Psy/Changeling series. Where an emphasis is on the building of multiple characters’ relationships and continued development of the world/external stakes
  • Stories with unique worlds/setting, including, but not limited to: steampunk, post-apocalyptic, shifter-paranormals, and urban fantasy. I love stories that cross genres in an unique way.

Alissa Davis*:

  • Erotic romance with strong dialogue and great sexual tension—bonus points for heroes and heroines who rock at talking dirty
  • M/m in any subgenre and heat level
  • Marriage of convenience romance
  • Sports romance, particularly soccer, football, hockey and baseball. I can’t catch a ball to save my life, but I love editing these books
  • New Adult, particularly m/m New Adult
  • Geeky heroes and heroines. The more awkward they are, the more I love them
  • Foodie romance, where preparing or eating food plays a large role in the plot and is part of how the characters come together
  • Military romance, m/m or m/f. The hero or heroine can be active military or retired.
  • Angsty, dark historical romance with high-stakes conflict keeping the hero and heroine apart
  • Medical romance
  • Romantic suspense with high-stakes conflict, twisted plots and awesome heroines who aren’t about to be damseled
  • I’d love to see a teacher and student scenario where one of the adult characters is in the other one’s adult dance class, cooking class, film, etc.
  • Any combo of the above. New Adult mystery military LGBTQ romance, anyone?

Jeff Seymour: I’d love to get my hands on a great romantic suspense or some truly can’t-put-it-down speculative fiction with romantic or LGBTQ elements, particularly:

  • Romantic suspense with pedal-to-the-floor pacing and a high spice level
  • I’m still waiting for my m/m steampunk romance
  • Genre tropes explored, either playfully or seriously

I like my heroes more interested in nurturing than controlling and my heroines self-aware and empowered. I’m a sucker for great world building, interesting settings, and characters who are unusual takes on an archetype as well.

Melissa Johnson* would love to acquire:

  • A contemporary romance with heroes and heroines who are passionate about each other and about something in their lives: community, career, family, hobby…etc. She’s looking for the couple’s personal conflicts to be woven with strong external conflicts.
  • A traditional historical romance with the classic rake who is ready to reform and the innocent who disarms him and gains sophistication. Melissa would love them to have exciting and slightly devastating misunderstandings and obstacles.
  • A fantasy/science fiction romance that combines elements of history and an imagined future to create a robust and unique world. She’d be thrilled to see an author build a new genre, comparable to steampunk, but with a different era, region and tech/historical elements.

Tina Burns*: I’m looking for romance, from sweet to erotic and open to any sub-genre. I love unique stories and twists on the norm. I’m looking for flawed but redeemable characters that linger long after I’m done reading. Specifically I would love to see:

  • New Adult (contemporary and mixed genre, New Adult M/M)
  • Romantic Comedies
  • LGBTQ romance
  • Historical Romance – Gothic, Paranormal/Psychic, Alternate, Wild, Wild West-ish
  • Mystery Romance with paranormal/psychic/Other elements.