The Fashion Items that Olivia Christakos Can’t Live Without

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What is the one fashion item that you can’t live without?

Me, I’m pretty low maintenance, but I sure love my leggings and warm boots in the wintertime. For summer, I like a loose-fitting tube top while I garden and a cowboy hat to shade my face. I also need chapstick, which isn’t exactly a fashion item, and my glasses, which make me look smarter. I also like comfy shoes for work (or all the time, really—the last time I wore heels was at my sixth grade dance) cardigans because I get cold easily.

Olivia is much more into fashion than I am. It would be difficult for me to pick just one item that she couldn’t leave behind, but if I had to choose, it would be shoes. Oh man, that girl loves her shoes. If she had fifty dollars in her purse and had to choose between groceries for a week and a new pair of shoes, she would definitely pick the shoes. She’s embarrassed by how many pairs she has.

Follow Olivia Christakos’s board Fashion Items I Can’t Live Without on Pinterest.

Her Pinterest board is full of shoes, among other things. She likes strappy heels mostly, with a girly style to them. Italian leather, animal print, and fake bling pumps…she loves them all. She also likes dresses and skirts (preferably leather, but she’d take faux leather in a pinch). She also loves designer bags, but can’t afford them. Her secret love is celebrity fashion. She doesn’t know why she cares so much, but she just loves to see what famous people are wearing. If she could pull off some of the crazy things they wear, she’d do it.

When Olivia loses her memory, though, her tastes change drastically. I think the new Olivia would probably chose a comfy old pair of jeans and ballet flats over high fashion any day. She doesn’t go for a lot of jewelry and her hair is usually pulled back in a ponytail. She does this at first because she’s confused about her relationship with Wyatt and doesn’t want him thinking that she’s dressing up for him. But after a while, she gets more comfortable and the dresses start to make an appearance again.

So what is a wardrobe staple you have to have in your life? Sweatpants? Your grandma’s ring? A headband to keep your bangs out of your face?

CARINA_0615_9781426899911_OliviaChristakosandherSecondFirstTimeMy perfect life…

True, I’m in the hospital waking up from a coma, but my loving parents and adorable boyfriend, Wyatt, are here by my side. It’s weird that I don’t remember them—thanks, amnesia! Wyatt’s an amazing person. He’s a Big Brother, volunteers at soup kitchens, delivers food to the hungry—your basic angel. Your basic filled-out-in-all-the-right-places, naughty-thoughts-inducing angel, that is.

Might be the perfect lie…

In fact, the more I get to know Wyatt the harder it is to believe he’s my boyfriend. The more I find out about my life before the accident, the more I don’t like who I used to be. I can’t understand what a guy like that—kind, considerate, generous—would see in a girl like me.

I don’t know what’s worse, living in the darkness of amnesia or discovering the despicable person I once was. But I’ve got to figure out if I have what it takes to be the person Wyatt truly deserves—before I lose my heart as well as my memories.

91,000 words

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Dani Irons is a teacher, mother, wife, and gardener. She shares her life with four messy guys (her husband and three sons), two heelers, twenty-five chickens, two turkeys, and a handful of quail. Her house is never very clean because she’d rather be reading or writing than picking up.


How Well Do You Know Lexi Carmichael (or How Geeky Are You?)

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By Julie Moffett, author of NO WOMAN LEFT BEHIND

To celebrate the release of the seventh book in my humorous, geeky Lexi Carmichael mystery series, NO WOMAN LEFT BEHIND, I’m offering the chance to match wits with the geek girl herself. For those of you not familiar with the series, Lexi Carmichael is a twenty-five year old geek, fangirl, gamer and hacker. She has a high IQ, but struggles with social skills and personal relationships. Being a female in a male dominated career field also makes getting the job done a lot more difficult. But by using her brains and wit, she always seems able to save the day, world, guy…whatever. Throw in a couple of sexy spies, hot secret agents, capable hackers, and cute geniuses, and life for Lexi gets really, REALLY interesting.

So, come test your knowledge with my little quiz to see if you pass the geek test. There are questions about Lexi and the gang with a couple of geeky questions thrown in for fun. Get Your Geek On!




If you score 100% — You are a True Geek (and a real Lexi fan!)

If you score 90% — You are a Geek-on-the-Edge

If you score 80% — You are a Geek-in-Training

If you score below 80% — Read some more of the Lexi Carmichael series! J

Put your score in the comments below to be entered for a signed PRINT mass market paperback copy of NO ONE LIVES TWICE. Good luck!

CARINA_0615-9781426899782_NoWomanLeftBehindMy mother’s life goal has been to see me, geek extraordinaire Lexi Carmichael, happily married. So bringing my first boyfriend, Slash, home for dinner has me hyperventilating. Things get a lot worse when bullets start flying over our corn chowder.

Now the entire alphabet soup of government agencies want my help finding the man behind the attack—Johannes Broodryk, a cyber mercenary I foiled on my last case. He wants revenge and he’s taken something of mine to ensure I’ll play, so it’s game on. But the government has its own agenda, and Slash is not on board with the plan. Things are a bit bumpy in paradise.

Although I’m more comfortable with computer code than commandos, I’ve been assigned a team of navy SEALs to help bring Broodryk down. The question is, will they survive me long enough to solve his cryptic puzzles and save the day?

Don’t miss Lexi’s first adventure in No One Lives Twice!

81,400 words

Get your copy of NO WOMAN LEFT BEHIND from Carina Press or your favorite ebook retailer:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo


Julie Moffett is a bestselling author and writes in the genres of historical romance, paranormal romance and mystery. She has won numerous awards, including the prestigious 2014 HOLT Award for Best Novel with Romantic Elements, a HOLT Merit Award for Best Novel by a Virginia Author, a PRISM Award for Best Romantic Time-Travel and Best of the Best Paranormal Books of 2002, and the 2011 EPIC Award for Best Action/Adventure novel. She has also garnered additional nominations for the Chanticleer Mystery & Mayhem Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.  Follow Julie on Facebook here, or on Twitter @JMoffettAuthor, or her website at Watch an interview with Julie on the Lexi Carmichael series here.

From the Editor’s Desk: Dialogue

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Here at Carina, we’re always looking for new authors to sign, publish and build. But we recognize that putting your manuscript out on submission can be an intimidating process. How do you make your manuscript stand out, from the query letter to the last page? We’re here to demystify the submissions process by giving you some insight into what a Carina Press editor looks for when she opens up a submission for review.

Today’s post comes from Rhonda Helms. Rhonda is a freelance acquisitions and developmental editor with Carina Press, where she’s worked for over 5 years. She’s actively seeking submissions in a wide variety of genres and encourages you to send your compelling reads to her. Rhonda’s here today to talk about how to make your dialogue amazing.

We’re all aware that dialogue is a vital part of a story. We get to know characters, learn key information about the plot, snicker at jokes, cringe from awkward confessions, and even swoon with romantic lines. Nailing dialogue in your manuscript can help you hook an editor, fast.

Here are my do’s and don’t’s for making sure dialogue rings true and fits the story:

  • Snip that info dump! As an editor, I see this a lot, authors using dialogue exchanges to relay information to the reader. I’ve heard people call it the “as you know, Bob” syndrome. If your characters are telling each other stuff they both already know (“As you know, Bob, our father ran away with his secretary last year”), then it’s not reading realistically. In fact, it’s kind of annoying and even weird in real life when people do this to us, right? So find a better way to layer in key story information—preferably in the narrative, and only when it’s relevant to helping us understand your current scene.
  • Watch for proper name/job title/nickname abuse. People rarely say each other’s proper names or job titles (sir, Doctor, Officer, Detective, etc.) when we’re speaking, so keep use of those sparing. And when your character is using a pet name/nickname far too often, it comes across as inauthentic and even cheesy.
  • Contractions matter. I typically see this in sci-fi, fantasy, or historical submissions, the utter lack of contractions. While it may be tempting to avoid contractions to make a character sound fancy, intelligent or foreign, more often than not it makes them sound stilted and can create awkward dialogue. Please, use contractions—love an editor. ;-)
  • Make sure your characters sound different. If we strip out your narrative, your dialogue tags, can we essentially tell who’s speaking based on your dialogue alone? There are lots of ways to help your characters feel unique—keep in mind their gender, age, location, education level, etc., and layer those distinguishing touches into their speeches. That said, think of it as seasoning. It’s easy to veer too far and make your character hard to understand or, worse, clichéd or stereotypical.
  • Careful of…overuse of…ellipses… Characters tend to drawl off, to stop and start sentences. I get it; that’s realistic. We all do it. But too many ellipses make your character sound goofy at best, and asthmatic at worst. “But…I just…love…your eyes…” It sounds like that person is drawing a deep breath every word or two. Someone give him or her an inhaler! Lol. Yes, an exaggerated example, but I do see ellipsis abuse in dialogue quite a bit.
  • Dialogue should be realistic, yes, but not boringly so. Think about how real people talk and borrow those elements, but make sure to keep your dialogue interesting and compelling and purposeful. We don’t want boring back-and-forth about how someone’s day is going, or people rambling about other things that don’t matter to your plot. And be careful about having one character go on and on without a break in the prose. People interrupt each other—how often does someone in real life actually speak for paragraphs on end without anyone else doing or saying something in response? Also, we know that people repeat themselves, or go off on tangents all the time. So use those elements in your dialogue, of course, but sparingly. Purposefully. Pepper them in, and keep that pacing tight, your narrative focused.
  • Make dialogue tags your friend—a casual friend you don’t overuse, that is. ;-) Dialogue is more than just the words being spoken. It’s the manner in which those words are spoken. It’s the facial expressions and body language of the speaker, the emotions manifesting in the body while talking. You can use dialogue tags, and the narrative around the dialogue, to convey what’s not being said in the words themselves. But be careful about repeating yourself. If a character is saying something that sounds angry, no need to also say that the person said it angrily. Trust your dialogue, and/or the way you show the anger in the character’s body language, to convey that emotion. Also, don’t be afraid to stick to a simple “said” for your tag, but if you do go beyond that into something more descriptive, don’t go overboard with it.
  • Watch for parroting/echoing dialogue. I see this so, soooo much, characters repeating each other. It slows your pacing and can even make your characters sound like they’re not that intelligent. “I washed your car,” he said. “You washed my car?” she asked. Characters don’t need to echo each other unless it’s for intentional purpose, because it can get annoying, fast. So if you use it, that’s totally fine, but I suggest you keep it very, very sparing.

Thank you for reading—we hope these tips have you excited to submit your manuscript to Carina Press! Here are some quick references to help you through the submissions process:

  • We’re always open to submissions!
  • We respond to all submissions within 12 weeks.
  • Have a question and can’t find the answer on our guidelines page? Email us at and we’re happy to help.
  • Looking to target your submission to a specific editor? Find out more about editor submission calls here.
We are currently acquiring We do not publish/no longer accept submissions in
All subgenres and heat levels of romance (excluding inspirational romance) Non-fiction of any form, including memoirs, biographies, poetry
New Adult Women’s Fiction
Historical romance Horror
Mystery and Crime (all sub genres) Thrillers
Action Adventure Literary Fiction
Science Fiction (and sub genres) Faith-based/inspirational fiction or romance
Fantasy (and sub genres) General historical fiction (any historical fiction that does not contain mystery, fantasy, alternate history or romance as primary focus)
Interactive Adventures Young Adult


Looking for more information on our submissions process? We’ll have more posts coming in this series, and in the meantime, you can read about our acquisitions process here, and find out more about what an editor does here.

Ready to submit? Click here to start your publishing journey with Carina Press!

Enter to Win a Group Critique in New York City!

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We’re bringing our popular critique group workshop to RWA in New York City and giving you a chance to win a spot in the group!

This workshop is an opportunity for authors to solicit professional and peer feedback on their manuscript, in real time, in a helpful, constructive and kind environment. We’ll discuss overall story arcs, the all-important “hook,” pacing, characterization and tension (among many others). Attendees are given marked-up manuscript pages to take with them when they go.

WIN the opportunity to join either Carina Press Editorial Director Angela James or Senior Editor Kerri Buckley and a small group of your fellow authors, and get feedback from both Angela/Kerri and your peers on your work-in-progress.

Critique groups will be held concurrently on Thursday, July 23rd, 2015 from 1-3p EST in New York City at an office location a five-minute walk from the RWA conference hotel, the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square.

At the event, each author will be allotted 20 minutes in which they will receive feedback from both Angela/Kerri and the other author participants. Participants are asked and expected to read and comment on all chapters prior to the event and not just attend to receive comments on their own work. All critiques will be expected to be helpful, constructive, and framed kindly. These types of groups are most successful with a variety of feedback and discussion! Participants are encouraged to print out the pages and comment directly on them, so they can be handed directly to the authors after the critique session.

To enter: 

  • Visit and follow the onscreen instructions to submit title, genre, target market and 150-word summary of the story you would like to have critiqued at the Critique Group.
  • We will select winners via random selection from qualifying entries on July 1, 2015. Winners will be notified by email.
  • Click here for Official Rules.


  • Manuscripts submitted for critique must be unpublished and uncontracted work (we do not want to step on another editor’s editing process!) but authors who want to participate may be at any stage of their writing career.
  • Manuscripts for the critique groups must fall within these adult fiction genres:
    • Romance (all genres/subgenres & heat levels)
    • New adult (all subgenres)
    • Mystery (of any subgenre/niche)
    • As we do not publish young adult or younger, we are unable to offer feedback on these genres/manuscripts in these critique groups.

If Selected:

  • Winners must confirm their attendance and upload the following (via link provided in notification email) by July 8, 2015:

2 chapters

A longer synopsis (~500 words recommended), if desired

  • Please remove all identifying name/address/phone number information from your pages.
  • Chapters will be forwarded to all critique group participants for blind commentary prior to arrival at the critique group.

Additional Information: 

Those entering must be able to attend the critique group on the date and time set above in person. Potential winners may not attend via any other means, including conference call or video chat. No date/time substitutions will be offered and feedback will not be given at any other time. Participants must be aware that their chapters will be shared with the other group participants in order to provide commentary and critique. Winning authors may not transfer their place in the group to another author. In the event that someone cannot attend, a new participant will be selected. All authors must confirm their attendance no later than July 8th, 2015. If attendance is not confirmed by that time, a new participant will be chosen.

Entries and/or submissions are not considered to be submissions to either Carina Press or Harlequin and all non-winning entries will be deleted.

Note: Authors should consider this an opportunity to solicit professional and peer feedback on their manuscript, not as an opportunity to pitch their project to each editor.  Authors who participate in these sessions are welcome to submit to Carina/Harlequin following official submission guidelines, but chapters for this session will be used only for the purpose of critique and will not be considered submitted for potential publication.

Please email with questions.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER.  Sweepstakes opens 6/1/2015 at 12:01 AM (EDT) and closes 6/30/2015 at 11:59 PM (ET). Enter online at (the “Promotion Website”). Open to legal residents of the U.S. and Canada (excluding Quebec) who have reached the age of majority in their state/province/territory of residence or older. Void where prohibited by law. Void in Quebec. Ten (10) prizes available to be won consisting of a spot at a critique group workshop in New York on July 23, 2015. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Full details and Official Rules available online at Promotion Website. Sponsor: Harlequin Enterprises Limited.



Infographic: Happy 5th Anniversary, Carina Press!

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Next week we celebrate 5 years since the very first Carina Press books went on sale. We’re thrilled to celebrate our anniversary with our favorite people: Carina readers and authors! So here’s a “countdown” look at how it all started and what we have to celebrate in 2015:

5 Years of Carina Press Infographic_Final


Spotlight on Action Heroes

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Do you like characters who are brave in the face of danger and have no problem standing up for themselves and the ones they love? These brave heroes and heroines will definitely catch your eye. Look below and discover the action hero of your dreams!

Deadly Strain by Julie Rowe

{A35A5F21-5B9D-4E2E-B372-EF77C1E67CD8}Img100Major Grace Samuels, a trauma surgeon deployed to Afghanistan, spends her life helping her fellow soldiers overcome disease and combat injuries. But her own wounds are harder to heal. Wracked with guilt over the death of a fellow soldier, she finds comfort in her only friend and appointed bodyguard, weapons sergeant Jacob “Sharp” Foster.

Sharp feels more for Grace than a soldier should, more than he wants to admit. When the team discovers a new, quick-to-kill strain of anthrax, he tries to focus on the mission to find its source. He knows he can help Grace defeat her demons, but first they must defeat the deadly outbreak.

Sharp is Grace’s most loyal ally, but in close quarters, he starts to feel like more. She can’t watch someone else she cares about die–but she might not have a choice. The closer they get to finding the source of the strain, the closer it gets to finding them.

Midnight Secrets by Lisa Marie Rice

81M7ZdjiUQL._SL1500_ (1)When a gorgeous, bleeding woman on the run falls into the arms of Sean “Metal” O’Brien, the former SEAL medic knows just what he can do. Heal her. Tend to her. Keep her safe.

What he can’t seem to do is keep his guard up. Something about the haunted, hunted beauty knocks down all his defenses.

Felicity Ward is no stranger to secrets. Raised in the Witness Protection Program, her whole childhood was a lie. But she couldn’t have known that her family’s secrets–secrets she didn’t even know she was keeping–could spark a nuclear war.

And nothing could have prepared her for the tough, sexy warrior who first saves her life and then vows to protect it, no matter what.

No Women Left Behind by Julie Moffett

{FA5A30D4-3F1F-4272-AEFB-1624E1B2A4B8}Img100My mother’s life goal has been to see me, geek extraordinaire Lexi Carmichael, happily married. So bringing my first boyfriend, Slash, home for dinner has me hyperventilating. Things get a lot worse when bullets start flying over our corn chowder.

Now the entire alphabet soup of government agencies want my help finding the man behind the attack–Johannes Broodryk, a cyber mercenary I foiled on my last case. He wants revenge and he’s taken something of mine to ensure I’ll play, so it’s game on. But the government has its own agenda, and Slash is not on board with the plan. Things are a bit bumpy in paradise.

Although I’m more comfortable with computer code than commandos, I’ve been assigned a team of navy SEALs to help bring Broodryk down. The question is, will they survive me long enough to solve his cryptic puzzles and save the day?

Do you have a favorite action hero? Let us know in the comments below!


Spotlight on Dani Irons

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Looking for a New Adult romance to add to your summer reading list? Be sure to check out Olivia Christakos and Her Second First Time by Dani Irons–your eyes will be glued to the page! Read on for a note from the author herself and to find out more about this exciting new read!

Finding Your Genre by Dani Irons

It took me a long time to figure out what genre fit me as a writer. I started to write in YA when I was reading Sarah Dessen and had first discovered TWILIGHT. I heard about a Stephenie Meyer who, like me, who had three small boys and was able to get writing done during the day. So I decided I could too. It took me three years to get the book done, and it still wasn’t any good. The premise was interesting, I think–and unique, for sure–but the writing itself wasn’t there and some elements were just too weird to most people.

I tried stories that were a little less weird–a magical realism YA, an MG set in Kazakhstan, even a chapter book–but nothing came out the way I wanted it to. I kept trying to put in mature, adult elements in some of the younger stuff I wrote, but I didn’t think writing adult fiction suited my writing style. So when New Adult came to my attention, I thought, “Well, maybe…”

So I tried it and it fit like a glove. I love the flexibility NA has. It can be straight contemporary with a little romance or fantasy with a lot. I think it still has a long way to go, too, to develop into the genre it will end up being in a few years.

Currently, my books tend to lean toward contemporary with mild to moderate romance. But I feel I can stretch my writing muscles in the maturity department as far as I want to go. I like to be able to cuss and talk about things that are borderline taboo because I know my audience can handle it.

Sometimes it’s easier for writers to choose their genre than it was for me. I don’t remember where I heard this, but someone said if you want to know what to write, look at your nightstand. Meaning, write what you like to read. But I read everything. Chapter books, picture books, MG, fantasy, crime, thrillers, YA and memoir. So it wasn’t as easy for me to pick what I should write. Actually, it’s taken six years. But in that time, I’ve learned a lot. Sometimes I wish that I would have figured my genre out sooner, but I met a lot of different kinds of writers, learned what I did and didn’t want to do, learned some tough lessons, and felt the loss of more than half a dozen shelved books.

I try not to look back over those six years, only forward, and hope that someday that’ll get me to where I want to be as a writer.

About Olivia Christakos and Her Second First Time:

{77A58807-63D5-4521-A725-1F69FADFEAEA}Img100My perfect life…

True, I’m in the hospital waking up from a coma, but my loving parents and adorable boyfriend, Wyatt, are here by my side. It’s weird that I don’t remember them–thanks, amnesia! Wyatt’s an amazing person. He’s a Big Brother, volunteers at soup kitchens, delivers food to the hungry–your basic angel. Your basic filled-out-in-all-the-right-places, naughty-thoughts-inducing angel, that is.

Might be the perfect lie…

In fact, the more I get to know Wyatt the harder it is to believe he’s my boyfriend. The more I find out about my life before the accident, the more I don’t like who I used to be. I can’t understand what a guy like that–kind, considerate, generous–would see in a girl like me.

I don’t know what’s worse, living in the darkness of amnesia or discovering the despicable person I once was. But I’ve got to figure out if I have what it takes to be the person Wyatt truly deserves–before I lose my heart as well as my memories.

Visit Dani Irons on Twitter, Facebook and her website!

Welcome Pitch Session with Libby Murphy!

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Dear Authors,

I’m Libby Murphy, and I’m a new freelance editor for Carina Press. This is a pretty exciting time for me because I’m on the hunt for books! I’m just starting out at Carina, so right now I don’t have any books on my list. I’m super excited to start acquiring and about getting to work with talented authors.

With that hunger for submissions in mind, I’m here on the blog today from 9 am Eastern to 9 pm Eastern to offer a personal feedback opportunity. Pitch me your book in the comments below; I’ll be requesting manuscripts and offering personalized, expedited feedback on ten of them!

Before we move on to the rules, I bet you’re wondering what kinds of books I’m looking for. In no particular order, here are some things I’d love to see:

  • Sexy contemporary romance with humor, heated banter, and adventurous plots (adventure is a loose term, btw–it can be an actual adventure, like through the jungle, or an emotional adventure).
  • Romantic suspense of all kinds, although I do prefer a storyline that’s a bit heavier on the romance, and even some humor here and there. I’d love to see anything from a small town caper to an Indiana Jones-like adventure.
  • Cozy mysteries that feature a smart, sassy heroine who can grow not only over the course of one book, but throughout a series.
  • Paranormal romance and urban fantasy that’s full of wicked awesome world building. I’m not a huge fan of psychics and vampires, but I adore dragons and shapeshifters.
  • Science fiction romances that feature dystopian worlds, worlds falling apart, space adventures, futuristic worlds, and more.


In all of the above categories, I am happy to consider adult romance, new adult romance, LGBT, and all heat levels (although I do tend to gravitate toward sexier stories).




  • You must have a complete, ready-to-send, manuscript that falls within the commercial fiction genres that we publish. (Please view our submissions guidelines here.)
  • You must pitch your manuscript in the form of a comment on this blog post between 9 am EST and 9 pm EST.
  • You must be prepared to send your manuscript by June 15, 2015. Any manuscripts sent to my attention after June 15, 2015 will still be fairly reviewed by me but won’t be eligible for the feedback opportunity.
  • The manuscript you’re pitching must be new material, not previously published material, whether self-published or released via a publisher. Only new material will be considered during this event.
  • The manuscript cannot be one that has previously received a pass letter from Carina Press.
  • You may pitch more than one project. All submissions will be considered, but only ten will receive personal feedback.



  • If your book meets the guidelines above, pitch it to me in the comments below.
  • Watch for a response in the comments! If I respond to your pitch asking you to submit, please send it to us via Submittable, following the submission guidelines Make sure to address your query letter to me and to note that your manuscript was requested in the blog pitch session.


I will be selecting ten pitches for feedback, but I welcome all submissions! If your pitch isn’t selected for feedback, you are still welcome to submit it to Carina, as we’re always open to submissions. All submissions will be considered, but only ten will receive personal feedback as a part of this opportunity.

And one last note. If you don’t have something ready to go, no worries! I’m always open for submissions, and would be happy to consider your project at a later date through the regular submissions process.

I’m looking forward to seeing your pitches!

Best wishes,


Sexuality in the Future

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By Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen, authors of LONELY SHORE


It’s tempting to suggest sexuality will be a non-issue in the future. When humanity is more concerned with solving energy crises, preserving our planet, exploring our galactic neighbourhood and/or defending our existence against the ant people from Celeron 5, should it matter who we’re sleeping with? No, but it shouldn’t have mattered in the last century, or way back before we measured time—and often, it didn’t.

Our history is full of instances of homosexual love. Not just sex, but love and relationships between same sex couples. It’s tempting to delve into that history, because I find it fascinating—what writer wouldn’t—but the setting for Chaos Station series is 240 years from now, and Jenn and I had a very specific thoughts on how we’d like to present sexuality in the future: who you chose to sleep with would be nobody’s business but your own.

Zander questions his sexuality early in life when he’s sorting out his desires—partly because he’s a thoughtful guy and likes to label and sort his life, and partly because he’s attracted to both women and men. He knows that the choice is his, however. Felix always knew he preferred men. He always knew he preferred Zander over other men, too, which is a more essential part of his character than his preference alone. Both of their attitudes are normal in the world of Chaos Station, as are three-way partnerships, sex bots and being best friends with your left hand.

“…in the black, sex was all about comfort and companionship, or just something to do on the long jumps between stations.”

No world is perfect, however, and the one we created is no exception. In Lonely Shore, our guys attend a festival on the planet Risus where their relationship makes the colonists uncomfortable. It’s our alien pilot’s fault. Qekelough (pronounced kek-eh-low) finds human sexuality fascinating—probably because ashushk sexuality is pretty obscure. Qek is genderless and will likely remain so for her entire life. She’s chosen a female pronoun because she works with a human crew. The refrigerator is an it. If she returns to her home planet, an ashushk gender might manifest, which would trap her there for the rest of her natural life. For ashushk, sexuality is not about finding comfort and love, it’s a biological imperative.

For the colonists of the planet Risus, it’s all about procreation.

“On a colony, sex meant procreation, and some settlements had adopted old, outdated attitudes toward sex that had no possibility of creating life.”  

It would be naïve to assume everyone on Risus is heterosexual, and if we were to write the coming out story of one of their sons or daughters, I would hope we could make it hopeful. That the future Jenn and I envision comes with choices. That love is, and always will be, love.

Do you envision a more tolerant future?

9781426899829-COVLonely Shore

Book two of Chaos Station

All they can do is live day to day…

Felix Ingesson has returned to his duties as the Chaos‘s engineer with Zander Anatolius, his ex-boyfriend-turned-broken-super-soldier, at his side. Hope means something again. But there’s nothing Felix can do to battle the alien poison flowing through Zander’s veins, or his imminent mental decline. With each passing day, the side effects of Zander’s experimental training are becoming more difficult to ignore.

When the ruthless Agrius Cartel seeks their revenge—including an ambush and an attempt to kidnap the Chaos’s crew—Zander is pushed over the edge. He can no longer hide his symptoms, nor does he want to. But hurting Felix when he’s not in control of himself is Zander’s worst nightmare—when it nearly happens, he agrees to seek help. Even if that means trusting the unknown.

As Zander places his life in alien hands, Felix appoints himself his lover’s keeper. And though he tries to be strong, he can’t ignore the fact that he might lose Zander…forever this time.

67,000 words

Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo

Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen met in 2009 through a mutual infatuation with a man who wasn’t real. After all but crashing the video game’s forums with daily dissection of their obsession, they started writing together, discovered they really liked writing together and began plotting stories in worlds of their own creation.

The CHAOS STATION series aren’t the first books they’ve written together, and they’re pretty sure they won’t be the last. As long as their so-called smartphones keep making autocorrects that trigger brainstorming sessions, they’ll have enough character ideas and plots to keep them writing for years to come.

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A Horror Romance?!?!

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By Joely Sue Burkhart, author of ONE CUT DEEPER

The original idea for One Cut Deeper developed from an interview I did with Romantic Times in Chicago 2012. They asked what crossovers I’d like to see more of. The first thing that popped in my head was a cross between Horror and Romance.

I know. I was setting myself up for failure. I don’t write horror, but I couldn’t shake the idea.

So what’s the most horrifying thing I could do…and still land solidly in Romancelandia? Because that’s the kicker, right? The hero and heroine have to still be alive at the end or it’s “Fauxmance” ala Nicholas Sparks. More, we have to really believe in their happiness—so neither character should need extensive therapy to recover from the trauma of the book.

But I wanted to write something scary. Something brutal and horrifying and yet end with all the hope and love of a really good romance. Even more, I wanted their love to be what saved them from the horror. It would be beautiful and moving, despite the danger and fear they faced.

It took a few years to get the idea to completely gel in my head, but I finally realized that the most horrifying thing I could do in a romance was make the heroine fall in love… and then yank the rug out from under her when she finds out the man she loves isn’t who he says he is. At all. Maybe he’s the villain, not the hero, and completely unworthy of her love and trust. Everything she knows is a ruse. A deliberate plan that she’s only just beginning to suspect. As her world begins to unravel, only their love remains solid.

Is their love real? Can she really trust him? Can they survive the danger and find a safe place to be together? Can the hero be redeemed for misleading her in the beginning?

In One Cut Deeper, Charlie has a damned good reason for everything he does. He just never expected to have a happy ever after for himself. Which makes it all the sweeter.

What other horrifying circumstances interests you from a romance perspective? Have you read anything you’d consider a thriller or horror with a strong romance?  Please share in comments, and I’ll draw one name for a free electronic copy of One Cut Deeper and a $20 gift certificate to the winner’s choice of online book retailers.

{8A2EC1D4-B85E-441D-94DD-C135B0C417FA}Img100Her needs are dark. His are dangerous.

Charlie MacNiall has been bringing his beautiful king shepherd to the vet clinic where Ranay Killian works for the better part of a year. She doesn’t realize he’s been slowly wooing her. She certainly has no idea that he picked her deliberately—that she is to become his. A broken heart and a desperate desire to be dominated make her the perfect victim.

His perfect victim.

Charlie fixes Ranay, testing her emotional limits while pushing her sexual boundaries past anything she’d imagined possible. Pain is their shared pleasure…until Charlie disappears and Ranay is all but destroyed.

The FBI says the man she loves is a serial killer. Ranay can’t deny there’s a darkness in Charlie, a monstrous hunger that drives him to the brink. She even believes he could kill. But Charlie’s hunger is what bonds them—it’s the foundation of their love. Would he actually kill her?

91,000 words

Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo

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Joely Sue Burkhart has always loved heroes who hide behind a mask, the darker and more dangerous the better.  Whether cool, sophisticated billionaire, brutal bloodthirsty assassin, or simply a man tortured by his own needs, they all wear masks to protect themselves.  Once they finally give you a peek into the passionate, twisted secrets they’re hiding, they always fall hard and fast.  Dare to look beneath the mask with delicious BDSM in a wide variety of genres with Joely on her websiteTwitter and Facebook.  Be sure to check out her free reads!