The ON POINT Playlist

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Regular readers of mine know how important my playlists are to me.  Sometimes one character drives the music selection more than the other, and that was definitely the case with On Point, my latest military romance featuring best friends and fellow SEALs. Maddox is musical, so it made sense that he would be the driving force behind my playlist, but what I didn’t expect was how diverse his tastes would run. He grew up in rural Washington, so there’s a definite country vibe to the playlist, but he’s also a spiritual guy, so there are some spiritual overtones here and there too, songs that he might sing at his local inclusive congregation. Then there are the songs about friendship and longing that really speak to his relationship with his best friend and co-hero,  Ben. You can listen to the full playlist here, but I wanted to showcase a few of my favorite songs on it.

  • Hard to Love, Lee Brice
    • This is pretty much Ben’s theme song. He doesn’t mean to be difficult, but he certainly presents a challenge, especially in the beginning.
  • I Hold On, Dierks Bentley
    • And this one is Maddox’s—he’s the glue in their friendship, and he’s not letting go.
  • When You Say Nothing at All, Alison Krauss and Union Station
    • One of the hallmarks of a good friendship is not needing to fill the empty silences with words, and that sort of deep understanding is definitely there between Maddox and Ben.
  • My Church, Maren Morris
    • Maren gets what music is to Maddox, how it feeds his soul, how much he requires it in his life.
  • Colder Weather, cover by Home Free
    • Both Maddox and Ben want to be together, but it’s not going to be an easy road.
  • Holy Now, Peter Mayer
    • Another author, the awesome Sarina Bowen, shared this song on social media, and I knew immediately that it was a Maddox song.
  • Chain Breaker, Zach Williams
    • I listened to this song so many times while writing this book it’s a wonder I didn’t break Spotify. It’s about trust more than anything and about perseverance, both of which Maddox has in spades. This is a song that I could totally see him singing.

I hope you check out On Point, and I always love hearing from readers about what they are listening to right now. You never know when a song will spark a new plot bunny!

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bedcovers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter.  In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

Celebrate Pride Month with Carina Press!

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The Carina Press team is fiercely proud of our authors and our variety of diverse reads! To celebrate Pride Month, we’re offering 25% off site-wide throughout June. Just enter the code PRIDELUV at checkout!

See below for our recommended Pride Month reads. Which one will be your new favorite?

 

SINGLE MALT, Layla Reyne. Book 1 of the Agents Irish and Whiskey series.

Single Malt is full of explosive chemistry, captivating characters, and edge-of-your-seat suspense. A must read for any romantic suspense fan!” —Megan Erickson, USA TODAY bestselling author 

Eight months after the car crash that changed everything, FBI agent Aidan Talley is back at work. New department, new case and a new partner. Smart, athletic and handsome, Jameson Walker is twelve years his junior. Even if Aidan was ready to move on—and he’s not—Jamie is off-limits.

Jamie’s lusted after Aidan for three years, and the chance to work with San Francisco’s top agent directly is too good to pass up. Aidan is prickly—to put it mildly—but a growing cyber threat soon proves Jamie’s skills invaluable.

Jamie’s talents paint a target on his back, and Aidan is determined to protect him. But with hack after hack threatening a high-security biocontainment facility, time is running out to thwart a deadly terrorist attack. They’ll have to filter out distractions, on the case and in their partnership, to identify the real enemy, solve the case and save thousands of lives, including their own.

 

OFF BASE, Annabeth Albert. Book 1 of the Out of Uniform series.

After trading the barracks for a fixer-upper rental, navy SEAL Zack Nelson wants peace, not a roommate—especially not Pike, who sees things about Zack he most wants to hide. Pike’s flirting puts virgin Zack on edge. And the questions Pike’s arrival would spark from Zack’s teammates about his own sexuality? Nope. Not going there. But Zack can’t refuse.

Pike Reynolds knows there won’t be a warm welcome in his new home. What can he say? He’s an acquired taste. But he needs this chance to get his life together. Also, teasing the uptight SEAL will be hella fun. Still, Pike has to tread carefully; he’s had his fill of tourists in the past, and he can’t risk his heart on another, not even one as hot, as built—and, okay, yeah, as adorable—as Zack.

Living with Pike crumbles Zack’s restraint and fuels his curiosity. He discovers how well they fit together in bed…in the shower…in the hallway… He needs Pike more than he could have imagined, yet he doesn’t know how to be the man Pike deserves.

 

BAD JUDGEMENT, Sidney Bell.

Sidney Bell’s debut male/male romantic suspense Bad Judgment delivers an emotionally charged and adrenaline-packed story perfect for fans of Josh Lanyon’s Fair Game

Embry Ford was a quiet, ordinary guy—until tragedy ripped his life apart. Now he’s living under the radar, desperate to hide his identity and determined to learn the truth behind what happened. Even if that means working for—and bedding—a man he loathes.

As a bodyguard to a shadowy arms dealer, Brogan Smith knows distractions can kill as easily as a bullet. But when he sets his eyes on his client’s sexy assistant, he can’t get him out of his mind. Even more unnerving: the closer he gets to Embry, the more Brogan starts to suspect he might be protecting the wrong man.

Embry was sure nothing but vengeance would satisfy him—until Brogan offers him something far more tempting. Now Embry must choose: punish the people who nearly destroyed him or fight for a future with the man who has become his entire world.

 

The Ethan & Wyatt series, K.A. Mitchell.

Fall in love with Ethan & Wyatt in bestselling author K.A. Mitchell’s male/male trilogy 

Getting Him Back 

Ethan may have followed his high school sweetheart to college only to get dumped his first day there, but that won’t stop him from exploring his new life. Things start looking up when he meets Wyatt, who’s mysterious, grouchy, hot—and possibly not gay. When their friendship deepens into something neither expects, Ethan has a new challenge: convince Wyatt this isn’t just a pity fling, but something more serious.

Boyfriend Material 

Physically, it’s easy for Ethan and Wyatt to be together—sort of. Privacy is hard to come by in a dorm, but finding ways to connect is half the fun. Emotionally, though, Wyatt isn’t sure if a relationship is something he can make last—years of hiding his emotions have left him with shaky self-confidence. And when it’s time to head home for the holidays, their steamy on-campus connection may not translate so well to the real world…

Relationship Status 

Life doesn’t come with a syllabus. Together, Ethan and Wyatt are getting the hang of real life, when a new responsibility for Wyatt throws everything off balance. Ethan’s doing everything he can to prove he’s in this forever, while Wyatt is torn between a future with Ethan and a debt to the past. Too bad they didn’t cover this in college.

 

PRIMAL NEED:  A SEXY MALE/MALE SHIFTER ANTHOLOGY by Parker Foye,  Holley Trent, and K.L. White.

A sexy male/male paranormal romance anthology that will leave you hungry for more… 

Wolf in King’s Clothing by Parker Foye

An exiled wolf shifter meets his mate and experiences a desire so intense it could be the death of them both.

The Alpha’s Claim by Holley Trent

A coyote pack alpha must convince a human to let down his guard and accept him—the man and the beast.

Dark Water by K.L. White

And a Kelpie naval officer discovers that the man marked for sacrifice is the man he’s crossed oceans to find.

 

AS I AM, A.M. Arthur. Book 3 of the All Saints series.

Will Madden is healing.

Thanks to therapy and a growing support system, he’s taking baby steps into a promising future. One of those steps leads him to an online chat room, where he quickly bonds with fellow PTSD sufferer Taz Zachary.

Despite their virtual connection, Taz is initially freaked out at the idea of meeting Will face-to-face. A sexual relationship may be the last thing on his mind, but his craving for human interaction—and more of the way Will makes him laugh—gives him the courage he needs to take the next step.

In person, the chemistry between them is undeniable. But Will is hurt when Taz doesn’t seem to be in any rush to get him into bed. Still, acceptance, love and happiness all seem within reach for the first time in forever—until demons from the past threaten the future they both finally believe they deserve.

 

FAIR GAME, Josh Lanyon. Book 1 of the All’s Fair series.

A crippling knee injury forced Elliot Mills to trade in his FBI badge for dusty chalkboards and bored college students. Now a history professor at Puget Sound university, the former agent has put his old life behind him—but it seems his old life isn’t finished with him.

A young man has gone missing from campus—and as a favor to a family friend, Elliot agrees to do a little sniffing around. His investigations bring him face-to-face with his former lover, Tucker Lance, the special agent handling the case.

Things ended badly with Tucker, and neither man is ready to back down on the fight that drove them apart. But they have to figure out a way to move beyond their past and work together as more men go missing and Elliot becomes the target in a killer’s obsessive game…

Watch Now: The Carina Press Virtual Spotlight

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Thank you to everyone who joined us April 18 for our first Carina Press Virtual Spotlight! We greatly appreciate your attendance and the thoughtful questions you sent, both in advance and live during the broadcast. For those who were unable to watch live, we’ve got the full video recording available for you. And make sure to scroll below the jump—since we weren’t able to get to all the questions in the live session, we’ve answered them for you in this post.

 

Q: I’m still not completely clear on the difference between Harlequin and Carina titles 50,000+ words. If a book meets the criteria for a Harlequin imprint, wouldn’t it always be better to submit to Harlequin first, knowing that there is print and digital guaranteed, and possibly audio, rather than Carina, where print is not guaranteed? Is that why Carina’s digital first policy concentrates more, perhaps, on titles 20k-45k? Thanks!

A: Word count flexibility is one thing that distinguishes Carina Press from many of the other imprints at Harlequin, but there are other differences as well. Perhaps most important is this: the print market and the digital market can and do differ; Carina Press is focused primarily on the digital market, while Harlequin has more of a print focus. Our emphasis on digital releases allows us (and you!) to jump on trends quickly and get books to market on a much faster timeline than is required for print production.

Additionally, each Harlequin series has specific things they’re looking for, other things that they know do not work for the specific series’ audiences, and corresponding requirements around POV, heat level, settings, etc. Carina Press’s reading audience tends to be more flexible, and we evaluate things like POV and heat level on a case-by-case basis, to ensure they work for the individual story.

The best way to become familiar with the smaller differences is to read Carina Press books! Reading a few of our new releases will give you a feel for whether your manuscript would be a good fit or whether it would be better suited for consideration at one of the Harlequin imprints.

Q: I’m a debut author, and I’m working on putting together my author branding now. What do you expect to see in branding for someone new that you acquire?

A: We understand that it can be difficult building your author brand before you’ve been published! We’re looking for authors who are ready to begin that branding work; we don’t expect you to have thousands of followers, especially if you haven’t published before. We advise having a website, even if you don’t have much on it yet, and a presence on Facebook, Twitter, or both. If we can see online that you’re beginning to build a community (this is most often other authors, rather than readers, if you haven’t published yet), it tells us that you’re serious about starting your career.

Q: Are works from non-English speakers accepted?

A: We accept English-language works only. English does not need to be your first language, but your book must be written in English.

Q: I am two books into a series. There is one yet to be written. How would you like to see that submitted? I could send in two edited books. Would it be okay to send that with a synopsis for the unwritten third?

A: There is no need to submit all books in a series you’re proposing. We’d like to see the completed first book, a synopsis for that first book, and a series outline. This outline doesn’t need to be more than 1-2 pages and should include an overview of how many books are planned, their individual plots, themes, and characters, and an idea of the overall series arc. Be sure to mention in your query that Book Two is complete and available for request. In the event we are interested in Book One, we’d contact you to request additional material.

Q: If I was to submit Part 1 of a trilogy while Parts 2 and 3 were still in progress, would you want updates from me when Parts 2 and 3 were completed even if you have not yet had time to decide about Part 1?

A: We don’t require updates on when Parts 2 and 3 are complete while Part 1 is still on submission. However, if you do complete either parts and would like to let us know, feel free to leave us a note on your submission through Submittable. In other words, you don’t have to tell us, but we don’t mind being kept in the loop!

Q: Are you interested in journalistic/diary style stories with NO dialogue?

A: We are always interested in new, boundary-pushing methods of storytelling. However, because this is an unusual format for the romance and/or mystery genre, we’d recommend you send an email to Submissions@CarinaPress.com detailing the plot/arc of your story, rather than submit through the regular process. We will take a look at your email and let you know if we’re interested once we know more about the story.

Q: Is Carina interested in romantic ghost stories at all and what genre do they fall under?

A:  Ghost romances can be a difficult sell, and the answer to this question really depends on how the ghost elements are built into the story. We’re not currently interested in publishing romances where the hero and/or heroine is a ghost (being dead kind of puts a damper on the HEA), but we would be open to stories that feature ghosts in some way. The genre this type of story falls under would depend on individual elements of the story, but it’s probably safest to submit under Paranormal Romance. If it’s a mystery with paranormal (ghost) elements, please submit under Mystery.

Q: I write about spiritual concepts, but not necessarily paranormal (ghosts, shapeshifters etc.). Could you clarify the parameters for paranormal?

A: Paranormal, like fantasy and science fiction, can be a tricky genre to pin down because there is a lot of overlap between these genres and their subgenres. While spiritual elements can certainly fit in there next to shapeshifters, demons and angels, witches, fae, psychics, and time travel, please note that Carina Press does not publish inspirational or faith-based romance. If you’d like additional, specific guidance or more information about where your particular manuscript might fall on the spectrum, please email us via Submissions@CarinaPress.com and we’d be happy to chat further.

Q: Do you accept any 20th Century historical?

A: Yes, we’re open to historical romance set in any time period.

Q: I write contemporary romance: NYC skylines, Hollywood homes, private jets and penthouse settings. Do I have a chance at getting published with Carina Press with such a setting?

A: Definitely. We’re open to contemporary romance in any setting, including the glitzy and glamorous.

Q: What is meant by “super sexy”? What exactly does that entail?

A: “Super sexy” most often refers to the amount of sex in a romance and how much/what kind of description is included: a high “heat level” across the entire story. Super-sexy books tend to have lots of open-door sex scenes, with plenty of explicit description, and portray a strong physical connection between the hero and heroine as important, without delving into erotic romance territory (where the h/h connection often develops through sex). Think authors like Megan Erickson, Tessa Bailey, Kendall Ryan, and Vi Keeland.

Books with fewer sex scenes and less graphic description in those scenes can also be super sexy—it’s all in the tension! But when we say super sexy in our submissions guidelines, we are referring to heat level.

Q: What are some “rookie errors” or obvious submission mistakes you see made by first-time authors? Do you, as a publisher, sometimes overlook such mistakes and still seriously consider those submissions when it’s clear the writer is learning?

A: We’re definitely not expecting perfect submissions—we’re looking for manuscripts to accept, not reject, so we overlook many minor things when doing our initial review. For example, we’ll never reject solely because you have a typo in your query letter, or because you spelled our name wrong. However, there are a few things you can do to make your submission stand out to an editor and maybe even move your book to the top of her (extensive!) reading pile. We have a detailed post on crafting an effective query letter here, but at the basic level, if you do your research before submitting and follow our guidelines, it always shows.

We’re bringing our popular critique group workshop to RWA in Orlando and giving you a chance to win a spot in one of three groups!

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This 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 other important topics). Attendees are given marked-up manuscript pages to take with them when they go.

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

Three critique groups will be held on Saturday, July 29th, 2017 in one-hour blocks from 9am-12pm at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort. Four winners will be selected for each group.

At the event, each author will be allotted up to 15 minutes in which they will receive feedback from a Carina Press editor 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 https://carinapress.submittable.com/submit/86738/rwa-2017-critique-group-contest 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.
  • You will be given an opportunity to express your preferred timeslot (example: 9am-10am group, 10am-11am group, or the 11am-12pm group).
  • We will select twelve winners via random selection from qualifying entries on July 5, 2017. Winners will be notified by email and we will do our best to accommodate your timing preferences.
  • Winners must confirm their participation and submit material by July 10th, 2017 or another winner will be selected.
  • Click here for Official Rules.

  Parameters:

  • Manuscripts must be for unpublished work 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), and mystery. As we do not publish young adult or younger, we are unable to offer feedback on these genres/manuscripts in these critique groups, entries for these genres/manuscripts will not be considered eligible.
  • Participants do not need to attend RWA Nationals to be eligible to win and participate. However, all winners are responsible for their own transportation and accommodations necessary to participate on the assigned date and location.

If Selected:

  • Winners must confirm their attendance and upload the following (via link provided in notification email) by July 10, 2017.
  •  2 chapters, in 12 pt Times New Roman, black font, double-spaced, not to exceed 5000 words.
  • A longer synopsis (no more than 2-3 pages, 12 pt Times New Roman, black font, double-spaced) recommended, if desired, to be included at the end of the chapters (only one total file will be accepted via upload).
  • Please remove all identifying name/address/phone number information from your pages.
  • At the top of your manuscript pages, in the header information, please include specific genre, anticipated total word count when complete, and target audience (are you writing to submit to agents, self-pub, target certain publishers, etc)
  • In the footer of your manuscript pages, please include page numbers.
  • 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 one critique group on July 29, 2017 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. Winners are responsible for any transportation/accommodations necessary to attend on July 29th, 2017 at the Walt Disney Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida. Participants must be aware that their manuscript 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 10th, 2017. 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 editor@carinapress.com with questions.

Top Five Things I love about Dominant Men

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The Luminous Series is full of Doms and subs, and while I enjoy writing all characters, there’s something inherently sexy about a Dominant Male.

In Crave Me, Book Two in the Luminous Series, Simon is not only a history teacher, he’s also a high school hockey coach. I loved exploring his softer side of his passion of working with children, and his darker side, where he knows how to turn up the heat in the bedroom (and his dungeon). A tender-hearted man, who loves children and his mom, but is a devil in the bed? Sign me up!
I think all readers have their own reasons for loving Doms, but here are my top five reasons why Dominant Men are the best men.

 

  1. Confidence – The swagger, the self-awareness. Every woman wants a man who knows exactly who he is.

 

 

  1. Communication – A Dominate male lays out his desires on the table, and he expects his partner to do the same. Communication breeds openness and intimacy and let’s face it, a man who can tell you what he wants is sexy.

 

 

  1. Selfless – A Dominant Male who can communicate will be well aware of what you want and what you need…perhaps before you do. His ability to put you first and understand you is a major turn-on.

 

 

  1. Trust – Because a Dominant male can speak openly, and he’s shown you he’s aware of your needs, it’s easy to put your trust in him. Every woman wants a man they can trust 100%.

 

 

  1. Sex! Let’s face it – all of the first four will end up with some serious fire happening between the sheets (or on the table, over the couch, against a wall) ;-) A confident Dominant male who takes care of you in every way, will always lead to some pretty awesome sexual chemistry.

 

 

What do you think is the hottest trait a Dominant male should possess?

Stacey Lynn lives in the Midwest with her husband and four young children. She can usually be found lost inside her own head, trying to bring her characters to life. When she’s engaged in the real world, she’s spending time with her family, drinking large amounts of coffee, and eating Skittles by the handful.

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