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?”

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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!”

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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?”

CARINA_0714_-9781426898723_ShouldveBeenHomeYest

Should’ve Been Home Yesterday

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

The men of COUNTRY ROADS

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 http://inezkelley.com/  Follow Inez on twitter at @Inez_Kelley or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/InezKelleyPage?ref=hl

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

PITCH CONTEST INSTRUCTIONS

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!

ELIGIBILITY TO PARTICIPATE:

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.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE: 

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.

NOTES ABOUT CARINA PRESS NOT-AT-NATIONALS PITCH SESSION

  • 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 generalinquiries@carinapress.com if ever you have specific, constructive feedback you’d like to share.

ONE LAST (VERY IMPORTANT) NOTE:

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.

Name:

Title:

Genre:

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 am_arthur@yahoo.com with your cooking tips (or book comments). You can also find her online (http://amarthur.blogspot.com/), on Tumblr (http://www.tumblr.com/blog/am-arthur) 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.

Carina Press Not-at-Nationals Pitch is Coming!

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The Carina Press editorial team will be holding a pitch event on THE CARINA PRESS BLOG from july 23, 2014- july 27, 2014. 

 

Good news! Not all of the editors here at Carina Press are attending this year’s RWA Nationals in San Antonio. And those who couldn’t attend are taking your pitches in the Carina Press Not-at-Nationals Pitch Session hosted right here on the Carina Press blog!

This pitch session will be similar to the very popular #carinapitch we held back in February, but this time all action will take place on the Carina Press blog. Our pitch sessions have been very successful events! Our February pitch event resulted in requests for over 75 manuscripts and resulted in three new contracted authors.

Our ultimate goal is always to find new authors to acquire, not new authors to reject!

Please read on for details of how the event will work.

 

Beginning July 23, 2014, Carina Press freelance editors will be monitoring the Carina Press blog for book pitches from authors.

Eligibility:

1) 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)

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

3) The manuscript pitched 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.

How to participate: 

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 at 9am Eastern.

Get ready to 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.

Name:

Title:

Genre:

Manuscript Word Count:

200 maximum word query:

First 100 words or first paragraph of your story:

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 send a Submittable link to the email address provided in your 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.

c) Send your submission no later than midnight (EST) on July 31, 2014. The Submittable link provided will expire after that, and you will unable to submit.

  • Notes about carina press not-at-nationals pitch session: 

  •  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 generalinquiries@carinapress.com if ever you have specific, constructive feedback you’d like to share.

One last (very important) note:

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.*

Participating editors:

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

 

The Best Laid Plans—by Caroline Kimberly

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Writing has always been my passion.  My best childhood memories are of floating on an inner tube in the middle of the lake during the heat of summer—my best friend and collaborator, Jami, floating next to me. We’d giggle and splash and dream up characters and plots, talking incessantly about all the adventures our fictional beings would have.  The possibilities seemed endless.  No idea was too silly or too small, and even the most unconventional storylines were given due consideration.  (Or at least as unconventional as a pair of preteen girls can be.)

For me, creating a character and watching how his or her distinctive personality unfolded was fascinating.  Crazy as it seems, it wasn’t long before I’d set myself aside and let the characters mold the story.  How would the heroine react to this obstacle?  What would the hero do in this situation?  Will they ever find their happy ending?  Letting characters evolve outside of the storyline always had an interesting impact on the plot.  Often, it led to unexpected twists and turns that weren’t originally part of the story.

That is certainly true with the writing I do today. Before sitting down to write, I outline each story and carefully consider each character.  I know how the story starts and I know how it (should) end.  Yet, somewhere, somehow, my characters take on a life of their own.  All my well-laid plans are suddenly in danger as unforeseen problems pop up: The heroine would never get herself in that situation!  Would the hero really do that??  How can I ever get them back on track???

It’s a bit frustrating when my own fictional characters derail me.

an inconvenient kiss CARINA_0714_9781426898709_AnInconvenientKissIt happened in my debut novel, An Inconvenient Kiss, a regency romance set in British India.  The heroine, Georgiana Phillips, is fiercely determined to be independent…so much so that she frequently becomes her own biggest obstacle.  Because Georgiana’s character grew even more feisty and headstrong than I’d originally envisioned, the hero, Simon Ashford, really needed to keep up.  Thankfully, Simon developed a great sense of humor and a healthy dose of grit.  Still, their path to romance wound up being more, well, adventurous than originally planned.

I’ll admit it’s not always an easy way to write. There were ideas and storylines I really wanted to include that just didn’t fit with Georgie and Simon’s personalities—and there were even a few moments when I worried they’d never make it.  In hindsight, however, I think the story is better for letting the characters run a little bit amuck.

And it leaves material for new characters who will undoubtedly run off with my carefully outlined plans and make them their own.

Do you ever have to modify projects because you’ve sabotaged your own ideas? If so, has the outcome been better or worse for it?

About the Author

Caroline Kimberly has spent most of her life making up stories to help offset the daily grind. It wasn’t until she was in graduate school, however, that she realized she wanted to write for a living. Since then, she’s worked as a newspaper reporter and as a copy editor for a children’s book publisher. Historical romance has always been her favorite genre, however, and brainstorming romantic romps makes her life as a soccer mom much more interesting.

She lives in Minnesota with her very patient husband, two busy daughters and three lazy cats.

For more information about Caroline, please visit her website at http://carolinekimberly.com/.

Video Game Culture Meets Erotic Romance—by Jeffe Kennedy

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When Carina asked me to do more stories like my Facets of Passion series, only as full-length erotic romance novels, I knew right away what the first story would be.

I’d long been following the travails of Anita Sarkeesian. For those who aren’t familiar with her story, here’s a concise summary from Wikipedia:

In 2012, Sarkeesian was targeted by an online harassment campaign following her launch of a Kickstarter project to fund the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series. At the same time, supporters donated over $150,000 to the project, far beyond the $6,000 she had sought. The situation was covered extensively in the media, placing Sarkeesian at the center of discussions about misogyny in video game culture and online harassment.

I was one of those Kickstarter supporters, not because I have much investment in the topic itself—I don’t play video games—but because I believe profoundly in a person’s right to research what’s important to them. That’s a basic human right.

going under Carina_0714_9781426898693_GoingUnderMore, I wanted to explore a heroine who’d go through this kind of thing, what kind of courage and resilience that would require. My heroine in Going Under, Emily, is a video game designer who runs afoul of this kind of misogynistic online harassment. Unlike Sarkeesian, however, Emily collapses under the pressure. She’s wicked smart, amazingly creative and has few social skills. Her career and marriage destroyed, she uses her hacking genius to create a new undercover identity and re-emerges as Phoenix, a reclusive and male video game designer.

What’s erotic about this, you may ask?

I figured what a woman like Emily—isolated, wounded, a literal hermit if not a virtual one—needs most to heal is human contact. Profound, hot and wildly sexual human contact. With a guy who is the opposite of the trolls who broke her spirit.

That’s where Fox comes in. He’s an investigative reporter determined to uncover the identity of the enigmatic game designer, Phoenix. He’s undercover, pretending to be a novelist. An ambitious, driven and sexual man, he decides very quickly that his lovely and skittish neighbor Emily is the perfect candidate to absorb his restless energy as he completes the painstaking work of waiting for Phoenix to make a mistake and reveal himself. His relentless curiosity and determined seduction are what can crack Emily’s careful walls.

His glad-hearted, playful and open sexuality is what allows her to heal.

Fox brings to Emily the kind of internal resilience she’d been missing. Of course, without realizing it’s her, he may also be the one to bring her career crashing down once again. That’s what I wanted to find—what it would take for someone to withstand that kind of horrific online harassment.

I’m not sure I could take it. But, wow, I admire women like Anita and Emily.

The official blurb!

Knowing all too well the damage online trolls can inflict, game designer Emily Bartwell takes privacy seriously. Living in solitude and working remotely under a male alias gives her a sense of security. The sexy writer renting the house next door ignites desires she’d forgotten she had, and when he invites her to play games of a very different sort, Em is ready and willing. Even if it means breaking all her own rules to abide by his.

Undercover tech reporter Fox Mullins is so close to the biggest scoop of his career: finding the elusive programmer Phoenix. An increasingly erotic adventure with his reserved but passionate new neighbor is the ideal way to heat up the chilly Pacific Northwest nights as he tracks the brilliant gamer.

At first Fox is happy to help Em explore her newly awakened kinky side, no holds barred, no strings attached. But as they push the limits of intimacy, both physical and emotional, Fox discovers he’s not the only one keeping secrets. And revealing hers may mean betraying the one woman who embodies everything he desires.

 

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author with a writing career that spans decades. Her works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

IMG_47902-smallHer most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns;  the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic  contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera, which released beginning January 2, 2014. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, will hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and a fifth, the highly anticipated erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, will release starting in July.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog, on Facebook, and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy

5 Fun Facts about PROBLEMS IN PARADISE, Texas Nights #3—by Kelsey Browning

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problems in paradise CARINA_0714_9781426898686_ProblemsInParadiseProblems in Paradise, book #3 in my Texas Nights series, was the first book I wrote from start-to-finish under contract. I’d like to say it was easy going since I’d learned so much in editing the first two books, Personal Assets and Running the Red Light.

Well…Paradise has lots of plot strands and gave me fits along the way. But between my amazing (and patient!) editor Deb Nemeth and me, we whipped the book and the characters into shape.

So today, I want to share with you a few of the stories behind the Problems in Paradise story:

  1. I researched the…ahem…ins-and-outs of food poisoning by chatting with a county health department nurse in Texas. Believe me, I know more about making you sick from food than should make you comfortable. ;-)
  2. Beck Childress was the first law enforcement hero I’ve written in any of my books.
  3. Beck has a bit of a junk food obsession, but his original bad habit was dipping Copenhagen (tobacco). My editor eighty-sixed that real quick, so Beck tossed the can and picked up a Slim Jim instead.
  4. Beck and Eden were one of the most challenging couples I’ve written because they’re both pretty serious folks. That meant they needed to show their fun and playful sides with one another. How did they do that? Redneck wine glasses, that’s all I’m saying.
  5. I thought I knew what Eden’s BIG SECRET was until I wrote the scene where it’s revealed to the reader. Then I was like “Holy crapola, so THAT’S her deal!” Then, she totally whacked me over the head with another one later in the book. That Eden, she’s a sneaky one.

I’m thrilled that early readers are saying this is their favorite Texas Nights book so far. It means all that hard editing work was more than worth the effort. From reader’s mouths…

I was laughing out loud, getting my heart strings tugged on, and just generally SMILING the whole time I was reading. ~ Brooke

You will root for this couple that are like complete opposites but are still great for each other, if only everyone would get out of their way. If you like romantic comedy and contemporary romance, you really need to check this one out. ~ Julie

This contemporary romance is full of twists and turns, some laugh-out-loud moments, and hot steamy sex. Once I started reading, I couldn’t put this book down until I had read the last word. ~ Pamela

As a reader, do you enjoy learning about the stories behind the story?

Get your copy of PROBLEMS IN PARADISE from any of these retailers.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Books-A-Million | Carina Press | Goodreads

 

Kelsey Browning - HeadshotKelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories and cozy Southern mysteries. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, and Bad Dog. She’s currently at work on the next book in her Texas Nights series and The Granny Series.

 

Connect with Kelsey: Email / Website / Newsletter / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Pinterest