From the Editor’s Desk: Revise & Resubmit Requests

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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 Editorial Director Angela James. Angela originally wrote about this topic in an earlier version of this post, which you can find here.

What is a revise and resubmit request?

Many authors may have heard the term, or they may have even received one, but just not been sure what to do with it. And I’ve heard of many authors who think of an R&R as a rejection.

So let’s talk about an R&R from the Carina Press editorial point of view. At Carina, I try to encourage the editors to think of submissions in terms of probability for acquisition first, pass to another editor second, revise and resubmit third and rejection last. We don’t reject unless we don’t believe the manuscript is a good fit for one of the other three possibilities.

Why do we do a revise & resubmit? 

It can be a variety of reasons, really, but most often, there are several factors at work 1) the editor sees a lot to like about the manuscript 2) she likes the author’s voice and potential and 3) despite all of those, the manuscript needs significant revisions in one or more areas. Sometimes, if an author is someone we know well or have worked with before, we’ll acquire a book with the understanding that we’ll be doing (really) significant revisions. But for the most part, we don’t like to acquire a book if we’re going to be asking for certain major changes. Why? Because it’s not fair to the author, for one thing. You don’t want to sign a contract, thinking the basic structure of your book is fine with the editor, and then suddenly find yourself ripping out major chunks or making changes like cutting a character or subplot.

And on our side of things, we have no way of knowing if an author is either willing or able to make those changes. Some authors believe a book should be accepted “as is” with only basic editing done after that. Some authors simply haven’t yet developed the skill necessary for making the revisions we’re asking for. And some authors just aren’t interested in doing the revisions. These are things it’s better to find out before the book goes to contract, so we utilize the revise and resubmit.

Did I just get a rejection? 

The revise and resubmit letter should never (ever) be viewed as a rejection. Trust me, if the editor wanted to reject your book, it would be a lot less time consuming. The R&R letter can often take hours for the editor to craft, after they’ve made extensive notes while reading your book. We don’t just whip out an R&R letter in 15 minutes and send it out. It gets crafted by the editor and then read by me and we discuss. We want to make sure that the letter is clear, lays out the issues, but also tells you why we love the book and want to see it again.

So, in my mind, I think a revise and resubmit letter should be viewed as the highest form of praise an editor can give you, short of actually contracting the book. That they took so much time to give you feedback means they saw a lot to like in the book. Don’t ignore that letter and think your chances with that publisher are done, read through it and see if you agree with their critique.

The author point of view

On that note, I know that there are authors who don’t care for the revise and resubmit, because it’s not a contract, and so you’re making the changes on faith. And there is no guarantee of a contract (we’re careful to note this in our letters) so you may make changes and still not find your book acquired. So once you get the letter, you do have some decision-making to do. Read the letter, evaluate the changes, walk away from it for a day (or two) and see if time and distance gives you objectivity to the letter (sometimes it can sting to get such a thorough critique) and then come back and evaluate: do you agree with the requests (at least some, if not all)? Are you able to do them? Are you willing to do them? Will making these changes result in a book you can sell elsewhere if they don’t end up working for the requesting publisher? Or will the changes result in a book that you feel isn’t true to your vision of the book? These are all things you should ask yourself before you either A) tackle the revisions or B) decline to make the revisions.

Revise & Resubmit etiquette

If there is such a thing. If not, I’m making it up now! There are times when we’re in the situation of deciding whether or not to offer an R&R and we ultimately decide not to offer the revisions, but instead pass on the work. Why? Because, as I said earlier, R&Rs take a tremendous amount of editorial time and effort, and we know not every author is going to want to do the requested revisions. So we try to balance what we know of the author, their opportunity to publish the book elsewhere, and the likelihood that they’ll be receptive to revisions and go from there. I’m not sure there’s anything that stings more for an editor who’s put hours into a manuscript than to hear “Thanks for your revision suggestions. I sold the book to another publisher before I heard from you and I know you’re going to be happy to hear that I’m going to use your suggestions to make the book even stronger!”

Okay, well, that involves a whole other world of etiquette (the one in which you TELL a publisher if you’ve sold a book, and pull it from submission but…ahem…I digress) but it’s still happened where we’ve had people take the revisions, make the changes, strengthen the manuscript and then sell the manuscript elsewhere. And, yep, that’s certainly the author’s right. But it explains why we think carefully about whether we’re going to do a revise and resubmit.

So what should you do if you receive a revise and resubmit letter from a publisher/editor/agent?

1) Don’t feel you have to respond immediately. If you want to acknowledge receipt, that’s always nice, just send an email thanking them for the feedback and asking for time to think about it.

2) Take a few days to think about it. Once you’ve decided, let the publisher know that you’re going to either tackle the requested revisions, or that you appreciate the time they put in, but don’t feel the revisions are what’s best for the book at this time. It’s okay to say no. But letting the publisher/editor/agent know either way is very courteous.

3) If you decide to do the revisions, take your time. Don’t rush. This is probably your last chance for this manuscript with this publisher. And we’re going to raise an eyebrow if we get your revisions back in a day or two (no really, we don’t think this is possible). Do a thorough read or five of your manuscript. Carefully read and re-read the editor’s suggestions. Have a critique partner or beta reader give feedback. Do Not Rush.

4) If you decide not to do the revisions and think the suggestions are worse than that orange and green plaid sweater your great aunt Hilda gave you for your last birthday, well, go ahead and vent about it. In private. To a few close friends. Not to your entire Twitter, Facebook and blog audience. That is not very courteous.

5) Last, above all, pat yourself on the back that, no matter what happens, someone thought your book had enough potential to take the time to send you that letter. That’s pretty flattering and you should be proud of the hard work that got you there!

Thank you for reading—we hope these posts 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.


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!


From the Editor’s Desk: Adding Tension and Suspense to Your Writing

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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 Libby Murphy. Libby has been editing for Carina Press since May 2015, and is actively building her author list. Although the action in her life stems mostly from raising teenagers and the books she reads, she’s here to give you some tips on how to add more tension and suspense to your writing.

One question I’m asked when I take a book to acquisitions is what made me fall in love with the book. Aside from a killer plot, intriguing characters, and fantastic writing, the most accurate gauge for me is if I can forget about about the world outside the book while I read. And if I totally don’t care. That’s what I call unputdownable.

In many manuscripts I see the initial conflicts move to the back burner not long after the inciting incident, and the characters are setting up for the final conflict and black moment here and there…but not doing much otherwise. That’s about as exciting as a Walking Dead episode where they sit around and talk about their feelings, but there are no zombies. While there are several ways to ramp up conflict, today I’m going to talk about ticking time bombs (Bruce Willis not included).

A ticking time bomb is an element you can add to your book, something that’s quietly approaching in the background that you know is coming. Like your editing deadline next week ;) It has different meanings across genres, so you’ll want to make sure you use something that fits with the type of book you’re writing. I’ll give you some ideas below—this list is by no means exhaustive, though!

Romantic Suspense & Mystery

  1. You could have a literal bomb ticking. And maybe Bruce Willis, while we’re at it. We can fantasize.
  2. A ransom that must be paid by a certain date, either to stop a blackmail plot or rescue somebody from a kidnapping.
  3. The hero or heroine has been poisoned, and only has 24 hours to find the antidote before they die.
  4. Preventing a terrorist attack, or a serial killer from striking again.

Romance (contemporary, new adult historical, etc.)

  1. A fling of some sort. Maybe it happens on vacation, or during a mutual work assignment, or even just a week or two of no-strings-attached sex.
  2. A marriage of convenience, where they have to pretend to be married for a certain amount of time so one of them can get an inheritance.
  3. Two people who fall in love even though one of them has to move far away, join the military, or make a huge life change in a month.

Paranormal Romance & Urban Fantasy

  1. The heroine has been bitten by a werewolf, and must find a way to reverse the curse before the next full moon.
  2. Two opposing factions will go to war in three weeks, unless the hero and heroine can forge an alliance that will bring peace.
  3. The hero and heroine must catch the Big Bad, who is working on a spell so powerful it will wipe out all witches on the solstice.

Once you’ve decided on your initial idea for a ticking time bomb, you have to decide how it will work within the setup of your story. The biggest problem I see in ticking time bombs is that the deadline runs too long. Drag something out more than a few months, and that’s really too long to create tension. And hardly exciting. You have more than enough time to plan, to mobilize, to take naps. If anybody has time for a nap, your timeline is too long. Make this a challenge.

The second biggest problem I see is a deadline that’s way too short, especially in romance. For example, if the goal of your romance is to end with a happily-ever-after, making two characters believably fall in love over a weekend probably isn’t going to work if they’ve just met. That’s insta-lust! I’d find a happy-for-now more likely. However, if they’ve known each other for quite some time and use this weekend to decide if they are going to make it or break it, that’s probably all right.

Be sure you’re periodically reminding the reader how much time is left. Count it down in a way that’s not too telling, that’s interesting, and shows the conflict rising with each page. I don’t want to see a deadline imposed on page 20, see the characters going about their normal business for the next 200 pages, then suddenly see that deadline again. That is not enough tension!

Over the next couple of weeks, pay extra attention to the TV shows and movies you watch, as well as the books you read. Make a list of the ticking time bombs you see. Do any of them fit with the book you’re writing? Look at ways to tailor those scenarios for your world, and come up with some ideas of your own while you’re at it.

Happy writing!

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.


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!

What We Want–Greatest Hits

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This month’s What We Want post is something a little bit different–we’ve collected some of our favorite submission calls to let you know we’re still eager to acquire in these genres! So whether you write mystery, male/male, romantic suspense, paranormal, contemporary, or a little bit of everything, we want to hear from you! Here’s some insight on what our editors are looking for in these genres.

Erotic Romance: 

Bring the heat! Alissa Davis, Freelance Editor, is looking for erotic romance with strong dialogue and great sexual tension—bonus points for heroes and heroines who rock at talking dirty.


Keep us guessing. Deborah Nemeth, Freelance Editor, would like to see action-packed capers and slick heists with clever twists.

Contemporary Romance: 

Step right over that line. Angela James, Editorial Director, is looking to acquire a dark contemporary romance featuring one or more of the following: capture fantasies, anti-heroes and -heroines, mercenaries on a mission, sexually charged dialogue.

Romantic Suspense: 

Thrill us! Senior Editor Kerri Buckley would like to acquire romantic suspense stories set in Eastern Europe, as well as a super sexy romantic suspense series in which an assassin or a spy falls for his/her mark.


Make it emotional. Rhonda Helms, Freelance Editor, is looking for a male/male gothic romance, dark and emotional and intense.

We hope this post inspires you! Carina Press is always open to submissions. To review our submissions guidelines, click here. To submit a manuscript to Carina Press, click here.


What We Want—Paranormal Romance!

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CARINA_1114_9781426898983_BladeOnTheHunt   CARINA_1014_-9781426899133_OfShadowsAndAsh   CARINA_1014_9781426899171_TilDragonsDoUsPart

Can’t get enough paranormal romance? Neither can we! We’re on the lookout for new paranormal romance series to grow and build. Here are some details on what our editors are looking to acquire in this genre.


Kerri Buckley, Editor, would like to see:

  • Paranormal spins on romantic suspense–think werewolf mafia or other shifters engaged in organized crime and/or government agencies.
  • Super sexy or erotic PNR (paranormal romance) of all flavors, all time periods welcome!
  • PNR/psychological thriller mashups–creatures or shifters with cases of mistaken or stolen identity or missing spouses/partners, for instance.

Deborah Nemeth, Freelance Editor, would like to see:

  • Time travel romance with robust world-building and an epic feel.

  • Historical paranormal, especially Regency, but with something new, not the same old vampires, shifters, demons or zombies.

  • Superheroes and fairytale retellings with a fresh twist, something I haven’t seen before. I also enjoy witches, fae, Norse and non-Western legends.

  •  Paranormal heists and capers with plenty of action and sparkling banter!

Rhonda Helms, Freelance Editor, would like to see:

  • Gothic romance with paranormal elements (like ghosts/hauntings).
  • Sexy contemporary romance with unusual paranormal creatures/mythology.

Alissa Davis, Freelance Editor, would like to see:

  • Dark, emotional paranormals with intense conflict and strong worldbuilding.
  • Historical paranormals, particularly those featuring werewolves.
  • An erotic romance paranormal series.

Submit your paranormal romance manuscripts to Carina Press now, right here!

When Research Ruins Your Plot

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By Christi Barth, author of ALL FOR YOU

When I came up with the idea for All For You, I knew right off the bat that I wanted the heroine to be a park ranger. Lots of tromping down trails, communing with nature and breathing fresh air. ..all while exchanging brisk banter with the hero.

Except….that’s not what actually could happen. I went to Watkins Glen State Park and interviewed the park ranger – who happens to be the office manager. Because she’s the only full-time employee. When I heard that, my whole plot just thudded to the floor.  Gulp.  I heard more than I wanted to about paperwork (nope-boring), training at other parks in the off-season (nope-she needs to stay in one place to be wooed by the hero) and budgets (come on – was I being pranked? Budgets aren’t sexy!).

What’s a writer to do when research tanks her best laid plans? Pump up the few things that DO work for you, and gloss over the rest. Instead of showing Casey frowning over spreadsheets, I open the book with her leaving work and discovering a half-naked man emerging from a lake.

What was she supposed to do with a six-foot-tall mansicle frozen in place at the edge of the lake? Knowing body heat was the quickest way to deal with hypothermia, she wrapped her arms around him, too. Tried not to notice that it brought her flush against ridged abs. Or how well her head tucked into the hollow of his collarbone.

This was strictly basic first aid. If he were a woman, or a sixty-year-old guy with a pot belly and a bad comb-over, Casey would still be responding the same way. His core temp had to be raised ASAP. But still, it didn’t suck that he was a wall of sheer, solid muscle against her torso.

My portrayal of the park ranger is correct….I just pick and choose which parts to show. Has reality ever crept in and ruined part of a book for you?

CARINA_0215_9781426899515_AllForYouSmall-town park ranger Casey Hobbes has spent her life under the radar, carefully guarding a secret. “The forest flirt,” as her best friend calls her, keeps things casual with men. That way she’ll never care enough to be tempted to share the truth about her past. But when she spots a half-naked stranger on the lake’s edge, Casey can’t resist his muscles or his charm and she’s all-in for enjoying both, while keeping emotion out of it. What could be the danger of one summer fling?

Professor Zane Buchanan has built his entire career on exposing the dark realities of cults, but one—the Sunshine Seekers—remains infuriatingly impossible to crack. Zane’s shocked to discover its sole anonymous survivor is hiding in his new hometown. It’s nearly impossible to concentrate on work, however, when he’s derailed by his attraction to the beautiful blonde in khaki uniform shorts.

As things between Casey and Zane heat up, she struggles with keeping her past from him. And Zane’s on a quest to expose the truth, no matter the consequences. Will their growing emotions finally unseal Casey’s big secret? Or will she turn her back on love to keep the past safely buried?

Get your copy of ALL FOR YOU from Carina Press or your favorite ebook retailer:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GooglePlay | iBooks | Kobo


Christi Barth earned a Masters degree in vocal performance and embarked upon a career on the stage.  A love of romance then drew her to wedding planning.  Ultimately she succumbed to her lifelong love of books and now writes award-winning contemporary romance.  Christi is President of the Maryland Romance Writers and lives in Maryland with her husband.

Connect with Christi!
Website | Blog | Pinterest | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page |Facebook

What We Want—Male/Male!

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Carina Press has been a proud publisher of male/male fiction for almost five years now—and we’re eager for more! Here are some details on the types of male/male books our editors are looking to acquire.

Alissa Davis, Freelance Editor, would like to see:

  • Mismatched heroes—think lawyers with bikers or professional dancers.
  • Adult or new adult male/male romance featuring heroes falling in love while in high-stakes competition with each other–on sports teams, for the same college internship, or for a big promotion at the hospital where they work.
  • Dark, angsty male/male romance with high stakes and series potential.
  • Male/Male historical erotic romance.
  • Raw, badass antiheroes, like mercenaries or assassins.

Rhonda Helms, Freelance Editor, would like to see:

  • M/M erotic romance featuring people of color—series welcome!
  • A deliciously funny m/m romantic comedy.
  • An m/m gothic romance, dark and emotional and intense.

Deborah Nemeth, Freelance Editor, would like to see:

  • M/M military romantic suspense with a high level of action and intense sexual tension.

  • Sports-themed contemporary m/m romance with strong external and internal conflict.

  • New Adult m/m romance with a virgin hero.

Submit your male/male manuscripts to Carina Press now, right here!

What We Want—New Adult Romance!

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Happy New Year! Carina Press is always excited and proud to publish wonderful, genre-crossing New Adult fiction—some of which you’ll see above—and we’re looking for more in 2015! Here are some details on the types of New Adult books our editors are looking to acquire.

Angela James, Editorial Director, would like to see:

  • New adult heist caper and romance. (I’d actually take a heist story in any age range, but this is a good place to start!)
  • A spy or military-set suspense new adult romance.
  • New adult-set male/male romance, particularly deeply emotional or angsty romances. Would also love to see a story that is super sexy or even erotic.
  • Dark new adult romance that deals with the darker side of obsession, jealousy, possessiveness and discovering sexuality and kink.

Kerri Buckley, Senior Editor, would like to see:

  • New Adult romantic suspense—sons and daughters swept up into dark family businesses, military heroes and heroines, nonstop action combined with traditional NA themes.
  • Super sexy New Adult set outside of college campuses. Supremely alpha heroes preferred.
  • New Adult mysteries or NA novels with mysterious elements

Rhonda Helms, Freelance Editor, would like to see:

  • Diverse New Adult romance—LGBTQ, people of color, multicultural.
  • Edgy, intense, emotional contemporary New Adult romance.
  • Non-contemporary New Adult with strong characters, emotion, resonant romance.

Deborah Nemeth, Freelance Editor, would like to see:

  • New Adult with multicultural and interracial couples. African-American heroes, Latina heroines, Bollywood romances…

  • New Adult featuring heroes or heroines in uniform, including m/m, contemp and suspense.

Submit your new adult manuscripts to Carina Press now, right here!

What We Want—Erotic Romance!

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Going Under Sharp Love Shattered Bonds Of Shadows and Ash

We’re always on the lookout for fresh new voices in erotic romance. Erotic romance is wonderfully varied; see the above examples for some of Carina’s stellar offerings. Here are some specific types of stories our editors are looking for:

Angela James, Editorial Director, is looking to acquire a dark erotic thriller that pushes the edges of exploring forced seduction, fantasy and eroticism.

Kerri Buckley, Senior Editor, would like to see:

  • Fantasies of control, set outside of the BDSM club world
  • Erotic romances that revisit the same sequence of events from alternating h/h POVs. Think Showtime’s The Affair.
  • Dark, erotic romantic thrillers with an underlying sense of real danger and/or suspense.

Rhonda Helms, Freelance Editor, would like to see:

  • Hot historical romances, sexy dark gothic romances (historical or contemporary), and romances featuring first responders or military; people of color/multicultural & LGBT welcome!

Deborah Nemeth, Freelance Editor, would like to see:

  • Erotic romance with couples who are in competition or have hidden agendas, and who work out trust issues while pursuing a physical relationship. 

  • Historical erotic romance, especially Victorian, Regency, Tudor, Georgian, Edwardian and Jazz Age.

  • Multicultural/interracial erotic romance, including historical, contemporary, NA or m/m. An erotic NA Bollywood romance would be right up my alley.

Submit your erotic romance to Carina Press now, right here!

What We Want—Romantic Suspense!

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CARINA_1114_9781426899263_BlamedCARINA_0814_9781426898822_MidnightVengeance  9781426898976_FairPlay

In the mood for some suspense with your romance? So are we! We have some truly thrilling romantic suspense books available—see above for a sample—and we just can’t get enough. What makes a good romantic suspense? Fast-paced, exciting stories full of action and tension—sexual and otherwise! :P

Here is what our editors are eager to acquire in the romantic suspense genre:

Angela James, Editorial Director, would like to see:

  • A romantic suspense series that features mercenaries who are anti-heroes and anti-heroines. Something a little dark, with heroes/heroines who take you to the edge, don’t see things in black & white, and who have delicious sexual tension and dirty sex. Work hard, play hard!
  • I’m still looking for that one cracktastic project to really pull me in and it fits here because something that has suspense elements can help up that cracktastic feel!

Kerri Buckley, Senior Editor, would like to see:

  • A super sexy romantic suspense series in which an assassin or a spy falls for his/her mark
  • Romantic suspense stories set against an Eastern European backdrop
  • A Mr. & Mrs. Smith-style setup, with dual betrayal and non-stop action that takes h/h across the globe

Rhonda Helms, Freelance Editor, would like to see:

  • A fab, action-packed New Adult romantic suspense. Ramp up that angst!
  • Any M/M romantic suspense? I so want to see it, please!

Alissa Davis, Freelance Editor, would like to see:

  • A sexy romantic suspense with a female mercenary heroine and her team tasked with liberating an imprisoned hero.
  • A super sexy m/m romantic suspense series, either historical or contemporar

Deb Nemeth, Freelance Editor, would like to see:

  • You name it, I want it all: mercenaries, assassins, crime bosses, capers, secret baby rom suspense, m/m rom suspense, stalkers, serial killers, cartels, political intrigue/conspiracies and coverups
  • Military romantic suspense with plenty of action/adventure played out across dramatic landscapes such as snowclad mountains or windswept deserts
  • Gritty, tautly paced crime investigation romances with savvy investigators facing high-stakes situations
  • New Adult romantic suspense featuring a con artist or cat burglar protagonist
  • Espionage romance featuring a female—or gay—spy who falls for their target

Submit your romantic suspense to Carina Press now, right here!


What We Want: Dark, Contemporary Romance

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At Carina Press, we’re always looking to acquire contemporary romance but this month we dare you to step over the line into darker territory…

We want searing stories and risky editorial; books with high emotional tension and lots of dramatic conflict. We want sexy or erotic manuscripts with troubled characters and mysterious backstories. More specifically, if you’re writing any of the following, we’d like to see it:

  • Dark, erotic and/or psychological thrillers
  • Stories of adultery and betrayal
  • Capture fantasies and encounters of questionable consent
  • Gritty, graphic and explicit stories about organized crime and hit men
  • Mercenaries on a mission
  • Conflicts involving non-traditional h/h pairings
  • Anti-heroes and anti-heroines. Real, unredeemable bad boys and bad girls
  • Heavily atmospheric, gothic-inspired sexy contemporary romance
  • Super sexy (but not necessarily erotic) contemporary romance with sexually charged dialogue, off-the-charts sexual tension and/or a dirty-talking hero/heroine

HEAs not required, but please appease us—and your readers—with a HFN (Happily for Now).

Please note that submissions featuring the following will not be considered:

  • Rape for titillation
  • Bestiality
  • Incest
  • Characters under the age of 18 engaging in sex or illegal activity