A Few of Rhenna Morgan’s Favorite Fall Things

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by Rhenna Morgan, author of Ancient Ink and Men of Haven series

You’re totally doing the Julie Andrews sing-along in your head right now, aren’t you?

Well, go ahead. Let it play in the background while you peruse below, because October is hands down my favorite month of the year, and I’m about to unload the five primary reasons I love it!

 

#1 – Pumpkin Spice Everything

Okay, I’ll admit this one gets old kind of fast, but remember—I live in Oklahoma, and we just don’t mess around with summer. You really feel the heat July through August, and much of September. So when I start seeing pumpkin spice lattes on the Starbucks board, my inner survivalist knows it’s officially time to start saving on the air-conditioning bill and pull my sweatshirts out from the back of my closet.

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Short Scene Critique: Late Night Alley Brawl

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Meant to be a sneak peek into a Carina editor’s brain, and critiqued by a different editor each time, these critiques are posted twice a month.

The idea here is to give you a quick insight into how we might look at a manuscript as it comes across our desks on submission. We’ll strive to be critical but not mean. Because it’s only about 600 words, 2 pages at the most, the amount of feedback is necessarily limited—we don’t have access to more than a couple of pages!

We asked authors to submit one of four types of scenes: an action scene, a sex scene, the black moment or the first meeting between protagonists. This opportunity was limited to 400-800 words, but it provides both authors and those following these critiques with an opportunity to see editorial feedback deeper into a book.

It’s important to note that this manuscript was submitted specifically for the purpose of critique on the blog, we do not/will not use random submissions so no worries we’re going to pull your piece out of our submissions inbox and critique it.

The next opportunity to submit a piece for critique will be open soon, so please watch the blog or our newsletter for more.

This month’s editor providing critique is Carina Press Freelancer Editor Kate Marope.

 

The Short Scene

This was submitted by the author as an action scene.

Author A described this manuscript as “a romantic suspense in which a murder takes place in a locked room.”

The query letter promises an interesting read with a heroine with an art forgery past, and a romance with the lead detective in the investigation.

Rory turned onto the next street and hesitated. Sometime between the time she had passed earlier and now the street light had gone out. She stopped, debated over continuing on this path or going another street over back to her apartment, adding a few more blocks. If she hadn’t drunk that second glass of wine, maybe the fatigue wouldn’t be catching up with her. And maybe she wouldn’t have gone to see Colin after dark either.

Deciding to continue down the street, she quickened her pace, her soft-soled tennis shoes quiet as she padded down the sidewalk. Which meant the footsteps that echoed in the empty street belonged to someone else. Someone following her, not worried about announcing his presence. Someone hidden in the shadowy recesses of the buildings lining the street.

She broke into a run, her heart hammering in her chest, pounding in her ears. The footsteps came faster. Closer. Heavy steps, like a man’s. With a new surge of adrenalin, she sprinted toward the next block. One lone light shone on the opposite side of the street.

Hands clutched at her sweater from behind, grabbing her shoulder. In reflex she screamed and shimmied free. Took two steps. He lifted her off her feet. This time she screamed louder, kicking at him.

“Shut up!” he growled, tossing her over his shoulder and heading toward the alley. He was built like a refrigerator and held her legs so tight she couldn’t move. She stopped screaming when gravity worked against her. She beat on his broad back with both fists, then choked on stale cigarette smoke that puffed from his rough wool coat. Nothing fazed him.

“Stop! Police!” The voice sounded familiar.

Oh, no. Gallagher.

The man turned around, smacking her head against dark metal. He laughed. “Yeah. You look like a cop.”

“Set her down and put your hands above your head.” She couldn’t see Gallagher, but imagined—hoped–he pointed his gun at Fridge Man.

Fridge Man pushed her off his shoulder. Her startled scream filled the cool air. Her hip struck cold metal. Then the smell assaulted her. Rotten garbage. Overstuffed trash bags cushioned her fall as she landed in a Dumpster. She scrabbled over the slick lumpy surface. Something clattered and slid on the pavement outside.

“Shit.” Gallagher sounded surprised.

What was going on out there? The alley was darker than the street without streetlights, leaving her blind. The angle of the bags made her slide down into the pile of stench in the corner.

Finally at the top of the heap, she peered over the edge of the Dumpster. Gallagher swung at the bigger man, but looked like he was outmatched. Should she help him or take this opportunity to lose them both? Gallagher had saved her though. She felt around for something unmooshy to use as a weapon. Her fingers came in contact with a long stick. She held it up in a sliver of moonlight. Table leg? Clutching it in one hand, she hugged the top edge of the Dumpster and struggled out. The two men wrestled in the middle of the alley, grunting and punching each other.

She hit Fridge Man between the shoulder blades with the table leg. The wood splintered.

“My . . . gun,” Gallagher gasped.

Tossing the broken leg aside, she checked out the area. No gun-sized shadows. Swinging her foot in a semicircle close to the ground, she searched for the weapon. After numerous sweeps she managed to kick it, then scampered after it.

She’d never held a gun in her life and the weight surprised her. “I-I’ll shoot.”

Damn. Her voice trembled and her hands wouldn’t stop shaking. Fridge Man pirouetted and shoved Gallagher at her. They collided and sprawled in a tangle of arms and legs, knocking the gun from her hand. Fridge Man ran off, his footsteps echoing in the distance. A dog barked. Her heartbeat clamored in her ears and her chest hurt. She fought to catch her breath.

Gallagher separated his arms and legs from hers and rolled over to lie panting on the asphalt next to her. He looked at her, his face full of dark blotches. “Okay?”

“Me? Yeah. Thanks.” Because of her he’d gotten hurt. Again. A twinge of guilt niggled at her. “You don’t look so good.”

He rose on one elbow and swiped a hand across his face. “I’d say the other guy looks worse, but he probably doesn’t.”

She stood and dusted pebbles off her sore butt. How had he lost possession of his gun? Instead she asked the more pressing question. “Why were you following me?”

“Give me a minute.” Grunting, he rose in slow increments. Once upright, he faced her. “What were you thinking, going out alone this time of night?”

* * *

The Critique

I appreciate how the author tried to set up the scene, with the ominous dark street, heavy footsteps, and somewhat weary heroine. Unfortunately, the scene left me confused because there was a distinct lack of context. Of course, taking the scene out of the greater context of the full manuscript contributes to that, but there was also confusion in not knowing what the stakes are and the general motives of each character in the situation.

The reader doesn’t know what Rory achieved by going to see Colin (and if it was worth the risk of the late-night walk), who Colin is (lover, family, or friend), and what Fridge Man intended to do with Rory (was this a kidnapping gone bad?).

If Rory went to go meet with Colin (who may be her brother, based on the query letter) with the goal to discover if he was the one to put the forged painting that led to the locked room murder up for sale, then it would benefit the scene to tell if that goal was achieved, or what further questions were a consequence of Rory’s meeting with him (e.g. if Colin and her father said they didn’t put the painting up for sale, who did? Did Colin point to someone else having an inordinate amount of interest in the painting or him?).

Then we need to take a look at Fridge Man. He was quiet throughout the entire scene (other than to tell her to shut up and to mock Gallagher), so that gave no insight into his motivations for fireman carrying Rory into the alley. No threats, no demands, and no commands (no answer for why he put her in the dumpster). Without a hint of what his intentions toward her were (or at least who sent him), I didn’t get fully invested in rooting for her to get away from him. Him throwing Rory into the garbage brought humor rather than fear or sense of danger to the scene. At some point I was sure that a surprise reveal was coming (maybe Rory knew Fridge Man and this was a prank gone wrong and not a kidnapping).

Fridge Man himself seemed like a bit of a throwaway character. He didn’t have a name, not much of a voice, and not real investment in the situation. Given how easily he disabled both Rory and Gallagher, if his motives were to kidnap Rory, why did he run away when he was winning?

As for Gallagher, he seemed oddly concerned for Rory, even though this scene takes place early on in the manuscript while Rory is still the only suspect for the murder. So, I wasn’t sure if he was following her because he wanted to keep her safe or if he was following her to make sure that she was staying out of trouble (or potentially leading him to the real killer). The fact that Rory paused to wonder if Gallagher and Fridge Man taking each other out wouldn’t solve all her problems, makes it clear their relationship wasn’t a cordial one. Yet, it seems like Gallagher is routinely rescuing Rory from dangerous situations.

I love how Gallagher was clearly out sized and outclassed, but because the POV character was inside the dumpster and searching for the gun in the dark for most of the actual fighting, the reader doesn’t get a good sense of what’s going on. What little blocking we did see was also vague. It’s clear the author wrote this scene knowing the who, what and why of each character, but none of that quite made it into the scene to ramp up the tension and progress the plot. Adding more dialogue (especially from Fridge Man), and perhaps writing the scene from Gallagher’s POV would provide more backstory and actual investment in the fight since he is the one confronting and following the other characters.

Would I keep reading?

Yes, because the author’s query letter was quite strong and painted an interesting broad strokes picture of the book. Rory’s forger past catching up with her after she becomes an assistant curator and conservator at a private museum is quite intriguing, and I would like to know why Gallagher seems oddly sweet on her right from the start.

Do you have questions about my feedback or the Critique program? Your turn to add constructive feedback for the author in the comments section! Or email generalinquiries@carinapress.com.]

Authors entering their work for critique can choose to have the blog post comments open or closed. Comments are open, so please utilize them to ask questions or to offer your own critique, but please remember to offer useful criticism. Comments will be moderated and deleted if not deemed to be useful or appropriate.

5 Books Featuring Strong Female Leads

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by JN Welsh, author of In Tune

Seeing women excel in their careers and businesses on the page is empowering, especially when you can learn from their stories, because secretly we’re all trying to figure out how to do it, right?

Within the pages of my books, readers can find dynamic, often humorous, mostly career-driven, multicultural women of color looking for love. Women, who when you peel back the layers they surprise you, as well as their lava-hot, sexy love interests, over and over again. Similar to some of my favorite reads. Here are five of my favorites that I always mention!

Breathing His Air by Debra Kayn

Tori Baldwin knows how to dish out love advice on her food truck as easily as she busts balls. It’s tough to go toe-to-toe with a really alpha leader of a biker community, yet she does and all while taking care of others and navigating through some intense emotional and dangerous situations. During the heart-pumping moments, I couldn’t put the book down.

 

 Chasing Moonlight by Raven St. Pierre

Quinn Dixon loves hard and sasses even harder. She’s a heroine with entrepreneurial dreams and is thoughtful and protective of her family, friends and Jesse Peterson. Even during the oppressive Jim Crow era, Quinn strives for a better life and experiences an unconventional and unexpected love against seemingly insurmountable odds. (more…)

What the Editors Want: Fall 2018 Edition

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Carina Press wants to reaffirm our commitment to inclusion and representation in our publishing program and extend a specific invitation to Black authors, authors of color, queer authors, disabled authors and other traditionally underrepresented voices. We want to see your submissions across all romance and mystery subgenres and tropes. We strive to make our list one of inclusion, and are working hard to build a catalog that is more representative of the romance reading public. The key focus is really intersectionality—no person is completely defined by one aspect of themselves, and no character or story should be, either.

For publication in summer 2019 onward, we’ve asked our editors what they’d most like to see. Part of what we love about our team here at Carina, and hope you’ll appreciate as well, is the wide range of tastes and appreciations everyone brings to the table. There’s truly an editor for everyone—just read through to find your potential perfect match below!

We’ve also pulled together a slightly more general imprint-wide wishlist. Please remember that with the exception of mysteries, all submissions to Carina Press must fall into the larger category of ROMANCE, regardless of subgenre. This means you need an HFN (happy for now) or HEA (happily ever after) in every romance manuscript.

IN ROMANCE:

  • Lighthearted, fun contemporary romance and romcoms. No massively dark backstories, no heavy angst, and lots of laughs and banter. Think Lucy Parker’s London Celebrities series, Intercepted by Alexa Martin, and even Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game. We want to feel good before we feel bad, because we’re also looking for…
  • Ugly Cries. Those books that stay with you for months; deep-heart stories of being ripped apart and put back together again. We want lots of emotional investment, but not necessarily issue-driven books. Touch our hearts with loss, emotional pain, or a particularly gut-wrenching confrontation scene. BUT! You have to deliver us a great HEA because this is romance, after all. We’re still bawling over Melanie Hansen’s Point of Contact. Other good examples are Riley Mackenzie’s Abruption and Brittainy C. Cherry’s Disgrace.

We would love to see a standalone or series that weaves these two asks together. An example of a series we love that manages to combine laugh-out-loud humor in a fun, contemporary romance with rip-out-your-heart emotion is Bear, Otter, and the Kid by TJ Klune.

  • Paranormals (and urban fantasy romance): Yes, we are indeed actively acquiring in these subgenres. And we’re open to concepts way beyond shifters, including witches, vampires, ghosts, and other paranormal elements and beings (although shifters are cool, always). Clan politics, fated mates, kickass people or beings doing kickass things and landing their HEA, despite the odds. RomSusp elements invited.
  • Romantic Suspense: With the suspense acting in support of the romance, rather than the suspense being the main attraction with the romance being a lesser element, please. While we welcome overarching storylines, ideally each book in a series will stand alone, with light touches on any complicated plotlines that take multiple books to resolve. We’re wanting strong, protective characters, dramatic rescues, and off the charts chemistry.

 

IN MYSTERY:

We want to see more inclusion and representation in the mystery genre, and are looking for mysteries across the genre featuring protagonists from traditionally marginalized or underrepresented backgrounds, written by #ownvoices authors.

In mystery, we are specifically looking for:

  • Paranormal mysteries. Protagonists with paranormal powers, who get help from the undead, live in enchanted towns, build supernatural friendships and liaison with creatures who go bump in the night. We’re interested in a little something weird structured around a solid mystery arc, anywhere within the genre. With or without romantic elements. Please think Practical Magic and Hocus PocusA Grave Calling by Wendy Roberts, Charlaine Harris’s Harper Connolly books, The Dowser Series by Meghan Ciana Diodge, and Jana DeLeon’s Happily Everlasting series.
  • Historical mysteries with romantic elements. All time periods are fair game. Think Ashley Gardner, Rhys Bown’s Molly Murphy books, Lady Sherlock by Sherry Thomas, and C.S. Harris’s Sebastian St. Cyr series. Something mystery focused, with rich historical detail, and at least a light romantic thread running throughout.
  • Cozy mysteries, procedurals and detective series featuring protagonists from traditionally marginalized or underrepresented backgrounds, written by #ownvoices authors.

 

And don’t miss our current submission calls:

Open Proposal Call

We’re pleased to announce that we’re opening our submissions to proposals once again. We want to see your WIPs while they’re still in progress—no full manuscripts required to submit!

This proposal call is open to any of the genres we publish. Have a mystery proposal you’ve been dying to pitch? Writing a contemporary romance? Or maybe you’re looking to publish a paranormal romance? We want to read it!

See this page for detailed submission requirements and guidelines.

Male/Male Romantic Suspense Miniseries

This is an ongoing call with no closing date!

We’re looking for male/male romantic suspense titles that are part of ongoing miniseries, where:

  • The same heroes travel from book to book
  • Each book contains a happy-for-now
  • Each book contains an independent suspense arc
  • There is an overarching suspense and romantic arc running through the miniseries

We are particularly interested in seeing submissions from authors who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community for this call.

Click here for more details on this call!

 

Angela James, Editorial Director (she/her/Ms.), Kerri Buckley, Senior Editor, and Stephanie Doig, Associate Editor, updated the above imprint-wide list, and welcome all queries related to it. In addition, please see individual wishlists for Kerri and Stephanie below: 

Kerri Buckley (she/her/Ms.)

I’ve been asking for single dad romances for so long that I’ve decided to make it my header on this update. All heat levels and settings considered, queer characters most welcome, cute kids a must. I want the relationship between Dad and his kid(s) to pull at my heartstrings, the romance to be realistic and deep, and everyone to end up as one big, happy and possibly messy or quirky family. Hit me with your grumpy, nerdy, gentle or tough guy dads. All the dads. Please and thank you.

  • Paranormal cozies with razor-sharp banter and a light, series-long romantic arc
  • Super sexy female/female enemies-to-lovers stories across subgenres (helllllooo US/Canadian hockey team captains getting married, wheeee!)
  • 1980s/1990s set romances. MCs without cell phones or social media. Go!
  • Contemporaries with a touch of magical realism, like Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells.
  • Police procedurals with female leads and strong romantic elements. Preferably on the darker side, wrestling with powerful Good vs. Evil setups. Think the British TV series Happy Valley.
  • Heroine-centric stories (Women’s Fiction Crossover). No high concepts required; lots of focus on character growth, the emotional side of relationship dynamics, and possibly the larger biological family or chosen family. Non-traditional POV choices welcome here although we do require that HEA/HFN, even if the romance isn’t completely front and center all the way through. Think Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine with a more romantic ending between Eleanor and Raymond, or Mariana Zapata’s Wait for It.

 

Stephanie Doig (she/her/Ms.)

I am looking for delicious romantic tension when I read a romance—whether it comes from charming banter, intense emotions, or earnest, no-holds-barred declarations, I want to eagerly anticipate every word.

  • Super-fun romantic comedies—I want to laugh out loud, I want to giggle while reading in public, I want a book that will make me wish I knew your characters in real life. Bonus points if you have one goofy, warm-hearted, caretaker-type determined to win the heart of a grump.
  • Very caring heroes paired with pricklier heroines—Talia Hibbert’s A Girl Like Her is a recent favourite of mine.
  • I’d love to see more subplots featuring close sibling relationships (not romantic relationships between siblings—platonic, family relationships playing a part in the larger story). Think Zeus, Ares and Ambrosia in Pippa Grant’s hockey series.
  • Arranged marriage romance—I’d love to see a contemporary romance with a respectful portrayal of arranged marriage as part of the characters’ culture, complete with complex emotional dynamics and family relationships.
  • Romances featuring a plus-sized protagonist, where being plus-sized is not their defining characteristic.
  • Enemies to lovers! This works great in fake relationship or forced proximity stories, but I’m open to any trope with this type of relationship dynamic.
  • Reimaginings of classics—I recently loved Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin and would love to see a romance along those lines.
  • Paranormal romances and/or urban fantasy romances featuring witches, demons or other magic-users. I’m a sucker for a fated-mates story.

 

And please read on to learn what our fantastic freelance editors are most wanting to see at this time:

Alissa Davis (she/her/Ms.)

I’m looking for romances with flawed, compelling characters who learn from each other as they fall in love.

I’m also looking for:

  • Forced proximity romance. Whether we’re talking chefs in a restaurant kitchen, a wide receiver and his quarterback, partners in a law firm, dragonriders defending the realm, two people stranded in a cabin, or a cinnamon-roll duke and his aloof personal secretary, I want to see them navigating inconvenient sexual tension and high stakes conflict.
  • Contemporary or historical resistance romance. Please send me characters who see injustice and want to fix it.
  • Paranormal romance, especially those with more diversity within the packs of shifters and vampires. I love the TV show Lost Girl and would be thrilled to find a paranormal romance series set in a world like that one, where we see lots of different types of shifters, fae and magic, with complex group dynamics and shifting allegiances. I’d also love to see witches again, but with lighter magical elements and more focus on the sisterhood of the coven than on the actual spells.
  • Royalty! I’m hunting for full-length romances with at least one royal. Can be historical, futuristic, LGBTQIA+, fantasy romance, etc., as long as it has a sweeping romance, beautiful clothes and great conflict.
  • LGBTQIA+ in any subgenre and heat level. I’d love to see f/f arranged marriage or marriage of convenience romance, and if anyone wants to write a trans Scarlet Pimpernel retelling, either historical or a contemp version, please send it my way!
  • Characters who work with animals. If you have a romantic suspense series featuring teams who work with search-and-rescue dogs, or a contemporary romance set in an animal rescue, my foster dogs and I would love to see it.
  • Historical romance that’ll make me laugh. I’m here for the snarky banter and the heroines with a bawdy sense of humor.
  • Romance featuring characters who are neurodivergent.
  • Sexy, emotional, slow-burn contemporary romance.
  • Erotic romance along the lines of Kresley Cole’s The Game Maker series.
  • Rom com where at least part of the story takes place in a restaurant or kitchen and cooking is part of their shared love language. If you have a food critic/chef romance, I’d love to take a look!

 

Deborah Nemeth (she/her/Ms.)

I’m looking for mysteries and romance with characters driven by strong goals, whether to fight injustice, rescue prisoners, catch murderers, pull heists, or rebel against galactic overlords. I have a partiality for characters and tropes that subvert expectations, including gender-flipped retellings, and for characters who display a wicked sense of humor. I’m especially interested in acquiring #ownvoices mystery and romance.

In particular I’d like to see the following:

  • I’m seeking cozies, procedurals and PIs featuring uber-clever sleuths and compelling crime-fighting duos, including those whose investigative skills are enhanced by paranormal abilities. I would love to acquire a historical mystery series that features romantic elements in an unusual setting.
  • Feel-good romances with external conflict that complicates the protagonists’ lives, and relationships that drive character change. Some of my favorite tropes include arranged marriage, secret agenda, forced proximity, fake engagement, forbidden love, and enemies to lovers. I’m also a sucker for redemption themes and I enjoy a great grovel.
  • Romantic suspense that has a good balance of high-stakes action and relationship development.
  • Stories that make me laugh, such as witty Regencies and capers and romantic comedy with snappy banter.
  • Daredevil protagonists who are adrenaline-rush junkies, such as land-speed record-setters and extreme-sports athletes.
  • Con artist protagonists who execute deviously elaborate scams with twists I don’t see coming.

 

Mackenzie Walton (she/her/Ms.)

I’m always looking for well-rounded casts, opposites-attract couples, intricate world-building, and strong, authentic dialogue with distinct character voices. And even more specifically:

  • LGBTQIA+ historical. Dukes, duchesses and ballrooms are fantastic—frankly, I don’t get tired of them—but I’d also be interested in seeing more unusual settings and scenarios.
  • Fun, sexy/erotic contemporaries, especially featuring those daydream/fantasy boyfriends—movie stars, musicians, athletes and the like.
  • Moody, thoughtful paranormals with complex world-building. I love characters who really contemplate what it means to be a paranormal creature in the mundane world.
  • Vampires, please! Yes, they’re back, and I really want a fresh, fun take on vampire romance. I’m especially interested in stories focusing on characters of color and diverse religious backgrounds.
  • Erotic ménage in any genre, especially male/male/female. A balanced relationship, with all participants of equal importance, is key here, as well as characters who seriously weigh the possible complications of such a relationship.
  • Some tropes I can’t get enough of, in any genre: marriage of convenience, forced proximity, enemies to lovers. Basically, if the couple is annoyed by how much they’re attracted to each other, I’m a big fan.
  • Ugly duckling/Cinderella-type heroines (or heroes for male/male)? Yes, please! I love seeing an under-appreciated wallflower get an HEA, in any genre.
  • Historical and paranormal mysteries, especially if they have a cozy vibe.
  • Non-office workplace romances. Think retail, libraries, coffee shops, schools/universities, and the like—I want to see more books with characters falling in love on the job, but not in the boardroom. Bonus points if you give me the Hot Dude Librarian hero of my dreams.
  • Virgin heroes, across the board. Can’t get enough of them.

 

John Jacobson (they/them/Mx. or Mr.)

Romances with captivating characters and rich conflict make my heart flutter. I’m looking for romances that make me pull an all-nighter just to see how the characters finally get together. Couple that with snappy dialogue, characters who are confidently competent, and traditionally underrepresented identities to make a submission fit for me. I’m also looking for:

  • Sexy romantic comedies with an atmosphere of uplifting the characters as opposed to using embarrassment for laughs. Show me how your characters fall in love with each other’s humor. Even subversive humor would be great. Think of the contemporary classics like 10 Things I Hate About Youfor an idea of what makes me giggle.
  • LGBTQIA+ romances. Characters that are outside of the usual binary sexualities and genders are very welcome.
  • Erotic romance that explores less-charted territory, such as femme Doms and masculine subs of all identities, with settings that go beyond sex clubs and dungeons.
  • Subverted billionaire trope, where the billionaire checks their privilege. Heroines as the billionaire are my catnip.
  • Historical romances that involve unique elements of history, such as journalism, politics, or personal identity, that can be just as applicable to present day conversations.
  • Paranormal romance that goes beyond shifters and vampires. Witches? Demon slayers? Succubi? Bring ’em on.
  • Friends-to-lovers, enemies-to-lovers — romances with characters that have a history. Make their history juicy and complicated so that every heightening of romantic tension makes me breathless for more. I want to believe these characters had reasons for not getting together before, and I want to root for them with wild abandon when they finally realize they’re meant-to-be.
  • Historical romances with a dash of mystery. Focus on the romance as its own complete story, but bring in fleshed-out mystery elements that are a strong foil to the overall conflict and suspense.
  • Fantasy romance with worlds that feel larger-than-life. Use this world to amp up the drama and refresh classic romance tropes so that readers feel at home, like in C.L. Wilson’s Weathermages of Mystral romance series.

 

Carrie Lofty (she/her/Ms.)

I love snappy dialogue, cheeky humor and a dry, sarcastic wit. No matter the tone, wrap me in the world you create. I need to be invested in characters’ dreams and desires, and why they can’t (initially) be happy together. What is important to them? “High stakes” doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the world—although disaster romances are my catnip. I’m skewing heavily paranormal this season. On my wishlist:

  • Halloween themes: resourceful human, ghoulish adversaries, outbreaks and epidemics, maniacal stalkers—and pressure-cooker attractions that emerge in the face of fear. Bring on October 2019!
  • Realistic polyamory: romances that explore the complexities of love between more than two people. Angst is not a must.
  • Lesbian romances: bonus points for rom coms and subgenres other than contemporary.
  • Foreplay: slow burn romances of any genre that build to a hot, sexy payoff.
  • Vampires with grit: I want to crush on Lestat all over again. How about a new take on old favorites? LGTBQ, #ownvoices, multicultural…
  • Reconciliation romance: save a once-loving couple from disaster!
  • Gentle bruisers: that big, imposing, scary mofo coming toward you in a dark alley? He’s an amazing lover and will make you breakfast just after he breaks some guy’s face.
  • Historical m/m: any time period, and I’d be very intrigued if they include paranormal or fantasy elements.
  • Dark homecomings: protagonist left in disgrace, went to war, sent to jail.
  • Space pirates: soft sci-fi with lots of wit, action and great world-building, like Guardians of the Galaxy or Firefly, but with a snappy, sexy romance at its heart.

Kate Marope (she/her/Ms.)

I’m looking for pragmatic and competent characters who will do what needs doing. Characters who know what they want, and how to get it. I’m especially interested in LGBTQIA+ and multicultural protagonists from diverse backgrounds in both mystery and romance.

  • Fish-out-of-water protagonists with semi-trustworthy (but fundamentally good) guides to the new world or culture they find themselves in.
  • Kresley Cole-esque virgin heroes
  • Growly but low-key romantic heroes. The types who complain for the sake of complaining, but are secretly amused and will later surprise their lover (who thought he wasn’t listening) with what they wanted.
  • Urban fantasy: give me f/m, m/m, or trans protagonists, intense clan politics and exquisite world building. Really looking for unusual creatures, settings or cultures. Maybe an UF When Dimple Met Rishi.
  • Paranormal romance: high tension and conflict between fated mates, and unapologetic and unrepentant supernatural creatures. I would love a supernatural Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
  • Contemporary Romance: I am a sucker for second chance, friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, partners to lovers, and relationships/marriages of convenience romances. Slow burns are a plus!
  • Sweet but emotional LGBTQIA+ workplace romance in the style of Mary Calmes’ Marshals series.
  • Military romance: I’m a long-time addict of Hawaii Five-0, so give me military personnel who still have their edge.
  • Mysteries: Who- or whydunit police procedurals, thrillers, and psychological suspense, featuring former-criminal investigators who use their past life in crime to solve the mystery. Suppressed or rather-be-forgotten pasts are a definite plus.

 

Ronan Sadler (they/them/Mx.)

I love deeply character-driven stories that explore the interplay between boundaries and vulnerability, history and future, social context and personal desire. I’m drawn to immersive narrative voices and emotionally detailed settings. Romance is for everyone, and I would love to see #OwnVoices submissions across genre that reflect love in its many forms.

  • Sexy romantic suspense with a paranormal or SFF twist, like SupernaturalFringe, or the X-Files. A textured, immersive world is a huge plus here, and I’d really like something atmospheric, maybe almost noir-y or gothic. Series potential preferred.
  • A caper with crackling sexual/romantic tension, especially if it’s F/F (think Ocean’s 8). High stakes, high tension, preferably high snark.
  • Character-driven erotic romance with a distinct voice, especially if it pushes at questions of power, shame, desire, and vulnerability. I’m especially interested in erotic romances that don’t essentialize power roles and instead explore these dynamics.
  • Tropes I love: arranged marriage or marriage of convenience, bodyguard/ward, fake dating. I’d love to see some these classic tropes starring characters who have been under-represented in the romance genre.
  • Atmospheric paranormal with a strong sense of time and place. I especially want to see characters of color, disabled characters, fat characters, and trans characters starring in the genre. Particularly interested in paranormals with witches/magic users, fae, vampires, and shifter romance that examines what it means to have an unstable or changing bodily identity.
  • Paranormal, urban fantasy, or SFF romance with twisty politics that hold our lovers apart, especially if there’s a component of duty to it.
  • Sexy, gritty, character-driven contemporary that gives space for characters with difficult backstories to heal and find love. Not looking for angst for the sake of angst, but rather for emotional complexity and depth. High heat a bonus.
  • Driven, maybe even ruthless heroines who don’t need to become softer and who are loved as they are, especially if they are forced to make morally complex choices. Think Cecilia Grant’s Lydia Slaughter, Megan Whalen Turner’s Irene Attolia, etc.
  • Romantic leads who have complex histories: exes, best friends, rivals, work partners, or enemies.

 

Here’s a handy quick-view chart that gives you a look at which editors are acquiring in specific genres: 

Genre Editors actively acquiring in genre Not acquiring in genre
Erotic romance Kerri, Alissa, Deb, Mackenzie, Angela, John, Ronan, Carrie, Kate Stephanie
Contemporary romance Kerri, Stephanie, Alissa, Deb, Mackenzie, Angela, John, Ronan, Carrie, Kate
Paranormal romance Alissa, Stephanie, Deb, Mackenzie, Angela, John, Ronan, Carrie, Kate
Urban fantasy Deb, Stephanie, Alissa, Angela, John, Ronan, Kate Carrie, Mackenzie
Fantasy romance Alissa, Deb, Angela, John, Ronan, Carrie, Mackenzie, Kate
Science fiction romance Alissa, Deb, Angela, Ronan, Carrie, Mackenzie Stephanie, Kerri, John, Kate
Romantic suspense Kerri, Stephanie, Alissa, Deb, Angela, John, Ronan, Carrie, Kate, Mackenzie
Historical romance Kerri, Alissa, Deb, Mackenzie, John, Ronan, Carrie, Stephanie, Angela, Kate
Mystery Kerri, Deb, Mackenzie, John, Kate Stephanie, Alissa, Angela (except historical mystery), Ronan, Carrie
**All editors are acquiring #OwnVoices and inclusive manuscripts across their listed genres**

 

Editor Preferred Pronouns How to address your query
Angela James She/her/Ms. Ms. James
Kerri Buckley She/her/Ms. Ms. Buckley
Stephanie Doig She/her/Ms. Ms. Doig
Deborah Nemeth She/her/Ms. Ms. Nemeth
Alissa Davis She/her/Ms. Ms. Davis
Mackenzie Walton She/her/Ms. Ms. Walton
Kate Marope She/her/Ms. Ms. Marope
Ronan Sadler They/them/Mx. Mx. Sadler
Carrie Lofty She/her/Ms. Ms. Lofty
John Jacobson They/them/Mx or Mr. Mx. or Mr. Jacobson

If you are not submitting to a specific editor, please address your query “Dear Editor.” 

 

Open Proposal Call: Fall 2018

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We’re pleased to announce that we’re opening our submissions to proposals once again. We want to see your WIPs while they’re still in progress—no full manuscripts required to submit!

This proposal call is open to any of the genres we publish, as outlined below. Have a mystery proposal you’ve been dying to pitch? Writing a contemporary romance? Or maybe you’re looking to publish a paranormal romance? We want to read it!

This is an opportunity for you to run your idea by a Carina Press editor without needing a full manuscript. We’re not always able to acquire based on proposal, however, so we may request more pages or even a full manuscript in order to consider it for acquisition. And remember–a good synopsis is crucial when we only have a partial manuscript to review!

Please note that this call is running simultaneously with our Male/Male Romantic Suspense Proposal Call, which has different requirements. Please submit your male/male romantic suspense proposals via that call.

General open proposal call submission link: https://carinapress.submittable.com/submit/75963/open-proposal-call 

Closing date: December 3, 2018 (all submissions due by 11:59pm Eastern on this date)

Requirements for this proposal call:

  • Your book must fall within any of the romance or mystery genres we publish but can be of any heat level or same-sex/multiple pairings.
  • Your proposed book must be a completely new work and not have been previously published in any form, whether self-published, posted on a writing community site (example: Wattpad) or released via digital or traditional publisher. Only new material will be considered during this submission call. If you have a previously published title for consideration, please submit it via our regular submission channels.
  • You cannot submit a project you have submitted to Carina Press before.

View this post for the dozens of genres and tropes our editors are eager to read.

Materials needed to participate:

  • A detailed query letter with a 3-5 paragraph book description, plus a short introduction of your writing credentials and publishing history.
  • A minimum of the first 7,500 words of a WIP. If you have more than 7,500 words, you can certainly send more! Please note that due to a great number of questions received re: desired words per chapter, we’ve revised our guidelines for 2018 to reflect requested word count vs. chapter count.
  • A thorough, well-thought-out synopsis that is at least 5 pages or 1,600 words long. The synopsis is extra important with a proposal because we need to see progression of plot, character arc, storyline and, also really crucial—how it ends! See more about writing a synopsis here.
  • If you are proposing a series, a brief series outline can also be uploaded. This is not required. Series outlines usually consist of a 2-3 paragraph overview of the series arc, plus a 1-2 paragraph description of each proposed book. Please upload this as a separate document.
  • You may submit more than one project! However, please submit only one proposal per series.

 

Formatting

  • Times New Roman, 12 pt, black font, double spaced.
  • Please put your manuscript title and name in the header information on each page of your proposal and synopsis.

How to submit:

  • If your book meets the guidelines above and all your material is ready and properly formatted, please use to submit.
  • Direct your submission to the editor who has advertised an interest in seeing manuscripts like yours! In doubt? Direct your submission to Editorial Director Angela James, Senior Editor Kerri Buckley, or Associate Editor Stephanie Doig.
  • We will consider all proposals that fulfill submission call requirements and are received by midnight EST on December 3, 2018

Not going to be ready in time? Not to worry. We remain open to full manuscript submissions all year long via bit.ly/write4cp, and more special opportunities are coming in 2018.

For questions about this call for submissions, please email us at submissions@carinapress.com.

For more information about Carina Press, and to read our submission guidelines, please visit bit.ly/write4cp.

 

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