Now acquiring: Contemporary crack at Carina Press


It’s submissions week at Carina Press! Every day this week, we’ll have a new call for submissions. Friday will be a special opportunity, for one week only, for all authors sending submissions to Carina Press. I suggest holding your submission to send after you read the blog post that day (but that’s up to you, don’t say I didn’t warn you!) We’ve also updated our submissions guidelines, so please be sure to read the new information and guidelines before submitting.

So, yes, I’m doing a submissions call for my very own made-up genre. I think this is called letting the power of my position go to my head? But what good is power if you can’t try to acquire what you want to read?

I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary lately and I’ve noticed I’m enjoying two categories that actually share some similarities. The first is New Adult, which I posted a submissions call for yesterday, and the second is what I’ve been calling contemporary crack. What is this crack?

Story elements: High drama, high intensity, often multiple conflicts (relationship conflict and another external conflict, along w/hero and heroine internal conflicts), loving relationships between hero and heroine, sensual sex scenes, frank language. Think a bit of soap operas, with situations that can be a little over the top (except your story should have a happy ending). Series potential is good, but not necessary.

Give yourself permission to write things you might not otherwise write, just to see what happens, but even while making it over the top, wrap it in elements of believability. Make the reader feel as if you might just actually be able to meet these characters and imagine these situations, even while knowing these things will never happen.

Characters: Alpha heroes (sorry, there’s no room for beta heroes in contemporary crack), heroes are often possessive, protective and sometimes jealous over heroines, whom they clearly love. Heroes are into their heroines (this may be clear but conflict still drives them or keeps them apart).

Heroines are smart, sassy and have a backbone. They’re not afraid to talk back, care about their friends, get into trouble and protect their man as much as he protects them. No doormats allowed but we don’t want anyone bitchy either!

Characters might be a bit larger than life, sometimes it works if you have a sports figure, a billionaire (because why go for a millionaire when you can go for a billionaire ;) ), a military man, etc. But you can also have two people who seem ordinary, acting in extraordinary ways.

Other themes: These are meant to be page turners, fast paced and addictive. Let your imagination loose. Maybe you have a heroine in jeopardy (nothing brings out a hero’s protective instincts more, yeah?), a reunion story where two characters with high sexual tension meet again and finally get their happy ending, or even the unlikely couple, where opposites attract and don’t let go.

Can I give you examples? Everyone asks who I think of when I think of this type of book. Kristen Ashley, Lora Leigh, Maya Banks. Julie Garwood’s old historicals. JR Ward’s paranormals. The Harlequin Presents line has definite elements of what I’ve described (perhaps why I love them?) Feel free to share other examples of authors you think fit into what I’ve described above!

Let’s face it, I’m not entirely sure this is the type of book you can sit down to write. It may be that this is one of those things that’s just your voice and style. But I want to read more of it, and I want to publish more of it, and I figure if I don’t define it and ask for it, my chances of doing either are diminished. Plus, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone actually try to define it and ask for it so…I’m giving it a go, because I have nothing to lose, right? So if you think you can do it, or you have a manuscript that already fits, go for it! I’m totally game to read these submissions.

(Someone is bound to ask: while I do specify contemporary here, if you think you can write this book in another genre, whether it’s paranormal, historical, futuristic or otherwise…you should totally go for it because I’m in search of the next page turner in any form.)


54 thoughts on “Now acquiring: Contemporary crack at Carina Press”

  1. Hannah says:

    Sounds brilliant Angela, I believe I have a manuscript that could give you a fix for your contemporary crack addiction.

    How is it best to submit it? Via your usual submissions process highlighting it as contemporary crack?


  2. Jen says:

    I just hit send last night! I’ll be back to read the rest of the submission calls. Mine is New Adult. Love the idea of contemporary crack.

  3. Angela James says:

    Hi Hannah, all submissions should be submitted according to the submissions guidelines. Looking forward to seeing your manuscript!

  4. Stephanie Kisner says:

    Holy frijoles, I was dispairing of anyone being interested in my drug of choice and was poised to do the nasty and self-pub next week… mmmmmaybe not. **running off to read the submission guidelines**

  5. Angela James says:

    Stephanie, I’m totally intrigued! I hope you send your submission in.

  6. Janine says:

    Wow, love the contemporary crack. I had a heroine just like that but she was so strong my beta’s didn’t like her. So she is toned down now :( Off to think of something new to get hooked on.

  7. I submitted an ms to Carina about five weeks ago that seems to fit your bill. The title is Seal of Destiny. It’s falls under the JD Ward-ish paranormal category….

  8. So… The Scottish Highlander Gone Rogue has a chance?
    Follow up is “50 Shades O’ Slongin’ MacDongin’ ”

    Are romantic Scottish Highlander spoofs worth the read for Carina?

    I guarantee a laugh a second… or at least one per minute, and maybe you’ll pee your pants.

  9. Laurie Evans says:

    “Contemporary crack,” that’s a good term.

  10. Tara says:

    What if someone had a story with an alpha hero disguised as a beta, and an intellectual, sassy heroine studying to kick some booty in the FBI that was more of a cross between contemporary crack and new adult?

    1. Angela James says:

      @Tara we’re open to all contemporary romance submissions, so you don’t have to fit in this particular call. We love contemporary romance at Carina!

  11. Janine says:

    If a story previously rejected by Carina is revamped with different GMC and 20k words added, can it be resubbed?

    1. Angela James says:

      @Janine yes, we always welcome resubmissions that have been significantly revised. The only caveat this week is that it’s not eligible for the Friday feedback opportunity.

  12. Janine says:

    Okay, thanks. So that means it goes into the regular slush pile?

  13. Fiona Linday says:

    Okay, I’d love to adapt my novel to fit this fun profile.However, my alpha hero is 32ish, with the two main charaters doing a coming of age first love thing…
    So, my chances are probably slim?

  14. Angela James says:

    @Fiona, I wouldn’t think so. I didn’t give an age limit or suggest anything about age? In fact, Kristen Ashley, who I referenced in post, almost always writes heroes/heroines who are in their 30s and even 40s!

  15. Fiona Linday says:

    Okay! I’ll go for it then. I’m submitting, soon. Before Friday, even. Much appreciated, with warm regards, Fiona

  16. Amy Ennis says:

    Are you interested in either Contemporary Crack or New Adult with strong paranormal elements or erotic elements? I write all of the above and am trying to decide what to send.

    1. Angela James says:

      Hi Amy, we’re always looking for books with both strong paranormal elements and erotic elements!

  17. Kenya Wright says:


    I was wondering how long the submission period for contemporary crack be open for?

    1. Angela James says:

      Hi Kenya, there’s no submission deadline for this. It’s now something we’ll just be acquiring in general. So no hurry!

  18. Janine says:

    @ Angela When resubmitting a revised project do you want it mentioned in the query letter?

    1. Angela James says:

      @Janine yes, we want to know it was submitted before, and that it was revised, which is why you’re resubmitting.

  19. Leila B says:

    When I think of contempt. crack I think of Motorcycle Man by Kristen Ashley. A real Alpha hero and a sassy heroine with lots of up and downs.

  20. Kenya Wright says:

    I was thinking:
    Reflected on you
    A beautiful disaster
    Dublin street
    Down to you

    Those were my recent contemporary crack hits last month.

  21. James Fox says:

    Hi Angela

    I have a completed and edited manuscript titled Dust Pan Girl. I believe it fits exactly with Contemporary Crack.

    It’s about an 8 year old girl who is stabbed in the dark by her own deranged father. She lives because she was carrying an old metal dustpan in her coat. The story brings to town a con man who continues to exploit the situation to make money.

    I’m putting an ad in the Dec/Jan and Feb/Mar issue of Shelf Unbound Magazine.

  22. Jennifer Gravely says:

    I submitted my manuscript Drown as new adult, but it fits the contemporary crack genre as well. Should I query to you?

  23. James Fox says:

    Hi Jennifer

    I don’t think they monitor this post anymore.
    I think it was meant for the first week in October.

    I’ve found that they do respond to Twitter.

    Good Luck on Your Novel

    You can read the first two chapters of my novel on
    The Dust Pan Girl Facebook Page.


    James Fox

  24. Jennifer Gravely says:

    Thanks, James. I’m a little late to the party!

  25. Angela James says:

    Hi Jennifer,

    You can query us for sure, it doesn’t have to me directly unless you feel it needs to be!


  26. James Fox says:

    Dear Angela

    I apologize if I was out of place answering Jennifer.

    It seemed as though you had stopped answering to this post.



  27. Angela James says:

    Hi James, no worries on you answering Jennifer, totally fine. I continue to answer posts as long as there are comments, even years later! I know you left a comment, but as there was no question in it, I really didn’t have a comment in response :)


  28. James Fox says:

    Hi Angela

    I actually do have a question.

    I read that you’d like to know if MS is part of a series.
    I forgot to say that in my query letter.

    Does that matter?


  29. Angela James says:

    It won’t matter a tremendous amount to our acquisition process, but we may ask you in follow-up, so I wouldn’t stress about it at all!

  30. Jennifer Gravely says:

    Thank you both for responding. :) I hate commenting or tweeting to the blackhole of nothingness! haha

    @Angela I submitted this past Saturday to Rhonda H. but feel free to take a look since Drown combines elements of both new adult and contemporary crack. I’ll wait patiently since I totally missed the submission call in October!

  31. Doña Paquita says:

    I just love the idea of contemporary writing. It seems from reading your definition of contemporary…it has been my way and style of writing…I so look forward to reading other authors who excel in that type of writings, and I thank you for the opportunity to begin my journey with Carina Press in the near future…thanks Angela.

  32. Rich says:

    SO, a fellow author loved the concept of “contemporary crack” trying to identify a catagory my work fits into…regular submission guidelines? ATTN: Angela James?

  33. Angela James says:

    Sure, Rich!

  34. Claudia Swebb says:

    Do books in this genre require romantic elements?

  35. Angela James says:

    Hi Claudia, since this is contemporary romance, yes, romantic elements are definitely required. However, we do take non-romance genres, they just wouldn’t be this particular category.

  36. James Fox says:

    Dear Angela

    I submitted a MS in October under Contemporary Crack Titled Dust Pan Girl. It doesn’t have any romantic elements in it.

    Do I need to change the genre to something else?

  37. Angela James says:

    There’s no need, James. We’ll evaluate it based on the genre it actually is.

  38. Cara North says:

    I think the submission I sent in before the holiday madness started would fit with this call. I read on Twitter you did not want re-submission, is that true for this as well or just the 30 day promotion that ran?

  39. Myra J Hale says:

    Angela, watch for my contemporary crack (crackle-pop) submission. “Love Is A Blast” is a pyro,not porno, fast paced,explosive page turner, with a heroine in jeopardy. Not one, but two, guys vie to fan the spark that will ignite her desire. One is her ex, who yearns to relight her passion. Another, her college teacher,who sparks her curosity when she overhears his phone conversation, “Let’s take them into the woods tonight and bury them. No one will hear us out there.”
    Plan on at least two more novels to follow “Love Sparks” and “Explosive Love”.

  40. G’day…does it have to have a HEA if it spins off into the next story?

  41. Angela James says:

    It doesn’t, if we know there’s a planned story ARC over those books, so you’d want to include the proposal for the second book (and be prepared to also contract that one, lol)

  42. Cristiane Serruya says:

    Hello Angela,
    I’m very excited to send you my manuscript.
    My ‘bodice ripper’ as Kirkus Reviews called ‘TRUST: A New Beginning’ is the first installment of a trilogy and is already self-published by CreateSpace, selling on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, etc, in ebook and paperback.
    The 2nd is under editing and the 3rd installment is on its way to be finished. They have already their covers too.
    So, my doubts are: When I send you the manuscript, in RTF file, do I have to send the cover too? If so, in what file?
    Should I send only the first installment for evaluation? Or do you need the sequels too?

    1. Angela James says:

      Cristiane, you can send the book with no cover (we don’t use author-submitted covers). If you have plans for new work, please let us know what that work is and you can attach a series outline, if you’d like. With self-published books, we rarely consider just the previously self-pubbed work but are also going to want to hear about the author’s plans for publishing new work with us.

  43. Janet Batchelder says:

    I’ve been holding onto a series of three books. They’re contemporary baseball romances. I have only submitted them to contests. The first one won third place in the Golden Pen contest two years ago. But then the editor didn’t like the premise saying it was implausible. So I shelved them even though many of the readers in the contests found them fast-paced and enjoyable. Maybe they fit the “contemporary crack” genre you described above.
    My problem is I have three complete manuscripts with a fourth still in my head. Would you want me to submit all of them together or one at a time?
    Thanks for your advice.

  44. Angela James says:

    Hi Janet,

    You can submit the first book and its synopsis. Also include a document with a 2-3 pargraph description of each book. That will give me a look at book one, plus an understanding of how you see the series playing out (ahh, no pun intended, lol). If for some reason book one doesn’t work out for us, we may still want to see books 2, or books 3 and 4.

    Looking forward to seeing your submission!

  45. lisa says:

    Do you have a preferred word count? If it’s just for the web can it be 15,000?

  46. Angela James says:

    Our minimum word count is 15,000 but the shorter the word count, the harder the sell, because it’s harder to have a well-developed plot, characters and romance at that length.

  47. Nizza says:

    I am currently writing a story that I believe might fit in this section but the story the heroine doesn’t have a back bone in the beginning but acquires it soon after. Will that be a problem?

  48. i think i have a small book or short story like that. Do i submit my first 5 pages or something? also,do you publish anthologies of poetry?my poetry book will soon reach 3,000pages,and that is about the world largest book of poetry by a single poet,can you publish it?some of them are posted on my blog, what about book of essays?And so,what do you think?

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