What the Carina Press Editors Want–Updated Winter 2018 Edition
Carina Press has long been known for our wide variety of categories, subgenres, niches and word counts across all heat levels of romance (including contemporary, paranormal, erotic, romantic suspense and more!) as well as mysteries both with and without romantic elements.
As always, we are actively seeking diverse protagonists and inclusivity across subgenres. We understand diversity is wide-ranging and strive to reflect that on our list. If you’re writing inclusive romance that fits any of our specific wants below, we absolutely want to see it.
For publication in winter 2018 onward, here’s what we’d be most excited to receive. 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 manuscript:
- Paranormals (and urban fantasy romance): Stories of fated mates, suspense elements, excellent sexual tension, and clan politics are at the top of our list in this category, and paranormal as a whole remains very prominent on our wishlist this season. Shifters are evergreen but we’re more than open to deviations on the theme. Series preferred but standalones also considered.
- Paranormal mysteries. Heroes and heroines with paranormal powers, help from the undead, enchanted towns, supernatural friendships and 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. Practical Magic and Hocus Pocus, A Grave Calling by Wendy Roberts, Deanna Chase’s Jade Calhoun series, Charlaine Harris’s Midnight, Texas books, and Jana DeLeon’s Happily Everlasting series are all great examples.
- Romantic suspense, particularly woman-in-peril setups or male/male ongoing miniseries.
- For woman-in-peril, we’re looking for a bit of a throwback feel here, with strong, protective heroes and situations that involve dramatic rescues and off-the-charts chemistry. This photo of Lady Gaga and her bodyguard caused quite a buzz around here. And…go
- When it comes to male/male romantic suspense, we’d like to see more 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
- Lighthearted contemporary romance and romcoms. Think Shannon Stacey’s Kowalski books, Lucy Parker’s London Celebrities series and even Sally Thorne’s The Hating Game. No massively dark backstories, no heavy angst, and lots of laughs and banter. 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 from both the hero and heroine. BUT! You have to deliver us a great HEA because this is romance, after all. We’re loving Colleen Hoover’s Ugly Love, Isley Robson’s The First Word and Melanie Hansen’s Point of Contact.
And don’t miss our current submission calls:
The Dirty Bits from Carina Press (Erotic Short Romances)
Male/Male Romantic Suspense Miniseries
Angela James, Editorial Director, Kerri Buckley, Senior Editor, and Stephanie Doig, Associate Editor, generated the above imprint-wide list, and welcome all queries related to it. In addition, please see individual wishlists for Kerri and Stephanie below:
This year, I’m finding myself most drawn to romances that fall to one side or the other: mile-a-minute action with super-high conflict or deliciously excruciating slow burns. When it comes to mystery, though, I’m more of a classicist—get the big event right up there front and center, please!
- DILF romances (not sure what this stands for? Ask me on Twitter!). Bonus points if your hot dads are also silver foxes or if these fall into the “ugly cry” category above ;)
- Romantic odd-couple duo capers in the vein of Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg’s Fox & O’Hare novels or the television show Bones
- Police procedurals, amateur sleuth or PI stories with female leads and strong romantic elements
- Cozy mysteries set in the present-day UK and/or starring British protagonists
- Grumpy heroes. All of them.
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.
- Sexy contemporary romance featuring heroes/heroines with a sense of humour—no anti-heroes, please!
- Contemporary romances with paranormal elements—think Practical Magic, Garden Spells
- Romances featuring a plus-sized protagonist, where being plus-sized is not their defining characteristic
- 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.
- Enemies to lovers, especially cinnamon-roll-type heroes! Enemies-to-lovers works great in fake relationship stories, but I’m open to any trope with this type of relationship dynamic.
- Nanny/boss stories—especially those in which the caretaker character can hold their own, to balance the power dynamic. Snappy humor very welcome!
And please read on to learn what our fantastic freelance editors are most wanting to see at this time:
I’m looking for romances with flawed, compelling characters who learn from each other as they fall in love. Think Jasmine Guillory’s The Wedding Date. As I told my husband when we started dating, “I’m sorry your feelings got hurt” never did fix anything. (Lord, please save me from non-apology apologies.) When characters hurt each other, whether it’s out of ignorance or in pursuit of a larger goal, some self-reflection and a heartfelt grovel will have me reaching for the box of tissues on my desk.
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. Cat Sebastian’s It Takes Two to Tumble is one of my favorite forced proximity romances.
- Contemporary or historical resistance romance. Please send me characters who see injustice and want to fix it.
- 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 m/m 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!
- Historical romance that’ll make me laugh. I’m here for the snarky banter.
- 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.
- Romance where at least part of the story takes place in a restaurant or kitchen and cooking is part of the love language. If you have a food critic/chef romance, I’d love to take a look!
I’m looking for mysteries and romance with characters who are driven by strong goals, whether that’s to rescue a kidnap victim, land a promotion, uncover a murderer, pull off a heist, or rebel against a galactic overlord. In particular I’d like to see the following:
- Murder mysteries featuring a clever sleuth or compelling crime-fighting duo. I’m especially interested in cozies, procedurals and PIs that focus on whodunit and have a unique hook and setting. Paranormal elements welcome.
- Feel-good romances. Some of my favorite tropes include fake engagement, arranged marriage, secret agenda, snowbound, forbidden love, enemies to lovers, secret baby, forced proximity, and reunion romances. I’m also a sucker for redemption and a great grovel.
- Well-balanced romantic suspense with plenty of page-turning action as well as a fully developed relationship.
- Stories set in the great outdoors, whether forests, deserts, jungles or mountains. Smoke jumpers and wilderness guides and bush pilots and wildlife botanists…
- Stories that make me laugh, such as witty Regency romance and m/m romantic comedy
- Con artist protagonists who execute deviously elaborate scams with twists I don’t see coming.
- A Bollywood-themed romance or mystery.
- Daredevil protagonists who are adrenaline-rush junkies, such as land-speed record-setters and extreme-sports athletes.
- #ownvoices mystery and romance.
I’m always looking for diverse casts, opposites-attract couples, intricate world-building, and strong, authentic dialogue with distinct character voices. And even more specifically:
- LGBTQIA historical, especially male/male. 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.
- 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.
- Fun, action-packed science fiction with snappy dialogue and big personalities. Bonus points for rich, thought-provoking world-building and high personal stakes.
- 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.
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 diverse 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 You for 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.
- #ownvoices romances of all subgenres.
- 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.
I love great dialogue. LOVE. Wrap me in the world you create, no matter the tone. I need to be invested in what characters want and why they can’t (initially) be happy together. A classic trope doesn’t need to be turned on its head to be fabulous. Tell it your way and tell it well! I’m especially eager for:
- Sports with variety: think Dancing with the Stars, the Olympics, and adrenaline junkies like mountaineers, motorsports and skydivers. The more competitive and risky the better.
- Dark homecomings: protagonist left in disgrace, went to war, or was 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.
- Anti-heroes who are nearly irredeemable but can still save the kittens. Bonus points for contemporary Gothic tone. See Jennifer Armentrout’s Moonlight Sins.
- Gentle bruisers: Hey, 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.
- Time travel: dark and disorienting, where impossible stakes deliver an ugly-cry HEA, or lighthearted Doctor Who-style with a happy ending for a zany loner.
- Taboo erotic romances we’re not supposed to want…but we do. Make it raw and fresh and almost wrong.
- A widower dad in over his head.
- Male/male Pretty Woman!
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. They don’t have time to complain about life; they are out there surviving and conquering it.
- Urban fantasy: give me f/m, m/m, or trans protagonists, intense clan politics and exquisite world building. If you have a good mix of romance, horror, action, and comedy, please send it to me now!
- Paranormal romance: high tension and conflict between fated mates. If they hate their attraction to each other, so much the better.
- LGBTQIA: make sure you make me feel their experience. If your bi character is in love with his supposedly straight roommate, make me feel sorry for him, and want to hug the stuffing out of both of them when they get together. If your trans character is ready to go physical with someone who doesn’t know they are transitioning, make me anxious, scared, and a little bit angry.
- Contemporary Romance: I am a sucker for second chance, friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, partners to lovers, and relationships/marriages of convenience romances. I just love seeing that moment when the characters realize that their relationship has changed and watching how they deal with that realization. Make it sweet, and make it raw.
- Erotic romance: calling all bad boys, morally ambiguous or otherwise. I love to see your bodyguards, MC clubs, mafia/mob, underground fighters, even the occasional serial killer. I love a good moral quandary, so if you work that into the plot or conflict, I’ll love you forever. Think Manda Mellett or Annika Martin.
- Growly but low-key romantic heroes. The type 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.
- Military romance: I’m a long-time addict of Hawaii Five-0, so give me (semi-) retired military personnel who have trouble adjusting to civilian life, and when they do, they still have their edge. They can be troubled or relieved about being out of the service, as long as their story feels uniquely their own.
- Mysteries: police procedurals, psychological suspense with a who- or whydunit focus.
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 diverse, #OwnVoices submissions across genre that reflect love in its many forms.
- Sexy romantic suspense with a paranormal or SFF twist, like Supernatural, Fringe, 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 more diverse submissions with these tropes.
- Atmospheric paranormal with a strong sense of time and place. Especially interested in diverse protagonists; I want to see characters of color, disabled characters, queer characters, etc 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.
- Diverse, sexy retellings of folk and fairy tales or well-known classics.
- Emotional ménage or polyamory that attends to the depth of the connections between all three characters.
Hook me with a strong voice and plot, and even stronger character development. Your setting is a character, too. Set me up for a sleepless night with your un-put-down-able story.
- #ownvoices #diversevoices #blackvoices #latinxvoices #nativevoices #authenticity
- Blue collar/society and multicultural romances. I enjoy the forbidden love element and the fight for happiness. Don’t skip over the real, hard stuff like stereotypes and biases. Give me all the joys and pains.
- Historicals about a protagonist who bucks the status quo.
- Reimagined fairy tales and folklore. I am nuts for the American Gods TV series, so give me more of tales like that where there’s a magical/paranormal world that most of the population chooses not to see or has lost their ability to recognize.
- Friends-to-lovers and enemies-to-lovers reads set in any time and space with witty dialogue, strong characters, and a dynamic setting.
- Villains who are the heroes of their own stories. I love angst, but not melodrama. Put me through the wringer with your stories of self-denial and self-discovery. We are in control of our own happiness, so submit stories about people who eventually get out of their own way and find their happily ever after, or happy for now. Repair and restore the main character. The try-fail cycle must be realistic and engaging.
- Sexy explorers? Yes, please. I love trains and boats. Create an engaging story (drama, humor, thriller) set on a train or a ship or river barge with fully fleshed characters and conflict, and loads of sexual tension.
- Mail order brides just do it for me; 90 Day Fiancé and Married at First Sight kind of stuff is my guilty pleasure. I WILL READ THE HELL OUT OF THAT ISH!! It would be fun if the main characters are a little past young.
- Dark romance and romantic suspense/romantic thrillers that keep will keep me up all night. No subject is taboo. I’d love to read about the Yakuza and the significance of tattooing. Perhaps a Bonnie and Clyde pairing within a romantic thriller.
- Stories about people living with mental and other health issues and the people who love them. Perhaps an autistic person finds love at their job, or a librarian begins a friendship with a patron who is dealing with PTSD and they fall in love.
Here’s a handy quick-view chart that gives you a look at which editors are acquiring in specific genres:
||Editors actively acquiring in genre
||Not acquiring in genre
||Kerri, Stephanie, Alissa, Deb, Mackenzie, Angela, John, Ronan, Carrie, Heather, Kate
||Kerri, Stephanie, Alissa, Deb, Mackenzie, Angela, Daphne, John, Ronan, Carrie, Heather, Kate
||Alissa, Stephanie, Deb, Mackenzie, Angela, Daphne, John, Ronan, Carrie, Heather, Kate
||Deb, Stephanie, Alissa, Mackenzie, Angela, Daphne, John, Ronan, Heather, Kate
||Alissa, Deb, Angela, John, Ronan, Carrie, Heather, Mackenzie
|Science fiction romance
||Alissa, Deb, Angela, Ronan, Carrie, Heather, Mackenzie,
||Stephanie, Kerri, Daphne, John, Kate
||Kerri, Stephanie, Alissa, Deb, Angela, Daphne, John, Ronan, Carrie, Kate
||Kerri, Alissa, Deb, Mackenzie, Daphne, John, Ronan, Carrie, Heather
||Stephanie, Angela, Kate
||Kerri, Deb, Mackenzie, Daphne, John, Kate
||Stephanie, Alissa, Angela, Ronan, Carrie, Heather
|**All editors are acquiring diverse and inclusive manuscripts across their listed genres**