What the Editors Want: Spring 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. Currently, we’re looking for authors to build in all genres we publish.
We want 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 strive to make our list one of inclusion, and are working hard to build a catalogue that is more representative of the romance reading public.
For publication in fall 2018 onward, here’s an imprint wishlist of projects we’re hoping to see. 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:
- Lighthearted contemporary romance and romcoms, especially in the LGBTQIA space. 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. BUT! You have to deliver us a great HEA because this is romance, after all. We’re loving Colleen Hoover’s Ugly Love and Melanie Hansen’s Point of Contact.
- 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. Shifters are evergreen but we’re more than open to deviations on the theme. Series preferred but standalones also considered.
- Romantic suspense, particularly woman-in-peril setups or male/male ongoing miniseries.
- For woman-in-peril, we’re looking for 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
- 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.
- Historical mysteries with romantic elements. More mystery than romance, please! All time periods are fair game. Think Ashley Gardner, Rhys Bown’s Molly Murphy books, and C.S. Harris’s Sebastian St. Cyr series.
And don’t miss our current submission calls:
The Dirty Bits from Carina Press (Erotic Short Romances)
Please note: We are currently acquiring erotic romance novellas for publication via The Dirty Bits from Carina Press in November/December 2018. We’d like to see all your OTT sexy holiday stories! Proposals for holiday-themed submissions only will be accepted through June 15th. For non-holiday-themed submissions, we require a full manuscript.
We are also particularly interested in publishing more #ownvoices books in The Dirty Bits line.
Male/Male Romantic Suspense Miniseries
This is an ongoing call with no closing date!
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.)
When it comes to mystery, I’m a classicist—get the big event right up there front and center, please! In romance, though, I’m incredibly flexible. Send me your slow burns, your banter-heavy enemies-to-lovers stories, and your super steamy insta-loves. I’m good with love triangles, secret babies, and amnesia. I do not love virgin heroes but have recently come around to mermaids.
- Handsome single dad romances (aka “DILF books). Bonus points if your hot dads are also silver foxes or if these manuscripts also fall into the “ugly cry” category above ;)
- Super sexy female/female enemies-to-lovers stories across subgenres
- Forced proximity romances set in tropical, shore, or other holiday locations
- 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.
- Historical M/M/F ménage
- 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 starring British protagonists.
- Cozy mysteries that toe-dip into the paranormal realm
- Grumpy heroes. All of them.
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.
- Sexy contemporary romance featuring heroes/heroines with a sense of humour—no anti-heroes, please!
- 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, 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.
- On the other end of the spectrum, I love a gruff hero, who only shows his soft side to his partner. Think Richard and Lainie in Act Like It by Lucy Parker.
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. Think Jasmine Guillory’s The Wedding Date.
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.
- Paranormal romance, especially those with more diversity within the packs of shifters and vampires. 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 m/m 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.
- 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 who are driven by strong goals, whether that’s to rescue a prisoner, land a promotion, catch a murderer, pull a heist, or rebel against a galactic overlord. In particular I’d like to see the following:
- Murder mysteries that focus on whodunit and have a unique hook and setting. I’m especially interested in cozies and PIs featuring a clever sleuth or compelling crime-fighting duo, and in sleuths whose investigative skills are enhanced by paranormal elements.
- Feel-good romances. 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 and a great grovel.
- Romantic suspense with a good balance of high-stakes action and attention to relationship development.
- Stories set in the great outdoors, whether forests, deserts, jungles or mountains. I’d love a romance or mystery featuring smoke jumpers putting out wildfires.
- Stories that make me laugh, such as witty Regencies and m/m romantic comedy and capers.
- 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.
- 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.
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 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 eager for the following, especially in subgenres other than contemporary:
- Dark homecomings: protagonist left in disgrace, went to war, sent to jail.
- Lesbian romances that will rock the romance world. Make me laugh and make me cry.
- 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.
- Anti-heroes who are nearly irredeemable but can still save the kittens. It’s all about the guys in this one. Sinful and delicious. Bonus points for contemporary Gothic tone.
- Vampires that make me crush on Lestat all over again. How about a new take on old favorites? LGTBQ, #own, multicultural, etc. Make sure they’re virile and sensual.
- 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.
- A widower dad in over his head.
- Historical m/m of any time period.
- 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.
- Queer Pretty Woman!
Kate Marope (she/her/Mme)
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.
- Calling all bad boys, morally ambiguous or otherwise. I love a good moral quandary, so if you work that into the plot or conflict, I’ll love you forever.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
- Sweet but emotional LGBTQIA* romances in the style of Mary Calmes. Workplace romances particularly.
- 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: 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 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 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:
||Editors actively acquiring in genre
||Not acquiring in genre
||Kerri, Alissa, Deb, Mackenzie, Angela, John, Ronan, Carrie, Kate
||Kerri, Stephanie, Alissa, Deb, Mackenzie, Angela, John, Ronan, Carrie, Kate
||Alissa, Stephanie, Deb, Mackenzie, Angela, John, Ronan, Carrie, Kate
||Deb, Stephanie, Alissa, Angela, John, Ronan, Kate
||Alissa, Deb, Angela, John, Ronan, Carrie, Mackenzie
|Science fiction romance
||Alissa, Deb, Angela, Ronan, Carrie, Mackenzie,
||Stephanie, Kerri, John, Kate
||Kerri, Stephanie, Alissa, Deb, Angela, John, Ronan, Carrie, Kate
||Kerri, Alissa, Deb, Mackenzie, John, Ronan, Carrie,
||Stephanie, Angela, Kate
||Kerri, Deb, Mackenzie, John, Kate
||Stephanie, Alissa, Angela, Ronan, Carrie
|**All editors are acquiring #OwnVoices and inclusive manuscripts across their listed genres**