~ Interview by Laura Kaye

The Contemporary Romance Writers are thrilled to have Entangled Publishing editor Heather Howland here today to share her expertise on contemporary romance and consider YOUR pitches as part of our first-ever pitch contest. Instructions on the pitch contest are down below, but first please pull up a chair and get a pen and paper, because you’re going to want to take notes on the awesome and useful advice Heather has laid out here for writers at all levels.

Contemporary Romance: Welcome! Can you share what lines, imprints, or genres you edit at your publishing house?

Heather Howland: Thank you for having me today! Contemporary romance is my favorite genre, so I’m giddy about the opportunity to chat with authors who share my passion for the here and now. As for what I edit, I’m a Jill-of-all-trades kind of girl, so I work with all the genres Entangled publishes. Most of my focus is on the Brazen, Teen, Embrace (New Adult), and Select (single-title) imprints, though.

CR: In general, what’s the difference for you between a good submission and one makes you say I must acquire this?

HH: The voice. I know it terrifies authors when I say this, but I generally know within a paragraph whether I want to acquire a book. Within a page or two for sure. The query letter may wow me with the premise, but it’s not until I crack open those first pages that I know. It’s a pretty quick process from there. This is why I ask for the first 100 words in pitch contests. That’s all it takes!

CR: What do you think a great adult, new adult, or young adult contemporary romance must have?

HH: I’ll go into this more in my next response, but I’m a firm believer that the best contemporary romances pay as much attention to the details and world building as, say, an epic fantasy. Will you devote hundreds of pages to describing the world and the characters’ clothing? No. But savvy contemporary authors weave in just enough of those details to make their book really stand out. The challenge lies in the “how” of it.

CR: What do you think a writer needs to do in terms of story, writing, premise, etc., to make a contemporary story stand out?

HH: Standing out is all about the little things. Voice can hook a reader in an instant, but it’s the relatability of the characters and how they interact with their world that really draws us in. How you create relatability is in the details—descriptions of the characters and their particular quirks, how they see (and what they do with/within) the world around them, and the beliefs they stick to, no matter how obscure. If a character is relatable, we’ll believe anything they do because it makes sense. And while there’s a lot of focus on world building in the paranormal, fantasy, and futuristic genres, setting is just as important in a contemporary book. I find myself most engrossed in stories where the setting is practically a character in and of itself. The key is balancing these details with the story so you’re not bogging down your pacing. Word choice and actions convey tone and characterization better than a paragraph of description. Find that balance and master it.

CR: What are the most common mistakes you see in submissions?

HH: The #1 mistake I see is authors submitting manuscripts that aren’t ready, be it because they haven’t mastered their craft, or that they didn’t care enough to run even the simplest of spellchecks before sending it in. Beyond that, telling rather than showing. Sex for the sake of making a book sexy. Clichéd plot lines and characterizations that aren’t unique enough to draw me—or readers who devour hundreds of books every year—in long enough to want to finish the story.

CR: Is there anything about a story itself likely to turn you off on a manuscript, even if the mechanics are quite good?

HH: I have really specific pet peeves my authors happily tease me about on Twitter. If it’s easily fixable, I won’t let it stop me from acquiring a book I otherwise adore, but things like gore and zombies and sexytimes cleanliness issues (stop laughing, Laura Kaye!) are triggers for me.

I will say, Entangled has a pretty strict policy regarding infidelity in relationships. If you’ve written a book in which the protagonist is married (or even newly separated, but not yet divorced) and is looking to explore his or her sexuality, Entangled isn’t the right home for your book. Multiple partners outside of a ménage setting is also a no-go for us. Similarly, while we adore the wrong bed trope, if at any time it crosses the line to where someone accidentally cheats on their significant other, we’ll pass, even if the indiscretion leads the character to “the one.”

CR: What’s the best and worst part of your editing job?

HH: The best part of my job is the friendships I’ve formed with many of my authors. That may be odd to hear from an editor, but in an industry that often feels solitary, I think it’s important to build a community. I’m just as invested in their careers as they are—especially with the business model Entangled utilizes—and I love helping them succeed. The unending supply of fantastic books and discovering diamonds in the rough are equally thrilling.

The worst part of my job is having to reject a manuscript. I’m an author myself so I understand how it feels to put yourself (because let’s be honest—it’s not your work, it’s you) out there, and be told you’re lacking. This is why I despise form rejection letters and try to add a sentence or two telling the author why the book didn’t work for me. I want authors to walk away from a rejection with something tangible to work with. I will form reject books so far outside what we publish that it’s clear the author didn’t put any time into researching our company, though.  

CR: Before acquisition, how important is a writer’s platform to you? To your publishing house?

HH: It’s less important to me, personally, because I love to take new authors and turn them into bestsellers. That said, having a platform already in place is HUGELY beneficial to authors (and will save them time when I start prodding them to create one). I recommend you at least have a professional-looking website and a Twitter account that you’re using to interact with other authors before querying. Social media works best when it’s social, not promotional. Keep that in mind.

CR: Can you offer some encouraging words of advice to aspiring authors who haven’t received their first contract yet?

HH: Keep writing. And when you’re not writing, read everything you can get your hands on. It’s cliché, but the only way to understand your genre and improve your craft is to read and write, learn from every book you finish, and then read and write some more. Wash, rinse, repeat. The bonus? When you finally are offered a contract and the agent or editor asks, “what else do you have,” you’re prepared!

I also tell writers to write what they love. It doesn’t matter if there’s a market for it right now or not—there probably will be in a couple years, and you’ll be prepared. Editors (and readers) can tell when someone wrote a book because it’s what’s “hot” rather than writing what they’re comfortable with. A couple of years ago, authors flocked to YA. Now they’re flocking to new adult. Publishing is a business, yes, but it’s important to be yourself. Not all genres are for everyone.

CR: What is on your wish list of story types to acquire?

HH: Contemporary romance! I would love to see single-title contemporary in particular. Category romance is one of Entangled’s specialties so we’re always looking for those as well. My tastes tend to veer toward high heat levels (I freak out when an author slams the door in my face when I’ve gotten to what I anticipate being a steamy sex scene—I am the Brazen editorial director!), but I’m open to moderate heat levels as well. Sweet romance would be better suited to one of our other editors. I’m also not a fan of cozy mysteries, but there are plenty of editors at Entangled who are.

CR: Thanks for agreeing to do a pitch contest today! What genres, subgenres, and/or word counts are you open to considering?

HH: I’ll look at anything between 15k and 100k (top end negotiable based on the depth of the story—that’s pretty high for contemporary). If it’s not for me but I see potential, I’ll request it for another Entangled editor to look at. We recently absorbed our novella imprints into the larger full-length imprints (Flaunts became Brazen novellas, Flirts became Blisses or Indulgences, etc.) so if you’re pitching anything under 40k, I’ll be looking for series potential or a tie to a full-length series. 

After years of editing in the legal, industrial, and technical sectors, Heather Howland packed up her desk and dove into her true passion—romance. Prior to teaming up with Liz Pelletier to found Entangled Publishing, she worked as a freelance fiction editor, as well as the acquisitions editor for a small romance publisher. She’s now the editorial director of Entangled’s bestselling Brazen imprint, and edits popular authors such as NYT bestsellers Katee Robert, Laura Kaye, and Tessa Bailey, USA Today bestsellers Cari Quinn, and Misty Evans, and up-and-coming rock stars Tonya Burrows, Nicolette Day, and Samanthe Beck. Heather holds a BS in creative writing and psychology, and enjoys mentoring authors through the writing and editing process. She’s always on the lookout for sexy contemporary romance and dark, twisty, psychological YA/NA.

Contact Heather:

Entangled accounts:

Website: http://www.entangledpublishing.com

Blog: http://www.brazenbooks.com

Twitter: @BrazenBooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BrazenBooks

Personal accounts:

Twitter: @HeatherHowland

Blog: http://editingcave.com/ (called Tales from the Editing Cave)

PITCH CONTEST INSTRUCTIONS

Authors are invited to submit their query blurb and first 100 words for Heather’s consideration. Also feel free to post questions to Heather, but please do so in a separate post from your pitch submission. The contest will run until midnight PST today, 2/24 – pitches submitted after this time will not be entered. Authors who Heather requests materials from will be announced within a week, so check back! And good luck!

Today’s pitch contest is open to everyone – members or non-members. But we invite non-members to consider joining our chapter so you don’t miss out on other exciting events and opportunities!

Please submit your pitch for Heather’s consideration in the following format. Please conform your blurb and story submissions to the below word counts.

Name:

Title:

Genre:

Finished Word Count:

Maximum 200-word blurb:

First 100 words of your story:

 

103 comments to “Q & A and Pitch Contest With Editor Heather Howland”

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  1. Hannah Downing - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Hannah Downing

    Title: The Time Walker

    Genre: Young Adult/New Adult

    Finished Word Count: 77,340 words

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    THE TIME WALKER is an action-packed, young adult paranormal romance that begs the question: can magic overcome the wrongs in life or is love the more powerful force?
    Time Walking was not in eighteen-year-old Holly Collison’s plans, but after her Gram’s suspicious death, she discovers an ancient-looking watch that whisks her through the fabrics of time to the mid-nineteenth century. On a mission to track down and seek vengeance on the man who murdered her grandmother, and who is now after her, Holly and her new friends careen through this exciting and unpredictable world. When Holly finds herself torn between two boys from two very different times, she wonders if she can Walk between worlds for both. Can she prove herself worthy of her new-found power, becoming strong enough to defeat her enemies, and find her way back home?
    THE TIME WALKER is a heart-achingly powerful love story set in a fantastical world that will appeal to readers of the TIMELESS series by Alexandra Monir, The Infernal Devices Series by Cassandra Clare and SHATTERED SOULS by Mary Lindsey.

    First 100 words of your story:

    The last time I’d been in a police station I was eleven years old and my bike had been stolen. This time, I had no idea why I’d been called in. My feet tapped on the aged linoleum while I tried to think why the police would want to speak to me. I only waited a few minutes before there was a loud buzz that made me jump in my seat, and a door opened. A tall, broad shouldered man in his early forties emerged. His grey stubble was a stark contrast to the dark brown hue of his skin

  2. Fiona Marsden - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Fiona Marsden
    Title: And Be My Love
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: 85k
    Blurb: Kate Ryan and Richard Tremaine have one thing in common. They are both old fashioned. Kate is an old-fashioned virgin with romantic and unrealistic ideals of love, and Richard is, to put it politely, an old-fashioned philanderer who has never known real love and affection. When these two collide, it is obvious they could never agree. Especially as they both discovered a compulsion for honesty in their dealings with each other. Well mostly. Richard might just have a little secret or two.
    When Kate enlists Richard to teach her about what she’s been missing, it starts a journey that will open Kate’s eyes and challenge Richard. Can these two seemingly disparate people step out of their safe zones to make a life together?

    First 100 words.
    “Shaken not stirred.” The phrase filtered across Kate’s brain and sharpened, taking in the arrogant maleness of the dark suited figure already in the lift. Obviously a local rather than one of the ubiquitous holiday makers that swarm the Gold Coast in the spring and summer. Cold, almost black eyes swept down her body stirring something primal and she turned away, catching sight of her casually dressed figure in the mirror. From the sublime to the ridiculous. She smiled to herself wryly. It really is true that people think in cliché’s.
    He was a walking cliché. The fitted jacket and…

  3. Karin Baine - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Karin Baine
    Title: Daring to Love
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: 50k

    Blurb:

    Andrea Bowden’s one-night stand with adrenaline junkie Matt King, doesn’t quite go as planned. But their chemistry proves too strong to simply walk away…

    Andrea is determined to lose her “Miss Stuffy Knickers” nickname with a rappel down Ireland’s famous Europa Hotel, for the hospital where she works. Risk taking goes against everything she believes in, but it takes one kiss from her hunky instructor to send her on her way. With her wild side let loose, a one night stand with the action man seems the perfect antidote to her stale life.

    Part-time charity volunteer, Matt King, hopes to put the disastrous hook-up behind him. That’s easier said than done when he meets the woman in question at his workplace. There’s clearly a powerful attraction between them, but he’s fighting his past demons by living life on the edge.

    With each of them determined to let their past ruin their chance for happiness, how can an adrenaline junkie and a control freak ever make it work?

    First 100 Words:

    Andrea Bowden peered over the edge of the roof of Belfast’s Europa Hotel and contemplated the drop of over one hundred feet to her almost certain death. She had no one to blame but herself.

    “Which one of you ladies is next to bite the bullet?” The Angel of Death approached, no doubt hoping his handsome looks were enough to persuade them to forget all reason and take the leap. “You’re the last two standing. Come on, don’t be shy.” He beckoned to the scaffold like contraption, where their other colleagues had exited moments earlier.

    Her prominent sense of self-preservation…

    • Heather Howland - February 24, 2014 Reply

      I would love to see this submission. Please send your query letter and the full manuscript to my attention using Entangled’s submission portal. Note that this is a request from the pitch session. We can’t wait to read more!

      https://entangledpublishing.submittable.com/submit/19009

      (Please note that I will be utilizing the Brazen portal for ease of tracking these manuscripts, though your manuscript may be a better fit elsewhere.)

      • Karin Baine - February 24, 2014 Reply

        Thank you 🙂

  4. Laura Kaye - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Thanks so much for being here today, Heather! You rock! 🙂

  5. Abigail Sharpe - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Heather, thanks so much for being here today and taking pitches and answering questions!

    How did you get started at Entangled?

    • Heather Howland - February 24, 2014 Reply

      Hi Abigail! I had just resigned my position as the acquisitions editor for another romance publisher when I was approached by my good friend Liz Pelletier about the new publishing venture she wanted to launch. I loved the concept of an authorcentric publishing house and knew immediately I wanted to be involved. The rest is history! Thanks for stopping by today 🙂

  6. Heidi Ulrich - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Heidi Ulrich

    Title: Going All the Way

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count: 65,700

    Maximum 200-word blurb: Image consultant, Stacia Kendall must fix bad-boy baseball player Jason Friar’s reputation to save both their careers from employment strike out. But, after an amazing one-night stand, it’s going to take every trick play to keep them from going all the way.

    First 100 words of your story:

    Failure closed in on Stacia Kendall, an unrelenting, suffocating mass, numbing her to everything else at the campaign headquarters. One thought stuck in her mind. She had planned the perfect political campaign, but it had one flaw–the representative and his damned libido.

    She inched toward the back door of the hotel ballroom, only murmurs and whispers filled the room, not the expected celebration and noisemakers. Stunned campaign volunteers pulled red, white and blue victory balloons from the air. Strategically placed confetti containers silently disappeared from the hall. The dull hum set her teeth on edge.

    • Heather Howland - February 24, 2014 Reply

      I would love to see this submission. Please send your query letter and the full manuscript to my attention using Entangled’s submission portal. Note that this is a request from the pitch session. We can’t wait to read more!

      https://entangledpublishing.submittable.com/submit/19009

      (Please note that I will be utilizing the Brazen portal for ease of tracking these manuscripts, though your manuscript may be a better fit elsewhere.)

      • Heidi Ulrich - February 24, 2014 Reply

        Thank you so much, Heather!!! I have sent it in via the portal. I love the ease of submissions for Entangled.

  7. Elle Marlow - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Heather, are you only looking at finished projects?

    • Heather Howland - February 24, 2014 Reply

      I will only request a finished manuscripts, though if something interests me, I’ll ask to see it when the manuscript is complete. Please specify that the manuscript is not yet complete (and estimated completion date, if you have an idea) if this is the case. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. Renee Ashton - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Renee Ashton
    Title: Obsidian Beware
    Genre: Contemporary Erotica
    Word Count: 80k

    Milan Pryce connives her way into an entry-level position at a large European hotelier, Obsidian. Soon she catches the eye of the handsome, young CEO, the heir of the business, Tennyson Slate. In his early 30’s, Slate is tall, handsome and sardonic – a remote, cool mystery himself. When Tennyson discovers Milan’s criminal background, he doesn’t fire her. Instead, he initiates a dangerous game with Milan… starting with blackmail and handcuffs covered in black silk.

    [opening, 100 words]

    I wanted to wear sin that morning, and so I reach for stilettos, a fire-engine red with an ankle strap. Black fishnet stockings and these shoes, yeah, definitely the hetero-millionaire test. Was my handsome young boss gay? Stay tuned.

    I drive to work, heart pounding like crazy. The financial firm I work for had a strict dress code, no tattoos, nothing low-cut or short.

    But getting under Tennyson Slate’s skin might be worth the risk.

    I work in an affluent suburb of Chicago, in a corporate corridor of dark buildings about twenty floors high.

  9. Carla - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Carla Kempert
    Title: Goodbye to Love
    Genre: Contemporary (Select)
    Finished Word Count: 80,000
    Maximum 200-word blurb: Jane Miller never thought shopping for a dress would change her life. The forty-something mom finds the perfect dress to wear to her ex’s wedding, but it’s two sizes too small. When her BFF pushes her into the gym, Jane meets TJ McAllister, a hot young trainer who gives her motivation to keep coming back. TJ is hands-off but that doesn’t mean Jane can’t flirt to her heart’s content. That is, until TJ starts making her feel more than just stronger.
    Her ex walked out on her five years ago, and soon her teenage son will move on too. TJ may be the one thing she can keep. Can she let herself be happy, just this once, or will she say goodbye to love?

    First 100 words of your story:
    “Why did I tell Eddie I’d go to his wedding?” I flipped through a rack of dresses that would only look good if I had the body of a life-sized Barbie doll. I didn’t.
    “Because you got custody of his best man in the divorce.” Sandy browsed the rack next to mine. The mall dress shop’s offerings didn’t seem to bother her as much, but for a fellow forty-something, my best friend had the figure of a young Cindy Crawford. Mine looked more like an old circus elephant. Okay, not really. Maybe I felt the part more than I looked it.

  10. Heather Howland - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Just a quick note… If I don’t request your book straightaway, don’t panic. I’m going to invite the other Entangled editors to take a peek as well, plus I’ll be doing more deliberating myself over the next couple of days. Keep the pitches coming!

  11. Bailey Edwards - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Bailey Edwards

    Title: Finding a Home

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count: 54,318

    Maximum 200-word blurb: Anthony Marino’s barely hanging on. Suddenly the guardian of two girls, he is realizing ballet shoes and construction boots don’t mix. Now his first love has dropped back into his life – just when he had finally started to forget her. The girls want to dance at Danielle Levy’s new studio, but based on history Anthony is convinced that she won’t stick around. Opening his heart for a chance at love was not going to happen again. When Danielle’s old life beckons, she has a decision to make – leave and prove Anthony right or finally find her way home.

    First 100 words of your story: There were two pink backpacks slung across his broad shoulders. And although he’d walked Main Street in Haven a million times, it was like they added ten miles to it today. His six-year-old and eight-year old nieces struggled to keep up with his long stride, even after he slowed to a turtle’s pace. Thank God another day was almost done. Now all he had to do was get Ava and Emily home, and figure out what to eat for dinner. And then help with their homework. And then put them to bed. This was his life. He was so tired, he could barely think.

    • Heather Howland - February 24, 2014 Reply

      I would love to see this submission. Please send your query letter and the full manuscript to my attention using Entangled’s submission portal. Note that this is a request from the pitch session. We can’t wait to read more!

      https://entangledpublishing.submittable.com/submit/19009

      (Please note that I will be utilizing the Brazen portal for ease of tracking these manuscripts, though your manuscript may be a better fit elsewhere.)

      • Bailey Edwards - February 24, 2014 Reply

        Thanks for the opportunity and the interest! I’ll be sending off my submission shortly.

  12. Janice - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Janice Foy
    Title: A Twist of Fate
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Finished word count: 35k

    Blurb:
    It started with a lie…

    Struggling event planner Quinn Marshall just landed the megastar wedding of the decade thanks to a pitch about the fated love she shares with her perfect fiancé. No one needs to know he’s a figment of her imagination. But when Ronan Forrester, a hot-as-hell business competitor, shows up a week before the wedding claiming he’s her betrothed, Quinn will do all she can to save her last chance at success. Even going as far as falling for her fake fiancé.

    …a little white one.

    Ronan despises liars and cheats, and when he finds out Quinn Marshall lied to win a contract that should have been his, he forces his way into her fabricated life. When their counterfeit kisses turn real, and when Ronan’s feelings begin to cloud his judgment, he will have to choose between ruining her reputation or trusting his heart…and her.

    First 100 words of your story:
    A mob of angry brain cells sledgehammered Ronan Forrester’s left temple. He massaged his forehead and sank back into the soft leather of his ergonomic chair.
    He’d spent half the day scanning gossip blogs, something he never did, digging up information. Über stars Ella Harper and Kai Parks were getting married somewhere in Ireland on Christmas Eve. His company, Forrester Events, should have been organizing their wedding, but Making Memories, a nonentity, won the contract.
    Quinn Marshall, the owner of Making Memories, had no premises or employees. There was no way she could pull off such a high profile event.

    • Heather Howland - February 24, 2014 Reply

      JANICE! You’ve been holding out on me 🙂 I would love to see this submission. Please send your query letter and the full manuscript to my attention using Entangled’s submission portal. Note that this is a request from the pitch session. We can’t wait to read more!

      https://entangledpublishing.submittable.com/submit/19009

      (Please note that I will be utilizing the Brazen portal for ease of tracking these manuscripts, though your manuscript may be a better fit elsewhere.)

      • Janice - February 24, 2014 Reply

        Thanks, Heather! So excited for you to read this. 🙂

  13. Tonya Burrows - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Love the interview, Heather & Laura!

    And I’m laughing about the sexytimes cleanliness thing too. *scampers off to edit a shower into manuscript*

  14. Anna James (pen name) - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Anna James (Pen Name)
    Title: A Second Chance at Love
    Genre: Contemporary romance with elements of suspense
    Finished Word Count: ~ 55,000

    Blurb:
    More than anything, forensic accountant Rachel Sullivan wants to make partner at McKenna and Hirsh by the end of the year. Only then can she ensure financial security for her and daughter Emma, something they haven’t had since Ryan, Rachel’s husband, died three years ago.

    Rachel is well on her way until Ethan Montgomery returns to New York City to run Montgomery International Bank, where Rachel is currently on assignment investigating a shareholders dispute.

    Rachel and Ethan were once the best of friends, which is a clear conflict of interest as far as the bank investigation is concerned. The investigation could be compromised if their past relationship comes to light.

    Rachel must step down from her position if she wants to achieve her goal, but above all else, keep her distance from Ethan Montgomery. If she doesn’t she’ll lose everything she’s worked for over the last three years. If she does, she might miss out on a second chance at love with Ethan.

    First 100 words of your story:
    “Who is the drop-dead gorgeous man who’s been behind closed doors with the bank president this morning?”

    Rachel Sullivan glanced up from her computer screen and frowned. Her co-worker and friend, Kelly Peterson, stood in the open doorway to her office. “Huh?”

    Kelly ambled in, dropped down into one of the chairs opposite Rachel and leaned her forearms on Rachel’s desk. “Come on, dish. Who’s Tall, Dark and Handsome in Hayden Montgomery’s office?”

    “There’s someone in with Hayden? Does it have anything to do with the shareholders dispute?”

    “I don’t know. That’s why I’m asking you.”

  15. Shelly C. Alexander - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Shelly C. Alexander

    Title: Love In Living Color

    Genre: Contemporary Single Title

    Finished Word Count: 82,400

    Max 200-word Blurb:

    Ella, a young widowed teacher, decides to spend one last summer at the Red River cabin that her late husband, Bradley, bought along with his best friend, Cooper. After nursing Bradley during his illness, it’s been difficult to let go and move on. Two years after his passing, she’s sold their home and headed to Red River before opening a new chapter in her life. With hopes of a family, Ella wants a fresh start in a different location where she can find another well-grounded man to share her life.

    Cooper⎯acclaimed Chiropractor and confirmed bachelor⎯is in trouble with the law. A bogus sexual harassment charge has his license temporarily suspended, causing him to hide out at his cabin. Although Bradley’s widow owns half the cabin, her Cinder-Ella personality keeps her away from the woods, leaving the cabin vacant for his use. Anxious to prove his innocence and get his life back, Coop swears off women. But Ella shows up, intent on spending the summer in the cabin too.

    Ella has a scandalous secret that could deliver the death-blow to Coop’s legal case. When the secret is revealed, will their blossoming love weather the storm, or will it destroy them both.

    First 100 Words of Manuscript:

    Ella Dennings’ BMW wasn’t built to four-wheel itself out of the muddy ditch where it was currently stuck. On a deserted dirt road, after dark, in the pouring rain.

    “I should’ve kept the Xterra instead of the BMW,” she grumbled, even though she knew better. When she drove the Beamer, she felt Bradley’s presence like he was in the seat next to her. Maybe she imagined it, but his scent still filled the plush interior and eased the dull ache in her heart every time she got behind the wheel.

    • Heather Howland - February 24, 2014 Reply

      I would love to see this submission. Please send your query letter and the full manuscript to my attention using Entangled’s submission portal. Note that this is a request from the pitch session. We can’t wait to read more!

      https://entangledpublishing.submittable.com/submit/19009

      (Please note that I will be utilizing the Brazen portal for ease of tracking these manuscripts, though your manuscript may be a better fit elsewhere.)

  16. Sarah Bailey - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Sarah Bailey

    Title: The Ren

    Genre: Contemporary/New Adult Romance

    Finished Word Count: approx. 83K

    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    When young artist LIZZIE JAMESON finds herself in The Ren, a decadent supper club in the heart of West Hollywood, she couldn’t be more out of her element. Hired to paint a ‘masterpiece with swagger’ for the rich and famous frequenting The Ren, she is cast into a world that she’s never wanted. One night, she crashes into her first love, the beautiful and enigmatic ROBERT WOLFE, now an international film star.

    It’s been nine years since Lizzie last laid eyes on Bobby, but she has never been able to shake him from her mind or her heart. She has mountains of reasons why she should run away from him now, and never look back. The last time they went down this road, he destroyed her, not to mention the fact that she has a son by him that he has no idea about.

    Bobby’s life is crazy; filled with paparazzi, invasive interviews and cameras shoved into his face at any given moment. She has to protect her son from this madness. His life isn’t the place for a child, for a family, and he made his opinions about that clear many years ago. Still, Lizzie just can’t walk away.

    First 100 words of your story:
    I was having one of those truly bizarre moments. Trying to step outside my own skin, I was really making an effort to take a long, hard look at my life. No matter how many directions my thoughts were taking me in, my mind kept circling around on one glaring question, “How the hell did I get here?”

    The job was a good one, sure, but was it really worth it? L.A. wasn’t my favorite city by any stretch of the imagination, but more than that, it was his place, and I had done my best to avoid it for too many years to feel comfortable with being here now.

    • Heather Howland - February 24, 2014 Reply

      The gods of writing must have been listening. I would love to see this submission. Please send your query letter (clarifying your characters’ ages, please) and the full manuscript to my attention using Entangled’s submission portal. Note that this is a request from the pitch session. We can’t wait to read more!

      https://entangledpublishing.submittable.com/submit/19009

      (Please note that I will be utilizing the Brazen portal for ease of tracking these manuscripts, though your manuscript may be a better fit elsewhere.)

      • Sarah Bailey - February 24, 2014 Reply

        Thank you so much for taking the time to review The Ren! Can’t wait to hear what you think!*Tossing virtual chocolate into the cave in gratitude ;-)*

  17. Lisa Wells - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Heather,

    Do you have any interest in Contemporary Paranormal Romance?

    Lisa

    • Heather Howland - February 24, 2014 Reply

      Hi Lisa! There really isn’t a genre designation for contemporary paranormal romance within the industry, so I wouldn’t pitch a book that way. It’s either contemporary (meaning no fantastical or paranormal elements) or paranormal. I’m happy to look at a paranormal romance pitch!

  18. C Barry Denham - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: C. Barry Denham
    Title: Nor’easter’
    Genre: Romantic Suspense
    Length: 46,325 words

    200 word blurb:

    Drew Richey has the offer of a lifetime–deliver the ashes of a high school lover to the Caribbean and cash in on a sizable payday.

    The timing couldn’t be worse. He’s a semester away from his degree and becoming VP of Operations for the family business, something he has never wanted. Ignoring the wrath of his domineering father, he sets sail, cashing in on his ticket to freedom.

    Enter trouble, in the form of beautiful, bruised and battered stowaway Samantha Bartlett, who has randomly picked Drew’s boat to hide from her abusive boyfriend. She falls asleep in a locker on deck and wakes sixty miles out in the Gulf. The two are stuck together until his first stop in the Keys.

    Giving chase is her abusive boyfriend, some modern day pirates, a man hired by Drew’s father, and the irate brother of the deceased. To further complicate things, a connection between the deceased and stowaway surfaces, causing Drew to question whether the stowaway was fate or a posthumous gift from the deceased.

    In the next week their relationship will morph from bitter to hot, as they team up to battle foes and stay on a course of the heart.

    First 100 words:

    Love can sometimes cool when the heat is turned up. Drew Richey knew that the adage applied to most any kind of relationship–work, school, family, or romantic. Problems with one of them, and you use the others to regain perspective. But what happens when they all blow up in your face? He tried to think things back into focus, alone at the estate of his parents on the second night of the New Year. An unseasonably warm, humid wind bathed across his face, as he stood on their pier looking out across the black waters of Mobile Bay.

  19. Melanie Greene - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Melanie Greene
    Title: Rocket Man
    Genre: Contemporary Single Title
    Finished Word Count: !02K

    BLURB:

    All Serena Colby wants is for her ducks to be in a row. A fetching, quirky, but still neat row that marches towards her goal: to own a home. After a lifetime of moving from one stepparent’s house to another, Serena craves the space to create beauty and permanence all for herself.

    Pursuing a promotion, she assists with the interview that brings Dillon Hamilton blasting into her life. Before he’s even got the job, he’s asked Serena out; it’s clear that he’ll be no help with her maintaining professionalism.

    Dillon has no aptitude for solitude, and is pulled towards Serena’s orbit. Before long, he’s ranked her sexiest skirts and memorized the scent of her locally produced organic shampoo. She’ll chat about their mutual passion, the Houston Rockets, but to Serena, partnering with Dillon can only mean collaborating on an ad campaign. Even if she does notice that her breasts go all perky when she’s with him. Or on the phone with him. Or thinking about him.

    ROCKET MAN begins with order-loving Serena shying away from Dillon’s messy complications. But Serena can’t escape her fantasies. And Dillon’s determined pursuit leaves Serena breathless until all systems are a go for ROCKET MAN.

    FIRST 100 WORDS:

    “Morning, Serena.”

    Serena Colby started. She was in the midst of the whole ‘keys in one hand, tea in the other, drawing case dragging down her shoulder’ negotiation with her door; starting at Joey’s unwelcome greeting meant dropping either her keys or her mug of steaming Earl Grey. Drop the keys, and the case would follow, and she’d just finished the Mooney account mock-ups. Drop the mug, and she’d be reminded that no matter how much she loved its cinnamon-and-paprika swirl of color, that particular to-go-cup had a loose lid, and she was wearing sandals.

  20. Kelly Jensen - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Kelly Jensen
    Title: Sex with Strangers
    Genre: Contemporary romance
    Finished Word Count: Not complete (Estimated 60-70k. Completion date: May 2014)

    Blurb:
    Arienne Townsend and her teenage daughter are on their way to Vegas. Arienne has been keeping her head down since her divorce and isn’t convinced her sister’s wedding is the best way to step out again. A surprise upgrade to first class seats her next to a familiar face. Arienne is excited to meet handsome movie star, Jackson Kader, but she’s definitely not ready for a proposition from a handsome stranger, no matter how well known his face is.

    Jackson’s last movie bombed at the box office. The press slammed the film and called him a ‘has been’. At a time when his career should be settling into middle age, it seems he might be better off taking a flight into obscurity. Instead, upon the instruction of his agent, Jackson travels to Vegas where he is expected to do whatever it takes to recover his image.

    When he meets Arienne, Jackson finds himself drawn in an entirely unexpected direction. The gorgeous divorcee has baggage outside of what she packed for her trip. Her flat refusal to his first advance amuses and challenges him, and Jackson has always enjoyed a challenge.

    First 100 words of your story:
    “Ma’am?”

    Arienne Townsend left off her struggle with the lap belt and looked up into the perfectly made-up face of the flight attendant. Cheeks flushing, she made another effort to latch the belt before holding her hands up in a helpless gesture. “Sorry! I can’t seem to figure this out.”

    Would one unfastened belt mean the plane was more or less likely to plummet from the sky, engines aflame?

    The attendant smiled. “Perhaps you’d have better luck with one of the belts in first class.”

    “Cool!” her daughter Piper exclaimed. “Maybe we’ll get to sit next to a movie star!”

    • Heather Howland - February 25, 2014 Reply

      I would love to see this manuscript when it is complete and ready for submission. Please send your query letter and the full to my attention using Entangled’s submission portal. Note that this is a request from the pitch session. We can’t wait to read more!

      https://entangledpublishing.submittable.com/submit/19009

      (Please note that I will be utilizing the Brazen portal for ease of tracking these manuscripts, though your manuscript may be a better fit elsewhere.)

      • Kelly Jensen - February 25, 2014 Reply

        Thanks for the opportunity, Heather. I’ll submit this as soon as I have it ready!

        Best, Kelly.

  21. Lisa Wells - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Lisa Wells
    Title: Hexes & O’s
    Genre: Paranormal Romance
    Length: 97,000

    200 word blurb:

    Remington Smith’s life is spiraling out of control. On the verge of being homeless, she inherits a house and a to-do list from her free-spirited best friend who has died of breast cancer. Remington returns to Knotty, Missouri, to complete the to-do list. There she discovers that she has inherited a haunted house in a town that has recently been cursed to never know love. Her new neighbor, Mr. Long and Lanky, is the man her best friend warned her not to fall in love with.

    Jason Hart is a land developer. He has a chip on his shoulder and needs to prove he can succeed without his father’s help. Rebuilding tornado ravaged Knotty, Missouri, into a hipster town is his way of proving himself independent. He’s partnered with Google on the renovation of Knotty. Google is leading the way in a new wave of companies offering incentives to their employees to live in the same community and work from their homes. This trend is the result of a research project called: Got Community – Got Profit.

    The curse on the town: When sparks fly between two individuals, one of them will fall in love and the other will not. Jason has been double cursed – he is the one who will NOT fall in love.

    First 100 words:

    CHAPTER ONE

    When life gives you a lemon…duck.
    It hurls them three at a time.
    – Remington Smith, realist

    Remington Smith struggled to maintain her hold on the rusted rung of the fire escape ladder and swung her legs up and over the busted bar. Pausing for a breath, she heaved her Bridget Jones’ ass into a sitting position. The monumental act left the hem of her dress draping her boobs, her purse hanging over her back in a choke hold, and her granny panties twisted in her ass like a size-too-small thong.

    • Heather Howland - February 25, 2014 Reply

      I would love to see this submission. Please send your query letter and the full manuscript to my attention using Entangled’s submission portal. Note that this is a request from the pitch session. We can’t wait to read more!

      https://entangledpublishing.submittable.com/submit/19009

      (Please note that I will be utilizing the Brazen portal for ease of tracking these manuscripts, though your manuscript may be a better fit elsewhere.)

  22. Amber Munnerlyn - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name:Amber Autry

    Title:The Baby Heist

    Genre:Romantic Suspense

    Finished Word Count: Projected word count 80,000 (novel is unfinished, but I plan to have it done by the end of March. Especially if I have an editor eagerly awaiting more)

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Someone’s after her unborn child…
    Threatening notes are left on widow April Cooke’s doorstep, and she doesn’t know whom to trust. Her due date approaches and frightening gifts appear, leaving her on edge. With no answers, she investigates. Alone.
    Mistakenly identified as April’s stalker, rancher Rick Hartman’s determination to prove his innocence thrusts him close to her case. His decision: protect April and move on from why he left the force—losing a loved one during a shootout and barely surviving—, or break his heart… and hers.
    Can Rick save April’s unborn child? Or will the stalker get the “prize”?

    First 100 words of your story:

    “I didn’t come to this godforsaken ranch to save you. I came to help you.” Rick Hartman paced, his cowboy boots thudding against the barn’s concrete floor. He wasn’t going to give in. His brother needed to learn a lesson.
    “But you have like fifty thousand in the bank.” Aaron held his hands out and furrowed his eyebrows. “Why can’t you use that to get the ranch caught up? Everything would be so much easier that way.”
    Aaron only wanted Rick’s money, so why had Rick even come? He gave up the thrill of bull riding to live on eight hundred acres of nothing. And not even a thank you had been said.

    • Amber Munnerlyn - February 26, 2014 Reply

      Terese with Entangled requested this, so I just wanted to let you guys know. Thanks for the opportunity and I can’t wait to share my story with the company.

  23. Melanie Greene - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Melanie Greene
    Title: Common Ground
    Genre: Contemporary Single Title
    Word Count: approx 90K (estimated completion date: May 2014)

    BLURB:

    When Livia Delacroix sinks the life insurance payout from her semi-estranged mom into a sight-unseen B&B in little Honey Wine, Texas, she’s convinced herself that leaving her safe job managing a luxury Dallas hotel is what her mom would have wanted. She’s pretty sure her plan to make the B&B a success is, almost definitely, foolproof.

    But among other things, she didn’t factor in Greg Forst, the former owner’s nephew, who returns to Honey Wine intent on reclaiming his family land, no matter the attraction and reluctant respect that grows between the two of them. Obstacles as varied as zoning laws, hypothetical spirits, and a feral cat interrupt, but ultimately fail to prevent, Livia and Greg’s journey to COMMON GROUND.

    FIRST 100 WORDS:

    Livia DeLacroix peered out the wavy glass in the B&B’s front door. There was nothing but dusk and — well, nothing. Dusky sky, black line of trees, the land invisible.

    She almost whispered into the phone. “Mags, seriously. You’ve never heard such quiet.”

    “In what way do you go about hearing quiet?”

    “Honest. It’s nothing but crickets and owls out here. Are they crickets, do you suppose? Grasshoppers? Frogs? What chirps at night?”

    “I’m supposed to know?” Maggie’s laugh was too loud.

    Livia grinned, entering the first guest room. “I don’t know. Intuition? I’m calling them crickets.”

    “Locusts. Hungry, marauding locusts.”

  24. DeAnna Cameron - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: DeAnna Cameron
    Title: One Night with a Belly Dancer
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Finished Word Count: 24,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb: Tribal belly dancer Abby’s one-night stand with a stranger backfires when she discovers changes to her office job — a critical lifeline for her failing dance studio — include a new boss, who happens to be the sexy guy from the night before. Can she keep her identity secret to protect her job, her dignity and her studio? Or will her deepening feelings for Derek Collier, the heir-apparent of the Collier media dynasty who’s keeping secrets of his own, cause her to lose everything?

    First 100 words of your story:

    “It’s only sex,” Abby Anderson said, keeping her focus on the mirror propped on the desk in front of her and the black line she was drawing around her eyes.

    In the corner, Melanie flipped through a tattoo magazine. “It’s about time. How you managed to go a whole year is a mystery to me.”

    “It’s not like I planned it. It just happened. I’ve been busy.”

    Busy working two jobs — three if you counted the belly dance studio that was consuming every spare minute and dollar she had. It didn’t seem possible so much time had passed since…

  25. Karen Dunlop - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name : Karen Dunlop

    Title : A Spoonful of Christmas

    Genre : Contemporary Romance

    Word Count: 23,000 words

    Max 200 word Blurb : Busy ER doctor Cara Jennings hates Christmas, throwing herself into work to try and forget her sister’s death and the messy train-wreck of a recent failed relationship with a colleague.
    The last thing she needs is sexy Rory O’Neill turning up as the new locum doctor. A guy who knows too much about her past and isn’t afraid to tell her what’s wrong with her messy present, starting with why she walked out after their ill-advised but blow-minding one night stand at a Medical Conference last month. He might have rocked her world but Rory is an old friend and she doesn’t want to risk what they have, especially now they’re working together. She’s newly single and still struggling with her guilt and grief . Meanwhile Rory has his own problems including a sick brother in Australia and a flight to catch before the holidays. With the clock ticking will they have the time and courage to find their HEA?

    First 100 words : Cara Jennings looked at the beeping cardiac monitor in frustration.
    “Anyone free? This patient is bleeding out –“
    “I’m on it .. . . . . okay the IV is in.”
    The calm male voice sounded disturbingly familiar but Cara was too intent on saving her patient’s life to pay attention.

    “Okay take him to surgery STAT.”
    Cara stood back and stretched. She knew she was being Bah Humbug but she hated the holidays and the predictable surge in accidents. Merry Christmas? Somehow she didn’t think so.
    Turning, she stopped dead at the sight of the man who’d come to her rescue.
    Was this a joke?

  26. Abigail Sharpe - February 24, 2014 Reply

    I’m enjoying reading all the pitches!

    • Melanie Greene - February 24, 2014 Reply

      Me, too! What a crowd of imaginative and talented writers we have in this group. It’s very inspiring.

      (As was the Q&A with Laura & Heather – thanks for this whole thing.)

  27. Sarah Bailey - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Thank you so much Heather!! I am so excited to hear what you think of The Ren!

  28. Poppy Lanier - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Title: A New Kind of Courage

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Word Count: Approx. 60,000

    Blurb:

    Jessie was eleven when Jake was hired as a new deputy and she immediately fell in love with the handsome lawman. Ten years later, he’s the sheriff and also newly divorced. Jesse figures this is her chance to have the man of her dreams. She leaves college, high-tails it home and uses all her feminine charms to catch him on the rebound. And, catch him she does. But being married isn’t the same as dating and Jesse realizes that Jake’s responsibilities as sheriff mean that he has less time for her than she’d anticipated. Plus, their age differences are now very apparent. In order for this marriage to be saved, he’s going to have to lighten up or she’s going to have to mature – a lot.

    “A New Kind of Courage” is a story of the ‘give and take’ that’s necessary in marriage and the realization of how courage can lead to unexpected results.

    Excerpt:

    Jessie Werner wrestled with the gearshift of her husband’s jacked-up Rambo style pickup and cringed when the gears shrieked in protest. She’d just decided to hell with it, to leave the key in the ignition and the damn thing in first, when the shift settled into place. She turned off the engine, opened the door and slid from the seat carefully placing her feet on the ground and getting her balance before slamming the driver’s door. “I hate you,” she muttered.

    The day was hot, the air gritty. In the distance a lone mockingbird called, waited for an answer, …

  29. Rachel Firasek - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Great advice, as always! 🙂 Good luck to everyone pitching.

  30. Katherine Fleet - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name:Katherine Fleet

    Title:Still Drowning

    Genre:YA Contemporary

    Finished Word Count:80,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    Juniper Delany’s vacation on the Caribbean island of Curaçao turns terrifying when an arrogant stranger collides with her, leaving behind something unexpected in her bag. Soon, June is not only running from a couple of goons, but smuggling a stolen artifact through airport security on her way home to Mercy Creek.
    For Maximus Van Thiessen, a treasure that’s eluded his family for generations is closer than ever. Max just needs to confront his feisty, infuriating carrier pigeon from the backwoods of nowhere, survive the frigid temperatures of northern Canada, avoid getting kicked out of boarding school and stay one step ahead of the enemy – a crime family prepared to turn the hunt into a deadly game…

    First 100 words of your story:
    I pushed through the hotel door and a hot wall of Caribbean air hit my skin – our last day on the small, Dutch island of Curaçao. Dad had abandoned me for a final snorkeling trip, but I had other priorities. I had one day left to appreciate the sun before returning to the bitter temperatures of winter in northern Canada and my final semester of high school.
    Armed with my sunglasses and a small supply of local currency, I covered the short distance to the Queen Emma footbridge. My flip-flops slapped against the wooden planks of the floating bridge, the…

  31. Celia T. Lucente - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Heather:
    I should first inform you that I submitted this book to your company and got a confirmation that it was received on 2/8/14. Having said that, I thought I’d take advantage of the opportunity today as I was interested in possibly publishing with Brazen books.
    My name is Celia T. Lucente.
    Title: Dream Man
    Word count: 50,015 words, entitled Dream Man. Part of a planned series entitled Executive Women in Love.

    Book Blurb:
    Felicity is a success-driven young woman who finds herself parentless and responsible for her kid sister after the sudden death of their parents. She fights her way through a competitive local television network to support herself and her sister. The network aired her reality show for teens and even though it won raving reviews, they don’t promote her or give her raise.
    Her sister is a trouble-bound teen and lands in a hospital due to a weather related car accident. While waiting for her sister, her idol, Hollywood’s notorious confirmed bachelor, film star and entrepreneur walks into the waiting room. Felicity pitches her new reality show to him.
    Max is happy with his carefree existence, much like the tabloids present just not for the right reason. Staying clear of romantic relationships is the way Max copes with his painful, dark past. But, Felicity threatens to break through his protective cocoon. Max wants to help Felicity. Besides, he’s best buds with the executive producer of a national network so it’s not as if he’s doing anything extraordinary. Max intends to keep Felicity as a friend until thoughts and images of Felicity taunt Max. Should he stay in his safe cocoon of single living or risk losing the one girl who could complete his life?
    First 100 words of finished manuscript:
    Felicity Burgess gaped at her panic-stricken production assistant as she rushed into the studio.
    “It’s Jenny. Hurry,” Shantae urged, clearly out of breath.
    What now?
    Felicity fought the urge to scream. She couldn’t afford a disruption right now. She was due to run live for her reality show. As much as she loved her sister, Jenny put her at wits end. She’d given Felicity more trouble, with both school and the law, during the last few months than she had for the past eight years since Felicity had taken over as her sole provider. At twenty-four years of age, Felicity’s playing mother to her baby sister had worn her thin and sometimes she wished she could get on with her own life.

    • Heather Howland - February 24, 2014 Reply

      Hi Celia! This book is better fitted for Indulgence, so I’m going to pass knowing it’s already in our submission process. Best of luck to you!

  32. Monica Tillery - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Title: The Confection Connection
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: 50,000

    Blurb: Carly Piper and Michael Welch survive each day at work by doing their best to keep their distance from one another. His brash, cocky attitude rubs her the wrong way, and he thinks she could use a stiff drink. They clashed when they were competing contestants on a reality show, and nothing’s changed now that they work together.
    Thrown together to pitch to a celebrity couple looking to hire a bakery for their high-profile wedding, Michael and Carly find themselves pretending to be in a relationship to satisfy the quirks of the bride. When news of their romance gets out, they’re invited back as guest judges on the show that started it all and the little white lie becomes a full-blown deception.
    Opposites attract, as it turns out, and once they’re forced to get cozy for the cameras, sparks fly and temperatures rise. Will their sizzling relationship fizzle when the cameras are turned off? Or is a sweet romance in store for the bakers?

    First 100 Words: “Thanks for coming along today. I’ve never had my own assistant before, especially not one so gorgeous.” Michael teased as he breezed past Carly. “I’ll go load the van. See you out there.” He whistled innocently as she rolled her eyes. Without so much as flinching under her withering gaze, he made his way out of the bakery. The view was just as good coming and going, and she hated herself for noticing. Michael shot her one last look over his shoulder before heading out the door, making her wonder if she’d broadcast her thoughts.
    “Are you sure we both …

    • Gwen Hayes - February 26, 2014 Reply

      Hi Monica,
      My name is Gwen Hayes and I’m also an editor at Entangled. I direct the Scandalous line, but acquire across all the lines. I’d love to see this.

      For simplicity, I’ll have you sub to the Scandalous portal if you don’t mind. Please remind me that it’s a requested pitch and put my name in the attention box. (where it says historical era, just say contemporary)

      https://entangledpublishing.submittable.com/submit/19013

  33. Sunni Rose Blendette - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Sunni Rose Blendette (pen name)
    Title: The Misadventures of Victoria’s Love Life
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Finished Word Count: 62,600

    Max 200 word blurb:
    Victoria Woods is back in Boston to open a new office for Stellar Advertising, bury past memories, and maybe if she’s lucky, discover her one and only. Encounters with a philandering ex-boss, a perspective employee, and a secret admirer make her wonder if there is a man out there capable of loving one woman at a time…until a stalker propels her into the arms of London Black.

    London Black never had a problem hooking up with women. Money talks, and the women he’s known love the sound. The night Victoria Woods enters London’s nightclub on the arm of another man, he feels the pull and is determined to have her at any cost. He is unprepared for the feisty businesswoman who keeps him at arms length, until a stalker threatens Victoria and London finds himself in the unfamiliar role of protector. Now he has to keep her safe, get rid of the man he thinks is her lover, and then convince Victoria to trust him. London never expects his best laid plans to explode in his face and almost cost him his life and a chance with the one woman he loves.

    First 100 words:
    Victoria stood in the middle of the junior king suite at the Boston Marriott and sighed. Soft white linens greeted the eye, surrounded by rich tapestry prints on the modern furniture. No garish red-stripped wallpaper the women at AJ Advertising giggled about. At least the women Alex James Jr. brought to the suite six years ago. Victoria never saw the wallpaper. She wasn’t on his radar for sex, only for doing his work.

    She snorted. A twenty-four year old graphic artist with uncontrollable curly hair the color of Halloween orange and an extra sixty pounds of junk other-than-in-her-trunk fat…

  34. Tanya Agler - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Tanya Agler

    Title: A Pinch of Cinnamon

    Genre: Contemporary

    Finished Word Count: 76,553

    200 word blurb: Paige Halloran makes the best cinnamon rolls in the state, but she can’t figure out how to bring customers back to Cinnamon’s, her bakeshop. A new customer catches her eye, but she can’t escape his resemblance to her six-year-old son’s father who dumped her the minute she revealed her pregnancy.

    Will Corbett arrives in Davis to scope out a small business venture. The attractive baker across the street from the art gallery has caught his eye, but since he left investment banking two years earlier, he has stayed busy, too busy to even unpack boxes in his condo. This woman with a precocious son has roots in Davis while he never stays in one place for long.

    After discovering his business background, Paige hires Will hoping his expertise can help her turn around her bakeshop, but she fights her attraction to the man who resembles her ex-boyfriend, Will agrees to stay in Davis long enough to decide whether to buy the art gallery and help Paige, but he can’t promise anything after that. Will this brief window of time enable Paige to trust him and for Will to discover that a pinch of cinnamon makes life sweeter?

    First 100 words of story:
    Inhaling the aroma of fresh homemade bread from Cinnamon’s display case pulled Paige Halloran out of her funk. For the fifth straight day, less than ten customers had come in and ordered lunch. Her free sample plate contained lemon drop cookies rather than the usual crumbs. She plucked the biggest one off the dish and plopped it in her mouth, savoring the sweet, crumbly texture.
    Since several of her regulars started frequenting The Peach Sandwich Shoppe, they had lowered their heads whenever she passed them at the Piggly Wiggly. Without them, an empty Cinnamon’s made for an empty bank account.

  35. Karen Bellamy - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Title: The Darkest Secret
    Genre: Romantic Suspense
    Finished word count 70,000 – still polishing, so not quite finished

    Blurb
    Alex should never have returned to Strawn Bay, and he should never have got involved with Eddie and his goth sister Frankie. Because now he’s fighting his attraction to this strange woman as well as his own demons. Frankie’s brother Eddie owns this town, but she knows he killed the girl she discovered on the beach, and this girl wasn’t his first. There’s only one person she can trust with her darkest secret – Alex, her brother’s new best friend, and the only man who can see beneath the armour she wears to protect herself.

    First 100 words
    The school hall was stifling hot and the parents around her were gently steaming in their damp clothes, smiles slathered across their faces. But Frankie’s skin was cold and clammy, like a slab of rotting fish. The newly installed proscenium stage, paid for by Eddie, was awash with a tangle of hormonal teenagers and Frankie watched as her brother circled the girls like the first class predator he was.

  36. Celia T. Lucente - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Thank you Heather. I’ll patiently await the results. Thanks for your time today. This is a great opportunity for our members!

  37. Kristin Wallace - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Heather I apologize because this book is not complete but I thought I would post anyway. If you are interested I would send when it is done.

    Title: Oh My Soul Mate
    Genre: Parnormal

    Blurb:
    Spoiled heiress Anastasia Wellington-Brooks spent most of her life in the pursuit of pleasure. Eventually her wild antics get her killed, courtesy of a rogue bottle of champagne. In the afterlife Anastasia is given a chance at redemption when she is recruited as a member of the Soul Mate Council. Her job? Helping humans find their other halves. Anastasia’s first assignment is her best friend, whose soul mate is not her fiancée. The same best friend Anastasia betrayed in the worst way possible on the night she died. Now, Anastasia must somehow find a way to reunite two first loves who missed their chance years ago. All while trying to avoid the one man on earth who ever saw beneath her wild partying ways to the lost, vulnerable woman underneath. The one man who might have a deeper connection to Anastasia’s heart than she knows.

    First 100 words:

    Anastasia Wellington-Brooks had been dead exactly twenty-two minutes and thirty-eight seconds, and already the experience was less than satisfying.

    The rotund man behind Stasia jostled her with his elbow. “Dying really takes the life out of you… ha, ha, ha! Oh, I kill myself sometimes… ha, ha, ha!”

    Seriously? Just her luck to be stuck in heaven’s registration line with a comedian. No really. Her fellow deadmate had actually been a comedian in his former life. Not a good one judging by the constant stream of cringe-worthy puns and brain-numbing knock-knock jokes he’d been spewing since his arrival exactly eight seconds after her.

  38. Annie - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Title: UNLUCKY IN LOVE
    Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: 80k

    Blurb:
    Long ago, a palm reader predicted that when the women in Jayne’s family fell in love, they’d die. Jayne didn’t believe the prophesy until both her mother and sister fell in love then died. Now Jayne is left to raise her orphaned niece, Coco, and deal with her growing fear that the palm reader was right. When she moves back to her hometown on the coast of North Carolina and takes a job as an art teacher, she vows to stay far away from the opposite sex, only to discover she’ll be working with her high school heartthrob.
    After his girlfriend cheated, school guidance counselor Liam Blakely is taking a break from women. Until Jayne walks back into his life with an adorable niece who needs help dealing with the loss of her parents. As he assists Jayne in finding a crack in Coco’s defenses, she lets her guard down and tells him about her family’s curse. Liam believes in creating your destiny, not living in fear of a palm reader’s fortune. As things heat up, however, Jayne becomes sick, and he is faced with a difficult choice: fight for the love that might be killing Jayne, or walk away.

    First 100:
    Jayne sank back into her vinyl teacher’s chair as she watched the last student trickle out of her classroom. It was her planning hour and she could finally take a moment to herself, something she’d rarely gotten since moving back to Seaside, North Carolina and suddenly becoming a mother.
    Not that she’d ever replace Karen. She couldn’t. But she’d do her best to make sure Coco never felt the crushing loneliness of being raised without someone to do things like taking her to get her ears pierced when it became the cool thing to do.

  39. Tami Lund - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Tami Lund

    Title: Morning Drive

    Genre: Contemporary series (first of a 2-book series)

    Finished Word Count: 35K

    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    Ainsley Gibraltar is trying to break the bad boy habit. But they’re just so damn hot and sexy and…really bad at relationships, at least in her experience. Not that she’s necessarily looking for forever, but at least until morning would be nice. Maybe even a long weekend, or a month or…Maybe she really is looking for forever.

    At the grocery store, when she literally runs into Gavin Hearne with her shopping cart, she knows she should simply apologize and rush the other way. She most certainly should not ask him out.

    Gavin Hearne is a former rocker turned DJ who likes to think of himself as a reformed bad boy. He has to be. He’s trying to raise two young children, the bi-product of a short lived marriage to The Bitch, as his morning show co-host likes to refer to his ex-wife.

    Unfortunately, his bad boy radio personality is hugely popular, making it difficult for him to shed the image so he can stand a chance in hell of hooking up with a woman like Ainsley.

    Holy hell, did she really just ask him out?

    First 100 words of your story:

    They met at the grocery store.

    Specifically, their carts collided at the grocery store. He was in a hurry, forced to stop at the store after a too long workday. His cupboards were bare and he had two mouths to feed at home. Three, if you counted the dog. Four, if he planned to eat too.

    She t-boned his cart as he tried to speed past the end of the aisle.

    When he looked up, he saw female. Blond hair. Tits. Perky, high, maybe a little on the small side. But tits were good, almost regardless of the size.

    • Heather Howland - February 24, 2014 Reply

      I would love to see this submission. Please send your query letter and the full manuscript to my attention using Entangled’s submission portal. Note that this is a request from the pitch session. We can’t wait to read more!

      https://entangledpublishing.submittable.com/submit/19009

      (Please note that I will be utilizing the Brazen portal for ease of tracking these manuscripts, though your manuscript may be a better fit elsewhere.)

    • Heather Howland - February 24, 2014 Reply

      I want to follow up my request to let you know this is one of the best queries I’ve read in a long while, mainly because you’ve conveyed the voice so well. I’m not sure what the romantic conflict is yet (so work on getting that into your query), but I’m definitely intrigued enough to want to find out! Kudos 🙂

      • Tami Lund - February 24, 2014 Reply

        Wow…Thanks! That is a HUGE compliment, especially considering that I consider query writing to be the hardest part of writing a novel 🙂 This manuscript is still a little rough around the edges so I am going to do some power editing before sending it your way. Thanks again for the kudos!

  40. R Scarlett - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: R Scarlett

    Title: Game Time

    Genre: Contemporary

    Wordcount: 49,000 words

    Blurb:

    Holly Blackwood lives for the sport of netball. This year she’s playing in a top team, and she’s determined to impress the Silver Fern selectors for the national team. The last thing she needs is a man and especially another rugby-playing big shot. She’s tried that before and refuses to place her heart beneath another spiked boot.

    Angus O’Neil isn’t closed off from women, but rugby commitments take a lot of his time, and he’s not about to repeat the mistake he made with his ex-wife. Any woman who climbs into his bed must be adaptable, accept rugby and possess an open mind.

    Angus takes one look at Holly and is smitten by her blonde hair, long legs and feisty attitude, but he’s smart enough to notice her reluctance and lays his plan accordingly. The bait—-a friends with benefits deal. He’ll woo her with his charm and before long she’ll be hooked…just as solidly as him…as long as she manages to let go of past injuries.

    First 100 words:

    “No way are you fixing me up with a blind date,” Holly Blackwood said in a firm voice.

    Brooke, her older half-sister, screwed up her pixy nose and added a cute pout. “But Angus has friends—-a whole rugby team of them.”

    Holly sent her sister a stink eye and let her expression do the talking.
    “I’m sure he wouldn’t mind setting you up.”

    “I’m done with rugby players.” Bother, her attitude face needed work. “I don’t need to hang off a man’s arm at the party. I can stand on my own.” Holly waggled a large foot in her sister’s direction, offering positive proof.

    Thanks for the opportunity!

  41. Sarah Allan - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Sarah Allan

    Title: Fate’s Awakening

    Genre: Fantasy Romance (LGBT)

    Finished Word Count: 47,500

    Maximum 200-word blurb: After years of unfulfilling casual relationships, Jack Harris’s reluctance to find The One has put his life in danger. The Fates trust Evangeline—a young goddess who studies and brings messages to mortals—to convince Jack that he needs to search his heart or he’s going to lose his only chance at happiness. To give Jack some added incentive, Evie curses him in a most unfortunate way, and gives him until the new year—less than a month—to get his act together.

    Finally, Jack realizes that his soul mate is his long-time roommate and best friend, Andrew Kelly. Problem is, Andy’s in a relationship with a woman, and Jack can’t quite figure out where they stand. Will Evangeline’s divine intervention be enough to help Jack? Or will the Fates have to cut the tangled thread of his life when the deadline comes?

    First 100 words of your story:
    “Your place or mine?”

    The bass pounded, making the stuffy air reverberate around us, but the gorgeous blonde heard me perfectly with my lips right at her ear. She took a long swallow of her neon cocktail and teasingly ground her backside into my front to the beat of the music, waiting until the song was over and I was obviously hard against her ass before answering.

    Her eyes were ravenous as she visually devoured me. “Mine.”

    Just what I liked to hear.

    “Let’s get out of here.” I grinned and gestured for her to take the lead. Weaving through…

  42. Maria Michaels - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Title: Love at First Flight
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Word Count:75K
    MS is 90% done; estimated date of completion is mid-March

    Blurb:

    He’s cool as a cucumber; she’s mushy like a ripe banana.

    He has nerves of steel, and she might as well be Playdoh.

    When Emily Parker discovers she’s the namesake of the first female pilot in the state of California, the only thing standing in her way is one hunky pilot with a bad attitude. Stone McAllister inherited the flight school he runs from his late father, although he’d rather fly his Cessna into the sunset and start over in Anywhere, USA. But when a curvy blonde with a half-baked notion insists on lessons he reconsiders. The problem is he has definite ideas of what he’d like to do to Emily, although none of them involve flying.

    First 100 words:

    All things considered, Emily Parker would rather be at the cemetery.

    Instead she pointed her truck in the direction of the Silver Saddle because when her sister Molly got an idea in her head she was like a Pitbull with a bone. Today that bone was dancing, and she’d cornered Emily into going along.

    “You can go to the cemetery any old time. All those dead people aren’t going anywhere.” Molly pulled down the passenger side visor and smoothed on bright red lipstick.

    As if Molly needed any help in channeling her inner hussy.

    • Heather Howland - February 24, 2014 Reply

      Never underestimate the power of an awesome first line! I would love to see this submission. Please send your query letter and the full manuscript to my attention using Entangled’s submission portal. Note that this is a request from the pitch session. We can’t wait to read more!

      https://entangledpublishing.submittable.com/submit/19009

      (Please note that I will be utilizing the Brazen portal for ease of tracking these manuscripts, though your manuscript may be a better fit elsewhere.)

  43. Rusty Keller (w/a Kasey lane) - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Rusty Keller writing as Kasey Lane
    Title: Falling From the Edge
    Genre: Erotic Contemporary
    Finished Word Count: 53500

    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    Former rockabilly street kid and bar tender, Kevan Landry, is desperate to sign the hottest new ticket in metal music and save her fledgling entertainment marketing company. Unfortunately, Mason Dillon, the sexy suit that heads the most successful company in their industry, wants the same thing and has the connections and power she lacks. She needs to stay focused, keep her head in the game, and stop thinking about her crazy one night stand with Mason.

    Mason Dillon is the straight laced entertainment marketing kingpin who needs to breathe new life into his business by signing an up and coming metal band or risk being removed as CEO by the board of directors. Standing in his way is the vivacious Kevan Landry who will stop at nothing, including using dirty tricks, to beat the king at his own game. He needs to figure out a way to keep his job and get Kevan back into his bed.

    First 100 words:
    Without looking, Kevan knew the man was watching her. Hair rose on the back of her neck, but she wasn’t cold. It was practically a sauna in the packed club. No, it was definitely the smoldering look on the tall stranger’s face that had the heat building between her legs, not the temperature of the room.

    At first, she’d associated the tingle up her spine with being in a club again. She’d been working such long hours she hadn’t had time to go clubbing or to hear live music and dance to her favorite bands. Damn, she loved live shows.

    • Heather Howland - February 24, 2014 Reply

      You’re already in the submissions queue, Rusty! Hang in there…

      • Rusty Keller (w/a Kasey lane) - February 24, 2014 Reply

        Thanks, Heather! I’ve made some improvements to the MS so please keep that in mind. 🙂

        • Heather Howland - February 26, 2014 Reply

          Since submitting it to us a couple of weeks ago? Or do you mean since the Smackdown?

  44. Carolyn Crimi - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Carolyn Crimi
    Title: Sarah in Wonderland
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: 84k, although I’m still revising. Should be done by late March.

    Blurb: After being fired from her editorial job at the prestigious Soffet & Lloyd, Sarah Henderson finds herself editing manuscripts about lambies and bunnies at Little Bear Books. Sarah needs a paycheck to pay for her perfume habit, so this job will have to suffice until she can find a new one.

    To make matters worse, Seth, her sophisticated boyfriend, keeps growing more distant. She worries that with her “kiddie lit” job she has lost his respect.

    When Sarah learns that she will accompany Little Bear’s best selling authors, The Three Silly Dillies, on their book tour she tries to get out of it. Two weeks of baby-sitting three loud, middle-aged authors won’t be fun. Despite help from Ian, her Spiderman-loving co-worker, Sarah dreads the trip.

    During a trying tour that includes a humping pug and a determined chicken, Sarah receives a break-up email from Seth. She drinks one too many Bahama Mamas and is soothed by The Dillies, who read Goodnight Moon to her like her mother once did. When Sarah’s mother died something in Sarah died, too, but she realizes, through the Dillies, that a trio of true friends and the right guy can do wonders for the soul.

    First 100 words:

    Sarah cleared her throat.

    “Ummm, let me gather my thoughts about this story for a moment,” she said.

    Jen, a young mom with dark circles under her eyes and terminally greasy hair, had just read her children’s story out loud to Sarah’s writing class. It was about the Easter Bunny. Not only did he wear a jaunty straw hat and baggy overalls, in Jen’s story he also pooped out Easter eggs with psalms written on them and delivered them to the children in Carrot Town.

    Much to Sarah’s dismay, the ten-page story was typed in ALL CAPS.

    • Heather Howland - February 24, 2014 Reply

      I would love to see this manuscript when it is complete and ready for submission. Please send your query letter and the full to my attention using Entangled’s submission portal. Note that this is a request from the pitch session. We can’t wait to read more!

      https://entangledpublishing.submittable.com/submit/19009

      (Please note that I will be utilizing the Brazen portal for ease of tracking these manuscripts, though your manuscript may be a better fit elsewhere.)

  45. Amber Munnerlyn - February 24, 2014 Reply

    I love seeing some of the people I know getting requests here. Love all the pitches and good luck to the few that haven’t heard back yet.

  46. Tammy S. Day - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Tammy S. Day
    Title: Girl Spoken For
    Genre: Contemporary YA
    Finished Word Count: 61,686
    Max 200-word blurb:
    Why has good girl Tatum Duncan gone bad?
    She’s dumped her football star boyfriend.
    She’s attacked a bully at school.
    She’s shaved her long, runway blonde hair from the side of her head.
    Nothing gives her solace until the sexy loner at school, Zach Bertano, confesses he’s been madly in love with her for years.
    With Zach at her side, she feels comfortable enough to confide her deepest secret to him—she was sexually assaulted by her ex-boyfriend.
    Tatum craves sympathy and understanding from Zach. Instead he confides his own secret—he’s the grandson of an old Mob Boss—and then he opts for revenge against her ex.
    Another altercation is the last thing Tatum wants.
    Wishing for Tatum’s understanding and approval, Zach explains why he is so protective of the girl whom he has “spoken for” in the parlance of his family.
    She respects his decision, but fears getting involved with the mob.
    The time for Tatum to decide whether she will “speak for” Zach is running short.
    Will she use her head or her heart?

    First 100 words of completed MS:
    He sat so close to the back of my head that his breath made my hair sway. “How come, Tatum Duncan, you’ll screw the whole baseball team, but not me?” Kevin Baker said.
    The school bully was the only one to ignore the fact that my eyes were bloodshot, not knowing how I spent my weekend.
    I sat tall and ignored the jerk.
    Teasing and bullying didn’t happen to me except for in this class. The only class I didn’t have with Zach Bertano—the sexy, loner guy that every girl wanted, but no one could get close to.

  47. Lisa Hayden - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Lisa Creane
    Title: You Only Fall Once
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Finished Word Count: 90,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    Upset after being dumped by Sunny Parsons, the free-spirited woman he wanted to marry, skier Jack Cambridge crashes during a reckless mogul run, shattering his leg and losing his sponsors. He needs a comeback victory to prove he’s not an irresponsible adrenaline junkie and regain endorsements to fund a bone marrow donor search for his dying brother. But when he sees Sunny at a race, his obsession with getting her back collides with his need for a big win, putting his career, his brother and his heart at risk.

    First 100 words of your story:

    The smiley faced bobblehead hit a rock in the slush.

    “Perfect.” Sunny Parsons balanced the deadweight box perched on her car trunk’s rubber edge—her borrowed, subcompact, getaway car’s rubber edge—and stared at the toy, its head as cracked as her own. She’d put it on top so it wouldn’t get crushed like her heart and her dreams. Bad plan.

    “Going somewhere?”

    She jumped, spilling books into the trunk. Her heart thumped out the truth. Yes, I’m going to hell for lying to you. Otherwise known as my parents’ commune.

    Jack Cambridge rescued Happy its suction cup base, wiped it off on his jeans and gave it to her for the second time, tucking it into the box. He seemed as affected by yesterday’s events as if she’d declined a second serving of dessert in their communal dining hall.

  48. Susan Jessen - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Susan Jessen w/a Serena Jayne
    Title: Must Love Reptiles
    Genre: Paranormal Romance
    Finished Word Count: 18,000 words

    Blurb:
    Can a reformed gorgon and the son of Poseidon find love the second time around?

    Forced to defend her family from would-be gorgon slayers, Stacey (Stheno) believes she is a monster on the inside as well as on the outside. By bartering her immortality, the beauty stolen from her by the goddess Athena is restored and she is transported to present day Alaska.

    Cy (Cychreides) traded an ancient world where the woman he loved would always remain out of reach for one with heavy metal music, craft beer, and ESPN. Now he is charged with helping his lost love fit into modern society.

    Armed with a killer smile, an unreliable stony gaze and a deadly viper squad headpiece, Stacey battles an assassin, a bratty younger sister and her own personal demons. Cy must convince her she’s worth loving before she commits the ultimate sacrifice.

    First 100 Words:
    The prickly lava of dread oozed over Stheno’s skin. She kept eyes averted from the temple of Athena. The structure, once her haven, had become a place to avoid after the goddess transformed her and her sisters, Euryale and Medusa, into gorgons, grotesque monsters with serpents for hair.

    The recipient of Athena’s wrath once before, she had no desire to find out if the goddess was capable of worse. Yet in the eerie silence of the night, with an enormous blood stained moon hanging low in the sky, she would rather encounter Athena than her older sisters, the grey witches.

  49. Lilly Ortiz - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Title: Beauty’s Curse
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: 85,000 word Count, However in revision. Ready for submission in May.

    Blurb-
    Karina Meadows, a New York fashion model attends a one-man show by an elusive photographer who’s famous for capturing the true essence of beauty. Karina recognizes herself in one of the photos and knows the artist’s real name is Antonio Centero, the handsome Latin man who she met her senior year in college eight years ago. Antonio wooed her, and she fell hard, they were in love or so she thought. He never kept their date to meet on New Years’ Eve under the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. Antonio disappeared from her life without a trace. Karina discovers Antonio has been living a secluded life in upstate New York.
    Antonio never forgot Karina. He hid in the mountains; a victim of an explosion, Antonio’s physical scars conceals his loneliness and grief. Certain that Karina would reject being tied down to a hideous looking man he ran away from the only woman he ever loved.
    When Karina’s best friend Maggie, a journalist asks for an exclusive interview with Antonio, he agrees under one condition – Karina must accompany her.
    Karina and Antonio struggle to confront their past, their feelings for each other and overcome Beauty’s curse.

    The city was in a frenzied state, a common occurrence on New Years’ Eve. Shoppers hurried to get home, tourists stopped to take pictures and lovers kissed. Karina Meadows had an appointment to keep at midnight under the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. A bitter cold night greeted her when she left the dorm room, but her long winter jacket, fleece gloves and memories kept her warm. She hadn’t heard anything from Antonio since the night he sent her home in the cab. Karina arrived early, hoping against hope that he would be there – he wasn’t.

  50. Lynn Cahoon - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Lynn Cahoon

    Title: Wild Hearts

    Genre: Contemporary

    Finished Word Count: 55000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    Mark Castle came home for his father’s funeral to find the family’s business falling apart. His dad had a bleeding heart management style. When Mark found his dad had hired Abbie Johnson to run the Big Cat Sanctuary just so she could come home to St. Jacobs with her daughter, he hadn’t been surprised. Just one more problem for Mark to deal with.

    Abigail had jumped at the chance to move home after her divorce. The small town had few employment opportunities so running the sanctuary was a dream come true. Until she heard of Mr. Castle’s death. Now she has to prove to Mark that saving the sanctuary isn’t just the right thing to do, it was good business.

    Can Mark find room in his heart and his business for Abigail and her daughter? Or will the sanctuary cats and Abigail have to find a new place to call home?

    First 100 words of your story: “We’re never moving again,” Abigail Johnson mumbled, scanning the boxes. The moving company had crammed the remnants of the last ten years in the small living room.

    “Hurry up, I’m dripping.” Becca screeched from the bathroom.

    Abigail climbed on the couch to reach another stack. Her fingertips brushed the top of the lid. A knock sounded on the front door. “Come in,” she yelled, balancing her weight. The couch tipped forward.

    Her fingers grazed the sides of the box. The sofa jerked under her feet. Bracing herself for the fall, she closed her eyes.

    Strong hands grabbed her waist.

  51. Virginia Frost - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name:Virginia Frost

    Title: The Wrong Man

    Genre:Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count: 93,000
    Blurb:
    Amanda Quinn is a business major on the straight and narrow track for success. Jack Warren is a wild, charming, egotistical party boy. Unfortunately, these two are roommates, the worst combination since The Odd Couple. It’s going to be a tough semester.

    In the beginning, Amanda is repulsed by Jack’s whimsical ways and careless attitudes. She compares him with her seemingly ideal boyfriend, Paul, another type-A business major, whom Amanda thinks is the perfect man for her.

    At first, Jack sees Amanda as an obstacle. He takes her on as an adversary. But when she meets him toe to toe, he finds he gains a new respect for her, as a person and as a woman. He knows he could never be with Amanda. They are just too different. Instead, he focuses on becoming her friend.

    Slowly, Amanda begins to realize that perhaps Jack is a better man than Paul. At the same time, Jack sees what friendship can bring and falls in love with the only woman who ever told him no. They risk their friendship in a weekend of passion and find that in the end, the price of turning a friendship into a relationship is worth it.

    First 100 words:
    A large man–correction, a large, naked man–exited from the other bathroom in Amanda Quinn’s dorm room. This would have been completely normal if a) Amanda had a roommate or b) she actually knew who this guy was. Since she was clad only in a couple of towels herself, she let out a high-pitch squeal that almost cracked the lenses of her glasses.

    The man was about 6’2”and well-toned with dark blonde hair and a square jaw. And, as hard as she tried not to, Amanda’s eyes dipped down below his waist. Oh my! popped involuntarily into her mind.

  52. Sherry Cole - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Title: Raw
    Genre: Contemporary/Erotic
    Word count: approx 104,000

    Blurb:
    Texas girl, Sara Halston has it all. At least, that’s what it looks like from the outside. Intelligent, beautiful, and accomplished, she has everyone fooled but herself. But does that even matter? No one in her world cares that she’s nothing but blood and bones, until work has her attending a concert.
    Lead singer, Carson Chase recognizes a familiar pain in the beautiful eyes staring back at him, and instantly realizes she’s nothing like the sea of hairspray surrounding her. She turns down his invitation to come backstage, but a devastating phone call leads to their fateful meeting in a hotel elevator.
    The loss of a mother she barely remembers, and the unknown emotion Carson is stirring inside her, has her reeling. He shares his own scars, and the way it makes her feel levels her. He understands Sara’s darkness, but also sees the fragile beauty hidden underneath.
    Another tragic revelation about her past becomes too much, and the struggle is hers alone. She welcomes the cold nothingness, but Carson refuses to let her return to a life of observation, and surviving on the surface.

    First 100:
    Carson dropped to his knees in front of the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen. He watched her throughout the concert, standing tall, all bright and shining amidst a mass of dark and overdone. He was inexplicably drawn to her, and now, seeing her bathed in the blue lights, she looked like an angel. He sang like no one else stood in the arena.
    She gave a thoughtful smile in return, but it lacked excitement and every other response he was accustomed to receiving. The way her skin flushed and she averted his gaze, it seemed more like she was embarrassed.

    • Heather Howland - February 25, 2014 Reply

      I would love to see this submission. Please send your query letter and the full manuscript to my attention using Entangled’s submission portal. Note that this is a request from the pitch session. We can’t wait to read more!

      https://entangledpublishing.submittable.com/submit/19009

      (Please note that I will be utilizing the Brazen portal for ease of tracking these manuscripts, though your manuscript may be a better fit elsewhere.)

  53. Autumn Jones Lake - February 24, 2014 Reply

    Name: Autumn Jones Lake

    Title: This Time It’s Different

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count: 37,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    His music tore them apart. Now it might be the thing to get them back together.

    Recent college grad, Sydney Cooper is stuck between the rock of a crappy job and the hard place of life with a controlling, needy mother. To make things worse, her ex’s new song on the radio is an endless reminder of the humiliating way he threw away their relationship so he could focus on his career. So when her ex’s manager asks her to return some ancient naughty photos, she decides Maddox will get the wrath of Sydney instead.

    For Maddox Lyons, fame is nice, but life isn’t the same without Sydney.

    When Maddox, guitarist of an up and coming metal band spots his ex at his show, he knows he’ll do anything to have her back in his arms permanently. But, it’s going to take more than one hot night to convince Sydney this time it’s forever.

    First 100 words of your story:

    Sydney snapped the car radio off so abruptly the knob fell into her hand.
    “Dammit! I can’t afford to fix that.”
    Her teeth hurt from grinding them so hard. Stupid Maddox Lyons, also known as Jerkface. His heavy metal band, Afterlife, had a new song, “Scream,” playing every eighty minutes on the local rock station. Barf.
    She flung the useless knob into the cup holder and pulled into a parking spot. Her head thumped against the steering wheel while she steeled herself. This interview was so important. She needed this job.

    • Heather Howland - February 25, 2014 Reply

      I would love to see this submission. Please send your query letter and the full manuscript to my attention using Entangled’s submission portal. Note that this is a request from the pitch session. We can’t wait to read more!

      https://entangledpublishing.submittable.com/submit/19009

      (Please note that I will be utilizing the Brazen portal for ease of tracking these manuscripts, though your manuscript may be a better fit elsewhere.)

  54. Brynn Pariseau - February 25, 2014 Reply

    Name: Brynn Pariseau
    Title: Between Black and Sunshine
    Genre: Contemporary romance
    Finished Word Count:89,000
    blurb:

    On the floor of your dying brother’s bedroom is not the ideal place to fall in love. But nothing about Jude and Luca’s love has ever been ordinary… or especially pleasant.

    Luca promised Jude’s brother that he would always protect her. He tried to keep that promise, but when Jude and Luca exited her brother’s room for the last time, everything hand changed. She had changed and he loved her more than ever. This fact, coupled with the secret from his past, meant that Luca was capable of hurting her more than her brother’s death or her stepfather’s hands. He knew he had to go, it hurt like hell, but it had to be done.

    Now, two years later, it’s Jude’s turn to choose, and Luca is still the only thing she wants. When Luca’s reaction to her news goes exactly how Jude expected-not well at all- she knows something has to change. Leaving her former self in Iowa, she heads to Portland University with a mission: To make Luca see that she is not the dark, damaged girl he needs to stay away from in order to protect, but the sunny, well-adjusted woman he needs to let himself love.

    First 100 words of your story:

    “Why, honey? Why would you go so far away from us?” Patsy, my mother, asks me with confusion in her eyes. It hurts to see her upset, but she is so far away from me now that I know it’s just the idea of me gone that hurts her. She won’t actually miss me.

    “Why do you think, woman?” Arnie asks, his spit flying onto the kitchen table. “She’s following him. That’s where he is.”

    “Luca?” The word falls slowly from her mouth as if she produced it but didn’t give it direction. She turns to me but her muddied eyes don’t really look at me.

    • Heather Howland - February 25, 2014 Reply

      I would love to see this submission. Please send your query letter and the full manuscript to my attention using Entangled’s submission portal. Note that this is a request from the pitch session. We can’t wait to read more!

      https://entangledpublishing.submittable.com/submit/19009

      (Please note that I will be utilizing the Brazen portal for ease of tracking these manuscripts, though your manuscript may be a better fit elsewhere.)

      • Brynn Pariseau - February 25, 2014 Reply

        Thank you, Heather, for the opportunity to share my work with you! I have sent the query and manuscript over using the portal. I look forward to hearing from you.
        Thank you,
        Brynn

  55. Elle Nyman - February 25, 2014 Reply

    Title: Trouble Loves Terriers
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Finished Word Count: 65,000
    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    When Zenobia Jones, Zena to sympathetic friends, adopted a Jack Russell Terrier from the local animal shelter, she not only saved a life, she forfeited any chance of ever being bored. Trouble Loves Terriers is a light-hearted, contemporary romance combining romance and mystery.
    With the unwanted assistance of Pinky, her canine sidekick with a terrier talent for trouble, Zena begins the monumental task of trying to prevent her critically ill aunt from losing her business to an unscrupulous money lender taking advantage of her aunt’s illness to try to seize her assets. If she can find the receipts, she can prove her aunt repaid the loan with cash but her aunt was a hoarder and the receipts are buried in her house. And time is running out.
    On her paper trail, she encounters the handsome homicide detective rehabbing the house next door. Complications arise when Pinky, the terrier, unearths the skeleton of a long dead man buried under the floor of the old gazebo at her aunt’s house. Zena suspects the skeleton could be that of her father. She must discover if her aunt or her socially ambitious mother is responsible for his demise while keeping the eagle-eyed detective clueless.

    Zenobia Lysystrata Jones, Zena to sympathetic friends with family issues of their own, gasped for breath as she struggled out from under the crushing avalanche of old newspapers threatening to smother her. She had to find the receipts before it was too late.
    Loose piles of yellowed newsprint slid and slithered under her hands and feet as she fought her way towards fresher air. Zena flopped over the last mountain and paused to catch her breath, beads of sweat trickled down and blazed semi-clean trails through the dusty film smearing her face. August, in Illinois, required industrial strength air conditioning, not an open door and a rusted out box fan.

  56. Julie Wise - February 25, 2014 Reply

    Name: J.K.Wise

    Title: Lines to Cross

    Genre: NA Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count:65,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Marcos is the reluctant heir-apparent to the Chilean Vega drug cartel who takes a holiday from his family and his past while he hides out in the States. After his brief romance with Kate, a privileged, teenaged wild child with a history of bad habits, he runs away to Europe to drown himself in good times. A constant party can’t keep Marcos and his older cousin Santos away from the dark underworld of the cartel. Marcos struggles against his desire to return to Kate, his love for his family, and his hatred of their violent way of life.

    First 100 words of your story:

    The cobblestone street is barely wide enough for our taxi as we pull up to the party. People and loud music spill out a heavy wooden door. Inside, Santos starts a conversation with a pretty Aussie with white-blonde hair, and I walk through a dark hallway to the kitchen. A tub of sangria sits on the counter. I help myself. Leaning against the sink, I drink quickly, trying to lose the voices in my head: my father’s anger and Santos’s low whisper. We are alone as we can be.

    Behind me, I hear a sexy soft slur of local Spanish.

  57. Asa Maria Bradley - February 25, 2014 Reply

    Name: Asa Maria Bradley

    Title: VALHALLA’S KING

    Genre:Urban Fantasy

    Finished Word Count:97K

    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    Naya Brisbane escapes from a covert camp aimed at creating the ultimate soldier. The program includes drugs that give Naya increased cognitive abilities and physical strength, but leaves her brother in a coma. Desperate to finance a cure for him, Naya works as a cyber-security expert on the shady side of the law. When she saves a tall blond stranger’s life and inadvertently triggers an ancient Norse handfasting bond, she’s hunted not only by the camp’s handlers, but also pursued by the stranger and his band of warriors.

    Immortal Viking Leif Skarsganger and his warriors are sworn to keep humanity safe from villains plotting to instigate the prophesized final battle of the Norse gods. He does not have time for women. But his inner warrior spirit, his berserker, has claimed Naya as its own and Leif must make her fall in love with him to complete the handfasting before the magical serpent tattoo on his arm completes. If he fails, he’ll succumb to permanent battle fever and endanger his warriors and the humans he’s vowed to protect. And the gods will be forced to call Leif back to Valhalla, triggering the end of the worlds, for both gods and humans.

    First 100 words of your story:
    Naya’s hands shook as she clipped the last alligator clamp over the electrical wires, short-circuiting the alarm. “Get it together,” she muttered, biting her lip.

    She crouched and peered down the darkened hallway, her infrared goggles revealing the cell doors. Her brother was behind one of those. Alone.
    She jogged down the hallway until she found the only cell giving off a heat signature.

    “Scott,” she whispered through the metal grate, but the body lying on the cot didn’t move. Her fingers recoiled when she touched the cold door, remembering how often she’d gripped the barriers from the other side.

  58. Joyce Ward - February 25, 2014 Reply

    Name: Joyce Ward
    Title: When the Night Closes In
    Genre: Paranormal Romance
    Word Count: 40k, still revising, should be completed by late March.

    Maximum 200-word blurb

    When a vampire warrior, Gabriel Shapiro, agrees to guard a three year-old half-vampire boy, he wasn’t counting on sharing the task—and a cabin on a private island—with mortal Deanna Fox, a puzzlement from his past and the one woman impervious to his seductive charms.

    Almost immediately after taking charge, slayer attacks begin, forcing the guardians to pull up stakes and find a safe haven for the boy elsewhere on the island. While the couple fights for control and struggle to put aside their past differences, they learn to trust each other and join forces to keep the child out of harm’s way.

    First 100 words of your story:

    “You’ve got nothing to worry about,” Gabriel Shapiro assured his friend. “I won’t let anything happen to your son.” How hard could it be to watch a three-year-old boy? Gabriel blinked away blinding floodlights and cursed himself for misplacing his sunglasses.

    The Cessna’s engine came alive and rumbled on the tarmac.

    He gave his friend’s wife a quick hug. As her long, blonde hair grazed his arm, his body tensed. His gut clenched. How different would his life be now if he’d met her first? C’est la vie. She didn’t belong to him and he had to get over it.

    • Heather Howland - February 25, 2014 Reply

      I would love to see this manuscript when it is complete and ready for submission. Please send your query letter and the full to my attention using Entangled’s submission portal. Note that this is a request from the pitch session. We can’t wait to read more!

      https://entangledpublishing.submittable.com/submit/19009

      (Please note that I will be utilizing the Brazen portal for ease of tracking these manuscripts, though your manuscript may be a better fit elsewhere.)

  59. Contemporary Romance Admin - February 25, 2014 Reply

    Okay, guys, it’s after 12 midnight PST so the pitch contest is now closed! Thanks to everyone, especially Heather, and good luck!
    ______________________________________________________

  60. Abigail Sharpe - February 25, 2014 Reply

    Thanks for a fun and education day. Even though I didn’t submit, it was interesting to see Heather’s comments and the wildly talented authors we have here.

  61. Amber Munnerlyn - February 25, 2014 Reply

    Is Heather done requesting? I just want to know if I can stop obsessively seeing if I’m one of those last ones to get requested because of a deep consideration or because another editor had to come look at it. LOL

  62. Heather Howland - February 28, 2014 Reply

    Happy Friday, everyone! Thank you all for participating, and a big thanks to the Contemporary Romance chapter for having me here. So much talent here! Our requests are now final, though I encourage anyone who was not selected to consider querying us via our general submissions portal. We have quite a few editors who weren’t able to make it this week and one of them may be interested.

    https://entangledpublishing.submittable.com/submit/

    Have a great weekend, and good luck with your manuscripts!

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