~ Interview by Laura Kaye

The Contemporary Romance Writers Chapter is thrilled to have Avon/William Morrow editor Amanda Bergeron here today to share her expertise on contemporary romance and consider YOUR pitches as part of our second pitch contest of the year! 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 Amanda 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?

Amanda Bergeron: Absolutely! I oversee Avon Impulse, our digital-first imprint, and I edit a broad range of titles on the Avon, Avon Impulse, and William Morrow lists. It’s funny because on the romance side I gravitate heavily toward everything contemporary (including some romantic suspense and new adult romance), but for more general fiction my tastes often skew on the historical side. I like to think I am getting the best of both worlds.

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

AB: Hands down, voice and chemistry. Voice is the first thing to grab me in, and character chemistry is what keeps me breathless as it pulls me through the pages. It doesn’t matter so much if the plot needs a lot of work or if the pacing is off, all of that can be fixed. Voice and strong chemistry are the things that reach into a reader’s chest and grab hold of her heart. They are also much harder to teach.

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

AB: A strong emotional core. Readers want to laugh, cry, and fall in love alongside their characters. They want to be fully invested. When you nail down that intangible part, you have a fantastic read.

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

AB: A fresh idea never hurts, but it’s ultimately an author’s voice and her understanding of the characters she’s bringing to the page that make a contemporary stand out. I’ve found, more and more, that in contemporary romance secondary characters are also absolutely key. Readers want places or characters they can return to again and again, and if you can create a memorable world (be that a small town, a sports team, a special ops unit, a large family etc.) you will find an eager audience.

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

AB: Hmmm. Good question. I don’t love stories with cheating or plots with conflicts that hinge entirely on misunderstanding. And a hero displaying anything that could border on abusive behavior is just not for me.  

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

AB:  More than anything I love working closely with authors to help them bring out the very best version of their work. I love that no two days in the office look alike. I could be up in a designer’s office going over images one moment, on the phone for an editorial call the next, and then sitting in a meeting with sales and marketing after that. It’s continuously amazing to me that my job allows me to be part of the entire process of bringing a book to life: from the creative storytelling side to the market-driven business side.

The worst part? Passing on projects. A necessary evil, but truthfully the least fun part of what I do.

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

AB: Honestly, for fiction, platform is way down the list of considerations for me. It’s wonderful when an author arrives with blogger relationships, a strong social media presence or at least an understanding of how to use those tools, etc. but ultimately the team and I are looking at the book itself. Once an author is on board, it’s important that they are open to working on their presence, but it’s not crucial at the outset.

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

AB: Write what you love and write what you want to read. No matter what, the sheer act of devoting time to writing and completing a book is an enormous accomplishment. Even if you don’t sell the manuscript you have in hand, you are a better, more experienced writer for having completed it. So keep working, understand your strengths, and learn where your work might best fit in the market. At the end of the day, writing should be something you do because it brings you joy. That passion will be evident in your voice and your work and will only improve your craft.

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

AB: I’d love to find a really great contemporary or NA based around a big family (like Bella Andre’s Sullivans or a modern day version of Julia Quinn’s Bridgertons.) The best friend’s brother/brother’s best friend stories, second chance at first love, and military heroes come home are also up there on my favorites list.  

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

AB: Contemporary romance, NA, romantic suspense, and erotic romance please! In general, 40-100K words (though if it is part of a serialized concept, I am happy to look consider shorter!)

Editor Amanda Bergeron joined HarperCollins in 2008. She works with New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors such as Laura Kaye, Jennifer Ryan, Cora Carmack, and Jay Crownover.

Contact Amanda:

@abergeron11

www.facebook.com/avonromance

PITCH CONTEST INSTRUCTIONS

Authors are invited to submit their query blurb and first 100 words for Amanda’s consideration. Also feel free to post questions to Amanda, but please do so in a separate post from your pitch submission. The contest will run until midnight PST today, 3/21 – pitches submitted after this time will not be entered. Authors who Amanda 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 Amanda’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:

204 comments to “Q & A and Pitch Contest With Editor Amanda Bergeron”

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  1. MelGreene - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Melanie Greene

    Title: Rocket Man

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count: 100K

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    All Serena Colby wants is for her ducks to be in a row. A fetching, quirky, but still tidy row that marches towards her goal: owning a home. After a lifetime of moving from one stepparent’s house to another’s, Serena craves a permanent space that’s hers and hers alone.

    To afford it, she needs the raise that accompanies a promotion, but to prove she’s managerial, she has to hire a new writer, which brings Dillon Hamilton blasting into her life. Before he’s even got the job, he’s asked Serena out.

    Dillon’s kinetic charm hides his aversion to solitude. He’s pulled towards Serena’s orbit, and soon has ranked her sexiest skirts and memorized the scent of her locally sourced organic shampoo. She’ll chat about their mutual passion, the Houston Rockets, but to Serena, partnering with Dillon can only mean work collaborations. 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 of your story:

    “Morning, Serena.”

    Serena Colby started. She was in the midst of the whole ‘keys in one hand, tea in the other, portfolio 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 portfolio would follow, and she’d just finished the Mooney account mock-ups. Drop the mug, and she’d be reminded that no matter how vibrant its cinnamon-and-paprika swirl of color, it had a loose lid, and she was wearing sandals.

    She dropped the keys and turned, tight-lipped, to face Joey.

  2. MelGreene - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Laura, thanks for bringing Amanda here & establishing this q&a / pitch contest!

    Amanda, thank you for your time! You’ve got my imagination running in circles with the idea of modern Bridgertons – I’d love to read that, too. (Hmm, maybe I should write it. Seems like someone just gave me some great advice along those lines.)

    I wanted to ask you about ‘B plot’ romances, in general. Is it my imagination, or are there fewer of them nowadays, maybe in favor of interim novellas to keep readers in touch with the series/author between books? I seem to always play with adding romance for my secondary characters but end up excising it because I’m (clearly!) wordy enough as it is. Just curious if sicking to the H/h romance is a trend you’ve noticed from your editorial chair.

    Thanks,
    Melanie

    • Amanda Bergeron - March 21, 2014 Reply

      Hi Melanie,
      Thanks for dropping by! While there are always plenty of exceptions, I agree that I’ve seen less secondary romance played out over just one book. Often an author will draw that secondary love story out over the course of a series, or they save that couple for a book or novella of their own. It certainly allows an author room to play and build their cast that readers want to return to. 🙂
      Amanda

  3. Lauren Smith - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name:Lauren Smith

    Title:Barely Legal

    Genre: New Adult- Contemporary

    Finished Word Count:75,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    Felicity Hart has no time for love. As a scholarship student working towards a museum studies degree, the last thing she needs is to fall hopelessly in love, especially when she’s running from a dangerous past. On her eighteenth birthday, during a wild Halloween party, she falls asleep in the bed of her friend’s older brother, only to wake up and lock eyes with the one man who would turn her world upside down.

    Jared Redmond’s legal career is taking off. Since he broke up with the managing partner’s daughter, Jared has thrown himself into his work. There’s just one problem: with an all work and no play attitude, Jared is unprepared for the wave of desire and longing that hits him when he finds a sweet college freshman dressed as a princess sleeping in his bed when he returns early from a business trip.

    Their forbidden attraction grows into something deeper. Felicity fears loving Jared will put his life in danger, but she can’t argue with a sexy lawyer. As a workaholic who has always put his job first, Jared realizes her love is worth fighting for even if he has to risk it all to be with her.

    First 100 words of your story:
    “Barely Legal”
    It was one of Felicity Hart’s better birthdays, all things considered, given that this one hadn’t ended in bloodshed or tears. Felicity fisted her hands in the voluminous skirts of her Tudor style gown. A Halloween costume fit for a queen, Anne Boleyn to be precise, hugged her body as she walked down the crowded hall of the apartment where she was crashing for the night. This was what she needed to be focusing on, partying like any normal college freshman, not shoving dark memories deep inside her head where they couldn’t resurface.

    • Amanda Bergeron - March 21, 2014 Reply

      Hi Lauren!

      I’d love to take a look. Please send your full manuscript via our Avon Impulse submissions page http://www.avonromance.com/impulse/ .

      In the reference/request section, please write: Amanda Bergeron Contemporary Romance Pitch Contest

      Thanks!
      Amanda

      • Lauren Smith - March 21, 2014 Reply

        HI Amanda,
        Thank you so much for the request! Would it be possible to have my agent send it to you directly rather than through the impulse portal and reference this pitch opportunity? Please let me know.
        Thank you!
        Lauren

        • Amanda Bergeron - March 26, 2014 Reply

          Yes, of course! Please have her send to me directly.

          Thanks,
          Amanda

  4. Jim Cangany - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Jim Cangany

    Title: On the Rebound

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count: 76,000

    Blurb:
    After he’s caught in a grade fixing scandal, men’s college basketball coach Greg Miller is thrown a lifeline when an old friend offers him a job with the small-time Irving University women’s team.

    Academic Advisor Ciara Monaghan knows first-hand the heartbreak and havoc a cheating man can wreak. She wants nothing more than to protect Irving University’s reputation by seeing to it that Greg’s stay at Irving is short.

    The last thing either of them wants is the attraction they can’t deny. Can a struggling member of the basketball team bring them together to see how wonderful a second chance at life, and love, can be?

    First 100 words of your story:
    Greg Miller hadn’t doubted for a second the first day at his new job would be a living nightmare. Trying to rise from the proverbial ashes wasn’t easy, after all. He hadn’t expected it to be this hard-hitting, though.

    “What makes a cheater like you think you even deserve another chance on the sideline?”

    Greg shrugged the question off. He knew he wasn’t a cheater. The problem was the only people in the world who knew for a fact he wasn’t a cheater were admitted cheats themselves.

    Leaning forward in his chair, he rested his folded hands on his desk.

  5. Paula White - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Hello Ms. Bergeron,

    My name is Paula White. I am a registered nurse and a graduate of the Northwestern University masters program in creative writing. Sweet Home Chicago is a 60,000 romance suspense novel about a nurse who survives a murder attempt in the West, starts over working as a private duty nurse for a Chicago Police Officer and falls in love with him, but someone from her past catches up with her.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Chapter One
    Kayla Franklin watched her green Ford F 150 pickup truck burn to a black hollow frame in the middle of the New Mexico desert. She thought she’d gotten Alek off her tail. She tried to run, but she couldn’t, though. Alek was always going to catch up with her. There was no communication from her to him that she was leaving. No obligatory gift giving, no dinner parties, no holiday movie marathons, no heartfelt expressions of “Happy Holidays,” no reflections on how good things were at another holiday season at another time.
    Kayla worked her last shift at the hospital, loaded her truck and left Albuquerque. For years, she made sure that she stored a separate bank account with her money. She’d taken all of her important papers the domestic violence told her to keep safe: birth certificate, social security card, driver’s license, her nursing license, CPR card, her transcripts. She even changed her cell number. Everything for her new life was kept in her “Escape bag” she’d been packing in her locker at work, hidden from him.

  6. DC Stone - March 21, 2014 Reply

    When FBI agent Trent Rossi arrives to investigate a chain of crimes—devastating murders and violent rapes—an inexperienced small town Detective, Charlie, who’s assigned to assist, finds her desire surging for the agent—only to realize he is the primary suspect.
     
    A sleeping threat has awakened in the small town of Nyack. Crimes in the cozy village, garner the attention of the FBI, who assign two agents to assist Charlie in tracking down the sick and deranged perpetrator. Agents Trent Rossi and Dillon Echols work closely with Charlie, but as the crimes progress, dark secrets begin to cloud the air, blurring the line between who is on the side of the law and who’s against it. Being Charlie’s first major case, she’s unprepared not only for the menacing killer on the loose, but also with the unexpected feelings Trent draws out of her.
     
    While Trent holds secrets, disappears at random, and seems to understand their perpetrator all-too-well, Charlie’s suspicions grow along with the pull she feels toward him. Her attraction could become fatal, yet she does not realize it until it is too late.

    • DC Stone - March 21, 2014 Reply

      DC Stone

      Intimate Danger

      Romantic Suspense

      92K

      Blurb is listed as above)

      First 100 words:
      He moved closer, his hot breath creating round white circles on the glass pane. Twigs snapped beneath his feet as he shifted, the sound loud. The darkness of the night enhanced each whisper, every impatient move. An owl above sent a call of dominance through the air with a hoot. Leaves crunched under his feet as he adjusted his weight. He wanted to be closer, yet couldn’t get close enough. The wind rustled, and cool air blew across his body and invaded the hefty jacket wrapped around him but did nothing to decrease the heat building within.

  7. Lisa Wells - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Amanda,

    Do you have any interest in paranormal romance?

    Lisa

    • Amanda Bergeron - March 21, 2014 Reply

      Hi Lisa!
      Thanks for stopping by. Though I enjoy a good paranormal romance, I’m not looking for any at this time.

      Amanda

      • Lisa Wells - March 21, 2014 Reply

        Hi Amanda,

        Thanks for the reply. I wanted to say my book has a ghost and a hex – other than that it is contemporary romance. I don’t know if that makes a difference.

        Thanks for doing this today. I love to read others pitches and see what grabs an editor and what doesn’t.

        Lisa Wells

        • Amanda Bergeron - March 21, 2014 Reply

          One of my first acquisitions for Avon Impulse 3 years ago was Candis Terry’s SECOND CHANCE AT THE SUGAR SHACK which featured a matchmaking ghost determined, from beyond the grave, to make sure her children found happiness. It was just a slight paranormal element–if it’s the right project that’s something I can totally dig! 🙂

          • Lisa Wells - March 24, 2014

            Thanks Amanda,

            I think you’ll enjoy HEXES & O’S based on your enjoyment of SECOND CHANCE AT THE SUGAR SHACK. It has the same fun feel. I’ve posted my pitch down below.

            Lisa Wells

  8. Contemporary Romance Admin - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Thanks for being here today, Amanda! Really appreciate you sharing your expertise and time with us!

    Everyone, please be sure to follow the PITCH CONTEST INSTRUCTIONS listed above.

    Good luck!

  9. Laura Kaye - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Thanks so much for doing this, Amanda! You rock!

    Good luck everyone!

  10. Monica Corwin - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Title: In Good Time

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count: 45,000

    Blurb:
    Jessica spent a year in Afghanistan counting the minutes until she would return home to her boyfriend, Henry. When that day finally arrives she rushes off the bus into his arms only to be halted by her boyfriend’s very pregnant fiance. There is nothing for Jessica to do but walk away and start over.

    Alec Hastings is not the average man in Waterbrooke Pennsylvania. He owns three more cars than everyone else, has two more houses, at least fifty more cows, and definitely four more sisters. The quiet rural life is not in his vocabulary since the day his parents died and left him in charge of the estrogen-filled empire.

    When a mysterious new girl comes to town and begins work at the local diner everyone in Waterbrooke starts talking. The Hastings Sisters decide Alec needs a new woman in his life — and they have their sights set on Jessica.

    First 100 words of your story:
    “You want me to fill the water pitchers again?” Jessica shouted at her ninety-year-old boss. The woman had long ago lost her hearing but still tried to maintain the facade.
    “Ms. Riley, I filled the water pitchers only ten minutes ago,” Jessica reminded her, a little softer than before.
    She didn’t respond, simply nodded, and wandered off with her crossword puzzle book.
    Ever since Jessica arrived in Waterbrooke life had taken a slow and winding turn toward ordinary. Just a few weeks ago she’d been targeted by snipers now the only thing she had to watch her back for was the punk kid who threw spitballs at the ceiling on Wednesdays.

  11. Melissa - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Melissa Fragiadaki (w/a Melina Kantor)

    Title: Someone Else’s Paradise

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count: 90 K

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Evi, former host of the hit travel show Urban Nomad, understands the appeal of the whitewashed houses and blue shutters of the tiny Cretan seaside village where she grew up. The place is so authentic it’s got a resident village idiot.

    But one person’s paradise is another’s dusty, bug-infested recurring nightmare, which is why Evi hasn’t visited Myrtos in six years. When her beloved grandparents ask her to bring their granddaughter for a visit, Evi can’t say no. Especially since her grandparents announced they’re selling their café, a place Evi has always considered more of a home than her parents’ house.

    Returning to the traditional village with a daughter born out of wedlock isn’t easy. Before she leaves Brooklyn, Evi decides to give herself six weeks to find a way to buy the café, and then go back home.

    Everything changes once Evi finds out her grandparents have already sold the café to Mathaios, the village’s mysterious, geeky science teacher. She wants to hate him until she comes across a playlist on his computer, which leads to the discovery that there’s more to him than meets the eye.

    As Evi and Mathaios get to know each other, she finds out that their pasts are intertwined in ways she never could have imagined.

    First 100 words of your story:

    The driver turned up the volume on the radio, lit a cigarette, and slammed on the brakes just in time to prevent a flock of sheep from suddenly turning into street souvlaki. I spotted a crooked sign that read, “Irapetra, 2 kilometers. Myrtos, 8 kilometers,” and felt my stomach lurch.
    Okay, look. I get that sparkling blue seas, mountain views and sunsets appeal to some, but I’ve got to let you in on a little secret, which is this: one traveler’s paradise is another traveler’s dusty, hot, bug infested recurring nightmare.
    “Will you look at that?” the driver commented, the pride dripping from his voice, and pointed to a sparkling white church overlooking the water.

    • Amanda Bergeron - March 21, 2014 Reply

      Hi Melissa!
      I’d love to take a look. Please send your full manuscript via our Avon Impulse submissions page http://www.avonromance.com/impulse/

      In the reference/request section, please write: Amanda Bergeron Contemporary Romance Pitch Contest

      Thank you!
      Amanda

      • Melissa - March 22, 2014 Reply

        Thank you so much for the opportunity Amanda! The manuscript is complete but I’m in the middle of revisions. By when would you like me to submit it?

        Melissa

        • Amanda Bergeron - March 26, 2014 Reply

          By the end of May would be perfect!
          Thanks,
          A

  12. Victoria Pinder - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Victoria Pinder

    Title: Frozen Peril

    Genre: Romantic Suspense/Gothic Romance

    Finished Word Count: 50000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    Erica Mira car crashes and her only salvation from the blizzard is shelter up a mountain in Maine at an abandoned ski lodge.

    Erica’s half frozen at her arrival, but she’s not alone. The owner, the handsome but mysterious Gabriel lives there alone. Stuck in the storm, she’s not sure if he’s a murderer or the love of her life. And something is in the walls.

    Gabriel is mysterious and the tortured hero.

    First 100 words of your story:
    “What the hell was that?”
    Narrowing her eyes, Erica gripped the wheel while she kept the car straight on the road. The tree-lined mountain road would be difficult to navigate on any given day. But tonight, with no moon in sight, her headlights cast the only light for miles. What started out as a mist when she left her hotel in Boston was rapidly becoming a dense fog. With the clouds thickening, Erica’s throat constricted at the thought that the clouds signaled a storm. A scraping sound echoed through the car. What was that a tree branch on the roof of her car?

  13. Shelly C. Alexander - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Shelly Alexander

    Title: LOVE IN LIVING COLOR

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count: 82,425

    200 Word Blurb:

    Ella wants one last peaceful summer to cope with her husband’s death so her heart can mend and she can finally move on with her life. Coop, a chiropractor, needs to hide from the harsh publicity brought on by his bad-boy reputation and the false accusations of one pissed off female patient. He definitely needs to avoid any romantic entanglements.

    Emotions erupt in volcanic proportions when these two old adversaries choose the same Red River retreat as their hide-out—a cabin Ella’s late husband, Bradley, bought fifty-fifty along with his best buddy, Cooper Well.

    The only thing Ella and Coop have in common is their love for Bradley and their grief over his death. But despite their past hostilities, there’s no denying the chemistry brewing between the two. Unfortunately, Ella has a scandalous secret that could damage Coop’s scandalous legal problem. Will Ella’s secret destroy their budding romance? Can Coop finally learn to settle down and trust his own heart?

    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.

    “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.

    “Time to brave the storm on foot, Winston. We’re not getting out of this ditch any other way tonight.”

  14. Ava Quinn - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Ava Quinn

    Title: A Shot At Forever

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count: 98,000 words

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Her pool hustle lands her in the middle of a small town sheriff’s murder investigation. Now, for the first time in her life, she wants to play for keeps. But so does a killer.

    Sheridan Ward hustles pool to make her way in the world, but craves a normal life. Her ticket out? One last big score in a high-stakes underground pool tournament. Working her way across Texas from honkytonk to pool hall and all shady points between, she’s almost earned enough for the buy-in. Everything’s moving to plan until her latest hustle goes as smoothly as a yellow jacket in an outhouse.

    Sheriff Ethan Bankert doesn’t have time for a woman, but Sheridan tangled with the wrong men—the prime suspects in his father’s murder. Yet her combination of sass and vulnerability turns Ethan’s world ass over tin cups. Now, with the beautiful loner under his roof, protective custody’s taken on a whole new meaning. For the first time in years, Ethan wants to convince someone there really are happily-ever-afters because Sheridan has him believing in them again. But their future is jeopardized by the same threat that brought his father’s life to an end. Only this time, it’s Sheridan’s turn.

    First 100 words of your story:

    Rules. Sheridan Ward lived her life by three. Because of those rules she sat in this nameless bar somewhere in West Texas.

    Her gaze swept the honkytonk as she sighed, feeling as worn down as the sole of a rancher’s boot. Most of the time she liked rules. They helped make her way alone in this crazy world. Everything worked out if you followed the rules. That’s what old Jim had taught her. And he’d been right. Mostly.

    Only now they’d become more like a cage locking her away from the life she really wanted. A life soon within her reach.

  15. Mackenzie Lucas - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Mackenzie Lucas

    Title: Matchmaker’s Moon

    Genre: Contemporary Romance novella

    Finished Word Count: 23,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Former divorce attorney turned matchmaker, Amanda Tate believes in true love, just not for herself. So when her ex, bad boy Dell Hemsworth, returns home from Afghanistan looking for a bride, she thinks she can put her feelings aside to help him find his soul mate. Unfortunately, when they’re trapped together during a weekend snowstorm, she begins to remember all the reasons why she fell in love with Dell in the first place. She only needs to look as far as her mirror to find the one woman perfectly suited for him.

    First 100 words of your story:

    Chapter One: Unlucky in Love

    Winter 2014

    “Good things come in threes, darlin’. Mark my words,” Shanty O’Neill said.

    Amanda shrugged off her grandmother’s comment.

    Shanty might have been an amateur matchmaker back in the day, but she didn’t understand the Wild West the world of dating had become in the twenty-first century. Plus, she’d never matched people professionally. “It’s a brave new world, Shanty. I’ve made two good matches this week. Business is good. But I’m not going to hold my breath and make a wish or wait for the stars to align. I plan to make it happen. …

    • Amanda Bergeron - March 21, 2014 Reply

      Hi Mackenzie!
      Would love to take a look.

      Please send the full ms via our Avon Impulse submissions page http://www.avonromance.com/impulse/

      In the reference/request section, please write: Amanda Bergeron Contemporary Romance Pitch Contest

      Thanks!
      Amanda

  16. Peter Andrews - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Susan and Peter Andrews (w/a Suzy Havoc)
    Title: LUCKY NUMBERS
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Finished Word Count: 61,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    JOANNA COSTELLO is an event manager with a talent for building teams, but an identity thief has pushed her fledgling company to the brink of financial ruin. As she works to lure in a high-paying client, superhacker BRANDON MARTIN steps into her office. He’s everything she doesn’t want — arrogant, obsessed with technology and aggressive. But he’s also focused on protecting people from Internet criminals, handsome and surprisingly vulnerable. And he needs her help. His fractious band of hackers will have one chance to break a child porn ring, but only if they find a way to work together.
    During a whirlwind conference in Las Vegas, her hometown, she learns Brandon’s group, Lucky Numbers, is engaged in online shenanigans that could cause even more trouble for her. Online vigilantes, they catch bad guys, and they don’t worry too much about staying on the right side of the law. At one time or another, they’ve all crossed lines, legal and otherwise. Now they are taking on their toughest adversaries yet. With one misstep, they could all end up in jail, or worse. Even worse, she finds her heart, not just her business, is at risk.

    First 100 words of your story:

    Casey took the keys from her purse, and Brandon snatched them away.
    “What–?”
    “Give me one second,” he said. Pocketing the keys, he edged up to the Jeep. Everything, according to Doc, was a potential weapon.
    He removed his sunglasses and squinted against the Las Vegas sunlight. Stooping, he slid his fingers under the bumper, the way Doc had taught him to. They came to rest against a hard, flaky object. The air caught in his chest.
    He closed his eyes. One by one, he raised his fingers, releasing the mysterious object. He heard Doc’s voice. Look for wires.

  17. Jackson D'Lynne - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Jackson D’Lynne

    Title:The Diva and the Duke

    Genre:Romantic Suspense

    Finished Word Count: 127k

    Maximum 200-word blurb: Haven Edwards is a sensual, intelligent 21st century diva with an exotic career. Wanting nothing more than to move past her ugly divorce, she attends an adults only Carnal-val where is compelled to buy a strangely glowing pocket watch—a watch that, when wound, sends her hurtling back through time to 1817 where she crash lands into the life of the very proper, Logan, a duke with a deep distrust of beautiful, mysterious women.

    When a 21st century diva meets a 21st century duke, the sparks fly, tempers and passions flare, and they are blindsided by their feelings for each other.

    Before Logan and Haven can wade through the deep mire of their relationship and forge a future together, a sociopath with a god complex and a knife fetish sets his evil intents on Haven. Logan must destroy the demons of his past in order to save Haven’s life, but what happens when he arrives too late? Will the time-swept diva be lost in time forever, or will the diva get her duke?

    First 100 words of my story: Bending low before a blazing fire, she busied herself in preparation, her expression a twisted tapestry of malice. Her lush, rose red lips were now twin lines of hatred slashing through a once vibrant face.

    Betrayed.

    Revenge.

    A deep, seething anger rose in her breast, burning in the hollow of her chest as if the very fires of Hell had made their home where her soul used to be. No amount of prayer or wise counsel made the fire abate. Neither heavy drink nor drug could make her forget the pain and anguish one man had brought upon her.

    • Jackson D'Lynne - March 21, 2014 Reply

      That should read, “When a 21st century diva meets a 19th century duke…” Sorry, my Word thinks its my editor.

  18. Lauren Smith - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Hi Amanda,
    I had a question regarding New Adult (I pitched Barely Legal above). Is William Morrow at Harper taking a lot of new adult titles? I’ve been seeing a few like Sophie Jordan’s Foreplay with the WM imprint and Abigail Gibbs “Dinner with a Vampire” and am wondering if that’s the part of Harper that’s looking for New Adult or if the Avon imprint is also considering it.

    Thanks,
    Lauren Smith

    • Amanda Bergeron - March 21, 2014 Reply

      Hi Lauren,
      Thanks for the question! Avon is part of the William Morrow umbrella so Avon editors acquire for both lists. We publish a great list of New Adult authors across Avon, William Morrow and Impulse including: Jennifer L. Armentrout, Cora Carmack, Jay Crownover, Molly McAdams, Sophie Jordan, Nichole Chase, Lisa Desrochers, and new author Megan Erickson! The biggest difference is format. Avon publishes mass market and William Morrow publishes trade paperbacks.
      Amanda

  19. Felicia Stevens - March 21, 2014 Reply

    You say you are interested in erotic romance. Does that include Male/Male romance as well?

    • Amanda Bergeron - March 21, 2014 Reply

      Hi Felicia,
      Absolutely!
      Amanda

  20. sberget - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Stephanie Berget
    Radio Rose
    Contemporary Romance
    Complete at 86,700 words

    Blurb

    Radio Rose doesn’t believe in creatures from outer space. As a DJ for a late night talk show on cosmic phenomenon, she’d never admit to being a skeptic.
    Talking to crazies all night isn’t the perfect job for most people, but she’s happy with her solitary life, until a middle of the night car crash and a blow to the head has her mistaking a stranger for a real life extra-terrestrial.

    Raised by his narcissistic grandfather for most of his childhood, Adam Cameron made his escape from Starkville the day he turned eighteen. Forced to return ten years later for the reading of his grandfather’s will, he’s about to be drawn into a battle over a vast fortune and the future of a town he’d just as soon forget.

    Relationships aren’t one of Rose’s strong points. Hell, she mistook a hot stranger for an alien the first time they met, but whether he’ll admit or not, Adam needs help and she’s just the woman to help him. Now if she could just bottle the shooting-star-sized sparks that happen whenever they’re within touching distance, maybe she could regain control of her mundane life . . . or not.

    First 100 words
    Hitting mute, Rose interrupted her caller mid-sentence. “Thank you, John. As always, you’ve given us another insightful opinion. I’d like to thank all my friends out there who have helped contribute to the safety of the human race by participating in our fight to remain free in mind, free in body, and free in spirit.”

    She rested her chin on one hand, took a breath and continued.

    “Tomorrow night we’ll continue to delve into the challenge before us. Our subject will be–Is The Military Hiding An Alien Presence In Our Midst? This is Radio Rose saying good-night, be watchful, and be safe.” Her voice was filled with the sincerity her callers loved.

  21. Tanya Agler - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Tanya Agler

    Title: Out of Bounds

    Genre: Contemporary

    Finished word count: 83,100

    Maximum 200 word blurb: Growing up with her Pro Football Hall of Fame father, Claire Fisher promised herself to never become involved with anyone associated with football and to stand on her own two feet. Spending holidays without her father was bad enough, but when people think she received her job because of her father, she is determine to prove them wrong by becoming her PR firm’s newest vice president. After all, she’s elevated her clients’ Kid Free Zones to national prominence, helping to implement the plan for major airlines and upscale restaurants.
    Peter Spindler regrets missing Saturday morning with his two-year-old daughter after he agrees to appear on the local talk show Your Atlanta to update the audience on his paralyzed linebacker’s progress. Between building his football program and adjusting to life as a single father, he doesn’t have time for the social life his friends are pushing upon him.
    Meeting on the set of Your Atlanta, Claire and Peter find themselves thrown together during a “he said, she said” debate. After a couple of incomplete passes, will the two score a touchdown or find themselves out of bounds?

    First 100 words of my story:
    Peter Spindler wiped a bead of sweat off his forehead. The bright overhead lights worsened the fine sheen of sweat breaking through the layer of pancake makeup. Pacing the sidelines with five thousand of his closest friends shouting coaching instructions to him was like feeding candy to a toddler compared to enduring the wait until this blasted interview was over.
    The cameraman delivered the countdown. The polished professional next to him bore little resemblance to the partying roommate of their college days, but Scott’s smooth delivery kept his attention. “Peter, how do the Bulldogs look this year?”

  22. Carla - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Carla Kempert

    Title: Goodbye to Love

    Genre: Contemporary

    Finished Word Count: 80K words

    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:
    “I can’t believe I’m going to my ex’s wedding.” I flipped through a rack of dresses that would only look good on a Barbie doll with loose morals. “I swear, he picked Aaron as best man just to torture me, but what idiot asks his fifteen year old son to be best man?”

    “You could’ve said no.” Sandy browsed the rack next to mine. “To both.”

    “Between Eddie bullying me and Aaron wanting autonomy, I had no choice.” I shoved the next dress aside rather harshly, but really, no one ever looked good in that shade of green.

  23. Heidi - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Heidi Hormel

    Title: COOKING UP LOVE

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count: 60,000

    200-word blurb:
    POPPY KIDD is desperate to win back her ex-fiance, and she’s found the perfect scheme — enter the nationally televised cooking contest where he’s the final judge. If she comes first, she’s sure she’ll get his ring back on her finger, finally proving that she’s lovable whether she’s sporting a beauty-queen crown or not. The only fly in the sauce is she can’t even boil water. Luckily, she knows where to find a teacher—-an old friend (aka Nick the … starts with a d and rhymes with pick) and former celebrity chef.

    After a senseless injury leaves him with disfiguring scars and ends his high-powered cooking career, NICK COSTOPOULOS retreats from the cameras and fame to his hometown where he buries himself in saving the family’s diner. He reluctantly agrees to help Poppy when she comes back to town and promises him “oodles” of publicity that will put the restaurant on the map and in the black, without Nick showing his face. Poppy surprises him — and herself — by sticking with the lessons as he tries to cram years worth of training into weeks. Soon Nick and Poppy find themselves heating up more than the kitchen in COOKING UP LOVE.

    First 100 words:
    Poppy slid into the egg-yolk yellow vinyl-encased booth, tugging at her baseball hat and debating whether to leave on the Jackie-O sunglasses. She’d come into the Hot Lunch to indulge in French fries, a hot dog AND a hamburger, all smothered in chili and onions – The Evergreen Every Day Special. The same meal her Aunt Trudy had ordered her to eat when some boy dumped her at the carnival or at the movies or when the big Greek god of a boy Nick Costopoulos teased her–

  24. Mackenzie Lucas - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name:

    Title: Tricks

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count: 70,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    Extreme sports snowboard champion Sadie Winters is a chip off the old block as the daughter of a successful Olympic athlete. At twenty-five, she’s “old” by Olympic standards, so when a Red Bull Classic wipeout leaves her with a debilitating fear that might just keep her from ever achieving her Olympic dreams, Sadie must learn to slay her own demons before she can ever think about moving on. Her run-in with hot and broody Eli Scott, pushes her to find the courage she needs to face her fears.

    Twenty-six-year-old Silverton Deputy Sheriff Eli Scott moonlights as a Search and Rescue first responder at Silverton Mountain Resort–a resort that panders to the extreme sports crowd–because his sister died on that mountain years ago. Eli is tired of coming to the rescue of people too stupid to keep two feet firmly planted on the ground and who don’t respect their own limitations. So when he’s forced to rescue sexy snowboarder Sadie Winters during a freak snow storm their worlds collide. She invades his world and he’s in for the ride of his life, whether he likes it or not.

    First 100 words of your story:

    Tricks

    Chapter One: Naughty Girls

    Sadie Winters had two passions in life, Naughty Girls and snowboarding. And these days, it was in that order. Even though she was an acclaimed U.S. national snowboarding champion in both slopestyle and the halfpipe who was shooting for the next Winter Olympic games, Naughty Girls fed her soul and allowed her to breathe. Besides, the all-girl band didn’t force her to come toe-to-toe with her greatest fear, face off and take the flying leap anyway, like snowboarding did almost every day since her accident four months ago.

  25. Lauren Smith - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Hi Amanda,
    One last question, since you requested my MS above. It’s it okay to have my agent send to you directly rather than by submitting it through Impulse’s website? We’re planning to send the book out on submission in May and I know it would be easier if she could do everything via email instead of through a submission site. Please let me know if this is possible.
    Thank you so much for being so helpful and answering all my questions. I really appreciate it!
    ~Lauren

    • Amanda Bergeron - March 21, 2014 Reply

      Yes, if you have an agent, please have him/her send it to me directly.

      Thanks!
      Amanda

  26. Rusty Keller (w/a Kasey lane) - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Hi Laura and Amanda. Thank you so much for the opportunity to pitch to Avon!

    Name: Rusty Keller writing as Kasey Lane
    Title: Falling From the Edge (or Big Bad Handsome Man)
    Genre: Contemporary Romance (Music and Ink series)
    Finished Word Count: 56000

    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 business. 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 of your story:

    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. It wasn’t the guttural scream coming from the singer of the metal band on stage. No, it was definitely the smoldering look on the tall stranger’s face that had her pulse racing and heat crawling up her neck, not the temperature of the room.

    At first, she’d associated her excitement 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.

    • Amanda Bergeron - March 21, 2014 Reply

      Hi Rusty!
      Thanks for the pitch. I’d love to take a look!

      Please send your full ms via our Avon Impulse submissions page http://www.avonromance.com/impulse/ .
      In the reference/request section, please write: Amanda Bergeron Contemporary Romance Pitch Contest

      Thank you!
      Amanda

  27. Erin - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Can one pitch an unfinished manuscript?

    • Amanda Bergeron - March 21, 2014 Reply

      Sure. Just be sure to note how much is written and when you expect to finish the ms!

  28. Margaret Carroll - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Margaret Carroll

    Title: The Seahorse Inn

    Genre: Contemporary small-town series

    Finished Word Count: 70,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb: When NYC hotel executive Chelsea Carlisle lands a plum assignment to evaluate Cape Cod’s struggling Seahorse Inn as a possible new franchise property, she expects it to give her career a boost up the corporate ladder and — she hopes — finally put her rough childhood behind her. The wrong call will land her on the unemployment line. She’s caught off-guard by her attraction to the handsome young GM, Rory Campbell. Still reeling from his divorce, the former pro-baseball player has returned to the fictional town of Serenity Bay to rescue his family inn and preserve the only home his young son and aging granddad have ever known. Their management style clashes by day, but at night Chelsea fits right in and completes the family that Rory and his son both so desperately need. Can they put their differences aside? With the staff up in arms over Chelsea’s proposed changes and repair bills mounting, Chelsea puts emotions aside and her management training to the test. When Rory’s son goes missing as a Nor’easter rolls in, the pair need to work together or risk losing all.

    First 100 words of your story: Rory Campbell took the stairs three at a time.

    The air-conditioning tech waited, covered in sweat, at the top of the last flight. “I’ve got good news and bad.”

    The temperature in the attic was 110, easy. But the place hummed with the sound of a motor doing what it should. “Good job,” Rory said, relieved that the ancient ducts that were once again ferrying cool air.

    “Don’t get too excited,” Mitch Riordan warned. “I got the unit running again, but it’s on its way out.”

    It needed to hold until Chelsea Carlisle, Rory’s VIP guest from NYC, arrived.

  29. Nancy C. Hosmer - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Nancy Hosmer

    Title: Her Fallen Angel

    Genre: Contemporary Romance, Single Title

    Finished Word Count: 70, 848

    Maximum 200 word blurb:
    Angel Sinclair is a recovering addict and graffiti artist. Lost and alone, he arrives in the small town of Pine Bluff, Alabama and stops to ask for directions.

    Reeling from her ex-husband’s affair with a younger woman, Maggie Robertson has thrown her energy into renovating a bed and breakfast. The last thing Maggie expects to find on her doorstep is a gorgeous young man with Nordic blond dreads, piercings and tats. Assuming he’s her new handyman, she offers him a meal, never realizing how her unassuming life is about to change.

    As they connect and learn to trust each other, Angel convinces Maggie she’s still a vibrant, desirable woman and in return, she gives him the love and acceptance he’s longed for his entire life.

    But Angel’s past can’t stay buried forever. When tragedy strikes, he must return home to face his demons. Will Maggie be able to save the younger man who captivated her heart from descending back into his own personal hell? Can Angel prove to her, his love is true? With disapproving families threatening to tear them apart, is it even possible for them to build a future together? Can Maggie save her fallen angel?

    First 100 words of your story:

    Angel shifted his backpack and stared down the country road, trying to remember if the cashier had said turn right, or left, at the bed and breakfast. Dammit. Was his Higher Power giving him a sign? He’d come to the backwoods of Alabama to make amends and now he literally stood at a crossroad. Standing with one hand on his hip, he blew out a breath of frustration. He could either push his male pride aside and ask for directions, or wander aimlessly, lost forever. Yup, being lost pretty much summed up the story of his life.

    • Nancy C. Hosmer - March 21, 2014 Reply

      I didn’t know where to mention that although this is a stand alone book, I have seven completed romances that have interacting characters and ties to the fictional town of Pine Bluff, Alabama. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity!
      Nancy

  30. Tiffany N. York - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Tiffany N. York
    Title: Julia Ray
    Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
    Finished Word Count: 73,000

    Blurb:

    Julia Ray McKinion is a sheltered and insecure, extremely body-conscious high school senior getting ready to embark upon the world…in her mother’s footsteps. The plan for her life? Finish high school, attend college, then law school. On her eighteenth birthday, Julia, fed up with living a boring and studious life, vows to take more risks and have more fun. At the club Nikita, she dances with Danny Rivera, the sexy guy from school she has had many dreams about. Who would have thought Julia’s dreams would quickly become reality? Soon she is forced to choose between Danny and her longtime conservative boyfriend, Tim.

    Julia begins a passionate relationship with Danny, and a deep friendship with Danny’s spunky sister, Liz. Together, Danny’s love and Liz’s “march to your own beat” personality begin to give Julia the confidence to listen to her own voice—one that loves dance. But she still cannot ignore her mother’s voice, continually reinforcing the plan for Julia to become a lawyer. Through her ongoing struggle over whether to follow her head or her heart, Julia slowly learns to build the strength and self-esteem she needs to survive in an unpredictable world, a world where nothing ever goes as planned.

    First 100 words:
    As I stood half-naked in front of my full-length mirror, I twisted my head around to see how fat my ass looked. All I wore was a miniskirt which, thank goodness, was black. At least that helped to camouflage my curves a bit. It didn’t change the fact that the skintight material clung to my body like a piece of saran wrap.

    I studied my ass objectively. Oh, there was no way I could wear this out dancing tonight, without a long shirt to cover my entire rear end. Way too many bulges. I turned and looked at myself from the side to see how far out my stomach was protruding. Hmmm, not too bad. All those sit-ups I’d been doing had started to pay off.

  31. Margaret Madigan - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Margaret Madigan

    Title: FAERIE FATE

    Genre: NA paranormal romance

    Finished Word Count: 86k

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Holly Spencer is a 22-year-old IT major who’s ready to graduate and find her place in the world. All she wants is a good job and a condo with a view.

    But when she’s rescued twice in one day by a mysterious fae warrior ranting about soul mates and prophecy, she’s plunged into a world she grew up believing existed only in fairy tales, and forced to run for her life from warring factions who all want her dead.

    Shadow’s on a routine mission when he runs headlong into Holly – the soul mate he’d given up on ever finding. Even when she refuses to believe they belong together he fights to protect her from the very thing that brought her to him, even if it means making a dangerous deal with Fate to save her life.

    Holly struggles with being told who she’s supposed to love. Shouldn’t it be her choice? But as little by little Shadow kindles her passions and wins her trust, Holly realizes that a life with Shadow may very well be just where she belongs.

    First 100 words:

    Holly Spencer loved hospitals. Each room was a different story waiting to be told. As a child she’d looked forward to the days her mother was forced to bring her to work when she couldn’t find a sitter. While her mother and the other nurses worked, Holly wandered the halls peeking in doors and imagining fantastic stories for each patient.

    Now she was part of one of the stories.

    Inside this room the grandmother she’d never met—her mother’s own mother–was losing her battle with lung cancer. It didn’t promise to be a very long story, but Holly hoped it would be a good one.

  32. Laura Huskins - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Laura Trentham

    Title: WILD IN HER EYES

    Genre:Contemporary

    Finished Word Count: 85,600

    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    Only one thing could bring librarian Darcy Wilde—as in Oscar, not child—back to Falcon, Alabama. Her ailing grandmother Ada needs help, but Robbie Dalton, the high school football coach and a jerk—albeit a sexy-as-hell jerk—accuses her of only coming home to appease her guilt.

    Robbie is forging a real home in Falcon after years of bouncing around foster care and the Army. The last thing he wants is a flighty woman who’ll be pointed out of town as soon as possible.

    Abandoned as a baby with Ada, Darcy harbors resentment against the town that never let her forget her mother’s wild indiscretions, but the longer she spends in Falcon, the more tangled she becomes in the fabric of a town she thought she hated. And, Robbie binds her ever tighter.

    Robbie slowly opens himself to Darcy, revealing secrets no one else knows, and Darcy allows him to coax out a passion she has longed denied. The moments they steal together are sweet and wild.

    But, rumors are impossible to outrun, and nothing is as black and white as it seems.

    First 100 words of your story:

    Falcon, Alabama, July

    “Abandon all hope ye who enter here,” Darcy Wilde intoned with the city limits sign in sight. Tenacious kudzu vines wove up the metal poles and partly obscured the lettering. She gave it the finger. Childish? Yes, but infinitely satisfying.

    Blue and white lights whirled from the shadow of the trees lining the two-lane road. She dropped her head to the seat back and eased to a stop on the shoulder. The leather seat squeaked against her legs, and an asphalt-seared breeze ruffled her hair. A car door slammed, and her racing heart skipped a beat.

  33. Kimberly Quinton - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Kimberly Quinton

    Title: Seduced by Her Undercover Boss
    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count: 55,000
    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Finding out she didn’t get the promotion by meeting the sexy new junior account manager expecting to shadow her for a month, Jennifer Jacobs is ready to tell her bosses to take her job and shove it.

    Nicholas Barringer is on the clock. He has six months to fulfill his grandfather’s demands or on his thirtieth birthday, the family company will go on the market. Five years and four jobs and he’s one successful ad campaign away from becoming CEO of Sadler Advertising and finally stop pretending to be someone he’s not.

    Nick didn’t expect his last herculean task to involve thawing the glacial barrier the captivating J.J. froze him with upon meeting, but without her knowledge of the accounts and the people involved he won’t meet his looming deadline.

    Planning to quit after a few more paychecks to pad her savings, J.J. breaks her rule of never dating a coworker and begins a no-strings fling with Nick.

    The more time he spends with J.J., the more Nicholas begins to care about the job for himself, not as a path to the CEO title. Can he convince J.J. to stay for him when his true identity is revealed?

    First 100 words of your story:

    J.J. tried to ignore the paranoid thoughts that her subconscious pushed out to her.

    No one said congratulations this morning. No worries. Mark said he wouldn’t announce a decision until this week. There was still a couple candidates to interview. The job’s mine.

    She knocked lightly at the half-open door to her boss’s office and waited to be waved in.

    “J.J., welcome back.” Capped teeth, unnaturally white, flashed in wide smile, oozing polite geniality. He tapped the brown paper bag on his desk. “I’ve dreamt of a Devito’s bagel for a month. Of course, they’re better fresh, but day olds’ not too bad.”

    Her gut tightened at the backhanded thank you. This was Mark stalling.

  34. Anna - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Thank you so much to Laura and Amanda for the opportunity.

    Name: Anna

    Title: Lessons with a Dirty-Talking Billionaire Pool Boy

    Genre: Contemporary

    Finished Word Count: 47K

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    What happens when two people try to take a vacation from their own identities and find they’re trapped in their new personae?

    Reliable TEAGAN STONE has all her preconceptions about herself destroyed when she meets a sun god of a man skimming the pool behind the house where she’s come to walk a dog.

    MILO PEYTON is an Australian native and wildly successful music producer trapped by success. He’s used to women throwing themselves at him. But when Teagan doesn’t, his engines fire full throttle. And—bonus!—she mistakes him for a pool boy. A sexy game of truth or dare drives the immediate attraction to the breaking point.

    Milo discovers Teagan is a talented artist and helps her find the courage to follow that path. But he finds himself in deeper than he’s ever been. What will happen when she finds out who he really is? Teagan is intensely tempted by everything about Milo—not least, his vision of her. But can she leave the safety of her buttoned-up life?

    As their sexual chemistry explodes, the consequences of their lies loom. Finally, they are forced to learn to trust themselves and they come to understand that love means acceptance.

    First 100 words of your story:

    There were downsides to being dependable. How had Teagan let Quinn talk her into cleaning up her mess again? Here she was, filling in for her little sister when Quinn couldn’t meet her obligations.

    The task was simple enough. Quinn’s best friend had a side job walking some rich guy’s dog in the posh Los Altos Hills and Quinn was going to fill in for her while she was out of town for two weeks. Except at the very last minute, she’d realized she’d overcommitted and couldn’t do the dog walking thing after all.

    Enter Teagan.

  35. Katherine Fleet - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Katherine Fleet
    Title: Still Drowning
    Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
    Finished Word Count:
    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    Juniper Delaney’s a ‘follow the rules’ kind of girl. She just wants to enjoy the last day of her Caribbean vacation before heading back to her hometown in northern Canada. Colliding with a handsome, but arrogant jerk on the streets of Curaçao is not part of her plan and neither is being a pawn in his self-serving scheme. But 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 treasure-obsessed, sun-loving Maximus Van Thiessen, a prize that’s eluded his family for generations is closer than ever. Unfortunately, the girl he chose as his stool pigeon turns out to be a feisty, infuriating snowbird from the backwoods of nowhere. Now, Max needs to 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. To make matters worse, June turns out to be anything but a pawn, out maneuvering Max at his own game and forcing him to rediscover his long forgotten moral compass.
    First 100 words of your story:
    I pushed through the hotel door and a hot wall of Caribbean air hit me –my last day 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 ever-present trade winds tugging at my skirt. Around me, couples stopped by the metal rails and posed against the picturesque Willemstad waterfront, but I didn’t slow.

  36. Katherine Fleet - March 21, 2014 Reply

    So sorry. I forgot to include my finished word count. Its 80 K.

  37. Stacey Wiedower - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Stacey Wiedower
    Title: THIRTY FIRST DATES
    Genre: Contemporary
    Finished Word Count: 97,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    Erin Crawford’s love life is as unlucky as a two-leaf clover. After running into her ex-boyfriend and love of her life at a Dallas bar, she goes home to find her current boyfriend in her bed with her best friend.

    Fed up with love and ready to swear off men altogether, Erin does just the opposite: while watching an episode of The Bachelorette, she decides to stage her own version of the show — with herself as the star. Her mission? To find out once and for all if there’s a man out there capable of treating a woman with respect. Her platform is a blog she titles “Thirty First Dates” … because to conduct her study, she plans to date thirty men before her thirtieth birthday. Her first date is with Ben Bertram, a guy she’s known since her sandbox days.

    As she chronicles her dating journey, Erin also blogs her bucket list — a list of thirty things she wants to accomplish before the big three-oh — and drags her dates along for the ride. She learns that although skiing, skydiving, hair-dyeing and even extreme dating won’t necessarily change her luck, a new outlook on love might change her life.

    First 100 words of your story:
    Erin Crawford clamped shut her gaping mouth and tried not to be too obvious about it as she shot another glance across the bar. At Noah Bradley. The love, so far, of her life. The one who got away.

    Oh, God. He’s so hot. Why’d I break up with him again?

    She sucked in a sharp breath and let it out in a sigh. Oh, yeah. Because he just wasn’t that into her. Bad timing. Bad decisions. Bad … karma?

    No way. She didn’t deserve this plight she’d been handed. It was bad luck, she decided. She was just plain unlucky in love.

    • Stacey Wiedower - March 21, 2014 Reply

      Note: 97,000 is my expected word count. The manuscript is currently at 84,000 words, and I expect to finish it by the end of April. Thank you for this opportunity!

  38. Celia T. Lucente - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Celia T. Lucente

    Title: Designed by Love

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count: 55,800

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Margo is tired of someone taking artistic credit and most of the profits for her fashion designs. She decides to venture out on her own. Despite the non-compete agreement, no money and no credit. All from an extravagant social life.

    She enjoyed it, one man at a time, loving and leaving them to prevent emotional connections. This thanks to long buried memories of a childhood filled with betrayal, abandonment and sexual abuse. Until she met Doug.

    Doug is still paying the debts, emotionally and physically, from his divorce. Yet his hectic work as a national television network executive doesn’t crush his need for love. But he fears he’s a beacon for the wrong kind of woman. Like his self-absorbed ex-wife who played his weaknesses for her gain.

    He ventures out and finds himself in bed with an amazing, sexy independent woman. She leaves him the next day without a word but he later discovers she’s scheduled for an appearance on one of his reality shows. He gets her to have drink and soon finds out that this damaged woman presents more of a challenge than he thinks he could handle. Should he let that stop him from his second chance at love?

    First 100 words of your story:

    Margo Spinelli shook her head to clear her mind. Where am I? Fighting off sleep she glanced around her. She was in a strange bed in a strange room. The pillows next to her were dented in and the sheets rumbled and thrown back. She heard a shower going from a nearby bathroom. His place. Ah, that’s right. I met him at the Ra Bar on Sunset Boulevard. What’s his name? Either Doug or maybe Terry. He worked at a television studio as an executive or something related to it.

    She had to stop doing this. But what if she occasionally indulged in commitment-free sex? It was the only way to meet her needs without the risk of getting hurt.

  39. Carolyn Crimi - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Carolyn Crimi
    Title: Sarah in Wonderland
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Finished Word Count: 84k

    Max 200 Word 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.

  40. Julia Benjamin - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Julia Benjamin

    Title: Love on Trial

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count: 75,000

    200 Word Blurb:

    A crusading defender on the verge of rewriting her past. A righteous attorney intent on fixing the justice system

    Public defender Jessie Parker can practically smell the shingle of her own law firm. One more case and she’ll have the funds to start a practice helping abused women. Too bad her nemesis, district attorney Jack Stanton has dug his heels into the same case. When death threats against them heat up, police place them in a temporary protection program. Together. Life isn’t easy in cramped quarters, especially with an arrogant lawyer assuming he is always right. But bugs (the size of shoes), malfunctioning toilets and amorous neighbors force them to see each other as more than dueling attorneys. But as man and woman. And their case, as more than a case. When they are released, will they return to opposite corners of the courtroom or will they put aside their demons and ambitions and work together to solve the case and admit their love?

    First 100 words:

    “My client is not a pimp.” Jessie Parker’s voice flew strong and clear through the judge’s chambers. “She’s a victim.”

    The man standing to Jessie’s right cleared his throat. Jessie bit back a frown. By now, she knew when assistant district attorney Jack Stanton cleared his throat, he wasn’t trying to evict a frog. He was readying for a fight.

    It’s not that she didn’t like Jack. Per se. As public defender and district attorney, they had a mutually wary relationship. Or maybe she was the one wary. Jack Stanton had it in his power to build or break her future. Thank God he had no idea.

  41. Heather McGovern - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Heather McGovern
    Title: Shake Things Up
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Finished Word Count: 73,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Leah Horton’s perfect life is a lie. She’s been downsized from her accounting job and saddled with every expense from a dream wedding turned nightmare. Pressured by over protective parents and harassed by her ex-fiancé’s bookies, she’s desperate to find work. The job at a local pub is exactly what she needs to turn her life around. That means winning over the ruggedly handsome but extremely intimidating pub owner.

    Keegan Murphy has only ever been good at two things: kicking ass and tending bar. Years of doing someone else’s dirty work has left him without faith in others or himself. He’s made a clean start by leaving Ireland, becoming a legitimate business man and refusing to help with his friends’ PI business. His life leaves no room for distractions, but a curvy brunette in need of a job may prove too tempting to resist.

    Friendly flirtations turn into heated encounters as Keegan and Leah go from mixing drinks to mixing business with pleasure. An unlikely pair, they find the passion and understanding they’ve been missing. When their old lives catch up with them, will Keegan and Leah give up their chance for happiness or take a shot at love?

    First 100 words of your story:

    It was official. She was going to die of heat exhaustion and frizzy-haired desperation.

    Leah stared at the Help Wanted sign hanging in the window of Murphy’s Irish Pub while she melted inside her nicest black suit and matching pumps. This was her last stop of the day and her last hope. She needed to turn on the competence, but all she could think about was how she’d have to peel off her clothes once home.

    “Focus,” she chided herself and shook off all thoughts except finding work. She pictured herself shaking hands with the pub owner.

    • Nicole Fischer - March 25, 2014 Reply

      Hi Heather!

      I am one of Amanda’s colleagues at Avon and I’d love to take a look! Please send your full manuscript via our Avon Impulse submissions page http://www.avonromance.com/impulse/ .

      In the reference/request section, please write: Nicole Fischer Contemporary Romance Pitch Contest

      Thanks!
      Nicole
      Amanda

      • Heather McGovern - March 27, 2014 Reply

        Hey Nicole!

        I just saw your comment today! I’ve submitted my manuscript and information via the link. Thank you so much!

        Sincerely,
        Heather

  42. Jan Jackson - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Jan Jackson
    Title: RUNAWAY
    Genre: Romantic Suspense
    Word Count: 60,000
    Maximum 200 word blurb: Black Ops Specialist Lucas Winston made a deal, one last mission and he’s out. Cozy up to high value target Melanie Ryder, flush her father out of hiding, and take them both into custody.
    Raised on the run, Melanie trusts no one, but Lucas forces her to face an unexpected truth. Her rare genetic code made her a fugitive, but it could also save lives.
    And with the credible threat of a bioagent on US Soil, Lucas must choose between the woman he’s falling in love with and his duty his country.

    First 100 Words of your manuscript:Dawn streaked the mountain tops with a dark blush of ambient light. The promise of a new day ready to burst through low hanging clouds and directly into Melanie Ryder’s tired eyes. She scrubbed at the grit in them and refocused on the road ahead. Her ancient Mopar protested the climb and she shifted into a lower gear, her stomach doing flips as her journey came close to an end.
    A crooked mailbox jutted by the roadside. She swung in the driveway beside it and came to a stop, the motor idling. Did she really want to do this?

  43. MelGreene - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Melanie Greene


    Title: Common Ground


    Genre: Contemporary Single Title


    Word Count: approx 90K (estimated completion date: May 2014)

    Maximum 200 word 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 stop, Livia and Greg’s journey to COMMON GROUND.

    First 100 words of your manuscript:
    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.”

  44. Barbara Valentin - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Barbara Valentin
    Title: Fatty Mattie and the Comeback Kid
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Finished Word Count: 60,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Mattie Ross, advice columnist, is probably the last person who should be doling out good counsel to anyone on anything. Still smarting after being left at the altar two years earlier, she is strapped with cancelled wedding debt, has sworn off men, and despite her well-proportioned figure remains haunted by childhood taunts of “Fatty Mattie.”

    But to her managing editor and readers, she is a self-assured working parent and multi-tasking savant. All is well until, faced with bankruptcy, she takes on an additional assignment – training for the Chicago Marathon and chronicling her experience. Her coach? None other than Nick DeRosa, former Olympic athlete, dubbed the “Comeback Kid,” who also happens to be the identical twin of her ex – the same man she blames for the groom’s absence at the altar.

    Agreeing to keep the past in the past and their relationship strictly professional, Mattie succumbs to his strict training regimen. In the process, she learns to love herself, but can she go the distance with Nick without losing her heart along the way?

    First 100 words of your story:

    Of all the things to say to a bride-to-be on her wedding day, “You have no business wearing that skinny-minny dress with your full figure – and in a church!” isn’t one of them. But Mattie had other things to worry about besides her Aunt Viv’s chiding.

    The ceremony was scheduled to start in two minutes and the church, overflowing with three shades of fragrant peonies and over a hundred well-adorned guests, was missing just one thing. The groom.

    “I’m sure he’ll be here any minute,” the matron of honor promised with all of the sincerity of a used car salesman.

  45. Anji Nolan - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Anji Nolan – Lonely Hearts Cry – Contemporary Romance – 68,000 words

    Jo Weston, a childless young widow relocates to Maine to start a new life on the property of her dreams. There she meets Mark Neverson, a widower and gentleman farmer and his headstrong bi-polar daughter Dani. As Jo and Mark’s friendship blossoms into love, Dani finds herself pregnant and attempts suicide. Mark is consumed by guilt and feels he should break off with Jo. However, when Dani dies in childbirth, it is Jo who pulls the family together.

    FIRST 100 WORDS
    Deja vu moments always puzzled Jo, and first impressions hadn’t always worked out well. But the log house had an inescapable and comforting familiarity. As she pulled to a stop at the end of the property’s football-field length drive, she let down her SUV’s window. The sound of fast-moving water roared above the purring engine, and a waterway flowed tumultuous into the culvert on which she sat. Moving on, she cruised down the drive where a stacked boulder wall furred with moss, held back a majestic copse of pines. Jo wondered what ancient feat of engineering had maneuvered them there.

  46. Barbara Valentin - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Amanda – I neglected to note that my MS is currently at 36k words, but will be completed by mid-April.

  47. Susan Davis - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Blurb: Jake Stone lost a dear friend in Hattie Daniels, but he knows the old woman would want him to welcome the new owner of her ranch. He just didn’t expect to like the stubborn redheaded granddaughter quite so much.

    Becca Daniels has just learned that not only did she have a grandmother she never knew about, but she’s also inherited a horse ranch in Clifton, Montana. If she wants to sell it, she has to live on it for six months or it goes up for auction. What if someone else wants it and will do whatever it takes to run her off so it can go to auction?
    Now, with her horses stolen, her home invaded, and threats made against her if she doesn’t leave, Becca doesn’t know where to put her trust. Could it be one of the men who work the ranch, or the gorgeous cowboy who has made it clear he’ll purchase the land if she decides to sell and steals her breath with a look, or does someone else in town truly want her gone and will go to any length to see she leaves?
    First 100 words: Jake Stone stared down at the ranch house shrouded in darkness. The wind howled around him like a pack of hungry wolves. From the hill, he had a good view of the house, barns and surrounding yard. The two security lights came on as dusk fell. His horse, Midnight, shifted under him showing impatience at being out in the cold weather. Puffs of cold air rose from the horse’s nostrils. Jake tugged his cowboy hat down low on his forehead and pulled the collar up on his sheepskin coat. It was too damn cold to be here but he had not been able to stay away.

  48. Susan Davis - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Amanda, I neglected to show my final word count. It’s 46,514 and it is complete. The title is Jake, a Men of Clifton, Montana Novel. It is the first in a series of men in the fictional town. Thank you.

  49. Lisa Wells - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Lisa Wells
    Title: Hexes & O’s
    Genre: Contemporary Romance with Paranormal Elements
    Word Count: 97,000

    Remington Smith reluctantly returns to her hometown to finish an inherited to-do list and discovers her new home is haunted, the town is hexed, and she’s a by-default witch. None of this flows with her goal of moving to New York and designing costumes for Broadway stars.

    Jason Hart’s love life has crashed like the 1920’s stock market. Some say it is because the town he purchased at auction is hexed to never know love. He doesn’t believe in that nonsense. He’s partnered with Google to buy and renovate Knotty. Once the renovations are done, Google is going to have first year employees live there and work from home. This trend is a result of a research project titled: Got Community – Got Profits. Jason’s plan hits a roadblock when a secret involving the town’s orphanage and the FBI comes to light.

    Hexes and O’s has series possibilities.

    ******

    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.

  50. Megan - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Megan Just

    Title: FEAR OF FALLING

    Genre: Contemporary new adult (serialized concept)

    Finished Word Count: 87,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    Landing a documentary internship with an award-winning director is the answer to film school senior April Stephens’s prayers. Her father’s death left her with a staggering student debt and she will need a recommendation from a director of this caliber to get her first job in the competitive film industry. The problem is, the director’s next film is about rock climbing and the element of danger is making April’s PTSD flare. That’s because three years ago, she witnessed a horrific air show crash. The pilot was her father.

    Despite her fears, April is enchanted by the filming location in Yosemite National Park, she’s mastering rare camera techniques, and her crewmates are the brothers she never had. She’s even falling for the gorgeous, sensitive guy she meets in the campground. The problem is, Josh Knox is a professional rock climber and the star of their film. In one month, they will meet on the side of Yosemite’s most treacherous spire. She will be filming. He won’t be using a rope.

    First 100 words of your story:
    April stared at the tent ceiling. She could actually see it now that dawn had arrived. She could also see her breath. It had been that cold last night.

    Filming in Yosemite would take about three months. That was ninety nights.

    She’d barely survived one.

    How was she going to make it through eighty-nine more?

    Her throat was raw and her nose was dripping like mad. She’d hardly slept between the eerie animal noises and creaking tree branches. The few times she’d drifted off, she awoke in a claustrophobic panic inside the sleeping bag, her pajamas twisted around her like a tourniquet.

  51. Amanda Bergeron - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Hello!
    I just wanted to take a moment thank Laura and the Contemporary Romance chapter for having me here today!

    I will continue to answer questions and look at pitches submitted before midnight tonight (PST )over the next few days. A colleague or two may also pop in and request as well. We will be considering these pitches until 3/26.
    Happy Weekend!
    Amanda

    • Tracy P - March 21, 2014 Reply

      Thanks for your time and your colleagues interest. Appreciate the update! AKA – I won’t stay up until midnight checking. 😉

    • Amy Mckenna Rae - March 22, 2014 Reply

      Thanks for your time today, Amanda.
      Have a great weekend too!
      Amy

    • Nancy C. Hosmer - March 22, 2014 Reply

      Thank you Amanda!

  52. Michele Mills - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Michele Mills
    Title: Last Woman Standing
    Genre: Post Apocalyptic Erotic Romance
    Finished Word Count: 90,631

    Blurb:

    Rachel Donnelly’s conventional life is shattered beyond recognition when a catastrophic pandemic decimates the world, killing nearly all human beings. Adam Sanchez, a battle-hardened Marine Sniper becomes her protector, her only companion in this harsh new environment.

    In a fit of alcohol-induced, post-apocalyptic PTSD rage, Rachel reveals her three darkest secrets to this man she lusts after from afar.

    Now Adam knows he’s been saddled with a twenty-three year old virgin, her first boyfriend beat her The Fuck Up, and she’s freaking terrified of guns due to a horrific childhood accident.

    Lovely.

    Adam, a man with specific sexual needs, knows this naive, fragile girl can’t handle his heat, so he pushes her out of the kitchen. He vows to protect her from everyone, including himself.

    New world. New Rachel…

    When two sexy, male survivors join their small group, Rachel faces a life changing decision. Will she fold under the pressure and hide away, letting old fears consume her, or will she rock Adam’s world, giving him everything and revealing a passion that brings him to his knees?

    Rachel is irresistible but Adam’s been burned before. Can he trust this woman with his heart, even if she is… the last woman standing?

    First 100 words:

    I am so screwed.
    Rachel stood at the front window of her parents’ house, scanning the neighborhood with binoculars in hand. Mountains of rotted trash lined either side of the normally pristine street. She panned the area again, examining every dark shadow and possible hideout. Nothing. Some freak job with a gun could be hiding, waiting to attack, and she’d never know until it was too late.
    Or, there could be no one out there. No one at all. Which was equally as bad.
    “Godammit!” she choked out.
    It seemed like such a good idea, moving out of her tiny apartment and into her parent’s house when they came down with Ruyigi ebola.

  53. Shanda - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Will you consider submissions for Avon’s inspirational line?

  54. Jennifer Shields - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Jennifer Shields
    Title: Racing Hearts
    Genre: Contemporary
    Completed word count: 70K

    Blurb:

    Robbie Landon returns to a small town in Washington to care for his dying grandfather, leaving Nascar glory behind just when his racing career has reached celebrity status. The only woman in town unimpressed by his fame just so happens to be a vixen on the track herself, the princess of Skagit Speedway, Jenny “the Roadrunner” Jennings. Struggling to keep her family’s business afloat, the thrill of racing is all that keeps her sane.

    Once high school sweethearts, Rob chose to pursue his Nascar career, leaving his hometown and Jenny in the dust. Still racing and taking no prisoners, Jenny heats his blood in a way that the thrill of racing can’t compare. Now that he’s back, Rob means to get back the woman he loved so much. Jenny distrusts and despises Rob, but when he takes to the local speedway to earn her respect, can he also win her love?

    First 100 word of Manuscript:

    Kissing the wall with two thousand pounds of Camaro was never fun, but Jenny was more concerned about the smoky stench infiltrating her nostrils. Burning rubber may be her favorite scent, but charbroiled engine was not.

    “Damn it!” She punished the steering wheel with gloved fists. Her 355ci, GM heavy-duty block and Dart 64cc heads were all about to be BBQ-status. Keeping as calm as possible under the threat of possible broken fuel lines or worse, Jenny unfastened her window net and hauled herself out of the decommissioned vehicle. She landed on the ground just as the track boys arrived with industrial size fire-extinguishers.

    • Nicole Fischer - March 25, 2014 Reply

      Hi Jennifer!

      I am one of Amanda’s colleagues at Avon and I’d love to take a look at Racing Hearts! Please send your full manuscript via our Avon Impulse submissions page http://www.avonromance.com/impulse/ .

      In the reference/request section, please write: Nicole Fischer Contemporary Romance Pitch Contest

      Thanks!
      Nicole

      • Jennifer Shields - March 26, 2014 Reply

        Thank you so much, Ms. Fischer. I’ll be sending Racing Hearts your way. 🙂

  55. Felice Stevens - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Felice Stevens
    Title: A Rescued Heart
    Genre: Male/Male Romance-Erotic
    Word Count 68,000

    200 word blurb:
    Being gay costs Ryder Daniels his family and a career in his father’s law firm, then the man he loves dumps him for a wife. Rejected and abandoned, Ryder swears off love and devotes his time as legal counsel to Rescue Me, a pit bull rescue group.

    After ending his relationship with his long-time girlfriend, Jason Mallory decides to concentrate on his construction company. When he calls Rescue Me to retrieve a pit bull abandoned at the building site, Jason is about to find his life changed forever.

    Unable to ignore the instant attraction he feels toward Ryder, a memory surfaces, one Jason long ago buried, of a time in college when he had been sexually attracted to his best friend. But when Jason befriends Ryder, he’s surprised Ryder resists the chemistry between them.

    Ryder refuses to allow his heart be an experiment for Jason. He is already drowning under the hurt of his parents’ rejection and that of his previous lover. But Jason proves to be a constant presence, and one he can no longer resist. Family differences and ugly prejudices threaten to keep them apart unless they fight to prove that love is love, no matter the gender.

    First 100 words of MS:
    There was nothing like waking up from a deep sleep to a warm, wet tongue licking your neck. Mmmm, that was one sweet, talented mouth. Ryder Daniels stretched in sleepy abandon, luxuriating under the warm covers of his bed. Still in that half-asleep place where you don’t know if you’re awake or dreaming, he moaned, as that tongue continued its delicious torture. God, it had been so long since he shared his bed with anyone. His erection jerked and swelled with need.
    As he struggled to pull himself up out of the depths of slumber, anxious to taste his lover’s tongue, lust spiked through him, sharp and deep.

  56. Tracy P - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Tracy Poole

    Title: A Shot Worth Taking

    Genre: Contemporary Single Title

    Finished Word Count: 80,200

    Blurb:

    Army Special Operations Sergeant Tony Vincenti adapts to play any role on a mission. To protect himself from another heartbreak though, he also camouflages his desire for a wife and family. The women he spends time, or just the night with, never reach his heart. Only FBI Special Agent Angela Hoffman sees right through him. On an earlier assignment together, they didn’t allow their attraction to jeopardize the mission, but when their paths cross again things heats up.

    Nothing about Angela’s current undercover mission goes as planned. First she’s nearly killed by a terrorist, then they discover someone is trying to cash in on the contract on her life. If Tony does succeed in eliminating the danger, will he lose her once she’s safe? Somehow, he has to turn this lose-lose situation into a win-win scenario to keep Angela alive and for him to get a shot at love.

    First 100 words:

    Who would have thought a sandstorm would be good for something?

    The isolation created by the sandstorm was a beautiful thing, making the locals hunker down inside their mud-walled homes. As he picked his way down the pothole-filled street, Sergeant First Class Tony Vincenti’s skin tingled—not from the swirling sand which worked its way through his uniform’s neck and sleeve openings to scratch his skin—but from the expectation of capturing Samir al-Shehri. If the info from their CIA source was solid, there’d be a new face in the number ten spot on the Army’s most wanted scumbag list.

    **Thanks For this opportunity to pitch, Amanda. This is the second completed MS in my series about the Bad Karma Special Ops team. Their love lives are just as dangerous as their missions.

  57. AL Parks - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: AL Parks
    Title: Redemption
    Genre: Romantic Suspense
    Finished Word Count: 90,000
    Maximum 200-word blurb: The last thing Gage Adams needs walking through the door of the smoky bar is a woman with a domestic abuse problem. He had dealt with one of those already, and it hadn’t ended well.

    But Chloe Samuelson needs the type of help that only Gage offers. She needs a way out – needs to escape her abusive husband – and she needs it now. Finding Chloe nearly beaten to death, Gage provides her an escape.

    Safe in a new town with a new name and a new life, Chloe’s past comes back to haunt her, and she realizes that she may never be able to fully escape.

    When Chloe’s husband comes after Gage – the man that saved her, provided her a new life, and now owns her heart – will Chloe give up the safety and security she has found to save him?

    First 100 words of your story: The door from the garage slammed and the hairs around the nape of Chloe’s neck stood on end. A cold sweat broke out across her skin, and her breath burst in and out of her heaving chest. Her body trembled. She closed her eyes tightly, and prayed quickly under her breath. She raised her head to meet his gaze, and forced a smile across her face.

    The air was sucked out of the kitchen as soon as he entered. The arctic chill rolled off her husband, Rick, like a gale force wind, and Chloe knew she was in trouble. His face was a deep red, his nostrils flared, and his lips were flat and deathly white. She gasped as his cold eyes froze her to the spot. Launching the briefcase across the kitchen, she heard it skid across the tiles and hit the wall with a thud. His fingers flexed against the back of the bar stool that sat across the kitchen island from her.

  58. Amy Valentini - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Amy Valentini

    Title: KEEPING FAITH

    Genre: Suspense Romance

    Finished Word Count: 93,315

    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    With prostitutes disappearing from the subway station across the street, Faith O’Reilly is worried about her salon going out of business and putting her friends out of work. Colorful Cuts has become the center of her world since her love life became essentially non-existent. At least until her handsome tenant reappeared after an unexplained absence.
    Kyle Davies is a cop first, and foremost, but he despises the deceitful side of undercover work. Now that he’s been assigned the investigation regarding the disappearance of prostitutes in his own backyard, he hates it even more when he has no choice but to lie to his beautiful landlady, who has occupied his thoughts since first meeting her.
    With suspicion concentrated on the employees of Colorful Cuts, Kyle must decide what he can tell Faith, and what has to remain a secret from her. His desire for her pulling him to tell her all while murder and events close to home force him to keep even more from her, all while Keeping Faith safe.

    First 100 words of your story:
    Her head groggy, her body stiff and seemingly paralyzed, Cathy slowly opened her eyes. Light flickered across craggy stone-lined walls as if a candle’s flame shivered in the air, only the glow was brighter than any candle could produce. The room was hot, stifling hot, and it was difficult to breathe yet whatever she lay on was cool against her skin – her bare skin.
    Cathy attempted to raise her head but quickly surmised that it was bound to the table just as her arms, body and legs were. She began to tremble, her eyes darting from left to right

    Thanks for such an awesome opportunity!

  59. C J Michaels - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: C J Michaels
    Title: Fate of Tides
    Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
    Finished Word Count: Projected Word Count is 65K by June, 20K written.

    Blurb:

    “The tides bring our fate.” Detective Chase Sawyer had scoffed at his partner’s superstitious sayings until Brady’s body washed ashore nights later. Now, everything Brady had said seems like a coded clue, and Chase will stop at nothing to close Brady’s last case and bring a killer to justice. Especially when it involves protecting the woman he couldn’t forget.

    Vivian Weiss is determined to find the truth about her brother’s death. And that means confronting her past and putting her life in the hands of a man she once loved, a man walking a fine line between law and lawless.

    First 100 words of story:

    The fairground was a massacre of leaves. Slick, dark leaves infusing the musk of their dampening decay into air already heavy with the scent of carnival food. It masked what Vivian’s careful façade and a liberal spray of Chanel could not: fear. Fear that was holding her lungs hostage and playing Jenga with her spine.

    Fear that, judging by the tingle raising her neck hair, was winning.

    Vivian pulled her coat tighter and shoved her left hand into her pocket. Her fingers sought the stuffed envelope, blindly counting the bills.

    The information was worth it. It had to be.

  60. Heather Bitzer - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Heather Bitzer
    Title: Rock-A-Bye
    Genre: Edgy-YA/NA Contemporary
    Word Count: 70,000

    ROCK-A-BYE is an edgy-YA romance based on my experience touring with my husband’s band. It’s the ultimate backstage pass and was born the night I asked myself, “What if one of these crazy fangirls really was crazy?”

    David Kallen is a rockstar. He’s 19, loving the fangirls and playing bass in the biggest band to hit the rock scene since Green Day. That’s what Rolling Stone says about him anyway. Inside, he’s sinking! Mired down by the enormous grief of his mother’s death and guilt over the self-destructive lifestyle he’s adopted since her passing. He’s striving to even up his Karmic scorecard and the universe just delivered Corinne, his lead singer’s 17-year-old sister.

    Corinne Westmore has little memory of the night she was Roofied, but the rumors at school are vicious enough to earn a “vacation” selling t-shirts on tour with Flipside, her brother Remy’s band. Corinne’s convinced she can work hard, move on and forget…, until she meets David.

    When their unexpected friendship quickly turns to something more, David and Corinne must fight to stay together. But when a crazed fan threatens to make that fight deadly, David will do anything in his power to protect Corinne…even if that means having to break her heart for her own good.

    First 100 Words

    “Whore.” My suddenly-ex-boyfriend let his little endearment hang in the air for only a moment before removing his lacrosse helmet and lobbing his disgusting mouth guard my way for good measure.

    The soft plastic glanced harmlessly off my cheek, but its warm, wet insult trickled down my face with authority.

    His teammates’ eyes were on me…, all ten sets, six of which had known me since kindergarten. I could feel them as they bore into my skull then deviated to gape back at Tyler.

    Clearly, most of the guys had a problem with the mouth guard throw. If I were any other girl, or even me last month, they’d probably have already knocked him on his ass.

  61. Lindsay Filz - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Hi Amanda,

    Thanks so much for doing this!!

    Name: Lindsay Filz (w/a Elle Twiford)

    Title: Mulligans

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count: 90K (currently in-progress, will be completed in June 2014)

    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    In golf, a “mulligan” is a stroke that is replayed from the spot of the previous stroke without penalty, due to an errant shot made on the previous stroke. The hole is replayed and scored as if the first errant shot had never been made. ~ Wikipedia

    The summer she turned twenty, Anne Elliot’s lifelong dream of playing professional golf had finally come true. With exactly six weeks between dropping out of college and her first scheduled tournament on the LPGA Tour, Anne came to Annapolis, Maryland, to work with her childhood coach and focus on making a statement with her tour debut.

    Naval Lieutenant Rick Wentworth was exactly the distraction she didn’t need. Forced by her powerful father and long-term coach to choose between Rick and her dream career, Anne chose wrong.

    Eight years later, Anne’s career is in the dumps, her father’s facing indictment, and Rick is now a high-ranking officer stationed at the US Naval Academy. As she returns to Annapolis to start over, Anne’s hoping that her second shot at love goes a whole lot better than the first.

    A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Mulligans will be 90,000 words when completed in June.

    First 100 words:
    Whenever he was having one of his bad days, Senator Walter Elliot liked to retreat to his Georgetown study. Once there, he’d pour a big glass of Scotch and fire up his highlight reel of news clips.

    The first clip was always his favorite. There was his beloved BethAnne, laughing as the family served Thanksgiving dinner at a homeless shelter back in the early days of his career. Her stomach was huge back then and rightfully so. Three days after that clip was taken, she would give birth to their youngest daughter, Mary.

  62. Katherine Locke - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Thank you so much for this opportunity!

    Name: Katherine Locke

    Title: SERENADE

    Genre: NA Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count: 69,928

    Maximum 200-word blurb: A car accident destroyed two promising ballet careers and a single life. One career ended immediately when Zed Harrow lost his left leg. A life ends when young principal dancer Alyona Miller miscarries their child. Four years later, Aly suspends her career after unsuccessfully attempting to pirouette herself into wholeness.

    During her leave of absence, Aly and Zed meet again in a chance encounter that shines a spotlight on the vastly different lives the one-time lovers and former best friends lead. Zed teaches at a local school, a far cry from his days in the ballet. Aly struggles to recover from her breakdown and face her unfinished grief over the miscarriage. The only thing to survive that accident seems to be their chemistry.

    Chemistry alone can’t heal grief, mend psyches, or settle wary hearts. Zed contends with his warring desires for Aly to be happy and healthy when those states of being might not intersect. Trust is a precious commodity that Aly is unwilling to share. They found each other after four years. Staying together may be the hardest pas de deux these two will ever have to perform.

    First 100 words of your story:

    Some things you’ll never erase from your memory. In front of me, the ice-blonde braid swinging on a primly dressed woman’s back makes me sway on the spot. I know that braid and I know where it belongs: not here. Not where I am. Anywhere but here, here where she brings with her a tide of memories I’ve worked hard to bury. Images, bright and sharp and very red, slam around in my head and I curl my fingers into my palm hard. The pain pushes the memories back where they belong.

    My first thought is, it can’t be her.

  63. Jenna Rutland - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Jenna Rutland
    Title: Say Yule Be Mine
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Word Count: Estimated 50,000 (not completed, will be May, 2014)

    200 Word Blurb:

    Single physician assistant, Maggie Donaldson, makes a huge decision to have a baby. Now she needs to decide between artificial insemination and the old fashioned way. There definitely would be no marriage. Didn’t seem to work for most of the people that Maggie knew so no reason to take that disappointing path.

    When her newly married aunt invites Maggie for a holiday gathering, she decides it would be the perfect occasion to dump the jarring news of her intentions on her old-fashioned family. Between fruit cake and the Santa-induced wildness of her nieces and nephews, she’s counting on no one having the time or energy to question her sanity.

    Self-proclaimed playboy, Adam Stevens, would rather do anything than spend Christmastime with his father who feels nothing is more important than money. The old man would have a stroke if he knew that Adam spends his millions to financially support an animal rescue group.

    Unable to say no to his father’s new wife, Adam finds himself traveling to spend the holidays with them. Memories of their wedding swim into Adam’s mind. Well, not the ceremony itself, but afterward. The evening, when he and the maid of honor, Maggie, had ended up between the sheets. Naked. Now that was worth remembering.

    First 100 words:

    For the single person, holidays sucked.

    As far as Maggie Donaldson was concerned, every year got worse. Year after stupid year her family pleaded with her to join them for the jolly holidays. Bah, humbug. But this year, she’d caved. Wimp.

    But the situation might work to her advantage. Her newly married aunt was in love. And it was the holidays. Maggie figured it’d be the perfect time to make her announcement. Dump her jarring news on them, then count on the excitement of sleigh bells and fruitcake to avoid an explosion of emotions.

  64. Xio Axelrod - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Xio Axelrod

    Title: Strangers When We Meet

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count: 75k-90k (WIP to be completed May 2014)

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Suji Carter was a good person. Ask anyone. Selfless and reliable, she was also stuck. Life hadn’t changed much since high school. Same job. Same car. And, until recently, the same boyfriend. Suji wondered when the real fun would begin. Then it did. She found herself caught in the middle of a flash mob. Random couples started kissing. Snogging. Making out. Some of it was sweet and sexy, some…not-so-much. Suji had never been that brave. Then firm hands spun her and she was swept up in the sweetest, hottest kiss imaginable. When it was over, she was dizzy with excitement. She opened her eyes, hoping to meet the man that had given her a thrill, but he was gone. Didn’t matter. It was random. Wild. And Suji loved it!

    Joe Sato couldn’t believe that the beauty he’d kissed senseless was Suji. No longer his best friend’s pretty little sister, she was now a beautiful woman. He’d run away. Matt would kill him. Maybe. Probably. But she could have been anyone. It had to be a sign. It was also crazy. Hell, he might be crazy. But now he’d had a taste and Joe wanted more. Would she?

    First 100 words of your story:

    “Did he use tongue?”

    Leave it to Kit to get right to the point. “That’s your first thought? Not wow, Suji, I can’t believe you were so spontaneous.

    “Well, you weren’t. He kissed you.” Kit huffed through the phone. “You just did what you always do. You went along with it.”

    “It wasn’t like that.” It was. “I could’ve refused.” But she didn’t. Being kissed by a stranger in the middle of a crowded park was decidedly outside Suji’s comfort zone, and yet she couldn’t bring herself to regret it. It was so unlike her. At least the old her.

  65. Lisa Carlisle - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Lisa Carlisle
    Title: Dark Whispers
    Genre: Romantic Suspense
    Word Count 82,000

    200 word blurb:

    Staff Sergeant Eva Montreaux is sent to Okinawa, Japan, with a cover mission—to calm the growing tensions of locals against the military presence. Her undercover mission is far more dangerous; Marines have been brutally murdered by inexplicable methods on the island. As part of an undercover unit called Night Eagle Operations, or NEO, Eva leads her team of enhanced and supernatural Marines to investigate the murders.

    Gunnery Sergeant Marcos Delacruz has tried to forget Eva since she left him with empty promises in Afghanistan. When he runs into her in Okinawa, she doesn’t express any guilt over breaking his heart. How could he have fallen for someone so cold? Seeing her again threatens to unravel his carefully reconstructed life and he tracks her down to demand an explanation.

    In Dark Whispers, the military world clashes with ancient Japanese mythology on the tropical island of Okinawa. A beautiful place, full of superstitions about the spiritual world. The only chance Marcos and Eva have at surviving is if they combine forces. Yet they both guard their secrets, unwilling to let down their guard. Will they learn to trust each other to fight a mutual enemy, or will their mistrust lead them to destroy each other first?

    First 100 words of MS:

    “You want to try to break this up?” Sergeant Bates shouted over the protesters’ chants.

    Evening had descended over the city of Naha, lighting up the business and shopping district on the tiny island of Okinawa, Japan. The whole city electrified on steroids to convince people to spend money, while the protests echoed the growing sentiments of the locals.

    Eva glanced at the fit African-American woman on her team who’d adopted a defensive stance before assessing the situation. The Okinawans paraded in a circle in front of the Naha bus terminal, carrying signs with a similar message—Americans, go home.

    “No. That would make the situation worse,” she replied. “We want to diffuse the tension, not escalate it.”

  66. Xio Axelrod - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Thanks for the invite, Laura and thanks for the opportunity, Amanda! Exciting. =)

  67. Rowan Worth - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Rowan Worth
    Title: Touch of Lies
    Genre: Romantic Suspense
    Finished Word Count: 88,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Brilliant but naïve scientist Lacy Munro is finally breaking free of her cloistered research world. Growing up in near-isolation, unappreciated beyond her ability to generate immensely profitable technical solutions, Lacy has no experience dealing with people, especially men in a romantic setting. She has learned to avoid her feelings of inadequacy by escaping into her work, hiding her inexperience with the “real world” by careful observation and mimicry.

    Special agent James Kavanaugh must decide if Lacy is an innocent victim or a traitor to her country while he investigates how her classified experiments are turning up in enemy hands. Kav is a take-charge problem solver with a sterling record, but years of foster care have made him overprotective and emotionally detached. As he realizes Lacy’s entire life is being manipulated by the people she trusts, he discovers it is not just his ethics making him stay, it’s his heart.

    As they unravel the mystery of Lacy’s past while racing to stop the sale of her latest experiment on the international black market, Lacy and Kav finding themselves fighting an unexpected and unwanted attraction at the same time they’re fighting for their lives.

    First 100 words:

    Deal with it, Lacy. Dr. Lacy Munro looked around the airport terminal and assessed her situation with a measured air only she knew was carefully wrought illusion.

    You’re a competent scientist. If you can successfully invent technologies for myriad high-tech government projects, you can catch a cab.

    Probably.

    Tired or not, she had to apply her supposedly brilliant brain to the mundanities of transportation to downtown Washington. She fought the nervous twist her stomach gave and told herself to calm down. The last thing she needed was to spend half the day lost in rural Virginia.

  68. Lynn Cahoon - March 21, 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.

  69. Rowan Worth - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Rowan Worth
    Title: Past Imperfect
    Genre: Paranormal Romantic Suspense
    Finished Word Count: 100,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Strange problems at the restaurant are interfering with Natalie Richards’ attempt to win a promotion to sous chef. Working a grueling schedule and in debt thanks to her embezzling ex, Natalie initially wavers over adopting the injured stray dog she finds. Though Fella is too large for her tiny apartment, but she appreciates his companionship—and the security provided by his wolfish appearance when the news starts talking about a serial killer in the area.

    Fella thinks Natalie’s a terrific pet owner…it’s not her fault he isn’t exactly a pet. He’s not sure why he’s currently sporting four legs and a tail, but the fact that he can’t remember who—or what—he is bothers him more. The only thing he knows for sure is he is not letting the sexy, caring woman who came to his rescue out of his sight.

    Discovering her rescue pet is a shapeshifter turns out to be the least of Natalie’s problems. She’s not prepared to deal with another mysterious male in any form, but realizes helping her unexpected lover regain his memory is the only way to stop the violence erupting around them as human and shifter worlds collide.

    First 100 words:

    Damn, his head hurt. And what was that stench? God, it smelled like a combination dumpster/outhouse/slaughterhouse. Garbage—rotting fruit, old food, wet cardboard. Urine—human; canine; feline; rat. Fresh blood.

    He forced his eyes open and glanced around—well, tried to. Spots danced in his vision and pain exploded when he moved his head.

    It took a minute, but the universe finally settled down and he decided to risk getting to his feet. He managed to roll to his hands and knees—

    No, that wasn’t right. He was on his feet. All four of them.

    What the—?

  70. Kadee Sinclair - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Kadee Sinclair
    Title: Be My Girl
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Finished Word Count: 53,000

    200-word blurb:
    After a lifetime of playing it safe, a fiercely independent empty nester is in for one wild ride when her best shot at financial security is to partner with a reluctant biker-dude eleven years her junior. She’s hated motorcycles since her parents were killed while riding one, and she doesn’t do partnerships–especially when they involve hot tempered hunks like veteran Jack McRae—but she accepts her uncle’s challenge of making the motorcycle shop turn a profit within a two month period because the payoff means both a home and income for her.

    For Jack it involves suspending his better judgment as well as depleting every ounce of patience he has, but he feels honor bound to respect the last wishes of the mentor he both admired and loved.

    Grace’s careful planning strategies clash hard with Jack’s take-no-prisoners approach. While head butting battles abound, they finally forge a truce and devise a plan just before their deadline. But when a crisis unravels their tenuous alliance, the stubborn partners will have to steer way out of their comfort zones to salvage the business and somehow resolve their feelings for each other after a hard earned trust is broken.

    First 100 words:

    Grace Templeton knew trouble when she saw it, and the man headed her way, clipboard in hand, was practically dripping with it.
    She worked her hands deeper into the cool, wet, earth to let the tension drain from her body and seep into the dirt. More often than not, everything turned out the way it was supposed to in a garden if you were willing to do all the right things. One look at Grace’s lush garden left no doubt that she was both willing and able whenever it came to doing the right thing. Up until now that is.

  71. Robbin Luckett - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Robbin Luckett

    Title: RELINQUISH

    Genre: YA Contemporary

    Word Count: 52,000 (MS deadline goal: July)

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Seventeen-year-old Miranda Schuman has always had her mother’s quirky smile, but when she discovers adoption papers at the neighbor’s house, her freak-o-meter goes off the chart.

    Her neighbor and mother’s best friend, a glamorous fashion designer, supposedly lost her baby in a car accident years ago. Except the official adoption papers state her neighbor terminated her parental rights and placed Laura Kline up for adoption. And there’s the date. May 27, 1997. The same date Miranda was born.

    Miranda’s curiosity drives her search for the truth – truth that is protected. Laws built long ago prevent anyone from securing information about their own adoption. Only she gets caught. Go figure. Computer hacking is a felony. And the attorney who handled the adoption threatens her to keep quiet or face Juvie.

    More than one person knows the truth, and when secrets leak, innocent people get hurt. Miranda is at a crossroads. She must decide if exposing the truth is worth destroying the lives of the people she loves.

    First 100 words of your story:

    If Kyle Baldwin would man-up enough to ask me to the dance, I’d have a date for homecoming.

    “Are you going?” Ashlyn changed out of her Safari get-up into her grey shorts and poly-pro shirt for P.E. class. “I heard Corey Fox asked you. Isn’t he the guy obsessed with Star Wars and comic books?” She was supposed to be my best friend, but her ticking-time-bomb-glare wanted me to hook up with Corey.

    “Screw you. He tweeted me like fifty times. Miranda #homecoming? Miranda #dreamscometrue. Miranda, you’re the most beautiful girl in the world.” Without a date to the dance my Junior-popularity-status was in definite jeopardy. “Corey Fox—not happening.”

  72. Autumn Jones Lake - March 21, 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.

  73. Denny S. Bryce - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Denny S. Bryce
    Title: Love on the Road Series-Love in the Rear View Mirror (1-Complete), Express Train Lover (2-WIP), and Love at Gate 29 (3-WIP)
    Genre: Erotic Romance
    Finished Word Count: 55000 words

    Maximum 200-word query blurb:

    Planes, trains and automobiles are the backdrop for three novellas about women who rule in the boardroom but discover real power when raw desire makes love the bottom line.

    In the first novella, Ad Age Magazine’s Woman of the Year CEO Fontaine King fears air travel since her ex-husband’s Mile High affair. However, a must-do road trip from Miami to Chicago requires chauffeur and personal trainer Lincoln Jones behind the wheel. He is a man with the muscles and the swag of a sex god, but he’s Mr. Professional.

    Tempted by him before, Fontaine is intrigued when Lincoln makes it clear he’s been thinking about her, too. Stranded in a snowstorm, he schools her on how to put her personal stamp on raw sex. She also learns about the empowerment of a good lay with a good man. Lincoln is hell bent on treating her body with the same focus on results as his workout routines.

    For two days, they explore the depths of intimacy and the power of lovemaking.

    Then the weather clears.

    But in Chicago, Fontaine is in the driver’s seat of a new romance, which she’ll enjoy as long as Lincoln is at her side.

    First 100 Words:

    “Yes, yes, yes. The chauffeur has your list of rules.”

    “And my snacks?” Fontaine King, CEO of King Advertising, ignored the attitude in her executive assistant’s tone. No one messed with her travel treats. Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, Jalapeño potato chips and five sixteen ounce bottles of diet cherry coke. For the twenty-hour drive from Miami to Chicago—she needed sweet, tangy and wet in her mouth. It kept her from chewing her fingernails, or generally acting like not having sex for a year—because of her lying, cheating, screw-his-lover-on-a-plane ex-husband—wasn’t making her insane.

  74. Tracy - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Tracy
    Title: The Cheat Sheet
    Genre: New Adult Romance
    Projected Word Count: 50k / Finish Date: mid-May

    Blurb:
    All Piper, the new and begrudging university advice columnist, wants out of her Junior year of college is a chance at the Reuter’s summer internship. But after getting passed over for the head editorship at her college paper, it’s looking like she’s doomed to spend eternity chasing down stories about misbehaving hausfraus rather than serious news. Frustrated, she agrees to break up with her best friend’s boyfriend on her behalf by anonymously creating a forum that announces who has been dumped and why. Called the “Cheat Sheet”, it becomes an overnight campus sensation, putting Piper and her anonymous services very much in demand.

    Unfortunately, all that demand comes with attention, some being of the unwanted variety. And Mitchell Brock, the guy who got the editorship and her major competition for the scholarship, wants to put her Cheat Sheet on the police beat sheet and bust her for privacy violations or, you know, something. But to do that he would have to know the identity of the woman guys around campus are starting to call The Dumpster Diva, and Piper is rather careful, so all she has to do is stay away from Mitchell. But with his stupid, crooked smile and perfectly mussed-up hair, the Dumpster Diva may find herself falling in love, and that is something she would never advise.

    First 100 words:

    As my bare feet hit the next curve of the physics wing, I realize that this whole streaking thing would be a hell of a lot easier with a good sports bra and more tequila.
    A lot more tequila.
    “Piper, hurry!” Shannon calls to me as she races ahead of me, her bare ass painted with the signs for the Higgs field she wrote about in her last term paper. I guess there’s some physics tradition that says that once you declare your major, you have to streak the science building, and, well, Shannon’s not one to go against tradition. And she’s sadly also not someone who’s capable of doing such a thing alone, hence, well, my desire for more tequila.

  75. Barbara Weitz - March 21, 2014 Reply

    Name: Barbara Weitz

    Title: Haden House – Suite 2 (a trilogy book)

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count: 89K

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Rural cop Ginger Wolski has carefully crafted her hassle-free life in Ridgeview, Ohio for a reason. The quaint antique town, with Amish at its border, provides the perfect refuge away from her dysfunctional family and the painful past they represent. Ginger harbors this unspeakable loss deep in her heart where it can’t hurt her. That is until she finds a severely injured German shepherd and the course of her life is changed.

    Cleveland lawyer Jon Sanders sees Ginger as the perfect compliment to his sky-high ambitions. Their two-year relationship has been flawless, but he suspects she is keeping something from him that hinders a deeper commitment.

    Police dog trainer Sgt. Drew Russo would have never entered their lives but for the injured dog. He must suffer in silence when he finds himself impossibly attracted to the feisty woman. But years of training dogs have taught him patience is key in gaining the trust of either a headstrong dog or a woman like Ginger.

    Neither man seems to be able to gain ground, until one demands she make a choice. Only the strongest and most determined of the two will remain standing once the turmoil she causes settles around them.
    First 100 words of your story:

    Jon stood on the courthouse steps to stare at the strange silence overhead. Red streaked across an azure sky, while the south sky loomed black and sullen, ready to pounce. He’d seen the phenomenon in the courtroom. Something benign one moment became electrically charged the next, erupting in unexpected confessions or admissions that turned a case upside down.

    The ‘beauty and the beast’ drama in the sky seemed a perfect, and somewhat disturbing, depiction of his relationship with Ginger. An antagonist by nature, he guessed that made him the beast. Gentle beast, he amended and pulled the ringing cell from his waist. “Hi, honey. Where are you?”

  76. Denny S. Bryce - March 22, 2014 Reply

    Name: Denny S. Bryce
    Title: Chasing Damn
    Genre: Romantic Suspense
    Finished Word Count – 85K (complete by mid-May)

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Following a car accident, Nikki Chase wrestles with survivor’s guilt, a dead ex-boyfriend and a damaged spirit. On leave from the FBI, she returns to Chicago to reconnect with her two sisters.

    RAY TAYLOR, a thirty-five year-old ex-Marine and Iraq vet, is a private security consultant consumed with putting away sex-traffickers. He also is haunted by the memory of his younger sister who at sixteen was a runaway and died in New York City.

    After a one night stand, Nikki and Ray are forced to work together when her uncle hires him for security. A cyber gang is stealing data from her family’s law firm and have threatened her uncle and elder sister (also an attorney).

    The on-again, off-again lovers must find a killer when her uncle is murdered, but trust is hard, and their passionate affair masks issues, which could help them find a killer.

    In the end, Nikki learns to count on Ray not only as a physical diversion, but also as a man who cares about her and her family. He will risk his life to protect her. In the end, she retires from the FBI and she and Ray form a security agency.

    First 100 words of the story:

    Ray Taylor couldn’t shake the feeling: he didn’t have an angel’s chance in hell of walking out of the bank without a bullet in his brain.

    He was waiting on a pissed-off hooker, snitching on her sex-trafficking dick of a boss. If she wanted to squeal, he’d listen, but a bad vibe stuck in the air like paste.

    He kept tapping the handle of the Glock holstered beneath his jacket. It was like sex, which he hadn’t had in a week, the gun protected him against evil, or against a snitch with payback on the brain.

    • Amanda Bergeron - March 24, 2014 Reply

      Hi Denny,
      Thanks for the pitch!
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  77. Laura Kaye - March 22, 2014 Reply

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  78. Carla Mueller - March 22, 2014 Reply

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  80. Laura Kaye - March 22, 2014 Reply

    __________________________________________________________________________
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    • Amy Valentini - March 23, 2014 Reply

      Thanks Laura, this is such a wonderful opportunity. Not holding my breath but am hopeful all the same. It came up right on the heels of finishing my WIP, so maybe that’s an omen, huh? Thanks again to you and Amanda.

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