Q & A and Pitch Contest With Editor Angela James

~ Interview by Laura Kaye

The Contemporary Romance Writers Chapter is thrilled to have Carina Press editorial director Angela James here today to share her expertise on contemporary romance and consider YOUR pitches as part of our third 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 Angela 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?

Angela James: I’m the Editorial Director of Carina Press, so I edit across genres at Carina in romance, science fiction and fantasy. Though we do publish mystery, it’s not a genre I edit. At Harlequin, I also do some editing for both Cosmo Red Hot Reads and HQN.

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

AJ: A good submission is one where I think the story is readable and there’s nothing bad I can really say about it. It’s just fine. An I-must-acquire-this submission is one that grabs me by the throat, has me reading late into the night and feeling like I must call the author to offer for it, even if it is 10pm on a Friday night (I’ve done this!)

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

AJ: I think they all need essentially the same thing: a compelling story line that makes readers feel as if they’re reading something they haven’t read before (even when the themes are familiar), compelling characters the readers can cheer for, fall in love with and have empathy for, and an author voice that keeps the story moving and hooks the reader.

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

AJ: Writers should look to make even familiar themes feel fresh again, whether that’s with a fantastic author voice, unique hook or angle on a story, or particularly well-drawn characters for readers to adore.

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

AJ: Submitting before the book is actually ready for prime time is probably the biggest. Not taking the time to set it aside to get some distance, and then do some self-editing, get a critique from a critique partner, or applying craft knowledge. Everyone seems in a rush to get published these days, so we see more and more people submitting something that might have potential to be quite good, but they’ve submitted it before they’ve taken some time to get it to the quite good stage.

I also see a lot of authors positioning their books incorrectly. Calling it new adult when it’s young adult (or when it’s neither), trying to call it by a particular genre (like new adult) simply because the author thinks that’s the hot genre and wants to position their book to be in a hot genre, or just plain getting the genre wrong, like calling it romantic suspense when it’s really contemporary romance. Positioning incorrectly can cause difficulties because then the editor/agent reading isn’t sure if the author really knows his/her market and wonders if the author would be a good long-term bet. It also creates a dissonance when you’re reading the submission, expecting one thing but getting something else entirely.

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

AJ: There are story elements that I don’t care for, that I generally don’t like to edit. I think we all have those subjective things that just don’t work for us, because of our own personal history, likes and dislikes. I’m not going to name what mine are because it will make someone out there paranoid or feel bad!

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

AJ: The best part is when the book has been released into the reading public, and I see feedback from the readers about things I had a hand in. Maybe a great prologue, an epic grovel scene or some particular character trait I helped the author tease out. It’s wonderful to see how important the editor/author relationship can be in the development of a fantastic story.

The worst part? I don’t know that I can say something I’d label “the worst”. There are things that aren’t my favorite part but there’s not a lot I think of as being really bad. It’s a job I enjoy and there’s not a lot that makes me regret doing it. 

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

AJ: We do look at the writer’s platform before acquiring a book, but the lack of a platform rarely keeps us from acquiring if it’s something we love. If it’s something the team is on the fence about, a strong platform can tip us in the right direction.

On the other hand, we have said no to projects because the author seems to have a brand and platform that’s not cohesive and feels all over the place, which would make it hard for us to grow an author to a bigger platform successfully.

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

AJ: I think there are two things I’d want aspiring authors to keep in mind. First is that there isn’t any reason to be in a hurry. Take your time, write your best book and create a career that’s going to be sticky, not one that’s rushed and will disappear because you were chasing the trends or chasing the release date instead of chasing quality.

The second thing is not to let anyone tell you what your career path should look like. Do what’s right for your career, not what’s right for someone else’s career. Don’t apologize because you want different things than your critique partners, or because you want to do it differently. Instead, make the choices because you’ve done the research and informed yourself on what will work best for you.

There are so many ways to get published, so many opportunities for writers out there—both aspiring and established writers—that there’s no reason to feel like it has to be done quickly or done just like someone else did it. Now, more than ever, each writer can forge his or her own path and there are always going to be opportunities around the corner to do so!

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

AJ: My wish list is all over the place, including a love for contemporary crack (explanation of that here), a longing for a romantic series about a group of mercenaries, a deep lust for a dark erotic thriller that pushes the boundaries on consent and/or capture fantasies, and a wish for things that are a little more edgy or explore darker sides of human nature—or those unheroic ways of life like mafia, hit men, mercenaries…

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

AJ: Our submissions guidelines can be found here and that page has all the comprehensive information about word count and genres, which include all subgenres and heat levels of romance, plus mystery, science fiction and fantasy.

Angela James, Editorial Director of Carina Press, Harlequin’s digital-first fiction imprint, is both an avid reader of digital books and a veteran of and advocate for the digital publishing industry. She has enjoyed a decade of experience in her field, including successfully launching, building and serving as editorial lead for two digital-first presses, Samhain Publishing and, since 2009, Harlequin’s Carina Press.

She has edited bestselling authors such as Shannon Stacey, Jaci Burton, Lauren Dane, Ilona Andrews, Lilith Saintcrow, Shelly Laurenston and more. She was profiled in Fast Company magazine as a digital pioneer in the romance publishing industry and is the creator of the popular self-editing online workshop for authors, Before You Hit Send. In 2013, Angela was named New York Romance Writers of America’s Golden Apple Editor of the Year.

Contact Angela: Twitter.com/angelajames


Authors are invited to submit their query blurb and first 100 words or first paragraph for Angela’s consideration. Also feel free to post questions to Angela, but please do so in a separate post from your pitch submission. The contest will run until midnight PST today, 6/25 – pitches submitted after this time will not be entered. Authors who Angela requests materials from will be announced by Monday, June 30th, 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 Angela’s consideration in the following format. Please conform your blurb and story submissions to the below word counts.




Finished Word Count:

Maximum 200-word blurb:

First 100 words or first paragraph of your story:


54 thoughts on “Q & A and Pitch Contest With Editor Angela James”

  1. Appreciating the time and effort you put into your site and in depth information you present.
    It’s good to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the
    same unwanted rehashed material. Great read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to
    my Google account.

  2. It will help you have a good budget and a possible discounted beach wedding package if you will prefer to celebrate your wedding
    on a non-holiday season. This will typically cost much
    less than a formal sit-down dinner or buffet wedding reception. Here are
    some examples from David’s Bridal Invitations:.

  3. So excited to be one of the stories requested by Carina Press. Thanks for holding this contest and congratulations to all the other winners.

  4. Hi everyone! Thank you all so much for pitching to me, I was impressed with everything I read. I want to make it clear that I know that pitching in this short amount of characters is very difficult, and in fact, even a face-to-face pitch makes it difficult to judge the book. So even if we didn’t specifically call out a request for book below, you are still 100% welcome to submit it to us, because in the end, it’s the pages of the book that are most important to us!

    The reason it took me until today to respond was so the other editors could look these ever as well. Therefore, you’ll see requests from five of us below. To submit, please follow the submissions guidelines at http://carinapress.com/blog/submission-guidelines/ All submissions that don’t follow guidelines are kicked back to the author for completion. If your manuscript was requested in the list below, you’re invited to use this unique category to submit, rather than choosing one of the general categories. Using this category lets us know it was submitted in response to this pitch session. http://carinapress.submittable.com/submit/1843f79d-950e-458d-a8fc-15a4a0c6ed93

    Here are the requests. From me:

    One More Chance by Cheryl Erickson
    Juiced by Karen Rock
    Keeping Faith by Amy Valentine
    Wash by Naomi Fraser
    Rumor Has It by Leela Lou Dahlin
    Blackjack by Christine Donovan

    From Alissa Davis:
    Going All the Way by Heidi Ulrich
    Off the Pitch by Amanda K Byrne

    From Mallory Braus:
    Scarred by Marie Long
    Soulless by Monica Corwin
    Supernatural Freak by Louisa Klein
    PI Blues by Bri Manning

    From Jeff Seymour:
    Robena Grant, Ring Me Later
    Amberly Smith, Marriage Most Convenient
    From Deb Nemeth:
    Once Upon a Playlist
    Forgetting Jane



  5. Name: Christine Donovan
    Title: BLACKJACK
    Genre: Contemporary
    Finished Word Count: 87,000
    Maximum 200- word blurb:

    Cole Jackson spends fifteen years in prison for a murder he did not commit, the murder of his wife Lindsey.

    His talent as a songwriter, and being an avid reader, save him from the loneliness of the cold, dark and unforgiving prison walls. But as he joins the world of the free again, he struggles with his once again fame, because of his rock-n-roll band, of being a convicted killer and the fact that his self-esteem and self-respect were lost years ago. Prison will do that to you, not to mention drugs, alcohol and an unfaithful wife.

    He no longer has the drugs, the alcohol, or the unfaithful wife. What he has is a tarnished reputation and the determination to find the true killer and restore his life.

    Shannon Gallagher’s hard work as a writer has finally paid off. She believes her life is complete until she meets Cole Jackson. She idolized him at sixteen, cried at twenty-one when he went to prison. Now at thirty-six she meets him and falls instantly in love. But as Cole gets closer to his wife’s killer, he puts Shannon’s life in danger. Can he expose the murderer and keep Shannon safe?

    First 100 words or first paragraph of your story:

    Groping the wall blindly, hoping to steady his rubbery legs, Cole Jackson swore as he realized he was totally wasted. The hotel hallway seemed to sway violently like a ship caught in a serious gale—the kind small boats don’t survive intact.

    “Shit,” he yelled as he collapsed to one knee then slowly raised himself up and continued shuffling toward the room he shared with his wife, Lindsey.
    From a distant haze, voices pummeled through the buzz surrounding his brain. Faces blurred, and flashed in and out and around the black spots plaguing his eyesight.

    One person asked, “How’d the show go tonight, Mr. Jackson

  6. Stephanie Robitaille

    Name: Stephanie Robitaille

    Title: Winging It

    Genre: YA Paranormal Romance

    Finished Word Count: 90K

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    When a car accident suddenly ends her life, Aiden Saunders finds herself living the highlife—literally. But she soon discovers that nothing is simple, not even Paradise. In the age-old battle between good and evil, Hell is beginning to gain the upper hand. For centuries now demons have been dragging angels under, but when Aiden’s friend is taken, she can no longer sit idly by. She becomes the first spirit in over a century to attempt the Angel Trials.

    To save Heaven and earn her wings, Aiden must infiltrate Hell and set the trapped angels free. The only way into Hell is through a tunnel that connects directly to Earth; however, the location of this tunnel is the demons’ most carefully guarded secret.

    In order for her mission to succeed Aiden must find a demon and follow him into Hell. After months of rigorous training she returns to her old high school, where a known demon is active. But once confronted with her demon, the mission becomes personal, and one hell of a lot more complicated. All plans are thrown aside as Angel falls for Demon, and the black and white concepts of good and evil are rendered forever grey.

    First 100 words or first paragraph of your story:

    Sometimes life can be so pointless that all one can do is sit tight and wait for death. That was exactly what I found myself doing on April 19, 1978, only this time, death actually came. I was sitting on a couch wedged between two extremely drunk individuals. I had a drink in my hand and I had never needed it more, but fate or maybe just plain old bad luck, had other plans. The jerk on my right passed out suddenly, knocking my hand as he fell against me and causing me to spill my drink. It splashed onto my shirt, completely soaking me. I leaned back in my seat, letting off a stream of colourful swear words.

    “My life is complete and utter crap.”

  7. Name: Layna Pimentel
    Title: Shadowed By Sin
    Genre: Gothic Romance/Historical Romantic Suspense
    Finished Word Count: 35k
    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    On the cusp of inheriting his grandfather’s earldom, Benedict St. John is mysteriously summoned to an old university mate’s estate to celebrate his return from the continent. The request, while odd, provides him an opportunity to introduce his lovely fiancée to society as his future countess. However, when attendees either go missing, or servants turn up dead, Benedict realizes the proper connections come with a price.
    Estelle Humphrey’s history with the hosts is a memory best forgotten, but she unknowingly comes into possession of the single item that could solve the house’s deadly mystery. Burying herself deep in the scandal, she’s believed to have gone mad by everyone involved. Until Benedict mysteriously vanishes. Determined to aid in his rescue, Estelle summons the Inspector for one last inspection of the manor’s abandoned cellar and uncovers secrets better left hidden.

    First 100 words or first paragraph of your story:
    Estelle Humphrey clenched her fists at her side. Why did the name on the invitation seem familiar? She pushed the thought aside, and tried focusing on her and Benedict. Since the announcement of this impromptu trip, he’d been distant and troubled. She wanted to ask him what had him so vexed, but decided it would be for the best to let things alone. If he desired her to be informed, he would have done so by now.

  8. Cheryl Etchison

    Title: One More Chance (book #1 of a planned series)

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Word Count: 78K


    For years, Staff Sergeant Danny MacGregor preached to anyone who would listen that military and matrimony don’t mix. But while home on leave, he runs into Bree Dunbar, the girl he once loved and left behind. After learning of her struggles, he can’t help himself from playing the hero and proposes a marriage of convenience, not only as a way to help her, but ease ten years’ worth of guilt.

    If it weren’t for bad luck, Bree Dunbar wouldn’t have any. After taking hit after hit after hit, she wants nothing more than a fresh start in a new place. Unfortunately, the new beginning she’s been wishing for comes with one major string attached — the man who broke her heart ten years before.

    Their marriage is supposed to be temporary, but could be an unexpected chance at forever.

    First 100 words:

    Danny MacGregor stared at the black screen knowing he was good and screwed. The dead cellphone meant he had no way to call for an exfil, no GPS. And aside from standing on the deck of a million dollar beach house, he had no fucking clue as to his whereabouts. Only one thing was for certain– he wasn’t going back inside to wake last night’s distraction and ask for directions. Or worse yet, ask her to drive him to his daddy’s house.

    Not just no, but hell no.

    “God. I’m getting too old for this shit.”

  9. Name:Amanda K Byrne

    Title:Off the Pitch

    Genre:Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count:52K

    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    Seattle Pirates goalkeeper Cade Monroe’s reaching the end of his career, and he knows it. He’s also not about to let that slow him down. On the pitch, he’s calm and in control, ready to lead the club to their second straight play-off run. Off the pitch, he goes after what he wants – and he always gets it.

    After surviving a scandal that could have ruined her, Krista Gordon’s spent the last two years with her head down. When Cade corners her at a fundraising gala and proposes a joint venture between her non-profit and his charitable foundation, her interest is piqued, in more ways than one. Ones she’s determined to ignore.

    But one kiss turns into two, and two kisses turn into a dinner date that doesn’t make it out of the bedroom. Their fire-hot chemistry grows into the kind of relationship Krista’s longed for, so when their pictures start popping up in the tabloids, she tries to push her doubts aside. Cade’s fame threatens to expose the past she’s done everything she could to bury. If it gets out, she could lose her career – and her pride.

    If she loses Cade, she could lose her heart.

    First 100 words or first paragraph of your story:

    Krista checked her bright pink clipboard for the tenth time. “Josie, go find the Pirates for me? They’re due on stage soon.”

    Her assistant dashed off as fast as her three inch heels could carry her, and Krista turned her attention back to the stage. Item number five, a tour of the Xbox offices and four hours in the test lab, was in the middle of a bidding war. Her lips curled in a smirk. Boys and their toys. Most of the attendees were men with deep pockets and their wives who insisted they do something good with their money.

  10. Name: Amberly Smith

    Title: Marriage Most Convenient

    Genre: M/M Romance

    Finished Word Count: 36,500

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Tom lives the life of a thrill-seeking nomad. Steady jobs and pensions are for people without trust funds. Now that Tom is 35 and able to draw from his inheritance, he plans to develop and run a full access retreat for disabled kids. You know, actually settle down. He just needs to convince his best friend to marry him first.

    Luke’s goal is simple. Don’t go on one more crazy adventure with Tom. He’s trying to be realistic about his success rate so has a backup plan. Don’t fall in love. You see, caution prevents heartache. Plan C involves surviving when Tom leaves for his next adventure. Then Tom not only proposes but confesses to one seriously hot kink.

    For their friendship to survive this marriage, they’ll need to face DOMA, conservative judges, and long held beliefs about each other. Talk about getting caught by the short hairs.

    First 100 words or first paragraph of your story:

    As the youngest, Tom Flynn should have been warned that the sadistic old broad, aka Aunt Chelsea, had set restrictions to the trust fund. His brother or sister or one of the cousins could have taken two minutes anytime in the past thirty-four years to mention the stipulation. But they hadn’t and now his dreams would turn back to wishful thinking.

    He couldn’t let it go, he had to check. “Did everyone else–?”

    “All seven trust funds are the same. Word for word,” Mr. Aziano steepled his fingers above his copy of the documents.

    “Thirty-five and–?”

    “And married.”

  11. Name: Leela Lou Dahlin

    Title: Rumor Has It

    Genre: Erotic Romance

    Finished Word Count: 55,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Raina Gibson is an event organizer who has planned a family of her own ever since her mother passed away. The idea – married by the age twenty-six and two wonderful children by the age of thirty. She had everything in place, but one thing keeps getting in her way…her best friend Liam Prescott. She’s attracted to his sexy confidence and intrigued by his spontaneity. Rumor has it this committed bachelor is phenomenal between the sheets and since she’s never known anything but ordinary she figures that has to be the draw. She’s determined to get him out of her system and get herself back on track.

    Liam is a Lieutenant Fire Chief who has never forgotten what it feels like to have the most important woman walk away without looking back and he’s not willing to put himself through that again. Something about Raina makes him want to keep her close and protect her, but when Raina propositions him he’s torn. They’re thrown together to complete the Annual Fire Ball and the more he has her the more he wants. He has to decide. Should turn a new leaf or hose down these new behaviors for what’s worked before?

    First 100 words or first paragraph of your story:

    “I heard a rumor,” Raina Gibson blurted out as she watched her best friend Liam Prescott sitting next to her. One would have thought he’d have flinched from her tone or from the sudden blast, her voice shot out into the quiet living room, but he continued reading the Firehouse Magazine he seemed to love so much. She’d bought the subscription for his birthday and always wondered when he was going to ask why it was delivered to her house and not his. Talking to him, when he was reading about fire retardant information or the latest in gadgets, was her brilliant plan. When his mind was otherwise occupied she felt could get answers to questions she wouldn’t normally get.

  12. Name: Angela Kay Austin
    Title: Fre
    Genre: Historical Romance
    Finished Word Count: 73,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    The train ride from Baltimore, Maryland to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania would mean Fre and her brother could be killed if they were captured. But, there was no way in hell they would ever return to Baltimore.

    Fre had one chance to live the life of a free woman, not that of a slave. The Promised Land.

    Watson Brown had died once to protect the lives of those stolen from their homeland. The runaway crying over the body of the one who had fallen before him should not affect him. Should not.

    With slave hunters and dogs chasing her, who can Fre trust? Watson?

    First 100 words of first paragraph of your story:

    The whistle of the train bellowed as the jerky motion of the locomotive slowed. The landscape outside of Fre’s window once again came into focus, and was no longer a mass of blurred colorful figures in the distance. She glanced, quickly, at her brother. She did not smile, and neither did he. As she took in Triumph’s features, her heartbeat quickened. Without the hat she wore, there was not much difference in them, only their complexions. Their mother called them her angels because she had never seen two babies who looked so much alike.

  13. Hi Angela, do you ever put a limit on how many books in any one sub-genre/theme you will release in say a 12 month period? And could you share with us the “typical” time line a new-to-Carina Press author would experience once a book is purchased by you?

    Thank you,

    1. Hi Debra! We don’t have an exact limit, but I do have a master schedule where I track every genre. We strive for a certain combination of genres in both a month and a year, but there’s nothing set in stone, it’s simply a combination of our knowledge of the industry, what’s trending, how certain genres are selling, and some gut instinct.

      What a new author can expect for timeline actually varies pretty widely. The earliest is generally 6 months from acquisition to publication, though we have done it faster, we don’t like to, because editing, pre-marketing and PR take time. The longest a new author might wait is probably 9 months. We set release dates based on a variety of variables, including whether we want to stockpile an author’s books, so we can release a duology or trilogy very close together, making sure there aren’t too many of one genre in a month, and sometimes even timing to the season!

  14. Name:

    Title: WASH

    Genre: Cowboy Fantasy Space Opera (Firefly flavoured)

    Finished Word Count:52K (Book 1)

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Victoria Undine is a water healer who was raised by a robot on the glorious planet of Echyion. After her legal age release, she’s kidnapped by mercenaries and sold to a planet where non-compliance is met with torture.

    Spaceship Captain, Marcus Collins wants the water technology which made one of the hottest planets in the system flood. When Victoria walks into a bar, trying to trade passage off the planet for water, he doesn’t believe or comprehend she’s the answer to his dreams.

    First 100 words or first paragraph of your story:

    Hydration ends in four hours, and counting…

    A heat wave grips Oshiro the day after I flooded her largest city. My blue aura ripples over my knuckles, flaring at odd moments as water rehydrates cells. Even in the desert, I can never die from thirst. But I have to shake away the energy with trembling hands and grip the wagon’s reins because the boy in the open wagon ahead looks at me for the third time in two minutes.
    One wrong word about what he’s seen… and my little sister might go back in jail.

  15. Name: Brie Manning
    Title: PI Blues
    Genre: Mystery/Romance
    Finished word count: 70,200

    Word Blurb:

    Becoming a Private Investigator had always been Dawn Snow’s dream job. But after she opened the doors of a detective agency in Hollywood with her partner, Frannie, she was disappointed by the lack of big cases—until Silver Dubois, a famous movie star was murdered in her mansion, while reenacting her Oscar winning scene. The guests that were invited did not like Silver Dubois, but since she was blackmailing most of them, they felt it was important to show up. There was a stupendous director and his actress wife—who had no talent. There was a producer, whose dark secret, if revealed, could ruin his successful career. There was a scriptwriter with loads of talent, along with loads of rebellion. And a hunky actor, who had a few secrets he didn’t want known to his fans. The two sleuths sniff out clues, and both find romance along the way. Dawn, fed up with her cop boyfriend, meets a man that throws her off balance. When the clues finally tumble into place, and the answers are revealed, things don’t turn out as Dawn intended; she finds herself in a desperate situation—where someone is sure to wind up dead.

    First 100 words:

    I’ve always liked living in a big city, making it easy for me to blend in with the oodles of other people who are too busy minding their own high ambitions of clawing to the top of the money pile to be minding mine. Don’t get me wrong. I’m as ambitious as the next guy when it comes to keeping the doors of my private investigative business open, but when my high aspirations had me chasing after a gigantic, sloppy puppy, I knew that it was time to rethink my career move.

  16. Name: Victoria Pinder

    Title: Secret Mother

    Genre: Contemporary Romance

    Finished Word Count: 65000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    Jenna Tate came home to Green Acres Florida to bury her father and see her brother marry. Settled back into the small town she grew up in, she’s ready to give up running away from her life. But then one text changes everything. Her baby she thought dead was very much alive.

    Colt McCrea found out in the Marines Officer training program that he was a dad and that Jenna forged his name to adoption papers. Luckily fate helped him out and he’s raised Clara on his own since they day she was born. Now fresh out of service, he’s set to return home and take over his family’s organic farm corporation. He had no idea Jenna Tate came home.

    Colt lets Jenna move into his house pretending to be the nanny, and Jenna sets off a chain of events. He even believes her story that her father lied to her, but he refuses to fall for Jenna Tate ever again.

    First 100 words or first paragraph of your story:
    Smiling at the young woman about to purchase the most elaborate Sophia Tolli bridal gown in her boutique, Jenna Tate sneaked a peak at the screen on her vibrating cell phone. ‘Did you have a kid and not tell anyone?’

    Her mouth fell open and her heart skipped a beat. While waiting for the credit card to process, her unsteady fingers typed a reply. ‘Call me.’

    Jenna’s hands shook while she tore the receipt from the printer and handed it to the bride-to-be. Her phone vibrated. “You’re going to be so happy,” she managed, handing the woman a pen, then glancing at her cousin’s text. ‘Can’t.’

  17. Name: Louisa Klein

    Title: Supernatural Freak

    Genre: dark fantasy

    Finished Word Count: 75000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    When paranormal expert Robyn Wise is offered an outrageous sum of money to cure a boy who is turning into a dead tree, she’s very sceptical. A politician ready to pay that much to make his son stop growing branches instead of hair? Come on! She’s more likely to be abducted by aliens. This is a trap. Or much worse. And, of course, it’s much worse.
    The child is turning into a dark portal, created by a powerful entity determined to absorb Fairyland’s power. This means that not only Queen Titania and her court are in danger, but the very balance of the magic fluxes.
    She’d rather stick a pencil in her own eye, but to learn how to destroy the portal, she has to sneak into the Wizardry Council, a place full of wizards who are hiding something—though it’s certainly not their dislike of Robyn.
    There, she discovers a secret that could help to overthrow Fairyland’s enemies for good, a secret that puts her in the midst of an ancient and deadly war, and not as a bystander, but as the main target.

    First 100 words or first paragraph of your story:

    Faced with being alone in the middle of nowhere at night, the true Londoner doesn’t lose her head but takes a deep breath, smoothes her jacket, and goes in search of a bobby or a black cab. Only foreigners freak out in such circumstances. Londoners, on the other hand, being the most British of all British people, never ever freak out. Still, when you are a paranormal expert who’s in a deserted area of the Docks and are supposed to heal a werewolf with the aid of a shaman who hasn’t shown up, I’m afraid the only reasonable reaction is to…
    “Run!” Mr Wilson growls, getting worryingly hirsute. He has a point. A skinny girl in her twenties is no match for a werewolf, and I don’t think that telling him I’m a dog person would make much of a difference.

  18. Name: Robena Grant
    Title: Ring Me Later
    Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
    Word Count: 72,000

    A second chance at romance turns deadly.
    He’s a reclusive, wealthy, hotelier who never got over his first love. She ran away to London to escape him and his obsession with money. After five years abroad, she has returned to Los Angeles to pursue a career in public relations at a well-known medical center. She’s certain their paths won’t ever cross.
    Forced into working together because of a multi-million dollar grant, she must keep her wits about her. He wants to redeem himself; she wants to prove her capabilities in this new field. He’s advancing; she’s retreating. As her heart warms to him, she becomes embroiled in a web of deceit that ensures someone will gain billions. She is being stalked, his flagship Arizona hotel and spa is involved in arson, a wealthy Broadway producer is trying to buy it, and the paparazzi are having a field day with his return to the social scene.
    With nowhere to hide, they must trust in each other. Could all roads lead back to London?

    First 100 words:
    Lisa stared at the grant approval letter as she paced the room, anger and disbelief colliding in her chest. How dare he? The amount was obscene.
    Holding the letter in a shaky hand, she gazed through the tiny window in her office and out the picture windows lining the long corridor. I will not run away again. Her new boss had said on a good day you could see Catalina Island. She stood on tip toes. No such luck. Today, the Los Angeles smog merged with a turbulent gray ocean.
    She grabbed the phone on the fourth ring. “Lisa Carpenter.”

  19. Title: Sarah in Wonderland

    Genre: Romantic Comedy

    Word Count: 80k

    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.

  20. Name: Monica Corwin
    Title: Soulless
    Genre: Paranormal Romance
    Finished Word Count: 50,000
    Maximum 200-word blurb: In early 21st century New York, a group of scientists have not only cured cancer but have also created a serum that gives every person nine souls. With “expendable” life available to militaries and dictators alike, Earth falls into World War III and all of the state-governments collapse leaving the Catholic Church to step in, govern the populace, and clean up the mess across the globe. In a world where you can barter or steal souls, it takes people like Constance, church detectives in the soul theft division, to hunt these criminals down, and strip them of their remaining souls.

    When soul-thieving con man, Noah Hannock, plunks himself on the church’s radar, he becomes Constance Grace’s problem. With her partner, Mikon Cross and seven of her nine given souls remaining, Connie is the only investigator with the ability to work the highest level of society to fish out Noah. But she must do this without murdering Mikon or sleeping with him, both of which would be bad.

    First 100 words or first paragraph of your story:
    Constance Grace sat bolt upright in a dark alley, the water stagnant on the ground from the day’s thunderstorm already soaking her clothes. Dirty brick walls and refuse crowded close, even though the alley stretched pretty large for the crumbling part of town. The smell alone was enough to cause her another death if she didn’t get out of there. Rotting vegetables or human remains lay beyond the far dumpsters and Constance held no plans to seek it out.
    She rubbed her wet cheeks with her dirty hands and grimaced. Her pores were never going to forgive her.
    “Great. I freaking died. Again.”

  21. Hi Angela,

    Can I submit a pitch for a book that is out on submission to eHarlequin? Sorry if you have already answered this question. This is the first opportunity I’ve had all day to join in here. The book is currently entitled THE BUSINESS OF LOVE – Book 1 Grimaldi Family Series. It is completed contemporary romance with elements of suspense and approximately 52,000 words in length.



    1. Hi Anna, we don’t accept simultaneous submissions at any Harlequin imprint. We all have the policy of asking authors to only submit to one Harlequin imprint at a time.

  22. Name: Marnee Bailey
    Genre: Regency historical romance
    Finished word count: 70,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    When James Cassity inherits his family barony, the title comes with bankrupt estates and the pressing need for a rich bride. However, no heiress will have him, thanks to his cousin’s treason. Cass’s only hope is to find Annabelle Swanson, the vicar’s runaway daughter and the object of his boyhood fantasies. Belle holds the key to proving his cousin’s innocence, but when they meet again, clearing the family name is complicated by his now very adult desire.

    After a decade spent hiding in London and working as a courtesan, Belle has nearly saved enough money to retire to a quiet life with her son. She refuses to help Cass search for the real traitor, certain he will stir up the danger she fled from years ago and threaten her family. But, when Cass is nearly killed, Belle can no longer deny him her assistance—or the strength of her burgeoning attraction.

    Together, they begin the risky pursuit of a criminal, but their greatest risk may be pursuing what’s in their hearts.

    First 100 words:
    As Annabelle Swanson climbed onto the plush bench across from Cass, she gave no indication that finding him in her carriage at dawn surprised her. Sometime in the past decade she’d learned to shield her reactions. That insight saddened him.
    “Hello, Belle. You look well.” A bold lie. She looked stunning, the kind of beautiful that made men do crazy things. Exactly as he pictured Helen of Troy.
    She smoothed her skirts and the jewels on her hands glinted in the morning light. “As do you, Jamie.”
    The childhood name made him cringe. “I’m just Cass now.”

  23. Title: The Talking Tree

    Genre: Woman’s Fiction/Romance

    Finished Word Count: 85,000 words

    Maximum 200 Word Blurb:

    Houses have souls. Staring at the peeling paint and darkened windows of her childhood home, chills skitter across Marissa Cole’s shoulders. Cruelty and rejection had formed its core. She now lives in a house in Atlanta—a house that had never heard of her mother Margaret, a house that soothes her with its silent compassion for all she’s gone through, a house that is safe. Death brings her back to Barnham, New York and into a life she never could have imagined.

    First 100 words or first paragraph of the story:

    I stood staring at the peeling paint and darkened windows of my childhood home. Cruelty and rejection had formed its core. Chills skittered across my shoulders and the old anxiety I’d always known here gripped my body, choking me. I’d run away at eighteen, and now lived in a house in Atlanta that had never heard of Marissa Cole or her mother Margaret, a house that was safe.

    Death had brought me back to upstate Barnham, New York on this brisk April morning. Breathing deeply, I headed out to the back yard to what I’d called the Talking Tree.

  24. Name: Amy Valentini
    Genre: Romantic Suspense
    Finished Word Count: 98K
    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    Business is Bad. Prostitutes disappearing from the L-station across the street aren’t doing much to improve it either. Worried about her salon going out of business, Faith O’Reilly hasn’t time to think about herself or her non-existent love life until her gorgeous tenant reappears after an unexplained absence.

    Kyle Davies is not thrilled to be on a case, which literally lands in his own back yard. Lying to his beautiful landlady just isn’t on his list of things he’d been wishing to do to her since he first met her six months earlier. Knowing the NYPD’s prime suspect in the disappearance of prostitutes is close friends with Faith pushes Kyle to be as on top of his game as he can be while the amber-eyed beauty distracts him every moment she’s near.

    When employees of Colorful Cuts start to die and disappear, Kyle needs to decide what he can and can’t tell Faith. Knowing the truth may do more than drive a wedge between them, it may put Faith directly in danger, and Kyle is determined not to let that happen. Finding the truth, while keeping Faith safe, may be more difficult than he counted on.

    First 100 words or first paragraph of your story:
    “Well, so much for a happy start to this Tuesday. It looks like another girl went missing from the corner,” Natalie announced in her Brooklynese accent as she pushed her way past the door into Colorful Cuts with a paper drink tray containing four coffees from the local coffee bistro. She tossed her long red ponytail over her shoulder as she shifted her burden to shut the door behind her.
    Faith O’Reilly’s belly tightened at the thought that yet another girl was lost to the cruelty of the city. She knew the station near the corner had become a popular

    Thanks for the opportunity.

  25. Monique Insalaco

    Name: Monique Insalaco

    Title: Of Magic and the Sea


    Finished Word Count: 65,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Held captive in a stone cavern for six centuries, Highlander Lachlan MacGregor must suffer inscrutable torture as he drowns every day with each high tide, only to have his immortal blood revive him.

    Psychology Professor, Brenna Sinclair struggles with unwelcomed psychic visions. Invariably the most desperate souls in the direst circumstances reach out for her aid, and Lachlan is no exception.

    When Brenna awakens one morning coughing salt water from her lungs as Lachlan drowns, she realizes their connection is more than psychic and she risks her own life and a chance at love if she fails to heed the visions call.

    First 100 words or first paragraph of your story:

    Brenna Sinclair dismissed her students and watched them skitter out of the lecture hall like lemmings, each one vying for the lead.
    Her efforts to collect her notes and books and stuff them into her briefcase faltered when a wave of dizziness swept over her. She grabbed the podium with both hands and steadied herself.
    Tiny droplets of sweat beaded at her temple, and her stomach roiled like an angry sea. She closed her eyes and fought to control her rapid, shallow breathing.
    Oh no, please not now.
    The horror show started.
    Torchlight flickered, casting dancing shadows throughout the cavern.

  26. Name: Jade Chandler
    Title: Made for Sin
    Genre: contemporary romance
    Finished Word Count: 60K

    200 word blurb:

    A run away from West Texas transforms herself into the mysterious lady of Desire, owner of an exclusive sex club in Austin, Texas. At the height of success, Sin still yearns for something. That something is a rock god with the voice of an angel and the looks of a devil. Their complicated relationship is hot in the bedroom but cold everywhere else. Sin is afraid she cannot overcome the mistakes of her past with Zak, or her zealous father who reappears. He is determined to put her on the path of God or see her dead.
    Disillusioned with the rock-n-roll lifestyle, Zak craves a woman who sees more in him than a rock star. Sin crushed him when she walked out the first time. Zak is hesitant to risk his heart again – even for the only woman he ever loved. Zak and Sin face their fears in search of love, but when happily ever after seems possible, Sin’s past threatens everything, even their lives.

    Leaving love behind, Zak and Sin take separate paths to success. But success is a cold lover. Now with everything they always wanted, the two lovers discover that they need each other most of all.

    First 100 words:

    Zak bared his soul for the crowd, and the familiar thrill coursed through his veins. He scanned the sea of faces, fan girls screamed his name as they vied for his attention. He reveled in the moment; the band had battled to earn the spotlight.

    He swung his black hair from his face as he prowled the stage. With a growl, he spat out the next verse. The crowd pulsed with the heavy beat of the band. They transformed thousands of individuals into one creature that devoured the emotion of the show. He and his friends served as the catalyst that freed the beast.

  27. Name: Lynn Graeme

    Title: Finding You

    Genre: Contemporary romance

    Finished Word Count: 35,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:

    Taz Lancaster has lived in Saltspring Cove all her life. Sure, nothing ever happens here, but so what? A low-key life is all she’s ever wanted. When a mysterious stranger moves into the cottage next door, it’s the biggest news to hit the small island community in years, and she’s not sure she likes the change.

    Matthew Collingwood is tired, grumpy, and just wants to get away from it all. His best friend’s cottage sounds like the perfect anonymous retreat for a burned-out billionaire. The last thing he wants is to be distracted by his pretty young neighbor, or for her conniving grandmothers to play matchmaker. Still, there’s something about Taz’s smile that he can’t resist, and her curves are enough to drive any man dizzy.

    But Taz won’t leave Saltspring Cove, and Matthew can’t stay forever. Can a high-flying CEO tempt a shy baker to leave the only home and family she’s ever known?

    First 100 words or first paragraph of your story:

    Taz blamed the new neighbor for burning her cookies.

    Not that he’d done it on purpose, of course. She doubted he even knew of their existence in the first place. He certainly wasn’t the one who’d left them in the oven too long. Still, if he hadn’t distracted the Lancaster Ladies from their bridge game, they would never have perched around the front porch window to ogle at him, and they would never have insisted that Taz watch along with them, and she would never have been so flustered that she lost all track of time.

    So, yeah. Totally his fault.

  28. Hello Angela, Thank you so much for this great opportunity!

    Name: Debra Elise


    Genre: Paranormal, light suspense

    Finished Word Count: 60k

    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    Alexandru “Xander” Costache is an immortal warrior who leads an elite corps of soldiers known as The Brethren Syndicate. They are called upon to go into places no other immortals dare. When his boss manipulates the star-gate system on Earth to pull Xander’s prophesied mate through to him while on a mission, he must overcome his long held prejudices when it’s revealed she’s a hybrid Fae—and part Witch, a race he believes killed his family.
    Wanting nothing to do with prophesied destinies, true love or Prince Charming, Sierra Grant makes her own rules. Hiding behind black-rimmed fake glasses and a minimizer bra, she goes about her days cloaked in a spell to hide her Fae beauty while selling love and fortune potions to the down and out in Las Vegas.

    Forced together by a prophecy Sierra refuses to accept, they battle their overwhelming attraction as they cross the globe. They hunt down Guyson, a fallen angel who was once Xander’s mentor and friend, who covets Xander’s destiny, and Sierra for himself. They also race to possess the mythical Emerald Tablets, which hold all the secrets and knowledge of the universe and Guyson’s key to world domination.

    First 100 words or first paragraph of your story:

    Alexandru Costache was pissed off. He stretched his six-three frame and ran his hand through his hair, again. Another fucking beetle. He hated bugs–damn jungle. He scanned the area to make sure his team was still in place while they waited out the storm. His usual mode of operation was on hold as the South American jungle was dumping sheets of rain, creating a thick mist rising from the forest floor. Forced to hide under the large canopies of the Kapok trees, he and his two-man squad waited it out. Sent on this mission to gather in-tel was one thing. No problem, as an elite corps of the Brethren Syndicate known as the Syn, they could do this mission in their sleep. It was the timing that sucked.

  29. First of all, thank you very much, Angela, for this opportunity! I loved the Q&A interview.

    Name: Marie Long

    Title: Scarred

    Genre: New Adult

    Finished Word Count: 70,000

    Maximum 200-word blurb:
    For Dominick Anderson, a young African-American from Seattle, life’s a struggle. Especially his life. Growing up with a violent father has made Dominick slow to love and trust, and he relies on his brother, Kevin, to keep him on the straight path of life.

    Dominick fights his internal demons every day, every night. Now a sophomore at the University of Washington, and working a steady job at a local mechanic’s shop, Dominick just wants to live a better life for himself and have the future his father never wanted him to have.

    Dominick suppresses his identity and feelings, and lives a life without attachments until he meets Denise Ramsey. Smart, stunningly gorgeous, and sharing a love for motorcycles, Denise is everything Dominick longs for in a girl, but knows he can never have. But when her past love threatens her life and brings out Dominick’s suppressed violent side, he must decide if she’s
    worth the risk of confronting his inner demons.

    Scarred is the first of three New Adult Romance novels that follows the Anderson brothers: Dominick, Kevin, and Michael.

    First 100 words or first paragraph of your story:
    I can’t concentrate.
    That voice is in my head again.
    That voice — his voice.
    “Boy, sit the fuck down now!”
    I cringe.
    “Don’t move or say a fucking word, understand?”
    I bite my lip. He sounds so close.
    Something hits me on the forehead, snapping me back to reality. I hiss and blink a few times and stare up at the underside of a car — the chassis of a sedan, to be exact. Damn, I zoned out again. Tumbled into memories I’ve been trying to bury for years.
    Fuck him. Fuck the world.

  30. Name: Becky Lower
    Title: Barnswallow Summer
    Genre: Contemporary Romance
    Word Count 68,000 words
    Blurb: Nora Wilkins Sherwood’s life is in shambles. Her husband wants a divorce, her father just died, and she’s having to deal with her rebellious teenage daughter. In true Wilkins fashion, she flees to the lake to put the pieces of her life back together. The lake house at Barnswallow Lake, or Wallow Lake, as her family refers to it, provides refuge in those first horrible weeks, when her daughter and soon-to-be-ex are in Paris. Once she pulls up her big girl panties, she decides to fulfill a lifelong ambition and become an interior designer. It’s just a shame the ramshackle Victorian By The Lake has already been sold. To a handsome man with a huge dog.

    The last thing Nick Foxworthy wants is to get involved with another woman on the rebound. Been there, done that. What he wants is to get back to basics, which means getting his hands dirty rebuilding the old Queen Anne Victorian that he’s dreamt about for years, instead of running a million dollar company. He barely gets started when his Irish Wolfhound mows down a woman who is installing a patio by herself. As repayment for his dog’s bad behavior, Nick offers his help for the most difficult part of the install process. What he doesn’t count on is how much she’ll help him.

    Two broken souls use an old house and a new business partnership to come together. All in one magical summer at the lake.

    The Barnswallow Lake Trilogy

    Three generations of women
    Three broken hearts
    Three summers at Wallow Lake to heal

    Opening paragraph:

    Nora had been in the fetal position so long her back hurt. She had put on a brave face in front of Zelda, as she and Bob attempted to explain to her what was inexplainable. Zelda cried, as would be expected of a teenager, but then also perked up as the invitation to spend two weeks in Paris with just Dad for company was dangled. Also as would be expected of a teenager.
    So, her family was off on an adventure, and she was all alone at the lake house. Her fractured family.
    All alone.
    For the first time in her life.

    Thank you, Angela, for this opportunity.

  31. Angela – thank you for joining us on the Blog today! I’m curious where you see the market going in terms of themes. Small town, rock stars, sports, all seem to be cresting. IS there anything you would really like to see now from a theme perspective?

    1. Hi Heidi! Themes are difficult, because they seem to be cycling fairly quickly in the market, much more quickly than they ever used to. A few things I see as being on trend are the same things I’m personally looking for: mafia, hitmen, assassins, anti-heroes, and as a whole genre, romantic suspense.

      I know editor Kerri Buckley from Carina sees potential in the Army Wives (TV show for those unfamiliar) where we take the military theme and turn it around to focus on the families/wives, rather than on the soldiers.

      I’ve also seen editors asking for things set in big city vs small town, as well as sports romances (we’ve been exploring this as a theme for about a year now).

      1. Thanks, Angela!! I have seen so many themes cycle through very quickly. It used to be you could see them around for a while but things are coming and going very quickly. Thank you for sharing your insight!

      2. Thanks for the insight, Angela! I’ve been seeing a lot of Romantic Suspense stories appearing on the market these days. It’s really hard to keep up with the constantly-changing trends. As you mentioned, I agree that TV/Movies (esp. reality shows) and similar media play a big part in the trend-setting.

  32. Name: Karen Rock
    Title: Juiced
    Contemporary Romance (on crack)
    Finished Word Count: 73,000


    When a brutal attack lands her father in a coma, retired ballet dancer, Reese Landon, must return to Dallas to manage her family business- a male and female strip club. She’s shocked to learn that her father had agreed to inform on a far-reaching, politically-connected mafia group. To help the investigation, she agrees to train a gorgeous officer assigned to go undercover as a male dancer. Despite her resolve not to get involved, his mouth-watering physique entices her to give into their explosive sexual chemistry. The sooner she helps solve the case, the faster she can leave this tempting man and the dangerous life she’d fled long ago.

    Blake Knight’s played a lot of roles as an undercover agent, but exotic dancer is a first. At least he still gets to wear a uniform, even if it is made with Velcro. He’s determined to bring down this human trafficking and drug ring, but the gorgeous daughter of the club’s owner captures his attention as well. As much as he’d enjoy lingering in the bedroom with this mind-blowing woman, he can’t risk losing focus. The closer he gets to Reese, the more his protective instincts rocket into overdrive. Attempts on her life make it clear she holds the key to explosive information. Yet how to discover it, and bring down his target, before they harm the woman he’s growing to love- especially when she volunteers herself as bait?


    An eighties hair-band tune rocked inside the dim club. The throbbing sound seemed to pulse from its gritty floors, mirrored walls and musk-laden air that hung heavy and thick around the patrons crowding a glossy wooden stage.

    Home sweet home, thought Reese Landon, as she pushed her way through the swaying horde, a sea of waving dollar bills held overhead.

    “Yo, Reese!” shouted a man wearing only a black cowboy hat, boots and leather chaps. He leaped off the stage, earning a squealing protest from his adoring fans, and grabbed her around the waist. “Good to see you, darlin’. Sorry about your dad.”

  33. Name: Tanya Agler
    Title: Mistletoe Misgivings
    Genre: Contemporary (Series)
    Finished Word Count: 68,000
    200 Word Blurb: Warmhearted Maggie Corwin loves her adopted hometown as much as she loves her dog. A pink slip from her nursing position at the town’s only hospital was not in her Christmas plans. Her favorite holiday has now waylaid with a job search. More than anything she needs to keep up payments on her first home. She grits her teeth and attends a retired nurse’s party.
    Independent Connor Davidson counts the seconds until he can leave his grandmother’s hometown in Georgia, the one where he spent his senior year of high school after his parents’ boating accident. After his grandmother’s recent health scare, he puts aside any misgivings to surprise her in time for her annual Christmas party. He gets the real surprise when he finds there is no place for him to stay. How much longer until he can go home to Seattle?
    Maggie has reservations about her friend’s idea to open her basement to a total stranger. Connor doesn’t care where he sleeps as long as he can get through the holidays and leave the town until his next visit. Can they put aside their misgivings about each other and discover love under the mistletoe?

    First 100 Words: Slamming the rental car’s door, Connor Davidson muttered a curse under his breath. Thank goodness Christmas only came once a year. Nothing like crashing a holiday party to get into the mood of the season.
    Connor tucked his precious camera bag into the trunk and flicked some imaginary dust off the navy sweater Grams had knitted for him. People filed into Grams’ party from every direction in the last rays of the pink and yellow sunset. The rush died down, and he strode toward the front porch, stopping next to the giant display gracing the front lawn.

    (Thank you for taking time with the readers of the Contemporary Romance blog and with this pitch session.)

  34. Name: Melissa Fragiadaki (w/a Melina Kantor)

    Title: Once Upon a Playlist

    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 / first paragraph 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.
    Screw the spoon, I thought. If he says one more word about how beautiful the view is, I’ll need to be gagged with a shovel.

  35. Name: Heidi A Ulrich

    Title: Going All the Way

    Genre: Contemporary romance

    Finished Word Count: 66,000 words

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

    First 100 words or first paragraph of your story:

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

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

  36. Hi, Angela!

    I also have nothing to pitch, but I wanted to say thanks for coming by. I thought it was interesting what you said about platform. We’re told so much to make ourselves known on the internet, but it seems that can backfire as well.

  37. Title: Forgetting Jane

    Genre: Romantic Suspense

    Finished Word Count: 92K

    Maximum 200-Word Blurb:

    Amnesia and an unspeakable crime have stolen everything from Jane Doe but the haunting image of a girl in a yellow dress that replays itself over and over in her mind.

    Small town cop Elias McAvoy is haunted as well, by the crushing guilt he feels over the deaths of two women, one by his own hand. He can’t-he won’t-let Jane down, too.

    Together they delve deeper into Jane’s case, battling against her memory loss, and an increasingly tangled web of lies and murder that span forty years, tying Elias and Jane together in ways they never imagined. As the mystery of the girl in the yellow dress unfolds, so does Elias and Jane’s love for each other. But when the killer reappears, intent on finishing what he started, Elias must face his demons in order to save the woman he loves, and doing so saves himself.

    First 100 words or first paragraph of your story:

    I’m alive.

    The first drag of cold air into Jane’s lungs burned like acid. Her fingers stung, deep under the nail beds as she clawed out from the hard ground. She tried moving her legs, but her energy waned fast. No matter how hard she wrestled out of the hole, the lower half of her body was bounded in the heavy cemented dirt.

    The sharp wind layered her like an icy blanket. A prickled sensation skated across her skin like razorblades. She shivered.

    A screech of an owl in the distance made her pause. Where was she? Dark surrounded her

  38. Hi Angela,
    I have a submission to Carina right now, so I don’t have anything to pitch, but I wanted to say thanks so much for taking your time to support everyone here at CRWA. Hope you find lots of good pitches today!

  39. Name: Carla Kempert

    Title: Goodbye to Love

    Genre: Contemporary/Women’s Fiction

    Finished Word Count: 80K

    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 or first paragraph of your story:

    “Why did I tell Eddie I’d go to his wedding?” I flipped through a rack of dresses that would only look good if I had the body of a life-sized Barbie doll. I didn’t.

    “Because you got custody of the best man in the divorce.” Sandy browsed the rack next to mine. The mall dress shop’s offerings didn’t seem to bother her, but for a fellow forty-something, my best friend had the figure of a young Cindy Crawford. Mine looked more like an old circus elephant. Okay, not really, but I felt the part even if I didn’t I look it.

    {Thank you so much, CRW and Ms. James, for the chance to pitch to you!}

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *