Saturday, May 15, 2010

New Publisher in Cyber-Town

This post by Angela James, formerly of Samhain Publishing, and now Executive Editor at Carina Press, appeared over at Risky Regencies. I've taken Angela at her word about cross-posting!

Hoop skirts, brocade, feathered headdresses, kid gloves, kid slippers, horses, carriages, talk of locomotion (not Kylie Minogue's!), Queen Victoria, cowboys, discussion of women's suffrage, ratafia, corsets, chemises, calling cards, pelisses, peers of the realm, cutthroats, Mary Wollstonecraft, six-shooters, hothouse flowers, wallflowers, parties lit by candles, cowboy hats, bluestockings, hunts, hounds, masquerades, horses, operas and operettas, tours of Italy, grand tours, wars (Napoleonic, Crimean), revolutions (French, Russian)...

Do you love these things? We do, and we want to read more about them—and share them with our readers! Carina Press’s acquisitions team and editors have begged me to find more historical fiction and romance, so I’m putting out the call. If you have a completed historical manuscript, 15,000 words and up, Carina Press would love to see it. We’re looking for both historical romance and historical fiction (with or without the romance subplot) of any steam level (including none, none at all). Historical Victorian, Regency, Western, turn of the century or whatever other time period you’ve chosen to write in, we’re interested in publishing some amazing historical work. Our submissions guidelines can be found at and we’re working through submissions very quickly, due to the large number of us reading them, so you won’t be waiting until summer (or next year) for an answer!

We hope you’ll take this post and pass it on, post it on your blog, direct your friends to it and let them know: Carina Press is looking for historical fiction and romance!

Want to know more about the people behind the Carina Press acquisitions and their love of all things historical? I asked them to share thoughts about favorite authors, books and just what they love about historical romance and historical fiction in general.

I’ll start (Angela James, Executive Editor): I love historicals for the things I learn. When I was in sixth grade, I visited the junior high, as a kind of orientation for the next school year. We were all assigned a seventh grade buddy, who we attended classes with for the day. In her history class, the teacher asked, “What was Queen Mary’s nickname?” I was the only one who knew the answer was “Bloody Mary” and that was because of the historical romances I’d been reading (yes, in sixth grade). I got mad props from the seventh graders (upperclassmen!) for knowing that answer!

I adore Julie Garwood’s old historicals and have for many years. They’re some of my very favorite re-reads, and books I will never give up because, even after all these years, they still make me laugh out loud, smile, and fall in love with both the hero and the heroine. Despite historical inaccuracies and what some might call a wallpaper-historical effect, I love them and I continue to recommend them to friends for the fun storylines and relatable characters.

Amy Wilkins, Acquisitions Team: I love The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig for its incredible blend of adventure, comedy and romance.

(plus it amused me that the hero and heroine are named Amy and Richard -- my boyfriend's name is Richard!)

Melissa Johnson, Editor: I love Kresley Cole's MacCarrick Brothers Trilogy because one of the heroines is actually not from France or the British Isles, and Cole's heroes are all crazy-hot for the women they love. I don't even mind that the brothers are each crazy-hot in basically the same way.

Deborah Nemeth, Editor: I love the sparkling prose and witty dialogue of Eloisa James. In the Desperate Duchess series she went beyond the typical Regency to the Georgian period, one that I love.

I'd also love to get some historical manuscripts set in the Italian Renaissance and the Tudor/Elizabethan courts that feature political intrigue. The Roman empire between Augustus-Claudius (the setting of the I, Claudius series) would also be good for this type of political story.
I'd also love an adventure story set during the Crusades--perhaps from the Saracen point of view. A romance featuring a troubadour during the time of Eleanor of Aquitaine. I also enjoy the roaring twenties, Paris during the Belle Époque, and England during both WWI and WW2.

Andrea Kerr, Acquisitions Team: You can quote me: "I admit it: I love historicals for the gowns!"

More seriously, one thing I really like about historical romance is that there is built-in conflict. Relationships between men and women were governed by very different and intricate social rules that simply could not be crossed. So it's believable to me that the hero and heroine in a historical can't be together because they are on different social levels, for example, or because they are unable to come out and say how they feel. In a contemporary romance, it takes a LOT more to convince me that two available people who are obviously attracted to each other can't just sit down and work through their differences and be together.

Gina Bernal, Editor: I love the emotional depth of Mary Balogh's historicals, because she takes characters to the lowest of low points and yet makes me believe time and again that love does conquer all. Lately, I've been hankering for a good harem romance and love all sorts of unusual settings and underexplored time periods--from Vikings, Romans and Celts to Caribbean pirates and WWII resistance fighters.
Emily Matheson, Acquisitions Team: I love Eloisa James. Everything she's written. Not only do I love her characters (they're always smart), but I always learn something-- be it about politics in Georgian England or how migraines were treated in the regency period. It's the best way to be educated.

Elizabeth Bass, Editor: I`d love to find an author who could single-handedly bring western historicals back into popularity!

Jenny Bullough, Acquisitions Team: Like most of us here at Harlequin, I'm a huge fan of Deanna Raybourn's MIRA historicals, because as much as I love Regencies it's a treat to read historical novels set in the Victorian era for a change! With Carina Press open to any and all eras and settings, I'm always excited to read submissions that are set in unusual or different eras or places -- from ancient Rome or Egypt to turn-of-the-century America or WWII Japan, from the Salem witch trials to Renaissance Italy!!

Kymberly Hinton, Editor: I love Judith McNaught's rich, evocative language because it makes me feel like I'm right there with the characters, and she's the first author who helped me to realize that "reformed rakes make the best husbands." I also adore Julia Quinn's Bridgerton series because she has a rare ability to make me laugh, cry, and jump for joy all in the same book.

the Horse of Hector

If you're writing erotica, it's always good to know about as many sexual positions as possible, isn't it?

In the Horse of Hector, the woman is on top with the man lying on his back with his knees up and his feet on the bed or ground. She sits on him with her knees on either side of him and leans back against his thighs. This position allows for really deep penetration.

Enjoy! (Umm, your characters, I mean, they should enjoy...oh, you know what I mean!)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Conflict in romances

If you're writing a romance and have done your research into the elements of the genre you'll know that conflict is one of those necessary things that an editor or agent will be looking for in your work. Even though I've been published, I have to admit that I struggle with the whole concept of conflict - my characters often instantly like each other and I have to work at keeping them out of each other's beds! It's not easy!

Conflict creates the tension or the suspense between your hero and heroine, the will-they-won't-they quality that keeps readers hooked throughout your story.

There are two types of conflict you can employ - external and internal conflict.

External conflict first - And I'm not talking some simple thing like a misunderstanding that could have been easily cleared up by asking a simple question (my problem with Othello, btw!). No, external conflict is more along the lines of the hero is a spy for Queen Mary Tudor while the heroine's family wants to see Elizabeth on the throne, or, if you're writing fantasy, your hero is a wizard charged with eliminating shape-shifters and your heroine is a wizard whose brother is a werecat whom she will protect at all costs. External conflict gives your readers something to think about and your characters stuff to do!

But internal conflict can be even more interesting. Here is where you can layer the personality of your characters to show what they stand to lose and what they stand to gain depending on their relationship to each other and how they grow or evolve emotionally. A police officer who falls in love with the woman he is protecting from the murderous ex-husband trying to kill her must not only keep her safe but also overcome her natural fear of getting involved again, and her distrust of her own ability to make the right choice. If he, himself, is an arrogant, high-handed bastard then something in him must also change if he is to win her - maybe he can continue to be a bastard to everyone else but her.

And the central conflict between the hero and heroine dictates their actions, their reactions, how quickly the relationship moves and creates different obstacles they encounter on the path to true love. For example, maybe the couple above make some progress and are grooving on each other, that's great but thrown them a curveball - maybe the officer makes an important decision that affects her without asking her opinion - this reminds the woman of her husband's behavior and they're back at square one! So she loses a little bit of her trust in him and keeps a secret from him which puts her in greater danger and so on, and so on. Use the conflict to escalate the drama and add complexity to your characters so you keep your readers guessing till the very end!