Category Archives: Romance

Harlequin’s Search for a Killer Voice

Announcing! The Search for a Killer Voice!

This is Katy Lee, and as many of you know, I sold to Love Inspired Suspense on one of their pitch contests. I have since gone on to sell two more books and hopefully many, many more to come. Seeing as I am a “success” with these contests, I can’t help but be a cheerleader for the latest and greatest contest, The Search for the Killer Voice. If you are an Inspirational Romantic Suspense writer, I do hope you will give it a shot and send your first page in.

Now, here are the details:

The Search for a Killer Voice photo

Love Inspired Suspense is on the search for some new superstar authors, and we want you! If you think you’ve got the chops to wow us with your high intensity, fast paced inspirational romantic suspense manuscript, we encourage you to pitch it to us in The Search for a Killer Voice!

For this pitch opportunity, Love Inspired Suspense editors Emily RodmellElizabeth MazerShana AsaroGiselle Regus and Emily Krupin will be on the lookout for fresh talent. We invite you to show us that you’re the total package in these four stages:

1. Voice—Demonstrate that you’ve got the voice to keep readers on the edge of their seats by submitting your first page. Authors who wow us will move on to Stage 2.
2. Plot—Show us that your plotting skills are as strong as your voice by submitting your synopsis. Authors that have an amazing plot and conflict will move on to Stage 3.
3. Substance—Prove that the first page wasn’t a fluke by offering us a bit more of what you got and submitting three chapters. Authors who keep the story racing along will move on to Stage 4.
4. Full package—Convince us you’re the real deal by submitting your full manuscript. The sky’s the limit for these authors. A contract could be within your reach if you bring it all together into a rockin’ Love Inspired Suspense manuscript.

If you make it through, you could be the next contracted author for Love Inspired Suspense. But we won’t leave you to do it all on your own. We’ll be sharing helpful master class blog posts along the way telling you exactly what is required in a “killer” Love Inspired Suspense manuscript. And once we decide who will be getting a synopsis request, each editor will choose a team of authors. So you’ll know exactly who is looking at your book throughout the stages, and you can ask questions on our individual bio threads. Every author who makes it to stage 4 will receive an initial decision (contract, reject or revision request) on their submissions by August 8.

Here’s our timeline: 
ROUND ONE
February 12
 – START WITH A BANG round. Submit the first page of your inspirational romantic suspense manuscript targeted toward Love Inspired Suspense to LISPitch2014@harlequin.ca from today until March 14.
March 14 – All first pages must be in house. Editorial team will review the entries over the next 2 weeks and choose the most exciting voices to move on to the next stage.

ROUND TWO
March 28
 – HOLD ON TIGHT round. Editors will announce which entries will be moving on to the next round. Chosen entries will be selected by the 5 editors to form our teams. The authors on the teams will be invited to submit their synopsis by April 7 to the email box.
April 7 – All synopses must be in house. Editors will review the submissions from their team over the next 3 weeks and choose the ones whose plots back up the potential in their voice to move on to the next stage.

ROUND THREE
April 28
 – REEL US IN round. Editors will review the synopses and announce which authors on our teams will be going to the next round. Qualifying authors will be invited to submit their first three chapters.
May 8 – All entries of the first three chapters must be in house. Editors will review the submissions from their team over the next 3 weeks and narrow down the ones that maintain the intensity we saw in the first page to move on to the final stage.

ROUND FOUR
May 29
 – SEAL THE DEAL round. Editors will announce which of our team members will be going on to the final round. Qualifying authors will be invited to submit their complete manuscript. Authors who are not moving on will privately receive personalized feedback. Authors who are moving on will have until June 9 to submit their full manuscripts.
June 9 – All full manuscripts must be in house. Editors will review the submissions from their team and decide next steps. During the next 60 days, decisions will be made to contract, send a revision letter, or reject each of the stories. All authors who submit full manuscripts will receive notification of our decision within this time frame.

FINAL RESULTS!!
August 8
 – We will announce the results of the pitch in a blog post that wraps up the pitch, shares our thoughts on the highs and lows, highlights any sales and gives stats on the results for the full manuscript submissions.

Sound exciting? If you think you could rock this pitch, get ready to show us your stuff. Read our team bios, the info on formatting guidelines, and the blog on an amazing first page, then start those books. Be sure to follow the guidelines for Love Inspired Suspense. Only one entry per author, please. Deadlines are tight, so keep writing while you’re waiting to hear back. And if your book is complete now, don’t forget to tell us in your email. You never know. We might want to pounce on your killer voice right away.  Ready, set, GO!

Michelle Evans Spirals in with Spiraling Out of Control and Raffle for $200 Amazon Card

Mich2 - CopyWelcome, Michelle Evans, to the Scribes!

Thank you! It is such an honour to be here today on Katy Lee’s blog. Our booksellers and publishers today want to be clear on knowing where a novel will fit on the shelf before they will sign a new author. After a whole lot of feedback from both Christian and secular professionals, I discovered my novel was on the fence. It didn’t fit well on the general market shelf and it isn’t a Christian fiction book.

I found myself at a position of decision time. Should I rewrite my novel to be more Christian or more secular? Or was it time to go Indie and publish the story as it was, the way I believed God wanted it to be told – real, raw and relevant.

Katy asked me where I blurred the edges… in Spiraling Out of Control (through my Spiralling Out of Control PREVIEWChristian world-view) you will find under-age consensual sex, under-age drinking, nightclubbing and drugs. The main character Stephanie is not a Christian and does not choose to change her ways in this novel. Though her best friend, Tabbie, does have an encounter with God and regularly brings up spiritual ideals in conversations – this frustrates Stephanie no end.

Though I haven’t shown the graphic detail, it is a pretty heavy read.

For these reasons, I am marketing Spiralling Out of Control to the general public 16+ and the Christian market 17+ audience .

Thank you for making those marketing guidelines clear. Surprises are fun, but in this case, readers need to be informed. Readers, Michelle is offering her book for 99 cents from 12/1/13-12/16/13 as part of the John 3:16 Book Launch. Don’t miss this opportunity!

Here’s a little more about Michelle, and be sure to continue on to learn about the raffle for a $200 Amazon gift card.

Michelle is married to an awesome man. She spends most of her days educating, socialising and sporting their four children and her nights writing.

She lives on the Gold Coast of Australia and believes you can find healing and hope when you read someone else’s story, fiction or truth. Her life is full and at times overflowing but she wouldn’t have it any other way.     http://michelledennisevans.com

Spiraling Out of Control:

Temptation, depression, seduction, betrayal … Not what Stephanie was expecting at fifteen years of age. Uprooted from her happy, all-girl high school life with a dream filled future and thrown into an unfriendly co-ed school, Stephanie spirals into depression.

When charismatic high school senior, Jason notices her, Stephanie jumps in feet first and willingly puts all her faith and trust in him, a boy she barely knows.

Every choice she makes and turn she takes leads her towards a dangerous path.

Her best friend is never far away and ready to catch her … but will she push Tabbie too far away when she needs her most?

This novel contains adult themes.

Book LaunchFor a chance to win a $200 Amazon gift card, between December 1 and December 16, 2013, enter the John 3:16 Marketing Network Rafflecopter drawing at: http://bit.ly/Christian_Books

A Great Whodunit, Sandra Orchard Style

“Step into my parlor for a cuppa tea,” said the spider to the fly.Deadly_Devotion_Sm

I am a huge tea drinker, but Sandra Orchard’s latest suspense series, the Port Aster Secrets, now has me questioning every ingredient that fills my teabags. The titles of the teas on my canisters all sound delightful, but after reading the first book in Sandra’s series, Deadly Devotion, I have to question what exactly goes into my African Autumn Surprise teabags…eeeek!

Deadly Devotion is the first book in a three-book mystery series in which a romance arcs the series, along with an underlying suspense plot. The heroine of the series, Kate Adams, is a research scientist who knows her herbs. She knows which ones are deadly and which ones could go undetected in an blind trustautopsy. But knowing this doesn’t mean she’s safe from their poison–especially when she starts sniffing more than tea leaves. She’s putting her nose where it doesn’t belong, and her amateur sleuthing is going to get her into trouble. Will the handsome FBI agent-turned cop, Tom Parker, be able to help her out? All I will say is they make a great team, and I am looking forward to Book Two, Blind Trust, releasing in January.

If you haven’t read the Port Aster series, you can get started with Deadly Devotion now, then preorder Blind Trust for January. Or see below for a chance to win them!

Deadly Devotion

Research scientist Kate Adams and her colleague Daisy are on the brink of a breakthrough for treating depression with herbal medicine when Daisy suddenly dies. Kate knows that if it hadn’t been for Daisy’s mentorship, she wouldn’t have the job she loves or the faith she clings to. So when police rule Daisy’s death a suicide, Kate is determined to unearth the truth.

Former FBI agent Tom Parker finds it hard to adjust to life back in his hometown of Port Aster. Though an old buddy gives him a job as a detective on the local police force, not everyone approves. Tom’s just trying to keep a low profile, so when Kate Adams demands he reopen the investigation of her friend’s death, he knows his job is at stake. In fact, despite his attraction to her, Tom thinks Kate looks a bit suspicious herself.

As evidence mounts, a web of intrigue is woven around the sleepy town of Port Aster. Can Kate uncover the truth? Or will Tom stand in her way?

Blind Trust

Kate Adams had no idea she was carrying counterfeit money, and she can’t believe that it came from her sweet neighbor. Or that it lands her in the middle of another one of Detective Tom Parker’s investigations. Determined to prove her neighbor’s innocence, Kate stumbles into a pit of intrigue that is far deeper than a two-bit counterfeit operation–and strikes too close to home for comfort. As family secrets come to light, her world–and her budding romance with Tom–begin to crumble. To Kate, it’s clear that she won’t be safe until she uncovers all of Port Aster’s secrets. But is it too late for her and Tom?

Sandra_Orchard_3

Sandra Orchard is a multi award-winning author of inspirational romantic suspense with Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense imprint, and Revell Publishing. She is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America and The Word Guild (Canada). A mother of three grown children, she lives in Niagara, Canada with her real-life-hero husband and now writes full time…when not doting on her young grandchildren.  You can learn more about Sandra’s books and bonus features at www.SandraOrchard.com or connect at www.Facebook.com/SandraOrchard

At her website, Sandra loves to offer readers extra bonus features for each of her books such as deleted scenes, character interviews, location pics and even related recipes. And…

Christmas_gifts_pd

…as a special Christmas gift for her newsletter subscribers, she sends them a Christmas short story (this year’s is more like a mini-novella) that springboards from one of her novels.

If you’d like to receive it, click here to subscribe. You will receive a link to her 2011 Christmas story within the next day or two, so if you don’t see it in your inbox, be sure to check your spam folder. Your 2013 story will arrive in your inbox in December.

In the meantime, you can check out the rest of Sandra’s bonus features here:

http://sandraorchard.com/extras/bonus-book-features/

She also has a giveaway going on now until November 26th.

If you’d like an opportunity win a copy of Deadly Devotion (or an advanced copy of the second book in the series, Blind Trust) for yourself or as a gift for a friend, please check out the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interview With The Vamp

Hi, everybody. Suze here. Guess what? I’ve invited a new friend to come visit with us today. Let’s give a big Scribes welcome to Chryssie Papadopoulos, secretly known as Eva Prim (shhh! Don’t tell anyone!)

get-attachment[1]Hey, Eva! What’s new?

New? Well, I have a book coming out, finally. You know it really annoyed me to have to wait on Jordan to get her head on straight about this book. Like her other books could ever be as good as mine? No chance. I hate to make her feel bad, but she shouldn’t have made me wait. I do not like to wait.

Okay, so tell me all the yummy details.

I’d love to. Well, it’s sort of a slice of my life. As with any good book there’s drama, highs and lows, romance, sex, vampires, demons and some werewolves. Oh, and chocolate, computers, cell phones, blogging, emails and texting. A court scene (again- so irritating to have to repeatedly defend yourself).

What’s this Snack of the Week Club I’ve heard about?

The Snack of the Week Club is a club for all my closest friends. They get sneak peeks for all my books, snack discounts like Harvard Sweet Boutique. We discuss books, shows, snacks, and life (or death) in general. Every week I interview one of my snacks, I mean friends…friends, definitely meant friends. Anyway, I interview a member because I like to know about everyone. It’s fun. You should join. What’s your blood type anyway?

Oh, I forgot. On that last question about the book– there’s also deception, heartbreak, more deception, some accusations of kidnapping and theft. In the end I conquer all! It’s a damn good book. Wow. I might read it again tonight.

Accidentally released any demons lately?

Um, no. I haven’t released any. I’ve been very careful. Actually, who am I kidding? I can’t find The Book so there’s no way to release any more demons. Not that I’m looking for The Book. I’m just saying I know Stefan hid The Book so that there wouldn’t be any other accidents.

Between you and me I think he’s being ridiculous. Could lightning really strike twice?

get-attachment[1] (2)Stefan is hot. Scary, but scorchin’ hot. How did you two meet?

 

Oh, I love this story. Thank you for asking. It was many years ago–1832, summertime. In Bristol, Rhode Island. I’m from Bristol, was born there. Even turned vampire there. Anyway, I went to the docks with my father to purchase fish. The boats had just returned. While we were making our inquiries about some slimy fish and oysters, actually my father was inquiring. I was trying not to step in anything too smelly. The docks really are a stinky place. Usually I tried not to look too disgusted at the stench of dead fish and dirty men, which I have to say is not an easy thing to do. Have you ever been down to the fishing docks when the ships return? Disgusting. Anyway, on that evening there was some other scent on the wind, something not even remotely disgusting. On the contrary, it was wonderful. Sort of a smoldering vanilla scent, smoky and manly and utterly intoxicating. I had never smelled anything like it.

I couldn’t smell anything else, and I didn’t want to either. I glanced up and my attention went straight to the source. Standing on the deck of a large ship was the most beautiful man I’d ever seen. His black hair rustled in the wind. His long coat flapped. His dark eyes met mine and I could hardly keep from blushing. He looked at me like I was the only woman he’d ever seen. And when he smiled, my stomach flipped. I loved him instantly and it wasn’t vampire influence either.

I could hardly believe he was looking at me, but he was. He followed me home. My father didn’t notice, but I did. I caught him slinking behind trees and scurrying off to hide in doorways so that I wouldn’t notice. There was no way I could miss him. He was the most exotic man to set foot in that town. Ah…

How do you keep him from straying? What’s your best marriage advice for keeping the love alive while the body is dead?

This is an outstanding question. I have to say the most important thing is to spend time together just the two of you, alone, not worrying about crap or people. You have to enjoy your time, unwind, cut loose, get frisky. You know what I mean?

Can I get a V-Mail account? I’d like to be in on all the secret Vampire stuff.

Okay, now you’re going to get me in trouble. You’re not even supposed to know about that. Just forget you heard of that. No V-Mail for you or anyone not already on this side of things. Though, if your status changes and you come over you can have one. We’ll talk.

Halloween is coming. What should I wear for the most authentic vampire look?

You probably don’t even realize there are vampires all around you. You could go like yourself and just fit in. Oh, wait, when you said authentic did you mean shifted, you know, true vampire state? If that’s what you meant I suggest you not go as a vampire because nobody really likes us in that state and we don’t even like ourselves like that. I mean, really? No one likes a gargoyle on steroids. Nobody.

Eva's Friend, Jordan K. Rose
Eva’s Friend, Jordan K. Rose
Thanks for stopping by, Chryssie. Her book will be available on October 3. Here’s where you can find Chryssie/Eva and her friend, Jordan K. Rose:

Books are Like Babies

Welcome friends. Casey here.

MysticStorm2_850First off, can you believe it’s already August? Where has the summer gone? There’s something about this time of year (and around Thanksgiving) where I feel like I’m on time’s roller coaster ride.

One minute it’s May and then suddenly August is here and I feel like the whole summer has flown by. I suspect the school calendar plays a part in this phenomenon because younger son would always start whining about having to go back to school (the infamous countdown would begin).

Well, not this year. Steady readers of this blog, may recall he graduated in June (my baby, my baby!). This year he and his older brother will be attending college together. So while they are still going to school, there is no complaining involved (well, except for the ridiculous cost of college texts).

All this thinking about time, combined with the recent birth of the royal baby (HRH Prince George) got me to thinking about how books are born in my brain. While pursuing two books at once (Mystic Hero is pulling to the lead, so by the time you read this, it might be the only book I’m writing), I’ve noticed that the story is often born while I’m writing it.

What?!? But what about all that talk of plotting and planning?

Oh, those things still happen. But like any story, I leave room for new ideas to hatch. I also rely on the characters to dictate how they react to the barriers I toss out. There is no way I can script every waking moment of the story. I decide on the big events and letUndeadSpaceInitiative_200 the rest fill itself in.

So like a baby, sometimes a book can take forever (Mystic Storm - almost ten months) and others are done in less time (Misfortune Cookie - two months). The Undead Space Initiative poured out of my brain like there was a big hole in it and I could barely keep up!  (Note: this is writing time. Not the time it took for me to plot and plan.)

And like babies, nature can’t be rushed. Some characters, like Zephyr, in Mystic Storm, gave me nothing but trouble. I think it may be because of the whole “cursed to be a woman by day” thing (which I am not apologizing for!).

Not to be too graphic, but any woman who has gone through labor knows that babies don’t just come out in one easy push. And neither does my writing. I can have a week of super productivity and then another week where I have to flog myself to sit down and write. However, I will add a caveat. I did have younger son in my bathroom (in under a half hour of going into labor). He was apparently so eager to enter the world, he couldn’t wait!

Just goes to show –  you never know!!

Has anyone else had this experience? Do you have some books that just take forever to come out of your head?

Me and my baby!
Me and my baby!

Country of the Mind

Thea Devine today. On this past Monday morning, around 11am, we drove into town for the annual Memorial Day parade. Perfect day: bright sun, blue sky, warm weather, fresh breeze — and people. Town was jam-packed with people all along Main Street, two, three, five deep, and there wasn’t a place to park anywhere near. We finally got a spot in a little field about a quarter mile from Main Street and joined a crowd hiking toward to the main event.

It hadn’t started yet, but the staggering number of people lining the street was an event in itself. Kids, parents, teens, tweens, boyfriends, girlfriends, dogs, grandparents, town officials all merging and mingling, looking for friends, space, refreshments, for the parade to begin.

This, I thought, was the essence of why hearth and home books resonate so vibrantly in romance. This is the country of the mind; it is a Norman Rockwell painting come to life, a place that exists in the imagination, in the heart, and sometimes in life.

A place, perhaps, one has been seeking without even knowing it. The place you know is home in a deep visceral way, even if you don’t want to admit it.

In fiction, it takes a good three hundred pages for the heroine to come to terms and admit it. The reader is already there, because those tropes tap into our deepest desire for community and acceptance in a place where everybody knows who you are. Your family, as it were.

Standing on the sidelines and watching the parade — the bands, the old timey cars, the re-enactors, the antique fire trucks, the members of the Service clubs, the staff of the Library, everyone who marched — I turned to John and whispered, I love this place.

I do … love this place. I feel like the heroine who has finally found her home. I’ve had deep yearnings to gather my cousins here, in my place, so we can be as close as our families were when I was growing up in Brooklyn and Sunday was mandatory visit grandma day.

But a visit or an email isn’t quite the same as noisy family dinner on a Saturday night. Like any beleaguered heroine, I never thought I’d miss that after all these years, or wish I could recreate those times. I’m sad my sons will never experience them too.

After the parade was over, everyone poured into the street which had turned into a traffic-free plaza — either to meet friends, or see who was there, or to wend their way to where they’d parked, stopping to chat with neighbors, friends, parade participants, along the way.

I took lots of pictures, grateful this wasn’t the small town of my imagination, or a small fictional town in a future novel I might write. It was my town, here and now, my place, my home.

Did you go to your Memorial Day Parade? Do you feel like you’ve found your place, your home? Is it what or where you thought it would be?

PS re: RT. I’m pleased to say I was one of the thirty- year “pioneer” authors honored by RT at this year’s convention in Kansas City. It was a well attended convention, I heard estimates of as many as 1500-2000 attendees, and there was a spectacular number of workshops to suit every taste, every genre and every level of experience, plus receptions, parties, meet and greets and a special fan event.

The big booksigning was HUGE and swarming with avid readers. The hotel was lovely with lots of places to sit and chat. The 30th Anniversary Gala was fun; we were all asked to say a few words to the attendees after Kathryn Falk spoke about the thirty years that Romantic Times had been a force in the industry.. You might have heard EL James was there — she was, but I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting her. I had a wonderful time.

Moms and Hot Sex Scenes

Last weekend my entire family came from New York to celebrate my twenty-eighth birthday. We went to a small family owned Mexican restaurant that makes kick ass guacamole and really good raspberry margaritas. That fact that we were ALL together was a novelty. With work and school and living in separate states it’s rare we all get to eat at the same table.

So there I was seated between my parents and across from brothers. Everybody was having their own conversation when my mom mentioned to me that she was still reading Dangerous Curves Ahead and that one scene brought up a memory from her past.  I knew the scene she was talking about. I knew it very well because it took place shortly after my hero and heroine get it on for the first time. So, I turn to look at her and quietly say, “I guess you survived the sex scene.”

At that point all conversation at the table had stopped.  My father looked off into space as if he had suddenly went deaf. Three brothers stared at me. The word SEX seemed to have a magical effect on them, because normally they never pay any attention to what I say.

“Yes, I survived the sex scene,” my mother continued, not seeming to notice that the table suddenly went quiet. She put her hand on her forehead and stared at me. “I can’t believe you know so much. I can’t believe you’re so descriptive. A mother doesn’t want to think about her daughter knowing so much about sex. It makes me uncomfortable.”

I have read HUNDREDS of romance novels in my day. While my stuff isn’t exactly sweet, it certainly isn’t anywhere near erotica. “You just don’t read romance novels trust me, Ma. That was nothing.”

Meanwhile in my head I’m thinking, wait until she gets to second sex scene. Wait till she reads my books that are coming out for Harlequin.  But I say nothing. I catch my youngest brother staring at me from across the table. He’s always surprised when I know anything about sex. In his eyes I’m supposed to be this lame virginal super good girl, who has never heard  the word  PENIS much less have seen one. And I understand why he thinks that way. I’m the prude in my family.

photo (11)
My mother and I on my 28th birthday.

But I’m twenty-eight. Hello!

“It’s like Fifty Shades of Grey without the torture,” my mother goes on, clearly distressed about my life’s choice to write romance novels.

“It is not!” I’m offended by this. There is no bondage in my book. There is no sex for sex sake. I’m rather fond of those scenes. They’re some of the best I’ve written. “Besides, you’ve never read Fifty Shades. How would you know?”

“I just know,” she says.

My brother Jordan who always has something to say, says nothing. Jason continues to eat tortilla chips. Jonathan keeps looking at me as if he is trying to figure out if I’m secretly turning tricks on my free time. My father continues to stare at the sun sculpture on the wall behind him. I feel sorry for the man. He didn’t deserve this.

I’m sure my family all thinks I’m a pornographer now, but that’s okay. I’m going to keep on reading and writing those sexy sex books. And maybe someday my family will get who I am.

What about you? How would you feel if your kid starting writing romance novels?