Submission call from me! (something I rarely do anymore)

So Carina Press keeps me pretty busy on the admin (and travel, omg, the travel!) side of things and it doesn’t leave me a lot of time for editing. I still do some editing, but it’s generally not much more than one or two novels a year, and then the holiday novella collections. I almost never acquire from slush anymore but…

I’m looking to acquire a few things for my own schedule for Fall 2012.

Here’s what I’m specifically looking for:

A contemporary romance trilogy or series. I love editing Shannon Stacey’s books and I want to edit more contemporary romance, so I’m looking to acquire an author who has a contemporary romance trilogy or series planned. Any heat level considered! I’m specifically looking for contemporary romance novels (over 70k) but will consider a novella series (forA?novellas, even better if they’re erotic, but not necessary)

A new paranormal romance (or urban fantasy w/romantic elements) series. The good news for you is that I’ll consider all manner of paranormal, including vampires, shifters, etc. I’m not wore out on paranormal, so hit me with your A-game, even if it’s a vampire series! Again, any heat level considered.

A very, very hot erotic romance series. Smokin’ hot. Any subgenre, any length. Can be BDSM or m/m. Just looking for smokin’ hot erotic romance (not erotica, please).

So the trend here is that I’m looking for an author/authors I can build within a series in these particular genres. I’m not looking for standalone novels or novellas for this particular submissions call for myself (though Carina Press is always willing to and does acquire standalones).

If you have something now, or in the coming weeks/months that fits the bill, please follow the submissions guidelines here, and send to the submissions address. However, please note in the body of your query letter that you’re responding to my specific call for submissions (many subs come in addressed to me, so I won’t know, just based on that, that you’re responding to this call).

Edit: I’ve had some questions about subbing an idea or partial. Carina Press submission guidelines require a full manuscript and so do I, unless we’ve worked together before, or you have an established history of publishing quality work, and you have an established author brand, in which case, I’d consider a proposal/partial w/thorough synopsis.

Ask an editor: Story Killer #askeditor

Months ago, I asked people if they had editor questions. I found this one in my drafts and decided to post it.

Today’s was from @patrickdoris who asked:A?does a bad first sentence doom a manuscript?

Not at all. I know authors agonize over the first sentence, wanting it to be perfect. And certainly it’s fun to run those first sentence contests (I’ve run a few myself) and see some of the intriguing first sentences, and first five sentences, but the truth is, no editor or agent is likely to stop at the first sentence. Will we stop at the first page? Yeah, definitely. But, for the most part, unless you catch us on a really bad day, or have a first sentence that’s a signal we’re reading complete and utter gibberish, we’re going to keep reading that first page. I will note that a few months ago, Agent Kristin Nelson blogged that 90% of queries don’t get more than 2 pages read! But that’s not normally because of the first sentence. It could be because of the first paragraph though, if it’s really (really) bad.

Does a good first sentence make a difference? Well, sure, first impressions are important. But most of us form our first impressions based on the first few lines or paragraphs, not just one. And we all are especially interested in what comes after the first three chapters (the most polished chapters of any manuscript, and the point at which most promising manuscripts fall apart).

So when you’re stressing over writing your book, or polishing your manuscript, don’t get hung up on the first sentence. Concern yourself instead with the overall structure of the book, the strength of the story and the arc of the characters.

Before You Hit Send is back!

I’ve had many inquiries about when the next installment of Before You Hit Send, my self-editing workshop for authors–both aspiring and established–will be held again. That time is here!

January 10th-30th, I’ll be holding a three-week session of Before You Hit Send on Savvy Authors. You can go here to register. And for more information.

Here’s the basic info:

Join Angela James for a three-week workshop as she shares some of the common pitfalls shea??s seen in submissions and contest entries. Shea??ll give you ideas, tips and tricks for polishing and self-editing your manuscript. Discuss things such as dialogue tags, whether all forms of a??to bea?? are really evil and just what youa??re doing to your life expectancy with your use of that exclamation point. The course will guide you from the basics of self-editing and grammar in a clear, conversational manner with examples, to more advanced topics such as show versus tell and passive voice. Through it all, shea??ll be available for clarification and questions in order to help you on your way to a cleaned-up manuscript and understanding the basics of editing your manuscript.

2010: The year of less editing but awesome books

In past years, it would have been impossible for me to do this post. During my time with Samhain, I edited just over 250 titles in 4 years. I worked for royalties and more editing equaled a living wage! But since my situation with Carina is different, and editing is not actually in my main job description, but is something I do more because there are a few authors who still love working with me (thank you!) and because it’s something I love doing, I can highlight here the books I edited in 2010 because there are only nine!

Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey — it’s not often I’ll say a book I edited is a favorite because I love everything I edit (or I wouldn’t edit it) but I’m going to admit here and now to having a soft spot for this book. Not only was it the first book I edited for Carina, but it was one of the launch week releases and it continues to be our top selling title. A contemporary, non-erotic romance. I’m proud of this book and the reception it’s gotten from readers, and I hope if you didn’t get a chance to read it in 2010, you’ll put it on your 2011 reading list.

Fair Game by Josh Lanyon — How happy was I that Josh wanted to work with me and Carina? I think Josh is an amazing author, fantastic at promoting his work and his brand, and consistently puts out quality product at multiple publishers. When Josh sent me Fair Game, it didn’t disappoint when I got it for edits. Not only did I adore the characters, but I loved the suspense. And Josh is such an incredible professional during edits, responding exactly right to editorial suggestions and feedback. A love of m/m romance isn’t necessary to appreciate this fantastic story. In 2011, Josh will re-release Snowball in Hell with Carina. I’m sad to say that I won’t be editing it, but I fully intend to edit the follow-up to Fair Game that I hope will come in 2011!

Undeniably Yours by Shannon Stacey — I’m sure Shannon is cringing reading this, wondering what I’ll say about UY because, you see, this was a difficult book for us. I don’t even know how many books Shannon and I have worked on together, but I do know it’s a lot and this is the first book that I’ve ever given her really major, we’re gutting this and this, type edits. They were hard. Really hard.A? I’m pretty sure a dart board with my picture on it was involved at one point but Shan didn’t give up and we ended with a book we can both be proud of. In June 2011, the third Kowalski book will release–Yours by Design.

Mercy by Eleri Stone — So, I think the thing that makes this book most unique on my list is that Eleri is a debut author–an author I’d never worked with before, unlike all the others, who I have an editing history with. But I randomly opened this submission one day and I was hooked. I loved the story, I loved her voice and I knew I wanted to edit this sexy paranormal novella. I can’t wait to see this author’s career develop as she publishes future books because she has some writing chops! Eleri currently has a follow-up book in the same world on submission, so I have high hopes for her in 2011!

Second Chances by Lauren Dane — I still remember the first submission I got from Lauren (Giving Chase, in case you’re curious). But that wasn’t the first time we met. We were members of another publisher’s yahoo group and pregnant at the same time. I remember Lauren announcing her first ever sale. And I’m thrilled to have worked with her and developed such an incredible relationship over the years. So I was bouncy when she asked if I’d be interested in working with her to re-release Second Chances. Would I? Ha! Second Chances is unique in a sea of erotic romances, and I’m glad to have gotten the chance to work on it. Next, Lauren and I have an urban fantasy releasing in June 2011. And someday, I hope to revisit small town contemporaries with her, because I loved the Chase Brothers!

All She Wants for Christmas by Jaci Burton — These next four books were all part of the invitation-only Carina Christmas collections. Since I’ve already talked about the other three authors, I’m not going to talk about them individually, except this one. When I was coming up with a list of authors I wanted to invite to do the Christmas collection, I knew Jaci had to be on it. But I also knew her schedule was insane. After all, she’s a New York Times Bestselling Author now, writing for Berkley and with a deadline for Mira (her first book there releases in 2011). So I threw myself on the sword of our friendship and asked her to write a novella for me. I was lucky, because I knew she was missing writing for digital-first and I took advantage of that. And I will take advantage of that again if she’ll let me. I hope you’ll give this fun contemporary romance interlude a try.

As I said, the next three are all part of the Carina Christmas collections and they’re fun, sweet, romantic stories that will melt your heart. They–and all of the holiday stories— give you the sense of sitting next to a crackling fire, that warm, happy feeling, even when there’s no fireplace to be seen. I know the holidays are nearly over, but these are timeless stories you won’t regret reading year round.

Holiday Sparks by Shannon Stacey

Believe by Lauren Dane

Icecapade by Josh Lanyon

So that’s it for me in 2010. What’s coming in 2011? Well, I’ve already noted a few books from Lauren Dane and Shannon Stacey. And I’m also working on a special, by-invitation-only, edited by Angela James (well la di da!) collection. Who knows what else I’ll find in my inbox in the new year. Maybe there are authors out there who will send me something they just know I need to edit!

Playing Favorites

Every other week or so, we get a newsletter from Brianna’s swim team. Often, the newsletters are short and contain only a line or two of information, but they always come with an article about swim team and young athletes. I’ve started making sure I read the articles, because they’re always full of great info for a new swim parent. When I read this article a few months back, it resonated with me, not just with the idea of athletes, but in terms of how the publisher/editor/author relationship often works as well.

It doesn’t mean that editors and publishers are looking for authors who are the most “well-behaved” or the nicest. We want those who are hard working, dedicated to their craft, motivated to sell and promote and always thinking about what comes next, what can be improved, changed, added or otherwise done to future works to make them stronger and more attractive to fans and future readers. We’re looking for focused authors who don’t just do edits just enough to answer the question or write the book just to meet the deadlines or contractual obligations, but who want to do the best edits possible and write the best book possible.

Of course, I think most authors know all this, but I think this article, though directed at athletes, does a great job of explaining just what it might mean when there’s an appearance of playing favorites.

Playing Favorites

By John Leonard

One day a few years ago, a club board member accused me of a??having favoritesa?? on our club team. Several other parent board members nodded their heads in agreement The implication was that this was a terrible sin. When I was a younger coach, I thought it was terrible also. And he was right. I did have favorites. My favorites were those athletes who most fervently did what I asked of them. Those that did, I gave more attention to. I talked to them more. I spent more time teaching them. I also expected more of them.

The implication that he was making was that my favorites got better than the others because they were my favorites, and that was somehow unfair. He mistook cause for effect.

The fact is, that the athletes who came to me ready to learn, ready to listen, ready to act on what they learned and try it my way — even if it was more challenging and more difficult than they imagined — were ready to get more out of our program. And they were my favorites.

As a coach, I have only one thing to offer to an athlete. That is, my attention. Which means that I attend to their needs. The reward for good behavior should be attention . . . attending to their needs. The consequence of inattention, lack of effort, unwillingness or unreadiness to learn or just plain offensive or disruptive behavior is my inattention to that athlete.

How could it be other than this? If you have three children, and you spend all of your time and energy working with the one that is badly behaved, what does that tell your other two children? It tells them that to capture your attention, they should behave badly. What we reward, is what we get.

As a coach, I want athletes who are eager to learn, eager to experiment to improve, and eager to work hard. I want athletes who come to me to help develop their skills both mental and physical, and are willing to accept what I have to offer. Otherwise, why have they come to me? And I am going to reward that athlete with my attention. In so doing, I encourage others to become like the athlete above. If I spent my time with the unwilling, the slothful, the disruptive, I would only be encouraging that behavior.

The link I want to forge is between attention and excellence. Excellence in the sense of achieving all that is possible, and desired. My way of forging that, is to provide my attention to those who a??attenda?? to me. This does, of course, result in increased performance for those that do so. I am a professional coach, and when I pay attention to a person, that person is going to improve. Over time, this makes it appear that my a??favoritesa?? are the better swimmers. Not so at all. The better swimmers are those that pay attention, and thus become my favorites.

What the above mentioned board member didna??t realize is that you must have favorites if anyone is to develop in a positive fashion. The coacha??s job is to reward those who exhibit positive developmental behaviors. Those are my a??favorites,a?? and they should be.

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