Saturday, March 16, 2013

Here's Your Chance!

Hey, romance writers everywhere!

Here's your chance to pitch to Renee Rocco, our fearless leader at Lyrical Press. So polish those pitches, reserve your spot, and best of luck to everyone!

Pitch to the Publisher: Monday, March 25 at 7:30 pm EST

Renee Rocco, president and CEO of Lyrical Press, is now reserving five spots for live ten minute pitch sessions via video chat.
Date: Monday, March 25, 2013
Time: 7:30 EST
Available pitch sessions: 5
Deadline to reserve a pitch session: Wednesday, March 20th
Required equipment: Video chat capabilities on your computer, tablet or mobile phone
Genres: Romance and erotic romance only


Renee Rocco

President and CEO, Lyrical Press, Inc.

New Call for Submissions from Lyrical Press!

Urban Fantasy erotica – Sub-genre of fantasy defined by a fantastic narrative in an urban setting. Although usually set in contemporary modern times and containing supernatural elements, stories can take place in historical, futuristic, or fictional settings. The prerequisite is, the key setting must primarily be a city.
  • Sensuality level: Burning 
  • Required word count: 30,000 - 95,000 words 
  • Key Characteristics: Edgy erotic romance set primarily in an urban city. Strong sexual relationship between main characters. Multiple partners acceptable. Elements of bondage and S&M that explore the dominant/submissive roles of a BDSM relationship welcome. GLBT welcome.
  • Deadline: None 
Go ahead and try to shock us. We dare you. 
Renee Rocco
President and CEO, Lyrical Press, Inc.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Contest Announcement

Hey all! a.c. Mason, one of the fabulous authors on my roster, and her RWA group, The Cultural, Interracial and Multicultural Chapter is hosting a writing contest. A wonderful chance to get your writing seen by publishing's professionals and receive feedback on your work. They have a great lineup of judges, and I'm honored she asked me to judge this year.
Thanks, Mason and CIMRWA!

The First Annual Abalone Awards
for Published and Unpublished Writers
The Cultural, Interracial, and Multicultural Special Interest Chapter of RWA is pleased to announce we are extending our submission deadline for the first annual Abalone Awards. The purpose of The Abalone Awards contest is to professionally uplift and support writers and recognize outstanding unpublished and published works of Ethno-Cultural Romance.
The submission deadline has been extended to February 17, 2013 at midnight PST.
Entry Fee(s): CIMRWA members – $15.00, RWA members – $20.00, All others – $25.00.
The Abalone Awards for Unpublished Writers (AAUW) Judges
Contemporary Single Title ***Shannon Criss,  Assistant Editor, Harlequin Kimani
Contemporary Series ***Brenda Chin, Senior Editor, Harlequin Blaze
Erotic Romance ***Mercedes Fernandez, Assistant Editor, Kensington Publishing Corporation
Romance Novella ***Whitney Mae, Associate Editor, Ellora's Cave
Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Romance  ***Christa Desir, Editor, Samhain Publishing
Historical Romance  ***Mary Murray, Content and Managing Line Editor, Lyrical Press 
Romantic Suspense ***Kate Studer, Editorial Assistant, Harlequin MIRA
Inspirational Romance  ***Tracy Sherrod, Senior Editor, Harlequin Kimani Romance
Young Adult Romance ***Selena James, Executive Editor, Dafina Books at Kensington

Thank you,
a.c. Mason
CIM Special Interest Chapter of RWA
Weaving tales of love that dissolve barriers

Ethno-Cultural Romance: stories that focus primarily on the romantic relationship and revolves around Cultural, Interracial, or Multicultural aspects of the character(s), location(s) or theme(s).

Cultural: of a particular social, ethnic, religious group; character(s), location or theme(s) of a SINGLE CULTURAL
group (such as Native American, African American, Israeli, Hispanic, Iraqi, Irish… and other cultural groups)

Interracial: conducted, involving, or existing between different races. (MORE THAN ONE racial group.)  Which includes interracial (character(s)) of multiple ethnic, cultural or religions heritage/ancestry

Multicultural: of MORE THAN ONE culture relating to, consisting of, or participating in the cultures of
different countries, ethnic groups, or religions.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Heat Up Your Winter With Piper Denna

These two books by the amazing Piper Denna could heat up your entire winter. Wisps of steam coming from your ereader device with every page, I kid you not. I loved every editing minute of these books and when I received a Nook for Christmas, I popped Victoria's Secret Wish on there. "Nookie," as I affectionately call my new friend, sizzled. In such good way. But don't take my word for it. Here's what reviewers had to say:

"I love reading about Vic and Brett's marriage and how he is desperate to her fantasies into reality for both of them. The sex throughout the book is off the charts hot."

You can read the rest of this great review here:

Author Twyla Hart had this to say:

"One Hot Read. This book is a triumph of emotional risk, relationships and sacrifice, with highly believable suspense thrown in just to keep us on the edge of our seats. ...The setting is pure entertainment. What's not to love about a cruise ship that makes an all-out effort to fulfill your every erotic fantasy? And does so with what's becoming Piper's brand of trade-mark humor which balances out the story, making it not only a scorching read but a fun one as well."
You can read her review and others here at

And here's what reader Jessi had to say on Goodreads in another 5 star review:

"...About Piper Denna...her writing is real. She has a way of dragging me into the character's head and keeping me there for the good, the bad, the ugly and the insanely sexy. When I pick up anything by Piper Denna, I know I'm going to be immersed in a world that feels as real as my own, and I'll come away from it remembering the characters."
Read the rest of Jessi's review here:

Now let's take a moment to salivate over the cover. Actually, take as long as you wish. I could stare at it forever, mindlessly wiping drool from my chin.

Maybe three isn't always a crowd.

“Erotica’s Sweethearts”, Brett and Victoria Grant, are launching the Fantasies, Inc. Aphrodite--a cruiseliner dedicated to carnal 
pleasures. Since the voyage is all about fantasies coming true, Brett is determined to see Victoria realize her own wildest dream: being 
pleasured by two men at once.

Victoria can hardly keep her eyes--or hands--off gold medal swimmer David Roman when he boards the Aphrodite. And when Brett propositions 
David, she can’t say no. But Brett doesn’t know the extent of her fantasy. She wants him as into her other guy as she is. Will his adventurous spirit stretch that far?

David knows it’s a bad idea to get in the middle of the Grants’ marriage. He doesn’t have a kinky bone in his body--or so he thought before this trip--but the romps keep getting wilder and he keeps imagining more. And he really likes them much in bed as out. If the paparazzi discover he’s involved with such a high-profile couple, his career is over. Is he willing to risk everything to continue?

WARNING: Adult sensuality and language, ménage a la two men bent on arousing their woman beyond all control, voyeurism, foot and hair fetish scenes, same sex situations, betrayal, and industrial espionage.

Fantasy Mountain

Victoria's Secret Wish is a stand-alone novel, but Vic and Brett's story really started with Ms. Denna's first book of the Fantasies, Inc. series, Fantasy Mountain. One I have loved for a long time and was beyond excited to edit.

She arranges fantasy fulfillment for a living. Now it's her turn.

Victoria has built a world-renowned business at Fantasy Mountain, the resort where no want is too wacky, no urge too unusual, no passion too
peculiar. Her ability to create any sexual scenario has granted her everything she could want: power, money, independence. The one thing that remains out of her reach is the man she knows she’ll never have...and he happens to work just down the hall from her.

Brett has all but given up hope of breaching the wall around Victoria’s heart. In fact, he’s engaged to be married back in London in only two months. But he knows Victoria has desires; he’s seen them firsthand.

When a night of passion rekindles old feelings, can he finally fulfill the ultimate fantasy of the woman who’s made it her mission to satisfy everyone’s desires but her own? After all, whatever the erotic dream, it can come true at Fantasy Mountain.

WARNING: Wild romps, no-holds-barred lust, and deep, meaningful lovemaking. A love story first, sparing no steamy details. Contains glimpses into very kinky fantasies.

Again, check out what reviewers have to say:

Coffee Time Romance reviewer, Regina, said about Fantasy Mountain:
"Fantasy Mountain rocks! ...This is one book that I am happy to recommend to one and all, it is romance at its very best."

 And read this 5 start review from Manic Readers:

Two of my favorite books from one of my fave authors. Whew! Is it getting hot in here?

Alert! Alert! Romance Writers Everywhere!

It’s that time again - Welcome to the 2nd Annual How Lyrical Is Your Romance? Contest

Lyrical Press is searching for the next great romance. Entries must be complete works, any heat level welcome, open to published and unpublished authors.

The entry with highest average score will receive a $100 Advance and publishing contract with Lyrical Press, Inc. Highest-average scoring entry from each category will receive a 25-page edit and a revision letter from an acquiring editor.

Categories are as follows:
·       Contemporary Romance
·       Romantic Suspense
·       Historical Romance
·       Paranormal Romance

Deadline to enter:
Entries accepted from Feb. 1-10, 2013

First round
First 50 pages of manuscript will be judged based on the following criteria (50 possible points):
·       Hook                                                                                                           10
·       Worldbuilding/Backstory                                                                              5
·       Characterization                                                                                          10
·       Dialogue (consistent with era/culture/personality of character)       5
·       Mechanics (spelling, grammar, punctuation, 1 POV per scene)              15
·       Author voice                                                                                       5

Top 5 entries of each category will advance to final round. (Any category with fewer than 5 entries will be eliminated.) Finalists will be announced on March 1st, 2013.

Final round
Entire manuscript will be judged in this round, based on the following criteria (100 possible points)
·       Premise                                                                                              10
·       Pacing/Plot                                                                                          15
·       Characterization                                                                                15
·       Dialogue                                                                                            20
·       Mechanics                                                                                          20
·       Author Voice                                                                                       20

Winners will be announced on April 1, 2013 on our blog:

How to enter
For formatting instructions and to check allowable content, please follow our submission guidelines

Entries should be between 20,000 and 100,000 words long, and must be a romance, with a happy ending. Non-romance entries will be disqualified.
Include pen name and category for entry in body of email.
Attach the full manuscript in .doc, .docx or .rtf format (named BOOKTITLE_FULL) and a 1-2 page synopsis (named BOOKTITLE_SYN), include “Contest entry” in the subject line, and email to:

YA and NA entrants will be ignored, as Lyrical no longer accepts these works.

Once again, this year Lyrical Press editors will be able to offer a contract on any book that strikes their fancy. And best of all, the contest is free, no entry fees! Polish up those romances, dear authors, this is a wonderful opportunity for you.

Monday, October 1, 2012

His Mortal Soul

How appropriate that a.c. Mason received another fantastic review for His Mortal Soul, her erotic paranormal in the 2012 Irish Stories Collection. It just received 4 1/2 stars at, and I'm posting an interview I did with Mason this spring. Congratulations, Mason, on the great review!

You can read the review here:
And several more wonderful reviews here:
His Mortal Soul is a Top Pick for the Romance Reviews

I totally agree with the reviewer, who said, "Ms. Mason...touches all of your sensory elements and weaves a spine-tingling, heart-thumping read."

Now let's enjoy her cover.

Absolutely gorgeous.

Here's more to pique your interest.

Can she save his immortal soul...and help him find heaven on earth?

Touching Sephora may cost Kieran his mortal soul… 
Kieran has always been a good Catholic, even studying for the priesthood. But there are complications. A few weeks before his ordination into 
the priesthood, he was made a vampire. And then there's Sephora, the beautiful, independent American student who draws him to her. His "blackbird", she seems to hold all the secrets to life and happiness, like the mythological creature of the ancient Celts. Despite his best intentions and though he knows he can only hurt her, her hold on him increases by the minute.

Although Ireland promised Sephora an escape from the horrors of a brutal 
attack she suffered two years ago, she has discovered that the true 
scars lie within. But being with Kieran melts away the pain and his touch 
provides her the refuge to reclaim her body.

WARNING: A gorgeous Irish hero and gutsy heroine. Biblical and 
religious themes that might offend. The theme of survival and healing after sexual assault.

And an excerpt, to whet your appetite even more.

This curse of being bitten and becoming a vampire was a test of his faith. And so was she. Kieran couldn’t let her lure him from saving his soul--from lifting the hex. Admittedly, stalking her wasn’t helping him achieve that. Nor did he have any intention of stopping. Father O’Brian would be disappointed, but tonight was Kieran’s last on earth. Better he spend his time where he wanted to be--with her.
A well-dressed male student wrapped an arm around her and guided her away from the hall through the exit. Inside, students wasted money and brain cells in the name of a good time. The door shut behind the clift--fool--and her, muting the blaring music. The asphalt pathway where they walked was deserted. The freckle-faced man laughed as he stumbled. The scent of his illicit intent reached Kieran. He hadn’t thought she was that type of woman, but lately he’d learned he was wrong about a great many things. The devil and demons weren’t just the stuff of myths and legends. Evil dwelled within the heart of every human. All that was needed was something to unlock it.

a.c. holds a special place in my heart. She was the first author on my roster when I started at Lyrical and we've worked on many books together since. She's amazing.
Though a short story, like all her books, with this one you won't be disappointed. It's very intense and emotional, highly sensual and delves into the age-old questions about good and evil. Humanity, really, and human-ness. You'll be thinking about the characters  and their situation long after you read the last word.

Now let's talk to Mason!

MM:  Ireland is many things to many people. The “Old Sod”, a dream place to visit someday...what about Ireland appealed to you, made you want to set your story there?

a.c. Mason: The men. Lol. Who doesn't find an Irish accent sexy? 

I find the mix of Judeo-Christian and Celtic beliefs intriguing. Dichotomies between the two philosophies, yet they seem to co-exist. There's also the divide between Catholics and Protestants. In Canada we have a linguistic divide. In Ireland the split was based on faiths. Those types of elements draw me to places.

MM: As a reader, your characters seem real to me. I see them clearly in my imagination as I read, can even hear their voices. Could you describe them a little for us? What traits do they have that you just love?

a.c. Mason: Sephora Silverman is an American master's student, come to Ireland to spread her wings and fly once more. Despite her strength, that's easier said than done.

Deacon Lorcan Kieran is struggling with what he has become and what he intended to be—a man of the cloth. He's so hot too.

   MMWhat would your dream vacation in Ireland be? If you could spend a month, what would you want to see, what places would you like to visit?

a.c. Mason: I've been blessed with the ability to travel. What I've come to realize is that hitting some highlighted spots is fun, but I'd rather just stay with locals and get a taste of their life. Listen to their dialect, laughter and sorrow. I might sit looking out upon the ocean or try to capture a glimpse of them on the pages of another story.

MM: What was your favorite part of the editing process?

a.c Mason: Opening up the document for the first time after you've marked it up to see where we can improve the images the words weave for the story. I'm lucky that you get me, because you'll say “I think if we do something like this it drives this or that to another level.”

MM: I always love working with you, Mason, and I always learn something from you. Plus, your books keep me up at night, in a good way. Thanks so much for the interview. Please tell us about other books you’ve had published, and what projects you’re working on.

Mainstream Fantasy
Sins of the Undead Patriot, an erotic paranormal, is slated for release in October 2012.

Erotic Romance.
Soul Food Diner Series
Surrendering To The Right Man
The Minoan Reins Series
Night Reins
Night Reins (Print)
What's next is the Undead Patriot Series.
Urban Fantasy
The Undead Patriot Trilogy
Sins of the Undead Patriot (October 8, 2012)

6. Do you have a blog or website?

Born from the union of her Scottish and Belgian mother and an African American and Cherokee father, a.c. Mason’s youth was filled with dichotomies and moving from place to place. She developed a curiosity to explore through writing the seedy side of our nature and desires. Given her own diverse background, she writes stories that represent the world she grew up in. She is fluent in French and English. For the past eight years of her life, she has worked with one foot in the past spanning such times as the 18th century, the Bering Strait theory to modern day, and now late Victorian. Her stories are the place where darkness meets human desire and fairytales endings are not promised but earned. In 2011 her work was nominated for six 2012 Bookie Awards. If you’d like to learn more about a.c. Mason, go to

You can find Mason at too. Since this interview, Mason has also collaborated on Interracial and Multicultural Books, a website that celebrates authors and their work in that Wonderful authors and stories there. Please check them out too! And she's one of the founding members of the Cultural, Interracial and Multicultural Special Interest Chapter of Romance Writers of America. Kudos, Mason! 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Dear Aspiring Authors...

Is the story good? Will I like working with this writer?
Those two questions, in general but all importantly, govern me as an acquiring editor.
As you know, dear aspiring authors, every editor, house and agent look for certain things specific to their needs and preferences in the submissions they receive. I’m talking “cold” submissions--not manuscripts sent to them by authors who’re already clients or on their rosters. Those lucky authors already know how to submit to get the Big A. So here are The Ways of Mary when diving into the slush pile.
First, I read the query. If it’s polite and friendly, I am so there, reading your manuscript. Every freakin’ word. I certainly don’t live in Utopia, but complete strangers in my town, when passing in the parking lot at the general store, smile at each other and say “Hi, how are you?” If someone’s coming out of the store with an armload, we hold the door for them and they say “thank you.” That simple politeness is the tone I look for in a query letter. A hint of snark, a one-line query--“I’ve attached my submission per your guidelines.”--and the hair on the back of my neck rises. Two, maybe three blurby paragraphs about the characters and major conflict in the story, and you’ve got me anticipating reading it. Easy, huh? Like Patrick Swayze said in Roadhouse, “Be nice.”
A big aside here-- Please, please don’t disregard the submission guidelines. That gives me an itchy feeling like I don’t want to bother with your submission. They’re not that different from other publishers’, after all. An impolite/offhanded query and disregarded guidelines combo, and my hair is standing straight up and I’ve got a rash. I’m done already. Your story had better be stellar because if I’m still willing to read it after that, my attitude is a solid “meh.” Now remember, I really really want to read your submission. Ya know the movie Puss in Boots, and he’s got the big pleading eyes on him? That’s me, wanting to read your sub but disappointed. And after having read hundreds of subs, many with the Combo of Death query/synop thing going on, I’m crabby too.
I don’t read the synopsis first, for two reasons. They’re hard as heck to write, so I give authors a break on them, but mainly I want to read your story as if I were a paying customer. Folks out in the world buying a book don’t have a synopsis, so the story that sucks me in will do that to them too. That may sound know-it-all-ish, but I read widely. Profusely. Even biographies when I get the chance and have time.
If the plot seems confusing to me then I go back and check out the synop. But if I have to read your synopsis to understand what’s going on in the story, you’ve lost me. The moral of this story, grab me in the first five pages. When I like the author’s voice or sense that “spark” to the writing in the first five--a certain turn of phrase or description that captures the imagination--even if plot confusion reigns, I’m there for at least twenty pages. Unless the writing needs major overhauling of mechanics or sentence structure, I’ll read on because I know if minor, those issues can be cleared up in content edits. To make me read every freakin’ word and imagine your characters in the world you’ve created, grab me in the beginning, hold me by the throat through the story and make me heave a big satisfied sigh at the end. Or want to read the next book in the series, as the case may be.
That’s a tall order. I know that because I’m a writer too. The agony of choosing the perfect word and figuring out how to “show not tell” the turnings of the plot--I’m there and still doing that. Consider this, though: I want your manuscript to be accepted, to be the one that makes my inner editor shut up and compels me to vote “Yes!” I’m a writer who’s an editor, and on your side.
’Kay, so you’ve got me now. Your query was friendly and polite, I love your voice and am sooo into the story. Maybe not quite at acceptance, though. Now things I’ll have to give detailed explanations for in content edits come under consideration, like point of view and the whys and wherefores of incorporating sentence variety throughout the manuscript.
Yep, my inner editor’s a bitch. Many, many subs after starting at Lyrical, I can now tell how much work will be needed should I accept yours. I’m weighing that, and the scales are tippy. Something else to consider, I’ve already been through this process with the authors on my roster. Their writing is beyond this point. Way beyond. A sub from them has depth to characters’ perspectives and plot turns that make me say “Oh my God, I can’t believe that happened!” out loud. When I’m done reading their subs, their characters remain in my thoughts for days afterward. No matter the genre or setting, they make me believe and live in their world.
“Well, how the heck can I win?” you’re likely thinking. You still can win. Of course you can. My doors are wide open; from your polite, “Hi, how ya doin’? Thanks for reading my story” query letter, you seem nice. Simple, huh? That, and the fact you finished writing the story, however many pages later, and made an attempt at mastering the big stuff fiction writing requires says to me you’re my kind of author. That you’re open to suggestions to make your story better--you’ve obviously been in a critique group--and are determined and dedicated. Heck, that we might have fun editing your book! If I suggest revising and resubmitting, I know you have the chops to give your best effort. I have faith in you. And your success, the Big A for acceptance, makes me happy. :-)