Thursday, March 17, 2011

Your Lucky Day: Contemp Pitchapalooza

by Leah Hultenschmidt, Senior Editor

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

I was going to do a whole post on luck vs. hard work (quite the opposite of this month’s pampering theme, I know). But then Deb and I got on the phone yesterday afternoon and decided we’re on a hunt-down for some contemporary romance. It doesn’t get fresher than this.

What makes an amazing contemporary? It’s all about the guy. When I think about my favorite contemps, we’re getting a hero we can fall in love with very quickly in the story—and I mean in the first chapter when I say early. We’re getting snappy dialogue and characters we really believe in, along with a story we could envision (or fantasize about!) happening to us.

So if you’ve got a fresh complete contemporary romance with high action a la Suze Brockmann, small-town values like Robyn Carr, humor that sizzles like Robin Kaye, or just as all-round delicious as Jennifer Crusie’s BET ME, bring it on! Post a comment below with:

  • Your 2-4 sentence hook/pitch (not just a plot summary, but what makes me want to read)
  • A brief description of your hero
  • A one-sentence author history


SCRUMPTIOUS is a sizzling 85,000-word contemporary romance that will appeal to fans of Top Chef and Food Network devotees. Marlene has slaved over desserts for years and is now gunning for head chef position of her friend’s restaurant when Joe Rafferty comes to town and calls dibs. Is this a case of too many chefs spoiling the soup or the perfect pairing?

Joe looks amazingly hot in an apron, can feed you a gourmet meal in less than 30 minutes and promised his mom he was absolutely done with one-night stands—a vow he’s come to regret now that Marlene’s in the picture.

Amanda Usen is a debut author (Scrumptious, Sourcebooks Casablanca, Feb. 2012), RWA member and pastry chef.

Other author history examples:

X is a bestselling author of 2 contemporary romances.
Y is a debut author with 5 unpublished manuscripts written.
Z is a multi-published author of 9 books and 3 novellas with top e-book publishers.

I’ll accept pitches through midnight EST, ending at 12:01 a.m. 3/18. If you miss this chance for a critique, you can always email your project to me at romance[at]

Can’t wait to hear what you’ve got, and may the luck of the Irish be with you!


  1. Love pitchapalooza! I hope you get some fantastic entries.

  2. Woohoo, Happy Saint Patty's Day, Leah!! I'm off to let everyone know you're sharing a pot o' gold (so to speak) with a pitching offer!

  3. Someone once said, “Running from your problems never solves anything.” That someone – was a liar.

    At least that’s how Alisa Leighton sees it. She ran away from her problems and opened a shelter for battered women. Life was great until Donovan Marshall showed up. Now she’s rocked by long dormant desires, not to mention the realization that she turned his little sister away from the shelter – a week before her brutal murder.

    Donovan Marshall's life has turned upside down, but a tortured past won't stop him from finding or accomplishing what he wants, if that's good or bad is up for debate.

    Candi Wall is the founder of 'Agent Shop' at Musetracks blog and writes contemporary and Young Adult novels.

  4. AHHHH! It posted. I was just trying to sign into my google account!

    Please remove it! Sorry.

  5. Love it! Happy St. Patrick's Day :) I'm posting this on my blog and twitter! So cool!

  6. I'm off to tweet this post. Happy hunting, Leah!

  7. Happy Pitchapalooza Day! Don't forget to wear green! Love your pitchin' days. It's a great learning experience.

  8. ameliagrey@comcast.netMarch 17, 2011 at 10:00 AM

    Good luck, Leah. I hope you find some winners today on this blog!

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. MANHUNTER is an 80,000 word romantic comedy about a fiercely independent screenwriter determined to find Mr. Right, and a hardass ex-FBI agent just as determined to stay Mr. Single. They’re forced to work together to escape when stranded on an island inhabited by a dangerous drug cartel. When the drug lord follows her back to Iowa, Grant is the only one who can offer her the protection she needs – whether she wants it or not.

    An expert in martial arts but an amateur in love, Grant Stiles wants nothing more than to be left alone. Yet somehow he inherits his special-needs cousin Chip, takes on an orphaned English bulldog with a lisp and when the woman he secretly loved as a teen finds herself in danger, he’ll sacrifice anything to keep her safe. Except his freedom.

    Carrie Spencer is an RWA member and an unpublished author with one completed manuscript and three half manuscripts.

  11. Tracey, Terry, Sara, Mia, Carolyn, Amelia--thanks for helping get the word out!

  12. Candi--This sounds like an emotional wringer, and I'd definitely like to see more. Please send the full ms and synopsis as Word attachments to leah.hultenschmidt[at] I also find it helpful to have a cover letter in the body of the email, which should include an extended bio and career plans. Look forward to reading it!

  13. Carrie--I'm definitely falling in love with your hero based on that the description. But I'm not quite clear on the tone--a romantic comedy with a drug cartel? Or is it romantic suspense? I find it becomes difficult to position a book if you mix them.

  14. It's a romantic comedy....=) the drug lord actually gets beaten up by her cat. =) there's a little suspense towards the end, but definitely a comedy! =) thanks Leah!


  15. This is great - in my opinion, there aren't nearly enough contemporaries out there! I love the combination of humor and emotion you get in romantic comedies like those that have been pitched. Can't wait to read some fun new authors!

  16. Leah, just wanted to say thanks for doing these pitchapaloozas : ) While I'm fortunate enough to have an agent (who I think has already contacted you about my YA project??) these blog threads are a wonderful thing for those still hunting agents AND for those who can't get to a conference to pitch to you in person. Kudos and thanks!
    Off to dig into a romance to get it pitch ready for the next chance!

  17. Playing with Matches
    Contemporary Romance

    In this Ally McBeal meets Twin Peaks romantic comedy, attorney Dawn Ellison reluctantly attempts online dating and ends up a murder suspect in small town Louisiana. But when Detective Colin Dempsey comes on scene things heat up in a hurry and with an arsonist on the loose, someone is bound to get burned. Will small town secrets turn this city girl into gator bait or has the killer finally met his match?

    Colin Dempsey is a bad boy turned cop with the dangerous cunning of a reptile and the charming good looks of a wild cat. He’s not much on city girls but there’s something about Dawn that makes this southern hottie’s heart melt.

    Carlie Angelus is a soon to be published author of her first paranormal novella with Canadian e-publisher MuseItUp. With an exciting new angels and demons series in the works already, she’s branching out with some hot, humorous contemporaries. She’s a small town southern girl with a law degree and works better in the heat of things!

  18. This was a great exercise.

    ABIGAIL’S DILEMMA is a thought provoking 97,000 word mystery with suspense and romance elements. Workaholic Abigail Winston is on the fast track to high management when her career is suddenly derailed. She is accused of stealing from clients and fired. Before she can prove her innocence, Abigail’s mother, suffering from a stroke, is badgered, risking her recovery. Ex-military Michael Taylor has reported the found injustice, but doesn’t believe his unrequited puppy love, Abigail, is responsible. The thief stacks the evidence against her until only her death will stop the investigation. I have no published history, however I am a Veteran and currently employed as an administrator at a Coroner’s Office.

  19. Carrie - ok, you talked me into taking a look. Feel free to send the project over--email the full with a synopsis and career arc to leah.hultenschmidt[at]

  20. Joanne--I agree with you about the lack of contemporaries. It's so hard to find good ones where you really feel you relate to the characters. And we don't get pitched them nearly as much as historicals and paranormals. So it's exciting to see all these ideas coming out.

  21. Carlie--This sounds a lot like the Jana DeLeon books (Rumble on the Bayou, Trouble in Mudbug) I edited. I think the hero description could use a little work, but I do like the Southern flair angle. Please send the full ms and synopsis as Word attachments to leah.hultenschmidt[at] I also find it helpful to have a cover letter in the body of the email, which should include an extended bio and career plans.

  22. LOVE BY ACCIDENT is an emotionally charged story set in a small town nestled in the majestic Canadian Rockies.

    Moving away, shedding her past life, was the only way Lauren could cope with the accident that killed her boyfriend and left-last she'd heard- her best friend Matt paralyzed. Three years later Matt has tracked her down and not only can he walk, he's not leaving without some answers. Like where the hell was Lauren when he needed her most? And will she ever feel for Matt, what he's always felt for her?

    Matt is an outdoorsman who's learned the value of life and lives it to the fullest. He's Patrick Dempsey in a Ranger uniform with a warped sense of humour and a guilty pleasure of
    80's music.

    Michelle Beattie is multi-published with a series of historical pirate novels published by Berkley. She's a member of RWA and has set this story in one of her favorite towns.

  23. This was a fun exercise!

    Complete at 75,000 words, Texas Two Step is a contemporary romance of love, family and forgiveness which will appeal to readers who a love hot, hunky cowboy matching wits with a strong, independent woman. After six years, four hundred miles of separation, and too many nights of self-recriminating guilt, sexy rancher Mitch Landry is ready to admit he was wrong to have ended his relationship with Olivia Montgomery. The more Olivia pushes Mitch away, the more convinced he is that she's the love of his life, until her startling secret rocks his world and threatens to shatter his trust in her forever.

    Dressed in a pair of worn jeans or nothing at all…on top of a horse or stretched out in his Texas-sized bed, Mitch Landry is content with who he is. All that’s missing is the right woman to share his life, his love, and his bed.

    Cynthia D’Alba is a aspiring author, RWA member, and frequent contest winner, including this manuscript which won first place for Contemporary Romance in the 2009 Launching a Star Contest and the 2010 Golden Palm Contest.

  24. Jackie--this sounds to more more like a mystery than a romance. I have nothing that really makes me fall in love with Michael here, though the ex-military is a nice angle.

  25. Michelle B--Love it! Send it! Just make sure Matt is quickly intro'd in the story. Email me the full with a synopsis and sales history to leah.hultenschmidt[at]

  26. ArkansasCyndi--Nice boots! And the story sounds great too. Please email the full ms with a synopsis and career arc to me at leah.hultenschmidt[at]

  27. The Nazir triplets may look alike but the belly dancing beauties couldn’t be more different.

    Desari, the shyest sister, spends her days as a sales associate for Michelson’s Department store and her nights donning a half veil and skimpy belly dancing outfit. If only she had the courage to let her sexy best friend and secret crush Kanin Reeves see just what lurks beneath her silks.

    Kissa, with eyes that blaze like quicksilver, thrives in her corporate world of order and power. Until Rafe Enfantes comes barreling into her life. The sexy Latino sends her pulse into overdrive with his winning smile and chiseled body. Rafe soon has Kissa willing to trade in her belly dancing moves for some salsa grooves.

    Suhaila, a free-spirited artist, is used to living on her own terms but when police officer Michael Kalakua enters her life everything she knows is shifted on its axis.

    Behind the Veil is an 80,000 word novel that tells the story of the Nazir sisters and the men they love.

    Courtney Sheets is the author of Kona Warrior, a paranormal romance set in Hawaii. She is also a screenwriter and is a member of the Romance Writer's of America.

    55,000 word romantic suspense

    When Kendi Morgan stumbles upon the victim of a would-be murder, she has no choice but to help him back to the safety of her secluded country home. Wounded DEA agent Gage Chandler is a man with nothing to lose and nothing to fear—until he finds himself falling for a beautiful woman who risks everything to save his life. Can their newfound love survive as they are targeted by a powerful drug lord seeking revenge? Gage knows he’s all that stands between the cartel and Kendi in a sting operation that has gone awry. Will he sacrifice his partner's life and his own in exchange for Kendi’s safety?

    Gage Chandler is a loner who wants to keep it that way. After losing his first love in a home invasion, he has a score to settle, and he doesn't care what happens to him--until Kendi Morgan saves his life. Now he has a choice to make--will he continue the fight against the drug cartel he's infiltrated, or will he embrace the love he's found with Kendi--if he lives?

    Cheryl Pierson is a multi-published author of contemporary and historical romance novels and short stories.

  29. I'm loving these pitches. What a great idea for St. Patrick's Day.

    Good luck to everyone!!

  30. Happy Saint Patrick's Day! I'll tweet this.

  31. Set Her Up' Watch Him Fall is a 71,000 word fun sexy contemporary romance. It’s full of blind dates, subterfuge, and a well deserved happy ending. It is written as a standalone, but planned as the first in a trilogy.

    Brett Montgomery is loyal to his best friend and business partner Darren Kingston. So much so that he would never act on his feelings for Darren’s little sister Kate. That is until Darren starts setting her up on blind dates with men who are totally wrong for her.

    Contemporary romance author Rita Sawyer has several titles published with Siren Publishing and Pink Petal Books, she’s also a member of RWA.

  32. SHOULD'VE KNOWN BETTER is a complete, 85,000 word contemporary hockey romance which will appeal to fans of Deidre Martin and Rachel Gibson.

    Sarah Jenkins is a former CIA information analyst starting a new life working for an NHL team. Sebastian St. Amant is a young player looking to make the team. Their attraction grows as the season wears on, but Sarah fights it, knowing that as a player Sebastian is off-limits. Can Sebastian melt the ice around Sarah's heart?

    Sebastian is just coming into his own as a man and will do anything for the woman he loves. He's the perfect combination of boyish innocence and hot man.

    Amanda Twentyfive, writing as Cassandra Carr, is a huge hockey fan whose debut novel, a contemporary erotic romance titled Talk to Me, will be released by Loose Id on March 22, 2011.

  33. MUSTANG SASSY is a sexy 85 000 word story set in small town Colorado.

    Growing up in her father’s auto body shop, Sass Hogan has an exterior as tough as the muscle cars she drives, and a temper as fiery as the flame licks tattooed on her backside. When city-boy, Jordan Carlyle, turns up at the shop with a busted-up ’67 Mustang Fastback, Sass is determined to fix his car, but vows to stay far, far away from the too handsome blond Goliath. After all, she was the one who accidentally - on-purpose - smashed his car when she confused it with her ex-boyfriend’s. The problem is, Jordan has other ideas about how close he and Sass should be and Sass isn’t exactly doing her best to dissuade him.

    Jordan Carlyle is everything Sass has never dreamed possible in one man; six-foot-two, broad shoulders, sexy five o’clock shadow, he’s into muscles cars, he boxes for fun and he can cook – damn him! But Jordan’s presence in Greenview is no accident and if Sass ever finds out the real reason he’s there, Jordan will not only lose his job, he’ll lose the woman he’s falling in love with.

    DL Snow is an active member of RWA and is published with Samhain Publishing.

  34. Great idea Leah! I am going to tweet and facebook this link! Glad to see contemps are not dead...I just finished one and it was a blast writing something different than paranormal. Hopefully my agent is a excited!

  35. Movie fans and celebrity crushers will identify with FISHBOWL, a light-hearted contemporary romance that explores the question: how does an ordinary girl save a heartthrob from himself? Meggie is a near college graduate so laid-back she’s nearly comatose - until she trips over America’s sexiest Hollywood celeb hiding out. Can these two survive together under the radar of paparazzi while Drew Reynolds lives in the spotlight?

    Drew Reynolds is Hollywood’s hottest leading man; he’s young, sexy, talented, and desperate to avoid screaming fangirls. Underneath the glamour and trust issues, Drew is just an ordinary Joe with a fondness for making romantic gestures.

    Anne Baker is a debut author currently working on her second manuscript and preparing for RWA Nationals.

  36. Thanks Leah. I love those boots too! Wish I could afford them. Embroidered leather!

  37. Clear as Day is a 76,000 word contemporary romance set in the summer heat and cool waters of Lake Mohave, south of Las Vegas.

    What’s a girl to do when her summer lover wants forever?
    Haunted by bitter memories of her parents' volatile marriage, artist Kay Browning keeps her heart locked behind a free-spirit facade and contents herself with the comfortable affair she has every summer with sexy, easy-going photographer Nate Quinn. Why should she risk the sensual pleasure and friendship they share on love's possessive madness? The only trouble with her plan – Nate’s done with holding back his heart and this summer he's come to Lake Mohave to claim the lover he can't let go.

    Always ready with a smile, a joke, or a hand, Nate will take his sailboat over flashy horsepower any day and believes in savoring life and love slow and easy. He also knows when to change course. He’s done with the endless traveling and settling for temporary homes. Now he must convince a woman who sees love as a setting a course to certain heartbreak to trust how safe a harbor his love for her can be.

    Clear as Day would be my debut novel. I'm a teacher whose class cheers when it’s time for their spelling test, a Pro member of RWA, and I serve on the Board of my local chapter.

  38. Amelia and her colleague William volunteer for a Weekend Retreat thinking it will be held in sunny Malibu only to find out it’s actually in chilly Lake Tahoe—just what a girl from Minneapolis wants to hear in the middle of winter. William decides this is his last chance with Amelia and starts marking his territory like a dog in heat. But when Amelia meets hunky workshop presenter Nate, she’s ready pull off her wooly sweater and get into something a little more comfortable—Nate’s bed. The hot tub isn’t the only thing that’s steaming hot in this humorous contemporary romance of 75,000 words.

    Nate is the workshop presenter who wants nothing more than to snag a promotion with work—until he meets Amelia. Now Nate is letting his promotion slip away while he’s busy rescuing Amelia on the ski slopes, saving her from her colleague William, and warming the cold nights with her between the sheets.

    Heather Thurmeier is a debut author with two completed full-length novels and one completed novella, RWA member, and a terrible skier.

    Weekend Retreat-75K

  39. *I'm not sure if it's okay to post two pitches or not. This is my second.

    If there’s anything worse than being forced to date your ex-boyfriend while hiding an affair with your new lover—it’s doing it all on national television.

    Cassidy Quinn is one of ten contestants on the new reality dating show The One. Her excitement turns to horror when the gorgeous bachelor turns out to be her ex-boyfriend. Cassidy’s not sure she’s ready for love again or if she’s even really over her ex-boyfriend—then she finds herself in bed with hunky cameraman Evan Burke. Now she has to hide her affair with Evan while her ex-boyfriend tries to win her heart back one groping, awkward moment at a time and the blonde bombshell/wannabe diva with the size two jiggle-free ass makes it her personal mission to ruin Cassidy’s life on the show.

    Evan Burke was prepared to follow around a pageant princess while filming The One but whens he's assigned to Cassidy, he knows he's getting more than he bargained for. Now he has to hide his affair with Cassidy—easier said than done when there are cameras in every corner—or risk his career to fall in love.

    Heather Thurmeier is a debut author with two completed full-length novels and one completed novella, PRO RWA member, and has logged more hours watching reality TV than she cares to admit.

    You're Not the One-humorous contemporary-98K

  40. STEALING GRAN'S BOOTY is a 98,000-word contemporary pirate treasure hunt romance. When Raina Bishop goes on a tropical vacation with her eccentric grandmother, she expects Gran's treasure map to lead to chocolate pirate coins and plastic Mardi Gras beads. But not only does Gran believe this map is real, so does the crew of the pirate-themed charter boat Gran's hired to carry them to a secluded island. Further complicating matters is the other booty Raina stumbles across her first morning on the island - he's rough around the edges and could use a bit of polish, but she has a feeling Westley Bellamy is worth twice his weight in gold and jewels.

    West is the underprivileged grandson of a former smuggler. He holds a blue-collar job by day and is a non-traditional student seeking a college degree at night, and he's come to the island seeking his grandfather's lost treasure. If he can get it before the women, he'll set his family free from the psychological hold it's had over three generations of his family, and hopefully give his young niece and nephew a better start in life. But he doesn't count on his heart betraying him during the search when he finds himself falling for Raina.

    Jamie Farrell is an aspiring author and RWA member with four completed manuscripts.

  41. Writer Girl--Sounds to me like this story needs a little focus. I'm not sure who the main characters are or what the conflict is.

  42. Cheryl--55,000 words is a bit too short for our line. Usually we try to target more around 90,000. But it's a solid pitch!

  43. This comment has been removed by the author.

  44. Rita--This sounds like it could be cute and fun. Please email the full along with a synopsis attached as a Word document to leah.hultenschmidt [at]

  45. Cassandra--Love the idea of a sports team! It's actually something I'm particularly looking for. Please do send the full, synopsis and career arc my

  46. DL--Sounds fabulous. I can't resist that kick-butt tough girl, and I'm totally in love with your hero already. Please send the full ms, synopsis, and career arc plans to me at

  47. The Knight is a complete 100,000 word contemporary romance the first in the Hero series.

    What if Cinderella rescued Prince Charming and did not want the happily ever after he offered?

    Christopher Coalwell, a renegade Count from France, meets Susannaha Millfield, a fiery local farm girl on the side of the Iowa interstate. He is immediately enchanted by her smile, and oddly disturbed that she is unaffected by his charm.

    Chris battles to elude his future in a world filled with demands, while Suz struggles to flee from a past to find freedom at last.
    The Knight is filled with duels and struggles that explode with passion, laughter and an unforeseen love.

    The Knight is a combination of Rachel Gibson meets Susan Mallery with a touch of Eloisa James.

    I am an active member of the RWA, Chicago North and Windy City Chapters.
    Thank you,
    Ann Marie Bauer
    W/A K.A. Bauer

  48. Anne--I'm not sure about the celebrity angle. To me, it seems something I see much more in YA than adult romance. And someone that laid back doesn't necessarily sound like a character I want to spend 350 pages with.

  49. Babette--This sounds as though it could have some real emotional pull, and I'd be happy to take a look. You can send the full ms, synopsis and career arc to me at

  50. LUCK OF THE IRISH is an 85,000 word (approximately) Contemporary Romance novel about a young latin woman trying to recreate her life after the only parent she ever knew, dies. She travels to Ireland to meet her Grandmother Annie, the only link to a mother she never knew, only to find that she is guarding secrets.

    Peter O’Connor lives a private life, hiding from the shame of a wife that left him. In a small Irish town, everyone knows your business. And what they don’t know, they make up. He is content to be working at Abbey Glen Castle for Ms. Annie and the one thing he is certain of is that he will never let anyone get close enough to hurt him again.

    Rosanna Cordero is a debut author with a great idea for an unpublished and unfinished (I gotta be honest!) Contemporary Romance (Suspense) novel.

  51. Heather T.--
    Weekend Retreat--The description of Nate tells more about what he does than who he is, and I'm not seeing anything that makes him stand out. It can also be a bit tricky to pull off a love triangle if William is also a sympathetic character. I don't see here what makes her chose Nate over William.

    You're Not the One--The reality TV theme has been done an awful lot already and starts to feel a bit dated at this pointed. But the setup is clever.

  52. Tulsa McGrath spent the last ten years creating her perfect LA life. She is the A-list divorce attorney to the stars and her life is exactly what she always wanted so why would she even consider returning to her hometown of Powder Springs, Colorado?

    Well, she wouldn't. Ever. Unless her sister Ella McGrath and her niece Ash, needed her, and they do need Tulsa, desperately.

    Thrust into a custody battle that Tulsa and Ella never saw coming Tulsa must now represent her sister. But what about her opposing counsel? Aside from Ash's father, Tulsa's opposing counsel is the last person Tulsa ever wanted to see again. Tulsa's opposing counsel is Cade Montgomery the man she fled from when she was just barely a woman and he barely a man.

    Cade Montgomery moved on with his life but he never forgot his love for Tulsa McGrath. Now, he's moved back to Powder Springs from New York City to take over the family legal practice and take care of his dad. But the one thing Cade never anticipated was Tulsa McGrath returning home.

    Maggie Marr is the author of Hollywood Girls Club and Secrets of The Hollywood Girls Club (both under option for film). She also writes for film and tv. Her credits include: Sexology, The Apology Expert and Hart & Stone.

  53. Roseanna--I'm jumping ahead to you momentarily because how could I not request LUCK OF THE IRISH on St. Patrick's Day? Please send the full ms, synopsis, and career arc plans to me at

  54. Thanks Leah, it will be forthcoming :).

  55. The Some Day List is a 93,000-word single title romance.

    After finding out that her irresponsible ex-husband is going to be a father, Quinn Adams is determined to change her life to get the thing she wants most - a family. She tosses aside her practical nature and allows her friends to put together a list of frivolous adventures for a summer of fun. She figures if she can complete this list, she's sure she will either find The One or at least be prepared to become a single mother.

    Ryan O’Leary is the person his large family relies on for everything, so when his friend Quinn struggles with her list, Ryan naturally steps up to help. As they tackle Quinn’s list together, Ryan’s involvement shakes up Quinn’s life more than the adventures themselves. When their relationship evolves beyond friendship, Quinn fears losing a great friend while Ryan struggles to find a balance between the demands of his family and his desire to have a life of his own.

    Shannyn Schroeder is a debut author with three unpublished, but completed manuscripts.

  56. Hi Leah,
    I wanted to send on another romantic suspense pitch for a novel I wrote that is longer than the other one you said you liked but was too short for your line. This one is approx. 120,000 words, but could be adjusted downward if accepted.

    120,000 word count romantic suspense

    A hostage crisis on a Dallas hotel rooftop brings wounded undercover cop Johnny Logan and divorcee Alexa Bailey together. Have they finally found love only to lose their lives? Now, with everything at stake, it’s up to Johnny to survive a “winner-take-all” battle high above the city before time runs out. With the lives of the other hostages at stake,including Alexa, he must gamble his own life and future to save them all.

    Johnny Logan has been through one bad marriage and is not looking for love. But in the most unlikely place, he realizes he has no choice in the matter this time. At the hands of a terrorist, Johnny's got to keep a cool head if he hopes to save himself and the hostages, and have a future with Alexa.

    Cheryl Pierson is a multi-published author of historical and contemporary short stories and novels.

  57. Is this still open?

  58. I have a 100K-word contemporary romance about redemption and trust. Cal, an ex-con has-been movie actor, takes a deal for early parole as the host of an altruistic television series, rather than remain in prison where another convict wants to finish killing him. Stuck in an assignment that expects his former renegade persona, he struggles to prove he is a changed man, to himself and to the set housekeeper, a grounded young woman named Madeline who's captured him through kindness. Unfortunately, Maddie doesn't want to get involved with yet another troubled man she's sure will break her heart, but as his parole situation unravels and he realizes he is threatened even here, Maddie is the only person he knows he can turn to.

    Cal would love to be a changed man if he could just figure out how and who that is. He's played so many characters over his career that he can't seem to get the hang of being himself. Falling in love with Maddie despite his best efforts not to, he manages to say or do all the wrong things -- from calling her best friend a giraffe to unclogging a toilet in the absolute worst way. A self-described "late bloomer", a former poster boy with a potty mouth, he knows he'd better prove he has substance and heart if he wants to be with Maddie, the only woman he's ever met who sees all his flaws but will love him anyway.

    Lynne is a debut author and a member of RWA. In addition to this story, she is also working on a humorous suspense novel and another contemporary romance. During the day she works on other people's books; at night she works on her own. Sleep is for the weak.

    Thank you for this opportunity, Leah. Happy St. Patty's day!

  59. PICTURE ME is a funny, touching 90,000-word contemporary romance that will appeal to Kristan Higgins and Jennifer Crusie fans, and fills a much needed niche market of stories where the dog does not die. Debut author Savannah Mae Mason's life has been stuck in neutral since her parents died years ago, and she is afraid to hope in her own happily-ever-after. Brian Kelly, hired to capture photo-phobic Savannah's author photo, has traveled down heartbreak road once already, and he prefers not to take the return trip. Will they have the courage needed to give love a chance to develop?

    Brian could be a cover model for Irish GQ instead of a photographer with an eye for his clients' inner beauty. He's sexy, funny, and he still goes home for Sunday family dinners.

    Ryann Uden is a unpublished author (one completed manuscript), RWA/Chicago-North Chapter member, and librarian.

  60. Price of Love is an 83K steamy contemporary romance. It was written as a stand alone book but it is the first of a planned series of four books that follows four friends on their path to love.

    They say that everyone has a price. In Price of Love, Kenzie O'Connor is faced with deciding her price.

    Workaholic Mackenzie O'Connor grew up in the rough inner city and knows the importance of having a safe sanctuary. In her battle to save the youth center where she works, Kenzie has put everything on hold, including her sex life. Then she meets Jake and suddenly there's more to life than work. Faced with having to choose between her love for Jake and saving the youth center and the kids she has sworn to protect, Kenzie is forced to decide the price of love.

    Jake Turner has lived his life being a "Turner". In Kenzie, he finally finds a woman who seems to want him for himself rather than for the Turner name. Jake may have the lifestyle, breeding and money of a blue blood but at heart he's a motorcycle riding bad-boy with the eyes to match. It will take a strong woman to keep up with him.

    Lauren Fraser is multi-published in contemporary erotic romance and a PAN member of RWA.

  61. A Bid for Love is a 90,000 word contemporary romance.

    A deadly hit and run sends millionaire Greg Gibson to Becky Edwards’ door for some much needed answers, but unfortunately all her memories of the accident are hidden in her nightmares. After finding the courage to trust him, she reveals everything, only to be betrayed. As more obstacles block their paths, will Becky ever be able to admit to herself that Greg is the only one for her?

    Gregory Gibson, AKA Duke of Ellington, is also an antique dealer who has no interest in his title or marrying the first girl his father approves. He’s polite, and his mannerisms and speech lean toward his royal upbringing. He is controlling and knows what he wants which is a woman who will love him for who he is and not the title that is attached.

    Tricia Saxby is a member of the RWA and an unpublished author with one complete manuscript and three unfinished manuscripts.

  62. ‘Eyes of a Stranger’ is a contemporary romance, with suspenseful elements, completed at 70.000 words.

    Hiding from an abusive husband, Tegan Ryan clashes with sexy suited, Mathew King, the new partner of her father’s legal firm, where she is a secretary. Mathew is sex in boots, and one of the wealthiest and most desirable bachelors in Australia. Getting off to a wrong start is not the only thing that has Tegan’s nerves sky rocking to Venus. Mathew has stunning blue eyes. Always thinking her son Robert’s were the bluest ever, this stranger presents a serious rival.

    Although something mysterious and painful lurks in Tegan Ryan’s eyes, Mathew loves challenges. Tegan stood up to him, and he wasn’t accustomed to her bite. She didn’t waver considering he is the heir of King Enterprises. Given her attitude, he knew Tegan was going to be an enjoyable challenge.

    Working closely together, Tegan and Mathew share a journey of overcoming fears, rescue, conquering trust, and most of all discovering each other. Until her husband turns up at her house,
    only to be Mathew’s dead brother, a brother he thought he’d failed.

    Suzanne is published with two contemporary romances, one with suspensful elements. She is a member of RWAustralia, and is looking forward to having more novels in print.

  63. ‘Flight of Fear’ is a contemporary romance, with suspenseful elements completed at approximately 70.000 words.

    The death of a person sometimes means new beginnings, but for Catherine Berg her father’s death in a light aircraft then a car accident leaves her with stolen memories. In order to escape the shell of a woman she has become, she must find those memories before she’d accept any type of change.

    Sexy lawyer and pilot Nathan Alexander has other ideas. Inheriting half of her father’s company, Macquarie Airways, he is frustrated that she does not remember him. He will do all that it takes to help her remember what she has lost, and that is him. He wants to help her get back into an aircraft to become the woman she loved being.

    Catherine and Nathan spend time together and she secretly enjoys the banters they share. But when Nathan’s aircraft is missing in the outback, when Search and Rescue fail to locate him, Catherine must face her fears and climb back into an aircraft. She has lost one man she loved, she is not about to lose another.

    Suzanne has two contemporary romances published, and is looking forward to having more published.

  64. Jaimie F - I'm a bit worried the treasure hunting angle will take over the story. Though very much escapist fiction and a great fantasy, I'm having a hard time figuring out the best way to position it.

  65. Ann Marie--This sounds as though it could be a charming modern-day fairy tale. I'm happy to take a look at the full ms and synopsis, which you can send to me at leah.hultenschmidt [at]

  66. Maggie Marr--I still don't have a great a sense for who your hero is (as opposed to what he does) in this pitch. But it sounds as though there's lots of great opportunity for sparks between the characters. I'm happy to take a look at the full ms and synopsis, which you can send to leah.hultenschmidt[at]

  67. Shannyn--This storyline sounds a bit familiar, but what woman isn't a softie for the guy who wants to take care of everything? You can send me the full ms and synopsis at leah. hultenschmidt[at]

  68. Cheryl Pierson--Sounds as though this could have riveting pacing, but I'm not seeing how a romance spins out in the middle of a terrorist hostage situation. At some point, they have to be out of the pressure to let the relationship develop.

  69. Lynnerose--I'm afraid I'm having a hard time picturing Cal as the kind of guy any woman would want to fall in love with. To become fully engaged in the story, it helps to have the hero appealing (though he can still be flawed of course) straight from the get-go.

  70. Ryann--I'm in love with it all. Especially the part about the dog. Please do send me the full ms, synopsis and what else you might have cooking--leah.hultenschmidt [at]

  71. Lauren--It's not clear why she has to choose between the youth center and Jake. But Jake does sound like a pretty appealing guy. I'd be happy to take a look at the full ms and synop, which can be sent to leah.hultenschmidt[at]

  72. Tricia--Any kind of amnesia usually pushes the bounds of plausibility for me. Is there another way to sustain the tension here?

  73. Suzanne--

    Eyes of a Stranger--Though Matt sounds appealing, I have no idea what this story is about. What brings these two together? What keeps them apart?

    Flight of Fear--If she's spending a large chunk of the story going in search of him, it's going to be difficult to see their relationship develop.

  74. Thanks so much for looking over my words, Leah. I understand your comments and I'll work on this!

  75. Leah, thank you so much for the opportunity and I will send the MS and synopsis shortly.

  76. Wonderful entries!
    Happy St. Pat's day to you too, Leah!