Thursday 13 October 2011

Looking for a publisher who accepts unagented work?

Don't despair. Here are some publishers who will look at unagented work, plus some other writing links which I hope may be useful.

Avalon Books
USA library publishers. Very sweet and traditional.

Avon Impulse
Digital line from USA publisher Avon.

Publisher of many kinds of romance. Bookstrand publishers mainstream romance, Siren publisher erotic romance. Siren-Bookstrand also publish menage romance.

Captiva Press
USA ebook publisher of romance.

Carina Press
Ebook press of Harlequin.

Champagne Books
Ebook publisher of mainstream romance, including historicals.

Choc Lit
A British publisher who will consider unagented work. Contemp and historical romance.

Decadent Publishing
Publish romance, YA, mainstream and nonfiction

Desert Breeze
USA ebook publisher of romance.

Ellora's Cave
Publisher of romance, erotic romance and romantica.

Entangled Publishing
Publisher of romance - say they bridge the gap between trad publishing and indie publishing.

Freya's Bower.
Ebook publisher of romance and erotic romance - closed for subs now until Sept 15th 2011.

Karen Fox
News of markets, publishers and agents.

Kensington Books
5th largest publisher in the USA. Will look at unagented work. Be ready for a long wait.

Leap of Faith Publishing
Leap of Faith Publishing are very new. They are looking mainly for romance but some mainstream, too, including thrillers and suspense, mainstream and self-help. They take short stories as well - 1000 to 2000 words.

Loose Id
Publisher of erotic romance.

Macmillan new writing
Macmillan new writing will take unagented work. tends to be mainstream or thrillers/crime. Closed for submissions at present, hope to re-open late in 2011 - keep checking the link.

Mills and Boon
The UK category and more romance publisher. Will consider unagented work. Be prepared for a 24 week wait.

Muse It Up Publishing
Canadian ebook and POD publisher.

Musa Publishing.
Ebook publisher. Will take sweet romance, historical romance including Regency, contemp romance. Musa also take Speculative Fiction, GLBT, Paranormal, Erotica and YA.

My Weekly Pocket Novel Guidelines
My Weekly Pocket Novel. UK publisher of romance seeking novels of 50,000 words.

Publishing Trove
This is a useful yahoo group where you can promote your work on Sundays and also pitch your work to publishers on other days. The files section here is full of info about different publishers and what they are looking for.

Robert Hale Publishers
A British publisher who will consider unagented work. Likes crime, thrillers, sagas, romantic suspense, westerns.

Secret Cravings
Ebook publisher.

Samhain Publishing
USA ebook publisher. Romance and erotic romance of many genres, also horror.

Sapphire Blue Publishing
Ebook publisher of many genres.

Place where writers can self-publish their fiction and non fiction work. They will publish it for free in the main formats and take a modest cut of the sale price. Smashwords will also supply you with a free ISBN, if you name Smashwords as the publisher. They also distribute to Kobo, Mobi, B&N Nook, Apple and other places. Not yet distributing to Amazon, though that may be forthcoming.

UK publisher. Mainstream. Will consider unagented work.

Sourcebooks will consider romance submissions without an agent.

The Wild Rose Press
USA ebook publisher of many kinds of romance.

Tor Publications
Fantasy and science fiction publishers who will take unagented submissions.

UK publisher of erotic romance.

Uncial Press
Ebook publisher taking a wide range of genres.

Whiskey Creek Press
Established ebook publisher in a number of genres.
Women's Fiction Magazine Guidelines. Very useful blog giving guidelines for various women's fiction magazines. The guidelines are available in the links down the right hand side of the blog.

Harlequin Historicals Undone
Highly sensual historical romance novellas, 10-15000 words in length. Will look at unagented work. Be ready for a possible 5 month wait.


Tuesday 11 October 2011

Themes in Historical Romantic Fiction

Here are some of the most popular: Vengeance - Pursuit - Misfortune - Revolt -Enterprise - Abduction - Enigma - Greed - Enmity - Rivalry - Adultery -Madness - Imprudence - Sacrifice - Dishonour - Jealousy - Loss - Remorse, and many others. Perhaps one of the most popular is female oppression.

The desire for power, male domination, violence and control, and captive women, have been recurring themes from Jane Eyre to the present day. Drabble, Byatt, and Jean Rhys in her retelling of Jane Eyre in Wide Sargossa Sea have all used this theme. As have countless gothic and romantic suspense novels. Is this because women fear reliving the fates of their mothers?

Women’s oppression across history has been written constantly, evenabout during the 60s, in an age of strong feminism.

‘Happy women, like happy countries, they say, have no histories,’ says Harriet in Victoria Holt’s Menfreya in the Morning.

Eleanor Hibbert, in her different incarnations, as Jean Plaidy, Holt, and Philippa Carr used this theme constantly. Her Plaidy novels were written in the 3rd person, which gave them a rounder, more objective viewpoint. Her others were in 1st and therefore more personal and emotional.

Gregory too writes about the lot of women. About primogeniture and how women are ignored. Even her biographical fiction is about exploited women, forced to marry for political reasons, or used by their political ambitious fathers. Her early novels also deal with the theme of exploitation in other ways, such as the agricultural peasant after the enclosures. Writing these novels in the 1980s, during the time of the miners' strikes, this would strike a chord with readers, as it tuned in with the radical political consciousness of the time.

As with Gregory, so with Susan Howatch, who wrote about wealth and inheritance, stating that women were considered a possession as was a house or land. But she plunders history for her stories: Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine for Penmarrick, and Edward I, II and III for Cashelmara. She is saying that nothing changes. She used history itself as her inspiration, disguised and relocated while echoing the universal truth of her theme of exploitation of women in dysfunctional families. Both Howatch and Gregory teach us that history does not exist in a vacuum, that nothing really changes about human nature, despite progress in other fields.

Perhaps it is easier for us to view these problems through the prism of nostalgia. Class/sexual inequalities/social differences/violent abuse/illegitimacy and other strong themes, are often best viewed at a distance. They work because they don’t have to be defended, criticised or judged. People like to think - ah yes, that’s how it was back then. They are aware the issue still has a resonance today, yet it is easier to consider it with the benefit of hindsight. Its awfulness is often stressed quite strongly, yet as it is safely in the past, this allows in a slight air of unreality or fantasy in the way the subject is depicted.

In the 1970s the theme of exploited women was turned on its head and the liberation of women became a popular theme in racy historicals. Known as bodice rippers these started with Kathleen Woodiwise: The Flame and the Flower. Rosemary Rogers: Sweet Savage Love. They depicted accurate sex in inaccurate history. History was pure fantasy, a mere backdrop. Women were still incarcerated, degraded, violated, and yet they maintained their sense of adventure and spirit of defiance and independence. The strength of the abused woman resonated with all, giving women the right to enjoy sex, and to exploit men just as they had exploited women throughout history. Ultimately they tamed the hero. They conquered evil with love, a theme which was picked up by Mills & Boon at the time, and has featured strongly in romantic fiction ever since.

Monday 10 October 2011

Love in a Monastery

The Monastery Murders offer readers romance, history and mystery in a contemporary clerical mystery genre. Since this is a blog for Romantic Fiction, I’ll focus on the romance part— the complicated relationship between my heroine and hero.
Felicity Howard is a young American woman who found she didn’t enjoy teaching classics in London and on something of a whim took herself off to study theology in a college run by monks in Yorkshire. (If this sounds just too far-fetched, let me assure you that it is exactly what my daughter did, thereby providing me with an excellent opportunity to research setting at first hand.)
In book 1 A Very Private Grave Felicity is rash, headstrong and determined to set the world to rights. She is also bright, energetic and loyal, so don’t despair for her— but she does have to learn things the hard way. Her lessons start when she finds her beloved Father Dominic brutally bludgeoned to death and her church history lecturer Father Antony standing over him, his hands covered in blood.
Felicity and Antony spend the rest of the book chasing and being chased by murderers across northern England. And Felicity isn’t always sure which side of the chase Antony is on.
Let me hasten to explain that, although Antony is teaching in the monastery college, he is not a monk himself. Antony is a priest— an Anglican priest who is allowed to marry. (I had no desire to rewrite The Thorn Birds, brilliant though that was.) Antony, however, is considering taking monastic vows. Until Felicity turns his world upside down.
But wait. In book 2 A Darkly Hidden Truth Felicity has decided to become a nun. She can't possibly help Antony find the valuable missing icon. She's off to visit convents. And then her overwhelming mother turns up unexpectedly. And a good friend turns up murdered. Through chases across the soggier bits of the Norfolk Broads and the domains of the Knights Hospitaller in London the question dogs Felicity: Should she choose the veil or Antony?
Just to show that this tangled tale is, indeed, appropriate for a Romantic Fiction blog, let me break all the rules and give away the ending with a brief excerpt:
The eggs and sausage were long gone by the time Antony entered the crowded refectory. He turned his back on the lone piece of bacon left on the serving tray. Black coffee. Strong. That was what he needed.

He spotted Felicity sitting across from her mother at a table by the window. She sketched him an airy wave and scooted over to make room for him on the end of the bench. He took a deep breath and crossed the teeming room of jubilant people, his own heart so heavy it was an effort to get one foot in front of another.

Once seated, he couldn’t have been more thankful for Cynthia’s rattling monologue which relieved him of any need to converse. ". . . of course, I feel so guilty about that lovely Sir Robert. If I hadn’t told him about that cross emblem . . . And poor . . .. I feel so sorry for him. Poor, doddering fool. I suppose he’s left as head of the family now. But to think what his own son was involved in. I just can’t get over . . . being such a snake. . ." (spoilers deleted) She paused for a bite of well-mustared sausage.

Antony took the opportunity to turn to Felicity. He couldn’t put it off any longer. "Well, have you decided?"

She blinked, then stared blankly. "Huh? Decided what?"

"Rempstone, Ham Common, St. Margaret’s? Your calling."

Felicity smiled, then looked down at her plate, almost shyly. "Oh, that. Yes. Definitely called, I think."

He waited for the blow. Whatever it was, he had to be glad for her.

She looked up into his eyes, grinning broadly. "I definitely want to take the veil. Fingertip net, I think. Over my face, too. With an orange blossom halo."

He blinked. Did he dare trust what he was hearing? "You mean— "

"I think I quite fancy being a vicar’s wife. That could be considered a calling, don’t you agree?"

He didn’t realize until he heard the applause that he had kissed her in the middle of the crowded refectory.
Praise for the first of The Monastery Murders from one of my favorite writers;
" A Very Private Grave is a Knickerbocker Glory of a thriller. At its centre is a sweeping, page-turning quest through the atmospherically-depicted North of England, served up with dollops of Church history and lashings of romance. In this novel, Donna Fletcher Crow has created her own niche within the genre of clerical mysteries."
--Kate Charles, author of Deep Waters
Donna Fletcher Crow is the author of 37 books, mostly novels dealing with British history. The award-winning GLASTONBURY, an Arthurian grail search epic covering 15 centuries of English history, is her best-known work. The Monastery Murders series is her current work.
A MOST INCONVENIENT DEATH, GRAVE MATTERS and TO DUST YOU SHALL RETURN comprise The Lord Danvers Mysteries featuring Victorian true crimes.
The Elizabeth & Richard Mysteries, is a romantic suspense series using literary figures as background: Dorothy L Sayers in THE SHADOW OF REALITY and Shakespeare in A MIDSUMMER EVE’S NIGHTMARE.
Donna and her husband live in Boise, Idaho. They have 4 adult children and 10 grandchildren. Donna is an enthusiastic gardener.
To see the book video for A VERY PRIVATE GRAVE and pictures from Donna’s garden and research trips go to:
Her blog is at:
and you can follow her on Facebook at:
A Darkly Hidden Truth, has just been released in the UK,
It will be available in ebook format soon, and will be released in North America in January.

Thursday 6 October 2011

Guest blog - Alan Calder and 'The Stuart Agenda' - an interview.

Today we have novelist and poet Alan Calder at the British Romance Fiction blog, chatting about his debut title, 'The Stuart Agenda'.

Alan is delighted because the review site Red Roses For Authors have given his debut novel a super review and 4.5 Red roses.

Welcome, Alan!

Your novel is based on a very original and also topical idea. Would you like to tell us more about the inspiration of that idea and how you developed it?

As my thoughts were turning to novel writing, I was reading the seminal 'Holy Blood and the Holy Grail', which had been in print for some time and was clearly also being read by Dan Brown, since the 'Da Vinci Code' appeared a few years later. A sceptical mind is attracted to conspiracy theories, particularly on the epic scale laid out in 'The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail'. I found it deliciously blasphemous that the blood lines of some of our most famous families might be descended from Christ.

In particular, the Catholic Royal House of Stuart seemed doubly blessed in being connected through both Mary Magdalene and Joseph of Arimathea. This might explain the Stuart’s insistence on divine right to absolute rule under God, without the intervention of Parliament. This stance, along with their inconvenient Catholicism, cost some of them their heads and eventually, after the protestant daughters of James II failed to produce living heirs, extinguished the Stuart flame. This made way for the protestant Hanoverians, who could claim distant Stuart ancestry through a daughter of Charles I, over the heads of a long list of Catholics at the head of which was Bonnie Prince Charlie’s father.

The failure of the subsequent Jacobite rebellions, ending in the defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie, grandson of James II, at Culloden in 1746, finally consigned the dynasty to a footnote in history. It was a great comfort to the Hanoverians that neither Bonnie Prince Charlie, nor his brother, an eminent Catholic Cardinal, had any legitimate heirs. The lack of a future generation of Stuart champions and the brutal suppression and ethnic cleansing of Jacobites, especially in the Highlands of Scotland, led the Stuart cause to fizzle out.

The final trigger for The Stuart Agenda was a book written by the self-styled ‘Prince Michael of Albany’. In The Forgotten Monarchy of Scotland, he tried to turn history on its head by claiming that Bonnie Prince Charlie married again late in his life and had a legitimate son, from whom he is directly descended. ‘Prince Michael’ claims, not surprisingly, that the Hanoverian spin doctors airbrushed this inconvenient and threatening marriage and birth, out of the history books.

It’s a good conspiracy story and it did make me wonder. Could a new legitimate but hitherto hidden Stuart scion be implanted into the developing Scottish political and constitutional scene? At this moment the Nationalists are forming their first majority government, although the vote looks more like a personal mandate for the brilliant and charismatic Alex Salmond, than an expression of thirst for independence, but you have to start somewhere.

The current Nationalist constitutional holding position is that Scotland would retain the Hanoverian monarchy. This is surely a disingenuous platform that has more to do with the softly softly, step by step approach to independence, than red blooded royalism. At independence, the Scots would want to vote directly on their preferred constitutional model and that would probably be a republic. But what if a charismatic young Stuart appeared to reclaim his inheritance?

The Stuart Agenda is set well into the future in the 2030’s and assumes that the path to Scottish independence will be long and tortuous and that the current euphoric position is merely a false dawn. It is also now clear that the royal couple on the British throne in the timeframe of the novel will probably be the recently married William and Kate, now styled the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

What draws you to writing about Scotland?

Scotland and its history has certainly been the stimulus for both The Stuart Agenda and my second book, The Glorious Twelfth which is in final manuscript form. Both are contemporary thrillers in which the characters are handed their roles from history. The draw for me has been the direct interest in Scottish history, which has thrown up intriguing ‘what ifs’ and conspiracy theories. At the same time my characters do travel, especially to France where I lived for a few years in the 1980’s.

In fact my third book is based there, with no connection to Scotland, although it is based on an interpretation of a period of French history this time, plus a juicy conspiracy theory.

Do you plot your stories in detail or do you launch yourself straight in? Or is it a mixture?

This sounds like the ‘How do you write question.’ I start with an idea eg in the case of The Stuart Agenda, the key idea is that Bonnie Prince Charlie did indeed have legitimate descendents. That reality gave a basic cast of characters headed by the Stuart scion and his key supporters. A particular difficulty with The Stuart Agenda was knowing where to start in the lifecycle of the hero. In the earliest version of the story I began before he was born. Several versions later the published story begins with the Stuart scion as a teenager at Gordonstoun. I also had to create a motivation for the Stuart family to take on such a seemingly impossible task, recovering the throne of Scotland, nearly three hundred years after Culloden. On that base I plotted several chapters ahead and enjoyed the experience of being led by the characters themselves and creating the elaborate loops that bind them all together.

Do you write every day?

I am not a disciplined every day writer. I tend to write in manic bursts for up to two weeks at a time. Then I take a break and begin to mull the next steps before building up to write again. I’m also finding that being published means you have to spend a lot of time promoting the book. I don’t find that as satisfying as writing.

Are you excited about being part of the ebook revolution? What advantages do you think there are to being e-published?

e-Publishing is exciting and for many new writers, weary of the traditional publisher’s slush piles, it is the art of the possible. It represents a practical route to getting published either by the new breed of smaller mainly US publishers who are innovating or by many of the self-publishing independent routes being established. The current growth rate of e-published books is spectacular. They are here to stay and over time will become the dominant access vehicle for the general reader.

When you're not writing, how do you relax?

I do read a lot on current affairs, business, politics and science, particularly genetics, a habit from my senior executive days. For fiction, I enjoy history and the novels of writers like Sebastian Faulks, although I found ‘Human Traces’ rather hard going. At this moment I’m reading ‘On thin Ice’ by Richard Ellis. He charts the changing world and fortunes of the polar bear. I’m also reading ‘The Scots, A Genetic Journey’ by Alistair Moffat and Jim Wilson. The latter prompted me to have my Y-Chromosome status checked. I’m Celtic in origin, not a Viking like many of my Caithness compatriots.

I’ve also recently read ‘One day’ by David Nicholls. I liked the idea of the book, the structure that led us through the frustrated lives of the characters. I didn’t like the end; I thought that the heroine’s demise lacked imagination, as though the author was completely exhausted by the time he got to that bit. Nevertheless I’m looking forward to the weepy film.

In the lulls between bursts of novel writing I increasingly enjoy writing poetry. There is certainly more instant gratification in crafting a few pleasing verses about the human condition or a rant about wind farms or even a piece to explain and explore what some aspect of science means. I certainly see all that as legitimate territory for poets.

Lest I give an impression of being study bound, I should also say that I like cooking, eating well and drinking wine. Salmon fishing is one of my little luxuries; I’ll spend the first week of October on the Thurso River in Caithness, with old friends from America. We’ve already started the countdown prayers for the right amount of water, wind, cloud cover etc without which we shall have perfect excuses for catching very little.

Please share a blurb and excerpt with us.


In 2035, young Robert Stuart sets out on a journey to recapture the Scottish throne in an independent Scotland. A cast of conspirators led by his great uncle Leo prepare the political and constitutional ground for him. Robert meets and falls in love with the beautiful Hanoverian Princess Victoria, providing a basis for a dynastic compromise. Robert has to overcome strong resistance from the Hanoverian establishment and from within his own family if he is to succeed in his ambition.


Robert’s declaration on the Culloden Battlefield.

The Prince’s troops, exhausted after the long retreat from Derby, faced a disciplined professional force, superior in numbers and weaponry. The unsuccessful Highland charges were cut down by grapeshot. It was all over in less than an hour before the Prince escaped and the Highlands were put to the sword by the butcher Cumberland. Robert was transfixed by the monumental injustice of what had happened beneath his feet all those years ago. A righteous anger welled up within him and erupted in tears running down his cheeks from his overflowing heart, his head demanding vengeance and accepting the challenge. ‘Don’t torture yourself,’ said Leo. ‘As you are my witness and before God, I pledge myself to recover the throne of Scotland for the Stuarts,’ said Robert, in a strong, emotion charged voice. The two of them stood silently, frozen by Robert’s historic declaration, a team now committed to reverse the history that confronted them on Culloden Moor.

Robert’s Speech at the Glenfinnan Highland Games

‘Chieftain, brother Scots and friends; I’ve come here today to tap the spirit of the Prince himself and replant the Stuart roots that have succoured me in my long personal journey to stand before you here today in the bright sunshine. I’ve come from France just like the Prince, without an army. My sword is my Stuart blood and my shield the strong desire of the Scottish people to manage their own affairs in the constitutional manner of their choice. If the people of Scotland ordain it, I will with great humility accept the call to become Sovereign, in their name. Scotland is a great country, we are a great people, and let’s seize the future together to make it even better.’

The Queen and Robert’s Great Aunt Francoise at Buckingham Palace

‘They’re so much in love, Victoria and Robert; they would make a wonderful royal couple as Queen and King of Scotland, don’t you think?’ asked the Queen, ignoring Françoise’s reply. ‘So, you want an arranged marriage?’ Françoise, felt faint as the implications sunk in. She was torn between branding Robert a traitor to the cause and screaming for joy at such a romantic outcome.

Leo recoils at the thought of Robert marrying a Hanoverian

‘Calculated pragmatism and love; strange bedfellows, aren’t they?’ he began, with his arms splayed out on the table and his head low, looking down. ‘You all know where I stand. I’m not going to trade it for a mess of potage called a Hanoverian marriage, even if it did improve our chances. Were we not confident that Robert could succeed anyway on his own merits?’ asked Leo, sitting up straight and looking round them, daring anyone to challenge his entrenched position. ‘This is all very difficult for Leo,’ said Françoise, putting her hand on his arm. ‘Well, can we all at least agree to let the PR people have a go at the issue? I know that you disapprove of our calculation Leo, but we have to operate in the real world,’ said Sir Duncan, playing for time. ‘Who’s real world? I’ve had enough of this, I’m going back to Paris,’ he announced, standing up and storming out of the room.

Alan Calder – Biographical

Alan was born in Wick in the far North of Scotland and gained a chemistry PhD at Aberdeen University before a career in Research and Development with ICI and Zeneca. He took up the pen in early retirement and enjoys writing contemporary thrillers with their roots in history, as well as poetry. He lives with his wife in Yorkshire, England near his grown up family. Summers are spent in Scotland, writing, fishing and doing heritage projects.

You can read excerpts from The Stuart Agenda and download from Willow Moon Publishing as a PDF to computer, i-Pad, Nook etc. You can also free read the first few chapters on or and download to a Kindle.