Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Take the Carina Challenge

I’ve mentioned here and elsewhere what a slow writer I am. How it takes me forever to get a story written, polished and off to market. How I work much better when I have a set deadline, with actual consequences if I miss it (which is why setting personal deadlines doesn’t really work for me). This is why I like contests and open calls so much. It forces me to accomplish something—a finished story, in this case—by a certain due date. Miss it, and I’m SOL.

Which is why I (figuratively) wet my pants when I heard Carina Press had announced an open call for an anthology.

Carina Press is a digital-only offshoot of Harlequin. Unlike the Harlequin paperback lines, Carina’s more daring. They’ll take anything: M/F, M/M, multiples and poly, tame, spicy, erotica, you name it. This time around they’re looking for novellas, with a word count of 25,000 to 40,000 words. That’s fairly short by writing standards, a week’s work for speedy writers, more like two months for me. Deadlines are spread out from August to October.

That’s right, I said deadlines. Carina’s got five of them going, due at various times: Taboo love, due August 1; science fiction/alien love, due September 6; two shapeshifter anthos, one het, one M/M, both due September 20; and a jewel thief/heist/caper antho, due October 4. Except for the two that were specifically designated hetero and M/M, pretty much any pairing goes.

With five subjects to choose from, I shouldn’t have any trouble coming up with ideas to fit at least one of the anthos. Sure enough, I did. I’ve got ideas I can apply to all five of the books.

This is the challenge I’ve set for myself: aim a story, minimum 25K words, at each and every one of Carina’s open calls. See how many I can get finished, or close to finished (I believe Carina takes proposals as well as completed works) by the specified due dates. If this doesn’t get me writing, and writing a lot, over the next several months, I might as well pack it in and go back to office drudgery.

Some aren’t a problem. I’ve got abandoned stuff in the closet I can resurrect for the the SF and both of the shapeshifter books. The toughies will be the taboo book and the caper book. I’ve always wanted to write a caper story—I love reading them—but my mind won’t wrap itself around the concept. Well, that one’s due last, so I’ve got extra time. The taboo antho … eh. Maybe something will come to me.

The best part is, this will force me to write, polish, and sub. All I needed was the deadline. Now I’ve got five of them. And if they don’t get picked, no prob. I can market the finished products to other publishers.

I haven’t decided yet what names I’ll put on them. The M/Ms can be JJ’s; I guess the others will be me, though maybe not the taboo one. I might want to disguise myself for that. I’ve already started the SF story. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Want to get in on the fun? Here’s a link for the specs: You can look up Carina’s general submission guidelines on their website, Happy writing!

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