VHP Hot Summer Contest 2013

Vanilla Heart Publishing is looking for a few more great authors, and we’re sponsoring a contest to find them.

We’re looking for novels in each of the following genres: mystery, suspense, and historical. Full manuscripts will be requested from the authors of the top three contest submissions in each genre. The winning manuscript in each genre as decided by our panel of three judges will be awarded a standard VHP contract.


Contest opens to submissions 12:01 a.m. on June 1, 2013, and will remain open until 12:00 p.m. September 15, 2013. Submissions received before or after these dates will not be considered.

Contest is open to both published and unpublished writers, however, the manuscript submitted must not have been previously published in any format, including self-publishing venues and blogs.

Novels must be complete, and be between 45,000–95,000 words. Submissions short or longer than this will not be considered.

Submission must include only the first three chapters and the final chapter of your manuscript.

Submissions must be in 12-point Times New Roman or Courier Font only .

Submission must also include cover sheet with the following and only the following information: 

  • Your name
  • Your pen name, if you have one
  • Genre of your submission/manuscript: mystery, suspense, or historical only. Other genres will not be considered.
  • Working title of your manuscript
  • Total word count of your full manuscript
  • Total word count of your submission
  • Your e-mail address
  • Where we can find you on the Web (Website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) with URLs or other direct links.

Submissions will be accepted via email only. Email submissions to:

We will select three full manuscripts from each genre by October 25, 2013. If your submission is not selected, you will be notified by this date.

Do not submit full manuscript unless requested to do so. Submitting full manuscript if not requested will automatically disqualify entry from contest.

Winning authors and book titles will be announced on the Vanilla Heart Publishing Website on November 25, 2013, after winning authors are notified and under contract, with publications dates and author pages on the VHP Website are completed.

We reserve the right not to declare a winner in one or more genres if none of the submitted manuscripts meet our publishing standards.

The decision of the judges is final. Do not email us questioning why your submission was not selected; such emails will not be answered.

A Teaser from Final Sin

There wasn’t anyone there who didn’t look like they weren’t ready to heave. Julie felt sorry for the vollies, the members of the local volunteer ambulance corps. At least she and Matt were being paid to be there. Then again, no amount of money was worth witnessing the carnage that was lying there before them.
Matt had done the unwelcome task and already pronounced one of the girls dead. It was obvious death, obvious to anyone. Trying her best not to step into the pool of blood or disturb anything else vital to the crime scene investigation that would follow, she finished preparing the one girl who was still alive for transport.
A young man in his late twenties or early thirties, Julie wasn’t sure without reading the patient care report, had been burnt when his shirt had caught fire. He was sitting huddled and guarding his severely burnt arm as Matt treated him. He looked scared and in shock at the events around him and wouldn’t look at any of the police officers who had responded. Julie assumed that it was his need to deny the trauma.
A broad shouldered officer came through the door and took command of the scene. He seemed hardened to the butchery, almost as if he had seen too many gruesome scenes just like this one. Dressed in a dark blue baseball jacket, open collar knit shirt and khaki pants, he donned a pair of latex gloves he had carried in his pocket and began an almost detached visual inspection of the room. The springy snap of the elastic gloves stretching to fit his large hands was in sharp contrast to his motionless stance. Other officers at the scene deferred to his judgment and took instructions from him as he calmly took in the entire scene. He was concerned with the best way to collect the pertinent evidence to tell the story of what had happened.
As Julie and one of the ambulance crew members moved the surviving girl to the gurney, she risked a quick look at the tall officer’s dark eyes and noted that there was a thinly disguised veil of dismay. He had intrigued her with his stony expression and seeming aloofness to the horrors, and his complete focus on the collection of relevant clues.  Somewhere in the recesses of her mind, it was a comfort to Julie that the cop was not completely indifferent to this horror or detached from the human cost.
For Matt and Julie, their tour of duty had started out like many others. There had been a call to a minor motor vehicle accident, another for chest pains and one more for a cancer patient who needed to go to the hospital for treatment. Many of the upstate New York communities had contracted with Paramedic services to complement the existing ambulance corps and provide emergency medical response. Whether paid or unpaid, the certified corps always responded with Emergency Medical Technicians who were capable of handling most emergencies. When the Paramedics were dispatched as well, IV drugs and additional hands could often help make critical differences when necessary.
This call had gone out over the radio for a burn victim, so none of the responding police, fire fighters, volunteer ambulance crew nor paramedics were prepared for what they found when they reached this isolated tool shed. From the outside, the grayed wood had seemed serene enough, and the one small window had been caked over with dirt. She didn’t think that she would have given the shed a second glance under normal circumstances. But this was far from normal. No one had anticipated the horror scene inside.

Final Sin

Final Sin is the first of my two EMS mystery stories.
I’ve been a NYS Emergency Medical Technician since 1987 and a volunteer with Stony Point Ambulance Corps ~ my whole family works and volunteers in emergency medical services. While Final Sin, and it’s sequel Hyphema, are works of fiction, many of the EMS perspectives are very real.

Being an EMS volunteer has been a completely enriching experience and has given me a wonderful opportunity to be a vital asset to my community which depends on volunteer emergency services. All of these years of being an EMT has also given me great insight into the beauty and fragility of human life.

I hope you will share some of my experiences – please read my books Final Sin and Hyphema. And why not consider volunteering in your own community and helping your neighbors in their times of need?

Today’s Author Radio Show – May 21

Please mark your calendars…
I’ll be on Today’s Author radio program on Monday, May 21 at 7AM EST
Just tune in to http://www.bookradiostation.com to listen
We’ll be talking about my EMS based murder mystery novelHyphema

Your next book club discussion: Hyphema

Here is the HYPHEMA Book Club Discussion Pack

Hyphema is a thriller involving murder, suspense, prejudice, love, and emergency medical services. Former New York Paramedic Matt Garratti trains as a flight medic, but when the economy forces a career relocation he moves his immigrant Pakistani-Muslim wife and infant son to North Carolina.

The area of northeast North Carolina the Garratti family moves to is scenic and known for “southern hospitality”, but there are huge pockets of town folk who have never met a Muslim believer and only know of “them” from news reports after 9-11.

Matt’s wife Sudah is looked at with disdain by some of their neighbors. When strange things happen that threaten the small family’s well-being, there are those, including the local police, who erroneously believe that it is reaction to Sudah’s ethnicity – and while no one thinks it is right, they also seem to think it is not all that serious.

Here are some thoughts to ponder and discuss:

1) Muslims have been in America even before we were the United States of America. Christopher Columbus made a celebrated voyage to “the new world” in 1492 and America won its independence in 1776. Did you know that as early as 1178 a Chinese document known as the Sung Document records the voyage of Muslim sailors to America? In 1530 several million African slaves, arrived in America during the slave trade of that time and became part of the backbone of the American economy of that period. The first mosque in the United States was built in Maine in 1915. Until 1952 Islam was not recognized as a legitimate religion until after the American military was sued.

When did you first become aware of the Muslim (Islam) faith in the United States? Are you surprised by the extensive history of Muslims in American long before 2001?

2) In 1790, Congress established a formal process enabling the foreign born to become U.S. citizens; Policies established in 1965 are still largely in place. The policies have been changed many times since as immigration to this country has grown at often record rates. Today NON-immigrants are permitted lawful entry to the U.S. for reasons like tourism, diplomatic missions, study, and temporary work; temporary admission does not permit citizenship by naturalization. Non-immigrants wishing to remain in the United States on a permanent basis must apply for permanent admission. A real marriage to a U.S. citizen will, depending on circumstances, allow an immigrant to apply for naturalization sooner than an immigrant having no relatives in the U.S.

When did your family come to the United States? If they immigrated here, what do you know of the challenges they faced and any prejudices they had to deal with? Depending on how many generations your family has been in the U.S. do you feel strong ties to the country if your heritage? Have you ever visited the place(s) your ancestors came from?

3) Matt Garratti is a skilled paramedic with many years of experience answering 911 medial and trauma emergencies. He makes the move to becoming a fight medic and working in an aeromedical environment (an airborne “ambulance”). There are some increased risks associated with being a flight medic including hearing loss, exposure to heat and fumes, back injuries and air crashes. Why do you think someone would become a flight medic?

4) How does your local 9-1-1 system work? Are the first responders who work in your area paid or volunteer? Have you ever been a patient in a ground or air ambulance? If your local department is volunteer, how could you get involved? Did you know that a “paramedic” is sometimes also called “hands of the doctor”? What do you think it would be like to administer crucial life-saving skills during transport of a patient to the hospital?

5) If you were to move to another location such as Matt did from New York to North Carolina, what information would you need to know in order to find a place to settle (ie: schools, etc)? Is there a dream place that you would like to move to? Describe it.

6) Have you ever eaten Pakistani/Indian/South Asian foods? Some of the common spices used in Pakistani cooking are cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, curry, ginger, and cumin; dishes are often highly spiced and fragrant. Observant Muslins are forbidden to eat pork or consume alcohol and must follow the halal dietary guidelines.

What are some ethnic foods or dietary customs from your heritage? Do you often prepare foods native to your heritage? How do these dishes differ from the “usual cuisine” of the area where you live?

7) Sudah is a practicing Muslim. Matt is Christian. What problems do you think a mixed religion marriage might face? What are ways to blend both cultures so that each individual retains their own identity while sharing a life and customs with their partner? What about children, how should they be told why mommy and daddy are different faiths?

Hyphema is also available in print through
Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com

Additional Reading:

Final Sin by Chelle Cordero

The Muslim Next Door: The Qur’an, the Media, and That Veil Thing by Sumbul Ali-Karamali

A Paramedic’s Diary: Life and Death on the Streets by Stuart Gray

The Complete Asian Cookbook by Nina Solomon and Charmaine Solomon

Coming to America (Second Edition): A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life by Roger Daniels

Hug an EMT or Paramedic…

As EMS Week 2011 winds down, it’s a good time to remember the folks who come to our assistance in all kinds of weather and all times of day or night. I am proud to be a NYS EMT volunteer with my local ambulance corps and serving my community. Please check out my post about NYSVARA (New York State Volunteer Ambulance and Rescue Association) and all that they do – the address to send donations is there too. Just go to the May Awareness Project on the Tales of Allure blog.
Two of my novels, Final Sin and Hyphema are both thrillers with a healthy mix of suspense, action, mystery, passion, murder and EMS. The medical scenes are real and thrilling, the love is intense, and the suspense is edge of your seat.
The hero and heroine of Final Sin are Paramedic Julie Davis and Deputy Sheriff Jake Carlson. Julie’s best friend and paramedic partner, Matt Garratti, comes back in Hyphema.

Deputy Sherriff Commander Jake Carson has his hands full… investigation of a brutal multiple homicide, a troubled son and a vindictive ex-wife. He meets young, free-spirited paramedic Julie Jennings. When Julie becomes the subject of an obsession, it puts both of them in danger…


For the second time in less than two weeks, there were police in Julie’s living room. She was sitting on the edge of her bed and listening to the voices. Jake was talking in hushed tones to one of the officers.

He came to the bedroom door and his heart wrenched when he saw her still looking so dazed. Jake walked over to her and knelt down. “Sweetheart, I want you to go away for a few days.”

She looked at him suddenly. “Why?”

“I have to get to the bottom of everything that’s been happening. I need to find out why you got this package… and why someone made videotapes of you… and even why your car was vandalized the other day.” Julie hadn’t made a big deal of the damage to her car but had mentioned it briefly to him during a conversation. She hadn’t told him what had been scratched into the hood of her car and until his comment she hadn’t even thought of it in connection with the other incidents.

Julie shrugged. “Is someone really looking to scare me or something?” It seemed ludicrous and yet there was no other explanation for the strange and vindictive things that had been happening lately.

“I don’t know. But I don’t want to take any chances. I can’t take any chances, not when it comes to you.” He wanted so desperately to protect her and he didn’t know who or what to protect her from. He was glad that he had at least been there when she got that frightening special delivery that morning, but then he wanted to kick himself that she had gotten it at all.

“I can’t… I can’t leave. I have work. I’ve got responsibilities.”

“Just a few days, Julie. I want you out of here for just a few days.” I want you out of harm’s way, he thought. I want to make it safe for you.

She looked at him defiantly and shook her head. Then suddenly she felt like she was ready to crumble. “Where? Where should I go?”

He thought for a moment. Jake tried to smile. “When is the last time you visited your parents? Let them take you to Disney or Sea World or something.”

“They’ll worry. It’s too sudden. They’ll think something is wrong.” Her protests were weak. “I don’t want to worry them.”

Jake wanted to shout at her that there was something wrong, but he didn’t want to scare her any more than she was. He didn’t want to scare himself any more than he already was either. He forced a laugh. “Tell them you just got proposed to and he’s old and he’s got a kid. Tell them you need a few days to sort out your feelings before you tell him yes.”

Julie laughed, but she sounded like she was ready to cry. “I thought you were trying to remove the stress.”


Hyphema: Bleeding in the eye caused by trauma… Matt Garratti, a paramedic from New York, moves his wife and son to North Carolina to work at his dream job as a flight medic. Pakistani born Sudah, his wife, receives frosty stares and insensitive comments from their new neighbors… Matt wonders if he is pursuing his dream or bringing his family into a nightmare from which they may never wake.

from Final Sin…

He wondered why it had taken him so long to realize that she was the one.

Usually he was able to tell with just a glance, but then he had been wrong before and had chosen women that had disappointed him terribly. It was so hard to suffer when they let him down.

It was only after he had thought about her while he watched another ambulance crew bring their patient in that he realized how gently she had tended to her patients, how light her touch had seemed, that he knew for sure. He knew that she had been sent to him for one purpose.

She really cared.

She was the one.

…watch for it
coming this May
from Vanilla Heart Publishing

That was fast!

Final Sin
by Chelle Cordero
Available for Pre-Order
This item will be available on May 1.

Publisher: Vanilla Heart Publishing
Pub. Date: May 01, 2009
ISBN-13: 9781935407133

Note from BarnesandNoble.com: Save on Pre-Orders: We’ve added an extra 5% discount to thousands of pre-order titles online. Order today and take advantage of the savings! See Details