Sunday, April 30, 2006
Elizabeth Boyle was the keynote speaker...and she's hilarious! Oh my gawsh! Everyone was giggling as she worked us through Mr. Ed, Oprah, women's magazines, and why we all need more romance! Every author there was friendly and personable, Elizabeth and Lucy Monroe especially.
But unlike most romance events I've attended - which are admittedly few - this one was stuffed with readers! People like me who never go without a book in their purse, and one in the car, and another in the diaper bag. Heck, I have one in the stroller. The women at my table loved historicals and so gave me some authros to look for there.
I even got to meet some people I 'know' from online. It's amazing to find people with similar passions for reading. Each author got their own 'table' and the readers sat with them. I piggybacked onto Lucy Monroe because I didn't have my 'own' table. Such a blessing. She's a real role model of how I want my career to go. Except I don;t think I could handle things moving as quickly as hers has. I think I'm nervy now!
The only downside? I need a new bookshelf. I only have a 3 foot, 2 shelf jobby. I need a six footer. When we arrived they gave us a book bag with three books, then I won a door prize and got two more. A raffle for book baskets where the proceeds go to help the local literacy program netted me two baskets. Yes, I was a lucky gal today. Just look what I took home!
"Your Evil Editor's goal is to get more editors to request more manuscripts, thus increasing the income of the U.S. Postal Service, thus delaying the inevitable raising of the price of a stamp to 41 cents. True, all these extra manuscripts being printed will necessitate the destruction of another rain forest, but these two cent increases every couple years are mildly annoying to Evil Editor."
I wish blogger had a giggling emoticon.
Saturday, April 29, 2006
Mr. Buttoned Uptight needs a caterer and a girlfriend and decides to multi-task. -- Come For Dinner
A virgin erotica author meets his match and earns his reputation. -- If You Say So
Betty Boop puts a hulking CEO through his paces when he is ticked into being her partner for a kama sutra yoga class. -- Breaking His Rules
Along came Polly...in sneakers -- For Kicks
Sex in the City meets Tin Cup -- Par For The Course
Your turn writers! You can do it. Maybe. I couldn't get Just One Spark or Stripped.
Friday, April 28, 2006
The accountant in him was baffled. If I picked one and focused, wouldn't it be better?
For some, but not for me. Poetry teaches me about word choice and makes my prose more vivid. Shorts teach me to use the right word instead of ten wrong ones, making my writing tighter. Category teaches me to focus on the romance and motivations, shedding a different light on what kind of story arc works in that medium and what doesn't. Single Title gives me the freedom to tell the story that comes to me.
So for now...I'm scattered. And loving it!
Thursday, April 27, 2006
Jennifer Crusie's professor Lee K. Abbott is one of my new heroes. Jennifer worried about joining his PhD creative writing program because she wrote category romance and worried the others students would ridicule her for it he announced to the class - "Anybody who makes fun of romance fiction is making fun of Jane Austen, and anybody who makes fun of Jane Austen answers to me."
In the piece Jennifer paraphrased the best advice he ever gave her, and it's great!
- "Don't go for the cheap laugh" -- I so have to learn this one. Elvis anyone?
- "No sittin' and thinkin' scenes" -- I think this was the crux of my hero issue in the last book. Too much introspection about things he would never have admitted to himself. I needed to know it, but the reader doesn't need to read it.
- "Remember you're writing for the woman on the bus. Your reader is smart, but she is tired, she's had a long day and she's not reading to see you show off, she's reading for story and catharsis, so you deliver because you owe her for the time and money she's giving to you. You owe the reader everything you can give."
Wow. Why is it I want to say Amen?
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Cynthia Reynolds, an IT genius and one of the most intelligent heroines I’ve ever read in category romance, has to go back to her small village for a wedding and face the snobbish cliques that tormented her school years. Her best friend comes up with a winning solution – bring a date to the wedding that shows how far Cyn has come from her hand-me-down days. Except Cyn has no time for dating, so it’s up to her friend to find the perfect stand in. Enter Max Taylor, successful architect and her best friend’s boss.
Max has eyes for nothing but renovating historical buildings. His relationships never last because women expect to come before his career, and he’s never met a woman who interests him more than restoration. When his assistant explains the plight of her friend and pleads for his help, he refuses. Until his assistant pulls all the right heartstrings and Max relents.
The visions of Max & Cyn dancing at the reception, sharing a bed after his car gets crunched and they have no way home, and walking along the Thames are rivaled only by the intensity of the physical reactions between the two. This book and its characters never confuse sex with lovemaking, and the result is a heartfelt, sensual read that leaves you with a belief in happy ever after. ut being forced or far
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
- If you know you don't like to write two books back to back without a week of play (reading, writing shorts, recipes and the like) don't try it with revisions. Egad. It's like looking at yourself in one of those ultra close-up mirrors that makes your pores look like moon craters.
- Don't use a plot device. Your editor and your agent will NOT let you get away with it. They'll demand you think of something better. So, just think of something better to start with. Do not throw in cancer at the last minute just to up the tension. Do not try and connect books at this point in your career. Do not fill your book with Elvis jokes, just because they make you laugh. Especially if that book comes out in the UK, where they think of Vegas Elvis and not young postage stamp Elvis, because Elvis was not on their stamps.
- Hide your To-Be-Read pile. The pull of an escapist book (Peggy Webb's Flying Lessons anyone? I wanna run away too!) is too much when you have work to do.
- Stop reading your own book! This is my biggest issue. A good sign when it's eventually published, but when it comes to changing minute details, it makes them too easy to miss.
Must get off the internet and finish up the revisions. Made it to chapter 9! And my m-i-l took the boys so I could get down to business.
Monday, April 24, 2006
Sunday, April 23, 2006
- Want to know what it’s like to write for Harlequin?
- Want to know how to write a draft in two weeks?
- Want to know how to keep a critique partnership productive and flourishing for years?
Where: Romance Divas Chat Room
For more info click here
Saturday, April 22, 2006
A tremendous depiction of seduction and lust....Just One Spark. I'd say two or three with that one! -- Matthew
Wow-now that's a smooch! -- Eden Bradley
Nice kiss. Very descriptive. Can't wait to read the entire book! -- Karen
Friday, April 21, 2006
Thursday, April 20, 2006
I drafted a scene in my head for the book I'm revising with my agents suggestions. And discovered a problem I hadn't seen before, so when I finally got time to tweak (after our post dinner bike ride to the park) I plugged it all in. My daily revisions total might not have moved that much, but they're all new pages.
Do you write when the cursor blinks? Or do you write all the time, and put it on the page when you get a minute.
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Why? Lots of reasons. Part of my mind is on the revisions I got on Come For Dinner. I may have to lose Elvis. Egad. Part of me hates pulling good scenes. (I know, that I must get over.) There's the Romance Diva's Q&A I'm organizing, the four books I'm reading, trying to decide if I can afford to go to a conference this summer. Oh, and I do have a life outside work. BabyBoy had an hour long tantrum tonight, my brother's getting married and I have no idea what size strappless dress to buy for my abundant boobage, what kind of digital camera to buy now that mine is officially kaput, I have two short stories I need to find places to submit (so as not to be one of those writers who deservess to starve), put together a book basket for the romance readers luncheon next weekend, I'm antsy about a local short story contest that announces tomorrow, trying to figure out childcare for BigBoy's kindergarten walk-through day so we don't have to do it with toddler in tow, we're out of milk....phew. Sorry about the tension puke.
Tomorrow is another day! Maybe even THE day to finish the Stripped edits. I need a good chunk of time.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
This week over at Romance Divas Theresa Alan (WHO YOU KNOW, GIRLS WHO GOSSIP) is leading a workshop on writing humor. I'm revising my un-funniest book at the moment, so just the break I need from psychotic aunts and stolen fortunes.
So far we're still doing an overview, but she said something that really stuck in my mind. "It’s psychologically impossible to dislike someone you’ve laughed with." Huh. I wonder if that is what bonds families together, and can make friendships form so quickly. Not sure it completely holds water (my psychology degree rears it's discarded head again) but it is a point to ponder.
Monday, April 17, 2006
My first book, Just One Spark, came from seeing a really hunky firefighter in a grocery store, I mean, so cute. And he came right up to BigBoy and gave him a sticker and talked with him so I could do the checkout line without a struggle. No wonder I fell in love with him a bit. Not to mention it was late October and I needed an idea for my NaNo. He'd be the guy. The idea was that fast.
On the drive from the egg hunt to brunch I thumbed through the latest Working Mother magazine and snagged three - a May Day secret admirerer story, a ADD heroine who has to hold meetings while walking and the hero who never sees the daylight because he works so much, a make your own luck story where the shy heroine follows the advice in a book. All romance ideas in one magazine. Took me a half hour, and I spent most of that time looking at the recipes. I snagged a great one from a book review paper I pick up at the library -- Being Dead is No Excuse. What a title. Perfect for a vampire romance. The title refers to the official Southern Ladies Guide to Hosting a Funeral. The book interests me naught, but the title? Love it!
Ideas are everywhere; I can't turn off the part of my brain that finds them. But like gold prospectors, I have to sift through them. Just because it would make a great story doesn't mean it is something I could write best. If someone can write it better, they should be the one to run with it. I only have time to run with the ones I know I can do better than most. That sifting through is the hard part for me.
Friday, April 14, 2006
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Thinking I'd hear back right away (why did I think that? No clue.) I didn't want to get too deep in another project. But I need a project.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Coming To Romance Divas: May 1-5: Q&A: Targeting Category Houses with Jenna Bayley-Burke & Fiona Lowe
HQ Medical author Fiona Lowe is confirmed, and I think Mia Zachary who writes for Blaze will help me out too, as well as my friends from the new HQ authors loop. I hope.
Anyway...to get more authors to come spill their secrets to sucess, I invited all the authors with May releases that I could find email addresses for. Some of them brought back my stalker tendencies...I really should calm down about contacting authors whose books I adore, but I just can't. A good story thrills me. I'll keep y'all posted on who replies.
***edited to add***
Presents - Melanie Milburne
Blaze - Mia Zachary, Shannon Hollis & Karen Kendall
Intrigue - BJ Daniels & Melanie Marton
Desire - Kristi Gold
SuperRomance - Terry McLaughlin
Romance - Nicola Marsh
Monday, April 10, 2006
So I researched it. Um, basically NO market. But then, a year ago I would have said there is no market for Manga Romance...and look how well HW is doing with that. But...
I'm chicken. Tomorrow I start revising Stripped. Losing the link to Breaking His Rules, and finding a new conflict. Um, does that mean rewriting the whole thing? Gawd, I hope not!
Part of me wants to duck and cover. My off the cuff comments on eHQ have sparked a firestorm of personal attacks. And really, there is nothing I can do. I apologized for offending people on the forum and thought the matter was over. Boy, was I naive.
Since authors seem intent to keep the matter open, let's talk about it constructively so I can learn from the finger pointing and hand slapping, and that commenter who suggested I eat sh*t, and the flowery poster who said good luck at Wal*Mart. Well, I'd love to have a book at Wal*Mart, so sorry that didn't have it's intended offensive purpose.
What I DID say is: "When do you give up on a book?" Meaning, how many pages does a writer have to hook you? The book I was reading at the time starts in chapter three, and I wanted some enlightenment as to why. I got it from eHQ - slow build up to make the reader care, backstory that becomes important later, style.
THEN all h*ll broke loose. I wondered why this kind of book was acceptable after the publisher came out with a 1st chapter contest. Would this book have won the contest? Again, I got my answer, but in doing so tweaked more than a few noses. (By the way, it's considered a stretch for the writer and established authors are allowed that perogative. Readers are buying the author name now, not the line, so it's less risky for an established author to take the chance than an unknown.)
SO I apologized. More than twice. The editor came on and cleared it up. So I thought. Then authors for the line decided to teach me a lesson I did not ask to learn. They decided to teach me professionalism. Which two authors on the eHQ forum had done so tactfully. Still, they felt the need. Odd, since most of their blogblasting was name calling. Professional indeed.
Do they want me to cower? Hide? Shrivel up under a rock? Probably. I'm glad they've never made a mistake. I hope someone is more sympathetic with them when they do stumble.
I also want to say thanks for the support of the people who've emailed me privately, agreeing, but smartly not wanting to open themselves up to the fray. I've never had so many people from eHQ email me in one day. Funny, isn't it?
Last summer the publisher of said books ran a first chapter contest. Two years ago they ran a best love scene contest. Maybe I read too much into the shift, thinking they were looking for stronger stories, not spicier sex scenes. Either way, I honestly beleive these kind of books wouldn't have made it through the first chapter contest. And established authors should be held to the same standards and new ones.
Yes, I am a writer, but I am a reader first. And to be honest, before I started writing...I knew the names of very few authors, though I read HQ category romances voraciously. I was reading the line, not the author. Sure a few would stand out from sheer repetition and loving them darn near every time - Anne Weale, Penny Jordan, Vicki Lewis Thompson...but the rest? Not so much. I read what came in the box. I wouldn't bother with a slow starter, and would find something off with some books I now know is writing related.
Maybe because I am a writer I'm more critical. More used to the critique partnership relationship.
What did I learn from being put on blog blast? A lot, actually about this business and how personaities mesh. But, that's my cheese. What's improtant for other authors trying to break into Blaze are a few key points I am too chicken to post on eHQ. I'm going to keep it light and non-educational over there for a bit.
- My point, which was lost, was that when targeting Blaze and missing the target, they encourage you to read the line to get a better feel for where things are going. Great idea. Except when a book puzzles you...would this book have been bought from a new author who has to sell on syno or at best first chapter or if they dare a partial? What about the style of a book that breaks all the was/would/just/that writing rules?
- Editors don't care about writing rules - which it turns out aren't the set in stone laws I'd been led to believe they were - as long as a manuscript is readable. They're interested in story, not the activeness of voice.
- Blaze is sold by author, not by line. The books on romance writing are either outdated (probably since it takes a couple years from inception to print) or Blaze is an exception to the rule that category romance is sold by its series. So, that's why established authors get more leeway, which to me is a bye on the rules. But to others, a bye is sipping a mojito and eyeing the cabana boy while phoning in the latest book. Gotta love semantics.
1. Writers want to learn to be better, and so we soak up any instruction we can. You can teach someone how to write better prose, hence the attention spent on eliminating passive voice and weak verbs, starting with a hook and ending each chapter on a cliff. But what sets authors and writers apart are better stories. Can you learn how to tell a better story? Sign me up.
2. I did learn what I wanted to know. Experienced authors are given more leeway. I didn’t know Blaze is bought by author not line. Since that is the case, name recognition earns them that right. Before, I was opportating under the illusion most people do as I do and simply read what comes in the box or has the best blurb and first paragraph.
3. I'm touchy about people who bash category. They'll read one book and if it doesn't sparkle they toss it aside and write off the whole genre. 95% of category is amazing, tight and intense and every word matters. When I trip over a book that isn't amazing, I know that others will use it as an example and it unnerves me. I needed to know why they are published...and I found out. At least with Blaze. It's a stretch, to see if readers want to go in that direction. It's a gamble, and publishers stack the deck by using a known author.
4. Semantics suck. Really. I said something about authors getting a bye - meaning they didn't have to stay within the fences and were allowed gates not available to new authors - and others read that as being able to type drivel and get it in print because of their name.
5. Virtual timing blows. I think out loud, and sometimes as I am typing. So as I came to conclusions yesterday about what the point of this whole mess really is beyond the nastiness, my anger abated and my hands stopped shaking. However, people read what you wrote with shaking hands and don't realize you're not angry anymore and just hurt and trying like h*ll to learn something from this.
6. I don't see what others see. I went back and copied the conversation that started the ball rolling, and I don't see my comments the way others do. Probably because I know the motivations behind them, and I tend to think the best of everyone. Others saw annoyance in the editors post, I still see clarification. Others saw me as coming back at her with attitude, I see me trying to sort out what it all meant.
I hate that all this went down because it makes new writers afraid to voice their opinions. People were so anxious about the editor chat last year they were emailing me questions to ask becuase they knew I didn't care if I sounded like a novice, and they wanted to seem professional. Well, who learns from acting like they already know?
What does this all mean now? Probably nothing. Even I'm nervous to post my learnings on eHQ...writers need to know Blaze is bought by author, it changes the way you approach writing for them. They're like an imprint, not a line. I want to ask if this is the way all lines are going, if Blaze is trailblazing for the rest to see what will work in the evolving market. But not today. Who knows what might happen.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
Another new writer was there, she'd just completed her first NaNo and was looking for guidance. I was so glad to see someone who I could talk NaNo with. I talked subgenres too - why is it paranormal is booming and historical is stalling? And I met some writers whose names I recognized, like Stephanie Rowe.
I might even go again, though I loathe to drive that far.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
You can’t judge a book by its cover. Especially since the people on the cover of Julie Cohen’s latest, Being A Bad Girl, don’t resemble her characters. The muscle bound biker with long blonde hair and leather chaps who rides into a bachelor auction on a Harley is really a workaholic psychologist and professor, a paragon of the community playing a role for a night. The sexy bartender who climbs on the bar to bid three thousand dollars for one night with the bad boy biker is Being A Bad Girl, or trying to.
Marianne Webb is a pleaser, wanting to make everybody happy all the time, until her obsession with pleasing nearly kills her. Now she wants to do all the things she never dared back home, dance to rock music, ride motorcycles, tend bar, and live a fantasy with the bad boy of her dreams. Until she learns there is nothing bad about the PhD, and the persona she was so attracted to is nothing but a mask.
Oz can’t get her out of his mind, and begins to piece together who she is, without knowing a thing about her past. They open up to one another, showing who, not what, they are. The fall in love honestly, and completely amid a Vermont snowstorm. But the storm isn’t only going on outside. Marianne can’t move on if she keeps running from her past, and so does the one thing Oz has been afraid of all along. Leaves him, so she can return and offer him her whole self instead of just parts.
Every time Marianne tried to be brave and bad I wanted to nudge her along, show he she could do anything she set her mind to, but she learns that on her own, in her own time. The hero is warm and sensitive, mouthwateringly sexy, and willing to open himself up. In this story I truly felt like I escaped to Vermont, transported down the highways on the back of a motorcycle with my hair whipping behind me (no helmet law there), staring at the waves crashing along the beach and the proud lighthouse, watching and hearing the snow fall. Julie Cohen has a passionate, natural voice that speaks to readers, and a talent for creating flawed, sympathetic characters readers want to spend time with.
Friday, April 07, 2006
5 Kisses from Romance Divas
Ms. Bayley-Burke has turned the usual relationship dynamic on its head, giving the reader two characters whose strengths and weaknesses mirror our own, and who work together to complete each other. It’s a great book that will keep you turning pages as quickly as you can.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
On Romance Divas, a writer took a poll to see on average how long it takes to comlpete a novel. Putting aside everyones notion that it is harder to write a single title than category (oh, really? Try it. I've done both and it is harder.) there was a general concensus that it takes nine months to a year. So by that standard I am super-sonic, though I was discounted because of my category romance aspirations. Whatever.
With so many different writing methods it's hard to compare. Sometimes you have time to write, and sometimes life happens. I've drafted 75 K (computer count, 91K page count) in 26 days. But it was sludge. Workable sludge, but barely a rough draft. I wrote my latest, 61K, in 6 weeks, and that counts taking a week off for maddening headaches. The first draft was the final (pretty much, the CP had less to say than ever, which is quite the good sign) because I edited as I went.
But don't let my timelines put notions in your head that I write fast. These stories live in my head until fully formed and ready to be released. Kind of like gestation. I can't sit down and write until I've met my characters (and their families) in my mind, until I've figured out what they want (even if I don't know where they are going).
So, when you see me out walking my dog, pushing my boys on the swing, vacuuming, gardening, folding laundry, making dinner -- I'm following the long held tradition of women everywhere -- MULTITASKING! It may look like I'm, making the bed or washing the car, but really I'm finding the best opening scene, reworking a black moment that came out navy blue, and thinking of which color nail polish my heroine would wear.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
There is nothing better than requited love. This poignant yet light-hearted tale of teen angst turned adult lust captivated me from the dreamy start to the perfect ending…a set up for the sequel where the fun-loving hero’s intellectual best friend throws down the gauntlet and states love at first sight doesn’t exist. We all know what to expect from the follow up, Being a Bad Girl.
I loved the inner turmoil of the heroine, trying to overcome her life of falling short of her own expectations, and the awakening of the hero, learning he'd designed a life where failure wasn't even a possibility to avoid disappointment. And of course I loved the inventive use of velvet curtains, alternate uses of condoms, and tons of yummy hot buttered popcorn!
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Monday, April 03, 2006
April 3-7 "Get A Life...List, That Is!" with Mia Zachary
April 3-7 Q&A: "Bringing the Contemporary Gothic to Life" with Kristi Gold
April 3-7 Q & A - Melanie Schuster: "Writing the African-American Romance."
• April 10-14: Q&A: "Writing Through Adversity" with Delores Fossen
April 17-21 "Common Contest Mistakes and How to Correct Them" with Gail Barrett
April 3-7 Q&A :: Dave King, Author of Self-Editing For Fiction Writers
April 10-14 Workshop - Alesia Holliday:: Writing Successful Subplots
NY Times and USA Today Bestselling author Theresa Alan will be giving a workshop on injecting humor into your manuscript the week of April 10. Theresa's debut novel, "Who You Know," was a USA Today recommended summer read that spent several weeks on the Barnes and Noble bestseller list! Her other novels include "The Girls' Global Guide to Guys" (with the fabulous tag line, "Around the World in 80 Dates"), "Spur of the Moment," and the soon-to-be-released "Girls Who Gossip" (Kensington, April 6, 2006). She also has novellas contained in the anthologies "Sex and The Single Witch," "I Shaved My Legs For This?" and "Jingle All the Way."
Then on April 22, Beth Orsoff, author of the soon-to-be-released "Romantically Challenged" (New American Library, April 4, 2006) will give a chat on what to expect if a movie production company wants to buy the rights to your book. Beth is a former assistant general counsel for Warner Bros. and vice president of business affairs for MGM Pictures who once dated twenty-seven men in one year. Now happily married, Beth lives in Los Angeles and splits her time between lawyering, writing, publicizing, and taking care of her husband and their Tickle Me Elmo. Now wonder she's so tired!
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Saturday, April 01, 2006
The fast pace and uncluttered story of Kelly Hunter's Wife For A Week grabs your attention and never lets go. This book stayed with me all day, so I could catch snippets while waiting in line or sneaking a moment to myself. It passed the ultimate test of any Harlequin romance for me - I finished it in one day because I couldn't put it down.
I fell in love with the endearing heroine as she tried to fight her overprotective brothers, growing feelings for the hero, and the Asian mafia. From London to Hong Kong, shoe boutiques to high end department stores to a shopping ceneter where you can get fried noodles and contract a murder in the same trip, this book never stops. Not a word is wasted, and I smiled throughout.
I loved traveling to London and Hong Kong, seeing the sights of the Chinese New Year, smelling the perfumes, tasting the food, hearing the burst of midnight fireworks, and feeling the fear of making mistakes as the hero and heroine danced around one another. I'm sorry it's over, but not too sorry. Kelly is hard at work on a follow-up starring the heroine's brooding big brother.