Sunday, December 12, 2010


We’ve all seen the titles. The Billionaire’s Pregnant Mistress, The Sheik’s Mistress, The Italian Billionaire’s Secret Baby, Taming the Tycoon. What do these titles have in common (other than the obvious)? They are smaller works, ending around the 55K mark – the original novella. The novella is the middle-child – not quite novel-length, and a bit larger than the novelette. Harlequin has dominated this market for years, spitting out these fun, quick reads as avid readers gobble them up. Introduce the e-market...

The e-publishing market is rising quickly. More and more readers are flocking to e-pub sites to snatch up titles right from the comfort of their own home. Just this past year an RWA Special Chapter was created for electronic and small press authors – ESPAN. Here is the beginning of their mission statement: “The Electronic and Small Press Authors Network (ESPAN) exists to enhance the careers of those members of RWA who are contracted with or have released books through electronic and small press publishers.”

Recent discussions about the e-publishing market have raised many questions, arguments and tempers, but today I’m going to focus on e-publishing houses as a possible venue for those snappy little novellas.

Awesome Advantage #1 - The submitting turn-around time concerning e-publishing houses is significantly lower than New York. Can you say instant gratification? Personally, I’ve heard back from an e-house the very day I submitted. It’s not uncommon for writer’s to wait months upon months to hear back from New York.

Awesome Advantage #2 - There’s a wide range of opportunities when going the e-pub route. The red tape isn’t so thick, so you can write the types of scenes and plots that other, more traditional, publishers won’t touch. I’ve seen e-book erotic romances with the eye-popping tag of M/M/M/M/F. Try to sell that to New York.

Awesome Advantage #3 - It’s a way to learn the biz and get paid for it. Many e-book authors have gone on to New York, and they cut their teeth on digital novellas. You go through the same process – submission, contract, editing, cover art and final line-edits. Then the reviews pour in…and you learn from those, too. Trust me, if you ever get Giggled, you can’t pay for that kind of honest critique.

Just Plain Awesome – Hey, New York authors are doing it. Not only is the submitting process quick, so is the payday. (Yeah, I went there.) You get your royalties monthly or quarterly, and who can’t use a little more spending cash?

Just like any business venture you should weigh all your options when submitting your work. There are good e-publishing houses, and then there are not-so-good e-publishing houses. Before you submit, chat with the authors of a particular house you are interested in. Ask them what they think of their editors, what they’ve learned from the process, and most importantly, would they submit to that publishing house again?

The publishing industry is a hard shell to crack, especially during these past few years. The more you educate yourself concerning all facets of the industry, the better off you’ll be. If you’re interested in going the e-publishing route, check out ESPAN and what their authors have to say. Buy a few e-books from the house you’re considering submitting to. Peruse their message boards if they have one, or join their Yahoo Group.

A few links for your surfing pleasure…

A large number of E-Presses all on one page (Thanks to ESPAN) -

E-Publishing – The beginning (To learn a little more about the e-publishing industry -

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

8 Second Ride

I've lived in South Dakota for about a year, so you'd think I'd be used to the 'country' way of life by now. Short answer: not so much.

Tornadoes and farm equipment aside, I've seen and heard things that make this city girl scratch her head and back away...slowly. Very slowly.

But there was something I saw on Sunday that had me begging for more. *heh* COWBOYS! I went to my first rodeo, and suddenly I saw the light. Now I can see why the country life is so appealing.

I did sit and question why a sane man would sit his cute ass on a bull, shoot from a cage and risk his life while holding on for dear life to a pissed off bull. The odds of getting hurt were pretty damned high. Out of 10 or so bull riders, more than half limped out of the arena. One broke his hand after the bull stomped on it. Can you say ouch?

Watching these bull riders made me wonder why some individuals find it necessary to push themselves to the limit. They KNOW they're going to get hurt. You don't sit on a bull for a living and think to yourself, "This is a piece of cake. Good paycheck and great benefits." No. I bet they pray. "Please God, let the boys be okay after this ride. And I'm not talking about the men sitting on the fence at my back." Yeah, I bet it goes something like that.

The crowd went wild when the men lasted their 8 seconds, and gasped when they got thrown from the bull - which happened more often than not. I was sitting in the front row when I took that last picture. Poor cowboy. Made me think of romance writers. (Everything comes back to romance eventually. lol)

Just like the cowboys I watched in fascination, veteran authors cringe when their buddies get rejections. We watch in awe when a newbie comes out of the gate and lands a three book contract with a large publishing house. We help our friends dust themselves off when they get a bad crit.

After sitting there thinking for a while, I finally realized why these cowboys risk their life to get on that bull. They love it. I think they're a particular brand of crazy, but I also admire them for their strength and determination.

When I first started writing I didn't let rejection get me down. I framed the rejections I received and put them up on my office walls. Just like that bull rider in the pictures above, I got on the bull, held on, got tossed on my ass, and got back up. Rejection and defeat is all part of the process. (wow, can you tell I'm waiting to hear back on a submission?)

At any rate, I had a great time at the rodeo. I still think the men are nuts, but you can't hold that against a man in wranglers. No ma'am.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Frustrated Writer

Have you ever typed 'frustrated writer' in Google and then clicked on images? I shouldn't have felt such a rush of understanding when I gazed at all the pictures that sprung up, but the images made me feel better all the same. Been there. Done that. Living it.

A few days ago I fried my laptop. I shut it, thinking it was on sleep mode, and left it sitting on my leather couch. Yeah, can you say NIGHTMARE? Long story short, I was able to retrieve my files from the hard drive by buying some swank piece of hardware from Office Max. Thank you sweet baby Jesus. Anyway, I'm about to tackle those edits that I nearly lost, and you'd think I'd be on cloud nine. Hmm, not so much.

So I decided to blog about my lack of motivation and what I plan on doing to get it back. If there's something my friends know about me, they know I'll bring my A-game at some point. I'm stubborn and driven...on most days.

So I busted out The Art of War For Writers, an awesome book by James Scott Bell, a writer I had the pleasure of meeting at the Romantic Times Convention this year. Instead of focusing on what I was reading, I thought about a story he told at his workshop. A writer was once posed a question - what would he do if he had only 24 hours to live? His answer: type faster.

Now I know I wasn't the only writer in that room squirming in their seat. In fact, I'd bet money on it. Translation - that so wouldn't have been my answer. And my point for bring up that little story? Writers need to let go of the guilt.

The Art of War For Writers is the book to get you back on your feet. Sure, some writers don't need motivational quotes, but some of us LIVE on motivational quotes. I even have them on my website. This little book takes it a step farther and gives you strategies, tactics and exercises to get those creative juices flowing. Jeez, I'm starting to sound like a bad commercial.

I think we all go through growing pains when we climb that ladder of success. Doesn't matter the job. What matters is what you do about it. Don't let doubts suck you in and get the best of you. Finish what you started.

I didn't go to RWA Nationals this year, but I heard about a speech Nora Roberts gave from a few friends of mine. She said (and I'm quoting this from others), "Embrace the HARD."

Perfect. That sums up everything. Writing isn't easy. Just quit your bitching and get the words on the page. Edit. Put on your big girl panties and get 'er done. Yup, those are some pretty strong words from a frustrated writer, but you know what? I feel better already.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My New Campaign - I'd Rather Go Naked Than Edit

We’ve all seen the ads for PETA – I’d rather go naked than wear fur. Well, I’m here to say I’d rather go naked than edit.

When I’m sitting in front of my computer and I get an exciting new idea for a book, I can run off of that energy for weeks. I’ve been known to write a novella in less than a week, and a full-length book in 8 days flat. I’ve written forty-six pages in one day, and 60,000 words in a week. However, when it comes time to edit that bitch, I break out in a cold sweat and come to the decision that the laundry needs my utmost attention. Even if it’s all done. Something needs to be ironed, folded or stitched. Socks need to be matched.

There’s something magical about writing a book. I can sit down for what seems twenty minutes, typing away, trying desperately to ignore my kids and whatever that last noise was, and in reality hours have gone by. When I edit, it’s a different story altogether.

For my first manuscript, I had a lot of exclamation points. “They’re right on our tail!” “Run!” “They have grenades!” “I baked an apple pie today!” Yeah, I went the distance when it came to exclamation points. My editor, God bless her, didn’t make a huge deal about it. She said a lot of newbies used exclamation points instead of showing the emotion through word choice, or italicizing power words. I went a little too far when I edited my second book. She actually had to put a few exclamation points in.

Okay! So I learned my lesson on exclamation points! Moving on to the unnecessary words!

For example: He sat down in the chair and ran a hand through his hair. Well, how else is he going to sit? Up? He sat DOWN is redundant. He sat in the chair. Period. Oh, and while we are on redundant words, how about off of. “I snatched the brush off of the dresser.” No hooker, you snatched the brush off the dresser. No need to use the word of.

Another thing I tended to do in my early manuscripts that can really make editors grit their teeth is blatant overuse of certain words. I used some words so often that I had to delete that about that a quarter that of them. Wow. You’re really alert. Yes, I once overused the word that. I’ll save the word was for another article. I once had a crit partner point out that I had the word was over 40 times on one page. I shit you not. I still have a problem with THAT word. *Sigh*

And speaking of teeth grinding, I recently discovered this is a no-no. He grit his teeth when the bullet made impact. BONG! Incorrect. The correct form would be as follows – He gritted his teeth when the bullet made impact.

Ah, sharing all of my face-plants when it comes to writing is giving me the warm fuzzies. Let’s go on, shall we?

“Alright,” you say. Well, no. That’s not the way you spell it. It’s all right. Two words. Now, to be fair here, an editor once told me you could shorten it to alright in dialogue, but never in narrative. Confused much? Alrighty then, moving on.

Dialogue. READ IT OUTLOUD. Please don’t have your hero say, “It is nine O’clock in the evening. Is there any chance that you are you ready to go to bed?” Well, there’s nothing wrong with that sentence, you say. No, technically there isn’t. But do you talk that way? I didn’t think so. How about this – “Christ, it’s nine already. I’m going to bed.”

Such small, nit-picky things we tend to do in our first draft that must be weeded out when we edit. Suddenly the creative process is over, and you're forced to invite your internal editor back. You edit your manuscript once, twice, maybe even three times. Your crit partner edits your manuscript. You edit your manuscript again. You get a contract - YAY! And then you get your first round of edits, and then a second round of edits. Then you get your galleys, or final line edit.

Are you ready to join my campaign yet? T-shirts coming soon - I'd Rather Go Naked Than Edit.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Urban Fantasy and Breaking The Rules

So I'm biting the bullet and going with my daughters to see the new Twilight movie. One is on Team Edward, and the other is all for Team Jacob. I'm a big fan of vamps, but I think I'm leaning toward Team Jacob, even though he looks like a child to me. Yeah. Feeling kinda dirty here, and not in a good cougar way.

So many people have blogged about how crappy the movies/books are, and that Bella whines too much, blah blah blah. Listen, Stephanie Meyer is laughing her ass off all the way to the bank, so I'm not jumping on the 'this sucks' bandwagon. I am, however, going to focus on the drama of a love triangle. Something I've never put into my books until recently.

While I was writing my last book, I had a slight problemo. By the end of the book there were two heroes, and I'm still not sure which one to go with. I can still remember reading the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris and being shocked to my core when Sookie and Bill broke it off and she had sex with Eric. A die-hard romance fan at the time, I hadn't yet read a book where the main romance was questioned. Sure there were 'misunderstandings.' The heroine might think the hero was sleeping with someone else, but it just so happened he was rescuing his sister from the prostitution ring and got caught by the heroine while untangling himself from two naked prostitutes. However, he wasn't there to score. LOL And once the 'misunderstanding' is resolved, you have your HEA. But with the Stackhouse series, Sookie actually WENT there. And that HEA was destroyed (for me, anyway). But like a trooper I read on, and then I was hooked on Eric as the hero. How easily I am led.

So I went on to edit my WIP, and my heroine has now slept with both men in the book. I know, right?? I'm not supposed to do that. My creative side is just going with the story as it unfolds, while my 'you-can't-do-this-in-a-HEA-romance' side cringes. So I guess I'm writing an urban fantasy. At least that's what my crit partner said.

I think authors can get stuck in that 'rule' side, and they write their stories accordingly. Then you have other authors who shout, screw the rules!, and they write best sellers. (Um, not saying this WIP is going to be a best seller, just saying I threw away the rules lol) Take JR Ward, for example. M/M books are hot in the e-book rounds. But she took the M/M subplot in her book to New York, and holy hell are readers gobbling it up. I'm all for Team Blay/Qhuinn. I had never read a M/M book before, but I'm all for reading theirs.

So, back to my problemo. Originally I had decided to pick one hero and stick with him. Then I sat back and asked myself - why? Why can't the heroine be torn between two heroes? Hell, that's a pretty awesome place to be - having two alphas fight over you. Isn't that what all the tweens are drooling over in the Twilight saga? Team Edward VS Team Jacob. Of course, Bella doesn't sleep with them both. This is a YA. Instead of sex, we get angst. Which works when you're dealing with tweens.

So why am I fighting the funk? If I throw away the 'rules' I have endless possibilities. She could go with what's behind door #1 - the first hero. Door #2 - the second hero. Or door #3 - Not a HEA, but an urban fantasy.

Urban fantasy is centered around the female protagonists. UF's are normally told in first person, but not always. I went to a panel comprised of urban fantasy authors at RT, and they all had different elements in their books. Some heroines had only one hero, and each book followed them through another conflict. Another UF author had a few heroes thrown in her books, just like the Stackhouse series. Hell, Jessa Slade has a kick-ass UF series out, and each book has a different H/H.

UF...let me count thy ways...

So, I'm not so freaked out about my problemo. I'm going to go with it and see where the heroes take, the heroine. I meant heroine.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Deep POV

So you think you’re an author? THINK AGAIN.

If you plan to sit down and write about your character, you’re making one hell of a mistake.

I’ll admit that I’ve jotted down what I’ve believed to be a kick-ass scene, sent it to my crit partner, then sat back in my chair after I’ve hit send, all excited and antsy. She’s going to love this shit. My heroine just got shot, she’s hanging on by a thread, and the hero is out of his ever-lovin’ mind with concern. The villain is closing in and their world is about to come crashing down around them. Bwahahahahaha…

Yeah, and then an IM from my crit partner shatters my euphoria when the box pops on my computer screen.

Crit Partner: I’ll call you.

Oh, crap. Oh, crap! As I wait for the phone to ring, knowing damn well she didn’t like it, I try to dissect the scene in my head to figure out where I went wrong. I churn it over in my mind, think about the details and the environment, the plot structure and the motivation. Nope. Pretty sure I rocked that bitch.

The phone rings. I pick it up and the first thing I hear is a sigh, like my crit partner doesn’t want to say just how bad she thought my scene was. Even better, she goes on to explain that the scene was great, the action was there, the story picked up…but she didn’t feel it. I nod my head, even though she can’t see me, and think, WTF? How did she not sympathize with my heroine who’s bleeding all over the wet asphalt in a torrential downpour while the hero holds her gently in his arms, rocking her back and forth? Not to mention the villain is about to pop on the scene and obliterate their pathetic asses. Break out the Kleenex!

Me: “Uh, so you liked scene, you thought the action was good, and the plot thickened. What exactly is the problem?”

Crit Partner: “Lack of deep POV.”

All right, let’s just pause right there. Listen, I’ve been published before. I know my biz. I’m not JR Ward, Christine Feehan or Sherrilyn Kenyon, but I think I can produce a pretty decent paranormal. Reviewers often give me great reviews – one reviewer proclaiming, “I stayed up until 5 AM because I simply couldn’t quit reading this book. That, dear readers, is a sign of a good book if ever I’ve seen one!” and another, “I could go on, but suffice to say this book has it all as far as I'm concerned - fabulous characters, an original plot, humor, and scorching sex. This is an absolute must-read!”

I’ve even received fan mail, for God’s sake. And now, after having published four books someone tells me I’m missing an integral piece of my craft? I struggle with deep POV? Seriously?

So I did what every other author would do. I got out my favorite romance novel, Lover Awakened, and read some of it. Oh yeah, deep POV all over the place. In fact, I find it hard to put the book down, spending over an hour with it in my greedy little palms, even though I’ve read it several times before. Ward immerses you in the character’s emotions, and you come to a point where the words on the page blur and you’re just IN the story and experiencing everything her characters are going through.

Then I do the unthinkable. [WARNING: Don’t try this at home after reading a Ward book.] I open up my manuscript and read through the scene I sent to my crit partner earlier that day (who’s all butt-hurt because she didn’t want to tell me I sucked, btw). I come up on a whole lot of he did this and she did that, and B-O-R-I-N-G. Sure, the heroine is wrapped up all snug-as-a-bug in the hero’s arms as her life blood seeps out, but what the hell is she feeling? Gah! I created a visual scene, went all psycho with blood pooling around them, the downpour of the storm and the shadows of the darkened alley, but I did it all with zero emotion. Does the heroine regret that the hero has to watch her die? Is she scared shitless? Is she growing cold? Does the hero’s hand shake when he smoothes the hair from her face? Does he feel incompetent to save her, or is he trying to show a brave front in hopes of making her passing easier? (Well, of course she doesn’t die, but he doesn’t know that.)

I keep reading, thinking I’m all sneaky with the villain closing in. Bring on the conflict! Hit the main characters with more crap and the emotional impact will blow the reader away!

Um, no. I didn’t really write it that way. What I saw in my head was not on the paper (er, screen) at all. The hero gritted his teeth. The villain smiles that evil little smile only those a-holes with black hearts can pull off. I read it again, figuring I must have missed all the awesomeness I was sure I’d slathered all over the pages.

Nope. Gritted teeth from hero. Smile from villain.

Well, I’ll be damned. Don’t shed a tear or anything as the LOVE OF YOUR LIFE DIES IN YOUR ARMS, and the man responsible for it traipses into the picture and points a gun at you. Yeah dude, grit your teeth and act all beta hero. Jerk.

So, after I got all mad at my pitiable hero (who’d only done what I told him to do, the pathetic jackass), I went back to square one to think about it for a while. I put the scene in the hero’s point of view. [This is very important, so if you’re going to highlight anything, highlight this]: Don’t sit down to write about the hero, BE the hero. Flex those biceps, baby! [End highlight. :)] Suddenly, I AM the hero, and the scene unfolds in my mind as I live it, and I just let the emotions bounce around in my noggin for a while…

My palms are sticky with warm blood, I see the ashen pallor of my woman’s face, and it’s then that the implication of the certain outcome hits me…I’m not just losing someone close to me. I’m losing my heart. My soul. She’s immortal. How can she be dying in my arms –

The motherfucker responsible steps out of the shadows of the alley, drawing my gaze. My eyes sting when my pupils dilate ominously.

I open my eyes to edit, allowing the disturbing emotions free rein to submerse me in the character. Um, I mean I AM the hero.

Now that I’m the hero, I have to write down everything I’m seeing, and all my emotions, while my lover dies in my arms. Cue 80’s love ballad, (I just) Died in Your Arms tonight.
Lesson to be learned from this article: Become your character. (<-- I’d highlight that as well.) :)
One way to tell you’re not in deep POV is passive voice. Here are a few tips on passive voice I received from my editor for my first manuscript. (I still have to weed these words out of my first drafts because I’m a slow learner or something. Someone pass me a Xanex, please.) Keep an eye on the following phrases:

– “he felt” “she felt” “he knew” “she knew” “knowing” “realizing” “found herself wondering” “heard” –

For example: She found herself wondering if he even had a heart.

Better: Did the bastard have a heart, or was he as cold as his reputation suggested?
So, if you plan to sit down and write about your character, you’re making one hell of a mistake.

You ARE your character.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Romantic Times Pics

This is a pic of Charlaine Harris and me.

MaryJanice Davidson and me. She was SO funny...but I bet you'd guessed that from her books. :)

Jessica Anderson and me. LOVED the T-shirt she was wearing.

Jessa Slade, me, Melissa Mayhue and Kathy.

Joy and I at the bar.

Danyel and I with the Ellora's Cavemen. What a blast!
Romantic Times was the perfect mix of work and fun. Well, there was more fun, but to me that's the perfect mix. lol We took a few workshops on craft, and the highlight of my workshop experience was getting to meet and learn from James Bell Scott. I have a few of his books on Revision and Self-Editing and The Art of War for Writers.
Once 7:30 pm hit everyone met at the bar to load up on SOTB's (Sex on the Beach) and then off to the parties we went. Danyel, Liz, Monica, Veronica, Jessa and I closed down the parties. Dancing on the stage became part of our to-do list. lol
Sara, I'll have my SOTB now. woot
Well, I'm off to edit. I have more pics that I'll post later.