Saturday, June 30, 2007

Writing Life

I'm reading two books ... when I'm supposed to be editing one and writing at least one. Bad writer!

Back when I got paid to go to work in an office I used to always read two books at a time. One audio book, for commute entertainment--an excellent plan, it makes traffic snarls if not fun, at least tolerable,and another book for the chapter, or two or three, before bed. In those days I wrote in the wee hours of the morning and after dinner. The evening book was my treat for achieving the day's word count.

Yes, very nerdy. But I am, what did you expect? ;)

Writing more of the time cut into reading. But then a bad thing happened, I discovered ebooks so now I'm back reading two books - a little computer book(Angel Eyes by Jaycee Clark), a little print book (Fox River by Emile Richards) and it's all good.

One strange coincidence, both books deal with eyes. In entirely different ways, but still, this factor adds an extra layer of pleasure to two entirely different but riveting authors.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Writing life

There is a ton of stuff a newbie writer is supposed to be doing -- none of which includes the main thing (that would be writing). Feel free to give me advice on what is important and/or effective when it comes to promotion/marketing/advertising. I'm treading water in a big pond.

For your entertainment I'm posting practice chat questions feel free to add questions or your own - tell chat stories or anything at all.

1. Please tell us a little about your book or upcoming release.

The book is Dangerous Surrender a romantic suspense with erotic elements. It’s exactly the kind of book I love to read, a taut mystery combined with a tortured love story and erotic love scenes. The theme of the series is dangerous love. One man, one woman who are each other’s worst possible nightmare and at the same time the one and only person in the world for them.

2. Where do you come up with your ideas?

The swamp creature that lives deep inside sends letters to the surface now and then. If the dominatrix editor who lives in the surface of my head sees merit in the swamp creatures note then it becomes a story.

3. What are you working on now?

The next Dangerous book.

4. What is your favorite story (that you've written)?

This question is a bit like asking a mother which of her children she loves best. Naturally I love them all. But best? A tie between my first book, which will always hold a special place in my heart, and the current story.

5. How do you create your characters? Are they based on anyone?

The characters are both the best and worst of writing. They begin as foils for telling the story – almost like stick figures consisting of goals, motivations and conflicts. Little by little they grow layers, or I learn about their layers, until they are real and complex beings with their own contradictions, fears, and dreams. They aren’t based upon anyone real. Though I select pictures of actors or models, who help me keep their physical image firmly planted.

6. How do you come up with your titles?

A phrase from the story or that represents the story resonates in my head – these are always lines from the swamp creature.

7. Do you write to music or prefer silence?

I always have a playlist for every story – usually edited many times.

8. Do you put any of your own quirks/traits into your heroines?

Always at least one, it helps strengthen our connection but it’s up to me to find that trait or recognize it.

9. Do you tend to favor certain types of atmospheres/places during romantic scenes?

Choice of venue for all actions is determined by the characters and the story itself, they do take on a life of their own.

10. Do you find your heroines are a lot like you, not so much?

My heroines have parts of me in then, little parts and idealized parts but then you and I share every emotion and this is really the heart of characterization.

11. Do you think your heroes are someone you'd like to meet in real life?

Absolutely, but it would ruin my dreams of being prolific. Although they all are one women men – once they meet the right woman. Since I insure they meet her there’d be little point in meeting them in real life.

12. Do you torture your characters if you are having a bad day?

I torture my characters on good days. How else are they going to tell you a great story?

13. Do you tend to put private jokes or objects in your writing that only you and another person would get-but to everyone else it seems like nothing?

Only accidentally.

14. Do you ever write your pets into you novels or their traits?


15. If you had to be trapped with one of your heroes?

I’m so fickle – the answer would always be my most recent hero, today Samson (Sam) Moreno. But as irresistible as he is – I know he would spend all our time together talking about Anika so it wouldn’t be as much fun as it sounds.

16. Did you ever write a character that just ticked you off so much you started taking revenge on him as if he were real?

Strangely enough, no. Actually I’m in sympathy with all of my characters even the evil ones, because I understand why they act as they do. Even if I hate what they’re doing, I still feel empathy for them – I have to in order to write them well.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Writing life

Here’s what I’m up to

Current writing projects:

Dangerous Surrender – Romantic suspense with erotic elements – Full length novel – Sold! Coming soon from New Concepts Publishing!

Dangerous Deception – Romantic suspense with erotic elements – Full length novel – not contracted

Island Interlude – Erotica – Short story – Submitted to Samhain

Pirate Rules – Romantic Erotica with elements of suspense – Novella – Submitted to Ellora’s Cave Exotika line

Coming projects:

Dangerous Protection – Romantic suspense with erotic elements – Full length novel – not contracted

Urban Adventure – Erotica – Short story – not contracted

Private Meeting – Erotica – Short story – not contracted

Pirate Games – Romantic Erotica with elements of suspense – not contracted

Pirate Rescue – Romantic Erotica with elements of suspense – not contracted

The neurotic obsessive writer at work

Monday, June 25, 2007

Writing life

I was going to write about author loops and how impressive everyone else's productivity and work ethic is -- but then silly blogspot wouldn't let me log in. Tried an end run by logging into gmail first. No go, gmail won't let me in either. Nor will they allow me to report the problem since I no longer exist in their cyber system. Shaking head sadly. The internet is right up there with electricity and running water on my list of things I need to be happy.

Since I tricked the blog into recognizing me - maybe the email program will work too. Gee, I hope so.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Publication Quest

In a few months I'll have to rename this blog feature, Publication News ! Signed and sent off the official contract, artwork questionaire, blurbs. Exciting stuff!

Got a lovely rejection, yes that does sound like a contradiciton. But it truly was very kind and included an invitation to submit something else. I’m gnashing my teeth because I can only work on one thing at a time and have nothing to send her at the moment. Later, it is the best I can do.

In the meantime, I’d revised the story I submitted (saving the submitted version of course) and felt it now fit another excellent publisher even better. Re-submitted it the same day I received the rejection.

Back to work on the next Dangerous story. When it’s time for this one to rest, between the first and second drafts – then I’ll have a go at a new story for the second tasteful editor.

Current year's goals updated

1) Continue to study and learn the craft of writing.

2) Three submissions – done – follow up with a sequels to each *

3) In roads into the TBR shelves

Progress report

1) Read craft stuff – I think I’m addicted to this too!

Five submissions sent! Two novels, one novella x 2, and one short

Status: One sale – two rejections – two waiting to hear from the publishers


Number Two: Sold!

Number three: Two months three weeks - estimated response time from publisher none**

Number four: Rejected and resubmitted – new estimated response time – one to twelve months

*Yes, I do admit this is an insane plan, but I need to stay busy. If I have idle time I become even more neurotic and imagine unpleasant things. Far better to put my twisted mind to work developing more dangerously sexy stories.

**Publisher did acknowledge the submission, but included a warning not to contact them about submissions to this line. IMHO Three months is long enough for them to have an exclusive.

TBR stack is even – bought a book, read a book . . .

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Writing life

Darn word meter stalled again. I spent the day reading nice normal size print on the New Concepts Publishing contract, filling out a cover art questionnaire, writing blurbs,and an author bio. Doesn't sound like much does it? Nevertheless the happy list of chores mushroomed in my mind and crowded out the current story.

Still don't have any idea on release date, if I get to keep my title, or if revisions are required. For tonight, I'm an optimist. That means the book will keep its present title Dangerous Surrender . It will get a great cover, there will be few revisions, and lots of readers will love the story.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Writing life

Just in case anyone else is neurotically obsessing about the word meter -- no? It's strictly my problem? Yeah -- I figured. Anyway I noticed the total story count was short. Obviously, I had to correct it. Therefore, even though I produced my requisite word goal the meter still didn't progress. Tomorrow's another day.

Writing craft

Story indebtedness is a fairly new concept to me. But it has become very useful. So I'm going to share the small bit of knowledge I've gleaned in the hopes I'll get smarter as I try to explain the idea.

Indebtedness is the reason a particular character is in this story. The inclusion criteria boils down to a single moment in time that was the deciding factor in making them in the person they are at the beginning of the story. Naturally, the protagonists grow and change during, and because of the events happening in, the tale.

Every writer works differently, but I cheat on indebtedness, working the character's defining moment in after the story is through the first draft. But knowing that I need this core piece of motivation helps, even though I insert it after the story has considerable meat on its bones.

The knowing part sends a message to the swamp monster, who lies deep inside and deals with character motivation and other emotional issues. The sullen beast requires time to digest things before it sends anything usable to the surface. I write between bulletins from the swamp and completely bitchy demands from an anal shrew of a internal editor.

Life in the jungle is tough.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Reading report

Last week I had a special treat I read Leeanne Kenedy's, Bad Moon Rising one of Samhain's hot summer nights releases. Hailey and Zach instantly sprang to life on the virtual page and became a couple I cheered for. The novella moved seamlessly into a hot Malibu romance complete with believable conflict and a satisfying ending. In short, the kind of story that makes me think I need a ebook reader so I can take a selection to the beach.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Writing life

A huge thank you to all my visitors and commenters for the support. The amazing community of women friends s one of the most delightful surprises about romance writing. There's no group anywhere who are as much fun and who totally understand all the angst and neurotic behavior.

I'm working on the sequel, but real life keeps interfering with my production. It dawned on me as I was drifting off to sleep that while I've plotted a good story, I left out the romance. Now I'm thinking about how my couple are going to fall in love especially when they are in such danger and have so little reason to trust each other. The pressure cooker effect of events should work to accelerate the romance if I can get it going to begin with, but there are serious conflicts to overcome. With all the natural barriers between this couple I need some serious motivation for them to get involved in a sexual relationship. Hmmm.

If I hadn't been down this road a time or two I would think motivating characters was a simple thing - after all I create them. They damn well better behave themselves and think and do as I want them to. However it all has to make sense and first of all it has to make sense to me before I can tell their story.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Publication Quest

Still pinching myself – over the offer of a contract. And so glad I started working on the sequel to Dangerous Surrender. I’m reminding myself there’s still a long ways to go before the book is actually released. Like a traveler entering a new country, I have only vague impressions of what the next stage of the journey looks like. Doubtless the road to publication is different for each writer who ventures forth into the unknown.

Current year's goals updated

1) Continue to study and learn the craft of writing.

2) Three submissions – done – follow up with a sequels to each *

3) In roads into the TBR shelves

Progress report

1) Paid my RWA dues. Yes I’m cheap. But it’s good to stay informed about the industry.

Four submissions sent! Two novels, one novella, and one short

Status: One sale – one rejection – two waiting to hear from the publishers


Number Two: Sold!

Number three: Two months two weeks - estimated response time from publisher none**

Number four: Two weeks – estimated response time from publisher a few more weeks***

*Yes, I do admit this is an insane plan, but I need to stay busy. If I have idle time I become even more neurotic and imagine unpleasant things. Far better to put my twisted mind to work developing more dangerously sexy stories.

**Publisher did acknowledge the submission, but included a warning not to contact them about submissions to this line. IMHO Three months is long enough for them to have an exclusive.

***The gracious editor wrote, explaining the number of entries, recent personnel changes, and general fatigue forced them to extend their expected response time.

TBR stack grew – sort of I succumbed to temptation, acquiring books from the library and e-published stories which do not weigh on the shelves but still . . .

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Publication Quest

I sold! Back with more information when the paperwork is complete and I know details. . .

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Writing craft

A few months ago I sat down to write a short story for a change of pace. Looking out my window at the dreary dregs of winter, I chose to set the tale in the tropics. Despite the arrival of lovely warm spring weather, I haven't left the islands. Every story since then has been set in one paradise on earth or another. There's something special about beaches, warm breezes,and palm trees.

Re-making the world to suit my whim is one of the delightful aspects of writing. Research is so seductive, I have to limit my time or I would read, study, and surf endlessly and never write another word. Since I'm writing escapist fiction, I'm hoping readers will share my enthusiasm for exotic locales.

Isolated beach cabins, the lush perfume of tropical blooms, and spectacular sunsets create a seductive setting for falling in lust or perhaps even love.

The story world has infinite setting choices, this world or another, this time or another it is always hard for me to chose. Tell me about your favorites. . .

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Writing life

The lovely editor from Samhain emailed today to tell me they're swamped and have not had a chance to make a decision on next year's Valentine Anthology yet.

Woo hoo! Pirate Rules is still in the running!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Writing life

No email from the lovely editors at Samhain, so either my submission went astray or they selected other stories. In either case, it's time to revise the Pirate Novella and send it off to other discriminating editors.

It's tricky balancing my ambitions against reality. In a perfect world I'd have at least one more of each type of story ready to go. However my corner of the universe is far from perfect. Working without editorial feedback, I write the stories that call to me.

Here's the current insanely optimistic plan:

1)Polish Pirate Rules - submit this week

2)Plot Dangerous Deception - begin writing this week

3)Revise Blackmailed by the Billionaire after Dangerous Deception's first draft is complete.

4)Polish Dangerous Deception

5)Polish Blackmailed by the Billionaire

6)Write two more erotica shorts to complete the Island trilogy

7)Write new Pirate Novella

8)Write new Presents story

Enjoy the holiday season, leaving something for next year.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Publication Quest

Busy plotting a new story. Characters, setting, research, and plot twists – all good stuff.

Current year's goals updated

1) Craft is back - it helps tell the good story

2) Three submissions

3) In roads into the TBR shelves

Progress report

Read the last unread craft book from the TBR shelves

Four submissions sent! Two novels, one novella, and one short

Status: One rejection – three waiting to hear from the publishers


Number Two: Full requested – One week – estimated response time from publisher none *

Number three: Two months one week - estimated response time from publisher none**

Number four: One week and two days – estimated response time from publisher 10 days!

*Senior editors have nothing else to do other than read my story, right? LOL Here’s the advantage of having submitted a few times. I know it will be awhile. Hence beginning a new story right away.

**Publisher did acknowledge the submission, but included a warning not to contact them about submissions to this line. Three months is long enough for them to have an exclusive.

TBR stack grew – yes again this week, but at least they aren’t weighing down the shelves they were e-books and therefore invisible. Hee hee

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Writing Life

Since I finished the Pirate Story, and got the full of Dangerous Surrender off to the lovely editor it's time to start on something else.

The sequel, Dangerous Deception seemed like a great next step and I actually have a completed story loosely connected to Dangerous Surrender , but it needs lots of work replotting, recasting, and revising. I'll admit it I love new stories. Concept, plotting, characters -- oh my!

So I'm thinking new story, but keep the old title -- Dangerous Deception. I love writing a series. All writing helps grow the writer so I never look at it as a waste of time.

In a perfect world I'd have this next novel written and polished in two months. The earliest date I expect the wonderful editor to get back to me. Better get plotting.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Wrting Life

Continued from Monday June 4th, 2007 . . .

Bear in mind, at this point I was so green it's amazing no one dusted me for aphids and watered my roots.

I found the eharlequin website and read and read and read some more. There was. and still is lots of basic advice for aspiring romance writers. There is also a supportive community of other struggling authors, both published and not. Harlequin offers a professional critique for a dollar a page. I sent off my most recent effort and waited for confirmation that it was wonderful before submitting again. Considering the earlier rejections - this time I wanted insurance.In the back of my mind the notion there might be some minor mistake of formatting, or some such trivial error lurked.

In due course the anonymous editors wrote back. The missive ran several pages and included lots of basic advice including titles of craft books. To boil down the evaluation of the story to its basics -- my story contained every possible newbie flaw. After a period of discouragement, I tackled their suggested reading list and tried a few other avenues for improving my writing craft. Chanting and cleaning the desk drawers didn't work for me.

Then I entered a contest. Optimism bloomed again. After all I'd read the books, I'd learned tons about storytelling. Surely, this time my entry would be picked. Nope. I did however make some great friends on the message boards as we all collectively waited anxiously for results. One of those supportive women, who writes much better than I do reluctantly took on the job of critiquing my work.

My gifted critique partner, Sheila Delaney did what nobody else had managed, she kindly explained what was wrong with my stories. Patiently she spoon fed me advice in clear terms. A familiar pattern, Sheila mentioning something and me hitting my head on the desk saying she's right damn it, emerged.

There have been many kind women who gave me words of genuine wisdom, but Sheila hung in there repeating herself until I actually caught on - at least for the moment. There's frequent back sliding on my part. It isn't deliberate, my mind simply doesn't work the way hers does. Eventually I will become self-correcting.

More stories, more revision of the stories already written, more patient advice from lovely women who've donated their time, and more submissions. Last year I wrote two new stories, one I submitted, the other I did not.

The unsubmitted story is the sequel to Dangerous Surrender . Since the full manuscript was requested by the lovely editor at New Concepts I'm thinking about revising the sequel to match the same level of suspense and character development. A hundred ideas and only a few hours a day to write. Welcome to the world of the aspiring writer.

Publication Quest

Full requested on submission number two! Internal editor is screaming . . . back soon.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Writing life

When I first began the writing journey I was filled with optimism and some caution. After all, if it were easy to become a best selling author then surely there would be a lot more variety of names on the New York Times best seller list. And I wondered why genre fiction titles were never listed. Mickey Spillane and Zane Grey never had best sellers? But every industry has its mysteries. I ignored the imponderables and pressed ahead writing a great romance.

The story was crammed with details and characters and a gripping plot, it had everything I wanted in a love story. My first serious doubts all revolved around how to attract the notice of a publisher. Since I was aware that thousands of women submitted novels each year, the burning question became how to stand out from the crowd. A query letter and synopsis were the tools used to hook an editor's interest and I set about crafting a set of irresistible sales implements.

To my amazement, a compelling query letter and synopsis proved to be much easier to conquer than the story. The QLS package got good results. More than half of those sent resulted in a request for either a full or a partial manuscript. Alas, the story so lovingly crafted did not find the same welcome acceptance. The second communications from the publishers invariably ran along the lines of: not right for us . . . best of luck . . . yours truly . . . editorial department.

I concluded that the lovely editor who'd signed the first request for the manuscript must have left the country for an extended trip, or been reassigned to another department, or left on maternity leave, or. . . It wasn't until I'd received this same response a couple of times that I considered the story wasn't as engaging to editors as it was to me.

to be continued. . .

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Publication Quest

I’m still keen on writing, but chilling reality from a couple of different sources is slowly evolving my goals. The Show me the Money report does include e-publishers and it’s a sobering look at how little lots of titles earn. Sabrina Jaffries has another chilling look at the realities of the big dog authors who do get single titles published by big time publishers here, And one more cautionary tale on the same subject from Shannon Stacy over at Romancing the Blog the other day

All of these generous and talented women took the time and effort to educate the inquiring minds of aspiring writers. I understand the frustration of those who have been struggling for years and want to see their name in print. I can also see Ms. Stacy’s point. That publishing stories which are not ready is a disservice to the author, the publisher, and the readers. Most of all the author. I never refuse to buy another book from a certain publisher because I was disappointed in one of their titles. But I do generally refuse to buy another book from an author whose work failed to engage me. It takes a lot of impetus to get me past disappointment. There are thousands of stories issued every month, many with stellar reviews. I am a picky and demanding reader, despite a bad book habit.

What will get me to try a disappointing author a second time? Winning an award. Not an easy route, but a good bet that readers who never tried an author and even those who weren’t thrilled by the earlier selections will give her work another look if she wins a Rita. I’m sure this works with editors too, hence the enthusiasm for the Golden Heart and other popular contests.

Back to my main point, it would be much smarter for the author not to disappoint their readers the first time. When a story is rejected, it is just possible the editor did me a favor.

Current year's goals updated

1) Craft is back - it helps tell the good story

2) Three submissions

3) In roads into the TBR shelves

Progress report

Read the last unread craft book from the TBR shelves

Four submissions sent! Two novels, one novella, and one short

Status: One rejection – three waiting to hear from the publishers


Number Two: Two months, two weeks – estimated response time from publisher 1 month **

Number three: Two months - estimated response time from publisher none*

Number four: Three days – estimated response time from publisher 10 days!

*Publisher did acknowledge the submission, but included a warning not to contact them about submissions to this line. Three months is long enough for them to have an exclusive.

**Lovely publisher mentioned she hasn't had time to review my work. At least she hadn't tossed it in the delete file. :)

TBR stack grew – I’m an addicted reader – still trying to avoid outgrowing the bookshelves

Friday, June 01, 2007

Publication Quest

Yesterday, I sent off submission number three for 2007. As usually happens, ideas for making the story better float in immediately after it leaves my hands and begins winging its way to the lovely editor.

I'm never going to write a perfect story. Even when a story is sold and published and readers are enchanted (this happens all the time in my dreams) there will be ideas that come to me for making it better. All I can really hope is a lovely editor sees something in the submission she's willing to work on to make stronger.

There's one thing, besides my lack of perfection,that I'm sure of about my writing I'm going to continue to improve. Someday I'm going to be good enough for a publisher to take a chance on me.
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