Friday, July 31, 2009
Not too long ago, I was sitting in an airport waiting for a flight. The flight was delayed, and we hadn't been told by how much yet. I enjoy people watching, and it didn't take long for me to notice that the group waiting for news of our flight was largely populated by a group of teens travelling together. Most of them shared one thing in common. They were all either reading, texting or playing games on their cell phones.
I think it was at this moment when I realized how "wired in" today's teens are. This is a generation that might well have started pointing with a computer mouse before they could string together a two words. I know my children are more at ease with a keyboard than they are with handwriting. And I swear, they can text with their eyes closed.
This was the first time I can truly say I felt old, out of touch. I felt that way because I was out of touch. Folks, the world, it's a changin'. And writers who want their work to remain relevant to readers would be wise to keep a finger on the pulse of digital publishing platforms.
I was truly given pause when I realized how many people were actually reading books on their cell phones. I love print books, I truly do. And in spite of the fact I'm a supporter of the digital publishing model that the Romance Writers of America refuses to embrace, I kicked and screamed all the way to the checkout cart when my husband all but forced me to purchase a Kindle.
Certainly, that flight gave me a lot to think about. When I got home, I asked my teenage daughter, a true Japanophile if there ever was one, if she had any reservations about reading an entire novel on a cell phone. What I got was the vacant look, the one that suggests I've been living in a cave all my life. "You mean...text novels?"
"Uh...yeah, what you said."
"Mom, everyone reads them."
Everyone, except me. Until that moment, I'd always thought I was a "with it" kinda gal simple because my Kindle stays pretty much hardwired to my hand. Uh...maybe not so much. To tell the truth, I was a little overwhelmed by the idea of reading novels on a freakin' telephone. Uh, make that cell phone. "So, you're talking about real books, novels, that people text message to you?"
My daughter didn't need to say "duh" out loud. Her expression of measured patience did it for her. "Mom, most of the novels sold in Japan are text novels. People subscribe to them."
"Like with magazines?"
"Sorry, wrong decade." As I said, cave dweller. And color me clueless, because in spite of the fact my daughter had answered my questions, I still didn't quite "get it." But if there was a whole new genre, an entirely new method of distributing digital books--well,yeah, duh. I'm an author. Granted, a very gently published one, but an author nonetheless. Like all authors, I'd like to be more widely published. And the kiss of death in the writing world is, in my mind, obsolescence.
I have to admit, the idea of reading a wall of text on a cell phone didn't excite me. But since I was already looking for a platform for some "free reads" to help me distribute and showcase my work to potential readers, I decided to take a closer look at text novels.
My search led me to a site by the same name
I learned that text novels are literally serialized books, formatted in 500 word or less "cliffhangers". The author has the option of inserting illustrations, graphics, sounds, videos, and links to enhance the reader's experience. Textnovel boasted an easy to use publishing platform that allowed authors to post their work. Readers may choose to register at textnovel to subscribe to those chapters, and recieve notification of new chapters.
Talk about win/win. Authors get exposure and feedback, and readers get free reads they can access from anywhere via their cellphone.
It didn't take me long to begin my own text novels.
While learning to write in 500 word cliffhangers has been a challenge, it certainly has forced me to write tight and get rid of excess baggage in my prose. Trust me when I say my editor will agree, this a good thing. :)
And, oh. My. God. When text novels are done well, they're like literary crack. I hope you'll take a moment to check out my text novel, a paranormal romantic comedy, Muse Struck. If you like the story well enough to follow it to the end, you can register at textnovel anbd subscribe to future updates.
As a reader, I'm truly addicted to some of the serials I've found at TextNovel, and I urge you to try them out. You might just be among the first to catch a glimpse of next year's blockbuster best seller:
Death's Angel If this author isn't on the NYT best seller list someday, something is very wrong. Just my opinion, but if you love emotional paranormal romances with a literary bent, don't miss this one. . :)
Secondhand Memories The spare prose enhanced by a multi-sensory presentation is the one that got me hooked on this publishing platform.
Like leading edge, literary fiction, bordering on experimental? Try this one: Camoflauge
Do you have a text novel you'd like to share with readers? Would you be willing to follow a book through as a serial you read on your cellphone? Share your thoughts and comments below. One commenter will win a ten dollar amazon gift certficate, so don't be shy!
Thursday, July 30, 2009
There's a bit of a "discussion" going on at one of the writer's loops I belong to at the moment. By all reports there's been some complaints made to the loop moderators about promotion.
And for me, this issue has spawned an interesting question:
What's your limit for author self-promotion? When do you consider that an author is promoting too much? When does it start to get right up your nostrils?
Well, okay, that was actually three questions, but you know what I'm getting at. I hope.
Those of us who Twitter, will doubtless have seen people insisting that they "unfollow" authors who do nothing but promote their books and their blogs and their contests. Then there's diehard fans who are more than happy to follow authors who use Twitter only for that very purpose.
Me? I follow plenty of authors. And although I respect every author's right to keep it "professional" I do love the ones who give me an insight into their daily lives. Whether it be what they're cooking tonight, what they're watching on TV, what movie they just say or the best line from their current wip that they wrote today. And if you comment on a tweet and they answer you back, that's freaking awesome--I love it!
That's how I like to use Twitter, too. And Facebook. And at this stage of my so-called career, it suits me to let some of the personal stuff flow over onto those public forums. (But if I ever get really really famous, that may well change... LOL. I wish!)
And also at this stage of my so-called career, it's important that I get my name "out there". To that end, I have a website which I post to every couple of weeks and every time I post, an automatic newsletter summarizing the day's posts is sent out to subscribers via Mail Chimp. My subscribers have a choice of receiving a daily summary of posts, or a weekly summary.
And I post here -- obviously! -- once a week, too. And because I whiz up a quick message on my website provide a link back here, my personal subscribers are also informed about my Writers Gone Wild posts in the hope they'll hop over and make a comment. And maybe read other posts and be so awed by my talented fellow Wild Women, that they'll become Writers Gone Wild followers.
I also use Twitter, Facebook and my writing loops to promote my regularly monthly personal website posts and my weekly Writers Gone Wild posts. I post a brief message giving info about the topic, and provide a direct link to the post. That way, if anyone's not interested, they can just exercise that delete key, or in the case of Twitter and Facebook, ignore it entirely and keep on scrolling down the page. But if anyone is interested, then hopefully they'll visit the blog or website and leave a comment.
And what I've noticed is that it does work. I do get fellow tweeters and facebookers and loopies occasionally leaving a comment. It's all about getting traffic to your site, or as I like to think of it, inviting people to pop in for a visit and a chat about what I've written.
But is this too much promotion? Is this truly more likely to piss people off?
If you got a Tweet about this post or a note about it on Facebook page, or an email on your writing loop, (or, if you're following me on Twitter, have friended me on Facebook and belong to one of the email loops I'm on, all of the above--yikes!) would you be really irritated?
Would you consign me to the shameless self-promoter basket?
Or would you shrug and think of me as merely a very new author who's doing what she has to do to build that all important "platform" the agents and editors all consider to be so very vital?
Would love to hear your comments because believe me, now I'm not entirely sure what to think about this issue.
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
A few years ago I discovered erotic romance author Lisa Marie Rice and in my quest to find everything ever written by her, I stumbled across Red Sage's Secrets (Volume 9 to be exact). Thanks to my obsessive search, I discovered another now-favorite author, Kimberly Dean. She's the reason I was looking for Volume 11 and when I saw the two in one special, I couldn't pass it up. She's written short stories/novellas for Black Lace, Avon Red, Ellora's Cave, and Red Sage. She also has some releases with Pocket, but I haven't had a chance to pick them up yet :) Have you ever read an author and wondered why you'd never heard of them before? Maybe she's really popular and I'm just jumping on the bandwagon late, but after reading her I felt like 'Hey, I should have known about her before now!' She knows how to write men who are men and I love that.
Who are your favorite authors and how did you discover them?
Friday, July 24, 2009
LIANE: Today, I have with me author Hannah Murray. Hannah writes wicked funny, sexy romances, and today we're talking about the story behind her hilarious bondage story, The Boy Next Door, which appears in Secrets, Volume 27, Untamed Pleasures:
Hannah, I'm so glad you stopped by today. Tell me about that first moment of inspiration for your story, The Boy Next Door.
HM: Oh my. Well, actually, I was at a bondage convention! I’d always wanted to go to one, and I had a thought that if I went, maybe I’d get a story out of it. Well, there were all of these people having so much fun learning how to tie each other up, and I thought about how much fun they were all going to have when they took that newfound knowledge back to the bedroom. And I thought, “Oh yeah, there’s a story there!”
LIANE: Did your story come to you full realized, or did it take you a while to reach your final version? Did you ever reach a moment when you thought you'd never get to "the end?"
HM: I knew the tone I wanted for the story, and where I wanted to end up, but the rest I pretty much worked out along the way. It took me months and several rewrites to get to the final version, and I think I had the “when will it end?” thought every day.
LIANE: So what did it take (time, amount of work, etc) to get you from that Eureka moment to getting "the call".
HM: It took time and a lot of hard work. It originally had a completely different beginning, which I changed after attending a workshop on writing a good hook, and the sub plot needed some work as well before it got to where it is now. I spent a lot of time polishing, making sure it was the best I could make it before sending it out.
LIANE: And speaking of the call, our readers like nothing better than those "I got the call" stories, so how about sharing yours?
HM: Oh, getting the call was a huge relief. I’d pitched the story to Alex at Red Sage in July 2006 at the RWA national convention in Atlanta, and by October I had some suggestions from the editor on how to make things stronger. I made those changes, resubmitted it, and waited what seemed like forever! The original editor ended up leaving the company while I was working on those changes, so it went to the bottom of the new editor’s pile. Which only lengthened my wait. But when it finally came, I was ecstatic – I’d written this story with Secrets in mind, and I was thrilled to know I was going to be a part of it.
LIANE: Why do you think this story was right for Secrets?
HM: I’ve read all the Secrets anthologies, and I knew this story would fit right it. The bondage theme, the highly sensualized sexual encounters between the characters, the strong emotion – I worked really hard to make sure it met Secrets’ standards of sensuality and storytelling, and I was thrilled when Red Sage accepted it.
LIANE: For some of the authors in this Secrets anthology, as much as a year and a half passed between the time the story was sold and the time the page proofs were delivered. How did you feel looking at your story after so much time? Did mistakes glare at you, or were you still thrilled with your own words?
HM: I always notice the mistakes, but it felt really good to see my words in print. Of course, I’d spend years editing one manuscript if they’d let me, so I have to force myself not to look at the pages too long or too hard; I can move from proofing to rewriting without even realizing it sometimes.
LIANE: If you could write a sequel to your story, where would it take you?
HM: Oh, I think I’d have to go a few years into the future. Maybe Isa and Jacob have been together a while, and they’re looking to relight the flame…maybe they’ve taken things even further and now Isa wants to start tying Jacob up. I would actually love to do a sequel to this; relationships don’t stop with happily ever after, and I think it would be fun to see what happens after.
LIANE: What's next for you as an author?
HM: I’m polishing up an existing manuscript and getting ready to shop it around, as well as starting two new books – one contemporary and the other is what I like to call “paranormal lite”. There are some paranormal elements, but at its core it’s a contemporary comedy, which is what I do best.
LIANE: Finish the sentence. Small press/e-press publishing…
HM: not just for niche markets anymore.
LIANE: What is the single most important thing you've done to make your work publishable?
HM: I found myself two reliable critique partners and learned to listen to them. Taking criticism is the single hardest thing I’ve learned how to do – it’s made my writing stronger, it’s made me better at plotting, it’s made me better at anticipating the kinds of things an editor will ask me to do so I can do it before it even gets to the editor! I’m never going to be great at hearing negative things about my work, but it’s part of the business, and everyone is going to hear it sometime.
LIANE: Hannah, what great fun. I understand you've got a wicked cool contest going on. Why not tell our readers how they can enter?
HM: Sure. In keeping up with the bondage theme of my story, I'm giving away an actual bondage rope. Readers can find out more by checking out my website.
LIANE: That sounds like too much fun to be legal. I'm sure you've won some new fans here today. Can they follow you on facebook and twitter?
HM: Yes. I'm on facebook as Hannah Murray. My twitter ID is hannahstwits. Readers can also join my announcement only news loop.
LIANE: I understand you're offering one lucky WGW reader a great prize today.
HM: Yes. I'm offering a one chapter critique (less than fifteen pages) to one commenter. The drawing will be tomorrow.
LIANE: Oh, wish I could play. I love the wicked humor in your writing. Hannah, thanks so much for joining us today here at Writers Gone Wild. I hope we'll see you again I the future.
HM: Thanks, it was a pleasure to be here!
Be sure to enter your comments below for a chance to win a one chapter critique from Hannah!
Thursday, July 23, 2009
I'm currently writing a futuristic novella which I'm hoping submit to a publisher for an anthology. So there's obviously a deadline.
No problem. So far I've done everything by the book *winces at the pathetic, unintended pun*.
I researched, I came up with a (hopefully) exciting idea, and I got stuck in and wrote a decent chunk.
Conscious of the deadline, I plugged my achieved wordcount and the required wordcount into my nifty little spreadsheet, decided 1500 words a day wasn't asking too damn much of my muse, and checked how many days I'd need to finish. Excellent! My estimation had been bang-on, leaving me with plenty of time to edit and polish and ultimately decide whether or not I'd risk actually emailing it off or just chalk it up to experience.
And I'm pleased to say I've achieved the minimum wordcount required with a few days of my self-imposed deadline to spare.
So I should be patting myself on the back. I should be taking a day or two to catch up with other stuff that's been sadly neglected.... you know, folding washing, grocery shopping, cleaning the bathrooms, vacuuming the house and the like. I should be eagerly anticipating the next stage--reading through the manuscript, checking for plot holes, tying up loose ends, proofing and editing.
Only trouble with this most excellent scenario is that my characters have totally hijacked this story and they absolutely will not let me type The End.
When I hit 25,ooo words and no end was in sight, I shrugged and let it slide. Oh well, what's another day or two? I figured I'd sleep on it, dream up the perfect ending to my heroine's current predicament--which, by the way, I hadn't foreseen at all but damn it's good!--and wrap it up in a couple of pages. Or five.
I'm still merrily typing away....
And. There's. Still. No. End. In. Sight.
And I know, just know, that these guys are not gonna let me cop out and give them anything less than they deserve--not after everything I've put them through. A quick resolution, where everything falls into place before they achieve their HEA? No way. Not this hero and heroine. Nyuh uh. They're not gonna settle for anything less than a multi-chapter word-fest and if the poor sap pounding the keyboard doesn't like it, then that's just tough.
Sheesh! I'm warning you guys for the last time: this novella better not turn into a novel. Wrap it up or you'll be sorry!
And speaking of novels and wrapping things up, here's a question for you:
Have you ever been hijiacked by your characters? Or am I--as I'm beginning to suspect--certifiable?
Monday, July 20, 2009
Years ago, I was told, "Your story is only as strong as your villain."
Which is true.
When I utilize a character chart, I always include one for the villain. Knowing how he/she ticks makes plotting even more fun. Your hero and heroine need to be matched with a villain of at least equal strength.
Think about your favorite novels. How did the author handle the antagonist?
I'd love to hear who your favorite, lovely villains are and why!
Cowboy of the Night out now from Red Rose Publishing.
Friday, July 17, 2009
Not that I'm comparing my humble stories to Michelangelo's genius. It's just my catchy lead in for the day. And we will circle back to this when i'm done bitching.
As you may have guessed, I'm on a big, fat, ugly rant today ,probably because I'm sitting in the lobby lounge at the Romance Writers of America National Conference tending to my promotional obligations for my two July releases, when what I'd really like to do is hang with friends and attend terrific panels. I love networking with other authors, so it's not easy for me to ignore that yearning, shove my nose to the grindstone and work when everyone around me is having a ball.
But this is my career.
Read that again, particularly if you are an RWA board member.
This is my career, the one of my hopes and dreams, and I'm still high on the relative miracle that an editor I respect and admire ever wanted to buy my words at all, much less gamble on giving me, a very new author, two releases in the same month.
I'm thankful. And amazed. I'm also doing my level best to hop aboard the momentum train and promote, write more stories, and figure out exactly how one goes about shoving a very large elephant up a very steep mountain.
Face it. Selling words isn't easy. But I keep trying, because I love writing. Even more than I love writing, I love having readers. And I want more. A thousand stories are banging around in my head at any one time, and that I ever managed to sell a few of those stories still amazes me. It's truly a dream come true.
So when I sell something, do my best to promote it, no matter what and no matter where. You see, I want to sell more books. Which leads me back to my point.
This. Is. My. Career.
My two July releases from Red Sage Publishing required a lot of effort on my part. I followed the same process in creating, drafting, editing, revising, re-drafting and submitting both of these pieces. Up until the moment of release, these manuscripts went through the exact same editor, publisher, and publishing process. These releases, from a business standpoint, required equal effort to produce.
They only differ in print format and method of payment.
Heart Storm was a print release in Secrets, Vol. 27, Untamed Pleasures. Because it was a print release, it received an advance against future royatlies when the book went to contract. And until the title earns out that advance amount, I won't see another penny on the book. And that's fine. That's how the print model works.
Wicked Temptation was an e-release from the same publisher. It, also received an advance, albeit a smaller one than my print release. But in exchange, I received a much higher royalty rate on Wicked Temptation.
During this book's creation, I stretched as an author in ways I never dreamed I could stretch. So much so that when I read the advanced copy, I burst into tears--of joy. And I'm here to tell you that while I love both of these stories, Wicked Temptation is the better book. It is, in my opinion, my sistine chapel. So if the powers that be at RWA want to diminish the artistic merits of Wicked Temptation because I both pitched and sold this project as an e-title, that's fine.
I'll consider the merits of the source.
By the way, Michelangelo never received an advance for his work. In fact, there are some historians who suggest he may never have been paid at all. And yes, that's a terrible thing. But did the method of payment--or lack thereof--diminish his the artistic merits of his work in any way?
I'll let you decide.
I'm going to go console myself by dropping a bundle of cash on my favorite ebook authors. Because you see, I'm not just an e-author. I'm a e-reader, and proud to be one.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
While scanning tweets yesterday, I came across a link to Pam Barchorz's blog, where she posted about making a book trailer on a budget. (This is one of the aspects I love about Twitter, by the way: just when you're mulling over something relatively profound, the Twitterverse provides a relevant link to catch your eye. It's like it's sentient or something!)
Anyway, to quote Ms Bachorz:
"It’s fascinating to see how an author, or their publisher, manages to distill their book’s subject and make it visually interesting. It’s like flap copy in motion."
If you want some great tips on how to make your own book trailer, do check out her post: "Making a professional book trailer on a budget".
Having just forked out a few $ for bookmarks to give away to promote Even Demons Get The Blues, I'm wondering if a book trailer is worth the outlay. And not only financial outlay. If I decide to have a go at making one myself, there'll be the added cost of time taken from my writing week and redirected into something that will promote my book.
Or will it?
You see, I'm one of those people who won't buy a product if its ad gets right up my nose and irritates me. I even go so far as to mute the sound when certain ads play on TV. The whole, "But if you remember it, then it's doing its job!" doesn't wash with me. Hey, Mr Ad Dude, what part of "I won't buy your product on principle because your ad is nauseatingly annoying in the extreme!" didn't you understand?
Neither am I an advocate of "any publicity is good publicity". Or to be more specific "even a bad website is better than no website presence at all".
Just as I wouldn't go out in public in my dressing gown and slippers-- Okay, okay, busted! I have been known to make a quick dash to put out the trash or check the mailbox. Sheesh!
What I'm trying to say is for me, a professional-looking website is important because it (hopefully!) conveys to industry professionals that I'm... well... professional! So if I can't afford to pay someone who knows what they're doing to create the book trailer of my dreams and I do have a go at making one myself, it's not going public unless its bloody near perfect. And I'm absolutely sure I'm not gonna be embarassed by it. And it's bloody near perfect!
Which obviously means that if I make a complete hash of it -- highly likely! -- despite hours of work, it'll never see the light of day.
So before I seriously contemplate wasting money and/or time -- neither of which I have in abundance right now -- I would love to have your feedback to these potentially life-altering questions:
1. Are you a book trailer junkie?
2. When you view a really great book trailer, does it truly influence you to rush out and buy the book?
3. And if it's not a particularly inspiring trailer, or even (heaven forbid!) a truly wince-worthy one, would that influence you to not buy the book?
4. If you are a book trailer junkie, where do you generally find them? (Author's website? YouTube? Some other awesome place I've never heard of????)
5. How do you usually hear about book trailers? (By subscribing to the author's newsletters? Referrals from writers' loops? Twitter? Facebook? Some other fascinating social network I'm missing out on????)
Hanging out for your opinions!
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
I attended the Muse Conference last year for the first time.
I had a blast and learned quite a bit, too. This conference is an exceptional value to writers and a fabulous learning tool. It's online so you can even relax in your jammies as you interact with writers from all across the United States and overseas.
This year I'll be giving two workshops on these topics:
Writing Love Scenes That Sizzle
Building Blocks of Fiction: Characterization and Plotting
The link below will give you more details.
Link to workshops:
Link to the homepage:
The Muse Online Writer’s Conference happens in October and the best part about it (beside the great presenters and tons of workshops) is that it is totally FREE.
It’s the creation of Lea Schizas who wanted to bring the writing world closer to writers, especially for writers without the monetary resources or ability to travel to other writing conferences.
This year’s conference runs from October 12th -18th. Take a look at the list of workshops being offered. (The workshop page is still being updated, so new workshops are being added to the list regularly.)
There are two kinds of workshops offered:
A week-long forum workshop where the presenter posts material each day and the participants can read and ask questions in the forum. The material stays available all week long.
An hour-long real-time chat at a specific day/time during the week.
Lea’s offering a new feature this year - Pitch Sessions! The lucky participants will get five minutes with a publisher to present a maximum of a 100-word pitch. Each publisher will listen to pitches from 12 writers (unless otherwise specified) so it’s a first come, first served basis. Lea will send out an announcement when the pitch session registrations are open so that writers can apply for one. Each publisher will have specific day/time slots available that writers can apply for.
To sign up for the conference, you need to join the Yahoo group that Lea’s set up. Go to this page and click the blue Join This Group button on the upper right side of the page.
Lea uses the Yahoo group to send out announcements about the conference and later to provide details on how to sign up for specific workshops.
Registration for the 2009 conference is open until August 1st only. If you miss the deadline, you miss the conference. There are no exceptions. If you want to attend the conference, join the Yahoo group today.
I've already found one workshop I can't wait to take and I'm sure I'll find others. (I did last year.)
If you're new to writing or an author wanting information on a new area of writing, please sign up and join us. Remember August 1, 2009 is the deadline to sign up.
Tambra's teaching experience: For those that don't already know, I've been teaching online workshops/classes for over four years. And before that off and on for our local college's continuing education department.
Hugs to all,
Thursday, July 9, 2009
I'm on holiday right now--Auckland is one of those cities you periodically have to get away from or you'll go nuts. So once or twice a year, during school holidays, we pack up and drive the six hours (plus cafe stops!) from Auckland to Palmerston North, to spend a week with my husband's parents. And because I'm lucky enough to have THE BEST IN-LAWS EVAH, believe me when I say that spending a week with them is a stress-free delight!
Even better, because school holidays tend to coincide with our wedding anniversary, we leave the kids with their grandparents and drive down to Wellington and book ourselves into a fancy hotel for a night. It's a chance to be spontaneous: go shopping, lounge round the hotel room, eat out or dial up room service, stay up late watching movies.... In other words, do whatever we want, when we want.
I gotta say, it was a fabulous trip! And even though it was only one night away, time seemed to slow down -- or maybe we were just wringing every last little bit of enjoyment from our little escape from reality.
Anyway, we're back in Palmerston North for a couple of days before we head back up to Auckland. And being Thursday, even though I'm still in holiday mode, it's time to wax poetic on Writers Gone Wild.
So, I've got two lots of news to share:
Even Demons Get The Blues bookmarks are hot off the press!
I've just got them back from the printer and they're goooooorgeous! Not only that, but there's rather a lot of them...
So if you'd like your own suitably demonic Even Demons Get The Blues bookmark, here's what you do:
- Sign up for my newsletter. Automatic newsletters are generated from each new post and you have a choice of daily or weekly updates. Don’t worry, I’m not a rabid poster, so I won’t inundate your inbox ;-)
- Reply to the final confirmation email and include your address.
- Wait with bated breath for the mailman
Please note: as soon as your bookmark has been posted to you, your address will be deleted from my files. Your address will not be given out to any individual or any company under any circumstances.
This is the fourth time I've finalled in the Clendon Award, but what's especially interesting is that with Jade's Choice now becoming a finalist, all three manuscripts in this series have finalled in this award. Chalcedony's Warrior (Book 1, then called "Chalcedony's Wulf") finalled and won in 2006, Ruby's Dream (Book 2) finalled in 2008 and Jade's Choice (Book 3) finalled in 2009.
Barbara's Books patrons are the first round judges of the Clendon Award and it seems I've hit the right note with them. Fingers crossed that even though I've committed the cardinal sin of *gasp!* writing a series, one day I'll find an agent or editor who loves them as much as the Clendon readers.
And even though I'm not expecting to place (because seriously, you should see who I'm up against this year!) I'm basking in the glow of being a finalist.... or perhaps that's because of the very fine glass of wine I'm drinking while I write this?
I am on holiday, after all.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Lately I've noticed that there's been a fairly clear line drawn between erotic romance and erotica. With erotic romance you're more likely to get HEA or HFN, but with true erotica, you're not guaranteed to get either. Ellora's Cave has separated erotic romance and erotica by designating Exotica as their erotic fiction line. And I could be wrong, but everything I've read from eHarlequin's Spice line has been erotic fiction vs. erotic romance. There's no promise of a commitment at the end, but I know what to expect when I buy it.
I appreciate that so many publishers have clearly defined what to expect when I buy from their lines. There's no guesswork involved and I get exactly what I'm looking for.
Which do you prefer? HEA or HFN? Or does it depend on the story?
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Hi, Nicole! Thanks for stopping by Writers Gone Wild today. Our theme this week is the story behind the story, so with that in mind, let's get started.
Liane: Nicole, tell me about that first moment of inspiration for your novella, Devil in a Kilt in Secrets Volume 27 Untamed Pleasures.
Nicole: Thanks so much for allowing me to be here, Liane! Great question. I had just attended the Highland Games with a friend and challenged myself to come up with a story idea set there. We had visited a clan tent and looked at and picked up a genuine two-handed Highland sword which appeared ancient. Most people call this type of sword a claymore. In Gaelic, the original language of the Highlands, the word is claidheamh dà làimh. When I picked up the sword, I wondered "what if?" In my story, when Shauna picks up the sword, she is instantly transported to 1621 Scotland, the hero's bedchamber in the middle of the night. Gavin MacTavish, Highland Chief, wakes to a loud clang in the darkness. A woman has dropped his own sword at the foot of his bed. His first suspicion is that she's come to kill him. He does have enemies, after all, and some of them have the same clan name as the heroine.
Liane: Wow. You had me at Scotland and kilt! Did your story come to you full realized, or did it take you a while to reach your final version? Did you ever reach a moment when you thought you'd never get to "the end?"
Nicole: No, it didn't come to me fully realized. I wish! :) First, I wrote a short story version which was a lot simpler and without any paranormal elements beyond the time travel. That was going nowhere, so I revamped and got the idea to make the hero a cursed shapeshifter. And for that, I needed a villainess and more paranormal happenings. While writing this story, I didn't experience the "I'll never finish this!" phenomenon. That does happen to me sometimes, though, like with my last completed story. I hate when that happens, but I do eventually move past it and finish.
Liane: So what did it take (time, amount of work, etc) to get you from that Eureka moment to getting "the call".
Nicole: Hmm... I'm not sure how much time passed between that first seed of inspiration and "the call" or rather "the email." Probably a year or two since I rewrote the story. But I think it was about six months from submission to contract.
Liane: And speaking of the call, our readers like nothing better than those "I got the call" stories, so how about sharing yours?
Nicole: Well, like I said, it was an email... from my agent saying Red Sage wanted to offer me a contract! Woohoo!!! It was late at night, like maybe 11 or 12. My husband was asleep (and impossible to wake up); everyone else I knew was probably asleep. So I emailed my critique group (go Rebels!) and my best writing friends. I knew some of them would still be up. So we yelled and screamed via email. :)
Liane: Why do you think this story was right for Secrets?
Nicole: I felt it was a strong story with a lot going on to hold the reader's interest. Not just sex, but characters with big problems they had to solve and goals they wanted to reach. It had a fun, slightly snarky heroine who wasn't afraid to have adventures and tangle with a cursed Highlander. Speaking of which, he's a big, hot muscular guy in a kilt who just wants to give the right woman pleasure. What could be better? I had read and loved Secrets for years and paid attention to the level of sensuality. I thought my story had the right balance of the elements they were looking for. I really ramped up the love scenes compared to some of my other non-erotic stories. I added more sex scenes and made them hotter. But I also included all the emotion of falling in love.
Liane: For some of the authors in the Secrets, Volume 27 anthology (like me, LOL!), as much as a year and a half passed between the time the story was sold and the time the page proofs were delivered. How did you feel looking at your story after so much time? Did mistakes glare at you, or were you still thrilled with your own words?
Nicole: There were a few mistakes and corrections I needed to make. But I was thrilled to be reading my own words in .pdf form, just as they would appear on the printed page! I confess this was a major moment for me. :)
Liane: If you could write a sequel to your story, where would it take you?
Nicole: I have written a sequel, actually two! I'm polishing up the 2nd now. The first sequel is called Beast in a Kilt which will be in Secrets Volume 29. And it tells the story of Torr, Gavin's cursed friend. Three Highlanders were cursed at the same time by the same dark witch. So naturally I had to tell all their stories and adventures in shapeshifting. And they each had to find that special woman. All three stories take place in Scotland, the most beautiful place on earth.
Liane: What's next for you as an author?
Nicole: My next release from Red Sage (after Devil in a Kilt) will be Kilted Lover, a contemporary ebook novella with only a hint of paranormal. It's about a big, very hot caber tosser, Scott MacPherson, who tosses the heroine over his shoulder and runs off with her. Slightly caveman style, but not for the reason you think. He's rescuing her from two armed thieves trying to steal her priceless, magical amulet. After that, I hope to keep writing (and selling) stories about hot men in kilts. I can't get enough of them! I'll also be teaching some workshops on writing sexual tension and love scenes this fall. Please check my website for details.
Liane: What is the single most important thing you've done to make your work publishable?
Nicole: Found my agent. She was invaluable in helping me see my writing weaknesses and correcting them. I thought I was pretty good before, but she showed me where I could write in more concise and effective ways, like not repeating myself or slashing those clichés and writing with more creative, original phrasing. And leaving out the unnecessary stuff. Also my awesome critique group, Rebels, as well as individual critique partners, have helped me with my writing in immeasurable ways. Thanks to all of them!
Liane: Nicole, I understand you have a special surprise for one of our commenters today!
Nicole: Yes, I'm offering a one chapter critique of up to, we'll say 20 pages.
Liane: Wow. Great prize! Wish I could win it LOL. Thanks so much for being here, Nicole. I truly appreciate the time you gave us.
To learn more about Nicole's writing and her writing classes, you can visit her at her website or blog. You can also follow her at myspace, twitter, facebook, or bebo.
Click here to join Nicole's mailing list: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nicolenorthnewsletter/
yahoo group url if you have that
And don't miss this wicked hot trailer for Nicole's next release, Kilted Lover!
Monday, July 6, 2009
Many of you know I write paranormal romance.
I find the added excitement of tossing in a vampire, shifter, wizard etc., into the volatile mix of romance, a heady brew.
Evidently readers agree since this subgenre is still going strong. Thank you, readers!
While trolling the web the other day, looking for a new spot where readers hang out I came across a review site and the reviewer said she was sick of vampire heroes. It took something special to make her take notice.
Thank goodness I write about more paranormal creatures than vampires, but still, I love vamps.
What are you tired of reading about? What area of paranormal romance do you find growing?
I'm looking forward to your answers.
Cowboy of the Night-Recommended Read
Available from Red Rose Publishing
Friday, July 3, 2009
Twin releases that is! I'm blogging on Life, Love and an Insatiable Muse at Coffeetime Romance today. Come play with me and help me celebrate the releases of Wicked Temptation and Secrets, Volume 27.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Katie's "Things A Girl Should Have" post and her photos of her gorgeous dresses got me thinking about evening wear.
Back in my younger days, I had loads of flash evening clothes. I was a SINKie (Single Income, No Kids), I worked in a bank and I was teaching Ceroc dance, so there were plenty of excuses to buy expensive evening dresses: the annual bank balls, the annual Ceroc dance ball, the airforce ball (I was dating an RNZAF pilot), Christmas functions etc. And I thought nothing about spending up large. Ah, those were the days!
After I married my RNZAF pilot, he left the airforce and became self-employed. He's now a computer consultant--you may have come across me referring to him as CDWDMW, Clever Dude Who Designed My Website. We had a few years as DINKies (Double Income, No Kids) where we didn't have to worry about money too much, and then we did the whole mortgage and kids thing. And although I was lucky enough to be able to stay at home to look after my babies, money was tight. Aside from the cost of tickets to those balls, there were taxis and babysitters, and no way could I justify spending heaps of money on a dress I'd only wear maybe once or twice. For many years, as parents with young kids, our idea of a special night has been a DVD, a bottle of wine and a jumbo bar of chocolate--not that there's anything wrong with that....depending on the choice of DVD, of course ;-)
As a contractor, my husband doesn't get invited to work functions. As a full-time writer, neither do I. And although there's been a few memorable Halloween parties where we've gone all out and hired costumes, our days of getting dressed up to the nines have long passed.
Or at least, until I joined RWNZ.
We may be a small organisation, but we love to dress up. We have the Friday night cocktail party and the Saturday night awards dinner. Both of these functions have themes and everyone gets right into the whole chance to dress up to a specific theme.
So since 2004, when I joined up and attended my first RWNZ conference, part of the thrill when conference time looms, is haunting the shops for bargains to wear to the evening functions. I can't always afford to buy a dress to adhere to a theme but there's always the joy of accessorizing!
Here's some of my favorite bargains:
These were for a "pink" conference theme--I can't actually remember exactly what the theme was, just that it revolved around the color pink. No way was I gonna buy a pink dress, but pink accessories were a whole 'nother matter ;-). Match them with a flirty black cocktail dress I already owned and voila, pretty in pink.
I still love these shoes - they're a truly delicious raspberry pink! And the boa's had a few outings since then, too. I mean, who can resist a feather boa?
Just incidentally, the feather boa was the most expensive item of those pictured, coming in at $40. Shoes were on sale at $20, which is hard to believe because they ARE leather. And the bags are actually cosmetic bags which cost me $15 for the two. Result? One very happy husband, LOL.
At the 2006 RWNZ conference Awards Dinner, the theme was "Wild At Heart!" Cue a shopping expedition for animal prints...which again, weren't exactly in fashion at that time.
The top and the bag were bought from an up-market pre-loved clothing boutique. I paired the top with a long black velvet skirt that I already owned, & black heels. The stuffed leopard was bought as a joke accessory and ended up being our table's mascot for the evening.
It was a really memorable night because I knew I'd won The Clendon Award but hadn't been allowed to tell anyone before the announcement at the awards dinner that evening. Boy, did we go wild, LOL.
One year we had a theme of "Blue Moon" and I remember combing the stores wondering what the heck to wear because blue wasn't exactly an "in" color that year. To my amazement, I managed to score a brand new, full-length, sparkly blue cocktail gown with a halter neck, for the princely sum of $35. It's fully lined, really beautifully made and to this day, I have no idea why it was so heavily discounted. I also bought a pair of black stilettos which were on sale for $40.
Being the evil female that I am, I laid the dress and shoes out on the bed and waited for my husband to get home. He blanched when he saw them and I could see him mentally calculating the cost. He knows I'm not one to splash out without checking the bank balance first, but an evening dress AND shoes? Yikes!
"Guess what these cost!" I gloated.
He made a few half-hearted attempts and when I told him the shoes actually cost more than the dress, he didn't know what the hell to think! I put him out of his misery and showed him the price tags and his jaw dropped. Result, one ecstatic and very grateful husband...
...who of course, didn't mind too much when I thought silver accessories might go better with the dress. Hence silver shoes (on sale at a deleted lines outlet store for $20) and a silver handbag from a pre-loved clothing boutique. And I love the bag because of the clever adjustable handle which takes it from handbag to shoulderbag, so it gets used often.
I ended up wearing the black stilettos with the dress, BTW. Still haven't worn the shiny silver ones, but I'm ever hopeful.
So for me, one of the best aspects of writing conferences, is the chance to dress up.
And no matter whether you splash out on a new dress, go budget with a pre-loved outfit, wear an old favorite and vamp it up with new accessories, I reckon it's all worth it in the end because the memories are priceless!
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
There are a few other things I like to have in my house at all times:
1. Silky, lacy lingerie
4. Good mascara
5. A new book to read
6. Toilet paper
I could probably go on until I reached 100 but these are the first few things that come to mind. What about everyone else?
P.S. I'd like to add a sexy man with an understanding of carpentry and plumbing but since humans aren't things, I left that out. Still, it's on my list, it's just invisible ;)