Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Back, Moving Forward

2010 was good to me on many levels. Looking back, I see it as a year of growth--perhaps more personal growth than I've experienced in any single year...ever.

Writing has played a large role, mainly because its limited my time so drastically that I had no choice but to shove aside anything that didn't matter. Writing forced me into an emotional and mental de-junking, so to speak.

Anyone who writes understands the emotional toll the art takes and the amount of mental fervor the craft requires. Fiction is a tangible thing when you're the one penning it.

My heart is first for my husband and children, our little family being my main priority. The remainder of my time/love/energy is minimal, so I had to dig deep to decide who/what was deserving of the precious remnants.

Writing, of course, made that short list. As did some friends and family, and I say some with emphasis. Like most everyone, I had a few people to whom I was bonded--by blood or history or marriage--that had nothing to offer me but negativity and hatefulness. I realize how harsh this sounds but, frankly, 2010 gave me the permission not to care.

You see, my heart (along with my plate) is full and, on this New Year's Eve, it is all good. I simply don't have room for the rest. I hold close that which I'm passionate about; I abjure that which I'm not.

Happy New Year to my friends and family. 2011...bring it on!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Submission Guidelines FROM HELL

I've been spoiled for the past 18 months by having an agent query on my behalf. Since making my get-a-literary-agent rounds, I'd forgotten how finicky some in the writing industry are concerning their submission guidelines.

My paranormal romance novella is too short for Agent Lady to represent, so I decided to go at it on my own for this manuscript.

Step One: make a list of the publishing houses to query. This was a fairly easy step. I simply opened the "Pubs" file saved in my Favorites and wrote down those houses that accept ParaRom at my word count.

Step Two: Mark houses that accept FULL manuscripts. Why? Because I, personally, roll my eyes at those that only take the partial. It bugs me. "Send us three chapters and we'll be in touch in 4-6 weeks." Yikes! **Caveat** If partial response time is fast, I'm all for it. Therefore, I research each individual pub's response time in forums.

Step Three: Prioritize. I select my top picks, simple as that.

Step Four: Gather materials for querying. This is where it gets tricky and when I rant...

What's up with these guidelines???

One publisher wants Times New Roman font, the next wants Arial, the next Courier New.

Some want italics, others want underlines.

Scene breaks seem to be a big deal and whether a) there should be NO break markers or b) there should be one * or c) there should be multiple *** for scene breaks but only one * for pov shifts varies from each house.

Then, there's the synopsis issue. Some want a 2 page synopsis, others want 5 pages. I ran across one house that wanted the synopsis in something like 2 paragraphs--synopsis not to be mistaken with brief description. Synopsis is the whole story, expressing all major points (including the ending) summed up in a pretty little package.

Apparently, publishers also want to send authors into a formatting frenzy...

"No first line indents!" says one house.

"One inch margins!" says another, while the next wants 1 1/2 inch margins.

Header vs. no header.

Page numbers top right vs. page numbers bottom center.

Send us an rtf labeled TITLE_MANUSCRIPT.

Send us a word doc labeled TITLE_MAN.

Send us an rtf or doc or docx labeled SUBMISSION_TITLE_AUTHOR LAST NAME.

Do not send us attachments! Send us the first three chapters, pasted into the body of your email.

We accept simultaneous submissions!

We only take exclusives. Do not submit to us if you're MS is being considered elsewhere.

***If you do not adhere and bow down to every aspect of our strict and befuddling guidelines, your submission will be used as target practice, then burned at the stake while we laugh and dance and point.***

Arghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Can't they all get together and agree on one set of guidelines? Please?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Author Interview: Shirley Kennedy


Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming author of the newly released historical romance, Heartbreak Trail, Shirley Kennedy. Shirley and I are practically family because we have the same agent and the same publisher!


Hello, Shirley, and thanks for stopping by. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hello, Rhiannon, thanks for inviting me. I can divide my adult life into stages: 1) my housewife and mother stage wherein I raised two lovely daughters, 2) my career woman stage wherein I worked for twenty years as a computer programmer and system analyst, 3) my "don't quit your day job" stage wherein, overcome by a combination of job burnout and my passion for writing, I did exactly that and never looked back.

Now, happily single, I live in Las Vegas with my daughter and two cats. I write several hours a day and am not beyond taking an occasional break to enjoy a buffet at any one of many nearby casinos. Not a bad life indeed!

Heartbreak Trail was just released by Camel Press. What's the story about?

While reading diaries of the pioneer women who traveled west in covered wagons, I was struck by the fact that few, if any, really wanted to go. Lucy, my heroine, is one such woman. She's happy with her comfortable life in Massachusetts until her husband, hearing about the gold rush, sells the farm so they can head for California on a wagon train. My story is about Lucy's courage in the face of the dangers and hardships she encounters along the way.

Heartbreak Trail is a historical romance that takes place in the 1800s. What kind of research went into creating an authentic setting for this wagon-trail love story?

The women's diaries were a great source. Also, there are many books available concerning the Overland and Oregon trails. The book I used the most was Wagons West, the Epic Story of America's Overland Trails, by Frank McLynn. And of course I consulted Internet sites for everything from 19th century slang, to Indian tribes, to Bible quotations for every occasion.


I always imagined women like your heroine Lucy must have been very strong to endure the many hardships brought their way while traveling by covered wagon for months on end. How difficult do you think it was for the real pioneer women? And what joys do you think they experienced that only those on the wagon trail could?

In my book I have attempted to describe both joys and sorrows. On her way to California, Lucy encounters raging rivers that must be crossed, buffalo stampedes, an Indian attack, deadly diseases, childbirth tragedies and more. On the other hand, she gains inner strength and a new appreciation of the beauty of the Old West: "astonishing sightings of tens of thousands of galloping buffalo; pristine lakes, streams, and forests never seen or touched by a white man; the mightsnow-capped peaks of the great mountain ranges; the edge of the continent where giant waves of the Pacific crash against the rocky shore."

I noticed on your website that you've also written Regency romance. Have you ever considered writing contemporary or paranormal romance, or does your heart belong to historical?

Almost but not quite. It just so happens I have two completed novels waiting to be sold. One, a contemporary Paranormal Romance, involves a haunted casino in Las Vegas. The other is a larger Regency. I used to write the small "traditional" Regencies, but the big publishers don't publish them anymore. So my latest Regency Romance has more pages and more, shall we say, "steamy" love scenes that were ever required in those sweet little Regencies.

Do you have any other books coming out in the near future? If so, when can we expect your next one?

I plan to write another western romance. I have a working title, Wagon Train Cinderella, which is either a great title or the worst title on the planet, I haven't decided which yet.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Before you go, where can readers/writers find you and your work online?

Heartbreak Trail has been published in several formats. Find it in print or e-book, including Kindle. It's on Amazon.com, Amazon.com Kindle, Smashwords, and more.

You can find all places it's sold at http://camelpress.com/2010/12/06/heartbreak-trail-by-shirley-kennedy-passion-blossoms-on-a-perilous-journey-west/

Or I list them at my website, www.shirleykennedy.com

Thanks! It was a pleasure.

Thanks for stopping by, Shirley. Be sure to check out Shirley's website and read more about Heartbreak Trail.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Publisher Interview: Stephanie Taylor from Astraea Press



Astraea was formed in 2010 when two friends saw the need for a non-erotic e-publisher that offers wholesome reads but still maintains the quality of mainstream romance. The first titles for Astraea will be launched in February 2011.

With over six years experience in the publishing industry and avid readers, owners Stephanie and Jane look forward to working with their authors, having fun, and bringing you the best books available.


With us today is Editor-in-chief of Astraea Press, Stephanie Taylor.


Welcome, Stephanie. First, I'd like to ask you a little about the genre/type of books Astraea Press will be publishing. The word "wholesome" is used. Tell us what this means.

I’d like to think that it means…wholesome! LOL. Astraea will be publishing anything from inspirational to mainstream where the focus is solely on the relationship. Think romance from the 1950’s. Remember a time when romance wasn’t about Sex Ed 101 and was a beautiful thing? That’s what Astraea strives for. We also publish genres outside of romance.

It’s hard to put a definitive answer on what we accept. For instance, a more sensual love scene between married couples would be more appropriate than one between unmarried couples or two people who don’t love each other. In essence, if you have something you think Astraea would like to see, we’d love to look at it! We only ask that sex scenes not be graphic with euphemisms or language and focus on the emotional aspect of the relationship, not the physical.

Writers love getting an inside view of the mysteries of publishing. What are you and the rest of the Astraea Press staff doing to get ready for your February 2011 launch?

In one word? READING! We’re reading submissions, we’re working on edits, we’re marketing, we’re spending a great deal of time online trying to get our name out there and doing interviews with wonderful people like you!

I'm sure you're getting pelted with questions about your sustainability as a new press on the block. It's a valid concern we writers have that a small/new press will close its doors and our precious work will be lost forever. Do you offer any guarantees to authors who sign with you concerning the rights to their work should Astraea Press calls it quits in a couple years?

This is a question I keep getting over and over and I appreciate you addressing it! It’s hard to maintain a reputation when you start with nothing. When my close friend Jane and I decided to open this e-publisher, we decided we wanted to be a step above the rest.

Sure, everyone says that, right? On a personal level, I’ll just be honest. We’re southern belles. We’re friendly, we’re Christians and we’re going to treat you right. I’m an author, too, and I can’t imagine how scary it would be to lose the rights to one of your “babies” and then your publishing house just disappears! I live by the old adage, “treat others as you would have them treat you”. I have people who have questioned whether or not we could handle this since we have families and marriage and LIFE. Well, let me tell you. Just like our family and our marriage, our religion, everything is a PART of our life that makes up the whole. Jane and I have an understanding that we will step in for each other if we are needed elsewhere.

Also, many publishers who fold are only run by one person. I began with a team of five people, all talented, excited and willing to step in no matter where they’re needed. I only hope to add to our team as we grow.

In a professional capacity, we offer a clause in our contract that we will have the rights to your work returned to you within 30 days of Astraea’s official closing, should that happen. If we don’t have it back to you by then, we EXPECT a call from an attorney, because it’s YOUR book! Astraea is only the house lucky enough to publish it.

Most writers start off with visions of BIG contracts and BIG publishing houses dancing in their heads. And most writers will end up finding their home with a smaller press. For those still unsure as to whether or not a small/newer press is right for them, can you tell us some of the advantages of signing with one?

Smaller presses equal closer relationships. Don’t care about that? Well, at Astraea, we hope to have your book available in digital and print form within 6 months, most likely less. Right now, all edits are done by me and I have experience with five different publishing houses in editing and experience in the industry that goes back over six years.

We’re also planning a wider distribution through third party vendors than a lot of other houses, so you not only get the close relationships with our staff, but also the availability of larger houses.

I noticed you had a pitch contest on December 7th. Is that over? If not, how do writers enter this contest? If so, will you be having another one anytime soon?

The pitch from Dec. 7th is over, but I’m hosting another one in January. I’m also in negotiations for a few other places, so stay tuned for those to be announced.
Keep in mind that even though the pitch contest is over, we’re still trying to fill our schedule for the February 2011 launch and accepting submissions in all genres. Our goal is to have ten books at this launch. You can see our fabulous cover art by Elaina Lee on our Facebook page. You won’t be disappointed!

Elaina will also be hosting a free header giveaway in January, so watch our site and Facebook page for details on that, coming soon!

Where will Astraea Press's books be sold?

Of course the biggest dream would be for us to be in brick and mortar. But right now, we’ll be available at amazon, B&N, overdrive.com, and numerous other third party vendors, as well as our website. Print books will also be available on Amazon.


Thanks so much to Stephanie Taylor for stopping by and telling us about Astraea Press! Visit Astraea Press here or by going to http://www.astraeapress.com/ where you will find their submissions guidelines, contact information, and blog.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Author Guest Blog: Paige Tyler

Big welcome to Paige Tyler, author of the newly released, paranormal erotic romance novel, Dead Sexy.

**Warning: This post contains adult content.**

SHOW A ZOMBIE SOME LOVE!

Thanks so much for letting me guest blog today!

Readers often ask me how I come up with ideas for my books, so I thought I'd give you a little behind-the-scenes peek at how I came up with my new release, a paranormal erotic romance from Ellora's Cave called DEAD SEXY.

Before I say anything else though, isn't that cover too hot for words?! When the art department sent it to me, I probably gazed at it for a good ten minutes in mouth-drooling appreciation before I could email them back telling the artist it not only rocked, but totally fit the book. The hero is "Dead Sexy," after all!

Okay, back to the story and how I came up with it. First, to set the stage, I need to share a little something with you about myself. Well, about my hubby and me, actually. We love zombie movies, from the George Romero gems to Shaun of the Dead and everything in between, including "Walking Dead," the new series on AMC. You just can't go wrong with a movie full of walking dead people, can you? Well, if you've ever seen a zombie movie (or even you haven't), then you know the creatures aren't the heroes of the film. I mean, how can they be, right? They're all dead and decayed and downright unattractive, not to mention pretty damn scary. Which was why you can imagine my surprise when my hubby suggested I write an erotic romance about a zombie hero. I was like, you're kidding, right? What woman in her right mind would fall in love with a dead guy? No way could that possibly work, or so I thought.

Turns out, my hubby wasn't kidding. In fact, he started working up ideas for the story.

"The hero didn't have to be a zombie all the time," he told me. "Think outside the box - take a little literary license!"

Okay, I thought. I suppose I could be open minded.

My hubby told me that in his out-of-the-box world, the hunky hero got cursed by an evil Voodoo priestess and only turns into a zombie sometimes.

"I'm listening," I said.

"And when he does go zombie, he doesn't have to be like the kind in the movies," my hubby added. "Well, he has to look like one, you know all dead and stuff, but he doesn't have to be a mindless creature or attack humans or eat anything gross."

So, brains are completely out, thanks goodness!

"Think Jensen Ackles or Jared Padelecki, with a really, really, really dark tan - (yes, my hubby knows I've got a thing for the Supernatural hunks!) - well, maybe more gray and black than tan, but you get the idea."

I thought about that for a minute. "So, the hero's dead, but he's still sexy, is that what you're saying?"

"Exactly," he said, giving me a grin as my eyes lit up with understanding.

By that point, my hubby had pretty much sold me on the idea. Of course, I knew if I ran with it, I was going to have to sell it to a publisher, and I knew that could be tough since the hero is a zombie. But I ran with it anyway and ended up with a full-length novel. And it came out pretty damn good, if I do say so myself! I still had to find a publisher for it, though.

About this same time, It just so happens that several of my other books were in the process of being picked up by Ellora's Cave and I thought what the heck? Why not pitch it to my editor there and see what she thinks? So I did, and she told me to send it to her. She was interested to see how I handled the whole zombie-thing. Well, long story, short, she liked it. A lot! My zombie romance with it's dead-sexy hero had a home! I was thrilled and my hubby walked around for a week with a smug, "I-told-you-so" look on his face.

I've been getting the word out there about DEAD SEXY ever since I signed the contract for it and I'm thrilled with the interest from readers who can't wait to get their hands on it! I can't wait for them to read it, too!

Now that I've revealed the story behind the story, I thought I'd share the blurb and an excerpt just to whet your appetite for more!


Blurb:

Romance author Simone Kent thinks she might just have found the most perfect guy in all of New York City - in bed and out. But Drake Parrish is about as far from perfect as any man can get. Eight years ago, he was cursed by an evil Voodoo priestess to live part of his life as a zombie. Since then, he has lived like a recluse on New York’s Upper East Side, afraid to go out for fear he’ll suddenly turn into one of the walking dead.


The sex is the hottest either of them has ever experienced and Simone discovers just how naughty she can be with Drake, while he finds himself feeling things for her that he hasn’t felt in a very long time. When the Voodoo priestess learns of their relationship, however, she comes after him again. She is determined to make sure he won’t have a future with Simone, even if that means killing both him and the woman he loves.


Excerpt:

As she led him up the steps to the second floor, Drake found himself wondering if she would ask him in. And wondering what he’d say if she did. When they came to a stop outside the door to her apartment, Simone turned to give him a smile.


“I had a great time tonight.”


“Me, too.”


She caught her bottom lip between her perfect white teeth and chewed on it thoughtfully as if unsure what she wanted to say next. It was probably an unconscious gesture, something she did whenever she was thinking, but to him, it was sexy as hell and all he could think about was kissing her.


Surely, one kiss couldn’t hurt. He desperately wanted to. He hadn’t kissed a woman in so long. It would be nice to see if he still remembered how.


Before he could stop himself, Drake tilted Simone’s face up to his and pressed his mouth to hers.


She tasted just as sweet and delicious as he thought she would. Her lips were soft and pliant under his as she kissed him back, her tongue eagerly seeking his out.


Drake groaned and slid his hand into her hair, deepening the kiss. Simone sighed into his mouth, running her hands up the front of his shirt to grasp his shoulders. The feel of her touch was like a tonic to his deprived soul and he let out another groan, deeper this time.


He ran his free hand up her side and around to her breast, cupping it through the soft material of her dress. He couldn’t stop himself and apparently, Simone didn’t want him to. She moaned and arched against him. He could feel the heat of her pussy through their clothes as she pressed up against his hard cock. Damn, she felt good.


Drake drew her bottom lip into his mouth and gently suckled on it before slowly kissing his way along the delicate curve of her jaw. Simone clutched his shoulders and tilted her head back. He eagerly trailed a path of hot kisses down her neck, then back up, his mouth finding hers again. Simone looped her arms around his neck, pulling him in even closer as their tongues met.


Down the hall, a door slammed, reminding him where they were.


Drake dragged his mouth away from hers, his breathing ragged as he tried to regain control. He had to get it together because he was about five seconds away from doing something really stupid. Like taking her to bed. “I should go.”


Her lips curved into a sexy, flirtatious smile. “Or you could stay.”


God, how he wanted to. But as much as he’d love to spend the rest of the night exploring every inch of her body, he couldn’t take the chance he might go zombie on her right in the middle of sex. Talk about coitus interruptus, And it had already been almost four days since he last turned, which meant he was already pushing his luck.


“You don’t know how much I want to,” he groaned. “But I can’t.”


Simone looked up at him with those big, blue eyes. “Why not?”


“Because I…” He hesitated, trying to come up with something that would sound believable. “I have a column due in the morning and I haven’t even started on it yet.” She knew all about deadlines, so she would understand that. Besides, he did have a column to write, it just wasn’t due until next week. “Rain check?”


She looked disappointed, but she smiled anyway. “Absolutely. How does coming over for dinner tomorrow night sound?”


It would be crazy to agree when he could be so close to having an episode, but he couldn’t say no. Not when she asked in that soft, sultry voice. “Sounds great.”


“Good. Be here at seven.”


“Seven it is.”


She pulled him down for another long, slow kiss on the mouth. “Don’t be late.”


His mouth twitched. “I won’t.” He bent his head to kiss her again, then groaned. “If I don’t go now, I’ll be here all night.”


Simone laughed. “Would that be such a bad thing?”


“Not to me, but my editor at Money Issues might not be too understanding when he doesn’t find my column sitting in his inbox tomorrow.”


She sighed. “Deadlines can be a real pain in the butt sometimes. Okay, go home and write your column. I’ll cuddle up with a bowl of ice cream instead.”


He chuckled. “Sounds better than taking a cold shower, which is what I’m going to be doing when I get home.” He closed his mouth over hers once more. “See you tomorrow night, beautiful.”


Resisting the urge to pull her into his arms again, Drake turned and walked down the hallway toward the stairwell. At the top of the steps, he glanced over his shoulder to see Simone standing where he’d left her, a sexy curve to her lips.


It took every ounce of strength he possessed not to go back and pin her against the door for one more long, lingering kiss. God, what he wouldn’t give to spend the night with her. Man, it was going to take more than a cold shower to get her out of his head.



Hope you enjoyed the excerpt and that you can't wait to read more! You can get DEAD SEXY from Ellora's Cave at http://www.jasminejade.com/ps-8917-50-dead-sexy.aspx

You can also check out the trailer here!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5D_YH6bYrE


If you decide to pick up DEAD SEXY, let me know how you like it!


*hugs*
Paige

http://www.paigetylertheauthor.com/
http://paigetylertheauthor.blogspot.com/

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Book Giveaway with Elaina Lee!


I'm very excited to welcome romance author Elaina Lee to Whispers. Elaina is the author of the newly released romantic suspense, Written In Blood.

Anyone who leaves a comment on today's interview will be entered into a drawing to win a copy of Elaina's book, Written In Blood.

Enjoy the interview, and don't forget to include your email address when you comment so Elaina will be able to get in touch with our winner.

NOTE: This contest has ended. Elaina will contact the WINNER soon!


Hello, Elaina, and thanks for stopping by. Tell us a little about yourself.

Thank you, Rhiannon. I'm really excited to be here! Well, let's see… About me. I live in the South, but I'm a transplant. I was raised in Oregon and moved here after I married. We have a teenager now, and a toddler. I don't know which one's worse, LOL! They both whine, scream and get on my nerves. Yet they both amaze me as they evolve into individuals. I've been writing since I was twelve, when my teacher gave us our first assignment. We had to write a fantasy. Mine was about a young girl who lost her parents and discovered she could talk to the animals on her aunt and uncles farm. I wrote almost twenty thousand words! Next was an RL Stine contest our English teacher wanted us to enter, we had to write fives pages. I wrote an entire notebook. I haven't stopped writing since. The characters just won't leave me alone!

Written In Blood was released last month by Noble Romance. What's the story about?

Lyndi Crisdean is a defense attorney representing a serial killer. She's unaware that a cult is after her, hoping to use her as their next sacrifice. Alek Trevian, the lead investigator for the DA's office, is investing her client. He shifts his attention to the cult when Lyndi begins being harassed by them. Working for opposite sides of the law, Alek and Lyndi's relationship is forbidden, especially since Alek is investigating her client. But, as the dangers being to mount against her, and Alek is the only person who can help, they find themselves drawn together and sooner or later, they're going to break the rules…

Your heroine is a defense attorney, and your hero is an investigator. What kind of research did you have to do in order to create authentic characters?

Oh my gosh, well, for starters I read every field manual I could get my hands on. I found Tennessee had the best one, as their police force has an investigative unit, similar to the FBI's. The manual is amazingly thorough. For Lyndi, I read about five law books and enlisted the help of my good friend and fellow writer, Amber Green, who is a lawyer by day (and an amazing erotica writer by night). I tried to keep the career descriptions to a minimum since I didn't want a legal thriller, but focus more on their careers affecting their personal lives, rather than their careers being the focal point of the story.

Written In Blood is a romantic suspense, but you write many other genres as well. If you had to pick a few as favorites, what would they be?

Romantic suspense is definitely one of my favorites. I love angst and torture and all the heavy and difficult emotions that come with suspense. I enjoy writing alpha males who have a purpose, LOL, and heroines who can be strong, yet need help because they can't do it alone. If I could ever get one to work, Historical's are also a passion of mine. But my characters hate conforming and history is full of rules I rarely like to break. History buffs know better and I wouldn't want to disappoint anyone. I recently ventured into romantic comedy, for fun. A way for me to write what it's like living in the south as a transplant. When Reese Witherspoon said, "You need a passport to come down here" in Sweet Home Alabama, she wasn't kidding! I've been having great fun with it. Describing the amazing sweet natured way people are down here, coupled with football obsessions, the slower way of life, and the massive bugs, from the view point of a northern city boy, how could you go wrong?

Do you have any other books coming out in the near future? If so, when can we expect your next book?

I do have another book coming out in the future! The title is First Kiss, it's a New Years novella, being released through Decadent Publishing. I don't have a release date yet, but I'm crossing my fingers it's released in time for readers to bring in the New Year with that warm fuzzy feeling we all adore when we read romances.

Thanks so much for stopping by. Before you go, where can readers/writers find you and your work online?

Thank you so much for having me! I can be found at either http://www.elainalee.com/ or http://www.forthemusedesign.com/. My blog is http://www.elaina-lee.blogspot.com/ and of course http://www.nobleromance.com/ and soon http://www.decadentpublishing.com/.

Big thanks to Elaina Lee for stopping by and participating in a giveaway. Leave a comment along with your email address, and you might win a copy of Written In Blood.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Author Interview: Mike Archer




Interview with Mike Archer, author of the newly released novel, The Mystery Within.

Hi Mike! Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi my name is Michael Archer; I was born and raised in East Wenatchee, WA. I have 2 beautiful kids. My son Ian, he is 6 and my new daughter Rion who was born on the 4th of Nov. I started writing my book back in 2004. Finally able to have it completed for people to enjoy it. I continued writing my 2nd and 3rd book of my series. All is needed is for them to be edited and they will be ready for people to enjoy them as well. I wrote these books because I always loved anything to do with Vampires and Werewolves but I didn’t like certain things about them. So I created my own story in the ways I felt they should have been written.


Your novel, The Mystery Within, was just released on Amazon Kindle. What genre is it? What's the story about?

My book is a Mix between Many types of Genre. It is a Suspenseful mystery mixed with fantasy.

A young man named Adelmo Madison was sheltered from the dark secrets that his family harbored. Now, years later he is the successful owner of quaint little book store in the heart of New Orleans with no idea of the danger he is about to face. Until one day a mysterious man enters the bookstore, acting strange. This man opens his world up to a new uncharted territory for Adelmo. This disturbing event shatters his quiet little life as he knows it and broadens his experiences further then he realized.
Nightmares and horrific visions start to haunt Adelmo and he must now start an investigation into his past to uncover the secrets that his family so desperately tried to shield from him at such a young age. Discovery of old journals, belonging to Adelmo’s ancestors, take him on a journey to his home country of Romania where his grandfather and the explanation he has been so desperately searching for awaits him.

Adelmo must now take his place in a long line of protectors and prepare to risk everything to keep the ones he loves from danger. Fighting the unseen enemies, which throws him into danger, Adelmo will do whatever it takes to survive.


Part of your story takes place in Romania. What kind of research did you have to do to make sure you created an authentic setting?

This is the beginning of a series that I have written. This first book is based in New Orleans as well as Romania. I did as much researching as I could to get all the information needed to be able to let the reader feel like I have been to these places. I also chose important landmarks, such as Dracula’s Castle, His birth place, well as where he was buried. There are actual true historical statements that were plugged into the story to give people a feel of some truth to the story I wrote. I figured this would peak peoples interest on wanting to visit these location.

Is this your chosen genre or do you write other genres as well?

I thought about writing other types but this area is what flows easiest for me. So I will stick with this until I get a solid story line for a different type of genre.

When can we expect your next book?

My next book is nearly completed, I am waiting on the funds to allow me to get through the editing process. This is the sequel to my first and its locations are based in New Orleans as well as Germany this time around.

Where can readers find you and your work online?

http://themysterywithin-bookseries.com/ This is my Personal Website. It tells you about my current book. I am in the process of making a buy option but currently the only place you can buy it as of now is Amazon.

Thanks, Mike. Best of luck to you! Check out The Mystery Within.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Guest Blogger: Krissy Clowe




A big welcome to today's guest blogger, children's books author, Krissy Clowe.

Krissy Clowe has been writing stories since she was a little girl. She began studying children’s literature in college and graduated with a degree in early childhood education. After being inspired by her students, Krissy decided to pursue her childhood dream of becoming an author. After several years, late nights with the computer, and rejection letters, Krissy’s dream is finally coming true in January of 2011 when her first picture book, Katie Ling Fashion Queen, will be published with AwareNow Publishing.

When Krissy isn’t writing, she’s playing with her four-month-old son, walking her two dogs, feeding her fish, or being lazy with her husband on the weekends.


People often ask authors “Why do you write? What inspires you?” I would expect very few, if any, to respond “for the money.” For most authors, writing isn’t exactly a lucrative business. I think you’re doing great if you break even once you deduct the cost of stamps, envelopes, and printer ink.

I don’t expect many authors would respond with fame either. I really don’t sit down late at night, after my four-month-old son is sleeping soundly, and type away because I yearn for everyone to know my name. I’m actually a pretty reclusive person. I shy away from the spotlight.

So far, we’ve dabbled in several reasons to write that I and I think many others don’t share. Time to get to the good stuff. The stuff that brightens my eyes and keeps my fingers typing, even in the early morning hours. The stuff that forces me to dive head first into editing and keeps me coming back for more.

I’ve had wild and crazy stories flying around in my head since I was in elementary school. In third grade, I declared my passion for writing and my desire to one day become an author. I wrote fun stories throughout my elementary and middle school years, but lost my creative bug amidst the drudgery research papers in high school.

I was truly inspired after my first year of teaching second grade. One of the most amazing sights in the world is a child excited about reading. It’s also wonderful to see how books can inspire a child to create his or her own beautiful stories. You couldn’t pull me away from the keyboard the following summer.

So, no, I don’t write to become rich and famous. I write to satisfy the ideas racing around my head at night, and I write to help a child escape into an exciting world of imagination. Is there really any better reason?

Krissy Clowe

Thanks, Krissy, for stopping by. Find and "like" Krissy here. Keep your eye out at AwareNow for Krissy's children's picture book, Katie Ling Fashion Queen. Love that title!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Author Interview: Phyllis Humphrey


I had the pleasure of interviewing Phyllis Humphrey this week, author of the newly released romance novel, Cold April.
Phyllis A. Humphrey is the author of eight other romance novels, a non-fiction book published by John Wiley & Sons, several short stories and many articles that have appeared in national magazines. Humphrey’s long-time interest in the Titanic has a basis in family history; her grandfather emigrated to the U.S. from England on board the New York, the ship that almost collided with the Titanic on the first day of its tragic voyage. When not writing, Phyllis sings and acts in local theatrical productions. She has raised four children and currently lives with her husband in Southern California.


Hello and welcome, Phyllis! Tell us a little about yourself.

I've wanted to write ever since I was a little girl, but Life sometimes has a way of interfering. My first short story was published in 1975 and my first novel in 1985. But I didn't sell another book until 1995. Those ten years were spent (besides raising children) in reading books and magazines on writing, attending classes and workshops and joining critique groups wherever I lived. I'm a person who paid her dues and Persistence is my motto.


I see from your website you typically write romance or romantic suspense. What other genre(s) do you write?

One of my first book sales was actually a non-fiction book about investment clubs called WALL STREET ON $20 A MONTH. John Wiley published it and after that I sold many articles to magazines, such as MS, FACT, SAVVY, INDIANAPOLIS and others. Concentrating since then on fiction, I also write straight mystery and cozy mystery, and COLD APRIL is my second historical romance.


Your novel, COLD APRIL, was just released by Camel Press. The cover is stunning! What is this story about? Where can readers find it?

COLD APRIL is a historical romance set on board the Titanic. The information about the ship striking an iceberg and sinking on its maiden voyage in April 1912, is well-known, but some readers may not be aware that there is a commemorative cruise planned in April 2012, to mark the 100th anniversary of that fateful trip. The book will be available through my website, Amazon, and many other venues, as it will be an e-book as well as trade paperback and, later, perhaps, a hard cover.


What kind of research did you do to capture the authenticity a Titanic love story would require?

I've had a lifelong interest in the Titanic even before I learned that my grandfather, John Ashworth, emigrated to the U.S. on the New York. A few years later, the New York almost collided with the Titanic leaving Southhampton that morning. As a writer, the thought of the largest ship in the world sinking on its maiden voyage fascinated me, as a story that no one would believe if it weren't true. I have many books about the Titanic, several since the remains were found in 1985. I've also seen all the films and documentaries about it and also visited a replica of the ship. The things I learned tumbled about in my head until I decided to write a romance novel (having sold eight by that time) and - unlike James Cameron - let my hero and heroine survive.


Please list any previous or upcoming books so that readers who enjoy COLD APRIL can find them.

By coincidence, a contemporary romance novel, SOUTHERN STAR, which I wrote with a friend some years ago, is being published by Avalon Books t his same month. Avalon publishes in hard cover and sells mainly to libraries, but that book too, will be available through Amazon or my website. Two other romances, FREE FALL (Cambridge Books) and ROMAN HOLIDAY (Wild Rose Press) were published in 2009.


Before you go, where can readers/writers find you?

My website is http://www.phyllishumphrey.com/ and I'm in the process of setting up a Facebook page. I plan to post Titanic lore on my blog and hope that other blogs will want to spread this story about one of the most tragic (yet preventable) events of the 20th century.

Thanks so much to Phyllis for stopping by. Please check out Cold April here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Promote Thyself


With Bonded In Brazil coming out in March 2011, I am exploring marketing and advertising options. There are quite a few, thank goodness, for a stay-at-home mom like myself who needs to utilize the internet as much as possible and promote on the cheap.

My goal is to take advantage of options that require the least amount of money/work but get the biggest bang for my buck. This greatly depends on establishing an online presence.

Here's what I've come up with so far...



Blog--There are plenty of free blog sites available, and they are all pretty user friendly. This is a place to not only promote your work, but to sell yourself as well.

Website--Again, free sites available for you to build a website. I use Yola and paid for a custom domain name. I can also have a blog on my website and plan to link my blogspot posts to my website blog soon.

Toolbars--By installing a nifty, multifunctional toolbar onto your website/blog, you can further personalize your space and, perhaps, allow visitors to customize their experience at your site. I use Wibiya. This toolbar also gives visitors the option to share on Facebook, "like" me on Facebook, tweet, and even be greeted with a pop-up message that I can update as often as I want to.

Social Networking--Facebook, Twitter, Myspace are all free and allow you to connect with multiple people in seconds. A lot of social networking sites can be connected to each other, meaning what you post on Twitter can automatically be posted onto FB, etc.

NetworkedBlogs--How cool is this? Register with NetworkedBlogs and whenever something new is posted on your blog, it gets thrown up onto Facebook automatically. Multi-tasking at its best.

Cross-link everything.

Forums--Use forums, like Absolute Write, to get to know other writers, learn industry news, AND promote. Have a link to your blog/website, a link to your book, and a book cover pic in your signature. Whenever you post a comment, your information is out there for anyone to see. Advertise while you socialize. Fun stuff.

SheWrites--A networking site for female writers. Not only can you socialize and shamelessly advertize, but they also have a community blog for all members and they post members' books on their bookshelf. Membership is free, btw. Check SheWrites out.

Pay it forward--Sometimes the best strategy is the selfless one. Interview authors on your blog, invite guest bloggers, review a new book, brag about your friends' successes, buy a friend's book and leave reviews on sites where it's sold. You can also help a friend by appearing on their blog. This drives more traffic to their site and gets your name/book out to their contacts. This is mostly about advertising your friends' work, but you drop your name where ever you go, thereby increasing your online presence. Plus, you make your friends happy :)

Book signings--This might be a worthy option IF your publisher provides the books. If the bookstore where your signing is being held does not carry your book, they might be willing to order copies for the signing IF the distributor allows returns and IF your book is distributed through Ingram or Baker & Taylor, which is a must for some of the bigger chains.

Blog tour--Schedule a blog tour to take place at the release of your book. Try to guest star at a different blog everyday for as long as you can arrange--a week or two or three. Click here for a great resource on blog tours.

Giveaways--People like free stuff. Have a drawing for people who comment on a specific post. Give away a free copy of your book to whomever is chosen (at random). I've even seen authors put together gift baskets with all kinds of neato stuff for first place, a copy of the book and a candle for second, and just the book for third. Get creative. You might even be able to get some of the giveaway items for free from a local business. Giveaways are always a good idea for blog tours!

Participate in a writers group--Bonded In Brazil was shared within a writers group. I know if anyone from that group gets published I'll buy a copy. NOTE: to the OVNW members, I do not expect you to buy my book just because I'd buy yours. I'm just very sentimental :)

Reviews--There are tons of places wanting and willing to review your book. This might cost you a copy of your book unless your publisher covers this expense for you. The review itself is generally free.

Conferences--Rub elbows, give out business cards, etc.

Writers association--Find a local one, pay the small yearly fee. They usually have newsletters, meetings, conferences, workshops, and many other ways that you can promote in your state/region.

Press Release--Google author press release. Put one together and send it to local papers. You can send a copy of your book or make it clear a copy is available upon request. Have a press page on your website. See mine for an example--it's not complete yet, but you'll get the general idea.

Speak/teach--Call libraries, schools, local book stores and see if they have an interest in having you for an event or a workshop or a reading of your book.

Knowledge is power--Take the time to educate yourself about the business you're in.

Be consistent.

Return the favor.

Always be gracious and grateful.


If you have any other promotion ideas, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Friday, November 26, 2010

INTERVIEW - Vivian Kees


I had the pleasure of interviewing the author of A SORDID SITUATION, Vivian Kees.

Hi Vivian! Tell us a little about yourself.

Well, I’m a aspiring writer who has just had her first novella published. When not writing I can be found indulging in my other hobbies such as sewing(quilting), reading and just enjoying life and all that it offers.


I love the cover of your newly released historical romance novella, A Sordid Situation, from Evernight Publishing. What's the story about?

The story itself is centered around Eugenia Wareham, who at the start is informed that her late husband has gambled away their entire fortune leaving her not only penniless, but also homeless.

Debt collector, Cal Hawthorne soon arrives on scene to collect what’s owed to him, and they are eventually intertwined together in a business deal of sorts when he makes her an offer she can’t refuse.

Full of passion, lust and everything in between, it makes for one heck of an interesting tale.


What kind of research did you have to do to make sure you created an authentic, historical setting in A Sordid Situation?

First of all I am a fan of historical romance and I can’t begin to count how many I have read over the years. But my main source is the internet. I do try to stick to the time period being written to make it authentic. Both dialogue and setting are vital and special attention has to be paid to each keeping the era in mind.

Is historical romance your chosen genre or do you write other genres as well?

I write in many genres, romance just being one of them. I also write horror, erotica, and literary fiction.

When can we expect your next book?

My next novella is due to come out in January 2011. It’s erotic fiction and will be released under a separate pen name.


Where can readers find you and your work online?

I’m in the process of getting a website up, but for now you can find me on Facebook(Vivian Kees), and on Twitter under the same name.

My current novella is available on Evernight’s Site and on Amazon Kindle.

http://www.evernightpublishing.com/products/A-Sordid-Situation-by-Vivian-Kees.html

http://www.amazon.com/A-Sordid-Situation-ebook/dp/B004CLYMC0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=digital-text&qid=1290007254&sr=8-1-catcorr

Thank you, Vivian, for stopping by. Congratulations on the release of your first book. May you have many, many more.

Don't forget to check out Vivian's novella, A SORDID SITUATION.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Book Covers


One of the things my publisher asked for was for my book cover vision. Some publishing houses don't care what the author thinks. Luckily, mine does.

I had a lot of ideas, of course, but being the researcher that I am, I wanted to find out what, exactly, makes a good book cover. So, I did some research on romance covers.

I found three common themes: Person, couple, scenery.

There are often variations of the above three, like a person with a scenic/story-related backdrop.

I also took a poll, asking what readers prefer: person, couple or scenery. Scenery won. Person and couple tied.

My next step was to evaluate the covers of those top-selling books within the genre. Overwhelmingly, the big-name romance authors had scenic, feminine, and often floral motifs gracing the covers of their books. They also had their oh-so-famous names in giant bold letters, but that's another topic all-together.

Another observation is that, in addition to the themes listed above, romance covers are usually made from a photograph or a painting. Rarely, if ever, cartoon/vector art. With the exception of erotica, although that's not really romance, now is it?

Final step in my task was to do an experimental visual assessment. I scrolled down a long list of tiny icons in Amazon.com's romance section to see what, at barely an inch tall, caught my eye. Was it a person's face? A sexy, embracing couple? Nudity? Flowers?

It was color. Blue's and purple's specifically. These aren't my favorite colors but, for whatever reason, covers with blue/purple made me pause.

Using the above information, I came up with two book cover options for the design artist to toy with. One is scenic with a vibrant light blue sky. The other has a face and scenery, lots of purple. Both look great at 1-3 inches, which is important for online shoppers.
Remember: A cover isn't just a cover; it's an essential marketing tool. Readers may not buy your book based solely on the cover art, but the cover is what will make them pause and pick up/click on your book.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Productivity


I'm happy to say I've finished the PDF list I received with author TO-DOs. I compiled the following and sent it off to my editor:

Bio
Back-of-the-book description
Cover vision
Answers to questions about various things, etc.

I promptly got an email back--Editor Lady is fast! She'd made a couple changes to my blurb, tightened up my bio. I was pleased with the results and can tell I'm going to like working with her once the edits for the manuscript are underway.

She thanked me for being "so specific" with my cover vision, as opposed to the reaction I was expecting: ANAL. That was nice. Either my specificity really is a good thing or she's very tactful. A bonus either way.

On a side note, getting a publishing contract for one book is fantastic motivation for finishing another. I'm a busy mom with young kids, so my daily word count hovers around 300, give or take a few hundred. Ha. Ha. In the past seven days I've gotten 6,000 words down--good words, too. I'm thrilled. My goal, prior to these 6K words, was to add 13K to my WIP by the end of December. Possibility of exceeding goal makes me giddy.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What's Next?



The publishing contract has been signed by all parties. Big sigh of relief. I feel as if I can relax now...almost.

Truth is, I rarely relax when it comes to writing. Each time I reach a goal, I immediately think what's next?

So, imagine my joy when I received a list! My very own here's-what's-next list. Some people cringe at lists, especially lists given out by other people. Me, I love it. Making decisions has never been something I'm good at, so tell me what to do and I'll do it has always been my attitude. I just. Need. A task.

The items on the list were not unexpected. Matter of fact, I'd already begun working on a few of them. One, however, makes me feel like sulking, pouting, and a number of other behaviors my two year old would gladly slap his toddler endorsement on.

"The author bio," I whine. "What bio?"

I'm not that interesting. I'm not an expert...on anything. I don't have a world-class education--no offense, Mom. You homeschooled me and did a great job. I have no previous publishing credits, no extraordinary accomplishments, except for the birthing of two human beings which seems pretty damn miraculous, if you ask me.

I'm just normal. To quote Christine O'Donnell, "I'm not a witch; I'm you." And we see how far that got her.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Hook, Line and Sinker



I did it. I got offered my first publishing contract. Talk about being stoked!

Over several blogs, I will be sharing my experiences, starting with the querying process for this book. I'll also share what happens as I move forward--there's so much to do!

Editing (yes, again)
Cover design (fun!)
Blurb for back of the book (stressful)
Author website ($$$)
Getting reviews (scary)
Marketing (um...goody?)

Also, once the contract is signed on all ends, I'll dish out the details: With whom did I sign? When will the book be released? Where will it be available for purchase? Etcetera.

I anticipate being able to share parts of the book itself, an excerpt, perhaps even the first chapter. Before I can do that, I need to find out what my (future) editor/publisher allows. This can vary from one pub to another and I don't want to break any rules...not immediately, anyway.

To avoid the monotony of listening to me drone on and on and on, although that's the point of MY blog, I'll still be actively pursuing author interviews and guest bloggers.

Thanks for sticking around :)

UPDATE: I decided to sign a publishing contract with Camel Press, a new fiction imprint of Coffeetown Press, based out of Seattle. The release date for my book is March 2011. More details to come!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Preparing For...?



As I await word from publishers, I find myself vacillating between two impending outcomes. Contract offer or rejection. One of the two will happen; there's no such thing as a little bit published, right?

Getting an offer is the obvious preference. What if I don't, though?

I am pretty sure how I will feel about not getting a publishing contract, but the question is how should I feel?

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I have a 98-99% chance of being rejected. The odds are against me. I'm a realistic person and judging by past experiences, I've never been a first place kind of gal. Poetry contest--4th place. Spelling bee--2nd place. Various drawings/raffles--*nadda. The only time I've ever placed first was in a gift wrapping contest. I won a $10 Starbucks gift card.

Being good is not the same as being good enough.

There it is. The ugly truth.

In the meantime, I make a pretty good attempt at positive thinking, but I keep it real--there's a fine line between positive visualization and being delusional.

So if I don't achieve my goal, how dejected should I feel? Is the personal victory of having written, queried, and fought the good fight enough to satisfy? Should it fuel my determination and drive me to try harder?

I've never been one to beat a dead horse but let's face it, with odds like these I was kicking that horse corpse before I even sent my first query letter. So yeah, I'm mentally bracing myself for the worst possible--and highly probable--outcome, which is why I'm grateful to have an agent. If I didn't, my queries would look a little something like this:

Dear Editor,

I wrote a book that you will probably not appreciate; no one else seems to. I'm certain you'll reject it; everyone else has. But will you pretty please read it and send me negative comments that utterly conflict with what every other editor has said so I can continue to be confused as opposed to enlightened? I really have no interest in being published. I just like feeling like doggy doo doo every time I open my email.

Sincerely,
Me


*CORRECTION: When I wrote this blog I had not won a drawing or raffle. However, I have since--a book, of all things. Maybe that's a good sign...
UPDATED: As of November 9th, this post is n/a. *insert cheesy grin here*

Friday, November 5, 2010

When I Grow Up...



My mom was tired of the old junk sitting around her house so she sent it all to me. Inside three manila envelopes were various school papers and artwork from my childhood, including the journal from which the above excerpts were taken.

In case you can't read my handwriting, (it hasn't improved much in the past 19 years, btw) I'll translate the key points:

"Someday I'm going to be in the writing business. I'm going to write stories and poems. I'm going to be a famous writer..."

"...but mostly I want to be a writer. Because I'm a good story writer and poet. I'm also making a book now. This is all I want to do."

From the mouths of babes...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Self-publishing with Kay Nichols




Welcome back, Kay Nichols! Kay has bravely tackled my questions about self-publishing with candid and heartfelt answers. I appreciate her coming back to Whispers for a second time and sharing her publishing experience.

See Kay's first interview here.

Check out Kay's paranormal novel, SOULS, here.

"Like" author Kay Nichols here.



Tell us a little about your decision to self-publish.

The publishing world is a hard nut to crack into. I may not have the next NYT best seller, but I have some entertaining stories. If writing were solely a way to exercise my own creative muscles, then I would be content to keep my books all to myself. But it's not. I write because I want to entertain. I want people to be able to use my books to escape from their life - even if only for a few hours. Since my proverbial nutcracker was not getting me anywhere, I took matters into my own hands and opted for self-publication. It may never make me rich, but it satisfies my dream.

What was your process for picking the right self-publishing company for you? In other words, what made you pick one over the rest?

I talked to a few other self-published authors and lulu.com came highly recommended. One of the reasons I like lulu is that you have the ability to do as much or as little as you want. An author can publish for free, market to only family or to everyone, or purchase a pre-designed publishing package that requires little effort on the part of the author. All self-publishing sites are the same as far as services offered, but through my research I found that lulu.com has the most consumer traffic.

Did you hire an editor and cover artist, or were editing/art services provided for you by Lulu? What other services do they offer?

Lulu offers whatever you are willing to pay for: marketing, publishing, editing, cover design, etc. It also offers you the tools you need to do it on your own at no cost. Personally, since this was my first book, I opted for a publishing package. Lulu handled the formatting, cover design, and ISBN. I think this was the best route for my first book, but going forward, I intend to handle it all on my own. I did have an editor, a cover artist, and a marketing specialist that I will be working with on these future publications.

Is your self-published book available at the same venues traditionally published books are sold? For example: Will we be able to find SOULS on amazon.com or at a local brick-and-mortar bookstore?

Lulu has a relationship with amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. It does not provide an "in" at any actual stores. I have found, though, that many local bookstores will take local authors' books on consignment. It requires more legwork on the part of the author, but it's relatively easy. Most large book companies and retail stores will not accept self-published books for sale at their stores.

A lot of people reading this are actively seeking publication. Should they decide to self-publish, is there anything else you can share that will help them in their decision or prepare them for what comes next?

The best way I can answer this is that they need to do what is best for them and what accomplishes their goal as an author. My dream has never been to be a #1 selling author. I just want to write. I just want to see my books in print. I just want my family and friends to be able to actually hold a copy of a book I created in their hands. But, for those that dream of mass distribution and fame, self-publication would not be the way to go.

As far as whether this will help an new author stand a better chance of being published by a big name house: NO, IT WILL NOT. Self-publication is not considered publishing history. In fact, mentioning it in your query letter may actually work against you. Anyone can self-publish. A publishing house or literary agent does not see this as an accomplishment unless you manage to sell thousands of copies.

If you decide to self-publish, be prepared to market your book. I set up a facebook account, a Twitter account, and purchased a website. I also contact every local bookstore in my area to work out consignment deals. I have set up book signings. I contact every local media outlet in the attempt to gain an interview that could promote my book. It is not a bad route to go if you are willing to do the work that an agent or publisher would do.

I would like to add here that when I first made the decision to self-publish, I felt like I had failed. That is until I read one of YOUR blogs, Rhiannon. It was the one about everyone wanting that last piece of the "publishing" pie. I realized that the only way to achieve my own, personal dream was to go the route I did. And then I received the first copy of my book. It had that new book smell. My dream had come true. And that was all I ever wanted. I got my piece of the pie!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat?


Querying is like trick-or-treating.

Knock, knock. Trick.
Knock, knock. Treat.
Knock, knock. Lights are off, nobody's home. Bummer.


Happy Halloween, folks. Keep Writing!

Friday, October 29, 2010

GUEST BLOGGER: Vonnie Davis on deep point of view.


I was so excited when romance writer Vonnie Davis volunteered to guest blog on Whispers, even more excited when she told me her topic: achieving deep POV. WELCOME to my guest, and Happy Halloween to everyone!

After reading her post, please visit Vonnie's
blog and website.
UPDATE: Vonnie has recently signed a contract with The Wild Rose Press to publish her romance novel! Congratulations to Vonnie. Also, her husband, Calvin Davis, has a book coming out in December from Second Wind Publishing.

How thrilled I am to be guest blogging at Rhiannon’s place today. We are both represented by the same literary agent. Today, I’m going to discuss point of view.

What is point of view (POV)? POV is the vehicle your reader uses to travel through the story.

Our goals, as a writer, are twofold. First, we want to tell a good story. Second, we want to draw the reader into the head of our POV character. We want our reader to experience everything our character is seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, thinking, smelling and feeling.

To draw the reader into our story, we want to avoid using “she heard” or “she saw” or “she thought.” These phrases distance the reader from the character and are not needed. Here’s a short example:

“Jason saw his parents watching as he pulled out of the driveway for his first solo drive to the mall. For the first time in his life he felt free.”

If we are in Jason’s POV, the phrase “he felt” or “he saw” are not needed. See how this change really puts us in his head –

“Jason pulled out of the driveway for his first solo drive to the mall. Leaving his parents behind was liberating. What a feeling of freedom. Awesome didn’t begin to describe it.”

Now we can feel his excitement. We can almost visualize his smile. And by being in his head, sharing his experience, we can mentally stop and think, yeah, I remember my first time doing that, too. I know exactly how he feels.

Let’s move on to deep POV. In deep POV, we show the reader why. Why does our POV character behave this way? React this way? Think this way? Why does a woman tense in a certain social situation? Why does our male character distrust women? Why is our character afraid of the dark? Why does our teenager hate family social functions?

We all have a history. Our history helps shape our behavior and thoughts. If you’ve taken the time to develop your characters, then you know their history. You know why they behave and react a certain way. In bits and dribbles, you share this with your readers.

Christy, our POV character, reacts a certain way around men. By using deep POV, we are in her head and learn why.

“No, I won’t go to the dance with you.” Christy wiped damp hands on her jeans. Jason was nice enough, but he’d want to put his hands on her and hold her close. Then he might act like her uncle did when she was fourteen, breathing heavy in her ear, sliding his hand over her bottom and pulling her close—too tight to escape. Her breathing was rapid and her heart beating loud enough that Jason could probably hear it. No, she’d not go out with him.

Now we know why. With a few well-crafted sentences, you can help your readers understand and sympathize. They will be in her corner, hoping she can overcome her fears. You have drawn them into her head and her history. This is the power of deep POV.

Thanks so much, Vonnie, for your post and the insightful examples.

Click here to visit Vonnie's blog.

Click here to visit Vonnie's website.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

INTERVIEW WITH KAY NICHOLS






I had the pleasure of talking to paranormal fiction author Kay Nichols about writing and her newly released novel, SOULS.

After reading the interview, please check out her debut novel, SOULS, here.

Hi, Kay! Tell us a little about yourself.

There's not much to tell, really. I write about excitement but have very little of it in my own life. I work full time and writing is a part-time passion that I would love to someday become my full-time passion. I read. A LOT! I read books, news, magazines. Just about anything I can get my hands on. I enjoy spending time with my girlfriends in an attempt to keep life from getting too serious!

What exactly is paranormal fiction, and why did you decide to write it?

Paranormal, or abnormal, fiction would be stories that step outside the realm of everyday life and into a world full of mystery and inexplicable experiences. Most people associate the paranormal with ghost stories. While ghost stories are included in the genre of paranormal fiction, they are not the sole topic covered. Paranormal fiction could be ghosts, werewolves, vampires, or something entirely new born in the mind of a writer.

I love paranormal fiction for the main reason that my imagination is never constricted. I am not bound my the laws of reason or physics. The paranormal allows my creativity to take over and run wild.

Your first book, SOULS, was recently published. Tell us a little about it.

Souls was an adventure in spiritual exploration. It is easy to write a ghost story - decidedly fun, but easy. I wanted to take the traditional beliefs on the paranormal and religion, twist them around each other and see what the end result was.

The human as a whole is created by three separate parts: the mind, the body, and the soul. These three components work together in an individual's life to help them become who they are meant to be and what they are meant to accomplish. Essentially, every person has a destiny and that destiny requires their mind, body, and soul to complete the journey of life. Souls delves into what happens to an individual when they stray from their destiny and the three components of existence are no longer in harmony: the soul continues forward, but the physical being is no longer on the right path, leaving the soul lost and alone in a physical world. The main character, Jane Meyer, is one of the rare people gifted with the ability to see and help these lost souls.

Souls is written during two time frames simultaneously: Jane's experience with her first soul and her experience with her last soul. Jane is faced with the reality that her destiny is not hers to determine. Unfortunately, helping lost souls comes at an incredibly high price - one Jane is not sure she is willing to pay. Jane enters into a world beyond our world; full of souls, hunters, and death - and she will be lucky to survive with her life and soul.

Have you considered writing any other genre or does your heart belong to the paranormal?

I once read somewhere to write what you know and write what you love. I have a passion for the unknown. Will this be my only genre? Probably. But I can't say that with 100% certainty. I write what comes into my head. So far, my imagination has been drawn to the paranormal. But that doesn't mean there isn't a love story in there somewhere!

Do you have any other books coming out in the near future? If so, when can we expect the next one?

I currently have a trilogy awaiting release. The first in the series will be available for purchase by Winter 2011 with the second and third books to follow shortly after. This series follows the adventures and misadventures of a paranormal investigation team. This trilogy follows the more conventional "rules" of paranormal fiction. It's like the show Ghost Hunters with more sensationalism and more paranormal encounters. And, of course, the trilogy is purely fictional!

If you enjoyed this interview, be sure to check out SOULS, available in paperback or ebook download, here.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Confidence Can Be Dangerous




Confidence can be a dangerous thing, especially when you're a writer. As many books as I have read and enjoyed, there are that many more that I have started and never finished because they were that bad. Each time this happens I think, if this person can get published so can I!

Dangerous, indeed.

You see, the publishing industry reminds me of that money pie politicians often evoke. The theory goes something like this:

There is a pie. The pie represents all the money. There are only eight slices available. Seven of the slices are eaten (spent) by hungry rich people. That leaves just one slice of the pie (wealth) available for the remaining 98%. Since one slice is not enough to feed everyone, some of that 98% simply do without--not because they aren't deserving of a bite, there just isn't enough to go around.

I'm not an economy expert, so I don't know if this is truly how the economy works, but this is how publishing works. Seven slices of the publishing pie goes to celebrity writers, best sellers, household names, and already established authors. The remaining slice is all that's available for the rest of the newbies or relatively unknowns. Due to the lack of pie, pubs are that much more selective when deciding who gets a piece and who doesn't. Not unlike the money pie theory, there will be those who get a share even though they don't deserve it, which sucks for those who do.

I remind myself of this often. Earning something or deserving something does not automatically entitle me to anything. There are no guarantees. I know that when/if I am offered a contract, luck will have as much to do with it as my skill, hard work, and determination did. So while I am confident in my abilities, that confidence cannot overshadow realism, because nothing will end a writing career faster than frustration or bitterness.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Book Trailers: Worthy of your time or just wasting it?



I have a fear of book trailers. The idea of creating one for my book is appealing, and I imagine the process would be a lot of fun. Yay, creativity! But I worry. What if the trailer is better than my book? I think of how many times I've seen previews for movies and thought ohhhhhhhhhhhh, I GOTTA see that one, only to be disappointed later. I don't want to be responsible for that kind of let down.

Then again, it would be stupid to create a trailer that stinks, because who would want to buy the book? The point of the trailer is to entice someone, not slip them into a boredom-induced coma.

I guess the better question is do trailers (even good ones) sell books? I personally have never bought a book because of a trailer. Matter of fact, I never paid much attention to book trailers before becoming a writer. Did I even know they existed? Does anyone, other than the writers who use them, care about trailers?


Let's think about this...

You're a reader. You want a good book. You visit your favorite book seller. You find a book. You examine the title, cover, price, description, maybe even read the first couple pages, but you are still undecided on this particular book. Or, worse yet, you do not like this particular book.

Suddenly, the lights dim. Music plays. Actors appear, and they act out the very description you just read for the book in your hand! You cannot believe the magical performance taking place before your very eyes!

But the price is still $16.99. It's still a romance and you wanted a thriller. And the cover is still lavender--you hate lavender! The trailer changed nothing about the book, but did it change your mind?

I'm thinking book trailers don't sell books, but I might make one, anyway. In case I'm wrong :)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A GOOGLE FIND: In Defense of Romance



Google is my friend! I wuv my Google woogle woogie boogie boo! What? It's true. In an endeavor to quell a sudden onset of extreme boredom, I visited my faithful search engine friend and dug up a most fascinating article on romance novels from the Yale Herald--of all places!

You're probably thinking, how does one find their way to the Yale Herald to dig up such articles as In Defense of Romance: Proving the stereotypes wrong? Sorry, I will never reveal my methods, but take heart because I will share my succulent finds with you--you lucky thang!

When I clicked the link, my eyes were immediately drawn to the picture/bookcover/flyer/whatever the heck that thing is below the heading which reads Olde Timey People Doing It. What can I say? I was smitten.


Beyond that, the article is a pretty serious review of genre romance, citing and stomping on the various criticisms and complaints about the genre, as well as battling those age-old stereotypes with which it's associated.


Without recapping the entire study, (you can read it for yourself if you're so inclined) I can't pay justice to what this article actually says. What I can do, however, is thank Ms. Orazem for setting aside her precious time to set the record straight in an informative, thoughtful, and intelligent review of a misunderstood genre of fiction.


I can also share a few things most people do not know:

1. Romance and its subgenres account for more than half of fiction's total sales. Romance is publishing's largest genre.

2. While other genres of fiction sales flattened out or dipped downward, romance continued to rise despite our harsh economic climate, raking in around $1.35 billion in 2008, (according to multiple sources).

3. Romance e-books outsells all other fiction e-books 3.4% to 1%.

So, if you're at all interested in genre romance, or if you're like me and voraciously devour any sort of writing/publishing news, take a looksy at In Defense of Romance: Proving the stereotypes wrong. Pay close attention to the fourth paragraph that talks about romance readers being insatiable. You never know when this juicy tid-bit will come in handy ;)

Monday, July 19, 2010

WHEN IN ROME: A Review


Quickie synopsis: When recently dumped Beth (Kristen Bell) finds out her younger sister is getting married, she travels to Rome to stand as a bridesmaid. After a series of mishaps during the reception, and after facing her own failings with love, Beth finds herself wading in a fountain, bottle of liquor in hand. Ticked off and a tad drunk, she swipes five coins from the fountain, each coming from men who wished for love. By taking the coins, she unknowingly ignites a powerful curse: the men who tossed the coins will now fall crazy in love with the person who took them--with Beth! Whether she returns their feelings or not...

Despite the lackluster reviews and despite that inner voice telling me not to, I snuggled up on the couch last weekend to watch WHEN IN ROME. Within the first ten minutes, I knew I could've spent my $4.99 more wisely.

The movie starts off with a series of bad, overdone clichés, including Beth badmouthing someone only to find out they're standing right behind her--"He's standing right behind me, isn't he?" Then, there are the classic romantic comedy derivatives--running into her ex-fiancé when she has spinach stuck to her teeth, an artsy guy friend who is also gay, the mortification of finding out her YOUNGER sister is getting hitched before she is, and her wedding toast getting accidently translated into some humorous, but scandalous, Italian. None of the conflicts within the plot were original, nor were they substantial enough to be believable. For instance, Beth has a big event coming up at work that requires her to stay in touch with her office while in Rome. Naturally, her cell coverage is non-existent, which results in her assistant making a big, idiotic blunder that almost costs Beth her job. Apparently, there are no landlines??? I also found myself frustrated a couple times because of stupid misunderstandings that take far too long to clear up.

WHEN IN ROME, however, does have its redeeming parts. Actor Josh Duhamel counts as one. His character's pretty darn adorable, and the man's easy-peasy on the eyes as well. Danny Devito has a small (pardon the pun) part as a sausage magnate and as one of Beth's admirers. While I'm not a fan of sausage, who doesn't love Danny? One of Beth's other suitors is an illusionist. He does not have an overly significant role, but he entertained me enough to enjoy watching him stalk her for a couple hours--especially when he steals her watch over and over and over again as a way to impress her, or when she comes home only to find him hanging from her ceiling in a straight jacket. Blips of mild goodness throughout.

I give WHEN IN ROME 2 stars, do not recommend it, will not ever watch it again, and predict it dying a slow, painful death on Walmart's $5 DVD rack.