Man, I would prefer to be sniffing that than what I'm smelling in my office right now. We have a joint refrigerator in my office suite and let's just say someone left their food in their too long. My boss opens the fridge this morning and all stench breaks loose. Hoo-wee! My eyes are still watering. Time for another group email where people have to clean out their fuzzy green messes. I get to feel superior about this one because I haven't brought anything refrigerated for a loooooong time, so I know whatever the stinkpot is, it doesn't belong to me.
Anyway, on to the minty freshness of contracts. I got some from my agent Monday afternoon when I got home from work. I admit that I may have done a booty shaking happy dance. I also may have hugged the contracts while doing aforementioned dance. Perhaps. I confess to nothing.
After several hours of translating mind-bending, IQ dropping legalese, I sent a few questions to my awesome agent...and poof! I have a contract. Signed, sealed, pretty, and sent off to the Powers That Be.
Now for the fun part. I'm putting in for my provisional PAN membership at RWA. Technically, I could have done it with my first Kensington contract, but I never got around to it, so I'm doing it with this one. Woot! I feel so official.
So, I'm either high off the giddiness of contracts and official writer-ness, or I'm high from the fumes of whatever died in the fridge. Your call.
As I begin thinking about how to get the word out about my second book, I've been pondering the question of which promo freebies readers prefer.
As a reader, I am always looking for new authors and new books from authors I already enjoy. I picked up some free items provided by authors from the goodie room at the last national RWA conference. I was selective because I only had one suitcase and I didn't want to waste authors' money by taking things I would toss. My top 3 preferred items were chocolate, books, and pens, in that order. I also went for calendars, playing cards, bookmarks, and cat food can lids. But, honestly, I can't tell you which authors or what books were being promoted on most of these (except for the playing cards which were Ellora's Cave). And I didn't buy any books based on these goodies. So are they really a good use of an author's limited promotional budget?
We're all readers here, so I thought I'd ask what your top 3 preferred goodies are. Have any goodies you've picked up ever led you to a new author or to a book you might not have tried otherwise?
Elizabeth Amber NICHOLAS, THE LORDS OF SATYR RAINE, THE LORDS OF SATYR (March 08) erotic historical paranormal romance Kensington Aphrodisia www.elizabethamber.com
Posted by Elizabeth Amber ::
12:30 PM ::
I've been writing seriously for publication since 2003, and on and off for many years before that. So, I've had quite a few chances to listen to different speakers, read books and be exposed to all manner of tips, tricks and learnings on the subject of writing.
What have I discovered?
One of my biggest pet peeves in the entire world, that's what. It irritates me more than a bra that rides up when someone says that if you don't write a certain way (usually THEIR way,) then you're doing it wrong.
Now, let me clarify that before all the purists spit out their morning coffee at the computer screen. As with every body of knowledge, there is the good, the bad and the questionable advice. Now, I'm not talking about the basics. For example, if you are writing a romance, your hero and heroine have to have their happily ever after - that's a given. If you aren't going to give them that, then what you're writing isn't romance. If you're writing erotic, you can't fade out at the bedroom door, and okay, you must must must have conflict, plot, big black moment and characterization etc. And yes, too many was/ing word combinations tend to make your writing passive and back story dumps usually aren't a good thing... You get the picture.
But what I'm talking about is the HOW, not the technique, necessarily. We must remember that what works for one person will NOT necessarily work for another.
I recently heard a speaker who was quite an accomplished author sit in a room full of fellow writers and tell them that if they aren't detailed plotters, they will never be successful - end of discussion. And she was quite hauty about it. Now, I'm a combo pantser/plotter and I've published several books. But even beyond that, I was sitting behind a USA Today and NYT Best Selling Author with dozens of books out who I know is not a detailed plotter. And just across the room was a RITA winning author who had also hit the USA Today lists several times, and again - she's not a detailed plotter either. So, I don't think the "will never be successful" was necessarily true. And even when these two women spoke up - the speaker sniffed disdainfully and said she stood by her statement.
I've also heard people say if you start out by publishing at an ePub, NY editors will NEVER look at your work. Hmmm, I started in ePubs and so did one of the two ladies I mentioned above, and I know dozens of others as well who are now published with New York. And most are still with ePubs as well. There are perks to both systems.
Then there was the speaker who told the crowd of mostly new writers that if they didn't write for at least forty hours a week, they would never get published. I remember that workshop well because the moderator spoke up. She is a multi-published, award-winning author who writes during her one hour lunch every day during the week and for four hours on Saturday and four hours on Sunday. She's written dozens of books that way. So, in only 13 hours a week, she's built a writing career.
I'm sure if you think back, all of you have seen examples of this. How many newbie writers have been scared off this path by those supposedly in the "know" telling them there is a better chance of them winning the lottery than them being published, or if they don't have some sort of degree in English, they can't write a novel or any of a thousand other things?
As you can tell, this is a hot button for me, and I grind my teeth every time I hear someone give an "absolute" like that. There are no absolutes in this business. Hell, even some of the "basics" I listed above aren't be all, end all absolutes. The business changes and morphs all the time and we need to run to catch up.
Here's my advice to newbie writers - write the book, however it works for you. Continue to learn everything you can about writing. Write, write, write, and make sure you take all advice with a grain of salt - even from those with successful careers. What worked for them, may not necessarily work for you. Go with your gut and finish the book! Then, shop it around, submit, submit, submit - and see what kind of feedback you get. That will give you an idea of what you need to change/fix, and always be leery of anyone giving you statements that are absolutes! And most of all - never ever give up. Don't let someone steal your dream!
Here's my advice for speakers - give others the benefit of your experience, but remember that their path to success may not be the same as yours. What works for you, may not work for them. And if you can't be motivational, uplifting and helpful to those you are speaking to - then why are you up there? They are there to find out what's in it for them, not to bask in your affluence and knowledge. Yes, speaking gets your name out there, but do you want to be remembered as the person who discouraged a new writer so much that they never tried? Or the writer who inspired them to try and succeed even in the face of what felt like insurmountable opposition? Think on this one long and hard. When we speak, when we blog, when we share our knowledge in any venue or any area, we are affecting others, sometimes more than we think.
Okay, stepping down from soap box now, and off to write. Hopefully, my rant gave you something to think about and go "hmmm." Also, I'm hoping I don't get flame mail from a bunch of speakers now...LOL!
So I knew things were bad when I stood at the door of my 14 yr old son's bedroom, consoling him from afar for the stomach bug/flu that had laid him low. He was the third member of the family to get sick and there was no way I was being all motherly and going over there and hugging him or anything. I was finally getting a break alone with my lovely husband without the 4 kids!
I came down into the kitchen and looked at my husband. "I'm going to be sick on our vacation. I just know it." Of course he told me not to be a pessimist-having brought the plague home with him, he was feeling a lot better.
Fast forward to Monday at the beautiful Enchantment Resort in Sedona Arizona, and I'm having a fabulous day, learning about vortexes and taking a train journey into the heart of Red Rock country, champagne, snacks and views to die for. In the evening, we had a beautiful meal at the spa restaurant and then I started to feel bad...
And boy, was I bad, I was up all night. Tuesday was a complete washout and we came home Wednesday. I saw a lot more of my hotel room than I expected and a lot less of the scenery :)
At home, everyone except Granny, who'd had a flu shot, was sick and Thanksgiving itself was really quiet-luckily I'd ordered all the food from Marie Callender's so I didn't have to cook!
Anyone else have any horrible holiday tales or was I just lucky this year?
Posted by Unknown ::
5:25 PM ::
It's the day before Thanksgiving, but my mind is on Friday, only not because of the shopping. On the 23rd, my mother will turn 89. She doesn't need anything--except out of the nursing home she's in while her broken ankle heals. I was going to buy her a plant, but my niece beat me to the punch. Last weekend, I finished moving her out of her assisted living apartment because once she's out of the nursing home, she'll have to go to a foster home--one of the 'benefits' of dementia means she needs more care.
While packing up, I came across stacks and stacks of photographs she'd taken over the years along with many other items from the past ranging from ancestors' death certificates to newspaper clippings. Yesterday the light bulb went off. I'm going to compile several scrapbooks filled with what was always precious to her, the family historian. How much of the material will have meaning for now I don't know, but as I emailed my sister, eventually we'll have those scrapbooks as reminders of our mother's passions.
That's what got me thinking about roots, specifically the roots of my writing. These days I'm doing mostly erotica which I'm sure Mother and my grandparents would find incomprehendable. Before her mind decided to go someplace safe and serene, I let her read my first erotica. Suffice to say, I'm glad she doesn't remember it. I know my conservative teacher mother didn't approve or understand why I was drawn to erotica, but now that I think about it, I'm amending what I said about my grandparents' reaction, specifically my grandfather. Homer Eon Flindt was murdered at age 34 when my mother was six, but I've long felt close to him. Why? He was a writer, specifically a writer of science fiction and fantasy, much of it appearing in the pulp magazines of the 1920s and 30s. He also had a couple of books published as well as some 30 movie treatments (forerunners of screenplays), not a bad accomplishment for the busy father of three who also ran a shoe repair shop with his brother. I've read most of his work and am in awe of his intellect. His mind took him on journeys far beyond the science of his day to distant planets My mind doesn't do what his did, but I thank him for what creativity he did give me.
My writing roots: from him, most certainly but also from my mother who was my teacher through elementary school and encouraged my writing creativity and my teacher grandmother who always give me and my sister books for our birthdays and Christmas. Books were my joy, my escape, my passion. They still are.
So Mother, Nana, and Grandpa, those 50 plus books I've written are because of you. It's an insane business, one filled with financial insecurity and sleepless nights spent in conversation with characters, a career where my closest friends are fellow writers I've met online and meeting a reader is a gift. Today's marketplace requires me to self-promote and when I do I pound the erotica drum in hopes of grabbing the attention of those illusive readers, but I'm not about about hot and heavy sex. I'm about a man who died too young and his widow and daughter who nurtured his gift in me throughout my childhood.
I’ve been catching up on my blog reading and reading about various authors dealing with taking care of their parents, holding down a job as a single parent, and well, the joy of children.
It’s not so different from a life without writing, is it? Published authors still have to do the laundry, cook dinner, be a “soccer mom”, volunteer for a good cause, clean up messes.
And yet there’s that magical something that comes with being a writer. Like our readers, writers escape into another world, but a world of their own creation and have their heroines say all the things they wish they’d thought of when someone comes crashing down on them.
But it’s more than that too. It’s almost like setting up a problem and watching somebody else solve it for you. It’s like watching somebody else go where you’d never dare to go. It’s like...
Well, I don’t know what it’s like because right now, I’m missing it.
I have been referring to myself as a “mundane”. The magic of writing seems to have gone. Something I thought would never happen. I’ve been writing since I could write.
Oh, I’m still thinking about stories, new ones, but actually writing? Not so much.
Anyway, enough whining and back to the glamour part.
Today is the official start to my blog tour (see my website for an almost complete list). At many of these places I am giving away copies from my backlist. So keep your eyes open! Today is my first unscheduled stop over at Fog City Divas (and yes, I am giving a book away there).
And that’s the glamorous life.
Posted by Celia May Hart ::
11:18 AM ::
We write fiction. Yet we all know about the readers who insist that details be accurate and who’ll ream out an author if she gets something wrong – like the year a certain item of clothing became fashionable, or the calibre of a gun. This makes me wonder about a few things:
• If you’re a writer, when do you choose to bend the truth for the sake of the story?
• What details do readers want to be accurate? Vampires don’t exist (probably), but readers seem quite willing to accept them in fiction – and yet they’ll fuss over the accuracy of period clothing. How come?
• Do readers hold all fiction writers to the same standards of accuracy? Are they more lenient with paranormal, fantasy or futuristic? Less lenient with contemporary or historical?
• Do people nit-pick with TV shows and movies as well as books? For example, when CSI shows crime scene investigators trampling all over a crime scene in street clothing, shedding hair, fibres and who knows what all else, do a bunch of viewers write to tell them they’ve got it all wrong? Or when cases on Boston Legal go to court in a period of days, do viewers write to say that in real life the same process would take a year or more? (I don’t mean to pick on these shows – they happen to be two of my favorites! – and I’m quite prepared to accept the inaccuracies for the sake of great characters and an interesting story.)
Upfront I'll confess, My name is Megan Kerans and I'm a research nerd. I love discovering new knowledge almost as much as figuring out how to use the information to make my stories better and more realistic.
Almost all authors I know usually do research for their stories. For contemporary writers it might be a city or career field. Those who pen historicals might look up the dress of a specific time period or how a knight's armor was created.
I love it all. Give me a stack of books on an interesting subject and I'm as happy as a clam reading away. But there are some things, no matter how much you read, you simply have to do to understand. One of those is swordplay. Errol Flynn & Basil Rathbone's famous duel in Captain Blood.
Growing up watching Errol Flynn's Adventures of Robin Hood, Star Wars, and having ancestors who were actual Musketeers I've always had a fascination with fencing. So much so, I took a class in college. I didn't have a very good teacher (really poor to be honest), but I did love it.
Ten years later I found myself a writer who had more and more sword scenes in her stories. They're always great fun to watch, but the problem was, how to take something so inherently visual and put it into words to create a picture that excited a reader.
It's tough. Over six months I read books on the subject, searched the Internet, and repeatedly mentioned I wanted to take up fencing again. I, of major back problems, wasn't certain I could do it with my lengthy, lengthy list sports I had to give up or only consider ever doing if I became a masochist.
Over Memorial Weekend, on a whim, I decided to check our local school district's summer adult education courses. For the first I can remember fencing was listed, an eight week class. I jumped up from the computer, grabbed my Visa and signed up. (Strictly to improve my understanding of the movements for writing. At least, that's what I told my husband.)
Early 20th century French postcard.
Six months, dozen of hours of practice and three swords later, fencing has become I love of mine for itself. What other sport contains elegant violence that requires as much brains and physical skill?
Fencing also just happens to come with multiple benefits Not only do I great workout (muscles you never knew you had,) I'm able to write fight scenes much clearer and quicker. It's also led me to new avenues of research, such as duels of honor, which even inspired me to put together a workshop on the topic and how writers can use craft techniques & elements to improve the edged weapon scenes in their stories.
So my question is:
Authors, what is the most bizarre or unique subject you've ever researched for a story?
Readers, is there a topic you've ever been sparked to investigate after reading a book and what was it?
The last week has been totally off kilter for me. I'm still trying to process everything and put it into an ordered state in my mind. And that's a hard thing to do when you're as scattered as I am.
So what's this post about? A lot of things actually. I'd worried that I didn't have anything to blog about. As usual, I have too much. I'll try and break it down into small pieces.
Ok, first I managed to finish my novella for the Trio Anthology and sent it off to NY Nov 1. Yes, No Strings Attached actually got written. This was one of those stories that came out kicking and screaming. I struggled for months to get the darn thing going--and just couldn't. I'm still debating on whether I like it or not. And though I proofed it, it's still full of a million typos, which seems to be a trademark of mine. I simply can not seem to get them all out of my manuscripts. Though I can spot them in an instant when I read other people's work. Seems to be some bizarre blindness block I have when reading my writing. Anyway, the darn thing is gone.
So...once the elation of actually finishing another novella wore off I found myself wondering what I should do next. Nevermind that I had one more novella and two single titles to work on for 09. Well, when Devyn gets to drinking and thinking, dangerous things happen. That's right. I got an idea, so I popped off a few lines to my editor and asked what she'd think of a proposal I had for a Sexy Beast Anthology. I'll admit I've been sitting here gnawing myself to pieces wanting into those anthos, but never expected to be considered. Well, much to my surprise, a day after I proposed the idea Hilary made an offer for a novella--and a single title on the same theme. Imagine my jaw dropping to my knees in shock. You see, I hadn't expected to make the sale and so hadn't sat down and really thinked (yeah, "thinked" out here in the badlands. Remember I'm a hick from the sticks) the idea through because I didn't believe it'd have a snowball's chance heck of selling.
So, what did Devyn sell her editor? Well, here's the synopsis for Heart of the Wildcat, the SB novella. This is rough, so bear with me:
Cultural anthropologist Kathryn Conrad is on her way to North Carolina in the hopes of finding and studying a small tribe of Cherokee mountain men for her master's thesis. The stories of the Tlvdatsi (actual Cherokee word for cougar) told to her by her grandmother have lit Kathryn's imagination—not to mention her desire to track down and verify her Native American roots.
Attacked and almost raped by her hired guide, Kathryn is close to losing her life when rescue arrives in the form of Joseph Clawfoot. (stalking Kathryn and her rapist in cougar form) Red skinned, black haired and handsome as sin, he's just the kind of specimen Kathryn wants to study--up close and personal. Kathryn persuades Joseph to become her contact with his people. She gets more than she bargained for when she learns the truth behind Joseph's strange and solitary existence.
Joseph Clawfoot is a Cherokee, member of a vanishing tribe whose people have learned to survive, they had to adapt to the arrival of the white settlers. A pact with the gods granted them the ability to shape-shift into the form of the cougar. Determined to live away from civilization, Joseph has settled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. He follows no man's rules, only those of nature.
Joe's hope that he will find a mate to join him fades daily. His life is one of constant danger. The natural habitat in which he survives is shrinking, and hunters threaten to drive his kind into extinction. Though he fights the attraction, Joseph can't help but desire the petite beauty with the pale skin and lake-blue eyes. Her touch is forbidden, yet to possess her body and soul is all he can think about. Having Kathryn in his life is dangerous. However her strong and independent spirit arms her with the weapons to capture and tame his wild heart.
When poachers threaten Joseph's freedom, Kathryn is forced to kill one of the hunters to save her lover's life. Realizing she has to take responsibility, Kathryn chooses to turn herself in to keep investigators away. So that she will not accidentally expose the tribe to outsiders, Kathryn asks Joe to erase her memory of their time together, using the ancient spells of the shamans. She’ll remember nothing of him. In giving Joseph up Kathryn knows she's preserving his freedom and the heritage of her ancestors. ___________________
So there it is. This novella is the lead in for the single title, Soul of the Wildcat. Some of you may have already noticed that the heroine is being given the heave-ho at the end. Well, she is. And, yes, I've already heard the cries from the pals I've ran this by before sending it off to my editor: EEK! NO HAPPY ENDING FOR JOE AND KATHRYN?
Let me stop and grab something to cover myself with before you HEA people start pelting me with rocks. I'm going to take a deep breath and announce it now: Joe and Kathryn won't end up together. I've got to break them up so Joe can go on to his next adventure in Soul of the Wildcat. I know this is a first (I think) for the Sexy Beast stories and, frankly, I'd wondered if my editor's suggestion to send Joe off with another woman in his next book was the correct idea. Giving it thought, it is. The theme of the novella is not only discovery of dangerous secrets, but to truly love something, you must set it free. (cue appropriate love songs here) So, yes, readers and peers--Kathryn will set Joe free to preserve his freedom, even if it means she must sacrifice her memories of his kind.
Which leads me to a question for discusssion: As a reader do you expect the HEA in erotic romance? And to writers: Do you feel compelled to write an HEA into your stories because you are writing erotic romance? And if so, why?
It's my turn to blog today and, well, since making videos is my #1 procrastination activity, I was going to post a videotape of me, dressed in surgical garb -- complete with gloves and surgical mask -- cleaning out my refrigerator. But ... sigh ... fellow Aphrodisiac, Amie Stuart, talked me out of it.
So, instead, I'll share a bit of news ...
I've got two fantastic guests coming up on "Chatting with Chase," my live talk show. First up, this Sunday, 11/11, at 4:30 p.m. PT will be Tara Janzen, author of the wonderful CRAZY book series, which features hot cars, kickass heroes, and tough heroines and is packed with all the weapons, tactics, and danger an adrenaline junky could want. Join us, as we discuss cars, guns, love, adventure, her new book, ON THE LOOSE (October 2007), and more!
Then, on Thursday, 11/14, at 6:00 p.m. PT, Sheila Clover English, CEO of COS Productions will be my guest. She'll talk about screenwriting, book trailers, authors, her favorite Derek (she's a judge in my contest), and more.
In celebration of the release of two books this month, I’m having a special contest.
The grand prize winner will win autographed copies of all four of my books, PASSION, SINS AND SECRETS, TAKE ME THERE and BOUND TO ECSTASY.
The first prize winner will receive both November releases, TAKE ME THERE and BOUND TO ECSTASY.
To enter, just send an e-mail with your name to:
All entries must be received by Thursday, November 15th, 12 midnight EST. Only one entry per person.
Two winners chosen at random will be notified by Monday, November 19th. Once the winners e-mail their snail mail address, the books will be sent. All your information will be kept confidential and will not be shared with anyone.
As they say, you can’t win it unless you’re in it.
Well, to begin, I'm posting from the island of Oahu in Hawaii, specifically my son's home in Kaneohe where I've been watching my adorable almost two year old granddaughter, Ella. Mommy is away for a week, which means Dabba (me!) has both her thirty year old son and Ella to feed and spoil and play with. I'd planned to write when Ella went down for a nap, but I quickly discovered that chasing a toddler is exhausting work (proof that motherhood is truly for the young!) and I've been napping along with Ella.
Today, though, I "worked." Well, sort of...there is a wonderful romance expert at the local Borders book store, here in Kaneohe. Kellie Chang is absolutely amazing, and she's gone above and beyond the call of duty! It's obvious she loves the romance genre and she is a font of information about the various authors and titles. I'm convinced that if every bookstore had a Kellie clone, we'd all enjoy our shopping experience a whole lot more. For the second time, now when I've been to the island, Kellie has organized a little gathering with many of the romance readers she's gotten to know at her store. Today there were thirteen of us at the local IHOP, munching away and gabbing about books and having a wonderful time.
That's us in the photo--Kellie is third from the left, back row, standing beside her parents. That's me on the far right, back row. Work? I guess so, if you can call spending over two hours with a fascinating group of women who love the same books and authors I do, work. Yes, it was a great chance to promote my books, but it was even more fun just being surrounded by readers who love the same stories. We ended up with a quick trip to the bookstore where I managed to add to my TBR pile, and it was really hard to leave, knowing it will be months before I see them again.
This is one of the things I love most about a career as an author--the interaction with readers. I feel so lucky to have these opportunities to sit and visit and get to know people who read my books and those who don't, but who love to read romance just the same. My thanks to Kellie for organizing such a special time for all of us today.
And totally off topic--I just read Vonna Harper's blog--what a thrill, to finally be sharing an anthology with a talented author who has been a friend of mine for so many years. Ain't it great, kiddo?
All right Vonna, you've been sitting here for too long trying to decide how to start things. I don't want this blog to sound like over the top promotion and I don't want to get too personal so what's the right approach?
Maybe starting in the middle of the action, like I try to do with my books. Bound to Ecstasy is on the stands as of Oct. 30 or thereabouts. It's a bondage anthology I'm in with P.F. Kozak and Lisa Riley. P.F. has written an edgy story about an executive's submissive relationship with her therapist while Lisa offers a straitlaced heroine with a hot fantasy.
My novella Restraint took form when I discovered Kink online. Kink puts out weekly adult videos in such categories as Bondage and SexandSubmission. So, my warped mind went, what would it be like to venture onto one of those kinky sets? Damn fun.
So that's my 15 minutes of fame for Nov. Come late Dec, I'm back on the stands again with Night Fire. I keep staring at the cover not sure whether to let my jaw sag or laugh. Oh its hot all right, right down to the flames that look as if they're licking at the model's buttocks. Her hands are cuffed behind her and only her torso shows, but she doesn't appear to be bothered by the flames or the cuffs. Research for Night Fire took me into the world of opals and the ancient Aztecs, and that was beyond fine because I love research.
In between trips to the hospital and then the nursing home where my mother currently 'lives', I made my Nov. 1 deadine for Night Scream, my contribution to the 08 Sexy Beast novella. My friend Kate Douglas is headlining that so being in it with her is damn exciting.
Then yesterday my editor and I came to a meeting of the minds on the deadline for the first book in a new three book contract for Aphrodisia. She suggested six months for each book AND hinted that there might be another novella assignment along the way.
And that's just what I'm doing for Kensington.
This is such an insane business, insane and wonderful. I've been writing and getting published forever, but this is the first time I've had multiple publishers accepting my work. I'm no longer parenting young children which frees up huge chunks of time I thought I could devote to this career I love. But life doesn't work that way, does it? So here's the personal part: parenting my elderly parent drains emotionally and physically. I'm losing her an inch at a time, her mind going off where its safe from the ravages on her body, thank goodness. She deserves that protection, that innocence, but I miss the woman who was once my greatest fan.