Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday Fun Facts: The Last One!

It's the last Friday of 2012! Can't believe it....what a whirlwind year in many respects. FYI, I'll be changing up my blog and my Friday Fun Facts a little bit in 2013....tune in next week to see exactly what those changes will include.

For now, thought I'd share a few famous "Fridays" in honor of ushering this last one out of the year. Happy almost-2013!!

  • TGI Fridays: restaurant chain
  • Good Friday religious holiday
  • Friday’s: comedy variety show on ABC back in the early 1980s.
  • Friday: fictional character from the book/movie Robinson Crusoe
  • Friday Harbor, Washington, in the lovely San Juan Islands
  • His Girl Friday: motion picture starring Cary Grant from 1940
  • Friday the 13th: movie series
  • Black Friday for the busy shopping day after Thanksgiving
  • Casual Friday at the workplace
  • Freaky Friday: motion picture from 1976 and remake in 2003
  • Friday: 1995 motion picture
  • Friday Night Lights: television show and term for high school football
  • “Friday, I’m in Love”: song by The Cure. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Writers' Wednesday: Links for Authors

Happy day after Christmas! Hope you had a wonderful day, if you celebrate it, and a wonderful day anyway, even if you don't :)

Here for writers are a couple links worth checking out, especially if you're looking for ways to promote your work in the New Year (and who isn't??)

The Romance Studio is having a blow-out advertising sale, with deals on individual ads as well as a Crazy Christmas Package Deal of ad combinations worth over $500..for only $125!! (or $100 if you're already a TRS member...even better!)

Goddess Fish Promotions has some great package deals on Virtual Book Tours for anyone who's looking for a lot of online exposure for a new release (or hey, even a not-so-new one). They're updating their prices as of January 1, so take a look now if you're interested.

And for anyone who's been playing around with a Young Adult manuscript that really isn't so Young (because your main characters aren't teenagers, but instead college-age young men and women negotiating that tricky time between adolescence and adulthood), Entangled Publishing is currently accepting submissions for their "New Adult" line, getting ready to launch in Summer 2013. Click here to find out more.

Happy writing!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Monday Mentionables: My First Time on the Radio!

Happy Christmas Eve to everyone who celebrates it! Is your shopping done? Your wrapping? Will you be celebrating with friends and family tonight or tomorrow? Attending a Christmas Eve service at your local church? (I love those most of all...the carols, the candles, the camaraderie of the congregation sharing the moment)

In the meantime, if you have a few free minutes, give a listen to my radio interview right here. This past Saturday, Bernadette Walsh interviewed me for her Blog Talk Radio show Nice Girls Reading Naughty Books, and I really had a ball! Very low-key (just a phone call from your own landline), great questions,a  fun way to talk about my writing as well as my upcoming release. And I was happy to hear, listening to the playback, that I sounded okay and not like a stuttering idiot LOL.

Have a great holiday, all :)

Friday, December 21, 2012

It's The End of the World as We Know It... (Or Not)


See you back here on Monday, folks! Have a great weekend!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Writers' Wednesday: Check Out All These Deals!

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Holiday time usually means great deals on all kinds of items, as retailers look to grab those last-minute, and this December is no exception when it comes to books. Check out these deals:

All Romance Ebooks is giving away a free ebook EVERY SINGLE DAY, for the 12 days of Christmas. Click here to see today's giveaway title.

Lyrical Press is holding a "Doomsday, You Say?" sale from December 21 - 31, with 75% off every title in their catalog. Every title!!

And finally, my writing friend Liz Matis has a short story featured in the anthology Martini Madness, now on sale at Amazon. (Hers is titled "Real Men Don't Drink Appletinis.") Support a fellow writer and download it for some fun holiday reading :)

Have fun shopping!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Monday in Mourning

I usually have a lot to say on Mondays - about my own writing, about my fellow writers and what they're up to, about the latest books and good reads and pages you should check out. But today, folks, I have no words, just a broken heart after last Friday's school shooting in Newtown, CT. And as I head in to work in a few minutes, I'm trying to decide what I will tell my students who are aspiring to be teachers themselves someday. I think I will start by saying that I have always thought that anyone who chooses education as a profession has a heroic nature.

Now I know that to be true.

Prayers to everyone struggling to deal with the aftermath of this terrible tragedy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Writers' Wednesday: What You Missed in the RWR

Last week I blogged about the highlights of the latest Writer's Digest. This week, it's the December issue of the Romance Writers Report:

~"Sports Romance: Can They Go All the Way?" discusses the potential rise of sports romance as a niche genre. Football players, hockey goalies, race car gotta admit, there's something about an athlete (in almost any sport) that cries out alpha hero. My writing friend Liz Matis writes sports romance, and she'll be joining other well-known authors like Jaci Burton and Cassandra Carr in 2013 to write a blog on just this sub-genre. Can't wait!

~"Which Path to Published Should You Take?" explores the pros and cons of traditional, e-, and self-publishing, and makes a good case for an author's hybrid approach to incorporating all three (thus my Monday blog post on the possibilities of re-releasing one of my back novels as a self-pubbed ebook through Amazon). I think it's great how the industry has changed to the point where this is a viable, respected alternative to typical New York houses that dominated publishing for so long.

~:Connecting with Readers" talked about how best to use social media (or in-person connections) to build a reader base. Bottom line: find what you're most comfortable with and exploit it, whether that's blogging once a week, chatting on Twitter, or making connections on your Facebook page (and yes, if you're an author, you need at least one of these)/

and finally...

~"Can Free Ebooks Be Profitable?" talked about the ways in which authors have used free ebooks to boost their sales of other books. While it takes some work to format and promote your work (if you're going it alone), it can definitely pay off. It seems as though Amazon's Kindle Direct Program is at least worth a look when it comes to this option.

And that's the high and low of it! Enjoy your Wednesday, and happy writing!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Monday Mentionables: Weighing the Pros & Cons of Self-Publishing

Had a great writers' group meeting and luncheon with my fellow romance authors over the weekend! It's so refreshing and heartening to share stories, celebrate successes, and lament struggles with people who understand. When you say, "I have no idea where to go with this character," they'll make a suggestion. When you want to throw something at the computer screen because everything sounds terrible, they'll tell you to take a walk or clean a closet (believe me, for some reason cleaning really helps free up the creative juices). And when you have no idea how to motivate a character or how to dress her, they'll tell you to take an hour and watch Real Housewives of New Jersey.

In all seriousness, amid the discussion of business, and reading the latest Romance Writers' Report, I found myself toying with the idea of republishing my book Lost in Paradise on Amazon as a self-published work and use their Kindle Direct Program to feature it free for 5 days, then sell it directly myself...mostly as a lead-in to my upcoming new release Beacon of Love in the spring.

My thoughts are such: contractually I can get my rights back from the publisher who currently has it, polish and possibly revise (with the outside thought of weaving in some plot/characters that will tie into Beacon of Love). If I have it up for sale in the month or so before Beacon of Love releases, I'm hoping to build some positive press that will lead to greater initial sales for Beacon. Also, Paradise has never had great sales with its current publisher, and if I can boost it through self-pubbing it, then why not give it a try?

I'd love thoughts from anyone who's gone this route, esp. using free ebooks to boost other sales. It seems like it has potential, but I have to weigh the costs with the possible outcomes. So....what do you think?

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Writers' Wednesday: What You Missed in This Month's Writer's Digest

I let my subscription to Writer's Digest expire a few months back before signing up again, and I have to say, I missed it. It's the best $16/year you'll ever spend, if you're a writer. Every issue is full of articles covering the craft, promotion, interviews with people in all areas of the trade, and best of all, it's not genre-specific. RWA is great for romance writers, but it's nice to hear about writing success and struggles and advice in very different areas.

Anyway, my favorite articles from the November/December issue:

"How to Develop Any Idea Into a Great Story" - gives some great, off-the-charts ideas for "bending" the traditional into the absoutely fresh and innovative. Among other suggestions: add insane characters; play up the pain of blood ties between characters; don't overplay the emotion; and my favorite (talking about starting in the right place): "Everybody's bloody and panting, everybody's heart is broken, everybody's hanging on by theor fingernails. Now what? Let the story begin!"

"Overcoming Writers's Block Without Willpower" - my favorite subsection in this article talked about eliminating one's constant dependence on technology. Don't check anything (email, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, voicemail) while you're supposed to be writing. Just write.

"The Amazing Mr. Appel" - I'm not sure I love him or hate him, but the winner of Writer's Digest Annual Writing Competition has not only won before, did not only place 4 times this year in the Screenplay category, but is also a doctor at Mt. Sinai Hospital, a teacher at Gotham Writer's Workshop, and holds 4 Master's degrees and a J.D. (in addition to his medical degree). Um, yeah. Anytime I feel overwhelmed by my life and job, guess I better look to this guy (who apparently doesn't sleep) for motivation.

Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Monday, December 03, 2012

Monday Mentionables: I'll Be on the Radio!

Well, not really on the radio. Or, well, sort of. A fellow romance author, Bernadette Walsh, is dabbling with starting a blog radio show featuring romance writers. I'm always one to give a new kind of promo opportunity a try, so I jumped in and said Sure!

What will it entail? On Saturday December 22, at 11 am (EST), she'll be interviewing me live (via phone) for "Nice Girls Reading Naughty Books" and you'll be able to hear it online right here.

Even better, though, it will record so that if you miss the live interview, you can play the link as a sound file anytime in the future. And I'll certainly have it on my website (and here on this blog) so readers can listen in.

Fellow romance authors, if you're interested, she's actively looking for people to interview. Click on the link above, and there are details there about contacting her for a spot. All interviews are held on Saturdays at 11:00 am, for 30 minutes. (She's interviewing a senior editor from Lyrical Press this-coming Saturday, Dec. 8th)

Can't wait to give it a try and report back here! Remember: "Nice Girls Reading Naughty Books" on Saturday, December 22 at 11am. Give it a listen - and if you're really brave, call in with a question of your own for me to answer!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Fun Facts!

I know, I know: I've been remiss in blogging lately. Chalk it up to my busy day job, or the busy time of year, or my lack of sometimes remembering that I NEED to blog, and, well.......

Anyway, I wanted to share with you 2 fun facts today: first off, one of my dear high school friends, who's a military wife and stay-at-home mother of 3, has started her own blog. And she's funny. Really. Well, sarcastic too. And hard-hitting, depending on the topic. Her Facebook status updates alone would make a pretty funny this-is-my-life type of book, a la Chelsea Handler. Drop by, would you? She's at MyLifeMyFamilyMyWay.

And I want to give a shout-out to a fellow Hudson Valley RWA member, Elf Ahearn, who just sold her first manuscript to Crimson Romance! Big cheers and congratulations!! Crimson is a fairly new imprint of Adams Media, and it looks like they're settling into the romance niche pretty well. Want to know more? Click here.

Enjoy your weekend!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Cyber-Monday Deals!

Whew!  Did everyone else survive the holidays? Between cooking for Thanksgiving, heading out in the wee hours for Black Friday sales, and leading my mother and sister on a walking tour of lower Manhattan on Saturday, I'm ready to go back to work!

In all seriousness, it was nice to see and spend time with friends and family...hope you felt the same.

And now, just in case you DIDN'T finish your shopping last week, Cyber-Monday has rolled around with some more great deals. For romance ebook readers especially, here are the ones you need to know about:

Samhain Publishing is offering 50% off ALL titles from midnight to 9 am on Monday, and then 40% off all titles from 9 am to midnight! Use EARLYBIRD coupon code for the first one and CYBERMONDAY coupon code for the second one ;)

Lyrical Press is holding their "Doomsday" sale from now through December 21st. Check our their home page for more information AND great discounts on all books purchased through their store.

Of course, there are more sales all around the web, including and Go forth and buy books!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday Mentionables: New Audio Books Available!

Imagine my surprise when I discovered over the weekend that One Night in Napa and One Night in Boston are both now for sale on! The release dates were scheduled for early 2013, so I'm thrilled that they're up early :) And check out these fun covers:


Hey folks, audio books are AWESOME for anyone who's too busy to sit down with a book (and unfortunately, that's a lot of us these days). Commuting? Prepping your kitchen and your turkey for the big day? Sneaking in a little time on the treadmill? Download a book or two for your iPod and enjoy a little romance a la Allie Boniface!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday Fun Facts: Thanksgiving Trivia

Just in time for the holiday, here are 10 little-known facts about Thanksgiving (well, they were little-known to me, anyway). Hmm....think maybe there's a story idea in here somewhere?

#1. Lobster, rabbit, chicken, fish, squashes, beans, chestnuts, hickory nuts, onions, leeks, dried fruits, maple syrup and honey, radishes, cabbage, carrots, eggs, and goat cheese are thought to have made up the first Thanksgiving feast.

#2. Californians are the largest consumers of turkey in the United States.

#3. The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds, about the size of a large dog.

#4. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade used to use live animals instead of floats (they borrowed the animals from the Central Park Zoo).

#5. The night before Thanksgiving is the single biggest day for bar sales in the United States. 

#6. According to Guinness World Records, the largest pumpkin pie ever baked was 12 feet in diameter and 2,020 pounds. The recipe required 900 pounds of pumpkin, 1,860 eggs, 300 pounds of sugar and 250 pounds of crust!
#7. While commercially raised turkeys usually can't fly, the wild variety can hit speeds of up to 55 mph when outrunning a predator.

#8. Part of the reason that Swanson started creating T.V. Dinners in 1953 was because they needed to find something to do with 260 tons of frozen turkeys that were left over from Thanksgiving.

#9. The original cornucopia was made from a curved goat's horn.

#10. Scientists have found fossils suggesting that Turkeys roamed North America 10 million years ago!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Mentionables: There's a Party Coming Up!

Hey readers, next week The Romance Studio will be holding a Thanksgiving Week Bash, with tons of authors posting teasers and questions and trivia and PRIZES....and I'll be there as one of them!

Want to know more? Click on the banner below. Three days of partying....hope you can join us!

Friday, November 09, 2012

Friday Fun Facts: Does Swag Lead to Sales?

The latest issue of the Romance Writers' Report was all about the statistics of romance sales: who's buying, what they're buying, and in which format. The feature article also discussed why readers buy books, and the top reasons included familiarity with the author's other works, recommendations from friends, & excerpts from the book they could read online or at the end of other authors' books. To a lesser extent, reviews and covers encouraged readers to buy a book. What landed at the bottom of the list? Swag, or free "stuff" that authors give away, such as bookmarks, magnets, goodie bags, etc.

I mention this for a couple of reasons: my local RWA meeting is this weekend, and a few members want to discuss swag and what works/what doesn't (for the record, I've found it's very hard to tell what promotional items or efforts are directly tied to sales. Marketing experts will tell you pretty much the same). I'm also interested in knowing YOUR opinion: what makes you buy a book? Have you ever bought a book because of swag you got from an author? Should we authors be putting money into promotional items - bookmarks, pens, posters, flyers, etc...? Or not?

Please share!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Writers' Wednesday: Hook, Line & Sinker Contest Still Open!

Calling all writers! Due to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Hudson Valley RWA has extended its deadline for the Hook, Line, and Sinker Contest to this Friday, November 8th. Entry fee is just $10 - get feedback from published authors on the first 3 pages of your manuscript....those tricky opening lines where you either hook your reader or lose 'em!

More info here.

In other news, I finished my edits for Beacon of Love and now just have to work on the dedication and the "catchy but brief" author bio to put at the end. And now off to the keyboard, my friends.....

Friday, November 02, 2012

The Aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

Today my heart and my thoughts go out to all those people in NYC and New Jersey who suffered loss at the hands of Hurricane Sandy this week. If you don't live in the area, I'm sure you've seen the pictures: so much of the Jersey coast, lower Manhattan, and Long Island has been destroyed. At this point there is widespread power loss; people are struggling to find gas stations; some are returning to their homes to assess the damage while others are trapped in their homes unable to leave. 

I send prayers to ALL of you, and I urge anyone who is able to reach out in whatever way you can, even if it's just a similar prayer or a wish on social media or donations to a charity that's actively helping the survivors. 

My husband and I live in the lower Hudson Valley, about an hour north of where the hurricane hit hardest. We were very fortunate: we only lost power for about 30 hours, and our house didn't suffer any damage. Many, many trees are down around us, though, most torn up by the roots:

The gas shortage is starting to affect our area now. I know many, many people are desperate for gas to run the generators at their homes, not to mention for their cars so they can get to the grocery store or leave and stay with relatives. Yesterday every gas station in our area had lines backed up along the road, and by late afternoon/early evening many were out of gas altogether. I am hopeful that this is only temporary and that shipments will be on their way soon. In the meantime, we'll be cautious here over the next few days and stay close to home. 

Amazing how affected we all can be by an natural disaster like this one. Join together however you can, folks, and know that those people in NYC/New Jersey really need your strong thoughts and support right now :)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Monday Mentionables: Riding Out Hurricane Sandy

Happy Monday, everyone! So...if you're anywhere on the East Coast, you're probably either in the middle of or anticipating the impact of Hurricane Sandy. If you are in its path, please stay safe! Here in the lower Hudson Valley, NY, we're preparing as best we can and hoping the damage is minimal.

Anyway, the good news today is that (if you didn't see it on my Facebook or Twitter pages) I have a cover for my spring release, Beacon of Love! Here it is:

Hope you love it as much as I do!

Also, for readers, Lyrical Press is offering a great Halloween Sale: 50% off all titles this week! Great time to shop for new books and authors, don't you think?

And for writers, The Romance Studio is offering a tremendous 7 for the price of 1 advertising sale - through October 31! More details here.

Okay - batten down the hatches and let Hurricane Sandy do her worst! See you on Wednesday :)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Writers' Wednesday: The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Hi all! Thanks so much to Diane Craver, who tagged me last week in the "The Next Big Thing" Blog Hop. Today I'm talking about my upcoming release (May 2013), Beacon of Love. I know next May is still a while off, but keep me in my mind ;) I love this story!

What is the working title of your book?
Beacon of Love
Where did the idea come from for the book?
My husband and I vacation each summer in the Outer Banks, North Carolina. We visited a lighthouse a few years back while there and I started asking the inevitable author question, "What if...?" I thought what if a news reporter came to a town to uncover the story of a haunted lighthouse and what if she fell in love with a local guy who was trying to protect its secret??
What genre does your book fall under?
This is a contemporary romance, set in a small coastal town :)
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
"In a town that won't give up its secrets, she's determined to find the answers..."
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I am multi-published without an agent; this will be my sixth published novel, and my first with Lyrical Press. I am also published with Samhain and The Wild Rose Press.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Once I got on a roll with this one, it took me about 6 months to write. Since I'm a full-time high school English teacher during the day, I did most of the writing during the summer of 2011, then polished in the fall and submitted in early 2012. I signed the contract in spring of 2012.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
This is a "small town" romance, so it's pretty similar to works by Kristan Higgans and Jill Shalvis :)
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
I was lucky enough to meet a great friend who inspired me to write what I referred to for years as "the lighthouse story." The luckiest authors are those who have people in their lives who truly inspire them :)
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It's a love story mixed with suspense mixed with a 50-year old unsolved mystery. Interested??

Monday, October 22, 2012

Monday Mentionables: Contests and Covers

Hey writers, just a reminder that November 1st is the deadline for the Hudvon Valley RWA's "Hook, Line, and Sinker" contest. All you need to enter are the first 3 pages of your manuscript and $10.00, Best value for your writing dollar around! Judges are published and trained/unpublished authors, and the final judge is a Harlequin Senior Editor! More details here.

Just another little mention: I got a sneak peek at a draft of my cover for Beacon of Love, scheduled to come out in Spring 2013. Needs some tweaks, but I'm loving it so far, and I can't wait to share it with you!

I'll be posting this-coming Wednesday as part of "The Next Big Thing" Blog Hop, thanks to Diane Craver's tagging me last week, so join me to find out more about Beacon of Love AND the sequel I'm working on now, Inferno of Love.

See you Wednesday!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Writers' Wednesday: What's on Your Wish List?

Hi writers (and readers!) What's on your wish list for books this year? Do you buy books for yourself for the holidays? For others? Heck, does anyone still buy books period? Or are they all electronic downloads straight to your Nook or Kindle or iPad these days?

On my list of books I'd like to read in the next few months:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Handle with Care by Jodi Picoult

What about you??

Friday, October 12, 2012

Friday Fun Facts: Shout-Outs for Writers

Hey writers - if you'd like to join me for a blog hop, let me know! I'll "tag" you on Wednesday October 24th and then you'll post on October 31st (ooh...Halloween...could be fun!) All you have to do is talk about your latest book. Easy and enjoyable, right?

And another heads-up for writers: my local RWA chapter, the Hudson Valley RWA, is now taking entries for our "Hook, Line, and Sinker" contest. More info here, but here are the best parts: only a $10 entry fee to have your first 3 pages read, and the finalists will be judged by Harlequin senior editor Brenda Chin. Published and unpublished/trained judges, with great feedback for all entrants. Deadline: November 1st!!

Happy weekend, everyone. Enjoy and write on :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Writers' Wednesday: A Free Read and Lots of Goodies!

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I'm super-excited to share some good news for my fellow romance author, Diane Craver:

First off, her book Marrying Mallory is currently a Free Read at Amazon, so if you're looking for a good story, hope on over and download yourself a copy. It's only free 'til Thursday, though!

Second, to celebrate the release of A Joyful Break, her Amish romance, Diane's having a contest over at her blog with several giveaways – a $15 GC to Amazon, $10 for Bath and Body Works and book giveaways.Here's the link so you can find out more :)

I'm always happy to share the news when it comes to writing friends, so if you have some links or announcements, email me!

Monday, October 08, 2012

Monday Mentionables: Who's Your Skeptic?

I was talking to a writer friend of mine over the weekend, and our conversation inevitably turned to those sticky moments in a story when you know that what you're writing might not be entirely believable to the reader, but you really need the plot to go in a certain direction, so you hope your reader will suspend disbelief long enough for you to get there.

Sound familiar?

Sometimes it works; sometimes readers aren't that patient. I took an online workshop over the summer that addressed that problem in a great way, though: make sure you have a minor character who works as the "skeptic" in your story.

Simply put, have a minor character voice the doubts you know your reader will be having at any given point. Know your main character shouldn't fly to Iceland after his estranged girlfriend without a plan? Have his best friend tell him all the reasons he's being an idiot for getting on that plane. Know your reader will wonder why the heroine is letting a stranger into her apartment when three other women in the apartment complex have been killed? Have her mother tell her so over the phone (right before calling the police because her daughter's clearly lost all rational thought).

Those skeptical comments from other characters in the story will signal to your reader that you as the author are still in control of this story. You've put your characters in questionable situations, yes, BUT never fear: all will turn out well, and you know exactly where you're going with your plot.

I really connected with this piece of advice when I heard it; it made a lot of sense. And it's already saved me with a couple of plot problems in my current WIP. Try it; add it to your arsenal for those times you write yourself into a situation that seems questionable even to you ;)

Happy writing!

Friday, October 05, 2012

Friday Fun Facts: News for Writers

Hey writers, here are two links for you to check out today:

The Romance Studio is holding a blow-out Columbus Day sale: Buy One Get Four Free! Yes, Four. Looking for some advertising at really reasonable prices? Click here for more information.

America's Next Author is a writing contest judged by the online public (and some industry professional judges too). The prize? $5,000. More info here.

Happy writing, and happy weekend!

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Writers' Wednesday: Best First Chapter Contest!!

Thanks to everyone who voted in D. Renee Bagby's "First Chapter" contest! My novel Summer's Song tied for Best First Chapter of August!

And if you'd like to hear part of that first chapter, go right on over here to Audible, where you can get a sneak peek!

Monday, October 01, 2012

Monday Mentionables: Favorite Covers, Favorite Lines

Hmmm....what's mentionable in the world of my writing today? Well, I did finish proofing the audio files for One Night in Napa over the weekend - and the coolest thing about that was that I didn't want to stop listening. I love that story :)

I also love that cover:

I also finally had a chance to dig myself out from under a ton of student paperwork and do some writing of my own. I'm back at work on the sequel to Beacon of Love, starting  at the beginning with some major changes needed, but I did work my way through 3 chapters. So I'm feeling as though I accomplished something!

Favorite lines from what I wrote this weekend:

Waverly breathed deeply, and that's when she saw it. A small wooden cross, faded with weather and years, sat embedded in the ground near her feet. She kneeled. No words, no writing at all. Was that for us? She touched it and waited for a jolt of memory to shock her. It didn't. She closed her eyes, and her chest ached at the emptiness. She'd never realized that the loss of memory, even a horrible one, was a loss all the same.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Fun Facts: Small Town Charm

Happy Friday! I'm so swamped with school work I can barely breathe these days...Septembers seem to get crazier every year. Still, I try to take a moment or two each day to tear my mind away from work - and yesterday as I was leaving school, I happened to catch sight of this:

They waited patiently for the light to change, then turned onto Main Street. I love the rush of city life, but oh yes there is something about small towns that absolutely charms the heart :)

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Writers' Wednesday: Call for Submissions from Lyrical Press

Hello all writers! One of my publishers, Lyrical Press, has just announced the opening of 4 new lines, and they're seeking submissions for all of them! Here's the skinny:

Fresh take on popular contemporary romance tropes.
40,000 – 70,000 words
Tropes considered, but are not limited to: Enemies to Lovers, Boss/Employee to Lovers, Reformed Rake, Millionaire Playboy, The Love Triangle.
Engaging hero. Alpha male preferred.
Believable, relatable and likable heroine.
Heat level can range from sweet to spicy.
Erotic romance will not be considered for Embrace.
Digital. Print option based on digital sales.
Please include Embrace in the subject line of your query, word count and trope used in the body of your email.
Detailed submission guidelines here:
Please submit to:

Once Upon
Erotic twist on fairytales, myths, legends and folklore.
30,000 – 95,000 words
Tortured hero/heroine is always a plus
Alpha males are a must.
Heat level can range from sensual to red-hot.
Erotic romance welcome for Once Upon
Digital only.
Please include Once Upon in the subject line of your query, and word count, fairytale, myth, legend, or folklore used in the body of your email.

Detailed submission guidelines here:
Please submit to:

Hometown Heroes
Fresh take on small town contemporary romance.
40,000 – 70,000 words
Tropes considered, but are not limited to: Best friend’s sibling…all grown up, Childhood enemies to lovers, The bad-boy next door, Just came to town.
Engaging hero. Beta heroes welcome.
Believable, relatable and likable heroine.
Heat level can range from sweet to spicy.
Erotic romance will not be considered for Hometown Heroes.
Digital. Print option based on digital sales.
Please include Hometown Heroes in the subject line of your query, word count and trope used in the body of your email.

Detailed submission guidelines here:
Please submit to:

Modern take on retro-style period romance.
40,000 – 95,000 words
Authors we love: Johanna Lindsey. Kathleen E. Woodiwiss, Julie Garwood, Rosemary Rogers)
Periods considered: Regency, Viking, Victorian, Medieval, Tudor, Pirate, Western, Native American.
Tortured hero/heroine is always a plus
Alpha males are a must.
Heat level can range from sensual to red-hot.
Erotic romance welcome for Vintage.
Digital and print.
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Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Mentionables: Avoid the "Threes"

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” (Ernest Hemingway)

Have you ever heard that expression, "Bad things happen in threes?" I actually looked up the origin, and here's what I found: This is a well-attested folk superstition on both sides of the Atlantic: [1891 Notes & Queries 7th Ser. XII. 489] . It does seem to happen that way, doesn't it? We twist our ankle going downstairs, run out of gas on the way to work, and then wait for the third lousy occurrence to happen later that day, whether it's dropping lunch on the floor, losing a client to a competitor, or even missing the elevator so that we're late to our favorite class at the gym.

Consider this: A sequence of threes is not a good thing in writing either.
I've been spending the last couple of weeks proofing the audio files for my books One Night in Boston (my first) and One Night in Napa(my fourth). Both are coming out as audio books in early 2013 within a few weeks of each other, just sort of the way the timing worked out with the narrators. First off, I'll say that it's interesting to revisit books I haven't read through in years. Interesting and cool, too. It's also obvious that my writing has grown since that first book, most notably in my reliance (or lack of reliance these days) on the use of series of threes:

"I need that list. I need a map of Boston. I need to find out if anyone named Dillon Murphy is listed in the phone book."
"He should have known better. He should have waited for Sam to leave. He should have locked the door behind his friend."

"What do you need to say? That you're going to whisk her away from her life? That you're still in love with her? That everything will be just like it was back in college?"

See? After awhile this pattern of threes becomes sort of like the adage's "bad things" - you want to avoid it. So for newer writers, especially, keep an eye out. Do you fall into patterns, like the use of a series of threes in your descriptions? Consider cutting and varying those patterns whenever you can. I found that there are hardly any in One Night in Napa, and I do think it's better for that.

It's cool to see your own writing mature over the years and over the soldier on, fellow writers! Keep writing and keep learning :)

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Fun Facts: I'm up for "Best of "August"!

Happy Friday, readers! My first chapters and book covers that were featured over at D. Renee Bagby's "First Chapter" blog are now up for "Best of..." voting for the month of August. I'd love for you to help me win bragging rights!

The poll is right here (and hey, if you don't feel like reading all those chapters, maybe possibly you could just vote for one of my covers? Please? I do love them...and I have a few in the running).

Please share the news with your followers too - it's always nice to gain a little recognition in that big bad publishing and marketing world!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Writers' Wednesday:Another Place to Promote

Hey fellow writers, just a quick mention for a possible promo avenue: Affaire deCoeure magazine is actively soliciting writers to participate in a variety of advertising options. Looks like they have both online and print options, for pretty reasonable prices, so you might want to check it out.

Also, Samhain Publishing is looking for readers!! Want to receive their newsletter? Sign up by clicking here. Though I haven't published with them in a while, I still stand by the quality of their product. If you're looking for a good read, Samhain is a great place to start.

Happy reading!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday Mentionables: What Does Your Place Say About You?

“I've heard that it's possible to grow up - I've just never met anyone who's actually done it. Without parents to defy, we break the rules we make for ourselves. We throw tantrums when things don't go our way, we whisper secrets with our best friends in the dark, we look for comfort where we can find it, and we hope - against all logic, against all experience. Like children, we never give up hope..."
(Meredith Grey)

Well, it's Monday of a 3-day weekend here in downstate New York, since the local schools observe Rosh Hashanah. I had never gotten Jewish holidays off from school before I moved here. Nor had I gotten 2-hour delays (in the event that weather is bad in the morning but improves so that the roads can be cleared) or, to be honest, snow days to speak of. I grew up in an area of NY where winter comes...and comes...and comes. If they closed school because of a few inches (or feet) of snow, we'd be going to school in July. So snowplows go out at 3 in the morning to make sure the roads are clear for the schoolbuses a few hours later. Actually, I have a very clear memory as a child of hearing the plows out on the roads before dawn, on a regular basis from December to March.

Here? They don't really clear the roads - not until the snow stops, anyway. And schools tend to close if there's even a hint of bad weather in the forecast. All depends on perspective, I guess. And I'm not really sure where I'm even going with thisblog post except that I find it interesting how we can be so shaped by the places where we grow up. When I was revising my novel One Night in Napa, my editor said to me, as I was cutting out parts of one chapter, "Please don't touch the paragraph on page....."

These are those lines she wanted me to keep:

"...Did children who lived in the shadows of a mountain range spend their earliest days looking up, dreaming, watching the clouds make shapes? If you moved those same children to a seaside home, would they lose that distant vision? Would they start looking out rather than up, or develop a rhythmic gait that matched the waves they slept and woke to? Did growing up inside a city of skyscrapers create tunnel vision from the day you were born? Or did living your earliest years inside gated walls mean that you looked at the world in fragments, in sliced-up pieces, so that you could never see the whole of something for what it truly was?"

I do truly believe in that influence of place on a person, and it's something for writers to consider as well. Where do your characters hail from? What does that say about them?

I'll be spending Rosh Hashanah not at school, thinking about it and working on my next project. Happy writing!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Writers' Wednesday: It's Audio Book Day!

"What if everything you knew about your past turned out to be wrong?"

Wow, well for me today it truly IS audio book day, in more than one respect. First and most exciting, Summer's Song releases in audio book format today from Audio Lark! That means if you haven't read it yet, and perhaps you have a commute or a trip coming up where you'll be plugged into your iPod for a while, give it a download and a listen! (P.S. - this is my favorite book :) (Another P.S. - I think my cover is the best one on the front page of the website today....what do you think??)

Also, today over at Savvy Authors you'll find my third blog post in a series about audio books that's appeared over the last 3 months. This month is an interview with the owner of Audio Lark, Jennifer Feddersen, and she shares some really interesting tips and insight about the world of audio book production.

Finally, I'm in the midst of audio book file proofing as we speak! I'm going over the files for both One Night in Boston and One Night in Napa over the next 2-3 weeks, and they're scheduled for release in early 2013. I've done it a few times now, but I have to say that it never gets old, hearing someone else read your words out loud. Such a cool thing :)

Happy Wednesday, everyone! Buy yourself an audio book today!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

September 11th: Do You Remember?

Tomorrow, of course, is September 11th. Do you remember where you were 11 years ago on that day? It's amazing to me that I can still recall exactly what I was wearing, where I was standing, and who told me when the first plane hit the first tower. I remember so much, so many details as the hours unfolded, and I can't believe it's been 11 years. Feels like it was just a year ago. I still have a hard time thinking about it or reading about it without getting choked up.

Prayers today for all those were lost, all those who said goodbye to a loved one that never came home, and all those who worked tirelessly for days and months afterwards to try and help the country heal. We keep moving forward, but we never forget.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Friday Fun Facts: Going Back to Work

"If you would thoroughly know anything, teach it to others."
(Tryon Edwards)

Ah, here we are: at the end of the first week of school. And what have I learned? Let's see....

That I don't talk nearly as much during the summer as during the school year. My throat is killing me after a full day of teaching!

That it's a challenge to wear heels again, after a summer in flip flops or bare feet. Ooh but legs are letting me know they're there!

That's is exhausting to be "on" for seven hours at a time, answering questions and fielding responses and having to constantly think about writing and words without much of a break.

That a classroom is a very cool place to be, because you never know what's coming out of a student's mouth at any given time.

That it is VERY difficult to teach in a room that's 80+ degrees and sweat is running down your back and you're really thinking about how soon you can walk down the hall to the air-conditioned office instead of helping students understand what a thesis sentence is and why it's so important.

That's it's nice to have the support of other teachers in the building who are bemoaning the same issues you are, and who desperately wait for the coffee to brew in the morning the same way you do.

That I have the best job in the world. Years ago, when I first started teaching, I used to think to myself that as long as my basic bills were paid, I would do the job for free. 15 years later, I still feel that way :)

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Writers' Wednesday: Tips on Blog Tours and How to Deal with Being Orphaned

"We can smile even though we are hurting and we can feel happy even though we are unhappy. It's called strength." -Thea Destiny

OK, I did take Monday off in honor of Labor Day (and did some labor-intensive writing of my own...anyone else?)

For all you writers out there today, I wanted to pass share some info from the latest Romance Writers Report:

My local chapter member Jennifer Probst (and author of the wildly popular best-seller The Marriage Bargain) has a feature article on Successful Blog Tours. Among her pieces of advice: don't spread yourself too thin when you take on a blog tour for a new release; target your posts to the audience of the individual blogs; don't just re-process information in your posts (readers follow you!); give something away, because followers love prizes; and don't forget to thank your blog host!

Also, the article on being "orphaned" as an author hit home for me. If you are a writer, chances are you might lose your editor at some point. They move on. They make changes, they work up to other positions, and while that's great for them, sometimes it's not so great for their authors. I went through 2 editors at one publishing house. Both were great to work with, but my second one really "got" me and my books. She was a dream to work with, she loved my writing, and she contracted my projects and championed my work. I was so sad when she left :(

I approached my newly assigned editor professionally and with high hopes. Unfortunately, she and I didn't mesh. Over the next 3 years, she wasn't interested in anything I submitted to her. Finally, I moved on. Now, I have a new editor and a new publishing house, and I'm excited about the possibilties. What did I learn from this experience? The same things that are echoed in the RWR article: Always be professional, and don't give up. There are so many editors out there. Sometimes your new editor won't be a good match for you. That's just a sign that you're meant to sell that work to someone else. Don't be discouraged (believe me, I know it's tough not to be). Keep writing, keep going to conferences, keep honing your craft. You will sell again. You will!

Write on, friends :)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday Fun Facts: Favorite Lines!

Well, despite school starting up again, I did manage to squeeze a little writing in this week. Here are some favorite sections:

"He grinned, and that was even worse, the last piece to the puzzle that lit up his face and made his green eyes dance with flirtation. I wonder if I felt this way back then? If I just walked into a room or saw him on the beach and melted? Probably. Ten years didn’t change that much. It wasn’t a century, just a slim ol’ decade tucked into her back pocket. Barely any time at all."

"At nineteen, he thought he’d been caught in something silly and young. Thought it might last, thought it might grow, and if by chance it didn’t, thought he’d say goodbye without regrets. Took him ten years to realize that something like that, and someone like Waverly, came along once in a lifetime. Now, older and grayer, he had no intention of screwing things up again, of letting someone else tell him what he could and couldn’t do or have or want."


And here are some things I realized I need to adjust/change/delete when I go back through the story:

1. I need to make the heroine's inner fear more apparent in the small ways she acts from the start.

2. I need to hide the antagonist from the hero earlier in the story.

3. I need to give the antoagonist a few likable qualities instead of being purely bad.

4. I need to make the hero more flawed (even as my inner self wants him to be perfect! from the start!)

And so the writing journey continues...

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Writers' Wednesday: The Persevering Heart

Hi folks! Because I am busy preparing lesson plans (and soon, grading first papers) AND trying to do a little writing on the side, today's post will consist of a fantastic picture/saying I found on Facebook the other day. I love it because I think it's true in so many elements of life: personal, professional, in terms of relationships and writing and moving on and new adventures and dealing with loss etc...

"No matter what happened yesterday, life’s relevance does not diminish. The persevering heart always gives it a new beginning." — Dodinsky

Monday, August 27, 2012

Monday Mentionables: A New Year Begins!

"There's no word in the language I revere more than 'teacher.' My heart sings when a kid refers to me as his teacher, and it always has. I've honored myself and the entire family of man by becoming a teacher." (Pat Conroy)

Ayayayay....where did the summer go? yes, I know: I was remiss last week in blogging, but I'm back now only to say it's the first day of school for me which means my whole lazy summer schedule has vanished for yet another year :(

Don't get me wrong; I love teaching. I also love that there's an ending to every year and a chance for rejuvenation before a whole new group of students arrives. And yes, I know many people out there will tell me to stop grumbling, because teachers have it so easy with summers off. To them I say, then you should be a teacher! Kidding aside, while it's certainly nice to have time off, I don't get paid during the summer, which means hubby and I either need to work side jobs  to pay the bills or save and budget very carefully from September to June so that we have enough in our bank account to cover them. We don't, as some people think, get paid for sitting home and doing nothing.

Not like we're doing "nothing," by the way. More likely, if teachers aren't working a second (or third) job during the summer, we're spending our own time and money learning something we can use in school, taking classes, reading, visiting potential field trip sites, buying supplies for our classroom (out of our own money), or meeting with others to plan for a new year.

I'd also remind non-teachers that unlike many other professions, it is not a 9-5 job that we leave behind once we shut the classroom door for the day. After 7 or 8 hours of teaching, we either stay late to plan lessons, grade work, or prepare for the next day, or we load up our bags with work to do at home (sometimes both). This doesn't include the emotional ways we bring our work home with us either, contacting students with questions or concerns, emailing support staff for ways to reach troubled students, lying awake at night trying to think of a way to deal with the student who acts out because he's desperate for attention or failing every subject or thinking of commiting suicide or so panicked about getting into college he has anxiety attacks every week or...


Anyway, I'm looking forward to school starting up again, heartache and hard work and all. However, this also means I have less time to write, a definite downside, but it also means I will take full advantage of those slivers of time I do have.

By the way, we had a great time in Boston. One place we visited was the Sam Adams Brewery, and our tour guide, a fantastically energetic young guy who knew every detail of the place and all the beers, was none other than........a high school history teacher working a summer job!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Monday Mentionables: I Need Some Boston Recommendations

"In Boston, they ask, how much does he know? In New York, how much is he worth? In Philadelphia, who were his parents?" (Mark Twain)

A couple of notes for writers this morning: All Romance Ebooks is seeking submissions from any "Passionate Cooks" out there for a cookbook they plan to release this fall. If you've got a great recipe(and at least one book listed for sale on their website), here's a way to get your name out there in front of readers AND cooks! More information here.

Savvy Authors has a whole bunch of pitch opportunities coming up in the next couple of weeks - here's the webpage for more details about who's looking for what.

And in a separate note, hubby and I will be spending a few days in Boston...any recommendations for "must-do" things while we're there? So far the only definites are the Sam Adams Brewery (for him) and the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat on the way there (for me)/ We've been to the city before, and are seeing friends so really only have one day downtown, but if you've been there (or live there!) and have some good recommendations, give a holler!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Friday Fun Facts: Studying the Craft

"Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret." (Matthew Arnold)

So I'm currently taking an online course titled "What Does Nora Roberts Know That You Don't?" offered through Lowcountry RWA. Like attending conferences, classes, workshops, and the like are great ways to jump start your writing. This one's only 3 weeks long, but our instructor has packed a lot in already. As a published author, I've already heard and used some of the techniques she's talking about. But there's ALWAYS something new to learn and apply. With a background in Hollywood and movie production, she's got a lot to say about story structure, archetypal characters every story needs, and scenes every story arc must have.

I can see where it's easy to get bogged down, though, especially if you do a lot of reading or studying. Different 'great' teachers have different techniques they swear by, and a lot of the newer/unpublished writers on the class loop with me are getting confused. I think the best thing is to read over as much writing instruction as you can and filter out what works for you. Continue to learn, of course, but don't spend so much time weaving this strategy with that one that you confuse yourself only to end up writing and rewriting the first few chapters over and over again.

Turn off your inner editor and let yourself go. Come back later and edit that page, using the strategies you've learned in moderation, and one at a time. Speaking of getting words down on the page, I've been tinkering with a sequal project to Beacon of Love, which is coming out next year. This one is tentatively titled Inferno of Love and gives one of my favorite minor characters from the first book his own story. This is also the first time I've written a sequel to any of my books, and I'm finding it a lot of fun! It's neat to go back to a town and characters I already know and see what they've been up to in the three years since the other book finished...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Writers' Wednesday: New Cover Art!

“Just give me a thousand words and you may make your own pictures.” (Erica Goros)

Ooh, look! I just got my cover from Audio Lark for Summer's Song, which releases in audio book format September 12th!

What I love about this cover is that it suggests a few important things about the story: that it's set in a small rural town, that it's about coming home (walking the road back home) and that it's set in the middle of a hot & steamy summer. Love the bare legs :) Also, I think the idea that it's a sweet romance comes across as well. It's interesting to take a look at the ebook/print book cover that Samhain did (over there on the right sidebar) - so different, right?? I love different artists' interpretations of a story!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Friday Fun facts: A Book Signing!

"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket."  (Chinese Proverb)
Just one Friday Fun Fact to share today: fellow romance author Liz Matis and I will be selling & signing books and chatting with anyone who stops by at the Kingston Farmer's Market in Kingston, NY tomorrow, from 12-2! Now, where else can you pick up organic produce AND an autographed copy of a great beach read??

If you're in the area, we'd love to see you there!

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Writers' Wednesday: Writing What You Know, Loving What You Know

“‎The simple truth is that you can understand a town. You can know and love and hate it. You can blame it, resent it, and nothing changes. In the end, you're just another part of it.” (Brenna Yovanoff)

One of the oldest pieces of writing advice is "Write what you know." It makes sense, to a certain degree: you can certainly write with passion as well as expertise on subjects you know well. But writing also requires imagination, creativity, and in some cases good research, which is why many authors can write compelling stories about places they've never been or worlds that have never actually existed.

I, however, have always preferred writing what I know. That's why I write contemporary romance novels like The Promise of Paradise or Summer's Song. I like using settings and characters based on people and places I can at least realistically imagine. Over the weekend, I went back to my childhood hometown to visit my mom but also to hear Amy Dickinson speak about her best-selling memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville. She's the writer of the column "Ask Amy", and she grew up in a very small town about 20 miles from mine. Her book in large part is about the comforts of home, and the details about her memories growing up in a small town reminded me why I love my own.

I love my hometown because after Amy's talk, I walked out of the Methodist Church where the talk had been held onto the village green, which sits in the center of town, surrounded on one side by three churches and the elementary school, and the other side by Main Street and the library and the firehouse. I love my hometown because I walked to my mom's house from there, about a mile straight down Main Street. I passed the bench where I kissed my first boyfriend. I passed the house where I broke up with my second one. I passed the bank where I opened my first checking account, the clothing store where you can buy anything from gloves to overalls to a bathing suit, the minister's house, the Town Hall where I used to go with my mom when she voted. I traced the route I used to run as a member of the junior high track team, and the super-wide street where I practiced 3-point turns with my dad before my driver's test. I passed the elementary school playground where I played tag at 8 during recess and years later drank winecoolers at 21 after midnight.

It is the kind of town Norman Rockwell would have painted, where the houses built in the late 1800s are considered "not that old," where hitching posts still stand along the street, where the volunteer fire dept. floods the green for ice skating in the winter, where every summer Wednesday people bring their lawn chairs to listen to the free concerts played in the village bandstand.

I feel most like myself in this town, like I can peel away all the layers of life that have happened since I graduated from high school and went on to college and work and marriage and life in other places. I love coming home, and it's no wonder I write so many stories about the power of small towns. I DO write what I know, and I love what I know.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Friday Fun Facts: I'm a Quote Junkie

"If music be the food of love, play on."

I'll admit it: I'm a nerd when it comes to literature. I love it. I loved reading from the time I was about 4, and that never changed through high school, college, or graduate school. In fact, the only part I didn't really love about majoring in English Lit were the papers I had to write analyzing authors. I enjoyed reading them; I loved drinking in the language and somewhere I still have a little book where I would write down favorite quotes I came across. I didn't really enjoyed tearing them apart.

That was a driving force in my becoming a writer, I think: I dreamed of crafting language that would make other people pause the way I did so many times. (That's always been a sticking point for me, actually: I'm much more interested in playing with language and phrases than hammering out a page-turning plot. It's something I'm continually working on improving).

In researching the YA novel I'm working on right now, I read through Shakespeare's Twelfth Night (and enjoyed it - told you I was a nerd). Here are some of my favorite quotes from that play, and I'm trying to figure out how to work them into my story. I'll keep you posted!

"Oh Time, thou must untangle this, not I. It is too hard a knot for me t' untie!"

"Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em."

"Love sought is good, but giv'n unsought is better."

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Writers' Wednesday: It's Time for First Chapters!

So today I'm the lucky featured author over at D. Renee Bagby's "First Chapters" blog (great promo opp for you fellow writers out there!). You'll have a chance to read the first chapters of my 5 contemporary romance novels, and if you haven't read them before, maybe today will be a nice little whetting of your appetite :)

In addition, though, all you have to do is post a comment on any of the chapters, and you'll be entered for a chance to win a $10.00 Amazon gift certificate! Hope to see you over there :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Fun Facts: Let the Fun Begin!

Official Opening Day for the Olympics! So excited....I can't wait to watch and cheer and follow all those human interest stories that the media loves to sell along with the competition :)

And hey, I'm guest blogging over at Brenda Williamson's blog today, about a different kind of workout ;)

Drop on over and join me!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Writers' Wednesday: What the Heck is Speculative Fiction??

So I'm working on a new YA (young adult) project, and in my browsing of the Web yesterday found this helpful website: YA Highway. Especially valuable is the "Field Trip Friday" feature, which seems to highlight the best YA stuff that's been out/talked about in each week.

I find YA lit interesting, I really do - the whole idea of your protagonist figuring him/herself out and taking on the world in the process. That's probably also an influence of my teaching teenagers. Despite all the attitude and all the hormones, that's exactly what they're trying to do too, and it's fascinating to watch and shape.

Having said that, I'm at a bit of a crossroads in trying to decide which genre my YA falls into, exactly. Very loosely, it's Shakespeare's Twelfth Night set in an alternate, post-9/11 universe, a la the television show "Fringe." It's not a dystopian society, which is what everyone seems to be writing and buying these days. It's just another, similar-except-for-a-few-key-differences, world. it's a world inhabited by people who used to live on Earth, so they've brought most of their previous life with them except for some changes they've had to make to actually live in a different world with a different atmosphere and different physical makeup. I don't think it's science fiction. I think it may be speculative fiction, but when I tried to find a definition of that I found about 20 of them:

'Speculative fiction is a world that writers create, where anything can happen. It is a place beyond reality, a place that could have been, or might have been, if only the rules of the universe were altered just a bit.'

'Speculative fiction stories, however fanciful, can have a big emotional and inspirational impact, teaching us much about ethics, bravery, kindness, good, and evil.'

'Some experts define speculative fiction as 'genre' fiction. A lot of readers think speculative fiction consists of science fiction and fantasy only. Other readers include horror, mystery and romance.
To me, it is writing that pushes the boundaries of the imagination. A good speculative fiction story would make you think, provide a new insight into human nature or even give you a new outlook on life.'

And so on...

Is anyone familiar with the speculative fiction genre? Do you read or write it? How would you define it?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday's Mentionables: Writing up a Storm

First off, congrats to JackieW and Charlene, winners in last week's Great Print Book Giveaway! 2 more winners to be randomly chosen this week, so stay tuned :)

I'm on a whirlwind of writing right now; I started a new book last week that's been bouncing around in my head for a while. It's different than anything I've written before - basically, a Young Adult set in a post-9/11 alternate (not dystopian) universe. I just.......needed to do something different. I was feeling frustrated and a little stale with my other projects, so I thought maybe I'd jump-start my creativity a little by switching gears for a while.

I have to say, it's been very freeing. I've done a decent job of turning off my inner editor to just write - and since I have to create a whole other world, there's been a lot to write. Also since I'm not teaching during the summer, I have lots of extra time, and I'm trying to take full advantage by not booking a lot of other things to do. My goal was 3K words a day, and so far I'm doing well. After 1 week, I have 22K words.

Yay! Of course a good half of that (or more) might turn out to be edited or deleted when I go back through, but at least I have words on the page.

So I'm off the try and continue the good vibes and get my 3K words done today...Happy Monday!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Reviewing Fifty Shades of Grey

OK folks, I did it. I read the runaway best seller Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. So far t's sold roughly 20 million copies, been optioned for a movie, and made its debut author oodles of royalty money.It's also been both lavishly praised and lambasted by readers and reviewers. Since I'm a writer, and honestly since everywhere I went people asked if I'd read it, I thought I needed to. I wanted to see what the fuss was all about.

Here's my unofficial, gut reaction: it's horrifying.

Here's my more carefully formed opinion: it is a poorly written novel with roots in Twilight fan fiction that creates a disturbing so-called romance from a BDSM relationship between an older man and an college-aged virgin.

These are the problems I had with this book:

1. It's poorly written. The writing is choppy, repetitive, verbose, repetitive, and features unrealistic dialogue and characters. Also, it's repetitive. Honestly, I wanted to put it down after the first chapter. I can't even count (well, I probably could, but I didn't) the number of times Christian's "long index finger" is mentioned, Ana bites her bottom lip, she says "Holy Cow" or refers to her "inner goddess," or we hear about the "gray linen pants" that hang off his hips.

2. It's wholly unbelievable. Why on earth would a 27-year old mega-millionaire have any interest in a bumbling, insecure 21-year old virgin? Why IS she a virgin in 2011 (religion aside, because that's never touted as a reason)? Moreover, she's also never masturbated or been kissed, but the moment she meets Christian, she has multiple orgasms and gives perfect oral sex? Really?

3. It started as Twilight fan fiction, which means the characters of Christian and Ana are Edward and Bella, grown up and having sex. First of all, I'm more likely to support an author who creates her own original characters, instead of drawing upon a fan base established by someone else. Beyond that, I didn't like the characters in Twilight because Bella's a weak heroine who gives up everything in her life for a controlling, creepy man, and lo and behold! The same thing happens in Fifty Shades, only Edward/Christian is about 100 times creepier and more controlling. From a high school teacher's POV, I tell my female students not to want to be Bella or want a guy like Edward, which brings me to my next point...

4. I understand that BDSM is a lifestyle that some people choose. However, the way in which inexperienced Ana is brought into the lifestyle horrified me in both a physical and emotional sense. Arousal through physical dominance/punishment borders wayyy too closely on abuse for me. Ana is taught that sexual pleasure comes from giving up everything to her man, and if she doesn't "behave" then he is allowed to control and punish her as he sees fit. Yes, I know they negotiate a contract, and she has safe words and is allowed to say no at any point. I don't care. To deliver the message to someone who has zero sexual experience that THIS is how you achieve that pleasure is disturbing. It is tantamount to telling young girls that they should obey and submit, that men should be allowed to control them this way because it's in everyone's best interests. What kind of message does that send to women? To men? How can we be sure they aren't taking those kinds of ideas from the bedroom into their professional and public lives? I read a commentary that suggested that the reason so many women enjoyed this book was because secretly, they were tired of being "in charge" in the rest of their lives and wanted to give up control and let someone else lead in the bedroom. Perhaps. To me, there is still a difference between letting someone else lead during sex and allowing your partner to order you to kneel in the corner without looking at him or allowing him to spank you if you "misbehave."

5. Finally, it's not a romance. The book does not end happily, nor does it really even have closure of any kind - I'm guessing that's because there are 2 more books in the trilogy, and the author knew that when she was finishing the first one. However, a romance is expected to have at least a "Happy For Now" ending and this one doesn't. Of course, in my opinion this isn't a romance in the first place, so if we file it under Women's Fiction I suppose it could get away without the ending neartly tied up. I'd still like to see some progress made in Ana's character, though, and I don.'t

I finished the book. I will not read the other 2 in the trilogy. I'm glad, I guess, that I read it so I know what everyone's talking about, but this is my take. I will say this: if Fifty Shades brought the romance genre more into the mainstream, and increased sales of other romance titles, then I'm glad, That's about the only redeeming quality I can see from this book.

And now....I'm done. Thoughts, anyone??

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Writers' Wednesday: Guest Blogging at Romance Junkies Today!

Hey, all, I'm guest blogging over at Romance Junkies today with a little insight about long it sometimes takes for a story to find a publishing home. In the words of one of my favorite heroines, Summer Thompson, I give the lowdown on the bumps and detours in the road to publishing Summer's Song. (Hint: it took almost 10 years from first idea to release date).

Now, most books don't usually take that long, honestly. But I also want to dispel the myth that writing is "easy" or that authors can conceive of a story and find it a home in a few weeks or months. Sometimes, maybe, yes. Usually it takes longer, and that's where an author's patience comes in.

You must be patient to become a published author, and you must develop a thick skin, because so many people will tell you "No" along the way.

OK, enough blabbing on here. Come over and visit my blog at Romance Junkies, won't you?

(And back here on Friday, I'll be sharing my thoughts on Fifty Shades of Grey, which I just finished reading last night. See you then!)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Congrats to this Week's Winners!

First off, welcome back to the Great Print Book Giveaway! This week's winners are Virginia Campbell and Carol McLain. Congrats and thanks for following my blog and FB page! Virgina & Carol, let me know which book you'd like from the list right here, and I'll get it in the mail to you!

On a side note, tomorrow will be the first of 3 blog posts I've written for Savvy Authors on Audio Books: basically the process involved and whether or not it's something that you, as a writer, should be investigating as another way of getting your books into the public eye. I'll put up the specific link on Monday, but tomorrow you can check the Savvy Authors front page, and it should be there.

Happy (almost) weekend!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Writers' Wednesday: Does Length Really Matter?

So I'm spending this week finishing up a major revision to my novella Tequila Sunrise - only to have this nagging feeling that I haven't really "finished" it. Here's the thing: I'm not sure a novella-length is really my strong point. While in theory I like the shorter length (it isn't so intimidating to write lol), and I like reading some romance novellas, for me my story and characters end up under-developed. This is what I've been told by some of my beta readers, anyway, and maybe they're right.

My plan is to finish this one - it'll be "finished" at about 33K words and put it aside for a week or two. Then I'll try going back with fresh eyes and see if and where it needs to be developed.

Anyway, here's my question: if you're a reader, what's your favorite length story to read? Does it matter? And if you're a writer, what your preferred length story to write? Does that matter?

And just for kicks, here's my favorite few lines I wrote yesterday. Enjoy:

“Do you love her?”

Love. Hell of a terrifying four-letter word. He’d asked himself that question more times than he could count over the past few weeks, and the bottom line was, he didn’t know. He didn’t know what it was supposed to feel like. Like a punch in the gut? Like the comforting silence of a summer night? Hope crossed with fear, with a healthy dose of hormones tossed in? Depending on the day, he felt all that and then some, which seemed as though it could be love or maybe just insanity.

Maybe they weren’t that far apart.