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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Business of Love

Please welcome guest blogger Lynn Crain

When I tried to come up with a subject for this blog, I was bombarded with ideas but nothing jumped out for me. As the week went on, I knew I wanted to do something different and inspiring. Then I started reading some other blogs about agents and authors being non-professional with each other which made me cringe for both parties.

Added to these blogs was a movie. Everyone knows I just love to use visuals but this one isn’t an ordinary movie at all. Matter of fact, it’s entitled A Life Less Ordinary. Now the stars of that film don’t matter but a line I heard struck a chord with me. That line was a definition of love. Their definition is: Love – an emotional adaptation to a physical necessity.

Wow…what a definition…and as I sat at my computer I thought to myself how true the definition is. And I’m not just talking about man/woman love here. True, it does apply to the relationship kind. You have a physical reaction to the person, you like the way they walk and talk. And when they touch you, your heart starts to beat more and more rapidly. Before you know it, your emotions get involved.

Now think about the relationship you have with your books. You feel for your characters. You know their pain, their triumphs and everything in between. You have a physical need to write that can’t be relieved any other way than just sitting down and doing the work. And soon, you find yourself having a very emotional bond with the inanimate, or in many cases animate, object known as your novel. Well, I’m here to say there is nothing wrong with that at all.

Unless it clouds your business judgment.

We are all in the business of love. We form all sorts of emotional bonds with our books and we expect the rest of the world to come to terms with our feelings. Maybe in a perfect world but none of us live in a perfect world. The only group in the world who understands you a little is the writing and publishing world. Other writers will sympathize with you when things are not working out as planned or when you can’t seem to sell your work. However, they are a group of people who also work in the business of love and they have passionate moments just like you for their own projects.

BUT no one is like you. You are one of a kind and only you will love your books like you do. The others love your books according to their position in the business. Agents and editors look at books very differently than readers and marketing because everyone has a different focus. It doesn’t mean that people don’t cross the line. They do and will but there are different levels of in involvement which have nothing to do for your love for your work. All writers should be readers and most are. Reading the genre is actually a case study which every author needs to do.

Don’t mistake passion for your work as business savvy. They are not the same. As a writer of nearly twenty ebooks and small press works, I make it my business to take at least one class a quarter on something which will give me more leverage in my career. The market is always changing and evolving therefore I have to evolve as well.

I can’t tell you how many pitch classes I’ve gone to and I get something new each time I take one. I just took a class before the Desert Dreams conference which helped me to fine tune my pitch so I could do a bang up job at the conference.

It paid off. Every agent and editor I pitched to requested at least a partial on this book I’ve called my break-out book for the full three years I’ve been working on it. So my love for this book worked in my favor. Apparently, I’ve loved this story just the right amount.

Another important thing to do in this business of love is to attend one or two conferences a year. As a writer, this conference needs to be important for you. It can be big or it can be small. It needs to give you something back which you need to learn or which can propel your career forward. Like I mentioned above, I recently went to the Desert Dreams conference and entered their ‘Realizing the Dream’ contest for attendees only. I was very surprised to find out on Friday evening that I had won the contest and received another editor/agent appointment of my choice.

When I decided to go to the small regional conference in December I made my number one goal to do things which would forward my career. I was determined to get appointments with NYC editors and agents. I wasn’t disappointed. With any luck, I will be getting my own NYC call sometime in the near future.

Another thing I have learned in this business during the last twenty-five years is when to talk, when to listen and when to ask questions. And I never, ever air my dirty laundry except to a few outside the business and maybe one or two inside. The blog which that made me decide to write this very column was about an unpublished author who blogs her rejection letters.

Nothing wrong with that as long as you don’t add your emotional two cents which she did at every opportunity. I’ll be honest, I read one and found myself reading fifty because I couldn’t believe someone was shooting themselves in the foot like that…sigh…well, they were. I did feel for the author when an agent couldn’t remember that this is an emotional, passionate business and let the ugly words fly. But the author had just as much negative passion in her responses. Oiy-vey…and I’m not Jewish!

Please, as a new author or even a seasoned one, don’t find yourself in this quagmire of horridness. I always use the golden rule and something my mama used to tell me: if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I can unfortunately reveal I didn’t always follow these rules as I was way too passionate about things as I grew up. Yeah, my twenties, thirties and some of my forties, I had to spend growing up. A good amount of self-pride is healthy but there is a difference between being assertive versus being pushy or downright rude. Some people are lucky to find their business savvy early and it took me longer than most. But by the same token, I am not afraid to admit a mistake and people have heard me start a conversation with, ‘I’m sorry but I gave you the wrong information’ or ‘I told you something that is wrong.’ Own your mistakes and move on. As long as it wasn’t a major faux pas, people will ignore it. If it was major, publishing is a very small world and things get around. Always remember this fact.

As I wrap this up, there is one more quote I’d like to bring up about this business of love. Every one of us should be familiar with I Corinthians 13, the love chapter of the Bible. Now I’m not talking religion here, I’m talking about love and my favorite passage is this: It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

You all got that…right? Love never fails. We love our books. As we complete each one, we have triumphed even if it never gets sold to a NYC publisher, even if we never get an agent. We have persevered and won in a business which is hard and changing and not very forgiving. Each one of you has realized at least one step of your dream just by participating in groups like this one. The journey will be made of many, many steps. Some good, some bad, some unexpected.

But never, ever give up the dream. You will make it, you will be a published author in whatever form you want. After, all, if I did it, anyone can!

I’d love to hear from you all…just drop me a line at lynncrain@cox.net.

Lynn Crain realized at an early age she wanted to write. She took the long way to being published by doing a variety of things like nursing, geologist, technical writer and computer manager all of which have added to her detail-oriented stories. Now she’s a full time storyteller and weaves fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales as well as erotic stories for various publishers. She lives in the very hot southwest with her husband, son, new puppy, three cats and three snakes one which is named Psycho. Other members of her clan live nearby. She is a past national board member of the RWA; founding president of Cactus Rose Chapter of RWA; immediate past president, past VP, former Secretary and EPPIE contest Chair of EPIC. But the thing she loves most of all is hearing from her readers at lynncrain@cox.net. 

Captive Illusions 2: Merrick and Jenna

Merrick never expected to be part of his brother, Iain’s wild sexual games. Once it is over, he realizes he wants to find what Iain has found…his soul mate. When he meets Jenna, he’s afraid she is the one. But she certainly isn’t what he expected. She’s a hunter or so he thinks. But how can someone so innocent belong to a group as cold as the Hunters?

Jenna cannot believe her eyes when she sees Merrick…talk, dark and brooding…and everything she’s ever wanted in a man. There’s just one problem. He’s an immortal and her family hunts immortals. But he holds the key to her deepest, darkest fantasies. And the more she’s with him, the more she realizes her father has deceived her. But is she ready to give up everything she knows for an uncertain future?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Organic Plot and Structure for Character Driven Stories

Please welcome guest blogger Jodi Henley

There are many different ways to look at story. In a plot-driven story, event B is always caused by event A. In other words, if I want my hero John back in school after a couple of decades in the workforce, I need a reason.

In a linear plot, you'd see John get a pink slip and walk past a Workers Retraining poster. In an organic, character-driven story, you'd see John in a crappy job, a stack of bills on the counter, his kids in a rundown second rate school and his fear that maybe that's all there is, maybe he can’t get his kids out of poverty. By the time John walks into the admission office, you know why he's there, but there's no one specific goal or motivation because his goals are as complex as his motivations.

Linear-John is easy to flesh out because his character only needs to be developed to the point of supporting the plot. I can easily give John gorgeous blond hair, dazzling blue eyes and an Armani suit, because he’s plot-support.

Organic-John is defined by his circumstances and character. He's got kids, he's got a crappy job--they live in a ghetto. That means he might wear a suit, but if he cares about his kids, it's the Sears clearance special and his gorgeous blond hair is shaggy and unkempt, or so military tight it can go longer between cuts. Maybe he cuts it himself and messed up one side. Maybe he's too proud to ask for help, so he's always hungry. In a character-driven story John is a plot-driver.

The underlying structure is logical, but that logic is the result of many plot threads coming together in a way true to your character’s internal logic. An organic story has GMC, but it can’t be seen from the inside during the process of writing this particular kind of draft. It can only be seen afterwards during revision/edits or layering. In other words, linear plot doesn’t work for an organically written, character-driven story because logical progression doesn’t always work on a conscious level.

Plot is important to stories that have to go somewhere--tech-thrillers, mysteries, psychological suspense--books where every thread has to go over and under in exactly the right place. Organic plot, on the other hand, is a cross between writing by the seat of your pants and filling in an extensive twenty page outline. It stays in flux, which means the writer needs to stay flexible.


If you have a story where the hero ends up in circumstances that trigger one or more of his hot buttons, you’ll automatically get plot points where the hero acts a certain way, or consciously fights the desire to act a certain way. But until you put him in exactly those circumstances, it's hard to tell what he'll do. It’s obvious, but not until afterwards.

Not pantsing, because a well constructed hero can only act true to his nature. And not character arc, because character arc is how your character reacts and changes over the course of the story. Organic plot points are unique and tailored specifically to one character. Like flux that flows outward and at the point of contact with another character changes to create a story event like “a jump” from A to D, instead of the more commonplace A-B-C-D. “A” is a given, and so is “D”, but “B” and “C” are more like a leap of faith that can’t “not” work if the characters are acting true to themselves and their creation.

The way this boomerangs is when well meaning writers force a plot on characters that wouldn't logically do the needed action. Think of a skein of yarn where the “creation” of character is the beginning of the strand--now pull the skein out to where it’s sort of like a big moebius strip, lay it down and cut it on each side. You have a lot of strips that are of equal length.

Organic structure is like that.

A lot of ends that intersect at point “A”, travel in a mostly straight line “toward” point “D”, and then end when they “become” point “D”. But at the same time remain a bunch of ends with the potential to become their own skein, and something totally different when another color or fiber/character gets added.

Jodi Henley is a long-time member of the popular on-line writer’s forum “Romance Divas” where her craft of writing articles have been archived as downloads in The Place for Answers, Romance Diva’s on-line library. Highly sought after for her plain-English approach to problem solving, Jodi spends her time dissecting the craft of writing. Her obsessive Myer-Briggs INTJ personality drives her to explain her findings, and she considers herself lucky to have a receptive audience. A long-time blogger, her blog, “ Will Work for Noodles”, is a popular writer’s reference for people in fields from play-writing to Christian magazines and newspaper journalism.

Praise for Jodi Henley:

“I'm so glad this story is FINALLY going somewhere! I've been working on this thing for like 4-5 years and then Jodi came along with her organic structure and BOOM! I always felt like this story could be something special but I just never felt I was ready to work on it. Jodi is a wealth of information”--Lauren Murphy, author of Cara’s Christmas Fantasy

Running in the Dark: Organic Structure for Character-driven Stories runs from May 31, 2010 through June 6, 2010.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Why vampires?

Please welcome guest blogger Rosemary Laurey

That’s a question I get asked a good deal, No doubt from people wondering why a mind-mannered grandmother spends her days writing about the blood sucking undead.

A good question too: What’s the appeal? Why are so many readers (and writers, of course) drawn to vampires?

Speaking for myself, the vampire first chose me, unexpectedly announcing around about chapter five, that he was actually Kit Marlowe, and not dead as had been supposed for 400 years. After that, the undead sucked me in (forgive the pun, it just came out, I couldn’t help it). Whether heroes, heroines or villains, vampires are fun to write and add a layer to the story that mere mortals couldn’t possibly manage.

In the Bloody Series, I wrote the vamps as villains. Of course from their point of view, they are fighting nobly for a cause, aided and abetted by the German High Command. The Others of Brytewood see the whole scheme completely differently and one by one, with a few casualties, deaths and close calls along the way, they eliminate the enemy. As the villains, they had to be eliminated but while they wreaked havoc among the Surrey hills, they added interest and tension to the books. In fact without them and their mission of sabotage and subversion, there wouldn’t have been much of a story.

In my Rosemary Laurey books, my vamps are romantic heroes and heroines. Very different and remarkably odd, if you think about it. Vampires as villains pretty much fits the notion of a bloodsuckers preying on the living but the metamorphosis from horrific figure to romantic hero is an incredible leap. Or is it? He fits many of the parameters of the genre. He’s the ultimate dark and dangerous hero. Messing around with a vampire you are playing with the ultimate risk. He might be good in bed but his kiss could kill. Plus, no matter how desperate your mother might be to see you settled for life, she would not want you bringing a a dead man home for Sunday lunch. Then there is the fantastic sex (although strictly speaking aren’t we skirting around necrophilia here?). On the other hand, by the time a man is a few hundred years old or more, he’s no doubt learned a thing or two and with a vampire’s stamina, he won’t fall asleep afterwards.

Hero or villain, a vampire in the plot makes for wonderful escapist fiction.

USA Today best-selling Author, Rosemary Laurey is an expatriate Brit, retired special ed teacher and grandmother, who now lives in Ohio and has a wonderful time writing stories of vampires and shapeshifting pumas.

Kallaayt's Tale

A dragon has found his true love…but can he bring her home?

Once upon a time, Kallaayt the dragon visited the town of Llanbarra in the guise of an itinerant peddler—and unexpectedly found his mate in the beautiful Gwen. Now he’s returned to fetch his bride back to the Great Fire Mountain.

But his love has disappeared.

Gwen is willing to wait as long as it takes for her beloved Kall to return, but her uncle is not so patient. For refusing the marriage the evil man arranges for her, she’s raped by the rejected suitor. When she discovers she’s pregnant, the people of Llanbarra shun her as a wanton. The only safe haven she can find is in the kitchens of a brothel working as a cook.

Kallaayt lives by dragon law, not those of an unjust human town. First, he must find his love and convince her he still loves her. Then he will seek his vengeance.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Go Beyond the Red Shirt

Please welcome guest blogger Beth Caudill

I’m a bit bloodthirsty. I want to see some characters die. The first books I choose to read were Mystery and Horror stories. And then I moved to Fantasy and Science Fiction. Someone always died – whether they were a murder victim or a fantasy infantry soldier.

Most of the time you don’t know much about the person who dies or they are the villain and you cheer his/her passing. One of my favorite Nancy Drew stories is The Sign of the Twisted Candles because you learn about the murder victim throughout the tale. He became a part of the story, even though he died halfway through. Just because someone died doesn’t mean they can’t be an influence later on in the story. Remember Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars – his words still influenced Luke in the beginning of Episode Five (Let’s not talk about the ghost thing halfway through.)

It’s a rough world out there for our characters. Whether you are living in outer space, on an agrarian planet, or living in modern day Chicago, bad things happen. There are good ways and bad ways to go.

The first episode of NCIS as a standalone series pissed me off because at the end the terrorist shots an automatic weapon at Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon – he’s aged nicely) yet no bullets hit the airplane or Gibbs. They were no more than ten feet from each other and the shots should have gone somewhere. Do NOT let your characters out of a situation without a scratch. It’s the best way to get your book thrown across the room.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have the guys we know will die. In almost every Star Trek episode the ‘Red Shirt’ Security Officer dies within the first ten minutes leaving our Captain, First Officer and Doctor free to spend the next half hour solving the mystery behind the unexpected death. While this makes a great entry in college drinking games, your readers won’t appreciate the repetition. Another example would be any SG team on Stargate besides SG-1. If you go off world, you’d better hope you go with Jack (aka, Richard Dean Anderson – another cute older actor.) It’s the only way you’d survive.

Go Beyond the Red Shirt - How to Kill a Character in Your Story

  1. Give your Character a Name – You want your readers to be able to connect with this character at least enough to put a name to his face. If you kill someone off, please give them a name. Even with an army, have your Lord Marshall inspect the troops and talk to the guy. It’s the least you can do for him since he won’t make it to The End.
  2. History – Like the hero and heroine our future corpse needs a history. Make sure to give some nice tidbits to the reader. Let the reader connect with him/her but not too much. Most of the time you won’t want your reader to hate you for killing their favorite character. (There are always exceptions but be prepared for the hate mail.)
  3. Purpose – His or her death should have a purpose in the story. In fact, it should have a huge impact on your hero or heroine. Emotion is the key to keeping your reader engaged. Even the most jaded assassin should feel something in their cold heart for their 101st kill.
  4. Be Descriptive – Let the reader engage in the death themselves. I still remember falling off the cliff with Mufasa in Disney’s The Lion King. Even a parent’s death in the past can be relived in the present – a memory told to the hero, a flashback involving the villainous vampire; something the reader can experience with the main character.
  5. Do the Unexpected – Don’t just kill the Villain or the Mentor. Everyone looks for these guys to die. The reader expects it. Kill the Sidekick or Best Friend Forever (Unless you absolutely need him/her for the sequel and then maybe consider the ghost option or resurrection. Be creative.)

This list came about after I’d finished my novella Healer’s Fate and as I’d considered ideas for a paladin knight trilogy. In Healer’s Fate, I kill off my three villains, one of which doesn’t have a name. I thought he’d be creepier and more mysterious without one. Thinking about it now, I’m sorry I didn’t identify him better.

Not all my characters are willing to let me kill them. In planning my paladin knight series, the heroine’s older sister is kidnapped. She was the first person I considered killing. But this character has other ideas. She stood up and flat out told me she would not die. When I asked her why not, she gave me a human villain and a modern day branch of my knights I didn’t know existed. She’s a bit of a control freak and I’ve grudgingly agreed she can see her younger sister get married.

I hate plotting but had to concede to working out my characters ahead of time for this series to work. You can only bring characters forward in time once so I have to have them all accounted for ahead of time. Two of my knights have agreed to sacrifice themselves. In return, they’ve asked me, their author, to provide them an honorable end with a name, a history, an impact on the hero, and an awesome show down with their enemy. I’m going to do my best to provide that for them.

Beth grew up in West Virginia but now resides in North Carolina with her husband and two children. She has a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and previously worked as a quality assurance computer software tester. Reading has been her favorite activity for as long as she can remember and her home has more books than shelves to store them. While being a fulltime parent, she is pursuing a writing career.

She is a member of Romance Writers of America, FF&P and her local chapter Heart of Carolina Romance Writers.

Healer's Fate
Corliss Rumdone hides behind her status as Healer to avoid the normal wolf pack hierarchal challenges. A forced mating changes the course of her life. Instead of Raymond, the beta wolf selected for her, she mates with Liam—her best friend and heir to the Alpha pair.

Liam whisks them away to a shifter retreat so they can allow the mating bond to settle in private. But interference from those seeking power and two terminal children arouse past hurts and challenge their new relationship. Even their home is not the haven it should be as Liam must watch Corliss fight for the right to stay his mate. For one healer, death becomes a weapon to balance life.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

On Voice and Valerie Bertinelli

Please welcome guest blogger Wendy Lyn Watson

One of the best compliments I ever received for my writing came from an unexpected source. My friend Matthew is a straight arrow. He’s Matthew, not Matt. He likes his burgers plain, just bun and meat. He wears neatly pressed dress shirts and lots of navy and gray. He is, in short, vanilla.

I am the opposite of Matthew.

Still, we get along like a house afire, having great fun at each others’ expense and generally rejoicing in our differences. I was tickled he deigned to pick up I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM, my fluffy pink book, and give it a read. That alone would have made me happy, but then he brought tears to my eyes. He sent me an e-mail and said, “It was like I could hear you talking when I read it.”

Bingo. Bull’s eye. Shazam.

See, if I sucked all my voice out of I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM, it’s a story about a woman scorned who’s suspected of killing her ex’s new, younger girlfriend. She investigates, figures out who dunnit, and maybe finds a new beau in the process. Yawn. You’ve read that story a hundred times, seen Valerie Bertinelli act it out in a Lifetime TV movie, maybe even written a version of it yourself.

What makes I SCREAM my book and, hopefully, something worth reading isn’t the story. Oh, sure, I spent a lot of time working on the pacing, making sure the narrative arc hit all the important points, crafting clues and red herrings, balancing description and dialogue. But in the end, what makes I SCREAM my book and not that Valerie Bertinelli vehicle on Lifetime is my voice.

The fact that Matthew could hear my voice--my actual, literal voice--when he read my prose meant I had achieved a certain authenticity in my writing. I may not be on the best-seller lists (yet - I’m an optimist), but that little pink book is mine and no one else’s. Matthew could not have paid me a better compliment.

And the great thing about voice, my darlings, is you all have one already. Really. Every last one of you. With work, you can refine it, polish it, show it off to its best advantage. But the raw material is already there inside you. In the online workshop I’m doing for FF&P in May, we’ll work on identifying and developing your individual voices. If you register for the workshop, come with an open mind, and by the end of May, you will hopefully have a better sense of what defines your voice and how you can amp up those qualities to really set your work apart from the pack.

Oh, and for the record, if Valerie Bertinelli wants to bring I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM to film, I’d be honored. She’d make a fantastic Tallulah Jones. Valerie? Call me.

Wendy Lyn Watson writes deliciously funny cozy mysteries with a dollop of romance. Her Mysteries a la Mode (I Scream, You Scream (October, 2009) and Scoop to Kill (September, 2010)) feature amateur sleuth Tallulah Jones, who solves murders in between scooping sundaes. While she does not commit--or solve--murders in real life, Wendy can kill a pint of ice cream in nothing flat. She's also passionately devoted to 80s music, Asian horror films, and reality TV. (www.wendylynwatson.com)

I Scream, You Scream

Tallulah Jones, proprietor of Dalliance, Texas’s old-fashioned ice-cream parlor, dishes up luscious ice cream that is simply to die for….

Unfortunately, Remember the A-la-mode’s profits are melting faster than a snow cone in July–and Tally’s stuck scooping sundaes for her two-timing ex-husband and his bodacious new girlfriend, Brittanie, at his company luau. To make matters worse, twenty years after she dumped him in the Tasty-Swirl parking lot, Tally’s high school beau, Finn Harper, comes back to town–looking every bit as delicious as a double-dip raspberry mascarpone waffle cone.

The cherry on top? Brittanie drops dead, and Tally’s suddenly the prime suspect in her murder investigation. To catch a killer, Tally will have to churn up Dalliance’s darkest secrets and dip deep into the past. But can Tally freeze out the real culprit before a murder charge puts her dreams on ice for good?

Write Naked runs May 3, 2010 through May 30,2010

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Push to Pro...Coming May 2010

Warning: The following post must be read in a booming movie preview narrator voice.

Get Ready…

Do you want to make 2010 your year of writing success? Did you make a New Year’s resolution about your writing? Ready to take that next step in your career?

In May, Push to PRO begins. We’ll spend this month completing the first draft of our current work in progress. By May 31, every participant will have a completed novel. Those who aren’t yet PRO members will have everything they need to start querying and to apply for PRO membership.

Get Set…

Last year’s 60 Days to PRO effort was only the beginning. In 2010,we will go from general members with an idea and a dream to professional members with a manuscript and a plan. We will see success from our consistent submissions. We will end the year with an agent, an editor, a spot on a bestseller list. This year will be our year of success.

If you want to succeed, join us. On May 1, the PRO loop will open, and our plan will begin. Sprints in the water cooler. Inspiration. Sharing our Pearls. But May is merely a prelude. A warm-up. Preparation for what comes this fall.

If you thought 60 Days to PRO was great, just wait until you see 60 Days to Success.


Kerri Leigh Grady & Lisa Kessler are the PRO Liaisons for RWA's Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal Chapter

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Finding the Right Agent

Please welcome guest blogger Cynthia Eden

Ah, literary agents. Agents have been known to strike fear (and stir mad love) in the hearts of writers. Have you started your literary agent hunt? If not (and even if you have), let me give you a little advice:
  1. Research. Seriously—research before you submit! If you’re looking for an agent who is romance savvy, don’t send to an agent who only represents non-fiction. Or, if an agent says she currently has a full client list for paranormals and you only write paranormals, then you might want to look elsewhere.

    After you check out the agent’s “want” list on her/his site, look up the agent’s recent sales. You want to make sure you are submitting to an agent who is making sales to the publishers you are targeting. You want a savvy agent! So check out the sales and make sure you’re agent is on top of her/his game.

  1. Make a list of your ideal agents. I’d advise against putting all your writing hopes on one agent. Yes, you can have a “prime” agent that you’d most like to have in your corner, but why not make a list of a few agents that appeal to you? As my grandmother used to say…don’t put all those eggs in one basket! Have a backup agent—or several—waiting for your query in case that ideal agent isn’t interested.

  1. In this social media world, you can learn a great deal about an agent through such outlets as Twitter. Do a search for the agent that interests you and follow that person. Agents often talk about the type of books they are looking for and they talk about their sales. You can learn a lot about a person from those tweets!

  1. If you’re not sure how to find an agent that is interested in the type of books that you write, then head over to www.agentquery.com. You can do a search by genre and you will find agents who are looking for your work! You can also see a listing of recent sales by these agents—and this is all free material. Get thee to www.agentquery.com.

  1. When you query an agent, always be as professional as possible. Hook the agent and get her wanting more! Follow the guidelines listed on the agent’s site, and don’t send more material unless it’s requested. Follow the rules, and if the agent doesn’t make an offer of representation…it’s not the end of the world. Move on to the next agent on your list. Or, if this agent asked for revised material or asked you to submit another project, then submit again! Keep trying! Don’t ever give up in this business.

  1. When you make a connection with an agent who loves your work, please, don’t jump ahead and immediately sign a contract without asking some very important questions. First up, you need to figure out just what you want out of the agent-client relationship. Are you looking for an editorially focused agent? A more hand’s off agent? When you are offered representation, you need to be clear about this to make certain that your needs will be met. Just because one agent is 100% perfect for your BFF, well, that doesn’t mean the agent will be perfect for you. You have to follow the agent path that is best for you—and that means finding an agent who will meet all of your needs.

  1. Finding an agent that is book-focused versus finding an agent that is career-focused.

    When I signed with my agent, I wanted someone who would see the big picture with my work. I didn’t want someone who only wanted to sell the current book I was pitching. I wanted her to help me work toward my career goals. So when you are searching for your agent, keep that in mind…career or book?

  1. Also…review any offered agent contract carefully. Don’t understand some of those clauses? Ask what they mean! This is your life. Don’t just sign it away.

  1. So you talked to the agent and he/she seems like a perfect fit. You’re of the same editorial mindset and you’ve got great career plans. You’re ready to sign with her…


    Before you sign, why not take the time to talk to some of the agent’s other clients? Most agents have a client list on their websites. Shoot off a few emails and get the inside scoop (so to speak). You can also check out the editor on the Predators and Editors website (I always recommend checking around to get as much information as possible).

    After all, knowledge truly is power. Especially in our business!

    Okay, now you’re armed with agent knowledge. Any questions? J

    Good luck finding your perfect agent!

Cynthia Eden
I'LL BE SLAYING YOU--Available 06/29/10 from Kensington Brava
DEADLY FEAR--Available 08/1/10 from Grand Central Publishing (Forever)

Cynthia Eden is an award-winning author of paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Her publishers include: Kensington Brava, Grand Central Publishing, Avon Red, Red Sage, and ImaJinn Books. 

Eternal Hunter

Cynthia Eden delves into the dark realms of the Others, where desires and dangerous games await the unsuspecting in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Assistant DA Erin Jerome has a secret. Make that two. One: She’s not entirely human–she’s Other, desperately trying to keep her supernatural strength under wraps. Two: she’s got a killer stalking her–an Other rogue set on “gifting” her bloody corpses, not to mention nights lying awake in terror. Small wonder she’s been having bad luck with men.

But the bounty hunter on her new case isn’t worried about any of that. Jude Donovan is a shapeshifter himself, and the new DA’s midnight hair and addictive scent tell him all he thinks he needs to know: She’s gorgeous, she’s definitely not human, and she’s bringing out the animal in him in a really good way. He might have to track a psychotic Other stalker through half of Louisiana. But he might also get the chance to watch Erin’s wild side come out and play.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Please welcome guest blogger Linnea Sinclair

It's almost providential that I'm teaching this workshop just before swimsuit season. I mean, this is the time of year many of us think about paring down. Redesigning. Revamping. But instead of wondering what we'll look like in a bikini, I want you to consider what you'll look like between the front cover and the back blurb. Um, your manuscript, that is.

“Prune Your Prose” is a workshop I've taught for the past two years exclusively at writing conferences and in person. It's generally a minimum of four hours long, which is why I'm tickled peachy that I get to do this in an on-line format this time. For one thing, it's a very intense workshop. We cover a lot of ground, a lot of writing issues that plague the beginning writer and the jaded, experienced author. Doing that in four hours—standing for four hours or, in my case, leaning on a podium for four hours—is quite a challenge. (And yes, I know, those of you who've seen me at RT and RWA conferences know Linnea has no problems leaning on a bar for four hours...it's that danged podium. It's libation-less.)

We're going to have a month, O Wonderful Writerly-Types.

And we don't have to be libation-free.

This is still going to be an intense workshop and, for those of you who care to participate and not just lurk along the edges, it will be very much a hands-on workshop. We're going to do writing and rewriting. You're going to learn to spot problems that make copy editors howl in pain, and you're going to learn ways to make your revisions painless. Okay, revisions are never painless. How 'bout we aim for less-painful?

We also going to take a long hard look at whether or not you're actually saying what you mean to say. Words are your tools. Are you properly flogging your vocabulary? Or are you—shudder—a word wimp? Do you eschew erudition?

Forget thin thighs! We will tighten your abs-tract concepts and firm your flabby ass-pirations to be a better writer. All while sitting poolside—as I am now, and yes, I really am—at the Home for the Perpetually Perplexed. Sipping the latest cross-genre cocktail. (Actually, I'm drinking ice water because it's freaking hot here in Florida today.)

So sign up for the workshop now. Bring a friend! Did I mention the free (virtual) massages by Matheus, our Brazilian poolboy after every class? (The guys get Astrud, our Brazilian poolgirl...).

Sharpen those keyboards. The class will be much better than this blog.

Namaste, ~Linnea

Winner of the prestigious national book award, the RITA®, science fiction romance author Linnea Sinclair has become a name synonymous for high-action, emotionally intense, character-driven novels. Reviewers note that Sinclair’s novels “have the wow-factor in spades,” earning her accolades from both the science fiction and romance communities. Starlog magazine calls Sinclair “one of the reigning queens of science fiction romance.” Sinclair’s releases include Gabriel's Ghost (RITA® winner), Games of Command ( Pearl Award winner and RITA® finalist), The Down Home Zombie Blues ( Pearl Award Honorable Mention), Shades of Dark ( Pearl and Prism Awards winner), and Hope's Folly (Romantic Times Book Reviews Top Pick.)

A former news reporter and retired private detective, Sinclair resides in Naples, Florida (winters) and Columbus, Ohio (summers) along with her husband, Robert Bernadino, and their thoroughly spoiled cats. Readers can find her perched on the third barstool from the left at her Intergalactic Bar and Grille .

Rebels and Lovers


For these two renegades, falling in love is the ultimate rebellion…

It’s been two years since Devin Guthrie last saw Captain Makaiden Griggs. But time has done little to dampen his ardor for the beautiful take-charge shuttle pilot who used to fly yachts for his wealthy family. While his soul still burns for her, Kaidee isn’t the kind of woman a Guthrie is allowed to marry—especially in this time of intergalactic upheaval, with the family’s political position made precarious by Devin’s brother Philip, now in open revolt against the Empire. And when Devin’s nineteen-year-old nephew Trip goes inexplicably missing, his bodyguard murdered, this most dutiful of Guthrie sons finds every ounce of family loyalty put to the test. Only by joining forces with Kaidee can Devin complete the mission to bring Trip back alive. Only by breaking every rule can these two renegades redeem the promise of a passion they were never permitted to explore. At risk? A political empire, a personal fortune and both their hearts and lives...

Prune Your Prose runs May 3, 2010 through May 30,2010

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Does the Modern-Day Amazon Exist?

Please welcome guest blogger Marcia Colette

This question was part of a panel discussion at LunaCon this year and I was sorry I wasn’t able to attend. However, it has been a question that has been on my mind for ages.

If you think about it, we had our action-oriented heroines like Wonder Woman, the Bionic Woman, Ripley from Aliens, and most recently Sarah Conner. When I think about today, I have a hard time coming up with one. I guess the most recent ones have been Sarah Connor again, from The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Sydney Bristow from Alias. I guess I could add Kate from Lost and some of the female cast members from Heroes, too.

There are plenty of kick-ass heroines out there right now. And by kick-ass, I don’t mean they have to have an attitude that grates on your nerves twenty-four-seven or they have to kill someone every other chapter to make sure the reader knows their a bad-ass. I’m taking about an action-oriented woman who is normal in all respects, but has to make a move every now and then that will blow your mind or leave your jaw hanging in awe. I love reading about characters like this. Also, it’s probably why I feel like there are a lot of kick-ass women on the market and can’t get enough of them.

But the questions—worry—remain. Will those champions stand the test of time? Will our little girls today remember them when they’re in their twenties?

This is one moment where I wish I could fast-forward in time to know the answer to that. I’d like to think that whoever leaps onto the scene these days will have long-lasting effects like Buffy had. Better yet, define a whole new genre.

In the mean time, the only kick-ass heroines I can think of today are all in books. You have Anita Blake by Laurell K. Hamilton, Elena by Kelley Armstrong, and the ever-loving Sookie Stackhouse. If only Hollywood would take a chance on more than just Charlaine Harris’s books, would I feel confident enough to say “Yes!” our Amazonian heroines of today can stand the test of time be memorable for all-time.

Are there any action-oriented females in recent years (book or film) who you think we’ll remember in the next ten or twenty years?

Paranormal author Marcia Colette was born and raised in a single-parent household in upstate New York. She holds a bachelors degree in biomedical engineering and a masters degree in information technology. After a couple of moves from north to south to north, she is now living in the south again in the lovely state of North Carolina.

Unlike many authors, Marcia hadn’t discovered her love for reading until later in life. As it turned out, her tastes were very selective and different than most of the stuff her English teachers tried to shove down her throat. She has been a lover of the paranormal from her first horror movie and has never looked back.

Marcia is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Paranormal Mystery Writers, and Romance Writers of America.

The best place to find her is on her blog where she loves connecting with readers and other writers. Conferences/conventions where sci-fi, fantasy, and horror reign supreme are a good bet, too, along with the occasional romance conference.

Visit me at www.marciacolette.com or http://marciacolette.wordpress.com.


Someone wants their perfect weapon back, only she’s not coming quietly.

Alexa Wells wants her life back. She’s just not sure what that life was. The memories inside her head—a stripper’s—aren’t hers, and before she humiliates herself onstage one more time, she sets out to collect the scattered pieces of her mind. The trail leads to Boston, charges of identity theft and murder, and the real bombshell: a forgotten werewolf lover who insists she’s a werewolf hybrid.

Matt York doesn’t care that she looks at him like he’s been smoking crack between court cases. Now that he has her back he’s not about to let her go it alone, even if she can easily kick ass and take names all by herself. Amnesia only scratches the surface of her problems, and like it or not, she’s stuck with him.

She’s also stuck with Robert Gamboldt, a venture capitalist who’s not above murdering his way to the top. He’s not about to lose his prize possession without playing dirty. It’s a simple enough offer. Be his personal assassin, or go to jail.

With options like that, it’s enough to make a hybrid go full-blood.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Advice to Writers by Rowena Cherry

Please welcome guest blogger Rowena Cherry

My own advice to writers who are on the brink of a writing career is to rely on a mixture of old-fashioned good manners, personal integrity, and modern cyber-street wisdom.

In other words, follow your dream with your eyes open.

Friends and Buddies
Know that your best friends are authors a rung or two above you on the career ladder. Follow them, don't try to clamber over them or knock them out of your way. Look to the example of NASCAR and aerodynamics: leader and follower both go faster when they work together.

For 25 ways to be a good friend to another author, see my "Buzz" list on my website.

Check out Linnea Sinclair's post on "mentoring" on http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com
http://aliendjinnromances.blogspot.com/2008/11/buddy-system.html ... in fact check out all the articles on this long running teaching blog which I started with 6 colleagues long before expert-author-group blogs were popular.

Other great sources of advice from PR experts would be the free newsletter from Penny Sansevieri found at http://www.amarketingexpert.com, also the weekly articles posted by authors, radio hosts, publishers and more on http://1stTurningPoint.com.

If you belong to LinkedIn.com, follow me, and join all the groups to which I belong, especially Romance Authors Helping Romance Authors (you don't have to write Romance, but you do have to write, and you may not post self promo). If you are published in any kind of speculative fiction, join http://iwofa.net It's free, reciprocal, and great promo. There's an iwofa group on LinkedIn too.

If you are a GoodReads.com member, check out the groups. "Tips for Self Promotion, Sales, and Advertising" is a great group of authors in all genres who help one another.

You'll notice the same names cropping up again and again. Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Jacquie Rogers, Charlee Boyett-Compo, Brenna Lyons, Deborah Macgillivray, Linnea Sinclair, Margaret L Carter, Lillian Cauldwell, Todd Fonseca, Pauline Baird Jones, Lynn Crain, Cindy Spencer Pape, Sandy Lender (and many more) are among authors who help others.

Be aware that contracts are written to favor whoever wrote that contract (Publisher, Printer, Online Bookseller, website designer etc). Read every word. Understand what the contract says before you sign it. Get help from EPIC or SFWA or Authors Guild, or Preditors-and-Editors if you don't.

Act on the assumption that most contracts can be negotiated. No one will think less of you for asking, as long as you are polite and professional about it. Moreover, know your limitations and be upfront about them. An editor may ask you to write a book every six weeks, but if that is not realistic for you, say so. Most editors would much rather schedule you for one book a year and have you deliver (top quality writing) on time.

Be honest with your agent, your editor, your reader, and anyone else with whom you do business. Including the IRS! (And... beware of those interview questions that might cause the unwary to declare the hours they work and the other uses they make of their home office.)

At the same time, be aware that others won't be honest with you. Once you register a copyright or trademark or domain name, you will receive all sorts of documents that look like invoices. You will also be offered awards and listings in catalogues of "distinguished" or "famous" people… but you will only be included if you purchase your listing.

Whatever you spend on your writing (and it will add up to much more than you imagine!) keep records of all your expenses, all your contracts, all your promises, all your sales, all the prizes you promised to give away. Follow through.

If you absolutely must give away an ebook as a prize, number it. Personalize it... that way, if it turns up on a pirate site, you and your publisher's legal department will know who "shared it" in violation of your trust and your copyright.

Never defame anyone, no matter the provocation. Never write a bad review. Never write a good review of a book you did not enjoy. Never infringe on anyone else's copyright (artist's, model's, photographer's etc).

Never "cheat" your reader or potential reader. Never assume that someone will want to read your book simply because "you" wrote it, or because "you" say they will enjoy you.

Secure your domain name before you become published. If you wait, a spammer might squat on it in hopes to either profit from your good name, or to extort money from you if you are desperate to buy it back. You don't want your website to be: http://theofficialmynameauthor.com

Keep doing what you love for as long as it makes you happy, and as long as your pursuit doesn't hurt or cause you to neglect those you love.

Do the very best you can, every day. And, say "thank you" often. Thank you for reading this.

Rowena Cherry

Heroines get more hero than they bargain for....

Rowena Cherry has played chess with a Grand Master and former President of the World Chess Federation (hence the chess-pun titles of her alien romances).

She has spent folly filled summers in a Spanish castle; dined on a sheikh's yacht with royalty; been serenaded (on a birthday) by a rockstar and an English nobleman; ridden in a pace car at the 1993 Indy 500; received the gold level of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award; and generally lived on the edge of the sort of life that inspires her romances about high-living alien gods.

If I may, I'd like to share my "Mission Statement."

My goal as a Romance author is to give good value. I expect to provide my readers with six to eight hours of amusement, a couple of really good laughs, a romantic frisson or two from the sensual scenes, a thoroughly satisfying Happily-Ever-After, and something to think – or talk – about when the book is finished.

Forced Mate
By all the Lechers of Antiquity, what is a god-Emperor to do when his chosen mate is caught on tape speculating that he is a brute and a bore in bed?

Renowned for his sexual prowess all over the galaxy, Prince Tarrant-Arragon has a reputation for depravity to keep up, even if the reality of his private life is a far different story. His personal inclination would be to woo his intended with charm and wit, but politics and Tigron tradition call for abduction followed by swift consummation.

Embarking on a skilled seduction, Tarrant-Arragon feels confident in his ability to take his queen. But he hasn’t counted on the unpredictability of his little Earthling or the startling fact that she would make a pawn of his own heart.