Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Reaper's Reward, now available from Loose Id!!

New Release!!
Reaper's Reward is now available from Loose Id.

Ethan Reaper is lucky at work but unlucky at love. He has particular tastes in the bedroom, and can't find a woman to satisfy him. A new job for his security firm puts him in the middle of the Caribbean in a fantasy resort where anything goes. But the woman who steals her way under his guard is more than she appears. Jewel March, aka, Jewel Riser, has no idea of what her undercover assignment at Satyr's Myst, an exclusive and very private resort, will entail. Her attraction to Ethan is her first surprise, her job as a sexual slave her second whoppin shocker. But Ethan and Jewel each have a job to do, and despite the hot chemistry between them, their relationship on the island is a fantasy at best. But murder and blackmail put them in dangerous positions, and they'll have to decide if love is indeed a fantasy, or a choice which reaps its own rewards.

For an excerpt, click here.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Finding Your Book a Happy Home

Hi there. Not sure what happened to my post from yesterday, but here it is again, in a condensed version--believe it or not.

The end to my Week in Writing is Finding Your Book a Happy Home. You've written a manuscript, The Dragons' Demon, for example, (see left) edited it to death, edited it some more, and have put it aside for a while. Upon rereading it, you find it to be the gem you'd hoped it would be. And now you're ready for publication. But where will you send it? Who publishes what you write, and do you need an agent, do you think?

Again, it all depends on what you want out of your writing career. If you've written a romance and don't want to wait a long time to hear a response from an editor, you might want to try an electronic publisher. Several which come to mind who publish both romance and erotic romance are:

Amber Quill (must be invited to publish here or win their annual heatwave contest)

Cerridwen Press

Changeling Press

Cobblestone Press

Elloras Cave (specifically erotic romance)

Liquid Silver Books

Loose Id

New Concepts Publishing


Siren Publishing

Silk's Vault Publishing


These are several electronic publishing houses I've heard of or published through. I won't recommend one over another because different houses are better for different books, genre and heat level specific. I do, however, thoroughly encourage you to research each publisher before signing a contract. Preditors and Editors is a nice site to find out if a certain publisher has a decent reputation for treating their authors fairly, as is Piers Anthony's website. However, I've found the best method for learning about a publisher is to question its authors. And ask as many of them as you can, not one or two who might have an axe to grind.

As far as the bigger NY print houses, I'll admit I'm not as familiar with them as I am with electronic publishers. But I highly recommend RWA's site as a source. When it comes to the print world, I have to hand it to RWA for being "in the know." Of course, to reap the benefits from this organization and its local chapters, you must be a member, which is a fee of $100 for the first year joined and $75 to renew succeeding each year (fees as of 7/30/07).

If you're trying to get published in the more mainstream romance market, you really do need an agent. Now category romances can be sold without one, but if you want to make a career in writing, I think an agent, a good agent, is a necessity. The agent cuts down on your wait time to hear back from editors. And your agent sells your book for you, with contacts many authors can only hope to have. Finding and getting an agent, is, however, a difficult task, and another topic that could take a week or more to cover. :) So on to print publishers...

Many romance publishers to consider are (in no particular order): Berkley/Jove, Bantam/Dell, Avon, St. Martin's, Pocket Books, Tor/Forge, Dorcester, Kensington, Harlequin, and more. I get confused because some of the larger publishing houses have different lines for their books, like Kensington Brava and Kensington Aphrodisia and Zebra... ack. Different heat levels, storylines and so on. I find it hard to keep track. But as I've said before, the best resource you have at your disposal is your fellow author. I've had great success asking published authors for their input, and a wonderful resource I must mention is Passionate Ink, an online RWA chapter that focuses on more sensual romance.

But when all is said and done, it's YOUR book, and you must find the place that you feel will best showcase your work. Read other books from the publishing house you're interested in to see if your book will fit in. Research the market. Make sure you adhere to the publishing house's submission requirements. And whatever you do, don't sit around on your thumbs waiting for word back from a publisher. Move on to the next project, and keep track on a calendar of time passed, so you know exactly when to post a polite, professional note asking about your manuscript. (Most publishers list typical wait times to hear back on a response.)

I hope this post gave you some insight into places to publish your work. And if you have any questions about anything I've written, or just a plain old writing question, feel free to email me at marie_harte@yahoo.com.



Friday, July 27, 2007

The Dreaded Query

The Dreaded Query, which is usually followed by The Dreaded Synopsis. But since I really hate the synopsis, and am MUCH better at writing the query letter, you're stuck with option one.

Wouldn't it be nice if we could just wish our books into publication? Once you've established yourself with a publishing house, the query pales beside the synopsis. But it's getting that foot in the door to have your story read that's key. And that's the purpose of a query, to tell the acquiring editor something about yourself and your book that leads said editor to want more.

So what constitutes a good query? First of all, it needs to be succinct. Editors go through a bazillion manuscripts daily (yes, a bazillion, just ask any editor), and they don't have time to wade through the muck to see what you're selling. Half the time authors market their books to the wrong people, so for example, "My Book is a 90,000 word historical romance" says a lot to the editor right there. Title, word length, genre. BAM.

A query should also give the editor a blurb about your work, to showcase the story in no more than a paragraph or two. Again, keep it simple and short. Imagine you're in a bookstore wondering what to read. If you're like me, you pick up a book and read the back cover for the blurb. If the story sounds good, you might buy it. So when writing your blurb for your query, keep that in mind.

Your query should also tell the editor about you, the writer. What is your background? Do you belong to any writing organizations? Have you won any awards? If your book is about a protagonist in the police department, and you're a policeman/woman, it would be pertinent to mention that fact. Gives your work credibility.

Here's a sample query letter that worked for me. Check it out.

(real name here) Ima Writer
Writing as Marie Harte

September 08, 2006

Dear Samhain Publishing:

I have written a contemporary erotic romance entitled Enjoying the Show that I would like you to consider for publication. I have read your FAQs page and realize that though you prefer longer stories, you will accept works more than 12,000 words in length. I’ve been looking for a home for my 12,649 word short story, and feel Samhain would be a perfect fit. I’ve been interested in Samhain since its inception and am familiar with many of your talented authors—Shiloh Walker, Michelle Pillow, and Mackenzie McKade to name a few.

I have been writing seriously for the last three years. I write erotic romance under the name Marie Harte, and am published with New Concepts Publishing, Venus Press, and recently won the Amber Heat 2006 contest, securing a contract with Amber Quill Press. I also took first place in the Passionate Plume Contest for futuristic/scifi romance, as well as first in the Lories Contest for Steamy/erotic romance just this summer.

I am a member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA) and in particular Passionate Ink, an electronic chapter of the RWA. I majored in English at Penn State University, was a Major in the United States Marine Corps and have since been building an eclectic background from which to gather material to write.

My short story, Enjoying the Show, came to me one night after seeing a steamy book cover of a man in low slung jeans, a tool belt and nothing else. My heart beating loudly, inspiration suddenly bloomed. What if…?

Enjoying the Show is a 12,649 word contemporary erotic romance that centers on a beautiful but vulnerable woman and the sexy but gruff man determined to show her she’s more than a pretty face. Hailey Jennison is smart, funny, and unfortunately, stacked like a blond brick house. Though shy, she’s aware of the impact of her looks on the male gender. And she hates it. So keeping to her safe if boring life, she meets once a week with friends for dinner, some laughs, and entertainment which almost fulfills her every desire--watching the living, breathing sex god across the quad as he parades around his apartment half-naked. Watching and yearning, she eagerly accepts the routine, never anticipating she might find herself caught by her dream man, or that he has plans of his own to fulfill her naughty fantasies.

I have attached a synopsis and the full story, as it is a shorter read. I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.


Ima Writer
writing as Marie Harte

This is the query I subbed to Samhain, and it got my foot in the door. Now I've been rejected by a bunch of editors, my lovely Samhain editor Laurie included. :) But I've always been able to get a request for a full, to include queries to Harlequin, Dorchester, Samhain, Loose Id, and more. So I'm sharing what works for me. (And on a happy note, my Samhain editor gave me a great rejection, which I turned around into a sale. See, there can be a happy ending sprouted from the words "sorry, needs work." Enjoying the Show is coming to Samhain this December. )

In the query, I've found that this format works best, and I learned my stuff from the local RWA chapter I used to belong to way back when:

  1. Good header: shows you know how to communicate professionally. Even if it's an email, it should still be spelled right and be grammatically correct.

  2. First paragraph: details of work. Title, genre, word count, a must. Maybe a line or two about why you're targeting the particular publisher. But keep it short.

  3. A little background about self, WRITING background. Not necessary to describe your marital status, last great date, or how many kids you have or plan to have

  4. Writing affiliations, awards

  5. Blurb of story

  6. What you attached to email, with paper submission

  7. Sincerely, respectfully, etc. End with a proper salutation. Remember, this letter is a professional correspondence. Be a PROFESSIONAL.
Now you don't necessarily have to write your query in that order. Again, this is the format I like to use. And the reason I do it this way is to leave the editor with a blurb before I sign off, another BAM about my work.

Some writers like to sprinkle humor throughout their letters. Others are more to the point. Do what works best for you, but remember, your goal with this letter is to get an editor to give your work a chance. It's your voice and your opportunity on the line. So try not to screw it up. :)

Tomorrow I'll conclude A Week in Writing with Finding Your Work a Happy Home.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

To EPub or Print Pub, That is the Question

Hi. For today's chapter in A Week In Writing, I'm discussing the pros and cons of both Electronic and Print Publishing.

In the romance industry, especially, there seems to be a divide between authors who publish in print (i.e. the great big New York publishing houses) and those who publish electronically. Frankly, both avenues are worth exploring for the sheer effort of being published. No matter what format your work takes, to think that someone, other than yourself and your mother :), likes your work enough to pay you for it is high praise indeed. Now, depending upon what you want out of a publishing career, you may look at one or the other, or as many successful authors are doing today, BOTH mediums through which to showcase your work.

We'll start with electronic publishing. Many small presses publish electronically. Is it because it's so easy to do? That the quality of work doesn't have to be up to snuff? In some cases, sadly, this is the answer. But most electronic publishers, like print houses, have reputations that precede them. The successful e-pubs make their money because they produce quality fiction (and I'm talking romance here, since that's what I'm familiar with) and their overhead costs are MUCH lower than that of a print house. All that said, several successful e-pubs are also putting books out in print, but in smaller numbers as they are smaller presses. But to stick to the electronic side of things. Some major pluses to consider:
  1. Response time. E-pubs consistently respond faster to queries than the print houses. Now this is not true for all houses, but by and large the wait time seems to be anywhere from 1-3 months. (One of the larger e-pubs, Elloras Cave, has a much longer response time, but they are growing in heaps and bounds and again, not typical.) And email is a much quicker and easier way to communicate.
  2. Royalties paid monthly/quarterly. This is a BIG plus.
  3. A closer feel with editors and the publisher. Since many of the e-publishers are smaller, they communicate one-on-one a lot more. I have had the same editor at several of my publishing houses, which makes the editing process much smoother since I know what to expect.
  4. An easier way to break into publishing. Let's face it. There are a lot of e-pubs out there willing to take a chance on racier, out of the box stories that many print houses won't and can't afford to.

Now some cons about electronic publishing:

  1. Not all e-publishing houses have the same standards to produce quality fiction. And the rash of so many publishing houses cropping up, started by people with no experience in the field of writing or publishing, has hurt e-publishing as a whole.
  2. A much smaller audience. You're only as marketable as your name, and not everyone participates in loops and chats online.
  3. The technology for electronic publishing, e-books really, isn't quite there yet. Handheld devices can be pricey, and many people aren't comfortable reading anything "written" on paper. Again, a smaller readership.
  4. See number 1 ... in many cases, poorer editing.

A look at the print houses, and again, for the sake of argument, I'm referring to the larger New York publishing houses when I say "print."

Some pros to look at:

  1. Wide distribution. Your book will be in all the major bookstores
  2. Holding the book in your hands is a major thrill, let's face it
  3. Large royalties due to larger distribution. Many authors feel that being in print is the way to make a living writing.
  4. Greater promotional opportunities since your name will be out there

And now some cons:

  1. The competition is fierce, and wait times to get published are LONG. For example, when submitting a Harlequin category romance, without an agent, the wait time for a response is 4-6 months. So if you get a no and resubmit, you can have up to a year or more before your manuscript is accepted. And that's before rewrites.
  2. An advance is great, but the time between that and your published book may be years. And there is no guarantee that as a new author you'll make very much in an advance. (Sabrina Jeffries has a wonderful article on her website about the reality of royalties in the romance publishing industry.)
  3. I hate to say it, but to be a success in this industry, a writer's best bet is to have an agent. And it's said that it's harder to get an agent than it is to get an editor, i.e. accepted by a publishing house.
  4. You have a lot less control with multi-million dollar companies who invest in your baby, your manuscript, than you do a smaller e-pubbing house who's willing to meet you halfway. Take cover art for example. Many authors complain that their covers don't match characters in a book. But what can you do? Argue with Mr. St. Martin? (Okay, that was smarmy, but it's to make a point. And no, there's no Mr. St. Martin. geesh)

Considering all I've set out here, the intent is to allow you room to think about choices. I do not believe that one publishing option is better than the other. BOth have good and bad points between them, and it's up to the author to decide what she/he wants out of their publishing career.

Myself? I love e-publishing because it's allowed me to write and experience the editing process with professionals. I don't have a lot of patience, and after running through the NY house wait times, only to hear that I needed changes and more changes, and waited again and again...I mean, come on. I'm going to be 80 before I get a romance published? And God forbid the editor I'm working with leave, because then I'll have to start all over again. So for me, e-pubs are what I want and need. That said, I also want to break into the bigger publishing houses to broaden my name and get an agent. But while I'm waiting on them, I'm also continuing to publish electronically, making my own name here on the Internet. And the writing experience has been an invaluable one, not to mention my introduction to self-promotion. Great stuff.

I hope this has given you some insight into both electronic and print publishing pros and cons. Again, neither medium is perfect, but they might be perfect for you depending upon your writing needs. I'll end this with a list of recommended publishers with good reputations for putting out quality romance fiction.

Electronic: Amber Quill, Elloras Cave, Liquid Silver, Loose Id, New Concepts Publishing, Samhain Publishing. There are many others, but I have experience reading or writing for these publishers.

Print: next time read the cover of a book to see who prints your favorite romance books. I've noted these: Avon, Bantam/Dell, Berkley, Dorcester (LoveSwept, Leisure), Harlequin, Jove, Pocket Books, St. Martins. I get confused about who's a subsidiary of whom, so forgive me if I've been redundant.

Tomorrow I'll hit The Dreaded Query. So don't miss it!


Wednesday, July 25, 2007

July Contest Winners!!

Congratulations to mcrustner@..., geekmythic@... and india17400@... for winning the book bundles for the month of July. I sincerely appreciate all the newsgroup subscribers, and hope you enjoy my upcoming books and newsletters as well. Stay tuned for next month's contest, and don't forget about the RJ Contest on my website (contest page) that's ongoing throughout the summer.

Marie :)

A Week In Writing: Editing

Welcome to the wonderful world of editing....ech. What? Edits aren't always pretty? No. As a matter of fact, edits can be a royal pain in the butt, but without them, our stories would be about as pretty as a me without coffee in the morning...not a sight you EVER want to see.

Editing is a process by which we make our work better. That first draft, which seems so perfect after it's been written, upon closer inspection is usually filled with flaws. Typos, grammatical errors, misused words, and heck, storylines that made sense at 1 AM which in the light of day seem alien, as if someone else had written them.

So how does a writer edit? Spell check, grammar check, a critique partner? All of the above, and more. Take me, for instance. I never use grammar check, frankly because I think it's awful. The computer would have me switch half of my "theirs" to "there's" incorrectly. If I accidentally use "a" instead of "an" grammar check often lets it go. And there are numerous other offenses I won't even get into. Now I will use the spell check, but only after I'm finished my entire MS. No, I rely on the writing skills drummed into me from an English teacher father, an old critique partner, and the many wonderful editors it's thus far been my pleasure to work with. (Not a big grammar geek, you say? Well, a bit later I'll hit on a few options to streamline your work without a head full of word rules. )

All that said, here's a glimpse into the process... I'll take the five or ten pages I've written the night before. Before I begin writing, I scan the text. I review it for grammatical errors, content, and word repetition, which is a huge problem I'm contantly fixing. Then once that's done, I feel free to write new stuff. This short editing process 1) cleans up mistakes I missed the day before in my hurry to put words to paper/computer and 2)puts me back into my prior writing mood. I've found it's a good way not to overedit, since I only go over my words once before writing, and in smaller chunks, maybe 5-10 pages at a time. Of course, this is only on a first draft. Much more editing occurs after the manuscript is finished.

But let's say you don't know what to look for. Here are a few editing glitches to be wary of:
  1. Their vs there vs they're. Your vs you're. If you can break the words apart into "they are" and "you are" in your sentence, then use the contractions. This goes for all contractions. Watch possessive "its" vs "it's" too. "Its" is possessive, but uses no apostrophe.
  2. The run on sentence is a killer. I went on vacation to meet the man of my dreams and my mother happily watched my dog Fido. Two separate sentences. Either fix it by I went on vacation to meet the man of my dreams. My mother happily watched my dog Fido. OR I went on vacation to meet the man of my dreams, and my mother happily watched my dog Fido.
  3. Homonyms can mess you up and make you sound like an idiot. Compliment--praise or admiration. Complement--something that completes another. Your scarf is lovely. (compliment) That scarf really complements that coat. They go well together. (complement)
  4. Using the same word four or five times in a paragraph. And let's face it, if you write romance, and specifically erotic romance, several words come up A LOT. "Hard" and "pleasure" immediately come to mind. *grin* Having an electronic thesaurus really comes in handy.
  5. Blonde vs blond. This debate will go on forever because the word is accepted both ways, and each publisher seems to have one which they prefer.

I could go on and on about common grammatical mistakes, but I won't because I'm starting to bore myself. Two books I highly recommend to help you are The Little, Brown Handbook, which is used in some elementary and middle schools but may be hard to find. An easier book which hits all the high points and I just LOVE is Painless Grammar by Rebecca Elliott, PhD. It runs for about nine bucks and can be found in any bookstore. And hey, it's intended for 6th-8th graders, so it's very easy to understand.

Why such a fuss about editing? Because you want your book to be the best it can be. And believe it or not, an edited book will read quite different from one that's not. It's amazing how much clearer your work will be to you and how much more enjoyable it will be for the reader.

If you have or can get a good critique partner, I'd highly recommend it. Mine is spitting out kids like a Pez dispenser, so we're on hiatus. (Hi, Rene!) But she would often catch things I'd miss even on a second read-through. As the writer, you know what you mean. But the reader won't catch it, so that second pair of eyes can be invaluable. And when you do submit your work, you want it to impress the publisher enough to ask for a full manuscript. So polish, polish, polish.

Oh, and something I didn't yet mention. Once you've finished your story, put it away for a few weeks before looking at it again. Write something else in the meantime. Then, when you return to your piece, you'll note a lot more since you've been distanced from it. And trust me, you'll still receive edits from your editor no matter how good you think it is. FYI, on my release Tied and True from Loose Id, I must have undergone at least ten rounds of edits. No lie. And this was a polished piece. Nothing was a huge fix, but each time an editor, line editor or proofer went through it, they caught something someone else hadn't. It was a long process, but I absolutely love the end result.

In summation, a few things to look for when editing:

  • grammar, spelling and word usage
  • a critique partner
  • allowance of time between the finished product and rewrites
  • small editing throughout the piece to get it finished (you can overdo edits to the point that you never finish your story, always editing. And that's bad.)
  • first drafts are never published
  • write with a dictionary, thesaurus and grammar text by your side

Okay then. This sums up today's post on editing. Come on back tomorrow and check out an interesting topic, the merits of both epublishing and print publishing.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Thy Name Be Character/World Building

Hi. Day two in a Week in Writing has us looking at both character and world building. These two topics are huge themselves, so I'm going to briefly touch on both so that this post won't take seven years to read. :)

Character ... Many writers begin a story with a character. Something about a hero or heroine pulls them in, and a story revolves around it. Honestly, that's a great way to start. That typically means that your story won't be a two-dimensional plot with cardboard characters. I normally come up with a plot first, and work my characters in, but I like to do things the hard way.

There are many facets to character, the least important, in my opinion, being a character's physical characteristics. Normally in a romance, the hero or heroine is attractive. I mean, come on. Who wants to read a romance about ugly people? This is fiction, not real life. But it's the quirks in a character's make up that really bring interest to a piece. What is the hero's background? Was he an orphan? Were his parents drunks? Did he come from the good old Amercian family with morals and values he embraces or rejects? What has made the hero who he is today?

The key to fleshing your character is to let the details slowly come alive. There's nothing worse than reading the backstory of a character in four pages at the beginning. Ugh. Show, don't tell. I'd rather see dialogue that shows my heroine a sassy girl instead of being told she is. It's much more effective to read it in action than in narrative.

And solid character applies to more than the hero and heroine. Secondary characters can also be quirky, solid, and tell the reader a lot about the main characters. A drugged out best buddy might show a heroine with compassion or one with a problem herself. Does she work at a halfway house or just has a lot of tolerance for people with hard vices to kick? And let's not forget that the background can be a character in itself.

...which leads me into World Building. Ever seen/read Star Wars? The Matrix? Gone With the Wind? Hello, Harry Potter 1-7? Each of these stories was memorable for its characters, and for the world in which those stories took place. World building is key in futuristic and paranormal stories, where the author has a huge hand in creating the background. The key, however, to great world building is consistency. Sure, you need to be creative. But if you break your own rules, you invalidate the integrity of your work, and your readers will certainly be turned off. I once read a story where an alien race had to leave a planet because their world was dying. They left for Planet X, and Planet X was this perfect refuge that suddenly turned into a nightmare. The people fled back to their own planet. Hello? I thought it was a dying planet. But miraculously, everyone was wrong and we had a happily ever after. Not. The writer had broken her own rules to make the story neat. Well, it didn't sell me. And I never bought another of her books.

Part of world building is organization. Spread sheets and databases that let you, as a writer, remember details is a must. Even if you use a wire-bound notebook, keep your notes by your side as you write. And it's best if your world is built BEFORE you write your book. It's never a good idea to be in the middle of a key scene wondering what your characters can or can't do, because you didn't create the rules before they encountered x or y. And trust me, I'm talking from experience.

World building is so much fun, though, that I can't stay away from alternate worlds. How interesting to create worlds and species that interact. And the more creative, the better. I'm constantly amazed at what JK Rowling did with Harry Potter. Who in the world doesn't now know what a muggle is? And she kept it consistent in all of her books. Same with Star Wars. Can there be any doubt of what a Jedi is? How cool is that?

To sum up today's post, character and world building can make or break your story. Without character, why bother with plot? And if you don't keep your world building consistent and break your own rules, you're going to lose your audience, as well as a cohesive story.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow, when we hit the ominous world of Editing....


Monday, July 23, 2007

A Week In Writing: Starting the Book

A Week In Writing

This week I'll be exploring the craft of writing. For all those would-be writers, and those just plain interested in how a book goes from an idea to published work, these topics should help round out the process. Below you'll find the agenda for the week. Enjoy!

Monday: Starting the Book
Tuesday: Thy Name Be Character/World Building
Wednesday: Editing
Thursday: Epublishing versus the Print World
Friday: The Dreaded Query
Saturday: Finding Your Book a Happy Home

Today's topic is Starting the Book.

Seems basic, right? But how do you take an idea from concept to fruition? Ever sat down and tried to write a book? It's not as easy as it sounds. First, you need an idea, and you need to be realistic about your ability to write about it. For example, most writers write what they like to read, or at least what they know about. I like paranormals and futuristics, and I love writing them. I also like to read historicals, but I don't write them. Why? Because I haven't done the research required to write a decent historical. Have you ever read a book that sounded so fake you lost interest? "This person has no idea what cops do. My three year old could write a better medical procedural than that."

That's because the writer clearly didn't research well, if at all. And this applies not only to historicals, but to all genres. Don't write about an FBI agent unless you know how a federal agent operates. Yes, most of us write fiction, but if it's set in today's world it has to be adhere to societal rules and structures.

Okay, so let's say your writing a paranormal or futuristic. YOU write the rules of a particular society. Here the trick is to be consistent. As creator of the world you built, all the blue people need to be blue, not white or red when it's convenient. And if you give all of your characters superpowers, you need to keep track of who does what.

All that said, you have your idea for a story. Great. Now write. Sit down and write. Do you write every day at the same time? When you get the urge? Whenever you get a spare moment? Everyone is different. Personally, I write whenever my kids are napping during the day, and every night. Now, my "writing" time may be editing, writing or brainstorming, but the time allotted is specifically for creating stories. My recommendation, especially for newer writers, is to set a schedule. Even if it's only 10 minutes a day, stick to it. If you try writing when you get the urge, it makes it harder to finish your piece, as you're constantly backtracking to figure out where you were going with an idea when you last stopped.

Once you figure out your idea and devise a writing time that works best for you, the hardest part is getting past the editing phase. When I first started writing, I had a solid thirty pages done. Then I'd rewrite those thirty pages over and over. I'd write when the mood hit me, and if I was sad, my story had one tone. Excited or happy, another, and so on, until my story was a different thirty pages every few days or weeks. Force yourself to ignore what you've written and continue on. Read your last words only to get a gist of where to continue if you must. And write your book.

Oh, but I haven't hit on a favorite topic of discussion about writing. To outline or not to outline? Some writers map out a story and stick with it, others are "pantsers," writers who have a general idea of what they're writing and let the characters write their own ending. I'm one of the latter. I've outlines and written synopses to death, only to have my stories go haywire after chapter two. But each author is different, and you have to do what's best for you.

Well, I've touched on quite a few topics on beginning the novel.

Happy Writing!


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Newsgroup Contest

Hello! Sorry it's been a while between posts. I'm recovering from vacation and am trying desperately to get back into the swing of things. My house is still a mess, suitcases now empty are still lying out, but I have managed to do some more writing. Priorities, you know. :)

The newsgroup is growing in leaps and bounds, and to thank all subscribers, I'm posting a contest just for members. I'll be randomly choosing three winners next week on Wednesday, July 25th. If you're already a newsgroup subscriber, you're entered and eligible to win (and the prizes will be mailed out to those in the continental US and abroad.) Winners will receive a "goody bag" of books and treats, a great big thank you from me to the readers.

The, ahem, late July newsletter will be out soon. And look for a special writer-oriented week of blogs next week, starting Monday. Posts will concern the craft of writing, pitfalls and tips for those of you thinking about writing, or just curious about how the process works. :)


Sunday, July 15, 2007

My Writeminded Guest Blog Post

I just returned from vacation and am winding down after a 13 hour journey from the beach in NJ to Georgia. Three kids, a potentially wonderful day at the beach spent driving and buttloads of traffic on hated I95 from Baltimore through DC...yuk.
Anyway, thought I'd link to a post I made on Writeminded's blog, a collaborative blog from authors Stephanie Tyler, Amy Knupp, Larissa Ione, Jan Kenny and Maya Banks, that hit the net this past Friday. Lots of great comments, and it's a topic I find interesting: Heat levels and what's too hot to handle. Take a look. :) The post is from Friday the 13th, but don't let the date throw you.



Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Backlist Buzz... Winner Takes All

Hi! I've decided to post a few older books that seem to be doing quite well at Fictionwise for me. And I'll admit, I'm in LOVE with the dude on this cover. I love all the covers I've had for my books, but Winner Takes All is my favorite.

This is one of my futuristic books about a race of beings called the Thesha and takes place in the Vrail System, where several of my futuristics for New Concepts Publishing have been set.

Funny backstory, and it's short, I promise. I first wrote Blackthorne's Light for NCP in 2004. I followed it with my first futuristic, a genre I just LOVE, entitled Lurin's Surrender, which I initially wrote as a short story. But the characters wanted more, so I fleshed it out into a 35K word book. Long story short, one of the characters who popped in out of nowhere was Gren, a mysterious captain who helps Lurin out of a tight spot. What intially started out as a small role took on a much larger one, until that dratted Gren had to have his own story. Thus he takes center stage in Winner Takes All. I really liked Gren, but he rubbed off on some of my other characters, unbeknownst to me. Two minor characters in his book demand their own story in Seriana Found, which I'll post at a later time. Those darned Thesha...

Here's a short excerpt from Winner Takes All

In trying to rescue a group of women from the slaver’s block, a female peacemaker with something to prove discovers the woman within herself after being assigned to work with a mysterious mercenary she is unable to deny.


“Where am I?” Temis asked aloud.

“You’ve come to fight, have you not?” a familiar voice called from the darkness in the forest.

She waited curiously, knowing yet not aware how she knew, that Gren approached.

He appeared uninjured, as if his fight earlier with the peacemakers had not occurred. Wearing only the swimming trousers she’d first seen him in, he walked lazily, like a cat stalking its prey, toward her.

He stopped in front of her, smiling, his eyes lingering over her breasts and thighs before returning to meet her confused gaze.

“You like to fight.”

She nodded. “But where am I?”

“In a dream.”

“But I command my dreams, and this is not Zephyr.”

Gren’s left eyebrow rose, an arrogant gesture that irritated her. “We stand in a fighting ring.” He crossed his arms, his biceps bulging. “What now, sura?”

She wasn’t sure what sura meant, but on Gren’s lips it sounded suspiciously like an endearment. Did he dare dismiss her as some piece of fluff on fighting grounds?

“Now we fight.”

He grinned, and the curl of his lips caused her heart to flutter. A curious heat pooled in her loins and to her horror she found herself fixated on the fullness of his mouth.

“If it’s a fight you want, sura, I’ll be happy to oblige,” he murmured sensuously. “Hand to hand?”

Imagining Gren’s hands all over her made her flush, and she shook her head. “Blunt weaponry.”

She didn’t understand why Gren had appeared in her dream at all, but decided to accept his presence. Since meeting him she’d been unable to strike the imposing man from her thoughts and unruly imagination. Perhaps her subconscious sensed this and chose to confront the source of her recent confusion head-on.

He flexed his arms and she stared at his muscular perfection. “I like risks, but if it’s practice you want, I accept. The winner chooses the prize.”

She frowned. “But you could demand anything.”

“And I will when I win,” he said with a wink.


Click here to read more

Smiles :)


Monday, July 2, 2007

Firebreather still hanging on

Thought it was time to update my posts. Man, time sure flies lately. I'm still writing like mad, trying to get a good bit done before I go on vacation next week. Had a GREAT productive day yesterday.

NEWS: Firebreather, with Amber Quill Press, was the #10 Bestseller for AQP for the month of June. Since Firebreather was released in February, it's been a consistent bestseller, if not with AQP, then with Fictionwise. If you haven't seen it, check it out and see what all the buzz is about. And a heads up that plans are in the works for the king's other brothers. :)

Happy Monday. Marie