Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stop and Smell the... Tulips?

There's an immense sense of satisfaction I get when I finish writing a book, followed by a weird period of "what do I do now?" I just finished Julian's Jeopardy and am loose ends. Do I immediately start Gunnar's Game, the last in the (Dawn Endeavor) series, since it's all fresh in my head? Do I give myself a day to bask in the glory of my work's completion? Or do I work on a little project I've been toying with on my off time and squeeze it in before committing to Gunnar's Game?

Hmm... I'm squeezing it in.

My untitled sexy read is a fun novella that might not ever go anywhere, but it's a different enough genre that it's a refreshing change of pace for me. Next week is our spring break and my kids will be home, so this is my week to get anything done. Three more days to my own March Madness. Now back to smelling, and appreciating, the roses, er, tulips.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Back on Track

Sorry I've been lax in posting. Between edits and taxes, I've been really busy. Good news, I'm done my taxes and the edits for one manuscript. Now I'm working on edits for another and gearing up for the Desert Dreams conference in Arizona. Just three more weeks! I'll be signing books at their book signing, so if you're in the Phoenix area, make sure to stop on by! More details coming soon.

We avoided the bad weather last night, and it's a nice spring morning. Now, time for coffee.

Happy Monday!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

And the Contest Winner Is...

Congrats to Tara for winning the March Newsletter Contest. Her Loose Id gift certifcate comes just in time for new releases this week.

Thanks to all who participated, and look to next month's newsletter for more cool winnings.

Hook, Line and Stinker

So I've been steadily procrastinating lately. The dreaded administrative stuff that goes along with publishing. Requests for art work and blurbs and tag lines.

Shoot me now.

I know what my characters look like, but having to describe them down to a "T" is a major pain in the wazzoo. Because artists need details to get it right, and by the time I get to this part of my work, I'm already onto something new. So I have to dig up all those messy points of fact and relay them all over again. Plus, I'm a creative writer, not paint/picture artist. Half the great covers I've had have come from the artists' fertile imaginings, not from me.

Then there's the blurb/tag line sheet. Every publisher has it, though they'll call it something different. Some want you to fill out tables of information, others want more generalized paragraphs. Either way, I drag my feet each and every time I have to write one of these.

Think about it. You might buy a book based on the blurb, so it's very important to get it right. Imagine taking 50,000 words and condensing the gist of those words into 300 words. A short, engaging synopsis to make the reader want to buy the book.

Like pulling out my fingernails one by one. And then the water torture starts--the dreaded tag line.

If 300 words is hard to get to, imagine 25. Writing the one liner is very difficult, at least for me. I want to be witty; I want to make that reader look deeper into my story. From the cover to the tag line to the blurb, excerpt, and--hopefully--to purchase the book.

Yeah, I know, "quit your whining." Hey, it's Tuesday, and though it's nearly noon, I've barely had any coffee. Gimme a break, and pray I get through my tag lines with my sanity intact. Though, my sanity is questionable on the best of days. Toodles.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Blogging at Hitting the Hot Spot

Blogging at Hitting the Hot Spot today. I'm talking about the blurb. Does it make you buy the book? Is it mostly the cover? The excerpt? Come on by and let me know.

REMINDER: Today is the last day to enter to win a $10 gift certificate to Loose Id. Go here for details.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Tax Man Cometh

I remember reading a few years ago something a big name author once said. She'd started to get quite a following and knew she'd hit it big because she finally had to hire someone to do her taxes. Success + Uncle Sam = problems in the wallet, despite great royalties. Or maybe because of them.

Well, today I spent my Saturday using Turbo Tax to the fullest. I love the program, but I sure didn't like what the heck it was telling me. My husband works, allowing me the freedom to write, which I also consider work. I do it full time, and I'm now making full time pay... according the IRS.

I owed last year, but I didn't estimate my taxes because, come on, who knows what will hit? A book I write that I think is great might get a so-so following. But one I think is just okay will sell like gangbusters. Seriously, the difference between my earnings from 2008 and 2009 were more than several hundred dollars off. Try several thousand. (Note: several does not imply a billion, but two or more. I'm not crying poverty, but I'm no Rockefeller either.)

Well, my 1099s told me I made quite a bit more than I made last year. And now I have to chop off several limbs to sell body parts, my dogs, my fish, and my son's Bakugan collection to make the government happy. Okay, not really, but man, I never like owing anyone anything. And we're talking more than three digits before the decimal point. NOT GOOD.

Now I'm on the hunt for a CPA to look at my crap and help me out. It's nerve-wracking, mostly because I can't stand the thought of paying someone who might tell me I should have stuck with Turbo Tax and just estimated the year before. But I'm going to bite the bullet on this one and hope I can find someone who's decent, and who knows how to work with authors.

They say success comes with a price... Who knew it meant money?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Handsome Men

This is one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time. It's close to 9 minutes long, but trust me, it'll make your whole day brighter.I was choking on my laughter. So check out The Handsome Men's Club, a skit by Jimmy Kimmel.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pandora's Last Gift

When Pandora opened the box that let out all the evils into the world, she closed it before she could let out hope. Then, at Zeus's urging, she released hope as well. A dangerous emotion, a powerful emotion. Hope motivates us, tortures us, and gives us that zest for bigger and better things.

I'm a writer. I deal with nothing so concrete as 2+2=4, but with the subjectivity of agents and editors and readers. What one person loves another hates, and vice versa.

I recently circulated a new project to a few agents and editors. Thus far I've been inundated with NO's. I expected some, didn't expect others, and have been drowning amidst the the pressing desire to just quit. But persistence, as well as talent, pay off in this business.

After a few days of depressing rejections, I had an enlightening conversation with a friend of mine. And low and behold, hope returned. On wings of maybe and almost yes, hope stirs me to continue, to press on and resubmit. For every no, there's the possibility, the hope, that my story will garner a yes.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Brave the Storm

"Brave the Storm" is Samantha Storm's tag line. I met Samantha years ago at an RT conference. We were both writing for the same publisher, at the time, and just clicked. Sam's funny, really tall, has red hair, and writes like a demon, er, she writes about demons, as well as paranormal romance in other forms. She's one of those authors whose natural voice is in first person, and who writes well enough that it doesn't bother readers like me who prefer third person. (I was going--1st Person, versus She was going--3rd person...)

The biggest argument Sam and I have lately is that I think she should submit more of her work to publishers, while she prefers posting them as free reads. Yes, FREE READS. So if you're in need of something terrific to read that won't cost you a dime, check out Sam's Yahoo Group. You won't be disappointed. But I still wish she'd charge a little more for her entertainment! It's more than worth it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Inspiration in Many Forms

I'm working on finishing up my Dawn Endeavor series. And I'm constantly on the lookout for something new to write about. Most times it just comes to me. Something I see, something I dream, a concept I'd like to read about that's not out there yet.

During a night out with my writing buddy Rena, we talked stories and story ideas. She's working on hers, and I mentioned mine. Then I told her I needed something new, and we began brainstorming the next Big Idea. For so long, vampires have been haunting the pages of just about every paranormal romance out there. Not that I dislike vampires, but sometimes too much of a good thing can get gluttonous, at least for me. I've seen a few zombie books, and I like them, but I'm still looking for something not done yet. Not gods or goddesses, demons, monsters, psychics, or... What the heck is left?

My friend and I came up with a few ideas, and I jotted them down. But I'm still on the search, still on the lookout. So back to observing the world in hopes that something different will infiltrate my puny mind. I'm having a contest that ends on March 22nd. I'm asking for what you see as trends and what you--as a reader--are looking for.


To celebrate spring, I'm offering one lucky winner a $10 gift certificate to Loose Id. Simply answer this two-part question and send your answer to: marie_harte@yahoo.com. Put Spring Contest in the subject line. The winner will be randomly selected.

QUESTION: What do you see as the new romance trend (vampires, paranormal, etc), and what do you wish you could see more of?

Contest ends March 22nd. Good luck.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Caging the Beast

Caging the Beast is now available at Fictionwise...

The beast: a slave to his past and his present, but not to his future...or the sexy new master he's decided to keep.

Tarn has spent decades fighting for his kind. Known as the Destroyer of the Otherworld Army, he's been using his time in the Vrail System to police rogue Ebrellions. To help his nephew, he takes on a dangerous job and lands in the Outer Rim, where the law doesn't exist.

Once a leader of warriors, he's now playing the part of a slave--with a mission. To retrieve a rare crystal and prevent an interplanetary war. He can't let anyone, not even the beast, distract him from doing his job.

Zachem'zen is known in the slave pens as "the beast." A brawler of planetary renown, he's never been beaten. But then, his kind were designed to be stronger than the strongest in the System. A Creation on the run from peacemakers, he trusted the wrong people and wound up a slave on Colony6. He's never been happy, but he's been content to bide his escape. Until a new slave rocks his world.

Tarn's dominant desire makes him hungry for more. The passion between them burns hot, but Zachem has no intention of being anyone's slave for much longer. The commanding Tarn, however, has other ideas.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of m/m intimacy, voyeurism, and light bondage, dominance and submission.

To read an excerpt, click here.

Friday, March 12, 2010


I was told I could post this today, so here it is. The cover for my pending story, Namesake, coming out with Ellora's Cave later this year. Sexy, no? They based the woman off my likeness...em, not really. I wish.

Smiles, and happy Friday.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

March Newletter is Here!

The March newsletter is here, as is a new contest. Want to enter to win a gift certificate to Loose Id? Just answer a simple question. To read the newsletter, click here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Inspirational Quote of the Day

Procrastination: Hard work pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now. (Demotivators from Despair.com.)

I love this company. I used to work in places, not the Marine Corps, mind you, but in companies where those sappy motivational posters hung on the walls. Sometimes I still wish I worked there, so I could hang this and the many others I've read and laughed at over at Despair.com.

There's just something about doing it later. It--whatever it might be--only gets better with age. I work really well on a deadline. Don't ask me why. I don't know. And I don't actually like cramming a week's worth of work into one day. But for some reason my creative processes thrive under stress.

Take for example, this tax season. I just bough TurboTax, so I'm ready to go. The necessary forms and filings are all in the TAX 2009 folder. But it's all sitting on my desk looking at me while I gear up to write. Granted, I owe again this year, but hey, I'm a writer, and I'm going to owe every year because I contract my work. At least when I owe, I know I made some money. But I think this year I'm going to have to move to quarterly filings (which I should have done last year--stupid me.)

Now I must return to my brand new Procrastination mug, the inspiration for today's post. Every time I read the caption I start cracking up. Not great when I'm due to write a love scene. Still, it's pretty funny. Time for some mental motivation, as encapsulated in the handy-dandy pic below.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Hunt is On!

Spring Into Romance
The Hunt is ON!

This March All Romance eBooks, LLC brings you 31 of today's hottest romance authors and 31 chances to win fabulous prizes. Discover new authors, new books, and one more reason to shop at AllRomance.com and OmniLit.com... The Hunt is ON!

Daily Prize:1 Download from the day's featured author and a $10.00 Omni Bucks Gift Certificate

Grand Prize:An iPod Touch, the most recent release from each of our 31 featured authors, and a $100.00 Omni Bucks Gift Certificate


* Only one entry per person, per day please.
* Participants must be 18 years old or older.
* By entering you give us permission to post your first name, last initial if you win a prize.
* Deadlines for submissions, method of submission, and subject must follow instructions as stated for each day.
* Entries not meeting these requirements will be disqualified.The official line-up:

Our March 1 Featured Author is Cat Johnson
Our March 2 Featured Author is Brenna Lyons
Our March 3 Featured Author is Claire Thompson
Our March 4 Featured Author is Mari Carr
Our March 5 Featured Author is Selena Kitt
Our March 6 Featured Author is Bianca D’Arc
Our March 7 Featured Author is G.A. Hauser
Our March 8 Featured Author is Stormy Glenn
Our March 9 Featured Author is Dee Dawning
Our March 10 Featured Author is Tilly Greene
Our March 11 Featured Author is Charlene Teglia
Our March 12 Featured Author is Cat Grant
Our March 13 Featured Author is Eden Bradley
Our March 14 Featured Author is Cherise Sinclair
Our March 15 Featured Author is Shara Azod
Our March 16 Featured Author is Samantha Sommersby
Our March 17 Featured Author is Beverly Rae
Our March 18 Featured Author is Marie Harte
Our March 19 Featured Author is Zena Wynn
Our March 20 Featured Author is Marie Rochelle
Our March 21 Featured Author is Jamieson Wolf
Our March 22 Featured Author is K.F. Zuzulo
Our March 23 Featured Author is J.M. Snyder
Our March 24 Featured Author is Moira Rogers
Our March 25 Featured Author is Annmarie McKenna
Our March 26 Featured Author is Lorelei James
Our March 27 Featured Author is Eliza Gayle
Our March 28 Featured Author is Maya Banks
Our March 29 Featured Author is Jamie Craig
Our March 30 Featured Author is Vivian Arend
Our March 31 Featured Author is Lissa Matthews

Monday, March 8, 2010

Desk Affairs

You know, rereading what I titled this post, I had a moment where my mind was in the gutter. Desk affairs. Where the guy grabs the girl, throws her on the desk and...

See, that's not what I meant, not at all (unfortunately.) I'm talking about the state of my mind in conjunction with my desk. In a non-sexual, transcendental kind of way.

There is just something about organization and a clean desk that enhances my creative process. It's like the physical mess on my desk translates into a jumble of words and images in my head with no cohesive meaning.

But clean out the old desk, file papers, throw out trash, and dust, and wow, I can think again. I'm looking forward to finishing up my latest WIP, that's if I have a good week where I write a chapter or two each day. It's very possible once I kick it in gear. Unfortunately, I allow myself to become easily distracted without coffee or a clean kitchen. Yep, have to do the dishes before I can settle down to write. Weird, but it's a process. And now that my desk is clean, I can set out my notes, put the coffee mug on the coffee warmer, and type until my fingers cramp. Yeah, that's what I consider a great day.

Now back to my coffee and back to work.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ellora's Cave

Well, it's finally happened. I have a book contracted with Ellora's Cave. They are a big name in electronic erotic romance publishing industry. It's been bandied around the Net and pretty much agreed that Ellora's Cave, Samhain, and Loose Id are the big three out there right now. In sheer numbers, Ellora's Cave publishes--heck, I'm not even sure how many books they have out a month. But right now there are eleven new releases available on their website.

When I first started writing, I was under the impression it was best to publish with one publisher. Except when you do that, you run the risk of your one publisher either going under, going crazy (man, I have stories I could tell you about THAT), or pigeonholing your audience.
I started with NCP, contracted with Venus Press (which folded), then signed up with Loose Id and Samhain. But none of my beginnings were easy.

Loose Id published a previously released book of mine on the condition I do extensive editing and write a new book for them. Made sense to me. Samhain rejected my first story, asked for rewrites, then accepted the second time. And what's funny, that book has consistently sold well since 2007! (Enjoying the Show, bring it!!) Ellora's Cave rejected me not once, but twice. I figured my timing was off. But I swore to myself someway, somehow, I'd get in the door. The word "no" only makes me work harder.

And now I have a new contract with EC. I'm hoping to broaden my readership, join a terrific group of authors, and bring an exciting new story to life.

Namesake is the beginning of (what I hope will be) a new series. Here's a blurb:

In the year 2078, central Kansas is now home to Cross Step, a government bordered area containing strange portals called Voids, which lead to parallel worlds. Norms--normal people, Voiders--those who came through the Voids, and Conduits--humans affected by the Voids, all live together in Cross Step, segregated from the rest of the world. Vicki Fox is a Conduit, a human with the psychic ability to tap into the energy around her. A mistake at a bar puts her under the scrutiny of one very hungry Ravager, a werewolf-like Voider who likes what he sees.

But Eric isn’t just any Ravager, he’s Prime, the king of his clan. He takes what he wants when he wants it, and he wants Vicki. It’ll take more than her sneaking, conniving, and seductive ways to dissuade his interest. Because in Vicki, Eric and his packmates have something much more precious than a rare queen, but a woman to love forever.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Thursday Funny...


A psychiatrist was conducting a group therapy session with four young mothers and their small children. "You all have obsessions," he observed.

To the first mother, he said, "You are obsessed with eating. You've even named your daughter Candy."

He turned to the second mom. "Your obsession is with money. Again, it manifests itself in your child's name, Penny."

He turned to the third mother. "Your obsession is alcohol. This too shows itself in your child's name, Brandy."

At this point, the fourth mother quietly stood, took her little boy by the hand, and whispered, "Come on, Dick. This guy has no idea what he's talking about. Let's pick up Peter and Willy from school and go get dinner."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Kindred: Read It!!

I have a new go-to author for science-fiction--Octavia Butler. And a big thank you to my friend Gloria for picking Kindred to read for our book club.

This book was incredible, and I wanted to share.

I don't normally read much but romance. I write it, I read it, and I collect great romance books that I constantly re-read. So when it comes to trying other fiction, I have a tendency to avoid other genres. I like my happily ever after. Dealing with "book mood," that feeling you get after reading a good book, is great when you've just finished a romance where the hero gets the girl. But when reading a book where a character dies, her child is kidnapped and never found, or her parents never talk to her again? Not such a great book mood.

But the book club guarantees I step out of my comfort zone and read different genres and talents I'd never have found on my own. Each meeting, a member chooses a book for us to read. Kindred happens to be a science fiction book that's not really science fiction at all, except for the fact that the protagonist travels back in time.

Here's the gist of the story: Dana is a twenty-six year old black woman in 1976 who somehow gets transported back in time (she gets dizzy and simply vanishes) to antebellum south in the 1800s, where slavery is well in place. She meets Rufus, a young white boy, and to her shock, a distant relative. What happens to Dana's life, in the next two to three weeks (during 1976 when she flashes back in and out of her own time) actually takes place during months and years spent in the past. A few seconds pass in 1976, while hours or weeks pass in the 1800s.

Ms. Butler has an engaging voice, and the book flies by. Before you know it, you're at the end, as if you too have somehow jumped in time. Issues of slavery, what's possible versus what isn't, relationships, and family resonate throughout this book. I couldn't believe how fascinating it was, how effortlessly Ms. Butler wove history into a modern woman's plight when dealing with the past. And as an added twist, the protagonist's husband is white, and he at one point gets dragged into the past with her. Husband and wife, then owner and slave?

The book works so well because it refuses to paint history as, well, black and white. There are too many shades of gray. The older slave owner is a real bastard, but he's not necessarily evil; he's a man of his time. The slaves are treated like possessions, but they are real strong people. Some bond together in adversity, while others turn on one another to advance their own cause. Dana is a strong woman, but she admits she finds it almost too easy to fall into the rhythms of a slave in the past. That she realizes no one can really know history until they've lived it, and that one does what one has to to survive, shows so much growth and understanding. She was a character you can't help rooting for, even as you feel her pain.

This thought-provoking work should be a must read for anyone who likes a book that makes you think: about what it meant to be black versus white in the slave-owned past. About what it was like to be a woman versus a man back when women were often regarded as no more than breeders. More, I think this book makes you think about what it means to be a person facing adversity, and how far we've come in the today's standards, and how much further we have to go.

Note: Octavia Butler died in 2006. She was an American science fiction writer, and one of the best known female African American science fiction writers, period. She won the Hugo and the Nebula awards, and her work is more than relevant today.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Where the Heck is My Muse???

My muse has seriously abandoned me today. Fickle little %$#@!!. So, I've spent the day querying agents on a project I've been kicking around for a while. Now it's sit back and wait time, or what us working writers call, "get to work on another project, now" time.

Back to the grindstone on Julian's Jeopardy.

Tonight I'll finish reading Octavia Butler's Kindred, an incredible tale of time travel, race, history, and science fiction I can't put down. Book club meets tomorrow night, so time enough for me to finish. I can't wait to write about Kindred. I'll try to post a review Wednesday.

Now, back to work...