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The Write Way……….

November 17, 2008 by in category The Write Way by Maureen Child tagged as ,

My big worry this weekend was the deadline hovering over my head like a razor sharp machete just waiting to swing down and well….you know.
Then the fires kicked off. That’s a picture of the sun taken from my front porch and we were about forty miles from the closest fire. The smoke and ash in the air were incredible and the yellow light coloring the world was extremely weird.
But, since we are Orange County Romance Writers, I want to put this hope out there that all of our friends and their families came through these wildfires safely. There are a lot of things more important than deadlines.
Maureen Child is the author of more than 100 romance novels and novellas. She’s diving back into deadline mode now………..
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Writing Inspiration

November 6, 2008 by in category Pets, Romance & Lots of Suspense by Linda O. Johnston tagged as , ,

by Linda O. Johnston

There’s nothing like a trip to New York to get a writer’s creative juices going! I was fortunate enough to be in the Big Apple a couple of weeks ago and to have meetings with my editors. I hadn’t met my current Berkley editor in person before, so I really enjoyed the opportunity. She’s every bit as nice as I’d thought she was from our e-mails and phone calls. We had a great time discussing my Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mystery series and what Kendra is up to these days, and more. Kendra’s seventh adventure, NEVER SAY STY, will be out in April 2009, which pleased both of us. We’ve even seen the cover!

I also met with my Harlequin editor and the senior editor for the Nocturne line. That was definitely enjoyable, too. My first Nocturne, ALPHA WOLF, and related Nocturne Bites (e-novella), CLAWS OF THE LYNX, are both January releases, so the timing was wonderful. Plus we agreed on the title for my next Nocturne, BACK TO LIFE, which will be a June release. I’m inspired to do even more Nocturnes!

Of course I look forward to staying in touch with them all, and to seeing them at upcoming conferences as well. But there’s nothing like meeting them individually in a less stressful environment to enjoy their company even more. I came home with all sorts of additional writing ideas and the inspiration to leap right into them!

Linda O. Johnston is the author of 14 romance novels as well as the Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime–and has 2 Silhouette Nocturnes and a Nocturne Bites upcoming!
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A Fantasy Life

October 27, 2008 by in category A Fantasy Life by Janet Cornelow tagged as ,

By Janet Quinn Cornelow

This is Myna from “Weaving a Dream”, part of Whiskey Shots Vol. 17. Though she lives in Augeas, she has no magical powers and is struggling to feed herself and her two children. However, the ghost of Amunador or maybe the spirits of those hiding there, speak to her and welcome her into their city.

I have been spending all my non-other job time judging the EPPIE’s. This is the big contest for electronic published books. Like judging any contest, it takes a large amount of time, so all I have been doing is reading and if I keep reading every spare moment, I should get all the books done in time. I had to get a new ebook reader since my old one decided not to come on.

Of course, this means I have had no time to write. I have abandoned Sam again, though at least this time he is in bed with Jubilee instead of running from the slave hunters. I am sure he is much happier with me.

Reality seems to have interfered with fantasy lately. I can’t even find the time to think about writing, let alone do it.

Art work by Jasmine Tanner –

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Advice to Myself as a Newbie Author

October 22, 2008 by in category Advice to Myself as a Newbie Author by Shauna Roberts tagged as ,

by Shauna Roberts

Today’s Guest: Susan Squires

Since beginning her career in 2000 with a Golden Heart win that became her first sale, Susan Squires has published eleven novels and three novellas, first for Dorchester and then for St. Martin’s Press. She has been a Rita finalist, and her work has won many regional contests and reviewer’s choice awards. Publisher’s Weekly named Body Electric one of the most influential paperbacks of 2003 and One with the Shadows a Best book of 2007. Her work has appeared on the New York Times Bestseller list. She’s known for breaking the romance rules, but her work always contains some element of the paranormal.

Her new and forthcoming releases are One with the Darkness (June 2008, St. Martin’s Press), the anthology Dead after Dark (December 2008, St. Martin’s Press), and Time for Eternity (May 2009, St. Martin’s Press).

Susan, if you could travel back in time to before you were first published, what advice would you give yourself?

1. The number one piece of advice (and I did say this to myself, almost constantly) is “Hang In There.” I know it’s trite, but persistence counts. A lot. Remember, of all the people who say they want to write a book, hardly any of them will actually sit down and do it. Of all the people who sit down to write a book, very few will finish a draft. Of those, few will take the time to learn their craft and polish it. Of those who do, few will persist in trying to sell it.

This isn’t depressing. It means that if you are willing to progress through all those stages, you are giving yourself a much better chance of succeeding, just because you’re still hanging in there when the overwhelming number of people who want to write have dropped by the wayside.

2. Don’t submit before you and your book are ready.. This is the primary mistake new authors new authors make, and I made it too. I submitted a book that was totally unpublishable (way too long, and not crisply written—it rambled) to lots of agents. Frankly, it was awful. Luckily, none of them will remember it or associate it with me. But I was not ready to submit. This leads to the next tenet:

3. Be willing to do the work to get better at writing. When I got all those rejections, it was a moment of truth for me. Was I willing to sacrifice to get better at my craft? For a long time I wasn’t sure. But when I decided I wanted to commit to writing, I went out and looked for the help I needed. I joined a critique group. I took classes at UCLA and went to writers’ conferences. After a while, I joined RWA to learn more about the business of writing. And I wrote the next book and the next, trying to get better at writing along the way.

4. To get better at writing, be willing to change. A book is a complex compendium of elements: story, character, voice, rhythm, theme, and imagery. We tend to fall in love with a particular formula early on, and it’s hard to get out of that habit. But that habit may be just what’s keeping you from selling. I don’t want you to water down your style and write “generic books.” Far from it. But there’s a difference between a book being written in your style and a book being poorly written. My natural style is to be a seat-of-the-pants Rambler. Unfortunately, that resulted in poorly written books. If I had kept true to what I find comfortable, I would never have sold. I had to tighten my style.

So, to break the cycle, write something uncomfortable—use a new format, a new time period. Push your stories and yourself to the edge. That’s how you get better. I know writers who always get the same comments about their work—“no conflict,” “unbelievable heroes”—and yet they never change their approach. The rejections they are getting won’t change either. A drive to improve also changes your attitude about contest results, rejection letters, and critiques. They still hurt, but you can turn each one that gives specifics into an opportunity to learn. Sure, sometimes the comments don’t even seem relevant. Ignore those. But if many say the same things, then take the hint.

5.  Don’t learn too much about the business too soon. I scared myself at a writer’s conference when I immersed myself in business instead of craft. The publishing business seemed overwhelming. I stopped writing altogether for a while. (Definitely a “don’t tell me the odds, kid” moment.) Concentrate on the craft first. Knowing you have a good book under your belt makes you more confident in the face of business realities.

6. Which brings me to the next point: Don’t get sidetracked. I quit writing after my first bout of rejections and after I was spooked by the fact that writing is a business. It took me too long to re-commit to writing. When I wrote it was sometimes in fits and starts. I lost valuable years (yes, years) when I could have been building a career.

7. Don’t chase trends. I know you’ve heard that a million times. But it’s still hard not to do it, even now that I’m published. I was talking to my editor recently, and she was saying that urban fantasy still had some market steam. I pitched her an idea that could be billed as urban fantasy (uh, Susan, you were trying to follow trends.) She looked at me as if I were certifiable and said that urban fantasy heroines were all really hard and kind of bitchy, and she didn’t think I wrote those kind of heroines. She didn’t even like those heroines. I said of course my heroine wouldn’t be like that. And then we wondered together if it was really an urban fantasy. Would urban fantasy fans find that approach a relief or a transgression? And by the time I wrote my three currently contracted books, and the one I was pitching, would urban fantasy still have any steam? That’s three years in the future until it was published.

Lesson learned: Write a story that’s really you. Figure out how to market it later.

8. Don’t sell to the first person that tells you he/she likes your work. We all want to sell so badly we may consider selling to a publisher that really doesn’t have much distribution, simply because they are willing to send us a contract. Any contract. I know I was tempted. But don’t sell yourself short. It was really hard to hold out for a publisher who had distribution. (Luckily, I had an agent to talk sense into me.) But for me distribution was important. I wanted more than just to see my name on an ISBN. I wanted lots of people to read my book.

My husband is a writer, too. He and I used to joke that we wanted to write the kind of book “available on supermarket shelves everywhere.” So if you want a large audience, start submitting to the top line of publishers and give them time to consider and respond (that’s hard because they are slow). Then work your way down the list. In the meantime write the next book and progress in your craft, so you’re ready when someone says, “I love it—do you have any more?” Being able to produce others they could publish means a fast start to your career, while you write your first book that you are delivering on contract.

9. That brings us to agents. Get an agent if you can even though it’s hard. Unless you’re selling to Harlequin, an agent is a very good thing. If you are selling to Harlequin, it still couldn’t hurt. They get your work read faster. (Sometimes it’s the only way you can get read at all.) If it isn’t a top-of-the-line agent at first, any agent is better than no agent. I found my first one at a writer’s conference. I had also sent out thirty-seven query letters. I got some good responses from agents who liked my work and invited me to submit more or to submit other work if they didn’t think they could sell the one I pitched.

P.S. My agent couldn’t sell the first book I published (second one I wrote) to a top-of-the-line publisher. But I knew it had been rejected by seven major houses (and Harlequin would never have taken it), so I had tested the waters well before Dorchester offered for it—not a first-line house, but a second-line house with pretty good distribution if not great advances. I knew that was the best I could do for that book. If you don’t have an agent, but an editor offers for your book, get on the phone and find an agent immediately. They keep you from volunteering your first-born child if someone will put your name on a cover.

10. The last piece of advice is the ever popular “don’t quit your day job.” I hear many would-be writers say they want to knock out a few quick books to make money and get them out of whatever job they currently have. I knew a person in one of my critique groups who took a second mortgage out on her house to live on while she hit it big. I hyperventilated every time she talked about it.

Initial money for writing a book is often not great and it is slow in coming. My first publishing house paid fourteen months after the date the book was published (not purchased), other than a smallish advance. Very few people ever make millions in fiction book deals. For those few, lightning strikes through an alignment of the stars in public taste and opportunity (being there with the right book at the right time) as well as the author’s talent. You can’t count on that happening.

But don’t despair. Unless you or your family have enough money to support your lifestyle in other ways, what happens for most writers is a slow build of audience over many books, until you get to a point where that dreaded day job seems superfluous. When you write, do it because you love the act of writing and you want your stories read by others. Do what you love and the money will come. It most often comes slowly, as a reward for the satisfying work you’ve put in becoming a wonderful writer.


To learn more about Susan, please visit her Website at Her new anthology with Sherrilyn Kenyon, J.R. Ward, and Dianna Love, Dead after Dark, will be available in December at all major bookstores and can be ordered online from and Barnes & Noble.

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Writer on the Verge

October 18, 2008 by in category Writer on the Verge by Kate Carlisle tagged as , ,

Another step closer…
I sent my page proofs back to my editor two weeks ago and thought I might take a break.
But within minutes–or so it seemed, although it might’ve been a week or so–I received my Advanced Reader Copies of Homicide in Hardcover. My first book. My first book!!
ARCs aren’t as pretty as the real thing, but they’re a real book, all the pages are there and they’re all put together and bound, like, ya know, a book!
It’s mine. It’s real. OMG!!
I know the phrase “shock and awe” might seem like exaggeration, but that’s what I felt when, after so many years, I held my first book in my hot little hands.
And objectively speaking, I suppose the ARC isn’t even that pretty. But it’s beautiful to me. 🙂
See that photo of the plain brown book? Not so pretty. Yet … attractive, in a plain-brown-wrapper sort of way. Kind of sexy, I think. 🙂
Here’s a preview of the real deal. Now that’s a beautiful thing!
… there’s that suspicious cat again …

And coming next month, the horrors — er, excitement — of promotion!

Kate Carlisle’s first book in the Bibliophile Mystery series, Homicide in Hardcover, arrives February 2009 from NAL.

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