A Slice of Orange


BOOKSELLER’S CORNER — Book Selling 101

December 16, 2005 by in category Archives tagged as
A Slice of Orange Blog is proud to bring you the Bookseller’s Corner, written by OCC’s Bookseller, Michelle Thorne of Bearly Used Books…123. Grab a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate and enjoy!

I love books. I love the way they feel in my hands , the way they look on shelves and the way they make me feel when I’m reading one. I LOVE them. I always have. Every summer we would go on a family vacation and I’ve been all over the United States or so I’ve been told. My mom took 8mm home movies and I’m in them so there’s proof but you couldn’t prove by me, I usually had my nose stuck in a book. I really can’t think of a better way to make a living. I love that feeling I get when I read a new author who is on the verge of a HUGE career and then I get to tell everyone who comes in the door that this is a great book and then they buy it. Then they come back and tell me that I was right and I’m like a fairy godmother to that book. It’s very cool. Then there’s the joy of finding an author that I have never read and they have a back list that I can tear through. That can just make my week. Then there are times I have to go back to a much loved book, an old friend. I can almost quote it by heart, but it never lets me down and when I get to that last page there is still that AH! factor. How did that author make me buy into that story, again. How did that author make me love the payoff, again. It’s a miracle. Speaking of miracles, I think all writers are miraculous. They can take me to their worlds without ever leaving my easy chair. They can make me laugh, cry, shiver in my flip flops and fall in love. Now, I need to get back to work, I have an ARC with my name on it and a cup of hot chocolate that is just right for sipping. I have hope that this book will become one of my old friends…I can never have too many. Since I going back to work, all of you do the same. WRITE. I read really fast. It’s a wonderful life, being a bookseller.
Always,Michelle Thorne
RWA Bookselller of the Year 1998
Bearly Used Books…123
123 So First Street
Historic Old Puente, CA 91744
(626) 968-3700
1 0 Read more

Writing for Multiple Lines

December 13, 2005 by in category Archives tagged as

By Crystal Green

It’s great to be back in OCC territory!

My name is Chris Green (writing as Crystal Green for Harlequin Silhouette), and I’m now an out-of-town member who misses coming to the meetings very much. If you haven’t met me, you might not know that I write Silhouette Special Editions and Bombshells, Harlequin Blazes, plus single title vampire books for Berkley. Yes, just a few different genres and romance sub-genres—and that’s what I’m blogging about today.

Writing for multiple lines.

There are a lot of authors out there who believe that writing in such an unfocused manner is a negative, and I absolutely understand their reasoning. “Branding” (making your name an easily identifiable product) is important to sales, and spreading out your “brand” (or what the audience expects from the author) only serves to hurt you in the long run. I can tell you firsthand that this is a scary situation for me because, oftentimes, a reader doesn’t know what kind of story I’ll be giving them from one month to another. They can’t depend on a definite “comfort read” from me. It makes Crystal Green, as a product, hard to pin down.

But my creative side loves that.

True, writing different types of stories is a business risk, but in my case, sticking to one thing is a quick road to burn out. First, I have eclectic tastes anyway—for instance, I read three books at a time and they’re all from different genres. This is obviously reflected in my writing: I love challenge and variety (Key words, here!). Second, I know that if I created stories for just one line, I wouldn’t be able to write as much as I do now. This past year, I had six original releases (that number isn’t including two reissues). Next year, I’ll have about four, but that’s because these single-title fantasy Berkley Vampire Underground books take much more time (as do Bombshells). In order to keep up this pace, I need constant challenge and variety. Let me explain further: my “home line” (where I made my first sale) is Special Edition; these books are known for their “home-and-hearth/community” qualities and the stories speak to the innocent side of me that loves a good happy ending. Blaze stories, which are “hot and steamy” romances, give me the chance to get a little wild. Bombshells feature more complex plots and they allow me to get a lot darker (I’ve written a vampire book—THE HUNTRESS—as well as a murder mystery that’ll be released in fall, 2006.). And then there are the Berkley Vampire Underground books…. These combine emotion, steaminess, mystery, adventure, and fantasy, so they’re a stew of everything else I write. So, you see, I’m getting plenty of that challenge and variety.

Third, and this is maybe the most important item for me, when I think of a story idea, it doesn’t always fit into a certain line. I go with what excites me, and that can be just about anything. When I thought of the concept for THE HUNTRESS, I was writing for Special Edition and Blaze. Sure, I was wary about taking on another line, but, daggonit, I really wanted to do this book. Branding was the last thing that would soothe the creative monster in me, so I went for it. And you know what? That decision is redefining my career—it led to my three-book deal with Berkley and is taking me in different directions daily.

Business versus creativity—that’s my biggest struggle right now. But everyone has to deal with it, and you have to come up with your own solutions. What’s the right decision for you? How is each story idea going to affect your career and/or your well-being?

I hope this gives you something to chew on. Happy Holidays and all the best. : )

THE HUNTRESS has been re-released this month as TWICE BITTEN, a vampire story collection that also contains Erica Orloff’s URBAN LEGEND. You’ll find PAST IMPERFECT, Crystal’s next Special Edition, on shelves this month, too. Additionally, stay tuned for a release date for the first Vampire Underground book from Berkley.
To keep current with Chris/Crystal, visit her Web site at
www.crystal-green.com, where there’s a great contest going on right now….

3 0 Read more

Techniques for Punching Up a Sagging Middle

December 8, 2005 by in category Archives tagged as

By Jackie Hyman w/a Jacqueline Diamond

I’ve been thinking about sagging middles, probably because of eating too much holiday food. Well, never mind my pathetic waistline. We’re talking about books.

I HATE sagging middles. When I write. And when I read.

What’s a sagging middle? Picture this: You create a dynamite situation, building to a killer climax. In your mind and your synopsis, it’s a can’t-miss storyline.

Now comes the hard part: writing. You blast through fifty, seventy-five, maybe even a hundred-some-odd pages. Suddenly, you stop.

Look at all the rest of the pages you gotta fill before the climax. Scary.

It saddens me when authors let the tension drop at this point, regardless of whether they’re writing suspense or strictly relationship novels. The characters mill around, have way too much sex (unless you’re writing erotica), talk things over repetitively, and worry.

Potentially interesting incidents may occur, but they’re episodic, springing out of nowhere and leading nowhere. Where’s the momentum? By the time that exciting and/or heart-tugging climax comes around, the tedium has claimed half your readers.

The good part is that, in the course of writing 80-plus novels and novellas, I’ve learned steps you can take to strengthen that sagging middle and make it fun.
Here’s what I do:
#1. Reread what I’ve written. Pick up the emotional thread.
#2. Reread my notes and bio sketches. Jot down lists of backstory and traits to include, and points to make.
#3. Look at the proposed climax and figure out what needs to happen to get there.
#4. Examine the proposed character arcs, and make sure they’re strong enough..
#5. Review the main relationship and conflict.

I develop a subplot or subplots that interweave all of these issues with the main plot. Ideally, the subplot (s) create an interaction between the external action and the characters’ internal development.

In Nine-Month Surprise (February), the second book in my Downhome Doctors miniseries for Harlequin American, the main storyline concerns the heroine getting pregnant by a man she met on an out-of-town trip, a guy who abandoned her while she slept. Then he turns up as her town’s new obstetrician, divorced with 6-year-old twin daughters who enter her first-grade class.

So they’re thrown together. She’s teaching his kids – and she’s pregnant by him! Naturally, I created reasons for his emotional withdrawal and her emotional neediness. When they start to resolve their issues, there’s additional conflict because she’s determined to leave Downhome and take her dream job in Seattle..

BUT I don’t write pages and pages of sex – I need other interesting things to happen! And I preferred for them to involve his position as the town’s obstetrician.

In reviewing my notes, I spotted some interesting secondary characters who were important in their lives. That’s when I got a subplot idea.

The heroine’s fortysomething aunt, a widow with a grown son, gets pregnant too, by a guy who thinks he’s in love with someone else. This infuriates her son, a police lieutenant. Before he can start shooting, the obstetrician gets dragged in as mediator, with the heroine’s help.

One more trick: I make sure that each scene sets up the next scene, so the story never stops dead. Little plot reversals, surprises, bits of suspense keep building to the turning points, which is when we get major reversals and kick the plot into a higher gear.

What I did with Nine-Month Surprise is NOT the kind of stuff that keeps my mystery/intrigue novels pumping. No dead bodies, no threats, no bumps in the night. But in a category romance, subplots should spark enough interest to keep the reader absorbed.

So if your book’s middle is sagging, look for storylines that will deepen and extend the main conflict and expand on the characters. Also, don’t forget to build expectations and then twist the story so the reader gets a pleasant surprise.

The best part is, the writing goes faster when there’s forward momentum. Because I can’t wait to find out what happens, too!

From: Jackie Hyman w/a Jacqueline Diamond
author of the Downhome Doctors miniseries from Harlequin American Romance
December ’05: The Police Chief’s Lady, ISBN 0-373-75098-6
February ’06: Nine-Month Surprise, ISBN 0-373-75105-2
April ’06: A Family at Last, ISBN 0-373-75113-3
June ’06: Dad by Default, ISBN 0-373-75122-2
August ’06 (tentative): TBA
0 0 Read more


December 6, 2005 by in category Archives tagged as

A few months ago, I got the news that any unpublished writer would be thrilled to get—A revision letter from an editor was on its way to me.

This was for my single title, historical romance, TO REIGN EDEN, which is set in London and California in 1875. Technically, it could be termed an American historical and as many of you historical writers know, news of selling in that sub-genre has been grim the past few years. So, imagine my surprise when I actually received the letter and not a word was mentioned about changing the part of the story set in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I thought for certain the editor would tell me to expand the part set in London, but that wasn’t the case. Of course, I re-read the letter, wondering if she missed the fact that it’s set in the West. Nope, she hadn’t missed it. Three-fourths of the book is set in the West. Wow. Terrific! Does this mean that Westerns are on their way back to bookstore shelves? I certainly hope so.

When the editor told me the letter was on its way to me, I rejoiced. Finally! I’m going to be given some direction for my story.

Then I get the letter. And I freeze. Wait…what happened to the excitement? The thrill? The changes were not complicated by any means, but for the life of me, I couldn’t immediately see HOW they were to be made. Of course, the changes suggested by the editor would definitely make the story even stronger and that was a good thing, right? Then what the heck had happened to me? Was it just that I needed time to digest the notes and look at my story a different way? The seven months separation–while it was on the desk of the editor–wasn’t enough time? I felt as if a wall as humongous as the Green Monster in Fenway Park blocked my path. Where did it come from? And how do I get around it? Scale it, move it, or go around?

I WANT to make the changes, I truly do. I want this to be the best story it can possibly be. And writing’s a business…I know that. Then how do I thaw out my fear of revision? Will this happen every time I get a revision letter? Or did it happen now because this is my first story and the first time I had ever submitted anything to the publishing industry? I really hope it’s the latter.

Now, I haven’t been just sitting around, not writing a word. My intent is for TO REIGN EDEN to be the first in a series about the dynamic Harrison family, so as soon as I sent off TRE, I wrote a first draft of another story and outlined the story of a third. But after working on those for several months and still not hearing back from the editor (and thinking she just simply threw it in the nearest trashcan where it belonged), I decided to cover my bases and start a contemporary romantic suspense that I’d been wanting to write for a few years. Yes, years. So I did.

Now, I’m nearly finished with the contemporary and I’ve received the revision letter for my historical, so now it’s time to focus on that one again. I’m sure I can do it now. In fact, the thought of hitting the story hard this week has excitement running through my veins now, not fear. Maybe the contemporary story just demanded to be near completion before it would release me to go back to my historical. Doing just that, going around, seemed to be what I needed in order to get past that wall.

Wish me luck as I venture on the other side. And to any of you who have experienced the same fear that builds up that ugly mental block, I hope you find a way to face it down, too. If you have, what did you do to overcome your own Green Monster? Scale it, move it, or go around?

By Michele Cwiertny
0 0 Read more

November?? Wake Me Up In 2006

November 1, 2005 by in category Archives tagged as

I adore fall. It truly is my favorite season. Even up here in perennially green Washington, we have enough leaf changing to warm my autumn loving heart. So imagine my horror, when here I am still enjoying my fall asters, my pumpkins are barely turning orange and my husband’s grumbling about falling leaves on his lawn, when the late night news does a spot about retailers putting Christmas stuff out earlier than usual.

“Christmas??? It’s only October,” I complained grumpily. Then I looked at the calendar and realized that perhaps it is time to start preparing for the holidays, but not the ones you’re thinking of. Forget about the usual rush of the November and December and let’s get perfectly clear about what is really bearing down on all of us: New Year’s Resolutions.

Now before you start grumbling about my putting the champagne wishes before the turkey platter, I intend to make a good case that the time is NOW to start thinking about where you want your writing career to go in 2006. Better now than at the end of a six week, turkey induced, sugar cookie propelled, one-more-piece-of-fudge-can’t-hurt coma, only to find that on the morning of January 1st (after a few glasses of bubbly and a warm smooch from the DH) you’ve vowed to write a bestselling, seven-figure advance, 650 page epic comedic romance set in the French Revolution.

So this year, let’s have clearer heads prevail. What do you need to do in 2006 to take your career toward the next step? Yes, right now, make out your New Year’s goals for next year. Write them down, the first things that come to mind. What are they? Finish a book? Find more time to write? Find an agent? Try a new genre? Okay, those are great starts and usually where New Year’s goals end. By February 4th they’ll hardly be on your radar.

This year, take one more step and list under each of these goals the steps you need to take to accomplish it in 2006. Say you want to finish your book, but finding more writing time is a problem. Ask for an Alphasmart for Christmas. Come January 1st, you’ll be writing on the go, and those pages can start adding up. Consider this: write one page a day, 250 measly words (they don’t have to be perfect, spelling doesn’t even count) and you’ll have your draft done before the end of the year. Be creative, now, quick, get your goals in place, set a clear vision for 2006, before you wander into a Target and get caught up in a frenzy over those tins of Danish cookies or mesmerized by the twinkling of tree lights.

~ Elizabeth Boyle


0 0 Read more

Copyright ©2017 A Slice of Orange. All Rights Reserved. ~PROUDLY POWERED BY WORDPRESS ~ CREATED BY ISHYOBOY.COM