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Sci-Fi, Inspiration & Foodie Romance: Calls for Submission

January 31, 2012 by in category Archives tagged as , ,

Mmmm. How yummy can delicious foodie romance be? If you’re like me, and the Food Network is a favorite channel, then maybe you’ll want to slip out of the kitchen and in front of the computer. I’ve put together quite the eclectic mix this month, with calls for submissions from the writing worlds of science fiction to Harlequin’s Love Inspired line to Smut by the Sea. Enjoy the inspiration, and please let me know any success stories!
EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing: Professor Challenger Anthology
A broad range of new and original stories built around Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s LOST WORLD character Professor George Edward Challenger. Stories derived from the aftermath of events in the Lost World are welcome; however, simply revisiting or rehashing the Lost World without good cause is not. Challenger is a man of science first and foremost, not an explorer.
Deadline: May 31, 2012; short story: 1,000 to 7,500 words; novelette: 7,500-10,000 words.
Food Flair
Do you adore the Food Network? Do Bobby Flay and Rocco DiSpirito titillate your senses when they caress a flank steak, whip cream to a sensual cloud, or lay a beautiful table? Does a man’s skill in the kitchen impress and delight you as much as the way he kisses?

Then we want you to write a Foodie romance for Decadent Publishing!

Foodie romance focuses on romance, but food would win the prize for best supporting character. Maybe the heroine is a chef or a food critic, or maybe the hero just appreciates a meal masterfully prepared for maximum enjoyment. Like any art form, the Culinary Arts can be enjoyed as a sensual experience, exciting to the eyes and pleasing to the palate. Whether your taste is gourmet Kobe burgers in Seattle, European pastries in Salzburg, or delicate sushi in Sunagawa, foodie romance is about the culture of cuisine and the people who enjoy it.

Our general submission guidelines apply to this category. When submitting, please note that it is a Foodie romance. For more information, visit http://www.decadentpublishing.com and click on Submissions.
Smut by the Sea

A new collected anthology of stories, pictures and poetry with a saucy seaside feel, edited by The Northern Birds Lucy Felthouse and Victoria Blisse.

The Smut By The Sea Anthology will feature stories from a variety of genres, but they must have that overall “Seaside” feel, either in location or style. If you’d like some clarification before submitting your story then please Contact Us.

Length: 4,000 to 6,000 words;
Genres: Any:
Heat Levels: Any;
Ending: Any;
Orientation: Any;
Submissions Due: June 1, 2012. Also accepting Poetry submissions of any length.

Royalties will be split 50% of the net profits with contributing authors, exact values will be given once we know how many stories will be in the final anthology.

You can submit your story/poem by emailing it as an attachment to victoria[at]victoriablisse.co.uk. (Please include Pen Name, Author Bio, Genre, Word count)

For more information, visit http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk/blog/call-for-submissions-smut-by-the-sea/?utm_source=rss

Love Inspired
The Love Inspired line is Harlequin’s series of contemporary, inspirational romances that feature Christian characters facing the many challenges of life and love in today’s world. Books run 55,000-60,000 words.
Each story should have an emotional, satisfying and mature romance; however, the characters should not make love unless they are married. These are “sweet” romances. Any physical interactions (i.e., kissing, hugging) should emphasize emotional tenderness rather than sexual desire or sensuality. Please avoid any mention of nudity.
All stories should focus on one hero and heroine who meet as early in the book as possible. The hero and heroine should be on the page together in the first chapter—the first page is even better. By the end of the story the main characters should be in a committed relationship.
Because Love Inspired sells to both CBA and ABA bookstores, we must adhere to CBA conventions. The stories may not include alcohol consumption by Christian characters, card playing, gambling or games of chance (including raffles), explicit scatological terms, hero and heroine remaining overnight together alone, Halloween celebrations, magic or the mention of intimate body parts. Lying is also problematic in the CBA market and characters who are Christian should avoid lying or deceiving others. Exceptions can be made but must be approved by an editor.
— Compiled by Louisa Bacio

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Marketing “Quick Response”: QR Codes, The New Sexy…

November 18, 2011 by in category Archives tagged as , , , ,

by Jenny Hansen

Are you capitalizing on the sexy little bit of free Techie gadgetry that’s currently all the rage? I’m talking about QR Codes, those little black squares you’re seeing on your television, in magazines and on the mail coming into your house.

I know, I know…QR just doesn’t sound sexy and, unless you’re more the nerdy type, “code” probably doesn’t either. But QR Codes are getting me hot these days. Seriously.

QR Codes are one of the EASIEST marketing tricks you’re not taking advantage of, especially if you’re a self-published author or a small business person.

Click here for the other 8 no-to-low cost social media tips we talked about last month and sit back to bask in the warmth of a new piece of technology fun that doesn’t cost a thing!

What is a QR Code?

QR stands for Quick Response and was created by the automotive industry to help track vehicles during the manufacturing process. How is this sexy, Jenny? you might be thinking…

Well, I’ll tell you. A QR Code is a barcode that stores a web address of your choosing. As an example, if you scan the one above, you’ll go to a cool place on OCC’s website that you might not visit very often. There are free apps available in both the Android and the iPhone that let you scan a QR code to quickly go to a website.

Note: To scan the code, you’ll need an app like QR Scanner [iTunes link] for the iPhone and iPod touch, or ShopSavvy for Android devices.

Uses for QR Codes…just think about this, folks:

  • QR Codes are being used at grocery stores to give you recipes and nutritional information for products you’re buying in the store.
  • To give you coupons, both in-store and on the internet.
  • On business cards, signs and brochures. A simple little barcode allows you to give the info you need to on the card or sign and, with a single click, also help the person to visit the webpage of your choice.
  • On clothing labels (Macy’s and other retailers are already using this) to tell you about that item and others you may like in the store.
  • On anything with packaging, to push people to a website, Facebook or review page.
Why couldn’t my self-published and indie author friends use this on the front or back covers of their books, or hidden as Easter eggs in the pages? Ex: Click here to get a free short story, or to submit a review, or to sign up for my monthly newsletter. The possibilities are ENDLESS.

Are you juiced up yet? Cause I am.

Can I get a QR Code of my very own?

But of course! There are tons of free spots to generate a QR code. Bit.ly and Social Oomph are the two I use the most often.

To use Bit.ly:

  • Visit bit.ly, write or paste in a URL address, click “Shorten,” and add .qr to the end of the generated bit.ly link (like so: http://bit.ly/tm90xj.qr).
  • Copy the modified link into a new browser window to view the QR code.
  • Once you see the code on your screen, you can print it out, send to your friends via e-mail, post on your blog, etc.
To use Social Oomph:
  • You need to sign up for a free account, whereas for Bit.ly, you could sign in with Twitter (but it still asks for your email address).
  • Once you’re signed in, l00k at the left navigation bar – “Shorten URL” is the fourth choice from the top.
  • Click the Shorten URL shortcut and type or paste the address in to the “Long URL” box and click the Shorten button.
  • There’s a box that says QR Code – copy the link out of there and follow all the same steps as above in the Bit.ly example.
From Wikipedia: Users with a camera phone equipped with the correct reader application can scan the image of the QR code to display text, contact information, connect to a wireless network, or open a web page in the telephone’s browser. This act of linking from physical world objects is termed hardlinking or object hyperlinking. Click here for more details than you probably want on how to work QR Codes. 🙂

UPDATE: In the last few weeks since I wrote this post, viruses have targeted QR Codes here and there. That doesn’t mean they aren’t safe but, just like email, watch where you click. More details here on how to avoid viruses.

Does this give you any new marketing ideas for your books, businesses or advertising? Are you already using QR Codes? What has your experience been?

Happy Writing!

Jenny Hansen fills her nights with humor: writing memoir, women’s fiction, chick lit, short stories (and chasing after the newly walking Baby Girl). By day, she provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. After 15 years as a stand-up corporate software trainer, she’s digging this “sit down and write” thing.

In addition to being a founding member at Writers In The Storm, Jenny can also be found on Twitter and Facebook or over at her solo blog, More Cowbell.

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Indies, Superheroes & Novellas, Oh My!

October 31, 2011 by in category Archives tagged as , ,
This month brings an interesting mix of calls. First up, is a collection of “indie” authors that are looking to compile some special themed anthologies. The erotic romance publisher Ravenous Romance put out a call for superhero stories, and Entangled Publishing delves into the novella market. As always, this selection represents only a sample of what’s out there. If you come across any that should be shared, please send them to me!

All-For Indies Anthologies
We have planned six anthologies with different themes that are spread throughout the year. A couple of examples might be: Martini Madness/chick-lit and humorous fiction genres, Summer Fling/Romance genre, etc. Each anthology will include a mix of genres and sub-genres centered around a main theme.
Each author is responsible for writing/editing their own work. WE ARE NOT A PUBLISHER! We are not going to read your story for approval. If you are picked, we trust you are a professional.
The first anthology is going to be coming out in January 2012. Winter Wonderland is the theme (not the name), and is going to feature every genre. The deadline is Dec. 10, 2011. The second anthology is coming out in February 2012 in time for Valentine’s Day and will carry that theme. The deadline for manuscripts is Jan. 10, 2012.
Under the Cape
What’s up in the sky, is not a bird or a plane, it is your hero or heroine. Under the Cape – is a super-hero / super-heroine anthology for Ravenous Romance. We are looking for original erotic romances about heroes of your own creation. They should not be modeled after or based on current comic book entities. Fan fiction need not apply.
Think about strong, passionate characters and world building. Who is to say what excitement lingers after the city is saved and villain routed? Do the heroes fly home at super-sonic speeds to their lovers or does the “victor” strike a new costume to wear? What if the hero of the story has had a tryst or more with their foe? And don’t forget about the possibilities of a sidekick.
This anthology is for the non-everyday heroes. We’re looking for the kind of heroes who fly, shoot bolts of energy or phase through walls…among other abilities. Of course, that’s not to say your hero or heroine can’t have a hidden identity. A war hero crusading at night to stop an other-worldly nemesis? Maybe a firefighter who controls the flames when no one else is looking? Make the abilities so super, they can only be contained by a skin tight costume and cape flying in the breeze. And make your hero or heroine so sexy they can’t be contained at all.
All stories should be original and unpublished stories. Aside from strong characters, don’t forget to give us a good story and world building. Make your heroes and villains believable and sexy. Ideally we’d like to see stories in the 5K range, but no less than 3K – please query for longer works. We’re looking for 10-12 stories to fill this anthology.
Reading period is open and will go until 12/31/11 or filled. Please do not query for status until after the reading period has ended. Payment is $25 flat fee upon publication. No additional payment will be offered. For more information, visit http://ravenousromance.blogspot.com
Contemporary Novellas
Entangled is looking to expand our novella line, and with release dates as early as mid-December 2011 available, we’re actively acquiring. If you write contemporary romance that falls between 20k to 40k words, we would love to hear from you!
  • Manuscript should fall between 20k and 40k words in length
  • Story must contain strong romantic elements, ending with either a HEA or a satisfying HFN.
  • Entangled is not an erotic romance publisher, however we’ll consider any heat level so long as the erotic elements are not the main focus of the story.
  • To submit a manuscript for consideration, paste the following into an email:
  • one-page query letter containing your genre, title, wordcount, a brief blurb about the book, and any pertinent writing credentials
  • The first five (5) double-spaced pages
  • Where we can find you on the web (links will do) 

Send your email to submissions(at)entangledpublishing(dot)com. Standard Entangled Publishing royalty rates apply. For more information, visit http://www.entangledinromance.com/2011/10/11/call-for-submissions-contemporary-novellas/
— compiled by Louisa Bacio
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What OCC Means to Me …

October 4, 2011 by in category Archives tagged as ,
OCC/RWA acts as my supportive writing family. It keeps me sane, provides inspiration and lets me know that when things get crazy … I’m not the only crazy writer out there. (Notice how the first and last cancel out?)
Usually, I use this blogging date to post reminders about the upcoming meeting … but since we’re headed toward our 30th Birthday bash, and we all should know about it, right? – I’m going to share what this wonderful community means to me, and why I’ve gotten more involved.
Honestly, I don’t want to remember how on ago I joined OCC/RWA with the hope of writing and publishing a romance. I’ve blocked so many of those non-productive years, but it has to be at least eight. Yes, eight years …
At my very first meeting, I met the wonderful Mary Castillo, and Jackie Diamond was ever so gracious, as she still is with new writers. The members were warm and inviting, and then I didn’t go back for a long time. Why?
·      Guilt – I wasn’t writing as much as I wanted.
·      Work – Several of the colleges I work at require teaching on Saturdays, and they always seemed to conflict with the OCC/RWA schedule.
·      Children – I had one infant, and started infertility for a second. For those who haven’t gone through it, the drugs mess with your hormones and it’s not pretty.
·      Bedrest – When I was pregnant, I was relegated to bed for five straight months. That meant I couldn’t even really sit up. I bought an AlphaSmart and wrote laying on my side, and forgot to charge it … and lost everything.
·      Second master’s degree – With my first master’s degree in communications, journalism, I went back to school for a second in English.
·      Too busy – For so long, everything else took priority. And with two small children (who are still only 4 & 8), that’s the priority. I didn’t possess mental room to finish my writing.
·      And did I mention guilt?
Still, I continued to be a member of RWA, paid my dues for OCC and became involved in a variety of Online chapters, including Chick Lit Writers of America, Passionate Ink, FF&P and YAWRA.
My first book, Sex University: Physical Education, published in June 2010. At that time, I told myself that I would attend my first RWA National conference. I signed with my agent Saritza Hernandez of the L. Perkins Agency. This past weekend, I turned in my fourth novel, an erotic paranormal, Chains of Silver, which is a sequel to The Vampire, The Witch & The Werewolf: A New Orleans Threesome.
And, I became active within the OCC/RWA family. The group has been supportive and encouraging. If time gets tough, another member is there to offer help and most often, someone else has been there. Being part of the board the past year has been unforgettable, whether it’s simply knowing that Eve Ortega still balances work, family life and her writing, or that strength of character that comes from Debra Holland. The expertise of our published authors Kathleen, Pat Wright and Jackie. Or knowing that our unpublished, Liz, Jaimee, Val, Ottilia and Jann, will have their moment. And, we’ll be there to support them the entire way.
But that’s only the board members. Within our chapter, we have such a wealth and diversity of experience, and so many dreams. Thank you to Brenda, Laura, Erin & Erin, Beth, Debra, Charity, Joyce & Cora, Karen, Julia, Nancy, Susan & Harry, Lex, Tara, Marianne, Mary, Kitty, Vicki, Charlotte, Alexis, Jenny, Jennifer, Charlene, Shannon, Shauna, Bobbie, Linda O., Verna, Judy, Maureen, Roberta, Marilee, Stacy, and so many more. It’s impossible to name everyone, but I appreciate every smile, and hopefully I can be there to help and encourage others, too. 
Thank you for being there, and know that you are not alone in your journey either.
This weekend, I’m looking forward to spending more time with my writing family through the 30 Birthday Bash. Hopefully, you’ll be coming! If not, I’ll see you online and at the next meeting. For more information, you should know where to go … OCC/RWA.org  
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Add Conflict to your Story with a Down & Dirty Fight

August 18, 2011 by in category Archives tagged as , , , , ,

by Jenny Hansen

Today we’re going to talk about Dirty Fighting. What is it, and why do you want to do it?

To start at the beginning, last weekend my honey was cleaning the office and he came across a piece of paper that made us laugh our faces off. This four page document he found – called, “Dirty Fighting Techniques” – helped save our relationship back in 2006.

Note: Dirty Fighting isn’t about some how-to guide on Jujitsu or Street Fighting. Nope, it’s actually a list of twenty-two items given to us by our counselor to teach us the difference between the Dirty Fighting Techniques practiced by most people and the clean-as-a-whistle fighting he wanted us to strive for.

We’ve got to understand the goal before we can turn it upside down on its head, right?

What is clean fighting?

Clean Fighting follows these basic rules:

  • Take responsibility for your own stuff. Also known as “cleaning up your own side of the street.” I know it sucks when you’re mad and you clean up your side while the other person leaves their big cow patties steaming, but lead by example on this one. It helps when someone steps up to be the bigger person.
  • Leave the other person an “out with dignity.” This is most often achieved by understanding that there might be facts you don’t know.
  • “I” statements are always going to work better when you’re pissed off than “you” statements. And don’t try to cheat with crap like, “I understand that you’re a selfish bastard.”
  • Talk about the behavior in those “I” statements, not any personality disorders you think they should address.
  • Stick to the point. Resist throwing in the kitchen sink of laments spanning back over months of why they’re a (fill in the blank).
  • Deliberately pushing buttons is REALLY dirty. The weak underbelly is to be avoided, even if you’re thinking your partner is lower than a yellow-bellied toad for siding with your mother-in-law over you.

Here is a clean fight summed up in 4 easy steps:

1. How you feel (use an “I” statement for this)
2. The behavior that prompted that feeling
3. Why it’s important/the background (i.e. what button did they push)
4. What would you want them to do differently next time

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Go try it. It’s really hard to do when you’re mad. Most people who are angry fight dirty. Clean fighting takes some rigorous training.

 Now let me ask you something. Do you really think your characters have had any of this sort of training? It’s pretty unlikely unless you’re writing about a psychologist. It’s much more likely that your character will be flawed like the rest of us.

What Makes Great Fiction?

  • Great books are filled with conflict.
  • And great characters (who learn important lessons).
  • Great fiction rips emotion out of us readers.
  • Oftentimes a great book will make you see yourself inside those pages.

Understanding the difference between clean and dirty fighting will give you a TON of mileage in your own stories. If you need plausible arguments and dialog, Dirty Fighting Techniques will help you achieve this. These techniques can be applied with a friend, family member or a significant other…it doesn’t really matter.

Every entry I’m sharing is guaranteed to make the other person see red. If you’re writing fiction, that anger and tension is a REALLY good thing. If I give you all twenty-two at once, it will be like taking a drink of water from a fire hydrant so we’re going to start with the five that will work best in fiction.

FIVE?? That’s all the Dirty Fighting I get off that list, you might ask… Yep. Five is all you get…until the next time we discuss the topic. I’m gonna make this a multi-part post so you have time to really roll around in the Dirty Fighting Swamp. Go ahead, get dirty. Be the bog.

As I said earlier, great books are filled with conflict. And great characters who learn important lessons. Plus, dialog is the number one way to do several fun things like move your story quickly and legally bring in backstory.

Note: For a rundown of the perils of Back Story, read Kristen Lamb’s Monday post.

OK, now that you’re into the Dirty Fighting spirit, let’s discuss your dialogue. A few wonderful posts come immediately to mind:

 However, one of the problems I have with reading about dialog is that every character is unique and, even though the examples are usually awesome, my characters would never say those things. How do you think of creative things to say that would apply ONLY to our character?

One answer is to make him or her fight.

Since gratuitous fighting in a story is like gratuitous sex (kinda boring if there’s no real connection or reason for it), the author needs to find a great reason for the fight. How you use the fight is up to you but I think the easiest way to pave the road to this rad fight is to discover what your characters really want. Then dig down for what they really, really want. (You’ll remember this trick from Leanne Banks.)

DON’T give it to them. Or at least, don’t give it too soon.

Then flake away more layers to uncover what your character really fears. Then what they really, really fear. DO give that to them!  This is where things get interesting. You not only have characters who are upset, you’ve also found a myriad of ways to slide everybody deeper into your story. To do this, ask your character questions.

Perhaps you’ll use the 9 questions I discussed a few weeks back in my post on Character Engagement or new ones that are all your own. Below are some of mine to help you get started.

1. What matters most to this character? (What is he or she most afraid to lose?)
2. Who matters most? (This is usually the person they are most afraid to lose.)
3. How did the character’s parents fight?
4. How did the character’s parents interact with him or her?
5. What does this character wish he or she had gotten in childhood?
6. What does my character want to be when they grow up

All of these questions can provide you with cues about where your character is “broken” and give you ideas about fixing the broken part (i.e. Fix = Lesson).

Now it’s time to unleash that fight! BRING. IT. ON!!

Below are my top five Dirty Fighting Techniques for adding tension and plotting options to your story. I’ll save the rest for a later post so you can really play with the first five. (Your sarcasm muscle – which is always used in a Dirty Dogfight – should get a quick flex before you begin.)

#1 – Triangulating: Don’t leave the issue between you and your conflict partner (could be a family member, friend or love interest), pull everybody in. Quote well-known authorities who agree with you and list every family member whom you know has taken your side (and lie about the ones you haven’t spoken to yet).

Uses: Triangulating is incredibly useful in fiction because you can expand the discussion to more characters and stir up some real drama. Let’s not keep this issue between just us, one character says to the other. Oh no, lets involve everybody.

If you have extreme Dirty Fighting Talent, you can stir the pot and then step back and play a new game called, “Let’s watch the other two people fight.” That’s good times.

#2 – Escalating: Quickly move from the main issue of the argument to questioning your partner’s basic personality, and then move on to wondering whether the relationship is even worth it. Blame your partner for having a flawed personality so that a happy relationship will be impossible.

Uses: Excellent tool for keeping two love interests apart. BUT, the fight better be about something that really, really matters or you risk falling into the Bog of Coincidence and most stories don’t have enough muscle to climb out of that place.

Escalating also allows for plausible use of Back Story. When you’re moving from the main
issue to the REAL issue (often happens at the black moment / end of Act 2), escalating the argument will make someone lose control enough that they blurt out something juicy. Way to go, Author!

#3 – Leaving: No problem is so big or important that it can’t be ignored or abandoned all together. Walk out of the room, leave the house, or just refuse to talk. Sometimes just threatening to leave can accomplish the same thing without all the inconvenience of following through.

Uses: My favorite use of this is employing it when the two characters really need each other. It completely ups the betrayal factor: I can’t depend on you, I don’t trust you, You’ve let me down.

You noticed how dirty that last statement was, right? Not a clean fight to be found anywhere with “leaving,” which is fantastic for your story! The farther your character falls, the harder the journey is on the way back up, right?

#4 – Timing: Look for a time when your partner is least able to respond or least expects an argument.

Uses: Think about this from a story point of view. A really great time to pick a fight is just before the main character embarks on a journey, has a new murder to solve, is called on to save the world. Anything with high stakes works great. Be sure the character ambushing them is a likeable one so the reader REALLY gets drawn into the conflict.

#5 – Rejecting Compromise: Never back down. Stick with the philosophy that only one of you can win.

Uses: This is a kickass Dirty Fighting trick to use on the main character. If there is only one winner, there is automatic conflict involved for the person who “loses.” The solutions are endless.

What do you think? What are some other ways you could use a good fight to help your
character grow or advance your story? Do you use any of the five techniques in your own life…come on, you can tell us! Let’s hear your fabulous Dirty (Fighting) Thoughts!


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