March 30, 2011

Cover Love

There isn't a lot going on right now, unless you've read this post! Yep, my second novel is out to query. So...while I wait...take a look at some of my favorite covers. I can only hope my book will have a beautiful cover like these some day! I'm hoping more for JR Ward's, but that's just cause that model's eyes are fantastic!

These are just a few of my favorites. What are some of your favorite covers? Post a link or the book title in the comments :)

March 28, 2011

I've Been Outed

And we're off! Yes, that's right, my query for my commercial suspense is out the door, or should I say in my sent email file.

If you haven't queried before, read this article by the wonderful Anne Gallagher (a.k.a. The Piedmont Writer) or just go read it because it's damn good.

With my first novel, I didn't really expect much because I didn't know what I was doing, but having put that behind me, I now have experience and let me tell you, it sucks. I've never gone through The Five Stages of Querying before, but now that I completely support this novel and the time, research, editing and revisions I've gone through to make it perfect, I'm quaking in my boots. Not literally, of course, but I'm pretty distracted! I want to refresh my email every five seconds and before you say, "Go focus on something else", I am.

The sequel to this suspense is already written, but I'm doing some major revisions and editing on the sucker (in case there is a bite from an agent). I also have a 10 page paper due in about 5 weeks. So, you see, I'm working on other projects, but that doesn't stop me from checking my email every hour!

There are 12 queries out for this book, 10 agents and 2 publishers (digital publishers). I also have a query out for one of the articles I wrote to Writer's Digest, but that's 10 weeks away. I'm dying of anxiety...

How do you distract yourself after querying? I want to know!

March 24, 2011

5 Happy Things

I'm stealing a post idea from one of my fellow bloggers, because it almost seems neccessary to remember the good things than to dwell on the bad for this past week.

1. I got a B on my midterm for Gender and Sex Identity in Literature (half the test was essays). Yay me :)
2. I'm in the final stages of revision for my query and synopsis on LET ME OUT, my commercial suspense. Soon, I will be querying.
3. I lost 5 pounds because of my diet and exercise plan.
4. I finally had time to get my hair colored. Now, it doesn't look like I have 5 different colors in there.
5. I actually have free time to read My Immortal Assassin by Carolyn Jewel (my favorite author), which came out in January.

What are some of your Happy Things for this week?

March 22, 2011

Publishable Business

Up until recently, I was dumbfounded and a little intimidated by the world of publishing. As a writer, I’ve been through the traditional publishing route, trying to land that agent each time I finished revisions, but I really didn’t know what my other options were. I know other writers out there, especially beginners, can get a lost when it comes to who to submit your manuscript to, if you need an agent and which publishing houses to check out unagented. I was there. I know how you feel!

It does take some individual research when you bring your entire list submissions down to a few matches, but others may not even know where to begin. I’m here to discuss the four ways to get your manuscript published-pros and cons style.

1. Traditional Print Publishing. This is the agented route and very important to any beginner. For this you will finish the book (keyword: finish), write a query and synopsis, then pitch/submit said query to a list of researched agents that represent your work. A typical contract will include a two-book deal with the option for a third and profits are split between author, agent and publisher. You need to try to land your agent to figure out what’s wrong with your manuscript. You’ll start out with form rejection letters the first couple of submissions, but as you revise, perfect and resubmit, you’ll get more informative input from agents and editors. Fix those mistakes and keep trying.

If you haven’t unearthed any results with tradition print publishers after numerous rounds of editing and revising, try an e-publisher. Practically new within the last couple of years, e-publishers are willing to look over a lot of what the traditional publishers won’t. As long as you have a good story, they will take a chance on you because costs are down. It doesn’t take as much money to put out your e-book than it would a print.

2. Traditional E-Publishing. As a new and almost unchartered area for a lot of writers, these publishing houses are reputable, some a division of traditional print publishers, but only publish digitally. There are no physical books, only downloads. Since they are newer to the industry, submission guidelines are a little more relaxed and open. You still have to submit a query, but you’ll send along your entire manuscript as well. Guidelines may ask you to go through the simple process of reformatting. You will still receive the same amount of editing expertise as a traditional print publisher, but your book will be released (if accepted) sooner. However, seriously consider an e-publisher who does NOT go through all outlets of e-readers. We’re talking Kindle, Sony, Nook, iPad, Kobo, and a dozen more. The more devices, the more accessible your book is, which leads to higher sales. Royalties here can range from 35% to 50% depending on the publisher.

A few of these publishers include: Avon Impulse (Romance), Carina Press (Any adult genre), Sapphire Blue (Any adult genre), Ellora’s Cave (Romance), and Wild Rose Press (Romance). In order to find the publisher right for you, buy a book, read it, study the style of writing and editing. Were there a lot of mistakes? Will they catch yours?

Now, onto independent publishing. You are taking your goal of getting published upon yourself. No agents, no editors. You are doing the work yourself. A warning here: make sure your book is EDITED. I know how dumb that sounds, but have you seen some of the short stories and books online lately? If you want to be taken seriously or have a shot of being noticed by one of the big publishing houses through self-publishing, get as many eyes on your manuscript as possible. Try for a critique group. They all don’t have to be within your genre either. A romance writer may not catch what a non-fiction writer would. Diversify and bring in as many people as you can to give yourself the best chance or looking professional.

3. Independent Publishing. Let me start this point by saying you should NEVER have to pay someone to publish your book. EVER. EVER. EVER. Romance Writers of America and other organizations do not consider vanity press authors (independent print publishing) published, but that doesn’t mean that you have a horrible manuscript. It just means you shouldn’t be paying someone to put out your book. Independent publishing means you’re going to have a lot of your plate. You will have a full time job promoting, designing covers, editing, revising and writing the next in the series. This is all on you. Author Kris Tualla built her “Norway is the new Scotland” brand by self-publishing. She is retired, but spends about 70 hours a week promoting. This way of publishing can be very rewarding, but only if you’re willing to put in the hours and frustration. Royalties, if you don’t have a contract with a press, can skyrocket up to 70% here because you are devoting your time and energy into getting noticed. If you are in contact with a published author, ask them if they’d be interested in reading your manuscript. Try for that author blurb to put on your cover. That author’s fans are watching everything they do and they might be led to you.

4. Independent E-Publishing. Again, you shouldn’t have to pay for this. CreateSpace through Amazon or will give you everything you need in order to publish your book digitally and it’s free. The same rules apply here as with independent print publishing. However, your costs will be down. You’re not going to be paying for those print books. You didn’t even pay to upload your book!

We are coming into a digital age. Books are available in more than ten different formats just for e-readers, depending on the reader, but print isn’t going out of style quite yet.

If you've tried both traditional publishers by this time, and you still haven’t gotten the results you want, it’s time to take a serious look at your manuscript. Something is wrong. Your book may not fit into the publishing industries’ box; it may not be sellable because of your premise. Whatever the reason is, get some other eyes in there. Get opinions from other WRITERS-not your mom-and see what the issue could be. The more the merrier. Writing is a very solitary art, but you need the opinions of others to sell.

You want to be published. That much is clear. And a better understanding of your options, and mine, will get you a step further than those who don’t do their homework. Good luck out there!

March 18, 2011


Have you ever approached your own MS like a critique partner would? As writers we have a hard time stepping back sometimes, but what if you haven't looked at that MS in say...6 months? That's where I'm at with my third novel, which will be getting some MAJOR revisions this year. I haven't done anything with this novel in 6-8 months, so I wonder if it will be easier to BETA. I'm going to give myself the same gaurantee I offer for my critiques:

"I will only make comments in the margins and not touch your actual MS except to separate paragraphs or split each chapter to a new page. What this means: If you have a REALLY long paragraph, I will try to break it up for you by starting new paragraphs. I will never change the words you've written, only apply suggestions within the comments."

This will be the first time I'll approach my own work this way. I'll take all the comments and decipher which are pertanent and which I'll overlook.

So tell me, how do you approach your work when it's time to revisions? Dive right in on the MS or BETA yourself?

March 15, 2011


I have none. Seriously. There seem to be too many projects/errands that need to get done and I'm exhausted! way to motivate myself to write is to take the advice of one of my fellow RWA members who gave a presentation in January on the subject.

Multi-published Romance author Lynn Crain brought each one of us a tiny notebook, like these...

And shared her secret to motivating herself. She has about 4 different notebooks that she uses for every project, but her motivation notebook seems to be her favorite. She shared from inside this little square motivating quotations, stories, lists and experiences that she refers to every time she needs a little pick me up.

From that presentation on I've been carrying around my little notebook and paging through it often these days. Here are a couple examples from mine:

When refering to research, synopsis, query: If you want to be an author, wouldn't you want to do it right?

When referring to school: You are in school to get that credential, to get noticed, and to be a professional.

From a feminist text I read for school: "Write! Writing is for you, you are for you; your body is yours, take it." -Helene Cixous, The Laugh of the Medusa.

Song: "Firework" by Katy Perry

Three tips to combat stress: 1. Time management 2. Eat right 3. Exercise

Top 5 Creative Writing Tips (I don't remember where I found these): 1. Write first, revise later 2. Show, don't tell 3. Start in the right place 4. Find trusted readers to give feedback 5. Read

When referring to genre hoping when writing: "You're the artist-it's your job to write what you love." -Anna

So what motivates you? Do quotations and a little book help or hinder your progress?

March 12, 2011

Shorten It Up

Short stories are a great way to keep those creative juices going, to start a new novel or just flesh out an idea. I never saw myself writing them until the past year or so, but entered a few contests (and lost) and have written a few more since then.

I have a few with the recommendation from others that I try to get them published. But I don't know what to do, where to look, or if it will even be possible without contests (which I've given up on). There are a lot of novelists out there, but there are even MORE short story writers. The competition is steep and I'm a little overwhelmed.

Is it worth it? Do you have any advice for an amateur short story-ist or some info? How do you even begin if you want to get these little puppies published?

March 9, 2011

Something's Going To Break

Otherwise known as "I have too many ideas and not enough time to write." Do you ever feel like this? My brain won't shut off. I keep thinking of new novel ideas and it won't stop. Some people don't have this problem. They can't think of ideas, but I have an over-abundance and it's driving me mad because I don't have time to write! I am very grateful though. I will always have something to write about for about the next 5 years. But  they're all so shiny and new! I have to just remind myself to take it one project at a time.

Do you have this problem? Do you have too many ideas pushing their way to the front of your mind?

March 7, 2011

Research That Makes Good Fiction

No matter what genre of fiction you write, accurate research pulls your readers into your story. Plotting, formatting, world-building and character research are just four items on a list of many that make your reader unable to put that book down.
Plotting research. A lot of writers write by the “seat of their pants” and that works for them. Others plan every detail of their work, following a close outline, but, no matter how you plot (or don’t), there is a basic guide to follow in fiction.
This includes A) introducing your reader to your character’s ordinary world, B) diving into adventure, C) accumulation of bad things happening, D) answering the call to adventure, E) gathering friends and allies, F) the point of no return G) things falling apart H) your crisis or “black moment”, I) resolution, and J) your happy ever after.
In all actuality, your plot should look something like this:

Formatting research. It’s a simple idea, but as a novice writer, there is a lot of information to sift through in regards to what should be included in the header of your MS, where page numbers should start, the actual font of your MS, and what the title page should look like and include. Authors use their own formatting in a lot of cases, but that’s because they’re allowed to. They’ve become accustomed to what their editor is expecting. But you, my friend, have not. Therefore, we must research. Find a copy of Formatting and Submitting Your Manuscript by Chuck Sambuchino. It will answer those questions whether you’re submitting a short story, a full novel, or an article to an agent or editor. Remember, the more professional your MS looks, the more professional you look.

World-building research. I’ve read so many manuscripts, especially paranormal, in which the writer doesn’t take the time to actually build the world they’ve created in their book. Readers want to know an era’s/world’s clothing, language, mannerisms, government, architecture, atmosphere, customs/traditions, and culture. Nailing down the details is what keeps your reader engrossed in the story and believing they are right there with your character.
Regency is a huge in the market right now and it requires a lot of research. This means reading history books, watching films in which the era is correctly portrayed, finding other novels in the same time period as your book and learning new words. Unless you’ve done your research, readers will see exactly how much time you took to get it right.
A word of warning: world-building research can become addicting. Never research more than you need to write about or you’ll never finish the book!

Character research. Characters make the book. This is the reason readers will pick up yours, so make them believe your characters are real. This includes setting your character’s goal, motivation, and conflict and not just for your protagonist and antagonist. Every character has an agenda. This is what drives your plot. Tell the reader what, why and why not. A great resource I recommend for every fiction writer is Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation and Conflict. Her tips will make your character multi-layered and believable.
You also need to paint a picture of your characters for your readers. A lot of writers actually find a photo that best suits their purposes and refer to it often to keep their descriptions clear throughout the book.
You as the writer need to know your character inside and out. Their job, their likes, dislikes, relationships with family and friends, favorite foods and everything else you can think of. Some are a little easier than others to construct, but either way, it must be done. Maybe you have a protagonist who is a cop. The best way to learn about your character and step into their shoes is to interview a cop. Find out how that officer spends his day, how many years of training he had to go through before he was allowed on the force, what tests he had to take. When it comes to the simpler things, Leigh Michaels has a great list of questions to ask your character in her book On Writing Romance or you can find it on my website
There is a similar warning here as with world-building research. Don’t get too into your interviews or studying. Learn just enough that you can confidently portray your character to your readers and not have to worry about inaccurate details.

What other research do you include in your process?