Sunday, November 30, 2008

"Don't Worry. Be Happy" Week One

I’m sure most of you remember the peppy song that told the world “Don’t worry. Be happy.” Many of us thought it was corny the first time we heard it, but still grasped the underlying significance. Well, it’s time to start blasting it over the radio stations once again. In this economy, it is easy to drown in a pool of negative thoughts. Giving into depression isn’t going to help you, your family, or your creative energy – unless you’re writing about people in a state of depression.

Instead, let’s grasp onto every happy moment we can. One happy thought will lead to another and then to another. Before you know it, you’ll be smiling and others will smile back at you. It really works. I wish I could remember what I was thinking about, but I know I was smiling on my way into the grocery store and when I looked up a handsome man was smiling back at me. Okay, I probably blushed, but it was worth it. LOL

So smile! The holidays are about peace and joy. Let’s start spreading it!

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting what I am doing to stay happy. I hope you’ll let us know what you are doing.

This past week I:

*Spent the holiday with family and friends. I made sure I treasured every second.

*Rented a funny movie – Get Smart is playing on the television at this very moment. I saw it in a theater and laughed throughout most of the movie. Steve Carell has a talent for making films both men and women enjoy. I love the Chuck Norris with a BB gun line.

*Bought a calendar that makes me feel good. Last year, I was drawn to the pictures in “Forces of Nature,” This year, I was in Barnes and Noble when “Jets,” put out by Silver Lining, called to me. I know that must seem strange to you, but I’m an Air Force brat. For as long as I can remember, every time I’ve heard jets overhead, I’ve had to stop what I was doing and watch them fly. January has a picture of a cool looking Stealth. (Okay, my age is showing.)

*Looked into the faces of happy children. I teach at a Title I school, so we are able to give the students free breakfast in the classroom. Every day, I tell each child “Good morning,” and hand over their spork/napkin package. This past week (before Thanksgiving break), I waited for them to make eye contact, so it was even more personal. They smile and melt your heart. I love starting the day, knowing I gave each child individual attention. Tell the child in your life (if one have one) that you love him/her and make sure they are looking you in the eyes when you say it.

*Received another angel for my Christmas tree. Okay, I didn’t have control over receiving it, but I have admired its beauty several times since. Find something in your home that makes you feel good whenever you glance at it and make a point of doing so every day.

*Watched several sunsets. There is so much beauty in nature. Every day, I admire the cloud formations in the sky, and when I’m home, I lean against the back porch railing and gaze upon the spectacular colors in the AZ sky at sunset. There is a spot between two apartment buildings across the street where I can see the colors just beyond the silhouette of palm trees. I also love storms. Not too long ago, I stood on the porch in my socks, while drinking coffee, and watched the hail hit the cement floor all around me. It was the closest thing to snow I had seen in years. An hour earlier, I had seen a hummingbird flying close to a woodpecker in the pine tree six feet away. I hope it was a woodpecker, if not it was a psycho bird hitting its head against the trunk of the tree. “Why did I eat that worm? Why did I eat that worm?”

Now I am going to make myself feel really good by eating a slice of pumpkin pie.
What are you going to do to feel good? Keep it clean. (Unless I kinow you, then you can whisper it to me at the Valley of the Sun party. LOL)

Tina LaVon

Thursday, November 27, 2008

How Do You Like Your Turkey?

Since Thanksgiving is around the corner, I got to thinking of some strange Thanksgivings I've had over the years. Since my life is pretty tame, I suspected that there were others out there that had stranger things happen, particularly when in came to frozen turkeys. Well, below are a couple of bizarre frozen turkey stories. Hope I'm able to garner a chuckle or two.

Don't swing your frozen turkey around in the grocery store! You may get in more trouble than you bargained for.

A California woman is suing for injuries she suffered when she was hit by a frozen turkey.
According to a lawsuit, the plaintiff was in the checkout lane at a grocery store in Medford two days before Thanksgiving—when she was struck by a 20-pound turkey.

A stocker at the store was trying to pass the turkey from one checkout lane to another. The stocker is being sued as being negligent in:

(a) In swinging the turkey about in an area where shoppers and others were present;
(b) In failing to look around before and during swinging the turkey;
(c) In failing to control his movements; and
(d) In failing to exercise caution while swinging the turkey."

The plaintiff is seeking $3,200 for medical expenses and an undetermined sum for pain and suffering.

Just make sure you watch out for swinging turkey in your local grocery store!

Don't ever try microwaving a frozen turkey while on the lam.

A Canadian fugitive who was on the lam for two years for murder was captured in New Mexico during a burglary when he attempted to cook a frozen turkey in an office microwave oven. Aparently he undercooked the turkey to where he was physcially sick. When he went to the restroom, he accidentally locked the door behind him and could not get out before the police arrived.

Just how badly do you want that last turkey for the dinner table?

Two women at a grocery store in South Wales grabbed for the last turkey at a store and got into a tussle with only one being the winner. Later in the parking lot, the woman who lost out on the turkey yelled at the older woman that she hoped she burnt the bird. The other woman didn't take kindly to her shouting and attacked the shopper, going as far as tearing out clumps of her hair.

Hmmm... I think I'll take ham instead.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Class: Happy Hookers! Engaging the Reader from Start to Finish

Class: Happy Hookers!: Engaging the Reader from Start to Finish
Instructor: Terry Spear
Dates: December 1-31, 2008

Registration Deadline: December 1, 2008
Fee: $10/HHRW members, $20/others
Registration Form:
FMI: HHRW Campus Coordinator:

Class Description:

Slow starts and sleepy endings to scenes and chapters can ruin a
manuscript's chance of being published. Conversely, solid hooks can
make the sale -- as workshop intructor Terry Spear, with six
publishers currently hooked for six manuscripts, demonstrates.
Setting such practical matters aside, what author wouldn't be
thrilled to hear someone say, "I couldn't put the book down"? Strong
hooks are a vital ingredient in strong writing. In this online class,
which features lectures, discussion, practical exercises, and
handouts, she'll teach students how to captivate readers with great
openings, scene hooks, chapter cliff hangers, and intriguing back
cover blurbs. Participants will master the hook in all its
environments, from the query letter through the novel.


Terry Spear currently has six publishers hooked for six manuscripts.
Visit her at www.terryspear.

Format: Course is conducted via Yahoo Groups email with lessons and

And the winner is....

The winner for Jordan's book is Karin. Please contact Kim at kwatters 21 at (no spaces) to collect your prize. Thanks.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

An Attitude of Gratitude

"Be in an Attitude of Gratitude."

One of the reasons I like to watch The Secret DVD is it reminds me of the power of positive thinking. It also reminds me to be thankful for what I have every day, not just when the fourth Thursday of November rolls around. (I haven't really decided what I want my future to look like yet, so the rest of its message will need to wait.)

During these difficult times, we need to remember we do have a lot to be thankful for. It doesn't matter what's on the table or under the tree, but who is sharing the day with you.

It's time to get that pen out and start jotting down all of the reasons you know you are blessed.

I'll start.

I am thankful:
*I have wonderful friends and family who love and encourage me. I can't even begin to explain how much they mean to me.
*My daughter is graduating college this school year. (I am so proud of her. Choosing not to remarry while I raised her was the right decision for us.)
*I have a classroom full of angelic children who brighten my workday.
*God has shown his presence in my life repeatedly.
*I have reconnected with old friends who enrich my life, and I hope more of them find me this next year.
*I am happier than I have ever been.
*Instead of suffering from "The Empty Nest Syndrome," I've found myself again. (The woman hidden beneath the writer, teacher, mother…)
*Extra weight I held onto like a shield is falling off with minimal effort.
*I recognize that I'm entering a new chapter of my life - one full of miracles and exciting possibilities. I can't wait to see what happens next.

I asked my blogging partners what they were thankful for.

I caught Kim Watters between her many duties. It was short and sweet, but says it all:
“I'm thankful for my family and friends.”

Carol Webb is also thankful for the many blessings in her life:
“I'm truly grateful for my two daughters who are turning into wonderful, warm, and caring young women. I'm deeply honored to be their mother. They have given me such a different perspective on life compared to if I'd been without children. My friends add another deep layer to my life. They've been there through the tears and laughter, listened and given advise when I needed it and they've done it all because they cared. I can only hope to return the favor.
I have a roof over my head, food in my refrigerator, far more than many on this earth and for that I am deeply humble.
I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with abundance.”
Kathryne Kennedy had this to say:
"I have many blessings I'm thankful for, including a wonderful family and the support of so many friends (the ladies of this blog foremost). I'm grateful for having found such a supportive publisher for my writing, a place where I feel a part of a family with an editor who cares about me as a person. I'm thankful for every letter I get from my readers. In many ways, my writing has helped me get through a difficult year of personal health issues for me and my family. So most of all, I thank God for the gift of my imagination."

Now it's your turn.
What are you thankful for?

Have an awesome Thanksgiving holiday!
Tina LaVon

Friday, November 21, 2008

Interview with Jordan Summers

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Jordan Summers. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called Red. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Red is a near-future, post-apocalyptic fairytale based loosely on Little Red Riding Hood.

Red is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

It’s the heroine’s nickname in the book. It doesn’t come from her hair color. It comes from how much blood she spills on the job.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

It’s what I like to read and watch in movies. Seemed rather natural given my love of monsters or creatures that people consider monsters.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

The idea for the book came from one question. What if Little Red Riding Hood and the Big, Bad Wolf turned out to be the same person?

What are your favorite fantasy research books, and why?

My book of angels, book of demons, encyclopedia of vampires and werewolves, and a crypto-zoology book. I like them because they have a lot of good information about the mythology behind various creatures. I also read things like the mating habits of wolves and lions, etc. It helps when creating beings that are more animalistic than the average human.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

I actually really liked my lab created vampire, Raphael Vega. He’s got a quirky sense of humor.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research and world affect your character development?

I actually ‘hear’ a character first in my head. Sometimes I know who’s talking, while other times it takes days to figure it out. Once I have enough dialogue written down, then I may go back and do character sheets. I do find interviews helpful, when I’m stuck in a story section. That said, I do them a little differently. Instead of asking interview questions, I ask specific characters to tell me the story from start to finish. (ie what happened?) It helps that it’s in their point of view because everyone sees things differently. Information I might not have had pops up during these types of interviews.

Well, the world you develop affects every character inhabiting it. Not necessarily their development, but certainly their actions. In my case, the dead world that Red lives on is harsh. Food is scarce, so the wild animals who managed to survive will hunt anything. That includes people. You can’t survive long without supplies. There are communal bathing areas in most cities, so modesty doesn’t really exist. Most people have been genetically modified in the womb to withstand the higher radiation levels from sunlight. There are certain things in my Dead World books that are simply a way of life and my characters accept them as such.

How do you go about building your world? Do you use maps, charts or drawings?

I build my world through characterization. The characters ALWAYS come first in my books. I don’t use props like maps, charts, or drawings. The world blooms around my characters, not the other way around.

For example: Red began speaking to me first. When I met her, I knew she was scared. Something had woken her from a deep sleep. I didn’t realize the book was set in the near-future until she reached over to her steel nightstand and grabbed a laser pistol. At that point, I interrupted her and asked where she was located. Turns out she was inside an officer’s dorm room at the International Police Tactical Team headquarters. Could’ve knocked me over with a feather. *g*

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Several. The authors who got me interested in writing are Virginia Henley, Kathleen Woodiwiss, and Johanna Lindsey. I loved their early work. Still do. I was also inspired by Lynn Viehl, Angela Knight, Lora Leigh, Christine Warren, Lori Foster, Simon Green, John Scalzi, Neil Gaiman, Jim Butcher, and Kelley Armstrong.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

Bookseller mailings are by far the most successful promotional tool in my opinion. I bought Pat Rouse’s list and sent advanced reader copies to several booksellers. I also sent out bookmarks. I’ve been surprised at the response I have received via email from them.

What do we have to look forward next?

The second book in the Dead World trilogy, SCARLET will be released in June 09. It will be followed by CRIMSON in November 09. The third and final book wraps up the love story that started in RED.

Thanks, Jordan Summers!

To celebrate her book release, Jordan is offering a free ebook of Atlantean’s Quest: The Arrival to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...


Jordan Summers finished her first book in 2002 and immediately entered the ‘Daphne Du Maurier’ contest. The novel finaled in the single title mystery/suspense category and later was a finalist in the ‘Finally a Bride’ contest. She wrote her second book, Atlantean’s Quest: The Arrival that same year and sold it to Ellora’s Cave in October 2002. She’s written nine books for Ellora’s Cave and has enjoyed success with her Atlantean’s Quest Series and her Phantom Warriors’ series.

Missing the thrill of writing contests, Jordan entered the 2003 Lori Foster/ Kensington Brava contest and won the Reader’s Choice. The win led to a multi-book contract from Kensington Publishing. She also won the 2005 Harlequin Blaze published author contest. Her Blaze book, OFF LIMITS came out in March 2008. Jordan went on to land a three-book deal with Tor in October of 2006. RED is the first book in her new trilogy and was released November 4, 2008. It will be followed by SCARLET in June 2009 and CRIMSON in November 2009.

Check out author’s website at . Buy Red at

Thursday, November 20, 2008

2nd Annual Southeast Regional Library Author Panel

Kim Watters is speaking at Desert Dreams Romance Writer's of America's 2nd Annual Southeast Regional Library Author Panel. Come by and say hi.
November 22, 20081-4 PM
Southeast Regional Library775 N Greenfield Rd Gilbert, AZ 85234602-652-3000 Website Panels at 1 PM and 2:30 PM with book signings immediately following.
Featured authors:
Kim Watters, CC Harrison, Eden Robins, Calista Fox, Annette Mahon, Erin Quinn, Rox Denny Fox, Cathy McDavid, Linda Style, Pamela Tracy

Monday, November 17, 2008

We've been awarded an I Love Your Blog Award!

We are surprised to be awarded this I LOVE YOUR BLOG award by one of our fellow authors, Vijaya Schartz. Visit her blog at:

She received this award and then passed it on. It's now our turn to pass it on. We picked bloggers we feel deserve the honor based on the valuable information they pass on to others in our writing community.

We hope you will visit their sites below:

Jennifer on Writing:

Jessica Faust at Bookends Literary Agency:

Have a great day.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Blogging for Writers 101

Yesterday, I joined my blogging partners Kim Watters and Carol Webb at the Scottsdale Civic Center Library. We had a wonderful day participating in the workshops there. First, we took part in an author's panel where we answered questions like, "What was the most interesting thing you've done to research a novel?" That will be a future blog post. Next, we presented our workshop on blogging. I'll share a few of our tips with you. (Like all advice, take what works for you and forget the rest.)

*Blog often to keep readers coming to your site, if that is your goal. If you are going to spread the news about your blog post on various loops, leave a few days between posts for people to find it.

*Blogging with partners will decrease the workload, but make sure you all have the same vision for the blog before you begin. We made sure this site was going to be G (or at most PG) rated before we began.

*If you can fill a need, like posting editor and agent interviews, you can increase the traffic to your site. On my personal blog at I help readers, writers, reviewers, booksellers, and publishers find each other on Myspace.

*Offer to connect links to other writers. This will increase the number of Google hits you'll have when readers/editors/agents are looking for you. Blogrolling is the easiest way to add other links to your site.

*An interesting name for your blog will help readers to remember you.

*Put a counter on your site so you can keep track of which topics draw the most viewers. You'll want to repeat that type of post to keep them coming back.

*We agree that Blogger is one of the most user friendly sites.

*Make your blog work for you. Advertise your awards, Yahoo newsletter groups, reviews, etc.

*My personal favorite place to get pictures at a cheap price is

*Be careful what you post. Lawsuits for people who bash others on their blogs has gone up. (Not only is it bad for your pocketbook, but also for your reputation and your Karma.)

This is just a sample of our talk. Feel free to leave comments if you have advice you'd like to share.

Have an awesome week!
Tina LaVon

Friday, November 14, 2008

Interview with Cindy K. Green

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Cindy K. Green. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called Meeting Mr. Right Online. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Meeting Mr. Right Online is a sweet Chicklit filled with romantic comedy and ending with that all important HEA. I love the humor in these kinds of books, but I wanted to write one that anyone could read and enjoy—even a 13-year-old girl. That’s how this story came to be. Lucy is a busy young woman as a sitcom writer who hasn’t really taken the time for her personal life. She’s already passed thirty and all her friends seem to have gotten married. She has, however, met a friend online. As the story opens, she is wondering what has happened to her British pen pal as he hasn’t written to her in days. She is also thrown a bombshell when her younger sister announces her engagement and then there is her work-nemesis plaguing her at every turn. It’s great fun.

Meeting Mr. Right Online is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Oh, I had that title from the very beginning. The heroine refers to that elusive ‘Mr. Right’ in the book and it just seemed perfect to put that in the title. Aren’t we all looking for Mr. Right? And in this day and age it seems the Internet is the way.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I enjoy reading chicklit novels as long as they have a good ending. They are witty and fun, but they also get to the heart of an issue through humor. I’ve read several more mainstream chicklits including Bridget Jones’ Diary, of course. But it was after reading a couple Christian chicklit novels that I decided to write a sweet one. Chicklit for everyone no matter what heat level you enjoy. It was so fun to add in all the exaggerations of the heroine and to let my character confide in the reader as the story progresses.

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?

I can be both depending on the situation. This one was a pantser story. I was in the middle of editing a full-length novel and needed to write something new. At the time, I was actually worrying about an online friend whom I hadn’t heard from in awhile. So, with a couple ‘what if’ questions I just started writing the first draft of this book. After it was contracted, my editor and I decided I should add another spectrum to the story—her job. And the story expanded. It was great fun writing this book and I think you’ll be able to see that as you read.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

I didn’t actually have to do too much research. I spoke with some friends who work in cable television (the industry of my heroine). The rest just fell into place. I had fun making the love interest of my heroine British. I felt after all these years of being an Anglophile (as my husband calls me) and lover of British programs, I could pull off a British bloke. I did have some English friends preview his scenes and they loved him.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Definitely the heroine, Lucy. She is the star of the book after all. She has a sarcastic voice yet she remains sweet and isn’t jaded. There is a lot of romantic comedy in this one and I had fun placing Lucy in these hilarious situations such as falling into an artificial fichus tree in front of all her sister’s guests at an engagement party. She has a lot going on—her sister getting married (her younger sister at that), job issues, her missing correspondent who might just be at this party. How she deals with these situations makes her a fun character.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

For my short stories and short novellas, I don’t do a whole lot of preparation before starting to write. I have a file on my computer with story notes. I add pertinent information about the characters and the basis of the plot and then I just start writing. Now for my longer works, I do begin with character sheets and really get to know them before starting into the project. It’s funny but with some characters I just seem to know them well right from the beginning and others I need to take the time to get to know before I can tell their story. Then with my NovelTea series I did do an interview between the hero and heroine (quite funny) that really helped me get into their character as I began writing the third book. It helped me approach this new story with a fresh outlook without forgetting where they had gone in the other stories.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

I had two favorite authors while growing up and I see them in my writing today:

L.M. Montgomery – She is famed for writing Anne of Green Gables but did you know she wrote A LOT more books and a plethora of short stories. In the late 80’s and into the 90’s (when I was in junior high & high school), they began republishing her short stories into anthologies with similar themes. Today, I have a book shelf in my bedroom next to my desk. On the top shelf, I have all my Montgomerys – there are 33 book titles there. She had a certain fanciful way of turning a phrase. And of course I related to her characters – especially Anne since I’m a redhead too. I still pick up and read one of her books now and again. Last summer, I reread Anne of the Island & Anne’s House of Dreams. They sure read a lot faster than they used to.

Jane Austen – I am a certified Jane Junkie! To this day if you ask my favorite author, I’ll say JA. And if you ask my favorite book, I’ll either say Pride & Prejudice or Persuasion – I go back and forth. (Right now it’s Persuasion – aah Captain Wentworth ) I first read P&P in 8th grade and the story has never left me. JA had a way of creating the best characters: characters to laugh at, hate, and fall in love with. I am always reading one or another of her novels these days. I have all six as e-books on my Palm Pilot so I take them wherever I go.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

I’m a big supporter of the blog. As an author published in the small presses, getting your name out there is key and blogging in an easy and inexpensive way to do it. I try to blog somewhere at least once a week besides my own blogs. Maintaining a newsletter subscription list is another important one. I have a large number of ready readers who I can send information to directly about a release or other news.

What do we have to look forward next?

Next year I have two releases coming. The first is in February. My first historical—Dilemma of the Heart. It’s a about a young woman who believes her sweetheart has been killed in action at the close of the American Civil War. She has a decision to make. Can she forget him and marry the wealthy man offering her a future? Of course, maybe the death of her first love has only been exaggerated but will this other one let her go?

Later in the year, I have another first for me. A high fantasy—The Princess and the Rogue. I’m very excited about this one. It’s a fantasy filled with humor, adventure and lots of romance. My hero is a mixture of Robin Hood and the Scarlet Pimpernel. He has a cheeky mouth and oozes appeal. I can’t think of another book that I’ve enjoyed writing more than this one especially with all the fun characters and the sensual tone.

Thanks, Cindy!

To celebrate her book release, Cindy is offering a free e-book of Meeting Mr. Right Online to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Cindy K. Green is a multi-published author with degrees in History and Education. Previously a middle school English & History teacher, she now homeschools her own children and writes in several genres: Inspirational, Fantasy, Contemporary, Chicklit, Suspense and Historical romance.

Check out author’s website at Buy Meeting Mr. Right Online at By Grace Publishing for $1.49

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bootcamp for Novelists

Instructor: Connie Flynn

Do you have a novel in your filing cabinet that's been collecting rejections? Or maybe you stuffed it in a drawer and gave up hope. The Bootcamp 4 Writers was designed for you. Bring you book (or at least the outline), a pen, and your rolled up sleeves. By the end of the day, you'll see why your characters and plot broke down, and have all the pieces to put it together and write a winning novel.

DATE: Saturday, December 6, 2009.
TIME: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm
LOCATION: 2942 N. 24th Street, Phoenix AZ 85016
TELEPHONE: 480-946-7321
Pay by November 20 and take a $10 discount
Go to for registration form.
Mail registration to Connie Flynn, 1739 N. Miller Road, Scottsdale AZ 85257.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Interview with editors Lori Graham and Laura Kelly

I’d like to welcome our guest editors today, Senior Editor Lori Graham and Editor Laura Kelly from the Crimson (suspense) line of The Wild Rose Press. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy.

Thank you. We’re happy to be here.

What exciting new projects are happening over at Crimson?

Lori: The most exciting project is that Crimson Rose month is coming up in November. First, we are doing a submission call. We are calling for “Men in Uniform”.

To back that up, we have a special free read and some opportunities for prizes. The free read is “A Girl, A Guy and A Goon” by Cindy Green and it will feature a man in uniform and kick off our promotion. Next we have three opportunities for prizes. First, we will be starting a blog on 11/1 regarding our favorite man in uniform and how the blog will work, inviting comments to serve as people’s registration in the blog drawing. The winner will be chosen at random at the end of the month and given a free Crimson download. Also, for those downloading a free read, their name will go into a random drawing at month end for a free coffee mug. The final opportunity will be in the polls. Our Marketing Director will be posting polls every couple of days. Folks will have to go to the website and check out the covers and blurbs for the books of the poll and then vote for their favorite. The winner of each poll will win a free download of one of the books in the poll.

It will be a great time to check out our incredible Crimson writers.

Can you give us a little history about Crimson?

Lori: Crimson has been around since the inception of The Wild Rose Press and is our second largest line as far as sales. There is never been a dull moment as over 60 authors provide us with murder, mayhem and intrigue while still building some incredibly romantic stories. We currently have seven editors and are getting ready to add our eighth. The majority of our current works are the longer rosebuds or roses but we would love to get a few more rosettes and miniature roses (shorter stories) if anyone would like to try their hand at it.

What are your top pet peeves a new writer makes?

Lori: If you are a new writer getting ready to submit to any publishing house, take the time to study their website and guidelines. It is very frustrating to an editor to receive a manuscript from someone who obviously doesn’t know anything about their company.

Laura: Stories that begin with backstory, and not where the action begins. I don’t want to wade through six pages of what happened before the story begins, before the story begins. Stories where the characters seem to have only two emotions—anger and lust. I like to read about well-rounded characters with a full range of emotions, not two characters who snipe at each other and trade barbs until they can’t control themselves any longer and fall into bed, then hop out of it and start sniping at each other again. I like the story to progress in stages as a real relationship should, with them getting to know each other’s quirks and fallacies as human beings. Stories with too much narrative. A romantic suspense story has to do double duty. It’s a mystery/suspense and a romance. Therefore it has to hit the ground running. Too much narrative slows down the pacing.

What are your top pet peeves a published author makes?

Lori: As a published author, it is easy to fall into the mindset that everything you do is publishable quality and to be honest, most of it is. However, don’t give up the routines that got your published in the beginning. Still proofread, continue to use your critique group and partner with your editor.

Laura: I would have to agree with Lori on this. We hate to write rejections and especially rejections to authors we have already worked with, but we don’t have time to edit careless mistakes that could be caught by a good proofreading. Sending in a manuscript full of typos and bad grammar shows you are not being respectful of your editor or her time and expertise. We’re here to edit story structure and plot deficiencies, not bad grammar and spelling.

What old trend or new trend do you see in publishing for Crimson?

Lori: Given the way our society is evolving, we are seeing a bit more international intrigue and manuscripts based on some terrorism. I don’t know that this is a trend but just a new avenue for intrigue.

What catches your eye in a new writer’s work?

Lori: Hero and heroine development – if the writer has taken the time to really create characters that I can enjoy that makes a huge difference. Then there is the villain. I need to be able to either “hate” the villain or be able to understand why the villain did what they did.

Laura: Good, clean dialogue. A lot of new writers don’t realize every line of dialogue doesn’t need to be responded to, and you don’t need to include every thought the character has. I see this especially when authors are trying to close a scene, or get the people out of the room. Just end the scene with a pertinent piece of dialogue and cut to the next scene. The reader will realize they left the room and got into their cars and drove across town and….

So when I see a manuscript with realistic dialogue that does what it’s supposed to do and moves the story along, and a minimum of narrative, that catches my attention right away.

For the submission process, what do you want from an author? What is your response time?

Lori: Mainly for them to have followed the submission guidelines. Put together a great query letter and synopsis to grab the editor’s attention. (Hint – have someone read it and the synopsis. Someone who hasn’t read the story.) Please don’t make the synopsis a “See Spot run” sentence structure.

Laura: Our response time varies, on the number of submissions received and on hand at the time. We try to get back to every author on a query within 30 days, a partial within 60 days, and a full within 90 days. We now have a process where manuscripts for contract consideration are submitted to our senior editor for approval, and that takes time, too. So we might not be as quick at getting back to authors as we were in the beginning.

What new author have you recently signed?

Lori: Jenni Holbrook

Laura: AJ Brower

What new project made you grab that hidden piece of chocolate in your pencil drawer?

Lori: There have been a few so I am going to need a diet soon.

Laura: Hot Contract, by Jodi Henley, No Second Chance, by Maggie Toussaint, and this month’s release by Kathleen Mix, Deadly Paradise, is really gripping. I like stories that simmer with danger and move at a really fast pace.

But I am pleased with how all of my stories turned out once the editing process was complete. I don’t let them ‘out of the house’ until the author and I are satisfied that they sparkle.

Any other chocolate nuggets you can give authors looking to break into your house?

Lori: Study your weapon of choice and the characters you are developing. To get the suspense truly high, you need to know all of it inside out. However, while you are developing the suspense, don’t forget about the romantic aspect and build the sexual tension. (Another hint – take some time to look through the suspense novels already published with a house to get a feel for what is possible.)

Laura: I agree with Lori, here. We do all kinds of stories. I have edited Hawaiian terrorists, horse farm and corporate sabotage, serial killers, kidnapping stories, murder mysteries and international intrigue. Each one had its own flavor and beat, and was unique in its own way. I love the diversity in Crimson.

Last, but not least, please read your manuscript aloud to yourself before you send it in. You will be amazed at the glitches you catch if you do this. If you reach a section where your mind starts to wander and you bore yourself, you know that section is slow and needs re-writing. You can catch excess repetitions of words and phrases this way, too. And stilted or non-essential dialogue.

To query us, first, go and read our submission guidelines on the website, send your query to All queries go through a main clearinghouse person, and are then forwarded to the senior editor of that line, in our case, Lori, and she assigns the work based on an established rotation.

Thanks, Lori and Laura!

Thank you. It was a pleasure to be here.

Check out The Wild Rose Press Crimson offerings on our Suspense page at

Sunday, November 9, 2008

FOR WRITERS: Promoting your book on

One of my favorite places to promote my books is on the social networking site: You might have heard of Gather already through their First Chapters contest. The winner receives a cash reward and a publishing contract, and many talented writers have been discovered through it. What you may not know is that people swap recipes, health articles and photos of their vacations, just to name a few.

To get a sense of how Gather works, click the People, Groups or Explore buttons on the top of the page. Then at the very bottom you can click on Books, Family, Food, Health, etc.

On Gather, you can share articles, photos and videos. First you need to create a profile, which is similar to Myspace, but a lot easier as you don’t need any html programming for your page. Every time you share an article or image you will receive Gather points, which apparently can be redeemed for cash (the site has changed since I signed up, so this may no longer be the case). I elected to give my earnings to charity, as I knew I’d already be benefiting from the site as a marketing tool, but you will have to decide which option to choose. You’ll need to post your profile photo as well.

Before you start sharing any articles, you need to find people to send them to. The quickest way to start getting the word out (without spending a lot of time finding people to connect to) is to join groups. There are many book groups on Gather, including Borders, and you’ll need to click on their icon and click the ‘join this group’ button. You can click the Groups button at the top of Gather’s home page and search groups for those that enjoy reading the kind of books you write (this info is usually provided in their profile, just like on Myspace). Or, you’re welcome to piggyback on my page:

Click the groups button just above my profile photo. Then click on the group icon and join that group. Most of my groups are book related, or welcome general postings of all kind.

Now that you have some groups to send your content to, click on the ‘share’ button just beneath your profile photo on your ‘my Gather’ page. This will then take you to a page where you can click on sharing a photo, article or video. Another window will open that will allow you to upload a photo or video, or write an article. After you’re done writing your article or uploading your image, you will be asked to add tags (one-letter descriptions of your content that makes your entry searchable). The rating and comments option is automatic, so I suggest you click on the blue options button to disallow ratings, although I’d keep the comments open. This is to discourage DB1’s (people who don’t read your content, just drive by and slam it with a 1). Most people who leave a comment will really care about your content. Then you will have to click on which groups you want to send your content to. Your content will automatically go to all of your friends, and if you don’t have any yet, don’t worry. People will often reach out to you. Now, you rate your content if necessary, then submit it.

You can get to your articles from the ‘my posts’ link on your Gather page. Click the title and it will open to any comments you have received. Whenever you receive a comment (or any other activity on Gather), an email notification will be sent to the email address you provided when you signed up. You do have the option of removing these alerts from your ‘email preferences’.

Play with the other buttons on the site and you will soon get a grasp of how to navigate around. I do want to point out that from your ‘my Gather’ space, there will be notes on how many messages you received (click to open your Gather email inbox), friend requests, and group invitations.

Many of the Books Groups love getting reviews, so I will often post reviews for my own books that others have written (with acknowledgement, of course). Again, you might want to check out my Gather page to get an idea of the type of articles I’ve posted. If you have a blog, especially if your content is geared toward articles about the writing craft, sharing your posts on Gather would be beneficial to you and the community. I’ve received helpful feedback on book videos, covers and articles. And most importantly, I’ve met some really terrific, supportive people. Just be prepared to give back what you receive, as far as providing advice and encouragement to your connections.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Until next time,

Friday, November 7, 2008

Interview with Cheyenne McCray

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Cheyenne McCray. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

Yum! Chocolate! Thank you for having me and allowing me to indulge in my favorite treat! I think my slogan should be: “Got Godiva?”

I understand you have a new release out called Dark Magic. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Dark Magic brings my “Magic” series full circle and is filled with intrigue, betrayal, and everything paranormal!

A review from the Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine:
4.5 Stars TOP PICK for DARK MAGIC!

"It's down to the final epic battle in the conclusion of McCray's inspired and magical series. This star-crossed couple faces long odds--both in their war with evil and their fight against destiny. Fans of this blistering series won't be disappointed. McCray does a stellar job layering the danger, passion, and betrayal.” Romantic Times BOOKreviews Magazine

Dark Magic is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Magic has been the theme of this series and Dark Magic came naturally given all of what happens in this book.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I started out writing fantasy/paranormal in young adult novels in 2000—under a different pseudonym—and my very first book was a fantasy. I just love the imaginary that is made to feel so real that the reader feels like she/he is right there.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

This is the 5th and final book in the “Magic” series. It naturally came full circle with Jake, captain of the Paranormal Special Forces, and Cassia, a gray witch who isn’t what everyone thought she was. She has and incredible legacy and heritage. There is also betrayal among the San Francisco witches. This is the 5th book, but it can be read as a stand-alone. All of the books can.

What are your favorite paranormal research books or sites, and why?

I have so many. I have books on San Francisco (which I have been to many times) books on Wicca and Paganism, information on law enforcement, books with Celtic mythology, and so on. I did a lot of hunting on the internet and also went on research trips.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

I loved writing both Cassia and Jake. Cassia has been very mysterious and no one knows how truly powerful she is. She’s tough but down to earth at the same time.

Jake is hot. He is Captain of the Paranormal Special Forces and knows how to take control and develop mortal ideas to fight the force of immortal evil they face.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research and/or world affect your character development?

My characters come to me organically. They’re already in my head and they speak on paper as they would if they were real. They have personalities that bring out the best or the worst in them depending on the situations.

How do you go about building your world if you use one? Do you use maps, charts or drawings?

It depends on the book and the world. In the past I used Excel spreadsheets to keep track of characters, etc. in my books. Now I use a fabulous free program from the internet called wikipad. There’s a bit of a learning curve, but once you “get it,” it’s terrific.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

James Lee Burke, Elizabeth Lowell, Jayne Ann Krentz, Anna Windsor, Elizabeth Peters, J. K. Rowling and more. It’s hard to think of everyone!

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

That’s hard because I do so much. One of the things my readers love is that I have a book-a-week-giveaway on my chat group

In December I’ll be giving away a BOOK-A-*DAY* as a gift to my readers.
I also have subscriber only contests for my newsletter readers.
The readers go into a drawing when they join the newsletter, and I also give away books in contests in my once a month newsletter.

What do we have to look forward next?

November 25th is ZACK: Armed and Dangerous. (Romantic Suspense)
February 3rd is THE FIRST SIN: A Lexi Steele Novel (Suspense)
June is DEMONS NOT INCLUDED: A Night Tracker Novel (urban fantasy)
Thanks, Chey!

To celebrate her book release, Cheyenne is offering a free print book of SHADOW MAGIC, the book prior to DARK MAGIC to one lucky commenter on today's blog. Cheyenne had surgery yesterday, so unfortunately will not be around today. But she will be back for the weekend and answer any questions you have posted. Plus everyone who posts today will go into a drawing for SHADOW MAGIC. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cheyenne McCray would give just about anything to run away with Jason Bourne to any foreign country (minus the getting shot at part) or visit an Otherworld realm. Either one, she's so there.Chey is the author of the upcoming “Lexi Steele novels,” a thrilling series filled with suspense and intrigue. Demons not Included will be the first in the exciting new “Night Tracker” urban fantasy series. Cheyenne has three sons, three dogs, a messy house, and she will do anything to get out of cleaning which may be why she writes so much. Visit Chey's website at

Check out author’s website at

Buy DARK MAGIC at any local bookstore or your favorite online store.
St. Martin's Press
ISBN-13: 978-0312949594

Sunday, November 2, 2008

To Pseudonym or Not To Pseudonym...

Do you need a pseudonym when you publish a book?

At one time, publishers often required authors to take a pseudonym; a fake name the publisher may have owned, not the writer. This made it difficult for an author to switch houses. Who wants to spend years on promotion, building a career, only to have to start all over with a new name? You can see how this might affect contracts. If the publisher owns an author’s pseudonym, they won’t feel overly compelled to pay large advances.

Romance Writers of America, as well as many independent writers, fought for the right to publish under their own name and for the right to own any pseudonyms. By the time I began writing seven years ago, the authors had secured these rights. I was amazed to learn there was an inspirational publisher who still followed the old rules.

Now the question is often asked, “Should I use a pseudonym or not?” I struggled with this decision myself. I even asked fellow writers on several loops for their opinions.

I knew I didn’t want to write under my current last name because I wanted to keep my teaching life separate from my writing life. On the other hand, it took me two years to write this book, so I wanted it connected to me. It was my second baby. Call me sentimental. I even kept my married name after the divorce to maintain that connection with my daughter. So, I decided to go by Tina LaVon, which are my first and middle names.

First, I was told I should Google my choices. I first Googled my maiden name and was surprised to discover there was another woman with my name teaching in a state other than AZ. What are the odds? I knew my maiden name would not be an option when I decided I would go back to it after my daughter graduates college. Many writers with day jobs want to keep their non-writing lives separate. I’ve noticed my friends who write Christian romances often use their own names, while erotica writers almost always use a pseudonym. If you are at all worried about stalkers, which are rare, then you should definitely come up with a moniker like Dixie Trix. But never assume that no one will discover who you are if you write under Jane Smith. Even with the pseudonym, a former student of mine, who is now an adult, found my author page on MySpace.

When I Googled Tina LaVon, I discovered there was a Playboy model with the same name. LaVon is her middle name also. Apparently, she posed when Hugh was publishing photos of college co-eds. I wasn’t too worried about anyone confusing me with a Playboy model. I’m a middle-aged mother.

There are negatives to having a pseudonym. Friends and co-workers don’t always remember the name I write under so I have to hand out bookmarks, which they sometimes lose. On the other hand, using my middle name as a last worked out well at the post office. Since my PO Box is under my full name, I still receive my mail if it is made out to Tina LaVon.

Many authors who write different types of books use a separate name for each genre. Readers have expectations about an authors work. If your last book was about a vampire, then they expect the next one to be a paranormal. If it turns out to be an inspirational comedy, that author will probably lose readers. A writer could build two careers with two different houses if she used two names and each name was connected to a different genre. Jennifer Ashley is a great example. She writes paranormal, mysteries, and erotica under several pseudonyms.

So, should you use a pseudonym? It boils down to this - if you are worried about who might read your book, then yes. If you don’t care, then you don’t need one. If you write in more than one genre, it would be a good idea.

Good luck and happy writing to whomever you turn out to be.