Thursday, July 31, 2008

"Tips From Madison Avenue: The Selling Synopsis"

Online class: August 6-31, 2008
"Tips From Madison Avenue: The Selling Synopsis"
by Laurie Schnebly Campbell
Registration $30 at

No wonder so many great novelists have a tough time writing a synopsis — the two jobs require completely different skills! Advertising copywriters have discovered a variety of techniques that make people want to buy a specific product, whether it’s a bike or a burger or a book. So this hands-on workshop teaches those same techniques, including:
* Finding your unique selling points
* Headlines (or openings) that grab a buyer
* Identifying your target market
* When details matter, and when they don’t
* Brainstorming a creative plot strategy
* Highlights that sell your product
* Changing format, emphasis or both

An advertising copywriter for 25 years, Laurie Schnebly Campbell was amazed when she realized her day job made it easier to "sell" editors on her books. So far she’s sold six to Silhouette, including one that beat out Nora Roberts for Best Special Edition of the Year, and loves sharing marketing techniques with people who DON’T work on Madison Avenue.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dog Days of Summer

The phrase "the dog days of summer" refers to the hottest, most sultry days of summer. They usually fall between July and early September but the actual dates may vary. The Old Farmer's Almanac lists the traditional timing of the Dog Days as the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending
August 11, which coincides with the ancient heliacal rising of the Dog Star, Sirius. So now you know......

Well the dog days of summer are here in Phoenix and it’s time to break out those eggs. Fried or scrambled? Poached? Now you’re pushing it. The kids are home and going stir crazy. Is it possible to watch too much SpongeBob? (Not in my book.) Still, I can’t wait until August 7 when school’s back in session. I’ll be the one dancing in the hallways while the teachers all have that deer-in-the-headlights look.

The Wild Rose Press is offering free reads at These stories are between 750 - 2500 words and are listed on the main book store page under FREE READS.
Enjoy your dog days of summer even more by grabbing some stories
and discovering new authors.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Tina's Newsletter Contest Winner

We have a winner!!

Sahn65 won an autographed copy of Liquid Hypnosis and a $25 gift certificate to either Barnes and Noble or The Wild Rose Press (her choice).

Let's do this again. Same prize, different deadline. I love the holidays so the next drawing will be November 9th, just after Halloween and right before Thanksgiving.

To enter the contest, you need only be a member of my online newsletter group. Click on the Yahoo symbol on the right side of the blog. (Scroll down till you see SuspensebyTina and Yahoo.) As a member of my newsletter group, you will receive short notices on any posts I've added to my blogs and any news regarding my books.

Good luck!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Interview with Angie Fox

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Angie Fox. 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 The Accidental Demon Slayer. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

The Accidental Demon Slayer is a funny paranormal romance about a straight-laced preschool teacher who runs smack dab into her fate when a demon shows up on her toilet bowl. Turns out, that’s just the beginning. Soon her hyperactive terrier starts talking, and her long-lost biker witch Grandma is hurling Smuckers jars filled with magic. And just when she thinks she’s seen it all, Lizzie learns she’s a demon slayer—and all hell is after her.

Of course, that’s not the only thing after her. Dimitri Kallinikos, a devastatingly handsome shape-shifting griffin needs Lizzie to slay a demon of his own. But how do you talk a girl you’ve never met into going straight to the underworld? Lie. And let’s just say he tries a little bit of seduction too.

The Accidental Demon Slayer is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

The book begins with the heroine gaining her powers, but there’s more to it than that. As the book progresses, the unlikely event that caused her change of fate is revealed.

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

That’s tough. I think my first answer would have to be Pirate, the dog – just because he surprised me. When I sat down to write The Accidental Demon Slayer, I had no notes about a sidekick for my heroine. But in the second chapter, when Lizzie learns she’s a demon slayer and there are some very scary, very angry creatures on her tail, she takes comfort in her dog. As I was writing, I thought, ‘This is a sweet moment. Now how do I throw her off?’

I made the dog say something to her. Nothing big. After all, he’s only after the fettuccine from last week. And he knows exactly where Lizzie can find it (back of the fridge, to the left of the lettuce crisper, behind the mustard). It amused me, so I did it. Thanks to her unholy powers, Lizzie can now understand her smart-mouthed Jack Russell Terrier. I ended up having a ball with it. Pirate can say and do things that my heroine can’t. He’s such a kick to write.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book?

Loads, actually. First off, the biker witches ride Harleys, and I’d never been on a motorcycle before. Second, I had to figure out how to get Pirate the dog onto a bike.

I went online and learned about the Biker Dogs Motorcycle Club, made up exclusively of Harley riders and their dogs. I ended up meeting some of them, along with a few other bikers along the way. These bikers were so great to me. They hoisted me onto the back of their Harleys (with dogs in tow). They took me to biker rallies (note to self: don’t wear pink). And they laughed at me when I tried to put my helmet on backwards (I still say I was distracted by the Pomeranian wearing a tiny pair of motorcycle glasses).

After a few outings with my new biker friends, I was able to make my geriatric biker witch characters a lot more realistic. And I took home some great pictures, too.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Actually, I have authors that help me escape. After running around all day, I love to relax with books by authors like Charlaine Harris, Elizabeth Peters and MaryJanice Davidson.

What do we have to look forward next?

Right now, I’m finishing up edits on the second book in the Accidental Demon Slayer series, called The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers. In it, the straight-laced Lizzie decides she’s going to learn everything about her powers, and at the same time, write the proverbial book on demon slaying. And, as you might have guessed – things don’t quite go according to plan.

Truth be told, I’m dragging my feet a bit on this edit. I’m having a great time with The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers and it’s going to be hard to let it go. It’s like dishing up the last piece of double chocolate cake. I want to savor it, enjoy every bit, because it’ll be over before I know it.

Thanks, Angie!

To celebrate her book release, Angie Fox is offering an autographed copy of The Accidental Demon Slayer to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (Please make sure we have a way to contact you if you win.) She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...


Angie Fox is the author of The Accidental Demon Slayer, which hits stores this week. Critics call it, "fresh, unique and larger than life," Angie simply calls it fun. That's because she gets a kick out of surprising herself, and her readers, with plenty of plot twists, magical moments and sizzling romance.

Visit Angie at for freebies galore and answers to burning questions like, What’s Your Biker Witch Name?

Buy links:

Barnes & Noble



Sunday, July 20, 2008

The ABCs of Writing Fiction Section Y-Z

ABCs of Writing Fiction
Section Y-Z
Scroll Down to Read Previous Lessons

Y – Yesterday is in the past. Shake off any rejections, letdowns, setbacks, embarrassing moments, cruel criticisms, etc. If this is your dream, be persistent. Write the books you love and eventually you’ll find the right editor or agent for you. Most of all, don’t forget to enjoy the journey-the days when everything is going right. I absolutely love it when I go over an old scene and a funny line makes me laugh. Think more about what you love about writing and less about what annoys you.

Z – Zoom to your computer! I hope you found at least one piece of information from these lessons that have helped you in your journey. Now, it’s time to get to work.

Good luck,

Friday, July 18, 2008

Interview with Rita Finalist Pamela Tracy

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Pamela Tracy. 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 book nominated for the RITA called Pursuit of Justice. Can you tell us a little bit about your book?

Sure, I love to talk about this book. It was my first for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense. Rosa’s story began almost a decade ago. She inserted herself in my life in bursts and stops. The beginning of her story spilled from me, but I kept selling novellas and prayer books and I’d stop writing Rosa’s story. Then, in between sales, I’d go back to it. Finally, my agent, Steve Laube, sold it before it was done and I had to finish it. Let me tell you, Rosa was relieved.

Here’s the blurb:

While helping the police bust a drug ring, Rosa Cagnalia witnessed a murder—one she was now being framed for. Officer Samuel Packard hauled her in, only to see another cop— his former partner—take her from the precinct without cause. So he followed. Betraying a friend went against Sam's beliefs, but he suspected that something was going on, and that Rosa just might be innocent. The dangerous predicament he discovered her in only cemented his desire to help. Now, if only he could get his beautiful suspect to cooperate....

Pursuit of Justice is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

I didn’t. From the beginning, I called the story The Good, the Bad, and the Romantic. When I realized it was going to be an inspirational suspense, I changed it to The Redemption of Rosa. Once it came time for the publishers input, I was asked to submit ten ideas. I don’t even remember if Pursuit of Justice was one of my ideas.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book?

The research was fun. I researched how people get busted out of jail. I researched deserted mines in Arizona. I researched guns. Some research fell in my lap. When I started writing Rosa, a trailer burned down in my park. It went into my story. The cat, of course, is my cat Aquila. Sam’s dad’s cabin is my friend Marty’s cabin.

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

I liked Rosa, of course, she came to me complete, larger than life, and she drove the story.

If your book was made into a movie, what actor would you like to fill your hero’s shoes?

Charlie Sheen is Sam. Julia Roberts is Rosa.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

I’ve been a reader forever. I’d have to thank the early years: Beverly Cleary, L.M. Montgomery, Carolyn Keene. Then, to the teenager years: Lois Duncan. Early twenties took me to Barbara Michaels, Stephen King. Today, I couldn’t even begin to list them.

What do we have to look forward next?

In January of 2009, Daddy for Keeps, a straight romance from Love Inspired comes out. The hero is a bullrider/preacher; the heroine is a single mom who does web sites.

Thanks, Pamela!

To celebrate her RITA nomination, Pamela is offering a free copy of Pursuit of Justice 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...

Check out author’s website at or her blog at

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Confessions of a Cover Artist

Confessions of a cover artist. How to make your book beautiful and increase your selling potential.
By Tamra Westberry

You've sold your first book, or maybe your tenth book – Congratulations! You've spent weeks, months, years crafting your baby and now a publisher is going to breathe life into it by putting it on the market for readers to enjoy.


That is, as long as you have a marketable cover. Because yes, it's true, we writers know that sometimes bad covers happen to good books. If this happens to you, don't panic. There are some steps you can take to hopefully fix it before it hits the shelves. But first, let's look at a few things you can do to prevent disaster before your cover is even made.

As a cover artist and a writer, I am in the unique position of viewing the production process from two angles. I realize that each time I make a cover, it costs me time, and my publisher money, which is why I strive to get the cover right the first time. Sometimes, it's not always easy when the writer gives me limited information on the manuscript information sheet.

Example: My heroine has blonde hair, my hero has brown hair, and I want them kissing in the trees.

I can easily envision ten scenes from this. What length is the hair? Is it wavy or straight? What are they wearing? What kind of trees? Is there snow? Are they sitting in the trees or near them?

Then, of course, there's the writer who bogs down the cover artist with three pages of description and important details can easily be overlooked as we're shifting through the information. Keep it simple, but don't leave out important details.

Example: My heroine has long, wavy blonde hair and my hero's dark brown hair is in a crew-cut. It is summer, so they are wearing hiking shorts and t-shirts. I envision them in a tender embrace along a hiking trail in evergreen woods.

Keep in mind though, that many epublishers and now even some NY publishers are using stock photography for their covers. Sometimes, these stock photos don't have the exact models you want. I work for an epub and although we have a large supply of stock photography, I might find a similar couple in jeans, but not in shorts. That's why you should list three cover options on your manuscript information sheet. Just remember to keep all the pertinent information, without making the request too lengthy.

So what if you get your cover, and it's still not what you expected? What if you gave your cover artist three options, and she's got a woman with brown hair in a parka kissing a guy with blond hair beneath snowy pines?

First option – Panic. Second option – Bury your head in a hole. Third option – Try reasoning with your editor and the graphics department.

Third option is usually your best bet. Some publishers won't let you contact the cover artist. That's understandable. If you can't get a message directly to the cover artist, ask your editor to forward your concerns to your artist. Just follow these three guidelines when composing your message: Don't panic, be polite, and point out the positive.

'Is this some kind of joke? This is the ugliest cover I've ever seen!!!' probably won't get you your desired results.

Here's another approach: First of all, I think the font on the book is just beautiful. Even though I thought the snow capped trees were lovely, my story takes place in the summer, and that setting doesn't fit the book. Because it is so warm outside, my heroine and hero only wear shorts and t-shirts throughout the book. Also, although the hair length for the hero and heroine is correct, my heroine has blonde hair and my hero has brown hair. I would appreciate if you could make those changes to my cover, as I want my cover to reflect the story inside.
Thank you, _________ Author

As a graphic artist, I'm always the critic, and I've seen some pretty bad covers out there. I've also made some bad covers. We writers have written bad chapters that we've had to toss. Maybe we didn't even realize it until our critique groups pointed it out. Hopefully, your critique group let you down easy, pointed out the good as well as the bad. Cover artists should be treated the same way. I've had writers ask me to make changes and I made those changes, realizing that the original cover didn't reflect the book.

Later, if you are happy with your cover, send a thank you note to the artist. You never know if that person will design the cover for your next book. You can also request her as your artist on your next contract.

However, not all cover artists will be accommodating. Sometimes, the publisher is on a deadline or maybe can't spend the extra money to buy the art or pay the models. Or maybe the artist/publisher doesn't see a need to change your cover.

According to a recent poll at "" Poll 1007999, book promotion 101, sixty-three percent of readers have bought a book based on a cover. Ironically, Teresa Reasor was the author who posted this information on my readers' loop. The original cover I made for her historical romance, Highland Moonlight, didn't reflect her story at all. I was glad she asked me to change it, because her new cover is one of my personal favorites.

Update: After my last blog, authors wanted to know what sells on covers. I polled 30 authors from all genres at TWRP as well as my local RWA writers' group, asking them to list their five most important cover art aspects. The top rated element is cover matching the theme of the book (100 percent), followed by the composition of the cover (97 percent). Clean graphic artistry (You can't tell where the head of one guy was pasted onto the body of another, etc.) came in at 97 percent as well. Writers also want the cover to have vibrant colors (90 percent). A hot male body came in as the fifth most important element at 40 percent. If your art work has all five elements, you've got a smokin' cover! This validates my personal belief that bold colors and hot guys sell well.


Tamra Westberry is a cover artist for The Wild Rose Press. You may check out some of her covers and her YA paranormal series, Whispers, by visiting .

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The ABCs of Writing Fiction - Sections W and X

ABCs of Writing Fiction
Section W-X
Scroll Down to Read Previous Lessons

W – Writer’s Block. Some say it is fictitious. Some swear it’s real. I believe it is our own fears or anxieties getting in our way. If you think you are suffering from it, I advise you to take a long walk and think about where you are in your writing, where you REALLY want to be and how that might change your life. Are you afraid of success? Are you afraid of failure? You can discuss this with a good friend to help sort out your feelings. There are times when I’m afraid to sit down and write because that long list of “rules” is paralyzing. That’s when I have to tell myself to write the book that I would want to read. I will instinctively know when I’m breaking a rule when I shouldn’t. Maybe you’re burned out. Most of us have day jobs to support our writing habits. Even though I’m a teacher, I usually work 10 hour days before I sit down to write. Sometimes we need to take a break and refill our buckets. By that I mean, get out and do things. Go to movies, meet with friends, visit museums, try a new restaurant, test drive a new car, go on a nature hike, etc. Whatever calls to you. These experiences will lighten your mood and give you new info to draw from while writing.

X – X-ray your writing and find your strengths. You want to continue to capitalize on whatever makes you a successful writer. Kathryne Kennedy’s stories have great romantic tension, and she finds ways to maintain it after the first love scene, which is not easy. I’m hoping she’ll want to capitalize on this strength and make it part of every book she writes. I would be disappointed if she didn’t. (BEWARE! Although, it is a good idea to capitalize on your strengths, don’t force yourself to keep writing the same type of book if you want to move on to something new. You need to be happy with what you write.) If you’re not sure what your strengths are, ask people you trust to read your material and give you their opinion. Knowing your strengths can also help you find your brand. Sassy, Sensual, Suspenseful is an example of a brand. I wouldn’t worry too much about branding if you’re a beginning writer. I’ve never heard of an agent or editor turning away a good book because the author didn’t have one.

Now, it's time to push aside that writer’s block and get back to work.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Interview with Brenda Novak

I’d like to welcome our guest today, USA Today and NYTimes Bestselling author Brenda Novak. 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 two new releases out--TRUST ME and STOP ME. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new books?

These books are part of my brand new romantic suspense series set in Sacramento, California. Together with WATCH ME, which will be out July 27th, they involve three women who met several years earlier in a victim’s support group. Although they experienced different kinds of trauma, they easily identified with each other and developed a deep and abiding friendship. But they’re still struggling to get beyond the incidents that sent them in search of a support group in the first place. So they decide to fight back, to try to heal by helping others who might be suffering as they’ve suffered. They do this by starting a charity together--The Last Stand, a non-profit organization where victims can turn when the police can’t offer relief or they’re falling through the cracks of the system. Through The Last Stand, Skye, Jasmine and Sheridan raise money for counseling and relocation. They help battered women go into hiding. They pay for investigators to assist with the prosecution of certain cases. They provide bodyguards for those who feel threatened. They even do a little investigating themselves.

In TRUST ME, Skye Kellerman learns that man who attacked her in her own bed is about to get out of prison. It was her testimony that put the supposedly mild-mannered dentist away in the first place, and she knows he hasn’t forgotten what it cost him. In STOP ME, widower Romain Fornier lost his reason for living the day his daughter was kidnapped and murdered. When the killer got off on a technicality, Romain used a gun to mete out his own justice. Now that he’s finally out of prison, free to return to his Cajun roots, the last thing he wants to learn is that he might've killed the wrong man. But that’s exactly what Jasmine Stratford of The Last Stand has come all the way from California to tell him.

TRUST ME/STOP ME are very interesting titles. How did you arrive at those names?

I came up with TRUST ME because so many people do trust Oliver Burke (the villain). As a mild-mannered dentist and a family man, he comes off like the guy-next-door. Also, trust (or the lack there of) is a reoccurring theme in the story. Skye must learn to trust David, and the other way around, in order for their relationship to develop.

I came up with STOP ME because the heroine receives a note in the opening pages from the villain. Her sister has been missing for years. She’s searched for so long, she’s all but given up. Then, out of the blue, she receives a box with her sister’s bracelet, the one she gave her sister for her sister’s 8th birthday that she was wearing when she was taken. With it is a note that is written in blood. It says, “Stop me….”

Did you have to do a lot of research for these books?

Definitely. Each new book requires research on police procedures, profiling techniques and what I call vocational training. LOL I have to know exactly what it is like to be whatever I say my characters are. The setting also required research. TRUST ME was easy because it’s set in Sacramento where I live. But much of STOP ME is set in Louisiana (Cajun Country), and I wanted to be sure I got the details of that environment right.

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

I think I enjoyed Romain Fornier the most. He does something many of us would be tempted to do (kills the man he believes to have murdered his child), and so it was interesting working through those issues with him.

If your book was made into a movie, what actor would you like to fill your hero’s shoes?

Oh boy. I’m terrible at this question because I don’t watch any TV and see very few movies. I only know the really Big Name Actors and none of them seem to match the man in my imagination.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Lots! I really admire Susan Elizabeth Phillips for her amazing characterization. Diana Gabaldon and Philippa Gregory and Brenda Rickman Vantrease all inspire me. The list is really too long to name everyone. LOL

What do we have to look forward next?

WATCH ME, the third book in The Last Stand series, will be out July 27th. This is Sheridan’s story. She was just a teenager parked at the lake in Whiterock, Tennesse with a boy named Jason when a stranger wearing a ski mask shot them both. Sheridan lived, but Jason died—and the stranger was never caught. Twelve years later, by working at The Last Stand, Sheridan has learned a thing or two about investigating crime. She returns to Whiterock, intent on achieving answers at last. But someone doesn’t want the truth to come out. Someone unexpected. Someone who is willing to resort to murder. Again.

Thanks, Brenda!

To celebrate her book release, Brenda is offering a free ebook of TRUST ME to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be around part of the day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

A NYTimes Bestselling Author, Brenda Novak has 25 novels to her credit. Visit her Web site at to learn more about her and her work, or to enter her “That’s What Friends are For Contest,” where you could win a Caribbean Cruise for Two.

Check out author’s website at


TRUST ME, RT TOP PICK, USA Today and NYTimes Bestseller, Available Now!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Writing... a hobby?

Grrrrrrr. I really dislike the word hobby when I'm talking about my writing. To me, hobby doesn't enter into to it.

Writing is work, hard work. I consider it my night job and very much a career. Maybe I'm being overly sensitive, and I think the word didn't bother me nearly as much when I first started out, but now the word feels like fingers on a chalkboard.

So far I've smiled through gritted teeth on several occasions when someone says, "What a nice little hobby." Somehow the way they say it feels condescending, or maybe it's just the experience I've had so far with certain people.

One of these days, when I'm feeling terribly crabby and socially inept, some unsuspecting person just might get a tongue lashing, and I'm afraid he or she isn't going to see it coming.

What do you think? Does the word hobby bother you when it comes to your writing or does it drip off your shoulders as inconsequential?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Interview with Jessica Faust

I’d like to welcome our guest agent today, Jessica Faust. 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.

Thank you and thank you for inviting me. I’ll take this dark chocolate raspberry truffle if no one minds.

Take the whole box, please. (KW)

Can you please give us a little information about your publishing background? How many clients do you have? How many agents? And how many of those agents represent romance? What other genres do you represent?

I began my book publishing career in 1994 at Berkley Publishing. I was hired to work as an editorial assistant to two editors, primarily acquiring romance and mystery. While at Berkley I was given many great opportunities to acquire my own list and if you look at what I was doing back then and compare it to what I’m representing now I think you’ll see a number of similarities—romances, mysteries and nonfiction. In 1998 I made an interesting move to become editor at Alpha Books, publishers of The Complete Idiot’s Guide series. One of the best things about that job was the ability to create. While there I was responsible for coming up with the ideas for many of the books we published and finding the authors to write them, these skills translated easily into opening the doors at BookEnds.

As some of you may know already, BookEnds started out as a book packaging company, we produced the books we sold to publishers, but after just a short year, Jacky and I felt we weren’t as satisfied as we wanted to be and fully changed our business model to a literary agency. We haven’t looked back since.
BookEnds has three agents, me of course, Jacky Sach my partner, and Kim Lionetti our associate. Kim and I are the two romance agents on staff. In addition to romance I also represent mysteries, thrillers, and nonfiction.

What fees (if any) does your agency charge? What is your agency’s commission rate?

BookEnds charges no upfront fees, but we do have a contractual reimbursement for some expenses. Traditionally, with more and more submissions being made via email, these expenses relate more to subsidiary rights sales.

Our commission is 15% on US publisher sales and 20% on any foreign or British sales.

What’s your response time for queries, partials and full manuscripts?

Since we’ve gone greener and are asking for equerries I’m very happy to say that I’ve gotten faster. I usually respond to queries (email or snail mail) in 2-4 weeks and partials or full manuscripts in 10-12 weeks. If that time has passed and you haven’t heard anything please either requery or follow-up. BookEnds agents respond to everything. If you haven’t heard it’s likely we’re behind, we never received your material or you never received our reply.

What new author have you recently signed?

My newest client is Shelley Coriell, a Golden Heart Finalist for the past two years. Shelley had actually submitted to me last year and I passed on her work just before RWA National, begging her to keep me in mind for her next work. She wisely made an appointment with me at the conference, just to interview me and get to know me better, and she brought me a yummy recipe. Well, a year passed, her newest manuscript came across my desk and I dropped everything that weekend to read it. I could barely contain myself Sunday night when I was finished. She had hit the nail on the head. Perfection.

I’m really excited to have Shelley on board. She’s a fabulous addition to our list.

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

Honestly, I keep chocolate at my desk for all sorts of occasions. Chocolate is for celebrating every new deal, drowning each rejection, getting through stressful revisions, and dealing with long phone calls. It’s also just an after lunch snack. So….everything.

What can an author do to grab your attention?

Since we ask authors to submit on query letter first I’m always going to ask that the query letter be strong, well written and interesting. I don’t think the format has to change a great deal, but things that do jump out at me as positives include previous publishing experience with a major house, RWA membership, and ultimately, a really interesting idea. I have to say though, that if the voice comes through in the pitch that can make all the difference. Ultimately the voice is what first speaks to agents and editors and can keep us reading even if the idea isn’t the most original or unique.

I have to admit I’m also a sucker for flattery. Complimenting me, my blog, a workshop you heard me at…all of those things can easily win me over and force me to more carefully consider your query. (and some dark chocolate raspberry truffles probably wouldn't hurt either. KW)

What houses have you recently sold to?

Berkley, Bantam, NAL, Portfolio, Kensington…those are some of my most recent deals.

What do you love/hate most about being an agent?

I’m going to start with what I hate since most of my job I love and that’s just boring.
I hate rejection. I hate rejecting authors, I hate getting the nasty emails back from people angered by my form rejections or even by my personal rejections and the feeling not that they’re mad at me, but that they are getting discouraged enough to lash out. And I really hate when I’m wrong. When I’m convinced I have a winner on my hands and I can’t find an editor to agree with me. Ultimately I hate the disappointments that come along with this job. Oh, and I hate paperwork.

That being said, I really do love almost everything. My favorite things though—negotiating. I get such a rush from negotiations. I love finding a winning manuscript and offering representation, and mostly, I love making that call to tell an author we’ve sold another or a book. But I think every agent and editor will tell you there is nothing quite like making that first call. I love an author’s honest reaction, when I can hear that she’s hardly breathing with excitement. There truly is nothing better than that.

What trends do you see for the future of publishing?

Well I think everyone is watching e-publishing to see where that will take us. I think it will be quite a lot of years before publishing gives up paper entirely, but I think we’ll see the changes in nonfiction first, books that require regular updating are naturals for epublishing.

In romance though I see a rise in contemporary romance and a continued rise in historicals. I think there will be more evening out with the sensuality of books, we’ll see sweeter, less sexy titles making a comeback, but not a loss of sexiness either. I think they’ll be able to coexist better. I also see a continuing merge of genres, which I think is really fun.

Any other chocolate nuggets you can give authors looking for representation?

Stick with it and remember, a rejection does not mean the end of anything. A number of my authors were previously rejected by me on other works. Persistence is 90% of success, the willingness to learn and grow is the other 10%

Thanks, Jessica! I hope you enjoyed your chocolate.

Check out the agency’s website at

Monday, July 7, 2008

The ABCs of Writing Fiction Section U-V

ABCs of Writing Fiction
Section U-V
Scroll Down to Read Previous Lessons

U – Understand the Business. First and foremost, you need to know this is a very slow business. Agents can take a week to get back to you or months. Some may never respond. Don’t take it personally. They get hundreds of queries every week. Editors usually take a few months. A simple query may come back faster, but 3 chapters usually takes 3-8 months or more. If you are lucky enough to get a request for a full manuscript, it will usually take them a few months longer to read hundreds of pages than it took them to read your partial (3 chapters, synopsis and query). These times are approximates, but they are probably the average. Once an editor likes your manuscript, he/she has to sell it to the publisher. That takes time. They may want revisions before they offer to buy the book. That’s up to you. My take is if the suggestions will make it a better story, why not do them? Once they decide to offer you a contract, you have to go through the revision process (again). Then once you think you are done, you have to approve the galleys (final version). Don’t go into this thinking your book will be out in a few months. I would assume your book won’t hit the shelves for a full year from the time they offer a contract. You’ll be pleasantly surprised if they give you an earlier date. Even popular e-publishers are taking over 6 months publish a book online.

There are two sides to every coin. Although agents and editors may take a long time to get back to you, they want you to hurry up and get the work done. It’s like rushing to stand in line.

Understanding the business includes a basic knowledge of advances and royalties. Looking to get rich? Try the stock market. Most writers don’t make a lot of money unless they are doing well on the lists (NY Times). There are exceptions, but they ARE EXCEPTIONS. Brenda Hiatt reports the average advances and standard royalty percentages for romance publishers at On the left side of her website, click on Show Me The Money! From what I’ve heard, the only e-pubbed writers making good money are erotica writers at popular sites. I could be wrong, but if someone is getting rich online without sex scenes, they aren’t sharing their good news.

V – Voice. The typical explanation of voice is when you read a page you know the author without anyone telling you. Dr. Seuss is a great example. I think voice encompasses much more. Many authors will debate the meaning. I believe voice encompasses your style, the themes you choose, the types of characters you usually write about, your outlook on life, etc. It can change as you grow as a person and when you tackle a different genre, sort of like the way you act when visiting an older relative will probably be different than the way you act when flirting with someone of the opposite sex, but there are still parts of your personality that won’t change in both scenarios. In both cases, I wouldn’t deliberately do anything to hurt anyone’s feelings. I enjoy writing humorous mysteries, but if I write a darker story, some elements of my voice will still show. All of my stories show my belief that good will win over evil, that people (including characters) need close friends, and sometimes you have to laugh. (I have to add the humor. I can’t help myself.)

Now that you know your story will take forever to get published and your wallet will probably not get any thicker, hurry up and write that story.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

News From Kathryne Kennedy

I’m excited about the reviews for DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT and had to share. First up is a review from The Long and the Short Reviews, who gave it a 5/5 BOOKS rating:

“Double Enchantment is aptly named. It is enchanting! This is the second book in a series of Relics of Merlin books and I've got to tell you, this series is going right on my keeper shelf. Ms. Kennedy's strong plotting, captivating characters and her inventive new twist on romance made both Enchanting the Lady, the first book in the series, and Double Enchantment two of the best books I've read in a long time.”

You can read the full review here:

Night Owl Romance reviews gave it a Reviewer Top Pick award and said:

“Do you want to be enchanted and get a glimpse into a fantastical world? If you want to experience a superb fantasy world don't walk but rush to the store and get started on the Relics of Merlin series by Kathryne Kennedy. Kennedy will sweep you away and into a world of magic, mayhem and fractured love.”

You can read the full review here:

And for even more fun, my publisher is having a Live the Romance photography contest. You choose a character or scene from your favorite Dorchester Book (ahem, Enchanting the Lady, anyone?) dress up accordingly, snap a photo of yourself, and send it in to the contest. You can win cash prizes and free copies of your favorite author’s books! Check out all the details at:

Until next time,

The Relics of Merlin series

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Interveiw with Carly Phillips

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Carly Phillips. 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 Hot Property. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Hot Property is the last in my Hot Zone series of books about a sports publicity firm of three sisters and the athlete heroes they represent and/or end up involved with. The entire series is extra special to me because I love sports and I’ve always wanted to write sports heroes, so this is like a dream come true, really. In Hot Property, John Roper who we’ve met in prior books gets his happy ending with Amy Stone. It’s light and fun and I had a blast with these characters.

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

The HOT in all the books came from The Hot Zone PR agency in the books. Hot Property refers to John Roper’s status as an outfielder for the New York Renegades and as anyone who lives in NY knows, athletes in NYC are like celebrities and treated/stalked as such. John Roper IS a Hot Property. The book video on my website is fun with baseball quotes and everything –

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book?

Not particularly because I am a huge baseball fan and I listen to sports radio in New York. There might have been stats and things I looked up so my hero would be more real, but a lot of my information comes from living here and reading the daily papers!

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

Easy. Uncle Yank, the girls’ uncle who raised them and opened the sports agency. He’s eccentric and loveable and gruff all at the same time. He suffers from Macular Degeneration and refuses to give up without a fight. I love his humor and he’s loosely based on my grandfather who passed away when I was 16. My grandmother has Macular Degeneration so the disease is something I understand. Uncle Yank was my light and laughter in this whole series.

If your book was made into a movie, what actor would you like to fill your hero’s shoes?

Oooh always a fun question! Roper is my metrosexual hero so I always think – David Beckham type in looks – but I’m not sure actor-wise.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Oh yes. Don’t we all? Susan Elizabeth Phillips set the bar high in terms of sports romance and she inspired me, definitely. LaVyrle Spencer really hit home with me back when I started writing and I miss that she’s retired.

What do we have to look forward next?

A brand new hero driven series – my LUCKY series beginning with Lucky Charm in October 2008, Lucky Streak in June 2009 and Lucky Break in October 2009. Three cousins suffering from an age old family curse dating back to the Salem Witch Trial era – any male Corwin who falls in love will lose his money and his fortune. History has proven the curse to be real. Every male Corwin in the family line has suffered tragedy. Can these three men be different especially with the heroines in their corner? I’m loving writing these stories!

Thanks, Carly!

Thanks for having me! If your readers are interested in bookmarks for HOT PROPERTY, they can send an SASE to: Carly Phillips, Hot Property Bookmarks/Cheaper than Therapy, PO Box 483, Purchase, NY 10577. And don’t forget to visit my website and enter my contest!

To celebrate her book release, Carly is offering a free autographed copy of HOT PROPERTY 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...


New York Times bestselling novelist Carly Phillips gave up legal briefs in favor of writing romance and ever since she’s worked hard to deliver a sexy fun read in her twenty-five plus published books. Carly Phillips started her writing career with Harlequin Temptation in 1999 with Brazen, and she's never strayed far from home! In 2002 Carly's book, The Bachelor, was chosen by Kelly Ripa on Live! With Regis and Kelly for her Reading with Ripa Bookclub, making it the first romance to be selected by a nationally televised bookclub. She continues to hit the New York Times Bestseller list, most recently with Sealed with a Kiss. Carly lives in Purchase, New York, with her husband, two daughters and two frisky soft-coated wheaten terriers who act like their third and fourth child. More information on Carly can be found at her website: or her writers’ blog

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Poll Results

Drum roll please. Last month we conducted a poll asking which month you got married in. The results surprised me.
#1 October
#2 September
#3 March, May & July (tie)
And we all thought May and June would win!
Thanks for your vote. Check back for another exciting poll for August.