Tuesday, March 31, 2009

FOR WRITERS: Starting a Newsletter

When I do any sort of marketing, I always think of the Mutual Benefit. If I ask a reader to buy my book, I’ll benefit from the sale and they’ll benefit by being whisked away on a romantic adventure. If I ask a bookseller to stock my book, I want them to know that I’m promoting it to readers, so that they’ll sell it and benefit from stocking it on their shelves. If I ask a publisher to buy my manuscript, I want them to know that I’ll promote it so that we sell more books and they benefit from having me as an author.

The benefit of having a newsletter is that an author can keep her name in front of readers and build a fan base. But how do newsletter subscribers benefit beyond finding out when the author’s next release is? After all, they can just wait until it hits the shelves.

I always consider that people’s lives are as busy and hectic as mine, so there should be some reward, or promise of a reward, for them to go through the extra effort of signing up for my newsletter.

So I do contests. It’s a great way to advertise your newsletter, and it promises a Mutual Benefit to those who go to the effort to join.

I love doing contests. I always have one running on my website. My series revolves around Merlin’s Relics, which are a different jewel for each book, so I offer jewelry as a prize. I love buying jewelry, even if it’s not for me, and I love getting the emails from the winners who are always so happy to get sparklies. :} Because of the value of the jewelry, I ask those that enter to make a little extra effort. Currently I have a viral marketing contest running and if you’re curious you can check it out on my site. I bring this up because whenever anyone enters one of my contests, they agree to be automatically signed up for my newsletter. After the contest is over, I take the entrant’s emails and add them to my newsletter (I currently use Yahoo Groups, which provides free newsletter/loop services. Just go to Yahoo.com, sign up for a free email account, and click on the option to start a Group.)

But whenever I have a new release out, I always run a newsletter subscriber contest. If you sign up for my newsletter, you win a ‘magical’ jewel. I choose a random winner from all my subscribers, so that my current subscribers benefit as well. Launching a new contest is a great way to advertise your new release. Ask your publisher to include it in the bio of your book. Ask them to advertise it on their website with just a link to yours. Send announcements to your writer’s groups, yahoo loops, forums, Myspace friends, etc. And remember, you’re not asking for anything, you’re providing a Mutual Benefit.

Make sure that you have a newsletter sign up link on the HOME page of your website, and as many other pages as possible.

And I should point out that your reward doesn’t have to be extravagant. Giving away a signed copy of your current release, or even one from your backlist, can provide enough of a benefit for readers to go to that extra effort. I often offer this for my private contests. I also offer a free short story for signing up for my newsletter. I give my subscribers the hidden (secret) location of the link to it that’s on my website.

You should also consider the benefit to your readers for continuing to subscribe to your newsletter. If they change their email address, you want to make sure they want to go to the effort to subscribe with their new one. I already mentioned one above, but I also run private contests for my newsletter subscribers only. I always send sneak previews of my books to my subscribers first before I release it anywhere else. They’re special and I want them to have the benefit of being the first to know anything. And I should mention here that I’m careful to limit the number of newsletters I send, usually only one a month, although when I send excerpts of a new release, there might be four in that month, as I send each as a short read. I then remind my subscribers that if they only want to know about my new releases, which is twice a year, then they can choose the option of ‘special notices’ in their subscription options (And I make sure that I only send a special notice for a new release.)

You want to keep your name in front of your readers, but you don’t want them reading their emails and groaning “Geez, not her again.” :}

I know I could have probably just said to run a contest to advertise your newsletter, but I’m hoping you find it helpful in your future promotions to consider the Mutual Benefit when you’re launching a new program of any kind.

Oh, and my benefit from writing this? I enjoy helping other authors; it always makes me feel good. And I avoided doing my taxes for an hour. (Once you start thinking about MB, it’s hard to stop.)

My very best wishes,

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Neurotic Writer Dates a Werewolf

Welcome to another episode of
The Neurotic Writer
(Just for laughs)

Suzie Writer: “Doc! Doc!” (Shuts the office door and rushes to the oversized, stuffed chair.) “You are not going to believe it! I am dating an actual, real-life werewolf! Isn’t that great?”

Therapist: “A what?”

Suzie Writer: “A werewolf! Isn’t that great? Now I can research my paranormal hero with a real man. I don’t have to make up the character. He’s sitting in my living room where I left him. He thinks I’m in the shower, but I really snuck out the window.”

Therapist: “Suzie, take a deep breath. Now tell me why you think he’s a werewolf and where did you meet him?”

Suzie Writer: “He’s my best friend’s nephew’s step-brother’s second-cousin’s pizza delivery man. My friend, Shirley, said he is the hairiest guy she’d ever met. So hairy, it wasn’t natural. That’s when I figured out he could be a werewolf. I ordered a Meat-Lovers Surprise, then waited for him to show up and asked him out.”

Therapist: “Just like that?”

Suzie Writer: “Jut like that. It’s research. I can even claim the dinner on my taxes. He was wearing those earth sandals, and I tell you, even his toes are super hairy.”

Therapist: “All right… So, why do you think he’s a werewolf, other than needing a razor?”

Suzie Writer: “Well, he told the waiter he wanted a steak so rare it mooed when you stabbed it with a fork. The waiter said it would be illegal to serve anything that rare. He got a cheeseburger and onion rings instead. Also, I knew it was a full moon, so I kept my bedroom curtains open to see his reaction.”

Therapist: “Your bedroom curtains?”

Suzie Writer: “Research, Doc, research. You know that man actually howled?”

Therapist: “I bet he did. Being that it was a first date and you were a stranger before he brought the pizza. He’s probably wondering how he got so lucky. But do you really think it’s wise to take your research to such extremes? After all, all you know about this man is he’s a hairy guy who likes meat.”

Suzie Writer: “I’m willing to suffer for my craft. Besides, I haven’t told you the best part. I know for certain he’s a werewolf. No doubt in my mind. Want to know how I know?”

Therapist: “Of course.”

Suzie Writer: “I whipped out my gun and silver bullets from my nightstand and he was so scared, I thought he was going to pee his boxers.”

Therapist: “Don’t you think any man would be scared to death if a woman whipped out any type of weapon, especially if he only met her that day?”

Suzie Writer: (Checks her watch) “Time’s up. I better rush back and check his hands for claws. Bye, doc!”

Next week The Neurotic Writer gets a part-time job telling fortunes.
Until then,
Happy Writing,
Tina LaVon

Friday, March 27, 2009

Interview with Cynthia Eden

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Cynthia Eden. 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 IMMORTAL DANGER. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Sure, I’d be happy to chat about my book, but, first—thanks for having me back at Much Cheaper Than Therapy! It’s a pleasure to be here again.
IMMORTAL DANGER is a paranormal romance featuring an ex-cop turned vampire heroine. Now that she’s immortal, Maya Black spends her nights tracking down all the supernatural bad guys that go bump in the night. And then she meets Adam Brody, a man with a lot of dangerous secrets. He needs her help, she wants him—and his blood. So they make a bargain and team up to hunt down a rogue gang of vampires.

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

My editor picked the name! Megan is absolutely wonderful at choosing titles and she picked this one for me.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I love the paranormal sub-genre, always have. When I was younger, I got hooked on vampires and werewolves. To me, the supernatural has a strong appeal—the big, “what if” element—and that element works perfectly to help me generate story ideas.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I had actually just finished writing a novella that featured a vampire heroine and I started thinking more and more about creating another female vampire—one that had all the nice, polite barriers ripped away. Maya Black isn’t an easy heroine. She’s been through hell and has the scars (inside and out) to prove it. I wanted to create a strong heroine, a woman who could face her worst nightmares, and Maya was born. The rest of the story all flowed from Maya’s character.

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

I love the “Element Encyclopedias”—there are so many of them! Like, THE ELEMENT ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE PSYCHIC WORLD, THE ELEMENT ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MAGICAL CREATURES, and THE ELEMENT ENCYCLOPEDIA OF GHOSTS & HAUNTINGS. These books are all great! So much info—creatures that I’d never heard of before reading about them in these books. Very detailed and clearly organized info. Love these books!

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

In this book, Maya was my favorite character. She was strong, physically and mentally, but she was also a wounded character. Some of her actions surprised me in this story, and any time a character surprises me, well, that’s always fun.

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?

I don’t create character sheets or do interviews. I write the story and the character develops as the story progresses. Now, as I start to write, I make my character notations (physical characteristics, important life events), but these all emerge through the story. I rarely start a tale already knowing everything about a character. Usually, the story influences the character and leads me down paths that I didn’t anticipate during the first few pages.

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

I use a NotePad file. ☺ I write down all the “rules” of my world—specifically, about all the
powers my creatures possess, their origins, etc., and I make certain I consistently follow those rules. I’ve written several stories in the same “world” now, and my file is pretty big because I try to write down all the major character/creature points to keep my consistency going.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

There are SO many authors who have inspired me—Christine Feehan, Linda Howard, Larissa Ione, Angela Knight, Shannon McKenna, Julie Garwood…these ladies (and at least a good two dozen more that are springing to mind) are such amazing story tellers. Every time I read their work, I’m inspired.

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

Well, right now, I am running a viral marketing contest/campaign on my blog (www.cynthiaeden.com/blog). I’ve received a lot of entries for the contest and the readers seem very excited about it. The readers post my graphic on their blog or MySpace page so they help me to spread the word about my book.

What do we have to look forward next?

My next release will be MIDNIGHT’S MASTER (July 09 from Kensington
Brava). This is the last book in my Midnight trilogy, and it is the demon Niol’s story (he appeared in both HOTTER AFTER MIDNIGHT and MIDNIGHT SINS).

Thanks, Cynthia!

To celebrate her book release, Cynthia is offering a free autographed copy of IMMORTAL DANGER 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...And don't forget to check back Monday night to see who won.


Cynthia Eden is an awarding winning romance author. She currently writes paranormal romances for Kensington Brava, and she has also recently been offered a contract to write a romantic suspense series for Grand Central Publishing.

Check out author’s website at www.cynthiaeden.com.

Buy: http://www.amazon.com/Immortal-Danger-Cynthia-Eden/dp/0758226063/ref=pd_bbs_sr_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236061026&sr=8-3
Thank you very much for the interview!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Rudy's Blog

Hey, everybody, D-day (delivery day) is here. According to Amazon, HOUNDING THE PAVEMENT was available on March 3. I’m really excited that my first mystery is out. I know Mom is a nervous wreck, hoping the book sells big so Best Friends gets lots of cash.

Speaking of Best Friends, she was told by their CEO yesterday that they’re building a state-of-the-art puppy shelter and it should be up in April. Can you imagine, an entire building just for baby furballs, where they get to socialize, make friends, and learn basic commands like sit, stay, wait, and heel. How great is that!?

So, you all know your job. Got to Amazon or your local Borders, Waldenbooks, B&N, Books a Million, whatever is best for you, and buy HOUNDING THE PAVEMENT.

Gotta tell you,book two will be out in October, and Mom and I think it’s even better than book one. I inherit a boatload of moola and a bad guy is out to get it. Ellie puts me in a couple of dangerous situations, but I manage to fight my way out of them and, don’t tell her this, but I save the day…er…sort of. You’ll meet some new characters, too, like Bobbi and Bitsy, who are too funny. And those bean eaters show up, Too. idiot Chihuahuas are too stupid to live. I don’t know how Ellie can stand them. I sure can’t.

Mom’s in the middle of writing book three, and she’s still running a contest, so check out her website, www.judimccoy.com to find out how to enter.

And she’s doing a bunch of signings for HOUNDING THE PAVEMENT in the next couple months, so take a look at her travel schedule too.

Oops, I’m being called, so I have to run. Doggie heaven’s not so bad. All the treats a canine could want, belly rubs all around, and plenty of pals to play with. I’m up for it.

Talk to you all in a few weeks.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009






In the years I’ve been writing fiction I’ve learned much about writing, but I’ve also learned much from writing. Below, in no particular order, are some of the things that writing has taught me about life:

1. Affirmation works. Believe it and it will happen. If you want something badly, write it down. For several years before I sold my first book, I wrote these words fifteen times a day: “I will be a published author.”

No, I didn’t sell immediately. And yes, I had to work really hard at writing. Just affirming what I wanted fifteen times a day wasn’t going to do it. But putting voice to my dream kept me focused.

How does this help with life? If you really want something, believe in yourself and keep working toward your goal. Will affirmations help you win the lottery? Let’s get real. If you have a realistic goal, for instance to retire from full time work in five years, you can make it happen. Write your affirmations every day, but do your research and work hard. Have faith in yourself.

2. Don’t listen to the so-called “experts.” If I’d listened to all the nay-sayers I would have stopped writing a long time ago. The “experts” said I would never sell and should give up because: I wasn’t finaling in writing contests; editors didn’t praise my work; I wasn’t receiving personal rejection letters. The only personal rejection letters I received made me cry. It took ten long years to sell my first book. I refused to give up and I refused to let the nay-sayers stop me.

No matter what you want to do in life--move to a new city, start a new career, go back to school, there are those who will tell you that you cannot do it. “Stay where you are,” “stay comfortable,” they’ll say. “You can’t change careers after forty, fifty, sixty, whatever,” they’ll tell you. Do NOT listen to them. Only you know what you want and what you’re willing to sacrifice to achieve your goals.

3. Don’t burn your bridges. This is good advice in the real and corporate world as well as the writing world. Got another rejection? Maybe it’s a rejection from your own publisher. Ouch! That hurts. Smile through the pain and send that editor a thank-you note. You may want to submit there again. Always send thank-you notes when you receive personal rejection letters, even the mean ones. It’s just plain good etiquette to be gracious in defeat. Editors know each other. Don’t think they don’t talk. Isn’t it better that they know you as a professional and not a whiner?

Passed over for a promotion at work? Congratulate the person who got the job you wanted. Smile at your boss. Maybe you’ll need to look for a new job, but don’t burn your bridges at your old one. You never know when you might need that good recommendation from your old boss.

4. Don’t compare yourself to others. There will always be those who are smarter, prettier, more successful than you. There will always be those who are less smart, less pretty and less successful than you. Don’t sweat it. Just be true to yourself.

This is a hard lesson in life and in writing. We all know those people who seem blessed by the fates. They have beauty, brains and money. Life is good. It’s the same with writers. We’ve all heard of that writer who suddenly decides to write a book. She finishes it in six months. Agents clamor to represent her. Book goes to auction and sells for six figures. And then there are the rest of us. We struggle for years. We endure rejection after rejection. But we persevere and we sell.

Life lesson?—Some are just more blessed than others. Accept that and be the best you can in anything you attempt. Each of us has a special talent.

5. Karma—there is such a thing. I personally have bad contest Karma. I never finaled in a contest before selling my first book. See number 2 above. I did, however, have two entries final in a contest after I sold. What did these contest finals get me? Rejections within two weeks rather than twelve weeks. Contests are overrated. Bad contest Karma? Not a big deal. Accept it and go on.

Do you have bad Karma in life? Don’t worry about it. Good Karma is overrated. See above. If you tell yourself that you have no control over your bad luck, you are in trouble. You do have control over your life.

6. “Don’t take life seriously. No one gets out alive.” I wish I were clever enough to think of this. I believe a rock star said this. Write for the pure pleasure of telling stories. Don’t worry about the rejections. I know, I know, that’s easier said than done. You tell a story from your heart and some editor or agent or contest judge rips it apart. Keep writing because you love it. “Do what you love and the money will follow.” Wish I’d said that one too.

The same goes for life. Have fun. Enjoy yourself. Hard advice at times, but remember this: when you’re in that nursing home, you’ll regret what you didn’t do, not what you did.

7. Know the rules. I belong to several email loops. Apparently, I’ve missed the memo on email etiquette. The few times I’ve taken the plunge to post something on a loop, I’ve been ignored or misunderstood. What am I doing wrong? On most loops, when new members join, the moderator “introduces” them. No moderator has ever introduced me. I’ve always had to introduce myself and then I’m ignored. Please someone send me the memo so I know what I’m doing wrong. If I choose to ignore the rules, that’s one thing, but I’m at a disadvantage when I don’t know I’m making a mistake.

Life lesson? You may choose to break the rules, but know them first. You can get yourself into lots of trouble if you don’t first know what’s expected of you.

8. Publishing is a business. Repeat this fifteen times. Sure, you’re a nice person. That has nothing to do with anything. An editor will take your book and an agent will represent you if they think they can make money. That is the bottom line. Don’t take rejection personally. It has nothing to do with you. For instance, you have a great interview with an agent. You discuss your upcoming vacation and her upcoming cruise. She says she loves the type stories you write. Feeling good, you send her the requested partial. In your cover letter you say you hope she had a wonderful vacation. What response do you get? A mean-spirited form letter that doesn’t include your name, her name, or the title of your book. The final punch in your gut? The letter says you shouldn’t darken that agency’s doorstep with one of your manuscripts ever again. Publishing is a business. Don’t forget that.

And life doesn’t always give you warm fuzzies either. Pick yourself up, know you are okay, and go on. Be true to yourself and kind to others. That’s what’s important.

9. NEVER GIVE UP. If you want it, go for it. Have faith in yourself. Don’t despair. See number 6 above. Enjoy.

10. NEVER GIVE UP. See 9 above.

Writing as Cara Marsi, Carolyn’s latest book is LOGAN’S REDEMPTION, a romantic suspense from The Wild Rose Press. Digital release August 2007. Print release November 2007.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Second 'Magical' Jewel Contest for ENCHANTING THE BEAST

ENCHANTING THE BEAST is the third novel in the RELICS OF MERLIN series. Merlin used thirteen different jewels as a focus for thirteen mysterious spells, and the 'magical jewel' in ENCHANTING THE BEAST is a blue topaz. For this second contest, the prize is a 5-carat Swiss blue topaz pendant. (Go to: http://www.kathrynekennedy.com/contest.html for a photo and description of this 'magical' jewel.)

This contest is all about your friends. Just send your friend an email telling them about the RELICS OF MERLIN series, and ‘cc’ or forward a copy of that email to kathryne_kennedy@yahoo.com. I will keep your friend's email address confidential and I will only contact them to verify that it's a valid email address.

How many times can you enter? That depends on how many friends you have.:} Please though, no spamming. You will be disqualified.

A winner will be chosen using RandomNumber.Org. Entering the contest automatically signs you up for the author’s newsletter. Your information will be kept confidential. Contest ends May 1, 2009. Void where prohibited by law. You must be 18 years or older to enter. No prize substitution permitted. This contest is subject to all federal, state and local laws and regulations.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Neurotic Writer and The Paranormal Novel

Welcome to another episode of The Neurotic Writer
(Just for Laughs!)

Suzie Writer enters therapist’s office wearing a floor-length, shimmering white gown split up the side to the thigh. A ruby pendant the size of a goose egg dangles from a silver chain hanging down to her abundant cleavage (which wasn't there last week). She tosses the long, fake tresses from her black Elvira wig over her shoulder, and then attempts to waltz into the room on four-inch red stilettos, waving a lit incense stick around like a wand.

Therapist: (Tries not to appear shocked.) “This is a new look, Suzie.”

Suzie Writer: “Call me Zelda, Queen of the Other Realm.” (She twirls into a chair and lands with a whoosh of air escaping the stuffing.)

Therapist: “Okay, Zelda. What’s up with the…costume?”

Suzie Writer: (She blows on the incense stick and the spicy aroma fills the air.) “I’m getting in touch with my character for my paranormal novel. You know, instead of method acting, it’s method writing. I’m Z-E-L-D-A, Queen―”

Therapist: (Coughs on the smoke.) “I heard you the first time. You really need to put that incense out before the fire marshal shows up.”

Suzie Writer: (Points at her own eyes with two fingers.) “I’ll put a hex on him. I’m reading up on dark curses and I’ve watched The Mists of Avalon twenty-five times now. I bet I can control any man with my eyes―and a word or two. Of course, I might have to carry bat’s blood in my purse.” (An evil smile reaches her eyes - shaded with teal-colored contacts.)

Therapist: “Now you’re just scaring me. Can I speak to Suzie? Is she in there somewhere?”

Suzie Writer: “Suzie is being held captive by The Drones…”

Therapist: “Aren’t Drones a type of bee?”

Suzie Writer: (Summons her deepest, most frightening witch voice.) “Bees that serve their queen. In my novel, The Drones are hunky, bare-chested men who serve me: ZELDA! Queen―”

Therapist: “Come back to earth, Suzie. I can’t talk to you when you sound like Pamela Anderson on steroids.”

Suzie Therapist: (Drops the witch voice.) “Ah, shucks! You’re no fun, Doc. I’ll see you again when the rough draft is done.” (She blows on the incense once more for good measure and exits twirling her gown.)

Next week, The Neurotic Writer dates a werewolf.
Until then,
Happy Writing,
Tina LaVon

Friday, March 20, 2009

Interview with Judi McCoy

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Judi McCoy. 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 Hounding the Pavement. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

The books report the adventures of Ellie Engleman, a New York City dog walker, and her best 4-legged pal, Rudy. The book opens with Ellie standing in the ASPCA shelter looking for a pet. That’s when she and Rudy meet.

Hounding the Pavement is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

I actually had a dozen titles for this first book, but my sister gave me that one. She’s very clever, my sis.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

My agent. Really, she called me one day and said she thought I should write something different, something that screamed Judi McCoy, but had the potential to go long. I’d always wanted to write a dog walker story (it had been cooking in my brain for a couple of years) and when I revisited the idea I realized this was the perfect time for that book.

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

Ah, the old plotter vs. pantser debate. I started out being a pantser, but so many times found myself written into a corner that I knew I had to change my ways of never get a good product. I’m not exactly a ‘big’ plotter. I do what’s called Post-it Note plotting. I sit with a group of writer friends and talk about the next book, what needs to happen, where it needs to go, how it will end. We go over things chapter by chapter, and each chaper gets written on a Post-it Note. Then, when I’m ready to start that book, I pull out my stack of paper and begin.

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

I had to do more research for this series than anything else I’ve written. First of all, even though I’d lived in New Jersey for 17 years, I knew almost nothing about New York. And I’d been writing light-hearted stories. No one got killed, no one died, and animals didn’t have much to do with the plot.

I spent a day at Madison Square Garden, where I attended the big dog show given by the Westminster Kennel Club. I went to Manhattan three separate times, talked to detectives in the Central Park Precinct, doormen on Fifth Avenue, dog walker on the street. I even cornered a museum guard and asked him questions. I met a lot of nice people, and I’m comfortable going back to the Big Apple if I need to.

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

That’s a tough question. I guess Rudy is my favorite character. He can get away with some much more than Ellie and Sam can (the heroine and hero) He sees things in a quirky way, always tells the truth, and doesn’t pull any punches, unlike the way a writer has to form some of their characters.

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?

I do none of the above. instead I put myself in the head of each particular character and ask myself :what would I do about this particular problem?” or “how would I get out of this predicament?” “How would I answer that idiot when they asked their stupid question?” That sort of thing. Once I start ‘being’ the character, the actions come pretty easily.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

So many, it’s hard to remember them all. I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips for her beautifully drawn characters; Elizabeth Beverly for her humor; Nina Bangs for her plots. I also have to mention the mystery writers: Laurie Berenson, Cleo Coyle, Tamara Myers, and Lois Greiman. Each of them inspired me in a different way.

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

There’s promotion, then there’s PROMOTION. I’ve gone to the mat for Hounding the Pavement. Every penny of royalties I receive for the book are going to Best Friends, the larges no-kill shelter in the US. Best Friends took 22 of Michael Vicks pit bulls for rehab and adoption. The vets, trainers, administrators and workers at their shelter, Dogtown, are 100% for the amimals. They need help to do all they do, and I decided to give them whatever I earned to say ‘thank you.’

What do we have to look forward next?

Book two in the series, Heir of the Dog, will be out in October 2009. This book was more fun to write than Hounding the Pavement because I knew my characters so well the words just flowed on the paper. I just hope readers will love Ellie and Rudy as much as I do and read book two for the joy of it.

Thanks, Judi!

To celebrate her book release, Judi McCoy is offering a free ebook of Making Over Mr. Right to one lucky commenter on today's blog. She will be driving to a conference today but will check in later in the evening. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Bio: Judi McCoy has published fifteen romances. She teaches the Aspiring Author course each year at Romantic Times, and gives writing workshops across the country. Hounding the Pavement, released in March 2009 is the first book in her new romantic mystery series. All royalties from the book will be donated to Best Friends, the largest no-kill animal shelter in the U.S. Judi currently resides on Virginia's peaceful eastern shore. A retired women’s gymnastic judge, she raises orchids and continues to write the next book in her unique series.

Check out author’s website at http://www.judimccoy.com/ and Buy at Amazon or any local chain bookstore

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Interview with Kevan Lyon of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

I’d like to welcome our guest agent today, Kevan Lyon with The Marsal Lyon Literary Agency. 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.

Can you please give us a little information about your publishing background and about your new agency? How many clients did you bring over with you? What other genres do you represent? Jill Marsal?

With over 20 years in the publishing business, including 5 years as a Literary Agent with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency and 17+ years on the wholesale, retail and distribution side of the business, I believe I bring an informed and unique perspective to my work with clients. My background on the buying and retail side of publishing is helpful when considering what types of books will sell and how to market them.

At this point most of our authors have come with both Jill and I to Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, which we are thrilled about.

I work with women’s fiction – commercial fiction and romance, as well as YA. For non-fiction projects, I am looking for authors in the areas of current events, narrative, memoir, environment, parenting and pets/animals.

Jill Marsal has been in the publishing industry for over 10 years, working as a Literary Agent with the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency for eight years and at Dorchester Publications and Tudor Publishing, editing women’s fiction and suspense/thrillers. Jill has a very strong non-fiction list, representing authors in the areas of health, self-help, relationships, psychology, business, parenting, history, current events, and narrative non-fiction. She also works with a number of fiction authors, and is seeking clients in the area of mystery, romantic suspense, and thrillers.

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

We don’t charge any fees and charge the standard agency commission of 15% for North American sales.

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

For electronic queries our response time is up to one week, and for partial and full manuscripts our goal is no longer than 6 weeks.

What new author have you recently signed?

I just signed a new historical romance author, Rose Lerner and completed her first sale to Leah Hultenschmidt at Dorchester Publishing.

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

A wonderful new historical fiction set in the pre-Civil War period, that I am now on submission with. It tells the story of a young southern woman, a strong and courageous heroine whose eyes and heart are opened to the brutality endured by the slaves who previously moved unnoticed through her world.

What can an author do to grab your attention?

Tempt me with a unique plot and great characters – something completely fresh and unique!

What houses have you recently sold to?

Within the past few months I have completed deals with Grand Central Publishing, Knopf, Dorchester and Pocket Books.

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

I love helping an author realize their dream of getting their work published and I love finding a wonderful new story and author!

What trends do you see for the future of publishing?

Readers will continue to have many more options in terms of how they want to read books, whether it is on their electronic reader, their phone, or with a paperback or hardcover book. As long as we continue to offer great stories, I believe there will always be demand for them.

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

Persist with your dream of getting your work published! Continue to try to improve your writing, seek feedback from other writers and don’t be afraid to put that first manuscript on the shelf and move on to the next book. If you persist, you will find that with each story your writing will improve. Finally, write what you know and love, not what you believe is the latest “fad” or trend in publishing. Write the story of your heart!

Thanks, Kevan!

Check out the agent’s website at http://www.marsallyonliteraryagency.com/

Kim Watters

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Advance Reviews for ENCHANTING THE BEAST

Relics of Merlin, Book 3
Love Spell ISBN-10: 0-505-52764-2 ISBN-13: 978-0-505-52764-6
May 2009
Paranormal Romance
Trollersby, the surrounding area, and London, England - 1861

Sir Nicodemus Wulfson's brother Royden thinks their home is haunted. Roy's health and well-being have been compromised by these "ghosts", and so, Nico finds himself in London hunting someone who can convince Roy the spirits have been sent away. Being a baronet and a were-wolf, Nico is immune to magic and thus not much inclined to believe in such things, but when he meets Lady Philomena Radcliff, ghost-hunter, he finds something, or rather, someone, he's definitely not immune to.

Philomena is more than willing to help Nico and his brother, and with her assistant Sarah (were-snake) journeys to Grimspell Castle to do her best to ferret out the reason for the recent disturbances. However, the ghosts in residence seem reticent to communicate, making her job a difficult one. Then, of course, there's Nico and the constant distraction he provides. The man is an utter Adonis, and he seems to be a bit overenthusiastic in his attentions to her person. In fact, if she didn't know exactly how unlikely a scenario it is, Phil would be certain the young man wants her in a very intimate way.

Nico's human side isn't the only one interested in Phil; his wolf finds her intriguing as well. Can he convince Phil that true love can occur between an older spinster and the young man who appreciates her for all that she is? And then there are the ghosts in Grimspell Castle, just what is their agenda?Nico, like many men, has secrets. In his case, it's the knowledge that his former fiancée appears to have been killed by a wolf. Nico lost control for a while after her death and fears he could lose his humanity entirely if the circumstances are right. Could Phil's talent for ENCHANTING THE BEAST keep them both safe, or will his beast turn on them both as he might have done once before?

Phil may be a spinster, but her talent has given her insight into the ways of passion (her home is a former brothel with a very instructive ghost in residence). Unfortunately, Phil is convinced that society would never allow a lady of her age to marry a man of Nico's. Luckily, Phil is at heart a sensible woman, and I feel sure that with Nico's persistent nature, she'll realize that true love should never be denied, no matter the circumstances.

Sarah is a loyal and true friend to Phil. She doesn't hesitate to protect Phil with her life when the situation warrants it, and she's one of the reasons Nico realizes so quickly that Phil is a special woman. After all, most non-weres aren't exactly comfortable around weres, and Phil has completely embraced Sarah and her idiosyncrasies. Edwina, daughter of Lord Magift (the local magistrate and Baron of Bargest House) is Royden's wife. Edwina is insecure at best and worries about the day when Nico takes a wife and she loses her position as mistress of Grimspell. Nico's brother Royden is a man with a terrible burden (and no, I'm not talking about Edwina, though that case could be made). The ghosts are trying to impart a message to Roy, and if Phil can't figure out what it is, Roy's very life may be at stake. Sir Edgar Hexword and his daughter Jane are fellow were-wolves and members of Nico's pack. Sir Edgar has a great fondness for history. Jane, beautiful young thing that she is, has that same fondness for Nico. She thinks she's the right mate for Nico, and Phil isn't certain she's wrong. Last, but not least, I must mention Tup. A ghost boy from the streets of London, he's Phil's spiritual guide and pseudo son. It's obvious he and Phil love each other, and it's a fortunate circumstance that he's able to follow her to Grimspell and aid her in her investigation.

Like the rest of the Relics of Merlin series, ENCHANTING THE LADY (January 2008) and DOUBLE ENCHANTMENT (September 2008), this book has been written in such a way that you need not read the others to understand the plot. One of the best books I've read this year, ENCHANTING THE BEAST cannot fail to capture your imagination with its fully developed characters and the magical world they inhabit. Don't miss it! It's a keeper, and you'll be up all night reading it!

Lori Ann
Romance Reviews Today

Kathryne Kennedy
ISBN 978-0505527646
April 2009
Dorchester - Love Spell

Fantasy Romance

Sir Nicodemus Wulfson, Baronet of Grimspell castle has come to London seeking a medium, a ghost hunter, who will chase away the ghosts that haunt his brother, Roydon. While the baronet shape shifters are immune to magic, family members without an animal form, are not. Nicodemus, or Nico as those close to the baronet call him, does not believe in ghosts and does not fall lightly into the glamour of magic. To help his brother though, he will do anything and everything possible.

Lady Philomena Stanhope has the gift, as it were, of being able to speak to and hear ghosts. She can tell the difference between a memory and a real ghost. While she may not always see the dearly departed, she has seen enough of them to be convincing in a séance. With the help of her shape shifting assistant Sarah and the little boy ghost, Tup, she has been able to bring peace to those who have lost a loved one, whether those ghosts appear or not. When Nico appeals to her for help, with the added enticement of a hefty sum, she leaves the crowded streets of London and journeys to Grimspell Castle. There she learns that not only is Roydon quite ill and fading more each day, but that the handsome Baronet may be the killer of his fiancé, Beatrice. After all, Nico’s animal form is a large wolf and a large black wolf was seen in the area where Beatrice’s body was found. Yet when Phil, as her friends call her, sees how Nico cares for not only his family, but those that live on his grounds, she cannot believe he is capable of such a heinous act, be he wolf or human. It isn’t long before she finds herself, despite telling herself she is far too old for him, falling in love with the handsome baronet.

The Relics of Merlin are thirteen stones each enchanted with a different spell and each incredibly dangerous. Despite their immunity to magic, the baronet shape shifters can smell the dangerous relics. Each of the Relics of Merlin books stand on their own. For me, Enchanting the Beast is the best yet. Nico is written in such a way you feel as if he has stalked off the page and prowled into your life. Ms. Kennedy creates an incredibly sexy and compelling character. While each of her shape shifting heroes are lifelike and true to their animal self, Nico is the most gripping. You feel his anguish and pain over Roydon’s illness, his playfulness as he courts Phil, his care for his family and friends. He is secure in himself, yet not an overbearing alpha male. In a word, he’s yummy.

Among the many aspects of Enchanting the Beast that I liked is how wonderfully Ms. Kennedy portrayed the blossoming love between the twenty-seven year old Nico and forty year old Philomena. It is endearing and natural and I found myself rooting from Nico to win her heart from the git go. The relationship from start to culmination is a reminder of why we read romance. Ms. Kennedy teases and temps and makes the reader sigh wishing for the same kind of romance. Enchanting the Beast is the personification of true romance.

The secondary characters are equally enchanting. Despite their brief appearance, the way Ms. Kennedy describes Samuel and Charles, paints the picture of two sexy, well built men whose animal form are horses. Roydon’s plight pulls at the reader’s heart and his wife Edwina is entertainingly confusing.

I highly recommend this series. It gets better and better with each tale. There is a part of me that says Ms. Kennedy cannot possibly top how wonderful Enchanting The Best is yet I cannot wait for the next book to see what new enchantment she has planned for her readers.


ISBN- 10: 0505527642/ 13:9780505527646
May 1, 2009
Dorchester- Love Spell
376 pages
Victorian Fantasy Romance
Rating- 5 cups

Lady Philomena Radcliffe is a very interesting woman. At the age of forty, she is a spinster who lives in an old brothel which is haunted by some interesting ghosts. She and her assistant, Sarah – a were-snake-, earn a living by hunting ghosts and conducting séances for the people of London.

Sir Nicodemus Wulfson –Nico, to friends and family- is a young man of twenty seven and he is on a mission to help his brother, Roydon. Sitting in on séance Lady Philomena is conducting makes Nico believe she is the right person for the task at hand.

The ghosts of Grimspell Castle are haunting Roydon causing him to lose sleep as well as his appetite. Nico is concerned for his brother, but does not believe in ghosts though he is a werewolf and owner of an enchanted forest. Seeing the way in which Lady Philomena conducts her séance, Nico thinks her “acting skills” may be good enough to convince his brother that there are no ghosts in Grimspell Castle. Philomena and Nico are both in for a few surprises in this wonderful adventure.

Ms. Kennedy weaves a spell from the very start. The world she has created is one in which I find myself longing to be. Grimspell Castle, with its ghosts, and Grimspell Forest, with its wondrous creatures, calls to my soul. This story is full of romance, mystery and the paranormal. The characters are lively and colorful. The author gives her readers such a wonderful experience when they read her magical tales. I am looking forward to picking up the other books in this series.

Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More

Sunday, March 15, 2009

How They Met

Looking for a new, exciting way for your hero and heroine to meet?
I thought a few real-life stories might inspire your creative side.
(This was another one of Tia Dani’s brilliant blog ideas.) I usually begin these posts with my own experiences. If I’m going to ask you to share, it’s only fitting that I should, too.
The only problem is I’m single. Oh, well.

Let’s read how these successful romances began

I met my hubster at Oktoberfest. I was doing the chicken dance on a picnictable. My hubster and his brother came over to talk to my girlfriend (heworked with her), and his brother wanted to meet her. We got married, and his brother married my girlfriend a month later!

I was dancing in a night club, and this man kept staring at me from the bar. So I went to him and said, "Do you dance, too? Or do you just stare?" "I can dance," he said, and off we went to the dance floor. We've been happily married for fifteen years.

Vijaya Schartz
Girls with Guns, Romance with a Kick

I met my husband in fencing class. I took fencing because I wanted to write fantasy; I wanted to learn how to use a sword so I could write about it realistically. There was this six foot three guy in the class who liked to read the same books I did, and who walked me to my car and worried about me being safe. Two weeks into the class, we were dating, a week after that, we were bonded for life (including physical side, hmmm). Or, as my husband likes to say "she stabbed me, and it was true love." We're still married after all this time, and we both know our way around an epee. :-)

Jennifer Ashley
The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie
Book 1 in a new historical series
Leisure Historicals, May 2009

Tina, this is a fun question -- I can't wait to see all the answers!I met Pete at an EST-encounter type weekend called Lifespring, where people were lined up listening to instructions for the next exercise like in a Virginia reel, each facing the person across from you.He and I were facing each other, listening to the teacher, and for the first (and only) time in my life I saw blue-and-green sparks shooting off all around someone...this guy whose nametag I made a point of squinting at because I knew he was someone I wanted to meet.After class we left the hotel classroom together and he suggested we go get a room. I explained I already had a commitment to this guy I'd been dating since college, although the relationship wasn't going anywhere, and Pete insisted that "feelings like this transcend commitment." (Great line!)But when I still said I couldn't do that until breaking up with Mike, Pete agreed we could just be friends...and we sat on the hotel lawn, talking until all-hours. The next day I broke up with Mike, and have been with Pete ever since.Laurie, enjoying the memory :)

Laurie Schnebly Campbell, www.BookLaurie.com

Hubby and I met at a tradeshow in Chicago. We were both working at the same booth and when our eyes met....lust-Er- I mean love at first sight. We've been married almost 14 years now.
Web of Deceit.
Kim Watters

Okay Tina, you asked for it. I met Bob through the Rotary Club. Uh-huh, that's right. They were doing a professional exchange with a club in Scotland and I interviewed and out of 120 people I was picked to be on the team of four non-Rotarians (that was me) and one Rotarian (that was Bob). So we all got nicknames. I named him The General and he named me Trouble. After six months of preparation, which is when I found out he lived 5 minutes down the road from me, we left for Scotland for 4 weeks. It was two weeks into the trip that he and I started our relationship on the beautiful island of Aaron. We stayed up the whole night walking around the island, watching the moon rise and falling in love. But it made things complicated because as a Rotarian he wasn't allowed to fraternize with the rest of the team members. Yikes! So we would slip away after the rotary business for the day was completed, usually around 11:00pm! and stay up all night. On top of that we were both going through divorces so technically we were still married though separated. It was amazing. We still go back to Scotland about every four years to visit our friends there and remember what we did ;-)Alexis WalkerHIGHLAND MAGIC Finally A Bride Contest 2nd Place

You asked so here's how I met my hubby.

I worked in a small finance company and part of my job was to call people to remind them they hadn't made their payment timely (I hated it but.....that's what they paid me for). Anyway, I called this man and told him about his late payment. Well.....he had some choice words for me because he claimed he did pay on time but he would come down to the office and show me the cancelled check. While I waited for this man to come into the office, I did a little more research and found.....I had applied his payment to the wrong account (the names were very similar, the amounts were the same and the due date was the same - easy mistake). When he walked into my office, the first thing I noticed right away was that he was a "bad boy", you know, the kind of guy your mother always warned you about). He had that strut, that attitude, not to mention, he was cute (and angry)! I was immediately....intrigued.

We ran into each other all the time after that. It was a small town. He worked for the florist up the street. I'd catch him in the bank delivering flowers and ask, "Hey, where's mine?" and I'd have flowers the next day. We'd run into each other at the local pizza joint and share a slice or a cup of coffee at the shop around the corner. It was fun, it was sweet and in no time at all, we were friends then more than friends then despite my mother's warnings ('cause he really was a bad boy and a biker to boot), I fell head over heels. Now here we are, thirty years later (we've been married for 28), and I'm still head over heels for my bad boy.

Donna WarnerAKA Marie PatrickAngel in the Moonlight, Whiskey Creek Press, April 2008History Sizzles in a Marie Patrick Novel

Hi Tina,When I was a senior in high school, I met the younger brother of a neighbor. His name was Tom. Nothing came of it because Tom was too shy to ask me out. Then about a year later, Tom pointed me out to his younger brother Luke and told him he wanted to ask me out. Luke said something like, "Well go ask her out." Tom said "I can't." So Luke said "If you won't I will." Luke swaggered up to me and asked me out probably just because he was in between girlfriends. I recognized the name because I knew his brother, the neighbor. I ended up dating Luke for for a few months and even though he was a nice guy, there was no real chemistry. During that time, I got to know Tom because several of the brothers in this family all lived together and I used to kinda hang out at their house. Tom and I got along great and joked around a lot. Things cooled off (not that they ever got hot) between Luke and me. Then about two years later, I met Tom at a singles activity. He ended up driving me to a singles camping trip a week or so later. Something special happened during the drive as we talked. We realized we had everything in common - not interests, per se but values and lifelong plans and goals. We began spending every day together. Two weeks after that first date, he asked me to marry him. The whole thing seemed so sudden, and I had other plans that didn't include marriage. I was also sorta done with guys because I'd been burned in a couple of really disastrous relationships. Plus, I was young - only 21. So I agonized over it for three days before I realized he was the one for me and I would never find anyone better suited for me. And all my plans no longer seemed so important compared to spending my life with him. I said yes. And the rest, as they say is history. Oh, and don't worry about Luke, he married someone else and she was expecting their first baby by the time Tom and I got married. Tom and I have been married for 21 years and we have six (yes, 6) children.-- Donna HatchBelieve in happy endings…"The Stranger She Married"a Regency Romance Novel with a twist of intriguepaperback at amazon.com-
book at www.thewildrosepress.comhttp://www.donnahatch.comhttp://donnahatch.blogspot.com/http://historicalhussies.blogspot.com/http://www.myspace.com/donnahatchhttp://www.facebook.com/people/Donna_Hatch/1053967713

My parents first met at church youth camp in Ohio when he was fifteen, and she'd just turned sixteen. You know how people record marriages and things like that in Bibles? Dad recorded their "marriage" in his Bible, with the camp pastor supposedly having performed it and various fellow campers as witnesses; they didn't actually have a ceremony, you understand, but he wrote it all down. They saw each other occasionally at first, at other statewide youth events, because they lived in different counties. I don't know when Mom actually met his mother, but Grandma said she thought at first that Mom was "such a quiet girl." Mom was afraid to say anything in front of Grandma, because Grandma was an English teacher, and Mom was afraid she'd say something ungrammatical. She said she hardly ate when she and Dad first went out too, that he would end up eating his hamburger and hers. A couple years after they met, Mom went off to Anderson College in Indiana, while Dad was beginning his senior year of high school, and she says he wrote to her every day. Then he went to the same college, where they lived on opposite sides of the same dorm. At night the doors would be locked between the men's and women's halves, but Dad would slide papers under the door, so that Mom could type them for him. They married in the fall of their senior year, six years after their first meeting, and I was born just after Mom graduated, on Dad's first day of summer school for his final class. They've been married for thirty-nine years.VarinaActive member of the Desert Rose Chapter of RWA

Thanks for sharing, ladies!!
Now, let’s hear from some of you.
How did you meet your spouse?

Happy Writing,
Tina LaVon

Friday, March 13, 2009

Interview with Vicki Lewis Thompson

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Vicki Lewis Thompson. 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 for inviting me, especially on my favorite day, Friday the 13th! Pardon me while a snag a piece of chocolate . . . or six. Ah, much better! Fire away!

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

‘Scuse me while I finish this truffle. Okay, all done. When I was writing the Nerd series, readers kept asking for female nerds, so here she is! Gwen DuBois is a botany geek who owns a flower shop in Big Knob, Indiana. She’s been a wallflower (ha, ha) all her life, but now she finds herself pursued by two hunky guys. It’s my ultimate fantasy, being somewhat of a geek myself. By the way, this is the third book in the Hex series of paranormal romantic comedies.

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

My editor’s boss dreamed it up back when I first proposed the Hex series, so I’ve been waiting to use it.

What made you decide to write in this genre?
HEA endings are perfect for an optimist like me. Romance pairs well with comedy, and that makes me even happier in my work. I avoid gloom and doom whenever possible.

Are you a plotter or a pantser and how did it affect the writing of this book?
I’m definitely a pantser, and it affected this book in a major way. My hero is French, and I thought I could plot and write the book before my trip to Paris, and then put in the finishing touches. Turns out I couldn’t write anything worth reading until I’d been to Paris and absorbed the culture – i.e. ogled lots of French men. Then the book flowed, although at that point it had to flow or else. I was up against the deadline.

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?
I HAD to go to Paris. I really did. If I could get away with making all my heroes French, then I’d have to go to Paris some more, which would be A-okay with me. I know you meant Internet sites, but in this case, it was an actual geographical site.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?
Basically from my readers, who wanted a nerd heroine. I figured a nerd heroine deserved not one, but TWO gorgeous guys who wanted her. One is the Frenchman, and the other is Prince Leo, from the fairy Kingdom of Atwood. He looks a little like Brad Pitt.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?
That’s like trying to pick a favorite child, LOL. I had lots of fun writing about Prince Leo, because he’s such a bad boy, but in a funny way.

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?
Now that I’ve admitted being a pantser, I’ll bet you know I don’t do character sheets, either. I tend to get a general idea of my characters and then write about them, discovering who they are as I go. As I mentioned, I discovered I couldn’t do the character of Marc Chevalier, the French guy, until I’d spent some time in Paris where he lives. I knew him so much better after that trip.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?
Any author with the guts to keep sending out manuscripts inspires me. These days I’m not so much inspired by the words an author puts on a page, but by the sacrifices she’s made to get them there. We all have the same number of hours in a day, and the authors who inspire me are the ones who keep writing through whatever life throws at them. They keep giving us the benefit of their creative energy. Hats off to working writers!

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?
Ah, there’s the million-dollar question! I recently upgraded my monthly newsletter so it can contain both links and images. I’ve been building my subscription list for that newsletter, and I think sending out the enhanced format to subscribers is the most bang for my buck.

What do we have to look forward next?

OMG, how much time do you have? I have a Christmas anthology in ’09 called BETTER NAUGHTY THAN NICE with my two Soapbox Queen buddies, Jennifer LaBrecque and Rhonda Nelson. Then comes 2010, the Year of Publishing Copiously. In February and March I’ll have two connected single titles, BLONDE WITH A WAND and CHICK WITH A CHARM. Also in February I’ll have a NASCAR Valentine anthology. Then in June, July, and August I’ll have connected Blaze books that will begin a nine-book series (three books every summer in ’10, ’11, and ’12) all set on the Last Chance Ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I’m going to be a busy girl.

Thanks, Vicki!

Thank you for the chance to gab about my work and eat some outstanding chocolate. The experience has been very therapeutic, just as you promised!

To celebrate her book release, Vicki is offering an autographed copy of WILD & HEXY, the book prior to CASUAL HEX , 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...

Bio. New York Times bestseller Vicki Lewis Thompson sold her first book 26 years ago, and it’s been a roller-coaster ride ever since. She’s written more than 90 books for Dell, Harlequin, Bantam, St. Martin’s Press, and NAL in both series romance and single title. She hit all the major bestseller lists when NERD IN SHINING ARMOR was Kelly Ripa’s book club pick in 2003. The book introduced a new kind of romance hero and launched the popular Nerd series. Besides being an eight-time RITA nominee, she’s won numerous Romance Writers of America chapter contests, and in 2008, she received RWA’s highest honor, the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. Her releases in 2009 include the anthology WINTER HEAT from Harlequin in January, CASUAL HEX from NAL Onyx in March, and a Christmas anthology from Harlequin in December.
Visit Vicki’s website at www.vickilewisthompson.com and her blog at www.soapboxqueens.com

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Tucson Book Festival

The Tucson Book Festival is being held in 'of course' Tucson and at the University of Arizona's campus on March 14th and 15th. This is the second year it is being sponsored by the Arizona Daily Star and in association with The University of Arizona. There are many other wonderful sponsers.

There should be over 300 authors and 200 exhibitors plus 15 different stages. There is also a children’s area. The University's Bookstore is serving as the major host and/or cashier.

If you have an opportunity, please come by and visit the authors. The event is free, but it is for a worthy cause. The net proceeds from your purchase will benefit literacy in Southern Arizona.

For more information, you can visit them at here.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Writing What You Know

Writing What You Know
by Theresa Meyers of Blue Moon Communications

Writers are often encouraged to write what they know. But sometimes that advice may seem more detrimental than constructive, especially if you are writing a genre that you have no way of getting practical experience in, such as paranormal or erotica. Let's face it most of us aren't like to go out there and try drinking blood just because we want to write about vampires. The good news is you don't have to.

The advice is actually still sound. Making it work for you is really all about how you look at and apply the adage.

Even in paranormals full of were creatures, shape shifters, faeries and the like, we can still apply what we know. We know feelings. We know how we would react if someone threatened a loved one, betrayed us or challenged us. We know how it feels to be sad, angry, elated, loved. We know how to make decisions and how to figure out what the consequences might logically be for those choices. All of this applies directly to our characters no matter what genre you write in.

When writing description, think about the character. Put yourself in his or her shoes. Don't just describe the scene. Describe it as if you were your character. His or her experiences, past, occupation, gender and so much more about who they uniquely are will color how they see a scene and how they judge that experience. For instance, it rains heavily, flooding the streets. A woman might stare up at her roof and notices the drip and thinks, "Oh, no, how am I ever going to hire someone to repair that?" A man might look up at that same leak and think "Where's a pan?" (she's thinking long term solutions and options, he's thinking short term and what can be done right this minute.) The child might think "Hey, maybe I won't have school tomorrow." and the roof repair guy is thinking "This is great. Maybe my phone will ring with work." Everyone experiences the storm differently. So will your character.

Even with seemingly stock characters, there's more than meets the eye to their way of seeing the world. In my latest book from Silhouette Nocturne, Salvation of the Damned, I have a vampire. Now I could have made him like every other stock vampire you've likely met, but, since he was my hero, I wanted him to be a little different.

Raphael doesn't have any problem with drinking blood or sacrificing mortals as necessary to stave off the virus that threatens to kill off all vampires. What he does have a problem with is his past. He once fell in love with someone he allowed to be sacrificed to save his kind. He's never forgotten it and has sworn never to repeat it. (By not falling in love, he thinks he's solved this.) But when he comes up against a woman who is the reincarnation of his lost love, he knows he's in the same place all over again, forced to make the same horrible decision.

For any other vampire it would have been a no-brainer, sacrifice the human, we all live. For Raphael it's all tangled up in his past, his thousand years of hellish half-existence afterward and his vows to himself not to repeat it. It just means more than a simple decision to him because he can't just die to escape it. He's immortal, so he knows he's going to live with the consequences of his actions forever.

Do you see how much more it impacts him?

I've never been a vampire. I never plan on being one. But I can still take what I know of the human experience, of life, loss, love, pain, hope and use what I know to make my characters real for my readers. So can you.

Don't get stuck thinking about what you can't write or don't know. Take what you do know and write.

Check out Theresa's book at http://ebooks.eharlequin.com/5B56074A-750A-44AC-BA1A-91BAF74FF317/10/126/en/ContentDetails.htm?ID=CD5ECBC6-DA95-4F70-A392-F07EFEF95032

Kim Watters

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Who Writes Romance Novels?

Who writes romance novels (or novels with romantic elements)?

She’s the school district administrator who also writes college textbooks
She's an accountant
She's an actress
She's an insurance agent
She's a real estate agent
She’s the grandmother who adores her grandkids
She's the lead singer in a rock and roll band
She’s the prison social worker about to get that PhD after her name
She’s a journalist
She’s the psychic who amazes her friends with her accuracy
She’s the president of her own company
She's a lawyer
She’s a pilot
She’s a nurse
She’s a doctor
She’s a college instructor
She’s the stay-home mom who juggles the PTA, soccer games, and a husband
She’s a forensic scientist
She’s a law enforcement officer
She’s a soldier in the military
She’s an elementary school or high school teacher
She’s married, single, divorced, widowed
She’s working in corporate America
She works in sales
She’s a publisher, editor, or agent
Sometimes, she’s not a she, but a he
Or, a writing team of shes

The romance writer is intelligent, creative, insightful, persistent, and passionate. She can’t be picked out of a crowd, but you’ll probably run into her in a bookstore.
Perhaps she is you.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Interview with Emily Bryan

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Emily Bryan. 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 VEXING THE VISCOUNT. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

VEXING THE VISCOUNT is the story of Daisy Drake and her fascination with Lucian Beaumont (the vexed viscount of the title!). She won’t let his father’s deep hatred of her uncle stand in her way when she decides to help him find the lost Roman treasure he seeks. Daisy masquerades as Blanche La Tour, a French courtesan by night, forming a partnership with Lucian in his venture in exchange for “lessons in love.” (Of course, Daisy only knows what she’s read in the real Blanche’s very explicit memoirs and Lucian is a rarity for his a time—a male virgin! Their love scenes were delicious fun to write!) Then she bedevils him as herself by day, acting as “Blanche’s agent.” Poor Lucian finds himself drawn to both of them!

VEXING THE VISCOUNT is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

My previous titles were DISTRACTING THE DUCHESS (a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award nominee—BEST HISTORICAL K.I.S.S.!) and PLEASURING THE PIRATE (featured on the Official International Talk Like A Pirate Day website as a must read for would-be scallywags everywhere!). So the “XXXing the XXX” pattern had been set. VEXING THE VISCOUNT seemed a natural progression. But I think this is my last XXXing the XXX style title. A girl has to draw the line somewhere. DIDDLING THE DUKE is just too silly.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

That’s easy. I write what I enjoy. Nothing takes me away quite like a historical and if I can add some sexy fun and a laugh or two, I’ve done my job.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I was already well acquainted with my heroine Daisy. She is one of my PIRATE hero’s orphaned nieces in that story. As the 10-year-old ring leader of that ‘gang of five,’ Daisy was in and out of one scrape after another and had enough courage for all the Drake sisters combined. I knew she’d need her own story once she grew up.

Her adventure sprang from one of my own. In the opening of VEXING THE VISCOUNT (see http://www.emilybryan.com/Vexing%20the%20Viscount.htm for an excerpt) we find Daisy scrunched down, trying to get a better look at a piece of Roman antiquity under museum glass. It’s a lamp designed in the shape of an erect phallus!

Believe it or not, the Romans regarded representations of the male member as good luck! (Hence the phrase “getting lucky?”) When I was in Germany once, I visited the Römisch-Germanisches Museum in Cologne and they had an entire room filled with these little objects—some of them winged and used for windchimes! (I kid you not!) As a writer, I filed this bizarre discovery under “oddments to use at a future date” and forgot all about it until I decided to write Daisy’s story. It seemed just the sort of unusual item that would pique her interest and jump-start her relationship with Lucian in a wholly unorthodox way.

What are your favorite historical research books and why?

I always start with THE TIMETABLES OF HISTORY by Grun. Once I know the year my story lives in, I research the scientific, political, religious, artistic and philosophic developments of previous years so I’ll know what will inform my character’s way of thinking. I listen to the music of the period. I visit museums and try to view its art. I chat with re-enactors and feel the fabrics of their costumes. Because my books involve all the senses, its makes sense that my research should too.

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

Oh, dear. That’s like asking a mother to choose between her children. I’ve already told you a good deal about Daisy, so let me pick Lucian for now. He’s not your typical pasty-face English lord. His mother was an Italian contessa and he inherited her dark good looks and passionate nature.

But he’s strong-minded enough not to let passion rule him. Surprisingly enough, when the story opens Lucian is a virgin. Taking a willing serving girl to his bed never satisfied his sense of fairness, since those liaisons always end badly for the girl. He’s in no hurry to wed. His father lost the family fortune in the South Sea Bubble (the London exchange crashed in 1720, so you see we aren’t the only generation to suffer market dives). Lucian doesn’t have the funds to establish a relationship with a “woman of pleasure.”

So he’s thrown his energies into rebuilding the family fortune by tracking down a lost Roman payroll. Developing a “business” relationship with the infamous courtesan Blanche La Tour is heady stuff for him and he’s a willing pupil.

If only he wasn’t also drawn to that infuriating Daisy Drake as well . . .

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?

Oh, that sounds far too well-organized for me! I spend more time “listening” to my characters. Daydreaming and hearing voices are a writer’s perks, you know. I’m more likely to write down a few salient points for secondary characters than my principals because by the time I start telling their story, I know my h/h pretty well.

Yes, my research affects character development. My characters are creatures of their time. If they behave in ways that are at odds with the common world view for their day, I have to motivate that action very well.

What are some common speech terms, dress modes, transportation or housing facts that you found interesting for your time period?

I was surprised to discover that beneath the yards of fabric, the wire and horsehair panniers and cork bumrolls, Georgian women (early 1700’s) wore NO undergarments from the waist down (except garters and stockings—this is my DH’s dream fashion statement!) No knickers, no pantaloons, nothing at all. They all went commando. With their skirts draped far from their legs (some panniers extended a woman’s hips by several feet on either side. They actually had to turn sideways to make it through doorways.), I suspect it felt like running around naked from the waist down.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

So many that it would be difficult to list them all here. But perhaps I should tip my hat to Louisa May Alcott. She wrote about women and for women when it wasn’t at all the womanly thing to do.

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

I have no earthly idea. Since I have no way to quantify results, I don’t know if advertisements or my website or speaking engagements do any good. I just started a WebHunt in conjunction with 13 other authors and NightOwl Romance (details and prizes on my website!) Bookmarks, newsletters, radio and tv interviews—who knows?

But I do know that one of the most fun (and most tiring) promos was my 50day/50blog VEXING THE VISCOUNT tour. I made lots of new “cyber-friends” and had a ball doing it.
But effective? Who knows?

A writer’s best promo, I think, is to write the next book.

What do we have to look forward next?

Coming September 29th, my holiday anthology will hit the shelves. I’m joined by USA Today Best Seller Jennifer Ashley and Alissa Johnson for A CHRISTMAS BALL! In this totally fun anthology, all our characters are attending the same gala event, Lord and Lady Hartwell’s annual Christmas Ball. Everyone who’s anyone will be there and YOU are invited too. I just posted an excerpt on my website! My story is called MY LADY BELOW STAIRS and my heroine is not a grand lady. Jane is the Earl of Somerville’s bastard daughter, but she’s going to this ball regardless—only not by her choice!

Thanks, Emily!

Thank you, Much Cheaper Than Therapy! I feel more relaxed already.

To celebrate her book release, Emily Bryan is offering a free copy of VEXING THE VISCOUNT 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...

Bio. Award-winning author Emily Bryan learned much of what she knows about writing from singing. A classically trained soprano, she gleaned the elements of storytelling while performing operatic roles. She and her husband have lived in nine different states, but she now makes her home in the heart of New England. Emily is available for signings, readings and writing workshops. To schedule events or for more info, please visit http://www.emilybryan.com/

Check out author’s website at http://www.emilybryan.com/

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Save the Cat by Blake Snyder

I thought I’d bring this review back up from back in December. Laurie Schnebly Campbell mentioned Blake Snyder and his book this last week under Tina’s post about tortured heroes. Tina gave use wonderful examples of what to do and not to do when it came to writing a tortured hero. If you want to get even more in depth, Save the Cat has wonderful examples.

Carol Webb

Okay, this is a book that I stumbled across by accident while I was on the net when I should have been writing. I was amazed I hadn't heard about it, but then I'm not focused on screen plays as I am with writing fiction. But boy, this book is packed full of things for a fiction writer. Period.

Blake Snyder goes into detail on the 10 different genres, your hero of the story and what makes him passive instead of active, story boarding and various other areas. I actually love his technique on doing index cards for story boarding. He also goes into great detail on the 'high concept' catch phrase that seems to be everywhere today.

If you're looking for new techniques and a fresh angle on the writing craft, I highly recommend this book. Mr. Snyder also has his own web page.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Free Reads Over at The Wild Rose Press

Looking for a short, quick read? The Wild Rose Press is offering up lots of quick reads, 64 at the last count, of authors who decided to participate. I'm there along with some of the other great authors so check us out.

Wallflower Blurb:

In her high school yearbook, Megan Dougherty was voted most likely to eat the last box of Twinkies. Ten years later, the now sleek and sophisticated business woman attends her class reunion. She discovers her former classmates haven’t changed until Kyle Green arrives. Apparently some things have changed…for the better?


Kim Watters

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

FOR WRITERS: Publishers Weekly Blog

Thought I would share this email I rec'd for any of you who might be interested in participating. Barbara is a wonderful person and a huge promoter of the romance genre.
Best Wishes,


Hi Everyone,

Well, believe it or not, my 2nd anniversary is coming up. Some of you may remember last year's party where I ended up with 745 comments on the blog and over 100 author/publishers offered giveaways. (last year's anniversary post http://www.publishersweekly.com/blog/880000288/post/210023021.html)

This year I plan on having a week long celebration, March 9-14 and I need your help. I've divided the days into genres and encourage you to get involved and have fun with this. You can do it as individuals or groups but I need people to decorate, bring food and supply the entertainment. (It's only pretend, so it won't cost you anything). Let you imaginations run wild. (Today's blog: http://www.publishersweekly.com/blog/880000288/post/280041028.html)

You can send me snippets to include in the blog like: "I made the ham roll-ups with the pickles in the middle" or "The flaming baton twirlers was my idea and I'm really sorry about the small curtain fire" or "I really thought indoor fireworks were safe." Just send me your name (or group name) and what you'd like me to add to the blog for you (don't forget to include your website so I can link it to your name). Support your genre and make your day extra special. If you'd like to give something away, just let me know what specifically it is. You will be responsible for shipping it.Also, let me know what day you are interested in being on (you can be on more than one day). On Saturday I plan on doing a Romance Special so feel free to send me your ideas for that. Please pass this on to all your loops and let's show everyone who really rocks in publishing!

All my thanks,
Barbara-- Barbara VeyContributing EditorPublishers Weekly Beyond Her Book blogwww.publishersweekly.com/BeyondHerBook
MySpace - www.myspace.com/barbaravey
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