Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
I’d like to welcome our guest agent today, Jenny Bent from The Bent 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.
What’s your publishing background? Will you please give us a little information about your new agency? How many clients did you bring over with you? What other genres do you represent?
I started out in 1992 as the assistant to a very smart and talented agent named Raphael Sagalyn. He's represented many, many New York Times bestsellers. After that I worked for Michael Cader--Michael is a fantastic guy and also pretty much a genius and he started Publishers Marketplace after I worked for him. Then I worked at Graybill and English, Harvey Klinger, and most recently Trident. I have similarly good things to say about all of these places--basically I am very grateful to everyone who helped and taught me along the way. I started THE BENT AGENCY a little over a month ago. It's always been my dream to have my own agency and my name on the door. I brought over almost everyone although not everyone will have a project to sell right away. I represent commercial fiction, literary fiction, memoir, humor, and fun women's lifestyle.
What fees (if any) does your agency charge? What is your agency’s commission rate?
What’s your response time for queries, partials and full manuscripts?
What new author have you recently signed?
What new project made you grab for that hidden piece of chocolate in your pencil drawer?
What can an author do to grab your attention?
What houses have you recently sold to?
What do you love/hate most about being an agent?
What trends do you see for the future of publishing?
Any other chocolate nuggets you can give authors looking for representation?
Also, I know it's cliche, but an agent's reaction truly is subjective. Just because I don't see a way to sell something doesn't mean it's a bad book. I pass on great projects every day -- and I know they are very strong -- for the simple reason that I'm not completely in love. If I'm not in love, I'm not the best advocate and I'd be doing a writer a disservice to pretend otherwise.
Check out the agent’s website at www.thebentagency.com
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
And just for fun, answer the question: What type of shape-shifter are you? at: http://freshfiction.com/page.php?id=1735
See you there!
Friday, April 24, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
"Deep Editing: The EDITS System, Rhetorical Devices and More"
by Margie Lawson
Margie Lawson, counseling psychologist, has developed innovative, psychologically-anchored editing systems and techniques that will show you how to write a page-turner. Deep Editing is not basic editing. It's post-graduate level editing. It's editing to hook the reader viscerally. In DEEP EDITING, participants will:
* Learn the EDITS System and take it deeper
* Learn the 25 rhetorical devices and practice using them
* Develop skills by using worksheets provided in each lecture
* Learn back story management, power lines, throw-away works
* Learn cliché twists, back loading, tautologies, and Emotional Hits
* Receive deep editing critiques from Margie on class assignments
* Develop a personal editing checklist from the Master Editing Checklist
* Learn to make FINAL EDITING PASS be your last pass
Margie Lawson, psychotherapist, writer, and international presenter-applied her psychological expertise to dissect over a thousand novels and analyze how authors write page-turners. A former university professor, Margie focuses her analytical skills on writing craft, developing innovative editing systems and deep editing techniques. Her deep editing tools are used by all writers, from newbie to multi-award winners. For more information, visit her web site at www.MargieLawson.com.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
May 4-29, 2009
"Grammar For the Faint Of Heart"
by Cheryl Norman
Have you received critiques or returned contest entries that mention a need to improve grammar or writing mechanics? Do you struggle with punctuating the plural possessive of nouns and pronouns? Is the term “dependent clause” a vague memory from high school English class? Don't let poor grammar or weak writing hold back your riveting story from publication. You can be your own grammar cop when editing your manuscript by recognizing and correcting the top ten writing mistakes:
* Misuse of apostrophes and hyphens
* Noun-verb agreement errors
* Using the wrong word or spelling
* Lack of pronouns and antecedents agreement
* Excessive use of quotation marks
* Faulty comparisons and convoluted, wordy sentences
* Vague word usage and other weak writing
* Misplaced and misleading modifiers
Cheryl Norman graduated with a BA in English from Georgia State University, had a 25-year career with a major telecommunications company, then quit to pursue writing. She authored numerous articles and two cookbooks while building her romance fiction career. Her first mass-market paperback release earned her a mention in Publisher's Weekly as one of ten romance authors to watch, and her latest release is RUNNING SCARED. Visit her Grammar Cop blog at www.cherylnorman.com/blog.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Especially singing I Dreamed a Dream. I’ve sung that song, people. It ain’t easy. The vocal range required is not for the feint of heart or voice. I must say I was ready to plug my ears at six o’clock that morning when my husband turned to me. “Hey, Brian sent this to us. Watch this.”
Ready to leave the office to refill my already full coffee cup, I waited as the music started to play. (I get uncomfortable watching people in potentially painful or awkward situations.) I held my breath when Susan opened her mouth to sing. And there it was. That first note, so pure and sweet. I sat back in my computer chair, stunned at the exquisite voice. I know my mouth dropped open. How about yours?
Watching Simon’s Cowels’ face was also priceless. For a man who’s sarcasm and critiques are as sharp as a butcher’s knife, to see him stunned made my morning. (even though I’m secretly in love with him) I can see it now in a future credit card commercial. And seeing the other judges and the audience respond with such enthusiasm was awe-inspiring.
I Dreamed a Dream, too.
To become a writer.
To fulfill that dream, I didn’t have to go up on stage and pour my heart out through my voice, which would probably make most of you happy. No, I wrote books about hope and love and second chances and poured my heart out through my characters.
But the tigers come at night.
They do in the form of rejections or bad reviews or partners that don’t support you or editors that don’t get your work.
As they tear your hope apart.
Family members, children, work, household tasks that never seem to get done. Professional jealousy, or any other number of reasons that keep you from living your dream. Stop the madness.
Did Susan let the naysayers and the other non-believers keep her from living her dream? No. And neither should you. She triumphed at the end. So can you. The underdog has come out the top dog. (go all the way, Susan) The fish out of water dove right in and made herself right at home.
So get your rear end in the chair and write. So what if the laundry piles up or the kids whine there’s nothing to do, or your husband can’t seem to find the remote, because it’s okay to live your dream. No one is going to do it for you.
So what are you waiting for? I Dreamed a Dream. How about you?
Credit for lyrics given to Herbert Kretzmer.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Sunday, April 19, 2009
5/3 to 5/31
BASIC TRACK PLOT
The very best story seamlessly intertwine plot events with character decision until readers can't tell where one begins and the other ends. Sound almost impossible to do? Well, that's what Plot will introduce. How to find the boxes to put your character's dreams and how to place the successes and obstacles to get the most drama from your story. You'll explore the four act structure, learn about the eight major plot points, and discover how you as a storyteller can fill in the spots between them.
Many of you have developed extraordinary characters and nows the change to give them a story that brings out the very best and worst in them, that forces them to grow. Don't have characters? No worry. We'll invent some and you can start completely fresh, which is often the best way to travel through this education.
Questions? Email Connie at Bootcamp4Novelists@cox.net
A well crafted story lures the reader from paragraph to paragraph, page to page and chapter to chapter. To do that, writers have to be part craftsman and part psychoanalyst, figuring out the best ways to draw the reader in and keep him turning pages. How do we do that? We do it by combining a number of techniques, the most important of which is escalating consequences. Without escalating consequences, the reader will quickly lose interest.
Escalating Consequences examines the structure of escalating consequences to increase the intensity of both action and emotion in your story. From first sentence to paragraph, scene, sequence, dramatic act and story, whether you're writing a heartwarming tale or a nail-biting thriller, you'll want to learn the four techniques to escalate consequences in your stories and keep your reader flipping those pages. In this class we'll study:
* Escalation of action
* Escalation of emotion
* Where to start: High to low or low to high? (It's not what you think)
* Escalation from sentences to scene, dramatic act to story
Questions? Email Linda: firstname.lastname@example.org
FEE: $22/course Click here for enrollment information
Check us out and enroll on our website. Again, the start date is May 3.
Friday, April 17, 2009
I understand you have a new release out called Troubled Hearts. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?
It’s a novella, separate from my series. It’s about an English Lady who’s desperate to escape her estranged husband and home enshrouded with death and despair, so she flees in the middle of the night. Little does she know, her determined husband is in pursuit. Along the journey, she discovers a telling revelation. But will it be enough to banish the ghosts of the past and quiet her troubled heart?
Actually, it was just supposed to be a working title until I thought of a better one, but my editor liked it so I kept it.
What made you decide to write in this genre?
I write Romance because I love the euphoria of falling in love and I MUST have a happy ending. I write Regencies because they sweep me away into a totally new and glamorous world. Very unlike my real life.
Where did you get your idea for this particular book?
I had a scene in my head of a woman who’s giving up on her marriage, and sneaking away in the middle of the night. The rest worked itself out as I went along.
What are your favorite historical research books and why?
I don’t get a lot of research out of books, I get most of it from the web. But I read a really cool research book called The Maul and the Pear Tree, which was all about Georgian and Regency Law and prosecution. I also sorta consider all Jane Austen books research because she lived in that era and by reading them, one can glean all kinds of details used to set the scene.
Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?
That’s like asking me to choose a favorite child! The main characters, of course, are endeared to me, but there was a secondary character called Aiden who I liked because he was strong and unselfish.
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 write the first chapter or two organically and allow the characters time to introduce themselves to me. Then I pick up my favorite character development book called Believable characters, Creating with Enneagrams, by Laurie Schnebly and read through the different character types until I find one that resonates and I say “Ah-ha! That is my hero!” Really. I say that. Then I do a brief interview, to figure out backstory, but a lot of that appears as I go along.
Yes, some times research affects character development. It has happed almost every time. Once, I had one character that I was sure was a Bow Street Runner, but after spending weeks researching Runners, realized that would be a very unlikely and hard to believe profession of him. So now, he’s sort of a vigilante who helps a Bow Street officer at times.
What are some common speech terms, dress modes, transportation or housing facts that you found interesting for your time period?
Okay, this may fall under useless trivia, but I found it interesting that a Regency lady did not wear anything underneath her shift, (which is basically a slip). Pantalettes or pantaloons came later, although the lower classes - and especially prostitutes - wore them. Kinda crazy, huh?
Do you have any authors that inspired you?
Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen are favorites for the era and where I learned to love Regencies. I grew up on Laura Ingalls Wilder which probably contributed to why I love historicals.
What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?
One reader said her friend saw my signature line with my book titles and website info, and forwarded it onto her because she knew she liked Regencies.
The Guise of a Gentleman, Book 2 in my “Rogue Hearts” series, of which The Stranger She Married is the first, will be out this fall. Book 3 of Rogue Hearts should be out early next spring.
To celebrate her book release, Donna is offering a free ebook of Troubled Hearts 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...
Thursday, April 16, 2009
You Should Be a Film Writer
You don't just create compelling stories, you see them as clearly as a movie in your mind.
You have a knack for details and dialogue. You can really make a character come to life.
Chances are, you enjoy creating all types of stories. The joy is in the storytelling.
And nothing would please you more than millions of people seeing your story on the big screen!
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
May 4-30, 2009
Fee: $30 for Non-PASIC members, $20 for PASIC members
Deadline to Register: April 29th
Presenter: CJ Lyons
For more information go to: http://www.pasic. net/workshops. html
Whether you're a plotter or pantzer, you still need to tell a story. And to tell a compelling story, you need characters driven to take action. In this highly interactive workshop, National Bestseller CJ Lyons will show you how to let your character do the driving as you move your plot forward.
Using methods that students will not only easily remember but can also apply daily to their writing life, CJ will give you the tools you need to empower your creativity, amp up your plotting, and energize your writing!
Some topics covered include:
* What is Story?
* Plotting 101
* Ancient Secrets of Story Telling
* Building 3-d Characters
* Brainstorming like DaVinci
* World Building
* Theme: it's not a four letter word!
* A Writer's Survival Kit
* Block Busting!
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about. In addition to being an award-winning medical suspense author, CJ is a nationally known presenter and keynote speaker. She has been invited all over the country to present her workshops and speak to audiences ranging from physicians to first responders to romance and thriller authors including: Colorado Fiction Writers, Oklahoma Writers Federation, the University of South Carolina at Beaufort, RWA National,
MWA's Sleuthfest, Lowcountry RWA's Master Class, Left Coast Crime, and PennWriters, among others.
Her first novel, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), received praise as a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller" from Publishers Weekly, was reviewed favorably by the Baltimore Sun and Newsday, named a Top Pick by Romantic Times Book Review Magazine, and became a National Bestseller. Her second novel, WARNING SIGNS, was published by Berkley
in January, 2009. To learn more about CJ and her work, go to www.cjlyons. net.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Here's my schedule of appearances that I've worked out so far:
On Thursday, April 23, from 8:00 pm to 12:00 am, I will be attending the Faery Ball as part of the Faery Court. I will be a Seelie (one of the good faeries ;}) and will be dressed as a Victorian Faery inspired by my Relics of Merlin series. You can meet all the fae, good & bad, here: http://www.thefaerycourt.com/faerycourtindex.html
On Saturday, April 25, I will be signing books at the Giant Book Fair from 11:00 to 2:00 pm. On that same day, from 5:00-7:00 pm I will be attending the Mr. Romance competition (more about that below!) Then from 8:00-9:00 pm I will be at the Dorchester Authors Mixer. And then from 9:00 pm to until-I-keel-over I'll be at Dorchester's Splashing by the Shore Dance Party.
Now, a bit about the Mr. Romance contest. Dorchester Publishing is again sponsoring this competition, where one lucky winner will have the opportunity to model for a Dorchester romance cover. The models will be portraying the heroes from several books...and my hero from Enchanting the Beast (book 3 in the Relics of Merlin series) has been chosen! This is my very first RT conference, and how wonderful it will be to see my hero brought to life. I can hardly wait!
Here's the mini character write up I did for the model:
Sir Nicodemus Wulfson
Basics: Goes by Nico. Wears Victorian clothing: Black frock coat, waistcoat, black trousers and boots, all a bit worn and frayed. His cravat is often undone and just slung around his neck with his white linen shirt half-buttoned. He rarely wears a hat. His hair is long and often shaggy, slung over his forehead and eyes, as if to hide his thoughts from others.
Nico info: Nico is a were-wolf, whose beast enjoys the thrill of the hunt and the taste of his kill, which often worries the man. He swims nude in moonlit glades and is more comfortable in the forest than his own castle. He goes after what he wants with single-minded ruthlessness. He cannot be tamed, but he can be gentled, and the right woman for him will have to meet his predatory gaze without fear.
Enchanting the Beast will be released around the time of the RT convention, and hot off the presses from my publisher.I was already incredibly excited about attending my first RT, and now I'm just over the moon! If you live in Florida, or are attending the event yourself, I do hope I meet you there!
All My Magical Best,
Sunday, April 12, 2009
When deciding what to post today, I decided against another episode of The Neurotic Writer. It just didn't seem appropriate for Easter. I got to thinking about my life and the lives of my writing friends and realized we are some of the hardest working people I know. In fact, one writer on one of my loops is giving up writing for awhile because she felt like she had been neglecting precious opportunities while waiting for New York to buy one of her manuscripts. Another friend felt guilty when we spent the morning and evening out playing. She thought she should be working on her book. I decided Easter Sunday, a day of remembering how much we are loved, is the perfect time to reflect and make change. In other words, to take time to love ourselves as well. This is not selfish; it is a necessity to lead a happy life.
I had to take about six months off from writing novels because I had burned myself out, so I am speaking from first hand experience here. We need to find a balance. First, we need to take an honest look at our lives. Are you taking care of yourself? I recently began an exercise program, but I know I don't get enough sleep, so that is going to be my new goal. What steps do you need to take to be physically healthier?
Next, are you your own worst critic? I know I am. Take a moment to think about the parts of your personality you like. Are you a good friend? Do you compliment others? Are you a glass half full type of person? This is the hard part. Think about something you like physically about yourself. I like the color of my eyes. They are green with gold specks - darker than hazel. Not many people have my eye color. Feeling a little better about yourself? Good. Now for the next part. Reflect on all of the blessings you have in your life. Make a list if you like. When you stay in a positive, happy mood as much as possible you invite more good into your life. I've also discovered that happiness is contagious and other people around you will take steps to improve their lives as well. You are passing it forward. How great is that?!
Now, tell someone how much they mean to you. You'll improve the connections you have with the people around you. When our time comes to an end, we are not going to worry about a manuscript we didn't finish. Schedule time for your writing, but do not let it take over your life. If there is something you always wanted to do, then make time for that experience. When I was in my late twenties, I decided I wanted to learn to do ceramics, take horseback riding lessons, learn Spanish (I tried), and learn to play the piano (wasn't my thing). I am so glad I gave all of that a try. Later, I dabbled at oil painting, and then I finally learned to write novels. Lead a well-rounded life and you will be happier. When you are happier, so are the people around you.
So, remember to...
Be thankful for all of the good in your life.
Pat yourself on the back!
Pat others on the back!
Tell someone you love them!
Count your blessings!
Friday, April 10, 2009
Thanks so much for having me, Kim! I can always use the chocolate therapy!
I understand you have a new release out called Destiny of the Wolf. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?
Destiny of the Wolf is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?
What made you decide to write in this genre?
So with mine, I wanted to make them human, well-adjusted to the notion they wore a fur coat sometimes, having their own secretive society, and enhanced abilities due to their wolf counterpart. But their wolf part of them is always with them, just as their human instinct is when they’re a wolf. Plus, they’re sexy, powerful, and protective of their kind—which made them perfect romance material. They mostly have trouble with other wolf packs, although humans can cause some angst as well. ☺
Where did you get your idea for this particular book?
What are your favorite paranormal research books or sites, and why?
Which character did you like writing about the most, and why? Carol Woods was a fun character because she’s human and I wanted to show how a human who wants to save the heroine from being a werewolf gets into trouble. But she’s not just any human. She has psychic abilities and can foresee future and past events.
Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing?
Just as we as characters evolve from how we deal with issues daily, my characters do also. It’s not that it wouldn’t be fun creating character sheets and all that. But it just doesn’t work for me. I have to set my characters loose, and then see how they deal with conflict, with others, with trying to reach their goals. ☺
How does your research and/or world affect your character development?
Do you have any authors that inspired you?
What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?
What do we have to look forward to next?
Also, Deadly Liaisons, my new vampire romantic suspense from Samhain is due out Mar 31. It just received the Golden Blush Recommended Read from Literary Nymphs, Amazon Nymph! ☺
Thanks, Terry Spear!
To celebrate her book release, Terry Spear is offering a free ebook of Destiny of the Wolf 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...
Award-winning author of urban fantasy and medieval historical romantic suspense, Heart of the Wolf just named in Publishers Weekly's BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR, NOR Reader Choice for BEST PARANORMAL ROMANCE.
Terry Spear also writes true stories for adult and young adult audiences. She’s a retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and has an MBA from Monmouth University and a Bachelors in Business and Distinguished Military Graduate of West Texas A & M. She also creates award-winning teddy bears, Wilde & Woolly Bears, to include personalized bears designed to commemorate authors’ books. When she’s not writing or making bears, she’s teaching online writing courses.
Originally from California, she’s lived in eight states and now resides in the heart of Texas. She is the author of Heart of the Wolf, Destiny of the Wolf, To Tempt the Wolf, Allure of the Wolf, Winning the Highlander’s Heart, Deadly Liaisons, The Vampire…In My Dreams (young adult), Deidre's Secret (young adult), The Accidental Highland Hero (2010) and numerous articles and short stories for magazines.
Check out author’s website at www.terryspear.com
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Check it out. :}
I’d like to thank the devoted readers of my first adventure for giving HOUNDING THE PAVEMENT a great debut month. The book was #8 on the Barnes & Noble mystery list and #26 on the Borders/Waldenbooks list of ALL books sold. Not too shabby for a who-done-it from a first time mystery writer.
Of course, Judi doesn’t consider herself a mystery writer in the true sense of the word. She claims she’s writing about characters who just happen to find themselves in the middle of a mystery. Her goal is to make our readers fall so in love with Sam and Ellie, and ME, that they’ll keep coming back for more… and more…and more.
I tried to tell her the series would be a hit, but did she listen? Nooo-ooo. And now that I’m in doggie heaven, all I can do is channel my positive thoughts and hope that they get through to her. Which brings me to another point.
Have you been watching American Idol? What the heck is going on with the girls this year? The red-head is a ditz, the blondes can’t sing, and Lil? Well, she runs hot or cold. It’s the guys who can sing, but I’m having a hard time deciding who I like best. Danny, or Kris, or that weird guy, Adam, with the
nail polish and eyeliner. I’m gonna keep my eye on all of them and report back to you as they get knocked out each week.
Oh, and one more thing. Judi will be on the road signing HOUNDING THE PAVEMENT in a couple of cities around the country. She’ll be in ..Charlotte.., ..NC.., the first weekend in April, then ..Dallas.. two weeks after that, then ....Orlando.., ..FL.... at the big Romantic Times convention. Stop in and say hello if you’re in the area.
And don’t forget to send her your lawyer jokes (for me) and any ideas you have for plots, especially the ones that will make ME the star. And if you think of a small misfortune to befall the demonic dick, Sam Ryder, let her know. Ellie is head over heels about him, but I’m not so sure he’s the right man for my girl. I know Judi is going to put his toes to the fire in the next book, HEIR OF THE DOG, but he manages to worm his way back into her heart. The putz.
So long for now, and fell free to comment on any or all of this blog. It’s a bitch to write, so you all better be reading it.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
(or the nutty Skhye!)
I'd like to thank Kim Watters for asking me about the "nutty professor" crack I always make about myself. Well, she invited me over to CHEAPER THAN THERAPY to talk about something writing related. Of course, I was exhausted and thought lordy I'll never think of a topic. The 3-yr old was sick all week. I had a writing deadline. I was basically braindead and cringed at the anything-you-want-to-talk-about response. But, low and behold, I can go on and on about the nutty professor persona. Whoa. Hang on. I should say nutty professor STEREOTYPE. Allow me a moment while I meditate and center...
First, I would like to point out that professors don't save the day. This character type drives me bonkers. Most professors know one thing. That's it. The term "specialize" is crucial here. Professors paint themselves into a corner and can't see beyond their tunnel vision looking back the way they've come. I know. I'd like to add that I had many worldly professors who had diverse backgrounds. But none of them reminded me of McGyver. Only on TV can you save the world with nothing more than a piece of fishing line. Okay. Okay. I'll give you the movies too.
After digressing on my soapbox, I think it best to talk about what "nutty" refers to when paired off with professor. Nutty equates to obsession. I love rocks. I love old dead things in rocks, i.e. fossils. I love culture. I love cultures lost to time found in layers of sediment, i.e. extinct like old dead things in rocks but trash in dirt. I love antiques. Those are things that are almost lost to time... I love science. I hate math. (I guess I'd fail the planet if an asteroid headed this way since I'd use the wrong formula to divert the destructive mass.) I never cared much for the human body but loved ecology. Stick a finger under the microscope and I was disinterested in biology class. I have no clue why. Mental blocks are crazy things, eh? Since I'm disinterested in the human body, it's odd that I specialized in osteology in bioarchaeology. But I love... See what I mean? Obsession=passion=love=nutty. I still can't save the planet with what I crammed inside my head studying geology and anthropology. And we're talking about the "cross-genre" hard science and soft science choices of my majors. Geology and Anthropology are eclectic in natural and social sciences. Back to the STEREOTYPE, a honey pot expert probably won't be saving earth any time soon. Aren't stereotypes insane? Lordy, I'm on the soapbox again.
Well, besides my crazy list of things most people could care less about but I love, I guess I should explain how my passion for said things makes my writing unique. I started writing my Time Guardian series with a singular idea: why not write about something considered taboo? Yes, I'm always bucking the system. The anthropologically-inclined often do. So, I chose a secret society, Freemasonry. Next, I decided to make my secret society from the future and strictly male. How does one fit that into the romance genre? Well, all you have to do is give these boys a counterpart sect of females and make them intermarry to safeguard something as important as human history. And why not give the lads kilts and swords? Even better, match them with female Druids. And the big question now would be are all Druids in history from the future? Are you one of them and just don't know it yet? Are you about to learn by encountering your one-and-only soul mate? Yes, soul mates protect the timeline by ensuring you will never be happy with any other soul wherever you fall along Time's vast continuum... Well, that's the fun in writing about a time-travel cult. I get to write about many things I enjoy researching and pontificate through the characters I torture (eh, send) along the time line by exposing them to potential paradox. You know, all known history could change in the blink of an eye if someone didn't uphold time-travel law! And if you break the rules, oh well, your author will torture you... I suppose my passion for thinking beyond the here and now is what makes me a nutty professor. I certainly don't carry fishing line. It's much more fun writing fantasy romance. ;)
In the end, talking about penis gourds http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penis_sheath and medieval pubic wigs http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penis_sheath is not going to save our planet. Mind you, these objects show the vast extents to which humans go to solve problems--something that fascinates me. Never ask an author who has studied anthropology for years to get people chatting! There will inevitably be an inspirational author or editor present who will be floored by the interesting topics one can sling into a chat room. ;) Although I haven't dropped penis gourds or pubic wigs into any of my tales, I've been told I do leave fascinating tidbits for the curious reader. :) Since I'm a horrible pessimist about my writing, I'll stop here and leave you with some of the reviews I've received. ~Skhye
"Arthur is a masterpiece... a fantastic job of world building. Watching him struggle to retain something of his dragon ways while trying to be as human as possible had me laughing and crying. Anyone who likes fantasy worlds and romance mixed with myth and legend
should run right out and pick this one up." Diane Mason; The Romance Studio
"He of the Fiery Sword is an outstanding book with a new twist on King Arthur. From the very first chapter I was hooked. I am an older woman and usually read books by Mary Higgins Clark and her daughter Carol, so this was a very different kind of book for me. The concept of a dragon changing form and all the new feelings and experiences he had was totally thought provoking. I felt his pain and his joy and I laughed and cried right along with him. It was incredible... It was so good I couldn't stop reading. I can't wait for the next book!"
~Carolyn Cole; reader review from bn.com
"Skhye Moncrief's fiction is pithy, yet deep and dark. Complex, yet straight forward. I know those qualities sound at odds, and they are! But these opposing elements are a large part of what makes her fiction unique. She really knows how to throw a curve ball. Skhye
writes a unique brand of fantasy. A lot of the usual element are present: dragons, loads and loads of mythology, faries, and, yes, magic--her brand of magic." ~Tarah Scott
"EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED! I love tony hillerman books and mysteries. A friend recommended 'he of the fiery sword' and i am delighted i ordered it. Don't think it is just another romance. When i settled down with the book, i thought i had the plot figured out within the first few chapters. Well, i was wrong. This story has it all shape-shifters, magic, time travel, celtic legends and myths and the most unusual hero. Just a good read." ~Carole Wright, an avid older reader/review from bn.com
"If you think you have read every possible spin on King Arthur possible, think one more time. He of the Fiery Sword is like none of them. Telling you much more would spoil it, but past and future collide and legends meet in this most ambitious of tales. This is a new legend that is designed for the intelligent and imaginative minds out there." Amanda Killgore
"Ms. Moncrief, you have a clever way with words. You wrote a book that I did not want to see end. I loved your characters and everything about them. I am an older lady, but I love fantasy well created and you sure did it. I have told many of your book and will tell more. I am very well read, from mysteries to Harry Potter and have been for many years. You keep writng and I will keep reading. I am looking forward to your next book. Sincerely, Alice Boling"
~reader review from www.thewildrosepress.com
HE OF THE FIERY SWORD available at http://www.skhyemoncrief.com/Page_5.html
HAUNTED HEARTS contains 2 Time Guardian tales: SACRIFICIAL HEARTS & NAKED ON THE STAIRCASE
"Druids, magic, time travel. They’re all present in NAKED ON THE STAIRCASE. The title of this book intrigued me, but by the time I’d finished reading I understood why the author chose this intriguing title. The entity is a mysterious being whose identity is not solved until the last few pages... Naked on the Staircase is well written with intrigue, mystery, magic and time travel, ingredients that work well in a fantasy novel. The interaction between Aron and Cowboy was excellent and the background of the story was skillfully woven into the book. I enjoyed reading Naked on the Staircase and would like to read more of Skhye Moncrief’s novels." ~Orchid; LASR
"Intense, original, suspenseful, and dramatic... an unpredictable topsy-turvy romance... the suspense builds with every page in SACRIFICIAL HEARTS. In a world where symbols mean everything, magic is the way..." ~Snapdragon; LASR
HAUNTED HEARTS available at http://www.skhyemoncrief.com/Page_5.html
All Skhye's books available in e-format at http://www.thewildrosepress.com/skhye-moncrief-m-232.html
Vow Of Superstition: Dragon's Blood
VOW OF SUPERSTITION: DRAGON'S BLOOD
Skhye's Free Read http://www.thewildrosepress.com/vow-of-superstition-dragons-blood-p-840.html
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
It was the Arizona Beta Sigma Phis 10th anniversay luncheon against domestic abuse. This is a small group of dedicated women and men who primarily raise funds for several domestic violence shelters and to help those who are victims of domestic abuse. Along with a wonderful lunch, they had silent auctions, a jewelry shop and plenty of raffles to raise funds. They also had the Arizona Swing Kids for entertainment, who sang and danced to tunes through the years. The little ones were adorable as they grabbed people from the audience and danced with them.It was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday afternoon and support an important cause, and I highly recommend it.
To find out more about AzBSPADA and the programs they support you can visit: http://www.azbspada.org/And to find out more about the Swing Kids you can visit: http://www.theswingkids.org/(Err, the coordinator just happens to share the same name with a past president:)
Sunday, April 5, 2009
The Neurotic Writer
(Just for laughs)
Suzie Writer enters the office wearing a mauve-colored, floral peasant top with a matching skirt. A collection of heavy, gold necklaces hang at various lengths. Large hoop earrings pull at her lobes.
Therapist: “I see you’re no longer playing Zelda, Queen of the Other Realm. Who are you today, Suzie? Yelda, Queen of the Gypsies?” She quickly places her fingers over her lips, obviously regretting the slip of sarcasm.
Suzie Writer: “Close. Lady Mystic Millicent. My heroine in my paranormal novel, the one dating the werewolf, is a fortuneteller.”
Therapist: “So, you’re getting into character again?”
Suzie Writer: “Correct. I’m also doing research.”
Therapist: “Let me guess. You’re learning to read palms on the Internet and practicing on the werewolf you’re dating. Does his hairy palm pose a problem?”
Suzie Writer: “Been there, done that. It was too cliché. I needed a twist for my novel. Instead of reading palms, I read eyes.”
Suzie Writer: “I read eyes. I even hung a sign outside my door. I had my first client this morning. I’ll show you. Lean close.” She gazes into the therapist’s ocean-blue eyes. “In a past life you liked to swim. You tried to swim the English Channel and drowned. They never found your body. But don’t worry. In this life you have a guardian angel who keeps you from drowning in the English Channel again.”
Therapist: “What?! You can’t read eyes. I’ve never had any reason to go near the Channel.”
Suzie Writer: “See. He’s already doing his job. Besides, I never said I could really read eyes. I said I hung out a sign that said I could.”
Therapist: “You’re deceiving people.”
Suzie Writer: “I’m listening to them tell me their problems and then giving them a shred of hope for the future. Isn’t that what you do, doc?” She winks and then stands. “I’ll bring you a signed copy of my book when it’s released.”
Have a great week,
chosen and requested by various agents who will then give feedback on your work...and it may even lead to possible representation. Hurry, the deadline is April 20, 2009. Winners will be notified by May 1, 2009. For more info, go to
Friday, April 3, 2009
Thanks for having me back, Kim! And I *always* revisit places that serve plentiful chocolate. I'm shameless that way. (You're more than welcome. Thanks for coming back)
I understand you have a new release out called Between a Rock and a Heart Place (Dorchester ~ March 2009). Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?
Hey, if you're going to twist my arm . . .*g*. Sure. This is actually the third book in my series of funny paranormal romances featuring sexy, shape-shifting pucas, unexpected Druids, temperamental faeries, and even a flabbergasted human or two. The first book, PANDORA'S BOX, was released in February 2008, and the second book, THE DRUID MADE ME DO IT, was an August 2008 release. With this third book, BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HEART PLACE (Dorchester Love Spell ~ March 2009), we meet another kind of magical being in my enigmatic hero, Tremayne, a powerful nature spirit. His job is simple and yet enormously complicated. For two thousand years, he silently served as jailer to Riordan, the puca from PANDORA'S BOX; then we met Tremayne and wondered about him in THE DRUID MADE ME DO IT. In BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HEART PLACE, the Druids again call Tremayne into service, this time to keep a watchful -- possibly dangerously so -- eye over my heroine Daphne Forbes.
As an only child of feuding and exiled Druids -- the dethroned king and queen of the weirdo cult, in her opinion -- all Daphne wants is to start a new life far away from them. She wants to work and live among normal people who live in blissful ignorance of the existence of magic-wielding types like Druids, pucas and faeries. At long last, she has that new accounting job, that sleek new apartment, that new and utterly normal life lined up and waiting for her all the way on the other side of the country. Of course, this all blows up in her face. A stray thunk with no ordinary cornerstone and suddenly Daphne's a non-practicing but hereditary Druid wielding puca powers and trying to suppress a lifetime's worth of rage. The Druids won't let her leave town now that she's wielding undisciplined shape-shifting and mind-control powers -- a virtual powder keg just waiting for a stray spark to incite flaming chaos. That brings us to Tremayne. He's charged with helping Daphne learn how to control her powers or, failing that, *destroying* her in order to protect everyone else. This could prove difficult since he's been fascinated with Daphne for months now. Makes for a bit of a rocky romance, I guess you could say.
Sounds like it. You said Between a Rock and a Heart Place is actually the third book in a series. How are these books connected?
Although many of the same characters show up in each book and they all share the same story world, there's a different romantic couple and different conflict for each story. We're talking magical beings secretly walking among humans in the contemporary real world of Richmond, Virginia. Each book stands alone, but I'm told the experience is richer if you read them in order.
Why did you write a series and what are some of the challenges of writing books in a series?
Why? Heh. That's a good question. I honestly didn't know I was writing a series until I finished the first book on a perfect hook to start another book. It's addictive, too, I swear. When you create a world and fall in love with it, you like to stick around and explore it for a while, elaborate on it, and maybe rock it every once in a while*g*. Challenges? Oh, it's very easy to write yourself in a corner with these books if, like me, you hate to plot everything out in advance. Once that first book is printed, then you've already placed limitations on the next book. Character histories, timelines, relationships. You have to maintain consistency in the next book, and it, too, will elaborate on those same histories and timelines and relationships, which limits your options further with any subsequent book. Specific to the paranormal subgenre, I've learned not to use absolutes when defining magical laws. I never know when I might need to get around a law I've created, so I leave the means for a loophole later if I need it. That's not terribly difficult; a world based only on absolutes would be too simple to be believable. Our real world is full of loopholes and exceptions. It makes sense to me that any world I create should also be riddled with them.
Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?
Oh, man, that's tough. Obviously, I love all my characters or I wouldn't write about them. I admit I find it easy to identify with Daphne's story arc -- was rooting for her even before I started writing the story -- and it was a lot of fun watching her learn how to wield unfamiliar magic and grow into her own power. Still, if I had to pick just one character from this book, I guess I'd have to go with Tremayne, my hero. He really broke my heart in this story. He's so strong -- his powers so intimidating -- and yet he can be so vulnerable. He's a magical being who's lived in impossible conditions for thousands of years but now he's facing the challenge of his vast lifetime. He's learning to be human and learning what it means to love and be loved. His approach to these is so painfully direct and honest . . . and then he's willing to give up everything he's gained, purely out of this new and wonderful love for Daphne. The guy's internal growth is enormous. I think he really earns his happy ending.
What was the hardest part about writing this book?
That's actually a complicated question*g*. You see, the hardest part about writing this book was also the easiest part. The ending. I had a completely different ending in mind when I first sketched up my synopsis for Between a Rock and a Heart Place, but when I sat down to actually write the story and worked my way to that last chapter or two . . . well, a radically different ending sort of wrote itself in a heated rush. It was an ether-to-fingertip-to-screen process -- seeming to bypass the brain (and internal editor) entirely. The ending was a risk for me but was so natural, the progression so organic, that for me, the story couldn't have concluded any other way. Clues and details setting up the ending were already planted early in the story -- just the subconscious doing my work for me, I guess. The hard part, I think, was convincing myself to have confidence in that ending. I sent it to my editor and immediately panicked*g*. Guess it was okay, though, since nobody asked me to change it. I love it now.
What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?
Honestly? I blog and try to maintain an online presence with my website and Myspace and Facebook, but I don't know if any promotion I do has any direct effect on sales. I do believe, however, that each book I write helps to sell more copies of its predecessor. So, in a nutshell: writing another book.
I have a hard time discussing projects while I'm working on them, but I will say that I'm still strongly drawn to paranormals and have some fun contemporary romance projects that are intriguing me at the moment.
To celebrate her book release, Natale is offering a free book to one lucky commenter on today's blog. The winner can choose one of the two prequels to Between a Rock and a Heart Place: either Pandora's Box or The Druid Made Me Do It. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...
An avid reader and an incurable writer, Natale Stenzel has sold seven books for publication so far. The latest three are a series of funny paranormal romances published by Dorchester Love Spell. PANDORA'S BOX, the first book in the series, was released in February 2008; THE DRUID MADE ME DO IT was an August 2008 release; and a third book, BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HEART PLACE, a March 2009 release, is on bookstore shelves now. Prior to the paranormal romance series, she wrote four books for Harlequin's now defunct Flipside line of romantic comedies.
Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Natale earned degrees in English literature and magazine journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. Currently, she resides in Richmond, Virginia, with a husband, two kids and a shamefully spoiled hound.
Check out author’s website at www.NataleStenzel.com.
Barnes & Noble: http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Between-a-Rock-and-a-Heart-Place/Natale-Stenzel/e/9780505527837/?itm=1
Thursday, April 2, 2009
A good book preview runs for approximately one minute. If you have something two minutes or longer, you have a good chance of losing your audience. As authors we know just how important words are and nothing changes when it comes to a book preview. Actually, they’re even more important because you have less than a minute to catch a potential customer’s interest. Make sure your audience can also read the text with ease. We sometimes forget just how fast we read as writers.
The best trailers have a mixture of different visuals. Special effects, live action shots, voiceovers and still images can all add to a powerful book preview, and it doesn’t have to cost an excessive amount of money. Sometimes a simple, tasteful trailer can be even more effective than an expensive, detailed and highly technical one. One picture can have numerous scenarios imprinted into a person’s mind. They are visual works of art.
Attracting a younger audience.
Attracting a different audience.
With the right trailer, a buzz can start before your book is even out.
Generates more traffic to your web site.
A bad trailer can detract and lose sales.
The cost of investing in a trailer.
The time involved in doing it yourself.
I’d played around with doing trailers for a while with my own books, but then when author, Linda Andrews, asked if I would do two for her books, A Knight’s Tale and Dancing in the Kitchen, I decided to become serious about learning how to put a trailer together. After all, this wasn’t for me but someone who was counting on my ability to promote her work. I quickly found out how thoroughly enjoyable and hard they are to make and that like a full-length story, trailers have to have an emotional hook. With the right trailer, they’re a wonderful tool to promote your book. But unlike a two hour movie, a person doesn’t have time for a whole lot of pop corn to watch a book preview!
Can a book preview generate more sales for an author? The statistics aren’t out yet, but when you watch a movie trailer that moves you, makes you smile or makes you become deeply emotional in a matter of seconds, are you more likely to watch that movie?
I know I am.
I thought I’d share my latest book preview for Addiction written under my pen name of Lynne Logan.
For more information on Bella Entertainment, you can visit our web site.
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
4/5 to 5/2
Most novelists figure dialogue is the easy part of writing. After all, we know how to talk, don't we? But flat dialogue can be worse than flat narrative. In WRITING ENGAGING DIALOGUE we'll learn, among other things, how dialogue moves the story, how to keep characters from all sounding alike, how to move smoothly from dialogue to narrative, and how to make ordinary dialogue jump off the page. Topics include:
* Using dialogue to move the plot
* How he thinks is how he speaks
* Techniques for making dialogue snap
* Getting narrative in edgewise
Questions? Email Connie: email@example.com.
Rejection proof your manuscript by creating memorable characters that stay with readers long after they've closed the last page. This is what every author strives to do, but of all the novels out there, very few actually succeed in the way we'd like them to. Creating memorable characters isn't simply a matter of giving your hero and heroine interesting traits that make them unique, or giving them flaws that make them human. That's only the beginning. There's so much more to it, and that's what you'll learn in DEEPENING CHARACTER. You'll learn how to find your character's "vital force," the art of "transformation" and how it works with his character arc. Learn what you can do to make your characters memorable and your manuscript rejection proof.
* Vital Force
* Character Arc
* Dynamic Conflict
Questions? Email Linda: firstname.lastname@example.org
Check us out and enroll on our website. Again, the start date is April 5. http://bootcampfornovelists.com/