Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Envelope, Please…

By Amber Scott

More and more, we novelists are competing for our audience. Video games aren’t just for kids anymore and with 3D technology, films promise quite an experience. With no special effects, no stuntmen, how can we get a creative edge? I say we level the playing field by learning from the competition.

While we novelists have a lot in common with the other breed, like in relying on the hero’s journey for pacing, the screenwriting game follows certain rules and techniques that are proven to help a film succeed from the start, no matter what the budget.

What movie is this line from? “Inconceivable!”

A screenwriter has limited present tense action and dialogue to create an entire story. So every spoken word becomes crucial. And, memorable. Dialogue “prods your plot” (Robert W. Walker, Dead On Writing.) How can we make our characters dialogue more memorable? First, read every page and ask, what parts can I turn into dialogue rather than narration, or, if this were a film scene, what would they be saying to show the audience this? Second, read your dialogue out loud, or better yet, have a non-writer read it, and without the character tags of “he said” or “she said”. Do your characters have distinguishable ways of speaking? Third, in Hollywood, it’s best to be “off the nose”. This means say it without saying it directly, or not “on the nose”. Hemingway was brilliant at this. What are your characters telling us by not spelling it out? What can be inferred instead?

Whose signature props are a dusty hat, and a whip?

On film costume and set props are part of the story more than ever. They tell us who our hero is. They give actors something to do besides speak and help create activity. Things help define character and conflict. Think of the moments Indie is toying with his dusty hat, showing us his nerves aren’t so steely after all. He can’t leave it behind and we learn who he is through his relationship with his hat. In books, we think of these as symbols but doing so might complicate our perception a bit. We humans need things, we cherish our objects. How we dress, what car we drive, represent who we want to be seen as. Do any of your characters have a signature item that can show your reader who they are? What physical things do they value? What would they hate to leave behind?
If I told you aliens landed in the middle of Hogwart’s for a hostile takeover, would you believe it? Why not?
The late Blake Snyder, in his Save The Cat! series, elucidates a few noteworthy screenwriting don’ts we novelists can learn from, too.

Here are two:

Double Mumbo Jumbo: Why doesn’t an amnesia stricken time traveler in need of a lone, vampire-hunting werewolf’s help, but who’s forced by her soul guide into it, work? Too many magical elements. Aliens won’t work at Hogwart’s. A psychic medium cannot save Sigourney Weaver from the Alien. The Fifth Element has nothing to do with Druids. Our readers know these limits to magic and don’t like them being bent too far.
Too Much Marzipan: This is code for too many elements, but unlike Double Mumbo Jumbo, it doesn’t have to do with magic. Blake Snyder calls this ‘The Black Vet’ and uses a 70’s Albert Brooks SNL skit as an example. He’s black, he’s a veterinarian and he’s a Vietnam vet. It’s funny when spoofed. Sometimes in our aim to hit high concept, we reach too high. Low concept is just as popular as high concept in Hollywood and in bookstores.

Focus on the story, not on a secret never been done before formula sure to sell.

Overall, the biggest screenwriting lesson that consistently improves the pace, conflict and characterization in my manuscripts boils down to this: When the writing gods bless me and this book is optioned for the big screen, how will my scenes translate onto film? What will be changed? Cut?

And…why? Why not push that envelope now?


Amber Scott began writing genre romance and screenplays during her infant son’s naptimes. She has a B.A. in English (Creative Writing) from the University of Nevada, Reno. She’s a member of the Desert Rose RWA chapter in Phoenix, AZ and a staff contributor (‘First Mate’) with 1st Turning A mother of two little ones, and far from a domestic goddess, she lives vicariously through her characters’ fates, loves and complications.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

FOR WRITERS: Should you market to readers online?

Bookselling By the Numbers

A Publishers Weekly article looked at the breakdown of bookselling and the influence an online campaign might have on sales. Consider this:

Their research cites that online marketing is especially important to fiction titles. According to this study, 21% of book buyers said they learned of books they wanted to buy from online promotion. This vs. 13% who learned of these titles through other means (i.e. reviews, etc.) .
And to the importance of an author's platform: a whopping 28% of readers said they chose a book because of the author, while only 9% of readers bought because of subject.

(Publishers Weekly, July 20, 2009)

Reprinted from "The Book Marketing Expert newsletter," a free ezine offering book promotion and publicity tips and techniques.

Monday, March 29, 2010

And the winner is......

Congratulations Linda A. You're the winner of Mae's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) (no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pavlov Helps Writers

Writing Pavlov Style

Many writers will admit this is not an easy business. When the words flow and the book practically leaps from our fingers onto the computer, writing is exciting. Many times we edit our work and think, “Wow! Did I really write that?” I love laughing at my own jokes. But….there are days when the words don’t flow. When writing is tough work. The muse has taken a vacation without letting us know when she is coming back. When those days roll around, we look for tricks to help us sit down and type.

I recently read an inspiring blog post from a writer I have known for years now, Cassie Ryan. She shared her tricks for writing when the muse is away.

What caught my attention was using behavior modification and she referred to Pavlov’s work. It was basically a simple, yet effective experiment. The researcher rang a bell every time a dog was fed. Soon the dog drooled every time he heard a bell regardless of whether or not he saw food.
This is how Cassie tied it into writing:

“2. Use Pavlov’s Dogs Phenomenon to your advantage.
We all remember the story of Pavlov’s dogs, we need to use that same idea to train ourselves. Get yourself in a routine that’s flexible and yet familiar. My usual writing spot is a squishy chair at Starbucks with a hot Chai next to me, my headphones in and movie soundtracks (with no words) playing softly while I write. With this combination of events, I can easily fall back into my story and tune out the world. So what happens when all the squishy chairs are taken, or I can’t make it to Starbucks for some reason (or I’m sick of it because I just finished a gazillion hour shift there?) I use the same scenario, but flex it a bit. I’ve found that as long as I’m somewhere comfy (booth at the Barnes & café, my recliner in my living room, a booth at a restaurant, my back porch) I can still have a drink of my choice next to me, my laptop on my lap, my headphones in and my movie soundtracks playing in the background. That means I can begin salivating…er….writing, nearly anywhere. Find your own “Pavlov’s phenomenon” and put it to work for you.”

I once heard author Susan Mallory suggest you use a scent to help by taking in a specific aroma every time the writing is going well. She said you could later use the aroma to help your mind think that it was time to write just by smelling it.
My blogging partner, Kim Watters, would wake up early every morning to write. Many writers sit down and type at the same time every day. Their mind begins to think, “It’s five o’clock – time to write.”

Today I spent some time figuring out the best system for me. I know I have to have coffee. The caffeine gives me the jolt I need to get started. If I’m tired I’ll need Starbucks. Other than that, I am still narrowing down what works best for me. I tried writing at Starbucks and I get a good start, but inevitably someone will start talking too loud. I found working on my back porch is relaxing and that works well. The trick is going to keeping it up during the summer since I live in Arizona and our summers are often hotter than 110 degrees. After Susan’s suggestion of using an aroma, I decided to place peppermint oil beneath my nose whenever I start writing. I’ll let you know how that works for me in a follow up post.

Do you need to narrow down your best conditions for writing first? Or can you create the circumstances that will work by always writing under a set of conditions you decide will become your habit? Not sure, I guess we’ll find out. I’ll let you know what happened next week.

I am very interesting in what works for you. Please share your secrets in the comments section.
Until next week,
Happy Writing,
Tina LaVon

Friday, March 26, 2010

Interview with Mae Nunn

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Mae Nunn. 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 Her Forever Family. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

This is the second (A Texas Ranger's Family was the first) in a three book series about siblings separated very young by family tragedy and then lost from one another in the foster care network. Alison, a child psychologist and volunteer rescue worker, is the oldest of the three siblings. She’s spent her life studying family dysfunction so she can help children with backgrounds similar to hers. Alison is the force behind reuniting with her sister and brother.

Her Forever Family is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

As with any child from a broken home, Alison longs to restore her family and keep them together forever.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I feel called by the Holy Spirit to write in the Christian fiction genre. My goal is to give readers an engaging and relevant story that reinforces their Christian worldview. In addition to being entertaining I want each story to remind readers that God is sovereign, loving and forgiving.

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

Although I always begin the process with a 10-12 page synopsis, I’m a pantser for the most part. The synopsis gives me a twenty thousand foot roadmap through the story, but each day I’m free to change course if my characters surprise me and take off in an unexpected direction. I admire writers who plot to the nth degree, but that skill is foreign to me even though I’ve tried on several occasions to add it to my toolbox. Each author has to use a method that works for his or her own creative style and natural ability, so don’t feel like you’re process is wrong just because it’s different.

Being a pantser allowed me to be flexible during the writing of this book. I added characters and plot twists I hadn’t planned originally. As a result the story is more complete and will give the reader a greater feeling of satisfaction when they reach the last page.

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

This book opens with a long line rescue in Big Bend National Park out in West Texas. Alison is dangling from the bottom of a helicopter, about to be lowered into a canyon where the hero’s autistic son is trapped. I was blessed to have the personal guidance of a friend in Arizona who performs these missions in the Grand Canyon. She described her role in the rescue and I filled in the questions that I had during the writing, as I always do, with Google. That’s my favorite Internet tool for locating information, photos and contacts.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

From the best source of all… Real Life. As I said, I had a friend and co-worker in Arizona who volunteered with Grand Canyon Rescue. Her stories intrigued and prompted me to write a heroine with the same amazing courage in the face of such dangerous situations. Alison is a survivor in many ways and she passes that on to her patients, kids suffering from mental illness and abuse who have lost their ability to trust. Another dear friend shared with me the difficult life of her teenager who struggles day to day with obsessive-compulsive behavior and social anxiety disorders

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

While I loved my heroine (Alison) and hero (Ben, a former Dallas Cowboy!) I especially enjoyed writing the hero’s son, Ethan. I researched the form of autism known as Aspergers Syndrome for this story. What I learned allowed me to get inside Ethan’s narrow way of looking at the world and see things from his short-circuited perspective. Though I never used his point of view, I was careful through dialogue and actions to show Ethan’s internal struggles with the external world.

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?

A lot of my pre-work for a book is done in my head as I consider the personality and back story of the characters. Each synopsis starts with a paragraph or two about the main characters and then more is revealed as the synopsis unfolds. But the real character development happens as the story is written. I don’t know my characters really well until I’m over half way through the book. When the book is finished I go back and edit in whatever continuity is necessary in dialogue, behavior and emotions to make the character consistent throughout the novel. Research can definitely impact the character development if I learn something in the course of writing that changes the character’s motivation. Again, the freedom of flexibility is one of the neat things about being a pantser.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Too many to mention, but most of them are my writing contemporaries and personal friends. I confess I have never been a big fan of the classics, preferring Jackie Collins to Louisa May Alcott! Yeah, I know, that’s not the genre my writing gravitated toward but it’s the way my love of reading developed in my college years. These days I try to read my author friends for fun (and to support them!) and I read subject matter experts to add depth and credibility to my novels.

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

I believe a website is the one promotional effort every writer needs to make. A reader wants to know something about you, see your photo and be able to reach out with a comment or question. A website connects you to a reader much more than a bookmark or postcard and allows them to feel a personal touch from their favorite author.

What do we have to look forward next?

The final book in this series, A Season for Family, will be out in November 2010. Heath Stone is an undercover cop investigating Olivia Wyatt who is suspected of running drugs through her homeless shelter in Waco, Texas. I hope you’ll enjoy meeting Erin, Alison and Heath as much as I enjoyed creating and ultimately reuniting their family.

Thanks, Mae!

To celebrate her book release, Mae is offering free personalized copies of A Texas Ranger’s Family as well as Her Forever Family to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see who won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Check out author’s website at


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Body Language & Emotion On-Line Class

April 12-23, 2010
MASTER CLASS: "Body Language & Emotion"
by Mary Buckham
$55 at

Prerequisite: Must have a manuscript you're actively working on

If you think you have a good handle on the intentional body language your characters use on the page but want to create more depth, greater subtext, clearer messages for your readers, then consider EMOTIONAL BODY LANGUAGE...a look at nuances that can make all the difference between so-so characterization and great characterization. Along with some of the subtle, but oh so fun differences between the body language of men and that of women, you’ll learn:

* The differences between aggressive and defensive body language
* Dominant and Submissive body signals
* Negative body messages
* Open, closed or relaxed positions
* Attentive and Power body language
* Leadership body messages
* Reading deception through body language
* Non-verbal greetings

Mary Buckham is co-author of BREAK INTO FICTION: 11 Steps to Building a Story That Sells and an award-winning Romantic Suspense author. She has hundreds of free-lance articles to her credit, a non-fiction book and is a former Magazine Editor. Currently she is a national writing-workshop presenter, both online and at conferences and wherever writers meet around the country. Mary encourages you to visit her website at for more information about her and her current writing projects.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Writing For Magazines On-line Class

April 5-30, 2010
"Writing For Magazines"
by Julie Rowe
$30 at

Interested in writing for magazines? Learn the process of creating an article, from coming up with an idea to how to sell that idea to a magazine and write your finished piece. This class will tear apart real examples of successful queries and their subsequent published articles see what worked, and what didn't work, and why. Topics include:

* Why fiction writers should also write for magazines
* Choosing the right magazine and editor to query
* Topics, research, angles, titles and hooks
* The knock-out magazine query letter
* How to get quotes & statistics and fact check
* Writing the article; sidebars and photography
* Word count, deadlines, contracts and invoicing
* Creating a portfolio and finding your niche

Julie Rowe has been freelancing for magazines for over five years. She's an enthusiastic instructor who enjoys lively discussion and encourages questions. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines such as Today's Parent magazine, Reader's Digest (Canada), The Canadian Writer's Journal, Writer's Digest, Canadian Living, What's Up Kids Magazine, the Romance Writer's Report and various RWA chapter newsletters.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Chocolate diamonds...

What two words are a perfect combination for the romance reader? Chocolate. And diamonds. So to launch the first book in my new series, THE ELVEN LORDS, I will be having three contests that feature chocolate diamond jewelry. (See for a photo and description of this sparkling prize.)

This first contest is all about spreading the word about the first book in the new series, THE FIRE LORD’S LOVER. To enter, just post the following blurb anywhere on the Internet (Chatrooms, Forums, Blogs, Myspace, Twitter, etc. Err, no inappropriate sites, please. And the exact blurb cannot already be mentioned on that site. (If you don't own the site, please verify that it's okay with the site owner to post the blurb).



A darkly delicious new fantasy world of sizzling romance amid the pageantry of Georgian England.Please visit:

Email the URL link to: with TFLL1 CONTEST in the subject line.

A winner will be randomly chosen from those with a verifiable link. Entering the contest automatically signs you up for the author's newsletter. Your information will be kept confidential. Contest ends April 30, 2010. Void where prohibited by law. You must be 18 years or older to enter. No prize substitution permitted. Odds of winning are determined by number of entrants. This contest is subject to all federal, state and local laws and regulations.

Monday, March 22, 2010

And the winner is...........

And the winner is..........congratulations to everyone. Adelle wants to give each commenter an e-copyof Iron Horse Rider One. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) (no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

One More Chance to Register

A few openings still remain! Don't miss the opportunity!
Register today!

April 16 - 17 - 18, 2010
Chaparral Suites Resort - Scottsdale, AZ
Full conference: $228 RWA members - $248 non members
Brad Schreiber Sunday seminar only: $75.00
Hotel rooms: $169 (two beds and sofa suites can hold four people)
Information and registration:

If you hurry, you can still register for the full conference, although we just
passed the deadline. There is no refund on late registrations, however, and
since Editors and Agents appointments are on a first come first serve basis,
there are no guarantees of getting your choice. You can read interviews of our
speakers, agents and editors on the conference blog at:

If you have any interest in opening new horizons for your writing career, we
have spaces left for the special seminar on Sunday morning, April 18, 2010, 9:30
am to 11:30 am ($75) 'YOUR WRITER'S JOURNEY" by Brad Schreiber, VP of Storytech
Literary Consulting, part of Christopher Vogler's "Writer's Journey." Brad
Schreiber's time at the Desert Rose conference will be an amalgam of lecture,
anecdotes, writing exercises and questions and answers, including a discussion
of the structure of the Writer’s Journey model and its application to the
pursuit of writing as a profession.

Spread the word to your friends.
Looking forward to seeing many of you in Scottsdale in April.

Vijaya Schartz, Desert Dreams Conference Publicity
Desert rose chapter -

Award-winning Sci-Fi & Romance with a Kick

Friday, March 19, 2010

Interview with Adelle Laudan

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Adelle Laudan. 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.

Thanks for having me. Did someone say free chocolate? When can I move in? (certainly! How about tomorrow.)

I understand you have a new release out called Iron Horse Rider Series Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new series?

I’d love to. Iron Horse Rider Series is about a guy named Shane and his healing journey after his wife of ten years is killed in a motorcycle accident. Heartbroken, he flees to the mountains in Nova Scotia.

In the mountains, he happens upon a native Micmac camp, and this is where the story really begins. Shane is introduced to many new things on his journey; Micmac Indians and their ways, ghosts, belly dancers, fire breathers, and the possibility of loving again.

All through the three books he is faced with many confrontations with his adversary, Raven. Raven is one of the Micmac who is a cold and callous man, and very threatened by Shane’s presence.

Iron Horse Rider is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Native Americans used the term ‘Iron Horse’ first. Their mode of transportation at the time was a horse. So when they first set eyes on a motorcycle, they called it an Iron Horse.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

It comes from the old saying amongst writers to ‘write what you know’. I’ve lived the biker lifestyle since leaving home at the tender age of 15. Like my Grandpa once said in reference to my taste in men, many moons ago. “If he isn’t wearing Harley Davidson underwear, she’s not interested.” lol

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

Up until I wrote this series, I was definitely a pantser. When I was approached to write the first book I was asked to write a chapter outline before I started writing. This in itself was a challenge, and definitely a learning experience. Since I was asked to write this book within a certain time frame, I signed up for NaNoWriMo- and rose to the challenge of completing 50,000 words in one month.

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

I did a ton of research for this series. I tend to get caught up in my research for anything I write, often to the extent of forcing myself to stop and get writing. Google search is my best friend, as are travel sites.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

Actually, I was approached out of the blue by a Publisher and asked if I’d be interested in writing something that would fall under the genre of Biker Fiction. I jumped at the opportunity!

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

Shane. I love writing from the male POV. Its fun to get in their heads to figure out how they feel, how they’d react to situations, etc Shane is an old school biker who is a truly genuine guy, no pretenses, no facades. I like those characteristics in people.

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 usually have a pretty good sense of who my characters are and how they look before I start. Quite often I fashion my characters from people I know. In some cases they might share certain qualities from several people. My characters evolve as my story progresses.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

I’d have to say, all of them. As a kid I had very strict guidelines as to what I could read. When I discovered the library, I found a little piece of heaven where I could sit for hours and read anything I wanted to. If I found an author I liked, I started at the first book in their section and kept going until I read the last.

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

For this series I think being involved in ‘biker events’ and doing book signings at different charity events.

What do we have to look forward next?

Good question. I’ve worked nonstop at getting Iron Horse Rider 3 ready for print. So, I think I’ll write a couple of shorter stories for ebooks. I have a few projects started for longer books, but I’m not sure which way I want to go next. I guess you’ll just have to visit my website often to keep up to date on what to expect next.

Thanks, Adelle!

Again, thanks so much for having me. I will check in several times today to answer any questions. I might even surprise a couple of readers with a surprise gift just for participating.

To celebrate her book release, Adelle is offering a free copy of Iron Horse Rider One to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see who won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Check out author’s website at where you will find BUY links to all of her books. Be sure to sign up for her quarterly newsletter as she’s always giving away something. She also gives away a free signed copy of any new releases she has to one lucky subscriber.

Visit me at:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Keys to Publication

By Pam Jenoff

People often ask me what has enabled me to succeed as a published writer. I don’t know -- luck, perhaps, and being surrounded personally and professionally by many talented and supportive people. But if I try to boil it down to factors I can actually control, I would say discipline, tenacity and the ability to revise.

Notice that none of these is talent. When I decided to pursue a writing career in earnest in the wake of 9/11, I took an evening course at a local university called “Write Your Novel This Year” with about two dozen other people. That course spun off into a small writers’ workshop of six or seven – the students varied over the years – who would critique each others work. I stayed with the group for well over five years and in that time I saw the work of many other writers, and a number of them considerably more talented than me. This is not false modesty; this is true. There was in particular one eccentric sixty-something man who used to carry a Curious George doll in his backpack who penned some the most beautiful imagery I have ever read. There were also writers of mystery, science fiction and children’s books whose work has stayed with me over the years. When I think of them I feel wholly undeserving of all of the riches of my writing career.

But, candidly speaking, the fact is that I am published and they are not. So what has made the difference? First, you must have discipline. When I started writing I had to do it from five to seven in the morning while working a busy day job as a junior associate at a large law firm. It was very difficult and I forced myself to give up lots of outside activities and social commitments so I could go to bed and get up early every day. I’d like to tell you that it has gotten easier – but I still have a day job and a baby on top of writing it is still just as hard as ever to keep that time. The difference is that now I have deadlines that get me to the computer no matter how tired or busy I am whereas back then it had to be self driven. You must make the time.

The second important factor I believe is tenacity. For along time it looked as though my first book wasn’t going to sell and my agent told me to go write another. It is the very hardest thing for an aspiring author to hear, whether being told to go back and make major edits to your manuscript or to start on a new one entirely, after you have put in so much work. But my attitude was “If not this one, then the next.” I was just going to keep banging on the door of publication until it gave and someone let me in. I think giving up is the single biggest reason some authors don’t make it – if you stay in the game you have a chance and if you quit you don’t have a chance at all.

Third, I think that, technically speaking, the single biggest difference is the ability to make revisions. If you are lucky enough to get feedback on your work, it often comes in the form of a problem (e.g., not enough tension in the third arc) rather than a solution. You must be able to take other people’s feedback and incorporate it in your work without losing the heart of what you are trying to do. As a junior associate at a law firm I was continually doing that on my briefs, which greatly helped. And you have to be open to that feedback. I once had a friend with a brilliant novel but the manuscript was 400,000 words – about four times the length of an acceptable novel -- and it wasn’t until she was ready to make the hard changes that publication came about.

The formula is probably different for everyone. But for me it has always been about tenacity, discipline and the ability to revise. And people who believe in you. And luck!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Fire Lord's Lover...

is now up on my website! I have to say that the summary that Sourcebooks wrote for the book is frankly amazing. The stories and worlds I create always seem so...big, and to sum it up in two paragraphs with all the right power words is an incredible talent. How do you introduce a book that is set in the Georgian era, in a magical new world created by an invasion of elven warlords from another realm, with a sexy love story between a half-elven bastard and his assassin bride? I think they managed to do it stupendously, and if you want to see for yourself, kindly take a peek at:

Monday, March 15, 2010

And the winner is......

Congratulations Queen. You're the winner of Dara's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21( at) (no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Last Chance to Register!

Hurry!! Don't miss this opportunity!! March 17th is your last chance to register for the Desert Dreams Writer's Conference - one of the best in the nation!

Come See Writers' Workshops

Presented By

Diana Gabaldon!

Robin Lee Hatcher!

Linda Lael Miller!

Sharon Sala!

Vicki Lewis Thompson,

and many more!!!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Interview with Dara Girard

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Dara Girard. 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 WORDS OF SEDUCTION. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

The back cover blurb says it best:

From housewife to hot novelist...her real life is igniting more sparks than her stories!

When it comes to disastrous relationships, Suzanne Rand wrote the book. The frumpy-housewife-turned-superstar-author has come home to North Carolina to sell the family house—then hightail it back out of town.

But there’s an unfinished chapter in her life: bad-boy-turned-successful-businessman Rick Gordon. Suzanne’s been burned before and can’t let the roving playboy play fast and loose with her heart again...even if he is the sexiest thing on two legs. And once passion reignites in Rick’s arms, she has no idea where this story’s going...

Rick could write the book on how not to get hooked. But he’s never forgotten Suzanne, and now’s his chance to pick up where they left off. That’s why he’s plotting a course of seduction she’ll never be able to resist. But will their rekindled passion lead to love...and the happy ending they both crave?

WORDS OF SEDUCTION is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

The credit has to go to my editor. When I proposed the book it was called “Suzanne’s Seduction.” Fortunately, I’m used to titles changing (my January 2009 release Body Chemistry was originally “Body Talk” and my October 2008 release “Sheer Pleasure” became A Gentleman’s Offer).

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I was inspired by the novel Peyton Place. I was intrigued by its premise of scandal in a small town and a woman coming home to face it. I also liked the thought of secrets and my two main characters, Suzanne and Rick, have layers of them, which I hope readers will enjoy seeing revealed.

What’s your writing routine?

I don’t really have one. I admire those writers who are remarkably disciplined and write at the same time every day and have a word count or page quota. Although I treat my writing career as a business, I have a more flexible routine. The mornings and evenings are my best times for writing so I leave the middle of the day for more mundane activities such as copyedits, reading my email, paying bills etc…

What comes to you first? Character or plot? How did it affect the writing of this book?

Usually the character comes to me and basically says ‘Have I got a story for you!’ and I immediately jot down whatever pops up in my mind at that point. That doesn’t mean I do free-writing the entire time, but initially my work isn’t very structured. I’ll get a sense of the character arc and write towards fulfilling it. In WORDS OF SEDUCTION I knew that Suzanne had to learn to trust again and developed scenes so that the reader could see that growth. Also, using the title as my base, I tried to show the power of words--how they can hurt and heal.

What about writing do you find difficult?

I have never found writing difficult. It’s re-writing that I find difficult at times. Having to attend to detail, expand on an idea that I thought I’d made clear, or having to remove a scene that isn’t pertinent. But the initial creative rush is always a thrill for me.

You presently write category fiction, but started off writing single title romance. Do you prefer one over the other?

No, I have fun writing both. To me they’re like art, but one is a charcoal sketch while the other is an oil painting. One needs a big canvas, the other a smaller one. With my category work I’ve been lucky to have an editor who allows me to deal with deep themes--betrayal, abuse and suicide--so I don’t feel that my creativity is being hampered.

Do you work with a critique group? Why or why not?

No. I’ve always had one Ideal Reader who sees my rough drafts and this reader is the only one to see my completed manuscript before I send it to my editor.

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

It’s been a cumulative effort consisting of things done both online and off. I work with a brand and marketing specialist who has provided me with ‘measurable results’. However, I strongly believe that the best promo an author can truly focus on is the work. I like what Mickey Spillane said, “The first page sells that book; the last page sells your next book.” I always hope that those who enjoyed my last book will be eager to buy my next book.

What do we have to look forward next?

WORDS OF SEDUCTION is the first book in a trilogy about three novelists who learn that desire goes beyond the page. The second book in the series, PAGES OF PASSION, will be released October 26th 2010. It’s a story about a cynical romance novelist whose life changes when she meets a real life hero.

Thanks, Dara!

To celebrate her book release, Dara is offering a free book of WORDS OF SEDUCTION to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see who won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Bio. Dara Girard is an award-winning author of thirteen novels that feature strong heroines, sexy heroes, family dramas and romance. Her writing has been praised for its deft plot twists, witty dialogue and humor.

Check out author’s website at Buy

Thursday, March 11, 2010

2010 Desert Dreams Conference

SCOTTSDALE, AZ, February, 21, 2010 – Do you dream of becoming a published author or hitting the New York Times best-seller list? Turn your dreams into reality at the 2010 Desert Dreams writing conference, scheduled for April 16-18, 2010 in Scottsdale.

Hosted by the Phoenix Desert Rose Chapter of the Romance Writers of America, this nationally recognized conference features three days of writing workshops, networking opportunities for published and aspiring authors, one-on-one appointments with acquiring editors and agents and an offer to participate in our book signing event Saturday evening.

“We’ve added a bit more to this conference than in years past,” says Cathryn Lombardo, 2010 Desert Dreams Chair. “We now offer extra editor/agent appointments, a 10-minute critique by Keynote Speaker, Brad Schreiber and service tables featuring a photographer/image builder, a publicist and in our Hospitality Suite relaxing chair massages and a fabulous Tarot reader. Even though our conference is romance related, the craft and career workshops are geared for anyone who writes.”

Keynoting this year’s conference are best-selling author and RWA Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Linda Lael Miller who will inspire conference goers with her anecdotes, and Brad Schreiber, Vice President of StoryTech, the organization working with Christopher Vogler who wrote The Writer's Journey.

Other award-winning authors giving workshops and signing books include Diana Gabaldon, Robin Lee Hatcher, Sharon Sala, Toni McGee Causey, Vicki Lewis Thompson, Carla Neggers and many more.

Desert Rose has gathered a dozen industry professionals actively acquiring manuscripts, including editors from Harlequin, Berkley, Tor, Kensington, Sapphire Blue Publishing, Samhain Publishing, and Sourcebooks. Appointments will also be available with agents seeking romance, women’s fiction, paranormal, suspense, mysteries, inspirational, erotica, young adult, and other areas of fiction and non-fiction.

The conference takes place at the Chaparral Suite, 5001 N. Scottsdale Rd., Scottsdale. Registration deadline is March 17, 2010. For additional information, see the Desert Rose website at

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Coincidence Happens

Rebecca Sinclair

The only difference between fiction and the truth is that fiction has to make sense. Allison Brennan

Can you use coincidence in fiction? Of course. Coincidence happens in real life the same way it happens in fiction. However, be careful! Unless you have given your characters sufficient reason to be in a certain situation or at a certain place, it simply will not work.

Why not? Is it true that life is stranger than fiction? Sometimes. However, thereís a fine line between the two; as a fiction writer, you need to know where that line is drawn.

The good news is, coincidence varies by story. No two books are the same, even if they've been given the same premise. Every story is unique. Where one author can get away with posing a coincidence in his or her story, another can write the same situation and have it read as contrived.

How do you tell the difference? Read your story aloud. Sometimes, just listening to the words as they fall off your tongue will tell you if the condition of your characters is contrived. Alternately, get someone (preferably someone gentle, especially if you're writing rough draft mode) to read the words to you. How do they sound? Are they forced? Is your rigid character trying to bend in a direction they normally wouldn't?
Hear the words. See the actions. Feel the emotions.

Are any of these strained? Are you having a difficult time getting one character into a certain position because you, the author, need the character there? It's very likely your character is trying to tell you something. Listen!

You've sweated blood to breathe life into your characters, into your story. If, suddenly, a character protests being in a certain location, at a certain time, doing a certain thing, maybe you need to listen to them. Is your character is trying to tell you the situation you want them in is not something they would normally find themselves in? Are they straining to say your words, not their own?

Again, listen to your characters, have faith in your story. Do your characters easily glide into a situation? Do they throw on circumstances with an attitude that they were born to wear them, of course they would be at certain place, at a certain time, doing a certain thing, it goes without saying. Then go ahead, take the chance, let a coincidence happen. If it makes sense, it makes sense. Period.

On the other hand, if it doesn't make sense, stop. Take a breather. It's okay to snuggle away and read someone else's hard work. All the while your mind will be working to reassess your own story. Let it wander; your subconscious will pick away at the knot of the problem and find a way to weave your situation into something that will work. (Usually in a way you didn't expect, when you least expect it.)

Coincidences happen in life, they can happen in fiction. Just make sure they are well motivated.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

FOR WRITERS: Pitching to an agent

My agent (Christine Witthohn ) recently paid me a visit to Arizona to speak at my Desert Rose writer's meeting and she kindly agreed to take individual pitches from the writers in my group. I was so very proud of my friends! They acted professionally and although the nerves were high, bravely faced the dreaded pitch. Laurie Schnebly Campbell spoke at my Valley of the Sun meeting last night with a fabulous presentation on how to compose and present a pitch (she offers on-line classes as well at ) as many of my friends will also be pitching at the upcoming Desert Dreams Conference in Scottsdale.

I was very impressed with one of my fellow writers when we had an impromptu lunch with my agent (Yes, you could find yourself with an unexpected opportunity). She asked how my agent went from nursing to opening her own literary agency. My agent smiled and launched into an explanation and I guarantee she will not forget the lady who asked this question. It meant that the writer had done her homework. It only takes a few minutes to go to the agent's website and read a bit more than what he/she accepts for submissions. Besides making an impression on your professionalism, it also shows that you are truly interested in this particular agent. This is a person that could be your partner long into the forseeable future and I can't stress enough how important it is to know that person. If your personalities don't mesh it can make for a difficult relationship. If your vision of what you expect from an agent does not match with what the agent is willing to do you are going to be disappointed.

If you can't determine that information from their website, look up the agent's authors. Most of them have contact information on their website. Ask them what the agent is like to work with. I often get queries and I have no hesitation in answering them with why my agent is perfect for me. I prefer a down-to-earth, honest agent who has my best interests at heart and strives to meet my needs. Who is interested in long-term career planning and answers my e-mails or phone calls in a timely manner, and who I feel as comfortable enough with as if she were my own sister (well, okay, this last one is an added bonus).

I would like to add one other caution, whether you're attending a writer's meeting or a conference. Be professional at all times (yes, this means even in the bathroom!) You never know who you are likely to run in to. People have long memories and a good attitude can make a good impression and provide you with unexpected opportunities.

Wishing you the best in your writing endeavors,

Monday, March 8, 2010

And the winner is....

Congratulations Amanda. You're the winner of Pat's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) (no spaces) to claim your prize. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pitch to an Agent or Editor!

2010 Desert Dreams Conference

Hurry! The official Desert Dreams Conference Registration Deadline is March 17th! Don't miss out! Every aspiring and published author will benefit by our many Editor/Agent Appointments, incredible craft and career workshops, book signing event and the great hospitality of the Desert Rose Chapter!

Attendees will have an opportunity to pitch their book to an editor or agent. But hurry, available slots are filling up fast!


Steve Laube - Steve Laube Agency
Jill Marsal - Marsal Lyon Literary Agency
Miriam Kriss - Irene Goodman Agency
Janet Reid - FinePrint Literary Management
Paige Wheeler- Folio Literary Management


Kathleen Scheibling - Harlequin
Kate Seaver - Berkley
Heather Osborn - TOR
Peter Senftleben - Kensington
Maria Clayton - Sapphire Blue Publishing
Laurie M. Rauch - Samhain Publishing
Deborah Werksman - Sourcebooks

Disclaimer: Editors, agents and speakers subject to change

If you have general questions about the conference, contact

Friday, March 5, 2010

Interview with Patricia Davids

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Patricia Davids. 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 Katie’s Redemption. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

First, thanks for the chocolate. I’m an addict, my dress size proves it. Can I have more? Absolutely. We aim to please. (KW)

Katie’s Redemption is the first book in my Brides of Amish Country series from Steeple Hill. It’s the story of a young Amish woman who returns to her unhappy childhood home because she is destitute and very pregnant. She prays her unfeeling brother will take her in but what she doesn’t know is that her family has moved away. Another Amish family now owns the farm. Carpenter Elam Sutter and his mother, Nettie. The new family takes Katie in. Through their kindness, they show her a side of Amish life she’s never known. Soon love grows, but can Elam trust that Katie’s change of heart is real?

Katie’s Redemption is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Katie is an unwed mother. Her need to keep and protect her child is what brought her back to her Amish roots. To her surprise, she finds more than a roof over her head. She finds love and a new faith. In my mind, Katie’s daughter became her redemption, hence the title.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

My mother. Yes, really.

I didn’t start out to be an inspirational author. I wrote the sexy stuff. Not all that well, mind you. My mother kept pushing me to write a “clean book”. It wasn’t until I met the wonderful Christian author Deborah Raney that I realized there was a market for clean romances filled with faith and hope. It’s funny how God works in our lives and how often when He talks to us he sounds just like our mother.

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

I’m a plotter and a panster. I know where and when I want certain plot elements to come in my book. I have to figure that out before I start. It’s when the characters speak that I find I’m a panster. However, like a good cattle dog, I keep them all headed in the right direction. More or less.

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

I spent a good six months doing research for this book. I live in Kansas and while we do have an Amish community here it isn’t the size of the Ohio or Pennsylvania settlements. I read dozens of books, spent hours on the Internet and came to the conclusion I could never get the details to be exact. So, I concentrated on the emotions of the characters. We are all human, Amish and English alike. We fall in love, we fear being hurt, we have to find the courage to make a leap of faith. Once I had that firmly in mind, the rest was easy. As for my favorite tool, I’m a Google girl.

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

My editor at Steeple Hill contacted me to see if I would be interested in developing an Amish series. After doing some research, I said “yes” to the project. I had read stories about people who have left the Amish but I wanted to show what would happen if someone tried to come back. Katie needed a valid and pressing reason to return to a life she hated so I came up with the idea of making her pregnant and having the boyfriend dump her.

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

I can honestly say I dislike the work of writing. I do, but I love to tell stories. I love it. It’s a gift God gave me. He made me a storyteller. I enjoy creating all kinds of characters but the hero of any book has my heart. Be he a tough guy, a soft guy, a wounded guy, I want to make things right in his life. What better way than to give him the woman who will make him complete and the faith that will complete them both?

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 don’t have a set way to create characters. Some appear full-blown and ready to rock in my head. Others, I have to work at fleshing them out by finding their hidden desires and fears. There is no right way to write a book. There is only your way.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Deborah Raney for one. She creates wonderful characters. I deeply admire Nora Roberts’ work ethic although I’m not a fan of her writing. (She has plenty without me.) She can turn out six or more books a year. What I wouldn’t give to be able to harness that kind of productivity.

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

That is an easy question. I write for Steeple Hill. They have worldwide marketing. All I have to do is write a book that people will talk about. I do speaking engagements, I have a website, I do interviews and blogs, but I honest don’t know if they have an impact on sales.

What do we have to look forward next?

The Doctor’s Blessing is next for me. It is the story of a nurse-midwife working among the Amish and how the arrival of a new doctor upsets her personal and professional life. Yes, sparks will fly in Amish county.

Thanks, Pat!

To celebrate her book release, Pat is offering a free book of Katie’s Redemption to one lucky commenter on today's blog. (please check the blog Monday night to see who won. Chances of winning determined by the number of entries.)

She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Check out author’s website at Buy

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bootcamp for Novelists March On-Line Classes

March Courses – March 21 thru April 17

taught by Linda Style

There are many reasons an unpublished writer's work gets turned down by editors, but by far, the reason most often cited is "It just didn't grab me," or, "I just didn't care about the characters enough." The first job you have as an author is to get the editor's attention and keep her reading. The First Three Chapters digs deep into the finer points of putting these pages together and helps you discover what you can do to make you book stand out above others.

FEE: $25
Enroll at

Need more info?
Email Linda

taught by Connie Flynn

You can have great characters, excellent plots, and zingy dialogue but if you don't write the story with brevity, clarity and evocative words you'll lose readers by page three. You'll learn how to stay in active voice, what excitement killers must be avoided, and how to exploit sentence structure and punctuation to get the most out of your writing. engaging.

FEE: $25
Enroll at

Need more info?
Email Connie at

taught by Connie Flynn

Beginners often want to push their characters around, which can result in inconsistent behavior that is labeled poor characterization. This course provides the fundamentals necessary for replacing stick figures with living, breathing people. We'll cover the nuances of goal, motivation and conflict, plus point of view and character integration. But most of all you'll learn specific approaches that make your characters unique.

FEE: $25
Enroll at

Need more info?
Email Connie at

Coming in May
May 23 — July 3

A Special 6-Week Bootcamp Clinic

taught by Connie Flynn

Mythology was made famous by Joseph Campbell and later applied to screenwriting and storytelling by Hollywood, yet the principles of this powerful tool to readers' subconscious common links are still only vaguely understood. Learn how the archetypes are actually placeholders and that the journey itself takes many forms. This course is six weeks long and features considerable discussion as well as exercises for employing the "Journey" method. We'll also use a textbook — THE WRITERS JOURNEY by Christopher Vogler — and take it apart chapter by chapter to discover how to use this structure to enhance our stories. It is highly recommended that you complete 1B-Characterization and 2B-Plot before taking this course.

FEE: $48
Enroll at

Need more info?
Email Connie at

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Can inanimate objects be characters in a novel?

In my new Georgian fantasy romance series, THE ELVEN LORDS, there are seven magical scepters that the elven lords used to open the gate to the world of man. The scepters long to return to their home world of Elfhame, and using their magical connection to the dragon-steeds, aid the English in taking back their home world through their magical connection to the sentient dragons. In book one, THE FIRE LORD’S LOVER, the scepter communicates that need through the dragon Ador, and the dragon in turn begins to influence the half-blood son of the elven lord, Dominic, in their quest to return home.

It didn’t occur to me that the scepter might be a character until I started writing book two, THE STORM LORD’S DAUGHTER. My warrior hero, Giles Beaumont, has an enchanted sword (or cursed, depending on your point of view) that quivers at the scent of blood and flies to Giles’s hand when battle is near. Like the scepters, the sword has wants and needs…and develops a personality even stronger than the scepters’. I then realized that the influence of the scepter permeates throughout THE FIRE LORD’S LOVER, although it doesn’t appear in too many scenes, and when it does, it is nothing but a cold lump of ancient jet-black stone. They may not be fully fleshed characters, given that they are inanimate objects, but I think the fantasy element allows them a sort of awareness of the world around them, and combined with their needs and desires, may certainly qualify them as characters.

So can inanimate objects be a character in a novel? I believe with magic that anything is possible…but I will let you decide for yourself when you read my upcoming series, THE ELVEN LORDS.

With All My Best,


Monday, March 1, 2010

And the winner is.......

Congratulations Carolyn. You're the winner of Pam's book. Please contact Kim at kwatters21 (at) hotmail (dot) com no spaces to claim your prize. Thaks or stopping. by and leaving a comment.