Monday, July 22, 2013

Head Desk Moments

I've run into some issues with one of the books I'm writing. I love the characters and the basic plot, but it needs some time marinating while I figure out how to shake up some of the things that need to be shaken.

That's not the problem. I'm good with letting books sit and simmer while I work on something else. My problem is that in my head, this is Book #1 in my Blue Moose series so it has to be done first.

Um. No.

It has to be first in the mini-series of 4 books that revolve around that family, but there's no reason it has to be the very first.

This thought totally surprised me this morning. One of the other three stories swirling around in my head could easily be Book #1. Talk about a Head Desk moment.

It's weird when my fictional world becomes so real that it surprises me that I can change things. Until it's published, nothing is written in stone. So, today I'm dabbling with another possible Book #1 and loving it.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who gets a little blindsided by these types of things!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Jennifer Faye & The Letter R

Please welcome Jennifer Faye to the blog today!

The Importance of the Letter “R” in a Writer’s World:

The letter “R” really takes a bad rap in the world of publishing as it’s a writer’s shorthand for a rejection letter—that dreaded correspondence from editors/agents that says thanks but no thanks. Most writers have received them. I know I have. To me they are like a rite of passage.
Though R’s are always hard to swallow, the more I received, the less power they had over me. My first “R” was totally devastating. I was so certain that manuscript was wonderful. That any editor would be crazy to pass it up. So when the form “R” showed up, I was devastated. And I didn’t write for a long time…okay so it was only weeks, but for someone who likes to write every day that was a long time.

When I received that first “R” I told myself that I was fooling myself trying to get published. I let the doubt crows have a field day. But those characters in my mind wouldn’t go away. They wanted their stories told. Finally to silence the voices, I started writing again. I told myself that it was okay because it was just for me.

But once that manuscript was finished, I was in love with it. So I started to work with a critique group and entered some contests. Eventually my confidence grew, but I wasn’t submitting back to the Harlequin line that had given me my first “R”. I was certain that as much as I wanted to write for them, my voice didn’t fit. So I started submitting to another Harlequin line. And I made progress, including full requests, but they ended with personalized R’s.
The personalized R’s were much easier to swallow as they would point out my strengths before they’d point out what areas I needed to work on. And those personalized R’s aren’t handed out to everyone as they take time for the editors to write. The editor has to see something special—some true potential for them to invest their time. And I was truly grateful for those letters. I learned so much for them.

Then there’s the R&R. This is when the letter “R” finally has a positive spin. Technically it’s still a rejection but I prefer to concentrate on the other part of the letter, the R&R part—revise & resubmit. It’s saying the manuscript isn’t acceptable in its current format but with some elbow grease it could be. I found these letters to be exciting and a bit terrifying. I knew how close I was to selling, but worried about interpreting the editor’s notes correctly. I’ll admit the first R&R I got didn’t pan out. But my writing confidence was still growing.
By this point, I had grown as a writer. It’d been years since my first devastating “R”. And with a little nudge from a writer friend, I gathered the courage to submit back to the line that had given me my first “R”. And guess what? It was Harlequin Romance. :-) Funny how things work out, huh?

It’s as my friend, Michelle Styles ~ Harlequin Historical author, says, “It’s not the “R” that counts, but what you do after that matters.”
Keep going. Keep learning. You will make it.
Jennifer Faye has spent most of her life with her nose in one book or another. It was only natural that she dreamed of becoming a romance writer and spinning the tales of the imaginary people running around in her mind. But first life took her on a couple of detours. Refusing to give up on her dreams, she finally succeeded in getting her name on a book cover. She currently resides in Pennsylvania with her very, very patient husband, one amazing daughter (the other remarkable daughter has flown the coop to chase her own dreams) and two spoiled rotten cats. When she’s not glued to her laptop writing another contemporary romance (which isn’t often) or enjoying some family time, she loves to get lost in a good book, cross-stitch, embroider, quilt, knit, watch hockey (go Pittsburgh Penguins!), and garden.

Jennifer loves to hear from readers--you can contact her via her website.


And online at Amazon, Amazon-UK, Barnes & Noble, and other online outlets.

Damsel in a wedding dress!
Jilted at the altar, celebrity chef Meghan Finnegan flees the scene--and the baying press--only to run straight into the muscled torso of Cash Sullivan.

The former rodeo champion knows what it’s like to have your life crumble in the spotlight, so he offers Meghan a place to lie low at his ranch.

Fresh air, no paparazzi and the brooding rancher's lazy smile are making Meghan not want to leave her sanctuary. But she and her unborn baby can't stay here forever...can they?
Giveaway: Print copy of RANCHER TO THE RESCUE to US commenters and a kindle gift copy open International.
Jennifer's book is a fabulous story with 2 strong, intriguing characters! I really enjoyed getting to know them and watching them navigate those spotlights! Great story :)
I remember getting my first R - it was almost a relief - made me feel like a real writer! How about you - what's your favourite R moment?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Sandra Harris & The Minefield of Critiquing

Please welcome Sandra Harris to the blog today! Her book Alien, Mine is out and about and it's a fun story! I loved the unique twists and turns of the plot & the blend of science fiction & romance. Sandrea is an awesome character!

The Minefield of Critiquing – Should I Give a Critique?
How do you tell someone their work sucks?

You don’t.

OK, so you don’t like the characters in the ms you’re critiquing. Tell the author that you don’t connect with their hero/heroine. Say why. e.g. actions don’t equate with words, thoughts or emotions (the character says one thing, their behaviour reflects the opposite). Perhaps they're acting in a way contrary to what the situation demands. Or they’ve done something that really turned you off. I read one story recently where the hero kicked at a bird with no provocation except it landed before him as he walked along a street. Well that action lost me completely. I started hoping a real hero would come along and give him a thrashing.

In ‘Alien, Mine’ I had a rather invasive operation performed on the heroine (for the better) without her permission and she just accepted it. My fabulous CP pointed out that that would not be the case—especially after what she had so recently endured. This was an instance of me getting on with the story and not paying enough attention to each and every detail. My bad. My lazy bad.

You also need to be aware of what genre your CP is writing. There are certain standards that must be met for each form of work.

Keep an eye open for practical mistakes such as:
v  Driving on the correct/wrong side of the road in whatever country the book may be set.
v  That technology/syntax/mannerisms are current for the era.
v  That a hurricane is a hurricane and not a cyclone.
v  That a piece of equipment is capable of performing as described. (e.g. A Vespa really can't do 200kph without some serious tinkering or outside influence)

Be alert for continuity. If a character is sitting relaxed in a chair, make sure they don’t suddenly appear in the next room without explanation. Or they were married and suddenly they’re single. Or they loose a foot in height over a few chapters. Or change species. Or that your impressively muscled, hotter than sin hero doesn’t morph into a sultry, curvaceous, buxom redhead—at least not without a darn good explanation. J

Be conscious you don't push your CP to imitate your writing. I often find the easiest way to get my point across is to provide an example. My CP is well aware that this is my way of illustrating a point and I am not telling her it should be written this way.

Using 'Track Changes' and 'Comments' is an excellent way to keep note of your suggestions/comments. Try not to be too blunt when making comments (though I have to admit that this is a fault of mine). My CP and I live over 500 kilometres apart, so when critiquing we cheat—we Skype and have an online meeting so we each can explain our comments. J

Keep in mind that all rules are not cast in stone. Australian Romantic Suspense author and 2011/2012 R*by winner, Helene Young has often quoted Douglas Bader "Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men". Having said that, you should point out any overuse or inappropriate use of 'broken' rules such as passive voice.

In conclusion, having a CP is not for everyone.

On the other hand having a CP can be one of the most beneficial things you could ever do for your writing. It has been for me. :)

Giveaway of kindle copy of Alien, Mine to one commenter.

Torn from modern day Earth and stranded on the far side of the Galaxy, Sandrea Fairbairn must use every particle of courage she possesses to adjust to her new life and live for tomorrow/a new day.

Eugen Mhartak, a general in the Tri-Race Alliance Army, refuses to bow to the merciless Bluthen. Haunted by the loss of far too many innocent lives he has vowed to drive the ruthless invaders from Alliance space.

The strength and valour of Eugen Mhartak attracts Sandrea as no man ever has, but she struggles to read the enigmatic general’s heart. Determined to help him triumph over the Bluthen she uncovers a diabolical plot against the Alliance.

Drawn by the courage and exotic beauty of Sandrea, Mhartak battles to overcome the barriers of cross-cultural differences that separate them and claim her ardent interest. He must conquer his deepest fears to be the man she needs. When his principles are betrayed by his own government and he is faced with the impossible prospect of taking Sandrea’s life in order to save his home planet, Mhartak desperately searches for a way to keep safe both his world and the magnificent woman who has stolen his heart.

Buy Links: SoulMate Publishing        Amazon      Amazon UK
Sandra Harris on the web: Website    Facebook   Twitter   Author Page
Born in the far north of Australia, yearly cyclones, floods and being cut off from civilization for weeks at a time were the norm. An outrageous imagination helped occupy Sandra’s mind.

An abiding interest in astronomy and a deep-seated need to always see the good guys win naturally influences her writing. Not satisfied with the amount of romance in science fiction novels she set out to redress the balance.

She currently lives in sunny South East Queensland, Australia, with her husband and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who doesn’t seem to realize she comes from royalty and should act in a more appropriate manner.

So, how do you feel about critiquing? I love my crit buddies and am so glad we've learned to trust each other enough to give honest crits that are always balanced!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Keeping Track in a Series

I've always loved reading books in a series. As a kid I got hooked early on Encyclopedia Brown, then Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys, then Anne of Green Gables, then Agatha Christie's Poirot & Miss Marple mysteries, then... Well, you get the idea.

I enjoy lots of stand alone books, but I've always been drawn to series as well. I love companion series, where the setting remains the same, but the main characters are different in each book. This is pretty popular in contemporary romance right now and I'm loving it!

One of hardest things (for me) about writing a series (okay, 2 series) is keeping track of all those little details. I've got the first 2 books in each series at various stages and have 3 more of the books simmering around in my head - with another idea trying to wedge it's way in. My brain is kind of a scary place at times.

It does drive me crazy when I'm reading and I remember a small detail from the series and in a later book something contradicts that detail. It doesn't happen often, most of the authors I read do it very well, but when it's off it can throw you out of the book and I don't want that to happen to my (eventual) readers.

So keeping track of all of the details of each series can be a little daunting. If you pop on over to From the Write Angle today, you'll see how I attempt to keep track of all the things!

Do you like to read or write series or do you prefer standalones?