Friday, April 29, 2011
I am currently under contract, writing the second in a Regency werewolf trilogy. So I haven’t dipped my toe in that ever expanding pond. But I have been polling my friends and acquaintances about their experiences in this realm. What follows below is a list of the most frequently replied answers to my question - “What is the best thing about self-publishing?”
ONE – THE MONEY
Contracts from most NY publishers offer royalties anywhere from 5-9% on print books, and 15-25% on e-books. Percentages are often higher for e-only publishers. But retailers like Amazon pay 70% on e-books and Barnes & Noble pays 65%. There isn’t a publisher out there offering those percentages.
“Self-publishing has been the greatest thing to ever happen to me…and to my former publisher! My first two books were released by a small press that I love dearly and am very grateful for. However, they didn’t have the marketing resources to get me where I wanted to be, both in terms of readership and money. I took a lead from the incomparable Ava Stone, and self-published the 3rd and 4th installments of my Wetherby Brides series. The next thing I knew, I had sold hundreds of copies of my books! But that wasn’t even the best part. I got an email from my publisher saying, “What are you doing?!?! Your sales (which had earned me a whopping $60 in all of 2010) are through the roof!” So while I’m making a great living for myself, I’m also helping a small publishing house thrive!” – Jerrica Knight-Catania
TWO – CREATIVE FREEDOM
How many times have you heard an author lament about the market? They want to write one type of book, but NY isn’t buying them? Self-published authors can write whatever they’d like, at whatever length and not have to worry about their story getting watered down or not contracted at all. The market of actual readers will determine if you make money, not an editor’s educated guess.
And how many times have you heard authors complain about an awful cover or title they got saddled with? I, personally, have lost count, if I was ever keeping track. Self-publishing doesn’t guarantee good covers or good titles, but there is more of a chance that the author is happy with the end product. Or they can keep tweaking it until they are.
"Now I have a market for my short stories or those shorter stories about side characters that readers want to know more about, but I an't write enough about to fill up a book." – Laurel Bennett“I love to write what I call Romantic Erotica – short, explicit stories that take place between committed couples. But in the real world, this genre doesn’t exist. In the Amazon and B&N self-publishing world, it does, because I made it so. And I’m so excited to see that what was turned away at publishing houses is quickly gaining a following.” – Chastity Lane"I write historical western romance -- a genre that's been on the market decline for years, but I'm convinced that it's because of the lack of availability. There are people who love it, because I do. I now have the creative freedom to write in any genre I choose to with self-publishing. Any failures are mine as well as any successes, and that makes it worthwhile to me. I can write what I love and share it with others who love the genre as much as I do." – Suzie Grant
"I turned to self-publishing after seeing the success of my friends. I am not unhappy with my publisher because they have always been great, but I decided to give this avenue a chance and have not been disappointed. Besides my inspirational, I also write in two separate genres, under two different pen names. But because it took me so long to find a publisher for my inspirationals, as it does with most authors, I didn't want to have to go through the same process with my two new genres in hopes of seeing the books picked up and published sometime in the undefined future. My latest books will soon be published and I thoroughly enjoy the freedom of telling the story I want to tell in the way I want to tell it without being told that this type of book doesn't sell. How do we know it won't sell if it isn't available? Shouldn’t the readers be the ones who decide what sells?" - Amy De Trempe
THREE – REAL NUMBERS, REAL TIME
Authors do a lot of self-promoting. Blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking, etc. We blindly hope that doing these things helps sales, but we don’t know for sure. I only get to see my numbers twice a year when my royalty statement arrives. But self-published authors can see their numbers all day, every day if they so desire. So if you wonder if that blog did you any good, you can look at your daily sales and find out.
“Having your sales available in real time can get addicting (“Oh look, another three sold!”), but in watching the trends in my short story sales I know immediately what the readers are buying. I can shelve projects that have a lesser potential and concentrate on what will earn better. As much as I’d love to just write the books of my heart, my writing is a business. Self-publishing allows me to get a jump on popular trends in a way other publishers can’t offer me.” – Roxy Jacobs
FOUR – NO WAITING
Most of the time you deliver your manuscript and then you wait. You wait for editorial notes. You then wait for the copy-edited version. Then you wait for the galleys. And then you wait some more for the book to finally be released. Self-published authors place their book(s) on virtual shelves as soon as they’re ready to do so. That book can start earning you money now instead of months or, in some cases, years from now.
"Being able to finish a book and publish it all in the same week is one of the huge advantages to self-publishing. I don't have to try to predict the market a year from now. Instead, I can create something fresh and see how the market responds today. I get a great deal of satisfaction from seeing instant feedback on my work. And as far as money goes, I have published three books in six months and already made more money than I would have expected to see from a typical advance. Seeing instant profit from my writing has truly changed my life." – Sarra Cannon "Before I decided to self-publish, I had been waiting for two e-publishers to respond to my submission for over four months, a big 6 editor to respond to a requested full for eighteen months, and several agents for over two years. Best case: if they decided to offer me a contract tomorrow, it would be a minimum of another year before my book became available to readers. Worst case: my work would be buried in a 'requested' slush pile forever. It took less than one week from the time I made the decision to self-publish until I'd made my first sales on Amazon and Barnes & Noble." – L. J. Charles
"A week ago, I took a chance and uploaded my first novel to Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I wasn't sure if this was going to be the right career move for me or not. After all, there are no guarantees. But whereas with traditional publishing, I'd have to wait months, or maybe even years, to discover if I'd made a wise decision, by self-publishing through these venues I've been able to see immediate results. It is much easier to decide what to do from here on out, after analyzing the sales I've seen to this point." - Catherine Gayle
FIVE – COMPLETE CONTROLYou set your own price. You set your own schedule. You pick your own cover. You pick your own title. You write your own blurb. Once you’ve hit the button and your book is live - if you think your cover isn’t drawing readers, change it. If you find a typo on page 183, fix it. These are just a few of the options open to authors who are self-publishing.
"What I like best is I can put out however many books I want to in a year. With traditional publishing, you'll likely only be allowed one or two books, sometimes three if you have a three book series the publisher thinks they can capitalize on by putting them out a month a part. But then that's it. You have to wait another year before your next book comes out. With doing it myself, if I write six books this year, I can put all six out. Likewise, if I only write one book, I'm not in danger of breaking my contract and having to start the whole process over again." - Rose Gordon
“I love many things about self-publishing but mostly I love the control over when to publish. I like setting my own deadlines because the only pressure is what I inflict on myself. When the book is ready to share I can upload it.” – Heather Boyd
"As of three days ago, my backlist has been available on Kindle and Nook, so I'm as new to this as it's possible to be. My vote so far? I'm in heaven. Having this much control is completely addictive. I love designing my own covers (the cover for A Kiss To Die For on the original book was a purple train); I love tweaking the content so that the book is smoother and sleeker; I love setting my own price; I love writing my own blurbs. I love everything about this new game in town!" - Claudia DainSo there you have it from a number of self-published authors themselves. I’m not sure if it’s the path for me, but I am happy that others are enjoying their foray into this brave new world.
Have you thought about self-publishing? What are your thoughts/comments/concerns about doing so? Hopefully some of the self-published authors I know will pipe up throughout the day to answer questions.
Thursday, April 28, 2011
I first fell in love with romance because of Julie Garwood and her historicals. Scottish lairds were enough on their own to pull me in. But when she brought back characters from one book to make an appearance in another? I was giddy with joy. In her books, the series allows a glimpse into the characters' lives past the epilogue.
After finishing every historical romance Julie Garwood ever wrote, I discovered Nora Roberts. The best thing about her books? She writes trilogies and quartets all the time. In many of her series, all of the characters from all of the books are present throughout. Not only that, but many times there is an overarching story to the series as a whole, not just to the individual books.
When I delved into the world of Regency romance, I cut my teeth on Mary Balogh and Julia Quinn. These two ladies don't just write in duos or trilogies. They've penned six-part series and eight-part series, surrounding siblings. You guessed it. I fell head over ears in love.
Our very own Lydia Dare is in the midst of a series of ten interconnected books, where characters from one keep popping up in other books. If you fall in love with one of her characters, never fear--you probably haven't seen the last of them. And if that character hasn't had his or her own story yet, chances are they'll get it.
Yes, I still love a book that stands on its own and doesn't have a counterpart. But given the choice, I'll take the series without blinking an eye.
Because of that, in my own writing, I tend to think in terms of series. I may start out writing with the intention of it only being a one-off, but there are always ideas running around in my head for how I could expand upon the world I've created and bring certain characters back for another run. I can't seem to make it stop.
That's what happened with my first book, Twice a Rake, available as an e-book from both Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I never intended for it to be more than a single story. But as I went along, certain characters kept giving me ideas. Darn them.
There will be at least two follow-up stories that will be released in the next couple of months: Saving Grace and Merely a Miss. Will there be more to follow in the series? Possibly. I won't rule it out. There are definitely ideas running around in my head. We'll just have to see if I can find the time to write them! In the meanwhile, I'm at work on a couple of other series.
Are you a fan of series? Why or why not? Which romance series is your favorite? One lucky commenter who leaves their email address will win a copy of my debut novel, Twice a Rake, from Amazon.
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
My kids were home all last week for spring break, which just happened to be the week after I received notes from my agent on my second book and notes from my editor on my first book. With deadlines looming and a stir-crazy eight year old - thanks to lousy weather that kept her inside most of the week – and a thirteen year old begging me to feed him McDonalds and take him to Blockbuster every day, I couldn’t wait for a routine week. I thought many times, how in the world do stay-at-home parents stay home with their kids and still manage to write? Or refrain from running away to Mexico?
Yet, as I was getting ready for work Monday, I realized this whole writing and being a parent thing is hard if you work outside the home, too. I’m very fortunate in my job, so I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining. Far from it. I work three days a week outside of the home, which leaves me two days during the week without anyone except the dog to interrupt me, but that still isn’t enough some weeks. So, how do you work a job, parent your children and write? For that matter, how do you work, parent children and do anything besides working and parenting?
There are lots of great tips out there on how to be organized to make things run smoothly and make your life sparkly-great so there is no need for Calgon-Take-Me-Away days. You won’t read any of those here. Instead, I’m making a list of things you may have never considered.
Samantha's fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants tips for working, parenting and following your passion:
1. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices.
TELEVISION: I gave up television for the most part. There are some shows I watch on occasion with my daughter, but otherwise I don’t care. I don’t miss TV, but there are times I stare dumbly at people when they’re discussing the latest shows.
SLEEP: I’ve also given up adequate sleep, but sleep is overrated, as is the ability to concentrate and not bump into things. (Come to think of it, maybe the dumb stares can be traced back to sleep deprivation rather than shunning the latest television shows.) But really, who needs to remember their children’s ages when strangers ask? They are just being polite. You could say 102! What do they care?
2. Lowering your standards isn’t all bad.
HOUSE CLEANING: Hey! My kids are wicked healthy thanks to adequate exposure to germs. I mean, it’s not like I feed them dirt, but a little messiness isn’t going to make them sick. In fact, my son wishes he could be sick and stay home from school almost every day, but he rarely is.
DINNER: Meals don’t have to be a complicated affair. There is nothing wrong with serving raw vegetables, fruit and buttered bread with a main course. And sometimes pizza delivery is a lifesaver. Just tip the driver well. Gas prices are outrageous! (Which reminds me of a deal one of the pizza chains offers for a free delivery program where you get your pizza in two days! LOL! I’m hoping that is a typo. I’ll stick to the old method of paying $1.25 to get my pizza today, thanks.)
3. Don’t be afraid to play hardball with the school nurse or your kid.
MALINGERING: The first two times the school nurse called to suggest I pick up my son from school because he didn’t “feel well” I grilled her on his symptoms. Sorry, but not feeling well is too vague. I wasn’t going to rearrange my entire work day to pick up a child who says he doesn’t feel well and wants to stay home from school every weekday only to have a miraculous recovery on the weekend and a recurrence starting around bedtime on Sunday evening. By the third call, the school nurse was prepared, and presented a good case for me to come get him. Now we just need to work on her accepting that twenty minutes is a reasonable time to come pick up my child. We might get there before he moves on to high school.
INDEPENDENCE: Making your kids help clean the house or make their own sandwich doesn’t violate any child labor laws. I checked. (Just kidding.) But it is okay for them to contribute to the well being of their family and to learn to take care of themselves. It doesn’t make you a bad parent if you don’t cater to them all the time. Because even if you treat them as royalty, it doesn’t mean anyone else will. And that’s just setting the kid up for disappointment and a disgruntled spouse.
4. Keep a sense of humor. When you’ve heard your child yell “Mom” so many times in a day that you answer your cat’s meow, you have to laugh. Just don’t tell anyone why you’re laughing.
5. Count your blessings. I have many in my life, but two of my greatest blessings are sleeping snugly in their beds as I write this blog, secure in the knowledge they are loved. No matter how tough the job, I would never give up being a parent.
If you’re a parent, what do you find the most challenging about parenting? What do you find most joyful about having children?
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Romance novels set in any time period prior to 1945, and taking place in any location.”
Monday, April 25, 2011
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
Awaken the Highland Warrior is the first in my series. Scottish warrior, Faelan Connor is part of a secret clan charged by Michael the Archangel with protecting the earth from evil. Because of his prowess at destroying demons, Faelan is sent to America to capture the demon responsible for stirring up the strife and hatred that will culminate in the Civil War. But Faelan is betrayed and locked in a time vault that was created to stop time, imprisoning a demon until Judgment. With Faelan’s failure, hundreds of thousands die, as his distraught clan searches for the missing key that will open the time vault. But the key is nowhere to be found, and eventually Faelan’s story fades into a myth. For 150 years Faelan sleeps.
Bree Kirkland is no ordinary historian. Her specialty is the Civil War, but she feels like Indiana Jones, obsessed with lost treasure, myths and legends. Haunted by longings she can’t describe, she immerses herself in history, seeking hidden treasure, both written and real, but after a lifetime of disappointments and mishaps, she’s determined to settle down to an ordinary, boring life. That’s before she finds a treasure map in her great, great grandmother’s attic. Bree promises herself one more treasure hunt, and then she’ll stop. The map leads to the graveyard behind her house, where she finds an elaborate chest hidden inside the old crypt she had always been drawn to as a child. When she opens the chest, Bree discovers something far more shocking than hidden treasure, and there’s no returning to her normal life.
I had so much fun writing this book, and I only hope readers will enjoy it as much. I’ll give away one autographed copy to a commenter.
An owl screeched overhead as she scurried up the crumbling steps, wishing night hadn’t fallen, when shadows twisted into monsters and spirits came out to play. The burial vault lay open near the back of the crypt, waiting. Blood rushed past her ears, a sound like all the angels’ wings beating in unison. She moved closer and peered at the chest inside. It was ornate, made of metal and wood, with green gemstones embedded in each corner. It looked ancient, like it belonged in a museum or a pyramid, or perhaps Solomon’s Temple. The beauty of it struck her again, as it had when she’d first discovered it.
She set the lantern on the edge of the burial vault and studied the markings on the chest. Swirls and shapes like writing shifted in the amber glow. Stretching out a finger, she touched the surface. Warm? She yanked her hand back and hit the lantern. It crashed to the floor, throwing the top of the crypt into darkness. Dropping to her knees, she scrambled for the light. A sound cut through the silence, scraping, like fingernails against stone. She grabbed the lantern, not daring to blink, then remembered the wind outside and the claw-like branches of the old tree.
She placed the lantern securely on the vault cover she’d pushed onto the alcove and unfolded her hand. The metal disk she held was three inches in diameter and appeared to be made from the same metal as the chest, not silver, not gold. One side had deep grooves; the other was etched with symbols. With trembling fingers, she lined up the disk with the matching grooves on top of the chest and pushed. There was a series of clicks as the notched edges retracted.
A voice rushed through her head. What lies within cannot be, until time has passed with the key.
Bree whirled, but she was alone. Only stone walls stood watch, their secrets hidden for centuries. It was sleep deprivation, not ghosts.
She pulled in a slow, steadying breath and tried to turn the disk. Nothing. Again, this time counterclockwise, and it began to move under her hand. She jerked her fingers back. A loud pop sounded and colors flashed… blue, orange, and green, swirling for seconds, and then they were gone. Great, hallucinations to go with the voices in her head.
Her body trembled as she gripped the lid. This was it. All her dreams held on a single pinpoint of time. If this ended up another wild goose chase, she was done. No more treasure hunts, no more mysteries, no more playing Indiana Jones. She’d settle down to a nice, ordinary, boring life. She counted.
She heaved open the chest.
Terror clawed its way to her throat, killing her scream.
The man inhaled one harsh breath and his eyes flew open, locking on Bree. A battle cry worthy of Braveheart echoed off the walls. Bree jumped back as metal flashed and a rush of air kissed her face. Petrified, she watched him crawl out of the burial vault, a wicked-looking dagger in his hand. Her scream tore loose as she turned and fled.
Fingers grazed her shoulder, and she glanced back. The last thing she saw before her feet tangled with the shovel was the dead man reaching for her.
Anita Clenney grew up an avid reader, devouring Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books before moving on to mysteries and romance. After working as a secretary, a Realtor, teacher’s assistant, booking agent for Aztec Fire Dancers, and a brief stint in a pickle factory (picture Lucy and Ethel--lasted half a day)…she realized she'd missed the fork in the road that led to her destiny. Now she spends her days writing mysteries and paranormal romantic suspense about Secret Warriors, Ancient Evil and Destined Love. Anita lives in suburban Virginia, outside Washington DC, with her husband and two kids. You can learn more about her writing at www.anitaclenney.com
Thursday, April 21, 2011
I’m embarking into a new journey of the publishing world as a newly self published author writing under the name Suzie Grant, I am struggling to pull my name out from under the pile of other authors on the list. So I’ve managed to compile a list for anyone enduring the marketing fiasco I simply call a four letter word I am not allowed to say here lol.
Do some marketing before your release. Of which I did not do and now look back and wish that I had. I am an introvert by nature and am finding this part of the writing process extremely difficult. I wish I could be the social butterfly and twitter my way into people’s kindle, but...it’s difficult. With that said, do try to start your audience before you even release your first book. Stretch your social wings and fly – even when it makes you cringe to think about it.
Branding. And I’m not talking about the good ol’ fashioned cattle brands. Creating your own brand is probably one of the most important writing tools you can use to your advantage. It took me forever to figure out what my brand was. Not only was my voice very historical but with the influence of classic adventure stories like Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe I was bound to end up with some action and adventure in my stories. But I didn’t realize until several manuscripts later that it was my calling. I recognized the theme in each story and have now begun to expand on it. So that’s become my brand. I write action and adventure historical romance. When you go to my website you get a sense of adventure, my covers will reflect this brand as well. Anything attached to my name (either Melissa Dawn Harte or Suzie Grant) will reflect some sort of sense of action. Find your strengths and work those into your brand.
Find your audience. Once you find your brand it’ll be rather easy to find your audience. Under the name Suzie Grant I’ll be writing fast paced westerns and I searched groups and forums for western lovers. I’m hoping to engage and not just promote. I think that’s the key. Establish a good dialogue with readers and show them that you love this genre as well and they will start to listen. When every post you do is all about self promotion, then many readers are going to learn to skip your posts and ignore what you have to say. Engage your readers, share their passions and they’ll return the favor.
Think like a businessman. And while you’re engaging your reader do remember this is a business. You’re there to sell a product but not just any product; you’re selling your name. Part of who you are goes into every book so remember to carry business cards, discuss your business at every opportunity, and do the leg-work because in the end this is your job. It’s not easy to sell yourself but you can do it if you put your mind to it. We have to sell ourselves to agents, publishers, and now it’s time to sell ourselves to the readers.
So go out, have fun, and find your audience. They’re out there and they share the same passion you do. Twitter, facebook, and any other type of social networking you use, does very little good if all you use it for is self promo. Do you have any marketing advice to all us noobie’s who’re just sticking our toe in the proverbial marketing pond? I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice!
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
As the child of a former 40-year Continental Airline pilot, I have only lived in the ‘real’ world of airline ticket purchaser for a few years. Before my father retired from the airlines, I lived the good life of buddy passes, and even better, when I was younger I traveled in first class for free because I was not yet eighteen and the airlines actually gave their pilots’ families great benefits back then. When my dad retired several years ago, I got a major wake-up call that has only become louder and more annoying with each passing year. Gone are the days I would take a yearly trip out of the country without giving a thought to the airfare. Now, the prospect of having to pay $600.00 to fly to New York this summer has me biting my nails and stalling on purchasing my ticket.
Yesterday, as I was driving and mulling all this over, I heard a report on National Public Radio that, at first, had me swearing that Delta Airlines was the devil. According to the report on NPR yesterday, Delta Airlines has attempted to raise their airfare eleven times this year, and we are in April, for goodness sake. Five of those times, the airline failed to get the rate raised because the other airlines refused to go along with the hike. Let’s do the math. That means Delta Airlines has raised their rate six times in four month. They have just put another rate hike out there, which if I were a betting woman, I’d say the other airlines will probably take.
Why? Is it because the airlines are made up of corporate pigs who don’t care if the common man, or woman, can afford to fly? No, not really, though it may seem that way to some of you as it did at first to me. The fact is airlines are losing money, and to stay in business, they need to raise their rates.
The Wall Street Journal had an article in MarketPlace this morning in which the headlines read: Airline Net Hits Downdraft. To read the article in its entirety you need to pick up the newspaper or go online. I want to share the bullet points with you.
The first quarter of this year has been particularly brutal for airlines. Why?
- Winter storms
- Rising gasoline prices
- Earthquake in Japan, which weakened demand for travel to Asia
- 2010 was the first profitable year for airlines in 3 years
- The first quarter of 2011 is expected to be a loss for Delta Airlines, United-Continental Holdings, US Airway and American.
- Among the five biggest airlines only Southwest is expected to post a profit. Guess what- that profit is – 3 cents a share.
With another fuel crisis on the rise, we all need to run to our computers and buy our tickets for the summer. Fuel represents 35% of carriers’ cost, up from 24% a year ago. It is a NO BRAINER that tickets will be rising as well.
So Delta may not be the devil, but they are going to be forced to raise rates again if they want to stay in business, which means we, the poor consumers, will pay the price if we want to fly.
Have you purchased your NY ticket yet? If so, did you get a good rate? I’d love to hear how the cost of airlines tickets will affect your decision to attend the RWA conference this summer.
Have a great day!
Julie Johnstone, The Marchioness of Mayhem
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
When I was young, I used to watch a little TV show about Smurfs. I loved that show and even managed to acquire my own little Papa Smurf figure that I still have today (although it seems to have disappeared – must search small boy’s room).
Fast forward to the present and I’m revisiting my love of little blue men via the Smurf’s App on my iPad. Originally, I got the adventure game for my youngest son. Unfortunately, playing the farming game becomes slightly addictive and now I’m wrestling my iPad away from youngest son so that I can plant and harvest crops, put funny smurf hats on family photo’s, and make the little guys do my evil bidding!
Sigh. Playing the game is like having minions. But imagine my surprise when I saw the following movie trailer while waiting to watch Hop at the cinemas.
Is there possibly a Smurfs Support Group or Smurf Counseling Hotline? I might need them this year! LOL
~ The Wicked Smurf
Monday, April 18, 2011
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
No matter what else they might be good at -- and we’ve all seen them be good at LOTS of things! -- they’re fabulous at selling books. But that doesn’t mean every reader, much less every writer, adores those classic alpha males. For one thing, we have a hard time defining exactly what an alpha male IS. I’m going to ask your opinion, down below, but first let’s look at what we love about these guys...and why we resent them. Alpha males take command, right? Which can be wonderfully attractive -- and which can also be downright annoying. What makes the difference? Or IS there any difference?
Cool vs Not-So
Picture a guy who’s standing at the scene of a disastrous five-car collision, telling everyone what to do. “You! Back up the van. You! Get that bike out of the way. You! Move your vehicle toward the curb.” He’s a laudable hero, managing to accomplish whatever needs taking care of and getting everyone around him to do what he says.
But now picture that same guy giving those same orders in a grocery store parking lot where nobody’s hurt; there are just a lot of cars milling around. Suddenly he’s a bossy jerk. Yet he hasn’t changed his behavior. It’s only our interpretation of his behavior that’s changed. Which is part of why it’s so tricky to write the kind of alpha hero who’s guaranteed to delight readers.
What else makes it tricky? Well, let’s see:
* There’s a fine line between a man who’s powerful enough to stand strong against whatever the world throws at him while never breaking down, and a man who’s incapable of expressing any emotion except anger.
* There’s a fine line between a man who’s all about protecting what’s his, including the woman he loves, and a man who views that woman as his possession.
* There’s a fine line between a man who’s so incredibly sexy that every woman in the room is dazzled by his sizzling presence, and a man who’s willing to share that smoldering sexuality with every woman in the room.
How much is too much alpha? How little is too little? (Okay, did everyone else’s mind just go to the same place mine did? Uh, never mind.) Back to the fine line -- women who love reading about alpha males don’t usually stop to think where that line should be drawn.
All they know is, they LIKE their romantic heroes strong, courageous, forceful, vigorous, confident. Suave or rugged is okay, millionaire or firefighter is okay, battered Harley or magnificent steed is okay, but aside from those little details there’s not a whole lot of room for compromise.
With alphas, there’s NEVER much room for compromise. And that’s exactly what makes them so easy to resent. How come they always get to call the shots? How come they can attract any woman they want just by crooking their little finger? How come they don’t have to deal with the things all the rest of us do? Oh, but wait! Once this alpha hero falls in love with the heroine, he’ll have to change his ways. Right?
Alphas Changed By Love
Er. Well... That’s tricky, too. Because if suddenly this rip-roaring testosterone-driven leader of the pack is murmuring, “Yes, dear, I’ll pick up the drycleaning and be home for dinner whenever you say” -- drat it, he’s no longer quite such a thrilling prize. He’s more of a regular guy...the kind most readers experience in everyday life. So where’s the romantic excitement in THAT? You see the dilemma?
Genuine alpha males can be as tough to write as they are to live with -- and yet they’re so attractive, we can’t just throw them out of our pages! How do we get around that? Here’s where your opinion comes in. Two questions, and I’d love to hear what other writers and readers think. (I’d also love to quote you in my “Alpha Males From Abe To Zeus” class next month, so please let me know if that’s NOT okay.)
First question: Do you know any alphas in real life -- and if so, what are they like?
Second question: Have you written any alpha heroes -- and if so, what was the biggest challenge you faced?
I’m eager to get your thoughts on this...and by the way, if you live with an alpha male in real life OR in fiction, you have both my admiration and my envy!
Laurie, betting everyone here would appreciate tips on How To Live With An Alpha from those who’ve figured out the techniques
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Which is great! I love editing. I enjoy helping writers grow, and I like few things better than helping writers make their work the best it can possibly be.
But I've already found a problem. It is very easy for me to get so caught up in my editing work that I completely ignore my own writing. Editing is not supposed to replace writing, for me. It is supposed to supplement it.
I don't want to quit editing, not by any stretch of the imagination. But I can't let it become the only thing I do, either.
That means it is time for me to re-prioritize.
I know a few others who balance their own writing with editing. In fact, it doesn't seem that they've slowed down in their production of new writing projects at all. They have set a schedule for themselves. Either the mornings are for editing and the afternoons are for writing, or their weekdays are spent on editing and the weekends are spent on writing.
I think I need to force myself into a schedule like that. In fact, I already know how I need to do it. My creativity is best in the afternoons, so that should be my writing time. And my critical eye is at its peak in the mornings, so that should be my editing time. Easy enough, right?
Let's see how well I can stick to my self-imposed schedule.
Have you taken on any new responsibilities that have interfered with your writing time? How have you coped with the change?
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Still, for the past week, I’ve struggled with whether or not to be true to a character I’m writing. I type the words as he speaks them, knowing the process is honest, but later worry about offending certain people by his vulgar language and attitude toward women. Believe me, I’m offended by him! But that is the point. His purpose is to create conflict and stir emotions. His actions build empathy for the heroine.
I’ve been engaging in an internal debate about being authentic versus protecting the sensibilities of others. I’m not sure if I would give the argument more than a passing thought if not for a few readers’ loops I’ve read lately or conversations with some of the older people I see in my work as a social worker. One of the lovely ladies I see through my hospice work said she doesn’t see the need for bad language in a book. Stories can be told just as well without curse words. She feels some authors are trying to show how many bad words they know and all the creative combinations they can make.
She may have a point, but I don’t agree that every story can be told just as well without the inclusion of vulgar language. A drug dealer isn’t likely to say, “Oh, heavens!” or participate in a quilting circle, unless he’s in witness protection. And even then, I bet he would let a bad word slip if he stubbed his toe.
Well, Saturday evening I found some peace while browsing the shelves at Barnes and Noble in Stephen King’s book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”. I always open a book in the middle and read a little to see if it grabs me. I happened to open to page 185 and read, “As with all other aspects of fiction, the key to writing good dialogue is honesty. And if you are honest about the words coming out of your characters’ mouths, you’ll find that you’ve let yourself in for a fair amount of criticism.” Mr. King said he regularly receives angry letters from readers who accuse him of being vulgar and/or bigoted, and most often their letters reference the dialogue by one of his characters. Overall, his take is that being inauthentic is breaking a promise between writer and readers. If nothing else, the writer owes it to readers to be honest, knowing some people don’t want to hear the truth.
I’d like to hear other opinions on this topic. As a reader are you willing to sacrifice honesty in dialogue so you or others are not exposed to offensive language, or are you willing to tolerate offensiveness for the story remaining true to life?
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
RWA® has released the workshop schedule for the 2011 National conference in NYC this year. Here at the Lady Scribes, we have a tradition of picking out our workshops ahead of time and coordinating our schedules. That may seem like over-planning. Why not just pop into any workshop that looks appealing? But if you’ve been to Nationals before you know it’s impossible to attend every interesting workshop. Often two favorites are scheduled at the same time.
So how do you decide which ones are must-see and which ones can wait for the recording?
First, make sure you’ll have a recording. My local RWA chapter purchases the conference CD’s and puts them in a library where members can borrow them. If you don’t have access to something similar and can’t afford the CD’s, consider chipping in with some of your writer friends to buy them. Individual sessions may also be available for download. Check the program to be sure.
Go for the Visual. There are some workshops that are so visual and interactive that you really have to be there to get the full benefit. Here are a few examples from the 2011 catalogue:
Experiencing Dance Across Time: a Physical Exploration of Dance through the Ages (RESEARCH) Sarah Shade
Participants will be taught the physical and rhythmic components of a dance form unique to one of three time periods by Sarah Shade, a dance expert, and then will be led through a re-creation of each dance.
Kick-butt Heroes: Using Martial Arts in Your Action Scenes (RESEARCH) K.M. Fawcett, Melinda Leigh, and Rayna Vause
What would your hero do if the villain held a knife to his throat? Three experienced, highly trained martial artists will show you how to add authenticity and excitement to your action scenes.
Bottoms Up: a Look at Victorian Women’s Clothing from the Inside Out (RESEARCH) Deeanne Gist
Ever wonder what Victorian women wore under all those gowns? Find out as a best-selling historical author strips down to chemise and bloomers, and then watch as her lady’s maid dresses her, layer by layer.
Collage: Visual Brainstorming (CRAFT) Jennifer Crusie
New York Times best-selling author Jennifer Crusie will show writers how to use a collage for brainstorming and editing.
Look for the Big Names. You don’t have to be star-struck. It just makes sense to go see the big names. Nothing is more inspiring than discovering what you have in common with your favorite bestselling author. If their fiction speaks to you, chances are you’ll connect as writers too.
The same goes for the big name writing teachers. Even if you’ve already read their how-to books, don’t miss the opportunity to see them in person. A lot of these ‘experts’ are famous simply because they’re great speakers.
Even more important, if there’s an editor or an agent you’d like to work with, make sure you catch their workshop, panel, or spotlight. The insight you gain may make the difference between a rejection and a sale.
Look for your Subgenre: One of the great benefits of a conference as big as RWA Nationals is that they can offer the subgenre-specific workshops you might not find at a smaller, local conference. I won’t go into detail about this year’s options here because other members of the Lady Scribes will be highlighting the workshop choices for their subgenres in later posts. Suffice it to say, your schedule will be quite full if you simply attend the sessions geared toward your specific subgenre.
Look for your Weaknesses: A lot of authors use the track designations (Craft, Publishing, etc) to choose sessions appropriate for where they are in their career. Even though I’ve been writing for a few years now, I still like to choose craft workshops which address my personal writing weaknesses. I’m always open to learning an easier way to do something I find difficult.
So there you have my top 5 tips for choosing writing workshops. I would love to hear your suggestions. When faced with too many great choices, how do you decide which workshops to attend?
Sunday, April 10, 2011
I am so excited. The countdown has begun for my third trip to France. The past two, like this one, have involved chaperoning students from my sister's high school French Class. I've already mentally packed (for weeks, maybe months), and have done a bit of shopping (and will do a bit more before I go).
I also use these trips for research purposes. I've already made sure my dictaphone is in working order and that I have plenty of batteries. It was such a huge benefit last time. No need to haul around a pen and notepad. I just dictated what I wanted to remember, or go back and research. I may have mentioned this before, but I have a series of romance novels that take place during the French Revolution that I am the process of writing. Yes, I know it isn't an era or country that publishers look at, but I am drawn to put my characters there. They may not even be inspy but perhaps secular. And, they may take on a more historical fiction tone than romance. But regardless, these stories are screaming to be written and my muse, and the characters inside my head, get as excited as I do when I get a chance to visit.
So far, this is the agenda:
.:. Shopping along the Champs-Elysees .:. Notre Dame & the Louver ... Eiffle Tower and Seine River Cruise .:. Versailles, Montmartre and Basilique du Sacre Coeur Chartres .:. Chateau D'Amboise and Chenonceau .:. St. Chapelle, Tour of the Marais Quarter and Musee D'Orsay .:. Travel to Nice ... Russian Orthodox Church and sight seeing . . .
More will be added as we near our departure date because there are always sites students want to see that aren't included. In later blogs I will post about the places we saw and add what insights I have.
Have you ever been to Paris or France? If so, what are some places not to be missed?
Friday, April 8, 2011
MEMORIES IN AN ATTIC
By Lara Nance
In my paranormal romance, Memories of Murder, there is a story within a story. When I find some historical fact that captures my imagination, it invariably ends up as part of one of my books, hidden among the twists and turns of the tale.
The plot of Memories of Murder was sparked by observation of my Alzheimer’s patients and how they seem to be in another world part of the time. I fantasized that maybe they now operated on a different plane, and in that world they could see and communicate with ghosts.
From there I created the old insane asylum from which these ghosts would come. That led to my interest in old insane asylums. I studied pictures of the old Kirkbride buildings, the castle-like asylum structures of the 19th century. Then I ran across an article that I couldn’t stop thinking about.
This article told the story of the closing of the Willard Psychiatric Center of New York in 1995. As the staff worked to salvage remnants of the past, they came across an attic filled with hundreds of old suitcases. The suitcases held the last effects of some asylum inmates and the contents told the stories of their lives.
It’s a chilling reminder of how those considered to be insane were treated in the past. Many of these people were locked up for life for little more than a public outburst of anger. And yet they spent their entire lives in the confines of the asylum. Later a non-fiction book was written chronicling the people and their lives. In addition, an exhibition of the suitcases was set up.
Now that you know the real story, you’ll recognize how it influenced my scene in Memories of Murder where Maeve and Paul find the old maintenance shed from the asylum filled with suitcases.
If you’re interested in learning more about the true story of the suitcases in the attic of Willard, follow the links below for a news article and the actual exhibition site.
Article in Newsweek Magazine about the discovery of the suitcases:
Website of the exhibition:
Memories of Murder is a paranormal romance published by Crescent Moon Press. A portion of the proceeds from sales of this novel will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of my dementia patients, past and present.
For Lara's complete biography and more information on her books, please visit: www.LaraNance.com
Check out Memories of Murder at: www.CrescentMoonPress.com
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Today’s guest Suzie Grant, writes western romance with thrills. She still remembers sitting at her grandfather's feet watching cowboy shows like Gunsmoke, Lonesome Dove and Bonanza. Her love of the Wild West started by the age of four and has grown ever since. Cowboys, wide open spaces, the freedom of the west and family are what draw her to this genre. That and the fact that when a cowboy falls in love - it's for life. Suzie still believes in the happily ever after and currently resides in North Carolina with her own real life hero, three children, and one shitzhu named Peppy Le'Pew. Take a journey with her into the lives of a dying breed of man and the unforgotten way of life called the Wild West. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter
I have a theory that most women are more opinionated than men, simply because we know what we want. Women have been the backbone of families for centuries. I truly believe in the saying “behind every man is a good woman” and we’re finally getting the recognition that we deserve. Wars have been fought over and because of women in the past, but there is little doubt that women are often the driving force behind much of our history. One of my favorites are Annie Oakley, who could shoot the head off a running quail when she was twelve years old. How can you not be fascinated by a woman who thumbed her nose at society’s rules and became successful on her own terms?
They called her Little Miss Sure Shot. Oakley soon became well known throughout the region. During the spring of 1881, the Baughman and Butler shooting act was being performed in Cincinnati. Traveling show marksman and former dog trainer Francis E. Butler, an Irish immigrant, placed a $100 bet (roughly equivalent to modern US$2,000) with Cincinnati hotel owner Jack Frost, that he, Butler, could beat any local fancy-shooter. The hotelier arranged a shooting match between Butler and the 21-year-old Oakley, to be held in ten days in a small town near Greenville, Ohio. After missing on his 25th shot, Butler lost the match and the bet. He began courting Oakley, and they married on June 20, 1882.
A real life fairy tale I’d say.