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Showing posts from March, 2009

A Twisted Psyche

After some comments on my recently finished manuscript, I realized there must be some seriously twisted part of my subconscious.

It has come to my attention that the balance between protagonists in my contemporary romances is off kilter. Pretty much one protagonist dominates the other in both stories. Does that make sense? In M#1, the hero is the stronger personality and overshadows the heroine. In M#2 the heroine tends to put the hero in his place a little too often, and the poor guy takes it.

What part of my subconscious thinks that this is okay in a romantic relationship? LOL

Have you ever discovered a disturbing part of your psyche through the characters of your stories?

*warning: I mean this in an entirely lighthearted way *wink, wink*

Weekend Whine

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Today has nothing to do with writing, so feel free to move on if you want. :-)
This post has to do with the babies. Or the lack thereof.
Yes. I am going through withdrawals and am crazy enough to kinda, kinda, kinda want another. Luckily, my hubby is sane and has drawn a firm NO in shifting sand of my desires.

This is my baby. Only, he's not a baby anymore.
The truth walloped me upside the head a few days ago. I had to sort through my baby clothes to send some to my new nephew. Sentimentality isn't my strong suit, but when I saw all those old clothes I felt like crying. Just the image of them filled me with memories.
Sigh. So that's my whine. My littlest guy is almost two.

Wah!
If I'm having this much trouble now, I can't imagine how I'll feel when they're in school. Or worse, graduating.
Advice? Anyone? (sniff, sniff)

Thrice Hooked

Hooks seem to be on everyone's mind lately. Musetracks just posted some great advice about them.

So I've been thinking about my favorite show. House.

Why is this show so addictive?

Then I realized it employs three separate hooks.

The moral/philosophical/theological question that a character struggles with at the beginning of every show.

The physical mystery of what is wrong with the patient, including the race against time to save him/her.

And finally, the emotional drama of each character's life. This hook is for long time viewers, while the other two can get a newbie interested.

THREE Hooks! And at the end, they all tie in together somehow.

How many hooks do you use in your stories? Have you ever found the hook morphing into something else by the middle of your story?

More Than Words

When I first started writing for publication, I realized that my craft needed work.
So I cut and pruned and honed my prose until I knew how to wield POV, how to make a sentence shine, and how to end with a hook.

But now, something has dawned on me.

It's not about my sentence structure, verbs or adjectives. Publishers and readers want a great story.

This has challenged me to not only choose my words wisely, but to craft a story that is unique and powerful, not cliche (which I'm good at) or stale.

It's tough though. Will my plots and characters resemble a dozen others in the same genre?

What do you think? What is more likely to be published: a so-so story with amazing writing or a blow-you-away story with less than stellar writing?

Redeeming That Heroine

I think we all agreed a few posts back that while a heroine must be strong, she must also have weaknesses and vulnerabilities that we can relate to.

But what about when those frailties make her the antagonist in an earlier story? How do we go about redeeming this bad girl?

Perhaps by giving her strengths that overshadow her weakness? Or maybe her flaws lead her down a path of hurt and she comes out wiser for it.

In my WIP, the heroine has been a minor antagonist in the stories that came before. I'm trying to redeem her, trying to keep her likeable by showing her soft side and giving her certain heroic qualities.

Julie Lessman did a wonderful post awhile back about redeeming her heroine.

Have you written an unlikeable woman that you'd like to morph into a sympathetic character? How do you do this? How do you change her? Or do you only change the reader's perception of her?

Tips For a Blog

Lots of writers start blogging to get their name out there, or because we're told we should. That's why I did. I kept reading blogs and thought, hey, maybe I need one of these. So I started 'ol BookingIt up and have had a great time with it.

There are a few tips to running a successful blog.

1. Keep it short
2. Keep it focused
3. Keep it on a schedule

To me, those are the most important aspects. I also comment alot on other blogs, and if someone comes to visit I go check out their site and say hi.

For more in-depth info on creating a great blog, check out author Camy Tang's article Building A Blog.

What do you do to get your posts noticed?

Heroines: They've Grown Up

When I first started writing, I heard a lot about how heroines have changed over the years to reflect society. Today's heroines tend to be bolder, sassier, more independent, career women, etc.

The other night I felt horrible so I popped in an old favorite: The Goonies.

I know it's a kid's movie, but I started to get annoyed with the heroine. In my opinion, the heroine's sidekick deserved heroine status. Sidekick is bold, strong and compassionate (held her weeping heroine friend). Not like the true heroine, who squeals when bats fly through her hair (okay, I know we would all scream, but she did more. She went into hysterics!). The heroine seems weak in every way, while her friend is a bit mouthy but strong. The friend is the kind of heroine I don't mind rooting for.

What qualities do you look for in a heroine?

POD vs Self-Publishing

For a long time I mixed up these types of publishing.

POD (print on demand) is actually a technology that self-publishers use, but you can also find small publishers using it.

Now that I've started to understand the differences, I thought I'd post about it. Basically, self-publishing costs you money. The author pays for their story to get published. If you go with a small, legitimate press, it shouldn't cost you a dime. If the press is small and wants to charge you in order to publish your story, then it's not a small press. It's a vanity press masquerading as a small press.

It's all about the money. If you've thought about self-publishing or going with a smaller press, make sure you study your contract and know what you're getting into.

An example of a legitimate self-publisher with a good reputation is Winepress.
A small publisher who seems legit is OakTara. I stumbled across them after visiting Cindy's blog (she made her first sale to them: woohoo!) a…

Weekend Shout Outs!

First, Congrats to Jody for winning Daisy Chain by Mary DeMuth. Send me your snail mail and I'll get this out to you. :-)


Now, I'd like to give a Shout Out to a few amazing ladies whom I've met through the blogosphere and who have made their first sales.

Kathryn: Her debut novel Tender Graces sold to Bellebooks and you can now pre-order it here. Check out the amazing cover and trailer! Kathryn's blog is a fun place to land and I have a feeling her book, serious as it is, will also contain some of her cute humor.


Kristen: She's a generous writer her shares her knowledge about the craft by speaking at chapter meetings and by co-hosting Romance Divas, a place I'm planning to join when I get my booty in gear. It looks like it has all sorts of goodies to offer aspiring authors. Kristen just sold her novel All Fired Up to Samhain and has a release date for September.


Christina: She recently sold her first solo book to Moody publishing. Titled The Familiar Stranger, you c…

Daisy Chain By Mary E Demuth

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I first heard of Mary DeMuth through agent Rachelle Gardner. I subscribed to Mary's Wanna Be Published blog where she offers practical tips, free critiques, and interviews with publishing professionals.

Daisy Chain was a wonderful, haunting read. Her crisp style and the question of Daisy's whereabouts kept me hooked throughout the book. This is an awesome story.

I hope you enjoy Mary's interview. Leave a comment to be entered in the drawing to win her novel Daisy Chain.

Where did you get the idea for the book?I had a friend who shared a difficult story with me. He grew up in a Christian home. His father was in leadership in the Christian community. From the outside, all looked perfect. But behind closed doors, life was very, very hard. I wanted to expose that kind of abuse. That’s why the idea of family secrets plays heavily into all three books of the Defiance, Texas trilogy.
What are the major themes of the book?The importance (and elusiveness) of authenticity.The devastat…

The Books I Bought

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Some of you asked which books I bought. Well, here they are and the reasons I bought them.

The Convenient Groom stood out to me because of the cover. It's just awesome and immediately makes me wonder what this bride has up her...sleeve. LOL Then the title is intriguing as well. The clincher, however, is that I need to study the pacing and style of a single title contemporary romance, and there were only about two on the shelves. This won out.







Then I saw An Unexpected Pleasure for five dollars on my way to the register. The price and the author's name is what prompted me to buy this one. No other reason than it was a good deal and I knew I would probably like it because I've read a few of her books before.








Finally, the book I chose for pleasure, and pleasure alone, is Sinner by Sharon Carter Rogers. The cover and title immediately caught my eye. The blurb sounded great and when I saw that agent Steve Laube represented it, I thought, I want to read this book. I met Laube at a …

Looks, and How They Sucked Me In

On my birthday, my hubby whisked me away and plopped me down into the fiction aisle of the local bookstore. Then he said, voice deep and sexy, "Buy". You all should know that I'm a submissive wife, so I did exactly what he said. >g<

I didn't go all crazy and decided that as much as I wanted to just swoop all those books into my arms and run, I couldn't. So I had to choose, and boy was that hard.

Guess what I looked at first?

Yep. Covers.

If a cover looked interesting, I checked out the title and then the backcover copy. After awhile, I realized what I was doing and deliberately looked at Titles, blurbs and first pages.

But the sad truth remains. My eye was caught by looks first.

Have you thought about your manuscript's book cover? What it might look like and how it might entice readers to buy?

Skeeter and the Mystery of the Lost Mosquito Treasure

Hi everyone,
I'm heading out early today for a niece's birthday part FAR away, so I thought I'd post this review for some of you moms.

I just received Max Lucado's Hermie and Friends DVD in the mail. Whenever Lucado switched from books to movies is beyond me, but he's done well. Skeeter and the Mystery of the Lost Mosquito Treasure kept my kids on the couch.

The movie is all about this little mosquito who has always felt like less because his stinger is crooked. When his "perfect" brother comes home, everybody fawns over him. His stinger is long and straight, plus he's a famous explorer. When the brothers discover a treasure map from their father, they decide to work together to find the treasure. In the process, they discover that they're each special and are formed the way they are for a special purpose.

It's a cute little movie set in a garden. Like I said, both the 4 year old and the 2 1/2 year old sat down and watched it. I liked letting them…

Physical Characteristics Say More Than Words

In an earlier post, I mentioned how some books have the ability to make us cry. Now, to be fair, I never cried reading a book until after I had some kids. Then, suddenly, something happened to my hormones.

The first book that made me cry was Linda Howard's (ironically) Cry No More. She did an excellent job with showing in this book. In the prologue the heroine's baby is literally wrenched from her arms. Kidnapped. First chapter is years and years later. I can't remember if the reader is told that the heroine is still grief-stricken, that this event forever changed her. What I do remember is the heroine's hair, and the silver streak that appeared after her son's kidnapping.

Another book that showed a woman's grief using a physical characteristic is Alice Hoffman's Practical Magic. In this book, the widowed heroine loses her ability to see color when her husband dies. Eventually she sees color again, but never red, the color of the stop sign the teenagers ran w…

Genres

Like many of you pointed out, realizing what books your story is similar to will help you target a specific house or agent.

One of the most important things to know is what genre your books falls under. In other words, at the bookstore, what shelf in what section would your story sit on.

There's tons of genres for fiction.

Western
Romance
Thriller
Suspense
Literary
Mainstream
Fantasy
Futuristic
Mystery
Historical

The list could go on. Not only that, but you can mix and match genres, though it's vital to know the main category of your story.

For instance, I am writing inspirational (Christian) contemporary romances targeted to Love Inspired. However, I've thought of writing an inspirational urban fantasy. That would be mixing the genres up and might be kind of fun, though a difficult sell.

Debra, in the comments yesterday, mentioned a gothic inspirational. How fun! A totally new genre comprised of some main genres.

What genre do you write in? Ever thought of trying something new?

Bullseye

Oftentimes new writers don't think about where their writing may fit in the publishing world, but it's an important aspect to consider on the journey to publication.

Think of the publishing world as one big dart board. Somewhere is your perfect bullseye. It's up to you to find it.

In order to do that, there are several things you need to consider.

1. The tone of your work
2. The genre
3. The length
4. Your projected audience

There's probably more to add to this list, so feel free to point out other considerations.

Have you targeted certain publishers or agents as a fit for you?