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Showing posts from January, 2011

Beginnings: Looking Ahead 48 Days Until Spring! by C.H. Admirand

Now that all of the delicious Christmas baked goods and candies have been consumed, and I’m back to paying attention to what I eat (and yes that means joining Weight Watchers…for the 3rd and final time!) winter has lost most of its appeal for me.While I don’t like snow, ice, wind, or cold weather, I really do enjoy those warmish days ahead when the sun is bright overhead reflecting off the snow that is left on the ground, creating a fabulously clean, fresh landscape pleasing to the eye and to one’s sense of smell. Just look at this poor chilly Blue Jay trying to warm up on our front steps.

But I miss my flowers. So looking ahead toward one of my favorite times of the year, Spring, I thought I’d post a couple of pictures in and around our yard taken during the Spring and Summer months. Every once in awhile, I remember to go grab my camera when a Swallowtail Butterfly or Dragonfly land in the Butterfly bushes surrounding our Bluestone patio.













So looking ahead until Spring and the warmer mo…

New beginnings-- Let's talk AMERICAN IDOL

I can't help myself -- I tune into American Idol even when I swear I won't each year. Each year I swear it's my last if it's not a better season than the one before it.




This year American Idol is bright and shiny and new. It defines NEW BEGINNING with the change of judges and new format changes we've been promised. I love Steven Tyler and I think Jennifer Lopez is a Madonna in the sense that she is the queen of creating opportunity. She knows how to use her assets. And Randy -- well Randy is Randy. He's never felt like a major player to me. I was disappointed the past two years in the show. The talent just wasn't as exciting as in past years. I'm really hoping that with the new judges we see some exciting talent as the season progresses. That will be the test for me when I decide if I want to tune in or not. Do I want to see the performances? Last year I fast forwarded to see only a few. I really hope we get some Chris Daugherty goodness this year!


So -…

Sara Taney Humphreys: Beginning Again

Life is full of beginnings. We set goals and put plans in motion to achieve those goals. However, sometimes those plans don't always to come to fruition. So what then? We make a new plan and begin again.

When I was fresh out of college I began my initial career path as an actress. I pursued that for a while. I landed a little bit of work here and there (very little). I had my mind set on doing that for the rest of my life. That was it! I was an actress. Period. End of story. Ummmm. No.

In my early twenties I married my college sweetheart. We began our married life with big plans! Definitely no kids for the first two years of our marriage. Well... about seven weeks into our marriage we discovered that we were five weeks pregnant. New plan. So we began again.

Four boys, lots of bills and several years later, I began a career as a motivational public speaker. I had no idea that I could make my living talking. As a kid my nicknames were Motormouthand Chatty Cathy, so getting paid to talk…

Grace Burrowes on Beginnings

Beginnings of romance novels are supposed to be easier—less difficult—to write than ends or (cue ominous music) middles. There is a great deal of business to transact at the beginning of the book. The dramatis personae must strut, mince, waltz, thunder or crawl onto the stage; hero and heroine must Meet and perhaps even enjoy or suffer through their First Kiss; external conflicts must be strongly hinted at if they don’t get center stage; secondary characters and subplots have to get some mention; the requirements of setting must be appeased. At the beginning of a book, the issue of what to write about is subsumed under all that busyness, and yet sometimes, even the beginning of a book eludes us. The first line won’t present itself. The first scene keeps developing a limp. The Meet has no chemistry. The hero and heroine have too much chemistry and all of it is bad. The secondary characters are too charming, witty, or intriguing to serve in their intended roles. And sometimes, we get in…

Critique: Your Best Beginning

By Leah Hultenschmidt, Senior Editor

We all know the importance of a great hook expressed in the query letter--that's what's going to get me psyched (or not) about reading the manuscript. But for every single submission, even if I'm not entirely jazzed by query, I always want to to give the writing a look. And those first couple of paragraphs can make all the difference in the world. I want to see something compelling enough to keep reading. Depending on the story, that interest can come in all kinds of ways. Is there a character doing something interesting? Is there humorous dialogue? Is there some kind of tease that makes me want to know more? Or is the hero just so hot and delicious I can't tear my eyes away?

As Tamara was discussing earlier, a lot of authors use prologues to jump immediately into an action scene and then start chapter one a number of years later. That only works if chapter one stays just as interesting--and I'll gladly skip ahead a littl…

And I'm Off and Running by Stephanie Julian

January is usually a pretty dreary month here in PA. Right now, there's week-old snow on the ground that's looking pretty dingy but it's being covered by yet more snow that may cause my sons to miss yet another day of school and interrupt my writing. Oh joy.

It's the month when I wish I had a treadmill because bundling up to running outside seems like too much of a hassle. Of course, if I miss my run, you don't want to talk to me. I'll be miserable. Also in January, I typically end up with a cold or a sinus infection or bronchitis. My knees hurt because I don't take the time to warm up properly before I run and I have to get my tax information together and I'd rather cover five-hour municipal meetings than do taxes.

There were a couple of bright spots though. MOONLIGHT TEMPTATION, the fourth book in my Lucani Lovers series from Ellora's Cave, released Jan. 21 and features a few characters who will be showing up in my Forgotten Goddesses series with S…

Prologues by Tamara Hogan



Yeah, okay. I realize that I'm risking a lighning bolt on this one. But here in the confessional, I can freely admit that I LOVE PROLOGUES - well-written prologues, that is.

Prologues: love 'em or hate 'em? This is a subject where authors, agents, editors and readers all seem to have strong opinions. Writers on the contest circuit are told that agents and editors hate prologues - or do they love them this year? I forget. ;-)

Right now, a lot of us here at Sourcebooks Casablanca are judging manuscripts and/or books for two of Romancelandia's most prestigious writing contests: The Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart and RITA awards. As a rabid reader, I judge a lot of contests, primarily in the paranormal/urban fantasy/futuristic/time-travel/fantasy/sci-fi/space opera/ 'how many more sub-genres can be crammed into one monolithic, hyper-competitive category' category. (One of my RITA books is a historical paranormal, competing in the parano…

Beginning of a Whole Year of New Books to Read!

Beginning of a Whole Year of New Books to Read!
Blog By: Catherine Mann

I’m an avid reader, always have been. As a kid, I devoured the Little House on the Prairie series, the Nancy Drew series, Little Women, The Secret Garden, and so on and so on.

In in the sixth grade I read Gone With the Wind and was so frustrated with the ending, I rewrote my own - happier - ending to Scarlett and Rhett’s story.

Then, in the seventh grade, I discovered books by Laurie McBain and Kathleen Woodiwiss – books that celebrate happily ever after!

It was the beginning of a lifelong affinity for romance novels!

Now that January is here, we have a whole new year of fabulous books to choose from. I’ve made my list, marking my calendar with release dates for all my favorite authors. And I adore the launch parties given here at the beginning of each month for our Casablanca Babe Authors as I find new authors to try out.

I’m very much looking forward to my own Casablanca launch party this July when Cover Me

New Beginnings

Sorry I've been MIA from commenting on the blog this week. It's been a rough week. Apologies in advance if this isn't the uplifting post I'd hoped it would be. My mind just isn't in an "uplifting" place right now.

I've spent a lot of time over the last week thinking about what I want to talk about with regard to beginnings and I keep coming back to the same thing even though the optimistic side of me warns I should spare you from my rambling. You see, I haven't been thinking all that much about beginnings. I've been focused on endings. Last week, a friend of mine was murdered by her husband in a domestic violence altercation. She was a beautiful 38-year old woman with two daughters, ages 12 and 5, and her life was cut short because of one violent moment that can never be undone. This tragedy has hit my family extra hard as not only were we friends with this couple, but they went to our church and their 12-yr old daughter is close friends with m…

NEW BEGINNINGS, NEW PROMOTIONS by Kathryne Kennedy

I started out the new year doing my very first radio station interview, and despite the fact that I knew the interviewer was a fellow writer, and that she would be very supportive, I still felt nervous about it. After years of self-editing, it’s difficult to relax in a situation where you don’t know what questions are going to be asked and you have to come up with answers on the spot, while trying to sound friendly and intelligent.

After years of writing, I think editing has spoiled me.

I’m used to getting into that groove, where the characters take over, and my fingers fly across the keyboard seemingly like magic. I don’t worry about what I’m writing; I just let the story flow…because I know I can go back and edit everything. If I have missed something, or there’s a better way to say something, or if I have an awkward sentence, or neglected to make a plot point clear, I can fix it.

Not so in real life. You can’t edit out something you’ve said. You can’t add in what you should have said.

On The Hook Or, Why Every Book Proposal Has to Have One

By Deb Werksman
Editorial Manager
Sourcebooks Casablanca

I’m giving a talk on this topic next week at the San Diego Writers Conference and I thought I’d start a conversation here with our dear authors.
When I receive a book or series proposal from new (and sometimes seasoned) authors, the first thing I ask is: What is the hook?
By hook I mean: What is a 1-3 sentence pitch I can give my sales people that they can give the buyers, that answers the question “What is it about your book or series that makes it really stand out and grab the attention of potential readers?”
Here’s the sobering reality: The competition is extremely fierce. Last year over one million (1,000,000!) new titles were published. You’d need several lifetimes just to read all those books, even if you never had to do laundry or the dishes (or go to work)!Packaging a work of art is of course counter-intuitive, but if we’re going to get your book into the hands of as many readers as possible, it’s got to stand ou…

Home, Sweet Spiritual Home

by Mary Margret DaughtridgeI knew a fellow one time. A writer, he was. He was from South Carolina and his name was—I swear—Beauregard. Seriously. If I put it in a book, critics would slam me for stereotyping...Anyway, Beau, whether or not he ever actually wrote, talked a lot about writing. Back in those days, writing was my guilty secret, so I did write, but never talked about it. People who could talk about it, impressed me greatly.If you asked Beau where he was from, he would say Columbia or Greenville—I don’t remember. “But,” he would add in the thickest South Carolina accent you ever heard, “I consider Monks’ Corner my spiritual home.” Ah considda Muunks’ Cawnah mah spurchal home. There, he said, flowed a never-ending fountain of inspiration, of ideas and words, paragraphs and plots, and when he was finally ready to write his novel, there he would go.I didn’t have a spiritual home, that I knew of, and I wasn’t perfectly clear on how a spiritual home differed from any other kind. I…

Where Ideas Begin. . .

By Cheryl Brooks

First, you take a Zetithian guy like this with long black hair and a broken heart.



















Then you picture him riding up on a horse like this:
















no saddle, no bridle, no clothes (Oh my!)

With a pet like this:















Living all alone in a place like this:














and you have the beginning of The Cat Star Chronicles #9. That's all I've got so far--don't even have a title or a heroine--but the ideas are stewing around in my head, just itching to come out and play.

And speaking of new beginnings, my fellow Sextet members and I have just sold our line of erotic short story anthologies to Siren. We're very excited and having a boatload of fun. And if we make a boatload of money, well, so much the better!

LOL! Can anyone say MENAGE?

In the Beginning, There was Research by Shana Galen

I’ll be the first person to tell you that I hate research. I’ve always hated it, which is of course, why I majored in Psychology in college and wrote a Senior thesis which involved—what else?—a lot of research!

And then I got out of Psychology and away from research, only to write historical romance novels which involve—what else?—a lot of research!

You would think after seven historical novels, I’d be resigned to the fact that I’m going to have to research, but for some reason I always think I’ll get out of it. My April book, The Making of a Rogue, was like this. It’s the third in my Sons of the Revolution series, and it’s about Bastien, the youngest son of the duc de Valère. Like his two brothers, Bastien escaped the Revolution and the guillotine. He did so by joining a group of pirates and sailing away from France.

When we catch up with Bastien, about twelve years later, he has his own ship and is a privateer in his own right. But he a problem in the form of the daughter of a British …

The "Meet Cute" by Joanne Kennedy

It's amazing how many beginnings, in stories and in life, are based on chance. A serendipitous encounter, a chance meeting, a happy accident -- life would be dull if it weren't for the curveballs flung by a playful universe. Just when you think you've got your life figured out -- splat! -- everything changes.


In romantic comedies, that moment is the "meet cute" - a situation that brings the hero and heroine together in a way that lets them clash, tangle, and ultimately fall in love. The "meet cute" is almost always awkward or embarrassing, and leads to conflict and hence, a plot!

Screwball comedies are the prime place for finding "meet cutes." It Happened One Night, Bluebeard's Eighth Wife, Bringing Up Baby -- they all hinge on a start-up scene where the hero and heroine meet in a zany, unexpected manner and are irresistibly attracted despite the barriers thrown in their way.

The chance meeting feeds our fantasies because deep down, we want …

The first line, by Ashlyn Chase

I give a humor workshop, and I begin at the beginning. The first line.
You all know you have to hook the reader as quickly as possible. Some feel the first paragraph or even the first page is soon enough. I want to do it in the very first sentence! Today, consider me your workshop leader, and have fun.

To free up our inner children and get into a playful mood, I usually start off with an exercise. Do you remember “Mad Libs” from your childhood? They’ve been around for decades. In case you grew up in a cave, I’ll summarize the game.

An innocent-looking one-page story has had certain words (the boring ones) deleted from each sentence. The players call out whatever the current reader asks for…a noun, verb, adverb, adjective, etc. That person fills in the blanks with these random words, and then reads it back to the players. The results are usually hilarious.

I ask workshop participants to try a slightly different version of this game. I’ll throw out some seemingly normal sentence…

In The Beginning...

...there was Eden.

And Obo.

No, I didn't name a hero Obo. The hero is Matt, but in the beginning of I Dream of Genies, it's Eden and the cat.

I was reading a thread somewhere (and there are so many) where authors were talking about starting their stories. Some said they never know where to start; others nailed it every time. I'm a mix of both and this book was one of the ones where I had to rethink the opening. Originally, the book started with Eden face-down in Matt's lap... Not too shabby of an opening, I thought.

But once I'd written it, I realized that it was too quick of an opening. Fun and funny, yes, but we didn't know the characters well enough to appreciate the scenario, so I had to take a step back and give the reader some background on the characters and the world. Plus, you had to know that Eden's been watching Matt run by every day and, hey, she's been confined to her bottle for almost eighteen hundred years... she's just a bit, er, frustra…

In the Beginning…

By Danielle Jackson

As an avid reader, I know that an opening line sets the tone for the entire novel—whether it actually has anything integral or not to do with the plot and overall outcome for the characters—if it even has to do anything with the main characters… Anyway, I thought it would be fun to have a little quiz, which will have some recognizable first lines from books we all know and love, as well as some first lines from some author on the rise ;-) I’ll reveal the answers in the comments around Noon (CST). Until then, let us know your guesses, and share your own favorite first lines!

1) It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…
2) Lady Callista Taillefaire was a gifted wallflower.
3) It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
4) If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents wer…

Starting 2011 Off with a Bang…Red Ryder Style

By Tracey Devlyn Welcome to my first blog! I’m so excited to join the Casa ladies. Since signing with Sourcebooks last spring, I’ve been a regular visitor and sometimes commenter on the blog. So, I feel like I know a little bit about everyone already.This year will be a year of firsts for me. First editorial notes, first marketing plan, first blog tour, first book…well, you get the picture. Although some of my firsts make my knees clang together just thinking about them, I’m looking forward to every minute of this year’s journey. And next year’s and the next. In an effort to start off 2011 right and to stay organized, I pinned my annual writing goals next to my desk, so that they’re forever in my line of sight. I also published them on my website for accountability purposes. Not so easy to ignore them now! In my day job, I’ve established annual goals for years, so it was easy to transfer that habit over to my writing. Annual goals act as a road map. I’ve found they keep me on target th…

A Memorial to a Wolf-Dog Companion

by Terry Spear
One of the things I love about fans is how they want to share some news with me--this one is about a much cherished friend and companion--a wolf-dog named Micah who lived the good life with his human family.

This is a picture of Sia McKye's dearly departed wolf-dog companion, Micah. He's beautiful, Sia, and I want to thank you so much for sharing him with us. You've talked about what a treasure he was, but seeing a picture of him is a real treat.

So I wanted to take a moment to share him with everyone who loves canines. He is beautiful and I know he was very much loved. And I must say, he looks totally pampered on those gorgeous brocade pillows and the Scottish plaid one too. But he should be! :)



The end of the year had some great news too for me--LEGEND OF THE WHITE WOLF was nominated for TRS Cupid and Psyche Awards. Last year, TO TEMPT THE WOLF was nominated and won Honorable Mention, along with 3 NYT best selling authors, and the winner was a USA Today …