Friday, August 31, 2012
Thursday, August 30, 2012
As an acquiring editor I'm always asking for a series concept, a trilogy, or a concept for multiple books that allow for branding and building readership. When I talk about "career arc" I'm looking for what your next, next, next books will be...
Here are some things to think about as you conceive and write a series for the romance readership.
- In today's marketplace, the current/most recent book is going to be the most visible. The booksellers are very focused on frontlist. That means readers have to be able to enter your series at any point.
- Each book has to be able to stand on its own. Build and (re)populate the world in every book. Never assume readers have read the series from the beginning.
- Don't explain backstory--give the information in the telling of the new story.
- Bring fresh secondary characters into every book.
- Future heroes and heroines have to be desirable/redeemable every time they appear in any book. You will be working against yourself if you set a character up as a jerk or undesirable and then try to redeem them as a hero or heroine later.
- If you set up a character very strongly as the next hero or heroine, then deliver that character's story in the very next book. Don't try to keep a secondary character's setup going over multiple books--it's difficult to keep their story development totally fresh.
- Be consistent throughout the series with the same heat level, tone, quality of writing.
- If one book fails, the retail buyers may be unwilling to continue or to strongly support the series--for this reason I as an editor am going to be focused on the market strength of the next book as it stands, rather than being dictated by the order of the characters' stories.
- If you set up your series in such a way that it has to be read in one particular order you may find extensive revisions when your editor rearranges the order of the series.
- Even after the entire series is on the market, readers may not read the books in order. You have no control over that.
Wednesday, August 29, 2012
Some people are obsessed with the Twilight novels...or were. Has the trend passed? I'm not sure. I've always been told not to write to trends. But isn't that what happens organically? Who wants to produce a book that no one will buy?
Beyond writing, I have another obsession. I'm obsessed with euro beads. That's the generic term for those pricey Pandora bracelets. For those of us who cannot afford the Pandora brand, there are less expensive alternatives and they're just as pretty. I love making them!
I've become so obsessed, I can't wear all the bracelets I make. Even though I'm branching out into necklaces and earrings, I still need to give some away to prevent a jewelry box explosion. Did I say 'give away?' I meant to say sell or trade. Otherwise, how am I to support my beading habit?
So, I opened an Etsy shop and began trading 'stuff' on Listia. What are these places you ask?
Well, Etsy is where you can sell anything homemade. I also sell my autographed books there. Hey, I made them in my home, so it counts. (grin) My store is called Ashlyn's Imagination, and here's the link. http://www.etsy.com/shop/AshlynsImagination I also give a 20% discount for the code AshlynCreates.
Listia is a smart new website based on the principle that "One man's trash is another man's treasure." I'm obsessed with the idea of recycling. My husband and I don't like clutter. Anything we're not using that doesn't have enormous sentimental value goes on ebay, Amazon, or Listia. http://www.listia.com What I like about Listia is that no money exchanges hands. People simply put up their item and others bid for it with points. The one who offers the most points, wins!
How do you get points? The site gives you 500 to start, and then you're off and running! People bid on whatever you put up for "sale". Thus, you gather points to bid on stuff you want (beads) AND they take your unwanted junk off your hands. Whoever came up with this idea was brilliant!
So...what will I ever do if my favorite trends go away? Namely writing about vampires, werewolves, and other paranormal characters. Or euro beads? Or TV fashion and makeover shows? There, there, Ashlyn. Don't cry. Some other trend will come along. There will always be plenty of new obsessions to discover.
So, what's your obsession?
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
But this blog isn’t about the hassles involved with registration. It’s about the part I really like. School pictures! The school takes pictures at registration, so the parents can see and approve the photo. They also take them once more in the spring, so we can see how our kids have changed over the year. I love that!!!
This year played out a little differently than in the past, though. I found myself on the verge of an all-out power struggle with both of my kids over what to wear. Here’s how the conversation went with my son.
|Look at that collar! I wanted to wear a dress.|
|The bow tie is almost bigger than he is.|
|Love that eighties hair.|
|Don Johnson called. He wants his jacket back.|
Monday, August 27, 2012
Do you know why I became a writer? Easy. I love to read. If you don't love to read, I don't think you have any business writing.
Once upon a time, I could sit and read an entire book from cover-to-cover. Some days I'd even read two books in one day. *gasp!* These days, that seems like a modern-day fairy tale. An impossible dream. Unrealistic.
I just don't have time!
I currently have this book on my nightstand.
I got it in my head that I would reread the entire Harry Potter series this summer from beginning to end. Come to think of it, the last book I read cover-to-cover in one sitting was "HP and the Deathly Hallows". It's been years! So in preparation for my intended reading marathon, I replaced several of my hard copies. A few of my original books had "magically" disappeared when I loaned them out to family members. So once I had all seven books lined up on my shelf, I eagerly started reading.
I can't wait. I said.
This is going to be awesome. I said.
I wonder if the secrets revealed at the end of the series were hinted at in earlier books. I said.
It will be so cool to read the entire series as a unit. I said.
I'm currently on chapter two in the first book. Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer, is a week from today. I don't think I'm going to reach my goal.
So a couple of months ago, I moved here
thinking one of the things I would enjoy doing most in my new locale is sitting near the waves and reading a good book without interruption. Dream on! I haven't even been to the beach in two weeks. Between the new job and everything that goes with writing and being a writer, I don't even have time to explore the island. And when I did steal five minutes to go to the beach after dinner one evening, I couldn't enjoy watching the waves, because a certain horrible entity kept weighing on my mind. THIS beast:
I despise that evil creature.
Despite the never-ending list of must-do tasks, I need to read. It's always been a necessary part of my life.
So confession time.
Do you know where I do most of my reading?
Now isn't that romantic? True, I'm mature enough to use the big-girl pottie and it's my Kindle that never leaves that room, but if I didn't read there, I wouldn't have the time to read anywhere. Ten stolen minutes of reading is better than none.
Maybe when I am finally able to quit my day job (see to-do list), I'll find the time to read again. But until then, I'll keep doing this
and pray I don't drop one ball, because I know if I do, the rest will soon follow.
How much do you read each week? And where do you do most of your reading? How do you find the time to do it? Inquiring minds...
Friday, August 24, 2012
I'm Macy Beckett, and I have a confession.
See the pretty cover up there? The one with moonlight dancing over a placid Texas lake? Well, I've been having a secret, obsessive relationship with that book. (Shh! don't tell my husband!)
It all started a couple of months ago when the FedEx man delivered a batch of ARCs (advance reader copies) to my doorstep. Sultry with a Twist is my debut novel, so this was the first time I'd seen my work in print form. It was magical. It was stunning. It was A REAL BOOK!
It also occurred to me that if I was holding my secret lover, other people were, too. (She gets around, but that's okay. We have an open relationship.) Not only had print ARCs gone out to bloggers and reviewers, but the digital copy was available on netgalley. That meant strangers were reading my book!
Anxiety was soon joined by his best buddy, Obsession. Together, the little bastards forced me into a daily routine of compulsively checking my Goodreads reviews and my Amazon rankings. I cried out, "But that's not helpful! I have work to do--other books to write!" However, my captors only laughed in my face and made me Google myself as punishment for my impudence. Obsession and Anxiety are merciless masters.
Veteran authors tell me I won't feel this way forever, that the novelty (haha...get it?) will wear off in a few months. I hope they're right, because I'm beginning to develop an eye twitch and a Merlot dependency.
And because I have no shame, I created a short film depicting my illicit love affair. Enjoy, and don't judge me too harshly. I'm suffering for my art! ;-)
But wait, there's more! Enter to win one of my lovers...er, I mean ARCs!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Indie Bound and several other online retailers. SULTRY WITH A TWIST releases October 2nd, followed by two more Sultry Springs novels in 2013. Macy loves to keep in touch with readers on Facebook and Twitter, so stop by and say hello!
Thursday, August 23, 2012
I did become a teacher and taught for eleven years. There were definitely aspects of teaching I did not care for, but there were some I embraced without fail. The rules was one of these. Before my first year of teaching, I spent many hours thinking about my classroom rules—how many would I have (not too many!), how would I write them (as positive “Do” statements), and how would I enforce them (detention!)? I probably should have been thinking about what to do when a student cursed at me and threw his shoe at my head, but I was 23 and had no experience with inner city kids.
The hero of my next book, When You Give a Duke a Diamond, which releases September 1st, has never been a teacher and he would have throttled that little punk without a second thought. But what Will, the sixth Duke of Pelham, does have in common with most teachers is that he has rules. Very strict, important rules.
Will lives his life by rules, which is true of all of us to some extent. We obey the rules of traffic, of social interaction, even of social media. But Will has what he calls Cardinal Rules, additional rules he has imposed on himself. Most kids can’t wait to be a grown up, so they don’t have to follow all of the rules anymore, but Will lives his life by rote and rule. He eats, sleeps, and works on a schedule. His first Cardinal Rule is that the schedule is to be preserved at all costs. His second Cardinal Rule is never fall in love.
You see where this is going, right? Because Will is going to meet Juliette, who scoffs at rules and scoffs at the Dangerous Duke.
Have you ever encountered a preposterous rule? I saw a picture on Facebook for a sign that said, “Warning: Do not walk on ceiling.” Good rule, but necessary? How about you?
He had a perfectly orderly life...
William, the sixth Duke of Pelham, enjoys his punctual, securely structured life. Orderly and predictable—that's the way he likes it. But he's in the public eye, and the scandal sheets will make up anything to sell papers. When the gossip papers link him to Juliette, one of the most beautiful and celebrated courtesans in London, chaos doesn't begin to describe what happens next...
Until she came along...
Juliette is nicknamed the Duchess of Dalliance and has the cream of the nobility at her beck and call. It's disruptive to have the duke who is the biggest catch on the Marriage Mart scaring her other suitors away. Then she discovers William's darkest secret and decides what he needs in his life is the kind of excitement only she can provide...
Wednesday, August 22, 2012
It is a lovely old house with accommodation for the writer in residence. The idea of a 4 week funded writing retreat is so tempting, but I can’t see hubby or the kids letting me go for that long…maybe when they are older.
While it was a thrill to be invited to read at the awards, it was followed by what will I read!
These people aren’t romance lovers, and yet everything I write is either romance or has romantic elements.
My next thought was, arg! My first solo reading and my longest. And they are going to be a tougher crowd than the kids at bed time. I’ve had lots of practice reading aloud every night for the past…well enough years that the kids appreciate story and comment if nothing happens in the first page except description.
Reading for an audience is also different to me muttering in front of the computer as I read through looking for clunky sentences. So I found a scene with action, and not too much romance, practiced, made notes in the margins and set off for the hills (about 1hr away).
It was a delightful afternoon and I got to listen to some of the award winning stories. My reading went really well, and best of all the books I donated to KSP were taken to new and loving homes.
Monday, August 20, 2012
I've heard it said that radio dramas were "theatre of the mind." Listening to radio stories wasn't a passive activity in the way movies or stage plays are. The story didn't merely wash over you. It was an active sort of entertainment. Listeners had to populate their mental stages with all the characters and action they could only hear. They had to build the settings and put the characters in motion in a world they alone could see.
Radio dramas were good mental exercise, but IMO, books are what really provide this experience. With only ink on a page, readers have to collaborate with the author to populate the story with flesh and blood characters, to build a whole world filled with sights, sounds, smells and textures.
But what happens when the world is so different from what a reader is used to? One of my intrepid Dutch readers had no trouble imagining Brandr, my hot, fire mage hero. Of course, the wonderful cover helps there.
LORD OF FIRE AND ICE. I can't blame her. We have nothing like it now. You can watch House Hunters every day and never run across a floor plan like the one the vikings used. So my reader found this wonderful website with incredible pictures that illustrate the viking age. Here's the link: Lotofr.
The museum itself, which is organized around an archeological dig, is housed in a longhouse, a single story structure that was home to the head of the household and all their retainers in a communal sort of living. A longhouse was organized around a central meal fire. There were no chimneys. Smoke escaped from holes in the high-peaked roof. Deep benches, used for both seating and sleeping, lined the walls. Only a few rooms were actually walled off inside, the better to circulate heat. Life was as harsh as the winters and people needed to live in close community with each other in order to survive.
I'm delighted that my reader was fascinated enough by the world of LORD OF FIRE AND ICE to do a little of her own research. The pictures she discovered help her form more accurate mental images of the viking age setting.
How about you? Have you ever read a book whose world so fascinated you, you had to delve into it deeper on your own?
Mia loves to connect with readers. Find her at MiaMarlowe.com , Twitter and Facebook!
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Each time I read the book, the characters took on a whole new depth and I understood their motives more and more. By the time I got around to reading it a few years ago, I realized that the reason was because my own life experiences had changed so much. I could relate to the characters that had lived through the tough times and had beat the odds and carved out a path in a brand new totally different world.
This past summer one of my best friends told me that she had a signed original copy of the book. I'd just love to look at that copy but alas, she knows I'd drool on it, and keeps in locked away in a safe. She is one smart cookie, let me tell you, but I do have an order in for a set of lock picks and a book called "Bank Robbing for Dummies." Shhh! Don't tell and I'll let you peek at it, too!
Readers have told me that they've reread my books second and third times. Do they find brand new depths with a second or a third reading? Does a twenty year old new mother find courage in a sassy heroine? Does a sixty year old grandmother see herself in one of those secondary characters?
Friday, August 17, 2012
LASR is having their Fifth Anniversary Celebration and giving away all sorts of prizes. I’ve offered to give away the signed trilogy for my hot cowboy series: The Secret Life of Cowboys to help them celebrate. Here’s the link to their website to enter the contest http://www.longandshortreviews.com/promo.htm
I’m also part of their blog hop tomorrow, the 19th, here’s the link that will go live on the 19th: http://lasrguest.blogspot.com/
Thursday, August 16, 2012
So here's what I came up with.
imikimi - sharing creativity
Yep, it's my brand. Wolves.
imikimi - sharing creativity
But now I have jaguars too. Sometimes finding the right picture can be a chore, if you're like me and don't have many very nice ones, but I found one that could work for the picture so there you have it! Me in the jungle with one of my big cats. Now, figuring out which one of them it is, will be the really tough part.
I also updated my Facebook cover photo. I didn't have one. Huh? I didn't know we could add one. So I added one that is also my brand. Highlanders! At least as far as showcasing pictures of Scotland goes. So I featured the one that I used for the writing of A Highland Werewolf Wedding. :)
Savage Hunger, October 2012
9/24 Love Romance Passion
9/25 Sharon Buchbinder
9/26 The Romance Studio; Paulette's Papers
9/27 Jesse Kimmel-Freeman
9/28 The Lovestruck Novice
10/1 Star Crossed Romance
10/2 Castles and Guns
10/3 Booklovin Mamas
10/4 Paranormal Haven
10/5 Fresh Fiction & 7 Scribes
10/8 Night Owl Reviews
10/9 Manga Maniac Café
10/10 Urban Girl Reader
10/11 Under the Covers Book Blog
10/12 Books and Beyond
10/15 Cocktail and Books
10/16 Book Lovers & Cindy's Love of Books
10/17 Deanna's Tidbits
10/19 A Bookworm’s Haven
10/22 Fiction Vixen
10/23 SOS Aloha
10/24 Reading Between the Wines
10/25 Guilty Pleasures Book Reviews
10/26 Sia McKye’s Thoughts Over Coffee
10/29 The Qwillery
10/30 RomFan Reviews
10/31 Cynthia Wolf
And here is the schedule for more upcoming releases!!!The Highland wolves are taking over! Not a bad thing, really!
In A Howl for a Highlander, Duncan MacNeill is off traipsing around Grand Cayman Island trying to get the clan's stolen funds back. He's a warrior, not a lover, but when he runs into a she-wolf botanist at the airport, the stakes suddenly change. And paradise becomes even more of a hunting ground for the Highland wolf.
In A Highland Werewolf Wedding, we have Cearnach's story. He's the second eldest of the MacNeill quadruplets and has only one intention, seeing his friend marry a wolf he doesn't approve of. Run off the road by an American she-wolf--she can't help that they drive on the wrong side of the road and he's late to a wedding--he's found more trouble than he ever bargained for.
A Highland Werewolf Wedding, May 2013 NEW!!!
And more jaguar fun!
In Jaguar Fever, Maya learns that she and her brother are not all alone in the world when she gets word they have a couple of cousins. Meeting them at a jaguar shifter club in Houston--who would ever have thought such a place existed?--she learns that the shifter that had followed them in the jungle in Savage Hunger is there--trying to uncover an exotic animal trafficking ring--only he's a bit distracted when he catches Maya in his sights and learns that's she's Connor's sister, not his wife--and available.
Jaguar Fever, 2013
Aren't they just yummy?????
I want to take them all home with me. What about you?
"Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy IS reality!"