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Showing posts from March, 2009

Advice to Newbie Authors

I was asked “if you could go back in time to before you were first published, what five to ten pieces of advice would you give yourself?” Yes, I would hope I’d listen to my own advice, but that doesn’t always happen. So easy to go your own way and make your own mistakes, even if there’s a chance you won’t have to. So what would I do? Of course, when I sold my first two books there was very little information out there for authors. There was no RWA and you relied heavily on your agent and editor or if you could meet another author. I didn't meet another author for over a year and I attended the very first RWA National conference and discovered "wow, more like me!" I would make sure to have an agent who would look out for my interests and if that person weren’t, then I’d be on the hunt for someone who did. Yes, listen to your agent, they know the market in ways you don't, but there also has to be give and take and hopefully, they'll listen to you too. Learning about

Where Are You Today?

Ever feel like you’re everywhere and no where? I’m at the hospital, but not really. I’m at work, but not really. I’m at home and submersed in revisions, so not really home at all. And today, I’m everywhere! Literally! I’m at Star Crossed Romance, Lori Devoti’s party, Rhi’s Reads, and yep, here! "Sexy Shapeshifters!" Free book giveaway on Lori Devoti's Blog, winner's choice of Heart of the Wolf or Destiny of the Wolf, so be sure to comment on each blog and have even more of a chance to win. :) *sigh* It’s amazing how many places we can be at once and not be at any of them at all. Ever feel that way when you’re driving home and you don’t even realize you’ve bypassed all the places you usually notice on the trip? So where were you when you took that trip? Not really there, were you? Remember in school when the

Secondary Characters in Lady Anne and Howl in the Dark

I’ve always been fascinated by the role of secondary characters in novels. What would Jane Austen’s Persuasion be without Sir Walter Elliot and his overweening vanity? Or Jane Eyre without poor, dear Helen Burns, or lively Adèle? Those characters live to serve, in a way. In the best sense, secondary characters provide more than a placemarker, or merely someone for the hero or heroine to talk to. They should mean something to the plot, and they should reflect bits of the primary characters, exposing their strengths and weaknesses along the way. And so I thought I’d reveal a little about the secondary characters that people Lady Anne and the Howl and the Dark , and the next two installments Lady Anne and the Ghost’s Revenge & Lady Anne and the Gypsy Curse . Many secondary characters in ‘Howl’ are, I realize, missing someone who has died or disappeared. ( Hmm, funny how things can occur to the writer only after they are done writing the books! I never thought about that before I wro

Pursuing Dreams

Setting goals....making pitches...getting things done....Springtime, like the New Year, seems to infuse everything with a new energy, doesn't it? The world seems to speed up. Here in Lancaster, PA, the forsythia are about to bloom, crocuses are beaming bright, and green shoots and blossoms are everywhere on the cusp of bursting. I love this time of year! Not surprisingly, I end up setting a lot of my novels in the springtime, that time of year when promise seems just around the corner. My May release, Fire Me! , is set in springtime Washington, DC. For those of you who live there or have visited DC in the spring, you know it's especially beautiful, with the feel of a European city in some quarters--tree canopies hanging heavy over streets, cherry blossoms floating in the air. Springtime always seems to ask a question: what next? And that's the question my protagonist, Anne Wyatt, has to answer by the end of the novel. She starts the story thinking she's headed in one

Setting Goals...Achieving Success!

Every January, we hear about people setting goals for themselves– resolutions to live better, work harder, lose weight, quit procrastinating. The list goes on and on. A key factor in whether a person will be successful in their New Year's endeavors is how that person approaches the benchmark they've set. So now, as the first quarter of the year is drawing to a close, let's look at a few things you can do to help you reach those writing goals you set back in January. 1) Be realistic. If you've never been able to write more than 3 pages a day because of your day job, your health issues, or your family responsibilities, don't set yourself up to fail by setting an unattainable goal of writing 10 pages a day. While you want to stretch yourself, setting the bar too high can quickly lead to frustration and make it too easy to give up. 2) Define your goals in terms of what is within your control. Too often I hear writers say their goal is to sell a book by a certain date or

If a Picture = 1000 Words, Does 2 Picture = 2000 Words?

Yesterday, as most of the romance writing and reading community knows, was the day the Rita and Golden Heart finalists were announced and I had a cyber party on my blog where people could "squee" about their finals, their friends finals, or just release the tension of waiting to hear. I did this because I had such a GREAT time doing it last year. (And I'll be doing it again next year.) Luckily, I didn't have a pony in this race, (next year = whoooole other story) but I was rooting right along with everyone and hoping to see names I knew. But I was also celebrating. Because what most people didn't realize was, it was the day my next 2 covers, for Wild Blue Under and Catch of a Lifetime were making their public debut. And now I'd like to share them with you:

Thoughts On Pitches

by Casablanca Editor Deb Werksman I loved the pitch contest that we did last month. It was a blast to see all the creativity, and a lot of people did a fabulous job of pitching their book in just 50 words. I haven't received all of the submissions I asked for--besides the original 3 winners, I had asked for about 14 more--so please go back and see if you're one of them. Here's what's interesting about the submissions I am seeing--sometimes, the experience of reading the book doesn't match the experience of reading the pitch! I've got pitches that are hilariously funny and clever, but then the book itself is serious, straight contemporary romance. I've got pitches that are historical and the world-building is fascinating, and then the book is character-driven. M ake sure your pitch matches your book! It's so much easier to rewrite the pitch to match the book, than to rewrite the book to match the pitch... And, if I didn't choose you as a

In the Company of Writers

By Robin Kaye I spent this weekend at a writer’s conference, which is one of my very favorite things to do. I find being in the company of other writers to be invigorating. We all suffer from the same mental problem – we have characters talking to us whether we wish them to or not. Now, to the normal people, this might sound as if we all need psychological help. I think that might be true to some extent. However, I choose to think of myself as a highly functioning insane person. Still, going to writer’s conferences confirms that I’m not alone in my insanity. I recently read a book that I loved. It spoke to me. The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley is brilliant. The writing is beautiful, but the thing I loved most about it was that the heroine, Carrie, was a writer. I felt as if Susanna was writing about me--a much more successful version of me of course, a version who can afford to live and write in the place she’s writing about which is a dream of mine. Carrie is writing a historical no

Monday Inspiration

I may never have mentioned it, but as someone with a degree in English (Secondary Ed/English concentration, actually), I'm not only a lover of literture...I've gotten swept away by a fair number of poems, as well, some of which are as inspiring as the most beautiful pieces of music. I thought, for this Monday, I'd share one of my very favorites. Like much of my favorite poetry, it's moving, lyrical, wistful, and its imagery, speaking of love captured in one of its fleeting moments of perfection in a decidedly imperfect world, has always rung true for me. The picture, which I put up recently on Wickedly Romantic, is also by an artist I've always liked, an early twentieth century illustrator named Maxfield Parrish. This piece is called Sleeping Beauty...I thought it fit:-) Hope the picture and the poem help start your week off with something lovely. And if you're a poetry lover, are there any special poems you carry with you? -Kendra Lullaby by W.H Auden Lay your

OMG it's Mama Jackson!

As you all know, I wasn’t a devout romance fan all my life, but I owe me persistent curiosity to the genre because there have always been a MILLION romance novels in the house because of one lady: My Mom! I decided to interview her about her love of this genre, force her to take a picture (isn’t she the prettiest?), and have a chat with the authors books she gets to read before everyone else does (I share my ARCs with her). 1. What made you start reading romance? I was walking home from school when I was in the fourth grade and there was a book in the street. I picked it up to see if it belonged to anyone I knew, but there was no name in the cover. Because it was a thin, little book I read it. It was a Harlequin Romance and I’ve been a romance reader ever since. I think back now and am thankful it was that book. If it hadn’t been, I would have learned too much, too early and really fast! 2. Do you remember one of your earlier favorite books? That first book was

The Writer's Life

By: Marie Force Writing is a lonely, solitary pursuit. For months, even years, we spend large chunks of time with imaginary characters who, for the time they're with us, are as important to us as any of the "real" people in our lives. When I'm neck-deep in a book and it's going well, I wake up thinking about what I'm going to write that day and go to sleep thinking about what comes next. Often, I even dream about it. I force myself out of the bubble to work the day job and to take care of my family. But when I'm making beds or driving or drying my hair, I'm plotting. Despite this immersion, for all the time that I'm taken over by a story, only my family and a close friend or two even know it's happening. Once the book is finished, you expect the world to pause to acknowledge this enormous accomplishment. But in my experience it goes something like this: "That's awesome, Mom. Congratulations! What's for dinner?" It can take mon

Time Boundaries

posted by Aunty Cindy aka Loucinda McGary Not long ago, I was guesting at an online readers community. One of the commenters said that she felt The Wild Sight , in addition to being a contemporary romantic suspense, had a very distinctive historical flavor, particularly in the scenes where the hero interacts with Bronze Age Celts in his 'visions.' I loved reading this comment because that was exactly what I was trying to achieve in those scenes! Some reviewers have gone so far as to label The Wild Sight as a time-travel novel. While I don't think this is exactly accurate (especially in comparison to traditional time-travel romances like Diana Gabaldon's Outlander or Jude Deveraux's Knight In Shining Armor ), I did purposely set out to stretch the time boundaries within my story. The shadowy world that Donovan inhabits in his 'visions' is called 'between' by one of his childhood compatriots who happens to be a Celtic Druid. Spirits and visions tha

Background Check

by Mary Margret Daughtridge Verisimilitude. Don’t you love that word? I do. It means the appearance of being true. It perfectly encapsulates the goal of my research. I'm not a reporter. I write fiction. I don’t do research to make my stories accurate. I do it to make my stories seem true. Wherever facts and the needs of my story march together I choose facts—but anytime they don’t, I freely blend them with my imagination. Still, I often wonder, when I read another writer’s work, which are parts are real and which not. So here's a little background on the background of SEALed With a Promise . Sessoms’ Corner, NC where Aunt Lilly Hale Sessoms’ stately old ho me sits, is a product of my imagination that mingles many places I’ve been to in my life. Not populous or organized enough to be called a village, it is a cluster of farmhouses and perhaps a country store miles outside of “town.” The technical term (not that you probably care, but I need to show off my research) for such


This is where I am; that space between what was and what will be, but not quite in the now. I'm told that living in the now is a good thing, but don't we find solace in the knowledge that the next moment will come whether we plan for it or not? Don't we find some excitement in the not knowing whether we will live another twenty years or whether this next breath will be our last? I believe inspiration lies somewhere between the the now and the future. It's that moment when, fingers poised above the keyboard, the writer hesitates before the words begin to flow. Do I consciously think about what I will write next? More often than not, I don't, because when I do, it never feels as real or as pertinent as it will if I just start writing--letting the creative juices flow, as it were. I open my mind and visualize where I am, who is there, and then what they will say and do comes naturally. Is it magic, what happens as we write, or is it something anyone can do? I believe t

Embracing Inspiration

by Sharon Lathan Over three years ago now something happened that changed my life. I walked into a movie theater and saw the 2005 adaptation of “Pride & Prejudice” by Joe Wright. Many, many times over the past years, and especially lately as I am promoting my debut novel, I have discussed the various reasons why this movie touched me. I have eloquently expressed the beauty of the cinematography, the fabulous acting, the passion and drama that leapt off the screen, and so on in a dozen different ways and with varied language. Some readers know precisely what I am relating as they felt it too, while others shake their heads in bafflement. I love talking about the movie and do so with reverence because it was the doorway through which I learned about Jane Austen. I know that not everyone concurs with my awe for Joe Wright’s creation. Many bow down at the altar of Andrew Davies and his brilliant decision to put Colin Firth into a wet shirt! Others rabidly defend the idea that life begi

Meet Lady Anne Addison!

Hi, all. First, let me introduce myself: I am a new author to Sourcebooks. My name is Donna Lea Simpson (aka Donna Simpson in my previous life as a Regency author with Zebra), and I write (mostly) historical romance. Lady Anne and the Howl in the Dark , set in the Georgian era in England, will be released April First, no fooling! I thought for my first blog entry with the Casa Babes I would introduce the two main characters of the Lady Anne series, Lady Anne Addison and Lord Anthony Darkefell. A few weeks ago I was looking for something on… a review clip from one of my Regencies, maybe? And I came across a newer reader review of one of my older novelettes in an anthology called ‘Untameable’, one of the Zebra Regency themed anthologies. My story was entitled ‘A Rogue’s Rescue’. The heroine was Miss Ariadne Lambert, a spinster of humble appearance, but determination and grit. Jaimey Grant, the Amazon reviewer, said she gave my story five out of five for the heroine, and when

Living in the World of Fantasy for Real

Wolves are territorial animals, just like humans are, really. Just think, if people trespass across your property, don't you get a little annoyed? Years ago, my dad built a wall to keep people from cutting across our corner property in Florida, where they ruined the grass by creating dirt paths. I think shrubs (prickly, if nothing else) would have sufficed. LOL I've been doing some research in the area of Maine, and thought it quite fascinating that private owners allow snowmobilers to "trespass" on their land in order to let others enjoy winter activities in the area. I'm not sure I'd like to hear the peace and quiet of my property disturbed by the sound of snowmobilers, but I do think it's nice that property owners are generous enough to allow this. When I was driving home from the romance writers conference at Shreveport, Louisiana back to Texas, I was thinking about the wolves in my stories and how they could not very well run free in the areas I was d

Succulent Dishes for the Romance Blow Out

It isn’t every day that we get the chance to provide food for a Romance party. We Casablanca writers take our romance very seriously – and our food! Tasty dishes are our forte, so when the opportunity arose to serve up something spicy, hot, delectable, and addicting for Publishers Weekly’s Barbara Vey’s Bash for her second anniversary of “Behind the Book,” we rose to the challenge. It had to be pleasing to the palate, every morsel mouthwatering, pleasurable while partaking, extremely satisfying when completed, and also make one hungry for more. Are we still talking about food? Maybe! W e will let y ou decide what you now crave – either way, the desired gratification can be found at our blog. Books to the left….. recipes below……. Read on, let your imaginations go wild, and be sur e to cli ck over to Barbara’s Romance Blow Out to join in the fun. Eve ryone is invited! There are dozens of giveaways (including th e Casablanca novels), numerous host s and special guests, hunks galore roam