The Importance of Goals . . . Sometimes You Get a Return

WOLF IN THE NIGHT by Runere McLain

Available the first time on Thanksgiving Day in ARe’s anthology “Just One Bite Volume Three” at http://www.AllRomance.com.

Contains WOLF IN THE NIGHT a short story by Runere McLain

Hey, y’all!! I got a little fussed at for not announcing I had a short story published thanks to ARe’s last contest, so here it is. Think I’m still a little in shock! The main thing I want to be sure to do is thank ARe  (www.allRomance.com) for creating these contests, the readers who voted and the wonderful Cat Johnson for taking time from her busy career to judge numerous entries to come up with the finalists. Contests like these give writers an opportunity to get free reads out there to the public. Fantastic promotional and marketing tools to give readers a taste of what you can do to generate interest in your writing. To get a free read published is an achievement to be thankful for indeed! Believe me, I am thankful. And excited!

As a writer, it’s so easy to get caught up in simply ‘writing’. But there are so many other things to consider if this is to be your career.

Editing, submissions, promotions, building a website, blogging, writing groups . . . the list could be endless. Finding a supportive writing group is difficult, and I feel so lucky to have found GCCRWA. It’s a mix of long-published, newly published and never been published writers who have no qualms sharing their advice and experiences. Ladies, and Don, I salute you. I love every single one of you!

Goals have been the tricky thing for me. I’ll be writing away, and another germ of an idea will wriggle its way into my brain. It grows until I feel like I have to get at least the bare bones on paper. Problem? It disrupts what I’m currently working on. If I’m not careful, I find my laptop littered with all sorts of fantastic starts and no finishes. So one of my goals is to FINISH WHAT I ALREADY HAVE STARTED. Now if I get stuck, I may go scribble a bit on something else, but I make sure to limit the time alloted to it. Usually it’s the perfect way to clear the fog surrounding what stumped me on my current WIP.

Another goal I’ve foisted on myself is submissions. How can you get published if you don’t submit? And the rejection letters actually help you along as a writer. They toughen you up; make you realize they might sting a bit, but they won’t kill you. So far, every rejection letter I’ve received has contained a precious piece of advice that improved me as a writer. So I’ve set the goal of ‘X’ number of submissions a month.

To meet that goal last month, I had to bang out a short story (yeah, lengthwise, I kind of cheated! But it was a submission!) for a contest at ARe. AllRomance.com has long been a reputable source for romance eBooks and I had no problem submitting to them. I submitted late on Wednesday night, just squeaking it into the end of the calendar month. When I had an email from them Friday morning, I believed it was simply receipt for my entry. Imagine my shock on being informed I was one of the 32 finalists!

Long story short, my short story will be published in ARe’s anthology “JUST ONE BITE VOLUME THREE”! And it was just the reinforcement, the validation, I sorely needed to persevere. So thanks to ARe, and to Cat Johnson for all her selfless work. I especially want to thank her for her encouraging personal email!

No one can pinpoint your weaknesses better than you can yourself. Do yourself a favor; isolate them and work toward eliminating them. Meeting a goal not only strengthens you, sometimes you get a return!

Tuesday’s Industry News: Tips for Self Promoting

Hello everyone! So I missed last Tuesday’s blog and I’m so sorry for that mishap. Today I’m back in full force. Well not full force, I have a bit of a problem. You see as I’m researching ways to promote Riding Double I’m running around not settling on any one WIP. I’ve started five new WIPS this month! FIVE and written a chapter on each one, thats five chapters plus change. That could be a great first quarter to one full length book or half of a great short story(I say great because I’m trying to think positive). Instead I’m running from WIP to WIP and in-between I’m going crazy over what to do for promoting. My critique partner is having great fun with this also. As she said “I’m the one usually never settling, what the hell is wrong with you?” I don’t know!!!

I’m hoping once I get my mind off the release I’ll settle some. I emailed Ms. Cat Johnson who we had on the site a few months back for her new release Bucked to get her advice on promoting. She emailed me back with some suggestions on what to do for promoting and I’ve started.  So I’ll give you all three of my favorite tips and we can discuss them.

1. Setting up Author Pages.

Now I had never really put much thought into this as I figured the stuff I sent my publisher would work but turns out you can create your own author sites on some book seller websites with more information on you and your book. For example on amazon.com if you have a book sold through them you have the great chance to go to authorcentral.com and set up an author page. I loved it. I got to add more about myself, my book, book reviews, I even added an interview that my ‘laughing at me because I can’t settle’ friend Rebecca Zanetti did of me. I uploaded a photo and all. Loved it. Now have I ever really checked out an authors page? No, but it was cool to do one and I hope people check it out and maybe buy my book because they decide “Yeah I like her, sounds cool” because you know I am 🙂 That last comment was a test, my author friend Brandi Hall “visits” the site every so ofter and I make comments like this to her all the time while she rolls her eyes and tells her cat I’m a dork.

2. Free Reads

Okay I love free reads, I mean really they are the best. When Cat suggested that I write one in hopes that readers would get a taste of my writing and want more I was all over that. In fact I started one (#5 of my WIPS). But I sent an email to my editor about it and well for her it has to have a beginning, middle, and happily ever after. I didn’t want it to have a HEA, no I wanted to introduce a character let him have some wild times then pick up his story later. Alas not going to happen. SO I’ve adjusted and have it going in a way I kinda like. Now have I ever read a free read then went “Gotta buy this chicks books now”? Not really, I will say that after reading a free read if I like it I will go and look at the other books offered by said author.

3. Articles

Now this is one that I had already done before I got any advice. A friend of mine along with some of her friends( I think 2 maybe only 1) started SavvyAuthors.com and recently invited me to participate in the weekly newsletter. When she asked if I wanted to I said “Sure, why the hell not”. I gotta admit I loved it. It gave me a chance to write an article I’d been wanting to write for some time and it helped promote my book. It was a win win and I’d love to do another one as I’ve got all kinds of stuff to rant about(Hear that Liz?? I’m making a list!)

So as readers what makes you want to buy a book? Do reviews matter? Do free reads help? Does seeing a person’s biography and picture help? Tell me what helps you decide.

And my writer friends what do you do to promote?

Thanks all

Sayde

Oh and just for shits and giggles here is my current WIP list:

1. Hell’s Transporter- Paranormal Suspense filled with demons, fallen angels, bull riders, and more.

2. Steam Punk(haven’t named it yet)- Steampunk filled with a smart mouthed southern woman who likes to invet contraptions to help save her plantation from the Yanks although and one New Orleans bred and born inventor of the HOT kind.

3. Spirit Heart- Western Romance filled with Comanche’s raiding, loving, and kidnaping and one pissed off half Comanche and half white woman who has been taken by Running Horse in order to be saved from his brother Kicking Buffalo. Did I mention this woman is mad?

4. Saige’s Story(haven’t named it yet)- Erotic Romance short filled with emotions of loss, griefing, finding love again and hot sex with a playboy bull rider who is lost in his own self pity.

5. The Free Read- Erotic Romance free story. Woman kicks her cheating husband out, divorces him and then shows up her first love. The injured bareback rider who now works for her brother(Bo from my book Riding Double) hot renewed love begins.

Countdown to Conference Interview Four, Agent Elaine Spencer

Hello everyone! Well I’m happy to report as of now the virus which has been kicking my tail is momentarily gone! I say momentarily because with two small children to pass it back to me I’m sure I’ll have it again! But for now I’ve got a bit of news before we get to todays interview. I found out Tuesday that my first publication, a short story through The Wild Rose Press, will hit the market May 7,2010! YAY!!! So now that edits and galleys are done its time to get back to writing!

But first its time to get to todays spotlight interview with Elaine Spencer of the Knight Agency! I know some of the lovely Sizzlers are pitching to Mrs. Spencer at the Silken Sands Conference(only about two weeks away!!!) and I’ve tortured them with not telling them her answers to our interview questions so without further torment I give you all the interview:

 

Sayde: Tell us what you think is hot and what’s not. ?

        Mrs. Spencer:  Oooooh. I hate this question! Seriously, it’s the hardest way to start off an interview. (No offense intended!)

        This is such a subjective business though, and really, right now, where the market is, I don’t see it being about trends such as we’ve seen the last few years with the phases of paranormal or erotica or urban fantasy growth. Right now with the way that the market has tightened I think that the “hottest” new voices out there aren’t about falling into a particular subgenre. I think it’s much more about the voice and the overall concept. 

        Everyone, editors and agents, is still looking new talent and new voices. The excitement that exists when you stumble across that breakout submission is still just as grand as it always was. These days however the competition is thick and there’s less room for mid-performers, so what I’m really looking for are those outstanding voices and concepts that I know will be able to have a strong presence in the market as a debut.

        It’s the pitches I hear that are so unique and high concept that I know when I give a one-line to an editor they’re going to be instantly hooked. And then of course the writing needs to stand up to the promise of the idea. I think the hottest trends are those that appeal to a wide audience and don’t necessarily pigeonhole themselves into one corner, those that will pull readers from several different subgenres.

 

Sayde: What types of work are you most interested in seeing at the 2010 Silken Sands Conference?

 

        Mrs. Spencer: Projects that are ready to be pitched. Seriously, the number one hang up I have is when someone meets with me and tries to sell me on a project simply because I happen to be there at this moment, not because the project is complete and ready for submission.

        I would love to find a great contemporary voice, something smart and witty but not mindless. I love heroines that are real “badasses” but still totally relatable and loveable. I would give anything for a GREAT new romantic suspense, something that would be start of a really compelling series perhaps. Also, compelling women’s fiction, something that gets you involved and not only takes over all of your emotions, but also makes you think, something like Kristin Hannah or Jodi Piccoult. I’m a bit over the paranormal and urban fantasy at the moment, but that doesn’t mean the door is closed. The most recent project I found in my submission box was a paranormal that was wicked smart and when I saw it I knew THIS has potential.( Sayde: I actually know this author, if it’s the same one who recently signed with Mrs. Spencer and yes it is a wicked smart book!! Congrats!) I would love to find a few series authors, these books never stop being fun and I love that when I sit down I know what I’m going to get. Really, I’m wide open, there’s very little I can think of that I don’t want. Westerns. I’m not a western girl. Sorry.

Sayde: This question goes back to the “writer rumors”, but so many times I’ve heard that agents/editors will throw out a manuscript if they see grammatical errors. Personally, this is a huge one for me as I am grammatically challenged.  Many times authors will edit and edit then send to a contest and have their manuscript ripped to shreds because they used “ing”, “ly” or “was” to much for the judges liking. Do you look for these issues when reading requested material or is it more about the story?

 

        Mrs. Spencer: My answer on this one is both. We all know that as a writer there is always room for improvement. Every writer has their ticks, the areas they struggle with, the things that they will continuously improve on as they grow. I don’t expect to find manuscripts that are spic-and-span clean all of the time.

        Here’s the thing. The hang-ups/errors can NOT be distracting to me as a reader. If I can’t get through passages and pages because of these errors, then it doesn’t matter how good the concept is, you’re not ready to be a published author and you need to devote more time to your craft. Editors these days are just stretched too thin and their lists are too large to devote to clean up the way they once did, and it’s not my greatest strength either, so I’m not going to be the best back up. If you have a problem with pronoun usage, and I can say “Hey, you need to sweet this manuscript looking for this specifically” then we might be OK. That’s a targeted thing that we can work through in revisions.

        To be blunt, in my mind grammatical errors (as opposed to technical errors) shows a lack of attention. If I see it when I’m reading I think to myself, “Now why didn’t you see that, or your proofreader, or critique partner.” It indicates that you haven’t really polished your manuscript. Rule of thumb, one or two, no big deal, any more, it starts to be something you have to make up for in other areas.

Sayde: What is your opinion on emarket vs. traditional print? I know this is a hot topic and we all appreciate whatever comments you can give us.

                Mrs. Spencer: I think that the emarket is a good thing. It’s opening up more ways to reach new readers and ultimately we will sell more books. For now our main concern needs to be laying the groundwork that makes sure everyone is receiving quality product at a quality price. And that all parties are being compensated fairly throughout the process. That is the primary focus right now of the Authors Guild and the AAR and other organizations that are being established to help act as these watchdog groups. Attentiveness to the change is crucial, in some instances if you miss a day you miss a lot. It is every author’s responsibility to be on the lookout for all of the new information being made available. To be searching for articles and websites devoted to keeping people abreast of the changes, if you aren’t doing that, you aren’t doing all you can to be an active participant in this industry and you will quickly find yourself left behind.

                 Additionally with all of these new avenues available there are going to be parties that are trying to take advantage of the changes and we are at risk for some major quality control issues. I think that’s something we all can help caution against. We are our own best advocates for demanding quality products and making sure that the ebooks we’re reading are being distributed and purchased through fair conduits. 

 

Sayde: I know that when I am researching an agent or editor, I Google them,  check their Facebook page, and tweet them. I read their posts and blogs.  I try to see if their tastes would lean toward my writing style or not. And I try to get a feel for their personality to see if we might “mesh well” if the opportunity ever arose. If you have a manuscript on your desk, do you ever check the same accounts for that author?  Do you ever check to see what he/she is posting? If so, have you been influenced by what you’ve learned?

        Mrs. Spencer: Sometimes I do. It’s not common, but every once in awhile if I find some interesting spark or something I want to know more about I’ll go out and search for more information. Really this is just an exercise in efficiency, the information I’m searching for is info I would otherwise ask about on the phone or during a meeting, but having the internet just makes it more instantly available as opposed to having to wait to have that conversation. Really the only thing I’m looking for is a level of professionalism. I could care less if your blog is 100% devoted to your husband and your cat, as long as it doesn’t do anything to harm your craft or your marketability, then its professional enough for me. And on the same token, if I see very black and white writing specific information posted, I could care less about the actual content of this information as long as it isn’t offensive in any way or affecting to your chances of selling.

        And then, the honest truth, sometimes when I’m hunting around on the internet, well it’s for the same reasons that you would. Because I’m human and humans are nosy. And the plethora of networking sites have opened up an avenue that makes us feel entitled to information that really isn’t any of our business. But hey, if it’s out there, and I’m interested in you, yeah I’m going to look. If I don’t, someone else is, and then I’m at the disadvantage. Perhaps it’s not ok to admit that, but really, I think we can all agree it’s true.

Sayde: If an author has queried you and you’ve rejected that query/partial and the author emails you asking for details on why you’ve rejected their ms, what is your process here? Do you give specific reasons on why the manuscript may not have been for you?

        Mrs. Spencer: I can’t help but feel guilty every time, but typically I just hit delete. Sometimes I want to help the author and so I leave the email in my inbox for a few days, before I know it I’m consumed with other issues and so the email ultimately meets the same fate. I wish I could offer more constructive criticism but once you open this door it just opens you up to such demands that will quickly become overwhelming. Plus, when you start to offer specifics you’ll quickly run into authors that are combative and argumentative. It’s just not worth it – and it gets too personal too quickly, especially for professionals that don’t have those transcending relationships yet.

        In my rejections I personally try to offer something, it’s always vague, but I’ll say if it’s the writing I didn’t love, or the voice, or the characters, or the pacing – again, VERY broad, but at least something that makes it personalized to the individual stories weaknesses.

 

Thank you so much for participating in the interview Mrs. Spencer we appreciate your time. I know several authors who will be chomping at the bit now waiting for conference. I would also like to announce that last weeks winner of the Gift card for Cat Johnson’s interview was commenter Miranda. Please email me with your email address so I can get this to you. You may contact me at saydegrace@gmail.com.

Countdown to Conference Interview Two, Author Cat Johnson’s Cowboys

SAYDE:  Hello everyone. I’m so sorry to be posting this midday but I was sick this morning and still not feeling well so bear with me. Today we have as our guest blogger author Cat Johnson. If you’ve never read any of her erotic romances, get prepared to go get them because they are GREAT. I just can’t say enough wonderful things about the characters Cat  created and brought to life in her books, so I’ll let her tell you more about them.

CAT JOHNSON:

MORE ABOUT THE COWBOY BOOKS
Here is a confession… I fear I may be a bit of a cougar. This suspicion came to light when I met online and started working closely with a bull rider twenty years my junior who helped me write my cowboy books.
It’s not my fault, really. I mean younger men are hot. Have you looked at them? If so, then you have to agree. Sure, you may have to do things like explain to a younger man who The Who was during the Superbowl halftime show. And maybe they were born during the year you graduated college, putting them firmly in the “yes, I could have birthed him” category. But again, I remind you of the tight stomachs, the stamina (you know, in case you’re jogging with them), and of course, an eagerness to please you just don’t find in older men.
 

Do my not-so-secret cougar tendencies creep up in my writing? You bet they do. The older heroine/younger bull riders theme in my cowboy threesome Unridden (Studs in Spurs, Book 1) http://mybookstoreandmore.com/shop/product.da/unridden-sp is evidence of that. Also the frequent reappearance in both books 1 and 2 in the series of the young rookie bull rider Chase who likes older women is further testament that although I don’t have the liberty of acting on my cougar nature, I enjoy it immensely in my fantasy world.
 

Okay, maybe I do flirt a little bit with my cowboy consultant. And yes, I’ll admit the character of Chase is totally based upon my cowboy, who thank God had another birthday. So now, thanks to the wonders of mathematics, is no longer exactly half my age the way he was the year I first met him. But aside from that, I must satisfy my inner cougar with my writing.
Yes, I’m not done with Chase (or my cowboy) yet. There are a few of his personal experiences written into BUCKED http://new.mybookstoreandmore.com/shop/product.da/bucked which spent its fifth day in the number one slot at MBaM today! And I just this week started writing Chase’s story for Studs in Spurs Book 3. I only hope I can make the fictional cowboy live up to his inspiration. 

 

SAYDE GRACE:   I’d like to add that my favorite of Cat’s books is Roughstock. I love the blend of emotion and desire she weaved within the characters in that book. All of her books have great emotional depth but for my personal tastes Roughstock is my pick.  But all who read this and leave a comment I will put your name in a drawing and Saturday morning I’ll draw for a winner to recieve a gift certificate to buy one of  Cat’s terrific books. Bucked was just released and after reading it I can say without a doubt she’s done it again! Don’t forget to leave your comments and next week we have agent Joyce Holland from the D4EO Literary Agency as well as author Amber Leigh Williams.

So take a look at Cat’s books and enter to win one!

                                                                                                                                         

 

 

 

                                                                                     

 

 

Moonday’s Heroic Hunk: The Naked Celt

Hi, I’m Rita and it’s Moonday and my day to blog. This week’s Heroic Hunk in History is a naked Celt. BUT FIRST, the Sizzlers will feature interviews with participating editors and agents as part of the countdown to our RWA Chapter’s SILKEN SANDS WRITERS’ CONFEENCE at Pensacola Beach, March 19th-21st. Tomorrow, the Sizzlers will interview MEGAN RECORDS with KENSINGTON PUBLISHING.
THEN, Cat Johnson, a multi-nominated, award-winning author of more than a dozen published romances and the voice of All Romance eBooks’ weekly Blog Talk Radio show “What’s Hot in Romance” will blog here on Thursday, Feb 25th.

Now, for the Naked Celt. The Dying Gaul is a marble copy (Roman, 2nd century AD) of part of a 3rd century BC victory monument from Pergamon, Turkey. The original bronze group containing six figures was erected by King Attalus I to commemorate his victory over tribes of Celtic Gauls who had migrated from France and spent the next 50 years or so plundering his realm and exacting tribute. The Gauls eventually settled down, hired out as mercenaries and converted to Christianity (Remember St. Paul’s Epistles to the Galatians?).

     The statue which was discovered in the ruined Garden of Sallust in the 17th century in Rome required extensive restoration. The left leg below the knee was reassembled using a pin which is concealed by the kneecap. The right arm and part of the base was also reconstructed. The spiky hair (The Gauls achieved the look by bleaching it with lime water.) was reworked because the longer locks had broken off.
     Our Gaul wears only a torc, a sign of nobility and high social status—a decoration awarded to warriors for their deeds in battle. (His moustache and clean-shaven face is also an indicator of high status.) His sword has fallen at his side and the battle trumpet lies at his feet. The large (by Greek and Roman standards) Celtic warriors, often went into battle nude to intimidate their enemies and display their own bravery before their gods. Our Gaul’s nudity, however, is not the “heroic nudity” of the Greek hero or semi-divine being. but the “pathetic nudity” the Greek sculptors allowed brave but defeated barbarian enemies. (Editorial comment: There’s nothing pathetic about this guy.) Our mortally-wounded Gaul’s pride and strength show, despite the pain which shadows his features as death approaches. His death—from the sword wound in his right side—will be honorable, however, since in the original sculpture it is at the feet of his chieftain whom we’ll meet next week.
Question: The PC police in previous centuries added fig leaves to Roman and Greek statues for modesty’s sake. What do you think—fig leaves or no fig leaves for future Heroic Hunks pics? HMMMM? Rita THE END

Badurday Birthday Boy (how’s that for alliteration)

Anyone who knows me at all will know I can’t miss this birthday coming up on the 21st.  This man has been my favorite actor for many, many years.  He is so versatile.  So sexy.  Just wonderful.   Today, I’m going to tell you all about some of his more obscure roles.  First is a stage role.  He played Valmont on stage. We all know how bad Valmont was. And I know Romancemama will try to compare Colin Firth’s Valmont with Alan’s and all I can say is they are both fabulous. 

                                                                                                                                                                              

There is a movie called Dark Harbor.  Very dark movie. You think its going in one direction and bam, surprise!  He is bad, really bad. The best thing in this one is his stripping down to his birthday suit (Note to self, watch this on his birthday to see that suit) and diving in the water. He then walks nude to his house.  Very nice thighs and buttocks.   Oh, and those calves… 

Dark Harbor:

The next little film is An Awfully Big Adventure.  Now, if you read the blurb on it, you may think it is a comedy. Nothing could be further from the truth.  My poor dear is a very bad boy in this one, not really knowing it until the end. He thinks he’s bad for sleeping with a young girl but it gets worse.  AND he does a fabulous Captain Hook in the play within the movie.  A must see.    

An Awfully Big Adventure:

And one more:  Closet Land.  There are only two people in this movie.  Alan plays an interrogator and he is absolutely marvelous. Just a stunning performance.   I can’t recommend it enough.  And, he could interrogate me anytime.  I’ll take this bad boy cop any day.

Closet Land:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ALAN RICKMAN.  Here’s hoping for many more so we can continue to enjoy your talents.

EDITED to add:  Lost power at my house last night until 9:45 this morning. Sorry to be late.   The pictures in this post didn’t want to line up like I wanted. 

AND remember, we have Megan Records here on Tuesday on our countdown to the Silken Sands Conference on Pensacola Beach and on Thursday, we have a guest blogger, Cat Johnson.  Check back often in the next few weeks as we have a stellar line up.

Coming Attractions

We are thrilled to announce an  upcoming guest blogger.   Cat Johnson will be here with us on the 25th of February to discuss her new release.    Sayde Grace recommended her to us because of the “cowboy connection,” so those of you who love cowboys, hang on to your spurs.  She’s coming soon  (get your minds out of the gutter!).

If you can’t wait, whet your appetite for some Western hunks at Cat’s website:

http://www.catjohnson.net/

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