Badurday-October 9, 2010- Liam Cormac

Liam - a little older but still with the devilish look

I already know I’m in trouble with Sayde Grace. She won’t be able to resist  making fun of me for this Badurday post. She loves to tease me about my inspiration!  Badurday was the first weekly feature of this blog when we set it up in August 2009. I chose the idea of Badurday because of another website I love that has Caturday where funny cat pictures are posted on Saturdays. My plan was to feature bad boys of  film and books on every Saturday. I had another bloke in mind for this week but when I got some good news this week, I decided to post my own bad boy of fiction today. And the inspiration for him.

Let me start at the beginning. Last year was the first year I had heard of NaNoWriMo. November is National Novel Writing month and the challenge is to write 50,000 words during the month of November. http://www.nanowrimo.org/  Several friends and I decided we wanted to play. I had no plan for a story idea.  About three weeks before November 1, 2009, I woke up to a man in my head. He said, “my name is Liam Cormac and you’re gonna tell my story.” Well,  Okaaayy…

So, about two days after that, I came up with his story- or he told me his story, I should say.  A historical- gasp, no. Please no, Liam. I never wanted to write a historical. Don’t get me wrong, I am a history hound. Love, love, love it. BUT I’m scared to death of the history  police. Terrified. Quake in the boots frightened. What if I got a phrase wrong? What if I had a character use something that hadn’t been invented yet? There was much to fear.  AND, surprisingly, as I wrote it,  my feeble brain kicked in and the mistakes I almost made, I caught in time.  Three almost mistakes come to mind. One: Liam told me he was on the RMS Queen Mary. Well, no, dude, you weren’t- your story occured in 1920. The Queen Mary sailed from 1936-1967- so, I had to find another Cunard Line ship. I found the RMS Mauretania had the perfect time line and it also had a history I needed as a troop ship during WWI.  Two:  My heroine, Peg, is a lounge singer. I wanted her to sing Stardust. Then I remembered it was composed in 1927 – so, nope. She couldn’t sing it. Pity as I love the song. Three: I got them to the USA on the ship and was going to get her a job in a bar in New York. Until I remembered that Prohibition came into law in 1919. Oh, dear, what to do? The answer came, Peg made her way to Chicago and went to work in a speakeasy (and yeah, I know they had them in NYC as well, but Chicago was so much more gangster friendly- if there is such a thing).  So, the fact that I’ve always been intrigued by the 1920s and that era came in handy.  The old subconscious saved my butt.

So, I wrote my historical romance called Redemption for the Devil for NaNoWriMo. It was a wild ride and I had a blast. Actually wrote 51,000 words in 21 days. Had to finish early as we were traveling to see #1 son in Boca Raton where he’s in college. We were spending Thanksgiving weekend there. I knew I wouldn’t get any writing done so I pushed on and finished early.  Once I was done, I let it simmer for a while and edited it only slightly. I didn’t over do the history as I didn’t want it to seem too dull.

I submitted it to Samhain Publishing after our GCCRWA conference in March 2010.  It was ultimately rejected in June, 2010.  I then submitted it to Desert Breeze Publishing in early July, 2010.  I also had a request for it at National RWA Conference but before I could send it to that editor, the acquisitions editor at Desert Breeze emailed me in early August and said she liked it but wasn’t prepared to offer a contract. She stated that I needed to draw the reader more into the era.  She asked me to add more historical detail and resubmit.  So, shows what I know. I thought too much detail wasn’t good.  I spent September revising and adding 25,000 words to it. The basic story remained the same- I just added way more detail.  Sent it back to her on September 25, 2010.

So, the grand news is that she emailed me on the 5th of October. Among other things, she said, “Bravo! I feel much more engaged and the details are brighter and livelier.”  She offered me a contract and I accepted it. The book will be released in July 2011.

Liam, my Irish devil, told me I’d tell his story and I have. I’m proud to say that I love him almost as much as Peg does and I’m hoping the readers will, too. And pray that the historical police don’t get me.

Here’s my inspiration for how Liam looks. He can sneer with the best of them. And yes, even though I captioned the pictures as Liam, I know what this man’s mamma named him for real.

How Liam looks- the proper hair length

Liam in modern clothes

Canceled Contract? WHAT IS THAT?? Find out from Author Brandi Hall

Hello everyone! Welcome to day 12 of the Sizzler’s anniversary month! We have already had some fantastic guests this month ranging in a wide variety of topics. Today I’m honored to have friend and author Brandi Hall with us. Her topic today is one that is not widely discussed but should be. It’s one of the horror stories that we all hope never happens to us but know deep down it could. But Brandi is proof that authors can forge forward and survive a canceled contract! So without further babbling here is author Brandi Hall and her discussion on canceled contracts.

The Tough Decisions No One Wants To Make—or Talk About

You know how they say, “be careful what you wish for”? Well, I now understand what that means. After finishing my first novel, my hopes and dreams of being published were just like any other debut author’s.   But along the way, I slowly lost sight of that bright and shiny brass ring and was willing to settle for an oddly tarnished one instead. I’m sure you’re asking yourself “but why?” The simple answer is: I lost faith. Not faith in the industry. I lost faith in myself.

After countless agent rejections from queries, partials and full requests, I came to the conclusion that I was never going to land an agent with my first manuscript. Yes, I revised and tweaked my ass off, but it was still never quite right. So when I saw a post come through the FF&P loop about a new publisher who was looking out for the “author”, I jumped at it. Low and behold, they offered me a deal I was only too eager to accept. 

Now don’t go thinking I was some dumb blonde who locked myself into a bad deal—because it wasn’t like that. I hired an attorney to help me work through it, and the contract was fairly decent in the end. But sometimes, it’s not what’s in the contract you have to worry about—it’s what’s not. The contract was surprisingly author friendly, but it was also filled more with more holes than Swiss cheese. Even though my gut said “run”, I still signed the deal because deep down, I hoped I was wrong. Well let me just say—I wasn’t. Always listen to your instincts!

After close to five months of promoting, cover designing, revising and editing, my book was just about ready for the copy editor. What I didn’t say is that during those five months, I was initially given an editor who’s never read or edited in my genre (huh?), I was deceived in numerous ways, and my release dates kept getting mysteriously bumped back because of funding. But still, I was pushing forward to release my book. But one afternoon, I started reading a few blogs from one of my dream agents—and I received the wake-up call I wished I’d gotten months earlier. Scott Eagan of Greyhaus Literary Agency posted a blog called “Don’t Give Up and Sell Out”—and it most likely saved the life of my writing career. That afternoon, I wrote the most difficult email I’ve ever written, and I canceled my contract and asked for my rights back. Fortunately, my forceful email compelled them to return my rights immediately. But that might not be the case for other publishers. I’ve certainly heard horror stories of it taking more than two years to get back rights.

I’m not here to go down the path of bashing the publisher, because that’s not the intent of this blog. But if I can share my bad experience to help any unsigned/unpubbed authors from making the same mistakes I did, then maybe something good will come out of this nightmare. The most important lessons I learned from this are:

  1. Never give up on finding an agent. You deserve an advocate who will look out for you and your writing. They know what to look for and if something critical is missing, they’ll spot it immediately.
  2. If an offer seems too good to be true—it probably is.
  3. Research and ask questions. This is your career and anything unanswered will only eat at you—or bite you in the ass later when it’s too late.
  4. Don’t be afraid to say “NO!” If you have even the tiniest bit of doubt about a contract you’re offered, don’t do it! Once your name is linked with a less than reputable publisher, it’s on your resume forever.

 

I recently attended RWA Nationals in Orlando where something painful and embarrassing kept happening. Because I sold my book, I was given a ribbon to wear that said “First Sale”. Since I technically did make the sale, I decided to wear it, not realizing the can-of-worms it would open up. By the end of day two, I could no longer handle explaining that I canceled my deal—and why. Needless to say, each time I was asked something, it was like tearing the band-aid off all over again. Even worse, I was humiliated to mention the publisher’s name. I felt like a colossal idiot for falling into such an amateur trap. Trust me when I say, you never want to be in this position. You should be proud of the choices you make.

At the end of the day, you started out in this business with a specific goal in mind. So whether you dream of landing a huge publisher to make it big—or you’re simply trying to supplement your income—don’t settle for less than what you want, just to be published. It’s not worth it. Your writing career will only be as good as you make it. If your work isn’t strong enough yet to get an agent or solid book deal—work harder to make it the best it can be. You only have one chance to make a first impression on your readers.

 Thank you to Brandi for being with us today and discussing a very touchy subject!

A FATED Interview, Guest Blogger Rebecca Zanetti’s First EVER Interview!

Hello everyone! Today I am honored and proud to have my critique partner author Rebecca Zanetti join our blog guests. Rebecca and I have been critiquing each other’s works for a little over a year and I can say without doubt that everything I’ve read from her is beyond excellent and should go on the TO BE BOUGHT list right now! Just add her name to the authors on your must read list now, it’ll be well worth it.

 

First let me tell everyone that Rebecca’s first book entitled FATED will release on February 22, 2011. Secondly this is Rebecca’s first ever interview and to anyone who leaves a comment today I am going to draw for a winner of my ebook . Also don’t forget to stop by Rebecca’s website http://www.rebeccazanetti.com to get the latest on her, her books, and pictures of the beautiful landscape she is surrounded by. So without further babbling let me all introduce you to my critique partner and valued friend author Rebecca Zanetti who can tell me any day of the week that “this is well written but…” !

 

 

 

 

What was your motivation for becoming a writer?

First thanks for having me here on the Sizzlers – I always follow this blog!  I think like a lot of writers, I always knew I wanted to write a book someday.  One day I finally put my rear in the chair and started writing.  Of course, it helped that Dec 08 and Jan 09 we were pretty much snowed in.

 

I jumped on the Twilight train and wrote a paranormal YA.  (Which I just finished revising into an adult book per my agent’s suggestions).  Then I wrote a chicklit I’m currently revising.  I had this vampire story mulling around in my head that wouldn’t leave me alone, but I’d heard that vamps were out.  So I wrote the book for myself just for fun – figuring I’d take it out and read it once in awhile.  It sold in five days. (I say this with total love Bec, but you’re bragging here heifer J )

Can you tell us if your background as a lawyer affected the way you write, or your story lines?

You know, law is about boiling a lot of facts down to one main theme and articulating that theme to other people.  Writing is much the same.  And believe it or not, your voice as a lawyer (how you get the facts across genuinely to a jury or judge) is similar to your voice as a writer – it’s all you.  Also, both worlds are competitive and a bit scary but well worth it.

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest you’ve seen a lot of beautiful country, does the back drop you are surrounded with show up in your books? And if so are there any places in particular that you use for inspiration?

I love the water and mountains.  We live near lakes and rivers, which you’ll find in my books, and FATED has several scenes where the good guys are underground in mountainous caverns for safety. 

 

I understand that you are pretty close to your family, how does this play into the story lines you write?

My family is amazing.  My husband is a six-foot-five stubborn Italian, and you’ll find parts of his personality in most of my heroes.  My sisters are spunky, fun and adventurous and you can bet my heroines resemble them both in making good decisions and those that have us groaning.  And my folks have been married for over forty years, so I truly believe in happy endings because I have proof they exist.

Most of the readers on the blog have heard your amazing “Call” story in my words but I’d love for you to tell them about you getting the call from both your agent and your editor within hours of each other.

Almost a year to the date after writing my first chapter, I felt guilty because I didn’t want to get on the treadmill.  It was a Thursday, which is a good day for me to work out.  So I figured I’d assuage the guilt by sending out a query or two – and I figured why not send out FATED even though it was a vampire story.  The next day Megan Records at Kensington requested the partial.  I sent it; still not really thinking anything would come of it.  The following Tuesday, agent Caitlin Blasdell requested the partial at around nine in the morning.  A half hour later Megan requested the full.  Two hours later Caitlin requested the full.  They both called with offers the next day.

 

I was stunned.  It just happened so fast, what a difference five days can make. (AGAIN, I love ya but you’re bragging heifer! Actually it’s not bragging if it’s all true and well it’s an amazingly TRUE story!)

We had a ball this year at the RWA national conference and I know it was your second conference.  How was it different this year now that you’ve sold?

I went to DC last year by myself not knowing a soul.  I hadn’t joined any online chapters and I was truly anonymous, which was a lot of fun.  I’m pretty shy but that “first timer” ribbon really does help because I met some very nice people, went to every workshop I could and learned so much.  Each night I ate dinner in my room and then watched a movie and went over my stuff from the day, which was pretty relaxing.

 

Umm…no relaxing this year.  J   I’m in several online chapters that all had get-togethers, I spent some time with my agent and Kensington had a terrific cocktail party.  The Kensington group is wonderful – truly a nice mix of people who love books and are willing to help out a newbie in any way possible.  I had six cocktail parties or get-togethers on Thursday night.  (yes, my feet may never recover).  I brainstormed with my truly excellent critique partner (yes, our blog host today) and sleep wasn’t necessary.  I volunteered at the literacy signing and ended up winning an RWA free conference for next year.(OH YEAH! I TURNED THAT DAMN TICKET IN. NEXT YEAR I REFUSE TO!)  And…I attended every workshop I could with schedule permitting.  I love workshops—and I love learning.

  And now to my favorite part, the EXCERPT!! I just adore Rebecca’s stories!                                                                                                                                         

Slowly, Talen pushed to his feet and strolled across the conference room.

Cara took a step back, her breath hitching.

Smiling, he leaned against the closed door. 

She’d need to go through him to get out.  God, he was huge.  Even if she had known how to fight, she doubted she’d stand a chance when faced with such size and obvious strength.  A feminine fear and a flutter she refused to identify whispered through her, and her spine straightened with a sharp snap.

“I won’t hurt you.” His voice lowered, deepening to a tone that increased her flutter.  He relaxed his stance against the door, his muscled arms crossing.  “I won’t let anyone harm either of you.  Ever.”

Okay.  Fine.  He was too big for her to fight, but she did have a brain.  “Listen, Talen,” she kept her voice soft, soothing.  “It’s great your dating pool just opened up and all, but I’m not looking for—”

A dimple winked in his cheek, stopping her words.  She fought to keep her tone mild.  “Am I amusing you?”  Her chin lifted.

“Yes.” 

“Why?”  She could even feel his amusement in the air, damn it.

“Your people.  I’ve never understood why you ignore fate.  She has her own plans.”

“Fate?”  He was throwing destiny at her?  Come on.

He nodded. “Fate.” 

“Wow.  That’s poetic, Talen.”  Sarcasm replaced the softness.  “But there’s no way fate is involved here.”

“You’re wrong.”

“Prove it.”

“Okay.”  He lifted his right hand, palm out.  A crest, an intricate one, spread across his calloused skin.  Thick and black, a webbing of arcs together formed a knot with what might be an elaborate ‘K’ in the middle.

“A tattoo?” She quirked an eyebrow, wondered if he had other tats on that magnificent body.

“No.  A brand of sorts.  It appeared earlier after I took your arm.”

“A brand?”  She snorted.  “Bullshit.”

Talen shrugged.  “It’s true, Cara.  The Mark usually doesn’t appear until the mating act, but there are exceptions.”  Golden eyes pinned her.  “Our bond must be strong.”

“No.”

Talen lifted a shoulder.

Her mind rebelled at the physical evidence before her eyes.  “I said, no.  I choose to ignore your fate.”  How could the mark have appeared?  Conviction sat easily upon his face and her stomach rolled at the question of how far he’d go to follow his fate. 

“That is your choice,” he agreed.

“Damn straight.”  She searched his face for a trick, determination tightening her own jaw.  A raised eyebrow met her glare.  “But you don’t know anything about me.  I could be married.”

“You’re not.”

“How do you know?”

He shrugged.  “My brother Dage shot your file to my blackberry.”

Blackberry?  Vampires used blackberry’s?  Come on.  “Where were you?”  Damn her curiosity.

“In a meeting with my other brother, Conn.”

Geez.  Sounded like a family oriented creature of the night.  Or day.  Or whatever.  She tried another tack.  “Besides, I have a date tonight.”

She wasn’t sure what her goal was, but she didn’t reach it.  A genuine smile played across his lips, and he uncrossed his arms.  “You’re not going to make it.”

 

Doesn’t that just make your toes curl? I love it! Don’t forget to leave a comment and be entered to win a copy of RIDING DOUBLE. Also you may follow Rebecca on twitter and Face Book as Rebecca Zanetti. Thanks everyone and congrats to Rebecca for a year filled with success and to many more!

Kensington and Megan Records

Hello everyone.  Last week I had the pleasure of attending the 2010 RWA National Conference where I got to meet several people including a few from Kensington. I had already met today’s guest in March and knew instantly that I wanted to be published with Kensington, but now after meeting Alicia Condon I know I HAVE to keep trying to be one of their authors. I attended a workshop where five of Kensington’s top people spoke about what happens between you, your book, and them. I learned so much about the “behind” the scenes workings and the people who really get your book sold. I’m amazed and have so much respect for those people. Today’s guest is an editor of two of my writing friends and one that I enjoy twitter stalking cause she’s just fun. One day Megan will either block me from everything or I will be a Kensington author. I’ll keep you all posted and yes I’m open for you all to take bets on which will happen 🙂

But for now let’s get down to the interview and give Mrs. Megan Records a huge thank you for stopping by and participating today.

What made you become an editor?

It was a very logical thought process, actually. I wanted a job I really loved. What did I love to do? Read. How could I get paid to read? Become an editor.

 

How did you go about becoming an editor?

I did the typical track—English major. I got an M.S. in Publishing (not necessary at all, but it was a relatively “safe” way of getting to NYC…no immediate panic over jobs and apartments). I had a great internship at Harlequin that solidified for me that I wanted to work in romance. My first job was with an educational publishing house. Oh, the nightmares. It was just the wrong job for me—copyediting math problems is not fun for an English major. And then I landed at Kensington.

 

Did you ever think of becoming an agent?

No. As a kid, I couldn’t even go door-to-door in our neighborhood to sell fundraising things. I am just not the “outgoing salesman” type. Ironically, as an editor, I have to “sell” my books to the editorial board and to our sales team, but it seems less daunting when you are making a salary and not working on commission.

 

How many authors (currently contracted) do you edit? How many do you feel is too many at one time?

 I think I’ve got about 14 currently under contract. I don’t mentally have a number that is too many in total, but sometimes I‘ll read a sub and think, “Do I really need another paranormal author writing this creature?” or “Do I have room for another historical author writing this time period?” It’s all about how the group meshes, not how big it is.

 

If you get a manuscript on submission on you like it but just don’t love it do you ever offer any advice on what would make you love it?

If I can. Most of the time, when I run across a “like not love” manuscript, I can’t pinpoint what would make it jump that fence for me. I mean, I did like it. There was nothing “wrong” with it. It just didn’t have that je ne sais quoi that would have me begging my ed board to let me buy it. More often in this situation, I ask if the author has any other projects in the works.

 

I’ve heard you say that you contract around five new authors a year. With your promotion has that number increased?

Yes and no. My promotion didn’t create any more spots on our list, and it didn’t make any of our other acquiring editors invisible so I could take their spots. But it will give me more attention from agents, who will start sending projects that they hadn’t sent here previously, and I will also have a little bit more leeway in my buys (i.e. they might allow a riskier buy that they wouldn’t have allowed before). So while I don’t have an annual quota of manuscripts I must buy, I do expect to buy more this year than I have previously.  And remember, after a certain point, it’s bad if an editor keeps picking up a lot of new people. I want to get to the point where I am constantly renewing the authors I have, and therefore picking up fewer projects.

 

What is the next step in editing for you? What are your future plans?

I plan to discover many bestsellers and become a legend in the world of publishing, of course. :]

 

I can say without a doubt that I truly believe that Ms. Records is well on her way to becoming a legend and I’m convinced that she has at least two Best Sellers in her catalog now. Especially since I am a critique partner of one, I mean really it has to happen 🙂 Thanks again to Mrs. Records and all her hard work  in the publishing industry and to the others at Kensington who work so hard to make the publishing industry the best field to work in. Thank you all.

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