Monday, January 25, 2010

Winning Query Letters

Janet Reid from Fine Print Literary Agency gave an excellent lecture on writing effective query letters at a recent Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group meeting. Here are some of the things she talked about and tips taken from her hand out. Check out Janet Reid's blog too.

A query letter is a business letter, even if you’re sending it via email, it should still be professional. Get rid of auto-signatures with pictures and fancy fonts. DO NOT copy and paste from a Word.doc file into the email or that email the agent gets will be full of those weird characters, you’ll lose all the formatting and get a big block of text that’s hard to read. Type the letter manually into the email or save it into a draft in your email and then copy and paste.
A query letter MUST tell an agent what the book is about:

Who is the main character(s)?
What happens to her?
What choice does s/he face?
What terrible thing will happen because of that choice?

Here’s a sample formula for writing a blurb: The main character must decide whether to ________. If s/he decides to do (this), the consequences/outcome/peril s/he faces are: If s/he decides NOT to do this: the consequences/outcome/peril s/he faces are:
A query blurb describes the book’s premise, it’s not a synopsis. Don’t tell the ending. Stick to hero/heroine and possibly the protagonist in your blurb and that’s all. Avoid character soup in your blurb.

A query letter should include the word count, title, genre and publishing credits you have. You don’t have to say the novel is complete. It should be before you query. Publishing credits are published works, not self-published, not winning a contest, not awards, not classes or teachers you’ve studied under, not an MFA, not conferences attended.
Instant rejection phrases: Fiction novel, sure best seller, Oprah, film potential, “dear agent”/”dear sir or madam”.

Things to avoid: Don’t beg, flatter or demean yourself. Don’t quote rejections letters (even ones with good feedback). Don’t quote critique groups, friends, paid editors, or ask rhetorical questions like: “What would it be like to kill your husband?”

Don’t offer exclusives (if you do give a time deadline). Don’t attach anything unless asked to do so. Don’t engage your spam filter or auto responder. Keep your letter to the point and be specific.

For email queries, put your contact information at the BOTTOM. Include the following: Email, phone, website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, mailing address. Janet said she once had to get intouch with a potential client through his blog because her emails kept bouncing.

Expect to hear a lot of NOs. And never, ever argue with a rejection.

Have a query tracking system so you know what/who/when/where you queried and the response.

Here’s an example of a format for an equery:

Subj: QUERY – Title by Author

Dear (Name of Agent)

Paragraph ONE: 100 word paragraph on what the book is about. This is not a synopsis. Have a line break every three lines. Makes it easier to read. Include Title, genre and word count.

Paragraph TWO: Your writing credits (If none, then skip)

Paragraph THREE: Any kind words, how you found the agent, why you picked that agent, etc.

Closing: Thank you for you time and consideration. (No need for other stuff.)

Your Name
your email
your phone
your website
your blog
your twitter name
your Facebook page

Your physical address

Monday, January 18, 2010

Featured Author/Blog Tours


As a result of my blog tour during the week of my release for Damned and Desired, I was asked to be a featured author on Erotic Romance Crush Junkies reviews. Check it out if you like. Interviews are a challenge. It’s hard talking about yourself. I’d rather talk about my books. More on the results of my last minute Blog Tour below.


When I was notified I only had a week before the release of my novel, Damned and Desired, I scrambled for the best ideas to set up an emergency promotional plan. I’d just sold the book in November and hadn't expected such a quick turn around. It was a pleasant surprise, but I was also panicking. I put a call out on a couple writers loops asking to do last minute guest blogs. Fortunately, I had five responses for the week of my release. I had just set up my first Blog Tour. Ashlyn Chase has a list of bloggers interesting in hosting blog tours.

What do you usually include in a blog tour when you’re invited to be a guest blogger?
Ask the owner of the blog first. Usually, they like a short article (one to two paragraphs) on a topic related, more or less, to your book; your book cover with buy information, links and ISBN; a short blurb of the book and a short excerpt—about 500 words or less. Ask the blog owner if they prefer a PG rated excerpt before you submit a hard core sex scene. Also include your website and/or blog links.

Since I was blogging at five different sites within three days I wrote up five slightly different mini articles. Yes, it takes more time, but if you post the same article on each site people will lose interest.

On the day that your guest blog is posted, announce it with the topic on Twitter, Facebook, other social networks and loops, and provide the link.

After your guest blog is posted, check it regularly and respond to comments. That helps to keep the conversation going. It also helps to include a question in your post or comment to encourage more comments.

Check the blog a few days after for late comments.

Offer to return the favor to your host on your blog or in your newsletter.

You can also offer a give-away contest during your guest blog to increase traffic. Mention in your post the freebie (a book or other item) and when the name will be randomly selected from those who commented.

If you have more time to plan, advertise your blog tour schedule on your website or blog weeks in advance.

How effective was my blog tour? As with most promotional plans, it’s hard to measure. I did receive a request from a review site to review my book. Most authors will tell you how hard it is these days to get your book reviewed. I also was invited by another review site to be a featured author, AND they offered to review the new release and the first book in the series. That book Desert of the Damned only received two reviews. I hadn’t contacted these sites before. One author, Adele Dubois, did track the hits on her site for the day I guest blogged. We only had about fifteen comments which I thought was pretty good. But she said the number of hits were over 10, 500!!

If anyone has other suggestions or wants to share their experience or expertise about blog tours, please post a comment.

Monday, January 11, 2010

New Year's Resolutionaries

I went to my gym last week and noticed that the number of new members nearly tripled from the usual number I see at this time. As I was doing my 30 minutes on one of the climbers, I glanced at the crowd and knew in about a month or two the numbers would dwindle and eventually the same familiar faces would remain. It’s so typical, and sad. I don’t go as often as I should, but I do go every week. Why to do some pay for a gym membership and then give up after a month or two while others have the motivation to continue, at least somewhat regularly?

The same could be asked about writers. Many people say, “I could write a book.” Many start and only a few complete one. Of those who complete a book, only a small number have the courage to send their work out and try to get published. Rejection usually follows for new writers. And those who get rejected, dozens or hundreds of rejections, continue to stay motivated for as many as 3, 5, 10 or more years before they are published. What motivates them?

People can find excuses for NOT doing things, and NOT accomplishing goals. The ones who succeed don’t allow excuses or anything to stand in their way. I recently took Bob Mayer’s Warrior Writer’s Workshop,, a course I recommend every serious writer to take. It was very helpful for establishing my writing career plan, setting specific goals, focusing on the steps needed to accomplish these goals, and understanding the why, what, how, and where relating to these goals so I knew the changes I had to make. A lot of work and very worthwhile.

A couple of tips for success:

~Write down specific goals. Write them down and post them somewhere so you can see them daily.

~Break the goals down to manageable chunks. Accomplishing small goals will encourage you to work toward the bigger and harder goals.

~Make changes, set a plan or routine and stick with it. If it’s a writing goal, set a page count. Write the pages down on a calendar. Use a timer to make yourself sit in the chair and write. Turn off email, Twitter, Facebook, etc. Watch less TV. Get up an hour earlier or stay up an hour later.

~Set short-term and long-term goals. 1 week, 1 month, 6 months, 5 years, etc. Make a list.
Make a NOT-do-list. Find things in your daily routine that you can STOP doing to give yourself more time to write (or exercise).

~Treat/reward yourself when you have a success.
Be bold, take risks, have the courage to try something new. Meet people, network, take a class, etc.

~Besides making a list of your goals, make a list of last year’s accomplishments.

~Don’t get discouraged by other people’s successes. This is tough. You’re goals are you’re goals. Keep the focus on your goals. Observing how other people became successful is good if you use it as a learning method, a guide, not as a means to get discouraged.

~Take action, don’t give up, evaluate and revise goals as needed. These achievements are under your control.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Shifters and Menage for Regina

Today I'd like to welcome Regina Carlysle whose hot new book from Ellora's Cave, JAGUAR HUNGER, was just released on Wednesday, January 6th. ISBN: 9781419926938

This story has Shifters and a Menage. Hmmm, what a combination. I like it.

Here’s the Blurb: Noah Littlehawk and Aaron O’Malley have searched long years for the mate they will share, a jaguar female to fulfill their lives and ease their loneliness. What begins as a job soon becomes much more when they meet Violet. Her quiet intensity calls to them. Her body makes them yearn to claim her with the savage hunger of their species.

Death comes for Violet Carson like a speeding train. She knows the shift from woman to beast will rip her apart without the help of jaguar mates. As heat and lust overwhelm her, two men step from the shadows to claim her body and soothe the fire that consumes her. But a human predator waits and he won’t rest until he possesses her, body and soul.

Check out her hot new website: and visit her blog:

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


DAMNED AND DESIRED releases today!! I'm so excited about this book. It's the second in my Demons in Exile series. The first book DESERT OF THE DAMNED has been a great success. I've enjoyed writing this series and I'm working on the third book.
Demons with insatiable sexual appetites, various shapeshifters and an alternative universe set in the sultry Arizona desert make for a sexy, adventure story. I have a couple excerpts in previous posts, but here's the blurb again:
She’s a demon, he’s a shapeshifting leopard. From their first meeting in the Arizona desert, passion ignites and trouble begins. As a demon, Sakari Lock must harvest lifeforce energy through sexual seductions to sustain her exiled world. But when Sakari meets Brad, she breaks the number one rule of Anartia—Don’t get personal with your quarry.

Physician’s assistant Brad Montag is drawn to Sakari’s lustful advances with a blazing desire he can’t explain, unaware of how dangerous she is. No matter how enticing, she’s a complication he doesn’t need until he can conquer his past and regain control of his shapeshifting abilities. Sex this wicked and good can only lead to disaster.

When immortals from an alternate dimension try to free their exiled world, Brad is caught in the middle of a battle that could destroy not only him, but the land he loves.
DAMNED AND DESIRED from Ellora's Cave
Released: 01/06/2010
Paranormal Erotic Romance
ISBN: 9781419924699

Monday, January 4, 2010


My novel DAMNED AND DESIRED releasing on Wednesday 01/06/10 at Ellora’s Cave has demons and shapeshifters and an alternative universe. I did some interesting research for this book including quantum physics, the vortexes of Sedona, Arizona, and Native American mysticism.

Quantum physics is science, mostly. The theory of vortexes is usually considered supernatural phenomenon. But both talk about earth’s forces of electricity, magnetism and electromagnetism. Vortexes are said to be spiraling sources of energy. These energies can be electrical, magnetic or electromagnetic. Sedona has a large concentration of vortexes using a variety of these three energies. Other locations where vortexes are said to be found include: the Persian Gulf, Mount Calvary, Bermuda Triangle, Ayers Rock in Australia, Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and Glastonbury Tor in Somerset, England. There are others.

Cairns at the Cathedral vortex

So what are these vortexes suppose to do? I’m not exactly sure. I asked a number of people when I visited Sedona and never got a straight answer. They pretty much said you have to experience them for yourself. Hmmm. I’ve read a couple books on the subject and I’m still perplexed. Some people swear they can sense or see the energies. One book said they can expand your consciousness, have healing capabilities, are entrances to other dimensions, and sightings for UFOs.

My Dh and I hiked around several of these vortexes. One, Cathedral Rock, is a gorgeous site. Can’t say I felt any energy. But we met some interesting and nice people along the way.

Below Cathedral Rock

Anyway, I found the mystical setting and the beautiful scenery the perfect setting for my series Demons in Exile. The material I read in quantum physics(tiny amount) and information on vortexes sparked ideas for my novel. Here’s another excerpt from my new release DAMNED AND DESIRED:

Aiming the flashlight around the area, he looked for tracks, footprints—human or animal. He saw both. “They were here.”
“Seen enough?” she asked.
He looked toward another group of rocks. “Let’s check that out.”
“This place doesn’t feel right.”
He didn’t want to make her feel uncomfortable or scared but his instincts told him there was something here that needed to be investigated.
“Sakari, what aren’t you telling me?”
She didn’t answer.
“All right. I’m telling you. There’s nothing for you to worry about. I need to change one more time and then I promise we’ll go.”
“Brad, no! It’s not safe.”
Brad threw the pelt over his shoulders defiantly and immediately shifted into the leopard. Something was here and he was going to find out what if she wouldn’t tell him. In animal form, he felt that magnetic pull like he had before. With his senses more keen to the environment, his hackles stood out sensing danger. Could it be an electrical storm in the area? He glanced up at the night sky and saw brilliant stars. Not tonight.
Then he heard a scream and smelled the animal before he heard the yip and snarl of another predator.
Spinning around, he crouched in position ready to lunge at his attacker. Coyote leapt onto him with more forced than he’d expect from a skinny animal. The leopard had to out weigh him by eighty pounds or so.
Claws dug into his shoulders and teeth dug into his foreleg. He yelped in pain then rolled and let his weight force Coyote to release him. He knocked the coyote down with his wide paws. Powerful teeth clamped onto the coyote’s back, but the sly creature wrenched free and pinned him on the ground. jaws tight around his throat. In any moment, his throat would be ripped out.
Brad slipped out of his leopard form and felt the teeth of the Coyote at his throat. Son of a bitch.
“Stop it, Dante!”
Coyote was caught off guard and released his grip, gazing down at him. Brad focused and managed to shift again. With his hind legs, the leopard maneuvered in a position and again rolled on top of Coyote. His assailant was powerful and strong but the leopard had muscle and weight on his side.
“Stop it, now! Both of you!” Sakari cried.
Then the leopard sensed another predator. While he had Coyote pinned on the ground, he heard a shriek and saw the flash of wings. He looked up.
A falcon swooped down, talons extended and knocked him off Coyote.
Scrambling to his feet, Coyote prepared to attack the leopard and as he leapt in the air to do so, the falcon swooped down again and clipped Coyote on the ear with its sharp talons. He yipped and rolled away. The leopard started to attack Coyote, then saw the futility of it as the falcon swiftly circled and aimed for him. He backed off.
Both Coyote and the leopard kept their distance to avoid further attacks by the third adversary and occasionally glanced at the falcon overhead. Finally, the falcon landed between them and Sakari appeared, naked and beautiful, her chest heaving as she attempted to catch her breath. She glared at them with a deep frown as if daring them to start fighting again.
“Are you two finished with your pissing contest?”

Release date: 01/06/10 at Ellora’s Cave
ISBN: 978 14199 24699

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Count Down to Damned and Desired

I always like to see hunky guys showing off muscles without shirts but there's something about a guy in a leather jacket. I'm counting down to the release day of DAMNED AND DESIRED coming to Ellora's Cave on 01-06-10 and sharing excerpts. Thanks for stopping by.

Release date: 01/06/10 at Ellora’s Cave
ISBN: 978 14199 24699
DAMNED AND DESIRED is Book 2 in my Demons in Exile series. Book 1, DESERT OF THE DAMNED Though each book is stand-alone and can be read in any order.

When a desperate sexy demon meets a hunky shapeshifting mortal her attraction to him threatens her mission and her world.

Excerpt: (Adults only Please: 18 years or older)

Footsteps approached in his direction and he estimated they stopped only a few yards behind him. And there he was with his bare ass hanging out for all the world to see.

A woman laughed.

Slowly, Brad turned around pulling a corner of the fur diagonally across him to cover his engorged penis. The adrenaline pumping through his veins had the added affect of giving him a hard on.

“Do I dare ask?” A woman stood there smiling at him, her hands propped on her hips, giving him a mocking grin.

She was stunning. The one-shouldered white dress clung to all her luscious curves and a gold braided belt crisscrossed the bodice accentuating her breasts. Her outfit, her sleek black hair and exotic eyes gave him the impression that she’d stepped out of a Cleopatra movie where she was playing the starring role. He nodded in her direction and answered with an equally smart ass retort. “Toga party, right?” What else could it be?

“No,” she said irritated.

“What are you doing out here?” he asked. Maybe she was one of those New Agers meditating or something. What was she doing out there all alone surrounded by the vast expanse of flat desert and dusty sage brush? And why would she approach a naked stranger in the middle of the night? Either she had a lot of nerve or was completely mad.

She appeared to think for a minute. “Taking a walk but now I’m late for work,” she said.

He gave a short laugh. “Work? Where do you work?”

She didn’t answer. Something in her eyes made his need for sex even worse, despite the urge to shift.

She shot him a mischievous look. A flicker of something passed through her eyes and his balls drew up tight. Moving closer, she reached out a hand and touched the fur. “What kind of animal was it?”


“Did you kill it?” Her nails caressed the fur and he thought about her doing the same to his balls and he shivered with desire.

“No, it was passed down in my family.”

She nodded. “Then it must be special.” She regarded his bare shoulder and ran her delicate fingers over a twisted scar. “How were you injured?”

“In the service.”

Nodding again, she continued to glide her hand over his chest. Sure she was turning him on but who the hell was she? He backed up a step, giving her the hint to stop.

She crossed her arms over her chest, the position accentuating her cleavage. An unusual stone pendant hung at the cleft of her breasts. She fingered the pendant and smiled. Obviously, she didn’t mind him looking at her.

Beneath his fur his libido was kicking into gear. His penis was hard and fully erect, partly because of the adrenaline pumping through his veins but also because of the lascivious fantasies coming unleashed concerning the woman. His aroused state was her fault. She had interrupted him in the middle of a transformation.

Holy smokes. He could smell her too. He’d been close to shifting so his senses were acute. The delicate scents of earthy soaps, female musk and desert breezes made her even harder to resist. He was overly aware of his nakedness and had a sudden urge to toss the fur on the ground and draw her down. Oh, yeah, that would be hot and insane.

Images of the two of them naked on the leopard pelt formed in his mind. Flesh against flesh, his hand slipping between her thighs and feeling her warm, slick pussy ready for his aroused cock. Yes, he would opt for hot sex with this beauty instead of a wild romp as an animal. Tarzan and Jane in the desert.

She smiled and looked at him quizzically, then cocked her head, nodding toward the fur that was covering his groin area. “What’s that all about?”

“The fur?” How did he explain the fur? Screw it. He wasn’t going to explain anything. “Why are you out here alone?”

She didn’t seem at all intimidated by his directness. “I was going to ask you the same question.”

Neither of them offered an explanation.She frowned and broke the uneasy silence. “I’ve heard of people who have a fetish to dress in animal furs. They’re called furries.”

“Ah, no. This is nothing like that. It’s not a fetish.” He wrapped the fur around his waist and secured it so his hands were free.

“Okay. Tarzan and Jane?”

He shook his head in disbelief. Was she on the same wavelength? “It’s a bit difficult to explain.”

She took a step closer. “I don’t have time for an explanation. I’m late for work.”

“So you said.”

“Goodbye.” She turned and started walking away.

“Wait! Can I give you a ride?” He stepped forward and nearly lost his fur.

She smiled as he quickly covered himself. “No, thanks. I have transportation.”

“A car? Where?”

“Have to go.”

“Will you be back?” he asked.

She shrugged.“Can I see you again?”

She frowned, looking around. “Not safe.”

Now we’re getting somewhere. “Not safe for you?”

“No, for you.”

“Tell me why.”

“See you.” An amused expression flitted over her face. She turned away from him and jogged into the darkness.

Brad wondered if he’d ever see her again. When he didn’t hear the sound of a car after several minutes, he stepped into his boots and started off in her direction. After walking around for quite some time, moonlight reflected on a patch of white cloth beneath a tree. His heart leapt to his throat. No!

He investigated and found her dress neatly folded with the gold braided belt and her gold sandals. What the hell? Disappeared like down the rabbit hole.

Friday, January 1, 2010

DAMNED AND DESIRED Coming 01/06/10

Sometimes publishing moves slow and sometimes it moves fast. On New Year's Eve, I got an email from my editor that DAMNED AND DESIRED will be released on January 6, 2010 at Ellora's Cave!

That's the quickest release date I've ever received. I'm sure they had a hole in their schedule. I'm excited because it's been a while since I've had a new release. As always, I can't wait to see the cover.

Here's the Blurb: She’s a demon, he’s a shapeshifting leopard. From their first meeting in the Arizona desert, passion ignites and trouble begins. As a demon, Sakari Lock must harvest lifeforce energy through sexual seductions to sustain her exiled world. But when Sakari meets Brad, she breaks the number one rule of Anartia—Don’t get personal with your quarry.

Physician’s assistant Brad Montag is drawn to Sakari’s lustful advances with a blazing desire he can’t explain, unaware of how dangerous she is. No matter how enticing, she’s a complication he doesn’t need until he can conquer his past and regain control of his shapeshifting abilities. Sex this wicked and good can only lead to disaster.

When immortals from an alternate dimension try to free their exiled world, Brad is caught in the middle of a battle that could destroy not only him, but the land he loves.