Sunday, April 29, 2012

Self-Publishing Event w/ Jen Talty May 12th

Pocono Lehigh Romance Writers Special Event with Speaker Jen Talty: Self-Publishing:
What Really Are Your Options?
May 12, 2012

Are you a published author considering publishing your backlist or an unpublished author considering self-publishing?

Authors have more choices today than ever before, but the process can be overwhelming. While this is not a step-by-step technical class, the workshop is designed to give you enough information to make informed decisions on how to get your e-Book on all formats possible. Pocono Lehigh Romance Writers have a special guest speaker this month, and we're opening this workshop to outside guests.
This workshop with Jen Talty, Author of Who Dares Wins Publishing, will look closely at self-publishing distribution channels: from what kind of file and the various options you will need to upload your e-Book, to all the various platforms such as Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Smashwords, and what are the best strategies to getting your book up for sale. We will discuss doing it yourself, outsourcing and team-building options.

For directions and payment information, check the website or follow this link

LOCATION: 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m., May 12, 2012
Palmer Library, 1 Weller Place, Easton, Pa.

Speaker Information: Jennifer Talty co-created Who Dares Wins Publishing with New York Times best-selling author Bob Mayer, and helps run the day-to-day administrative side of the company. She is published in romance under the pen names of Jenni Holbrook and Hollie Brooks. She also teaches creative writing at various writing conferences across the country and does freelance editing and technical writing. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business education with a concentration in marketing and sales from Nazareth College of Rochester.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

50 Shades of Grey: Hot Lessons for Authors

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the New York Times Best Selling book Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James. It’s an erotic romance set mostly in Seattle about a very wealthy man, Christian Grey and a naïve college grad Anastasia Steele. The story features their struggling romance and depicts explicit sex scenes with elements of BDSM. If you check out the reviews on Amazon, you’ll see they’re very skewed. Either readers love it or hate it. 1,662 last I checked. 816 were 5 stars, 402, 1 star.

Whatever their impression of the book, tons and tons of readers are reading and talking about the book.

So, what can authors learn from this to help improve their own writing career?

Dig into the book, read it but don’t tear it apart.
One thing I’ve notice the first time any author hits it big, is how people instantly jump to pick that author and the book apart, trying to find fault. I’m saddened when this happens, especially when other authors do this. And I understand we all have different tastes and won’t like everything we read. I’m talking about authors who rip another author’s work apart. Bad Karma in my opinion.

Sure we would all like to be getting the kind of royalties EL James is getting, and I’m sure there are a number of erotic and BDSM authors thinking: “Why not my book?”

But instead of thinking that way, we should be thinking: WHY her book? What did she do RIGHT? And learn from it. We can’t forget that James opened up the erotic fiction market to a public who has never read an erotic book before. After this group of new readers finishes the 50 Shades trilogy, many will be searching out other authors. Hello? New blood, yeah! That’s a great thing for all of us!!!

True, the relationship in 50 Shades does not depict a ‘normal’ loving BDSM relationship. Christian is screwed up. He was sexually abused as a child. And Ana is overly naïve, but at least she (for the most part) stands up for herself and isn’t TSTL (too stupid to live). They both have a lot of emotional baggage but there is something compelling between them that I think is deeply emotional and brilliant. AND, THIS IS FICTION.

When I read a book I want to escape and be entertained. Fiction is fantasy and I’m there for the ride, I don’t care if every detail is or isn’t precisely accurate as long as it fits for the story.

Christian and Ana are atypical characters in an atypical BDSM relationship. They’re flawed, their relationship is flawed, but deep down they’re good and caring people, trying to find their way through the dark. And isn’t that what makes this story so compelling?

Tips for Writers. What I got from 50 Shades of Grey. Or any blockbuster author.

·         Don’t write cookie cutter characters. Find something unique in each character. Normal, everyday people may be accurate but they’re boring.

·         Don’t write to trends. Watch, in the coming year you’ll see a rush of BDSM books that will be out on the market. If you write that genre, fine, but come up with your own twist. If you don’t write BDSM erotic fiction, think twice before jumping onto the bandwagon. Are you true to your brand or trying to get rich quick? Is bondage something you really want to write or are you going to have to force it. Readers will know.

·         Read the blockbuster books. Not to copy or parallel your story, but to get a feel for the spark that makes that particular book a hit. Was it the characters? The unique plot? The depth of emotion? The edgy rawness?  Etc. How can you improve your writing to strengthen those areas?

·         In an interview with EL James, she said she originally didn’t write the series to be published but to express what she felt deep inside. As a writer, dig deep and find those emotions and transpose them into words on the page.

·         Be thrilled for EL James and her success. Supporting another author also supports us all.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Ready for Spring Break?

SPRING BREAK is out!!! Are you ready for the Road Trip? This time of year when the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, cabin fever sets in and the desire for a spring break vacation is overwhelming. If you can't get away, then maybe a sexy, hot read to a tropical beach locale will do it for you. Spring Break is for those who wish they could go back and relive their spring break and add a very erotic twist.

Starting today I'll be "leaving" on my cyber tour. The list of blogs are below. Check out the sites. I have interviews and plan to talk about a variety of topics. If you leave a comment with your email on any blog, I'll be drawing a name at each one for a FREE ebook download from my back list. Winners chosen at random.

4/13: Cerise Deland's Blog w/ contest
4/13: Mari Carr's Blog w/ contest
4/16: NJ Walter's Blog w/ contest
4/16: Francesca Hawley's Blog w/ contest
4/17: Romance Lives Forever Blog
4/24: The Romance Studio Blue Blog
4/26: TRS Parties w/ contest
4/26: Author Island Cyber Launch Blog w/contest

Road Trip ends on the beach. Meet me there.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Mystical Magical Muse

One thing I hear all the time from readers is: Where do I get my ideas from?

First of all, I don’t believe there’s some elemental creature or beautiful Greek goddess floating around the ether or an alternative dimension plucking ideas out of the universe, and then deciding that I’m worthy enough for that idea to have it dropped into my brain.

I think all writers are wired from birth to be writers. Just like some people are wired to learn languages easily, others can almost instinctually learn to play a musical instrument or three, some people can calculate math problems in their head and some have a sixth sense for directions. It’s internal wiring in my opinion. We have that particular ability, or gift, because the potential wiring is there.

Even if a person doesn’t begin to write until his adult years, that brain potential is there. Some writers claim they’d written their first book when they were six, or wrote stories when they were children, or TOLD imaginative stories, or loved to read, or had an over active imagination, or daydreamed, etc., etc. But that doesn’t mean you’re not a true writer if you never had any of these ‘tells’ at a young age. Maybe a potential writer didn’t have the environment to allow the expression of one or more of these ‘tells’ that proved he was always meant to be a writer. This is the analytical side of me.

Besides having the ‘hardware’ to being a writer, and that doesn’t mean you have to have an IQ of 180, there is another component that all writers have that can’t be described. An elusive spark or drive or desire. It’s like a candle that burns brightly within the soul of a writer that can’t be extinguished.

No matter how many rejections, bad reviews, disasters in their personal life, failed attempts or criticisms from readers, friends and family members, the spark remains. And the writer keeps writing and continues to learn. Someone who is intelligent and has the ability to write, might say, “I’m going to write a book one day”, but they’ll never finish a book because they don’t have that spark.

So, where do I get my ideas from? EVERYWHERE. When I’m not even trying to come up with a story idea, they just come to me. Most of my ideas come when I’m doing something other than writing or when I’m not trying to come up with an idea: sitting at my microscope at work, working in my garden, working out in the gym, working on home improvements in my house, traveling. I’ve gotten sparks for story ideas from listening to people at restaurants/bars, hiking, standing in line for a ride at Disney, watching a movie. An interesting title popped into my head for a story I hadn’t even written yet and the story developed from just the title. That’s happened a few times.

I can’t explain where the ideas come from any more than I can explain how I can remember some simple thing that happened when I was five but can’t remember what I had for lunch last Tuesday.

So I can't tell you where the idea came from for my new book Spring Break which will be coming out at Ellora's Cave on Friday. Unless I was ready for a vacation and my mind warped it into something sexy and hot. Hope you'll check it out. I think it's a fun read.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

NJ Walters Guest Interview

Thanks NJ for visiting and doing the interview. NJ is a talented writer. Whether you like werewolves, vampires, contemporary, historical, or westerns, you'll find something you like. Her stories are always entertaining reads and very hot!

What is your writing schedule like?

I like to write first thing in the morning before my mind gets cluttered with the details of everyday life. I try to write five mornings a week, but most weeks it ends up being four days. In the afternoons, I’ll do promotional stuff, answer emails, update my website, blog, Facebook page, etc… I try to take weekends off, but I usually end up spending several hours each day on emails, groups and social media. As this is my full time job, I try to pace myself so I don’t burn out.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write! Don’t let anyone deter you if you truly want to write. This is a tough business so you’ll have to grow a thick skin. You’ll have more rejection than acceptance. You’ll spend months working on a project that no one might contract. But if you love writing you’ll do it anyway. I think it’s the best job in the world!

Are you seat of the pants writer or plotter?

I fall somewhere in the center. I’m not a plotter. I can’t write a long outline and work from it. I’d lose my excitement for the project. I do write character sketches before I begin and I map out loosely in point form where I want the story to go or if there are any specific scenes I want in the book. After that, I think about my opening scene. Once I have that set in my head, I start writing and let the book unfold. Every now and then I’ll check my rough outline to see if I’m still on track. Sometimes I will be, but other times I’ll have done a complete turn and headed in another direction entirely.

Do you have a character in one of your books that continues to haunt you at night or surprised you when you wrote the book?

I think one of the characters who surprised me the most was Stefan Dalakis from Stefan’s Salvation, book 3 of my Dalakis Passion series. Stefan is the youngest of three vampire brothers, and he was supposed to be the lighthearted one, the comic relief after the two intense older brothers. Stefan, however, had other ideas. He ended up being the most intense, the most driven of the three siblings. And the most deadly when someone he loves is threatened. He’s one of my favorite dark heroes I’ve written.

Do you write full time or work outside of the home?

I’ve been lucky enough to be writing full time since 2005. I took a deep breath and quit my day job back in May of that year and I’ve never looked back. I’m so grateful to all the wonderful people who have bought my books and supported me over the years. I hope it will last, but even if it doesn’t, I’ll always have had these years as a full time writer. It’s been awesome.

How do you balance writing for more than one publisher?

It’s always a balance trying to have a new book for each publisher while still finding time to write something to submit to a new market. I try to alternate publishers, when possible. But sometimes I’ll get on a series roll and write two or three books one after another. I did that for my Project Alpha trilogy. I wrote them one after the other. I got into the world and didn’t want to leave it. But usually I do alternate between publishers and series. It keeps the writing fresh and my interest high.

A lot of people think that genre hopping isn’t a good idea. What do you think?

I’m guilty of doing that. lol  It’s probably better to develop a brand as a certain kind of writer (western, mystery, etc…) I didn’t really realize that when I started my career and I’ve written contemporary, ménage a trois, erotic romance, paranormal, vampires, werewolves, a western and even a historical. Lately, I’ve mostly been writing paranormal romance with my Legacy series. And I’m also working on a new paranormal quartet for one of my publishers.

One of the reasons I love being a romance writer is that readers are willing to try any subgenre. I’m extremely lucky that my readers have bought my books no matter what genre I’ve written.

Do you write a novel straight through? Or revise as you go? Plan a whole series in advance? Or does the series evolve?

I write a novel straight through without revising. I feel that keeps me more open creatively because I’m not critiquing what I’ve already written. Each morning when I sit down at my computer I’ll reread the chapter I wrote in the last sitting to get my head back into the story. I don’t like to edit as I go as that just slows down my process. If I get ideas for scenes to add or things I need to check or change later, I start a list at the end of the manuscript and use that as a guide when I do my first rewrite.

I rarely plan series in advance. I usually write the first book and by the time I’m at the end of it I know if there will be more books featuring the secondary characters. The only series I’ve planned in advance were the Project Alpha trilogy, the Spells, Secrets and Seductions trilogy, and a new unpublished quartet I’m working on now. I knew in advance each series was limited and I wanted to keep each series tight. All my other series either ended when I felt the time was right or are ongoing.

Do you use Beta readers?

My husband is the first and only reader of all my books before I submit them to my editors. I figure he’s got a PhD in English so I should make use of his expertise. He’s ruthless with his red pen but he always has wonderful suggestions. He also leaves little comments sprinkled throughout the manuscript that always make me laugh. Makes it fun to revise a book.

Do your books have a particular theme or premise?

All my books have one thing in common—they’re all about the HEA (happily ever after), the relationship between the main characters as they both change and overcome obstacles in their lives. I’m a romantic at heart and I really want readers to care about the hero and heroine as much as I do. I’m very character driven.
N.J. has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.

Quinn's Quest excerpt                                                                    

From Samhain Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-60928-720-7

He can give her anything and everything she needs—except a future.

Legacy, Book 4

Kidnapped and held in a crazy doctor’s underground laboratory, Bethany Morris only manages to escape because Chrissten, one of her fellow abductees, creates an opportunity—by shifting into a werewolf.

Bethany’s desperate for help, but who’ll believe her story? The police? That’ll just buy her a one-way ticket to a padded room—because here’s the kicker: she’s discovered she’s a half-breed werewolf. Her only hope is to find Chrissten’s brother.

Quinn Lawton’s long, grinding search for his missing twin has turned up nothing…until Bethany rekindles his hope. Something else catches flame too—her heat cycle and a searing attraction branded with the word mate. Yet with so much blood on his hands, any future he might offer is already tainted beyond redemption.

Desperate for Quinn’s touch alone, Bethany has no choice but to take Quinn up on his offer to quell her terrifying need, no strings attached. And hope that as the search for Chrissten intensifies, the battle with their personal demons doesn’t destroy their razor-thin chance at forever. 
The phone rang twice before it occurred to Bethany that the middle of the night might not be the best time to call anyone asking for help, especially not with the crazy story she had to tell. “Damn.” She thought about hanging up but she was committed now. She tightened her hand around the receiver.
“Yeah.” The voice was male and hoarse with sleep.
She cleared her throat. “Is this Quinn Lawton?” She prayed she’d remembered the number right. She didn’t know what she’d do next if this wasn’t Chrissten’s brother.
There was some rustling in the background and the voice was more alert this time. “No.” Bethany’s heart sunk. Maybe she’d dialed the number wrong. Before she could apologize and hang up, the man was speaking again. “Just give me a second and I’ll get him.”
Hope surged inside her. She hadn’t failed. The phone number was the right one. Her knees threatened to buckle so she sank into the chair that Margaret had vacated. Her stomach felt queasy and she was still very weak. She could still hang up the phone and let the police handle this. All she’d have to do is tell them she was kidnapped. No need to tell them about the rest of it. Quinn Lawton would never be able to find her. There was no way to trace the call back to the shelter.
She clutched the receiver in her hand and took a deep breath, knowing she could never do that. She was committed now. No turning back. Footsteps sounded through the receiver and she knew the man who’d answered was taking the phone to Chrissten’s brother, who was a half-breed werewolf just like Chrissten. Just like she was.
Bethany still couldn’t quite wrap her head around that one, but she was trying to understand it. She hoped Quinn had answers for her.
“Yeah.” The voice was low and gruff and masculine. Every cell in Bethany’s body reacted to the sound. The fine hair on the back of her neck stood on end. Her nipples contracted. Her breath caught in her throat.
“Who is this?” The voice was more demanding now, all trace of sleepiness gone.
Bethany forced herself to speak. “Is this Quinn Lawton?”
“Who wants to know?” She almost hung up on him. His impatience and arrogance bled through the phone line. But she’d promised her friend.
“Do you have a sister named Chrissten?”
“Where is she? Who are you? Where are you?”
Bethany was so startled by the angry outburst she dropped the receiver. She could hear Quinn yelling at her through the line. She grabbed the phone and hung up, panting hard for breath. He was one scary man.
She sat there for about thirty seconds before she grabbed the phone and punched in the number again.
“Hello. Are you there?” he demanded.
“I’m here.” This was for Chrissten, she reminded herself. And for yourself, a little voice in the back of her head said. You want to know more about who you are. What you are.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to yell at you.” His low tones made her shiver and she wasn’t sure she believed him. Even his apology was short. A voice in the background was urging him to stay calm. She recognized it as the man who’d originally answered the phone. She was beginning to wish she’d talked to him instead.
“Umm, I need to talk to you about your sister.” She had to do this face-to-face. This wasn’t something you talked about over the phone. “Where are you?”
“I’m in Chicago. Where are you?”
Bethany was shocked to find out that help was close at hand. She hadn’t expected that, but would take it as a good sign that maybe her luck was changing. “Where in Chicago? I want to meet you.”
“Tell me about my sister.” His frustration was palpable and she almost blurted out everything she knew. But she had to meet him in person. She’d promised Chrissten she’d get help and that meant more than simply making a phone call. Plus, she was curious about him, about what he was. What she was.
“Where shall I meet you?” Bethany could be just as stubborn as he was.
“There’s a bar in Wicker Park. It’s called Haven. Meet me there.”
“When?” Bethany glanced at the clock over Margaret’s desk. It was half past four in the morning.
“Now. I’ll be waiting for you.”
“I don’t have any money to pay for a cab.” It was demoralizing to admit she needed him to pay for her to get there. She couldn’t walk, as she had no idea where she was going. Even if she wanted to take public transit she still had no idea where to find this particular bar.
“Just get here. I’ll take care of the cab fare.”
She sucked in a breath and said, “Okay,” as she exhaled. The quicker she did this the better for her peace of mind.
“What’s your name?” The urgency in his tone brought home just how desperate he was for news of his sister.
“Bethany. My name is Bethany. As of less than a day ago your sister was alive. I’ll be there as soon as I can.”
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