Friday, October 7, 2016

Celebrate Marna Reed's Novella

My friend Marna Reed is here to celebrate the release of her Christmas novella, Home Sweet Cocoa.

Hello everyone.
I’m not Beth, but she graciously allowed me to take over her blog for this guest post.
Hi, I’m Marna Reed. *waves*

My debut contemporary romance novella, Home Sweet Cocoa, is Christmas-themed, and while I was “researching” I got caught up in the Pinterest wormhole of ornament decorations. So, naturally, I was inspired to make an ornament for myself!

I can’t take the credit though. I got help from Remodelando la Casa, a blog with this crafty post to make your own reindeer-like wine cork ornament for Christmas. Add that extra personal touch to the tree this year. :0)

Since I didn’t follow the “ingredients” to making this ornament, and to ensure that I don’t confuse anyone, here’s what my items looked like:

REINDEER CORK ORNAMENT

1 seam-ripper (because I was way too lazy to look for an awl, lol)
1 pipe cleaner (I chose blue)
1 pom-pom
2 googly eyes
1 cork
Elmer’s school glue
Some clear tape (you’ll see why…)

1.      I used the seam ripper to poke hole in at the top. Took WAY longer than I thought (ha, idiot me), but once I cut two, even pieces off the long pipe cleaner, the pieces fit perfectly after I dabbed in some school glue.
2.      I glued on the eyes and titled them in front of a space heater. Guys and gals, use hot glue. I found the glue gun expensive, so consider the purchase real hard, but if you’re a crafty person then invest in one.
3.      Since I didn’t bother to purchase hot glue (this would be so much easier!), I had to tape on the pompom nose and googly eyes. It was a mess, seriously. I’m surprised the pictures turned out well (if I do say so myself).
4.      Ta-da! If you preserve, you’ll have yourself one cute reindeer that fits the palm of your hand nicely. Enjoy.

And if you’re a visual person like me, here’s an image breakdown of my process for my corky (quirky?) reindeer, Billy the Blue-Nose Reindeer:


And have fun with it—I did! I decided to make Rudolph’s (totally fictional) girlfriend, Pearl the Pink-Nose Reindeer or Pearl Pink for short. Heehee.


Thanks for checking out this blog post, everyone.

I’m curious though, since I don’t celebrate Christmas, how do you choose your ornaments? Do you have ornamentation that’s been passed down through the family? Do you shop for new ornaments every year, adding one new ornament to the tree per year?

Please let me know in the comments. I’d love to pick your brains!




Friday, September 30, 2016

In Need of a New Goal

The Big Dreams Blogfest is hosted by myself and Misha Gericke. On the last Friday of every month we come together to discuss our progress.

When I started this bloghop, my goal was to make a million dollars writing. At the time, this seem hard but doable. Time went on. Life happened. Things changed. It no longer seemed possible. Like any good author I revised. My new goal was to sell 500 ebooks/month. I wasn't sure if this was possible. But everyone needs a goal. Time went on. Life happened. Things changed. It didn't seem possible. My new goal was to make $1500/month consistently. Yeah. You guessed it. Doesn't seem possible. At this point, I think my goal is to determine what my goal is. I have no idea how to even go about this.

I don't think I accomplished much in September and yet I want to say I accomplished more than I did in August. However, I went back to look at last month's post and quickly realized why it doesn't seem I accomplished much this month. I set no goals!

But here are a few things I did do.

  1. Lost 10 pounds. This is a huge deal for me.
  2. Went off candy. Finally.
  3. Blogged more than once!
  4. Sent a query letter for the first time in years.
  5. Worked on revision of thesis--(Learned about revision)
Goals for October
  1. Lose 10 lbs.
  2. Stay off carbs
  3. Write 3,000 words
  4. Figure out what to put in a newsletter and start writing one.
How are your goals coming? What are your goals for October? Anyone have suggestions for a newsletter?


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

DIY MFA Review: Who Asked You

"Kaleidoscopic, fast-paced, and filled with McMillan’s inimitable humor, Who Asked You? opens as Trinetta leaves her two young sons with her mother, Betty Jean, and promptly disappears. BJ, a trademark McMillan heroine, already has her hands full dealing with her other adult children, two opinionated sisters, an ill husband, and her own postponed dreams—all while holding down a job delivering room service at a hotel. Her son Dexter is about to be paroled from prison; Quentin, the family success, can’t be bothered to lend a hand; and taking care of two lively grandsons is the last thing BJ thinks she needs. The drama unfolds through the perspectives of a rotating cast of characters, pitch-perfect, each playing a part, and full of surprises."

Congratulations to Terry McMillan for creating a deep and rich depiction of recent American history. Who Asked You is a complex exploration of racism both directed at and from the African American community.
Now that we've established what this book is and let's establish what it's not. It's not a pleasure read. The subject matter is deep and dark from a nurse who sexually abuses her disabled patients to drug addiction. The book is fiction but reads like non-fiction. (So if you like non-fiction it may be a pleasure read). And if you're looking for romance, you're in the wrong place. This book is not marketed as a romance, but since this is "romance world" I feel like I have to be clear.
This is not my usual read. I read it for my Romance & Women's Fiction Class. Still at about half way through I would have finished it anyway because of the characters. Each one was fully developed and somewhat unique. A LOT of characters had povs which made the narrative hard to follow--and made it read more like non-fiction--but to have that many pov characters and have them read authentic is an impressive feat for any writer.
The only thing I really didn't like about the book was Nurse Kim. In her first POV section she graphically describes a sexual encounter with a man who though doesn't seem to object couldn't legally consent. He's also married and the relationship is inappropriate since she's his nurse. I do not like graphic sex scenes. But I REALLY do not like graphic sex scenes involving non-consenting, disabled old men. #Gross. The bigger problem with this scene is that it serves no purpose. It never comes up again. When Mister gets eczma and has to see a doctor I thought for sure he had herpes and Nurse Kim was going to get caught. Nah. Just eczma. It really never comes up again, and Nurse Kim is otherwise a likable character. But I was never comfortable with her and dreaded her sections for the rest of the book, because of that one scene that didn't add anything.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Thoughts on Marrying Winterborne

"A ruthless tycoon
Savage ambition has brought common-born Rhys Winterborne vast wealth and success. In business and beyond, Rhys gets exactly what he wants. And from the moment he meets the shy, aristocratic Lady Helen Ravenel, he is determined to possess her. If he must take her virtue to ensure she marries him, so much the better…
A sheltered beauty
Helen has had little contact with the glittering, cynical world of London society. Yet Rhys’s determined seduction awakens an intense mutual passion. Helen’s gentle upbringing belies a stubborn conviction that only she can tame her unruly husband. As Rhys’s enemies conspire against them, Helen must trust him with her darkest secret. The risks are unthinkable… the reward, a lifetime of incomparable bliss. And it all begins with…
Marrying Mr. Winterborne"

Wow. Just wow. Okay. I can breathe now. So this is not clean romance. My clean romance fans, I apologize. But wow. I loved it. I didn't expect to and I would have liked to see fewer and less graphic sex scenes, but the romantic tension was exquisite. Rhys would do anything for Helen and she loved him as much. I usually prefer sweeter romances because in mainstream romance the sex usually becomes the action and there is less focus on the romance. I think the sex and the romance got equal play here (and as I've said for my tastes that wasn't neccessary) but it did nothing to take away from the romance and in a way added to it.
Helen discovers she is the daughter of Rhys's biggest enemy and is advised that it would hurt him to know. Still, she doesn't want to keep a secret/lie to him. And then she learns she has a little sister which she can't expect Rhys to care for. So she plans to go away alone and raise her younger sister. Rhys is a good man, and given his birth to a poor Welsh family and the way people look down on him in spite of him being self made and rich, I thought concerns of his thoughts on her birth were overplayed. And Rhys did not let me down!
It's not my typical book, but I picked up the first in the series today.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Thoughts on Windchime Point

"When life gets complicated, New York Times bestselling author Sherryl Woods proves family—and love—can make all the difference
Facing a personal crisis, ambitious and driven Gabriella Castle retreats to the welcoming arms of her family. Everything she's worked for has been yanked out from under her, and she seeks the serenity of her grandmother's home on the North Carolina coast. With difficult decisions to make about her future, the last thing she wants is an unexpected love.
Wade Johnson fell for Gabi the first time he saw her. It's not the only time he's found himself in the role of knight in shining armor, but Gabi isn't looking for a rescuer. To get her to stay, Wade will need a whole lot of patience and gentle persuasion…and maybe the soothing sound of wind chimes on a summer breeze."
This was a cute book as you can probably tell from the synopsis. Gabi has been working in a demanding profession and after losing a job she heads back to the small town her grandmother lives in to do something thinking.
But I had a hard time believing a person as smart and driven as Gabi would not sue for being demoted due to being pregnant and unmarried. And say she didn't want to sue, her personal relationship is none of her employer's business. Why not just start wearing a ring? Duh. I found this whole premise completely unrealistic. I actually went back and checked the copyright date thinking maybe this was written in the early 90s. This was a lack of research. That being said the book was cute with strong familial relationships in addition to the romance. And Wade seems to have a thing for pregnant women making for good romantic tension. The book also has a plot line of Gabi trying ot determine who she is and how she will navigate the world which I thought was interesting. This is a solid 3 stars, but I did this as an audio book at work. Given the problems with the premise I'm not sure I would have read the whole thing. Still I loved Cora Jane (Gabi's grandmother) and her sisters, so I picked up the first book in the series on audio today.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Thoughts on the Lightkeeper

"When his pregnant wife dies in a shipwreck, Jesse Morgan gives up his wealth and place in Seattle society. He relegates himself to a tiny community where he dedicates his life to protecting others from the ocean. As keeper of a remote lighthouse along a dangerous coast in the Pacific Northwest, Jesse rejects all social contact so that he can brood about his loss. When the sea tosses up a beautiful pregnant woman, the lone survivor of another shipwreck, Jesse finds he has a second chance at life and love.
Mary Dare is an outspoken Irish woman who takes poverty, single motherhood, and death in stride. She brings vitality, passion, and joy to Jesse's life and forces him to face his guilt and unhappiness. Mary's honesty and compassion transform Jesse, and together they find beauty in a simple life."

The best thing about this story has the be the setting. It is another character in the book and adds to the conflict. (At this point, I think the Pacific Northwest must be amazing because one of the few other books I've said this about is Twilight also set in Washington state.) The other strength of this book is the complexity of some of the supporting characters. I loved the Icelandic couple and how Wiggs used them to weave folklore into the story to foreshadow the plot. I also loved the old lady who set up a house for struggling strangers. And it was a sweeter romance.
But you know my thoughts on books are rarely one sided, so I have to get to what didn't work. Everything else. Jesse is just not the kind of hero I can fall in love. And there were moments when I couldn't blame him, because Mary was that annoying. He found her on the beach, saved her life, and let her stay in his house. And she acts like she owns the place. She has certain expectations of him and their relationship (something that only exists because he saved her from death) which she has no qualms making clear. It comes across like "You saved me, now you have to marry me." WTF. Really. For a moment, I actually hoped she would die in childbirth. I thought taking care of a baby would give Jesse what he needed and I didn't like Mary.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Thoughts on A Brother's Honor

"The Granger brothers left behind their family's Virginia estate and the bad memories it holds 151 years ago. But their dying grandfather's request brings them home: to a failing business, a legacy of secrets and a deathbed promise to make things right.
As the eldest brother, attorney Jace Granger is determined to take responsibility for Granger Aeronautics, his family's failing business. But the years of mismanagement seem impossible to untangle. As CEO, he hires a consultant to turn the company around. Smart, sexy Shana Bradford is the right person for the job and the right woman to turn Jace's world upside down.
But the passion between them is jeopardized when old secrets begin to emerge. A woman from Jace's past suddenly reappears. And an explosive discovery changes everything Jace thinks he knows about his mother and his father, who was convicted of her murder.
Jace Granger tried to leave his family history behind once before. But this time he needs to face the past or risk losing his future.
Three brothers. One legacy. A lifetime of secrets."

What I liked
I liked the relationship between the brother's and how each Granger brother seemed unique.
I also liked the relationship between Shana and her sister, although I thought the relationship between the girls and their dad felt forced.

What I didn't like
Define romance. If we're talking emotion this never hit the mark. If we're talking pure physical attraction--which I would define as lust--this fit the bill. Until the last 15% of the book the attraction between Jace and Shana can be defined as lust then after they've been sleeping together they decided they're in love with each other, but neither will admit it. And while we're on this while I pointed out that each brother was unique, every man in the book seemed to have a fettish for legs. I have no idea why but this annoyed me. And Jace's ex-wife was over the top. But I think my biggest problem with this book is that most of the book seems to be pointing to uncovering who murdered their mother so that the Granger Brothers' dad would get out of prison. This never happened.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Thoughts on When Beauty Tamed the Beast

We're calling this "Thoughts on..." because as I mentioned in my last post, authors aren't allowed to book reviews anymore. And hopefully Beth is #SmarterThanAnAlogorythm.

"Miss Linnet Berry Thrynne is a Beauty . . . Naturally, she's betrothed to a Beast.
Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, lives in a castle in Wales where, it is rumored, his bad temper flays everyone he crosses. And rumor also has it that a wound has left the earl immune to the charms of any woman.
Linnet is not just any woman.
She is more than merely lovely: her wit and charm brought a prince to his knees. She estimates the earl will fall madly in love—in just two weeks.
Yet Linnet has no idea of the danger posed to her own heart by a man who may never love her in return.
If she decides to be very wicked indeed . . . what price will she pay for taming his wild heart?"
This is my favorite Eloisa James book ever! This is not clean romance but it still had an incredibly sweet feel to it. I finished the book and wanted to read it again.
My favorite line "I didn't fall in love for looks, unlike you."

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

IWSG

As usual I have no time for anything. I should not even be writing this. Whatever.
I freaked out and thought last Wednesday was this the first Wednesday of the month, so if you want to know what I'm insecure about this month, you can find that here and here.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Loss...

Almost seven years ago, I had a dream. I set out to write a book that could replace Twilight. The saga had ended. My book boyfriend was gone. The lady who wrote Twilight wanted to go to law school, and I did go to law school. If she could do it, I could to.
I understood it wouldn't be easy but like my husband tells me every day I'm stubborn. I started a blog to improve my writing and set out on a journey. (The blog did improve my writing. If you doubt that go read some of my earlier posts.)
I had some incredible years. I blogged 52 books in a year twice and loved it. Book stores offered me wine and sent me boxes of ARCs. I was on a first name basis with more YA bestsellers than i could count. And then there were rough times. A book I still love got 105 rejections. What I thought would be my break out novel wasn't. Each time I'd get up and write another book. Some disappointments led to a stronger MC and better writing. And some read like literary fiction where nothing really changed. But I survived.
And I lost some things in the process without even realizing it.
Those 52 books in a year twice? I learned so much from that. I was notorious for honest reviews with some friends asking me for reviews because a 3 from me was like a 5 everywhere else and everyone knew it. But agents and editors don't always like honest reviews from a tough critic. It was one of the first things to go, and it was something I loved. I connected to so many people through those reviews.
I gave writing advice often labeled something to the effect of "Unconventional Wisdom." There really wasn't anything unconventional about it. I said things that I think lots of writers have thought to themselves. And friends had even asked me about. But I said things that in a rocky industry you don't always say aloud.
Through it all the only constant in publishing remained the same: CHANGE. Now writing a review risks more than hard feelings. Amazon might come behind you and delete your author account. And where are books actually sold?
So because I became an author people in the book industry think I'm not entitled to an opinion even on a product I've spent money on like any other customer. And with the advent of self publishing "people in the book industry" is like every third American. Amazon will make sure I don't get an opinion. The average author sells less than 5 books a month--I'm not making this up. That is a generous estimate coming from a digital book insider--and let's face it. Traditional publishers are having some problems now.
Some loss in life you have to accept. Relationships end. People die. You put one foot in front of the other and move on. And some things you don't have to accept. Playing by the rules has led to the frustration and a desperate yearning for my old day job. I will write reviews. I will write positve reviews, negative reviews and mildly neutral reviews. If Amazon deletes my account? So what? If I ever manage to execute a book on paper the way it sounds in my head, they'll give it back and probably attempt to buy my rights through their traditional publishing arm. I will give unconventional wisdom, because I've come to realize I started writing to make me happy. As far as the book industry is concerned I care about two things: 1) the quality of the art that ends up in my Kindle cart. (I never return already read books. Even REALLY bad ones). 2) Helping people who have helped me more than once.
But here is the truth. Those of you who have been with me since the beginning probably guess most of this from my sporadic posting over the past couple of years.
Beth is back.
How has your journey been?


Friday, September 2, 2016

IWSG: Breaking Up

The Insecure Writers Support Group is sponsored by alex J Cauvenaugh who has probably culled me from his last as I am two days late with this post. ISwg is a time for us to come together and be open about our writerly woes.
Woe #1: Im writing this post from my phone as I wait to go do physical labor for a day job that is supposed to be no part physical.  Thus the lack of time lately and being two days late with the post.
Woe 2: My current day job allows for no writing time. A point probably made obvios by woe 1.
And woe 3 I shall save for another post. It probably deserves more eloquence than I have the mental capacity for right now.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Update Day

I haven't accomplished anything this month. Still, I will have a real post up tomorrow.

And I hope you accomplished more than me.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Insecure Writer's Support Group

The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a monthly bloghop to discuss writerly woes.

This month's question: What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

Sigh. It was a high concept paranormal romance. It was so bad I didn't even attempt revision. I knew something was wrong with it. I had no idea what. As a thesis for my MFA program, I've rewritten it. Completely. The only thing that stayed the same was one character's name and part of his backstory. The heroine changed. The setting changed. The plot changed. Even the point of view changed.

 The manuscript I wrote next received 105 rejections and died on my hard drive. The third full length manuscript I wrote was picked up by an imprint of Harlequin. And here is were the insecurity comes in. I haven't sold a book since then. I haven't really queried since then either. But wow. It's depressing.

What was your first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? What happened to it?

Friday, July 29, 2016

Update Day

The Big Dreams blogfest is hosted by myself and Misha Gericke.
We set goals and each month we meet to discuss our progress.

In July I accomplished NOTHING!!
Yep. I'm supposed to be writing 2 Woman's World Stories/month.
I wrote 0.
I should have one book edited and half way through writing the next.
I'm half way through editing one.
I'm supposed to be blogging at least twice a week and commenting on 10 others. You guessed it. 0.

But there is ONE thing.

I've been working on my thesis manuscript for a year. I finally made the hero--probably one of the most hated people in history--likable. I guess that's an accomplishment.

Goals for August (Bet some of these sound familiar--since they were goals for June)
read book RIG
crits for CP
revise thesis
revise His First Lady
revise Before Hope Dawned
write 1 Womans World Short
Sub Woman's World Short
blog 2x/week
visti 10 blogs/week
Get off candy
work out 3 days a week

How did you do in June? What are your goals for August?

Monday, July 25, 2016

DIY MFA: Contemporary Romance Reading List

This semester's reading list is for contemporary romance and women's fiction.
(By contemporary we mean recently published, so you'll notice not all of these books are what we would call contemporary in the blog-o-sphere).

Romance:
Brenda Jackson, A Brother’s Honor
Robyn Carr, Virgin River
Kristin Higgins, The Best Man

Women’s Fiction:
Linda Goodnight, The Memory House
Terry McMillan, Who Asked You?
Debbie Macomber,  A Girls Guide to Moving On

Have you read any of these? Are you going to read along with me this semester? 

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I'm Alive!

Hi All,

If you're reading this after more than a month of neglect, thank you.

I'll have a real post up this weekend and start posting regularly again. I thought I would just pop in to say I'm alive.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

IWSG: Getting It Done

IWSG couldn't have come at a better time this month. I need to finish a novel. Today. I wanted to have it done yesterday. And as with any novel there comes the questions of the unknown. Will it sell? Will it get horrible reviews?
But I think today I would settle for just getting the book done. I haven't published anything since 2014. And I'm hoping to release a complete trilogy this fall starting with His First Lady, a book about a marriage of convenience between a Presidential candidate and a grad student who happens to be a Senator's daughter. But I want to have the second book written before I release the first so that I can release within a month of each other then release the third a month later. My goal is to release August 15, September 15, and October 15.

And speaking of releases--because writing a book isn't enough to do--what is the best way to launch now? Do you have suggestions?

What are you insecure about this month?

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Update Day: The Real Update

The Big Dreams Blogfest is hosted by myself and Misha Gericke.

I put up a dummy post yesterday saying I was drafting like a maniac hoping to report I had a draft today. Yeah. That didn't happen. I wrote a whopping 200 words and spent most of the day getting life in place. I've been working a temporary day job since January which ended yesterday. The good news is I'll have more time to write. The better news is I've got things in order so that I can take a few months to find a job. The not so great news is it's going to take me even longer to be able to hire a publicist which I desperately need.

My goals for 2016:
Increase my count to a million by two hundred thousand words. (I estimate I've written about 50k this year. I'm going to have to write like mad through December which will be hard with everything going on.)
Get romantic fiction published in woman's world ($800/short would help with next goal)
Make $1,500/month writing at least one month this year.
Get my thesis novel through the first pass
Complete 20 graduate hours (I've completed 10. This will happen by December.)
Find a new job (I quit the day job due to migraines). (I did this, but it was temp so now I have to do it again.)
Get off Coke-Cola
Find a better writing/life balance. (I either don't write at all or abandon other parts of life.) (Not happening)
Make $500/month writing at least one month before June (This did not happen.)



Goals for June:

  1. client edit
  2. read book for res
  3. crits for res
  4. outline 2nd Pennsylvania Avenue book
  5. revise His First Lady
  6. revise Before Hope Dawned
  7. Write 10,000 words
  8. write 1 Womans World Short
  9. Sub Woman's World Short
  10. Get off candy
  11. work out 3 days a week
How did you do in May? What are your goals for June?

Friday, May 27, 2016

Update Day

So. This is a dummy post. I will have my real update post up by 9 a.m. CST tomorrow. I'm drafting like a maniac today to get as close to done with a draft of this book as possible to have something to report.

Tomorrow after I post I'll be around to check blogs.

Love you guys!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Twilight: A Classic

Twilight: A Classic
            My book of choice will forever be Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. For me, this book is magical. Before I found Twilight, I rarely read and when I did it was theme-packed literature commonly known as literary fiction.
            Then my husband rented a vampire flick he heard a lot of girls liked. His slasher flick sparkled, shined, and left me wanting more. I tore through the YA section of B&N. I wrote a horrible NA paranormal romance about the redemption of Judas before NA was a thing. I didn’t let anyone read it, but I kept writing romance. (And Judas is being redeemed through an MFA).
Most readers will have a strong emotional response to a classic. Twilight can claim that. It inspired me, and it inspired a generation. A quick Google search lists pages of Twilight inspired blogs, weddings, tattoos, wedding cakes and fan-fiction including 50 Shades of Gray. A lot of people hate the book. That’s okay, because when they tell you how much they hate it, they get very detailed. They might not be willing to admit it, but the story and/or characters struck a chord or they wouldn’t be so vehement in their hatred of it.
            The best reason to look at this book as a romance classic is because it “changed the landscape of romance.” (Regis pg. 107). As a middle school student reading YA, I loved The Face on the Milk Carton. Janie had a really good boyfriend and I wanted him. While I don’t think The Face on the Milk Carton was genre romance or even romantic suspense, it was the most romance filled thing my school library owned. So much so that they refused to order the sequel. After Twilight hit the market and sold well, YA romance exploded first in paranormal imitations followed by YA contemporary romance. Adults were reading YA romance, some stated it was more emotional because the emphasis was on the romance not the sex. In other words, it was sweet with strong emotional tension at a time when adult romance was not as sweet and filled with sexual tension. The Huffington Post slide show The Top 5 Reasons Women Love Twilight cites the Austenian feel in reason number one. The YA romance market bloomed so remarkably that NA grew out of it. Regis claims the author of a romance classic “innovated or perfected a main romance subgenre.” (Regis pg. 107). Meyer turned YA into a main romance subgenre.
            Two other things stood out to me in nearly every book we read this semester: the characters were memorable and details were filled in so intricately we began to refer to it as a “slice of life.” As for memorable characters, the heroine was usually very strong and able to stand on her own. The heroines were so dynamic they could have easily been put in a non-romance and still survived the journey. I’m not convinced Jane Eyre didn’t survive a non-romance journey. The heroes were strong, emotionally closed off before falling for the heroine, protective, and committed. Though the protection and commitment displayed itself in different ways from Darcy who tracked down his arch enemy and paid him off to marry Lizzy’s sister and secure her standing in society to de Valmy who cruised the entire French countryside in search of Linda and her charge to Skimmerhorn who was physically protective of Dora. But actions made it clear the earlier men would have been physically protective if the need arose.
While each story was unique, they were almost the same story of a wounded hero healed by a caring woman who would confront her own demons to be with him. There has been a lot of discussion as to whether Bella Swan is a strong heroine. Interestingly enough, many of the arguments used to say she is a weak heroine aren’t in the first book. (Later in the series, she allows Edward and Jacob to battle a vampire army for her, and she refused to terminate a pregnancy with her life on the line. I found that last choice very strong and a choice I hope I would be strong enough to make. As for allowing the men to fight her battle, it took a pack of werewolves and a coven of vampires to defeat the newborn army. Bella cut herself to change the direction Edward’s final battle was going, and I’m not sure what else she could have done). In Twilight, the first book of the series, a tracker vampire happens onto Edward’s baseball game and smells Bella. Edward’s protective reaction is a challenge to the tracker and he’s determined to hunt Bella down and drain her. Edward sends Bella to Phoenix with his brother and sister to protect her while he hunts for the tracker. But she thinks the tracker has her mom so she evades her assigned bodyguards and rushes to meet him alone, putting her life at risk. A bold move. The tracker nearly kills her, but Edward finds them and destroys the vampire. Edward is immortal and refuses to get close to people outside of his family both because he can’t risk the temptation of draining them and because they will die. He’s very similar to other heroes we have read. And Bella is strong enough to face a vampire while knowing she’s a tasty treat.
            Then there was the “slice of life” element that played through many of these books. The world of these characters and their typical day was so well portrayed that we could imagine ourselves in their lives. We could see their lives. From the dreariness of Rochester’s estate to the eccentricity of Dora’s theater company family, and the stylishness of her antique shop. When I chose this book for the final essay, “the slice of life” is what I hoped to learn how to write. As a reader, I tend to skip details. And many of the classics we read this semester were too detail heavy for me. I want dialogue, action, and kisses. I don’t care what color a dress is or how big an estate is. Twilight managed to give us these things without the details becoming cumbersome. Each character has vividly described unique traits that live off the page. And the haze of a constant cloudy overcast and bitter cold of a place that snows even in June is hard not to notice. Yet it never becomes overpowering enough to detract from the story.
            Some of the things that define a classic are outside of a writer’s scope of control. There is no way to know if a book will withstand the test of time until it has done so, although addressing universal themes and steering clear of time-marking technology might help with this. Likewise, we often mix elements of other genres in our work because most writers have more than one interest. Sometimes those things catch on. When this happens, elements of that work start to appear in other books of the genre. The work has expanded the genre. There is no way to predict that. The other alternative is that the things we mix fail or go unnoticed. While these are distinguishing characteristics of a classic, it’s important to focus on things we can control. That leaves us with the emotional reaction, memorable characters, the “slice of life” feel, and using familiar tropes.
            As mentioned earlier, my thesis is about the redemption of Judas. In the first chapter he is at a strip club with his friend. A dancer falls and he comes to the rescue. She’s sassy and stubborn and he will protect her from that point on. Judas feels unworthy of affection and incapable of really loving because he knows he’s a traitor. His relationship with Reese/Rebecca changes all that. Rebecca is a runaway trying to graduate high school without anyone learning she’s an underage dancer at a strip club living on a stolen identity. She’s wanted for murder and smart enough to have avoided arrest so far. This plays on the tropes of an independent heroine and a protective hero and with redemption being a huge part of the story plays on a universal theme as well.
However, in the early chapters Judas (who lives under the alias of Jacob) doesn’t come across as likeable. I’ve found that neither Darcy nor Edward Cullen come off very well in the opening chapters, but those books are limited to the female point of view, and Edward in particular is as mysterious as rude. His disdain for sitting by Bella and his effort to keep a distance is noticeable, leaving Bella to wonder what she’s done to offend him or what his problem is. Making Jacob’s internal dialogue more ambiguous may help some of his actions become questionable rather than absurd. It may also add suspense. Part of what keeps a reader engaged in Twilight is the desire to learn what is going on.
As far as the emotional reaction, I’ve got mixed feedback. Some people have found the story very emotional. One person said she couldn’t emotionally connect to the story because she hated Jacob. However, she used very emotional language to tell me how emotionally lacking it was. But I think making early internal and external dialogue less harsh and more ambiguous could strengthen the emotional impact.
The thing I need the most work on and something Meyer does so well is the “slice of life” embedding the right details at the right places. There are pages of description in the first chapter of Twilight. Most books would lose me after a few paragraphs of description, but phrases like, “It was there, sitting in the lunchroom, trying to make conversation with seven curious strangers, that I first saw them.”(Meyer Ch. 1). This sentence sparks the question who is them? And lets us know something will happen soon. A paragraph later comes the line, “But it was none of these things that caught, and held, my attention.”(Meyer Ch.1) This line adds suspense because we know we haven’t found the real focal point yet. Intertwining lines like these will allow me to flesh out settings and situations I’ve been afraid to due to a lack of action.
Twilight expanded the terrain of romance and will withstand the test of time but the most important thing we can learn from it is to weave suspense into our description and to use the right details to brighten the worlds we build.
Works Cited
Meyer, Stephanie. Twilight. New York: Hatchette Digital, 2005. Ebook.
Regis, Pamela. A Natural History of the Romance Novel. Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press. 2007. Ebook

Weight, Rachel. HuffPost Women. The Huffing Post, November 17, 2011. Web. May 4, 2016.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Things Change

Are you a blogger/aspiring writer still struggling to get published? Awesome. My post isn't for you today. Read it anyhow. One day this might be you.
Today I'm talking about the old writer's mentality versus the new writer's mentality.
Old writers have a lot of experience. They've probably had their share of failures. They may have even had their share of successes. That's great. That's the goal. But if you've been writing longer than 5 years there is a good chance you came up under a different publishing model. You may have sent your work to an agent who sold it to an editor. Or you may have met an editor at a conference, queried directly and been published.
It still works that way. Sometimes. Or you self publish. Or you self publish until someone queries you. Or you self publish until someone queries you then self publish ebooks while traditionally publishing print for distribution. Or you self publish one genre while traditionally publishing another genre.
Here's the point: things don't work the way they used to.
Before your publisher promoted you. Readers took their cues from publishers and critics.
Today, publishers largely take their cues from reader. NA wasn't a thing. It blew up on Amazon. And for a while after that everyone in New York would still tell you it wasn't a thing. Till they started paying for it.
Lots of people in the blogosphere have been talking about clean romance since 2012 when 50 Shades of Gray came out and all of romance took a turn for the explicit side. And publishers have taken their cue from us. According to K-Lytics, Amazon just added a new sub-genre "clean and wholesome romance" (and I shifted the Marlowe Girls as soon as I woke up--that's the power of being indie). Harlequin put out a submission call for clean romance less than a month ago.
The point is writer's today can't ignore a subgenre or trend on Amazon because it's "reader only" or "only on Amazon." Publishers don't set the rules anymore. Readers do. When you're doing a market analysis, you're not looking for a set of expectations from a publisher. You're looking for what is acceptable to readers. You can't wait for a traditional publisher to catch on, to change your roll. (I mean, I guess you could but what did you lose in the process)?
And if you think about it what our readers thought probably should have always came before what our publisher thought. Except there was a middle man. The middle man is all but gone, and when he's there he's a puppet. He's hoping to package a book in turn for a profit. Nothing is wrong with packaging a book for a profit. But publishers aren't running things. You live in the New World Order of Publishing.

Okay. Off my soap box.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

$5 Gift Card Give Away

Okay, so I'm trying to kick off a mailing list to give free short stories and hold special contests for my readers. To get things started I've decided to choose one random mail list subscriber for a $5 Amazon gift card. The winner will be announced via a mail out on Wed. May 20th.

If you like cute romance stories please join!

Friday, May 6, 2016

DIY MFA Review: Nine Coaches Waiting

I read Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Steward for my romance classics class. This book was interesting to say the least.
"Linda Martin, an English woman is hired to be a governess for a young French boy. But a strange terror coiled in the shadows behind the brooding elegance of the huge Château Valmy. It lay there like some dark and twisted thing -- waiting, watching, ready to strike.

Was it only chance encounter than had brought the lovely governess to the château? Or was it something planned? She only knew something was wrong and that she was afraid. She is unaware of the danger she faces or who to trust in order to protect the young heir. Now she could not even trust the man she loved. For Raoul Valmy was one of them -- linked by blood and name to the dark secrets of the Valmy past.
 "

So Raul doesn't come in for like 75 pages, and I found those first 75 pages so incredibly boring. I mean there was enough going to to keep you interested but it didn't read like a romance. And that's usually a deal breaker for me. However, this was for class so no choice. Then Raul came in and he was hot, mysterious, a regular Edward Cullen. But then he disappeared again. WTF? 
But then someone shot at the kid. Seriously. Someone shot at a kid. I have anxiety, so I freaked out. I had to get up and check on the ELF. Steward did an awesome job of the suspense. But I needed the romance. Then Linda has to flee with the kid and word on the street is Raul is involved. And this is romance, so he has to come back from that, but how do you come back from trying to kill a kid? This is where it became a must-read class or no class. 
Raul is innocent and he loves Linda. But this was covered too quickly. I needed more!
Bottom line: This is the where romantic suspense began. You like the Decree of Hope? This is where these books began.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Love In Bloom Writing for Woman's World #6

Writing for Woman's World is a blog series in which I take apart Woman's World short romances in an attempt to write them better. This series was inspired by Kate.

Also, it's been brought to my attention that I published (and have been submitting to the wrong address). If you'd like to sub woman's world here is the correct info:
Email Patricia Gaddis at Fiction@womansworldmag.com.

B: Jesse and her co-worker Alison are making bouquets for a wedding. Jesse is complaining about being single and Alison is trying to set her up with a customer.

M: The customer's mother shows up to buy a plant for her son's birthday and request it be delivered personally by Jesse. Mom is willing to pay to have Jesse deliver it because her son has been mentioning the name for a year. Alison says she will take over from there. (And she does).

E: Jesse goes to deliver the plant and while she's there a Thai delivery guy shows up. He says he has a bag of food for Chris and Jesse, and it has been paid for. The two realize they've been set up and Jesse apologizes. But Chris says he's not sorry. (Aww). 

Did you read this one? Have you been submitting to woman's world? 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Make Money Writing: V=Vocational Writing

April is all about making money writing. I want to talk about vocational writing. Most of us have a day job, meaning we have some sort of expertise outside of writing. There are ways to make money with that. I've talked about educational writing before. I've also talked about non-fiction. Thinking about your vocational expertise can be a good place to start when you looking to put out a non-fiction book. But for many of us, there are other opportunities for vocational writing we may not consider. I'm a paralegal. I spend most of my day conducting legal research and writing. I write letters and the first draft of legal or government documents. Believe it or not, there are ways for me to do this on a contract basis if I need to work from home and minimize my day job. I've written blog posts for real estate agents before. I did this by creating a dummy real-estate blog, but I bet it would be a good supplemental gig for a real estate agent.

Is there a way you can turn your vocation into additional writing income?

Make Money Writing: U= Underpaid and Overworked

April is all about making money writing. I have to tell you a secret. You will be overworked and underpaid at least for a while. I wrote for FREE for two years. (Read that again: I didn't sell anything for two full years). Do I care? Not really. I put in the work and began to succeed. My self published books still sell and my publications have helped me land day jobs. Today, is a reminder that if you want to make money writing, you will have to stick it out. You will not get paid for a long time. (Unless, you're one of those lucky punks who sell their first novel in a six figure deal. Don't tell me about it. I don't want to know). But if you put in the time, you will eventually see the rewards. As Strawberry Shortcake says, "The most important part is don't stop now."

Make Money Writing: T=Teach

April is all about making money writing.
Here's a sad truth: most writers make more money talking about writing than they do actually writing. So what do you do then? Teach. I'm serious. Most of us are better at certain aspects of writing than others. I'm good at plot. I'm so good at plot I used plot to write a query and had a 50% full request rate. So I teach a class on plot. I spent months breaking novels into the three act structure. When it came time to query, I broke my work into the three act structure. My plot wrote the query for me then went onto write my more thorough 1.5 page synopsis. A lot of people like my class. A few don't. But after every class at least one or two writers thank me and tell me I've made their life easier. My classes are often used as fundraisers for chapters of RWA and I make $100-$200/class. The class also usually spikes my book sales. But as you begin to sell more your class fee will go up. You will be able to do other events and you can be paid for these. It's important to learn to give presentations if  you're hoping to earn cash in this industry.

Do you teach classes?

S=Sports Writing

April is all about making money writing. Sports writing is something you may not have considered. Believe it or not while looking for a day job in 2014 I wrote sports articles about a little league team for $50/pop. These articles were short 250-500 words. I wrote the questions for the interview and watched practices to do a feature story rather than just a q&a. If you don't know what i'm talking about check out this post. In fairness, I spent 3-5 hours on each article, so I made $10-15/hour. That is decent money writing. I had no interest in sports before my brief stint as a sports writer but developed more of an appreciation for the work athletes do in the process. More importantly, I IMPROVED my writing. That's right. Sports writing needs to imitate the action on a field/court. Action words are a must! I learned much. And newspapers pay about the same rate with some of the larger ones paying more.

Have you ever thought of sports writing?

R=Romance

April is all about making money writing. And R is for romance. Romance is the bestselling genre. Romance sells went UP during the recession. Romance readers devour books and they don't care about your name, so it can be a great place for a new writer to start. Write a romance.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Make Money Writing: Q=Quick

April is all about making money with your writing! We've talked about lots of way to make money writing and said that organization is a key component to success. But you gotta be quick too! You have to learn how to maximize your production in as little time as possible. I wrote 1041 in 40 minutes today. I was able to do this largely because I did my research in advance and I knew what was going to happen.
I've talked on this blog before about the magic of 15 minutes. Use your 15 minutes. Write as much as you can in the time you've got and if you have to get up to clean house or make dinner be thinking about what you're going to do during your next sprint. If you're working on a paid project that is going to require research, streamline your research. Write down the questions you really need to know before you start your research. Answer those questions and close your browser before you get sucked down the rabbit hole of research. Open your document and write. Practicing writing every day is another way to improve your speed. (The more you write the easier it will become; you'll increase both quantity and quality).

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Make Money Writing: O=Organization

April is all about making money writing. Today is the MOST IMPORTANT post of this series. We've talked about possible avenues to beat an income out of writing. We've gone from articles and anthologies to political commentary. We've talked about how important the market analysis and launch is in fiction. But today's post is essential. The key thing you have to learn for any of this to be successful is organization.
Blah. I hear you. I'm rolling my eyes too, and I don't like it either. Organization often does not sit well with artistic types. Suck it up. Pick up some new skills. Get over it, and do the best you can.
The most likely way for you make a living writing is through some combination of the things we've talked about. That means you will be constantly managing multiple projects. You will have to be organized with your time and tasks. Currently, I work full time. I'm in graduate school. I'm the mother of an active three year old, and I obviously maintain this blog, and I struggle to find time to write. It is a hard balance, and it took me too long to get adjusted to it. To keep my time organized, I try to write side projects and work on publishing stuff on Tuesday and Thursdays. Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays I focus more on my SHU thesis and other homework. Saturday I will tie up what I need to and I try to keep Sundays for family. This is all flexible. On a week, I have less homework I will squeeze out a third writing day. If I really want to write on Monday I'll do homework on Tuesday. I took my daughter to the zoo on a Saturday, so Sunday was my catch up day. But I have a plan.
We said that to make your fiction a success the launch is insanely important. Relaunches rarely work, so you have to do it right the first time. Stay organized. Make a list of things to do that you can check off. Make a list of bloggers to contact. Color code it once you've talked to them. Have a goal each day as you work on your launch. Keep an account of what you're spending. Make sure it's easy for you to look at and understand.
I could probably do a whole series on organization (and maybe later I will) but today I don't have time for that.

What methods do you use to stay organized?

Make Money Writing: P=Political Commentary

April is all about ways to make money writing. Political commentary might be a way to make money writing. We recently talked about non-fiction. We said non-fiction can be much shorter and often sells better. A political commentary brand can be a good way to start introducing some non-fiction into the market. And political commentary seems to pick up a quick following.
I know A LOT of writers. It's true enough that most of us are introverted. It's also true enough that many of us are very opinionated. We may not run into a room screaming out opinion because we are introverts but it doesn't change the fact that we have a strong, closely held opinion.
A strong, closely held opinion that can be blasted through hyperbole and often comically is all political commentary is. After six years of writing fiction, all in subgenres of romance, my twitter following is at about 600. After one week of writing political commentary under a pen name, my twitter following hit 70. *Shrugs* I gave up on political commentary (not because I didn't like writing it but I didn't have time for both that and fiction), but if I continued to put out posts I think I could have continued at that rate.
We said that political commentary can produce a quick non-fiction book. You can also sell these essays to blogs or online news sources. Another way to make money writing political commentary is by writing speeches or memes for campaigns. But here are some things to remember. You are always writing for a niche audience. You want a pen name. You don't want to offend your normal readers who may have a difference of opinion and drop your fiction.

Have you ever considered writing political commentary?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Make Money Writing: N=Nonfiction

The month of April is all about ways to make money writing, N is for nonfiction.
I have an interesting factoid for you. Non-fiction does better on amazon than fiction, especially if you're writing in a self-help genre like how to make more money or lose weight. And if you're into the traditional route, you can usually sell non-fiction on proposal. You write an outline and what your expertise on the subject is, refer to your platform and if gets rejected, it will do so before you've written a whole book.
Here is another plus with non-fiction. A 60 page non-fiction book can go for $2.99 and still do well. Whereas 60 pages for fiction is short. We're talking free or $0.99. Lots of indie writers talk about how much money they make writing, and it's exciting that they are able to do that. If you watch their sells, you will start to notice most of the same writers have very successful non-fiction products ("how to write" books) and this can account for a large chunk of their sales. If you're not into how-to-write books that is awesome. It's a competitive field anyway. But you probably have some experience that a lot of people don't have. There is something you can draw on to share helpful information about. If you feel like putting out a 60 page book this year, write it out.

Have you published non-fiction?

Friday, April 15, 2016

Make Money Writing: M= Marketing Analysis

April is all about making money writing!

Lots of fiction writers complain they don't make money writing. They're books don't sell no matter how much marketing they do or how much time they spend writing. They're usually right. The average US writer makes less than $10,000/year. But the thing about an average it's a combination of the six figure deals and the $0 earners. So many writers probably make less than that.

If you feel like your marketing isn't working, you're probably starting at the wrong place. Most writers start at the wrong place. My husband is an engineer, so I'm going to use a tech example here. If a new tech company--or even established one--wanted to put out a new product, they would first research the market. They would decide if the product they were considering would sell and what changes they would have to make for the product to sell. Writers typically write a book and then try to sell it. What's wrong with this? Nothing, really. But if you haven't researched the market, there is a good chance no matter how well you wrote and marketed that book it's not going to sell. It's day has come and gone. Or hasn't got here yet. For whatever reason, it doesn't meet the requirements of the market today.

You want to write a new book? Great. Decide if this is a book of "your heart." For the purpose of this series, we're going to assume it's not a book of your heart and you just want to write a book that sells. Cool. Choose 5 books in your genre published in the last year. Notice where when and how plot points come out. (I'm not suggesting you copy someone's plot--the content--I'm saying look at the structure). What's the point of view? What's the verb tense? What kind of plots are doing well? (Again, don't copy someone's content but look for tropes). How could you make those tropes fresh? What's going on in popular culture and can you use that to make a trope new again? How long are most of these books? Your marketing starts right here. Check these boxes.

You've heard of the maxim, "Right book, right time?" There is some truth to that. People who read a lot subconsciously take note of these things and without knowing it put out precisely the right book at the right time. And the rest of us work. So get to work.

Do you do market research before getting started? What kind of marketing research do you do?

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Make Money Writing: L = Launch

April is all about ways to make money writing. Today, we're talking about the book launch. Go big or go home.
That's all or nothing. I know. It's hard to read. It's hard to say and even harder to do. Why do I say go big or go home? Relaunching a book rarely works. Not launching a book doesn't work.
How do I know?
Well, since you asked, I refused to market Decree of Hope when it originally launched as Finding Hope. Yep. I did nothing. I did a blog tour. That's it. Because I was convinced marketing didn't help anyway. Guess what? It didn't sell. I expected to sell about the same as my other books sell. How do my other books sell? More copies than some people's books and not as many as others. Yeah. It didn't sell as well as my other books. I mean it probably did sell more than some people's books, but wow. It didn't sell like my other books. Marketing matters. I learned my lesson. I understood it didn't do as well as my other books because I didn't do the things I usually did.

The moral of the story is launch big the first time. Contact bloggers months before you plan to release and request reviews. And if the blogger can't commit to a review ask if they would host a guest post. Put together some kind of contest and consider Bookbub, ENT or a Fiverr ad.

What things have you found helpful during a launch?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Make Money Writing: K= Keep Your Writing Time Holy!

April is about making money writing. Yesterday, we said that if you don't write you can never make money writing, so just write. Today's idea is closely related.

K=Keep Your Writing Time Holy.
Stay off facebook. Just write. I had two years where all I produced was an unpublished picture book and a novella. I don't expect the picture book will ever be published. The novella was meant to be a free perk for fans and will eventually be published as that. Still compared to all those years I wrote novels--with an "s"as in plural--it felt unproductive. The most important thing I learned in grad school was that fifteen minutes of writing without checking email, playing on facebook, or making sippy cups for the kid meant 250 words. And that's the average person. I've written 7 novels and 3 novellas at this point, so if I know what I want to say, I can push out more than that. In 15 minutes. So keep your writing time holy. Guard it well. Close facebook and make sure your kids know the only reason to interrupt you when your writing is because someone might die. And insects don't count.

This may not sound like a way to make money writing, but it is probably the most important post of this series. What do they say in corporate America? Time=money. If you want be an author, you own a small business. Man up.

What tricks have you learned to keep your writing time holy?