Sunday, June 30, 2013

Dysfunctional Families Make for Great Writing!

What happens in the SUV when we're alllllll together for a 30 minute trip.


ME: *Plugs the Auxiliary cord into radio*
Four teenage boys(in unison): Uggggghhhhhh!
Michael: Pull over I'm driving in Kayla's car.
Me: There's no room for you in her car. Really, Michael how often to I get to listen to my music in the car? Never.
Me(Singing into hairbrush): We don't need no education! We don't need ...no.......
Michael: What is this crap?! This is some straight up white people music.
Me: Its Pink Floyd
Hubby: That band is a bit on the dark side if you ask me.
Dejon: Yeah, just like Anakin.
Me: Anakin.....as in Star Wars
Dejon: *blushes* NO!!!!! You don't know him......he, ummmm died years ago. He was on the dark si.......
DeAnthony: *Cracks Up* You lie!!! Mom, he is talking about Anakin from Star Wars.
Three older boys to Dejon: Your're such a dork!
 
Ahhhh, can't you feel the love ;)

Friday, June 28, 2013

A good romance cover should...

I have recently discovered that what I like on a cover is not what the majority of readers look for.  What's a writer to do?  I designed my covers and had them done based on what I wanted, what I'm drawn to.  I am starting to think my covers are holding back my sales instead of inspiring them.

I started a discussion thread on The Romance Troupe's Goodreads page titled 'COVERS!'  The consensus there was that readers want bright vibrant colors and a passionate embrace (that's not too sexual) or a half naked man (abs and chest seem to be important - face, not so much).


I am with you on the colors.  Green has always been my favorite but pinks and purples seem to be the industry standard.  

I have always bought a book IN SPITE OF, not because of a sweaty ripped hunk of man.  I prefer covers with women.  These pull me in.  I want to read more about these strong women.  I want to read about women I can relate to and I am a leading lady type, not the wall flower.  On the left, I put one of mine and on the right one from my favorite author.  Both are colorful with strong women.

Rather than the embrace, I like the almost embrace.  This is one of my own favorites.  It shows the story at a glance.  A man (clearly dominant) and small woman (clearly submissive - not looking into his eyes) are coming together under the gaze of a masculine, though not entirely human, being.  

Photo vs. Painting vs. Cartoon
I prefer paintings.  Sites where photography can be purchased are filled with unsexy photos so the good ones are snatched up and used by dozens of authors.  I don't want my cover image to be seen on twenty other books and the same goes for books that I read - I don't want the same image for several books in my library.  I won't give any examples because I don't want to hurt any feelings or call anyone out, but you all know what I am talking about.  The same kiss is on a dozen books.  This is why I steer clear of photography.  The book on the right here is a colorful painting, with sexy men but not photo realistic pecks and abs.

<--Now, cartoons...they work fine for more lighthearted contemporary romance.  HP Mallory has some very successful books that I have read and enjoyed with this cartoon-like theme.  
 Again, I choose these books in spite of their covers rather than because of.  I almost didn't read the Sookie Stackhouse books because the covers are so ridiculous.  They remind me of Napoleon Dynamite's drawing of a liger. 


There is another new cover type that I greatly dislike - the single item on a plain background that only vaguely refers to the story in some symbolic way.  Here are some very successful books that have this.






















These repel me.  I have to overcome a great deal to purchase these.  It is very similar to my feelings about the still life type of old.  I have never purchased one of these and don't think I ever will.  It makes me think of my grandmother's romance novels.  It's awesome she read dirty books but her selection options were atrocious.  I am glad I am searching the current shelves and not those of 20 years ago.




















What do you like on a romance cover? What makes you pause and think 'Oh,man, I gotta check this one out! Look at the _______ on the cover.'?
  Leave a comment and let me know.





email me at ishtarbooks@gmail.com
Facebook Friend or Fan pages Author Natalie Gibson
Twitter @AuthorNatGibson





These are my erotic short stories, all contemporary.  I like that they are alike enough that you can tell they go together at a glance.
















                                                 




Hateful Burden is my only non-romance.  It is a gaslight era horror and I think the cover says it all.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Description: Walking That Fine Line

Description is necessary for great writing, right? Well, let's not get too hasty here. What's important is the type of description. Plain old throwing of adverbs, adjectives, colors, and senses at readers is not what an author wants to do.

The cardinal rule of description is simple. Unless it furthers the story, don't include it. Really. It's that easy. So, for example, say you're writing an historical romance and the overwhelming urge to describe the draperies in the Duke's drawing room comes over you. You're feeling great and you're going to describe the dickens right out of those draperies. Readers are going to love how detailed you get.

Whoa, Dickens. Slow down with those fantabulous adjectives. First, ask yourself if the draperies and their length, their color, their fabric and everything else you want to describe further the story. Unless you plan to use those draperies for something in the story, they don't need to be described.

At this point, your muse protests. This Gabrielle woman just doesn't love our style, she whispers in your ear. She's obviously anti-drapery and anti-adjectives. (Not true. I am pro both. In fact, you won't find a bigger lover of draperies.)

Calm your muse with a drink and hear me out. Those draperies have to be integral to the story if you describe them. For example, they can be important to show how wealthy the Duke is, so you can give some meaty description of the fine fabric that hangs in that drawing room. That's useful description as it helps to show the reader something important about the character. Or maybe they're tattered. Describing them as moth-eaten and frayed after you've described him as finely dressed gives the reader the subtle indication that something is amiss. Why does a wealthy man have such shabby draperies in his expensive home? (This works especially well if the story is about the Duke posing as a man of wealth but actually being dirt broke and in desperate need of a wealthy bride.)

Or perhaps you plan to have one of your characters hiding behind those draperies later in the story as they spy on the Duke. Okay. Feel free to give some description of those long, red velvet draperies that block out all the light and make the room feel warm and cozy.

Look at the last word in that line. Cozy. It's a small descriptor but very powerful. Now change that last word to tomb-like. Just one word changed and the entire feel of the room has been drastically altered. That's what great description can do, and it often doesn't take dozens of adjectives and adverbs to do it.

But let's say you have no plans to use those draperies as a prop in future events and they really don't say much about any of the characters in the story. Then there's no reason to describe them. If they're just attractive draperies that hang nicely but don't do anything more for your story, skip the description.

I had a professor who used to always say that every word must pull its own weight when you write. Any that don't pull their own weight need to be cut out. (In my mind, I always called them slacker words. They lay on my manuscript's couch eating all the food and never doing anything useful.) When it comes to description, slacker words don't do enough. Always be on the lookout for that one word that can describe something or someone so perfectly as opposed to lines of description that simply make your story longer and bloated.

So description is part of great writing, but make sure it's useful and powerful and makes your story better.

Happy writing!











Monday, June 24, 2013

Who Am I?

Brand new to The Romance Troupe I thought my first blog post should be a short introduction about who I am.  Except I really, really hate trying to explain myself.  Words are my thing.  I love to read them.  I love to write them.  Unless it is to talk about me, summarize my novel, or market me.  I am terrible at this.  If anyone can figure out how this compiles into a professional look for my Amazon page feel free to tell me in the comments. 

So I started reading before I started school.  I’ll just say it now – I’m a daddy’s girl.  He made index flash cards and taught his first born to read while she was running around in Wonder Woman underoo’s.  (Let’s not talk about the pictorial evidence of this on my Facebook page, thanks!)  That was one of the most valuable things my dad gave me early in life.  My love for books has kept me in constant entertainment with good company.

Around eight years old I sat down deciding to put my pen to paper.  I was so proud of my little Princess story.  In Jr High, I met a fellow student who was very interested in writing.  I was out of my element.  I mean, I’m still reading Christopher Pike and she’s starting a story, handing to me to finish and the words on that page were forbidden secrets.  She was writing romance very early so I gave it my best shot.  Until mom found one of the stories and put my romance writing career on hold.  I had to explain it wasn’t even me that had written the best parts, I just read them!  She explained those weren’t the “best” parts at all.   Instead, I created my own creative outlet.  I didn’t diary like a normal teenager.  I bled poetry onto paper.  It started when my family was devastated by the loss of my four year old cousin.  I still have that book, full of all my teenage pain with a side of angst. 

I never had an English teacher that doubted for one moment I would someday be a published writer.  Many of them gave me extra help on my creative writing papers because of the potential they saw.  There was one who made a lasting impression though.  My first year and only year of college, the English teacher was bored with the lot of us.  He came in, gave us a writing assignment due in a week then dismissed us.  I was so nervous doing one of the first assignments.  I had seen a few poor examples get read aloud already.  Only, passing them back his eyes lit up when he handed me mine.  It was full of excellent comments.  He pointed out all the things I’d done right.  I was on cloud nine.

Then I got a different teacher second semester.  He was not impressed by my fiction inclined mind.  He wanted non fiction.  I am terrible at dealing with this genre.  I read it very rarely.  I don’t like the truth.  I like to escape from it.  I don’t watch the news with bloody terrorist attack coverage; I pick up a book and read about fluffy unicorns eating cotton candy.  My term paper was full of so many red marks, I cried.  My boyfriend at the time went on the defense.  He green marked half the red marks telling the teacher they were wrong.  Needless, to say I was not getting an A on that final.  They went back and forth a few times.  Looking back it is pretty funny now.  At one point they had barbs like Asshat – Assclown going back and forth on my paper.

So I learned I didn’t know it all.  I am terrible at following proper rules.  I still learn more about this everyday.  My husband supported me writing my first novel, though he has never read any of them until recently.  I think he was getting even with me for borrowing his favorite book Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, saying I loved it when I never read it, and not returning it until he married me and we conjoined the bookshelf. 

As a mom, I get to watch my son take the awesome journey of learning about his own writing voice.  He has his mother’s hang ups.  I assign him non fiction, and he spins fiction into it every time.  He doesn’t want to be a writer.  He tells me this constantly, and I believe him.  Who says I want to shed blood, tears, heart, and soul on paper all the time for such a world that can tear my heart in half with a swipe of their review pen?  On the other hand, the writer’s voice calls him.  The other night he came in from a baseball game and couldn’t sleep until he got the voices out of his head onto paper. 

I shared his story on my Facebook page.  It might not win an award but he can’t deny the voice is already whispering in his ear.  The blood is already starting to drip onto the page.  I can’t wait to see what his future holds. 

I have four published works.  I went with a publisher for book one, that allowed me to retain my electronic rights.  All of my work is available on Amazon currently.   When I finish the latest novella, my intention is to begin to branch them out a bit more. 

There, that’s a little bit about me.


Kathryn Edgar
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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Finding time to finish the damn book...




Got a question for you today....or maybe just a comment about being a writer.

As most know, I have only published the one book, The Couple.  It released on December 26, 2012 and for all purposes, it wasn't a best seller.  Well it was to me because some people actually bought it but no it didn't make the NYT best seller lists or even rank in the 5's on Amazon.  I think the highest it ever got was maybe #112,XXX at Amazon.  I was and still am proud of that book.  Today's post isn't to talk about the success or failure of my first book.  I want to talk about getting that second book out there.

As most know, I pitched my second book to a well know e-pub in March and have yet to send it off.  Why you ask?  Life got in the way.  Also, my review blog blow up, in a good way, and trying to reviewers on board so I could write.  Fast forward to the month of May and I made a life altering decision and that was to step down from my review blog as a reviewer until further notice.  Yes, I'm still committed to books that are on the calendar through the month of June and a couple in July/August but after that, Harlie the reviewer will go silent.  It honestly wasn't that hard of a decisions for me to make.  I need a break from reviewing and shoot, I haven't read a book for pleasure in over a year.  I've got a great assistant that helps me and the reviewers so I don't have any worries about the site at all.

Will I miss it?  No not really.  Reviewing is hard work and time consuming.  Especially when you are reading at least 6 books a week.  Yes, I'm a glutton for punishment but I did it and I'm proud of the reviews that I have posted.  So where is the question Harlie? 

My question or rather admittance is that I still haven't finished the book yet so it can be subbed out.  I truly thought being a stay at home mom would leave me plenty of time to write but alas, that is a big negative at my house.  I don't see how writers find the time to write when they have full time jobs/kids/families.  I mean seriously...am I to believe that they can write 5k a day?  I guess they don't sleep.  Trust me, I like my sleep and I don't get up at 3am to write because the house is quiet.  I need my sleep to face the day. 

Does this make me a lazy writer?  A writer that is only in the business so I can bitch and moan about not being able to write?  Jealousy, perhaps?  No, I'm in it because I love to write.  Writing this blog is easy and the words just flow out of my fingers.  I'm one of the best bloggers out there.  So, what's the hold up on the book?  When I write, I need complete silence and I don't get that at my house.  Some thing is always happening.  I'm also a slow writer.  I tend to self edit as I go along and I need to unlearn how to do that.  :)  I've also heard this from authors that to be a writer that I need to make writing my #1 priority.  Sorry, folks but my family is my #1 priority, not writing.  Doesn't that make me a bad writer because of it?  I don't think so.  I don't eat, sleep and breath writing.  I eat, sleep and breath my husband and son. 

Plus, I don't have anyone pushing me.  Yes, I have an AWESOME CP and I would cry if she ever left me but I don't have that one person that pushes me to write like a lot of writers have.  I can think of some awesome writing duos and threesomes that when the aren't writing together, they are pushing the others to finish.  Brainstorming with each other and meeting up together for writing weekends. 

Again, am I jealous?  Not in the least now, but I used to be.  But I figured that that way works for them in getting it done.  I still haven't figured out how it will work for me in the long run but I will get the book finished and send it off.  Wish me luck.


 
 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Dariel's Short List of Lists: Every Writer Should Have These

Lists can be very helpful in goal-setting, and we know goal-setting helps focus mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical energy. According to my mother, I've been making lists since I learned to write. Lists for what I wanted, what I owned, what I thought, even what I wore. I know - OCD in the making. 
Fortunately, I brought that useful habit into adulthood with upgrades - longer, more intricate lists about much more important things. A challenge, for a time, was where to keep those lists and how to organize them so I could find them later. Along came Excel, then Android, and voila!
So let's talk about some lists that might be helpful for you to make of your own. I'll list them and say a bit about each to get you on your way:
1. Story ideas - you might even want to keep a digital recorder with you so you're ready whenever your muse pops in. We musician/composers do this all the time, too. It can be hard to recapture those great ideas if you don't catch them right way.
2. Publishing opportunities - large houses, small publishers, online, self, the possibilities are numerous these days.
3. Low cost and free advertising opportunities - include host blogs, forums, yahoo sites, even reviewers, as these are all great ways to get more exposure.
4. Social media ideas - publicity, collaboration, blog topics, etc. To help expand your career and reach, make sure you're at least strengthening your presence on the big three (facebook, twitter, & youtube). Google will pick up blog activity, so add that g+1 button to your site. Also, linked in and pinterest have quite a few followers and they're growing by leaps and bounds.
5. Writers and other possible "team" members - people with whom you have things in common and respect. Build those relationships. Fave writers and their success stories. Contrary to popular opinion, writing should not be done in a bubble for long. Not only will you suffocate, but you'll also get left behind. Look into Triberr and Hootsuite. They both help with your social media presence as well as online relationship building.
6. Informative sites - websites, blogs, online news spots. In other words, writing resources. One great example is  World Literary Care. It's a connection place for readers and writers, and the admins are great resources.
7. How to and info books - more writing resources, and they can be great springboard material for blog posts, tweets, even writing forums and sites.
8. Great reads, TBR, etc. -  Goodreads and Shelfari are great places to do this. forums, online groups & forums.
9. Online groups & forums with topics related to your writing - for instance, one of my new places is Lycan forum. I'm writing a series about mutant wolf shifters. Just makes sense to keep your stories fresh and interesting.
10. What you learned and what you'll try next - keep up with your progress, make notes of what does and doesn't work. Develop systems for success. You can save someone else a lot of time and trouble and become an experienced expert on the subject.
11. Places to promote on and off line - again, make the most of press releases, interviews, media (radio, Tv morning shows), signings, libraries, conventions, exhibits. One Tv station in my hometown just recently started interviewing locals every evening about some aspect of our lives. Cool! You'd be surprised the opportunities you find when you're actively searching. Oh, and make sure you keep business cards on hand with your book covers, genre, and website.
12. Day-to-day to do lists for your lists so you don't get overwhelmed. - you might want to choose a few specific things from your lists to do each day and make a schedule. This way, you get more done and you see progress. You also learn quickly what does and doesn't work for you so you can make adjustments without losing momentum.
Twelve is a biblical number of completion, so I'll stop here, but you can always think of more lists and add as you grow. In all of your getting, make sure you give more. Share with other writers and offer your supporters, including readers, writers, and others who help you along the way, freebies and special deals when you can. Well, what are you waiting for? You've got lists to make and goals to reach :-) So tell me about some of your lists...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Writing Classroom

It doesn't matter if a student looks as sour as a lemon. You get lemonade by squeezing them--Antti Allén

All writers are students, right? We study craft while reading novels, we learn from our critique partners, we gather information at conferences (yes, even in the bar talking to other writers...). We are constantly learning more tips and techniques to help us tell OUR story. 

So why does the idea of formal education scare the heck out of me?

I'm heading off to my first residency at Seton Hill in a couple weeks, and I am seriously worrying over it. The program sounds awesome: MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. Yeah, that means SF, Fantasy, Horror, Romance, YA--all the good stuff. No stuffy literature classes (though I did enjoy some of those in undergrad). Camping out with a bunch of like-minded writers for a week in June and a week in July (and reading and writing for online classes in between)--sounds fun, huh?

Still, I am nervous. I've taken online writing classes and learned a lot. Fast-drafting, Deep POV, How not to kill your characters... Heck, I've taught fiction writing classes for fifteen years at a local college. Why am I so nervous?

I think writers are generally, by nature, cowards. Ha. We like to think we are brave and bold and strong, but let's face it--anything to do with hanging our babies out on a clothesline for all to see...well, that is scary!

Do I think writers should take classes? Absolutely! Even when you don't learn a lot of new stuff, you get to be around other creative jellyfish. That's a great thing. You feed off each other. You leave the classroom, invigorated and ready to tackle that story. Right?

What has been the most helpful class you've taken? Or has individual interaction served the same purpose as a formal class? Do you think writers should take classes? Can you take TOO MANY classes? Would that stifle creativity?

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master--Ernest Hemingway

Kerry

Friday, June 14, 2013

Eric's Girls A Short Story Wriiten and Shared by Susan B. Anna

The following short story was written to demonstrate the love between the head of a household. Not the one you may think between a father and his children but about the only man left behind once that father passes.  I enjoyed writing this story solely because it reminds me of my very own brother.  He has been the one constant man in my life and I very much look up to and turn to him first whenever I need to.  A relationship this deep between siblings is not only amazing but so beneficial to every sibling relationship. 

I know I am not the first or last to say I have an amazing brother but I am so very blessed that I am and I so hope you like the following story.  Feedback and all sweet comments about your sibling whether brother or sister are appreciated
so please do not hesitate.

Eric's Girls 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Together in Cyn Releases Today - June 12th 2013

It's out today! Yippee!
Yea!
YAY YAY YAY!!

Together in Cyn releases today at Ellora's Cave!!
You can buy it here - http://www.ellorascave.com/together-in-cyn.html
 It'll be on Amazon and lots of other e-tailers in the coming weeks.

Thanks everybody for all of your good wishes and love during this crazy rewarding book!
Smooches to every one!!

Members Only, Book One
She knows it’s wrong. Cyn shouldn’t have feelings for fraternal twins Jared and Chris, her best friends. She shouldn’t want them to tie her up or strap her down, to take her one at a time—or together. The only way to control her taboo desires is to write them down and lock them away in her diary. Guys like Jared and Chris could never be interested in someone like her, or in the kind of sex she craves.
But Jared and Chris have read her diary, and sweet little Cyn is in for the shock of her life. The brothers not only own a members-only BDSM club, they want her. Need her. And now, with their unlimited funds and an entire establishment devoted to fulfilling her darkest pleasures, they’re going to claim Cyn for their own.
Inside Scoop: If you have a kink, this book probably has it too. If you like your ménage romances extra hot with a side of male-male romance, spanking, voyeurism and girl-on-girl action, come and get it.
A Romantica® BDSM erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave

Excerpt


Slowly he unfolded himself from his chair, so he could tower over mine. He put his hands on the arms, caging me in, crowding in close until I could smell his cologne and a unique scent. If I could bottle it I’d label it Sex, and make millions. 

“Cyn, a voyeur is someone who gets their rocks off by watching and we want to do a hell of lot more than watch. So why don’t you tell me why you’ve nearly worn through the chain on your necklace, while chewing on lips much better suited for…other things.” He ran his thumb across my lower lip to emphasize the point and my lips opened without my permission so I could lick him all over starting with the pad of his thumb.

Because I’m in love with you and your twin. Have been for almost a decade. I’ve got a journal at home filled with what I want you to do to me and I know I’ll never be brave enough to show it to you. Plus, I want you to screw me until I can’t walk for two days. Then I want you to tie me up, blindfold me and do it all again until I have no voice left from screaming out my orgasms for you.

“No reason!” I squeaked as I jerked my head away. “Hey, I’m thirsty. You thirsty? Want another beer before you close up?” Without waiting for an answer I scrambled out of my chair, ducked under his arm and darted away from our table in the back corner.

“You still have half a beer on the table, Blondie.” Yeah I heard him and completely ignored the obvious as I fled…er…ah…made my way across the empty dance floor. I didn’t have to glance back to know Jared stared at my backside. I could feel it, and it kicked my arousal into a level I’d never imagined was out there and made me want to pant. I was so damn close to begging. Not oh please Jared, but for the love of all that is holy Sir take me and make me yours and let me pleasure your brother, too.




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