Thursday, November 28, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Art of Writing by Margo Bond Collins

We are thrilled to have a new author to Aspiring Romance Writers, please welcome Margo Bond Collins 

 Henriette - A Girl Writing; The Pet Goldfinch

I know that a lot of authors talk about “the art of writing.” And there is absolutely an element of the artistic to writing—it’s a creative endeavor that takes imagination and invention. It can be inspired and original. It can absolutely soar to the heights of “Art.”

But for the most part, I don’t often reach those heights. In fact, I don’t even aim for them. I know many writers who do, and I admire them. But I tend to be much more pragmatic in my own aims—I want to tell stories that readers want to read. I don’t care if what I produce is Art-with-a-capital-A. I care if what I produce is a story that grabs my readers, pulls them into the worlds I create, keeps them coming back for more.

Because of this, I am much more likely to concern myself with the craft of writing than with the art of writing. I know it’s a minor distinction, but it’s an important one to me. I know that in my own everyday work, there’s a good chance that I would completely freeze up if I were told I needed to produce Art.

So instead, I focus on my trade—storytelling. And more than that, storytelling in genre fiction. I do some mash-up genres: paranormal mystery, romance mystery, paranormal romance—and that means that I need to know the conventions of a number of different genres. I spend almost as much time analyzing other people’s fiction as I do writing my own. I read for character and plot, for phrasing and stylistic elements. In fact, I think that the best thing any writer can do is read in his or her chosen genre(s).

Another important thing a writer can do is learn the technical elements of writing; know how to craft a sentence without grammatical errors, a paragraph with a main idea, a chapter with a strong opening and a closing that keeps the reader reading. Learn how to proofread carefully, how to edit one’s own work (it’s hard to cut the words that seemed perfect at the time, but it’s important to learn how to do it!).

And once these things are in place, don’t stop learning! In my other life, I teach college-level writing, and one of the things that I often tell my students is that it’s not possible (or at the very least, not advisable) to try to violate the rules of writing unless and until one has a strong grasp of them. So that means continually working to improve—in one’s understanding of the structure of fiction, in storytelling, in sentence structure, in word choice, in proofreading, in editing.

Because ultimately, the only way to Art is through craft.
Margo Bond Collins lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, several spoiled cats, and a ridiculous turtle. She teaches college-level English courses online, though writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters. Waking Up Dead is her first published novel. Her second novel, Legally Undead, is an urban fantasy, forthcoming in 2014 from World Weaver Press.
Twitter:  @MargoBondCollin


When Dallas resident Callie Taylor died young, she expected to go to Heaven, or maybe Hell. Instead, she met her fate early thanks to a creep with a knife and a mommy complex. Now she's witnessed another murder, and she's not about to let this one go. She's determined to help solve it before an innocent man goes to prison. And to answer the biggest question of all: why the hell did she wake up in Alabama?


Genre: Paranormal Mystery

Casting Call for Aspiring Romance Writers

Calling All Aspiring Romance Writers! 
Are you currently writing your first romantic novel?
Are you pouring your heart and soul into ever word?
Is the world you are creating dramatically different than the one you live in?
Do you hope your characters capture the hearts and imagination of millions of readers?
If yes, then we want to hear from you.
An award winning New York City production company is currently developing a new unscripted television series focused on the life of several aspiring romance writers. This series will show the highs and lows of penning your first novel, while showing the contrast between everyday life and the characters coming alive on the pages.
This is a nationwide search. If you are interested please email, a little blurb about yourself and your personal writing style to
Looking forward to hearing from EVERYONE  soon!
Permission to forward Granted

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Seduction of Self-Publishing by Jamie DeBree

I am thrilled to have Blogging today Jamie DeBree about self-publishing....

The Seduction of Self-Publishing

When I first started writing seriously, I dreamed of writing for some big publishing house, making a ton of money and seeing my name on the bestseller lists. By the time I’d written something I considered worth revising, editing, and submitting to publishers (5 or 6 drafts later), the reality of how the publishing world really works had set in. I found that the fact that I had to jump through a whole bunch of hoops just to get my manuscript read (whether I used an agent or not), and then possibly having to change entire portions of my book just to make it “fit” whatever niche the marketing department wanted it in really took all the fun out of writing for me. Not to mention the incredibly long lag time between submitting a manuscript and actually seeing it on the shelf. I’ll admit, I’m impatient…and I have goals that don’t really include waiting two years for a book to come out after I’m finished with it.

After learning everything I could about publishing, I was less than enthusiastic about the process. I just wanted people to read my work, and waiting for traditional publishing made it seem unlikely that it would ever happen. I decided to let go of my big bestseller dreams and just serialize a novel on my blog, strictly for fun. I knew that by doing so I would be “using up” first rights, which is what publishers want, so my serial novel would be “un-publishable”. But I wanted to know what people would think of my work before I went through the maze of publishing anything, so it seemed like a good test run. While I didn’t call it such, this was my first foray into self-publishing.

My first serialized novel draft was bad – but people read it. They commented on it. Overall, they even liked it! So I started another one, determined to do better. And when I finished that one, I liked it. My readers liked it. I knew I couldn’t submit it, but I could turn it into a real, bonafide book. Against all practical advice from the traditional publishing world, I revised it, and sent it off to an editor, bought cover art, and just a few short months later I released Tempest.

People bought it. They’re still buying it, slowly but surely. Some people even want my signature, which is still sort of unfathomable to me.

For me, the process of writing, preparing and ultimately offering my work for sale was empowering and seductive. Rather than being at the whim of countless other people, my book was exactly what I wanted it to be, and I worked hard to make it the best quality product I could. I felt like an artisan, rather than someone who creates at the behest of another (as I do at my day job). I decided very shortly after releasing Tempest that I’d self-publish most, if not all of my work.

Romance readers read fast – and by publishing my own work, I can get books out on my own time schedule, so my readers aren’t left to the whims of traditional publishing schedules. I don’t have to rely on a marketing department to tell me what readers want, because through serializing my work, readers can tell me directly what’s working for them and what doesn’t, before I even get to the editing stage. I can be very open with my work and share as much as I want, which I believe helps in marketing the resulting book. Most authors have to market their own work no matter how they publish, so this just takes away the limitations imposed by the traditional houses. I can price my books low, because I keep all of the royalties, which means readers can take a chance on my books for the price of a decadent snack.

I believe that romance and thriller writers are in the best position to actually make a living self-publishing books, simply because readers are hungry for as much of those genres as we can write, as fast as we can write them. It’s not a get-rich-quick scheme – much like traditional publishing, you have to be in it for the long haul. But for me, I’d rather be doing it on my own time, and my own terms than at the whims of others. Such is the seduction of self-publishing.

Jamie DeBree, Romantic Suspense Author

Tempest is available now from Amazon and other online retailers

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Why Write about Marriage by Mia Catherine

I am thrilled to host Mia Catherine today on the blog...

What draws you to write about married couples?


Like most who read the genre, I love romance. I love the whirlwind involved with a budding new relationship. The glancing looks, the hint of attraction, whether playful or antagonistic, and oh, that first kiss. We all remember these times in our lives—some more fondly than others. Nothing compares to that rush of emotion. We get swept up, and it takes over our lives for a short time.


But, like so many aspects of life, that rush is fleeting. Most of us find a long-term relationship, get married, possibly have some children, and settle into the mundane trivialities of daily life. There are bills to pay, soccer games to attend, colicky kids to calm, yard work to finish and home repair added to the never-ending 'honey-do' list. What happens, even to the best of us? The romance drops to the bottom of that list.


I think that's why so many women love to read about couples in love. In the midst of the pages of a book, we can experience anything—even relive those initial feelings of love. What is unfortunately missing in many of our lives can be found in those stories. My sincere hope, however, is those books can not only help fill needs for some, but can also reignite the spark for others.


To me, there's nothing more romantic, more endearing, or more admirable than a happily married couple. There's a reason we applaud when we hear a couple celebrating their 50th anniversary. There's a reason we smile at the image of a wrinkly man and woman holding hands. And, if you're like me, there's a reason you love watching Morty and Lee Kaufman dance around the kitchen in the Swiffer commercials.


Marriage is HARD!


It's hard to live your life day in and day out with another person. It's hard becoming a partner, and it's hard to grow in love as your life changes through the years. It takes work, and unfortunately, far too many in today's society are not successful.


When looking at the romance genre, marriage is often left off the page all together. You may see a reference to an engagement or a marriage in an epilogue of a story, but for the most part, romance novels focus on the meeting and coupling, not the happily ever after.


When I found Decadent's 1Night Stand series, I was intrigued. The elusive Madame Eve can set up any two people at any place, or any time. The sky was the limit—but she could even find ways around that! My mind went to the what if...  What if Madame Eve could help repair the rift time and responsibilities caused? What if she could help mend the relationship of two people deeply in love, yet blind to the cause of their separation? What if she could right something that went terribly wrong?


I want all married couples to succeed. If only we had a real-life Madame Eve who could help heal us when things go bad. Unfortunately, she exists only in our imaginations. Guess that means we're left to keep our relationships alive on our own.


The good news is the reward is more than worth it.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on marriage. Comment below and I'll draw the name of one person to win a copy of my 1Night Stand, Never Too Late!

Born and raised in Wisconsin, Mia Catherine is a proud Cheesehead living with her husband and their three young sons. An avid fan of television dramas, Mia looked away from the small screen when she became disillusioned with the lack of substance on current shows. Enjoying the fantasy involved in a good love story, she turned to reading, and quickly discovered a little voice in her head. That voice led to writing her first chapter, and the second, and the third…
Now, translating that voice in her head to words on the computer is Mia’s escape when times are hard. As words begin to form a story, she’s allowed to escape the trials of everyday life and live in her own little world, if for only a short time.
Knowing others find some pleasure reading what she’s written is just an added bonus.



Sam's life hasn't turned out the way he planned. Two years after an unwelcome divorce from high school sweetheart, Katie, he's struggling to put the pieces of his life together and pay off a mountain of debt. At the insistence of his oldest friend, he reluctantly agrees to be set up on a 1Night Stand. Perhaps it's the push he needs to finally move on?

Divorced and preparing for an empty nest when her only son leaves for Marine Boot Camp, Katie is ready for a change. Working as a legal secretary has given her professional fulfillment, but her romantic life leaves something to be desired.  Weary of facing the future alone, she decides to dip her toe back into the dating pool and perhaps find some companionship.

Forced to confront their issues and a divorce neither wanted, can Sam and Katie forget the past and reconnect?
Buy Links:
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Sunday, November 17, 2013

What's In A Name? by Olivia Starke

This week I am Absolutely thrilled to have an Author I adore... Olivia Starke take it away...

What’s In A Name?

Why do you use a penname, are you embarrassed by your work? As an erotic romance author I’ve been asked this question. I can honestly say that no, I’m not embarrassed by what I write, but I can tell you that in the ultra-conservative area that I live in a pseudonym is a necessity lest I invite derision by the town. In the end it would be my family that would suffer the consequences, and I certainly don’t want to bring that on them. Here sex is a sin, and I wouldn’t be much more than a pervert peddling smut (though why they would find me out while scanning for romantic erotica online is another story.)

Other than concealing your identity, there are other reasons for a pen name. While my surname and given name were decided for me at birth, my alter ego Olivia Starke is my creation alone. Think of it as the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde phenomenon, as Olivia I am completely free to express myself and in a shocking way at times while my real life self lives beneath the expectations of family and society. Olivia is a wild child who is open in her sexuality and is free to explore and express herself in whatever way she desires in her writing. Real life me must remain demure, closed mouth, because honestly I have the look of a good little church girl.

Under a pseudonym I am liberated, and my fellow author friends know me better than my own family and any others in my real life who would never accept me as a sexual being. For some this may be sad, perhaps they would frown on me caring what others think, but short of shaving my head and getting tats from head to toe, it’s the look I was gifted with and fighting it is nothing but a frustration.

Outside of the sex that is inherent in my genre, there are other reasons that I want to remain anonymous. I am always a part of my characters and many times as I bare their souls I bare mine as well. As authors we do this, this is how our heroes and heroines come alive to the readers. Within their insecurities and weaknesses lie my own. Much as the musicians I listen to scream their emotions into the microphone, I scream mine onto the pages. Having someone in my real life circle read my work would feel like they were reading all the secrets in my personal diary. As Olivia I can comfortably and safely share these feelings with my readers.

For anyone and everyone who is interested in exploring life as an author as both a career and a past-time I invite them to consider using a pen name. Even if you don’t choose erotic romance and believe you’ve nothing to hide, give an alter-ego a chance. You might be surprised at the freedom you feel as you recreate yourself, your true self that is one hundred percent you and you alone without the world’s tampering.

Olivia Starke

Originally Posted on the Aspiring Romance Writers Website

Olivia Starke calls the Ozarks home. One of the most beautiful areas in the country, she loves hiking trails with her dogs, kayaking on the numerous waterways, and enjoying southern Missouri's fresh air and sunshine.
She's also 'Mom' to four dogs, a growing number of kitties that show up at her door, and four VERY spoiled horses that do little to earn their keep. Not that she'd ever hold that against them.
She's a HUGE fangirl of Doctor Who and to a lesser extent Supernatural, and has a pretty interesting love triangle (or square?) going on in her head between the Doctor and the Winchesters.

'Adding a Little Kink to Your Bedtime Story'

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Importance of Writing Groups by Kiss Carson

Today AWR is thrilled to welcome a new author to us Kiss Carson. Kiss has been gracious enough to chat with us about the importance of writing groups.

I’m a member of a face-to-face writer’s group. It’s called Romantix ~ for lovers of reading and writing. Only half of us write romance but all of us read absolutely BUCKETLOADS! There are seven members in total and although we all lived on the north side of Brisbane at one stage, we are now scattered around Australia, sometimes the world. Skype has come in very handy during our monthly meetings, and we’ve even been reduced to typing meetings because someone’s internet was unreliable. Each one of us has a specific writing skill, be it grammar, editing, research, character development, plot development, promotion, or writing sex scenes (this topic calls for some very interesting conversation and not for public consumption. But that hasn’t stopped us on occasion). When we come together, we use these skills to help and encourage each other.


My Romantix girls keep me going when I’ve reached that dreaded saggy middle; they give me plot solutions; tell me if a scene is working, and are excellent pep-talkers. We celebrate every milestone and commiserate every rejection but then point out the positive side of that impersonal form letter. I guess what I’m trying to say is that without my writing group I may have stopped writing years ago.


When I formed Romantix about five years ago, now, I put a notice in the local library’s newspaper, posted flyers at the shopping centre, and gave the details to Romance Writers of Australia. There had to be other writers close by, and within a few weeks I was contacted by Zoe, the first member of our little group. I’d hit the jackpot with Zoe, she was -and still is - the most knowledgeable writer I know and she is also my editor. I send her my manuscripts before I send them off to the publisher. Zoe gracefully pointed out that “eyelashes don’t batter”. Ah, yes, I had my heroine battering her eyelashes. Tasty? I think not!

But most of all, our writing group is fun. Looking back, Romantix would be the best writing tool I have (apart from my brain…oh, and my computer), and my advice to novice writers would be to find yourself a writing group, maybe two or three, depending on what you want to get out of your groups. Visit your local library and ask the librarians if they know of any local writing groups and I’m sure they will steer you in the right direction. Contact your local writers’ association chapter. They’ll be able to help you, too. Or, create your own. Surround yourself with a network of writers, experienced and beginners, online and face-to-face. Someone is bound to have an answer to that 3am question that won’t let you sleep, and if you’re really lucky you’ll make some life-long friends.


To the wonderful girls of Romantix. I dedicate every word I write to you.

Kiss Carson

Twitter - @kisscarson





The idea of a murder mystery party is simple. Someone pretends to die. The guests solve the murder. Simple. But when Marina Cornell is invited to Fairview House by her brother, solving the murder becomes a lot harder than she expected, especially because she is so easily distracted by Jackson Bradley, the gorgeous owner of the estate.


Cast as the nanny to watch over Jackson’s younger sisters, Marina is told blood-chilling stories of suspected murder and abandoned children, and it becomes quickly apparent that something isn’t right about the Bradley family. Or the house. One by one, the Bradley siblings are found dead and Marina finds her perception of real and make-believe distorted. Someone really is killing Jackson’s family, but the murderer is the one person she never expects and in the end, she must rely on more than love to save her life.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Monday, November 11, 2013

Weaving in Historical Elements by Starla Kaye

Today we are thrilled to have the very talented and super sweet Starla Kaye at ARW :)  Take it away Starla.

 Weaving in Historical Elements

I love writing all kinds of genres and sub-genres of romance, including stories based in different time periods. Creating characters that feel “real” to a reader is an art. Establishing a believable setting for those characters, with conflicts also believable for the period, is a challenge. When a writer manages to pull it all together, the story can be a special gift to the readers. And when readers and reviewers appreciate the author’s hard work that is a gift to the author.

I really enjoyed writing my three medieval stories (Their Lady Gloriana, Maggie Mine, and its sequel The Great Scottish Devil) but they were a trial at times. The medieval period has always attracted me. I admit that the movies involving such a hard time and the romances that greatly soften the realities of living back then are what I enjoy. And I admit that I would never have wanted to live in those difficult days. But I write fiction and the worlds I create are acceptable to me and to my readers.
So what kind of historical elements are acceptable and make a story believable and enjoyable? A reader doesn’t want to read about some of the true hardships knights faced. She wants to read and visualize in her mind the powerful, handsome, buff knight riding proudly on his destrier and leading his men to battle or to whatever the story involves. She doesn’t want to know that many of the armored knights fell off their horses, couldn’t get up without assistance, and that a lot of them drowned in creeks and rivers because of the bulky armor. What readers want and rightly expect are simple details that give the sense of the setting and character particulars for the period.

The following are some setting examples from The Great Scottish Devil:

For a second he simply looked at her, struggling to draw in yet another breath. Slowly, he turned his head and she watched him raise his face to the skies laden with heavy gray clouds, appearing to study them. He shivered against the air chilled this mid-August morn. Then he looked around at their surroundings, at the grassy area on this northern slope of the Grampian Mountains, at the spattering of low shrubs, birches, and patches of purple heather. He’d been so determined to cross over these highest mountains in Scotland as quickly as possible. He’d seemed oddly anxious to head toward the villages in the Highlands they visited as tinkers this time of year. It should have taken them longer to ride. She’d wondered what had driven him so hard this trip.
As he rode with Sir Douglas at his side down the final slope of the Grampian Mountains, Brodie breathed a sigh of relief. The fifty men who traveled with them were a ways behind. Yet the sounds of so many hooves, so many heavily breathing horses carried to him even from this distance.

The following are some character details from The Great Scottish Devil:

He squinted at the sudden brightness as the sun rested high in the sky. The swirling gray clouds of the early morn had drifted away and now it was hotter. Sweat trickled down his back beneath his shirt. A warm breeze passed over him, fluttering the shoulder-length hair that he should have tied back.

His thoughts wandered to Urquhart and what awaited him there: many people who would be disappointed that he returned still without his memories. Still, they could not be any more disappointed than he. His head throbbed with the now familiar headache that plagued him whenever he tried to think about his past. He reached up to rub his forehead and caught sight of a tinker’s wagon at the foot of the hill they were going down.
The boy blinked and tears sparkled in his eyes. Slender shoulders shuddered beneath the dirt-dusted white shirt, and then straightened. A pouty lower lip trembled for but an instant. Then anger spread across a face that appeared too delicate for even a young boy.
“I’m not a thief!” the boy protested. He had the gall to glower at Brodie, to continue holding the ridiculously small weapon out in defense.
“’Tis a lass!” Douglas said in shock.
Brodie, too, had surmised that from the “boy’s” all-too-feminine voice, more so when the “boy’s” chest had thrust out in anger. There was no mistaking the swell of plump breasts shoving against the front of the shirt. It took him a second to come to terms with the surprising discover; it took another second to get beyond his surprise and back to his fury.
A good historical story will also include a limited amount of language used at the time. It is important to weave in certain terms that might have been used, a sense of the uniqueness of expressions common to the time period, and maybe a hint of an accent. But it is also important not to overdue all of this. Reading oddly spelled words or being constantly bombarded with unfamiliar language can frustrate a reader and pull them from a story. The key is to give only a flavor of the various elements of the historical period.

The following are some language details from The Great Scottish Devil:

To his annoyance, Douglas chuckled behind him. “I dinna think the lass has seen a mon in a kilt ‘ere. Or what a mon doesna wear under a kilt.” He chuckled again.
Disgusted, Brodie strode toward the lass, who was now scooting back toward the wagon, still brandishing the useless dirk. He pointed with his sword at the clearly dead man. “If ye killed him, ye will die here as well.”

Starla writes in many sub-genres of romance, but her heart really belongs to cowboys. There is just something about a man in worn denim jeans, a hard muscled body from everyday physical labor, scuffed boots, and a Stetson worn low and oh so sexily.
When she isn’t writing or struggling with social media, she hangs out with her sister making small memory quilts or scrapbooking. Or she’s traveling somewhere: to conferences, for vacation (research trips, she likes to call them), or going to visit her daughter, who often travels with her. And she reads every spare minute she has. So many books to read, so little time.
Starla lives in the Midwestern part of the United States with her accountant husband. Yes, there are times when he fits the “boring accountant” image, but many times when he does not. After so many long years of marriage, she is still in love with the man she married at nineteen. Okay, she wishes he still had his beautiful blond hair instead of being basically bald now. But would she trade him just because of that? No way!

tarla writes in many sub-genres of romance, but her heart really belongs to cowboys. There is just something about a man in worn denim jeans, a hard muscled body from everyday physical labor, scuffed boots, and a Stetson worn low and oh so sexily.
When she isn’t writing or struggling with social media, she hangs out with her sister making small memory quilts or scrapbooking. Or she’s traveling somewhere: to conferences, for vacation (research trips, she likes to call them), or going to visit her daughter, who often travels with her. And she reads every spare minute she has. So many books to read, so little time.
Starla lives in the Midwestern part of the United States with her accountant husband. Yes, there are times when he fits the “boring accountant” image, but many times when he does not. After so many long years of marriage, she is still in love with the man she married at nineteen. Okay, she wishes he still had his beautiful blond hair instead of being basically bald now. But would she trade him just because of that? No way!
tarla writes in many sub-genres of romance, but her heart really belongs to cowboys. There is just something about a man in worn denim jeans, a hard muscled body from everyday physical labor, scuffed boots, and a Stetson worn low and oh so sexily.
When she isn’t writing or struggling with social media, she hangs out with her sister making small memory quilts or scrapbooking. Or she’s traveling somewhere: to conferences, for vacation (research trips, she likes to call them), or going to visit her daughter, who often travels with her. And she reads every spare minute she has. So many books to read, so little time.
Starla lives in the Midwestern part of the United States with her accountant husband. Yes, there are times when he fits the “boring accountant” image, but many times when he does not. After so many long years of marriage, she is still in love with the man she married at nineteen. Okay, she wishes he still had his beautiful blond hair instead of being basically bald now. But would she trade him just because of that? No way!

The Great Scottish DevilBook Title: The Great Scottish Devil
Author: Starla Kaye
Genre: Medieval Romance
Publisher: Blushing Books
Publication Date: June 1, 2012
Format: eBook, Kindle, Nook

Book Blurb:

Annabel Henderson’s life has fallen apart yet again, worse this time than before. She lost her beloved younger brother, then her mother a year ago, and now her father. His dying words talk of his regrets; warn her of someone or something that he was unable to fully explain. Confused, grieving, she is left alone in the Scottish Highlands to deal with her father’s body and wondering how she can continue on with her family’s tinker trade traveling from village to village. She must do it, for it is the only life she knows. In her heart, though, she yearns for a man to love her and to help her with the trade. Instead her first encounter is with the famed Great Scottish Devil returning to his home of Urquhart. The Devil is more annoying and demanding than he is handsome. How dare he think to take charge of her life!
Brodie Durward isn’t sure he can deal with another problem in his life. He’d barely survived being taken prisoner and seriously wounded in the final battle of the Crusades, left with the loss of his memories. Still struggling with that, he had to go to England and save his sister Maggie from being hung. All he wants now is to return to his family’s holding of the Castle Urquhart. He hopes the once familiar surroundings and being around his clan will help him completely heal and regain his memories. Then he and his men run across a young lad apparently trying to steal the valuables off a dead man. Such a travesty can’t be tolerated! But the “lad” isn’t a boy at all. The supposed bandit is a tiny sprite of a woman, far too pleasing to the eye for his comfort, and furious at having been called a thief. And then she tries to refuse to travel with him under his protection, claiming she doesn’t need it, doesn’t wish to go in that direction. He has no patience for her foolishness. She will go with him!
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Originally posted

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Rules of Writing

Rules of Writing!

1. Don't get it Right, Get it Written!
2. You cannot fix a blank page!
3. Give yourself permission to write crap,
Crap can be fixed...see #2!

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Novel as a Project by V. Mark Covington

It is a great honor to have V Mark Covington here, his books are funny and thought provoking. I have to say this is full of tons of great suggestions. The floor is your Mark…

The Novel as a Project

I know that staring down at a blank page and contemplating a completed 100K-word novel is a scary prospect. It’s like that old adage of eating an elephant; you can’t eat it all at once. A novel is like that pachyderm. When faced with the task of eating the whole thing, it is daunting. But it is a lot more palatable if looked out in digestible pieces. That’s where project management comes in. A novel is a project. Like developing software or building a house, it’s a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product or service. Of course sometimes it doesn’t seem temporary (it took Christopher Nolan ten years to write Inception and Ayn Rand 10 years to write Atlas Shrugged) but a novel has a beginning, middle and an end- that day you kiss it goodbye and send it off into the world. Before I began writing novels I was an IT Project Manager so when I started writing novels it was only logical to apply some of the techniques I had used in project management to assure I was using my writing time most effectively. This may sound like I’m making novel writing a ‘science’ instead of an ‘art” but the novel is a mix of art and science. The creative left brain and the structured left-brain working together to build the novel. There are tasks, during all three stage of the novel development process; planning, writing and promotion, that lend themselves to structured, organized processes. The following is a breakdown of some of the tools to use during the planning process:

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Planning the Novel

It all starts with a plan. The more time you spend getting organized to write and planning what to do along the way, the less time you are going to waste when you are in the throws of writing and your mind is focused on your characters and your story. Characters can be greedy with you time when you are in the ‘zone” and the last thing you want to distract you is to spend time wondering, “What do I do next?”

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1. Time Management Plan - I’m the kind of person that schedules everything. I make dinner menus weeks in advance and am usually packed for a trip three days before the flight takes off. Somewhere scribbled on my Day-planner is; “November 18- 4:00- 4:15- ‘be spontaneous’. But not everyone plans instinctively (or obsessively) so here some time management tricks.

• Block out a time to write - Tom Robbins says that every day at 9:00 he enters his home office and sits and waits for his muse. If she comes, great he is off and writing, if not he sits and waits, fingers hovering over the keyboard until noon. If she doesn’t show by noon he goes out to play. Sit at your computer and wait for the muse at the same time every day if you can for a set amount of time. Granted, not everybody can block out a specific time every day, but sometime every day, tune everything else out and open yourself to your muse. If in that allotted time if she doesn’t show, take a break and try again later or another day, but be there and ready for her visit.

• Eliminate distractions. Turn off your television and avoid checking e-mails or facebook. No excuses when waiting for your muse.

• Break down the novel into tasks and milestones - Like the elephant analogy, trying to conceptualize the whole novel all at once is daunting, but if you break it down into bites it seems more palatable. The following depicts a novel breakdown process:

• Start with a story concept, have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. Once you have a clear vision for your novel from beginning to end it is easier to break your vision down into plot points.

• Break your plot into scenes or chapters. I create a new page for each chapter (hard page break) then I label each chapter (such as Harry Meets Sally) and then write a one or two sentence scene description. I can come back and fill these in with actual narrative, dialogue, scene detail, etc later.

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• Create a character profile for each character. Identify the character’s background, likes, dislikes, what they value most in life, what they fear, and desire. Also identify conflicts they will have with other characters.

• Create a time-line for your story. I use a flowchart to map out what happens over time. Each little box in the flowchart represents a scene and the following box the next scene, and on and on. You can also create a second flowchart for a subplot and draw lines connecting where the plot and the subplot connect. If you are like me you may need a third or forth parallel flow chart for sub-sub-sub-plots. Mines usually ends up looking like a Rube Goldberg creation.

• Now you are ready to fill in those chapters you mapped out with you character action following your plot and time-line. One bite at a time and that elephant is a lot easier to eat.

2. Resource Plan
Writing is a lonely job but you can’t do it alone. Sounds like a dichotomy right? The point is that it helps to have a network of people that you can reach out to when needed. When you are stuck on a scene, that word is on the tip of your tongue but you just can’t come up with it, or maybe you want to get some ideas for character names, it is good to have another writer to contact. Hunter Thompson is famous for calling up fellow writers in the middle of the night and asking, “what’s another word for mendacity?” The key is to identify a ‘go to’ list of resources so that help is at your fingertips. Just remember, if someone is your resource you need to be there when they need help.

• Make a list of research you are going to need for your book. What books, videos, music do you need to purchase? What trips do you need to take? Who do you need to talk to? Build these into your time and financial plans.

• Reviewers – A good reviewer is worth his or her weight in gold. Identify your potential reviewers early. Joining a review group will give you some reviewer resources, but be careful try to choose a group with folks in your genre a science fiction reader may not give you effective insight into how to make your romance novel better.

• Editor/proofreader – Don’t rely on your publisher provided editor or proofreader to catch everything, the more ‘nits’ you can catch up front the more time you editor can focus on more substantive work on your novel.

3. Communication Plan
You can have the most wonderful novel ever written but if nobody knows about it they won’t be exactly jumping off the shelves of your local bookstore or clogging the Internet with e-book orders. The best way to promote your book is to get people involved in your project early and often.

• Know your market whether it’s Romance, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, Horror, Speculative Fiction or Steampunk, you have a certain group of potential readers. Your job is to figure out where these folks are, how to reach them and go after them.

• Know you medium check out local and national print and electronic newsletters, newspapers, local entertainment weeklies, etc., and make a contact. Put together a chart for quick referral and to guide you in your daily, weekly, etc communication:

 mark blog

4. Quality Plan (Edit, Edit, Edit) - For every vision, there is an equal but opposite revision. Quality control in writing is all about editing. I generally go through about five edits.
Story Edit – Does the plot work? Is it too complex that readers get distracted? Is it so simple that readers lose interest? Does your theme convey clearly to the reader? Is the voice effective to tell the story and interesting? Is there enough conflict to keep the reader’s interest?

Time Edit – Impose a timeline on your flowchart, does the time flow day to day, week to week, are the time gaps realistic?

Character Edit – Are the characters consistent with their profiles in every situation or scene? Physical characteristics are consistent - does John have green eyes in one scene and blue later? Are emotional characteristics the same- same sense of humor, consistent fears and dreams in every scene?

Wordsmith Edit – Here is where you go word by word and ask yourself “is this the perfect word for this sentence, the perfect sentence for this paragraph and the perfect paragraph for this chapter. Like Mark Twain said, “the difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.

Pre-Editor’s Edit – There is passion in the world like the passion to alter someone else's work. 
This is sometimes one of the most challenging aspects of writing, trying to look at your manuscript through an editor’s eyes and anticipate changes. Ask yourself “is this clear, could anyone understand it?” I remember a writer who had written “He entered the double-wide and tossed his keys on the counter.” Her editor had scribbled “double wide what?” on the page. I am convinced that above Dickens’s draft where it said, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” his editor scribbled, “make up your mind!”

Tip: Change the font for the last edit, lets you see things you may have missed looking at the same font over and over.

5. Financial Plan
First and foremost get a professional accountant, set up a LLC and begin keeping track of your expenses, all of them, purchases of everything from research books, music, printer paper and internet fees, to gas in your car to go to that writers conference to that research trip to the south of France. It’s all deductible.

Now with your plans in place, you should be able to begin eating that elephant one bite at a time.

About Mark
Mark Covington was born and raised in Ruther Glen, Virginia. He attended Caroline County public
schools and Benedictine Military School in Richmond. He holds a Bachelors degree in Organizational Behavior from Averett College in Danville, VA and a Masters degree in Industrial Psychology from Springfield College in Springfield MA. Mark has worked as a Banker, a College Professor, a Management Consultant, an Ice Cream Truck Driver, a Cemetery Plot salesman and a State Government Bureaucrat and an Information Systems Project Manager. He currently lives in Richmond Virginia Museum District. with his wife Beverly and their two Australian Shepherds, Journey and Opal, where he writes novels exploring the cosmically comical nature of the universe, the purpose of which is to create someone who lives in Richmond, Virginia and writes novels exploring the cosmically comical nature of the universe.

Heavenly Pleasure 
Strange things are happening in a small bohemian section of Richmond, Virginia, the eternal war between good and evil is facing off over the next jump in human evolution, universal bliss and the end of terrorism, road rage and fighting over the remote control. Welcome to “Perilous” Parkwood Avenue and the residents, Kali Sen, exotic dancer and potential savior of humanity, Eve Savage, whose basement laboratory is the source of earth-shaking explosions that rock the neighborhood, Eric and Ted, life-partners who’s Christian Adult Book Store and John Wye, designated chronicler of the next paradigm of mankind. 
From The Pagan and the Pen -"In Heavenly Pleasure, Mark Covington has created a riveting cast of characters and has woven a masterful, intricately-detailed tale. I loved the author’s sense of humor, an important device when dealing with fate-of-the-world issues. I laughed out loud—real laughter, not just little chuckles—several times. Like Mikhail Bulgakov’s literary masterpiece The Master and Margarita, Heavenly Pleasure takes aim at what’s wrong with society using God and the Devil as literal interpretations of a metaphorical critique. Heavenly Pleasure speaks to the heart and soul in a way few things ever can.

You can contact mark at
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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Starting line of Promotions by Dominique Eastwick

Okay for those who don't know where to start maybe this will help!

Here is my friendly check list...

• Blog/Website (is it user friendly? Is it up to date with all your book covers)


You have no idea how many people don't have their author name as their Header. It is by far the MOST IMPORTANT

thing to have on your blog...Hands down.

Okay that said moving on...

1. Is there a contact me area for readers to email you with questions? This can also be your about me page.

2. Is there a page to talk about WIP readers love to know what you are working on?

3. Is there a button to have people follow your blog by email? A link to follow you on twitter/FB ect-- make it one click easy!

4. Is there a page with all your books? If you only have one then start with a page for just that book. Blurb, excerpt (only after line edits are done please), cover, and any reviews you might have gotten.

5. Do you have too many graphics? Music playing in the back ground? Think about removing those. (nothing gets me off a site quicker then music in the background)

6. Do you have a Press Kit. Check out this site to see an amazing one

7. **** Do you have cover art on the main page somewhere, like in one of the side columns. Please this is your best marketing tool. USE IT (people will come back to you blog and go what was that book she was talking about, if you make them search through archives of old blogs you will probably lose a sale.)***

• Facebook/Twitter/Tumbler use the one you are most comfortable with.

1. Do you have a FB profile page that people can tag?

2. Do you post about fun things not related to writing or your book?

3. Are you # properly on twitter?

4. Do you engage other readers, authors, people?

5. Do you have your Cover art in a COVER ART album on your FB page. With Links on where to by it?


• Do you have your blog/website links on the above?

1.      If the reader has to search for your website they won't. Make sure links are in the about you on Facebook and in your profile on Twitter.

• Have you starting looking at places that will host you when your book comes out?

1. Make sure to look outside the authors find a few places that will host you. Give away a book, do an interview. You love your book this is when it’s okay to brag and sell. You are excited we get it. We want to be excited for you.

2. Do Character interviews READERS love those.

• Have you asked for help?

Other authors are almost always willing to help and remember when you help others they are more willing to help you.


• Have you set up a google alert on your Pen Name and book title?

To do so go here

• Is your Profile up to date on Amazon?

You can't set up an Author page on Amazon until your book comes out. But once its live please set one up. Studies show that people are more likely to buy again from authors with pictures on their author page." target="_blank" rel="nofollow">


Hope this helps, I am always happy to work with new authors and look at Blogs just email me and ask.
Dominique Eastwick

Dominique is a multi-published award winning author. She is the creator of the Wiccan Haus series. When not writing you can find Dominique behind the lens of her camera.

What doesn't kill us makes you stronger. But is their love strong enough?

Lucas Sherman wanted one thing in life. Never to set eyes on his ex-fiancĂ© Kiloran O’Connor again. But no one said life was fair. Now with a stalker hunting both of them Lucas is forced to put his distrust and hatred to the side to keep them both alive.

Kiloran only ever wanted to keep Lucas safe. But no matter how hard she tries danger seems to be a step behind them. Now creating a public front can she break through the wall Lucas has erected around his heart? Those same walls she helped cement.

Can true love conquer and forgive all or will it kill them both?