Tag Archive | Burn Baby Burn

Romance Reviews Year End Splash!



The Romance Reviews is giving away prizes, including a print copy of Burn Baby Burn.

They have more than 400 participating authors and publishers, and there are more than 400 prizes up for grabs during the whole month of November. Grand prize is a $100 Gift Certificate!


If you want to win a print copy of Burn Baby Burn, head over to http://www.theromancreviews.com. A Q&A will appear on the event page Nov 12, from 12:00am EST to 11:59pm EST.

Do remember that you will need to register and be logged in at TRR before you can play the game and win prizes. Registration is free and easy.

Visit The Romance Review site starting Nov 1 and have fun!


We Are Family….

BurningTire_finalI’ve been watching a lot of movies about family lately, and some about family which don’t really seem to be about family, but really are. As in The Avengers, which is all about family.

What!—you say. But that’s an action movie! Yes, it is. However, at its heart, it’s all about family. My favorite kind of family, in fact—the kind that bickers, fights, argues, tears itself apart, but which bonds together against any outside threat. (That was also me and my brother when we were growing up, which is probably why I’m so fond of that kind of family.) Critics have already noted the dysfunctional side of The Avengers—and other Joss Whedon shows, which is why I love Joss. I relate to dysfunctional. That also makes for the best kinds of stories.

Family is an important part of Riding in on a Burning Tire, the second book in the Mackenzie Solomon Demons & Warders series–a big part of the book is Mackenzie’s family showing up (and they don’t know she’s a demon hunter), and the trouble her little brother has gotten into. She’s already lost one brother–and it looks like she may lose a second to the “Rapturists”, folks out to end this world (for a better one, they think, but Mackenzie knows better).

Family, in a novel, gives you some of the best conflict and story ever. When in doubt, bring in the family. Yes, there are a lot of “orphan” stories out there, but you’ll notice the orphan doesn’t stay on her own for long. Soon, the family of choice shows up. That’s the great thing about family—they don’t have to be tied to you by blood. They can be tied by preference, circumstance, or just because you happen to see the world from a similar outsider view.

Readers and writers are all family—we bicker, fight, tear at each other. But we’re also bonded. We love our books, our stories—we love talking about them, pushing the best ones onto each other, gasping when other readers don’t love our favorites with the same insane passion. We bond over books. We’re every bit as dysfunctional as The Avengers—well, maybe not quite that super-powered, but close (including the costumes hanging in the closets). That shared love is one of the great joys of life—and all writers are readers. Books bond us. We love words and stories and characters. We read because life would be flat and unbearable without that escape. Stories make sense of our lives. And that’s why we write—because we want to share even more and so we dive into the deep end on things.

So, readers, next time you’re about to savage a book with harsh criticism, remember, that’s your sister in words who wrote that, and your brother, so put in some humor and respect—okay, maybe you don’t use that with blood kin, either, but this is your ink kin we’re talking about. Go ahead and hit hard—then, like that great fight scene in The Avengers, or even in Riding in on a Burning Tire (and boy is that gutsy to put my book in there with Joss’ work), after knocking each other around, offer a hand up and know that while you may come to blows occasionally (just to test each other and prove who really can dish it out), we’re all a family of readers out here.  You may not like everyone in your family, but they understand you like no one else in this world.


A demon hunter about to lose her license…

Mackenzie Solomon is on the edge of going “dark” and losing her warder license if she gets any more evil on her. However, she’s also the only one who can stop an early Armageddon. And nothing has stopped the bad ideas… or the itch for action. That’s starting to cause a rift with her former charming partner, Josh. He’s been tainted by demon blood, so is he now one of the bad things she now needs to avoid? Because Josh may be responsible for the Endowment’s Magi going “Houdini” on everyone.

A charmer who can’t remember if he’s good or not…

With Josh going rogue to find out what he’s been charmed not to remember, Mackenzie is given a choice by the Endowment—bring him in and maybe the Magi will help them both. She’s not sure she trusts the offer—and she’s not sure she can trust Josh.

But it’s not demons or the undead that are her main worry. “Rapturists,” led by the charismatic and supernaturally seductive Isra Gilz, are out to take down the Endowment and kick-off the end of days. With tainted tats Isra has turned Mackenzie’s younger brother into his inside man on this plan—and Mackenzie may have to take them both out to stop Armageddon.

Redemption comes with a price…

Caught in her usual spot between good and evil, and needing to help her family or do her job, Mackenzie has tough choices to make. She just wants ones that don’t end with everyone dead—or herself forever damned. But saving the world is going to cost. She just has to make sure the price isn’t the life of the man who keeps her from the destructive darkness that’s always calling her name.

Backstory vs. Story

One of the most common bits of advice given to young writers is to cut the first three chapters–this is often good advice. Many a manuscript that I’ve read in contests could have used the first one, two, or even the first fifty pages cut. It’s all backstory, not story. Now, don’t get me wrong–a lot of times the writer needs to have written these pages. Writing helps you get to know the characters, but then you have to ask, “Does the reader really need to know this” and, “Does the reader need to know this in right up front?” Very often, the backstory, but it’s set up stuff. So how do you know what’s backstory.

1-Things that happen before the incident that sets the main story in action all belong to Burn Baby Burnbackstory. In Burn Baby Burn, the main story starts with the heroine finding a half-demon baby on her doorstep. That’s what I want on page one to kick off the story. There are small bits of information that need to be woven in later, but having Zie (our heroine) find trouble on her porch sets the action moving. However, I still needed to know more about Zie and Josh (her partner), so I had backstory to write–but that backstory didn’t belong in the story. (You can read these pages in a free PDF here.)

2-Things that impact the character may be needed in the story–but hold onto them until they are absolutely needed. Again, in Burn Baby Burn, I had information about the characters and how they met, but there were also secrets that each of the characters were keeping. I wanted the characters to hang onto these secrets for as long as possible. Josh, the hero, had to give up his secret earlier than Zie, but Zie’s secret was one she was ready to carry to her grave–it’s a huge moment for her to trust Josh with her past, and so hanging onto this information gave it impact in the story.

3-Weave in what the reader does need to know as if it were a strong spice–meaning keep it to a sentence or three, not a paragraph or three. The key word here is “weave.”  Obviously, some backstory helps the reader into the story. You need setting and some background in order for the reader to settle into a scene. Too little information is like throwing a reader into the deep end of a pool and the reader may leave the story rather than try to muddle through. (Or the reader just may not care because there’s so little to care about.) If you think of your story like a good stew, you want a rich flavor–but you don’t want the first spoonful to overwhelm the reader. Or, if you want to use the metaphor of weaving, think of your backstory as threads. You want threads in the weave, not a big lump.

4-Look for the story to start as close to the start of the main story arc as possible. In a romance, this means you want the main characters on the pages and meeting up and having major conflict issues as soon as possible. In other stories, such as Urban Fantasy, you want to get the reader into the fantasy–and the big issues for the characters–right away. The one way to break this rule is if you can make the writing–and the information–utterly fascinating, go ahead and put in a lot of background. However, this takes a lot of talent and work.

5-When in doubt, start with conflict–start when the main character’s life is pushed out of balance. Any character who is in trouble is pretty much automatically in conflict–that character has to decide what to do next. That’s at least going to give you something interesting for the character to do (and so you have a greater chance of grabbing the reader’s interest). In Burn Baby Burn, Mackenzie Solomon is a demon hunter–so finding a half-demon baby on her doorstep gives this character an immediate problem. She has to make immediate choices–she has a problem in her life (and conflict over what to do next). In the next book in the series, Riding in on a Burning Tire, she wakes to find security from work pointing guns at her–an obvious, immediate problem. Stories that start off with the characters faced with choices and conflict and a lack of balance in their lives will tend to pull the reader in more so than a story that starts with a character getting into a car and going to work and nothing happening.

6-Watch out for using action that is only action at the star of a book. This is one of those double-edged swords–done right, action can give you a great action opening. But there are dangers. If you throw the reader into the middle of bank robbery, the reader has no idea who to root for–the robbers or the cops? If you toss the reader into the middle of action, and the writing is not clear and crisp, you can confuse and lose your readers. Action that is just action might give a movie a big bang opening, but if the writing is not brilliant, this can be boring on the printed page. In general, focus more on the characters who are in trouble–strong characters will better pull the reader into your story.