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Things That Go Bump

When I first started writing, I started off writing SF and Fantasy. This was partly due to being in my teens–I was on a total SF/Fantasy kick for reading. And it was what I was drawn to. Years later, I switched over to Regency romance–quite a jump most folks think, but not really. You see–it’s all about the world building. And the emotions.

In between the SF/Fantasy and Regency (and there’s a bigger cross-over in that audience than you’d ever know, given the Regency dancing that’s shown up at most SF conventions), I did some YA Horror stories–stuff that goes bump in the dark. Again, it’s all about the world building–and the emotions.

EdgeWalkersNow I’m back to SF/Fantasy for an edgy Urban Fantasy–Edge Walkers. This is one of those things where you shake your head as a writer and wonder what are you doing…but then you write the story anyway. When I wrote the story, I needed a change up from the Regency writing. I also wanted to get back to my roots with SF/Fantasy, and wanted to do a zombie book that worked for me (most of them don’t, however, I adore the movie, Zombieland–but Edge Walkers is nothing like that). I also wanted to do a book where the sex needed to be in the story–I was at a phase where I’d been reading too man books with sexy scenes that just seemed to have the scenes stuffed in there to add the sex. That didn’t work for me.

The trouble with all of this is that Edge Walkers isn’t part of the Urban Fantasy series I’m doing–the Demons & Warders series with Burn Baby Burn and Riding in on a Burning Tire, which is due out soon (and the third book is going to be Angels Don’t Burn). It’s not a Regency, and is nothing like those books in tone, so it’s going to have to find it’s own readership. I love the book, but then you always love your babies–even the challenged ones.

But now it’s out I do plan to get back to the Regencies–I have plans there. And I’m more than ready to step back into that other, lighter world.

That’s the best part of taking a diversion with the writing–it leaves you eager to go back to the other stuff.

Will Edge Walkers do well on it’s own? Maybe–or maybe it’ll be a grand experiment that leaves everyone (even me) shaking their heads. But a writer’s got to go what a writer’s got to do. It would just be nice, from the marketing side of things, if all my ideas fit better into a single box.

 

Best Advice from RWA National: The Promise To Your Readers

It was an upbeat conference this year. Editors didn’t look so hunted. Those writers not yet published didn’t look so desperate—probably because the decision to be published is now in their own hands. And the self publishing panels weren’t just about how to format an ebook, but actually had a lot of great info.

My favorite workshop was held by Barbara Freethy, Bella Andre, and Tina Folsom—three ladies who’ve done very well for themselves and who have shown that self published does not mean bad books or terrible sales. The best advice I heard came from Bella Andre who talked about the contract a writer has with a reader—a contract to deliver not just a good read but a certain level of sensuality in the books. She’s established as a secondary identity for a different type of book (and no, I’m not going to tell you the name—you’ll have to hunt it up yourself). But she did the new name because the books offer a different level of sex in the books—it’s a different “type” of book.

Now, I’d been looking at genre for “different”—and thinking that of course that’s why you needed a pen name. But this hit home—of course it’s not genre. It’s more about the feel of the book—what type of book is it. And that got me looking at my own bookshelves again.

I read sexy books—love the good ones. But it’s not my primary read. And that got me thinking.

Paths of Desire is a book I did to break out to a larger book and a more sweeping historical. I amped up the sex in the book—probably too much so. It’s a good book—or I think so. But I got to thinking about my readers. I’d had one reader post a one star review—and I think she’s right. It’s not the book for her, but she’s my reader. And it’s a brave new world.

This lead me to do an edit and I’m bringing out Paths of Desire: The Sweet Regency Edition. It’s more like my other Regencies—not exactly the door shutting on the sex (it’s a romance, and these folks become lovers, and that’s a vital part of the plot), but making it more about the emotion and less about the body parts. A new cover and a new ISBN denotes the new version of the book. And now readers can choose which version they like better.

I’m also going to be looking closer at my urban fantasy books, too—maybe I’ll bring out the hot version and the plot version and let readers pick which they prefer. Or maybe I’ll just bring them into the “Shannon Donnelly” version so that no pen name is needed—it’ll be a change of genre, but not a change of tone.

Either way should be interesting.

So what do you think—hot or not? Or is it best to have a choice that you the reader can make in which edition you like best?

The Pitch, The Blurb, The Writer’s Headache

It’s not enough to write a book–you have to figure out the pitch…the blurb…the exciting sentence that’ll make someone want to read a book. So you have to switch from a writing mind to a marketing mind, which is not always easy. But at the Desert Dreams conference this past weekend, I had a “duh” moment–this blurb is the external conflict for the main character.

This is a “duh” moment since it seems obvious, but I’d be struggling with fitting external/internal/more than I need into a short, catchy sentence. I know some folks like high concept–I’m more about interesting conflict.

Paths of DesireSo I’ve been applying this insight to the books, and came up with this for Paths of Desire:

NO MAN’S MISTRESS…

She wants a rich lord for a husband—she won’t end like her mother, abandoned and broken.

NO WOMAN’S FOOL…

He wants to prove to his friend she’s the wrong woman—he knows too well the pain of a bad marriage.

WHEN AN ACTRESS CROSSES PATHS WITH AN ADVENTURER IN 1813 LONDON…

The last thing either wants is to fall in love, but when desire leads to a passion that won’t be denied, how can the heart do anything but follow?

This is way shorter than what I had and I actually think (hope) it’s far more catchier. Can you match these others to my books? (Click on the phrase to see the book.)

Reformed rakes make the best husbands–or do they?

Will it take a Gypsy thief to steal the heart of a rake?

A girl who can tame any wild creature….

A Gypsy lord out to redeem his name…

Some of the lines came out as questions, some as core situations.  The situation ones obviously needed a bit more, but they are at the heart of the book.

So…better maybe? We’ll see in the sales.

Novelist’s Inc’s Cast of Characters

Cast of Characters CoverNovelists Inc. is the only writers organization devoted exclusively to the needs of multi-published novelists. They’re also doing a lot to innovate these days, and help authors publish–this includes starting to do some publishing too.

Today, April 3, NINC is bringing out  a fiction anthology, Cast of Characters, with twenty-eight original stories, eleven of which are from New York Times bestselling authors that reads like a who’s who.

Contributors include:

CATHERINE ANDERSON
VICTORIA ALEXANDER
JO BEVERLEY
BARBARA BRETTON
JULIE COMPTON
TANYA ANNE CROSBY
CAROLE NELSON DOUGLAS
ROSEMARY EDGHILL
ANGIE FOX
HEATHER GRAHAM
VICKI HINZE
CJ LYONS
KATIE MACALISTER
ASHLEY MCCONNEL
JULIE ORTOLON
LAURA RESNICK
PATRICIA RICE
DEB STOVER
VICTORIA STRAUSS

And, as they say, more. It’s not quite a cast of thousands, but as NINC puts it, you do get “a collection of unforgettable personalities.”

Stories range over all genres–so there’s lots to enjoy, including:

  •   #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander delivers her first short story with a contemporary setting – as does New York Times bestselling author Tanya Anne Crosby.
  • New York Times bestselling author Jo Beverley brings back the hero of her novel Forbidden Magic.
  • New York Times bestselling author Angie Fox creates a new Biker Witches story.
  • New York Times bestselling author Katie MacAlister tells the story of one of her most beloved teen characters as an adult.
  • National bestselling author Julie Ortolon tells the beloved Pearl Island story her fans have been clamoring for.
  • National bestselling author Diana Peterfreund offers the origin story for one of the most important magical items in her “killer unicorn” series.

You can buy Cast of Characters from from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple and all other online booksellers. And Novelists Inc. is offering a free e-book of “set pieces” from upcoming member novels. You can get this volume free at the Novelists Inc. website, www.ninc.com.

To read more, head on over to Fiction Studio (Lou’s site — he edited the anthology and is the current NINC president). Or just go buy the book–short stories are a great way to find new authors to love.

Joan Vincent Guest Blogger – Honour’s Debt

Welcome guest blogger, Joan Vincent…

Joan VincentHi, I’m Joan Vincent. I live in Kansas which is a long way from Enlgand and the Regency period. And I have a minor in American History. Who knew I would read over 200 regency romances in a month one summer long ago and decide I would like to take my hand at writing one? Certainly surprised me, delightfully so.

Honour’s Debt is the first book in my Honour series. It started out far different than it is today. It began it as a sweet rather simple regency like all my previous books and then, in chapter five my villian was killed. That rather stunned me. I needed at least 50,000 more words and what’s a story without a villian?  My sister said “find a worse villian.” After ruminating on it a few days I sat down and just starting typing. (I do plot but I’ve found if I don’t let my characters do what they want the story just doesn’t go anywhere. I once thought I created the characters and I’m in charge but something else is at work too) To my amazement a very dastardly villian–a master French spy appeared. Along with him came a young emigré pursing him. When I told my sister I didn’t know who this young man was she suggested i use for a character from an earlier book. The story reshaped itself; it became an entirely different more complex story. And it flowed onto the pages. In a week I had sketches for six more books but that it for another time.

Honor's DebtI didn’t fall in love with my hero but I like and respect him very much. Truth be told I did fall in love with the young emigré. He was six when he first appeared in the first regency I ever wrote –not the first one published. It was very spooky when I learned one of the men who tried to kidnap him in that book was the French master spy in Debt. These two men are in every book in the series.

The hardest part of writing the book was a multitude of research. After years of researching for and writing regencies I am grounded in a lot of regency history. But I had never had a hero who was in the military–much less the cavalry–the 15th Light Dragoons. I chose the 15th after research revealed they were in Spain in 1808. Then the real work began. There was the question of Light Dragoons or Hussars–you can read reams of information and still wonder about that. Also what color was their uniform, and in particular the facings they wore–each regiment’s is different. Once I got the details I needed I knew the hero’s motivation was grounded in what happened in Spain. More research was necessary to find the location where the action would take place in England. The setting had to have smuggling which led me to a study of Martello towers. More investigation followed on cottages. I always sketch out my character’s homes and this story involved several.

I like to be as accurate as possible. Accuracy in detail grounds the story, but plot drives it. Major Quentin Bellaport, Viscount Broyal sets out to redeem a debt of honour but falling in love was not part of the plan. Intent on saving Maddie Vincoer from the maelstrom of a funeral, a wedding, and kidnappings, he can only pray she’ll forgive his deceit. Will she believe she is not a pawn to his Honour’s Debt?

Egg-cerpt Exchange – Susan Wingate

“Spider Brains” by Susan Wingate

Information from Susan:

Spider Brains by Susan WIngate

Susan Wingate’s Debut YA Novel <> Available May 15, 2012

If you would like to read SPIDER BRAINS on my blog, I’ll be posting this story daily (with the occasional break by some amazing guest author postings) and chapter-by-chapter. Press Here to Read an Installment of SPIDER BRAINS.

A Short Synopsis of SPIDER BRAINS:  If one were to bake the story SPIDER BRAINS into a cake, they should sprinkle in Charlotte’s Web, toss in one Jellicle Cat, then stir in a little Spiderman—but as a girl and not in that goofy latex outfit! A tale of hope, transformation, transition and inspiration.

After her father’s death last year and, now, in the throes of a gnarly teacher’s whim as she thinks ahead to college (or really just dreams of getting into college), a small black arachnid bites fifteen-year-old Susie Speider on the finger. The bite sends her nights into fantastical dreams about taking revenge on a teacher who, ultimately, holds her college aspirations in the palm of her cold calloused hand. But, after Susie figures out the dreams are real, she ups the ante by visiting the teacher regularly… as the spider! And, oh, by the way! Who is that boy spider munching on flies, hiding over there in the corner? A story of loss and forgiveness, tolerance and kindness, Susie Speider deals with the death of her father while Matt Ryder–the new neighbor boy–has just lost his mother. Ultimately, SPIDER BRAINS poses some important questions about how to treat Attention-Deficit-Disorder.

“Simply put, Susan Wingate is a master of the written word.  In SPIDER BRAINS, she weaves a heart-warming tale full of wit and intrigue: a nod to Kafka’s Metamorphosis in a quirky blend with The Princess Diaries.  There are laugh out loud moments with the teenage protagonist, Susie Speider, whose voice was well executed and credible.  But there are also moments that tug at the heartstrings and even bring a tear to the eye, as we see Susie’s angst when she faces pain from the past, as well as redemption through the relationship with her mother. Whether or not you’re a fan of YA literature, you’ll love SPIDER BRAINS.  But don’t expect anything ordinary!” ~Joshua Graham, award-winning, no. 1 Amazon & no. 1 Barnes & Noble bestselling author of “Darkroom” (S&S/Howard Books) and “Beyond Justice”)

“A heartwarming story full of laughs, great friendship, a touch of romance, and lots of fun facts about spiders and more. Every now and then a wonderful book like this one comes along that entertains while it teaches. I look forward to reading SPIDER BRAINS with my kids!” ~Ann Charles, award-winning author of the Deadwood Mystery Series

Pre-Sale Orders Now Being Taken Thru

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Roberts Press

 Read more about #1 Amazon Bestseller & Award-winning author, Susan Wingate at: www.susanwingate.com.

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Egg-Cerpt Exchange – Tina Gayle’s Book

The Executive Wives’ Club SeriesFour women…One fatal car wreck…Everyone’s lifes changes…

Blurb for “The Unwilling Widow”:Jennifer Larson, having lost her husband, friends and the perfect life she’d had plan, now faces the biggest challenge of her life, moving into an unplanned future. While the rest of the Executive Wife Club is still wallowing in the past, Jen is tempted into the future by a sexy chiropractor, Hagan Chaney.But does he really love her or is he only after her money like everyone else?Excerpt:Friday night sitting at a booth in a nice, romantic restaurant, Jen silently wished she could enjoy the subdued atmosphere, and order a rib eye steak. Instead, her hands shook and her stomach churned with doubt. The survival skills, she’d learned after becoming a real estate agent demanded a calm composed front, but she couldn’t pull it off.

Hell, who was she fooling?

After ten years without a date, what made her believe she could do this again? She stared at the menu. Could she even swallow a bite of beef? And if not, what should she order?

She lifted her gaze to the drop-dead gorgeous man on the other side of the table. Hagan Cheney, a Greek god incarnated, had strawberry blonde hair glowing like gold around his head. Wide shoulders and strong arms encased in a hunter-green cashmere sweater. Apollo, himself, wouldn’t look any better.

Why in heavens name did he ask her on a date?

And why did she care?

She had no plans other than a casual dinner for two.

He glanced up and a pretty-boy grin crossed his lips. The twinkle in his hazel eyes softened the square line of his jaw. “So have you decided what you want?”

Heat simmered low in her belly. Oh, yeah, answering that question the wrong way could get her into a world of trouble.
Find out more on

Tina’s Book Page
Visit Tina at
www.tinagayle.net

www.tinagayle.blogspot.com

Paths of Desire – A Regency Historical Romance

Paths of DesirePATHS OF DESIRE

On Amazon Kindle

ISBN: 978-0-9831423-9-3

With too many secrets in her past, and too little future as an actress, Theodosia Newell wants one thing more than all else—security. She’s seen her mother abandoned, her younger brother die, and she’s vowed never to be poor. But then her path crosses that of a man who tempts her to abandon caution and all thought for the future for a passionate affair. Can she find the courage to break from her deepest fears? And will her love prove enough to save them both?

Born with a soul for adventure, David Llewellyn cannot resist a challenge—and his enthusiasm for life is as magnetic as his personality. But two women share his life, and only one can be his. Will his stubborn refusal to make a choice between them lead him to lose everything? Or will he find, in the journey to the lost city he dreams of discovering, a path to a deeper love than he thought possible?

For ten years, the affair between David and Thea goes from passion to love. Lives are changed.  Secrets come out. Marriages end. And new ones begin. Through it all, the desire of two strong-willed people lead them to clash, and to eventually find their own path–to each other and to facing the need and love they share.  From London to Italy to Syria, the Paths of Desire lead them on a journey they must make together.

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My first step into a self-published novel — I’ll be posting updates each month to let you know how it’s going.

New Cover, New Book – Paths of Desire

Paths of DesirePaths of Desire comes out as an eBook this week—my first venture both into self-publishing and my first Regency Historical romance. I’ve been bringing out my backlist of Regency romances, and that’s encouraged me to take this next step.

There are several reasons to take “Paths” on this path, the main one being I really want the book out in print and in reader’s hands. It’s a book about courage and stepping out onto risky paths, so it seems to be one that really fits into new ventures.

It’s a book I wrote a few years back—my step into writing a longer Regency Historical. But it ended up being smack in the middle between being a Historical romance and a Historical novel—there are elements of both, and therefore it’s a hard book to market to publishers. Traditional publishers don’t know what to do with it. It covers ten years, a long time for a romance, and the hero is a married man—unhappily so. That’s a really hard sell to any romance publisher. But that’s something I wanted to deal with in this story. Fiction is a place to look at life, and romances can tackle issues of infidelity and what does it mean to love someone when you have ties to others. Yes, I could have pulled that out, changed the character to better fit the market, but this one stuck with me—this story needed to be told.

It’s a story about paths crossing—about how sometimes the timing for a relationship isn’t right, and then it is. The heroine struggles with her own issues—her need for security after having grown up on the streets of London and seen her younger brother die due to not having the money for a doctor. And also her realization that her acting talents are never going to get her to the top of her craft—limitations are a hard thing for anyone to come to terms with. The hero has both a loveless marriage with a wife who doesn’t really like sex, and a wanderlust that keeps taking him from home—he’s an adventurer, and the wrong man to love if you’re looking for that illusion of security. As with all my books, I wanted to give all the characters a “star moment” in the book—that was fun. It was great fun to research London theaters of the early 1800’s and to also be able to use Lady Hester Stanhope in a story—she’s the larger than life type of character that you could never hope to create and have believable because she defies all the conventions of the time.

So “Paths” is about to take its own path—and it’s actually been hard to let it go (compulsive editing and checking and I know I’ve still left typos in there or formatting stuff where Word is not playing nice with eBook formatting). But it’s been an adventure to get this ready to go out in the world—it’ll be another one to see if readers like something that’s a little different. But that’s the point of the book—we all have to find our own paths, and the courage to follow them if we’re to be worthy of our desires.

Look for Paths of Desire as Amazon Kindle eBook, exclusive to Amazon until April 2012.

Free Books at Amazon — What’s All the Fuss?

Amazon’s launched their “Select” program — meaning that Amazon Prime members can read enrolled books for free. These books have to be exclusive to Amazon for now. Authors decided if they want to opt in or not, and are compensated from a pool of funds that all participating authors share in based on total number of books read through the program. And you would think from all the fuss that the sky is falling yet again. (It used to be falling about every couple of years, but technology has accelerated this so that it’s falling at least once a month now.)

Personally, I think it’s an author’s decision what to do with his or her own writing. Give it away, sell it to the highest bidder, sign a contract with a publisher (a good one, or a even one that’s going to make your life hell)…it’s a personal choice and we all get to make ’em.

For Amazon’s program, I did sign up. I’ve two books enrolled, and I’m about to bring out a new book and put it in the program. It’s an experiment, but isn’t everything right now in this ever shifting market. However, what really got me excited about the program is that fact that it works like a digital library.

As a kid, I got my reading start in the local library. I still remember the pleasure of getting my very own first library card so I could check out my own books (instead of checking them out under my mum’s card). Free books at the library made me into a life-long reader. So free books online–a way for folks to access books and read more. That’s fantastic.

I don’t expect to get rich or famous from the program — I’m one of many authors. I do hope I’ll get additional exposure and perhaps sales of other books will go up — I know if I like a book, I don’t just want a copy from a library, I want a copy at hand. I don’t really think of this as “losing sales” — a sale isn’t a sale until money has exchanged hands, so I think folks looking for free books are folks looking for free books.

As to what anyone thinks of the program, I recommend taking a deep breath and going and reading the actual terms. There’s a lot of not quite true facts being batted around, and a whole lot more about how this is going to put other folks out of business, and given the number of books that are out there I think this is more than unlikely. There are tons of books out there, and exclusive distributions have been around for a long time in a lot of different outlets.The sky is not falling, publishing is not dead, books are still going to be around, and that means we’ll have booksellers, too.

It’s up to each author to decide for yourself if it’s right for you or not. Make the call that you can live with. If you don’t like the terms, don’t opt in. If you do, try it out. It’s that simple. No one is an idiot or a fool for making a choice here. And that’s the real joy of being an author right now–there are choices. Lots of them. And if you just want to post your books for free on your site, go for it. We all write for different reasons, and it’s about time we started to celebrate that diversity of choice.