Thursday, June 30, 2011
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
I never planned on being a writer. Every since I was a little girl I wanted to be a nurse. In high school I was a member of The Future Nurse’s of America and I worked as a nurse’s aide, after school and in the summers, through the program. My goal was set and I went to college to accomplish it. I never saw my life any other way. In college my life changed dramatically. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. I was too young to realize the drastic changes that were to come in the years ahead. When the pain wouldn’t go away and my joints began to swell, I sank into depression.
A friend brought me a box of Harlequin books. I was hooked. Whatever I was going through, I could open a Harlequin and lose myself in happy ever after. They saved my sanity. The books didn’t take away the pain, but they made me feel better, made me believe in love and happiness. And they were more effective than anti-depressants.
With the nursing dream gone, I regrouped, took art classes, painted for a lot of years and read my little heart out. When the oils and turpentine made my eyes red and itchy, I had to stop. Just for a while was my plan. To keep me out of that depression minefield my husband and dad encouraged me to write one of those books I was always reading. I thought they were crazy. I’d read so many books though and an idea had been buzzing in my head. I sat down and studied several books I liked. How many chapters? How many words to a chapter and so on. Then I wrote down what was happening in each chapter and saw how the story unfolded. I paid close attention to the writing, dialogue and inner thoughts.
After that, I created my own characters and plot and wrote it down in a spiral notebook. I then did my chapters and wrote in about two sentences what was going to happen in each chapter. I had sort of a road map and I started to write. I filled about ten notebooks. I had no clue what I was doing and I knew it was worthless, but I enjoyed the process. That surprised me. I worked on those notebooks, editing and polishing, for about a year, and then typed the story and sent it off. Six months later I got a big rejection letter with suggestions on how to improve the story. I rewrote it. And rewrote it. Got about five rejections on the same manuscript. I was ready to give up. But I was hooked. I kept writing. And writing. And learning the craft. I never went back to painting.
Figuring the first book was a learning step, I decided to move on with another story. But what? I saw an article in the paper about a baby who was left on someone’s doorstep. No one knew where the baby had come from or why it was left at that house. My mind went into overdrive. I had my story. Took about a year to write and get into shape to submit. The book stayed with Intrigue for about two years with many rewrites. After all the rewrites, it was too long for an Intrigue so I was asked to send it to Super Romance. Six months later Paula Eykelhof bought it. Yes!! Now that’s a good feeling. It became The Truth About Jane Doe, my first book.
So why do I write romance? To give that special feel-good gift to others who are feeling down or out of sorts with the world. It’s escapism, yes. But with hope. We all need hope in our lives. When someone reads one of my books and they close that last page, I hope they sigh and feel that moment of hope that there is real love. Some of us will find it. Some of us will not. But we all keep dreaming. That’s romance.
That first book I rewrote so many times I finally sold. It became my tenth book and first for Harlequin American, The Christmas Cradle. There’s always hope. And, yes, I had to rewrite it.
So why do you read romances? Or write them? Or aspire to write them?
Don’t forget the free online read at http://www.eharlequin.com/ near the bottom, The Cowboy Next Door. Comments here http://tinyurl.com/64kpllx
I’m giving away a copy of the duo release with Deb Salonen, Cowboy at the Crossroads, That Cowboy’s Kids.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Freaking Out and Staying Published: The Debut Author Asks the Veteran Author About Writing and Selling a Second Book
Vicki Essex’s debut book, Her Son’s Hero, is being released by Harlequin Superromance in July. Now that she’s a “published author,” she faces the most daunting challenge yet: writing and selling her second book. She turned to Mary Sullivan, veteran Superromance author of Beyond Ordinary, coming out in the same month, for advice about how to do it all over again.
VICKI: I’ve learned so much from writing the first book. But I just got my second book idea rejected. I feel like a failure all over again. What am I doing? Why is this so hard?
MARY: The bad news, Vicki, is that it doesn’t stop being hard. The good news is that you will find ways to work through the problems—to turn off the little voice whispering that you might have run out of ideas, or that you’ve used up your one and only good one, or that you’ll never write another good book. Or what if the next one isn’t as good as the one before? Chances are it might not be. They can’t all be blockbusters. But it can still be really good and worth reading.
Utilize the self-doubts to make yourself a better writer. Use them to push yourself to learn more about writing. I just sold three more proposals to Harlequin but I still struggle with plot. Aaargh. So frustrating. By now, you’d think I would know it all, right? Not so. I’m taking a plotting course this summer. I’ll let you know how it goes ;-)
After Harlequin bought my first book I, too, was afraid I was a one-hit wonder. What if they never bought another one? But they did. I just completed my fifth contracted novel, due out from Superromance in November, and it’s amazing to me that I still haven’t stopped learning, and that I know I still have so much more to learn.
Perhaps it wouldn’t be a bad idea to look at your doubts as helping you to avoid complacency. That might be small solace when you’re trying to come up with another proposal, but take heart. I sincerely doubt you have only one book inside of you.
Another fabulous way to avoid falling into the pitfall of feeling like a failure is to turn to other authors for help. I lo-o-o-ove brainstorming with other writers, whether for my projects or theirs. It’s such a creative process and really fires up writing energy.
Another thing—if your editor gives feedback, use it. It’s like free gold. Harlequin’s editors are wonderful and really know their stuff. Maybe there is something in her feedback that can lead to a mini-breakthrough to another level in your writing—or to more ideas.
VICKI: I have all these other ideas floating around in my head, but I’m afraid I’ll destroy my author brand if I try to write other things that aren’t in line with my first book. What should I do?
MARY: First of all, changing up your writing to a different genre for a brief time can kick start your imagination in your original genre. It’s like putting something on the back burner to percolate while you work on something on the front burner. It can trigger underground creativity.
As far as publishing in more than one genre goes, some authors use pseudonyms to avoid reader confusion. So, for example, they might write Superromance under one name, and then Young Adult, or paranormal, or erotica, under another—and have a different brand with each pseudonym.
VICKI: I feel like everything I write is a cliché because I’ve heard it from me before. How do you keep your voice fresh but recognizable?
MARY: First, I try to lead with my strengths. My readers like my characters. I do far better with character development than with plot development, so I ‘learn’ as much as I can about my characters. Only when I know my characters well can I come up with plot ideas. What needs to happen to these particular characters to force change on their part, to force them into strong character arcs that the reader will find satisfying at the end of the novel? Which choices they make, which actions they take, will propel them forward and which will hold them back?
Any cliché can be made fresh with a unique voice and writing with depth of emotion. You must already have a unique voice. The proof is that Harlequin bought your novel, Her Son’s Hero. If your voice hadn’t stood out, they wouldn’t have bought the book.
Another idea: perhaps you aren’t using clichés, but simply re-using plot points you, personally, have already used too many times. I do that plenty, especially when I’m having trouble coming up with new ideas. It’s so easy to use ideas that have worked for me in the past. I have to turn to new sources to fire up my imagination. Often I will find that I’ve been reading too much of the same genre lately, so I shake up my reading by choosing either a really different genre or a really good literary novel—or even a true story—to get my brain moving.
VICKI: I feel like there’s a ticking clock as I work on this next book. What if I can’t sell another book before everyone forgets me?
MARY: Such a valid concern, Vicki. All I can say is that I’ve made the mistake of rushing the process in the past and have not been as happy with the results as I would have liked. Take your time to get the story right and have faith in romance readers. They have remarkably good memories for the stories and the authors they like.
As readers, what advice would you have to offer Vicki? Once you've read a story you really like, do you remember an author's name, even if she doesn't have another book coming out this year? Next year, would you recognize her name?
Vicki and I would like to give away a copy of our July books to one reader. They represent what is best about Harlequin Superromance—the variety available within the category. Vicki’s hero is a mixed martial artist. Mine is a quiet, intellectual newspaper publisher. There you go. One lucky winner will get two heroes for the price of one, so to speak ;-)
Sunday, June 26, 2011
By Joan Kilby
I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.
So goes the first line of the book that hooked my imagination when I was eleven years old and changed my life forever.
I CAPTURE THE CASTLE by Dodie Smith is the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra Mortmain, who lives in a decaying English castle with her eccentric writer father, her beautiful older sister, schoolboy younger brother and her artist’s-model stepmother who communes with nature by tramping about the hills on dark nights in the nude.
hired hand they can’t afford to pay, who is Greek god gorgeous and hopelessly in love with Cassandra.
Cassandra wants to be a writer and sets out to ‘capture’ the castle and its inhabitants in prose. She’s sitting in the sink because it’s the only part of the kitchen with enough daylight left to write by. (There’s no electricity in the castle.) Cassandra writes with humor, charm and poignancy about her family, their daily doings and uncertain future, and her growing love for Simon, an American whose family has inherited a nearby estate and thus become the Mortmain’s landlords.
I’ve re-read the book over a dozen times. If I read it today for the first time I don’t know if it would have the same magic, possibly not. But that doesn’t matter. Each time I read it I’m transported back to my youth, to my enchantment with the writing and the characters. And to my epiphany when I suddenly thought, if Cassandra can aspire to be a writer, I can, too. So began my lifelong, if sporadic, habit of keeping a journal, and the ambition to write a book myself one day.
Dodie Smith was primarily a playwright. Her only other novels were ONE HUNDRED AND ONE DALMATIONS and the sequel, THE STARLIGHT BARKING. It would have been nice if she’d written more novels. But thank heavens she wrote I CAPTURE THE CASTLE! If she hadn’t, aside from depriving the world of a beloved story, just maybe I wouldn’t have become a writer and I’d never have found my passion.
Writers, is there a particular book that inspired you to become a writer? Readers, is there a book that sparked your life-long love of reading? I’d love to hear about the books that were important to you in your youth and helped shape who you became.
I’m giving away a copy (reader’s choice) of any of tIhe books in my recent Summerside Trilogy - GREAT EXPECTATIONS, IN HIS GOOD HANDS, or TWO AGAINST THE ODDS. For more info go to www.joankilby.com
"FREAKING OUT AND STAYING PUBLISHED: THE DEBUT AUTHOR ASKS THE VETERAN AUTHOR ABOUT WRITING AND SELLING A SECOND BOOK."Vicki and Mary will be giving away their July books, His Son's Hero and Beyond Ordinary to one lucky poster.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Romance Writers of America
31st Annual ConferenceNew York, New YorkJune 28 - July 1, 2011
Good Luck to our Super finalists!
2011 RITA Finalists
Thursday, June 23, 2011
I grew up on a farm/ranch in Texas. My dad raised cotton, corn and cattle. He also drilled water wells and was the constable in our community. He was busy and often worked late at night. My three brothers and I rarely saw him, but Sunday was usually our day unless there was an important job that needed his attention. After early mass and a big dinner my mom had prepared, we’d go to the picture show (that’s what we called it back then). And it was always a western. My dad wouldn’t watch anything else. I grew up on Gary Cooper (High Noon), Glenn Ford (3:10 To Yuma), Gregory Peck (The Gunfighter), and John Wayne (Red River, Rio Bravo, etc.). “Saddle up, pilgrim.” John Wayne couldn’t act, but it didn’t matter. His strong male persona was enough. Wagon Train (Robert Fuller), Bonanza (Michael Landon), Big Valley (Lee Majors) and Rawhide were TV favorites at our house and I had a hard time taking my eyes off Clint Eastwood, Rowdy Yates. A-ah!
I’ll always remember those Sunday afternoons. My brothers couldn’t wait for the shootout with the bad guys. They were always making gun noises during the movie. I couldn’t wait for that last scene where the hero rides away with the heroine, sometimes holding her hand. I just knew they were going to live happily ever after. I would be going, “Ah.” My brothers would be sticking their fingers in their mouths and gagging at the scene.
After the movie we’d go for ice cream and my brothers would be acting out the fights and the shootouts. I’d be daydreaming. At that age I wasn’t even thinking about being an author, but those Sunday afternoons and those westerns influenced me in ways I never realized until many years later. Cowboys have a way of sneaking into my books. Maybe it has something to do with the unwritten code of honor and moral fiber I saw in the heroes of those old movies. Fighting for a cause and willing to die for it. Throw in a romance and it can’t get any better.
In Dad’s memory we watched True Grit on Saturday night. I don’t know what he would have thought of Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn. Not sure Jeff pulled it off, but I enjoyed the movie. Although, I had to close my eyes a couple of times. As a writer I found myself wanting to change the ending. When Mattie is grown and goes back to see the Marshall, I wanted the Texas Ranger to be with her. Wouldn’t it have been great if they had gotten together over the years? Oh yeah, I would have made the ending into a romance. Just can’t help myself.
Starting Monday, June 27, I have a free online read at http://www.eharlequin.com/, The Cowboy Next Door. Yep, another cowboy. It kicks off The Hardin Boys Series starting in August with The Texan’s Secret. Please stop by and say hi.
Ah, the good ol’ days…
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
What is it about a long, hot summer that gets us all hot and bothered. Is it just me, or is it hard to even think when it's this hot? My second book for Super will be out in December, but "A Southern Reunion" is set in Georgia during the spring and summer. Lots of good old Southern Gothic elements color this story since I've had it in my head for a long time now. It has a bit of mystery, a bit of heat and a lot of secrets and revelations. Of course, this story includes a rambling plantation house and stately live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. Oh, and the hero is named Cal after one of my favorite character in John Steinbeck's "East of Eden."
So tell me, what are you doing to stay cool during the summer? We just returned from a beach trip, but it sure was might hot on that white Florida sand! Whatever you're doing, I hope it will include finding a nice spot to read a good book. And come December, when it's cold and snowy and bleak, I hope you'll remember to look for "A Southern Reunion". Hopefully, my story will take you right back to summer!
Monday, June 20, 2011
Despite everything, I had a fabulous time on my book tour with a bunch of other YA authors (including Sophie Jordan, Jennifer Archer, Jordan Dane, Tera Lynn Childs, Mari Mancusi and Lara Chapman-- almost all of us romance authors who are new to YA) in May and early June, so I thought I'd share some pictures of it with you.
|We're at Book People in Austin, TX talking to some fabulous YA book bloggers.|
|Here I am with a YA fan, Jennifer Archer and Tera Lynn Childs in a Barnes and Noble in Hurst, TX|
|Talking about the future of the publishing industry with a bunch of really informed readers :)|
|And here's some of the fun books and swag available on the tour!|
So, what are your plans for the rest of the summer? Are you super busy or just kicking back? Leave a comment and be entered to win a copy of my dark YA mermaid paranormal, Tempest Rising :) Happy Monday!
Sunday, June 19, 2011
This week's daily drawing winners...
Monday, June 13 , 2011
A prize of Mary Brady's choice!
Tuesday, June 14 , 2011
A book from Darlene Gardner's backlist plus a chocolate bar
Wednesday, June 15 , 2011
A download of any Superromance book of the winner's choice
Thursday, June 16 , 2011
Babs, Bri, Rula Sinara
A copy each of Married by June by Ellen Hartman
**Please use our contact page to claim your prize**
And don't miss next week's bloggers...
Monday, June 20, 2011
Tracy will be talking about her experiences on tour promoting her new Young Adult novel, Tempest Rising, and giving away a copy of the book to one poster.
Tuesday, June 21 , 2011
"THE LONG HOT SUMMER"
Lenora will be giving away a copy of her Superromance, Because of Jane
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
"COLLABORATING AND FLYING SOLO"
Sarah will be giving away a copy of A Summer Reunion, an anthology she has contributed to along with Kasey Michaels and Teresa Southwick
Thursday, June 23, 2011