Friday, December 19, 2014

BOOK COVER FRIDAY: WHEN THE PLANETS ALIGN by Kate McMurray (Releases Today!)

   
WELCOME TO BOOK COVER FRIDAYS!
Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from one of
New York's Leading Romance Authors. Enjoy!



WHEN THE PLANETS ALIGN
by Kate McMurray
Dreamspinner Press


***  THIS BOOK RELEASES TODAY! ***
  
  

Monday, December 15, 2014

WHAT I SHOULD HAVE ASKED MY AGENT

by Julia Kelly


TIP:  Don’t feel ashamed about asking your prospective agent lots of questions openly.


Getting an agent was a tiring, emotionally draining process. I wanted to make the right move for my career, but how was I supposed to do that? I did some research and went through all of the steps you’re supposed to. I looked over the contract my agent sent me and asked a lot of questions. That was good, but now that I’ve had some time to develop relationships with other authors at different stages of their careers and heard the stories—good and bad—I realize that I’d missed some major points.

I’m fortunate that I lucked into a good agent whom I trust, but if I could do it all over again, I would tell myself to ask the following questions before signing just to make sure we were on the same page. • How does your agent-to-be handle non-compete and option clauses? If she doesn’t tell you straight off the bat that she will do everything in her power to fight them or change the language so that it is less restrictive on you, you might want to look elsewhere.

How does your agent-to-be handle rights? Not only do you want to make sure you can get your rights back if your publisher folds, she also should know how to handle digital, foreign, movie, and merchandizing rights. If she works with another agent or lawyer in those negotiations, who is that person?

What if you want to be a hybrid author? For many writers, a clear delineation between traditional and indie publication doesn’t make sense for their careers. They do both. How does your agent-to-be feel about you working on indie projects? Would she want a cut of an indie book that she does not represent? Is she supportive of you going solo for part of your career?

Can you break up with your agent if you need to? No one wants to think about an agent/author relationship going south, but sometimes it happens. Read the clauses of your contract dealing with separation very carefully. If you have any doubts about your ability to understand contract language, get a lawyer. You do not want to wind up stuck in a contractual relationship that’s soured.

What is your agent-to-be’s style, and what do you want from her? I think this is one of the most important questions to ask yourself. Some agents will do serious, line-by -line developmental edits. Others would rather you work with critique partners to get your manuscript in shape so they can focus on selling. Some are very friendly with clients while others keep clients at a more professional distance. You don’t have to be best friends, but you should be working with someone whose style fits yours.

Don’t feel ashamed about asking your prospective agent lots of questions openly. You’re doing what you need to in order to help protect the health of your career. Be polite, but also be informed.

And when in doubt, talk to your friends. There’s a good chance that someone in your chapter or in your personal network of authors knows someone else who is represented by a particular agent. Be discrete and gracious, but make sure to get the answers you need before signing.♥


Julia Kelly writes sexy historical and contemporary romances about smart women and the men who love them.  When she’s not writing, Julia is a TV news producer who bosses reporters around and chases breaking news stories. Her first book, One Week in Wyoming, came out this past September. Visit her at www.juliakellywrites.com.



Friday, December 12, 2014

BOOK COVER FRIDAYS: THE MUSE by Jessica Evans (Cover Revealed!)

  
WELCOME TO BOOK COVER FRIDAYS!
Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from one of
New York's Leading Romance Authors. Enjoy!


THE MUSE
by Jessica Evans
 http://jessicaevans.merytonpress.com/

**Debuts December 15!**
  

Monday, December 8, 2014

CRAFT CORNER: DONE! NOW GET STARTED ON THAT SECOND DRAFT

by Isabo Kelly   
   

TIP:  Ignore the fact that you need to fix a full-length novel, and concentrate on the baby steps required to get there.



Post NaNoWriMo, you’ll be in one of two positions: (1) You have part of a draft written but still have to finish your book. (2) First draft is done.

If you’re at (1), go forth and write more! Enjoy. Have fun. Write on to The End.  If you’re at (2), yay! Congratulations. Celebrate. Do a happy dance.

Then it’s time to get to work.

Like the blank page of a first draft, starting the editing phase can be daunting, especially if you’re a writer like me who believes in the shitty first draft philosophy—that first draft is the raw clay of your story. Editing is when you take that clay and form it into something readable.

Now some of you edit as you go and write a much cleaner first draft, but NaNo is about writing fast without taking the time to stop and edit along the way. This means you’ll have a draft that will need at least a little work. After the deliriously creative binge of NaNo, switching your brain to edit mode can be tough. Getting started can take a little effort. Just like getting that word count down every day, returning to the story to craft and sculpt it will take determination on your part. And maybe a little bribery. Here are some tips to get you to the page for edits:

(1) Take some time away from your story. Write something else. Read a few books from that ToBeRead pile. Go to the movies. Enter the world again and interact with other people who aren’t writers. Whatever gets your head out of your story. This has the duel benefit of giving you distance from the work so you can approach the edit with a fresh eye, and giving you time to get excited about reading the story again. If you got all the way to The End, you liked the story you were telling. It’s fun to go back and read it again, revisit those beloved characters, remind yourself what they got up to. That old saying “distance makes the heart grow fonder” works really well with your Work-In-Progress. If you’re excited to see the story again, opening it up to begin editing will be a lot easier.

(2) Make a plan to tackle the edits. This will be individual to your style, effort, and time constraints, as well as what the story needs. There are as many options as there are writers. For example, you could start by doing a full read through and taking edit notes, then go back to implement the changes you need to make. You might want to go in looking at the “big picture” stuff first, then do another draft to tackle the little details. You might start with getting the spelling and grammar sorted, then diving into story issues. The plan itself is entirely up to you and should fit the way you work best (and this can change for each and every book you write). The point is to have a plan. Just the process of figuring out how you’ll tackle edits makes it easier to open the manuscript and get started. Knowing where and how to start takes away the anxiety of facing the book.

(3) Break the task down into small “bites”. It can be pretty daunting to think about writing 50,000 words in a month, all as one big effort. But if you break that down into the daily word count you need to achieve to make the 50,000 words in 30 days, that 1,667 words seems a lot more doable. The same applies to edits. Break it down into little chunks you can achieve every day. Give yourself a certain number of pages, a single chapter, a few paragraphs, or even one scene to finish each day. Whatever breakdown works best for you and keeps you from feeling overwhelmed, that’s the one to use. Ignore the fact that you need to fix a full-length novel, and concentrate on the baby steps required to get there.

(4) Bribery. I was serious when I mentioned bribery above. This is the technique I use most often to get my computer on and my head into my edits. One of the things that makes editing hard to start is that it takes a different kind of concentration from first draft writing, often more concentration, and definitely a lot more critical thinking. So bribe yourself to open the manuscript. “If I edit for fifteen minutes, I can watch the new episode of Walking Dead.” “If I get that one scene finished, I can go out for drinks with my friends.” “As soon as I finish this paragraph, I get a cookie.” “Once I edit that sentence, I get to read a for-fun book.” Whatever it takes. Use the bribe of your choosing. It just has to be motivating enough to make you accomplish your editing goal (so no “If I get this scene done, I’ll do the dishes. That is not a good bribe. Well, unless you really really enjoy doing dishes.)


Turning the initial burst of creativity that spilled onto the page into a fully fleshed out story is as rewarding as reaching The End on your first draft. Using these four tips can help you start, and once you get going on the second draft, you’ll be off and running, making that story not only readable, but un-put-downable.♥



Isabo Kelly is the award-winning author of multiple fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal romances. She accidentally won NaNoWriMo when drafting her latest release, WARRIOR’S DAWN (FIRE AND TEARS #3)—she hadn’t actually meant to do NaNo, but the story spilled out. For more on Isabo and her books visit her at www.isabokelly.com, follow her on Twitter @IsaboKelly, or friend her on Facebook www.facebook.com/IsaboKelly

Friday, December 5, 2014

BOOK COVER FRIDAY: A WALK THROUGH FIRE by Felice Stevens

   
WELCOME TO BOOK COVER FRIDAYS!
Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from one of
New York's Leading Romance Authors. Enjoy!



A WALK THROUGH FIRE
by Felice Stevens
LooseID



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

CRAFT CORNER: INTERNAL VS. EXTERNAL CONFLICT

by Isabo Kelly




Conflict is the heart of fiction. Without conflict there is no story. In times past, most genre fiction was considered to be dominated by external conflict, while literary fiction was the playground of internal conflict. Times have changed. Most modern commercial fiction utilizes both internal and external conflict to deepen a story, add tension, give depth to characters, and add layers that make a story hard to put down.

So what’s the difference between the two?

Simply put, internal conflict is the main character in conflict with some inner demon. This conflict is emotional and psychological, an inner struggle between the protagonist and herself. External conflict revolves around the story goal. It’s essentially the plot. Your protagonist wants something and is prevented from getting it by external forces. This external force doesn’t have to be a conscious opponent (for example, if that force is nature). It just has to prevent the protagonist from achieving their goal.

The most engaging stories ensure these two types of conflict revolve around and interact with each other. If the internal conflict doesn't affect the character’s pursuit of their goal and knock up against their external conflict, readers will feel like they’re getting two, disconnected stories. Weaving the two types of conflict together gives layers and punch to your fiction.

The external conflict will push the protagonist into action, requiring her to make decisions and difficult choices.

The internal conflict will affect which choices she makes and the way she feels about her decisions.

A good way to understand this interweaving is through a simple example:

Jane is left her beloved aunt’s ranch when her aunt dies. Jane wants to sell her aunt’s ranch because the life Jane has always dreamed of having is in NYC, but the only person willing to buy the ranch is her aunt’s worst enemy (EXTERNAL CONFLICT).  Jane wants to honor her aunt’s wishes and memory because she was the only person in Jane’s life who didn’t make her feel like a selfish petty person, but to do that will require Jane giving up her dreams and risks her growing bitter and resentful (INTERNAL CONFLICT).

Dean wants to buy his neighbor’s land because he needs to expand his ranch (a ranch his family has owned for generations) or risk the business failing, but the person who could sell him the ranch refuses to (EXTERNAL CONFLICT). Dean has failed in other businesses—something that resulted in ridicule from his father. He needs to make this family business a success because he’s desperate for his father’s approval, but to succeed he’ll have to take actions he considers unethical and immoral (INTERNAL CONFLICT).


This example demonstrates several things. First, the external goals of the two main characters are in conflict, which creates the plot. They both want something but the other person is preventing them from getting it. Jane wants to sell her land to someone her aunt would approve of (not Dean). Dean wants the land desperately enough to run off any other buyers (leaving Jane with few options). Their internal conflicts complicate how they deal with this external conflict. In fact, if these were two different types of people, there would be no external conflict. If Jane didn’t care about her aunt’s memory and wasn’t worried about living up to the “selfish” title bestowed on her by others, she’d just sell the land to Dean and be done with it. If Dean didn’t care about his father’s approval and wasn’t terrified of failing at yet another business—this one his family’s business—he wouldn’t bother running off other potential buyers of his neighbor’s land.

But because of who these people are, and because of the inner conflicts they struggle with, their decisions and choices affect how the story progresses, essentially creating the plot out of their character.

Now, if we’re talking about a romance novel, even more conflict will arise when these two people fall in love. Most of this conflict will be internal because this is their emotional journey. But the way they deal with the external conflict will affect how their internal relationship conflict unfolds: Dean is a country boy whose dreams require him to live on his family’s ranch. Jane’s dreams revolve around living in a big city, and she hates country life. Dean’s actions in preventing Jane from selling her land introduces distrust on Jane’s part and guilt and regret on Dean’s part—internal conflict affected by their external goals and conflict.

In the end, one will “win” while the other “loses”, or they’ll find some alternate compromise that allows them both to leave the situation satisfied—and if this is a romance, you’ll want to work toward that compromise ending because readers expect the characters to end up happily together!

Either way, you’ve given your readers enough conflict to create doubt that you can pull off a happy ending and that’s what will keep them reading.

One final note: In her superlative craft book GMC: GOAL, MOTIVATION AND CONFLICT (a book I highly recommend!), Debra Dixon provides a very useful sentence to define GMC: The protagonist wants a (GOAL) because of a (MOTIVATION) but is prevented from getting this goal by (CONFLICT). This same sentence applies to both internal and external GMC and is very handy in helping to define your internal and external conflicts.

You’ll notice I used this sentence structure above in my example. I did this for the very specific reason that it makes both internal and external conflicts crystal clear when set against a character’s goal and their motivation to achieve that goal. Creating an external conflict which is complicated by a strong internal conflict will add layers and depths to your fiction. Knowing how to weave these two types of conflict together makes your story impossible to put down and will ensure readers stay on the edge of their seats until they reach the end.♥



Isabo Kelly is the multi-award winning author of numerous fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal romances. Her latest release, WARRIOR’S DAWN (Fire and Tears #3), utilizes both external and internal conflict to create an intense and compelling fantasy romance. For more on Isabo and her books, visit her at www.isabokelly.com, follow her on Twitter @IsaboKelly or friend her on Facebook www.facebook.com/IsaboKelly.


Monday, December 1, 2014

A HOLIDAY WISH TO YOU

by Ursula Renée


Harry Harrison’s “May You Always” has become a holiday tradition for me. In the spirit of one of my favorite recordings, I would like to present my wish list to you.

·         May you get that one hour each day you need to write your work-in-progress.

·         May you sit in front of the computer and your writer’s block disappear.

·         May that wonderful plot twist that came to you before you went to sleep at night be with you when you wake up in the morning.

·         May you find the inspiration to complete the work-in-progress you had been putting off for years.

·         May you find a critique partner who offers you constructive criticism that helps strengthen your work.

·         If you get a rejection, may you find someone who’ll offer you a shoulder to cry on as well as give you the push youneed to get back out there.

·         May your dream editor love your manuscript and offer you a contract.

·         May your edits go smoother than you expected.

·         On that stressful day, when nothing seemed to go your way, may you get a five-star review.

·         And, last but not least, may you experience good health and happiness during the holiday season and throughout the New Year.♥
 
 
 
Ursula Renée is the President of RWA/NYC. She is the author of SWEET JAZZ, a historical, interracial romance. When she is not writing, she enjoys photography, drawing and stone carving. Visit her at www.ursularenee.com.