Friday, May 27, 2016

BOOK COVER FRIDAY! WHAT LIES BETWEEN US 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.



WHAT LIES BETWEEN US
The Breakfast Club Book 4
by Felice Stevens


SUMMARY:   Now that he’s living with Sam Stein, Zach Cohen is finally ready to move on from his unhappy past. His days are filled with wedding preparations, yet he still finds time to make plans and decisions without consulting Sam and his mother, firmly believing he knows best.  Sam is ready to settle in for the perfect life with Zach but years of bad habits have come back to haunt him. Struggling to accept himself and his future, he chooses not to share his fears, unwilling to look weak in Zach’s eyes.  Real life gets in the way of the best intentions and when their secrets explode, the aftermath challenges the foundation of a relationship both believed unshakeable. Falling in love is the easy part, and Zach and Sam discover that only with honesty can they overcome what threatens to tear them apart.



Wednesday, May 25, 2016

CRAFT CORNER: PROTECTING YOUR VOICE BY ISABO KELLY


The topic of a writer’s voice has come up a few times in the blogosphere lately, in different forms, so I’d like to revisit the topic here. Writers are often told by industry professionals that one of the things they’re really looking for is someone with a “great voice”, but what does this mean for you the writer?

First of all, know right now, you will not find your voice particularly “great”. You won’t realize it’s unique or hear it as anything special. You might not even know you have a “voice”. Because your voice is the thing you hear in your head all the time. Your voice is you. And you’re used to you, so you don’t necessarily see the way your voice is interesting.

But it is interesting. The way you choose words and the order you put them in, the rhythms and flow of sentences, paragraphs, and chapters, the way you use things like ellipsis and semicolons—all this is part of your voice. Simply writing in the way that feels natural, like the sound of your own voice in your head, is your voice as a writer.

You can hone this voice, make it stronger and more distinct in your writing, by learning your craft, by studying and practicing your art, and by filling your writer’s toolbox with as many techniques as possible so you have lots of things to choose from when coming to the page.

You can also bury your voice by following too many writing “rules”.  There are an infinite number of supposed rules that get bandied about. There is always someone around to tell you what you can and can’t do in your fiction. The problem is, most of these supposed rules are just style choices and those choices will change.

In the past, the omniscient viewpoint was used all the time in fiction. Now people will tell you it’s bad writing. It’s not. It’s just a style that’s out of favor. That doesn’t mean you can’t use it. It just means a lot of people aren’t used to it anymore and they may have a knee-jerk reaction to it. The poor little oxford comma causes all kinds of debate because some people will tell you it is absolutely “wrong” to use it, while others will tell you it’s absolutely “wrong” to leave it out. Actually, this is just another style choice as both ways of approaching the oxford comma are considered correct.

Writers could drive themselves crazy trying to follow every rule someone decides we should follow. And in doing so, you’ll drown out that uniqueness that only you can bring to your stories.

The rules are important to know and understand because they are often what is expected. But they’re not carved in stone. If you want to use a semicolon, then bloody well use a semicolon. If you hate them, don’t bother.

Now there’s a difference between grammar, craft, and these “rules” I’m talking about.  Learning basic grammar is important because you’re trying to convey images via the written word in a specific language—you’re hoping to transfer the story in your head, as closely as possible, to a perfect stranger’s head. There are some very basic tools used to ensure clear communication between individuals using the same language. Those are your grammar rules.

Craft is a broader topic that deals with how you use grammar and language to build pictures and manipulate emotions in your readers. It’s full of choices and tools, things that help you get what’s in your head out onto the page in the most effective way possible. Whereas grammar does have some hard and fast rules to keep language from being nonsensical, craft is the study of techniques, not all of which will be used at any given point in time or on every single story.

It’s the craft of writing, which tools you utilize and how, that really brings out your voice, and this is where the art of writing comes from.  But then there are the writer workshop/critique group rules: you must use third person limited point of view; you must change chapters or at least use a line break to change POV; you can’t mix first and third point of view in a single story; you can’t use semicolons, or parenthesis, or ellipsis; you can’t use the same word twice on the same page.

Anytime someone tells you you can’t use one of the tools in your toolbox or you have to use other tools all the time, give that supposed rule the side-eye.

These are suggestions. These are techniques that are in particular favor right now. These are elements that might be more accessible to modern audiences. They might even help your flow and readability. They could help bring out the strength of your voice.

But they are not rules. They are style choices, like every other style choice. And if your voice calls for using conjunctions to start a sentence, then toss out the “rule” that claims you can’t (as I do all the time).

Always remember these are your stories, this is your writing, and your voice. If you’re most comfortable telling stories from multiple points of view and in both first and third, then learn how to do that in an effective way, and ignore the people telling you it’s not possible. If you do it well, people will read your fiction and love it because no one else could have told the story in just that way.

Keep in mind, not everyone will like your style choices, and not everyone will love your voice. That’s just the way it is. Some voices will suit some people’s tastes better than others. You’re not writing to please everyone. That’s impossible anyway. You’re writing to tell your stories in the best way you know how. Some people will love them and others simply won’t. But that’s not because you’ve broken some arbitrary rule laid down by a critique group.

 Learn as much about the craft as possible, and keep learning. Practice with every story you write. Study storytelling. Read a lot. Watch a lot of movies and TV shows. The more you know, the better you’ll be at writing from your strengths and your individual voice. Then protect that voice for all your worth. It’s what makes your stories yours. And it’s that uniqueness that will draw readers to your books.♥


Isabo Kelly is the author of multiple, award winning science fiction and fantasy romances. Under the name Kat Simons, she also writes bestselling paranormal romances. For more on Isabo or Kat, visit www.isabokelly.com or www.katsimons.com.



Monday, May 23, 2016

EMBRACING MY PARTICULAR BRAND OF CRAZY: HEAD HOPPING: THE UNFORGIVABLE SIN BY LAQUETTE

   


Head hopping is an unforgivable sin that no author should ever commit! In the voice of my bestie, Faith, “Lies you tell.”  Head hopping is when you bounce from one character’s point of view to another within a scene or chapter.  I’ve read many “how to” articles on craft that frequently frown upon the act of head hopping.  The logic for this opinion is that it confuses readers by shocking them out of the story when an author abruptly jumps from one character’s point of view to another.

On this point I will agree that authors shouldn’t skip from one POV to another with no warning and especially in the middle of a scene.  However, head hopping—when done correctly—can offer an enriching experience for your reader, allowing them to see the same story from several sides of the page.

In my opinion, the most effective way to head hop is by making certain a scene is finished—meaning there is a distinguishable conclusion to that character’s perspective during the scene.  Once you’ve done that, place a scene break symbol (three to five asterisks: ***) on a line between the end of the paragraph expressing the first character’s perspective and the paragraph where the new character’s perspective begins.  Read the excerpt from my novel, POWER PRIVILEGE & PLEASURE: QKB4 to see an example of how I use head hopping in my books. (Excerpt at end of this article.)

Now maybe it’s just my particular brand of crazy, but I really enjoy the opportunity to see inside both protagonists’ heads/emotions/desires.  This is especially true when there’s an, “I love you, but I hate you,” sort of theme running throughout the story.  Ultimately it helps provide yet another level of understanding of how the characters actually relate to one another.  In this case, the reader gets to see what both characters have been thinking before this encounter.  They each want each other, but both fight as if they hate each other.  Neither revealing to one another the depths of which their desire runs.  Isn’t that so much fun?

A subsequent reason to consider using alternating perspectives when writing is it can unlock unexpected needs, desires, and motivations of your characters, bringing a new depth to your story you might not have anticipated.  For instance, if you know exactly what you’re supposed to be writing, but can’t seem to get the words to align correctly on the page, try changing the character point of view.  Maybe the current character’s perspective isn’t the vantage point that will provide that scene or chapter with the greatest emotional or physical depth possible.  Just remember when you choose the perspective or point of view, the character that brings the greatest depth of emotion and description to the scene is the one who wins the head hop.

Thanks for spending a little time with me.  This is LaQuette, your friendly erotic romance author, embracing my crazy…one character at a time.♥


2015 Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award Finalist in Erotic Romance, 2015 Swirl Awards Finalist in Romantic Suspense, bestselling erotic romance author, LaQuette, is a native of Brooklyn, New York.  She spends her time catering to her three distinct personalities: Wife, Mother, and Educator.  LaQuette loves hearing from readers and discussing the crazy characters that are running around in her head causing so much trouble. Contact her on Facebook, Twitter, @LaQuetteLikes, her website, www.NovelsbyLaQuette.com, Amazon, her Facebook group, LaQuette's Lounge, and via email at NovelsbyLaQuette@gmail.com.


***EXCERPT***

“You have the sexiest f#*@ing mouth I’ve ever seen,” he growled.  “It would look so much prettier stretched around my c#@k than spewing the venom you insist on spitting.”

He waited for the slap that he knew was coming.  If he’d been on the receiving end of a statement like that he’d certainly have been looking to hit someone.  But she didn’t hit him, even though she had every right to.  Instead, she stepped closer into his space and spread those f#*@able lips into the most alluring smile.

“If you think you’re man enough to get me to put my mouth to use like that, Quillen, then make me.  Or are you just all talk?”

***

Finally!  After all these f#*@ing years he’s finally catching on.
  
A.J. pressed herself into Alan’s personal space.  She hoped she didn’t have to give him much more of a clue.  Shouldn’t her body pressed against his be enough of an obvious statement that he’d get the hint?  Well if it wasn’t, for damn sure she was only two seconds away from spelling her desires out frankly and clearly.
   
The heated exchange they shared was the closest she’d ever come to letting him see what she’d been aching for all this time.  She’d known from day one she couldn’t have him, so she’d set out to make him as miserable as his sex appeal made her.  She’d decided that the quiet calm he always seemed to be cloaked in was the one pressure point she could attack until he finally exploded.  No way was she going to be the only one frustrated in this scenario.  If she couldn’t get the d#*k she wanted so terribly, then he couldn’t keep that blessed peace he walked around with every day.###



Friday, May 20, 2016

BOOK COVER FRIDAY! MY LAST LOVE STORY BY FALGUNI KOTHARI (new release)



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


CONGRATULATIONS, FALGUNI, ON YOUR NEW BOOK!
Released May 20th


MY LAST LOVE STORY
by Falguni Kothari


SUMMARY:  

 “I, Simeen Desai, am tired of making lemonade with the lemons life has handed me.

MY LAST LOVE STORY is a poignant, romantic tale about the 
complexities of trauma and whether love can right a wrong. 
  
  

Monday, May 16, 2016

GOING THE INDIE ROUTE: NINE HURDLES TO SELF-PUBLISHING OR DO YOU REALLY WANT TO BE A PUBLISHER? BY JEAN JOACHIM



Being an indie author sounds so “cool”, but is it? Self-publishing means you become a publisher. Here are ten responsibilities publishers handle that get dumped on your plate when you self-publish:

1.    Scheduling. Sounds so great to sign up for pre-order on Amazon – easy peasy, right? Amazon gives you a drop dead date. Your final, perfect manuscript must be uploaded by their drop dead date or you lose the privilege of pre-orders for a year. That’s right, a year! So that means you have to have your book back from the editor and proofreader and do your final read through by a certain date. Or else! What happens if your editor or proofer gets sick? What if other obligations keep you from giving that final polish? Your book goes out unfinished or you can’t pre-order again.

2.    That brings me to the editor and proofreader. You do have those folks lined up, don’t you? You have to pay for those services. Some small indie publishers give the editors a percentage of sales. If you do that, then you’ll have to keep track of how much you owe them and pay them every month. And then there are forms to fill out for the IRS, like a 1099 to send to your editor and proofer no later than February 1 of the following year.

3.    You’re not going to use an editor? Yikes! No publisher puts out an unedited book. If you do that, you will have reviewers crawling up your butt complaining and readers who will vow never to read your books again. Not using a professional editor, and, no, mom and your best friend don’t qualify –neither do beta readers, is the mark of an unprofessional writer. Make sure to list editor and proofer on the page where you have your copyright, so readers know your book has been edited

4.    Copyright page – you are getting a government copyright, aren’t you? You can do it online and the fee is only $35.00. Don’t fall for that line that as soon as you write something, it’s copyrighted. That won’t do you much good in a court of law if you have to prove a story is yours. Big Five publishers pay for the copyrights for their authors.

5.    Okay, you’re edited, proofed and ready to go. Where do you upload your book? Do you put it exclusively in Kindle Unlimited or go “wide”—uploading it to other sites? These are important questions. Kindle Unlimited has reduced the pay-out percentage every month for the last three months. Payout dropped 11% in February, 16% in January. If you put your book there, you are captive and cannot list it with any other sales site for three months.  

6.    And what about the cover? If your cover doesn’t look professional, your sales will suffer. If your cover doesn’t grab readers, they move on. Publishers provide covers at their own expense. If you’re self-publishing, you have to find a great cover artist and pay for the cover yourself. If you have excellent design abilities and know what makes up a good cover, then you might try to create one yourself. You’ll still have to buy photos from a stock photo site.

7.    Where do you find sites to put your book on? Research. I’m fortunate to be in an indie Facebook group where I made a friend who knows everything about self-publishing. He has given me places to put my book that I never would have dreamed of, including a site in China that has translated a book for me, free, and is selling it there. Belonging to a good indie Fb group is essential – not one where authors are dumping promos every day, but one with real, meaty discussions about self-publishing.

8.    Okay, so now you’ve got your book up on six or seven sites. What about print? Of course you want your book in print. Createspace is the place to go for print. But you will have to reformat your book and create a print cover. Or hire your cover artist to do one for you. This is also something your publisher would pay for that’s now coming out of your wallet. This is POD, or print-on-demand, meaning your book will not go to bookstores.

9.    What about audiobooks? Translations into foreign languages? And marketing? These are three areas you may have to tackle on your own, even with a publisher. A Big Five publisher will probably put your books into audio and maybe even get some translations done, if your book is a big seller. Smaller indie pubs don’t usually handle these tasks. Add these tasks onto a plate that’s already full and when will you find time to write? Ever notice that most publishers aren’t writers? Perhaps they don’t have the time.


By now, you’re probably pointing a finger at me and saying “But you self-publish!” Yes, I do. At first, I only did about five books because my publisher couldn’t get them into her schedule. For the past five years, I’ve been with a small press. During that time I learned about many of the tasks I mentioned earlier. When my publisher closed her doors, I was ready to take on her responsibilities myself.  Do I get overwhelmed? Of course. But I’ve chosen to accept these responsibilities, sometimes amid cursing and copious amounts of wine, rather than go to a fourth publisher. I’m happy self-publishing. I enjoy the control and endless possibilities. I also write and self-publish full time –it’s my only job.

I do believe in self-publishing, but authors should go into it fully aware of the workload. When asked, I usually recommend that new authors go to a publisher first and learn the ropes before going indie. Every writer has to make that choice on his or her own. I hope you’ll consider all the facts when you do. ♥


Jean Joachim is a best-selling romance fiction author, with books hitting the Amazon Top 100 list since 2012. She writes mostly contemporary romance, which includes sports romance and romantic suspense. Dangerous Love Lost & Found, First Place winner in the 2015 Oklahoma Romance Writers of America, International Digital Award contest. The Renovated Heart won Best Novel of the Year from Love Romances Café. Lovers & Liars was a RomCon finalist in 2013. And The Marriage List tied for third place as Best Contemporary Romance from the Gulf Coast RWA. To Love or Not to Love tied for second place in the 2014 New England Chapter of Romance Writers of America Reader’s Choice contest. She was chosen Author of the Year in 2012 by the New York City chapter of RWA.  Married and the mother of two sons, Jean lives in New York City. Early in the morning, you’ll find her at her computer, writing, with a cup of tea, her rescued pug, Homer, by her side and a secret stash of black licorice. Jean has 30+ books, novellas and short stories published. Find them here: http://www.jeanjoachimbooks.com. Sign up for her newsletter, on her website, here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jean-Joachim-Author/221092234568929?sk=app_100265896690345  



Friday, May 13, 2016

BOOK COVER FRIDAY! OUT IN THE FIELD BY KATE MCCURRAY (new release)


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


CONGRATULATIONS, KATE, ON YOUR NEW RELEASE!
(This book will be available on May 16.)


OUT IN THE FIELD
by Kate McMurray
Dreamspinner Press



SUMMARY:  Let’s Play Ball!

Matt Blanco is a legend on the Brooklyn Eagles, but time and injuries have taken their toll. With his career nearing its end, he’s almost made it to retirement without anyone learning his biggest secret: he’s gay in a profession not particularly known for its tolerance.  Iggy Rodriquez is the hot new rookie in town, landing a position in the starting lineup of the team of his dreams and playing alongside his idol, Matt Blanco. Iggy doesn’t think it can get any better, until an unexpected encounter in the locker room with Matt proves him wrong.

A relationship—and everything it could reveal—has never been in the cards for Matt, but Iggy has him rethinking his priorities. They fall hard for each other, struggling to make it through trades, endorsement deals, and the threat of retirement. Ultimately they will be faced with a choice: love or baseball?




Wednesday, May 11, 2016

MORE PAPERWORK THAN DRAMA BY URSULA RENÉE



Since people have been telling stories, the hero has been larger than life. He is stronger, smarter and better looking than the villain. And, even if he never held a gun before, he always has the ability to shoot a weapon from the villain's hand from one hundred yards away.

Because of the stories that are told and eventually portrayed on television and the movies, people expect certain things from the good guys or, more specifically, the police. Civilians usually believe police officers spend the day in high speed car chases, shootouts with bad guys, and foot chases through yards, over fences and across roofs. They also expect detectives to investigate and solve crimes, with the use of DNA and other forensic evidence, in less than forty-eight hours.

A former police officer told me that during her career she had been run over, shot and stabbed, yet the thing she remembered most was the paperwork.  The hours of paperwork required by police officers is never depicted on television. Even on the rare occasion an officer in a drama sits down at his desk, he is interrupted for something more exciting (i.e. another crime only he can solve needs his attention; a witness will only speak to him or someone manages to make it past all check points in the police station and takes everyone hostage and only he can negotiate with the distraught individual).

Authors, however, need to remember that the majority of what is depicted on television has been exaggerated for entertainment purposes. If they do not take the time to research the correct procedures, they run the risk of losing potential readers.  Mystery Writers of America and Sisters-in-Crime occasionally arrange for experts in the field of law enforcement to speak to their members. The New York chapter in SinC also organize field trips; include one excursion to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

For a more hands-on experience, authors can attend The Writers’ Police Academy (http://www.writerspoliceacademy.com/). There, they can train with police officers, fire fighters and EMTs, and hear lectures from forensic experts and lawyers.

If a trip to The Writers’ Police Academy is not in the budget, authors can inquire with their local police department about the Civilian Police Academy. The FBI also conducts Citizens Academies at their field offices.

Finally, authors can reach out to experts on forums like the Crime Scene Questions for Writers loop (https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/crimescenewriter/info).

It is easy to rely on what is seen on television and in the movies. However, the scriptwriters use artistic license to increase the drama. If an author wants to attract and retain readers, she should strive to blend realism with drama.♥



Ursula Renée writes historical romances and mysteries. When she is not writing, she enjoys photography, stone carving and drawing. Find out more about Ursula by visiting her website at www.ursularenee.com.