Monday, April 27, 2015

WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM THE EDITING PROCESS

by Jean Joachim


I hate the words “that”, “just” and “really”. These are words I have over-used in my fiction to the point where I get furious now when I see them. Microsoft Word throws an honest eye on your writing when you use the “find” command, only to discover you have used the word “was” 936 times in a 70,000 word manuscript!

Discovering the words I over-use, learning where my writing weaknesses are is all part of the editing process. There are two phases to the editing process, the first is the one you do at home on your own where you hope to catch all the things that should be fixed. The second part is getting your “edits” back from your publisher when you’ve made a sale. I lost my editing “virginity” five books ago.

Grit your teeth, steel your stomach, the edits are not pretty. But they are most often sent to you by someone who wants to make your book better. So stomp around for a while, holler, scream and curse, if you must. Then sit your fanny down in that chair and get to work.

As hard as the edits may be to take in the beginning, by following along faithfully and making as many of the changes as you can without wrecking your story, you will learn a tremendous amount about yourself and your writing. I have. My problem was that although I’ve been writing for 20 years, I’ve been writing non-fiction, advertising copy and columns, like my movie reviews. This is a completely different type of writing from fiction, especially romance fiction.

So what have I learned? I learned that I often write quickly, my stories fairly fly but I am sometimes missing transitions. One scene may begin abruptly instead of having an appropriate transition to move you easily from scene to scene. That is easy to fix.

My main nemesis, now that I have eliminated those repeating words, is POV or point-of-view. Head hopping, as it is affectionately known, is something I’m guilty of. I have studied the problem and am becoming more and more aware when it’s happening. My goal is to submit a manuscript without one single head-hop. I’m determined to do it and getting closer every day.

These two weaknesses have come to my attention through editing. Use of passive voice has also dogged me. I am conquering that one more easily as it has become more recognizable to me as I work through my edits.

Has my writing improved after living through this process five times? You bet it has. I’m now in my sixth novel, and getting better at re-writing and editing on my own. Yes, it is hard to see these mistakes in yourself. But don’t give up. Keep editing on your own, listen to your editor and try to be open to suggestions. It isn’t easy for us writers as our book is our baby. But every baby has to go to school. Your editor is your teacher. Let her guide you through the rocky waters of editing and bring your book out on the other side the very best book it can be.♥



Jean Joachim is a best-selling romance fiction author, with books hitting the Amazon Top 100 list since 2012. 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. She was chosen Author of the Year in 2012 by the New York City Chapter of Romance Writers of America. 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 put, Homer, by her side and a secret stash of black licorice. Visit her at http://www.jeanjoachimbooks.com.


Friday, April 24, 2015

BOOK COVER FRIDAY: A DANCE OUT OF TIME by Catherine Ann Greenfeder

  
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 DANCE OUT OF TIME
by Catherine Ann Greenfeder
Featherweight Press



  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

THE TOP 7 ROMANTIC MOVIES YOUR HUSBAND WILL ALSO LOVE!

by Katana Collins


My husband and I share a love of a lot of interests (motorcycles, coffee, food, antiques), but when it comes to movies, music, and TV, we are as different as different can be. Picking a film we can both stand is like yanking a tooth from a rabid dog's mouth. My vote: The Note-book. His vote: The Departed. My vote: Pitch Perfect. His vote: Pulp Fiction. And so on, and so forth (Let me do a quick sidebar to say I actually like a lot of his favorite movies, I just find them kind of gross and hard to re-watch over and over. I have to be in the right mood for them.).

But, in our 13 years of knowing each other, I now and then find a hidden gem—some romantic movie that he loves and we cling to those movies like valuable artifacts that belong in our fire-proof safe. So, with the upcoming romantic holiday, below you'll find our list of the Top Seven Romantic Movies Your Husband Will Also Love (or in Sean's words: ...Your Husband Won't Hate).

1) Crazy, Stupid Love 
This movie really does have a bit of everything for all audiences. It's got humor (we laughed out loud many times throughout). Love. Sex (hello, shirtless Ryan Gosling!). But at the heart of this movie is the story of an unlikely friendship. The true romance (in my opinion) is between Steve Carrell and Ryan Gosling. Yes, it's also about a woman who captures the heart of a playboy. And about a separated husband and wife entering the dating world once more. But the meat of the story is about two dudes who become friends. And that's a theme most men can get on board with. Also....Emma Stone.

2) Ten Things I Hate About You 
Men and women alike have one love in common: Heath Ledger. To men, he played an iconic version of the Joker. To women, he'll always be that rough around the edges Australian who won our hearts in the Shakespeare retelling of Taming of the Shrew, 10 Things I Hate About You.

3) Shaun of the Dead 
I'm not a zombie lover. They scare the bejeezus out of me. BUT, there are a few zom-rom-coms I can get on board with (Zombieland, Warm Bodies). But of all of them, I think Shaun of the Dead is likely the best. Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright can almost do no wrong. Basically, it's got romance for me (slacker tries to win back his love) set against a zombie apocalypse (for him). For my husband and I? It's the very definition of compromise.

4) Romancing the Stone 
Sean specifically requested that I put this one in here. And he got zero objections from me. For both of us, it's one of our favorite movies. Ever. Of all time. And if you haven't seen it yet? I highly suggest you find your favorite pair of acid wash jeans, tease your hair, and venture back into the 80s for this classic. Basically, Robert Zemeckis took a schlocky romance tale and turned it into an action/adventure romance with quite a bit of comedy. If you can get beyond Michael Douglas's lame dance moves, then this is a movie to watch and re-watch over and over.

5) The Princess Bride 
Look, guys....Peter Falk specifically tells you to like this movie within the movie. Basically, Columbo is vowing that you will not lose any of your manbits by watching this romance. Plus—sword fights, torture, Andre the Giant, revenge, rodents of an unusual size, poison, Robin Wright...with all of that, why is it that we women are even watching? Ohhhhh, that's right. Cary Elwes (yum). So, guys....if your girlfriend or wife asks to watch The Princess Bride? You should have one answer and one answer only: As you wish.

6) Groundhog Day 
For many guys, Bill Murray would be reason enough. But if you need more than that to convince him, in 2006, the United States National Film Registry added it to its 'best of' list and cited it as a “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant” film. It's philosophical while still being funny (much like Bill Murray) and all about a selfish man who learns to love someone outside himself.

7) Last of the Mohicans 
I mean, come on. Do I really even need to explain this one? If anything, I was the person who needed convincing to watch this one. But after a little nudging, Sean and Daniel Day Lewis won me over. This is a truly beautiful movie. And if you can stomach the sad reality of it and the violent battle scenes, it will surely be a classic in your house as well! So that's it! 

And just in case you watch a lot of movies, here were the runner's ups, as well!: Love Actually Bridges of Madison County Ghost Casablanca While You Were Sleeping Up (the first 9 minutes, at least)♥



Katana Collins splits her time evenly between photographing boudoir portraits and writing steam-your-glasses romances. In addition to navigating life as a small business owner, a first-time homeowner, and a newlywed, she is the author of the best-selling paranormal Soul Stripper trilogy. Her most recent projects include the contemporary romance, CAPTURING YOU (the first in the Maple Grove series) and the erotic suspense series, Wicked Exposure. In the summer of 2014, she wrote her first ever graphic novel, CAFÉ RACER, with her husband Sean Murphy. She and Sean commute back and forth as they please between Brooklyn, New York and Portland, Maine, with their ever-growing family of rescue animals (two dogs, a cat, and counting!). She can usually be found hunched over her laptop in a cafe, guzzling gallons of coffee, and wearing fabulous (albeit sometimes impractical) shoes. Visit her on the web at www.katanacollins.com.


Monday, April 20, 2015

THREE BASICS OF A PERFECT LOVE SCENE

by Briana MacPerry



We've all read them: love scenes that drag on and on, using words that would work better atop a Ritz cracker than on the page of what's supposed to be a scintillating novel. And we've all done it: slammed the book closed and tossed it across the room, when the most respectable character magically turns into a porn star at the sight of an erect penis. But don't be too hard on the author. Writing a sex scene that is also a love scene is a precarious dance, one involving a three-step tempo. So how can you become the next Dancing with the Stars champion? Learn the basics.

1. The pacing must be perfect. 
In a love scene, you should slow the pace way down. Focus on the five senses and how they are being stimulated. Does the lace of your heroine's bra cup itch, thus keeping her nipples stimulated throughout dinner? Has the smell of the hero's cologne driven her mad all night? What does it feel like when the hero unzips her dress and her flesh is exposed to the chilly room? What is the difference between those goosebumps, and the goosebumps she gets when he licks her navel with an ice cube in his mouth? What images does this conjure for her, and how does it make her feel? Slowing down the pacing allows us to understand the relationship between what is happening externally, and how it affects our protagonist internally.

But please note, slowing down the pace is not an excuse for focusing on boring, meaningless prose. We don't need to know the hero passed three doors on the left, then took a right, then climbed five stairs, then turned left, then nudged a squeaky door open with his foot and took seven paces to the bed where he finally raised a knee and dropped her ever-so gently on top of it. "He carried her to the bedroom," would cover that part of the journey most succinctly.

2. The actions and reactions of the participants must be organized and believable. 
There is a sequence in which human beings receive and experience sensorial stimulation, and there is a uniform manner in which to write about it. Dwight Swain asserts using Motivation-Reaction Units (MRUs) is the "magic key" to compelling fiction.

Motivation is external and objectively observable. For example, "Dylan stared deep into Mary's eyes and touched her face." The Reaction is internal, subjective, and has three parts: a feeling and a reflex, followed by rational action and/or speech. For example:
Feeling: "Mary's cheeks warmed. A tingling sensation burgeoned between her hips. " (You show this first because it happens instantly.)

Reflex: "Her hand shot up and cupped his fingers, removing them from her sensitive skin." (You show this second as an instinctive result requiring little conscious thought.)
Rational Action and/or Speech: "You know I can't. You're married." (You show this last, when Mary has had time to consider her emotional reactions and act in accordance with her ultimate goals.)

3. Character conflicts must be addressed and transformed. 
Remember, this is a love scene, not a "just sex" scene. And in order for it to be a love scene, it must be intimate. And in order for intimacy to occur, it must tap into the characters' internal conflicts, and transform them. Practically speaking, the sex must be a metaphor.

We all know the image of The Sexy Librarian: stiff and strict on the outside, but a disinhibited wild cat on the inside. Native Americans use the term, "Big good, big bad," to describe this pendulum swing. Freud used the term "Repression." But the important thing to remember when writing a love scene for a strict librarian, is to ask yourself, why is she rigid? How did she become that way? And how can she learn to loosen up?

If your rigid librarian is about to have sex, it is unrealistic to assume she'll suddenly flip like a switch and fulfill a man's every fantasy. And if you make her do that, you will lose credibility with your readers. She might have a sensual kitten buried inside, but she's more likely to claw a man's eyes out than let him get within an inch of her tail, unless he can challenge her emotional defenses in a real way (i.e. produce a feeling of safety and intimacy, first). There are a number of ways you can have the hero demonstrate he is trustworthy leading up to this scene, but in the heat of the moment, try to think of these things in terms of sex acts.

A strict librarian appreciates consistency and practicality, and would need a slower approach with increasing stimulation—aka, foreplay, and lots of it. A man should demonstrate control over his own desire long enough bring her to the point of climax, and then abandon it, so she is forced to break through her rigid shell and express her deeply buried desires. She needs to know he has enough control over himself before she can relinquish complete control to him (i.e. allow her to let go of her Daddy issues). No swinging from the ceiling or ten different positions for this gal.

In contrast, let's say you have a Bohemian type heroine who is an unbridled spit fire. Taking it slow and trying to lull her into a state of complacency might make her feel bored, trapped, or manipulated. In this case, a man would need to make a big impression and come on strong in order to get her attention. While novelty might scare the librarian off, it could bait your artist, hook-line and sinker.

In sum, keep the pacing slow and to the point, your protagonist's actions and reactions believable, and make sure the sex is both intimate and transformative.  Follow these three basic steps and you'll not only have the perfect love scene, but also successfully move your plot forward with a significant turning point.♥


For several years, Briana MacPerry has practiced as a Licensed and Board Certified Creative Arts Therapist in New York City, working predominantly with traumatized women and addiction. Currently, she teaches graduate level thesis writing and works for a brain research and diagnostic facility. When she is not corralling her four-year old son, she is slaving away at her passion's pursuit. To learn more, please visit her blog at www.brianamacperry.wordpress.com, or follow her on twitter @macperrytweets.


Friday, April 17, 2015

BOOK COVER FRIDAY: MYSTICAL WONDERS: SURVIVAL by Karen Cino


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!



MYSTICAL WONDERS: SURVIVAL
by Karen Cino
Secret Cravings Publishing


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

HELLO AND WELCOME TO MY WRITING DEN!© ROMANCE IN A FLASH by Maria Cox

   
Romance writers, here's an oft overlooked genre you may want investigate. Flash fiction.

Flash fiction is a short form of storytelling defined by the number of words and/or sentences, which of course vary from writer to writer. In a nutshell, flash fiction is any writing material more than 50 words and less than 1,500 words—some flash fiction writers stretch the limit to 2,000 words.

Note: Other names for flash fiction are micro fiction, pocket-size story, and minute-long story.

Flash fiction has been around for many years—reportedly since the early 1990’s—but has become increasingly prevalent in the literary community over the last five to seven years. Once regarded as “lazy” work, flash fiction is now considered quite the opposite: intellectually challenging storytelling. So even though by definition the context of flash fiction is to remain extremely short, it is not a medium that tolerates fragmented writing. The challenge of flash fiction is to tell a complete story in which every word is absolutely essential.

It stands to reason that in a society where people expect information at lightning speed that the instant gratification that flash fiction provides would grow in popularity. Due to its wide spread appeal today, many mainstream publications have shifted their focus to include flash fiction. For example Women’s Day Magazine has a romantic stories section that calls for <800 a="" and="" calls="" cosmopolitan="" for="" has="" romantic="" section="" steamy="" that="" words="">800 words. Also, there are many publications that exclusively feature works in flash fiction format, Vestal Review, Brevity Magazine, and FLASH Fiction Online just to name a few.

As it pertains to the romance genre itself numerous romance publishers such as Decadent, Secret Cravings, Etopia, and Evernight have in recent years added Anthologies to their categories; Anthologies are compilation of flash fiction and/or short stories.

Don’t forget that Romance Writers of America is organizing its second romance anthology. Want to learn more about this exciting opportunity? Here’s the link: http://www.rwa.org/page/call-for-submissions. Good luck!♥
  


Maria Cox has a degree in Business Administration with a Minor in Computer Applications. She also has an accreditation from the Project Management Institute. Maria has been writing stories since she was a young girl. She picked up her first romance novel when she was just eleven years old and has loved the genre ever since. Her first published novel, WICKED LUSTFUL TALES, was released through Melange Books in October 2013. Maria writes sensual romance, stories that showcase strong, sassy, and sexy characters. When she’s not writing, Maria works a technical writer. She lives in Queens, New York. Please visit her site www.mywritingden.net and/or follow her on Twitter. Maria is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and a member of RWA/NYC & RWA Desert Rose. She is also is the past President of the Phoenix Writers Club.

Monday, April 13, 2015

HOW TO WRITE A SEQUEL by Sylvia Halliday

  
Or maybe how not to!

Diversion Books has just released several of my backlist titles on e-books. They have titled the trilogy I wrote as the French Maiden Series. They are MARIELLE, LYSETTE and DELPHINE, the first three books I ever wrote.

Now, when you write a sequel, there are several things you must keep in mind. First, you must leave enough threads in the previous book to hang a new plot on. That means enough characters, as well. And enough unresolved issues, without “cheating” the book you’re working on, or leaving the reader with a sense that there’s still a major problem left hanging.

As an example: my book, PROMISE OF SUMMER, by Louisa Rawlings. It’s set in France, though the hero has a plantation in Martinique. He had been a pirate in his past, and had run afoul of his captain, who had vowed to kill him some day. In the book, he’s uneasy when he’s in a seaport, still concerned that the captain is searching for him, though he’s not obsessed with a sense of danger. His heightened fearfulness and awareness is what reveals to the heroine his dark past. It’s a small point, and doesn’t hang over his head later on in the book. But I knew, when I wrote the book, that I had planted a thread I could use if I ever wrote a sequel, particularly since the book ends with the lovers boarding a ship for America and the islands. (And a pirate ship assaulting them on the voyage?)

Another thing you must keep in mind is that the reader may not have read the first book. You’ve got to approach the second book as though it were a “first”, and the first book is merely the backstory. You fill in the details bit by bit, as you would do with a “first” book, and resist the urge to put TOO much backstory in. The readers who have read the first book can fill in the gaps themselves; the readers who haven’t might become bored with too much detail.


Okay. Got it? Now, back to my first trilogy. I wrote MARIELLE, then got encouragement from editors I contacted to keep writing, though no one was buying historicals at that moment, since Judith Krantz and “Glitz and Glamor” had become fashionable. LYSETTE was easy to set up, since the hero in Book One had a best friend, who made a perfect hero for the sequel. And since Marielle herself didn’t appear in Book Two for quite some time, it was easy to introduce her without the tedious backstory that might be necessary in the beginning of a book. She simply appeared as the wife of hero #1 and became friends with Lysette.

Now comes the problem. I was still in touch with several editors after I wrote LYSETTE. One of them steered me to an agent. (In those days, it was easy to contact editors--difficult to get an agent.) The agent asked me to write an outline of a third book, so she could sell it as a trilogy. I was stuck. The books were set in time of Louis XIII. If the third book dealt with the children of Marielle and Lysette, I would be in the era of Louis XIV, a very complicated time, which would involve heavy research---very intimidating for a novice like me.

What to do?

I had left no interesting characters to carry on the story. I looked over my four principals, and decided that, all things considered, Marielle could safely die, and her husband would sooner or later find another woman. And so, DELPHINE begins with the hero still mourning the loss of his wife the year

before. I never realized it was a No-No until I was at a conference and a reader came up to me and said accusingly, “You killed off Marielle! How could you?”

At any rate, the trilogy was sold to Pocket Books. MARIELLE launched their Tapestry line and had a print run of 300,000. And I learned, belatedly, how NOT to write a sequel!♥



Award-winning author Sylvia Halliday’s first historical novel, written as Ena Halliday, was chosen by Pocket Books to launch their Tapestry line. She subsequently wrote for Popular Library/Warner and Harlequin Historicals under the pen name of Louisa Rawlings, the name of her maternal great-grandmother. She has written for Kensington/Zebra under the pseudonym of Sylvia Halliday. She has published 14 historical romances. Her FOREVER WILD earned 5 stars from Romantic Times and Affaire de Coeur, and was a RITA finalist for the Romance Writers of America. Her latest offerings, published by Diversion Books, are MARIELLE (The French Maiden Series, #1), LYSETTE (The French Maiden Series, #2), DELPHINE (The French Maiden Series, #3), DREAMS SO FLEETING, GOLD AS THE MORNING SUN, THE RING, AND SUMMER DARKNESS, WINTER LIGHT. FOREVER WILD, STOLEN SPRING, and PROMISE OF SUMMER, written by her as Louisa Rawlings, are available from Samhain Publishing. Visit her blog, Life Lessons From An Old Bitch, at www.sylviahalliday.blogspot.com and follow her on Facebook @SylviaHalliday.