Friday, January 30, 2015

BOOK COVER FRIDAY: CAPTURING YOU by Katana Collins

 
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!



CAPTURING YOU
A Maple Grove Romance
by Katana Collins


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

DON’T LET THE NANO 15 WEIGH YOU DOWN

by Lisa Siefert  


Did you participate in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? For those of you who are not familiar with it, NaNoWriMo, or as it is sometimes affectionately referred to: NaNo, is the annual event for writers everywhere to band together for the month of November and crank out 50,000 words.  

For most of us, writing output at that level requires intense amounts of sacrifice for anything non-writing related. This list of neglected items could include cooking, laundry, dishes, TV, exercise and even sleep. No task is too small nor too big to go on the do-it-after-NaNo-list.  

For my first NaNo in 2012, I aspired to write like the girl on the right, surrounded by nutritious, low-calorie fruits and snacks, but I ended up with something closer to the girl on the left. The NaNo advice gods preached take-out food and microwavable meals to make it through the month. Another NaNo guru advocated enlisting the help of family members to take over meal preparation. Since the only family member in the Siefert apartment other than myself is Hoppy, my miniature pincher, I interpreted NaNo as the green light I needed to indulge my every fast food, pizza ordering and take-out desire I had.

The end result was reminiscent of the dreaded Freshman 15. To be clear, I didn’t gain the entire 15 pounds in one month but over the course of both November and December. December brought great feelings of pride and accomplishment from winning NaNoWriMo the month prior so I decided to keep the party going with more of the same: lots of sitting around with my laptop, tons of rich, can’t-put-it-down food and little to no sleep. Not only did I feel productive and prolific, I had the word count to prove it. Unfortunately, I also had the extra weight, unbuttonable pants and double chin to show for it.

It took me over a year to take off what only took two months to put on. This is pretty typical of weight gain/loss. If you remember the guy from Super Size Me who gained 20 pounds from eating McDonald’s every day for an entire month, he also had to work for over a year to take off the weight. And that was with the help of his vegan, yoga-loving girlfriend to guide him. It ain’t easy.

If you too suffer from the NaNo 15, the NaNo 5 or some positive numbered derivation thereof, here are some tips to take it off:

1. Get 8 hours of sleep – Lack of sleep increases your cortisol levels, thereby increasing your appetite and encouraging your body to retain fat.

2. Surround your writing area with only fruits + veggies – They pack a lot of nutrients, live enzymes and fiber creating a fuller feeling of satisfaction and take up space that would otherwise have been used for chips, crackers or cookies. And “I can’t stop eating this raw broccoli,” said no one, ever.

3. Invest in access to fun cardio classes – This could be a gym membership, subscription to streaming fitness videos like the Daily Burn, a set of Beachbody DVDs or a fitness app on your phone. Make it easy and make it something you’ll enjoy.


I still love the idea of NaNo but now I’m a reformed NaNo Rebel. Yes, there’s actually a section in the NaNo forums dedicated to those who don said moniker. My new mantra is pretty simple: Fitness first, words second. If I don’t have time to workout and eat right, then I don’t have time to write.

I’m not as prolific as I was before but I’m also much happier and healthier. For more fitness based tips for writers, go to www.fitandwordygirl.com.♥
  

Monday, January 26, 2015

THE GIDDY GRAMMARIAN: COULDA, WOULDA, SHOULDA

by Lisbeth Eng



“Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda…”

You may not be familiar with the term “modal verb” but we use them every day. In fact, I’ve just used one in the prior sentence.

Modal verbs are auxiliary (“helper”) verbs used to modify the main verb in a sentence, and to express modalities such as obligation, ability, permission and possibility. Though not an exhaustive list, here are a few common examples:

Can – ability – “I can write grammatically correct sentences.”

May – permission or possibility – “May I please have another piece of pie?” “He may be able to help you with that.”

Must – obligation – “You must complete the form in order to receive a refund.”

Should – obligation or advice – “One should always be polite when asking a favor.” “You really should read this novel; I think you’ll like it.”

Would – request – “Would you please wait in line until you are called?”


Modals are not conjugated the way primary verbs are. For example, you don’t add an “s” in the third person singular. “They run; he runs,” but not “They can; he cans.”

Words such as “would” can also be used conditionally, such as in the following example.

“Would you please pass the salt?” The implied condition to passing the salt is that the passer is willing to oblige. People often say, “Can you pass the salt?” to convey the same idea, but “you can” literally means “you are able to.” Of course, I am able to pass the salt but perhaps I don’t wish to. If you are asking for a favor, even a small one such as passing a condiment, “would” is more polite than “can.” You don’t want to imply that the favor will be granted, only that you would like it to be.

Similarly, one should not substitute “can” for “may” when asking permission. “Can I borrow that book when you are finished reading it?” Well, of course, you are able to borrow it, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to lend it to you. It is much nicer (and more accurate) to say, “May I borrow that book?”

E-mails, text messages, tweets and other abbreviated forms of communication are notorious for misstatements of this kind. Therefore, please be so kind as to take a few extra seconds to write “may” or “would,” and help make the cyber world, as well as the material one, a more courteous place. ♥



Lisbeth Eng works as a Compliance Officer in the financial industry by day and writes historical romance by night. She holds a bachelor's degree in English, and speaks a smattering of German, Italian and French. Please visit her at www.lisbetheng.com.

Friday, January 23, 2015

BOOK COVER FRIDAY: HERO BY NIGHT by Sara Jane Stone (DEBUT!)

   
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!
   

HERO BY NIGHT
Book Three:  Independence Falls
Avon Impulse
by Sara Jane Stone
www.sarajanestone.com
  
DEBUTS JANUARY 20, 2015



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

THE SCOOP ON SCRIVENER

 by Fiona Kirk




The must-have software for writers.

For my first historical romance, I wrote the manuscript using Word and stored most of my research in a manila folder. Whenever I needed to find a quick fact – for example, a drawing of a dress my heroine might wear to a ball – I had to rummage through a fairly large stack of papers. More often than not I’d get sidetracked and lose my train of thought (not difficult to do!).

So when an author friend mentioned that the writing software Scrivener was on sale just as I was formulating the plot of my second historical, Stages of Desire, I figured I’d check it out.
Now, I am no techno-whiz, and the thought of learning a new program was daunting. But I’d read so many writers and journalists rave online about Scrivener, I figured there was something to it. Two years and two books later, the benefits far outweigh any reservations I might have had.

With Scrivener, each book is saved as a “project.” On the left hand side of the screen is a list of icons you’ve created for that project. Some are chapters or scenes, others might be folders called “Research,” “Characters” or “Locations,” where you can store Word docs, templates, photos, or whatever else you might need. To the right of that is a split screen.

I type my latest scene on the top screen. When I need to find a photo of a castle that I wanted to use as a place setting, or I can’t recall a minor character’s name, I simply click on the bottom screen, then on the pertinent folder or document. Shazam: the photo or my list of characters is right in front of me. No rummaging, no searching, instant answers.

Even websites can be saved in folders. My hero in Stages of Desire is working on a cure for malaria during the course of the book, and whenever I needed to check out the “history of malaria” website for a quick fact, I could access it without switching to a web browser and covering up the page I was working on.

When the manuscript is ready to be sent out, hit the “Compile” command and it pops up as a Word doc on your desktop, formatted exactly how you like it. I followed the tutorial when I first got it (which has a witty, fun tone to it), and then played around until I felt comfortable.

Of course nothing is perfect, and Scrivener does have its quirks. The spell check feature isn’t as good as Word at catching minor typos like double spaces, so I always check again after it’s been compiled into a Word doc. The upside? I can write fast and accurately and editing is a breeze, with easy access to every scene and chapter without having to scroll through a long Word document.

So take your writing to the next level and check out Scrivener. You can try it free for 30 days before committing. More info at https://www.literatureandlatte.com/trial.php.  Happy writing!♥


Fiona Kirk writes historical fiction under the pen name Julia Tagan. A journalist by training, she enjoys weaving actual events and notorious individuals into her historical romances. Her Regency romance, STAGES OF DESIRE, released January 5. For more info, visit www.juliatagan.com.  You can also find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/julia.tagan and Twitter @juliatagan.


Monday, January 19, 2015

THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT

by Racheline Maltese


Naturally, I have about two different lengths I write at: 3,000 words and 70,000 words. While my co-author and I have sold pieces at both of those lengths, we’ve learned quickly that being able to produce stories at a lot of other lengths is also valuable, not just in terms of creating material to submit to publishers but in terms of creating stories that can act as a gateway into our other work.

In many ways, at 12,000 words Evergreen is the story my co-author and I never meant to write. It’s set between the first and second books in our LGBT romance series, and it focuses on the relationship between secondary and tertiary characters. It’s also not a length that’s natural for us as writers.

But part of how Evergreen will ultimately succeed for us has to do with writing at that length we hadn’t previously explored. With 12,000 words we found enough room to show character and conflict in a way that hopefully makes readers want to know more, while also giving them a very clear HEA.

For me, learning to write at different lengths has come from two things: My background in journalism and my love of television. Journalism teaches me that there’s always a simpler way to say something if I need to save a few words or sentences. Television teaches me that story structure varies by show length. In the U.S., a half-hour network comedy is 22 minutes when you account for commercials. A cable comedy without commercials will often run a little longer. A 27-minute show without a commercial break has a very different structure than a 22-minute show with several. These stylistic differences become even more pronounced when you look at hour-long and movie-length programming.

To write a shorter mid-series story that would also stand alone, Erin and I quickly realized we’d have to write a “monster of the week” episode designed to fall between season 1 (that is, book 1) and season 2 (book 2, which is out in January) of our series. Once we understood the story’s function and structure in terms of the television we’d been watching our whole lives, it became much easier to figure out what needed to be told and how. It also became easier to understand what pieces of the story we’d have to hold back for another occasion.

For writers who want to branch out from their natural storytelling lengths, there is no quick answer. Like anything in writing, sometimes you just have to hammer at it until it works. But the mental exercise of imagining your stories (and other people’s) in different formats helps build the muscles that can have you writing -- and selling -- at different lengths.♥



Racheline Maltese co-writes the Love in Los Angeles LGBT romance series with Erin McRae. Set in the film and television industry, the books Starling (September 10, 2014), Doves (January 21, 2015), and Phoenix (June 10, 2015)) are available from Torquere Press. Their May/December "gay for you" novella Midsummer will be released Summer 2015 by Dreamspinner Press. You can also find their work in Best Gay Romance 2015 edited by Felice Picano and published by Cleis Press.  

Friday, January 16, 2015

BOOK COVER FRIDAY: BAD SANTA by Lise Horton

  
  
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!



BAD SANTA
by Lise Horton
Riverdale Avenue Books