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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

BLASTS FROM THE PAST by Mary Andrews

picture title: Before & After


Today (Sept 28th) is my birthday and after a bit of obligatory retrospection, I decided to share a few of my life altering realizations:

While watching Saturday morning cartoons, (I like to keep in touch with what kids are tuning into.) I caught an episode of Garfield & Friends. In it one of the barnyard animals—probably the chicken—was worrying about the sky falling and one of the other animals—the smart one, a lamb I think—asked him to consider a single question, “Why worry?”

The lamb went on to explain that whether a problem could or couldn't be fixed, worrying wouldn’t accomplish anything. The simplicity of the statement made me think. It was such an obvious fact, but how much time and energy do we spend disregarding it?

In a nutshell, WORRYING=STRESS and up unto that time, I realized, most of my physical ailments (allergies, asthma, migraines etc) were all triggered by stress. So I set out to simply learn to stop...breathe...and let go. By “accepting things I could not change” I actually lessened these physical manifestations enough that Instead of ending up in emergency rooms twice a year from my asthma or bearing the onslaught of totally debilitating migraines, they suddenly fell almost totally away. Wow. Who’d have thought....

At another time, also long, long ago, I ran into a financial crises wherein my problems mushroomed and spiraled so far out of my control that I was devastated. When it reached the point the rent could no longer be made. I’d run out of normal options. (Once you’re behind, it makes for an even more torturously stressful time. If I couldn’t pay one month, how was I going to pay two?)

Hopelessly I brooded over the bills. I would never catch up. I was out of options. It was time to be creative. I decided to go light and lean. So I packed all my possessions and put them in storage. Then tinted the windows on my little Honda Civic station wagon, placed an assortment of clothing in a trunk, constructed a padded bedroll alongside it and gave up the house.

Funny thing about living in Lubbock TX, since its a college town, every large city park seemed to have some sort of high rise apartment complex across the street so there were always cars parked along the streets. Every night after sunset I blended right in with them and I’d lock up the car, crawl into the folded down back seat to my bedroll and fall asleep to the sight of green grassy rolling hills, trees and the moon over the park’s man made ponds. It was strangely liberating and very peaceful—much moreso than trying to sleep under the threat of unpaid bills and an uncertain future.

I usually woke up when the sun rose. Nobody ever noticed me. Morning joggers passed by oblivious to my presence. I even woke up one night to find some guys sitting on my car and drinking beer. This was the point when I realized that people just don’t see what they don’t expect.

I spent my days working an inventory job and looking for a better job. Finally targeting a CAT assembly job. Every Friday I briefly called them around 3 pm and asked if they were ready to hire me. Eventually a position came open and the secretaries told me to come in. I got the job and after I’d gathered enough money, I found a new home and started again.

It was perhaps not a normal solution but it worked for me and made me aware just how important communing with nature could be. With all the hustle and bustle of making a living, I believe we tend to forget the basics. When the world becomes unbearable, worry and stressing out is just not a healthy solution.

So here’s my advice for when the walls come crashing in (metaphorically):

1. Remember to breathe; slow deep breaths until you feel calm.

2. Look to nature. Recalibrate what is important.

3. Keep in mind that as long as your choices aren’t terminal (nobody dies because of them) there are lots of ways to get from here to where you want to be.

4. When trapped, think outside of the box.

5. Don’t forget to smile.

It’s always worked for me. *grin*

Monday, September 26, 2011

Leaps of Faith...

Have you ever been faced with a situation where you have to choose between the lesser of two evils? Most people would probably say yes. I mean, at some point in our lives, each one of us has had to face making a decision where neither of the choices before us truly cuts the mustard.

I'm facing one of those decisions right now. While it's not life or death, it's one that will certainly determine my path for the time being...

Do I stay with the small publisher I have, or do I table everything and look for an agent...or do I self publish?

I'm staring at a contract with my current publisher for my new book, Blood Legacy, due out on September 30Th. It's for five years. Most people would say..."That's great! Congrats." Except I'm not feeling too great about it at the moment.

The publisher in question had been around for just a little over a year. And they've done pretty well with just a few quality titles. I took an initial leap of faith and gave them a chance when they were only weeks old, and my first book sold over 500 copies during the year. While I know that's not a whole hell of a lot in the grand scheme of things, it's a lot for a small pubbed author. Problem is, the publisher is floundering. In this industry, and in this economic climate, it's not an unusual occurrence. So...do I hold my breath and sign, or do I put everything on the back burner and start from scratch?

I shudder at the thought of self publishing. Not because I think it's less than...I don't...I just know I don't have the wherewithal to do the marketing necessary to make it a success.

The whole publishing industry is in a conundrum, and I'm sure I'm not the only author to face this situation. Flux is never a good state, and with small, independent publishers popping up like weeds everywhere, what is an author to do. I've been lucky so far, but does one leap of faith deserve another?

Five years is a long time to hold one's breath, and the clock is ticking...literally. Marianne Morea

Saturday, September 24, 2011

What Are You?

Blogging the rather new to me so I posted mostly stories, my way of getting the feel of the scene. Most of what I’ve seen deals with what’s happening in our lives, good pointers on what and what not to do, new ideas and approaches to writing, dangers as well. Maybe I exaggerated when I said dangers. They’re really errors, mistakes we bring on by looking for perfection. Pick something and stick with it - but be open to change.

My life is always hectic. People turn to me a lot. Once I wanted to be a nurse but the path I took led to the healing of the spirit through the Tarot, Astrology and Numerology. I just can’t seem to be able to say no when someone needs help. Needless to say, I always get in over my head because there’s simply not enough of me to go around. What was I thinking????? Apparently not. LOL!

I’m getting to the point where I want to screen my calls. Some people call for everything.

“Listen! I hope I’m not intruding but can you give me a reading? I really need to know if he’s the one?”

Good grief! What makes them think I know what to do any more than they? The cards offer advice – advice that’s wise, as I’ve kept track over the years, which is why I kept them. It is a BIG mistake to consult the Tarot more than once a year for what I call a life reading. I recommend every two. Tarot readers who tell you every six months want steady customers. I am here to tell my clients the path the reading suggests. What the person does with that advice is up to them but please! Do not call me for everything little thing. I am not the maker of your life. You are.

Besides, it shows a lack of faith. The Secret explains it very well. So did Jesus when he said you reap what you sow. You sow seeds of failure you’ll get just that. Over time the Universe brings it to you. The principal is simple. What you believe is what manifests. Don’t believe me? Just look back over the scope of your past and see for yourself. We all have it one way or another: doubt.

I compare this principal to learning to ride a two wheel bike. It didn’t matter how many times you fell, how many bumps, bruises, and cuts you had. You got up and back on that bike. Why? Because you wanted to do it. And you did.

Same thing with driving a car. It didn’t matter how scared I was driving down my street, cars parked on both sides, getting on the expressway, going fast. Nothing existed but the fact I wanted to drive. And I did. Now I zip down the street without concern because practice makes perfect . . . well almost. Nothing is perfect here. All I can achieve is my best.

This is what I use in my writing, creating stories that relay how to become independent: independent of worry, independent of fear. Build faith in something and cling to it when things get bad, which they will. How we buffer the storms of life adds character, giving us strength, resolve, and wisdom.

Trust first and the rest will follow. Trust you have taken the right road. If it’s wrong, fate will let you know. A lesson learned, a change of course, and you’re on your way again, trusting things will turn out.

And in the end, they will.

So . . . the question I pose to my readers today is: What are you: a Pessimist, an Optimist, a Doubter, or a Believer?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Humid, But Habitable

I came across an interesting article in last Tuesday’s newspaper: Newfound Planet Habitable But Humid. This kind of scientific news is right up my alley! Maybe it’s up your alley too. :)) I read on to learn that orbiting a star in the Vela constellation 35 light years away in the  “Goldilocks Zone” is a planet called HD85512b.

Catchy name, isn’t it?

The Goldilocks Zone refers to an orbit that is or can be habitable--not too hot and not too cold for the presence of liquid water. HD85512b has an estimated temperature range of 85 to 120 degrees, is about 1.4 times Earth gravity, and completes an orbit around its sun in sixty days.

Hmmm, on HD, then, I’d be well over 300 years old… GULP!

Astronomers theorize that this “new” planet would be extremely muggy, and the lifeforms, if any, could be squatter and shorter--closer to the ground.


Now here comes the fun part. Let your imagination roam. With the above details in mind, what science fiction storyline would you create?

While you’re percolating on that scenario, here’s one of my science fiction romances--ALIEN HEAT--that was inspired by current events. I came across a cover story in U.S. News and World Report on global warming. Then I theorized what would happen if this warming was due to villainous extraterrestrial factors, not just because of manmade interference like automobile exhaust.

Next, I researched the 1994 crash of comet Shoemaker-Levy into Jupiter and decided this type of event could happen on Venus. The force of impact could send out fragments of Venus that then, eventually, could collide with Earth.

In addition to a dramatic climate change, there’d have to be significant damage to human civilization. With that kind of trauma and annihilation, cultures and countries usually become fractured, to say the least. So my future world on Earth now had “primitive” villagers and the more technologically advanced people of Canusa pitted against each other. Then I threw in colonizing Venusian flowers, and voila! We have ALIEN HEAT!


All women love these flowers... but the feeling's *not* mutual.

Blurb: An almost cataclysmic bombardment by meteorites drastically altered Earth's atmosphere and human society. As if that isn't enough, in the intervening years, strange plants suddenly sprout up... seeming to have a mind of their own.

Because of her unfortunate past, young Glyneth doesn't want to marry. But when she is abducted by the Outsider, Lucas Jefferson, she learns not all men are like her despicable father. With her unusual abilities, she is the only person to understand the serious threat the Venusian flowers are to not only Lucas' people, but the Earth as well.

Available in print and electronically at Wings ePress, www.wings-press.com, Amazon.com, and other Internet locations.

But back to HD85512b. Maybe there will be a “Humid, But Habitable” science fiction story in my future. Then again, maybe I’ll write a contemporary novel set in Miami!!

For more info on Romance Writing with a Twist, visit me at my website or blog! Thanks!

Susanne Marie Knight

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Benefits of Boredom

Would you like to know what inspired me to write my m/m romances? Boredom, to start with! My husband and I had taken a trip to Glacier National Park last summer. Beautifully romantic trip. But the long drive through the Idaho desert would have done me in, if it wasn’t for my sometimes naughty imagination.

The air conditioner wasn’t able to keep up with the close to 100 degree weather outside. We were in a desert in the middle of nowhere! Not another living soul on the road. Hot, dry, burnt landscape around us. Scrubby brush and stones baking in the sun. Heat waves rippling across the road. Humid, sultry air in the car lulling me towards sleep…

I’d recently written a short ghost story, The Trials of a Lonely Specter (MuseItUp Publishing, due out in October) and I began to wonder what my two men had done when they were alive. How had they met? Who would they be in the new story taking shape in my mind?

Nevil came first. Handsome, sexy, witty. Do you know the song ‘Last of the Famous International Playboys’ by Morrissey? That’s my Nevil.

And who would be special enough to win his heart? Someone shy and beautiful, unsure yet alluring in his own way. Definitely a temptation. Lovely Shelton.

Now to get them together. Yum. But I couldn’t just start with them in bed, however much as I’d like to! Should I start with their first meeting, where Shelton falls helplessly for Nevil’s charm? Come on, who wouldn’t!

Too predictable, though even as I’m writing this, I picture their first encounter in my mind, Shelton meeting Nevil’s burning glance across the room, his bones melting as the gorgeous man seemed interested in him…

But no, I wanted their relationship to be special. So I started later, with Shelton already hopelessly in love, his happily ever after still achingly out of reach. ‘Shelton in Love’ is about Shelton’s struggle to win Nevil’s elusive heart and not break his own. ‘Shelton’s Promise’ takes place six months later, with Shelton just as much in love as ever, and Nevil just as carefree as before.

Dianne Hartsock
Blog

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Men Can't Love Like Women - Unless They're Heroes in a Romance Novel

I read a great piece from The Huffington Post by research psychologist Dr. Peggy Drexler. I'm a research lawyer, so I felt a certain sense of professional attachment before I read the piece. Her article was titled "Why Can't Men Love Like Women?" I tweeted the link and Dr. Drexler replied to thank me for the tweet - which was a very nice gesture. Not only does Dr. Drexler seem nice, but from reading her article, she seems right. Very, very right.

Dr. Drexler says that one of her friends was complaining about love trouble. Now that's a familiar topic, right? This friend was worried that her relationship might be in the weeds because her man didn't understood what she needed and refused to tell her what he needed. The doctor wondered if her friend was imagining trouble because she was "confusing love with the expression of love."

The article makes the case that men and women love differently. Dr. Drexler doesn't claim that one style is better and the other worse - she says it's just bloomin' different. There are biological and anatomical reasons for the differences. The article cites studies by Dr. Robin Gur who claims to have brain imaging showing that the male and female brains aren't wired the same way. Dr. Drexler points to other studies on the variations in how men and women communicate. "Men are wired to act during times of high emotion, since emotion can lead to violence; there is a shut-off mechanism. He stops talking -- just when women, wired entirely differently, want to talk."


Citing studies from the Stanford's Hoover Institution web site Uncommon Knowledge, Drexler says boys are more fragile than women medically and emotionally. More boys are miscarried in the womb. As children they stress faster and cry more easily and more often than girls. It also takes longer to calm little boys down. A man's blood pressure lowers much slower after stress than a woman's. And elderly men are far more likely to die after losing their mate than are elderly women.

These studies lead Drexler to a dramatic point: "Such findings point to some serious irony. All these insensitive men are actually more reactive to emotion than women, so they are genetically programmed to avoid it."

(Drexler goes on to make some other fascinating points She used the research in her recent book: Our Fathers, Ourselves: Daughters, Fathers, and the Changing American Family).

But you know me - the insane, romance-writing duck lady. I'm going to quack right back to that nice ole' dramatic point. MEN FEEL THINGS SO MUCH MORE DEEPLY THAN WOMEN THAT THEY ARE BIOLOGICALLY PROGRAMMED TO AVOID IT.

Let's say you come home awash in tears because your boss just spent an hour yelling at you.

In romance novels the hero might act like a living dream when you come home sobbing, a victim of your bosses' vile temper and poor management style. I can write a man who'd hug you tenderly, take your hand and lead you to sit down on the sofa. He'd pour you a nice glass of your favorite mood enhancer, rub your back and say, "Let's talk about it. Tell me what happened exactly what that jackass said." After you described the conversation he'd say something like, "And I bet that made you feel diminished, didn't it? That's how it would make me feel. How'd you handle it?" Because this is a romance novel, somewhere late in the game, after your words slowed, he'd slip a hand under your shirt. Then he'd lean over and lick your lips until they fell open so he could drink your pain and feed you his strength.

If this is one of my romance novels it'd be at least a little bit (okay, a lot, but I'm trying to act sane here) over the top. So when the hero licks your lips a tear would fall from his cheek and trickle down your chin. You'd cup your hands around his face and find him spilling the tears he'd try to hold back. You'd ask, "Sweetheart?" And a growling, gritty sob would escape as he said, "I can't bear that you were hurt so badly. And I can't bear that I wasn't there for you. But I'm here now." Later, in one of my tales, the hero would pay a little secret visit to your boss as the ghost of ass-whippings to come and the next day the boss would come to your desk, apologize abjectly, and insist on giving you a big raise. You'd wonder why he insisted you tell your boyfriend all about it.

Yeah, in romance novels one of my favorite things is being able to write men who don't just love - they love over the top. But unfortunately, life isn't a romance novel. So, how can we tweak reality to make those conversations with our real life heroes go a little better?

If this is real life after you've read this blog, clicked over and read Dr. Drexler's blog, then you have some knowledge you didn't have before. So when you come home awash in tears after that verbal assault and your man responds by offering to call your boss and straighten him out - you know something new. Now you know that your man is not being insensitive to your emotional needs. He's not trying to belittle you or imply that you can't handle this yourself. He feels your pain so deep down in his heart that he's trying to solve the problem and make the hurt stop.

Remember that and react to what he's feeling. Understand that his offer to call the boss is a sign that he hurts because you hurt. See the support instead of sighting a target on his head and turning your anger at him because he didn't react the way you wanted him to react. Think of what a different ending you could have - instead of a fight and more tears and more pain, it would end in a hug. And you'd say something like - "My boss is an ass and I know how to deal with creatures like him. But you're a sweetheart for caring and I love you very much."

Then you could lead him upstairs and stage that romance novel ending. Sometimes we have to give reality a little nudge.

Mary Anne Graham
Quacking Alone Romances
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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Interviewing Cover Models/Actors

Well, yeah, someone has to do it, right? How else would we find out what a cover model's life is all about and how they manage to create such wonderful poses?

(Jason Baca)

Okay. Just kidding. After doing almost two years of cover model interview, I have the greatest respect for these guys. They work hard at their careers. And, they need to stay in shape at all times...unlike authors who can write and publish even if they have green hair, pink eyes, and snack all day at a computer (we need "food for thought") so waistlines may expand.

Some are married and have children. Some talk about their families and how important friends and family are in their lives.

How do you find these guys to interview? Lots of research...get on the Internet. Get names of models from others. Go to conferences and track down any cover models attending. I've done all of this. It does take time and, of course, the models have to be willing to do an interview. Some are eager. Some never answer.

( Jimmy Thomas)


So, how do you go about interviewing a model/actor? First, do some research on the Internet. Gather whatever material you can find about him. Ask him for a resume. Review all the information and then formulate your questions to suit his information.

Some questions are standard and I use them for all models/actors. But most are geared toward the information I've gathered through research. If I find out someone was "Mr. Romance" or posed for Playgirl, I ask questions about those events. If he's been in movies or TV shows, I ask about those.

(John Antorino)

And, I always ask if there are questions I should have asked that he'd like to answer.

Getting photos to go along with the interview is important. Some send lots; others send just a few. Whatever is sent, use them.

Promo the interview. I do promo for the interview on lots of loops and get a good number of hits. One interview had over 500 hits in one day. Romance readers want to know the guys who grace book covers.

So, don't be afraid to ask for an interview. It's been fun and I've met a few guys at conferences after I've done their interviews. All have been gracious and real gentlemen.


(Scott Nova)

The four photos are just from a few of the models/actors I've interviewed at http://romancebooksrus.blogspot.com

Marianne
http://www.mariannestephens.net
http://www.aprilash.net

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When Is Self-Promotion too, too blatant?


As authors in this e-friendly world, we all think we have to promote ourselves and our books, and I fully believe this is true. If I didn't believe it, why would I keep spending an hour or more each day on Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets?

What bothers me--and I assume makes others' heads sizzle with annoyance--is authors "preaching to the choir". By this I mean posting every review, every release, every guest blogging date, ad nauseum, on sites and lists which are frequented only by their fellow authors as well as on all the social media sites.

Yes, I frequently read other authors' books. I think almost every author does. I make it a point, though, not to buy the books of authors who keep my email boxes stuffed with blatant self-promotion I've already seen on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Because I feel this way, I've begun to wonder whether pure readers I try to reach in social media also get testy when they see too many promo posts from one author.

Just how much promo is too much?

Readers need to know about new releases--once or twice, just before and on the release date. I question whether they also need to know when (a few days after the release at the publisher site) the same book is released at Amazon, Barnes & Noble.com, etc.

I usually link to one or two favorable reviews for a book--not every review, and certainly not less than flattering ones. It's also been my practice to post new cover art on Facebook which also slides over to Twitter. In between, I try to find interesting pieces that aren't related to my books and post them on my FB page so it won't seem to be nothing but blatant self-promotion.

Does this amount to overkill?

I'm in a quandary. Sometimes I think I'm a mean curmudgeon for seething at the sight of the third or fourth announcement of the same self-promo information from a fellow author. Other times I wonder if I'm not irritating potential readers by tooting my own horn too loudly.

What do you think? At what point does useful promotion slip over into the nuisance category? I imagine there are a lot of authors who really want to know!



Friday, September 9, 2011

My Checkered Past: Christopher Walken

My Checkered Past: Christopher Walken

I used to be a professional actor. Professionally trained, I embarked on an incredibly short career that consisted of a couple of jobs, one of which was in a film called “At Close Range.” It starred Christopher Walken and Sean Penn, and I had a few seconds that made it to the final edit, as Rosie the Cook. It was a thieves’ kitchen sort of scene, something familiar to me since my first acting experience was as one of Fagin’s boys in a production of “Oliver!” with the West Valley Light Opera in San Jose at the age of eight.

It was my second day of work on this film. I’d been in a jail scene earlier, and that was somewhat amusing though as always in that job there was a lot of waiting. Most day players I know bring a book or something to amuse themselves while waiting to be sent in front of a camera. On Rosie the Cook day, it appeared we were waiting for the sun to go down. When it did, we were allowed on the set, which was an old barn in Franklin, Tennessee.

I’d been on film sets before, in other jobs I’d done out in California, so the hot lights and power cables everywhere weren’t new to me and it didn’t seem weird. The rest of the actors and extras milled about, waiting to be told what to do. Tracey Walter flirted with all the girls, but I think everyone wanted to meet Christopher Walken. I’d always liked his work, and was pretty excited to be there that night.

The director, Jamie Foley, pointed to me and told me to stand next to a table, so I did. In the scene I was told to pour a cup of coffee for one of the actors and respond to a comment from Walken’s character. Then look busy. On that table were a big pot full of water, a couple of electric burners, one bearing a coffee pot full of coffee, about three opened cans of Campbell’s Chunky Soup, and a spoon. Look busy? Doing what? Once the soup was in the pot, all that was left was to pretend to stir it with the spoon which was too short to reach the bottom of the pot. Hm.

The first setup was a long shot, and I didn’t know where the camera was. I did what I was told, but the coffee I poured sort of all plopped into the cup at once, making it too full. Walken walked past, said, “Make it spicy, Rosy,” I smiled at him, and that was it for the take. I think we did it another couple of times, and those times I managed to fill the cup so it was a bit more wieldy, and the lights dimmed for another setup. Told to stay on my mark, I stayed where I was, on my mark drawn in the sawdust on the floor.

I tried to reset the props on my table, but the soup was in the pot and for the last couple of takes I found myself shuffling empty cans. I had no clue how I was going to fake it for further setups.

Next thing I knew, Christopher Walken was there, asking me about the stuff on the table. “What have you got here?” I showed him, and he tut-tutted and muttered some. Then he called over one of the property guys. “What’s this?” he said. “Look what she’s got here. How’s she supposed to do anything with this? This is a disgrace.” The property guy stammered and blinked and said it was just what was given to him to put there. Big mistake, for that brought more chewing out about how bad a job the properties were. Then Walken said, “Here, I’m going to give you a list. Take this down, and you go get this stuff for me.” Over protests that more stuff might not be available, he said to go find a store and buy it if necessary. He ordered shrimp, rice, vegetables, garlic, and a number of other things to throw into the pot. He asked for knives and spoons, and a cutting board. Then he hung out with those of us in the scene while waiting for the props to arrive, chatting with the other actors.

Very seldom in my life have I been a fangirl. I’ve sometimes had severe cases of boggle-eyes at meeting someone I admired, but most of the time I take that sort of thing in stride. But that day I found myself struggling to maintain a professional demeanor. Somehow I managed to hold it together without saying anything too stupid. When the props arrived, we discussed the stew as if we were going to eat it. Walken helped me chop vegetables, the shrimp and rice went in, and soon the pot smelled wonderful. All garlicky and shrimp-like. At one point I thanked him for his help with the props and said, “It must be nice, to be able to order people around like that.” He replied, “That’s what it’s all about.”

By the time the next setup was—well--set up, he was calling the stew “jambalaya,” and I realized what he was really up to. It wasn’t just a matter of giving me something to do so that I wouldn’t be obviously faking being busy on camera. It was also that by doing what he did, he established the same sort of relationship with me that his character would have with the character of Rosie. He helped me become comfortable in the scene, and helped me to be comfortable with the steaming pot of “jambalaya,” the knives, the vegetables, the cutting board, and the space I occupied behind the table. Basically, he was being the great actor he is, attending to details that weren’t necessarily his job but contributed immeasurably to the quality of the film.

The final takes of that scene went smoothly, I was able to actually be busy rather than fake it, and when Walken left the set he gave me a smile that warmed me to my toes. That was twenty-six years ago, and I still have to rub down goosebumps at the memory. For me, working with Christopher Walken was like being paid to take an acting lesson.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Urban Fantasy - What's so good about it?

I was thinking this morning about why I love this genre. I instantly came up with a list. Here are my top 6 reasons for loving urban fantasy.

  1. First person POV – I find this POV easy to write and I love to read from this POV. For some reason, it really puts me inside the head of the character, what they see and what they feel.
  2. Fast paced – I like a book that moves quickly.
  3. Action – I like action. Action is exciting. It involves conflict and or coming to a conflicting situation. Love conflict.
  4. Setting – The city setting in urban fantasies seems more real to me. I can visualize the setting more.
  5. Fantastical aspect – I'm a paranormal lover, so I do enjoy the various creatures and the worlds created in urban fantasy. The mind is a wonderful tool to use for creating new creatures and new worlds.
  6. Romance is not central – While I do enjoy romance, urban fantasy doesn't have romance as the central theme. Sure, you can have a romantic element or parties having sex, but it's not the core of the book. Some other theme is important – like saving the world, or someone's life… something big. Hell, it doesn't really have to be a big, it could be anything that is important to the protagonist.

What draws you into a certain genre?

Mary Abshire is the author of the Soul Catcher series (paranormal romance). Her first urban fantasy novel, The Awakening, is set for release Jan. 2012. As soon as she polishes the sequel, The Quest, she hopes it will be released in 2012 too.

Links:

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Introduction

Since this is my first post, I thought perhaps an introduction might be in order.  And if you would care to introduce yourselves, that would be fabulous too.

I'm a Brit, but I live in Canada, I write full time and I write steamy regency romances.  I have a rescued maltese terrier called Teaser, a husband and two grown up daughters. (You can tell who comes first in our household, but then the Brits penchant for their animals is not a myth, but a well known truism.)

I love what I do.

I have written seven full length novels for the Harlequin Historical line so far. Number six, Lady Rosabella's Ruse, will be out in the new year.   Here you have the cover for number five, More Than a Mistress
, July 2011.  This is the  second book in the Rakes in Disgrace Series. The first being The Gamekeeper's Lady. (The books are independent of each other, but it would be better to read them in order.)

This cover represents a scene in the book.  And yes, he is helping her off with her stocking. The couple are engaged in a game of strip billiards. No more spoilers for today!

I have also written 7 short stories for the Harlequin Historical Undone line. These are short hot e-books that are to be found in all the online shopping places and they are connected to the books, though quite separate from them and three of them are connected to each other.  The most recent is titled Deliciously Debauched by the Rake
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 It sounds odd, but this story, which is tied to The Gamekeeper's Lady by the thinnest wispiest of threads, wrote itself. This couple just wrote their own story. They let me hold the pen (or tap at the keyboard) but they just walked right on the page. No edits or revisions were required.  I do wish that would happen more often

The next one is a Christmas story and more about that later.

Novels 8 and 9 are already in the works and I will be telling you about those as we go along.

So there you have me in a nutshell as it were. Tell me about you, or if you prefer ask me any question you like. Hmm, with regards to that, I find that women always want to know where I get the inspiration for the stories and the characters. Whereas men, bless their little brains (the one in their pants) always want to know who gives me the inspiration for the sex.  I have lots of fun with that one and a few stories to tell which I will save for another time.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Putting Yourself Into Your Writing

Write what you know.

Nearly every author has heard that old adage at one time or another. And many authors go off to write stories featuring people like them. That's all right. There's nothing wrong with it. However, some authors take the saying deeper, going into their hearts and souls to pour a little of themselves into the book. It doesn't matter if we're writing sweet tales of small town families or highly charged science fiction adventures. If authors put a little bit of themselves, or a whole lot of themselves, into the story, it will resonate with readers.

I don't think this means that we can only write about people like us. If we did, then there'd probably be no books about vampires or werewolves or aliens on a spaceship. But it does mean that we have to be open to the world around us and see our own qualities reflected in others. The main character may be from a different planet or a different time, but that character probably has much the same thoughts and feelings as we do. The same hopes and fears most likely resonate in a historical person's life just the same as they do our own. (Of course, there will be exceptions to this, such as in science fiction where well-written aliens won't think or act like we would.)

In addition to the emotional and mental ways you can put yourself into the story, you can also draw on experiences in your own life. If you write inspirational books, then your own faith and spirituality may be put into the story to varying degrees, for example.

But this doesn't mean you can't research and you can't put things you don't know into books. If it's a subject in which you're interested, then that's a part of you. The important thing is to make sure you are invested in some way in the story. Then, you'll be sharing more than just a made up story with your readers; you'll be sharing a part of yourself.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

How important are first impressions to publishers/agents?

As a multi-genre, multi-published author, I gained some wisdom or at least some experience in the submitting game. Granted the form rejections letters from many publishers and agents send out don’t tell you a thing to help you understand why you were rejected. Some, however, mean exactly what they say—they can’t use what you sent them. Does that always mean your story? Or did they refuse it because of your presentation without reading more than a page? A poor presentation will get you automatically rejected without anyone going to page two. Why? Think about this: if you don’t care enough about your talent to present it in a clean, neat manner, the first message you send is negative. If you aren’t proud enough of your work to make it look good and give it polish, why should they read it?
Here’s a very simple example, you go into a store and on the rack there are two blouses. One has been dropped on the floor and walked on. It’s dirty and wrinkled. Right next to it is one that hasn’t. Which one are you going to try on? You’re the publisher; would you take one you know is going to take extra work when there’s one right beside it he could put on and be ready to go? Provided, of course, that it’s the right color which takes us to issue number two.
Did you do your homework? Did you surf their website, read and apply what they wanted both in material and presentation? If you don’t care enough to format it the way they request, why would they expect you to do the necessary work to take it to the release stage? Although there really are those out there who feel ‘my story is so good, all that doesn’t matter—once they read it, they’ll know that.’ They aren’t going to read at all if you didn’t follow their requested format. As well as a gauge as to how well you’ll work through the editing process, the primary reason for font, line spacing, and font size are simply to avoid eyestrain. Respect that. Also pay attention to what genre they’re asking for and the specifics. Don’t send them a 150,000 manuscript when they asked for an 80,000. A science fiction isn’t going to be accepted at a house that specializes in historical romances. That was an extreme example, yes, but do pay attention. They post their guidelines for a reason.
Last, but certainly not the least is grammar and punctuation. Just because you’re writing fiction not a text book, those two items do not get tossed out the window, nor will a publisher overlook sloppy, lazy writing for ‘the magnificent story’ and leave it up to the editing staff to clean it up. Again, if you don’t care enough to do it, why should they? If you don’t know the basics, learn them. Elements of Style and The Chicago Manual of Style are both available for reading online. Take one rule at a time, learn it and apply it. Nothing will turn off a prospective publisher or agent more than a first page loaded with punctuation and grammar errors. Again, that’s usually as far as they will read. Apply the same care, also, to the query letters and synopsis. Those are the first things they read, and they judge your writing ability—and the depth of your commitment—by those.
Show them you care, you’re proud of your work, and have the necessary commitment to follow through to the finish.
Two of my books that made it through.





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visit my website: and see those under both of my pen names.