Impromptu Contest from Kim Lionetti at Book Ends

A friend, who is represented by Book Ends, forwarded this to me:

BookEndsKim  Kim Lionetti

“IMPROMPTU CONTEST!  Tweet me a pitch for your tortured hero book.  Must fit in 1 tweet.   Contest closes tomorrow 9 p.m. EST
I’ll pick 3 winners to receive critiques of their syn and first 3 chapters.  Please RT!”
I heard that she especially likes tortured historical heroes. So if you have one, get cracking!

New Year’s Writing Resolutions – How to Not Break Them

HAPPY NEW YEAR! I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday, no matter what you celebrated.

So, did you put together a list of Resolutions that you wanted to keep for 2012? I did… the usual – “lose weight manifesto”, but I have a deadline this time, because of my friend’s upcoming wedding where I’ll be a bridesmaid. I seriously need to lose some weight fast!

Aside from that, instead of creating a list of resolutions that I need to keep the whole year-long (yeah right, who actually does that?), I am creating monthly ones. Call them monthly goals if you want… might take some of that pressure off the word “resolution.” Whatever works.

For example, in January, my resolution is to enter 1 writing contest, query 2 agents, edit 5 chapters, blog at least once per week and sign up for RWA Nationals. Might be a bit lofty with my hectic schedule, but as the month wears on, I’ll establish my February’s resolutions rather than arbitrarily setting them all at the beginning of the year. I figure that it makes these monthly resolutions easier to stick to.

Also starting in February, my local RWA chapter is hosting their annual PALs challenge where we write a book in 8 months. I’m definitely signing up for that while I continue to edit and query my current manuscript. Hopefully you have a group of friends or a local chapter where you guys can continually set monthly goals to keep the momentum going. It made a world of difference for me and helps ease the anxiety of waiting for contest results or to hear back from agents.

And for those who could care less about New Year’s Resolutions, Calvin sums it up best:

Calvin & Hobbes

 

 

January Call for #Submissions

Hi Everyone,

As one of my New Year’s Resolutions of blogging more, I thought I’d start off simple, by passing information on. Here is some news regarding what publishing houses are asking for. If you have a manuscript completed and ready for submission, then these might just be the right opportunities for you!

_________________________________________________________________________________

Compiled by Louis Bacio used in the January 2012 Issue of Orange Blossom, newsletter for Orange County Romance Writers

JANUARY SUBMISSIONS

Western Witches … Calls for Submission

Want to start the new year off with some creative inspiration? Why not kick it off with a short story? Here are the latest Calls for Submissions … perfect for helping meet those resolutions.

Hex Appeal

Ellora’s Cave is casting a magical spell for all things Wiccan. Charm readers with stories about wanton witches, lusty warlocks and sizzling spells! 18K – 70K words Deadline for internal submissions: June 15, 2012. Deadline for external submissions: May 15, 2012. Stories will release in October 2012. For more information, http://www.jasminejade.com/t-writerscircle.aspx

Western Escape

Decadent Publishing is accepting pitches for their new series, Western Escape.
If you have a tale of a hot cowboy, or a cowgirl who can hold her own in a man’s world, we want to hear about it. Give us lariats to tie up desire, a beautiful sunset over an open prairie to weaken inhibitions, or even the slow rocking of a horse to spark things off. Decadent Publishing’s Western Escape follows the lives of Freewill’s residents and visitors. Heroes and heroines can be locals or tourists, but they must all pass through or connect to Freewill in some way whether interacting with the town ghost or locals, attending a conference at the Misbegotten Gaines Ranch and Resort, or something only you have thought of.

All submissions must have a Western theme. Tell us of the city boy roped by the hottest cowgirl in the West. Show us the wild or simple joys of a trip to the rodeo. Offer a plea to the ghost of Pierre Dauville and demonstrate the power of believing in what you cannot not see. For more information about Freewill look around the blog and make yourself at home or contact us.

Due to the somewhat conservative nature of the setting, all stories should focus on heterosexual relationships with a satisfying HFN or HEA ending. If you have a wilder cowboy in mind, please send it through general submissions.

Genre: A Western connection is a must, but we are open to any sub-genre including but not limited to Historical, Time Travel, or BDSM, as well as some paranormal elements such as psychics or reincarnation themes. No sci-fi or extreme fantasy please. Although a little implied magic is acceptable, we would prefer our cowboys on horses rather than riding dragons or space ships. 12K -50K (We will consider longer works on an individual basis.) Sensual to Hot (2-4) See submissions link below for taboo subjects. Remember this is romance so no straight erotica please. For more information, visit http://westernescapedecadentpublishing.blogspot.com/p/submission-guidelines-for-decadent.html

Coming Out Stories

Loose Id wants Coming Out stories — Thoughtful, authentic erotic romances featuring men and women who come out. The coming out theme must be integral to the story. All stories must follow Loose Id submission guidelines. Final deadline for full submissions will be June 15, 2012 but the earlier, the better. Those accepted may be included for release in conjunction with Coming Out Day.

Coming out refers to the expression “coming out of the closet” meaning to tell others about your sexual orientation.
http://www.lasionline.org/the-issues/coming-out.html Note: Coming Out Day is observed in many countries, usually on October 11. In the UK it is celebrated on October 12. For more information, visit http://www.loose-id.com/submissions.aspx

Faery Rose

The Faery Tales at Wild Rose Press are not for children. The Faery line is a fantasy world where you can allow your imagination free rein, a place to enjoy romance with mystical or mythical characters. We are looking for a sensual hero who knows what he wants and who goes after his leading lady. The heroine should always be a female we can identify with—someone we want to see achieve her dreams with strength she draws from inside.

Here are some possible scenarios:
– Dragons in the mist that turn into mortal men and women while overcoming obstacles to their love may have a little lust on their minds as well.
– Elves with challenges to their emotions could be looking for love with a bit of mischief thrown in.
– Ghosts may come back for the love of their life—or serve as the conflict keeping hero and heroine apart
– Wizards, warlocks, and witches crank up the romance like they spit out a spell.
– Futuristic worlds reveal heroes and heroines capable of wielding a sword or a laser, who fearlessly go after what their hearts desire.
– Time travels moving through centuries with the hero and heroine seeking not the secrets of the ages but of love.

And because our line is limited only by your imagination, if you have any other mystical creatures you think might be a fit, we will certainly look at those also. For believable romantic interaction, the hero and heroine must be of the same species or both humanoid. Your work should be a Romance above all, and every story should have clear goal, motivation, and conflict no matter how long or short. “Show” us the trials and tribulations of your hero and heroine—make them suffer. We want to “see” their emotions, don’t tell us; put the reader in the story rather than telling a “bedtime story” to a friend. For more information, http://wildrosepress.us

How a Broken Microwave Helped Me Write

Not my actual broken microwave

If for no other reason than the title intrigued you, I am glad that you are visiting my blog. Today’s blog centers around how my broken microwave helped me write.

What exactly was wrong with the microwave, you might ask? The Heating Element went out. And since it was the second time that it failed, we decided to replace it and are never going to buy a GE product again. But I digress. . .

Since over-the-range microwaves cost a bit more than the college dorm variety, we had to wait a bit to save up for a new one. In the meantime, we had to do things the old fashioned way. We actually had to cook everything instead of nuke it. Not only did this make us very frugal with the amount of food we cooked, because there was no reheating it later. But also it slowed everything down . . .time to get the milk to a screaming baby, no popcorn for DVD night, etc. Yeah, real hardships, I know, but I challenge you guys to go without a microwave to defrost food (among other things) for a while and see if you’re not whining for modernity.

As I was coming to the conclusion of my Victorian Romance, I found myself having difficulty drawing everything to a close, partly because I didn’t want to say goodbye to my characters, and partly because I didn’t want to drag on the ending. So that left me with a bit of writer’s block. What should I write to satistfactorily close the novel?

A *BLANK SCREEN* blinked at me relentlessly for days.

Since I was forced to experience weeks without microwave, I decided to go back to writing, as if I didn’t have modern tools, like a laptop.

And I have to say . . .there’s just something about writing out notes and ideas on paper. Drawing circles and lines and arrows for brainstorming. It’s fabulous. I know there’s an Apple equivalent for this called iThought and if I ever get an iPad, you better believe I’m going to buy that app, but still, it’s the ability to draw out your thoughts in a different way than you would just typing on a keyboard.

Along with writing long-hand, I also did other old-school tricks:

Writing exercises – like listening to a specific song (preferably without words) and listening to it a few times before trying to imagine a scene based purely on the music. Write what’s happening based on the music alone: it does not necessarily have to involve anything from your current WIP. (Thanks Chris Green for that oldie-but-goodie writing exercise)

Brainstorm bubbling – I alluded to it earlier, but to reiterate, use a blank sheet of paper and draw a circle in the center and write a phrase for a scene you’re working on. Then take off in different directions with alternative What-If scenarios like a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Book (am I dating myself?) and see where your ideas take you.

Stovetop Popcorn – So there’s definitely some finesse required to this . . .just enough kernals with just the right ratio of butter/flavoring, and just the right amount of time, plus constance viligance watching them pop in the pot. This was great for idea brewing. I would imagine my characters are the kernals, and by adding just the right amount of oil and the perfect level of heat and they popped into a tasty treat. If I overheated them, turned my back on them, or didn’t keep them moving, the popcorn would burn. (There’s nothing worse than the smell of burned popcorn – blech) I liken this to  how a scene can over-burden a reader with a giant info-dump. The right timing, amount, and (for writing only) placement is key.

It really can be done.

More than anything a broken microwave reminded me how to get-back-to-basics and reinforced to me that just because something is old (like writing exercises) it doesn’t mean that it’s not helpful or worthwhile to stock your arsenal with.

Thanks for stopping by.

Regency Miniatures

REGENCY MINIATURES

Portrait miniatures started in 16th century Europe and was used as a method of introducing people across vast differences. The practice of painting miniatures lasted until the mid-18th century when daguerrotype portraits were first used.

For me, just the thought of miniatures being used to strike up and seal a marriage agreement is like a veritable story goldmine. It’s easy to imagine someone being painted with better features than reality. Or just before blossoming into a real beauty.

As a side note, I employed the use of a miniature in my WIP Victorian even though tintype photos were just being developed. Hey, some people are just old school, you know.

Below is a picture I took while at the Regency Revisited exhibit at the Huntington Library. Here is what it said about their collection:

” . . .18th Century Miniatures served both public and private functions. Often, the elegant gilt mounts were backed with glass, behind which a woven or braided lock of hair of the sitter’s hair would be kept, enhancing the portrait’s  role as a token of affection or remembrance.”

The amount of detail used to paint the portraits was extraordinary. This miniature is watercolor on ivory and sealed with enamel. But the first miniatures were watercolors on stretched vellum in the 16th century, to vitreous enamel painted on copper in the 17th.

Here is a better image as an example of miniature portraits.

I would imagine – since it wasn’t stated in any of the sources that I’ve read nor at the exhibit that when traveling with these miniatures, they were wrapped in oil cloth or similar and tied with string to prevent scratching. At least that’s what I’m going to say in my novel. =)

Please check out the resources below for more detailed information on miniatures, how they were painted and a whole gallery of portraits to see what people of these times thought was important to portray.

Thanks for stopping by.

Resources:

Katherine Cox: Regency Era: Miniature Portraits                                             http://novembersautumn.wordpress.com/2010/05/13/regency-era-miniature-portraits/

Judy and Brian, Harden. Portrait Miniatures. Web.
http://www.portraitminiatures.co.uk/.

“19th Century Miniature Collection.” The Tansey Collection of Miniatures. Web.
http://www.miniaturen-tansey.de/en/miniatures/epoches/epoche/19

“Painting Technique.” The Tansey Collection of Miniatures. Web.
http://www.miniaturen-tansey.de/en/pages/show/sid/technique>.
”Portrait miniature.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Web.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portrait_miniature

Q and A with Deb Werksman, editor at SourceBooks

Hi Everyone,

I have been checking out the blog tour on Romance Author Hotspot and it’s been so fun. If you’ve never been on a Blog Tour, this sis a great first experience, at least it has been for me. I’m not all the way through it yet, however I have been reading through Deb Werksman interview, which is great, but the REAL gold is found in the comments section, where Deb answers readers’ questions. I’ll repeat it at the end but go to www.romanceauthorhotspot.com and click on the header for Summer Bash 2011.

Here is just a snippet of what you’ll find in the comments section:

Q: What is your editorial criteria?

DW:

  • a heroine the reader can relate to
  • a hero she can fall in love with
  • a world gets created that she can escape into
  • a hook I can sell with in 2-3 sentences
  • the author has a clear career arc–i.e., if readers love the first book, what
    are we giving them next, and next and next?

Q: Would like to know what kind of stories would you like to see cross your desk (something that would really excite you)?

DW:

  • straight contemporaries that are fun to read (not issues-based, which I don’t think works in romance)
  • romantic suspense with law enforcement theme/characters
  • romantic comedy
  • commercial women’s fiction with a great hook and an unusual premise
  • Georgian and Victorian England historical romance

Q: Also, what kind of stories/genre do you think needs to be freshened up?
DW: paranormal romance and erotic romance

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, folks. Go check out the rest of the great blogs on the tour. There are many new-to-you authors to explore. www.romanceauthorhotspot.com

Happy Exploring!

Suzy Kue

 

Call for Submissions – July through September

Hi Everyone,

Submission Time!

Hopefully you have some material all polished and ready to go to fit these categories.

Good luck to you!

___________________________________________________________________

The following information was first printed in the July 2011 Orange Blossom, newsletter for Orange County Romance Writers.

JULY CALLS FOR SUBMISSIONS

XoXo Publishing is seeking original, never published before short stories written by unpublished and published writers. 2,500 to 4,500 words. Romances of all genres, safe-sex couples, sensuous romances, sweet, historical etc. Celebrating
dance of all kinds be it the dance of courtship or actual physical dance. Manuscript must be sent in as MS Word doc, attachment.12 pt Times New Roman. Double spaced and fully edited.

Deadline July 31, 2011.

                                                             _________________________________________

Angels & Fairies

There are angels who are good and pure and perfect — and there are angels whose halos are a bit, well, crooked. And tarnished. They’re naughty angels, and they’ve got more fun things to do than play harps and float on clouds.

Ravenous Romance is looking for steamy, sexy short stories for an anthology that features angels — the naughtier, the better. M/F, M/M, F/F, and ménage stories welcome. Submit your stories to acquisitions editor Jennifer Safrey at jen@ravenousromance.com. Please include a short query letter in the body of the email and the story as an attachment.

Deadline August 1, 2011.

____________________________________________

Samhain Superheroes

It’s up, up and away we go, to a world of superheroes and supervillains, where  heroes and/or heroines with special abilities and crime-fighting prowess  protect the public…and fall in love.

I’m very happy to announce an open call for submissions for a new,  yet-to-be-titled spring 2012 superhero romance anthology. For more information  on what I’m looking for when I ask for superhero stories, check out these  entries on wikipedia.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superhero

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superhero_fiction

I’m open to M/F, M/M, F/F, or multiples thereof, any sexual heat level, and the romance must end happily ever after or happy for now.

The novellas must range between 25,000 to 30,000 words in length, no more, no less—please note, only manuscripts that fall in this word count will be  considered for this anthology—and will be released individually as ebooks in  spring 2012 and in print approximately one year later.

Submissions are open to all authors, published with Samhain or aspiring to be published with Samhain. All submissions must be new material—previously  published submissions will not be considered. Additionally, manuscripts  previously submitted, whether individually or for past anthologies, will not be  considered either. Be aware that manuscripts submitted to this anthology cannot  be resubmitted at a later date unless by invitation from an editor.

Please note: fanfiction of popular, trademarked and copyrighted superheroes  will not be considered. Only original works please.

To submit a manuscript for consideration, please include:

The full manuscript (of 25,000 to 30,000 words) with a comprehensive 2-5 page synopsis. Also include a letter of introduction/query letter. Full  manuscripts are required for this as it is a special project.

As well, when you send your manuscript, be sure to use the naming convention  Superhero_Title_MS and Superhero_Title_Synopsis. This will ensure that your submission doesn’t get missed in the many submissions we receive, and
makes it easy for me to find in my e-reader.

Submissions are open until September 1, 2011. No submissions will be accepted after this date—no exceptions.

http://www.samhainpublishing.com/special-calls/

_______________________________________________

Ellora’s Cave Love Letters

~ Story length 18K – 45K words.

~ Any genres, settings.

~ Must use the theme as a primary story element.

Submission deadlines are firm. Earlier is preferred.

LOVE LETTERS

Theme is love letters, cards, diaries.

Stories will release in January/February 2012 (in time for Valentine’s Day).

Submission deadline is August 31, 2011.

Send a professional cover email, a detailed synopsis (2 to 5 pages describing  setting and main characters and outlining full plot, including resolution), the  first three chapters and the final chapter of your manuscript via email as an  attached file (doc or rtf format) to Submissions@ellorascave.com.  Note: We are an e-publisher and all our work is done electronically; we do not
accept paper submissions.

Compiled by Louisa Bacio. Bacio’s new erotic paranormal The Vampire, The Witch & The Werewolf: A New Orleans Threesome is now available. Visit her at http://www.louisabacio.com.

Recent #AskAgent Sessions

Hi Folks,

It’s been a while since I’ve posted any of the transcripts from #AskAgent on Twitter. And the reason is probably because many that cross into the Romance genre are at RWA 2011 in New York, so they are not necessarily going to have the time to answer all the questions. But here are the ones that they have answered.

NOTE: This time various agents have answered the question, so I didn’t list everyone. And the text is just how it came from Twitter, no corrections or changes made to them, so don’t blame me for any missed spaces or spellings. 🙂

Q: Are vampire romance novels still hot? How about Zombies?

A: It’s hard to break in as a newbie. There’s already plenty avail 4 readers to buy so pubs aren’t starving for more

________________________

Q: How does one submit a completed series? Do you submit for the first book only or as a whole?

A: most agents seem to be consistent that they only want the first book. Sell it and the series will sell itself.

Q: There just seems to be a lot of series books lately. Word count is at 200,000 and is too large for a single book. But thanks for the help.

A: bring it to a nice conclusion and try to sell it as that first.

Q: That’s the hard part because it all leads to a final conflict. Will have to mull this over. Thanks.

A: as long as there is some kind of climax you can break it there. I can’t speak for agents but from what I have read 200k 2 long

_________________________________________

Great Questions that no agent has answered yet:

–         When a writer is sent their file for revisions, what do you feel is a reasonable amount of time for turn around?

–         Should you put writing experience in a query if it’s not book-writing experience? (ex: magazine, poetry, short story)

–         If one query/MS is rejected, is it a good idea to query again w/ a different project?

–         So what does it take to become an agent? Like college major, job experience, etc.?

–         Some writers post excerpts from their WIPs on their websites/blogs hoping agents will visit. I’ve done it myself. Silly? Too risky

–         How often do agents engage in publicity and editing? Are authors on their own more or less once the manuscript is sold

If I do read any of the answers, I’ll post them here. If you have heard of any answers to these, please feel free to post as well.

Thanks,

Suzy Kue

Interview with Historical Romance Author, Ashley March

Hi Everyone!

I was lucky enough to score an interview with author Ashley March. I am so excited to have her on my blog. Her novels are especially interesting because not only are they written during the Victorian Era, but also because they are considered Reconciliation novels versus straight romance. A definite niche in the market.

Ashley March

Here’s a little about Ashley, from her own website www.ashleymarch.com:
After spending countless hours memorizing both traditional and simplified Chinese  characters, perfecting her tones, and practicing her speaking with any Chinese  native she could find, Ashley successfully graduated with a degree in Mandarin  Chinese. She was determined to be the next best Chinese translator in the  world… Then she discovered writing historical romances was as much fun as  reading them, and her Chinese capabilities have never been the same. When she  isn’t writing sexy, emotional historical romances set in the  Victorian Era, Ashley stays busy trying to entertain her two young daughters,  attempting to do housework, and hiking in the beautiful foothills of  Colorado.
And now on to my very first interview.
*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
If you woke up in a jail cell – who would be sitting next to you, and what would be the first words out of your mouth? I’d say, “Well, this sucks” to the dissident sitting beside me because we’d both been arrested for insulting King Henry VIII and his proclivity for arresting/beheading those who didn’t agree with his policies. (What, you expected me to NOT think in historical terms? 😉 )
What has been the single biggest change in your life since you’ve become a published author? Trying to be “present” when I spend time with my family. I have a large to-do list, and I must always try to concentrate on leaving my author persona to the hours of the day when I’m not with my family. They are my number one priority, and I want them to know that by my interactions with them.
Who are some of your favorite authors, in or out of the romance genre? In no particular order, my favorite romance authors are Lisa Kleypas, Julie Anne Long, Laura Lee Guhrke, and Sherry Thomas. There are many, many more, but it would be a VERY long list. 🙂 Because I don’t have a lot of time to read I typically stick with romance, but the last non-romance book that I remember making an impression on me was the historical fiction novel I, ELIZABETH by Rosalind Miles. What are you reading right now? THE RAKE AND THE RECLUSE by Jenn LeBlanc. It’s an illustrated time-travel romance written by a fellow Colorado author and I’ve heard so many great things about it that I knew I had to read it myself. If only I had more time–I’m lucky if my schedule allows me to read a chapter a week.
Your novels are set in the Victorian Era – what about that time period so appeals to you? What are your favorite parts of it? I enjoy that SO MUCH happened during the Victorian Era, and I don’t mean because it spanned multiple decades. Changes occurred constantly, both in England and abroad. The dark tone we usually associate to the era appeals to me (as opposed to the lighter tone of the Regency); the transition from the power being held by the aristocracy to the middle class; new innovations and inventions; the advance of medicine and education. I don’t think I’ll ever run out of ideas for new stories.
Do you write your stories with a particular message in mind? And if so, is that clear from the beginning, or does it take shape during the course of writing? As of right now it appears to me that my author theme is forgiveness/healing, as these seem to be very important in both SEDUCING THE DUCHESS and ROMANCING THE COUNTESS. However, I don’t have a particular message or theme in mind when I begin writing a book. My goal is to discover who the characters are as I write; even after plotting the book I usually end up (pleasantly) surprised by who they become and what they do.
On your website – you alluded to being very interested in Chinese, what aspect, the language, the history, etc? And do you plan on incorporating that interest into any of your future novels? I’m a polyglot. I love languages (even I though I can no longer speak those I’ve studied). It was the challenge of the Chinese language that initially attracted me, but as I find so often when learning a language, soon you become enamored with the people, the culture, and the history as well. I would love to visit China some day. I’ve played with the thought of a Chinese setting or characters, but usually an idea has to strike me first to be able to plot out a novel. Once an idea hits me for a Chinese setting or character, then I won’t be able to help myself. However, it hasn’t happened yet.
What is the craziest/worst writing advice you’ve ever received (and promptly ignored)? Before I was published, I had someone critique my writing and tell me that you’re absolutely not supposed to use the word “was.” This is an example of someone learning about the misuse of the passive voice and taking it to the extreme.
Thank you so much, Ashley, for taking the time for this interview! For anyone that would like a copy of her debut novel SEDUCING THE DUCHESS, please leave a comment and tell me what the “Craziest or Worst Writing Advice YOU’VE Ever Received” and I’ll choose a commentor at random to have the book shipped to. And don’ t miss the next release of Ashley’s, out Sept. 7, 2011, ROMANCING THE COUNTESS.

SEDUCING THE DUCHESS - Win a copy!