More than a place--it's a writer's muse.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Nearing the Finish Line

The first phase of the Dorchester Publishing Co. America’s Next Best Celler contest will end at midnight tomorrow at The contest, aimed at discovering “the next New Voice in Romance,” challenges aspiring authors “to pair their social networking skills with their literary ambitions” and comes with a whopper of a prize – a guaranteed Dorchester publishing contract.

There were growing pains when the contest started on June 1, as a horde of contestants eager for a shot at the holy grail of a contract with a New York publisher joined the existing community. Or maybe invaded that community, depending on your point of view. Some of the newbies settled in and decided to make the place home. Others made it clear they were only there on vacation, but worked hard at being good guests. Still others left a trail of resentment when they were perceived as too demanding and too shrill in complaining about technical problems at the site, which is still in Beta version.

The contest encouraged us to use our “social networking skills” – in other words, to troll for votes. However, the emphasis on votes didn’t entirely sit well with some of the old crowd, who were used to a less competitive approach. The Divas and others were accused by some of going too far. But you can’t have a contest without competition. And aspiring authors shouldn’t kid themselves – today’s publishing world is insanely competitive.

Now, after five months, the pimping-for-votes phase of the contest is nearly over. The rest of the decisions will be made by the team at Dorchester. I posted Confessions of the World’s Oldest Shotgun Bride on the Textnovel site on June 25, so I’ve been at this contesting gig for four months. It’s been an exciting ride. I've written an author bio that captures the voice of my novel. I’ve learned to blog and tweet. I’ve gotten less shy about self-promotion, a skill that doesn’t come naturally to me. And I’ve become friends and “business partners” with the Divas, a fabulous group of women who believe in me, sometimes more than I believe in myself. Thanks, Liane, Robin, Saranna and Shannon!

The Divas aren’t going anywhere. We’ll still be a presence here, on Twitter, and at the site. So thanks to our readers for your support, and stick with us – the best is yet to come!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Going Beyond Bedroom Eyes, or, We All Look The Same With The Lights Out.

I've read a few novels lately where the author seemed to actually forget to describe the heroine. Yep, completely left it to my imagination. I'm sorry, but why did I pay almost $8 for your writing if you aren't going to give me the basics? Let's not foget the hero. There are a lot of tall, dark, and handsomes out there. What makes your guy so different? Perhaps he's a blond (did you know that a majority of bad guys in novels are blond?) or my personal fave, a huge red haired Scot.

As an author, where do you get your inspiration for the way your characters look?

I have a confession to make. I look at porn. No! No! Sorry, but it just seemed like you wanted to read something drastic. Besides, the men in porn aren't exactly hero material. Actually, I scour male modeling sites. In fact, I keep getting distracted as I write this because I'm looking at Oooh, so yummy. This is a fab site with no registration requirements of freaky pop ups. Clean and easy. has a way to look for male models of certain ages,but if you have a very specific look in mind, check out New Faces Male, female, height, shape, hair color. It's all there.

Story Casting is a cool way to have your friends, family, Beta readers, suckers you find on the street to give you their 2 pennies on who your characters resemble. It's free to set up your novel on story casting, then search their database for actors to fill in character spots.

What if you are like me, you know, creating paranormal universes? Well, sign up for free catalogs and get your scissors and glue ready, cause it is craft time. Paste your Frankenstein together and hang it up in front of you so that you can have a visual of what they look like, like you would with any photo that seems to be the essence of your character's physical being. It may be a little strange looking, but it works better than a list that reads like a wanted poster.

Pull out a copy of Vogue or other fashion Magazines. This guy, he is my Val (Fae NIghts).Well, except that Val has long, straight, black-blue hair, silver-blue eyes, and has a bit more meat to him. It's the bone structure that I'm getting at.
Thanks to Veronica over at MY LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP WITH FASHION for this hump day hunk.

Morgan, from my novel Fever, is most definitely this guy

Guys are easy. We know what we like. But what about the leading ladies? Mine rarely have anything in common with me. They may be a little curvy, like moi, but Eve (Fae Nights) has kinky black curls, Lily (Immortal Love) has shoulder length ash hair and is petite, and Jessie (Fever) has long blond hair and is all woman. I have a thing for red-heads, as I've always wanted red locks, but it'll take a special character for me to give her that.

So, do you model your characters after you and those you know, search for inspiration through photographs of actors and models, or are they in your head, waiting for their likeness to be painted by your words?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Get Set With Your Setting

It's Wylde Wednesday here at the Text Diva compound and we're drinking mimosas and having strawberries and chocolate. Did you know that today is National Chocolate Day? *pushes plate* Here, have some.

Today we're talking settings. For the love of all that's holy, please do your research. If you've never been to the place where your heroine and hero live, make sure to check out the Chamber of Commerce on the web. It can help you to avoid embarrassing mistakes.

I recently read a book that opened in Topeka, KS. This author had described Topeka to be much like the little town of Easton where I currently live. There is a post office, a bar and bank and that's about it. She has a criminal escape and describes the town as only having one police officer and that residents were so surprised to see this guy running from the one cop that they did nothing to help.

Are you shitting me? Seriously, sorry for the bad language, Liane can wash my keyboard out with soap later, but really? Half of the inmate population we house at Lansing comes from Topeka.

Topeka houses the state governing bodies, so they have more than one cop on duty at a time. The courthouse and other government buildings are flush with security. Not to mention it's the home site for KBI and KDOC, KDOT... Not just government either. Blue Cross and Blue Shield have a corporate headquarters there... it's a busy city.

Not to mention that Topeka has about 300,000 residents which she would have known if she'd googled the town. Five to ten minutes of her time and she would have a reader for life. I liked the story other than that, but such a gross oversight or blatant laziness...

My point? Feel free to fictionalize the setting and bend it for your own use, but you should know what color crayon you're using before you start coloring.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Right Pick-Up Lines

I didn't know what to blog about today (things are in a bizarre upheaval right now on several fronts, so blogging wasn't my immediate priority). So I hopped on Twitter and asked people what they look at when they're shopping for books. No surprise the cover, back cover copy and first page were their most frequent responses--though they didn't necessarily all go in that order and there seemed to be no hard and fast rules.

I like a nice cover. I do. Back cover copy? Very important. But I'm a sucker for a strong first line. I want to be hooked. I want someone to write an opening line that shows me they know so much about their target audience (presumably me) that I have to take their book home. Of course, the first line only works if they can carry through that sensation of grabbing your attention the whole way through.

So I spent a couple minutes prowling my bookshelves to find some examples where I think the author got it right. I must admit--some of these surprised me (and some books I adored didn't have a hooking first line).

FAIRYTALE by Cyn Balog [If you click on Cyn's title it'll magically transport you to Amazon's page where they have her cover and a "Look Inside" link. Go ahead, give it a peek. I love this first sentence because it instantly intrigues me. I wanna know why.]

VAMPED by Lucienne Diver [Lucienne delivers a great line and continues the protagonist's attitude throughout--great! To read a bit, click the title then the cover to see the first few pages.]

THE CURSED ONE by Ronda Thompson [Click the title then hit the cover at for a "Look Inside." This one made me go Yikes! Why?]

THE AWAKENING by Kelley Armstrong [This opening sentence is longer, but great because it gets setting and circumstance in and raises a bunch of questions! You can click the title to get to the Amazon page and then click the cover to look inside.]

MARKED by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast [This one gets points with me because it's got attitude, setting and raises questions. Click the title then click the "Look Inside" link that's connected with the cover to read a smidge.]

TITHE: A MODERN FAERIE TALE by Holly Black [This one's fabulous! You know so much about two characters in just one line... Go ahead, click the title and go to Amazon's "Look Inside" link]

THE HISTORIAN by Elizabeth Kostova [Click the title to go to the "Look Inside" link. See what I mean? Right there I'm hooked. Why didn't the protagonist intend to do it and why did s/he finally relent?]

BAD TO THE BONE by Jeri Smith-Ready [Click the title to go to Amazon's "Look Inside" link. I love this one! It's awesome! It's funny and gives a fascinating look into the protagonist's deepest beliefs. You get attitude, background and a look into her core right from the get-go.]

TWILIGHT by Stephenie Meyer [Click the title to pop to Amazon for the "Look Inside" link. Take a sec and check it out. Just the first sentence--no. Get back here! ;-) Doesn't that make you curious about not only the "now" but also the past few months? And we know stakes are incredibly high!]

by Ann Aguirre [There's no "Look Inside" link on the Amazon page, so you'll need to search for the book in your local bookstore. Heck. Just buy it. It's really good. Anyhow... This is terrific opening because we're trained to understand if an author focuses on a physical detail like that there's bound to be an important reason. So mentally we're wondering why it's so important to the protagonist and what it says about her.]

APPLE IN THE ATTIC by Mildred Jordan: The destiny of Jacob Z. Dreibelbis was altered by eight quarts of schnitz. [This book appears to be waaay out of print. This one catches me because of the strong cultural overtone and the obviously high stakes. It's not often that a bunch of dried apples ("schnitz" for you non-Dutchies) changes a man's destiny--or is it?]

DEAD UNTIL DARK by Charlaine Harris [Amazon has a "Look Inside" link so you can read a bit. Go ahead. I'll wait. See? Doesn't that make you say, Huh? It perks the interest.]

So, considering these great first lines, as readers do you get intrigued by a single line? Is a strong hook enough to keep you going a little?

My first line in 13 TO LIFE (launching in June 2010) is: I closed the door behind me, heading down the hallway and straight to Hell. [I hope it has the power to intrigue readers in a way that's vaguely close to the power of the authors' words above.]

I hope I gave you something to think about (and perhaps a few things to buy... ;-).

Have a great day!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Of Corsets and Courtesans (HONORARY DIVA, Cristiana Cameron)

With Halloween rapidly approaching, I had to figure out just what cute, girly costumes I could get my daughters into. Well, when I walked into Wal-Mart and saw the lovely "Southern Belle" costume, my mind immediately went back to "GONE WITH THE WIND". (It didn't hurt that the costume is totally a copy of young Scarlet O'Hara at the Wilkes BBQ.)

That got me to thinking about the clothes that women wore back in those romantic 'good old days'. And how miserable they must have truly been…especially cinched up in a corset, enduring all those layers. Can you imagine the smell and feel on a hot August afternoon? You read about women getting the vapors. You see fainting couches in antique stores…so were the good old days all that good?

I was able to take my thinking one step further when the power went out where I live yesterday. Not a flash or a fifteen minute inconvenience but three hours. By the end of the first I was worrying about the food in the freezer. I couldn't do any of my routine work around the house. Worse still NO computer!

So, with all that time to sit and think, I realized something else. Back then I wouldn't have had all the help I've had…and that's just cosmetically. No braces, no hair color (none worth a darn anyway), no make up (none that you could wear near a fire without fear of it melting away, and let's not forget the lead in those cosmetics…yes I said lead!) My mother would be burdened with cataracts. My brother, sleep apnea. Worse still, a lot of people I know wouldn't even have lived to middle age had they been born back then. One friend would have died in childbirth, another of appendicitis, still another from skin cancer. My grandparents wouldn't have lasted as long as they have!

I put this to you, the reader…is history really all that romantic? Or are we darned lucky to live in the here an now with our treated water and air conditioning?

Oh, and if you wouldn't mind…Death's Angel at TEXTNOVEL could sure use your vote. ;)

Thanks textnovel divas and happy Halloween everyone!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hot For The Teacher: The Dirty On Online Writing Classes

You thought you finished school years ago? Or perhaps you can visualize some part of your life not tied to the computer? Hah! You are such a dreamer. Join me in welcoming our guest blogger for this weekend, Deborah Blake, as she helps guide us through the maze of online writing classes and workshops. Deborah is a non-fiction author of four books for Llewellyn Publishing and is currently working on a number of paranormal fiction novels, Her first foray into fiction, Witch Ever Way You Can, can be found on Textnovel, and is also part of the Next Best Celler Contest.

I’ve been thinking a lot about online classes lately, in part because I have spent the month of October teaching my first one, WITCHCRAFT FOR THE PARANORMAL AUTHOR. The class is going great: 40 participants, great folks taking part, and an enthusiastic and positive response from those who are taking it. They’ve already asked me to teach it again next year. Who could ask for more?

Which got me to thinking about what makes a good online class, and how to choose the one that’s right for you. I’ve taken a bunch of classes online over the last couple of years, and I got more out of some than others. What made the difference between a class that was right for me and one that wasn’t?

In some cases, it was the teacher. There are some folks who teach A LOT of classes. This doesn’t necessarily guarantee a good teacher, but it often helps. There are also particular sites (especially some of the RWA chapters and associations) that specialize in presenting great classes. The Low Country RWA ( is where I took my first bunch of classes (and where I’m teaching my current one) and they have a fabulous assortment at a really reasonable price: only $16 for a three-week class!

I found one of my favorite online teachers at lowcountry, and have since taken a bunch of classes with her (pretty much every time she offers one, I take it—she’s just that good). Lois Winston is both a writer (TALK GERTIE TO ME) and an agent. She and a friend have started a site specializing in classes for writers who are just starting out. I asked her to give me the lowdown on her new venture:
The url is

We offer 10 workshops a year, stressing the fundamentals and skills needed to succeed as a published author.  Most of the courses are geared toward writing fiction, but we also offer one workshop in memoir writing and one in non-fiction writing.  All workshops are given by me and author Dianne Drake.  As you know, I'm an award-winning author, multi-published in novel length fiction and short fiction, as well as non-fiction, and am also an agent with the Ashley Grayson Literary Agency.  Dianne is the award-winning author of 25 novels and 7 non-fiction books, as well as over 500 national magazine articles.

Another one of my favorite places to find classes is at Write_Workshop, which is the creation of author Candace Havens. The loop is at

Candace gives classes herself, gets lots of her author friends to give classes, and also runs a yearly Fast Draft for those on the loop (kind of like NaNoWriMo, but with periodic boots to the butt applied lovingly by Candy). The best part of all? All the classes on the loop are FREE. That’s right, you heard me. Free. The only thing Candy asks is that you support those giving the classes by buying their books. [Candace has two series out, both paranormal romance, and I HIGHLY recommend them both.]

Other online teachers who come highly recommended by some of my current students include Terry Spear (especially her “Show vs. Tell” class), Connie Flynn (“Conflict”), Beth Cornelisan (“Secondary Characters: The Good, the Bad, and the Quirky”), Mary Buckham (“Sex Between the Sheets”) and Margie Lawson. And here is a link to a loop that lists lots of online classes and will send out notices to let you know when they are: http://groups. group/Announceon linewritingclass es/ 

When looking for an online class, you may want to consider a few of the following issues: what does it cost (they can range from free to very expensive) and how long does it run (some classes are one day, some are as long as a month—do you have the time to do a longer class justice, and do you need lots of time to get the assignments done?). And look for the classes that will give you help in the areas you need most. If you are already pretty good at developing characters, you might want a class on conflict development or pitching queries.

No matter what the topic is, or who is teaching it, you will only get out of an online class what you put into it. Since there are no grades, and no one looking over your shoulder, it is up to you to pick a class that will interest you enough to put in the necessary time and energy. But if you do, I guarantee that you will have fun, learn something, and –hopefully—come out of it a better writer. And those are pretty good reasons to take a class.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Dollars for Autism Scoreboard

As of noon on this rainy (on the east coast) Friday, the Textnovel Divas' dollars for autism effort has netted the following results:

Muse struck - 20 votes
Surrender the Night - 11 votes
Confessions of the World's Oldest Shotgun Bride - 12 votes
Fae Nights - 14 votes
How to Lose a Demon in 10 Days - 11 vote

This means that we will donate $68 to Autism Speaks - a good number, but we want to see it go so much higher!

And there's more good news - Courtney Sheets (costumeharpy on Twitter) and Valorie Dorr have jumped on the bandwagon! So, if you don't like any of the Divas' stories (say it ain't so!), you can still support our cause by voting for Daughter of Fire, The Hooded Man, or Highland Magic.

The Divas raise our chocolate martini glasses to Courtney, Valorie, and everyone who's voted to help autism awareness.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dollars to Votes

Liane Gentry Skye, author of Muse Struck and Surrender The Night, two novels entered in the Next Best Celler contest given by Dorchester Publishing and, will be matching the next 100 votes cast for her novels in addition to the next 100 votes for each of the Textnovel Divas given from today, October 21 through the end of the contest on October 31.

Autism Speaks, the charity donations will be made to, is a major mover in the Autism community. Their website states their goals:

We are dedicated to funding global biomedical research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and cure for autism; to raising public awareness about autism and its effects on individuals, families, and society; and to bringing hope to all who deal with the hardships of this disorder. We are committed to raising the funds necessary to support these goals.

Autism Speaks aims to bring the autism community together as one strong voice to urge the government and private sector to listen to our concerns and take action to address this urgent global health crisis. It is our firm belief that, working together, we will find the missing pieces of the puzzle.

Autism Speaks. It's time to listen.

Liane, Saranna, Gail, Robin and Shannon will be there to help. So can you. Vote and subscribe now to further our cause. Please retweet often.

Wylde Wednesday Willickers

Wednesday seems to sneek up on me every week. I get very excited for my post about Monday and then, suddenly, here I am and no blog. At least the stripper boot glasses are clean today. We're having mimosas.

Which brings me to the subject at hand. How do people write when they are under the influence? Isn't that like drunk dialing? So many of the great authors were lushes or they had their mouths glued to the hookah pipe. And no, that wasn't a ghetto derivative of hooker. If you don't know what it is, google it. I'll wait.

Okay, anyway. I do know so people who like to be in a different state of mind when they write and I don't understand it. It's the story that takes me to a different place, not the George Dickel, that evil bourbon.

Not to mention, I don't think that the great lushes were very good writers either. I will admit that some of those who were addicted to the Green Fairy (absinthe) wrote some fabulous pieces. Stoker was one who was rumored to be seeing green and so was Poe.

What about any of you? Do you enjoy a glass of wine when you write or maybe three? Or are any of those authors among your favorites?

We have a winner!

The fabulous winner of a swag box of goodies is...

Jennifer Hart!

Jennifer, zoom your addy over to me at wrighting4fun at We'll take over from there.

Congrats and thanks for your support!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"It's a family show!" "How do think families are made?"

The two quotes above are from one of my favorite Renaissance Faire skits from waaay back in the day. I believe they came either from the Trial and Dunke (<--yes, the e is intentional) or the Wench Auction at PARF. Doesn't really matter who said them (Jackie Cupshotten and Sheriff Marshall Law ;-) but the idea actually translates (at least in my mind) to right now.

I've mentioned before that writing often seems like a solitary endeavor. You probably come up with your initial concept alone. You probably write your outline (hiss! ;-) if you write such things, alone. And your rough draft? Probably also written alone. Some of us are lucky and brainstorm with our spouses and some of us subject them to reading what we've written (guilty ;-). When you get your copyedits you'll almost certainly do THAT alone (my DH wouldn't touch them with a ten-foot pole).

But, like many writers, you probably have a family, too. And here's the rub--you can't be entirely solitary with your career if you're part of a family show (or three-ring circus in my case ;-). You helped make the family, you have to be part of it, too. And let's face it--some of our best material comes from our family (shhh--don't tell the in-laws, right? ;-).

If you're like me you may have a workaholic streak. I was trained into it early on by being a competition shooter (those of you who've read 13 to Life'll start putting pieces together now, probably ;-). There's a near-obsession that's encouraged in certain levels of sport--an addictive quality. That can translate pretty easily into other addictions. Mine's writing (or art when I'm knee-deep in a project) and (if I don't watch) chocolate (the Devil's bean ;-).

When I'm deep in writing a novel, the house could fall down around my ears and I'd probably just mumble at the DH. It does not make me a good spouse or a good mother at those moments. Luckily, my spouse is awesome and takes up the slack (though he shouldn't have to *grumble*). And we're both new enough at this writing thing that we know we're still learning--still looking for the balance.

A writer I greatly admire recently mentioned the struggle she was facing with the obligations of her writing and keeping plugged in when it came to her children, too. Like me, she's a bit obsessive with the writing. And I know there are others of you who have had to recently talk with spouses and family about finding the balance, too.

The fact is, as solitary as writing seems, we're all part of our own family "shows"--the success and failure of which rests on our shoulders as well as those of the other family members. To keep the show running, we all must plug in and do our part. We must make sure our spouses, etc, know when the crazy times are approaching and talk about expectations and needs (everybody gets a say).

It's not always easy, and you may feel like you're having to be everything to everyone, but if you want a career in writing AND a strong and happy family, you have to find the balance. Talk about it. Writers are supposed to be decent communicators--so prove it by making time to communicate with the rest of your family and friends.

On with the show!

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Muse is out to Lunch

It is ten o'clock.

No, later than that. This post should have been up hours ago. But my oldest son had an autism meltdown of epic proportions this weekend. As I write this, my beautiful boy is in lockdown and we're still numb from shock. So, in spite of the fact that it's Muse Monday here at Textnovel Divas, the words simply won't come. All I can think about is autism. That autism is winning. It has taken my son to a horrible place, and no matter how hard I kick, scream and yell for awareness, for research, autism is still legions ahead, and taking down children in rapidly increasing droves.

1 in 91 of them, in fact. And enough is enough.

It is enough, damn it, and no matter what happens with my son, I'm nowhere near done fighthing yet. One way or another, I aim to give a voice to those on the autism spectrum who cannot speak for themselves.

Which, ironically, is the very reason I decided to become an author in the first place. Somebody in this community needs to make some serious noise. While I understand the need for dignity, to hide, to lick our wounds, to regroup from the madness, pulling a Stallone or Travolta (God bless both of them for their and their children's struggles) by hiding my autistic children and their very real struggles does them no favors.

I'll worry about politically correct parenting later.

I'm not ashamed of autism. Never have been. I want my sons to be proud of who they are. But I realized early on in my writing career (if you could call it that) that writing nonfiction about autism was only serving to get my words read by those already interested in autism.

The ones who most needs to hear, read, and see accurate information about persons with autism are the ones who don't already live with it.

These are the people I want to reach, must reach.

Where better to reach them than through mainstream romance novels, which comprise 65%of book sales in our country? My textnovel, Muse Struck, has an autism related subplot that nearly derails the romance in the story. By exploring that plot, I gave the disorder that plagues my sons a face. A name. A story that will, if I have done my job right, turn hearts and minds that may not have been turned otherwise.

When all is said and done in my journey with my sons, I need to know I've done all I can possibly can to insure sure that when I am gone, they will walk into a world prepared to receive them with dignity and respect.

Until our actors, our writers, or politicians and our community leaders who love people with autism are willing to stand up and allow their loved ones to be counted, we have failed.

Failure is not an option.

So while I may be down, I'm a far cry from down for the count.

So off I go to tend to my boy. Perhaps when he is home I'll be able to pick up my pen and spill some more ink for the cause.

The rest is, as they say, in God's hands.

There's no place else in the universe where I'd rather leave my sons.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Gearing Up for November 1

November 1 is only 15 days away, and I’m totally stoked!

Why, you may ask, is that day so special? Because it’s the last day of the Dorchester Publishing/ Next Best Celler contest, and the Divas can finally stop whoring for votes?

Well, that too… but even better, it’s the start of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, as it's fondly called. This annual ritual brings writers around the globe come together, figuratively and often literally, to write 50,000 words novels in 30 days. That’s an average of 1,666 words a day – no sweat for experienced fast drafters, but a seeming windmill tilt for tortoises like yours truly.

Already the countdown to the madness has started. Already writers are signing up at the event’s official website,, which went live on October 1. Already the Northern Virginia Municipal Liaisons, or MLs, have held two plotting get-togethers. Already the D.C. MLs have asked people to RSVP for the kick-off party.

Once the whistle blows, participants will start meeting for write-ins, like the ones my friend BeaJay hosts on Saturday mornings in the food court at a local mall. Participants will challenge each other to word sprints on website’s forums. Whole regions will challenge each other. Two years ago, D.C. challenged Ottawa to a capitol-to-capitol throwdown. When our friends up North kicked themselves some Yankee butt, beating us not only in average words but in total word count, we had to make a video of our group singing “Oh, Canada” – in English and French!

This will be my third try at NaNoWriMo. While I have yet to achieve the 50,000 words needed to declare myself a “winner,” each time I wrote significantly more words than my normal pace, and I had a lot of fun. But this year, I’m determined to win, with the help of my not-so-secret weapon – Dr. Wicked’s fiendish “Write or Die” program, I figure if the Red Sox can finally win the World Series, I can finally win NaNoWriMo. Watch my dust!

DIVA-PALOOZA Prize Winner #5

And the winner is...
Well, it could have been you. You've read our stories. You've voted and subscribed and maybe even commented. We want to give you stuff. We want to thank you for our support, but we have no idea who you are.

We need you to give us a heads up that you would like us to throw goodies at you. Kind of like the kids on the side of the path at a parade. Step up! Leave us a message on the Official Contest Blog with your Textnovel username. It's the only way we know to give you the good stuff.

If you did sign on the blog, we might not have been able to put you in the hat because you didn't actually vote and subscribe to all of us. We really want to add you to the lineup, but we have to be fair to those who have followed the contest rules to the letter.

We've given away some fab prizes so far, including a gift box of white Godiva chocolates, 2 full manuscript critiques, and books. We really want to give you something too. So go on, click on contests and leave us a blog message. There are also quick links so that you can get to each of our stories.

The grand prize of a Kindle or Amazon gift certificates of equal value (golly, that's a lot of books) is still up for October 31. So far, odds are good that you could be a winner. Who doesn't want to be a winner?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Getting In The Mood: Music As Inspiration

I do not write in silence. As the mum of two fantastic toddlers only 16 months apart, I fear I no longer have that luxury, anyway. That's okay. It isn't like I did that to begin with. I have always had music blaring while I wrote. Now, with my ear buds in, it's almost louder than my 1 1/2 year old.

Way back when, however, the pulsing beat of Nine Inch Nails matched the pounding of my fingers flying over the keyboard; the pen on notebook paper has always danced to Van Morrison's Moondance. (That particular song is always used for romantic scenes. There is something in the way he rolls his tongue at the end. Shiver.) Techno, New Age, Jazz. Even Billy Idol. Rebel Yell brings to mind an illicit romance, where the guy comes to the window to try and convince the girl that he isn't bad boy all the way through. Kinda Romeo and Juliet. Except they are wearing leather. And there is pounding on the floor.

I've a CD collection that spans centuries. 18th century sea chants. Medieval/ Renaissance lute music. Lots of movie soundtracks. The Carl Orff extravaganza  of O Fortuna that is featured on Excalibur, for instance, is perfect for a sword fight.

Who tickles your writer's fancy? Who do you turn to when scenes need that extra umph? Here is my playlist, sans Van Morrison. His tongue rolling inspiration needs to be purchased.

Get a playlist! Standalone player javascript:void(0)"Get

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

*drum roll please*

And now, to announce the winner of a full critique by yours truly.

Are the drums still rolling? They'd better be. Okay, I want a horn in there too.

Now, down to it.

DEBORAH BLAKE! ::throws confetti::

Way to go! Email me at blackenedquill (at) aol (dot) com to claim your prize.

DIVA-PALOOZA Prize Winner #3

The winner of a basket of fine chocolates is--Damiana! Congratulations and enjoy! Now, just contact me with your mailing address and it will be shipped right over to you. Mmmmm, sometimes, I wish I were eligible for these contests.

How did Damiana win this great prize? She voted, subscribed and commented on our contest blog page. She also commented on our stories on Textnovel, and followed us there as well. This gave her a number of extra entries. It was that easy. Her favorite author of us all? Why, Gail Hart of course! Who couldn't love a novel that features Chocolate Martinis. For everyone's enjoyment, and for the love of chocolate, here is the recipe for a glass:

Godiva Chocolate Martini recipe
serve in Cocktail Glass
alcohol 13%
1 serving

1 1/2 shots Godiva® chocolate liqueur
1 1/2 shots creme de cacao
1/2 shot vodka
2 1/2 shots half-and-half

Mix all ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake and pour into a chilled cocktail glass.

Pimpin' Ain't Easy on Wylde Wednesday

That's no lie! My feet hurt from these heels, this micro-mini is six inches past too tight and I got a splinter from my pimp cane. I feel like everyone is looking at me rolling through the Textnovel hood with my Dickel Bourboun and Divajuice in my pink Cadillac. That could be because there's a big, fat Divapalooza banner hanging off of the side. Maybe. Or it could be because I keep shouting really loud to "look at me". That does tend to make people look. I like to stop and talk to a few people, I want to get to know them. That's my favorite part of dancing in this parade.

Here's the part that I don't like. I feel like I'm asking people to like me by asking them to read my story. How gross is that? It makes me feel like the floor of a NYC taxi cab that hasn't been detailed since 1989. Yeah, it's not a nice feeling. Especially since I am the original rebel who doesn't care if anyone likes her and sneers at those who do. That creepy girl in high school who sat with her journal writing tragic poetry and stories where everyone dies...or that girl who sat under the bleachers with her boyfriend's black leather jacket smoking Marlboro Reds in the box at the football games...or that other girl that would just as soon use your hair to introduce your face to your locker as look at you... those were all me. Now, here I am dressed up in my cheer gear and feeling a little anxious. Hand me that bucket?

It's an odd mix, because I'm not shy. I make friends easily, surprisingly enough. I communicate well with people of any education level or background which I think comes from my time as a corrections officer and as an airline supervisor. (Between the two I liked the prison better. You can walk away from inmates if they piss you off.)

The point? Self-pimping is hard. I try to do it whenever the opportunity presents itself, but I don't want to be that friend who only talks about herself, or every single tweet has to do with what I'm pimping. People will start tuning it out if I do, like a commercial. I know I would.

So you guys, how do you find that line between enough promotion and being a pain in the butt?


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Motivation--Why We Do What We Do

I saw an agent recently comment that the main trouble writers have with their books is character motivation. What makes people and your characters do what they do?

Here are a few quick tips to make it (hopefully) easier for you to deal with correct character motivation:

1.) Know what your character's deepest desire is. What does s/he desperately want to the point it's a need.
2.) Know what your character is willing to do to get that deepest desire. Will s/he lie, cheat, steal, kill--or what might s/he sacrifice to get closer to achieving that deepest desire?
3.) What character flaw will become noticeable (or troublesome) during your character's journey towards getting that goal? Will the flaw grow, be conquered or in a strange way help your character reach the goal?
4.) How will your character (keeping their deepest desire in sight) deal with conflicts along the way toward potentially achieving the goal? Will there be a conflict so dramatic your character temporarily loses sight of his/her deepest desire?
5.) When (and if) your character achieves their deepest desire will that be enough to satisfy them or will they ruin it because they themselves incorrectly identified their deepest desire?

Hopefully those help you get your mind wrapped around your characters' motivations. Now (for kicks) compare your character to yourself--what's your deepest desire and what are you willing to do to get there? (<--minus the references to lying, cheating, stealing and murder--we do write fiction! ;-) Transfer that info into goal-setting and go, go, go!


DIVA-PALOOZA prize winner #2

Drum roll please! :)

Today's DIVA-PALOOZA prise winner is BELLA S. Bella wins a copy of my steamy anthology, SECRETS, Vol. 27, UNTAMED PLEASURES

Bella, drop me a line with your snail mail addie @ starmuser AT and I'll get your prize off in the mail to you. Thanks so much for your support of the Divas work at Textnovel! :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

MUSE MONDAY: What the Puck?

How often are we told to write what we love as authors? But sometimes, I wonder if we wouldn't be better off writing what we love. When I first read textnovel author Christy Finn's work at textnovel, I was smitten by her voice and her knowledge of hockey. As I got to know Christy, it turned out that hockey was one of the driving passions in her life. No wonder her story sings! :)

Today, I'm passing the podium over to today's honorary textnovel diva, Christy Finn:

My first love was the game of hockey; my second was the men who played it. I was just thirteen – the age when most girls turned boy crazy and talked nonstop about one subject. For many, this meant clippings of boys from “teeny-bopper” magazines were taped to the inside of lockers, VCR’s were set to record when whenever a boy band was scheduled to appear on LIVE! With Regis and Kathie Lee, and teens begged their parents to buy their latest memorabilia. It was kind of like the Twilight craze, but before glittery vampires trumped boy bands.

Instead of wallpapering my room with Bop posters, I had full-length posters of Team Canada and of individual hockey players. I kept newspaper clippings of every Mighty Ducks’ game from the 1996-1997 season in a makeshift scrapbook (that I still have). That year, I collected hockey trading cards and meticulously wrote down the names, positions and jersey numbers of each Mighty Duck. I also checked out library books on the rules of the game and read them cover to cover.

Yes, I was obsessed with the game.

Then, a few years passed, and I discovered the guys weren’t too bad looking either. In fact, most of them are kind of hot (so long as they remembered to put their teeth in, you know). A crooked nose added character to a face. Behind every scar, there was a story to be told. Every tooth lost during a fight on the ice signified sacrifice. And underneath every hockey player’s tough exterior, there was a man rippling with power and grit and sex appeal.

Not unlike the heroes in the romance novels I aspired to write!

Then it seemed only natural for me to combine my love of hockey with my interest in writing romance. The traits players exude on the ice – dedication, hard work, and loyalty to their team – are all admirable traits that also belong to many romance heroes. Why, then, shouldn’t hockey players make excellent romantic heroes?

My Dorchester/Textnovel contest entry, Tossing the Gloves: How To Love a Hockey Player, gave me the opportunity to do just that – feature a hunky hockey playing hero and explore crossing a chick lit voice with a traditional romance plot. Nathan Deschanel is a beta hero with alpha tendencies on the ice while Sarah Kent is a made-over geek attempting to successfully navigate the mysterious course of true love according to guidelines she’s made up. Before she knows it, she’s in over her head and hopelessly in love with a man who doesn’t play by her rules.

And, hey, if I was being completely honest, I’d tell you that writing about a hockey hero gives me (and anyone else interested) the chance to fantasize about what it might be like to be to date a professional athlete!

Definitely fun.

Be sure to check out Christy's novel, Tossing the Gloves, here (you'll have to register to read it!)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Guest Blog: Pagan Love Song, or Why I Write Hawaiian Romance, by Courtney Sheets

Today the Divas are psyched to welcome a guest blogger, the fabulous Courtney Sheets. Courtney has been writing since she was old enough to scribble bad poetry to her mom in the kitchen. When she was 12 she discovered her first romance novel, read in stolen moments in the bathroom when her mom wasn't looking. After that everything went downhill. Now she writes her own dirty romances and loves every minute! Currently she writes Hawaiian paranormals for Ravenous Romance ( and her Dorchester Contest entry Daughter of Fire is an Editor’s Pick at

Aloha. I love cheesy beach movies. Don’t act coy. You know which ones I mean, something from the late fifties or early sixties, featuring the curvaceous Annette Funicello and the manly Frankie Avalon in the throes of teenage hormones. Or Sandra Dee in some of the most hideous bathing suits I have ever seen shooting the curl with Moon Doggie and the Big Kahuna. How about the ones with Elvis and his white swimsuit strumming a ukulele? Or even better, what about the million dollar mermaid Esther Williams and the handsome Howard Keel reveling in the Tahitian sun?

They all undoubtedly had the word beach somewhere in the title. Bikini Beach, Beach Party, Muscle Beach Party-- you see where I’m going with this. Frankie and Annette even teamed up in the early ‘90s to film Back to the Beach. In this campy cinematic gem, the happy-go-lucky surf couple has been married for years and lives in Ohio. A debacle involving their daughter strands them back at Santa Monica Beach. There Frankie must face his fear of surfing and ride the Cowabunga from Down Under. Seriously, I couldn’t get better summer flavor cheese if I wrote it myself. My cousins and I would play the day away outside during summers at Grandma’s house but when it got dark, we hung out with Frankie, Annette, Bonehead, and Gidget.

Is it any wonder I write beach romances setting in Hawaii? The mystique of Polynesia and the hunky surf god has always been an attractor for me and my fevered imaginings. There is something so incredibly appealing about an exotic hero and I think a Polynesian warrior is as exotic as they get. A line I love from a cheesy ‘80’s film sums it up best for me. “If there is one thing women love more than muscles, it’s brown muscles.” Give me a tall tanned delicious hero and I am set every time.

In my first novel, Kona Warrior, my hapless heroine Gloria is confronted with the most delicious Hawaiian hunk when Mano steps from the ocean into her arms. She doesn’t even mind he occasionally turns into a shark. As a paranormal romance novelist I get to cruise around in the rich textured world of Hawaiian lore and write about sexy beach boys and girls. In my current Hawaiian paranormal for Textnovel, Daughter of Fire, all American Jack O’Connor is discovering the mystique of a true island girl with a fiery lineage. Kalama Young is not your usual bikini clad goddess. She also happens to be the daughter of a goddess, Pele. Jack’s in trouble, but the good kind.

Whenever I pop one of these bad boys in the DVD player now, oh yeah I have them all, I am instantly transported to the sun drenched shores of Southern California or the South Pacific. The air seems a little fresher and has the hint of salty goodness. The sounds of waves resonate deep in the recesses of my sub-conscience and the world seems less scary. Men and women fell in love and stayed in love. Summer lasted forever. So when it gets cold this winter and the winds rage outside, take a staycation with a tropical setting in a book or a jaunt with Gidget and Moon Doggie. It will instantly become summer. And to think, we owe it all to Annette Funicello teaching us How to Stuff a Wild Bikini.

Mahalo nui loa to the amazing Textnovel Divas for having me here and a hui hou.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Diva-palooza Prize #1

Congratulations Finny - you're the first winner in the Diva-palooza contest! You've won a critique of a full novel up to 100,000 words long by Diva Saranna DeWylde.

For those of you who didn't win, there's no need to cry in your chocolate martinis. We still have over a dozen prizes left, including the grand prize - a Kindle e-reader! So vote for and subscribe to each of our stories and submit your comments at The more comments you leave, the more chances you have to win!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Cutting the Inner Critic Down to Size

It happens to a lot of writers. We sit down to write with the best of intentions. Then about two sentences into our story, the inner critic pops into our brain. He announces, “That sucks canal water backwards.”

We try to ignore him, and we get about another sentence done before he chimes in with, “You’re using the wrong tense, and that comma’s in the wrong place.”

We struggle on, but a paragraph later he’s back, telling us, “You just used a cliché. No one’s ever going to buy this crap.”

At this point, even if we’re still trying to put up a fight, we may find that our muse has packed her bags and gone off to find a safe place to hide.

What’s a writer to do?

One option that’s worked for me is using creative visualization exercises. Here are a couple I like:

Exercise 1:

Picture your critic. Mine looks like Snidely Whiplash, the mustache-twirling villain from the Dudley Do-Right cartoons (therefore, I use male pronouns).

Shrink him down to a teeny-tiny size, as small as the importance he deserves in your life while you’re trying to create.

Stick him in a see-through but soundproof container. I like a nice orange plexiglass cube.

Watch him jump up and down with frustration because he knows YOU CAN’T HEAR HIM!

Pick up the container and stick it out of sight, in a room other that the one where you’re writing – I’m partial to a shelf in the hall closet. You can go back and get him when you need him, during revisions.

Exercise 2:

Figure out where in your body the critic is hiding in. You’ll know because that’s where you feel the tension.

Rip him right out of that body part. See the hole immediately close, and feel no pain.

Drop the critic on the floor or other flat surface.

Levitate an unabridged dictionary from the bookcase until it’s hovering directly over his head.

Drop the dictionary on top of him.

Many thanks to former ghost writer for Kermit the Frog and current sherpa life coach Regina Verow (, who taught me these exercises for taming the inner critic. As is the Friday afternoon custom here in Diva land, I raise my chocolate martini glass to you!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dreaming & Plotting

My muse seems to only speak to me when I am sleeping. Or washing my hair. I don't know what I did to piss him off, but he definitely only wants to talk to me when I don't have a pen and paper handy.

Anyone else have this problem?

I'm lucky, though, when it comes to my dreams. I dream in color. My dreams tend to follow a story line, as if I'm watching a movie. I can influence my dreams, and I even dream about reading. I pick up a book, open the pages, and read. Boring, I know, but that was the rough beginning of FAE NIGHTS. HUNTER'S MOON also began as a dream, influenced by talking werewolves with 13 TO LIFE author Shannon.

I don't write down my dreams for two reasond.

1: I cherish my sleep far too much and
2: My handwriting is horrible enough when I am awake. I can't read it at all if I write at 3 am in the dark.

What's a girl to do?

Well, I can actually step out of my dream and replay parts I want to remember over and over. I scan in on details, I ask my dream characters questions. I become a dream reporter, and in the morning, I write down everything I can remember, double-spaced in a notebook. I double space so that if I remember something else later, I can write it in.

In HUNTER'S MOON, I spent a lot of time with my werewolf hero, Lucan. During the dream, which was freaking scary, I paused and took a look around, then asked Lucan why he was there, what was happening, what does he remember. Acknowledging that it was a dream had to be done first, then I could work on putting everything to memory.

I have been known to wake up and repeat a line out loud that I really liked. My husband no longer looks at me strangely when I talking to myself; he figures I am just writing a scene. It often happens when I am in the shower as well. Scrubbing my head seems to encourage the voices of my characters to come forth. I write my scene out loud, then put it on paper the moment I can.

I do often write on the computer, but the best scenes seem to come to me when I am away from the technological beast. I have heard somewhere that writing on the computer uses a different part of your brain than writing on paper. If you are stuck on a scene, shut off the laptop and get out your notebook, or vice versa. You'll be surprised what may come out.

So, that is my strange way of coming up with plots and scenes. What do you do?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Performance Anxiety?

It's that time again to hang out with the resident Diva badgirl on Wylde Wednesday. I forgot to run the dishwasher this week, so the stripper boot glasses are still dirty. We're stuck with plastic cups that will, of course, hit the recycle bin. I did manage to dig up some penis straws so we can all feel a little naughty, or if you're feeling frustrated, you can chew on them. Have a decadent Godiva-tini and pull up a chair. Are you ready to dish?

Okay, so you've written this novel that is the best thing since Gone With The Wind. It's witty, charming, a touch of angst to tug on the heart, but nothing that makes you want to carve on your wrist with a spork while rocking back and forth in the corner listening to Nightwish. (Wow, I love that Nemo song.)We can't forget the Happily Ever After whose timing was so perfect and we believe that it's a real place and dreams come true and we're clapping because we *do* believe in fairies and... You get my drift. It's the best thing that you've ever written or dreamed of writing. It is the juggernut bastard that ate your brain and told your kids to chew their milk if it was chunky because you couldn't go to the store you...HAD TO WRITE.

That's all over now and you feel like a used condom. Not pretty imagery, but sweetie, you probably look like one too. All used up and hung over, a vessel for these characters to express themselves.

After you take a shower and figure out why the kitchen smells like two small animals died in the sink and find your children gnawing on something that may have once been chips and get them settled in, the invariable question horns its way in to your awareness like a broken underwire in a new bra.

What now?

Aside from after you treat the hangover and spend some much needed time with family, friends, and realize that your friends have their own names and not the ones that you gave the characters.

Again, what now?

Should be an easy question, but it's not. You feel like you're giving a speech naked. You've stripped yourself bare with similes and hyperbole, poured your soul into this work and you wonder, what if that's all I've got?

It's not, but it feels like it is. You remember those moments of sheer brilliance where the words were flowing from your fingertips and you were in the zone, the characters were performing a play, you were just watching and recording. It was a beautiful synergy to be so connected and disconnected from everything at the same time. It was nirvana. If you find that place again, will it be the same? No, but it can be just as good.

Each character pairing, each plot, each piece gives off its own high. That's part of the charm, part of the excitement and part of the paralyzing fear. You think you've hit a stride, but this new one doesn't feel the same. Is it as good?

Since I've finished How To Lose A Demon in 10 Days, I've learned that you can't think about all that. You just have to let the story take you like you did before. You can't worry about trying to force it into specific parameters. You have to write the story that is there and accept that it may not be as good as the one before it. Or it may be better.

Each book is like a birth, so each one is like a child. You love each and every one for their differences and every cute little individual thing that they do that is wholly theirs.

So, this still begs that question, what do we do? We write. We write until the words stop coming or our fingers fall off. We keep producing the stories that live inside of us because we have to. Don't put up a filter between you and your muse, you trusted her with your firstborn, why stop now?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

It's Diva-palooza!

We promised you contests, but I would bet you didn't think we'd go all crazy on you.

Well, we really wanted to thank out fantastic fans who have encouraged us and kept up going on Textnovel. You are great, and to show our appreciation, we are giving away some fantastic Diva Prizes to our most ardent fans.

What you can look forward to:
Free critiques of your novel or short story; signed copies of Secrets: Untamed Pleasures, featuring Liane Gentry Skye's novella, Hearts Storm; A custom short fiction piece by Saranna DeWylde, who writes awesome erotica (Hint hint.) (Is it getting hot in here?); Chocolate & Romantic gift baskets, e-copies of Liane's books that have been published through, and a Diva swag bags, featuring all sorts of goodies from mugs to maybe a t-shirt or two.

Grand Prize is a KINDLE!

C'mon, you know you want one.

We have a prize for every weekday starting this Friday running through October 30, when we give away the grand prize. The grand Prize will be selected from everyone who has entered. Here's what you need to do.

If you haven't already, head over to and sign up. Once that is done, we ask that you click on the novel(s) you haven't read yet, read, vote and subscribe to it (them). You must do this for each of the Divas.

Each comment will qualify for an extra entry.
If you follow us on Textnovel, each Diva you follow puts another entry under your belt.

Muse Struck--Liane Gentry Skye
Confessions Of The World's Oldest Shotgun Bride--Gail Hart
Fae Nights--Robin Wright (writing as Jhaea)
How To Lose A demon In Ten Days--Saranna DeWylde

To be qualified for Diva-palooza, you have to show each of us gals some love. Why? Because we are Divas. We stick together. Once you've voted, subscribed, and commented on our Textnovel babies, drop us a comment here on the blog with your Textnovel name so we can match you up and put your name into the hat. We will announce a winner every weekday here on Textnovel Divas.

If the Diva Prize is something you wouldn't use, we'll give you another choice to replace it.

That's it. So, go on, discover the Divas of Textnovel. Happy reading!

For prize specifics, click here.

Check out the calender at the bottom of this blog to see what prizes are being offered!

Monday, October 5, 2009

MUSE MONDAY, What Women Want(ed)

I'd never advise an author to write to trend unless that trend lends well to her personal skills and talents. With that said, I think all of us are wondering how these harsh economic times are going to change the books that readers are willing to buy. It is here that I must confess. I'm a history geek.

I firmly believe that in order for a culture to know where it's going, it need only look into its past. So natch, being a writer who wants to sell more books, I'm reading a lot about the period that most reflects the world climate du jour--the Great Depression.

Specifically, I'm interested in what women writers were creating during the same era that brought us such greats as Steinbeck, and Hemingway. The saddest part of my search is that much of that literature created by female authors was wiped into obscurity by the McCarthy era.

Many of the themes of the day deal dealt with women redefining the role of femininity, marriage and motherhood, much like the women's fiction of modern times. For this reason, I tend to to believe women's fiction is a genre that promises to take off in a big way. But in the process of wanting to know what my foremothers were writing during hard economic times, I found a bonus. I discovered a "new" gotta have every word she ever wrote author and I want to share an excerpt from her work because it taught me that the mood of women during any given period in history cannot be accurately reflected in literature penned by men.

Meet Meridel Le Sueur. (1900-1996). A prolific author, Meridel's body of work spanned genres. She delved into poetry, novels, and short stories. Many of Maridel's stories were set during the Depression era, and she viewed men as the primary victims of the Depression. Meridel's work, imo, suggests that motherhood and the work of raising those who might change the world is eternal, and independent from the activities of men. A recurring theme in her work connected motherhood and revolution. The excerpt below particulary captured my interest:

"The pears are all gone from the tree, but I imagine them hanging there, ripe curves within the many scimitar leaves, and within them the many pears of the coming seasons. I feel like a pear. I hang secret within the curling leaves just like the pear would be hanging on its tree.

It seems possible to me that perhaps all people at sometime feel this, round and full. You can tell by looking at most people that the world remains a stone to them and a closed door. I'm afraid that it will become like that to me again. Perhaps after this child is born, then everything will harden and become small ad mean again as it was before. Perhaps I would have a hard time even remembering this time at all and it wouldn't seem wonderful. That is why I would like to write it down.

How can it be explained? Suddenly many movements are going on within me, many things are happening. There is an almost unbearable sense of sprouting, of bursting encasements,of moving kernels, expanding flesh.Perhaps it is such an activity that makes a field come alive with millions of sprouting shoots of corn or wheat. Perhaps it is something like that that makes a new world. (Anunciation)

Maridel grasped in her writing the revolutionary contribution of women to world change. As with times in Maridel's era, our world is changing. The literature of the women of our era will no doubt be colored by the mood of the day. Whether the changes in what women write and readers read takes the form of sweeping escapism or a return to home and hearth remains to be seen.

End of geek fest. :)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Some things never change

At the beginning of 2009, when I was setting my writing goals for the year, I came across what I thought was a brilliant list of rules for succeeding at the business of writing:

1. You must write.
2. You must finish what you write.
3. You must refrain from rewriting, except to editorial order.
4. You must put the work on the market.
5. You must keep the work on the market until it is sold.

As usual, I’m way behind the times – because these rules were written in 1947! They appeared in the essay “On the Writing of Speculative Fiction” by science fiction author Robert A. Heinlein. I was blown away to find that rules written over 60 years ago could still be so applicable today! Unfortunately, I’ve been guilty of breaking all of them. But I’m trying to do better. I have a copy of the rules posted on the bulletin board in my study, next to my computer.

Heinlein (1907-1988) was the author of works such as “Starship Troopers” and “Stranger in a Strange Land.” I think he was also a Textnovel Diva at heart, judging by the many colorful and deliciously snarky quotes attributed to him. Here are a few of my faves:

“Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.”

“Money is a powerful aphrodisiac. But flowers work almost as well.”

“The supreme irony of life is that hardly anyone gets out of it alive.”

So, I raise my chocolate martini glass to you, Mr. Heinlein!

... And sadly, some things do

And while you're at it, barkeep, bring me another one so I can drink a toast to legendary romance editor Kate Duffy, who lost her battle with cancer this week. Though I met her a couple of times at the Washington Romance Writers annual retreat, I can’t say I knew her personally. So I’ll refer you to a moving tribute by someone who did, my friend and former critique partner Robin Kaye:

Here’s to you, Kate!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A Ménage à trois: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, and me.

I remember my first Urban Fantasy. The year was about 1987 or so. I had gone to the high school library because I had read all of the Betty Wren Wright novels and I was bored with the “baby” books in the elementary school. I scanned the stacks and found a title that seemed haunting. Forbidden. Dangerous. The Darkangel by Meredith Anne Pierce.

Hey, I was 9.

Anyway, I fell in love with it. It has the fantasy styling of medieval times in the future, with a slave girl taking care of her mistress, but the moon has been terraformed and the atmosphere is sustained by magic and machines.

Most wouldn't call it an Urban Fantasy, but the novel was much more than just a fantasy. It has romance. It has adventure. It is a genre slasher, definitely. Like most of the Urban Fantasies we read today.

And that leads me to the Great Debate.

Are Urban Fantasies part of Romance or Fantasy genres? Or are they Mystery or Paranormal?

The answer is all of the above.

In fact, this video from You Tube shows us a few things we can count on when searching the library or bookstore for our beloved Urban Fantasy. A bare back, tattoo, moon and weapon.

OK, I know, not all of these in the slideshow are UF, but enough that yeah, it seems familiar.

When writing Fae Nights, I wasn't sure if it was an Urban Fantasy or a Paranormal Romance. Other, more fabulous writers such as Karen Marie Moning and Sherrilyn Kenyon, have also faced this dilemma. What genre are you writing when it is too new to really have a definition? Well, here is my theory.

Urban Fantasy: Lots of world building and character driven. See books by Patricia Briggs, Kim Harrison.

Paranormal Romance: Two essential main characters driven by lust and love. See books by Kresley Cole, Gena Showalter.

Well then, I am Paranormal Romance.
Karen Marie Moning's Fever series is Urban Fantasy
Sherrilyn Kenyon is Paranormal Romance (She has stated this as well in a recent interview).

A definite Genre bender is the True Blood series of books By Charlaine Harris. I'm not going to give it away if you haven't read them yet, but let's just say that it may seem to be Paranormal Romance, but based on my criteria, by book three it is very Urban Fantasy.

Or should I say the newest genre to hit the market, Southern Urban Fantasy.

I love having so many bedfellows to choose from!

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