Friday, December 5, 2014

How Touching!

Hand Signals 

  It’s common knowledge that the handshake and/or originated from early man extending his hand to a stranger to show that he was unarmed and came in peace. The handshake and wave are still the main gestures of greeting among men and women because the hand is one of our most useful and valued “tools” and it’s a vulnerable part of our anatomy.
  The hand has many small bones in it that can be crushed with a modicum of pressure. Therefore, when you extend it in greeting, you’re showing trust to the other person. However, this is only one instinctive gesture we humans make toward each other. Men and women usually touch in progressive steps and we instinctively know what they mean even if we aren’t conscious of them. Here are the main progressive “touching” steps:
1.      Hand to hand contact. If you like someone, you’ll let him hold your hand. This can also include inadvertent touching of hands – as in when a man hands you a glass of wine and your fingers slide over each other. Intentional? You bet!
2.      Hand to arm/shoulder contact. Touching someone’s arm or squeezing someone’s shoulder is a more friendly gesture. Women do this with great skill – briefly touching a man’s arm to make a point in conversation, resting a hand on a man’s shoulder as you share a laugh. It’s a signal to the man that you’re interested in him and want more contact with him. This gesture can also morph into hand to the small of a woman’s back. It’s a “let me help you” friendly gesture, but it also denotes possession (“she’s with me”).
3.      Hand to hair/head contact. This is an intimate gesture. You have to feel trust for someone to allow him to place his hands on your head or hair. Other than your family, close friends, and hair stylist, who would you feel comfortable with stroking your hair or caressing your cheek? Right. No one. That’s because their hands are getting close to vulnerable parts of you – your eyes and your nose. Instinct tells you to protect your head, so when you allow someone to stroke your hair or place his hand on your cheek, you are telling him that you trust him.
4.      Hand to neck/throat. Again, a vulnerable part of your body, so no one touches you there unless you trust that person and/or want intimacy with that person.
5.      Arm to shoulders/waist. When a man puts his arms around your shoulders, he’s signaling that he would like to get closer. Now, if this is a man putting his arm around another man’s shoulders (and they are both heterosexual), then it’s a friendship gesture. Hetero men don’t put their arms around each other’s waist – but they will put their arms around a woman’s waist as a signal of possession. This is a very intimate gesture because the man’s hand is moving progressively lower on a woman’s body – from the head, to the shoulder or arm, and his hand in between the breasts and the genitals. (That’s why men don’t feel comfortable placing their arms around each’s other waist! Too close to the package!)
6.      Handsy! – The next step is hands on the prizes – breasts and genitals. Hopefully, this step is done in private. The other steps can be done in public.
  So, when a man (or woman) skips one of these steps, it throws the other person off-balance. That’s why we love those Alpha Males and Dominants. They skip steps. The woman expects the man to take her hand or place his hand on the small of her back . . . but he grabs her, pulls her intimately against him, his lips glide down the side of her face, and he gives her earlobe a little bite. Whoa! He skipped steps, the devil! He knows it. She knows it. And now it’s a matter of, what are they going to do about it?
  If you want to see a good example of the step-by-step action, take a gander at the main love scene in “The Last of the Mohicans.” It’s sheer perfection.

  Examples of “skipping steps” can be found in virtually any romance novel worth its price!

Friday, October 24, 2014

In Love with Levi

Why I Love Leviticus Wolfe

While it’s true that I have to be in love with every hero I write or it just does not work for me, I admit that I have a special place in my heart for Leviticus Wolfe in my Mind's Eye series (THROUGH HIS EYES and THROUGH HIS TOUCH). Here are four reasons why I’m so “gone” for this guy.
1.      He’s my ultimate type. I love bad boys – guys who are badass but have bleeding hearts. Levi is bad in a good way. Growing up in a challenging environment, he developed a hard shell, but somehow he has managed to remain kind and compassionate. He doesn’t go looking for a fight, but he doesn’t back down from them either. His heart is scarred, but still big and beautiful.
2.      He leads and never follows. Levi takes charge. When he sees something or someone he wants, he goes after it. His mission in life is to bring about order from chaos. He doesn’t like lies or turbulence in his life because that’s what was around him all the time when he was young. He doesn’t like to feel that he’s not in charge and in control – which is why being with Trudy is both thrilling and aggravating for him. When he’s with her, he’s not sure-footed or certain of the direction he’s moving toward with her.
3.      He knows he’s deeply flawed. Although he’s handsome, gifted, and successful, Levi knows he has deep flaws and wounds that haven’t healed. He wants to be a better man, so he’s in therapy and working to exorcise his demons. But his main flaw is that he doesn’t trust others or his own heart. His intellect – knowing he should trust Trudy and allow himself to love her with all his heart – battles his honed instincts – guarding himself from further pain that would wipe out the progress he’s made in shedding his phobias and becoming “normal.”
4.      He’s learning to love and be loved. Levi has never known deep, abiding love in his life and Trudy offers that to him. It frightens him because he feels unworthy of it and, yet, he wants it, desperately. Accepting such a gift will mean that he must reveal all of himself to Trudy, and when he does, he’s afraid she will decide he’s too messed up and she’ll leave him.
So, there you have it. Trudy has her work cut out for her, but she’s up to the challenge – I hope!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Authors Who Inspired Me

Fifty Shades of Inspiration

Since we all love to read, I thought I’d share with you whose books inspired me to be a writer, to be a better writer, and to be brave enough to write what was in my heart.
The #1 position is held by Mary Stewart. When I read “The Moonspinners” I was entranced. I read it about six or seven times. It was that book that made me want to write stories for other people to read – specifically to write love stories. I was in eighth grade. I had written things before, but I’d never thought about making a living doing it until then.
I couldn’t make a list of authors I admire without including Margaret Mitchell. Her “Gone with the Wind” is the essence of historical romances. The sweeping, all-encompassing history and historical facts in her book are staggering. Yes, there is no HEA, but the ending still stands for all time as one of the best. Readers could write their own sequel (until the actual one came out…but it doesn’t count because Margaret didn’t write it).
Truman Capote inspired me to never stop learning how to write better and to go at your own pace. I love the story of how he and Ernest Hemingway were in a hotel room writing one day. They started in mid-morning and in the late afternoon Hemingway pushed aside his typewriter and suggested they call it a day and head to the bar for drinks. He glowered at Truman and said, “I’ve typed three whole pages of my novel and you’ve sat there all damn day and typed one word!” Truman smiled and said, “Yes, but it’s the right word.”
LaVyrle Spencer inspired me to write historical romances. I had written only contemporary stories until I read her books. “Hummingbird,” “Twice Loved,” “Vows,” “The Gamble, and “The Endearment,” along with all her others, brought joy to me and made me want to step back in time. She is a beautiful writer. Of late, I read a book that reminded me of LaVyrle’s touching characters and storylines – “Archer’s Voice” by Mia Sheridan. It’s simply wonderful and I’m a big fan of hers now.
Finally, I must give a bow to E.L. James. Yes, yes, I’ve read all the criticism of her writing. Hey, folks, I’ve read a lot worse that made bestseller lists, so chill. Besides, if you’re reading “Fifty Shades of Grey” and you’re all wrapped up in bad sentence structure or weak word choices, then you just don’t get it anyway. People don’t enjoy those books because of the writing style. (wink, wink) I was totally wrapped up in Christian’s character. I thought he was fascinating and I loved all three books. They inspired me to write what was in my heart – what I’d wanted to write for 10 years, but had been afraid to branch off into a new direction with it.

There are many other authors I love, but these are touchstones for me.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Serial Mur--I mean, Musings

Oh, the tangled webs we weave....

I'm writing a series now called "The Mind's Eye" series and Book #2 is being released in a matter of days. This is a first for me and it's been a real trip so far. I went at this almost with blinders on . . . just diving in and not giving much thought to the books ahead of me.

Luckily, I did create two protagonists I really love. They're multi-dimensional and have interesting backstories I can draw on and their present predicaments are also juicy!

Book #1 -- "Through His Eyes" -- was a complete joy to write and rewrite and rewrite. Loved it. Still do.

Book #2 -- "Through His Touch" -- was also fun to write, but there was a bit of tension stirring in me the whole time, too. I was now cognizant of how a series must build in popularity and word-of-mouth or perish. Gulp! My first one received wonderful reviews, but didn't climb very far up the best-seller or even moderate-seller ladder. However, I did make inroads with bloggers, which I feel is very important and something I've not done for my previous books. While i was more aware of the type of promotion involved and the $$ it would take, I was still not as "savvy" as I should be. Book promoter is a new job for me and I'm still finding my way.

Book #3 is in its infancy. It's supposed to be the final one, but I'm not ready to say farewell to these characters, so I'm leaving the door open for more adventures, more angst, more revealing of character flaws and fears. It's true -- series books can be addictive.

My only hope is that the books continue to get attention and readership. If #3 lies dormant without showing any readership growth, I'll have to re-evaluate my desire to continue with the series. As it stands, I do plan to take a break after #3 and write an historical romance that I've outlined and am yearning to flesh out. After that's done, I'll decide whether I should do another 3 books for Mind's Eye or say a fond and tearful farewell to my lovely Levi and courageous Trudy.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Amazon Adventures

Welcome to "You're On Your Own" Authoring

Pardon me while I whine.

I've been trying to get Amazon to do a little "something-something" to help promote my books and it's like asking for water on the moon!

Yes, Amazon has been very good to me. Amazon, along with my brilliant and fierce literary agent, revived my novel writing career.  I also know that Amazon is very good to some authors because I see the bouquets of flowers and towers of snack food they've sent via Facebook posts. "Oh, look what just arrived from Amazon! These beautiful roses to congratulate me on my latest release!." That's an example of posts I've seen along with the photo of the gorgeous blooms. So, I decided to see if, in lieu of flowers, Amazon would maybe promote my first book in my series right before my second is released in September. The answer came swiftly -- nope.

Okay. Message received!

I scouted some of the "chosen" authors to see what they were doing that I wasn't. The answer, of course, is painfully simple. They sell more books and get considerably more reviews. I am ecstatic with my 26 reviews of "Through His Eyes." Or I was. Then I saw the reviews of the "chosen" authors. 950 reviews. 2,318 reviews. 1,009 reviews. 876 reviews.

Holy Cow! It's a wonder Amazon even bothered to answer me!

How do these authors manage to get so many reviews? It's astounding. I had to beg, plead, and barter for my 26 reviews! I hope those authors wake up every day saying, "I'm the luckiest so-and-so in the whole, wide world." Do it for us "little folks," okay?

I've recently worked with Amazon to do a boxed set of my "Too Tough" trilogy of western romances. Just to get a cover was a trial. I finally had to go look for one myself and buy it. Then my brilliant and fierce agent's associate (bless her darling heart!) added the lettering because Amazon just couldn't find a font that was readable on the book cover. We mentioned that we were probably going to offer my books on other sites (B&N) now that my exclusive contract was finished with Amazon and Amazon warned us that we couldn't use their book covers on other sites.

This was humorous to me because of three things:
1. Their covers are mediocre, at best. 
2. You can buy them on
3. Even though I could buy them and use them, I wouldn't. I'll buy much better ones.

I repeat. Amazon has been very good to me. However, I'm certainly not on their radar, so they're not the least bit interested in promoting my books. That's all up to me and my checkbook and credit card -- and believe me, they're both getting work-outs!

The irony of all this doesn't just lie with Amazon. It applies to all publishing. The authors who are promoted by publishers are wealthy and could actually well afford to promote their own books. The authors who desperately need a bit of help promoting their books have little money to spare and get no or precious little help from the publishers.

It's survival of the best-sellers and the most-reviewed. You have to climb to the top of the mountain before you can be seen by the promotion gods.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Will You Cover Me?

Nailing the Right Look

I have just finalizing the cover for my next novel. This is still a new experience for me, although I have been lucky enough to see more than 45 of my books published.

To date, I've worked with two cover artists and both were very good. I'll probably use them again -- if they'll have me. It's a process that's both exciting and extremely frustrating. Back when my books were contracted by mainstream print publishers, I knew nothing about the covers until I received them in the mail with a short note from the editor: "Here's your cover! Enjoy."

Most often I enjoyed....sometimes I didn't. However, my feelings weren't important. The only time I could gripe was if the cover artist got something horribly wrong -- like a Scottish setting instead of a western one. (And sometimes not even then! I once had a contemporary romance with a Gothic cover slapped on it.) One time the color of the heroine's hair on the cover was entirely incorrect, but that wasn't changed. Too bad. So sad.

Publishing on Amazon means they will select a cover or I can do the whole cover thing myself. Having seen Amazon's versions of good covers -- pardon while I retch -- I have since chosen my own artist and paid for it all myself. By doing this I have learned a few interesting facts:

1. Just because you can picture the perfect cover in your head doesn't mean you'll ever see it for real. I had an idea of the cover art I wanted and I didn't think there would be a problem getting it. Looking high and low at the available photographs online, I couldn't find one image that was even close. The cover artist gave up and sent me some other ideas -- none of which floated my boat. I spent approximately 12 hours looking at photos over the next couple of days. I came up with six I thought would be okay for my book. None of them were what I'd originally envisioned.

2. Time is of the essence. If I'd been allowed enough time, I could have had the cover artist set up a photo shoot and get the cover shot I wanted. However, by the time she contacted me and was ready to begin work, it was already too late for that. I had to have a cover by the end of June for ads I was placing in magazines. She didn't start work on my cover until June 21. Although it only took her a few hours to complete the cover once a photo was chosen, there wasn't enough time for a photo shoot. I'll know next time to look for photos early. Then, if I can't find anything I like, I'll have enough time to pay extra for a photo shoot.

3. Getting several people to agree on a cover is impossible. Since I didn't trust my own judgement entirely, I sent two or three possible covers to a friend and my agent for their suggestions. There was no consensus among them, so I was more confused than ever and had to rely on my judgement. Yikes!

4. Lettering is important. On the cover before this one, I went around and around with the artist about the lettering. Fonts are so important. They can evoke feelings and they can (and should) command the eye. They should also be easy to read, especially when the cover is reduced to thumbnail size. Getting all of this right on a romantic suspense novel with paranormal elements is exasperating. To depict so many genres at once is darned near impossible! That we have come so close to it twice now is remarkable.

5. Everyone won't like it. Just as with your book, there will be detractors who defame your creation. I loved the cover of "Through His Eyes," but several people made a point in their reviews to say they hated it. I fully expect to experience the same wincing pain when this new cover is revealed. Of course, I like it or I wouldn't have paid for it! But I know there will be people who will trash it. I suppose that's better than trashing my writing . .  but still! It hurts.

Each time I go through this process, I learn something new. It's still one of my high points in the journey of creating a book. I like having the power to choose my cover. With that power comes new responsibilities and new worries. But, at least, I don't have to wait to have the cover mailed to me and be told to "Enjoy!" whether I like it or not. 

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Adventures on my First Blog Tour

Taken for a Ride

After my first guided blog tour, I'm sure the tour guides who assisted me think I'm pretty dumb to have written so many books.

Let me apologize again for my missteps and mistakes. Yes, it's true that I paid for a "Cover Reveal" and then revealed my cover all over the place before the actual date of my "cover reveal." The perplexed blog owner wrote to me, gently mentioning that my cover was no longer a secret and couldn't be revealed anymore. Not understanding the blog community, I wasn't aware that blogs communicate with each other and band together to facilitate better coverage for a book. The blog owner pointed this out to me and said she would have been happy to work with the other blog owner who was conducting one of my tours if she had only known that I was "double dipping," so to speak. I'm a bad, bad girl. I offered to make it up to her by writing a post for her blog. Again, she was more gracious than she needed to be and allowed this.

I didn't offer any giveaways because I couldn't figure out what I could give away. It seemed that authors were having drawings to win an autographed copy of their paperback, but my book is an ebook. Hard to autograph those. Other blogs pointed out that I could give away bookmarks, tote bags, or key chains. I consider all of these, but how many of those items do you need, really? I'm considering my options for the next go-round and I'm leaning toward gift cards. I can always use a gift card -- especially to buy books! Can't you?

I must admit that I loved the ride! The tours were exciting and I discovered new and wondrous things around every curve in the road -- beautiful blogs, websites, and Facebook pages; voracious readers; thoughtful reviewers; and other authors and their fabulous books! The very best part was getting reviews of my book. Oh, my. The thrill of it all. I don't know how other, more popular authors feel about reviews -- do they take them for granted when their books receive hundreds or even thousands of reviews? -- but every single one I receive is cause for celebration. Even if the reviewer isn't all that enamored with my book, at least the person took the time to post a review!

Sure, I was sweating bullets when the first review copies went out, but I can't express in mere words the total and complete euphoria I've experienced when I read (and reread) the reviews of people who love my characters and enjoyed my story. I admit I cried a few times when I read those reviews. Happy tears.

Is it any wonder that I've booked another blog tour (a couple, actually) for Book #2 in the Mind's Eye series (Through His Touch)? I'm looking forward to the first two weeks in September when I'll be touring the blog world again, rubbing virtual elbows with other readers, and begging the blog owners to please review my book. Pretty please?

I hope I'm not such a novice imbecile this time around. If I stumble, though, I know the blog tour guides will be there to catch me and force me back upright. I love those gals at Enticing Journey Book Promotions and Bewitching Book Tours.  They know how to show a girl a good time.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Signings of the Times

Why I don't miss book signings

When your first few books come out, it's very exciting. Of course, the first one will never be topped. That first call from a New York editor or literary agent who tells you that the publishing house will publish your book and here's the advance they're offering . . . well, that particular numbing thrill can't be beat!

The first few autographings or book signing parties are burned into your memory. Relatives and good friends made up most of the crowd, sure, but there were also people you'd never met before. Very exciting and heady stuff.

If you're fortunate enough and energetic enough to continue selling your work, then the signings keep being set up, and after the fourth or fifth or sixth one, your relatives and friends begin making excuses for why they won't be able to attend or they simply stop coming to them without any excuse. The thrill is gone. Familiarity breeds contempt, as they say. Fewer and fewer well-wishers show up for your events and you start having "combined" signings with other authors to scare up a bigger crowd of readers and book buyers.

Naturally, I recall some wonderful moments during book signings. It was fun just to see my friends and fellow writers. However, just as I recall my bad book reviews more readily than I recall the glowing ones, I can vividly remember the insults and the agony of selling maybe three or four books in a three hour period. Talk about a humbling experience!

I recall people stopping by, picking up my books, reading the back cover blurbs, checking me out, and asking, "So, you wrote this?"

"I did!" I responded, proudly.

"Oh." Then setting it back down on the table and ambling away, totally unimpressed.

I can also remember having numerous people stop by the table sitting just outside the book store in a mall and asking me where the restrooms were located. That was the most action I got all day -- giving directions to people who needed "the facilities."

One lady asked a fellow author sitting beside me at one of these functions, "Is this better than your last book?"

"Better? Well, that's hard for me to say," the author responded, graciously. "I wouldn't say it was better."

"Oh." The lady dropped it back onto the table. "I'll pass then. I didn't like your last one all that much."

Gee, thanks, lady! Just what we all want to hear from our adoring public!

So, when people ask me if I'm signing my books anywhere, I'm so very glad to tell them that my new book is an e-book and there will be no autograph party. And no free bookmarks. Remember when we did that? Made up hundreds of bookmarks and sent them to anyone who asked? One time I placed an ad in Romantic Times magazine, instructing people to write me for a free bookmark. I was swamped with requests! I was thrilled. Then I realized from reading some of the accompanying letters that these people had no intention of buying or reading my book. They simply collected bookmarks! Who does that? Evidently, the readers of Romantic Times back then.

Book signings can be exciting. Especially when you're Nora Roberts, Stephen King, John Grisham, or Sylvia Day. For most of us, though, it becomes an exercise in humility. More often than not, instead of selling books, we end up listening to other people tell us about the books they want to write some day if they ever get around to it.

I've signed off on book signings for now. Doesn't mean I won't show up at someone else's. However, when I do attend a book signing, I actually purchase a book that I fully intend to read and enjoy! What's more, I will post a book review of it. It's a novel idea, I know.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Don't Know -- Don't Tell

POV Ping-pong

I'm reading a good romance by a bestselling author right now. It's an older one that was on sale, so I jumped on it and I'm glad. As I expected from this author, it's a great story with interesting characters and wonderful phrasing and dialogue.

It's been a while since I've read this mega famous writer's books and she does something that most writers get slammed for -- she pops in and out of character viewpoints and often leaps into "God's viewpoint" or omniscient. I find this extremely vexing, especially when I read a sentence like this:

"Neither one of them heard the front door open and close."

Okay. So, why write that? What good can come from jerking your readers out of the book and telling them something that no one in the story knows? It's just plain asinine. Yet, this famous author does it in almost every book she writes.

She also leaps from viewpoint to viewpoint -- and not just between her main characters. Nope. She hops into secondary character viewpoints, too, for a paragraph or two. Totally pointless.

For instance, the main couple will kiss and gaze longingly and tenderly at each other and Bang! We're in a secondary character's head (and sometimes it's not even a secondary character but a "walk on" character or "sword carrier" as they say in the acting profession) and we are told that this character is touched by the scene and hopes the two people make a go of it. Really? You jumped viewpoints to tell us that? Like we can't, as readers, experience this on our own? If the scene is powerful enough, then readers will be thinking or feeling this. Jumping into a character's viewpoint for two or three sentences to "tell" us something that was just experienced by us through the main characters is utterly pointless -- and jarring.

Luckily, the author is skilled enough to not confuse us too much about who is thinking and feeling, etc. as she leapfrogs from one point of view to another. Lesser skilled writers can give you whiplash with such maneuvers and make you read passages again to try to figure out what's going on.

I admit that I'm a point-of-view purist because it was hammered into me by every writing teacher I ever had and was also demonstrated to me why point-of-view should be handled skillfully and sparingly. So, it's surprising to me when I read a hugely bestselling author and find POV ping-pong games. It's especially annoying when I read that characters didn't feel, didn't know, didn't see, didn't taste, didn't hear something. That's just wrong. It's simply bad writing -- lazy writing -- pointless writing. And it doesn't matter if a multi-millionaire author writes it or a never published writer pens it. When I read it, I roll my eyes, gnash my teeth, and find myself thrust out of the fictive world. If that was the writer's intention -- mission accomplished.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why Bloggers Are So Cool

Love Those Bloggers!

I confess....

I am a late-comer when it comes to blogs. Yes, I have one and have been plugging away here for a few years (believe it or not!), but I only recently dipped my toe into the pool of blog tour promotions. It's a fascinating environment and I have developed a keen appreciation for all the active bloggers who also happen to be ardent readers. Thank God for them -- one and all!

I confess....

My agent tried to horsewhip me into doing more blogging interaction when my last historical romance ("To Seduce and Defend") was published a year or so ago. I sighed and whined and rolled my eyes. I was still stuck back in the day when Harlequin and Avon did all of that promotion and publicity stuff (not that they ever did that much for me -- especially Harlequin). I just wanted to write and be left alone and I sure as shootin' didn't want to spend a bunch of money on ads and such. If my book was good -- which I felt it was -- then people would read it.

I confess....

I am an idiot and a dinosaur. My poor, old historical romance suffered because I did minimal work in getting the word out about it. It received a few good reviews, but it never took off. This made no sense to me since my previous books were selling more than my new one! Crazy. And that continues to be the case to this very day! What the heck was that all about? Well, I think it's because Amazon plugged my backlist and helped people discover it. They didn't promote my new one as much. In fact, recently, Amazon selected "Too Tough To Tame" as a daily deal and that book (an older one of mine) hit #1 on the romance bestseller list! So, given all of this, I decided I must jump on the promotion bandwagon and that's where I ran into active bloggers and blog tour guides.

I confess....

No matter how my new book sells,  I won't regret my interaction with bloggers and tour guides. It's thrilling to communicate with so many readers -- readers like me who love, love, love to discover new authors and to read new books by authors we already love. Although I'm a writer, I was first a reader and still am, so I never get tired of discussing books. My best friends get tired, however, of hearing me, so it was so nice to meet others who weren't tired of me! That's one of the great things about the Goodreads website -- lots of people talking about lots of books. I find it invigorating.

I confess....

I owe a great debt to bloggers. They set up their blogs and websites and toil away for the love of books. And they also do something that is beyond measure -- they post book reviews, not only on their blogs, but on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. BLESS THEM FOR THAT! I've done everything but sell my virtue (and I might even consider that) to get people to read and post a review of my books! I have sent out ARCs with the stipulation that they had better post a review -- even if they didn't enjoy the book all that much! And what happens? No reviews. Or maybe one out of 10 ARCs sent. But bloggers? They are champs! They read them and keep their word and review them. What's more, if they don't have time to read them or they don't like the kind of book you've written, they tell you up front and don't shine you on. Most of them won't post a review if they can't be encouraging about the book, but they let you know that's why you won't see a review from them. I love that!

I confess....

I'm hooked on bloggers and owe my literary agent a giant apology. I am no longer a happy and clueless dinosaur. I live in the land of Blogs and I am among my people once more!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Tips for Novice Writers – and Reviewers! 

     Here's something you can take to the bank.
     If you’re a writer, you write. Doesn’t matter if no one but you reads it. Stories and characters waltz about in your brain and you simply have to allow them to blossom into text. However, once we do allow our works to be seen by people other than those who personally know us, then we have to learn to accept criticism and we must understand when to take advice to heart and when to dismiss it. These are difficult lessons to master.
     Here are the top three things I’ve learned from reviewers:
1. Get as many reviews as possible from people you don’t know. Look for similar praise and beefs. If several reviewers praised your snappy dialogue, rejoice and strive to make your dialogue sparkle even more. Conversely, if several reviewers note that your pace is slow or that it was difficult to understand her heroine’s motivation, take a close look at those hiccups. Fix them before you write your next book.
2. When reviewers find typos or bad grammar and punctuation, hire a professional editor and proofreader for your next project. Be aware that editors and proofreaders aren’t the same thing. Editors discuss plotting, characterization, pacing, word choices, and sentence structure. Proofreaders catch typos, incorrect punctuation, misspellings, and continuity mistakes.
3. Be sure that the people who review your books actually like the type of book you’ve written. I’ve had yucky reviews from people who admitted that “I don’t usually read this kind of thing” or “romances aren’t my cup of tea.” I dismiss those. Same goes for the editor you choose. Ask the editor who she/he has read in your genre and what her/his favorite books are in your genre. If she/he hasn’t read any books that have been published in the past two years, then she/he probably isn’t savvy about what’s hot and what’s not in your field.
     Let me also caution you not to reply to a reviewer or editor until you’ve given yourself a day to think about it. Temper whatever you say or write, understanding that your work was published and people have a right to their opinion. With reviewers, it’s best to thank them, taking them  to task only when they get “personal” in their critiques. With editors, it’s best to discuss why and how you can improve what you’ve put on paper. Great editors can make you a great writer, so when you find one, don’t ruin the relationship by being too cantankerous and stubborn.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Getting Handsy

My New Fetish -- Men's Hands

I don't know why, but I have become fascinated lately with men's hands. I especially love large hands with long fingers. Yes, I know about the age-old analogy of what a man's hands can tell you about a more intimate part of his body, but I'm not going there here. I have gone there, but not right here and now. (By the way, I find that, for the most part, it's true!)

It all started one day when I was watching a commercial on TV and I noticed that, when the man rested his hand alongside the woman's head, his hand covered the whole side of of it! I placed my hand in the same place on my head and my hand covered from my jaw to the corner of my eye. Then I noticed how a man's hand can cover a good portion of a woman's back or her hip. One evening I placed my hand against my guy's hand and his fingers soared past the tips of mine. I'd never really noticed that before.

Not every woman needs or wants to feel smaller or fragile next to a man, but many do. It's not that we want to be "the weaker sex," for most women know this is poppycock. However, the femininity in us does call us to enjoy the feeling of protection. I truly think it's part of a woman's DNA, going all the way back to our most primitive beings. The placement of a man's hands on a woman's body can make her feel all sorts of things -- things she might not even feel comfortable feeling! Small, protected, sheltered, gentled, placated, submissive, claimed, revered, adored.

Look at the handshake. It's given to mean that the person holds no weapon and is offering peace and solidarity. Ask any businessman or businesswoman and you'll find that handshakes have never gone out of style. James Bond put a lot of stock in a man's handshake.

Where a man is allowed to place his hands on a woman speaks volumes about his relationship to the woman. If a woman lets him run his fingers through her hair, she feels an intimacy with him because women (and men) don't like you to touch their hair (other than a hairstylist or barber) unless they are quite familiar with you. Face touching is the same. As humans we are programmed to protect our faces -- most importantly our eyes. So, allowing someone to touch our faces without permission takes some trust. Just think how many people in your life you would feel comfortable about running their hands over or through your hair or caressing your face. Not very many, huh?

When a man embraces a woman's shoulders it says they are friendly. When he slips an arm around her waist, he's more than friendly. Why is this? Because his hand is coming closer to her private parts, that's why! And if he cups her backside . . .whoa! They're lovers or very nearly lovers. Or he's going to get his face slapped.

It's the language of hands. Fascinating.

Let's give a hand to hands. They do a lot for us, they say a lot about us, and they send signals out to us. And there's something about a man's  hands . . . long fingered hands . . . wide palms . . . strong and yet gentle . . . oh yeah. Gotta hand it to 'em!


Sunday, January 26, 2014

Piping Hot and Ready to Serve

Any time I have a book coming out, I'm excited and nervous. But this time it's different. This time I'm really excited! Maybe it's because I've thought about this book for about 10 years. I have wanted to write about psychic detectives and have rolled plots around in my head, but never wrote anything down. I've been writing nonfiction, historical romances, and contemporary romances. This next novel is my first stab at romantic suspense and it is a lot sexier than anything I've written before. It could be termed a bonfire.

Through His Eyes is hopefully the first book in a series of at least three using the same two main protagonists -- Levi Wolfe and Trudy Tucker. They are both psychics, but he can channel the deceased and she can channel the living. In other words, together they work both ends of a crime -- Levi can relive crimes through the victim's eyes and Trudy sees the crimes through the perpetrator's eyes. Levi is a showy psychic, appearing on television, radio, the Internet, and magazines. He's gorgeous and talented, perfect fodder for a celebrity-crazed media. He also has a checkered past that he's trying to keep locked away. Trudy is more reclusive and just starting out as a professional psychic detective. She's extremely gifted and vulnerable to the evil she can tap into in others. In this first book they join forces to identify a serial killer in the Florida Keys.

I've just approved the book cover and it's fantastic. Now I'm lining up advertising, begging book reviewers to read it, and finding "beta readers" to read it and post early online reviews. It's scheduled for an April release.  I'll post the cover here soon.

I'm blissful and hopeful that it will do well. Some of my fans won't like it because the sex scenes are more explicit and erotic. But this is written for a whole different audience.

Having made big plans for the next book or two in the series, I'm doing what I can to get the first one off the ground and running so that I can have the next ones published.

It wasn't easy. I did three complete rewrites of it. The first draft was more than 500 pages long! I just wrote and wrote and "vomited" everything on the page. Then I let my best friend/writer read it and she was . . . well . . . tepid, bordering on asking me, "Are you insane? You really think this is a good book?" She commenced to tell me everything that was wrong with it and -- damn it all, she was right! I hate when that happens!

Rewrite #2. It was better, but still needed work. My agent and her assistant told me to "sex it up." They informed me that if I really wanted to go "adult erotic" then Levi and Trudy were going to have to crank up their libidos. 

Rewrite #3. I took a deep breath and removed all my "don't go there" signs and went for it. The sex sizzled on the pages.  The suspense elements heated up. Everything came together. Finally. My best friend approved -- even though she doesn't like hot sex scenes -- and my agent said she could present this one to publishers. Amazon has accepted it, so it will be an Amazon Exclusive ebook. If it does well, they will consider a series. (I just broke out in a cold sweat thinking about how this book will be received!)

But I'm not going to stress about that right now. Now I want to relax in the bliss of having finished a book that I'm very proud of and experience the bliss of that accomplishment. Ten years of this book simmering in me and now it's fully cooked and ready to serve!