Author: Megan Morgan

Urban fantasy and paranormal romance author.

Summer’s Here!

It’s the first day of summer here in the northern hemisphere! Summer is by far my favorite season…I don’t like the cold! Give me heat and sunshine any day. I can just turn on the air conditioner, or hit the pool!

Do you have any exciting plans for summer? So far, I’m not going on vacation or anything this year (work is kind of preventing that) but I am going to see U2 on July 1st with my friend Rebecca in an outdoor stadium. You can’t get much more summer than an outdoor concert, huh?

Have a great summer! Or, if you’re at the bottom of the world, winter!

The Gift

Here’s an interesting topic for discussion: what is creativity? And, more importantly, where does creativity come from?

For the sake of this discussion, I’ll clarify that I mean “artistic creativity.” There are many forms of creativity in the world, and they manifest in different ways. Being able to think fast and in complex ways is a form of creativity. Being able to make plants grow is a form of creativity. Having a knack for certain pursuits that aren’t necessarily artistic but provide a service to the world is a kind of creativity. But, for right now I’m talking about the kind most people reading this post are familiar with–be it writing, painting, singing, dancing, acting, or photography (to name a few), I’m talking about the ‘entertainment’ creativities, if they can be called that.

First of all, from where does the artistic drive spring? All humans are driven to create things, if even in small ways. Just decorating your home or putting on makeup and doing your hair is an expression of creativity. We like to show off our inner selves for others, and we also like to make things for the world to enjoy or use. Probably because we’re reproductive creatures biologically, we also tend to reproduce with our minds.

But where does the ability–and mostly, the desire–to write, paint, draw, or sing come from? Is it learned? Are we born with it? Of course, studies will probably show you that growing up in a nurturing environment that supports and encourages creative pursuits will have better results. However, this detail is far from necessary. There are plenty of creative people who had no support growing up, who did their own thing because they felt driven and didn’t need, or want, anyone’s approval–or, they may have followed their dreams despite others disapproval. So it’s not entirely accurate to say that one’s environment is an indicator of creative success.

So, are we born with it?

A lot of creative people feel they have a gift, and by that, they don’t mean in some holier-than-thou, I’m-better-than-you sort of way. They often feel this gift is a great and fragile blessing, and they have a terrible anxiety not to screw it up or fritter it away. There’s tension that comes with getting this gift, and that’s the implication behind it that in receiving it, you’re expected to do something with it. If not, you get labeled with those two awful words that no creative person ever wants to hear: wasted talent.

To complicate things further, one can ask if it’s something you’re born with, or it’s something that’s planted in you through outside forces (or a combination of the two), BUT how exactly is the method of creativity chosen? Why does one person sing and another draw? Why do I write but I couldn’t play a musical instrument to save my life? Still other people get a multitude of creative abilities but tend to prefer one over the others. Think of how many actors are also good musicians and vice-versa. What is this lottery we play, and how exactly do we end up with the numbers we get?

Biologically, I’m sure there’s identifiable ways creative people’s brains are wired and some amount of physiology accounts for leaning toward these pursuits. You could look it up and read all about it. Other people tend to think it’s some gift of the spirit, or something that comes from beyond us, something we can’t control, and it either hits you or it doesn’t. There’s a difference between ‘talent’ and ‘passion,’ though. I believe talent is something that can be learned, but passion is either there or it isn’t. Passion is what drives us to make our tiny, poorly-wrapped gift into something shining and magnificent, adorned in gold paper with a big silver bow. Without passion we never turn that gift into what it has the potential to be.

This post is mostly just rambling narrative, as I don’t have any answers for you. I wonder at this thing I’ve had all my life, this thing that makes me write, the thing that makes me go back to it again and again no matter how may disappointments or rejections I received. It’s part of me. It’s who I am. I would not be myself without this gift in my life, and I know that with my whole heart. Taking it away would fundamentally change who I am.

What do you think? Where do you think creativity comes from, and why?

Blissful Disaster by Amy L. Gale

Today I’m hosting Amy L. Gale and her New Adult romance, Blissful Disaster. Amy is giving away a $10 Amazon/B&N gift card. So make sure to comment, check out the other stops on the tour, and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! Amy is also here today to talk to us about her hero in Blissful Disaster, Tyler Young!

Enter to win a $10 Amazon/B&N gift card

Leave a comment and check out the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!


TYLER YOUNG: YOUR NEW FAVORITE ROCK GOD

How’d you come up with that guy? Is he inspired from someone you know? Your husband? An old flame? I’ve been asked these questions way too many times. Of course it’s natural to be curious about how an author develops the characteristics and personalities of their literary characters. The answer is yes, I’m not sure, possibly, no, and maybe.

When I develop characters for a novel I start out by creating my hero. What makes me weak in the knees? Is it the hunky hero from my favorite television show or the bad boy I never quite got my hands on? The powerful intellectual entrepreneur or the rugged athlete? I imagine how I’d like our first meeting to go. Would he be confident and debonair, a lost soul who needs to be saved, or irresistible with an edgy flair? Once I get the basics nailed down, I add layers of personality traits. This is where I evaluate the things I love as well as the things I’m not so fond of in a person. I tend to mesh the personalities of those close to me as well as those I haven’t seen in years to form my perfect male hero.

Tyler Young is the bassist of the up and coming metal band, Devil’s Garden, who are in L.A. to record their album before a European tour. He’s sexy, in that wild rock star way, with a menagerie of tattoos and long blond hair. Kansas boy at heart, Tyler exudes the home town charm and can find any hidden gem of a diner in the biggest city imaginable. When he’s not shredding the bass, you can find him surfing the west coast with some surfer friends he made along the way.

Tyler lives for the moment and can turn anything into an adventure. You never know what you’re going to get but you know it will be beyond your wildest dreams. His charm and charisma along with his hot rocker looks brings Ali to her knees, unable to resist him. Can you resist the hot rock god?


One night stands.
Career-driven Ali Whitman, never dreamed of having one, until she finds herself waking up next to a handsome tattooed man she knows nothing about. After celebrating her promotion to field reporter at Entertainment Rocks! magazine, she breaks her number one rule – to focus on work without the distraction of the opposite sex.

Rules.
Tyler Young lives by his own set. As bassist for Devil’s Garden, he exudes sexual energy and lives for the moment; no strings attached, no regrets, and no looking back.

When the two are brought face to face during an interview it goes sour, sparking a string of disasters. As their feelings for each other grow, they find themselves living by a new set of rules, but demons from the past haunt their new found love. Is it possible to crawl from the ashes of the aftermath or will it all go down in flames?

Love.
Perfect bliss or complete disaster?


EXCERPT:

The blonde huffs. “Looks like I’ll be handling the introductions.” She holds out her hand. “I’m Jenna Crane, and it seems like you and Tyler already know each other.”

I raise my trembling hand and shake hers. “Yes, I’m Ali Whitman from Entertainment Rocks! magazine… Umm…. I’m here to interview Devil’s Garden.” I let go of her hand and step back. Technically, I know Tyler very well, yet he’s still a complete stranger.

She looks at Tyler and then back at me. “Whatever, come on, the guys are in the practice room.” She heads through the doorway.

I watch her disappear into the hall. What are the chances? Tyler works for Devil’s Garden? He mentioned a recording studio. He’s probably their sound tech or something. Maybe he’ll leave and by some miracle I can pull off this interview.

She peeks her head back in. “Uh, you guys coming?”

Tyler clears his throat and runs a hand through his hair. “Yeah” He looks over at me and flashes a half smile. “Ladies first.” He gestures toward the doorway.

I smile and proceed forward. He can skip the gentleman routine. I mean, hello, nice guys call you the day after they’ve spent the night in your apartment. Not that any of it matters now, I’m a professional, and I’m here to get the story.


BUY LINKS:

Blissful Disaster is on sale for $0.99 during the tour!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XZD76NJ
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/blissful-disaster/id1213006702?mt=11
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blissful-disaster-amy-l-gale/1126013983?ean=2940157595142
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/blissful-disaster
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/709439


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Romance author by night, pharmacist by day, Amy Gale loves rock music and the feel of sand between her toes. She attended Wilkes University where she graduated with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. In addition to writing, she enjoys baking, scary movies, rock concerts, and reading books at the beach. She lives in the lush forest of Northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband, six cats, and golden retriever.

Website: http://www.authoramygale.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amy-Gale/540928695977160
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/amyg618
Tumblr: http://www.amygale.tumblr.com/
Author Page: http://www.5princebooks.com/amygale.html

Enter to win a $10 Amazon/B&N gift card

Leave a comment and visit the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!

The Long and Short Of It

Let me ask you a question: how long is a book?

I’m asking this as a writer. Most readers think of books in terms of pages, but most writers think of books in terms of word count. So, how long is a book? How many words?

Of course, the answer is based on various factors: the genre of the book, if the book is in a series, if so which number, and even who the author is, as some authors are known for the length of their books. On top of that, publishers set their own guidelines for how long they want their books to be. As a romance author, most romances are between 70,000-90,000 words, BUT some romance publishers want works much shorter than that and specify so.

Once you figure out how many words make up a book in the genre you’re writing in, for the publisher you want to be published with, then comes the hard part–you have to write that many words.

I’ve recently seen a big shift in how I make my word count. This is why I never say never, because as I grow and evolve as a writer, I try new things (and sometimes I like them). Here’s my before and after:

(BEFORE) OVER-WRITING

I used to write too much. If I was plotting an 80,000 word book, I’d write 100,000 to 120,000 words. Then, in editing and rewriting, I’d chop, chop, chop until I slimmed it down to that mark. I’ve been doing this for a LONG time, I can’t specifically say how long, but for as long as I can remember. I thought of my work as a sculptor thinks of their work–you heave out a huge block of marble, then you get to work chiseling and cutting until it’s a beautiful work of art. Here are some pros and cons of writing this way:

PROS:

  • You have a lot of material to play with. You start with a big basket of apples and gradually pluck out all the rotten ones, or the ones that are about to go bad. There’s a nice fat body of work you can shape and mold.
  • It’s easier sometimes to get rid of stuff than to try to find something to add.
  • There’s a huge sense of accomplishment that comes with writing this much–and it keeps your writer brain occupied so you don’t spend so much time looking at yourself in the mirror yelling “I’m a hack!”

CONS:

  • Sometimes it’s very hard to cut out stuff you love, even if it’s a really bad apple. It might look shiny and sweet on the outside, but you know, deep inside, it’s black and mushy.
  • It takes longer to over-write.
  • When you write something that’s too long, you might do a lot of rambling and going off plot.

This was the way I’d always written. I never thought I’d change. However, this past year, I’ve seen a shift in my writing style. Now I’m doing this…

(AFTER) UNDER-WRITING

I’ve started hammering out books in a more basic format. I under-write, and then go back and fill things in and fatten up the story. By this, I don’t mean I write 5,000 words when I’m aiming for 70,000, but more like I write 50,000, bringing myself up short in the same amount I used to overshoot. In editing, I flesh out the characters more, expand plot points, and generally decorate things and liven it up. Since this is still new and exciting to me, I enjoy it. In this case, I’m more like an artist painting–I get the contour and colors down first, then go back and add in fine details. The pros and cons of this are:

PROS:

  • You’ve already written the story, so you know what it’s about, what you want to convey, and what the tone is. Adding to that enhances those things.
  • It takes less time to write the first draft.
  • Sometimes having the bones down first makes you a lot more creative when it comes to building the flesh–you can also manipulate the story to go in a different direction if you don’t like what you wrote the first time around.

CONS:

  • Adding things can be more difficult than taking them away. What you have might already be so clean that adding to it just makes it bulky (in this case, there’s a huge market for novellas out there, embrace it).
  • Editing and rewriting isn’t as simple as when you’re plucking bad apples: you have to go find more good apples.
  • It’s much harder to write succinctly than to over-write. You have to start with a clean, simple plot in mind, and not be afraid to move from point to point without filling in all the pomp and circumstance–remind yourself that comes later.

However you write, over, under, or somewhere in the middle, you figure out eventually how to reach your desired word count. The more I write, the more I’m willing to experiment. Funny enough, editing used to be the bane of my existence, but now I love it. Maybe that’s why I’ve started under-writing, because I get to spend more time in the editing phase.

How do you get your words?

The One-Page Synopsis

Of all the silly, outrageous things publishers and agents ask of you when submitting your book, the most silly, outrageous request of all is the one-page synopsis. If you’ve ever had to write one before, you’re already groaning. If you don’t know what that is, let me explain:

Most agents and publishers, of course, want a synopsis of your book. Whether they want it at the initial query stage or by request once you’ve piqued their interest, most ask for one. A synopsis a summary of the events in your book–beginning to end, including the full, spoilery conclusion–in a few pages. In a few pages if you’re lucky. Some publishers and agents, more than we’d like, ask for something even more harebrained: that the synopsis be confined to one page. And usually, that means one double-spaced page.

So now you have to detail your WHOLE FRICKIN’ BOOK in one page?! The plot, the characters, the twist, the ending, the theme, all of it. In one page! What are these people thinking?

Publishers and agents will tell you they have a few key reasons for this briefest of brief summaries. Those being:

  1. They don’t have time to read a description of your book that’s almost as long as the book itself.
  2. They’re judging how good of a writer you are from your ability to be succinct and yet engaging (yes really).
  3. They’re judging how good the book is. If it can’t be summed up sufficiently by breaking it down into bare bones parts, it’s probably too rambling and disjointed.

So how do you sum up an entire book in just ONE page? That is, about five paragraphs? I’m going to give you an example here, using a story we all know: Cinderella. I’ll go paragraph by paragraph.

PARAGRAPH ONE: Introduce your main characters–that is, only the ones who really matter and move the story along. You can’t jam your main character and sixty side characters in there. Only talk about who is important. In this case, it’s Cinderella and her wicked stepfamily. Yes, she gets her Prince and she has a fairy godmother, but we’ll mention them later. Also the dancing/singing mice, if you’re going by the Disney version, are not important. You should also introduce the premise in your first paragraph.

After the death of her father, Cinderella languishes in a life of poverty and servitude at the cruel hands her wealthy, wicked stepmother and stepsisters. Forced to do their bidding, she dreams of a life free from chores and degradation, and is prone to daydreaming to escape the unfair realities of her life.

(I always wondered about Cinderella’s father–why did he marry such a nasty woman in the first place? Was it for her money? Did he work for her Dad?)

PARAGRAPH TWO: Describe the conflict. What is happening in this story that, well…makes it a story?

When the Prince of her kingdom throws a ball with the intention of finding himself a wife, Cinderella is desperate to attend. She sews her own dress and gets her hair and nails did, but her stepmother and stepsisters dash her hopes, destroy her dress, and leave her at home to wallow in despair.

(Apparently, to find a wife all you gotta do is throw a party. Was the Prince just going to pick one like you’d pick out a cantaloupe in the produce section?)

All the best plot twists come out of absolutely nowhere, with no foreshadowing. Trust me on this.

PARAGRAPH THREE: The climax. What is the pivotal moment in the story?

To Cinderella’s amazement, she learns she has a Deus ex machina fairy godmother, who conjures up a wealth of finery for her and sends her off to the ball. There, the Prince meets and falls in love with her, but Cinderella must flee the celebration prematurely–for the spell is broken at midnight. In her haste to depart, she leaves behind a glass slipper. The Prince vows he will not rest until he finds the woman whose foot fits the special shoe.

(Let’s not even get into the impracticalities of glass shoes and it being a size that only a single woman can wear. Also WHY does the spell break at midnight? You can turn a pumpkin into a coach and mice into horses, but you can’t hold a spell past 12:01?)

PARAGRAPH FOUR: The aftermath. What happens after the pivotal moment, how does the story conclude (tell this fully)?

Though her stepfamily tries to keep her from trying on the shoe, when the Prince arrives at their house, Cinderella manages the opportunity to put it on. The Prince realizes Cinderella is his dream girl, and Cinderella gets her man, and the life she’s always dreamed of. Upon leaving her stepfamily’s house, Cinderella burns it to the ground and her stepmother and stepsisters are forced to beg in the streets for the rest of their days.

(This is my version.)

PARAGRAPH FIVE: Wrap up the synopsis, with some notes on theme.

Through struggle and hardship, Cinderella finds a light in the darkness. She learns that being humble and good-hearted brings its just rewards in the end.

(And also a Prince who picks out his wives based on the size of their feet.)

There you have it. Writing a one-page synopsis is never easy, and you’re probably going to feel like you’re leaving tons of things out, but it can be done. Focus on the main characters, plot points, and theme, and you’ll keep it brief. Or, barring that, write a long synopsis and keep whittling it down until you have one page. Or use smaller font so you can get more on the page.

(Don’t do that, I’m kidding.)

Her General In Gray by Linda Nightingale

Today I’m hosting Linda Nightingale and her paranormal romance, Her General In Gray. Linda is giving away Black Diamond Earrings and an eBook of Her General in Gray to one winner, and a second winner will receive a digital choice of one of the author’s backlist. So make sure to comment, check out the other stops on the tour, and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! Linda is also here today to talk to us about her interest in the American Civil War era!

Enter to win Black Diamond Earrings and an e-copy of Her General In Gray, OR a digital copy of one book in the author’s backlist

Leave a comment and check out the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!


LINDA NIGHTINGALE’S INTEREST THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR ERA

Actually, I’ve always been more interested in the English Civil War than the American Civil War. Years ago, I bred Andalusian horses, and my stallion Alegre and I participated in events in Staunton, Virginia (the Battle of Worcester re-enactment) and St. Petersburg, Florida. Since I’m a great fan of Charles II, this interest in the ECW sort of followed.

When I wrote Her General in Gray, not from a burning interest in the Civil War as much as an interesting ghost story in the tradition of the movie The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Needless to say, research was required. Various aspects of the story like the cause of the Civil War, the battles and the attitude of other countries to the ACW drew me into more research and more. For example, I learned that slavery wasn’t the only cause of the conflict. Like most wars, the American Civil War was fought for monetary considerations too, in a word cotton. The South had it; the North did not and the Union’s mills needed it. Surf around a little and you’ll come up with all manner of intriguing facts.

I read about the bloody battles of Antietam and Gettysburg, choosing Antietam as the encounter in which the hero Sib was killed. Since he was murdered by a bullet from the gun of a countryman, he was an unquiet spirit, his body never receiving a proper burial. Now a locally famous ghost, he frightened away several would-be owners of Allen Hall, his family home, before the feisty Yankee lass Amber bought the property.

Meanwhile back to the research: It was interesting that one incident almost brought England into the war on the Confederate side. The Brits had maintained a strict neutrality under Prime Minister Palermo, popular sympathies with both factions passionate but not enough to enter the war until the Trent incident. The Southerners dispatched two commissioners, one to England and one to France. The commissioners reached a neutral port and embarked on a British vessel, the Trent. A Union warship boarded The Trent, taking the commissioners prisoner. Finally, to avert a declaration of war, President Lincoln accepted the demands of the British government and freed the commissioners. How different history would have been different had the British become an ally to the Confederacy!

As I studied on, the Civil War took shape as a people drama. Like all wars, when you come right down to it, the conflict is about the individual dying for a principle(s). I tried to decide which side I’d choose, and I couldn’t. Each had reasons I cared about. I was against slavery, but for the right of secession (of course secession wouldn’t work today), and the southern way of life was graceful and elegant (on top of the heap of humanity).

How do you feel about the ACW? I, for one, am glad I wasn’t there.


Autumn Hartley purchases Allen Hall at a steal, but the northern lass gets far more than a beautiful plantation in the South Carolina Low Country. The house comes complete with its own ghost, a handsome and charming Civil War General—for the Confederacy. The stage is set for another civil conflict.

John Sibley Allen died in battle from a wound in the back, the bullet fired by the turncoat, Beauregard Dudley. The traitor’s reincarnation is Autumn the Interloper’s first dinner guest. Sib bedevils her date and annoys her with fleeting, phantom touches, certain he can frighten her away as he did previous purchasers. As time marches on, her resident ghost becomes more appealing while her suitor, Beau, pales in comparison. Autumn finds her ability to love didn’t perish in the divorce that sent her south seeking a fresh start.

After over a century in the hereafter, Sib discovers he is falling for none other than the feisty Yankee girl, but what future could a modern woman and an old-fashioned ghost possibly hope for?


EXCERPT:

In an age of smart phones and tablets, she stood for a moment contemplating the past. The temptation was almost too much for her, but she’d started to fold the dress back into its resting place when a hand landed on her shoulder.

Sib’s voice was soft and tender. “The dress belonged to my mother. She wore it at a ball before the war. It appears to be in passable condition. Why don’t you try it on? I’ve imagined you so attired.”

“I’m a Northerner, remember? I’m surprised you offer your mother’s gown to me.” She turned, the green frock draped over her arm. “Where have you been anyway?”

“Here. All the time. I was simply playing along with your game of asking for my disappearance.”

She stiffened. “Don’t play games with me. My mother used to do that. It was disturbing and hurtful to a child.”

“You reveal more of yourself every moment, and I’m enjoying getting to know you. Very well, I’ll share something about me. My father—what do you call it today?—cheated on my mother. More than once.. I’d hear her crying at night. Thus, I would have been true to my wife.” Eyes sad, he nodded at the dress. “I’d like to see you in that, Autumn. We are becoming friends. She would have approved. I’ll assist with the buttons.”

“Turn your back. I’ll have to get undressed.” She motioned at him. “I’ve no desire for a ghost to see me in my bra and panties.”

He chuckled, his big grin enticing. “Such modesty. Actually, I was anticipating that view. Anyway, I’ve seen you in your underwear before.”

“You Peeping Tom!” She accused, shaking a fist at him. “Will I have no privacy? Do you follow me to the bathroom, too?”

“No, Ma’am.” He shook his head, his hair moving in soft waves. “I was simply in my bedroom when you changed into your nightgown.”

“It’s not your bedroom. This is my house, and don’t you forget it.” She glared at him.

He snapped a smart military salute. “Yes, commander.”

“Turn around.” She slid her sweatshirt over her head and slithered out of her sweatpants. “You are…such an annoyance.”

“Thank you. I couldn’t be more offended.”

A strange feeling of awe washed over her as she slid the beautiful gown over her head. “Okay. I’m ready for help with the buttons.”

The touch of his fingers filled her with an emotion she’d thought dead. A thrill actually rippled over her. Perhaps, because he was no threat. The General couldn’t break her heart as Chad had done. That dreadful affair seemed as far in the past as the dress of rustling satin. He was the VP at the agency, and their brief association and parting had twisted her feelings into knots.

“You’re tense.” Sib stroked her back. “I sense it isn’t the dress.”

“I’ll tell you later.” She spun, swirling the skirt. “What do you think?”

“I think you are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.” A very sweet emotion seeped through her.

“Not in the least.” He offered her an old-fashioned bow.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Born in South Carolina, Linda has lived in England, Canada, Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Atlanta and Houston. She’s seen a lot of this country from the windshield of a truck pulling a horse trailer, having bred, trained and showed Andalusian horses for many years.

Linda has won several writing awards, including the Georgia Romance Writers Magnolia Award and the SARA Merritt. She is the mother of two wonderful sons, a retired legal assistant, member of the Houston Miata Club, and enjoys events with that car club. Among her favorite things are her snazzy black convertible and her parlor grand piano. She loves to dress up and host formal dinner parties.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LNightingale
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LindaNightingaleAuthor
Web Site: http://www.lindanightingale.com – Visit and look around. There’s a free continuing vampire story.
Blog: https://lindanightingale.wordpress.com/ – Lots of interesting guests & prizes
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4839311.Linda_Nightingale
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/lbnightingale1/
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Linda-Nightingale/e/B005OSOJ0U

Enter to win Black Diamond Earrings and an e-copy of Her General In Gray, OR a digital copy of one book in the author’s backlist

Leave a comment and visit the other stops on the tour for more chances to win!

That’s It, I’m Out

This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. The first Wednesday of every month is Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. The awesome co-hosts for the June 7 posting of the IWSG will be JH Moncrieff, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Jen Chandler, Megan Morgan, and Heather Gardner!

I’m co-hosting the IWSG today, whoo! I really love this group and I love participating in the blog hop every month, and occasionally co-hosting (this is my third time). I credit the IWSG with making me a better blogger. To think there was a time I hated the idea of blogging and barely posted once a month! Now my blog is actually my most active and widely-read social media connection.

And that fits in with my answer to today’s question, in a way:

June 7 Question: Did you ever say “I quit?” If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?

Hahahaha wow. That’s a big YES.

I think part of being a writer–at least, a writer who sticks with it–is experiencing that melodramatic moment where you throw in the towel and fling yourself upon the ground in a fit of despair and defeat. You scream to the skies “I’LL NEVER WRITE AGAIN!” but you know, somewhere deep in your heart, it’s a big fat lie. Because though you hate writing right now, really, really hate it like a cat hates getting a bath, secretly you still love it and you always will.

My “I quit” moment is still part of my writing oeuvre, and I keep it that way so I can occasionally laugh at myself. In 2003, I declared to all and sundry on my LiveJournal that I was done with writing, or at least, the pursuit of professional writing. I hadn’t gotten published in any significant way in all the years I’d been pounding the keyboard (just something in a zine once, which I never even saw), agents and publishers were turning their noses up at me left and right, and I just felt horribly defeated. Here are some hubris-laced excerpts from that tragic post (I will leave all typos and errors of grammar and structure as is, for underlined effect):

…About a month ago, I made a decision. I didn’t write about it in here, because I’ve been saying very little about my life lately in this journal. (If I don’t talk about it I don’t think about it, right?) Anyway, the decision was that I was no longer going to pursue a professional writing career. At first it was that I was not going to write at all anymore, but I’ve written fan fiction since then–albeit, I haven’t finished anything–so I assume I’m still writing. I’m just giving up the dream, idea, hope, whatever it is, of making writing my career…

(Good Lordy.)

…I did write a book, and I’ve had it through several agents and publishers now, trying to find someone who would give it a chance. It’s been turned back every time, and the past two times, I got a very specific answer as to why. I was told it was disjointed, contrived, dull, banal, and the characters were too one-dimensional.

And you know what? They’re right…

(They were totally right, by the way.)

…I’ve been writing for almost 13 years, I’m almost 30, and I have nothing substantial to show for it yet. Because I have this fear I’m going to die not having done anything that people would remember me for. Because I bragged to the people in high school that I would be a famous writer someday, and they honestly believed it. Because I promised someone wonderful and supportive and who was a pivotal figure in me finding the courage to be a writer to begin with that I would some day dedicate my first book to him. I’ve not made good on any of those promises yet, and I’m terrified that I never will…

(My first book was in fact dedicated to him. And oh, to be 30 again.)

…This is the reason I decided to stop pursing a professional writing career–at least, for now. It’s hurting me too much, it’s ceasing to be a dream and becoming a nightmare. And that in itself is painful too. I always had this ‘direction’ in life, and now I feel like I’ve been abandoned in the middle of the woods and I don’t know which path to take…

Goodness, it’s clear why I’m a writer, because I do have a flair for the dramatic!

I can’t remember (my God, that was 14 years ago!) exactly when or why I started writing and attempting to get published again, but I can tell you with almost certainty it was because I love to write and I couldn’t give it, or any of its trappings, up entirely. And now here I am, with multiple books published, going along strong. The reason I still have this entry bookmarked is because I eventually intend to print it out and hang it up next to my first book cover.

You may give up, but you’ll be back. Mark my words.


Make sure to stop by the IWSG site today and check out the open submission call for the IWSG Guide to Writing for Profit!

Making It In the Writing World

This past March, I celebrated the second anniversary of my first book being published. It’s not the first thing I had published, but it was my first full-length book and the ‘big deal’ that kicked off my career as a published writer. Of course, I use the word career in the literal sense, because I’m by no means making a living off it, which is an entirely different thing.

In those two-plus years, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned things I never thought about before I got published. I’m still learning, trust me. I don’t think there’s an end to this education, no matter how many books you publish or how long you’ve been around–that’s largely because the industry is always changing. Not even the biggest, most bestselling authors you’ve ever heard of can just sit back and dust their hands off because they’ve learned everything there is to know.

Today, I’m going to share with you some of the things I’ve learned, give you some advice, and no matter where you are on your publishing journey, maybe you can take some wisdom from it.

Here’s some of the things I’ve done/learned since I’ve gotten published:

DIVERSIFY

My Siren Song series is published with Kensington Books’ Lyrical line, which is by far my biggest publisher, but it’s not my only publisher. Kensington isn’t one of the Big Five (which used to be the Big Six), but it’s the largest and oldest independent publishing house in the US and definitely considered a prestigious New York publishing house. I make more money off my books published with them than all my other publishers combined. This is, of course, because they are a big publishing house and therefore their publicity and promotion efforts are huge, they have a vast reader base built in, and they have high visibility. I should want to publish all my stuff with them, right?

Except, I decided early in my career that I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket. I’m also published with five other, smaller publishing houses. Those being Tirgearr, Muse It UP, Siren-Bookstrand, House of Erotica, and most recently, Evernight Publishing. There’s three key reasons why I would diversify like this:

One is that it keeps my options open. If I write something and one publishing house rejects it, I have other publishers I can send it to. Also, I might want to write something that doesn’t fit in a certain publisher’s catalog. That’s all right. I have other options. Also, once you’re an in-house author it’s much easier to get other works accepted by them.

Two is that it increases my luck. I wrote a post about the role of luck in author success a few weeks ago, in which I discussed ways to get ‘closer’ to luck. One of those ways is to get yourself into as many circles as you can so luck has a higher chance of finding you. Being involved with different publishing houses expands my chances of running into the right person or big break that I need. Maybe I’ll catch the eye of a huge reviewer who likes to read things from one particular publishing house, or I’ll come across an industry professional who can promote my career. It’s always good to try to meet and mingle with as many opportunities as you can.

Three is for the simple fact that I want to test the waters. Not all publishing houses are created equal. Some have a huge base of readers who might love your book, some are very involved in your promotion and some aren’t, and they all treat you a little differently, give you different levels of editing and creative and practical support, and have a unique brand that appeals to different audiences. Myself, I want to try as many flavors as I can at the buffet and then decide which ones I like best. If a publisher doesn’t work out for me, I simply won’t submit anything to them in the future.

LEARN TO PLAY THE GAME

Make no doubt about it, at the end of the day, publishing is a business. That means if you want to be part of the publishing world, you have to treat it like a business. Be professional, follow the rules, and always put your best face forward. You might not agree with the processes you run into, but they’re in place for a reason and bucking the system won’t get you far.

I’m constantly dismayed at new writers who think they’re going to ignore guidelines, do want they want, and still be so awesome and special they get a publishing contract. I blame this on the fact that in all industries, we tend to focus on the ‘trail blazers’ and people who ‘didn’t follow the rules’ and still became successful. The thing is, once again, these people ran into some luck. They also aren’t telling you about all the times their deviant behavior didn’t work out for them or set them back. Also, even ‘innovators’ followed the rules to a certain extent, they just found new, unique, and more creative ways to do things that made sense.

There is a game you have to play in publishing, and that’s figuring out where and when you can jump in the mix and have it work out for you. I can’t fully explain it, but after you’ve done it for a while you’ll start to recognize it and you’ll develop a knack for it. You’ll start to see opportunities and know how to do the backflips and cartwheels that will land you in the right spot. You’ll figure out how to work things to your advantage, where you have the best shot at succeeding, and the right things to say to get the appropriate attention.

But remember, it’s still a business, and you need to be a business person.

NETWORKING

No writer is an island, and you don’t want to get stranded on one, either. You have to make connections in the publishing world, even if only superficial and strictly business. This opens up doors you didn’t have the keys to previously.

Let’s be clear on this, though: you need to have realistic expectations about networking. Telling a publisher “I’m friends will Big Time Author,” will never get you a publishing contract on its own. Even if Big Time Author gives you a glowing recommendation, that’s not an automatic in. Publishers will judge your work based on the merits of your writing alone, and decide if they want you on their team. Even if JK Rowling descends from Heaven with your manuscript clutched to her breast and delivers it directly into the publisher’s hands, this will still not get you a publishing contract if your writing isn’t up to snuff.

However, Big Time Author might give you a guest spot on their blog, or a shoutout in their newsletter, or recommend your books to their readers. That’s something.

There ARE people who can help you get published though, people who have actually had their hands on your manuscript–an editor you worked with before, an agent who found your work appealing but couldn’t represent you for various reasons. These are the sort of people you want to get a rapport with too. Networking is part of playing the game.

These are a few of the things I’ve learned in the past two-ish years. There’s a lot more, of course. Maybe this advice will be helpful to you. Have you learned some things you’d like to share?

Prizes!

Just a heads up: The Romance Reviews’ Sizzling Summer Reads party starts today! There’s SO many prizes to win this month, including books and gift cards.

Today on the very first day, my book Black Mountain Magic is featured and I’m giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner. So stop on by and play some games and win some prizes!