Friday, October 24, 2014

Melinda Curtis, today's Friday Friend

Are you still looking for an agent or publisher? Are you ready to sell your books? Are you an established author who is extending her reach and ‘brand’?
Let us know how conferences help YOU and what you do the rest of the year to keep the buzz going.

Let me know what I should do first/most/never. It'll be my first RWA National!
Are you still looking for an agent or publisher? Are you ready to sell your books? Are you an established author who is extending her reach and ‘brand’?
Let us know how conferences help YOU and what you do the rest of the year to keep the buzz going.

Let me know what I should do first/most/never. It'll be my first RWA National!
3 Tips to Writing a Romance Series by Mel Curtis

I’d written one series before starting The Hollywood Rules.  I’m deep into the series now (3 books, 2 novellas) and recently went back and re-read Amber Rules, which launched the romantic comedy series.  Today I’m sharing some of the things I did, both good and rule-breaking.  Here’s what I learned by looking back:

1.     The hero and heroine don’t need to meet on page 1. This is a risk and I wouldn’t recommend doing it if you don’t have a readership already.  Most of my books have some kind of first meet in Chapter One, usually on page 1. I dealt with a later meet in Amber Rules by writing short chapters and seeding the existence of each other via the series’ gossip column. The opening chapters are fast paced, which helps, too.

2.     Details can bog the reader down.  My series is based on the top-secret life coaching principles of Dooley Rule.  Too bad Dooley took his secrets to the grave…or did he? Yeah, my characters are working to unlock those secrets. If I were to rewrite some of the unlocking of his secrets, I might have streamlined the details. But I was figuring it out as I was writing, too.

3.     How many characters are too many? My Hollywood Rules series is a little like Kevin Bacon’s 6 Degrees of Separation (more like 3 degrees).  Everyone knows everyone, and if they don’t, they know them from the gossip column. If I was writing Amber Rules today, I probably wouldn’t seed in so many characters (40+) that I needed down the line. However, one couple I’d keep would be Jack and Viv Gordon, who are featured in my latest release, Breaking the Rules.

To say Jack and Vivian Gordon’s marriage has been rocky would be an understatement. The Gordons have been on a roller coaster of love and lust, but can’t seem to get on the same page at the same time. This power couple needs a time-out to find their happily ever after.  And life coach to Hollywood’s rich and powerful, Cora Rule, has just the solution – have the couple sign their divorce papers in a safe room…and lock them inside.
Vivian Gordon had a problem.
A six-foot-two-inch hunk of a problem.
Sex with Jack hadn’t solved the problem.  Marrying him hadn’t solved the problem.  Leaving him hadn’t solved the problem.
The problem was that Viv loved her husband, but Jack didn’t love her.
It wasn’t as if Jack was incapable of love, as some of Hollywood moguls seemed to be.  No, Jack had passion aplenty, but it was for the NBA team he owned, the L.A. Flash, not for a woman.  Not for Viv.
Viv watched Jack swim his daily laps with strong, commanding strokes.  Heaven forbid Jack didn’t get his laps in.  If he didn’t, he was the biggest shit.
Her Gianvito Rossi black suede lace up heels clicked slowly across the white marble tile as she approached the patio doors in the house they’d once shared.  Her cadence was one of a doomed prisoner being shown the open door of the gas chamber.
This is the end.
And she’d chosen the execution date.

Buy Links:
B&N: will go live 10/22

Special Offers
Readers of the Heroines with Hearts blog can download a FREE copy of Amber Rules from Melinda’s web site October 24-30, 2014.  Three books are currently out in the series.  Link: Username: Amber_Rules Password: blogtour2014

Readers of the Heroines with Hearts blog will be sent a FREE fun, sweet novella set within the Hollywood Rules world by signing up for Melinda’s book release email newsletter. Link:

Melinda Curtis is an award winning, USA Today recommended, Amazon best selling author.  She writes independently published, steamy Hollywood Rules series as Mel Curtis. Jayne Ann Krentz says of Blue Rules: Sharp, sassy, modern version of a screwball comedy from Hollywood's Golden Age except a lot hotter.”  Melinda also writes the Harmony Valley series of sweet and emotional romances for the Harlequin Heartwarming line. Brenda Novak says: “Season of Change has found a place on my keeper shelf”. 
Twitter: @MelCurtisAuthor

Thursday, October 23, 2014

I'm a Boxed Set!

Debra's Corral Series has just been released as a boxed set.

When I set out to write my first book, I always knew I wanted it to be the first of a trilogy. Earlier this year, the trilogy was completed. The Corral series, as I call it based on the bar where many of the scenes in all three books take place, includes: This Time for Always, This Can't Be Love, and This Feels Like Home. At that point, I figured my dream had pretty much come true. I'd written my series, and it was probably time to move on to something new. (Or continue with some spin off stories, but that's another story in itself!)

Then I remembered that earlier in the year the marketing rep at TWRP sent an e-mail asking about authors with books in a series in order to put together boxed sets on the site. I told her about mine. At the time, Home was still very new, and she said she wanted to give it some time to be a stand-alone before boxing it up with the others. I let that sit on the back burner for most of the year. A couple of months ago I looked back in my archived e-mails and found the original one. I e-mailed the rep and asked if enough time had passed so that we could get the set going.

From there things went quickly. We sent a few ideas back and forth and came up with a blurb:

A small town where good friends gather and rugged cowboys fall in love.

She sent me a couple ideas for cover art, and I chose the one I liked best.

Finally she asked when I wanted the set to be released. I could pick a Thursday. Any Thursday. So I chose last week.

And wa la...I now have a boxed set of my series available in e-book format at TWRP, Amazon, and Barnes and Nobel.

To say I'm tickled pink and thrilled is an understatement. It's like that Brad Paisley song about him thinking life can't get any better...and then it does.

I'm a boxed set!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Too Many Words?

Paula wonders how to cut or condense parts of her current 'work in progress'.

On Monday, our local paper reported on some filming in Manchester city centre for the film ‘Genius’ which evidently centres on the career of Max Perkins. He was an editor at Scribner, and oversaw the works of Hemingway, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Thomas Wolfe, and others. We’ll bypass the fact that Jude Law and Colin Firth were there in my own city being filmed – and I missed them (grr!)

What interested me was the comment in the report about Thomas Clayton Wolfe. He was described as being ‘hopelessly attached to every word he wrote’, and often submitted novels 'hundreds of pages too long'.

Why was I interested? Well, while not wanting to compare myself with an important American novelist, I’m on the verge of a similar problem. Unlike him, however, I recognise that my current novel is probably too long. Most modern romance novels are between 60,000 and 100,000 words (including my previous ones), but this new one has just gone over the 100K mark, with three or maybe four more chapters still to write, so it could end up with 120,000+ words. I know that’s not hundreds of pages too long, like Thomas Wolfe, and I’m not hopelessly attached to every word, so some careful editing will probably get rid of about 5,000 words.

However, I still feel I will need to get it down to under 100K, which means I may have to cut some scenes. My problem is that each scene in my story contributes something to the overall plot and/or to the characters, and is invariably needed for some later development of the story. I keep going through the different scenes in my mind, wondering if I could cut them, but each time I end up saying to myself, “No, I need that scene because … (whatever!)

The other alternative may be to start the story ‘later’ in the plot – but then I would lose some important early scenes, which prepare the ground for what happens later.

I’m in a real dilemma at the moment – and keep hoping ‘something’ is going to jump out and me, and tell me just what I can cut or at least condense!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Book Trailers

Jennifer learned about book trailers...

I attended my local chapter’s writer’s conference this past weekend and I learned a lot. One of the best workshops I attended was on making book trailers.

I’ve seen authors promote their books with trailers, but I never knew how to do it, or even if I wanted to do it. So I went to this workshop, hoping to learn more about it. And I did!

The author, Susan Ann Wells, taught us how to make a book trailer using PowerPoint, which is pretty much on everyone’s computer. The most effective ones seem to use a few lines of text about the hero, heroine and the premise of the book. There are plenty of free images and music on the web. The workshop was only 45 minutes, so we zoomed through what to do, but she was really smart. She took her notes, self published a how-to book, and also sold it for $5 at the book fair. So now I have her notes, and her more detailed book for use later.

What she showed us looked pretty easy, and I think I might try it as soon as I have some time—probably not until December at this rate.

I’ll be sure to show you my results!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Doing NaNoWriMo

Ana muses about participating in NaNoWriMo.

I registered for NaNoWriMo this weekend. Partly on a dare, partly because I know I respond to pressure.

I tried the writing challenge several years ago, before I had formed many close friendships with dedicated writers. I fell way short of the 50,000 word goal. I may fall short again, but this November I will have people to answer to and daily exhortations of encouragement. 1667 words per day is the daily average.

I have the story outline and character profiles developed.  I have a new laptop  I can take to work and on the road. (I have four craft shows to do on weekends in November.) I need to send my internal editor off on a slow boat for Indonesian takeout. I need to get up early and swear off playing Hayday.

I will do my best, though I do need sleep. It will be fun to try.

Are you?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Galley a Go Go

Debra is one step closer to finishing the final stretch of things to do on One Great Night.

Over the weekend I received the galley files for One Great Night from my editor. I was a little surprised, because I thought I'd be seeing the project in pre-galley format first, but I guess we skipped that step. Now's the time for looking at minute mistakes: misspellings, grammatical errors, misplaced punctuation, etc. Essentially line edits. It's not the time for changing anything about the story or even rephrasing lines or substituting words.

It's exciting and scary all at the same time. It's exciting because a galley is almost the last step before getting a release date. (I'm still waiting on a cover, too.) It's a bit scary because the time for tweaking and changing has passed. The story won't be changing...even in a small this point. It is what it is.

Because of that, I approach this step of editing in a different way. Instead of reading from the beginning to the end, I read from the end to the beginning. I start with the last page. This way, my mind is not wrapped up in the story, and those pesky errors I mentioned tend to stand out more. Another way to do it is to read all of the odd pages and then all of the evens. Anything that breaks the flow of narrative.

I think no matter what the stage, everyone has their own system for editing. I've been to lots of sectionals and heard lots of presentations on it, but it really all comes down to finding what works for you. Writing is a very personal thing. Even in the editing stage.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

What's in a Title?

Paula considers the importance of novel titles.

I’ve been trying to decide on the title of my ‘work in progress’ – and that has led me on to thoughts about titles, and about what appeals to me or, perhaps more significantly, what doesn’t.

Personally, I never look twice at titles with certain words in them – werewolf, zombie, vampire (sorry, Debra!), ghost, devil, and haunting, for example. The paranormal genre simply doesn’t appeal to me at all.

I’m not a fan of regency novels, and titles containing duke, lord, viscount, or earl tend to put me off, as do the female versions of these titles. Rogues, rakes, pirates, and highwaymen don’t interest me either.

With modern romances, I tend to go for stories about ‘ordinary’ people, so I don’t even pick up titles with words like billionaire, tycoon, playboy, sheikh, or prince (or princess) etc. I’m not keen on an emphasis on the hero’s nationality either (e.g. The Italian’s Bride or The Greek’s Proposal), so Italian playboys and Greek billionaires are doubly off-putting! And don’t even get me started on ‘marriages of convenience’ or secret babies!

So what do I like? If a book’s title attracts my interest, maybe with a title like ‘Home for Christmas’ or ‘A Second Chance at Forever’, I might glance at the front cover but far more important to me is the back cover blurb. That’s the ultimate deal maker or breaker for me.

I’m not claiming my own titles are perfect, of course – but at least none of them contain any of the words that put me off from buying a book!

Are there any book titles that put you off? Or specially attract you?