Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Ring In The New Year

Jennifer has writing goals...

My writing goals for 2015:

  • ·      I plan to participate in my local RWA chapter’s version of NaNoWriMo in February and my goal is to complete it.
  • ·      That goal will help my next goal, which is to finish book 3 of my Women of Valor series—I still don’t have a title for it, so I’ll need to come up with one.
  • ·      I’d like to get my standalone manuscript, In the Moment, published, hopefully with a big publisher.
  • ·      I want to devote significant time to my writing, to make it an essential part of every day.
  • ·      I’d like to be a good writer friend to my fellow writers—to help when asked, to provide support when needed and to cheer them on as often as possible.
  • ·      And I’d like to improve my confidence in my writing abilities. This is a tough job and you need thick skin. I’d like to find a way to thicken mine, without losing the passion for what I do.

Finally, I’d like to thank Paula, Ana and Debra for another wonderful year of Heroines with Hearts. We each bring a unique perspective to writing and I value each and every one of you. I can’t wait to see what the year ahead brings.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Great Communicator

Jennifer looks at ways of communicating...

In my volunteer job, which sometimes seems like a full-time job (without the salary), I often deal with budgets and finance issues. While I’m intelligent, math is not my strong suit and I have to find ways of understanding the numbers so that they make sense to me. I’ve taken to asking people to give it to me “in English-major terms.”

People laugh, but really, they shouldn’t. Being able to explain things in terms a variety of people will understand is a communication skill that is essential for working with people. I am an English major and I’m usually good at communicating. I even enjoy finding other ways of explaining things to people so that they understand something—everyone learns different ways and one method won’t necessarily work for everyone.

I think it’s a side benefit of being a writer. Every one of us has a way of writing, our voice. But we also have to write in ways that are true to our characters. Some characters are simple, others are complex. Some characters need to sound male or female or refined or coarse. As the writer, we have to be able to make those characters sound unique. We don’t want every character to be a carbon copy of each other, or, heaven forbid, ourselves! And that’s just for writing fiction.

In previous jobs, I had to write newspaper and magazine articles, often about topics with which I wasn’t familiar. They required enough research to not only understand the topic and to be able to ask intelligent questions, but also to be able to translate that information into something my readers would understand. The goal wasn’t to dumb down the information for someone who had never heard it before, but to make the information relevant to industry professionals.

A good writer can do that. And a good communicator needs to be able to do that as well. So the next time someone says, “That’s not really my area of expertise,” don’t think badly of that person. Rework how you explain your information. It might actually benefit both of you.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Sandy Wolters, today's Friday Friend

 Sandy Wolters is a prolific writer with five other novels to date. Soul Mates, her steamy time travel romance, won first place in the Paranormal Romance Guild’s 2013 Reviewer Choice Awards for Paranormal Romance-Novella.    She shares her:

                                   Dos And Don’ts Of Editing By A Don’ts Expert

I am now the proud mother of six novels, each word of which was ripped from my heart and put on paper for the world to see.

[Don’t #1.]
With my first novel, Maggie Mae, I allowed my oldest daughter to give it to her friends at work, all of whom love romance novels, to beta read. I figured I was letting my family off the hook from lying to my face if they didn't like it. My daughter could just pass on the comments from her co-workers without fear of any repercussions. Besides, my family members can't spell any better than I can, so I wasn't sure how much help they would be. I thought unfamiliar beta readers would give me the advantage I needed to make sure my novel was the very best it could be, completely error-free. Of course, I assumed that because I had read and re-read the thing at least 8,000 times, there was no way a misspelled word or misplaced comma had slipped through my intense scrutiny. But, sending it through one more pass with beta readers sounded like a good idea. WRONG!

After nothing but great reviews from beta readers, and I might add, no issue with any misspelled words or punctuation, I published my book. A friend contacted me after she had read it. This friend happened  to be a professional editor. She loved the story but had found quite a few errors and offered her services to edit the manuscript. At first, I was heartbroken and then mortified. My baby had flaws, and they needed to be fixed before any other copies were sold. I jumped at her offer.

[Don’t #2.]
With my next two books, I felt very confident about the stories, all puffed up, knowing my books couldn't possibly be any better than they were. WRONG!

Curious about how my work stood against other author’s manuscripts, I contacted my friend Dannye Williamsen with Your Editing Partner and asked her to take a look at all my books, including Maggie Mae.  Ms. Williamsen had earlier suggested some ways I could improve my writing in general and draw the reader in. As it turned out, my last two books for the most part didn’t have grammatical errors, but all three books needed refining.

Once I received her feedback, I hired her on the spot. I quickly realized that the difference between someone being a line editor and someone being a professional fiction editor is that the professional knows when to rein an author in and when to make her expand a scene. They know how to enrich the author’s writing. Ms. Williamsen has now edited every single book I’ve written, and she’s the only editor I trust touching my work. She’s helped me grow as an author, and I couldn’t be more thankful for our professional and personal relationship. She has no problem telling me straight out if she believes my book needs work, and I appreciate every nugget of knowledge she’s given me.

Over the years, we’ve come to love each other like sisters. When it comes to writing, we think alike. We’ve even started a project together, collaborating on a new series. It, of course, has the paranormal element but is a mystery series rather than romance.

The moral of this story is—save yourself some agony. Spend the money and hire yourself a professional editor, preferably one who has experience in your genre of choice, one who has your best interests at heart and one you can trust with your offspring.

When One Door Closes: 

Purchase Links: ($1.99 digital)
Amazon Geo URL: http://a-fwd.com/asin=B00I6S8KA0
B&N:  http://ow.ly/tFMSh
iTunes:  http://ow.ly/AjLYF
ARE:  http://ow.ly/AjM37
Kobo:  http://ow.ly/AjMfs
Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/404832
(Available in Print - $7.99)
Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/When-Door-Closes-Series-Volume/dp/149541356X/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1417875612&sr=1-3
Createspace:  https://www.createspace.com/4641625

            Her marriage a disaster, Lilly closes the door to her personal life. Can meeting Bruce open a door to a new life or will her fear shut her off from love?

            All Lilly has ever wanted to do is sing, but being an internationally famous superstar has turned her life into a living nightmare. Closing the door on her destructive marriage, she runs to her best friend's rural home in northern Arizona, hoping to stay out of the public's eye and sort out her life.

            Bruce Silk, a Flagstaff police officer, doesn't approve of his brother's rakish rock star lifestyle but still keeps an eye on his remote home when he's out on tour. More than once he's had to arrest groupies who invaded the property to steal some small memento from the famous Clay Silk. So why does he feel sucker-punched when he slaps the cuffs on this latest trespasser?

Excerpt: (414 words)
            Curiosity gripped him. Who was this woman his philandering brother seemed to care so much about? Bruce watched from the kitchen doorway as she finished preparing their hot cocoa. Her small size seemed incongruent with the amount of sensuality exuding from her. No wonder she's Clay's favorite, he thought as a pang of jealousy swept over him.
            Dominating the room, her sensuous presence relaxed his cop perceptions and stimulated his male senses to a full appreciation for the view in front of him. Looking at her feet, he realized that despite the six-inch heels, the top of her head had only come up to his chest while he was handcuffing her. Damn, he thought, she is one fine woman. Who the hell wears those kinds of shoes sitting on a back deck all by themselves?
            Observing her skintight, leather-clad legs, lust filled him as his eyes and his imagination quickly moved to gaze at her curvaceous southern regions. Staring at her beautifully rounded bottom, his mind swiftly moved to a destination that he had not been fortunate enough to visit lately, even though it wasn’t for lack of opportunity. A lascivious grin, coveted by most of the women around these parts, crept across his face.
            Lilly turned to find him leering at her, locked away in his own private daydream. Still it was a look she would recognize anywhere. She'd seen it countless times but never really appreciated it until tonight. Too bad, she thought, that I'm not the type of person to have a one-night stand, unlike my husband. A stab of fresh pain hit her in the chest, and she had to catch the sorrowful moan before it left her lips. No. I'm not going to do that to myself—not anymore. She had an inkling that if she let him, this man could make her feel better for a while at least. Letting these dangerous thoughts slip away, she cleared her throat to get his attention.
            He came back from wherever his imagination had just taken him to find her smiling sweetly at him. As she moved toward him with the mugs in hand, he was grateful she had let him off the hook so easily. There was no way in hell he wanted to explain where his daydream had taken the two of them. It was bad enough that she obviously knew that his thoughts were lustful—no need for her to know how much further they had taken him.

Read entire first chapter excerpt:  http://sandywolters.weebly.com/when-one-door-closes-excerpt.html
Another Door Opens

Purchase Links: ($1.99 digital)
Amazon Geo URL: http://a-fwd.com/asin=B00PQT7MRO
B&N:  http://ow.ly/ESu9h
iTunes:  http://ow.ly/ESuxU
ARE:  http://ow.ly/FlsKP
Kobo:  http://ow.ly/ESuPj
Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/494887
(Available in Print - $7.99)
Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Another-Door-Opens-Series-Volume/dp/1503268136/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1417877294&sr=1-1
Createspace:  https://www.createspace.com/5106760

Can a man who has never lacked for women in his life meet the challenge when the woman he truly desires wants nothing to do with him?

Clayton Silk has reveled in the attention he receives as a rock star. His only close friend is Lilly, another international rock star, but she has chosen to step back from the spotlight and enjoy her relationship with his brother Bruce, which has started Clay thinking about his life.

When he decides to take a break from touring and spend some time with Bruce and Lilly, he meets a woman who drives him to distraction, a woman who resists all his usual charms, and makes him wonder what it will take to break down her resistance before he loses his mind. As he discovers, it may just cost him her life.

Excerpt: (554 words)
They were both startled when Barney picked that moment to come running through the house. He moved back and forth in front of them with urgency. When all he got was curious looks, he stopped and gave them both an inquisitive stare.
Nancy reached for the dog. "What is it, boy?"
Barney started to whine quietly, his big blue eyes almost hidden from view because of his wrinkles, but still able to convey his consternation through his expressive face. Nancy set her beer on the table and moved forward so her knees were almost touching the mammoth-sized dog. "He looks like he’s in distress, Clay. What’s wrong with him?"
At that moment, both Nancy and Clay heard a faint voice. "Help! Help!"
Nancy jumped back and practically landed on Clay’s lap. She grabbed his leg and held on for dear life. Never taking her eyes from the dog, she yelled, "Did you hear that? Clay, did you hear that? Did Barney just actually say help?"
Something akin to terror sparked in Clay’s eyes as he looked at the enormous dog in front of him. Shit, he thought, this can’t be happening! Did the damn dog actually find the spooks and get himself possessed? Unnerved because he no longer knew what to expect with the disembodied voices and where they were coming from, Clay’s voice broke when he spoke. "Barney?"
Panic set in, and Nancy’s fight or flight instinct raised its ugly head as the dog moved slowly toward her with a look of desperation in his expressive eyes. The death grip she had on Clay’s leg would definitely leave bruises.
The beast gradually opened his mouth and spit a slimy, mucous-covered, green mass of feathers out on her cozy, white bathrobe. Nancy jumped and gasped for air at the sight of the unmoving bird covered in goo and lying limply in her lap, its bony little legs straight up in the air with talons clinched tight in a death grip.
Nancy and Clay, stunned at the gift Barney had brought them, stayed perfectly still, not knowing what to do next or how to react.
Barney nudged the bird with his cold nose and whined. The bird chose that moment to move as fast as possible to get away from its captor. It turned quickly, gained its footing, and ran as fast as its little legs would carry it up the bathrobe. With determination, it dove down the front opening of the robe and found respite between the warmth of Nancy’s bare breasts.
Jumping up, Nancy stood there, stunned, not knowing what to do, arms spread wide, fists clenched and chest heaving, her body stiffened with pure panic. Her eyes, filled with hysteria, darted toward Clay, whose eyes crinkled with humor. He had his fist pressed against his mouth to stop the laughter, but one look at her standing there, ready to freak out, and he burst out laughing.
The bird chose that same moment to stick its head out of the opening of the bathrobe. "Help," it yelled once again. She felt it shaking with fear and realized the poor thing was only trying to protect itself. Barney tried to reach out with his nose to comfort his newfound toy, but the bird quickly retreated back into the warmth and safety of Nancy’s breasts.

Author Links:
Website:  http://sandywolters.weebly.com/
Sandy’s Spotlight Blog:  http://sandywolters.weebly.com/sandys-spotlight
Amazon Author Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Sandy-Wolters/e/B00569J3UI/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1417876442&sr=1-2-ent
Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4772120.Sandy_Wolters
Twitter @SandyWolters:  https://twitter.com/SandyWolters
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/sandy.wolters.5
E-mail:  sandywolters.author@gmail.com

Maggie Mae – Steamy contemporary romance with a ghostly paranormal twist
Justice For Emily – Steamy romantic suspense/crime drama with a ghostly paranormal twist
A Brother’s Love – Contemporary romantic suspense
Soul Mates – Award winning, steamy time travel romance

What Next?

Debra ponders what project to dive into next.

I'm in a bit of a quandary right now. My latest project received a release date earlier this week. One Great Night will make its way onto the cyber shelves in mid-January. Usually at this point I have something else in the hopper I'm working on. This time, not so much. In fact, not at all.

Oh I have a couple of ideas that have been percolating here and there, but nothing has stood out to grab my undivided attention to begin working on in earnest.

There's the new three-book series I've brainstormed. In my mind I envision these as full-length novels. And for whatever reason, the thought of writing not one, not two, but three 60,000+ word novels is daunting. I have no idea why. I've already written one series, plus two other stand alone full-lengths. But I'm a bit intimidated at the moment by the thought of needing to write that many words again.

I've always wanted to do some spin-off novellas from my Corral Series. Nothing involving the main characters at all, but just something to allow me (and hopefully my readers) to revisit a place I love. First I thought of doing a calendar theme, then I thought of doing a drink theme, but now I'm wondering if I should do a holiday theme: something like "Holidays at the Corral".

Because I also have a couple ideas for another Christmas novella and a New Years novella spinning around. Why not kill two birds with one stone?

And then I have a vague outline I've written for a time travel I'd like to give a try. This would definitely be a new direction for me. But can I tackle the research needed to make the historical portion accurate and authentic?

Finally, I have the basic beginnings of a contemporary novella that would fit with TWRP's Champagne Rose "Millionaire" imprint. To complicate this one, I 'borrowed' the hero's name for my Halloween novella, so I need to come up with another one for this hero.

Maybe there's just too much going on in my head. Maybe my biggest problem is no matter what I do, I'm really starting from scratch. And a blank white screen and a flashing curser are enough to scare me away from my computer. Plus I'm feeling a bit of pressure (initiated solely by myself) to continue to have at least one book released each year.

I'm sure I'll figure something out.

But in the mean time...I've managed to scramble my brain into quite a dilemma.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Too Many Words!

Paula is trying to cut words.

After finally getting to the end of my current ‘work in progress’, I felt it was too long, 122,336 words to be exact! As a result, I’ve been on a big word-cutting marathon.

My other novels have ranged from about 70K words to 88K. Based on that, it seems I need to ‘lose’ about 34,000 words – which is equivalent to approximately 7 or 8 chapters!

So far, I’ve worked hard on the first ten chapters – reducing ‘over-wording’, trying to be more concise, deleting unnecessary dialogue, condensing some scenes, and actually cutting a couple of very minor scenes.

I’ve reduced 45,819 words to 42,062, a loss of 3757. If I reduce the remaining chapters at the same rate, it will end up about 110,000.

I queried this with my publisher, and her initial comment was, “Just use whatever words are necessary to tell the story.” However, she then went on to say that currently novels between 50,000 and 85,000 words sell better than those over 100,000.

So now my dilemma is: do I submit a novel of over 100,000 words, or do I find some way to reduce the wordage even more?

I’ve considered changing the ‘start’ point of the novel to later in the story, but this means I would lose the early ‘conflict’ between the hero and heroine, and the development of their relationship, both of which underpin the later part of the story.

I’ve never been in this situation before, as my previous novels all fell within the 70-88,000 parameters after thorough editing, so I’m unsure what to do with this one. Any advice?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Jennifer gets--and gives--advice...

My critique group and I met this weekend. Over dinner, we talked about the industry and asked each other’s advice about marketing and potential projects we were considering.

All four of us bring different perspectives to the group. I publish with a small press and am fairly new to the writing world. One woman has self pubbed one book and is working on her second. One woman is published with an Amazon imprint and also self pubs. One woman writes women’s fiction, self pubs and also has a back list that was pubbed by large publishers.

Usually I just sit and listen. I’m the newbie and I’m soaking everything in. It’s fascinating to listen to everyone talk about what they’re doing, how they’re marketing, what techniques are working, or not.

We discussed tsu and I know I’ve decided to let that social network go for the time being. It’s too new and I don’t fully understand it enough to believe that it has any worth at this time. We discussed discounting our books and I hope to offer my first book in the Women of Valor series for free when my third one is coming out, as an incentive (still have to talk to my publisher about that though, so don’t hold me to it)—the freebies benefit authors the most when there are other books that the reader can buy. We talked about which conferences we plan to attend, and I’m hoping to go to RWA’s National Convention in July. It’s in New York this year, so it’s an easy trip for me.

As I’ve said in countless blogs before this one, critique groups are great. But the added perspective that this one brings from four very different but talented women makes this one unique, I think.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Trimming the fat

ana muses on telling the story.

I read a post on a self-publishing loop by Marie Force, the prolific author and million-indie books seller. She commented about her writing style, saying her background as a journalist conditioned her to skip frills when describing scenes in her stories. She opens with action, uses lots of dialogue, describes characters minimally. And no backstory.

I was struck by how different this is from the classics I read in school and how I was "instructed" to write.  Times change, though, and only time awards a book with the 'Classic' label. I need to write to sell.

With that in mind, I think I will cut my first scene yet again. Open with "active" action, and reveal my hero's motivation through more dialogue.

Flaubert wrote: "It is a delicious thing to write, to be no longer yourself but to move in an entire universe of your own creating. Today, for instance, as man and woman, both lover and mistress, I rode in a forest on an autumn afternoon under the yellow leaves, and I was also the horses, the leaves, the wind, the words my people uttered, even the red sun that made them almost close their love-drowned eyes."