Thursday, July 31, 2014

Almost There!

Debra is almost ready to submit her WIP!

As I wrote that 'teaser', it occurred to me: If I'm ready to submit, is it still considered a WIP? At this point, at least for now, most of the W is done!

But I digress...

The story is written. I've done the read-through. I've done revising. I've done line edits and word by word edits.

I have a synopsis written in long hand that needs to be typed and then tweaked.

And I've come up with a blurb:

At twenty-seven, Chloe Harris has never had a night of really great sex, and before she turns thirty, she wants to check that particular item off her bucket list. She's known Jason her whole life. More importantly, she trusts him. So who better to help her with her plan?

Call him a bit old-fashioned, but Jason Williams has never had a one-night stand. And he's not about to start with his best friend's baby sister. To save Chloe from herself, he's going to need to pretend to go along with her crazy scheme.

But what happens when the charade becomes all too real for his libido...and his heart?

My goal was to have the query submitted by the end of next week. I'm happy to say I think I'll be ahead of that deadline! Yay! Dare I say I'll have it out by the end of this week?!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Family Secrets - available now from The Wild Rose Press

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Paula wonders if you ever need the word ‘sudden’ or ‘suddenly’ in your stories.

I’ve been revising/editing my first novel (His Leading Lady) for re-publication, as I recently got my rights back from the publisher (long story, which I won’t go into here!). This story was first published in 2011, but I actually wrote it about five years ago. And wow, have I learned a lot since then! I haven’t changed the story itself, apart from deciding Kyle needed full Highland dress—a kilt and jacket with silver buttons over a silk shirt (quick swoon)—instead of a tuxedo for the opening night of his West End show!

What I have had to change, though, is a whole raft of repeated words. The usual culprits – that, then, so, just, maybe etc. In some cases, this involved, not just deleting the words, but rewriting sentences, even whole paragraphs, to make the new sentences flow smoothly.

I was surprised when I realised how much I had used the words ‘sudden’ or ‘suddenly’- and ended up deleting them all.

Here some examples of where I realised the word either wasn’t needed, or required another word:
Suddenly she wished …
She wasn’t sure whether it was sudden concern…
He grinned suddenly. (Hmm, that happened several times)
Suddenly his words came back to her,
In sudden panic…
The hairs on the back of her neck suddenly stood up.
He said suddenly (again, several times)
She had a sudden urge to…

Well, you get the picture. I had used ‘sudden’ or ‘suddenly’ 64 times, and either deleted or replaced the offending word with another word e.g. in the last example, I changed ‘sudden’ to ‘compelling’. I ended up with none of the original 64 ‘sudden(ly) words.

Maybe it was ‘lazy’ writing when I originally wrote this story, because, in a sense, it’s telling rather than showing, and most times you can delete it or replace it with a stronger word (as I’ve done)

However, it made me wonder if there are any occasions when you really need to use the word, either as an adjective or adverb. I’d be interested to see if anyone has any examples of when sudden or suddenly should be used!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Book Promotion

Ana forwards a great Jerri Hines post about book promotion

Write a Good Book and they will read…with the right Promotion!

One of the things I appreciate about being an Indie writer is the support we give each other. In this business, there is so much more than writing. Two of the most important issues Indie writers have besides writing a good book is promotions and reviews. Today I want to share what I have learned about promotions.
I went to the NEC conference in Salem, Massachusetts back in 2013. While there, I attended a workshop with Marie Force. The question arose on what promotions work. She had one answer— Book Bub. At the time, I had never heard of Book Bub. How naïve I waswhen I got home, I discovered my book, Seductive Secrets, was on their website page cover. It explained a lotwhy my books were selling. No matter what anyone says, Book Bub is a force in our industry.
I feel I owe Book Bub. I acknowledge that I wouldn’t be an Amazon bestselling author without their promotions. There are several of us that owe Book Bub. The bottom line of being an author is getting your book into the hands of readers. Book Bub gave that opportunity to me.
It’s the importance of promotion for no matter how great your book is, it won’t sell without promoting it in the right place.
There is one problem with Book Bub. It’s hard to get own their site. You notice that I didn’t say the price of their promotion, which range for $.99 bargain books from $640 for a Mystery, $580 for a Contemporary Romance to $500 for a Historical. It is cheaper for freebies and other genre. I say that the cost is relative to the results you receive. For the savvy author, you promote a book in a seriesthat’s where you make the most money. But even if you don’t have a book in a series, you will make the cost of your advertise plus. I believe its money well invested.
But what happens when you can’t get on Book Bubwhat works? I have a few suggestions. Now these are based on my experience. Others may other suggestions. I have made it a point this year to try as many sites as possible. I am not saying anything negative about any site. What didn’t work for me, may work for someone else. I’m only including what has worked for me.
ENT- Ereaders News Today. Great place especially for the money spent. I use eBook Booster when I run a $.99 special. I find it is the best way to get on ENT. eBook Booster charges a fee for submitting your book to a list of sites. Money well spent in my opinion.
OHFB- A new site that is exciting to me. I place my last special with them. Several things I like about this site. Under their FAQ, they make a statement about their promotions. I found that they delivered what they promised. They also gave me my numbers from their site, which I found extremely useful. I highly recommend this site.
BOOKSENDS- I have used this site a few times with good results.
PEOPLESREAD- This one I have used a few times recently. Cheap advertising with decent results. For the money, well worth it.
Now there are tons of other placeslike I’ve said these are the ones that have worked best for me that I’ve paid for… I’ve heard Pixel of Ink is a wonderful place to advertise as well. I can’t say. I’ve only had one free book on their site a couple of years ago. They haven’t taken anything of mine since. I have also heard good things about Pixel Scroll.
Now I can recommend other places like:
GOOD BOOKS, GREAT READS- Wonderful site. Recommend checking it out.
Some sites are free. You can go to Author Marketing Club and get list to where you can submit for free.
I asked other authors for suggestions. I had one suggest The Romance Studio. I have not used them, but she said that she was happy with her results.
I, also, had another author who was kind enough to share information she has accumulated. If you are looking for review sites, she has a comprehensive list. SHADOWS OF THE PASTblog has a whole list of free review sites.
You may notice that this list isn’t that long. Marie Force is right. Not many promotions can guarantee results. If you have had results from a site, please let me know. I will include it in my author resources page.
Hope this helps anyone interested in promotions. Have a great day!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Making More Progress

Debra is pleased with what she's accomplished with her WIP.

This week I had the highlighters, pens, and sticky notes out. I did a read-through of the mss for "One Great Night", marking and noting things along the way. Since then I've gone back and added things to places that needed additions and tweaked things that weren't working, whether it was a phrase or the overall feel of the scene. For the most part, I feel the story is in good shape. Having written it all out of order, I was pleased to find there were only two scenes that needed to switch places.

I also spent some fun research time looking up quotes from Eighties Movies. My characters have a little game they play back and forth. I had left notes on the mss like, 'need a movie quote here', so it was a blast to hunt down just the right one and put it in the context of the story.

Now that all of the hand notations are done, I'll take the mss and transfer the pen markings to the computer version. After that it will be time for 'one-at-a-time' edits: going through the mss using the find function and eliminating and changing certain over-used words. Once that's complete, I'll go through the formatting steps from my publisher. In the meantime, in addition to getting the revisions transferred, I need to be working on a synopsis as well. These used to scare me, but I found a system which gives me a pretty good handle on them.

Then will come the moment of reckoning when I send it off to my editor. The project will be in her capable hands for a while, after which she will hopefully offer me a contract. After which a whole new process will begin.

Fun times!

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Family Secrets - coming August 1 - available NOW in paperback from The Wild Rose Press

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A Writer's Brain

Paula looks at how writers use different parts of their brains

Recently, I read an article about how writers use their brains, and here is my summary of the findings.

To begin with, the researcher and his team asked 28 volunteers to simply copy some text, giving him a baseline reading of their brain activity during writing.

Next, he showed the volunteers a few lines from a short story and asked them to continue it in their own words. They could brainstorm for a minute, and then write creatively for about two minutes.

The researchers found some regions of the brain, inactive during the copying session, became active during the creative process. During the brainstorming sessions, the vision-processing brain areas of the volunteers became active. It seemed they were visualising the scenes they wanted to write.

Other regions became active when the volunteers started jotting down their stories. It was possible that one region, the hippocampus, was retrieving factual information that the volunteers could use.

Another region near the front of the brain, known to be crucial for holding several pieces of information in mind at once, also became active as well. Juggling several characters and plot lines may put special demands on it.

However, this study was limited. The volunteers had no previous experience in creative writing.

The researcher decided to repeat the tests with full-time writers to see if their brains responded differently. He recruited 20 writers who were taking a creative writing programme at a University. They took the same tests and the researchers compared their performance with the novices.

What’s interesting is that the brains of experienced  writers appeared to work differently, even before they set pen to paper. During brainstorming, the novice writers activated their visual centers. By contrast, the brains of expert writers showed more activity in regions involved in speech.

The researcher concluded that the two groups were using different strategies. The novices were watching their stories like a film inside their heads, while the writers were narrating it with an inner voice.

Once the two groups started to write, another set of differences emerged. Deep inside the brains of experienced writers, a region called the caudate nucleus became active. In the novices, the caudate nucleus was quiet.

Evidently the caudate nucleus plays an essential role in the skill that comes with practice, including activities like board games. When we first start learning a skill, we use a lot of conscious effort. With practice, those actions become more automatic. The caudate nucleus and nearby regions start to coordinate the brain’s activity as this shift happens which suggests the experienced writers were using skills they had already learned.

This article intrigued me. I’ve heard other writers talking about how they see their stories being ‘acted out’ in their mind’s eye, rather like a movie, but I’ve never been able to do that. Yes, I can see my characters, but when I write, I’m not watching the movie. Instead, I’m playing a part in the movie, and seeing it through the eyes (and other senses) of whoever’s POV I happen to be in at the time. Maybe that’s what the researcher mean by ‘narrating it with an inner voice’.

I can relate to the hippocampus retrieving information, and also to the area of the brain that juggles the plot! The caudate nucleus is interesting too, as it presumably includes basic skills such as grammar, spelling, and punctuation, as well as the other skills we use when we write, including our vocabulary, and the various others things we’ve learned about what to do and what not to do!

Has this made you analyse how your brain works when you’re writing?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Critique Group

Jennifer went to her first critique session...

Last week I talked about a new critique group in which I was invited to participate. I went to the first meeting this past Friday. All I can say is my brain hurts!

I arrived at the house of the hostess, and was the first one there. She is the only member of the group whom I don’t know, so we had about five minutes to introduce ourselves before the other two women arrived. Once everyone arrived, we had dinner and schmoozed. We talked about the industry, our families and they also asked questions about me.

Then we moved onto the critique. During the week, everyone had emailed their 15-20 pages to each other and we’d all read and marked up the copies. The host gets critiqued first. The rules are that you critique as a reader, meaning you don’t know what’s going to happen in the book beyond the pages you’re currently reading. The person being critiqued doesn’t respond and all critiques have to be constructive and positively framed. We each took turns critiquing the work and there could be no interruptions from anyone else.

We critiqued two people, took a break for dessert, and critiqued the other two. I expected to be embarrassed, with three people telling me what was wrong with my story. It was so much better than that, though! There definitely are stronger writers in the group than I am, but everyone had interesting perspectives and very good suggestions. Everything was framed very kindly and no one was embarrassed. There were many good things pointed out as well.

I came home with pages and pages of suggestions, as well as many, many things that they liked. As I’ve been going through the suggestions, I agree with some and disagree with others. But the changes I’m making will make my story stronger and I can’t wait for the next time!

Monday, July 21, 2014

2014 Author Earnings Report

Ana just read the report from 2014 Author Earnings.
It was well worth her time

They offer a link to their statistics. Here's the link:

Friday, July 18, 2014

Guest author Cynthia Owens

Show Don’t Tell

Thanks so much for having me here at Heroines With Hearts. I’m thrilled to announce the release of My Dark Rose, Book III of my Wild Geese Series.
Writing is something I’ve done since I was in first grade. I’ve always thought of writing as a sort of magic, putting words down on paper to make words, sentences, paragraphs, and eventually stories. I always thought it was something that came naturally.
Until I started writing not just for pleasure, but with an eye to eventually becoming published. That’s when I learned that the first rule in romance was “Show, don’t tell.”
“Showing” a story was one of the hardest things for me to learn. It took a little while before I fully understood what it meant. “Telling” a story is just that: telling the events that happened. Think of reading a story to a child—you’re telling him or her the story. But when you show a story, you put the reader into the story. Rather than describing the sights, smells, tastes, sounds and sensations, you make you reader experience all these things.
Here are a few examples:
Telling:  Shannon took one look at Grainne Donavan’s face and knew disaster had struck.
Showing: Shannon looked at Grainne Donavan’s face and saw disaster.
Telling: She inhaled deeply and coughed because of the smoke. Laughter came from a corner of the room.
Showing: She drew a deep breath and sucked in a lungful of acrid cigar smoke. A fit of coughing seized her, and her face burned at the sound of a drunken hoot of laughter from a corner of the room.
It takes practice to show your reader what your characters are experiencing. But using active verbs and the five senses will help make your story that much more memorable.

 I believe I was destined to be interested in history. One of my distant ancestors, Thomas Aubert, reportedly sailed up the St. Lawrence River to discover Canada some 26 years before Jacques Cartier’s 1534 voyage. Another relative was a 17thCentury “King’s Girl,” one of a group of young unmarried girls sent to New France (now the province of  Quebec) as brides for the habitants (settlers) there.

My passion for reading made me long to write books like the ones I enjoyed, and I tried penning sequels to my favorite Nancy Drew mysteries. Later, fancying myself a female version of Andrew Lloyd Weber, I drafted a musical set in Paris during WWII.

A former journalist and lifelong Celtophile, I enjoyed a previous career as a reporter/editor for a small chain of community newspapers before returning to my first love, romantic fiction. My stories usually include an Irish setting, hero or heroine, and sometimes all three.

I’m the author of The Claddagh Series, historical romances set in Ireland and beyond, and The Wild Geese Series, in which five Irish heroes return from the American Civil War to find love and adventure. 

I’m a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. A lifelong resident of Montreal, Canada, I still live there with my own Celtic hero and our two teenaged children.

…Like the Wild Geese of Old Ireland, five boys grew to manhood despite hunger, war, and the mean streets of New York…

He was the lucky one…
Dary Greely is the only one of his brothers and sisters to survive the hunger in Ireland and the coffin ship to America. He was the one whose parents made a bit of money, the one who emerged from the war virtually unscathed. He was the lucky one…but when the war ended, his luck ran out.
She was burdened by too many responsibilities…
Róisín Donavan is an Irish girl who lives in a Five Points tenement room. She dreams of a future as a great diva and sings Irish songs at Paddy Ryan's Pub. But her stubborn Irish pride won't allow her to abandon her family, even if it means sacrificing everything for them.
Can Dary make Róisín see her true worth? Can Róisín heal the festering wounds that tear at Dary’s soul? And can love truly mend their grieving hearts?
The Sally Malone, Black ‘47
On the Atlantic Ocean

They slid into the water with scarcely a sound.

Dary Greely clung to his father’s hand, watching as the bodies, clad in little more than rags, were tossed over the side of the ship. The children first: his little brother and two sisters. Then Mrs. Morrissey, his new friend Declan’s ma. Shane MacDermott’s da, and the twins’ ma and their granny.

His ma’s thin fingers bit into his shoulder. She was sobbing into a threadbare handkerchief, her eyes red and swollen from crying. He looked up at her, then at Da. A shudder ran through him that had nothing to do with the cold wind blowing in from the sea.

Da’s eyes were dead. Their bright green was dimmed with sorrow. His dark-red hair blew across his face, but he made no move to shove it back with his big, callused workman’s hand. He stared out to sea, a muscle in his jaw jerking rhythmically.

Dary swallowed hard, glancing around him. He saw Shane, clutching his wee brother’s hand, one arm about his ma’s shoulders as she tried to soothe the fussy gossoon in her arms. Kieran and Cathal Donnelly stood close together, drawing silent comfort from each other as tears ran down their da’s face. Declan, self-controlled as always, stared into the water, his face full of sorrow, tears in his eyes that he refused to shed.

When the last victim of the ship’s fever sank to the bottom of the sea, the steerage passengers turned away, their muffled sobs and soft keening carried away on the rising wind. They’d left Ireland for a better life in America, but would any of them survive to see that land of promise?

As they turned to go, his father suddenly knelt before him, clutching Dary’s shoulders and staring into his eyes. “Ye are the last one, Dary.” His deep voice shook with the intensity of his grief. “The last o’ the Greelys. ’Tis ye will live on to tell the stories o’ us all. Ye’re the lucky lad, Dary, so ye are. Always remember that.”

The words rang bitter in Dary’s ears. The urge to vomit clutched at his throat with ruthless fingers. But he managed a nod. “Aye, Da. I’ll always remember, I promise. I’m the lucky one.”

At that moment, Dary made a fierce, silent vow to himself. He would survive to see America. He would go to school in America, make something of himself, just as Da had told him he could. He’d learn to read and write and do sums. He’d make his parents proud.

He was the lucky one.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Mission Accomplished!

Debra celebrates completing her WIP!

I was a day behind schedule, but it's official. The first draft of my WIP, "One Great Night" is complete!

Now I'll admit, there are a couple of places I used stand-in phrases and highlighted them to show I needed to go back and make them better, but that will happen during the revising process. But for intents and purposes, the story is complete from beginning to end.

This stage of a story is so, so fun. Now I'll let it sit for a couple of days and then do a read-through. Since I'd been writing in such a piece-meal fashion, this will be the first time I'll be reading the story from start to finish. How exciting is that?! From there I'll begin revising and tweaking and rewriting until it sounds the way I want it to. After that it will be 'search' edits where I use the find function in Word and look for specific words to eliminate or change. Then I'll go through and do manuscript formatting to make sure everything is aligned the way my publisher prefers.

The last step will of course be to submit it to my editor. The goal is to have it to her by the middle of August when I go back to school. Right now I'm feeling pretty good about my plan and my timeline.

In the meantime, I have a book coming out August 1 that I haven't even thought about promotion for. Yikes.

Until next time,

Happy Reading!


Family Secrets - coming August 1 from The Wild Rose Press. Paperback available now!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Missing Boyfriend

Evidently this notice appeared in various places in London last week. Crowdwish is an online website which invites people to submit their 'wishes'. Every day they take the most popular wish, and try to action it. In this case, the wish for the 'half-decent boyfriend' was fastened to almost every lamp post in one area of London. I haven't heard whether this particular 'wisher' got the man of her dreams, but it seems many other girls have approached the group, also asking for a 'half decent boyfriend'.
It's an interesting story in itself, but what fascinated me more was the list of requirements for the boyfriend. Women (well, some of them!) may like to read about the arrogant, domineering alpha-man, the super-stud, or the billionaire play-boy - but in real life, they want something very different. This description fits what I consider as the alpha-minus, beta-plus man - and they're the ones I like to write about.
It's seems quite significant that physical attributes, although listed first, are minimal - tall, and with own hair and teeth. When we get to the 'real' needs, in every case the A-/B+ attributes are preferred to either the Alpha Plus type or Beta Minus type of male. It seems the Alpha males are going out of fashion, at least in the real world - which makes me wonder just why some women still like reading about them.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A New Opportunity

Jennifer has a new opportunity...

I got the most amazing phone call on Sunday. No, Stephen Spielberg is not making my books into a movie, although that would be amazing! An acquaintance from my local RWA chapter asked me to join their critique group.

What’s amazing about it is the caliber of writers in the group. One is nominated for a Rita award, which is the equivalent of an Edgar in mystery writing, an Oscar in movies, etc. Another is a very successful published writer—not quite Nora Roberts, but pretty far up there. They were looking for someone to join them, they read my work, and they want to give me a try and see how well I fit in with their group.

I felt like Sally Fields—they like me, they really like me!

It was one of those moments professionally where I had to say yes and I have to try to make it work. The growth potential for me is huge!

What makes their critique group interesting, and what attracts me to it, in addition to the authors, of course, is that they have regularly scheduled, in-person meetings; they email 15-20 pages to the group a week prior to the meetings; and they rotate people’s houses, with the host being the first that month to be critiqued. It’s a very formal process and treats writing like a profession, rather than a hobby. It will give me discipline, because barring some weird circumstance, I have to have 15-20 pages ready each month for them. And I really have to develop a thick skin and self-confidence, even though they’ve assured me that they are constructive and nice in their comments.

If this opportunity works out, I’m looking forward to growing as a writer and as a critic.