Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wicked Wednesday - trends

Ignore the rumors that paranormal romance is a trend going out of style. It's far from the truth. If you research various publishers, sales are still going strong. This is not a genre that will be drowned in an oversaturated market.

Vampires are getting harder to sell. If you're writing a vampire story, you need to make it unique. There's certain series like Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books that are still going strong. A lot of readers have a particular image of vampires in their minds and it's hard to sell something new. I think vampire stories will always be popular, but right now, we're feeling a bit of fatigue. It will pass and something great will come along again to sweep us away.

Shifters - werewolves in particular - are in high demand. There's more room to play around with various animals, magic, and myth origins. The animal nature appeals to readers both in the paranormal and romance sides of this genre.

Ghosts/spirits are growing in popularity. It's another area of the paranormal where there is a lot of different superstitions and myths to use as inspiration. If you're trying to break into the market, this is a good way to go.

Yet, as always, it's the unique voices that publishers are looking for. Something that engages the reader in a way that most other books cannot. They want a strong hook to pull in readers. Don't be afraid to take that extra step over the line. If you think you shouldn't do something with you story, that it might sound ridiculous, go for it. Over the top can take you to publication. (Of course, get your critique partners' and beta readers' opinions first just to make sure it isn't completely silly!)

There will always be trends. Books will come and go. Yet paranormal romance is here to stay.

Do you think paranormal romance is a trend? What do you think is rising in popularity and what is falling?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Teaser Tuesday with Half Asleep In Frog Pajamas

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
If you've never read any Tom Robbins, you're missing out on one of the funniest and most inventive writers today. This isn't romance, fantasy or science-fiction. It's satire and all of the above. It's hard to describe his style, but be prepared to have your mind blown if you pick up any book by Robbins.
Here's your teaser:
"Oh? You're personally acquainted with the gentleman?" Under the fingernails of his voice, there can be detected the green cheese of suspicion. (page 100)

Monday, November 28, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 Winner

Woo-hoo! I'm still doing a happy dance even after the NaNoWriMo word verification tool didn't match the word count my word processor - Open Office - told me. In fact, it was over 1100 word difference. I went to verify my win earlier tonight and it came up a few hundred words short. I have over 51300 words written. It was frustrating, but I wrote just over 200 words and it was enough. NaNo told me I wrote -1100 words today, but I still have my win.

I see a few other winners out there. Congratulations to you! The rest of you warriors, keep going. There's still a few days left of the month. Push yourself. You'll be surprised at what you can accomplish. I believe in you.

I hope to finish the novel in a few weeks. Before Christmas at the latest. Then I'll let it sit for a while. I have two other novels I want to go through more revisions and submit before I start any editing with my NaNo novel. Revise, revise, revise. That will be my motto for the next four or more months.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday tidbits

Whew. Back from my long weekend away. I'm glad to be home. I like to travel, but I love my cozy house and comfy bed. I never sleep well in another bed. And traveling with a small child isn't fun. Thank goodness for chocolate. For me!

I haven't done any more writing yet. I haven't done any reading except a few magazine articles here and there. Here's a few things I picked up I thought I'd share with you.

I learned there are three types of YA books: YA (teens), Upper YA (late teens to early twenties), and New Adult (early twenties to twenty-five). The growth in the YA genre is phenomenal and not just amongst young people either. I know a lot of you write in this genre and that's great.

There's a genre called "Gentle Fiction." Usually set in small towns with strong bonds between family and neighbors. The plots center around home, family, and true love. All told in a heartwarming and sweet manner.

I discovered there's such a thing as a personal writing coach. Teacher? Critique partner? Cheerleader? Could be a good thing or could be a scam. Sort of like a life coach.

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy American Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!

I can't help but see that photo as a great prompt for a macabre short story!
Feel free to leave me a little teaser of the story you'd write to go with that photo.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wicked Wednesday - holiday themed books

With the American Thanksgiving here and Christmas not too far away, I'm thinking about holiday themed books. Yes, there are holiday themed paranormal romances. The genre has not escaped that trend. Obviously the publishers believe readers want them when all the holiday themed books are released around this time of year.

I once thought the holiday themed books were silly. Having read a dozen or so, I like them a bit more. They can be a bit cheesy, but sometimes cheese is good. Sometimes you want your book to share in the Christmas warmth or Halloween chills.

Paranormal romance gives you a lot of freedom to choose different holidays and to create some of your own. Inspiration is all around you. Everyone has experiences from the holidays to put into their writing. Goodness knows that my holidays never go smoothly. There's always some drama or excitement.

The holidays evoke certain emotions in people. You can mirror that with your characters. It's a good way to get your readers to relate to your characters and draw them further into your story.

Do you like holiday themed books? If you do, what are some of your favorites?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Teaser Tuesday with Black Sun Rising

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Black Sun Rising by C.S. Friedman is the first in the Coldfire trilogy. This is an amazing trilogy. It's somewhere between dark fantasy and science-fiction. Friedman has created a magnificent world and cast of characters. It's a series I keep meaning to reread, but I never manage to find the time. Plus, it has a gorgeous cover.
Here's your teaser:
Sick at heart, Damian nodded.
What good is it to play at Healing, if you can't save the ones you care about? (page 90)

Monday, November 21, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 Victory (day 21)

Word count: 50436

I did it! I did it! I'm so happy, I'm sharing my stash of cookies with you all.

I wasn't a hundred percent certain I could do this at the beginning of the month. I don't know why I doubted myself. Self doubt is the enemy of every writer. Don't let it keep you away from your goals. It might look big and scary, but it's easy to squash once you take those first few steps.

And Alex, I did use the idea of an explosion. Weep for the winery that was burned to the ground.

I'm not done the novel. I've still a while to go. I haven't even had my big philosophical discussion yet. But the blocks are in place for the final battle. My protagonist has pushed past a big hurdle.

Keep writing, my fellow warriors. If I can do it with a cranky toddler, you can do it too!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - day 20

Word count: 47015

So close to the word count goal. Not very close to the end yet. One more big thing has to happen and I'm not sure what it is yet. Oh, the fun of being a pantser!

I'm going to push myself tomorrow and write the next 3000 words... IF I can come up with that next big thing.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - day 19

Word court: 43293

I haven't written anything yet today. The morning was busy and then I had my writers' meeting. I'm happy that everyone in the group liked chapter one of Sorrow Phage. (They agreed the title needs to be changed, but I was thinking the same thing when I started the book.) It's a difficult thing to please everyone in the group. They loved the action, the fast pace, the intrigue, and the world I set up. It reminded one of the members of Angel and Buffy. I felt a little giddy.

I killed off two more important characters. The cast is being whittled down. BWUHAHAHAHA!

I don't think I can kill any others off, though. Not until the final battle.

I'm also getting to a point where I'm about to head into a philosophical discussion about sorrow. I hope I don't rattle on too much.

I'm seeing some fantastic word counts out there. My fellow NaNo warriors are doing awesome! Keep writing. You can do it!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - day 17

Word count: 39480

It's not actually day 17 yet. I'm scheduling this post to appear tomorrow morning.

Things are going well. Another critical moment and a big reveal about the protagonist's past. Highly emotional. It's hard to find different words for sorrow. I'm thankful for my thesaurus. I also used the word "Brobdingnagian." Such an awesome word. If one word alone could make a great manuscript, that word would be it.

I'm getting ready to kill off more characters. I feel like Joss Whedon. If only I were that witty and clever!

I had intended this to be a paranormal romance, but I'm almost at 40000 words and there's only been a few kisses. It's more a dark urban fantasy with an element of romance. I'm not complaining, it just surprises me with the novels I've written in the past few years. Hey, it's a good thing to surprise yourself in such a way, right?

I'll be losing some writing time on Saturday with my monthly writers' group. I sent in the first chapter of Sorrow Phage for them to critique. I'm nervous about it. It hasn't been edited at all.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wicked Wednesday - blurbs

A great blurb will sell your book. It's the hook that draws in the agent, publisher and readers. It's also the bump in the road that gives me a lot of trouble. As a writer, you have to be half-writer and half-salesperson. Protest that if you wish, but it's the truth. My marketing skills aren't superb, but I've learned a lot over the years about how to write a great blurb.

A blurb is a 100 to 250 word synopsis of your novel that doesn't give away the ending. You see them on the back cover or inner flap of books. You include them in your query letters to agents and publishers. You use them to promote your book everywhere. This means it has to be able to reach out and grab people.

Be sure to include the main character(s) and the conflict. Don't dance around the plot. These are the basics, but find what makes your story different. How does it stand out from all the others?

Paranormal romances have a particular atmosphere. When writing your blurb, make sure you capture the mood of the story. Is it dark or light-hearted? Is it a fast-paced scary tale or a leisurely magical journey? Is it hot and sexy or shyly romantic? Don't exaggerate it. Let it represent the true soul of your novel.

As with any story, the blurb should have mounting tension. The beginning hints at the conflict, but the end shows that it's imminent.

The best way to learn how to write a great blurb is to read other writers' blurbs. What catches your attention? Why does that work? How can you make it work for you?

I'm constantly rewriting my blurbs. They're always evolving and that's a good thing.

How are you at writing blurbs? Do you have any tips to add?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday with Sunshine

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
I'm a fan of Robin McKinley. She writes such beautiful fairy tales. Sunshine is something different from the rest. Something different from even the normal vampire stories and from romances. Different in a very good way, though.
Here's your teaser:
Slowly I moved, to pull the knife-key out of my bra. The vampire knelt, holding me in his lap. (page 83)

Monday, November 14, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - day 14

Word count: 34012

I've been writing one very long scene these past few days. Once I'm done it, I'm at the point in my story where I know how it's going to climax, but I need a bit more meat before I get to it. This is where I have to hope I dream about it tonight or randomly find something that works.

We're nearly at the halfway point. Everyone keep writing. GO! GO! GO!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Campaign Challenges 2011 eBook is now available

A big thank you to Katharina Gerlach who put together this wonderful collection of short stories from Rachael Harrie's 2011 Writer's Platform Building Campaign. Both Katharina and Rachael are awesome! It was so much fun and a great success. This ebook will also hopefully be a success in helping raise funds for cancer research. All proceeds go to Harry Moseley's charity, "Help Harry Help Others". Harry single-handedly raised over 85,000GBP (roughly 137,000USD) for cancer research. He died October 8th aged 11.

The ebook is available at Amazon and Smashwords. It's only three bucks. A great price. Every single one of us can afford that much. And if we all do, imagine how much we can raise for charity!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Sharing an award and NaNoWriMo 2011 - day 12

Huge thanks to the wonderfully talented Tania Walsh who gave me the Liebster Blog award.

The award comes with three short rules:
1. Thank the giver and link back to the blogger who gave it to you.
2. Reveal your top bloggers and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
3. Copy and paste the award on your blog. Check, see above.

I'm passing the award on to three awesome individuals:
1. Aubrie Dionne - She just posted pictures from her latest book signing. Go Aubrie! Her latest sci-fi romance is doing great and the next one is due out in January.
2. Joshua - His blog is called Vive le Nerd. We nerds have to stick together!
3. Gabby - A great friend and such a creative woman. She's doing NaBloPoMo this month as I'm pounding away at NaNoWriMo.

NaNoWriMo update: My word count is 28725. If I pull myself away from Blogger, I might reach 30000 tonight. Thank you for your encouragement. You all have been so great. Keep plugging away. If you're stuck, go to a random plot generator and throw yourself a curve ball.

Potty training update: My son used it successfully again this morning. It wasn't a fluke yesterday! I won't be pushing the training yet as he's still young, but he'll be rewarded greatly for each time he does go. We bought him his own potty seat for the toilet. He was unimpressed. Thanks to those of you who shared your own potty training stories. I love hearing about them!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Excitement and Remembrance

Yesterday I pushed myself and managed to get over 4500 words written. What a rush! I came to a point in the story where I was happy to leave it for the night even though I was a few hundred words short of my 25000 goal. I had about three and a half hours to write yesterday. It helps that I killed a character. Always lots of meat to add to a story from a death.

Right now, I'm just over 25000 words. I hope to get another 1000 written today, but I'm a little behind on everything. Yet hopefully I can make up for it on the weekend.

Even though I was excited about reaching the halfway point with NaNoWriMo, it didn't top the big event with my son. He used the toilet successfully and I haven't even begun toilet training him yet! Woo-hoo! It was likely a fluke. He's only 18 months old, after all. Yet with how excited I was, I think that's great motivation for him. We'll be getting him his own training seat this weekend.

To celebrate, we made a big mess painting with paints I made from Kool-Aid. My fingers are still purple. Who knew Kool-Aid stains that much.

I hope all of you who are participating in NaNoWriMo are grooving right along. My buddies look to be doing amazingly! Keep writing. We're one-third of the way there.

Finally, for my Granddad. I miss him.
Lest we forget.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - day 9

Word count: 20303

I wanted to get a little further today, but I'm exhausted. I planned on reaching 25000 tomorrow, but that would take a big rush in the little time I have. I'll give it that old NaNo try! Even if I don't make it, I know I'm still doing well.

I had intended this to be a slow burning paranormal romance. Boy, is it slow. 20000 words and only a little cuddling going on. I want this to be more about the emotional journey, but, geez, this is slow for me. Yet I hope the story is still interesting to keep the reader reading.

One of my secondary characters has decided he wants to become more involved in the plot. He's campaigning to be another love interest. My protagonist isn't the type to just fall for someone she's only known for a few days. She's not that trusting. It makes more sense for her to fall for her friend and confidante. Yet then that totally messes up the main arc of my plot! I guess I'll see where the story takes me.

Oh! Maybe I can kill him off. BWUHAHAHAHA! I quite like that idea. Dammit and I liked him.

Wicked Wednesday - sex


I know I have your attention now. The question for today is: does a paranormal romance need to have sex to be a good story?

It's simple to answer: NO. I put that in bold capital letters for a reason. Sex is not why people read paranormal romance. They read it for the romance in a supernatural situation.

Can sex ruin a paranormal romance? Yes. Badly written sex ruins any book. Sex in the book just for having it in there ruins it. If there is sex in the story, it must be used to forward the story.
This seems simple to me, but I know a lot of people have trouble with it. Sexually explicit content in paranormal romances is not for everyone. Some people don't like reading more than kissing and heavy petting. And that's okay. Romance can still be hot without naked bodies in action. It's in the sizzling tension, the subtle and not-so-subtle looks, the lingering touches, and the heart pounding emotions.

If you're like me, I don't mind sex in books at all. I don't require it, but it can be extremely satisfying. I like it when the protagonist finally surrenders to the fire burning within. Sex scenes are also great tools for getting characters to open up who typically have trouble otherwise. Intimate moments are perfect for spilling those dark secrets. Pillow talk has ruined many a person.

Do you like to read paranormal romances with or without sex? Why?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Teaser Tuesday with A Girl's Guide To Guns and Monsters

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
Another fantastic anthology. A Girl's Guide To Guns and Monsters edited by Martin H. Greenburg and Kerrie Hughes. The title says it all. Thirteen short stories of women who kick butt.
Here's your teaser:
Lena Greenwood poked the vampire with the broken remains of her white ash staff. "She's dead. Deader, I guess." (page 138 - Jim C. Hines with "Heart of Ash")

Monday, November 7, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - day 7

Word count: 16161

Rough day all around. Yet I'm still managing to keep ahead. I need sleep.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - day 6

Word count: 14050

I'm ahead of schedule and having fun. It's been a busy weekend and I haven't gotten a chance to write as much as I wanted, but I did more than the minimum daily word count.

My story is growing into something darker and deeper than I imagined. It's going to be a long one too. I'm predicting 100,000 words. Though possibly 20,000 will be deleted in the editing process. As I said before, there's lots of dialogue.

I've seen a couple of people that have already made the 50,000 word mark. Wow. You guys are writing machines. And at least one of you is a parent! You're all amazing. For the rest of you, keep writing. You can do it!

I'm tired tonight. I didn't get an extra hour of sleep last night with the time change. We kept our son up an hour later, but he was still up at an early hour. I'm going to curl up on the couch with some ice cream and watch The Walking Dead. Have a good Sunday night!

Oh! And since I missed Snapshot Saturday yesterday, here's a picture of my backyard. The Japanese Maple is bright red and losing its leaves. I love all autumn colors even though I'll have to rake them up eventually.

Friday, November 4, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - day 4

Word count: 10014

I'm surprising myself with how well it's going. Why did I find it so difficult last year when my son was an infant and sleeping more? I'm lucky he's been sleeping much at all this week because he's been sick. I was worried that I wouldn't write a lot any time again until he was in preschool, but yes! I can do it.

I've been writing a lot of dialogue. Kevin Smith length dialogue. My inner editor is trying to shake down her cell to delete those last four pages. They're staying. She can revise next year. I've always had a problem with my characters talking too much. Even the quiet ones chatter on too much. I wonder what would happen if I wrote a story where everyone was mute. There's an interesting challenge.

I've been looking at everyone's word counts. You're doing amazingly! And for the few of you who had a rough start, don't worry. It's only the fourth. You've got twenty-six more days. Go for it! You can do it!

Winners of the Cherie Reich Giveaway


Once again, I'd like to thank Cherie Reich for letting me interview her and having this great Halloween treat giveaway. She's a wonderfully talented writer and she'll scare your socks off with this story.

The winner of a copy of Once Upon A December Nightmare is:

The three winners of signed postcards are:

Congratulations! Cherie will be in contact with you shortly.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 - day 2

Word count: 4566

Day two was yesterday, but I didn't have time to do up a quick post. I managed to get the jump on my inner editor and gag her. Oh, she was flailing about with all the dialogue I was writing, but I ignored her. I can edit later.

I'm happy with my word count and with where the story is going. I've already abandoned my tentative outline. My pantser tendencies have won out again.

Keep writing!

Reminder: today is the last day to enter The Cherie Reich Giveaway for a chance to win a copy of her e-book, Once Upon A December Nightmare. The winners will be announced tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wicked Wednesday - titles

This month is NaNoWriMo and I've done all my Wicked Wednesday posts for the month ahead of time. Yet if there is something you want me to talk about in December, please leave a comment.

I'm writing a paranormal romance for NaNoWriMo. It's a slow burning romance called Sorrow Phage. It's only a working title. Not exactly the most enticing of titles, I know. I've been thinking a lot about what I might call the story instead.

A paranormal romance title has to suit the mood, tone and genre of the novel. The best titles are usually short and clever. People are going to judge your book based on the title even before they read it. If you see two novels on the shelf at a bookstore with one having a long title and the other a short catchy one, which one would you choose? Most people will pick up the book with the shorter title first. There's a trick to this: use contrasting terms. Here are a few examples: Dark Celebration by Christine Feehan and Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr.

Another way to come up with a title is to look into the heart of your story. What's the main theme? Is it historical or contemporary? Does it involved a special place? Who is the main character? Their love interest? There's so many ways to pluck out a title from these things. Examples: The Lunatic Cafe by Laurell K. Hamilton and The Renegade Hunter by Lynsay Sands.

Watch out for generic titles. Try to avoid using words like seduction, bride, rogue, and love. Yes, it's a romance but you're smarter than that. Come up with something different.

Generally, try to avoid silly titles, but sometimes they do work. If your story is humorous, it might be a good thing. Examples: Go Fetch! by Shelley Laurenston and Gentlemen Prefer Succubi by Jill Myles.

Whatever you come up with, run it past your critique partners and beta readers, and your friends and family. If you're really unsure, ask for help on your blog. The writing community is wonderful and everyone is so supportive.

What are some of your favorite paranormal romance titles? Have you ever picked up a book based on the title alone?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

First Day of NaNoWriMo 2011

Word count: 2107

I'm very happy with my word count. I want to write at least 2000 words a day. That will keep me ahead in case something happens. I'll also be missing four days at Thanksgiving when I visit my in-laws.

I've noticed that my inner editor has much more power than she did in previous years. It's hard to stop myself from editing as I go along. NaNo is about just letting the story flow. If I could have done that today, I would have written more.

Hope everyone else had a productive first day. Cheers for us all!

Teaser Tuesday with Zombie Raccoons and Killer Bunnies

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
I'm cheating a little this month because I want to put all my free time into NaNoWriMo. I'm not reading anything new. All these teasers have been written last month from books I've read before. This first anthology, Zombie Raccoons & Killer Bunnies edited by Martin H. Greenburg ad Kerrie Hughes is a lot of fun. The stories are scary and humorous. It'll make you wonder about animals you see around every day!
Here's your teaser:
He waited, very calmly, very quietly, barely breathing. The mottled pigeon didn't move. (page 116 - Carrie Vaughn's "Watching")