Wednesday, November 26, 2014

UNIQUE SETTINGS IN ROMANCE NOVELS, INCLUDING CREAKY OLD FACTORIES

by Kitsy Clare



I’m a factory geek. Yup. I’ve been obsessed with spooky, spidery warehouses ever since I lived in a defunct shoe factory in Boston while I was in my twenties in art school. It was a mecca for creative souls, and we formed a funky-utopian tribe with a dance bar in the basement and a veggie garden on the roof. The place still had barrels of shoe soles in the halls and mildewed promo flyers in the basement from 1920, announcing they’d utilized the latest trend in production line speed: workers flying around on roller-skates! My very first novel was set there.

The Boston shoe plant was awesome (Until it burned down. Thankfully, no one got hurt). But my favorite old warehouse ever is the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. I moved around the corner from it, before Williamsburg grew into the mega-hipster paradise it is today. In the sketchy days, when my car battery would get stolen and I’d buy it back from the local gas station for $25, I recall strolling by the place, ever eager to see which magnificent vessel was docked on its East River port. Sometimes they sailed in from Cuba, sometimes from Brazil or Thailand. I thrilled to the colorful flags flapping on the rigs, and the idea that the boats came from such exotic, faraway places.

One afternoon, I took my camera and notebook over and interviewed the night watchman. My senses infused with its distinct burnt sugar scent, its walls covered in a skim of blackened sugar. He told me stories of workers falling into vats and boiling alive, tales of hearing their subsequent ghostly sounds as their spirits floated around at odd hours. Oh, man, was I hooked! I wrote a story outline with the intention of penning a freaky urban fantasy. Then, in a stroke of bad luck, my bundle of notes and photos were lost when I went out drinking with friends and left them in a bar. No doubt, some fool thief got a handful of strange scratchings. Yet, the setting stayed firmly embedded in my mind after I moved to Manhattan where I began to write novels in earnest.

In 2013, I finally thought up the perfect plotline for the fictional sugar factory setting. PRIVATE INTERNSHIP is my forthcoming new adult romance, out this Fall with Inkspell. In it, artist Sienna Karr lands an interview for a high-level internship with bad-boy sculptor Casper Mason, or Caz. Guess where he lives and works? In the Domino Sugar Factory, which I renamed the Schneitryn Sugar Factory (You have to read the novel to learn why. There’s a specific reason) “Sugar, no shit!” as the newly hired Sienna remarks. Rich, famous Caz has bought the entire factory, and uses the hundreds of existing sugar bags for his sculptures.

A summary: Sienna’s bestie, Harper warned her not to intern for famous bad boy artist, Casper Mason. After all, he just fired Harper who helped Sienna get the interview. But the moment Sienna sees Casper—or Caz—sweaty and practically shirtless and swinging from chains while he works on his sculpture, she’s hooked. He’s the richest, hottest artist in New York, and he lives in the fabulous Williamsburg Sugar Factory. But he’s also an incorrigible gameplayer, who seems to relish testing Sienna’s loyalty with a string of unsettling tests. She knows she should get away fast. But by the time Sienna sneaks into his locked storage room and begins to unearth his dark and terrifying secret, she’s fallen way too hard for the handsome, charismatic Caz.

Little did I know that in 2014 the Domino Sugar Factory would be a fixture in the news; that the neighborhood landmarks committee would be in an uproar about its demise and redevelopment, and that well-known sculptress Kara Walker would set up her sugar sphinx mama in that doomed place. Yes, reality is as strange as fiction. Kara explains through her little sugar slave boys who are literally melting—an arm dropping off here, a nose there, that the sugar trade was a very nasty business, fueled by oppressed slaves hauled in from Africa to the Caribbean and elsewhere.

Ditto the mood from the Landmarks Preservation Commission in a September, 2007 statement: “Raw sugar was supplied from America’s deep south, mainly Louisiana, and the Caribbean, where it was primarily harvested by slaves. Though slavery ended in the United States in 1865, it continued in Cuba, the world’s largest exporter of raw sugar, until 1886.”

Coincidentally, in PRIVATE INTERNSHIP, the sculptor Caz quotes from Voltaire’s CANDIDE.   A horrified Candide comes across a slave boy in what is now Guyana who has lost an arm and leg. The boy explains: “When we work in the sugar mills and get a finger caught in the machinery, they cut off the hand; but if we try to run away, they cut off a leg … it is the price we pay for the sugar you eat in Europe.”

Caz is no fool; he’s aware of the dark side of his spun-sugar art medium. Ironically, as he tears three sugar packets and pours one after the other into his gourmet blend coffee, he says to Sienna in all seriousness, “Sugar, it’s delicious yet deadly, sweet yet bitter to the arteries. It’s no good for anyone.”

What kinds of unique settings inspire you to write?♥


Kitsy Clare hails from Philly and lives in New York. A romantic at heart, she loves to write about the sexy intrigue of the city, particularly in the art world. She knows it well, having shown her paintings here before turning to writing. MODEL POSITION, her new adult novella is about artist Sienna and her friends. The next in her series, PRIVATE INTERSHIP just launched with Inkspell.

Monday, November 24, 2014

ALL YOUR SUBGENRES BELONG TO TWILIGHT: A CONSPIRACY THEORY

by Alyssa Cole


TWILIGHT. The novel that, despite its pro-abstinence views, spurred the spontaneous sexual awakening of millions of teens and rejuvenated the sex lives of millions of their parents. The creepy relationships that made every single reader sigh, either in adoration or contempt. The storyline that pitted sister (Team Edward) against sister (Team Jacob) and nearly rent the very fabric of this great nation.

Love it or hate it, TWILIGHT had a huge impact on the publishing genre. Probably more than you’ve ever imagined. Adjust your tin-foil hat and follow me down the rabbit-hole as I reveal how Stephanie Meyer (author or weaver of fate?) singlehandedly changed the world of romance past, present , future, and across all dimensions….

New Adult. 
As with any fan base, Twi-hards channeled their love for the series into writing fan fiction. Bella, Edward, and the rest of the gang were transfigured into millions of different of versions of themselves, and many of these new characters were not vampires. In fact, much of the fan fiction had no paranormal elements at all. But what could substitute for blood lust? Hm, maybe narcotics addiction. Why would Edward be averse to Bella’s touch? Abuse and/or assault. Why is Bella’s mom such a flake? Because she’s a crackhead, duh. Thus, New Adult sprung from the foreheads of Twi-fanficcers fully formed and ready to be published (as soon as the names were changed from Bella and Edward to Daisy and Jaden, of course).

BDSM. 
One special fan-fic channeled Edward’s insatiable need for blood into an insatiable need to spank some ass. Yes, it existed well before FIFTH SHADES (*throws Anne Rice a cookie*), but since the advent of the repackaged fan-fic, the market for BDSM-related erotic romance has exploded.

Paranormal Romance. 
Vampires, werewolves, and a variety of other non-humans duking it out for the love of one bland-but-actually-super-special woman? That sounds familiar.

Motorcycle Club Romance. 
In NEW MOON, Bella works out her angst by repeatedly placing herself in life-threatening situations in order to have hallucinatory visions of Edward. Her primary method was by joining Jacob’s motorcycle gang (this is a stretch, but just go with it). A few years later, and Harley riders are rising to the top of the best seller lists.


You can honestly do this with any style of romance: Historicals? Popular because of the Cullen family flashbacks. Multicultural? Sales fueled by that taboo Bella/Jacob love. What fun conspiracy theories do you have?♥


Alyssa Cole is a science editor, pop culture nerd, and romance junkie who splits her time between fast-paced NYC and island-paced life in the Caribbean. RADIO SILENCE, the first book in her postapocalyptic New Adult series from Carina Press, will be released in February 2015. She is one of the contributing authors in the multicultural Revolutionary War romance anthology FOR LOVE & LIBERTY: Untold Love Stories of the American Revolution. Visit her website at www.alyssacole.com, on twitter at @alyssacolelit, or on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AlyssaColeLit.


Friday, November 21, 2014

BOOK COVER FRIDAYS: LIFTED TO THE LIGHT by Alice Orr

 
WELCOME TO BOOK COVER FRIDAYS!
Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from one of
New York's Leading Romance Authors. Enjoy!


LIFTED TO THE LIGHT
by Alice Orr


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

HARD AND FAST TIPS DRAFTING FOR FUN AND PROFIT…OR AT LEAST FOR NANOWRIMO

by Isabo Kelly

Thousands of writers are taking on the challenge of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), writing 50,000 words of a single novel in the 30 days of November. This annual challenge has helped a lot of people jump start a new project or finish one that’s been languishing. To meet the challenge, authors have to force themselves to draft their story quickly.

Here are some tips to help with fast drafting:

* Have a place to start.
* Have a place to end.
* Have some general idea of how you might get from point 1 to 2.  
* Don’t fear deviations.
* Don’t worry if the ending changes
* Don’t fuss over the details.
* Do NOT edit.
* Don’t worry about craft.
* Focus on your characters.
* When you’re not writing, mull over the next scene.
* Just keep typing / writing.  
* Only re-read enough to get back into the story for fresh writing.  
* And finally, HAVE FUN!!  


Good luck to everyone who’s attempting the NaNoWriMo challenge! Happy writing. May your muse cooperate to make it an exciting and fun month of fast drafting. With a little effort, you’ll have a book—or most of a book—finished come December 1st.♥



Isabo Kelly is the award-winning author of science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal romance stories. Her latest release, Warrior’s Dawn (Fire and Tears #3), benefited greatly from the progressive outline. For more on Isabo and her books, visit her at www.isabokelly.com, friend her on Facebook www.facebook.com/IsaboKelly , or follow her on Twitter @IsaboKelly.

Monday, November 17, 2014

RAINBOW ROMANCE: PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS

by Kate McMurray



This October, I was privileged to read from my book THE SILENCE OF THE STARS to a standing-room-only crowd at the legendary Stonewall Inn.

The bar itself is kind of a dive, to be honest, and always has been, but its significance in the history of the LGBT rights movement cannot be denied. This was the site, after all, of the famous riots that gave rise to the modern LGBT rights movement. So when I was offered the opportunity to read from my gay romance there, I jumped at it. But that’s kind of just a fun beside the point.

So readings. There seem to be some truths universally acknowledged about them. Pretty much everyone asked me if I was nervous or dreading it. I think that’s kind of expected now, huh? Writers are reclusive introverts, right? Now we’re asked to get on a stage in front of a room full of people? The horror!

Well, no. I will admit, the very first time I ever read, I was so nervous, my hands shook through most of it. But my fear was more of screwing up because I’m a perfectionist, not so much a fear of public speaking per se. Since then? It’s not so bad. It’s kind of fun, actually.

Here’s the thing, though: I’m no stranger to standing in front of people and talking. I was on debate teams in high school and college, and later taught debate classes. So I learned at a young age to improvise speeches in front of judges with score sheets. Reading published text is nothing in comparison. Also, as a violinist, I’ve had to play solos and do recitals, and I swear, nothing is more nerve-wracking. I’m the sort of musician who would rather be in an orchestra, to blend in.

So for this reading, in which I was reading from a book I’ve read from before, I wasn’t really nervous. I did have a brief moment of panic when I realized the lights in my face were so bright I couldn’t see the audience and I wondered if one of my friends had made it back from the bathroom in time, and also if a T. rex had been coming at me, I would not have noticed, and that made it a little tricky to breathe for a second. I tend to zone out when I’m reading, though. That’s an old debate trick, actually; if you read without thinking about what you’re reading, you’re less likely to stumble, so I kind of go into autopilot when I’ve got text in front of me to read aloud. (I circle words that I mean to emphasize in my hard copy—also an old debate trick—so my brain knows what to do there, too.)

Anyway. My point is that readings, while not exactly no sweat, are not too traumatic for me, so I like to do them, just like I like doing conferences because I like talking to people. It’s kind of a manner of framing. I find that so much advice to authors is “how to survive this…” as if attending a conference were walking into a war zone.

The thing with any kind of promotion be it in person or online, is that if you’re doing something you actively hate doing, it’s going to be clear to everyone. If reading in front of people is unbearable, it’s not the right promotional opportunity for you. Readings can be great. I’ve bought books at events like Lady Jane’s Salon by authors I was unfamiliar with before-hand because the reading knocked my socks off.

If reading in front of people is not one of your strengths, there are many other avenues for promotion. I’m not exactly saying, “Don’t do it!” There are ways to triumph over nerves at a reading. Practicing helps a lot. But if, for example, you’re the sort of author who is socially phobic enough to spend most of a conference in your hotel room, you’re probably not getting the most bang for your buck. No offense to those with social anxiety, which is a real issue a lot of people face, but if you have to put yourself through trauma for the sake of promoting a book? It might be time to find another promotional avenue.

I like doing promotion in person and am less good at the Internet. I update my blog and Twitter sporadically and rarely post to Facebook. (I actively hate Facebook, in fact.) Your mileage may vary. If you’re better at online promotion, that is certainly a most excellent way to meet readers, without even changing out of your pajamas. If getting near social media gives you hives, there are other avenues—maybe a long-form blog is something you’re better suited for. Maybe you want to reach readers with a newsletter. But online, too, the same advice applies: if social media is something you have to survive, it’s probably not the best medium for you.

I think of it this way. I don’t just want to survive. I want to thrive as an author and businesswoman. That means, in order to conquer the promotional mountain, I pick things I’m good at doing. I play to my strengths. I like Twitter and think it’s fun, so I put the bulk of my social media energy there; likewise, if you’re a Facebook addict, parlay that into book promotion. I’m not the best at posting to my blog regularly, but I am great at conferences and I love doing panels and readings. Pick something you like and are good at, and promotion will feel
like less of a slog.

Doing promotional work you like will also help you keep the message upbeat and positive. You want to celebrate your work, not give the impression you’re pushing your book on the unwilling masses. I think we, and women in particular, tend to feel like we should be quiet and not crowing about our achievements too much.

There’s also a tendency to go negative, especially online when you can’t see the faces of the people you’re talking to. But hey, you wrote a book! That’s awesome. And there are people out there who want to read it. So find effective ways to tell them about it.♥


Kate McMurray is an award-winning author of gay romance and an unabashed romance fan. When she’s not writing, she works as a nonfiction editor, dabbles in various crafts, and is maybe a tiny bit obsessed with baseball. She’s currently serving as President of Rainbow Romance Writers, the LGBT romance chapter of Romance Writers of America. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. Visit her at www.katemcmurray.com.


Friday, November 14, 2014

BOOK COVER FRIDAY: LOVE, LOST & FOUND by Jean C. Joachim

  
WELCOME TO BOOK COVER FRIDAYS!
Every week we bring you an exciting hot book cover from one of
New York's Leading Romance Authors. Enjoy!


LOVE, LOST & FOUND
by Jean C. Joachim
  


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

THE GIDDY GRAMMARIAN: COMMAS

by Lisbeth Eng



“To comma, or not to comma, that is the question!”



You will, I pray, excuse the ghastly usage in the above subtitle. The word “comma” is, of course, not a verb and should never be used as one. It is merely my poor attempt at wit, in the hope of grabbing your attention. Now that I have it, let us get on to the subject at hand.

One of the most common confusions about the use of commas is in a series. Consider the following sentences:

• The bride’s attendants included her sister, sister-in-law, cousin, and best friend.
• The bride’s attendants included her sister, sister-in-law, cousin and best friend.

The difference is the comma after the word “cousin.” Which sentence is correct? The answer is they both are.

When the last comma comes after the penultimate item in a series, it is known as an Oxford comma. Generally, newspapers and magazines omit the Oxford comma, whereas fiction and non-fiction books do not. This is not a hard and fast rule, however, and writers may choose either style, as long as they are consistent.

There are some instances where the Oxford comma is desirable, regardless of one’s usual preference. It may be necessary to avoid confusion such as in the following example:

• The menu choices were salmon, lobster, fish and chips, and halibut.

Here, the final comma makes it clear that fish and chips is one dish, not two.

Another source of confusion is whether to use a comma before a coordinating conjunction that combines two independent clauses. Independent clauses are phrases that can stand alone as complete sentences. Coordinating conjunctions include “and,” “or,” “but,” and “so.”

Generally, longer sentences combining independent clauses include the comma, while shorter ones do not:

• Benedict raised his hand to answer the question, but the teacher chose to ignore him.
• Julian laughed but Anna wept.

Often, comma use is indicated when a pause would naturally occur in a sentence. Read it carefully, and see if you can detect a pause. If a reader would need to take a breath, then a comma may be appropriate. In certain types of sentences there is a definitive rule on comma use, but in the case of coordinating conjunctions you may use your own judgment. (I will discuss subordinating conjunctions in a future column, as space here does not permit it.)  Grammar is as much an art as a science, and grammarians sometimes vehemently disagree, much to the bewilderment of writers. Though most grammar rules are not open to opinion, we writers must navigate the murky waters between the ambiguous and the absolute.♥



Lisbeth Eng works as a Compliance Officer in the financial industry by day and writes historical romance by night. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English, and speaks a smattering of German, Italian and French. Please visit her at www.lisbetheng.com.