Friday, January 23, 2015

BOOK COVER FRIDAY: HERO BY NIGHT by Sara Jane Stone (DEBUT!)

   
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!
   

HERO BY NIGHT
Book Three:  Independence Falls
Avon Impulse
by Sara Jane Stone
www.sarajanestone.com
  
DEBUTS JANUARY 20, 2015



Wednesday, January 21, 2015

THE SCOOP ON SCRIVENER

 by Fiona Kirk




The must-have software for writers.

For my first historical romance, I wrote the manuscript using Word and stored most of my research in a manila folder. Whenever I needed to find a quick fact – for example, a drawing of a dress my heroine might wear to a ball – I had to rummage through a fairly large stack of papers. More often than not I’d get sidetracked and lose my train of thought (not difficult to do!).

So when an author friend mentioned that the writing software Scrivener was on sale just as I was formulating the plot of my second historical, Stages of Desire, I figured I’d check it out.
Now, I am no techno-whiz, and the thought of learning a new program was daunting. But I’d read so many writers and journalists rave online about Scrivener, I figured there was something to it. Two years and two books later, the benefits far outweigh any reservations I might have had.

With Scrivener, each book is saved as a “project.” On the left hand side of the screen is a list of icons you’ve created for that project. Some are chapters or scenes, others might be folders called “Research,” “Characters” or “Locations,” where you can store Word docs, templates, photos, or whatever else you might need. To the right of that is a split screen.

I type my latest scene on the top screen. When I need to find a photo of a castle that I wanted to use as a place setting, or I can’t recall a minor character’s name, I simply click on the bottom screen, then on the pertinent folder or document. Shazam: the photo or my list of characters is right in front of me. No rummaging, no searching, instant answers.

Even websites can be saved in folders. My hero in Stages of Desire is working on a cure for malaria during the course of the book, and whenever I needed to check out the “history of malaria” website for a quick fact, I could access it without switching to a web browser and covering up the page I was working on.

When the manuscript is ready to be sent out, hit the “Compile” command and it pops up as a Word doc on your desktop, formatted exactly how you like it. I followed the tutorial when I first got it (which has a witty, fun tone to it), and then played around until I felt comfortable.

Of course nothing is perfect, and Scrivener does have its quirks. The spell check feature isn’t as good as Word at catching minor typos like double spaces, so I always check again after it’s been compiled into a Word doc. The upside? I can write fast and accurately and editing is a breeze, with easy access to every scene and chapter without having to scroll through a long Word document.

So take your writing to the next level and check out Scrivener. You can try it free for 30 days before committing. More info at https://www.literatureandlatte.com/trial.php.  Happy writing!♥


Fiona Kirk writes historical fiction under the pen name Julia Tagan. A journalist by training, she enjoys weaving actual events and notorious individuals into her historical romances. Her Regency romance, STAGES OF DESIRE, released January 5. For more info, visit www.juliatagan.com.  You can also find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/julia.tagan and Twitter @juliatagan.


Monday, January 19, 2015

THE LONG AND THE SHORT OF IT

by Racheline Maltese


Naturally, I have about two different lengths I write at: 3,000 words and 70,000 words. While my co-author and I have sold pieces at both of those lengths, we’ve learned quickly that being able to produce stories at a lot of other lengths is also valuable, not just in terms of creating material to submit to publishers but in terms of creating stories that can act as a gateway into our other work.

In many ways, at 12,000 words Evergreen is the story my co-author and I never meant to write. It’s set between the first and second books in our LGBT romance series, and it focuses on the relationship between secondary and tertiary characters. It’s also not a length that’s natural for us as writers.

But part of how Evergreen will ultimately succeed for us has to do with writing at that length we hadn’t previously explored. With 12,000 words we found enough room to show character and conflict in a way that hopefully makes readers want to know more, while also giving them a very clear HEA.

For me, learning to write at different lengths has come from two things: My background in journalism and my love of television. Journalism teaches me that there’s always a simpler way to say something if I need to save a few words or sentences. Television teaches me that story structure varies by show length. In the U.S., a half-hour network comedy is 22 minutes when you account for commercials. A cable comedy without commercials will often run a little longer. A 27-minute show without a commercial break has a very different structure than a 22-minute show with several. These stylistic differences become even more pronounced when you look at hour-long and movie-length programming.

To write a shorter mid-series story that would also stand alone, Erin and I quickly realized we’d have to write a “monster of the week” episode designed to fall between season 1 (that is, book 1) and season 2 (book 2, which is out in January) of our series. Once we understood the story’s function and structure in terms of the television we’d been watching our whole lives, it became much easier to figure out what needed to be told and how. It also became easier to understand what pieces of the story we’d have to hold back for another occasion.

For writers who want to branch out from their natural storytelling lengths, there is no quick answer. Like anything in writing, sometimes you just have to hammer at it until it works. But the mental exercise of imagining your stories (and other people’s) in different formats helps build the muscles that can have you writing -- and selling -- at different lengths.♥



Racheline Maltese co-writes the Love in Los Angeles LGBT romance series with Erin McRae. Set in the film and television industry, the books Starling (September 10, 2014), Doves (January 21, 2015), and Phoenix (June 10, 2015)) are available from Torquere Press. Their May/December "gay for you" novella Midsummer will be released Summer 2015 by Dreamspinner Press. You can also find their work in Best Gay Romance 2015 edited by Felice Picano and published by Cleis Press.  

Friday, January 16, 2015

BOOK COVER FRIDAY: BAD SANTA by Lise Horton

  
  
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!



BAD SANTA
by Lise Horton
Riverdale Avenue Books


Monday, January 12, 2015

THE ETERNAL DEBATE (WELL, IF YOU’RE A WRITER): GRAMMAR VS STYLE

by Isabo Kelly


I am not now, nor have I ever been, a grammar expert. Because of this, I find myself checking on grammar questions and rules all the time—especially when one editor “corrects” something that another editor doesn’t. The thing I’ve discovered in all this checking is that often people mistake style preferences for grammar rules. I still mistake the two with great frequency (thus, this article).

So first, some definitions:

Grammar is the basic syntax and structure of our language. It allows us to communicate in predictable ways. Language came first. Grammar was the attempt of linguists to define the rules of that language. For most native speakers of any given language, the grammar rules are so ingrained, they are used automatically and without thought. When discussing grammar in relation to the written word, we’re talking about those most basic rules that allow the conveyance of information in a consistent manner. Some good examples of grammar “rules” revolve around sentences and sentence structure. For example:

*Sentences start with a capital letter and end with a punctuation mark.
*In English, basic sentence structure consists of subject, verb, object. Disrupting this order will make a sentence sound weird to a native speaker.
*A sentence needs to express a complete thought, otherwise it’s a dependent clause.
*A single subject requires a single verb (or predicate). For example: The dog is cute. If you use “the dog are cute”, you’ve broken a basic grammar rule.

Style, on the other hand, is a collection of suggestions on ways to use language so as to refine and improve the readability and understanding of the written word. That sentence, by the way, was grammatically correct but maybe not the best choice stylistically. It’s long and could cause confusion. Sentences that are grammatically correct aren’t automatically the best ways to convey information. That’s where style choices come in. They fill in the gaps left behind by grammar and help refine language to improve understanding. Style is flexible and can depend on a particular house, publication, field, or editor. It also takes reader expectations and context into consideration.

Style changes—sometimes rapidly—while grammar only changes very slowly. Some good examples of stylistic issues are:
*Whether one or two spaces are included after a sentence within a paragraph (this changed to one with the rise of computers and word processing programs).
*Ending a sentence with a preposition—this actually isn’t a grammar rule.
*Whether or not to begin sentences with conjunctions is also a style question; there’s no grammatical prohibition against it.
*Use of active voice versus passive voice—active voice might be preferred in most cases, but passive voice isn’t grammatically “wrong”.

One place where I see grammar and style often confused is in comma usage. One hotly debated “comma rule” is the Oxford comma (also known as serial comma or series comma)—this is the comma that comes before the conjunction in a list. For example: dogs, cats, and pigs. In my school days, this comma was always used and taught to us as a rule. Years later, this comma was dropped by many publications (the story, as I heard it, was that newspapers dropped it to save valuable column space, and this passed on to other types of publications).

Adherents to this new “rule” are adamant that the comma before the conjunction is no longer correct. Except it isn’t a rule. It’s a style choice. Whether to use it or not differs depending on the guide you consult.

So how does this affect the average writer?

First, writers should try to learn the difference between basic grammar and style choices. This will save you many headaches and heartaches. It will also give you some perspective when an editor insists something needs to be written a certain way. If it’s grammar, you should probably listen. If it’s style, you’ll need to decide if the change is in keeping with your voice and/or changes the meaning of your prose.

Comma style choices can often change meaning and so must be watched. You might be using passive voice on purpose and changing to active voice would destroy the point you’re trying to make. Splitting your infinitives could have a better dramatic effect and therefore be better stylistically (“…to boldly go where no one has gone…” just sounds more exciting than “…to go boldly…”).

Second, if you’re writing for a publisher or a particular publication, knowing their house style will make your life easier and your work look very professional. It’s important to remember, though, that no one style is “right” or “wrong”. These guides are put together to make things consistent within house. But again, the “rules” are choices made by the publication, not necessarily “rules” of grammar.

Third, when in doubt, default to a commonly used style reference book (for example, The Chicago Manual of Style’s most recent edition is frequently used for book publishing style questions). This will get you close to the style most editors are expecting to see.

Finally, if you choose the self-publishing path, understand that for consistency, and your own piece of mind, you will have to make style decisions which may or may not adhere to other style guides. This will be a particular issue when hiring editors. These style decisions might just be preferences (like whether or not to use the comma before a “too” at the end of a sentence—some editors hate that comma; others consider it required). The decisions might also affect your voice in a serious way. The last thing you want is to have your voice destroyed by a well-meaning editor. In fact, it might behoove you to write up your own “house style guide” which will not only keep you consistent but will be something you can share with anyone you hire. This will make their jobs easier as well as save you a lot of STETing and/or rejecting in Track Changes.

For any writer trying to ensure readers “get” the picture they’re attempting to convey, both style and grammar are extremely important. However, it’s also important to know the difference between the two. Grammar “rules” should generally be something you adhere to so that readers can easily decipher your prose. Style is flexible and will change. Understanding both, will allow you to tell stories in the clearest language so that readers can immerse themselves in your worlds. And when you choose to break a “rule”, be it style or grammar, you’ll know exactly what you’re doing.

For more on this topic, start with these two articles: ♥





Isabo Kelly is the author of multiple fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal romances. Most of her work, including her most recent fantasy romance WARRIOR’S DAWN, has benefited greatly from someone else having a style guide in place. For more on Isabo and her books, visit her at www.isabokelly.com, follow her on Twitter @IsaboKelly, or friend her on Facebook www.facebook.com/IsaboKelly.


RWA/NYC WELCOMES NEW BOARD OF DIRECTORS


Welcome, 2015!  Welcome, New Directors – Tamara Lynch (Treasurer), Kate McMurray (Vice President) and Vanessa Peters (Vice President).  

Below are the bios of RWA/NYC’s 2015 Board of Directors.  We want to thank all the Board Members for volunteering their time and wish them luck!



President – Ursula Renée

In 2008, Ursula Renée went from wishing to doing when she purchased a digital SLR and registered for a photography class. Armed with the knowledge she obtained from the class, every weekend she toured New York with her camera until she captured the perfect shot of a sleeping red panda at the Bronx Zoo.  Excited by what she could do when she put her mind to it, Ursula decided to pursue other dreams, including drawing, sculpting and writing. She dusted off the manuscript she completed years earlier and took advantage of the workshops and conferences offered by RWA.

Thanks to the support and encouragement of the members of RWA/NYC, Ursula’s debut novel, Sweet Jazz, was released on September 19, 2014 by the Wild Rose Press.  As President of RWA/NYC Ursula hopes to offer the same encouragement and guidance she was shown by other RWA members. In 2015 she plans to continue offering informative presentations and workshops that will help authors at all stages of their careers. Visit her at www.ursularenee.com.


Vice President – Kate McMurray

Kate McMurray is an award-winning romance author and 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 is active in RWA and has served as president of Rainbow Romance Writers and on the board of RWA/NYC. She lives in Brooklyn, NY. Visit her website at www.katemcmurray.com.


Vice President – Vanessa Peters

Born and bred in Brooklyn, I am a freelance artist and writer of Puerto Rican descent. I have embarked on a journey to complete my first multi-cultural romance novel, I am looking to create a story that reflects the people and the world around me. We now live in a world that is different from what is seen in books. Interracial relationships, and the challenges associated with them, are rarely presented in literature. With the faces of couples in America changing, and the growing number of interracial relationships rising, this population wants to see itself in books. I am currently working on a multicultural romance set in New York.

Also my work as a professional artist focuses on abstract, as well as impressionist paintings and drawings of the human form. A self-taught artist, I've been engaged in art since childhood, when I began drawing the images I found in my father's old art books. My art captures my vision of my surrounding world and how I see myself in it. It also personifies the human longing - that missing piece that often eludes us in love, friendship, knowledge and creativity. My extensive art portfolio is complemented by a BA in Creative Writing from City College, New York.  Visit her at www.vanessa-peters.com and follow her on Twitter/Instagram @VPetersBKNY.


Treasurer – Tamara Lynch

Tamara Lynch is a writer and long-time fashion executive whose lifestyle, relationship, race, and culture pieces have appeared on several webzines including Salon.com, The Huffington Post, TheFrisky.com and CNN.com. She has also contributed to the Madonna Anthology Madonna and Me published by Soft Skull Press. Writing as Chloe Blaque, her debut romance novel Survival of the Fiercest was recently published by Loose-Id LLC. 


Secretary – Shirley Kelly

Shirley Kelly has always been a voracious reader. Growing up, her favorite genres were mysteries and romance. Her favorite romances were set in the Regency era. Shirley always knew she'd be a writer, but it wasn't until she joined the RWA in 2009, that she got serious about her craft. Since she's been a member, she's written a Regency novel, Regency and Contemporary erotic short stories, a Contemporary Christmas novella, and a children's story. Shirley is a make-up artist who lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. She loves cats, enjoys traveling, watches a lot of TV, and is interested in history and politics. She's follows tennis and figure skating, and is a life-long Yankee fan.


Past President – Maria C. Ferrer

Maria has been a Charter Member of RWA/NYC since 1989, and has served as Chapter President, Secretary and Newsletter Editor; and was named Member of the Year three times. On a National level, Maria served as Region 1 Director, National Publicity Chairman, RITA Awards Co-Hostess, and coordinated both the Golden Heart Contest and the Literacy Book signing. She was awarded a Regional Service Award for her efforts. Maria writes contemporary romances under her real name, and erotica under her pseudonym, Del Carmen. Her short stories have appeared in two erotica anthologies – WOMEN IN LUST (Cleis Press) and GEEK LUST (Ravenous Romance), and magazines, including Star, Penthouse and Cosmopolitan for Latinas. Visit her at www.marializaferrer.blogspot.com and www.mydelcarmen.com.♥
  
  

Friday, January 9, 2015

BOOK COVER FRIDAY: STAGES OF DESIRE by Julia Tagan

   
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!



STAGES OF DESIRE
by Julia Tagan
Kensington / Lyrical

***  This book will be released on January 5, 2015.  ***