Sunday, February 14, 2016

TOUR: ROMANCE WRITERS ON ROMANCE…THEA DEVINE



Let’s talk about love! RWA/NYC members share their thoughts on romance in celebration of Valentine’s Day.

We begin our blog tour with a real story. Thanks to Thea for sharing her love story and a Happy Valentine Birthday to her husband John.




HOW I KNOW HE LOVES ME
By Thea Devine

I watched the other day as a male cardinal flew into our bird feeder, pecked at the seed and then flew up to the branch above where his female waited, and gave it to her.

That is a hero...He put his loved one first.

Does your hero put his loved one first -- especially when he hasn't confessed yet she's his loved one?  

Does he always tell her what she doesn't want to know (always a sure sign)?

Is he a guy who takes out the garbage without being asked, cleans the cat box, does his share of the cooking, shovels the snowed-up path to make it easier for you, makes sure you don't trip on the curb you didn't see, copies the NY Times crossword puzzle for you every Monday and Tuesday?

Would he do the two a.m. newborn feedings? Carry your colicky baby around for hours?   Fix things like small electricals and minor plumbing? Build bookcases for your ever expanding library and not complain?

Is he a problem solver? A man of few words, a man of action? Would he search high and low for a way to repair an almost irreparably storm damaged canoe just because you love it?

Does he have your back? Has he seen you at your worst -- and still loves you? Is he your best friend?

Does he listen?

Does he give you space to create?

These are all the traits of my hero, and I confess, there's a little bit of him in every male protagonist I write (don't tell). And he does all those small, loving things and more (except the bird part) that are much more meaningful (to me) than larger, grander gestures.

And so, dear reader, I married him -- nearly 50 years ago, and all this time later, he is still my love and my hero. His birthday is Valentine's Day, so apt, and this is my Valentine's card to my beloved John. ♥


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Thea Devine's books defined erotic historical romance.   She's the author of twenty-seven novels and a dozen novellas.  She was honored by RT as a Romance Pioneer, and voted this year's RWA/NYC Lifetime Achievement award.  Visit her at www.theadevine.com.


Join us tomorrow for another Romance Writer on Romance!


Friday, February 12, 2016

BOOK COVER FRIDAY! FORBIDDEN BY MARIA COX



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



FORBIDDEN
by Maria Cox
mariacox.net



BOOK SUMMARY:  A slum dog, a mob princess, a one-night stand. Their union just became a matter of life and death.

As a poor black kid growing up in Brownsville, Jaden Smith learns to adapt and survive. At twenty-one years of age he’s lucky to be alive and sober. Now with a degree in hand Jaden intends to make it out of Brooklyn’s public housing by whatever means necessary. The daughter of a powerful mob boss Becca Sorrentini has the world at her feet everything except the most basic of human rights: freedom. A slave to her father’s traditional ways Becca is desperate for a way out of the Sorrentini family life. A one-night stand with a handsome acquaintance may just lead Becca to redemption.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Maria Cox is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) and a member of RWA/NYC. She is also is the past President of the Phoenix Writers Club.  Visit her at www.mariacox.net.


HAPPY READING.  HAPPY FRIDAY.


Monday, February 8, 2016

EMBRACING MY CRAZY BY LAQUETTE


My tagline, “Embracing my crazy…one character at a time,” essentially sums up how I approach writing and the process of writing.  I know there are plenty of manuals on writing and writing style that provide you with hard, fast, and plentiful rules about what you can never do as a writer, about what elements have to be present in your writing in order for it to fit into a genre or subgenre.  Honestly, there are even rules and guides about what a hero/heroine must/mustn’t do in order for your story to be a “real romance.” 

In my opinion, that’s the largest load of garbage that’s ever been spoon-fed to authors.  Yes, there are some things that should remain consistent in writing.  Formatting, grammar, etc. are elements that are definitely needed to help make sense of the words we string together.  However, even those truths which we hold steadfast can sometimes be bent in order to further our creativity.  This is exactly where embracing your crazy comes in.  Doing what feels intuitive versus doing what is considered to be the correct method of doing something can ultimately set your muse free and yield you a new and refreshing piece of writing.

For instance, there is this unspoken rule that heroines need to be rescued.  After all, the entire purpose of a romance is to create a fictional situation where the heroine is incomplete until her hero comes on the scene to point out her flaws and fix them for her (just in case you didn’t know, that was sarcasm).  As silly as that notion sounds many romance novels do depict that exact theme.  Some people may like that kind of thing.  As for me, I’m a chick from Brooklyn who was raised to save her own day, so I write women that reflect a more modernized ideal of femininity.  My heroines are smart, able, and powerful.  Oftentimes they’re just as flawed and surly as my heroes are, and they always give as much hell as they get from their male counterparts.  My heroines make things happen and most importantly, they offer partnership to their heroes.  They fight and love equally in the boardroom and the bedroom. 

That’s just one of the ways I’ve found to bend if not break the rules.  Come back next month to see what other antics I go through just to embrace my particular brand of crazy.♥




2015 Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award Finalist in Erotic Romance, 2015 Swirl Awards Finalist in Romantic Suspense, bestselling erotic romance author, LaQuette, is a native of Brooklyn, New York.  She spends her time catering to her three distinct personalities: Wife, Mother, and Educator.  LaQuette loves hearing from readers and discussing the crazy characters that are running around in her head causing so much trouble. Contact her on Facebook, Twitter, @LaQuetteLikes, her website, www.NovelsbyLaQuette.com,
Amazon, her Facebook group, LaQuette's Lounge, 
and via email at NovelsbyLaQuette@gmail.com.
  
  

Friday, February 5, 2016

BOOK COVER FRIDAY! BE NOT AFRAID BY ALYSSA COLE


  
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!



BE NOT AFRAID
by Alyssa Cole


It’s a Revolutionary War romance in which, Elijah, 
a black Patriot captured by the British, falls in love with Kate, 
a headstrong runaway determined to leave the Colonies. 
  


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

GOING THE INDIE ROUTE—AND MANAGING EXPECTATIONS ALONG THE WAY BY LENA HART



Today, going indie has never been easier. That doesn’t mean, however, that becoming an independent or hybrid (traditionally published and self-published) author gets any easier. It only means that there are tons of resources (e.g. Author EMS), support groups (e.g. Indie Romance Ink), and publishing platforms (e.g. Draft2Digital) available that makes the journey a lot more seamless to publish a book.

But in my two years as an indie author, I’ve learned that there’s nothing easy about going indie. Nothing. On the other hand, indie publishing isn’t for the elite—it’s not for those who have been published before or who have tons of money to invest in it. Why do I say this? Because I’ve experienced it.

Full disclosure: I started my publishing career with a small e-press then went indie when I realized how much I valued the freedom and control that indie publishing allowed. Just recently, I became a full-on indie author with all the rights of my earlier books back. The money I made from the books published with that small press was what I used to self-publish my next series. Like many new first time indie authors, I had some growing pains along the way. But for me, personally, I learned more about myself as an author, about publishing, and about the industry as an indie author then I did with a publisher. Though not all publishers are created equal, and not all experiences are the same, I don’t believe that being previously published is a huge factor into whether you become a successful indie author or not.

But I can only speak for myself and share what I’ve learned during my two years as an indie author. So before you hit “Publish” on your finished manuscript, you may want to ask yourself what you’re looking to gain by going indie. If your responses remotely resemble the top five reasons listed below then you may want to consider some of these harsh realities…

1. I want to make a lot of money.
Reality check: The days of making hundreds, thousands, or even hundreds of thousands on your first self-published book are over. Sure, the billionaire/secret baby/step-brother books are selling like crazy right now, but each trend eventually reaches its pinnacle and writing a book only because it’s selling doesn’t bode well for a lasting career in publishing. And the harsh reality is that once a trope or trend becomes flooded with books by those who want to make a quick buck, readers will lose interest and move on to the next new hot thing.

Bottom-line: Manage your money. Don’t expect to make much money on your first indie book, or even your second or third. And more often than not, if you are making money, that income will be put back into promotion, marketing, or preparing for your next self-publish book. You may even start off operating in the red for some time, but if you’re in this career for the long haul, then you’ll be making money with your books in no time. But it will take time.

2. I want the freedom/control of publishing my work how I want, when I want.
Reality check: Being your own boss if not easy. Believe me, I know. So when you’re responsible for writing the book of your heart and publishing it on the date that you set, you want to be sure you keep yourself to a schedule. Speaking from experience, I can’t tell you the amount of time, I’ve given myself a deadline and missed it. I think knowing that I have the flexibility to change my due dates (unless I’ve set up pre-orders) prevents me from taking my deadlines as seriously as I should, leading to over-promises and under-delivery to my readers. Not a good look.

Bottom-line: Manage your projects and writing time. Evaluate your production and publishing schedule and set your deadlines accordingly. But if you’re like me and have a hard time keeping yourself accountable, find someone else to do it for you. Whether it’s your critique group, your editor, or beta readers, set up milestones to have your manuscripts to them and let the fact that you owe someone besides yourself a finished draft be the thing that keeps you on task.

3. I want to write my stories my way.
Reality check: It’s true, indie publishing does come with some nice perks—and one of them is being able to write whatever we want. But in all things, there are rules and restrictions. For example, many of the retailers have harsh adult content filters—some harsher than others—so if you don’t want your erotic romance or erotica novel to be buried in Kindle or iBooks’ book dungeon, be sure your content remains sexy but always tasteful and professional. And then there are issues with the taboo topics (i.e. incest) or taboo story devices (i.e. cliffhangers). I’ve seen it numerous times where an author wants to break from convention and write something fresh and different, only to have it back fire horribly on them.

Bottom-line: Manage your readers’ expectations. Determine what genre you’re writing in, who your audience is, and what they like and don’t like. You want your book to be bought and read from start to finish—not slammed with a bunch of 1 star reviews because you broke a “cardinal rule.” If you’re feeling a little risqué with your writing, then just add a disclaimer so your devoted readers know what you’re introducing is different than what you typically write. But if you’re still uncertain of what you have will trigger a negative response, find a critique group or some beta readers to help you decide if you’re working with gold or garbage.

4. I want to get more book(s) published quickly so I can make more money/not wait months to hear back from a publisher.
Reality check: There are many prolific writers out there who can churn out 6-10 books a year, and then there are others who are quite content with publishing just 3-5 books a year. Whatever your publishing schedule, don’t fall into the hype that the more books you publish, the more money/readers you gain. Sadly, the word around the indie world is that: more books = more money/readers. Yet, I’ve witness indie authors fall into this trap and put out tons of half-baked stories and still not make any more money (or gain any more readers) then they had before.

Bottom-line: Manage the quality of your finished product. Naturally, as you gain experience in your craft, your writing and publishing will gain momentum and you too can go from publishing 3 books a year to 6, if that’s what you want. And if the stories are good, the readers will come. But as with most things, that too will take time, so exercise patience and continue to build on your craft. Don’t fall into the rat-race of indie publishing and choose quantity over quality.


5. I want to get a book published so I can start building my author brand/platform.
Reality check: Some indie authors hit the ball out of the park with their first book, while others take years to build their fanbase. But this part of the journey is not as hard as it seems. Readers are smart and eager and they want to interact with the author—but some are also lazy.  Make yourself available to your readers and allow them to be able to find you with little effort. Love it or hate it, you should have an account on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest—you pick your poison), you should have a mailing list, and at the very least, you should have a functioning website.

Bottom-line: Manage your author brand and platform. You don’t want to burn yourself out or be everywhere at once, but to build your fanbase/readership, you need to make it easy for readers to find you. Once you have these in place, you want to make sure it’s everywhere your readers can see/find it, i.e. your email signature, in the front/back matter of your e-book, on your website, etc. Just make sure it’s visible. Trust me…“If you build it, they will come.”


All in all, the ultimate reality is that in indie publishing you are constantly wearing multiple hats—as author, editor, publisher, marketer, copywriter, publicist, designer, sometimes formatter—because many of these things (that a traditional publisher would have handled) become your responsibility. Anyone can self-publish a book—but only few do it well. And those that do, prepare themselves for the arduous journey. To separate yourself from the bad to the best in indie publishing, you want to ensure you are aware of what you’re getting yourself into so you can then manage your time, resources, and outlooks accordingly.♥


Lena Hart is the owner of Maroon Ash Publishing, a boutique services company helping authors navigate through the intricate world of independent publishing. You can find her blogging about her experiences or hot topics in the indie-publishing world at www.MaroonAshPublishing.com/Blog. She is also a multi-published indie author who writes sensual to steamy romances with smart heroines and the strong, alpha men who love them. You can find out more about her and her books at www.LenaHartSite.com.
  
  
Watch for more articles on Going the Indie Route 
every month from self-published chapter members.


Monday, February 1, 2016

INSPIRATION IS EVERYWHERE BY PRESIDENT KATE MCMURRAY

   
  


Where do you get your story ideas?

It’s one of those questions that makes all writers roll their eyes, because, geez, everyone asks that. All of us probably have different answers to the question, too. We draw from our own lives or pop culture or we just have a bunch of voices rattling around in our heads who talk to us sometimes (but we totally aren’t crazy).

Sometimes those ideas dry up, though.

So where does one get inspiration?

Look around you.

I was looking for something to read one night over the holidays. I’d decided that I had to start making a serious dent in the Mount To-Be-Read, which in my case is a literal stack of paperbacks, most of which I’ve picked up at conferences the last couple of years. I found a book in the stack written (and autographed!) by one of my favorite romance writers and couldn’t believe I hadn’t read it yet, so that was a good start. (The book was ANY DUCHESS WILL DO by Tessa Dare.) There’s a scene in the book that stuck with me for a few days after I put it down; I don’t want to spoil it, but suffice it to say, it’s a deeply emotionally resonant scene in which the hero finally confronts something traumatic he hasn’t let himself process and deal with. I put the book down and then went back later and reread that scene. It got to me as a reader, and I wanted to work out how, as a writer, I could evoke that same emotion in my reader. I do that sometimes. I’ll pull apart a really good book and try to work out what made it so good. What is the writer doing that gets me to have such a reaction?

I’ve been reading a lot over the last couple of weeks, more than I usually do. I was a big reader as a kid, and I still buy books like they’re going out of style, but my schedule is unrelenting at times, and I’ll go for weeks without really reading much at all. But a really good book will get my brain churning. “I want to do that!” I’ll think. I read a lot of nonfiction, too, mostly biographies and history, and those will give me ideas, too. I’ve run into obscure historical figures on whom I’d like to base characters, or settings and historical periods I’d like to explore more by writing fiction.

I spent some downtime in early January watching movies that were released over the last year or so but that I never got around to seeing. For me, inspiration from movies often comes in the form of wanting to evoke a particular feeling more than the stories themselves. But movies can be a good thing to analyze—they often have to say more with less, convincing you that two people have fallen in love or conquered their demons in less than two hours.

In THE ARTIST’S WAY, Julia Cameron recommends going on “artist’s dates,” days where you refill the creative well, so to speak. Reading or going to a movie can do this, but so can going to a museum, taking a trip out of town, or even just walking around the neighborhood. Sometimes we just get tired and tapped out and have to find ways to get our creativity back.

There are dozens of ways to do this: read books, see movies, listen to music. Maybe a lyric in a song will give you an idea. Maybe a movie will give you a feeling. Maybe seeing a piece of art will jog something. Maybe just taking a journal to the park and freewriting until you think of something clever is the way to get your mojo back. Carry a notebook around with you so that you can jot all your ideas down as they occur to you—no matter how silly. Maybe that’s just the thing when you come back to it later.

I encourage you to find ways to refill the creative well, to make your writing even better than it already is!♥



Kate McMurray is President of RWA/NYC, and 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 also served 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, January 29, 2016

BOOK COVER FRIDAY! MY SILENT NEW YORK NIGHT BY LENA HART

   
  
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!


MY SILENT NEW YORK NIGHT
by Lena Hart
www.lenahartsite.com