Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Moving On

This manuscript of yours that has just come back from another editor is a precious package. Don't consider it rejected. Consider that you've addressed it "to the editor who can appreciate my work" and it has simply come back stamped "not at this address." Just keep looking for the right address.
--Barbara Kingsolver

The winners of the Amber Heat Wave contest were just announced. Office Relations didn't make the cut. I'm feeling surprisingly peaceful about the whole thing. Sure, I'm disappointed, but I still believe it's a good story. Plus, had begun to suspect I wouldn't win, so it's not a complete surprise.

The truth is, I'm not sure I write erotic romance. I write romance with plenty of sex in it (*grin*), but it's mid-range on the heat scale. This is another thing that made me think it might not happen through this contest. I'm not giving up, though. I will send out OR again. I have a couple of options I'm considering, but first I'll take a look at the story again and see how I can improve it.

Now I get to order my consolation prize.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Love and Sex

Most of us can read the writing on the wall; we just assume it's addressed to someone else.
--Ivern Ball

The clock is ticking--the winners of the Amber Heat Wave contest will be announced in a few days. The wait has been interesting; I've gone back and forth between hope and doubt. I found a Q&A with Trace Edward Zaber, who owns Amber Quill Press, and he indicated that there are fewer winning entries this year than in years past. That's interesting, since there were many more entries this year.

Winners will be announced March 1. If I win, I will spend a lot of time celebrating. :) If not, then I get to order the consolation prize I picked out several weeks ago.

I went out to lunch yesterday with a group of coworkers. A good friend of mine was sitting across from me at the table, and I told her that I was waiting to hear the results of the contest. I realized that half the table was listening, so I explained that I had written a short story.
One person asked, "What's it about?" I said, "Love" at the same time my friend said, "Sex." It was a pretty funny moment.

So, if you wanted to know what Office Relations is about, it's love . . . and sex.

Monday, February 20, 2006

A Talk with Sean

My latest project is a short story that will be about the same length as Office Relations (10,000 or so words). With OR, I really felt like I knew the hero, Peter. Sean is the hero of the new story, and I don't know him as well. He's a little vexed right now too.

Sean: I've got an issue with you.

Lia: I thought you might.

Sean: Yeah? Well, my issue is that you want me to talk about my issues.

Lia: What's wrong with that?

Sean: (Long pause.) I'm a man. I don't want to talk about issues. I want to get on with it. That's what's wrong.

Lia: What do you want to get on with?

Sean: SEX. It's bad enough that I've been celibate for six months.

Lia: That's because--

Sean: It's because of Chloe. I know. And you're right--I do love her.

Lia: So?

Sean: So, now I'm stuck in an elevator with the woman I love and you want me to talk about my issues?

Lia: Everyone has issues, Sean. It's part of the human condition.

Sean: Fine. You talk about them. I've got better things to do.


Saturday, February 18, 2006

Computer Scare

I had a bit of a scare today when my laptop slowed down considerably and had trouble opening any programs. Yikes! I ran my antivirus program, which showed nothing wrong, so I ran a clean-up program and took out a disk I burned a while ago. Once I removed the disk, everything appeared to go back to normal.

I'm very relieved, although I've also burned several new disks so I won't lose my writing or my e-books. I've already been in the habit of e-mailing my writing to a specific e-mail when I finish for the day, so I always have the latest draft, but I don't want to lose character sketches, etc. All I can say is back up your stuff if you don't do it already. You definitely don't want to experience the moment of panic I felt this afternoon.

I'm working on a new story, and I'm enjoying the feeling of getting back into writing. I'm still figuring out the hero's conflict, but I'm pleased with the beginning of the story.

In reading news, I've discovered e-book author Shelby Reed, and she's exceptionally talented. I'm so impressed by the characters she creates--they live in your mind long after you finish reading. If you haven't tried any of her books, I encourage you to do so. I've read Midnight Rose and A Fine Work of Art, and I look forward to reading the rest of her books.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Keep Writing

Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing.
--Bonnie Friedman

I didn't do any writing this weekend, but I talked with a coworker at lunch today and told her about a new idea I have. We talked some more, and I ended up starting a new story tonight. I'm trying not to be so critical during the process. I'm going to write now and analyze later.

I'm rethinking the Barclay Sterling Contest. The contest itself is good, but my goal was to get my work in front of an editor. I will be ready for that someday, but I don't think now is the right time. The other critiques might be nice, but right now I know where I need to improve, so I'm going to focus on writing and strengthening my description. Then I'll reevaluate.

I've read a few chapters of Monica Wood's Description, and I think it's already helpful. I'm noticing things about my writing that I hadn't realized before. It's a start. :)

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Writing Anything

I admire anybody who has the guts to write anything at all.
--E.B. White

My goal for today is to write anything, anything at all on In Her Eyes. I got a bit discouraged about my latest critique and have barely written since. Quite a change from the high I was feeling after last weekend's writing conference.

Yesterday, I bought Monica Wood's Description. I'm reading the chapter about description and point of view so I can take my writing to the next level.

And yes, I realize that this blog is more a personal journal than anything else. When my website goes live, I will work on making it a combination of personal journal and topics that might be of interest to others.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


People have writer's block not because they can't write, but because they despair of writing eloquently.
--Anna Quindlen

I've been in a bit of a funk. I received some feedback yesterday regarding chapter one of Hannah and Ben's story. Once again, much of it focused on the show vs. tell issue. It knocked me off my game a bit; I couldn't do any writing or editing yesterday because of it. Today I'm back at it--making changes to the first three chapters of In Her Eyes to incorporate more showing. I'll get back to Hannah and Ben at some point, but I need to get IHE ready to send off for the Barclay Sterling contest.

I got the first spec of my website design yesterday. I like it but I'm still deciding what I think about my picture being one of the main images. It wasn't my original plan, so I'm giving it some thought.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Heart of the West Conference Day 2

Whew, what a busy day it was! I arrived at the hotel around 8:10 AM; luckily they were just getting started, so I didn't miss a thing.

The day began with a comedian, Charlie Earley, who was quite funny. It was nice to begin the day with a few laughs.

Editors' Panel
Next was a panel with Anne Sowards, editor at Berkley, and Raelene Gorlinsky, editor at Ellora's Cave. You can see a glimpse of Anne to the right of Earley in the photo above. The one photo I took of her turned out fuzzy, and I couldn't even take one of Raelene because there were a couple of people blocking my view. In any case, here are some of my notes from that panel.

Berkley is looking for everything except short regency and series (category) romance.

Ellora's Cave is looking for interracial and gay romance. They are starting a new erotica line where the focus is more on the sexual relationship than on the romance.

At Cerridwen, they are looking for everything except children's literature. They are 95% sure that they will launch a line of traditional regencies because there is a market for them.

An interesting piece of trivia: only 15%-25% of the first three chapters are read in their entirety. You need to think of the editor as a reader. Your story should catch their attention from the beginning and not be bogged down by long back story. Also, send the first three chapters, not three of your favorite chapters.

They talked a little about the submission review process. Submissions from current authors take priority, followed by requested submissions. After that, they turn to the remaining submissions.

Anne's advice to writers is to read a lot. I think I have that one down. Ha! If you're worried about inadvertently absorbing what you read, read another genre.

Some other tips/info:

  • Your book should be polished when you send it, the best work you can make it. The editor's job is not to give advice or critique your work.

  • Very rarely will an editor take on a diamond in the rough. In the time it would take to help these writers improve, they could take three other writers.

  • Remember that your query letter is a business letter. Don't include personal information.

  • Once you have a contract, it is your responsibility to understand it, not the publisher's responsibility to explain it to you. If you do not have an agent, contact someone familiar with contract law.
A lot of the information seemed like common sense, but I found it all very helpful.

Scott Eagan
Scott is an agent with the Greyhous Literary Agency, which is romance-focused. He started the agency and wants to keep it small so he can have a strong connection with his authors.

The main thing he emphasized was doing your research--researching your genre, agent, etc. Someone who is an agent for your friend may not be the right agent for you, for instance.

He is looking for a good mystery/suspense with a romance that isn't just an afterthought. He is not looking for category romance--single title is his specialty. He also doesn't like characters with a lot of emotional baggage.

When you go to conferences that have editor panels, take advantage of them by asking questions. Ask them why they bought a particular book that was published in the last year. This can help you understand what they are looking for.

I asked when a writer should get an agent. He said most writers are not ready when they have written one book, but you should look for an agent when you are serious about being a writer. You should also consider it when you get signed by a publisher.

Sherrilyn Kenyon
Sherilyn talked after Scott and was also the luncheon keynote speaker. I'm going to combine my report of them, since the talks were closely related. She shared a little of her publication story. She held up a file folder of rejection letters that was about an inch and a half thick. She said it represented a year of her life. She received all of these rejections in one year.

Some of the other things she said:

  • Don't chase after trends. If you don't love what you're writing, you won't last.

  • Set goals but don't set yourself up to fail. If you only have time to write for one hour a day during your lunch hour, then do it. Just don't give up.

  • Educate yourself about the business. There is always a non-compete clause waiting to get you.

  • Want other writers to succeed--they can help open new markets. No writer ever loses a contract because a new writer is published.

  • Only you can share your stories. If you stop writing, those stories will die.

  • Surround yourself with supportive friends.
She's a very motivational speaker, and she seems really down-to-earth.

Lynn and Lunch
After Sherrilyn's first talk, I attended a class by Lynn Kurland. I don't have many notes from this one because we filled out a worksheet for most of the time. I was also wilting a bit because the room was very hot. She talked about characterization and getting to know your characters.

Then it was time for lunch. Once again, there were three books left on our chairs. This time the books were Angels and Outlaws by Lori Wilde; Legendary Tails IV by Jaid Black, Marly Chance, N.J. Walters, Ravyn Wilde, Ashleigh Raine, and Mandy Roth; and Playing Easy to Get by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jaid Black, and Kresley Cole.

I sat at the same table as Anne and Raelene, and it was fun to talk with them a little bit. I learned that Anne and I went to the same college and both of us majored in English. She graduated a year after I did. It is a fairly large department, but I'm surprised we didn't bump into each other back then.

Anyway, after lunch, Sherrilyn spoke again (see notes above).

Jo Leigh
Jo's presentation was perhaps the most helpful one of the whole conference, at least for me. She talked about the core decisions, the things you decide about yourself when you are young. Those decisions influence you throughout your life, and you can also use them to create realistic characters.

I talked with Jo after the presentation about In Her Eyes, and she gave me some good ideas. More rewrites ahead. LOL!

Marjorie Jones and Marie Higgins
Christine Feehan was unable to attend the conference because of a family emergency, so Jones and Higgins filled in with a presentation about critique groups. Here are some of their suggestions:

  • A smaller critique group is better because you get to know each other.

  • Point out positive things about the writing as well as things the writer can improve.

  • Critique genres you enjoy writing or reading so that you can provide valuable suggestions.

After the presentation, they had a drawing for a three-chapter critique. There were two winners and I was one of them. Should be helpful.

The book signing was next, and I spent a ridiculous amount of money there. And that was the end of the conference. It was well worth the cost, and I'm definitely planning to go to RWA in Atlanta.

Friday, February 03, 2006

2006 Heart of the West Writers Conference

Today was the first day of the writing conference. It wasn't a full day, but it's gotten off to a nice start.

I arrived at the hotel around 6:10 PM. I went to the check-in table and saw Jo Leigh there. It was nice to see her. Once I checked in, I got a tote bag, which included a bunch of writer promo goodies. When I say "a bunch," I mean more than I can list. Lots of bookmarks, some cover flats, and several pens (my personal favorite).

I arrived a bit early, since dinner didn't start until 7:00. I sat down and looked through the promo materials until some women came over and introduced themselves. Everyone I talked to seemed very friendly; this seems like a friendly RWA chapter.

A little before 7:00, I went up to a room for dinner. This might be a good time to mention that there were about 40-50 people there, which seemed like a good size.

Anyway, each attendee had three books waiting on her chair. Mine were Every Waking Moment by Brenda Novak, Love According to Lily by Julianne MacLean, and Seducing the Prince by Patricia Grasso. This was a nice treat. The Novak and Grasso books were autographed.

After dinner, several awards were given out. Then Brenda Novak talked about overcoming discouragement. She has a number of ideas, but here are some of the things I found especially helpful.

  • Decide what you want and how to get there. Do something toward your goal every day.
  • Develop a pattern of success. You can do more than you think you can if you break down the goal or project into manageable chunks.

  • Don't compare yourself to others. Everyone's journey will be different.

  • Seek balance so that you are focused on more than your writing.
Novak is a good speaker. She used several examples from her life to demonstrate her points. The conference got off to a nice start.

Tomorrow should be busy--the activities start at 8:00 AM. I'm not a morning person, but I'm looking forward to the day.

Thursday, February 02, 2006


I haven't been doing much writing this week. My day job has been sapping my energy, but I'm also getting ready for the writer's conference this weekend. It begins tomorrow night, and it occurred to me that I could use some business cards. I bought some plain ones at an office supply store, had some simple information printed on them, and stamped my initials on the left side. It's a small conference, and I'm actually not sure how many attendees there will be. I'm bringing 40 cards and hope that will be enough.

Today I had an informal photo shoot so I could put a recent photo up in the bio section. It's such a cliche for authors to use photos where they are leaning on their hands (or have their hands in the picture in some way), but one of the best pictures is just that kind of shot. I think it's partly because it conceals my chins. Yes, you read that right. Plural: chins. I have SO got to go to the gym.

Here's the pic.

In any case, there are a couple of other pictures I like, so we'll see which one I end up using.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Don't Forget to Breathe

A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
--Thomas Mann

I'm back to In Her Eyes. In light of the comments I received from my first reader, I made a copy of the manuscript (so I can refer to the original, if needed), took a deep breath, and deleted the prologue. Part of me wants it back right now, but I suspect it's one of those chapters that was important for me as a writer but not so important for a reader.

I'm now in the middle of rewriting the first chapter. This section bears no resemblance to the previous draft. I like it better, though. It puts my hero in a more active role, and that can only be a good thing. I'm working on tying the new first section with the rest of the chapter, but that may have to wait until tomorrow since I'm pretty tired.

The writing conference is only three days away!

Name: Lia
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