Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cover Reveal: Upcoming Romance - Power Play

On January 14 2013, my contemporary romance, Power Play, will be available for purchase with Crimson Romance.

For those of you jonesing for some hockey action (and I do mean action) during the lockout, this is the romance novel for you!  The hero (and the villain...and many of the other characters too, for that matter) are professional hockey players.  Sexy, sexy.

Check out the summary for Power Play on the publisher's website.

And now...for the cover reveal:

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Winning at Writing

Last month, I took part in the National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo, a writing challenge that encourages everyone with a book in them to write 50,000 words in the month of November.

And I won!

As it turns out, November was an incredibly busy month for me.  I was involved in several volunteer projects, which included attending meetings, leading to two whole days of zero writing. Some days, hitting the computer seemed like the hardest thing in the world.

I got off to a good start in the challenge by keeping pace with the 1,667 words I needed to write on a daily basis.  However, on Day 11, I hit a roadblock.  I wrote nothing for the next few days, then wrote a little, then again nothing for a while.

The thing about this challenge is that a month isn't enough time to procrastinate--at least, not to procrastinate well.

I realized that the worst move I could make was to fall behind in the first days of NaNoWriMo.  In the last few weeks, I had to write my butt off, putting in at least 2,000 words every day, whether I wanted to or not.  Without this last minute push, I would have never finished on time.

Tip: Have a viable story idea in your back pocket.  When I first ran out of writing juice, it was because my idea had run its course.  I didn't know where else to take my heroine.  That was the point at which having a story outline or even a few plot points jotted down would have come in really handy.

So, in reality, the days I spent not writing were spent trying to work out where I was going.  It was time well spent, but it was time I could have put aside in October, before I was faced with a crunch deadline.

In all, NaNoWriMo was a great experience.  I got to spend more time with my writing than ever before and I was happy producing so many pages, even if after 50,000 words, my novel is nowhere near finished.  Plus, winning was a real rush!

But, next year, I will definitely outline my novel in advance.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Save Your Inspiration For When You Need It

Like most people, I subscribe to a bunch of email newsletters and publications.  Many of these are writing-related.

And, also like most people, I don't usually have the time to read even a fraction of the emails I receive during that same day (or week, or month).  Usually, I just skim the subject line and sender field and decide if it needs my immediate attention (usually career or publisher-related) or sometime soon attention (friends) or if it can wait.  Indefinitely.

Lots of the writing emails I get are interesting and informative (or I wouldn't subscribe to them).  I get a bunch of different emails from Writer's Digest, literary journals like Kenyon Review, which has great suggestions on what books to put into my To Be Read pile, and blogs like the Quick Brown Fox.

I hate having more than a hundred emails in my Inbox so I am pretty obsessive about deleting old ones. I get happy when I have lots of "trash" to take out.

So what do I do with these emails that I don't have the time to read but eventually want to read?

I bookmark them and save them for when I need a shot of quick writing inspiration.

This usually means saving them in my Favourites tab under the heading of Writing (of course) and coming back to the first one on my list when I sit down to write but find that I can't get any words out.  Reading about writing usually gets my fingers moving and these articles I save usually have side notes about published authors and how they got their start.  What better inspiration is there than that?

So, try doing what I do and saving your writing inspiration for when you need it.  Rather than trolling the internet for a quick boost of motivation (and getting sidetracked by a new online game), go to your saved writing favourites and get into the mood.


Thursday, November 08, 2012


A big hello to everyone out there in the blogosphere (this is the first time I have ever used that word and I think I already hate it)!

If you don't hear from me much in November, it's because I'm taking part in the National Novel Writing Month challenge, or NaNoWriMo for short.  Yes, this is my first time.  Be gentle.  And, if you're a user, check out my NaNo profile.

Happy NaNoWri-Month!

(Oh, and I'm calling my writing month Nan-NoWriMo, because I'm that much of a nerd!)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Erotic Romance Calls for Submission

I would like to think the title of this post is a funny double entendre...or maybe I'm just writing this too early in the morning.

Anyway, I have been going through an odd stretch of writer's block that is a combination of a strong desire to write, coupled with ideas to write about and, amazingly, the time to write, with a complete inability to write.  All of metaphorical ducks are in a row, yet I'm not writing.  It's almost like I'm spoiled for choice.  Or lazy.  Maybe, really, just lazy.

Well, here's hoping it passes and quickly.

In the meantime, I wanted to share some recent calls for submission by erotic romance publishers that might help you (and me) get our fingers moving.  Typing, I meant.  Geez, get your mind out of the gutter.  Or in, as the case may be.

Entangled: I'm really bummed about missing this publisher's zombie call but there's a Valentine's Day theme that gives us all until the last week in November to come up with a sexy book-length story.  Complete manuscripts only.

Carina Press: This publisher is always seek erotic romance as well as erotica but they also have a special call for holiday themed romance and erotic romance with a deadline in March 2013.  Plenty of time to get those pencils moving!  Bonus: there's also a military "home for the holidays" collection they are seeking stories for.

Ellora's Cave: They're looking for stories about bounty hunters and also expanding their Fusion line (multicultural and interracial stories).  They also have a EC for Men line that was launched this year that is currently seeking submisisons.

Bonus: Forever Yours is a new digital publisher on the block which is seeking all kinds of romance, so they may certainly be worth a query.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Success and Failure

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill

Today, I was toting up my writing career.  To date, I've published two erotic romance short stories/ novellas and I have a full length contemporary novel forthcoming in January 2013.

Not too shabby, right?

Well, I've been writing romances for about fifteen years.  Yes, you read that right.  Fifteen...years.

I've completed about a dozen full manuscripts and have countless short stories, chapters, first pages and scraps written.  Again, not too bad, right?

In my sums today, I realized that I have sent out each of these manuscripts at least two or three times to publishers.  I've spent a fortune on ink, paper and stamps.  So far, I've had the three publications I mention above.

That's a lot of failure.

Fifteen years of trying and three publications.  Is it worth it?  Yes!

Seeing my work in print (okay, e-print) ranked right up there with one of the best feelings ever.  And you know what, without sending out my work over and over, I would have never gotten here.

So, a la Alanis Morrisette, thank you Failure.  Without you, I wouldn't have achieved success.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

How to Handle Competing Priorities

Like most women, I have about a dozen "to do's" on my list every day.  Heck, every hour.  Work, family, writing, friends, volunteer work, they all pile up every day and every day I must attack the pile.

Lately, we've heard that multitasking doesn't work, but we still do it, don't we?  Right now, I've got my smartphone beside me as I type this out and I have several windows open on my browser, all touching on different topics and all waiting for my attention.

In my writing life, I have second edits due back to my publisher next week, I have an entire novel I'm trying to write by mid-month, I have a submission I have to send off to my writing group which meets this weekend, and I want to read entries for the So You Think You Can Write contest.  Oh, and this blog post.  Does that sound like enough yet?

I can't do everything at once -- nor do I want to -- so how do I handle it?

Set Time Frames

Most of the writing tasks I have to accomplish will take an extended period of time.  Some have concrete deadlines (like my edits), while others don't.

Make a list -- mentally is okay -- of the tasks and how long you estimate they will take to complete, or, if they have a deadline, when it is due.

The Snowflake Method

The snowflake method is a debt reduction strategy I recently read about where you pay the minimum balances on all of your outstanding debts, but you pay off your smallest debt first by putting all of your available funds into that payment, then when that's paid off, you roll the extra payments into your next smallest debt and so on until you've paid them all off.  The idea is to promote a sense of accomplishment as you see your number of debts be reduced.  Another version has you paying off your highest interest rate debts first.

If any of your tasks can be completed in a short time, say less than fifteen minutes, do it first.  Do it now.  So, I would finish this blog first then I would send off my chapters to my writing group.

Set Mini Deadlines

After I've tackled the tasks that can be completed quickly, I move on to my larger ones.  These are high priority tasks that need to be completed by certain deadlines.

The edits will take a few days and I have about a week on hand.  I set out a block of time in my schedule -- the weekend should be okay -- to complete them.  That's my deadline before the deadline, which gives me time to catch up in case I fall behind.

Writing the novel is another larger task and I know I have to dedicate more time to it, but at this point I'm not sure how much time I will have on hand.  So I set a different kind of goal.  Every day from now until I decide that I need to have my first draft completed, I will write X number of pages a day.

In between all of these other tasks, I will be reading entries to the contest...such as when I need a mental break from writing or editing.

This may not be the best way to balance all of the millions of things that come up every day but it is a guideline and I always feel better with a plan in hand.  Try it and see if it works for you.


Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Vote for my Romance: The Dating Lesson

The voting portion of the So You Think You Can Write contest is now open!

Vote for my Harlequin Romance, The Dating Lesson.

Just a word of warning, the voting works differently than in past years for this contest.  Instead of rating each entry as you read them, you can now only vote for your favourite -- one per day.  Trust me, I learned the hard way and voted for an entry that did not really impress me.  Oh well, tomorrow is another voting day.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Major Editing: Read As A Reader

I recently received major edits back for my upcoming romance release with Crimson Romance.  Although I have published erotic romance stories before, I have never edited a full length manuscript.  It was an experience.

Give It Time

Usually, my first and best piece of advice for editing is to give your work some time to breathe.  Like a fine wine, you need to let it rest, undisturbed, for a period of time to allow the full flavours to develop.  And to try to ensure that you no longer are 'in love' with every single letter you've written.

Of course, in this instance, I'm assuming that you haven't seen or heard from your manuscript in weeks, even months -- that's the time in takes to hear back from the publisher, to sign the contract, and to wait for the first edits to come to you.

So, step one -- done.

Read As A Reader

My first tip, and the method I used for this edit as well as for unpublished manuscripts, is to read over the entire piece once.

The way I do this is to print out the entire manuscript.  Yes, onto real paper.

Sure, maybe you read faster off of the computer screen and you really hate killing trees, but the point of this part of the process is to experience your book as a reader would.  An old-fashioned, Kindle-free, reader.  Trust me, if you've written your book on computer (which we all do nowadays), having a physical copy in your hand will immediately distance yourself from the writing process, giving you a precious bit of objectivity.  Hint: this will come in very handy during major edits.

Don't Pick Up That Pen!

While you're reading your work, don't make a single mark on those pages.  You are trying to recreate the reading experience, how an eventual purchaser of your book will see it.  And, in another sense, you're trying to see your work through the eyes of the editor.  You've already seen their comments and, chances are, they will be on the pages you have printed as well.

Read the comments.  Keep the tips in mind.  But don't make any changes yet.  Not even correcting the typos.

The point of this exercise is, one, to see your book from different eyes, and also, two, to put into your subconscious what needs to be changed.

Now that you have your editor's feedback, it will be lodged in your brain as you read through your book this time.  You will likely see why they made the comments and suggestions they did.  Or, if you don't quite see their point, you can at least look at your work as objectively as possible and see their argument, as well as formulate your own -- if you need it later.

Now that your work is back at the forefront of your mind, along with the comments from your editor, it is time to go to work.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Performing Major Edits

Over the last few weeks, I've been editing my forthcoming romance manuscript for Crimson Romance.

It has been a challenging experience.

I've edited several short stories for publication in the recent past, namely my erotic romances for Total-E-Bound: Captive Angel and Country Hearts.

Perhaps because they were for far shorter works, those edits were relatively easy.  Yes, I had to change fairly major aspects of the pieces, such as tweaking the death of a character or changing a sex scene, but these were discrete scenes that required specific thought, not a major overhaul.

These latest edits were major overhauls.  I was tasked with revisiting the pasts of the characters, questioning the heroine's characterization, and changing an overly sweet ending.  I struggled with the edits for the entire two weeks I had to rework the manuscript.

Eventually, I got the edits done -- early too! -- but it was pretty much the only focus of my life during that time.  I didn't work.  I didn't write.  I barely spoke to my family.  It felt like all I did for two weeks was think about this book and make changes to it.

From out of my experience, I have put together a few tips to help anyone who might be facing their first novel length editing process, which I will be posting shortly.  The key, I think, is patience and planning.  Procrastination in editing is definitely your worst enemy.  This time, I dove right in and I think I did a fairly good job.  But we'll see when I get my next round of edits back.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

First Chapter of The Dating Lesson Now Available!

I've done it!

I just submitted my first chapter of a Harlequin Romance to the So You Think You Can Write Contest.

Read my first chapter of The Dating Lesson! And remember to vote for my entry beginning October 2.

Good luck to my fellow writers who have taking the plunge and submitted to the contest.  Fingers crossed for us all :)

Monday, September 10, 2012

So You Think You Can Write Contest

Once again, Harlequin is holding it's So You Think You Can Write (love the name!) contest, seeking new romance authors for the chance to win publication of their work.

I am a lifelong fan of Harlequin/ Mills & Boon (my mother apparently read nothing else when I was in it must be an inherited trait) and I love the idea of seeking unknowns to become the next published author in their line up.

Please, try putting up your first chapter in the last week of September--the contest opens on the 23rd--and join me in the nail biting.  You know I will be working on my first chapter in the weeks to come.

Friday, September 07, 2012

The Editing Process: Give It Time

Over the past few weeks, I've been editing a manuscript that has been sitting idle for the past year.  Yes, you heard that right.  One whole year...that's how long I've been procrastinating on this process.

Why?  Well, let's say that editing takes a lot out of me.  It's a different story when I get back notes and suggestions from the editor at a publisher, as I have done with my first two erotic romances.  Then, I've been able to step back and neutrally assess the suggestions and I have generally found them to be right on the dot.

But editing myself is a whole different endeavour.  Let's face it, we think what we write is pretty darn good.  Not stellar, perhaps, but usually passable.  Right after I've written something, I might indeed think it is stellar.

What's the solution to being unable to see your own flaws and mistakes?  Like good wine, a story needs time to mature.

After some time (many experts suggest a month or so but I don't think anyone has ever suggested a whole year), you gain perspective on your writing.  The key first step to editing a manuscript is being able to read the piece again as a reader.  Very difficult, if you've written the thing!

After a year languishing in my computer, my manuscript has seemed like a new novel.  I don't remember most of what I wrote and I certainly didn't remember the plot details, which I am now scrutinizing very closely (and finding holes!).  Reading my manuscript after that gap of time has allowed me to gain precious objectivity which I would not have possessed had I started editing it immediately, or perhaps even the usual month later.

Most writers don't have the leisure of a year to park a story.  Deadlines and other pressing matters force them to pick it back up quickly.  I suggest giving yourself as much time as you can to be away from your writing.  Take a break.  Start on your next piece.  Let your story breathe a little.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

If You're About to Lose Hope, Remember...

It's always too early to quit. - Norman Vincent Peale

We've been told time and time again, genius = perspiration, overnight success comes mostly to those who've been toiling at their craft for years, but it's always easy to forget.

When I'm struggling to put one word after another down on the page, I think about quitting.  I think about giving up and writing something else, or trying another genre (that is currently big on the bestseller lists) or just leaving the writing altogether and focusing on my day job.

It's so easy to get discouraged when another rejection rolls in, because there are dozens of these for each acceptance I get.

It's so easy to quit.

But then I remember (or have to force myself to remember) that the easy path is usually the one not worth taking.  What does it matter if I "waste" my time writing stories that never see the light of day?  I'm honing my craft.  And so what if my story is rejected several might one day be accepted by some other publisher or editor.

If I don't keep writing, I won't ever know if success is just around the corner.

Don't give up.  Don't quit.  It's always too early to do that.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Total-E-Bound: Call for Erotic Romance Submissions

My publisher, Total-E-Bound, released my first erotic romance story, Captive Angel, in April, and my second erotic romance, Country Hearts, in May.

Total-E-Bound produces incredible erotic (and other) romance e-books in a myriad of subgenres.  They even have free reads to check out before you commit!

Total-E-Bound accepts erotic romance manuscripts between 10,000 and 100,000+ words and has specific calls for submissions going on right now.  These include - At Your Service (short stories about domestic staff) deadline: November 1, 2012, Whip It Up (BDSM, obviously) deadline: March 1, 2013, and my favourite, Wanton Witches (Halloween themed for next year's season) deadline: April 1, 2013.

These deadlines give you lots of time to get started on your erotic romance story.  Take the plunge like I's so worth it!

Friday, August 03, 2012

Just Joined Tumblr!

Hey all, I've just leapt into the future (that is, a few years ago) and joined Tumblr.

Check me out and, apparently, ask me anything: here!

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Productivity in Art

Recently, I went to see the Picasso exhibit at my local art gallery.

This was my second time at the exhibit, which is in my city for the summer, and what struck me this time, aside from the sheer range of art created (and often pioneered) by this remarkable artist, was his prolific output.

The number of artworks Pablo Picasso was estimated to produce is fifty thousand.  Yes, of art.  This ranges from paintings and drawings to sculpture and pottery.  He even made rugs (and wrote a play)!

Imagine a writer who creates fifty thousand poems.  Or short stories.  Or, impossible to imagine really, novels.  Well, Picasso would have been creating poems and short stories and novels.  Because that's just the kind of guy he was.  And he probably would have invented a new kind of poem while he was at it.

Picasso's dedication and talent, leaving aside what you might think of his artwork or his colourful personal life, is awe inspiring.

Seeing his work, which was really only the merest fraction of his total number of pieces, made me want to re-dedicate myself to my creative talent: writing.  Yes, very few are truly as naturally talented as a great artist like Picasso, but most of us who toil away at any creative art do it because we love it.  And can we ever do better in life than to do what we love?


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Inspiration at the Art Gallery

Today, I'm making a trip to the local art gallery where they are currently exhibiting a large collection of Picassos.  I've seen the exhibit before a few weeks ago but with a friend who was more academic than appreciative.  Today, I'm going with a different friend who I think will make the experience better.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no expert on art.  I fall into that often maligned category of people who "know what they like".  I accept that my interest in art is simply to appreciate it as a rank amateur.  Yes, I like the colourful stories behind some of the artwork (read off of the little labels they put next to the paintings) but I don't have any burning desire to read the artist's biography and learn every detail of their career.

The friend I'm going with today is the latter.  Her interest is stronger than mine but I venture to say (sorry, Nan's friend) that I get more out of the art in terms of creative inspiration.

I strongly believe that all art is a stop on a creative continuum.  Books, paintings, music, dance, they can all inform and inspire each other.  While I don't do anything more than appreciate fine art, music or dance, I gain a great deal of creative energy from seeing a painting, hearing a beautiful piece of music or watching a ballet on television.

Inspiration and creativity are everywhere and they don't have to just be inspired by the masters.  Picasso's life was extremely interesting (his love life too) and hearing about it may give me an idea for a story, but seeing his paintings all together in one place is a well of inspiration and creativity that my mind may subconsciously return to over and over throughout my life.  That's why I visit art galleries.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Slow Hand,or Enjoying the Finish

I've written before about creating sexual tension in romance writing and the need to draw out the climax of a story (or sex scene).

Strangely enough, I do the same thing in my writing process.

Right now, for instance, when I could be sprinting to the finish line of a complete first draft of my current manuscript, I'm drawing out the writing process by taking frequent breaks, even not writing for a day or two, or intermittently working on other pieces.

What is wrong with me?

Well, for one thing, I enjoy the feeling of completing a manuscript and, subconsciously try to make the feeling last by delaying the moment when I type in "The End" and put the story to rest for a while before I come back to edit it.

So, the question is, is that really wrong?

I don't think so.

I've come to accept that I enjoy the process almost as much as the reaching the goal (and sometimes more).  Nearing the end of a manuscript draft is a pleasure that lasts for a long while, however completing the draft is a finite moment.  Don't get me wrong, I want to reach that finite moment...and soon.  But in the meantime, I'm enjoying the slow burn.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Buy My Anthology

My second ever erotic romance title has just been released by Total-E-Bound Publishing as part of the All Together Now (menage) anthology!  Whoo-hoo!

Buy the anthology here: Total-E-Bound New Releases.

It is hot, hot, hot.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Buy My Book

The day is finally here! My first erotic romance novella has been released by my publisher, Total-E-Bound.

Buy my book here and happy reading!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Breaking Out the Cycle

Recently, I've been combining a couple of my 2012 resolutions.  In between writing moreI've been taking mini-breaks during my writing sessions to get active -- even if it's only for a two minute stretch.

Try it.

When you get stuck for a plot idea or a line of dialogue, instead of staring at the screen trying to beat your muse into submission, try getting up out of your chair.  Do a few jumping jacks, crunches, stretches or other physical activity.  You could even do a little frustration dance.

Taking a break out of your writing day will burn a few calories, which is also one of my resolutions this year (and every year).  It will get your blood flowing and minimize the risk of 'pins and needles' or even something more serious.  Better still, that blood will flow to your brain, maybe even resulting in a new idea.  Hey, I often think better when I'm doing something totally mindless.

So break out of your writing cycle and jump on a real cycle.  Or just jump around for a few minutes. You will both feel and think better.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

UPDATE: My Publisher - Total-E-Bound

Check it out: Total-E-Bound Publishing has launched a new look website right on Valentine's Day!  And right in line with my last post, which was all about them.

So, Happy Belated Valentine's Day and happy reading!

Thursday, February 09, 2012

My Publisher - Total-E-Bound

Over the last few weeks, I've been spending a greater amount of time on the website of my publisher, Total-E-Bound Publishing.  For those who don't know, Total-E-Bound is an erotic romance publisher of primarily eBooks, with some audio and print offerings as well.

In my perusal, I've discovered some cool things about their website, which I have to share with you all.

They have an amazing offering of free short stories.  Yes, that's right -- free.  There are over fifty stories on the website.

I've also been checking out my author page(!): here.  It links back to this blog!

Very importantly, they have a number of calls for submissions: everything from Bodices and Boudoirs to "At your service" (domestic staff).  All of the calls sound like so much fun that I have already started brainstorming ideas for ones that close in August!

Lastly, and of course not least, they sell of of which will soon be mine!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Belated New Year's Resolutions from Writers

Over at Writer's Digest, Brian Klems has also been working on his New Year's Resolutions for 2012.  I had fun reading his resolution and those of the commentators, all writers who have similar goals to mine this year.

I love that Brian's main resolution (#8 on his list) is to put himself out there.  That's what I'm trying to do with my goal of sending out one hundred query letters this year.  Get out there, writers - that's the only way to get published and get read!

Friday, February 03, 2012

Panic and the Send Button

Have you ever spent an hour (or more) crafting the perfect email, only to hit send and then immediately know that you've made a terrible mistake?

I have.  It's excruciating.

Sometimes, I think I've left out the subject line.  Duh.  Other times, I'm convinced that I've forgotten to change the day/ address/ name on the email -- this happens when I send out queries to publishers or literary agents which, although they are personalized, are essentially the same content.

Have I ever actually made one of these mistakes?  No, not to my knowledge.

So why then do I feel that little pulse of panic after I send out an important email?  I think it's part of my overall fears (of succeeding, of failing, of both).  Anticipating a rejection even before I get the actual response is one of my failings.

Of course, I have learned to re-read my emails in draft and make sure they have a subject line that adheres to the submission criteria, as well as the right email address and contact info.  But do I still panic and have to scramble to re-read my email after it's been sent?  Naturally.  It's all part of the fun of being a writer.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Wisdom and Knowing What to Ignore

This quote sits on my desktop at my day job:

"The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook." - William James

When I hunted this quote up, I was experiencing a great deal of stress at work.  Every day seemed like a constant series of aggravations and annoyances.  Stress made me more sensitive and even the smallest things that I would usually shrug off were getting to me.  This all made me extremely unpleasant to live with (just ask my family).

Stepping back and assessing the importance of each of these daily annoyances helped me to put my daily stressors into perspective.  A looming deadline for filing a document?  That's important.  A coworker being rude to me?  Not so important.  Certainly not worth ratcheting up my stress level when there's work to be done.

Knowing what to overlook has made a difference in my work environment.  Wisdom, well, that will come.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Resolutions Progress - January

My resolutions this year were simple: Write more.  Blog regularly.  Send out 100 query letters.

So far (I know it's early days yet) I am on track.

For the past fifteen years, I've been keeping track of how many pages I write every day.  Yes, I know, quality over quantity and all that but I enjoy having a record.

I've set myself a target of writing two pages per day (up from my average of about a page a day last year).  As of January 30th, I was at 60 pages for the first 30 days of the year.  Woot!

On the blogging side, I've been experimenting a little.  Initially, I wanted to write a single long post every week.  I've been doing that.  But I've also added additional daily (or semi-daily) posts that are considerably shorter.  End result: I've stuck by my resolution to post regularly on this blog.

Finally, I've sent out (and already received rejections for) nine query letters to literary agents so far this year.  I would have been further ahead but I've been experiencing some internet disruptions that have put a dent in my output.  I also want to diversify with some submissions to publishers.  But, in the end, I have also stuck by this goal.

I feel great about keeping my 2012 resolutions through the month of January.  Tune in next month for my next update.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Read (or re-read) a Favourite Book

I spend a lot of money on books.  A lot.  Even as a child, most of my allowance went to the Sweet Valley High military-industrial complex.

Reading a lot often leads to re-reading.  Re-reading favourite books is one of the most enjoyable activities in life.  I have read The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery (of Anne of Green Gables fame) at least a hundred times and The Mysterious Mr. Quin by Agatha Christie at least the same number.  You know what to expect from an old favourite.  I know that I will laugh, I will savour the fantastic writing and I will cry…every time.

The way I look at it is this: the first read is just the introduction.  The second is an attempt to discover the secret behind the magic combination of words and images.  The third (or more) are for pure love.  Who couldn’t do with more love…or more books? 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Resolutions - Send Out More Query Letters

One of my Writing Resolutions for this year is to "Send 100 Queries".  Here is how I plan to do it.

So the hard part is already completed: I've written my novel, I've created my query letter and I've researched dozens of literary agents to send both of these to.

The thing is that I've tried submitting for publication before but I've never been able to maintain a regular pace.  My pattern has been to send out a few queries, rest on my laurels, and wait for the rejections to come rolling in.  I don't send out a significant number of other queries until months pass.

The question, then, is why haven't I been sending out queries to literary agents and publishers at a scorching pace?

The answer: fear.

It takes an emotional toll to send out well-crafted and well-researched submissions only to have them returned (sometimes cruelly swiftly) with a form rejection or no response at all.  The non-responses are arguably worse because they keep hope alive.  If my pattern, as I've recently noticed, is to wait until most or all of my old queries are rejected before I send out new ones, then I am effectively handcuffing myself according to the whims of others.

It's time for me to take charge.

That's why, this year, I have vowed to send out 100 query letters.  Period.  End of story.

If they all get returned with form rejections in two days, so be it.  If none of them even get a response, oh well.  In either case, I've tried.  And what's more, I've given it a real sustained effort, not a haphazard Hail Mary shot.

Having a concrete goal has already made a difference.  Without the practice of sitting down in front of the computer and saying 'maybe I'll send out five queries today' and not revisiting them for five months, I am less concerned with the results and more concerned with the part of the process I can control -- getting my work out there.

It's a cruel world.  Rejections have already started to come in from the first nine queries I've submitted so far this year.  But I will press on.  Only 91 more to go.

Friday, January 27, 2012

How to Handle Praise

Without any kind of ego, I have to say that I get complimented on my writing fairly often.  Full disclaimer: many of these compliments come from my writing group, and my friends/ coworkers/ acquaintances.  Some have come from teachers and instructors, staff at a writing school, and mentor-writers.

It has taken me a long time to learn how to accept a compliment.

Here's what I do:

1) Blush - I can't help it.  I just never grew out of blushing.  In fact, I started blushing in my teens and never grew back out of it.  If you don't blush, try just taking a breath.  Pause and let what was said sink in.

2) Say "Oh come on" or some variant of this - This is my natural instinct.  I'm self-deprecating by nature.  Rather than taking the popular advice of being a braggart, I've stuck with this instinct and, as a result, people have often commented on how humble I am.  Note: When I need to be, I am very assertive.  Kinda have to be in my day job.

3) Say "Thank you" - Accept the compliment.  After that initial hesitation, which as I indicate, I can't really keep myself from making, I can take the praise at face value and let it warm me up.

For many people, skipping the second step feels more natural.  If that's the case, great.  If you're an introvert like me, try this.  It often leads to a more fulsome conversation about writing in general and eventually, you can stop blushing.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Check out my new profile picture...

(It's on my About Me section on the right side panel).

It's my upcoming cover for my first published erotic romance with Total-E-Bound Publishing!!

The story is called "Captive Angel" and, as you may guess, it's a steamy angelic romance involving an angel who is captured by one of Lucifer's highest-ranking demons, and the mate she left behind in heaven who is desperate to save her.

I think that the cover is beautiful and I hope you do too.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Scarlett O'Hara

I love the book Gone with the Wind (the movie too, for that matter!).  Without a doubt, Scarlett O'Hara is one of the most memorable heroines in English literature.

Why do I love Scarlett?  Well, she's beautiful, clever and sought after.  She's also flawed.  She's willful, stubborn and selfish.  But she's also determined and loyal.  Yes, loyal.  It is her unswerving loyalty and faith in her love for Ashley (even in the face of the dashing and much more suitable Rhett) that makes her wrongheaded and unrequited love tolerable, and even endearing.

Love should be courageous.  Just like Scarlett.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Resolutions - Blog Regularly

One of my Writing Resolutions for this year is to "Blog Regularly".  Here is how I plan to do it.

I started this blog at a maniacal pace.  One post every day for three months.  Yikes.  It's no wonder my writing production went downhill.  I was spending most of my creative energy on the blog.  It was a mixed blessing.

Although I was writing to support, inspire and inform my writing, I wasn't writing much.  I didn't know how to balance the two.

In the last few months of 2011, my blogging output dropped off dramatically.  I was down to a post or two a month.  But, because I was writing much more, I was fine with the sacrifice.  Besides, I was in the middle of signing my first romance publishing contract so I told myself I didn't have the time for the blog anyway.

But I missed blogging.  So one of my writing resolutions this year is to find a blogging schedule that fits my life (and my writing).

I've decided to aim for weekly posts, with a few special features if I have the time to write them.  How do I intend to achieve this output?

Finding ideas has never been my problem, either for my writing or blogging.  I have lots to write about, just not enough time to write it.

The time to write my blog posts will have to come out of my writing time.  No two ways about that.  But instead of aiming for writing a post a day, I will try to write a few posts at a time, hopefully with a similar theme, and schedule them for future posting.  For my blog posts, I also have to factor in the research time which is often a few hours to write a single post (mainly because I don't like giving out erroneous information).

It will be work, but enjoyable work.  I'm looking forward to once again spending more time with my online writing community!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Resolutions - Write More

One of my Writing Resolutions this year is to "Write More".  Here is how I plan to do it.

For me, finding the time to write has been relatively easy.  I run to my study whenever I find a lull in the hectic pace of my family life or, you know, pretty much whenever everyone around me stops screaming for a few minutes.

Setting up the space has worked out fine.  Although I do share my office space, I have a dedicated writing area that is all my own (once everyone in the family clears out of the doorway).

So what has stopped me, up until now, from writing more?  Why is it that when I sit down on my computer, I don't write nonstop for the half-hour or hour allotted to me that day?

First of all, the internet is a constant lure for me.  I want to research something to put into my story or my blog and I suddenly find myself playing a few games of Bubble Town.  After a while, I forget why I even came in the study in the first place.

Then, I want to find out what's happening in the rest of my house.  What is there to snack on?  Who's in the living room and what are they watching on t.v.?  There goes another hour, willingly frittered away, on Thinsations and reruns of Chopped.

What have I learned from the examples above?

Writing is solitary.  It disconnects you from the world--which is a good thing if you want to get a story done.  You need to be alone.  But now, as I get older, I have less tolerance for being alone.  I want company.  I crave connections, whether it's with my family in front of the television or on Twitter with a few hundred strangers.

This is a change that's happened within me.  Life has sped up and I have gone along with the new breakneck pace.  I need to slow down.  I need to think.  To reflect.  To savour both the thought process of writing and the writing itself.

So these are the techniques I will be trying out when I have my regular writing time:

1) Breathe.  Empty my mind.  Meditate.  I want to spend at least five minutes doing nothing but preparing myself to write every time I want to sit down in front of the computer.

2) Time myself.  I will set a timer next to me so that I know how long I've been in front of the computer.

3) Set mini-goals.  I will not get up from my desk until I have 100, 500 or 1,000 words written.  I don't care if it takes me ten minutes or hours to reach that goal.

4) Be flexible.  This one seems to go against my previous techniques but I also need to give myself the ability to balance my family, friends and day job.  If I can't, say, write ten pages this week, I can role this part of my goal into the following week and aim for twelve pages then.

Monday, January 09, 2012

My Writing Resolutions for 2012

Everyone does it.  It's our dirty little secret.  Some of us share it with a few close friends and family members.  Some of us, myself included, never tell another living soul.

I'm talking about our New Year's Resolutions.

We've all made them.  We've all broken them.  That's why we don't like to display them for public consumption.

I don't mind failure.  In other words, it hurts, but it won't crush me or destroy my ambition to try again.  Granted, it took me a long time to get to this point.  When I was younger, my confidence was more fragile and I resisted trying to achieve anything I wasn't already sure I would succeed at.  Let me tell you, that attitude is very limiting.  And immature.  Thankfully, most of us grow out of it in time.

I make many of the same resolutions every year.  Eat healthy.  Exercise.  Watch less television.  I don't keep my resolutions for the entire year but the spirit of them lives on and I often go back to them and give it another go.  For instance, in the fall of 2011, I was taking my lunch to work every day in an effort to eat healthier, which was one of my resolutions for the year.  If you can believe it, I got better results in September than I ever did in January.  Go figure.

So, here are my New Year's Resolutions for 2012.  I will be tracking my progress over the course of the year(!).  Join me.  Make some of your own.  And keep track.  That's the only way to know what to do better next time.  'Cuz if you're like me, there will be a next time.

1) Write more (a perennial favourite)

2) Establish a regular blogging schedule (I'm thinking weekly)

3) Send out 100 queries to publishers and/or literary agents for my completed manuscripts

Easy, right?  I'll do my best.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

2011: A Writer's Retrospective

Happy New Year!

Before we turn the page completely over on 2011, I wanted to share with you my amazing writing year.

As you may know, I spent a lot of time on my writing this past year.  But, unlike other years, I shifted part of my focus from production to submission--that is, trying to get published.

It was hard work.  I polished my manuscripts 'til they shone with an eerie light of their own.  I drafted and re-drafted several query letters, which took a lot longer than I would have thought possible.  If you think writing is difficult...whoa.

I researched and submitted to literary agents, publishers and periodicals, all in the hope of getting that all important nibble of interest from anyone, anywhere.  Of course, getting a nibble from someone whose interests you've researched and analyzed is worth so much more than a 'you'll hear from us in six months' auto-reply from another market.

My strategy this past year was to pay attention to calls for submissions from romance publishers and writing specific pieces targeting these publishers.  This strategy really paid off.

Pushing that send button on your email can be the most stressful action in a writer's life.  It puts your work out there in the cold hard world.

This year, I got several nibbles--people actually interested enough in my writing to want to read whole manuscripts!  I was thrilled.

I am pleased to report that my hard work paid off in 2011.  But my plans didn't start generating results in January or even by May.  I got my first showing of interest in the summer and signed my two publishing contracts in the last few months of the year.  Definitely worth the wait!

So, this year, I would urge you to take a little bit of time away from your writing and polish up those completed manuscripts--or do some looking and write a new piece specifically for a publisher's call.  Send your work out there.  That's the only want it will ever be read.

Photo courtesy of dream designs at