Monday, September 15, 2014

Bride for a Knight Cover and Excerpt!

I've just received the cover for my next book, BRIDE FOR A KNIGHT.  Here it is, with back cover copy.  Isn't it lovely?
 The Promise of the Bedchamber...

After glimpsing a softer side to the stern Sir Roland of Dunborough, Mavis of DeLac is filled with hope for their arranged marriage.  So when the wedding night explodes with an exquisite passion, she dares to dream that their newfound bliss will last forever.

But the following morning, convinced he could never make this beautiful woman truly happy, Roland comes cold and aloof once again.  And as the newlyweds journey across England to protect Roland's birthright, it's up to Mavis to prove him wrong -- and unlock the compassion this noble has buried deep inside.

BRIDE FOR A KNIGHT will be out in print December 16, 2014 and available on Kindle on January 1, 2015.  It will also be available in other digital editions. You can pre-order now from Amazon.

It's a sequel to CASTLE OF THE WOLF,  but I always write each book to "stand alone."

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

My 7 Top Tips for Writing a Synopsis

1.   Relax.  A synopsis alone will not make or break the sale of your book.  Far more important is your author’s voice.

2.  So don’t edit out your voice trying to keep a synopsis short.  If the book is a romp, the synopsis should sound like a romp. If it's a gritty, dramatic tale, that should come across in the synopsis.  

3.  How do you get your voice in there?  I write the first draft as if I’m sitting in a coffee shop telling the story to a friend.  Although I write historicals, I’ll use modern slang or idioms or sentence construction.  I can change all that later.  But first, I’m just me, telling a story.  When I’m editing, I’ll keep one or two sentences that sound most “like me.”

4.  Concentrate on the moments when your main characters have to make key decisions.  You might not be able to get every twist and turn of the plot in a short synopsis, so keep the focus on the major “make or break” moments.

5.  Give one or two reasons from your character’s past to explain why they think and act as they do at those key moments.  There’s no room for their life history, but we do need to know something of where they’re coming from to explain those major decisions.

6.  Practice, practice, practice (or, if you’re Canadian or British – practise, practise, practise).  Try writing synopses for your favorite books or movies.  This can also help you understand why that particular story stood out for you.

7.  Learn from the experts.  Read reviews.  Reviewers have a different agenda than an editor, but a good reviewer can certainly teach you how to describe a story in a short space.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

What Makes a Writer Successful?

How does a writer spell “success”?

Over the years I’ve learned that there’s always somebody ready, willing and able to define “success” for a writer.  

For some, success means making bestseller lists and/or having several books or novellas out at a time or signing a big deal with one of the Major Publishers. Writers with this sort of success as their primary goal pay attention to what's selling and what's not, and then write books designed to have the broadest popular appeal. They’re proud of the obvious rewards earned by their hard work and focus.

On the other end of the scale are what I'd call the "artistic purists." They would never, ever consider writing anything other than "a work of the heart." If it sells only 200 copies, that's okay, because those are very discerning, intelligent readers. Such writers absolutely resist any commercial consideration when it comes to their work. They are artists, and proud of it.

The "artistic purists" condemn commercial writers as money-grubbing hacks; to the purists, they are failures. The commercial writers believe the artists are simply excusing their failure to make it big. 

However, shouldn’t we, as writers who aim to create individual, unique characters, be among the first to realize that there is not, nor should there be, only one yardstick to measure success?  

All authors are unique, with their own goals and motivations, bred in the bone and the product of years.  Maybe the writer who craves making bestseller lists was belittled and teased during her school days. Maybe she never felt quite good enough. Making that list will be one sure-fire way to prove that she is, to everybody. Or maybe another author grew up poor and won't feel secure without a large bank account. Maybe the artistic writer saw a friend or relative stuck in a dead-end job where there was monetary success, but the person was creatively stifled and bitter. Or did somebody impress upon him that what is popular cannot also be well written, good or valid? 

We simply don’t know another author's backstory, so who are we to define “success” for them?

Each author, and each author alone, should decide what his or her definition of success as a writer is -- whether it's making a list, making lots of money, writing only "books of the heart" or something in between.  To do otherwise can be stressful and ultimately, self-defeating. Haven't we got enough to contend with in this business without that?

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Back to Business

I've been out to the Pacific Northwest, visiting family in Seattle and taking a side trip to Victoria, British Columbia.  We were really lucky with the weather -- sunny and HOT. 

Among the many things we saw and did on our visit was Butchart Gardens.  So beautiful, and to think it was once a quarry.

We also toured the Museum of Flight - all day and still didn't see everything!-- the Seattle Aquarium, the Woodland Park Zoo, Discovery Park (after which I made a mad dash for the bus and shocked myself -- I didn't know I could run that fast, especially after hiking all through the park), took a harbor cruise, played mini-golf  and walked for over 8 miles on Vashon Island.  If only I also hadn't eaten so many fantastic meals, I would have lost a few pounds.  But oh, the food in Seattle, the food!  And I'm not even into sea food.

However, the holiday is over and now it's time to get back to writing.  I did write on my holiday, but stopped once I had introduced all the major players in the new story.  I realized I wasn't really "into" the book at that time, so it was time to break.

I've set myself some goals for the new few months, including doing more blogging about the writing process.  I've been writing professionally for nearly 25 years (!!) and I think I've learned a few things worth sharing along the way.  I may also finally join Facebook.  If I do, I'll blog about it.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Hello to Portugal!

One of the most thrilling things about writing for Harlequin is having my books published all over the world.  One of the great things about social media is hearing from readers all over the world.  Recently, I was contacted by Vanessa, a blogger in Portugal, who asked me to do an interview.  I was delighted to do so!

Here's the interview on her blog.

Vanessa has also provided the English translation, so if you want to know where I get my ideas, or if I have any "weird" writing habits, and the strangest thing that's ever happened to me since I became a published author, the answers are there.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

A New Beginning

I'm about to start writing a new book.  Here's what I have:

1.  A synopsis.  This is a written version of the major events and emotional plot of the story, told in the present tense.  It's about 7 pages long, double-spaced.

2.  Some notes I wrote about the opening chapter while waiting for the plane to take me home from the Romance Writers of America conference.

3.  I already know quite a bit about the hero and his history, because this will be the third book in a trilogy.  He's the twin brother of the hero, Roland, in BRIDE FOR A KNIGHT (January, 2015).  Roland also appeared in CASTLE OF THE WOLF (out now).  I know something about the heroine, too, because the twin brothers knew her when they were young.  Since it's in the same location as much of BRIDE FOR A KNIGHT, I know my setting and a few other secondary characters, too.  However, I always write every book to "stand alone," so if someone hasn't read the previous books in a series, they won't feel lost.

Otherwise, that's it.  I haven't got the patience for a detailed outline, and frankly, at this point, that would be a waste of time.  Things are going to change as my characters start talking to each other, and I get to know them better via their dialogue and reactions.  Plot twists arise and surprise character revelations will happen as I write the story, and those are, for me, the best part of writing. 

Now on to Page One, Chapter One!

Monday, August 04, 2014

Seven "Take-aways" from the Romance Writers of America Conference

Seven things I learned or discovered or re-discovered when I attended the Romance Writers of American national conference:

1.  Any time there's more than one romance author in a room, there will be a sharing of information.  Romance authors are a generous bunch.

2.  You never know when you might find a networking opportunity.  I asked a woman waiting for a cab to the airport if she wanted to share.  She agreed -- and turned out to be an executive editor at a major publishing house.

3.  Editors are really reluctant to give a definitive "no" when somebody asks if they're looking for a particular type of story. 

4.  Harlequin has the best publisher swag.  Okay, so I'm biased -- it's still true.  Their tote bags are great.

5.  There will always be changes in publishing.  The best I can do is do what I do and keep calm about everything else.

5. I cannot wear heels anymore.  Also, hotel lighting makes me look like a cast member of The Walking Dead.

7.  When I see old friends, it doesn't matter how many years have passed since I've been in their company.  It will seem like none.