Saturday, March 29, 2008

Putting a good use to your research

You're written a manuscript, spent hours researching on line, or in the library to be sure you have accurate information before you send it to the editor. Now that the book is finished, and sent away what can you do with all the information that you'e accumulated.

Regardless of what genre you write in if you've done research you should always document it. Do up a list of books, contacts, internet links, etc because if there is a question then you can always go back and say I got this piece of information from this source.

Still it would be nice to do something with the piles of notes and copy that you've managed to create to write a work of fiction. There is a huge market out there for extended essays that are complete nonfiction works. If you're willing to do the extra bit of polishing and work and have a good data system with the links, books etc why not put it all together and submit it?

I know there are publishers out there who take nonfiction and want you to have an agent. That's okay, shop around. Take your time. You've invested time and energy into this project so make sure that it's going to find a good home. Consider the dollar last and you'll find yourself happy to have a home to all that information you've put together.

Good luck, and happy researching!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What is your greatest nemisis when it comes to writing

For many of us who write part time, time is the biggest enemy we have. Still others its grammar and sintext. After all if you're writing 9th century druids how do you stay within the sintax of the era without having been there.

Research is the key. I spent more hours reading about Ireland and Viking history than I did doing anything else. It took me months to get the information I needed and even then not all of it was correct. There was contradictory information, vague half details, and enough road blocks that more than once I thought about switching time periods. I stuck with it and am happy with the end results.

Of course beyond the syntax of the story there were other challenges. Challenges that I don't really understand because lets face it English is not the easiest language to speak or write. Now you're saying, yeah right. It is so. Nope, I've got friends all over the place that speak and writing in a variety of languages and more than once they've asked me about something and I haven't been able to give them an honest answer - simply because there's three rules for everything we say or do.

Then of course there's the plot. Sticking within the plot would be easy, if you weren't stopping and starting. There's a very good reason that you should have an outline - it'll help you through the dry spells when you're writing. If you just wing it and leave it up, then when you go back, there are plot wholes and characterization problems that may be the deal breaker.

Which brings me to the fact that I love my crit partners and my beta reader. They'll catch things that I would otherwise miss. I can't say thank you often and loud enough.

So those are my pet peeves about writing...what are yours?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The long weekend is over but it brought its fair share of surprises

Happy belated Easter to everyone.

Long weekends are typically for kicking back and doing nothing - except soaking up the sun. However, this weekend shall go down in the anal's of history for me because I got a reply from the publisher!

Yes, you heard me. I wasn't expecting anything back until early April but there it was Saturday night when I opened my email. She read my partial with interest and wanted the full manuscript at my earliest convenience. My husband looked at me funny and said what's up so I told him...typically he didn't give much of a response but that's okay, everyone I promptly phone and told was jumping for joy with me.

So much work was done on my manuscript and now its like yes, yes yes!!! I've got a final read over from my beta and then I'll shoot it off. Hopefully she'll email me back in a few weeks and say Here's a contract, sign it!

Easter...its now become one of my favorite long weekends of all time - besides Christmas and my birthday of course!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Writing, Editing, and the network of resources we have!

This week, I've spoken about critique partners, my two honored guests have spoken their opinions about them and shared a lot of information. Its a difficult call to make. If you're working on deadlines that don't give you a lot of time to really depend upon someone else to catch an error then you've got to learn to do it yourself. A task I'll touch on another time.

For some it's an easy task to critique and edit their own work. We could do it in our sleep. Yet, for others its a massive undertaking that at times can suck the very life out of us. I know, I'm one of those people that doesn't see the things other people see. I look for them, I read and reread, but I don't find them.

That's one of the reasons I'm such a big fan of critique and beta partners. The ones I have I've looked long and hard for, and we work well together. All of us work at the same speed, we communicate openly and honestly and the biggest thing is that we don't flame each other's work.

Now you're thinking 'flame' work. I'm sure you've heard that term, however, for those of you who haven't - its a bad word. Flaming is someone criticising your work in a manner that is best suited to their own private domain. They tear the work apart, call it down, make you feel about a half an inch high and otherwise demean you and your efforts without offering a good, solid critical bit of information.

Each person must of course decide for themselves how they can do it, and what they need. But for those of us who depend and want to get a good critique partner and beta reader, here is a few suggestions for what to look for.

1. Someone who is familiar with the genre you write in. Don't get a critique partner who writes murder/mysteries that has no familiarity with ancient Rome for example.

2. The writing capacity must be similiar. I'm very prolific. I tend to write a chapter a day, edit it and send it away. One of my crit partners does three chapters at a time for me. It takes her a couple of days but the critique is thorough, detailed, and professional.

3. Expectations! I can not stress this enough, when you post for a critique partner be clear in what you expect. Don't just ask for one, and than have someone offer, take 'em up on it, only to find that you're waiting weeks for one chapter and you've got six in the que and a deadline fast approaching.

4. Honesty and Respect. Sounds simple right, it is. Be honest with your crit partner, with yourself, and you'll find someone who can work with you. They aren't working for you, but with you remember that! Respect what they have to say, take it as advice and not as a personal attack upon you or your writing!

5. It goes both ways! Remember this, it's one of the most disasterous mistakes a person can make is to assume that just because you're busy, and taking up another persons time that there's no cost to you. WRONG!!! A rule of thumb is for every chapter that they critique, you critique one back. Your strengths and their weaknesses can be a good solid match. That old addage of "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" is very true in this instance.

In closing, I hope this week has been informative and useful to everyone. I realize of course, that some people may not use either of these people, after all a beta reader and editor are very similiar, but for those of us that do, keep in mind. What you give out, is what you'll get back.

See you next time!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Win a special gift from Jax Cassidy

Fellow author Jax Cassidy has a new release and she's promoting it! Drop her a line and enter to win a chance at a delightful prize. Details below!

My book The Lotus Blossom Chronicles was released Monday, March 17th...St. Patty's Day...
Win Sensual Escape gift box and an autographed book by emailing and I will put you in my drawing.Winners will be announced April 1st!

Guest Blogger Amy Corwin on the pros of having a critique or beta partner

Reproduced from Coffee Time Romance with Amy's Permission.

A "beta reader" is someone who reads your book cover-to-cover the way a normal reader would, and gives you feedback from the perspective of the reader's experience.

The difference between a beta reader and a critique partner is basically:A beta reader reads your ENTIRE manuscript--and usually only reads it once. Your goal is to have fresh eyes that have never read any parts of it before. You're looking for how the story hangs together and works for a real reader.

A critique partner usually only reads a few chapters at a time and is usually (but not always) another writer. So they are more inclined to give you more indepth, writer advice versus "this just didn't work for me and I don't know why" which is what you would get from a beta reader.

A critique partner may also read the same chapters several times.Most critique partners will not read the entire manuscript end-to-end, so they may not be able to give you the view of how the whole thing hangs together.I'm sort of in the same boat you are.

I've had critique partners for many, many years and they helped tremendously--at first. But they have moved on, and I find myself wanting more of a beta reader (which is what authors like Jenny Crusie use) to read the whole book and tell me how it hangs together, rather than individual chapters.

It is very, very difficult to get a beta reader because of the committment to read the entire book. You can get critique partners much more easily, but there is a trade-off in that you're only going to be working a few chapters at a time, and you have to critique their work, too, so you will put time into their work.

If you try to find a critique partner, you need to find someone you are sympatico with. You don't want someone who will say, "oh, this is great" when it isn't, or who will blast you to the point where you give up. It's hard, either way. There are a lot of online writers groups, however. Many are affiliated with RWA and require RWA membership, but that is a good resource.

Hope this helps a little!
__________________Sincerely,Amy Corwin

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Guest Blogger Jaci Burton on Critique Partners vs Beta Readers

I’ve used various critique partners over the years. When I first started writing seriously, I joined a critique group—a rather large one. We’d each submit a chapter and critique each other. It worked, for awhile, but then some people did more than others. I ended up dropping out, but met a lifelong friend there. After that I picked up critique partners here and there, invariably realizing that it was going to take awhile to find people that you click with. Lifestyles, work schedules, writing styles—all of that has to be taken into consideration when hooking up with a critique partner. I tend to write very steamy love scenes. Critiquing with an inspirational author wouldn’t work for me. I also write very very fast, churning out several chapters a week. Someone who takes a year to write a book wouldn’t mesh with my writing style. I did find a critique partner eventually whose style matched mine very well. She and I worked together for a couple years. Though we don’t critique together anymore, she’s still one of my best friends.

I eventually stopped critiquing with anyone, mainly because my schedule just doesn’t allow it. My deadlines are heinous, I have to churn books out fast, and I don’t have the time to devote to reading anyone else’s work.

Which brings beta readers into the picture. Beta readers would work well for me, because they read for me, I don’t have to read for them. But I’ve actually never used beta readers. Why? I don’t really know. It’s hard to turn the first draft of your book over to a reader. And I write series books, so I’d need readers familiar with my series. Readers who can find every flaw, not just typos, but also plot points. And reading is so subjective by nature. A plot thread one reader loves, another may hate. I tend to follow my own counsel as to what works and what doesn’t. Too many eyes on a book can taint that, in my opinion. And I already have an editor. How many do I need? Then there’s the whole time thing. By the time I finish a book and edit it, it’s time to turn it in. I have very little time to turn it over to a beta reader, give them time to read it, then fix whatever they think needs fixing. Hence my dilemma with using beta readers. I really wish I could, but I just don’t think it would work with my current writing schedule.

I’m really curious how many writers out there use critique partners and beta readers, and how the relationships work for them. Maybe someday when I’m not so crunched for time I could ponder the relationships again.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

An Upcoming Release

She believed the man didn't matter as long as he said yes - until the wrong man vowed to love her beneath....All the Trees in Pearlby Emily Ryan-DavisAvailable March 21 at Ellora's CaveSigned and paid for by one brother.Ethan Carver didn’t order a wife, but he couldn’t turn away from Margaret Redde’s lush mouth and proper manners. Could he keep up his brother’s deception and make her stay?Set on fire by the other.She wanted security and didn’t care where it came from - one brother was as good as the other - until Ethan touched her. One night in his arms changed everything. His hot kisses sent her up in flames and taught her desires she didn’t know she possessed.Read an excerpt today!

Differences between a critique partner and beta partner

I've written fan fiction for years and in that genre we've used beta readers. Wonderful, skilled people who like me write short stories, poems, novella's, novels, but their purpose is to help us build our story without editing it for us.

You're probably thinking, I know this already. I have a beta reader that works with me or for me as the case may be. I thought I knew it to. Until I got a real eye-opening heads up.

I have an awesome beta reader, she's thorough, she's tough, and she's honest - perhaps a bit too honest at times- but that's another story. We've worked together before on projects and I wouldn't trade her help for the world.

But, I've come to learn that any good writer must have a critque partner. Ha, you say, it's the same thing. Nope, it is not. A critique partner is very much like an editor. They catch the errors that you the author have missed before you send it to a beta reader. There are several very well thought out, lengthy job descriptions for each one and I won't get into that. I will however submit to you this tasty tid-bit. If you've got a work done, if it's been looked at by you and you've done more rewrites than there are road bumps on a backwoods road, and you're happy with it...

Take a deep breath and find yourself a really good critique partner to look it over and point out any and all errors that you've missed. Do your rewrites, polish it until it's brighter than Las Vegas's strip at midnight, then find yourself a beta reader.

Pish posh you say. They're the same person. They could be but remember this. If you send something to a beta reader to be betaed and it takes her longer than say 72 hours to read the need a critique partner.

This week I'm going to try and do a whole series on the benefits of both, and I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you've got any questions please comment and I'll try to answer them as best I can based upon my experience.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Letting Go of your work

What's the hardest thing you've ever had to do when it comes to your writing?

You ask any author who has submitted their work and you'll get a variety of answers. For me letting go of it was the hardest thing. I've invested countless hours, days, weeks, months into the manuscript. So much so that it feels very much like apart of me.

I've been tempted to go back and make revisions to it, beyond the edits that have been suggested by my proofreaders. I've lost chapters, I've stressed to the point of tears. And at the end of the day all I can do is wait. Wait for a response, wait to hear yes or no. Wait to find out if others will love my characters, my plot as much as I do.

Its hard to do that. I think in all honesty that regardless of how many books you've got published or how many reviews you have, you never get used to that waiting game. Its like sending you baby school for the first time. You smile, you look forward to it until the moment arrives then you turn into an emotional wreck.

But I'm hopeful that I'll get a postive response. I'm not concerned with petty things, with how much money or how many rewrites or how much work I'll have to do on it. I know it's a good story, I know it'll sell...I just have to make sure others know that and I'm prepared to do that.

First, I had to let myself let go. And it is hard. You're putting a part of yourself out there, opening yourself to rejection and it can cut like a knife...but at the same time it can make you happy.

Postivity is the key.

Until next time, keep your chin up and your pen down!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Upcoming Release

Jax Cassidy has a new book coming out on March 17th which should be an exciting and thrilling read. The information to purchase this book is as follows:

THE LOTUS BLOSSOM CHRONICLESan anthology with Simone HarlowPaperback: 250 pages Publisher: Parker Publishing, LLC; First edition (March 17, 2008) Language: English ISBN-10: 1600430341 ISBN-13: 978-1600430343 In Jax Cassidy's

SIREN’S SEDUCTION ...Niko Chow craves solitude. Only fate won't leave him in peace. After losing his wife and unborn child in a car crash, he slips into the dark world of alcoholism. His desire to overcome his addiction leads him to a promise made to a dying friend and into the arms of a seductive chanteuse.
Donovan Matthews ignites a passion within him he has long denied. The more time he spends with her, the more Niko finds her spitfire determination and generous heart as sensuous and exotic as the Lotus Blossoms that bloom in his garden. Can she end his internal war and help heal his aching soul?

In Simone Harlow's

CONCUBINE ...In the new world order, New Africa bounty hunter Nyssa Farris has only one goal…to get her daughter back from the woman who snatched her out of her arms as a baby. But to do that, she must break her one rule: never hunt a slave. Once a pleasure slave to a king, Nyssa understands how the loss of freedom can scar a person’s soul, and for her daughter she will pay the price.
Prince Asad Kuba is a man on the run. Escaped from the wicked queen, he will do anything to stay out of her clutches. He doesn’t expect a beautiful, determined woman to capture him, bed him, and take him back in chains.Two people on a collision course will change nations.

Both should be excellent and passion-filled reads@.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Winners have been announced.

Yipee! Finally the winners have been announced for the RCA awards. I won this year with my story Guy Talk and for my contribution to the Round Robin we had featuring Ice Cream! Here's the banners:

The link to the story and it's series is as follows:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Still Learning

I was chatting with my sister the other day and she said to me, '"now that you've got this book finished and sent away, guess that means you're an expert."

I had to smile at that. Regardless of how many books you write, pubish, edit, or think of you are never going to be an expert. Prime example, a very generous lady offered to proof the full manuscript in its completed form for me.

She sent back the first chapter with editorial suggestions...even though it's been looked at by two (count 'em Two) professional editors. Do I value her opinion, your darned right I do! I want this book to sell and if that means that I have to make more changes even though I've already submitted apartial, then I can make changes.

Writing isn't about becoming perfect, its about learning to test yourself and others by creating something tangible that is magical. Only a few ever truly learn the true lessons behind writing...some give up long before they ever get to the end of this rainbow.

On that thought I shall leave you until next time. Have a good week!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Upcoming contests

With life being so hectic of late, I need a break. So after looking through every link in the Canadian Directory I've decided on entering a few contests. One of those contests is through Ascent Aspirations Magazine.

copied with permission****:

Ascent Aspirations Magazine
Ascent Aspirations Fall 2008
Poetry/Flash Fiction Contest
Contest Open from January 1st to July 31
Contest open until July 31st, 2008

The submissions will be judged in late August and the anthology will be produced in September with a publishing date hopefully no later than the middle of November, 2008.

The publication will be a perfect-bound 120-page book with a glossy art designed cover. Since Ascent is a non-profit publication, offering the print edition as a contest will provide the funding for the book. This contest will run for six months and the print edition will appear in the Fall of 2008. At the same time Ascent will continue to publish the electronic editions each quarter separate from any print editions. There is a special theme for this issue; it is Erotica.

For this issue we are looking for ardent, amorous erotica, soft and sensual, full of longing and desire that will titillate our readers. Think of Aphrodite, goddess of beauty, fertility and sexual love, not boring, mundane, graphic pornography. The words should be about the music of love and the steamy imagery of erotica, all tastefully libidinous. We are looking for poetry/flash fiction that is unusual and goes beyond the traditional poetry and story of sensual, sexual love.

Send your best work.
First Prize for Poetry - $100 (CND) & 1 copy of the anthology
First Prize for Flash Fiction - $100 (CND) & 1 copy of the anthology
Second Prize for Poetry - $50 (CND) & 1 copy of the anthology
Second Prize for Flash Fiction - $50 (CND) & 1 copy of the anthology
Third Prize for Poetry - $25 (CND) & 1 copy of the anthology
Third Prize for Poetry - $25 (CND) & 1 copy of the anthology
Plus 6 - $10 (CND) honourable mention awards with 1 copy of the anthology

Plus all additional contributors in the collection will receive one copy of the anthology.
The goal is for the contest to generate the costs for publishing the anthology. If the entry fees and sales of the anthology exceed the costs, then the additional money will be used to fund future print editions of Ascent with prize money being more widely distributed among all the authors who appear in the anthology.

Rules & Guidelines:
The sixth print edition will contain poetry and flash fiction.
Poems/Flash Fiction can be published elsewhere as long as the author holds the copyright or unpublished and not sent elsewhere. Submit your poem or poems and flash fiction with a brief bio by e-mail to In the subject heading say Fall 2008 Edition.
By mail with your contest fee include a cover page with the poem/flash fiction title or poem/flash fiction titles and the first line beside each title, your name, address, phone number and e-mail. IN ADDITION ALSO INCLUDE EACH POEM/FLASH FICTION ON A SEPARATE PAGE WITHOUT YOUR NAME. We will be using the printed copies of your poems for judging and the electronic copies sent by email for the designing of the book pages should you be included in the anthology.
Maximum length of each poem is 60 lines and spaces between the stanzas count as lines. The maximum length for flash fiction is 800 words

Contest fee: $5 for one poem or 3 poems for $10. $10 for each piece of flash fiction. You can send as many poems/flash fiction pieces as you wish.

Send your entry information, and POEMS/FLASH FICTION with payment to:
either David Fraser, or Ascent Aspirations Publishing
1560 Arbutus Drive
Nanoose Bay, BC
V9P 9C8
Enclose a #10 s.a.s.e. (Self-addressed stamped envelope) if you are interested in receiving an official printed winners' list. (If you are outside Canada please use Canadian stamps or an international coupon.) Regardless the winners and contributors list will automatically be sent to you via e-mail and it will be posted on the web site.

All submissions will remain the copyright of the author.

*Additional copies of the perfect-bound anthology will be available at time of publication.
Retail Prices without shipping costs $16.95 CND/16.95 US
The prices of additional copies including shipping and handling are as follows:
In Canada and USA ($19.95 CND or 20.95 US)
To Other International Destinations ($21.95 US)
Advanced Ordering of the Fall 2008 Issue will be announced in a future newsletter and web posting.

Pricing at this point is an estimate based on current postal rates and may be subject to slight changes without notice when advanced ordering is announced.

Help make the Fall 2008, Ascent Aspirations Magazine sixth print edition a successful not-for–profit venture.
Ascent Aspirations Publishing

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Perks to organizing the awards

Whoo, the second annual RCA's are drawing to a close. There are still five categories being voted on but the majority have been finalized and I've started doing the banners given out to the winners. This year we had two ties, which of course makes things interesting but hey that's part of the fun!

Still, I'm going to be glad when they are done and I can get to work on next years awards. I figure if I start now I might get them done by the end of the year hehehe!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I did it!

I did it! Doesn't sound like much does it? Until you actually do something that you've been waiting to do and then the nerves attack. Yesterday morning I hit the send button on my submission proposal to Champagne Books. I've got two weeks to finish polishing and then another week or two to wait to hear back from them. I'm hopeful that they'll buy the book but if they don't, I'll keep trying.

Still, the nerves do get to you. So what do you do to relax after you've done something big and you're nervous and exciting and scared? Let me know!

Monday, March 3, 2008

The end of the Second Annual Reader's Choice Awards

With only a week left for voting on the Second Annual Reader's Choice Awards for one of my favorite fan fic groups I've really been pressed with time.

This is the second year that I've organized and run these awards. This has been a major undertaking, and not something that is as easy as one might think. I've learned a great deal in the past two years, and not all of it has been pleasant.

I was rather shocked by the responses I got from some. These awards were designed to showcase the skill and talent of the authors for a specific group, yet a lot of people figured it should be for anyone who had a story.

Now, I have no objections to highlighting talent. Heck if we didn't do that we wouldn't have the Oscar's, what I do object to is when people refuse to participate because they don't archive their work in one place - which just happens to be the place that's hosting the awards.

Which isn't to say that I don't think all the excellent author's shouldn't be shown our appreciation. I do believe that if you're brave enough to write it and post it then you should be recognized.

I hope to carry what I've learned with organizing these awards forward, and make next years even bigger and better than this one.

Until next time, I'll bench my rant and move on. Have a great day. If you'd like some good reading, click on Shadowlady's (mine) link to your left, it'll take you to the WRbeta archive and some really good fan fiction featuring none other than the X-Men!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Cookin' with Pat

Just thought for today I'd do something fun, so here it is. Recently, my husband was gifted with about twenty pounds of Halibut (Fish) and we decided to do something a bit different. Instead of simply deepfrying it or pan frying, we decided to smoke some.
Here is what we used:

Maple Syrup
Brown Sugar
Sea Salt
Hemlock wood chips
Cedar chips

Coat the fish in syrup, brown sugar and salt. Let sit over night, remove all excess brine. Place on cedar chips in a smoker, with the hemlock chips at the heat source. Apply indirect heat. Let smoke for at least twenty four hours, check sparingly.

Sounds strange? It isn't. Turned out really good! Try it!