Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Writing Contest Alert

Seize your opportunity to write for the Cave with Tawny’s Taylor’s “Some Like It Hot” writing contest!!

Starting October 25th, 2010, Tawny Taylor will be hosting a writing contest!
The final judge is an editor from Ellora’s Cave.

The Prizes? Read on!

All SubGenres of erotic romance accepted, including:
~Contemporary~Fantasy~Futuristic~ Shapeshifter/Vampire~BDSM~

*You may submit one chapter--not to exceed 5000 words. Stories must be complete and unpublished.

*Each Monday, two stories will be selected by an Ellora's Cave editor who is actively acquiring. At the end, six weekly winning authors will submit a partial (first three chapters, last chapter and synopsis) to the final judge for ranking.

The first place winner will receive ...

A critique of the full winning manuscript by EC editor Grace Bradley!

The second place winner will receive...

A critique of the partial manuscript by EC editor Grace Bradley (first three chapters, last and synop).

The third place winner will receive...

A critique of the first chapter by EC editor Grace Bradley.

Details here.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Round-Up of Awesome Writer Websites & Tools

Lately I've discovered quite a few awesome websites that give great advice and tips for writers and I thought I would share them with you in the hopes that you find a new to you resource.

Here are some of my new website obsessions for writers, or websites I've been following for awhile but think every writer should be:

Agent Blogs:

Nathan Bransford's blog is by far one of the best out there. Insight, tips and updates on all things publishing, you really should be reading this blog.

Rachelle Gardner's blog also offers amazing news and tips for writers.

Writer's Group Blogs:

The Romance Writer's Revenge has long been a favorite of mine and the blog posts there are both thought provoking and humorous. A great group of writers I'm so glad to have found.

A newly launched blog, I'm enjoying the posts at Romancing The Muses very much and think they offer some great tips for newbie writers.

Some of my favorite Harlequin writers are part of Drunk Writer Talk and I'm a frequent lurker soaking up their advice.

An established blog, but one I still want to mention just in case you aren't familiar with it, is Riding with the Top Down. A wonderful cross-section of writers sharing the craft with you.

Writing Tools & Resources:

The writing software Write Way Pro is offering a 30 day free trail right now. (Maybe they always do?) I'm trying it out on the home computer to see what I think, but have been disappointed that it won't work with my operating system on my netbook.

I met Bria Quinlan at RWA10 after following her on twitter for a bit. She has an excellent website (where she is even running a writing contest right now), but she's also set up a great chat room for writers to use anytime for challenges or sprints. Check out her site, and you'll notice the Fast Draft and Chat Challenge links at the bottom. (HINT - we are usually in the Fast Draft room) :)

Finally, Harlequin is doing a So You Think You Can Write week November 1st-5th on their blog that looks chock-full of webinars, editor chats, community posts and more. I'm really excited to see how this goes and hopefully it will offer some great info. Check out the weekly events calendar here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I'm a Finalist!


The very first contest I entered at Romance in The Backseat has been progressing over the last month, and it's down to the final two - of which I am one! I'm so excited and can hardly believe it since the drafts I turned in always felt like I was rushed.

This isn't my WIP, but original writing that started from a writing prompt on the website. It's been a nice creative break from the WIP, but the other part of me wishes those 3,000 words had been added to A Passion to Protect!

The contest has been helpful to me in that it got me used to people reading my work, and with working on a deadline each round. Now I just need to set deadlines for my WIP and work to meet those just as stringently.

If you want to check out the final two entries, go here.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Voices Top Ten

The top ten for the Mills & Boon New Voices contest were announced on Monday and even though I really did not think I had a chance in hell, there was a little part of me that dreamed something about my short little chapter would equal instant love for an editor.

Alas, it was not to be. The top ten finalists can be found here, and look for their 2nd chapters to be posted soon.

I am able to take a few things from this contest including sharing my WIP for the 1st time, getting great constructive feedback from fellow writers, and meeting many of those writers and forming a twitter community chat with them. I'm hoping that we'll continue to chat and support each other as we all target Harlequin and Mills & Boon.

I'm also looking at the top ten as a really great resource. The contest was like the slush pile, and these ten are the stories that are being asked for partials. I mean we all see the final published versions of books, but this is like getting to see what wasn't accepted, what was, and how it gets edited and changed along the way. Pretty valuable insider info there.

A big thanks again to Mills & Boon for hosting this contest. It really was a great experience for me all around and I'll happy do it again!

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Brief, Shining Moment...

Yep. I had it all for about about 15 minutes. The bright lights shined on me and the fame - oh the fame!
Sorry, I'll get a grip on myself. :)

Truth is that I was alerted on twitter earlier this week that A Passion to Protect, my entry in the Harlequin Mills & Boon New Voices contest was the top rated entry out of over 600! I even took a screen capture to make sure this momentous achievement could be proved to the hubby.
I know it's hard to read, but that's my name and my story right there up top!

In all honesty, the whole ratings thing has been interesting and silly because it's obvious there are people rating good stories very low in order to keep them from having high ratings. I've read so many great ones that had really low scores that it made me stop caring about the rating (well, stop obsessing over it at least since I can't really say I don't care).

What does really matter to me are the comments since that was my main motivation to enter besides the idea that my little entry just might catch an editor's interest. If you haven't had a chance to read and comment on my chapter, you can find it here.
Thank you to those who've already read it and commented and to anyone willing to head over and give me advice!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

She's a Contest Queen, New & Green...

After my last post about promising myself to get out there as a writer, I'm excited to say that my entry Say Goodbye made it to Round 2 in my very first contest at Romance In The Backseat!

Our 2nd chapters are supposed to be written in the opposite POV from our opening scene and were posted this weekend. You can check out (and hopefully vote for) my new scene from the hero's POV here.

In even more exciting news, I finally submitted my 1st chapter entry of A Passion to Protect to the Mills & Boon New Voices contest. I'm particularly excited about this because it's my actual WIP and I'm hoping for some really good constructive criticism to help me improve and develop as a writer.

It would mean the world to me for you to go check it out and leave me a comment. Good or bad, I'm just hoping for some good critiques. Check out my entry here.

Wish me luck with my contest entries! Now, I'm off to keep writing on the WIP just in case the absolutely amazing happened and I keep going in the contest. :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

My First Ever Contest Entry

I've neglected this blog since RWA, but life has knocked me out and I'm just now getting my bearings back. One of the things I decided at RWA was that I have to put myself out there more as a writer. Tell more people. Talk about it. Don't treat it like just a hobby.

So, in an attempt to let it all hang out, I've entered my very first writing contest. Awesome right?!?

It is kind of awesome, I just wish I had put more work into. I completely forgot the contest, which was writing prompt focused, and literally had to write my entry in about 2 hours. 2 hours and 1,000 words...why can't I do that everyday? :)

I didn't even have time to proof the entry before I sent it in, but this time I was just focused on the getting it out there part. I'm not sure I'll do well in the contest, but I wanted to show myself that it didn't kill me to let other people read my work.

So, if you'd like to read some Romantic Suspense scenes from aspiring authors - and vote on who could win a Q&A and 1 on 1 time with author Kylie Brant, then go here.

Oh, and I guess the other part of putting myself out there would be telling you which entry is mine. :) That would be Say Goodbye. Hope you stop by and check it out!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Workshop Mania! Countdown to the RWA 2010 Conference


I'm beyond excited to be attending my very first RWA Nationals Conference and I've spent weeks reading over the workshop descriptions and reading comments online trying to figure out which will be the best ones for me to take.

Since I'm still so green, I've decided to focus on mostly craft workshops and because Harlequin is my target publisher I'll be hitting every Harlequin event I can. Obviously all of them except the big Harlequin party that is invitation only - although I've been advised I should try to crash it! I'd have to have a partner in crime because I'm too much of a rule follower to do it all on my own. :)

My little OCD self created a personal conference agenda with color-coded conference tracks and an hour by hour schedule. For the tracks, I've listed my 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice workshops available at that time along with any publisher spotlights. All color coded and listed in order of what I think will be my top choices.

Also on the agenda are any meetings I've set up - including a twitter/blogger meet-up at the Cabana Bar by the pool on Wed. from 7:30 til whenever...Stop by! It's open to everyone!

I'm also crazy excited to meet many of my fellow Romance Divas for a night of sure-to-be fun karaoke.

Most of all though, I can't wait to spend time with two awesome writers from The Romance Writer's Revenge who I want to smother in hugs and who have been gracious enough to let me crash in their room for a night or two. They may not fully understand why I love them so, but their support online has meant the world to me and really gave me the confidence to start this writing journey.

More than anything from Nationals, I'm hoping to meet some great writers and cultivate a few relationships into possible critique partners or writing cheerleaders! Wish me luck!
What about you? If you're going to Nationals what workshops are you most looking forward to or what is your driving goal for attending?Any tips for a newbie?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

NGCC-2010t

Not forking out the dough for the RWA Conference this year, with evening wear, suits, high heels and whatever "business casual" means?

Not to worry! Romance Divas is hosting the

Not Going to Conference Conference...

The Conference You Don't Have to Get Out of Bed For


From July 28-31, come hang out with some terrific, savvy authors -- and you don't even have to brush your teeth (although, seriously, good dental hygiene gets you extra points.)

We'll be hosting panels on:

The Power of Three: A crit group tell-all (Paranormal)
Crystal Jordan
Patti O'Shea
Dayna Hart/Rowan Larke

The Lolitas of STEAMED! Present Writing the Steampunk Romance -more than leather corsets and brass goggles!
Marie-Claude Bourque
Theresa Meyers

Whips, Chains, Slings, Oh My: It Really Isn’t About the Toys (BDSM Erotica)
James Buchanan
Joey Hill

The Great Big YA Panel
Rhonda Stapleton
Shannon Delany
Kiersten White
Carrie Ryan
Linda Gerber
Saundra Mitchell
Lara Zielin
Brenna Yovanoff

Register for free at Romance Divas, then come join us on the forums for the discussions, as well as some terrific prizes:
Eden Bradley/Eve Berlin:
1) erotic e-books, THE SEEKING KISS and TEMPT ME TWICE.
2) a synopsis critique in any sub-genre of erotica/erotic romance.
Jax Cassidy:
1) erotic e-books, DEVIL'S HEART and BRUSH STROKES.
2) book cover design or banner ad
Kristen Painter:
copy of her e-book, ALL FIRED UP
Rhonda Stapleton:
1) STUPID CUPID YA Book trilogy
2) a proposal critique (1st 3 chapters and synopsis) for any genre of book, romance or not
K.B. Alan:
1) The choice of one of her e-books: PERFECT FORMATION, ALPHA TURNED or BOUND BY SUNLIGHT.
2) A $25 Barnes and Noble gift card.
Robin L. Rotham: Signed copies of BIG TEMPTATION, ALIEN OVERNIGHT, and ENEMY OVERNIGHT
AJ Chase: copies of e-book CAT AND MOUSE
Inez Kelley:
1) e-book package of both MYLA BY MOONLIGHT and SALOME AT SUNRISE
2) The complete Dirty Laundry Series (3 e-novellas) co-written by Ginny Glass aka Wordsugar and Inez Kelley
Kate Pearce:
1) a three chapter ~and~ synopsis critique-any erotic romance, paranormal romance or historical romance.
2) Winners choice, in either print or e-book format (if available), of a set of the Simply series (there are 5) ~or~ a set of the Cowboys (there are 3) ~or~ a copy of KISS OF THE ROSE-readers choice.
R.G. Alexander:
Winners choice of any two e-books from her Samhain or Ellora's Cave back list
Nadia Lee:
Critique of 1st chapter & synopsis-paranormal or contemporary romance
Shelley Munro: Winners choice of any one her backlist books from Ellora's Cave or Cerridwen Press
Ciar Cullen: Winner's choice of any one e-book on her website.
Voirey Linger: A copy of her e-book RISKING ETERNITY
RF Long:
1) a submission package critique (letter, synopsis and 3 chapters)
2) e-books! (details TBA)
Crystal Jordan:
1) 1st chapter and synopsis critique
2) One copy of any e-book off her Samhain backlist (http://samhainpublishing.com/authors/crystal-jordan)
3) One copy of IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT (print or electronic, winner's choice)
Jeannie Lin:
1) a first chapter critique, any genre
2) an official BUTTERFLY SWORDS souvenir charm
Elise Logan: Winner's choice of any e-book from her backlist
Marguerite Labbe
:
1) A critique of an m/m story
2) Signed copies of her m/m vampire trilogy MY HEART IS WITHIN YOU, HAUNTED BY YOUR SOUL and OUR SACRED BALANCE
Seeley DeBorn:
One jar of home made body or face scrub, customized to the winner's preferences and skin type.
For example: Orange Spice Oatmeal, Coffee-Cocoa, Citrus Salt, Lavender Mint, Honey and Flax
Sela Carsen
: a copy of her e-book CAROLINA WOLF
Hailey Edwards:
1) a copy of her sweet fantasy romance ebook, EVERLONG.
2) two five dollar MBaM gift cards
Charlotte McClain:
Copy of her two e-books, LOVE TO DECLARE and ROCK STAR'S RETREAT
Cynthia Justlin: (Golden Heart Finalist!) Proposal Critique (3 Chapters and synopsis)-any genre other than erotic
Lainey Bancroft:
1) signed copies of her contemporary romance, THE TROUBLE WITH TESSA and her chick lit romance COZUMEL KARMA
2) Proposal critique (3 chapters and a synopsis) any genre except Steampunk
Tina Burns-Publisher-Liquid Silver Books:
1) a critique of 1st 3 chapters & synopsis
2) 3 be-book prizes for 3 different winners! Winners choice of any one e-book download from LSB library.
Mima:
Winner's choice of one e-book from her backlist-see her website for booklist.
Taneasha: handmade jewelry by our own Taneasha-details to come!
Barbara Sheridan
:
1) Winners choice of one e-book from her backlist-see her website for booklist.
2) Critique of up to 20 pages of either M/M, or M/F romance or erotic romance in various subgenres (contemporary, historical, paranormal or suspense/mystery)
David Bridger:
A copy of his ebook BEAUTY AND THE BASTARD
Victoria Janssen:
3 print books TBA (whatever she finds at the RWA Conference)
Gemma Halliday:
Signed copy of SCANDAL SHEET
Jennifer Leeland/Jennifer McKenzie:
1) copy of her e-book MARKED FOR PLEASURE (Kindle version available upon request)
2) copy of her e-book MARKED FOR DESIRE (Releasing June 29th) (Kindle version available upon request)
3) copy of her e-books The Command Series (Trilogy)
4)copy of her BDSM e-book series (3 from TWRP and 1 from Samhain)
Emily Ryan-Davis:
1) Critique of novella-length (up to 30k) manuscript; any time period, m/f, menage, f/f (m/m not her area of expertise)
2) signed print copies of her anthology: MATING CALL, DRAGON DANCE and DRAGON BOUND
3) e-book copy of CHANGING THUMBELINA
Sabrina Darby:
1) Signed copy of her erotic historical novel, ON THESE SILKEN SHEETS
2) Critique of first thirty pages of any Regency (erotic or non erotic fine, but m/m outside my area of expertise)
Alina Morgan:
1) copy of her e-book The Twilight Deception
2) copy of her e-book The Shadow Unveiled
Debbie Mumford:
1) Critique of a synopsis
2) Winner's choice of any e-book from her back list.
Kimberly Troutte:
1) copy of her e-book SOUL STEALER
2) copy of her e-book CATCH ME IN CASTILE
Sasha Devlin:
1 pair of hand made writing mitts or gloves-style and color TBD by the winner
Julia Knight
Winner's choice of one copy of any of her books available in e-book format

Friday, July 16, 2010

When New Ideas Attack!

My current WIP is at 22,000 words. It's my first ever attempt at writing a book and to say it's been a long process so far is an understatement. What it has been is a learning experience about what helps me write faster, the fact that I'm a little more of a plotter than a pantser, that somehow keeping constant watch on my word count makes me move the story along faster, etc. etc.

What I didn't expect, and therefore wasn't prepared for, were all the great story ideas that would come to me while working on this book. I don't mean just those cute little snippets of ideas, I mean a fully fleshed out trilogy of books in a genre I hadn't expected to write in.

What's even worse? It's a fantastic idea. Even the hubby was like "Yeah. Why aren't you writing that story?" Gee thanks! My poor WIP is feeling a little shabby now.

Somehow, this new story idea is making me feel like I need to jazz A Passion to Protect up a little. I knew it needed something more to it but it's supposed to be a Contemporary Romantic Suspense and I shouldn't be comparing it to the Paranormal Romance idea I have. Both have their specific world-building, setting and characters but the paranormal idea is starting to seem so much more exciting to me. Not good.

I've kept some notes on the new idea so it will be there when I'm done with the WIP, but I'm wondering how do I focus back on my current story? So, I'm wondering how do other writers keep new story ideas at bay? How do you keep the excitement on your current project?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Doggone It!


I was hoping to actually get myself to write at least a few hundred words a night this week, even 100 words would have been great. But life doesn't always cooperate. On Monday the hubby rescued this cute little guy from the middle of the highway.

Scruffy, short for McSruffy McScrufferson, has been with us all week and we are totally in love. Our two dogs aren't so sure about scruffy yet, but they seem to be warming up to him.

We've spent every night this week putting up found dog fliers and going to neighborhoods to see if anyone knows scruffy or is missing him. So far, no luck. He was obviously out on the streets for a long time because he was skin and bones. We're doing our best to remedy that! Operation "fatten 'em up" is in full swing.

Although Scruffy sidetracked my goal of writing during the week, he did manage to remind me of something - that my WIP is missing a doggie sidekick. I happen to love dogs in books and think that they can say a lot about the hero or heroine who calls them buddy.

My favorite is when dogs play the role of comic relief and confidant. I'm thinking that one of my characters needs that sidekick to talk to and to help lighten the mood.

Do you include animal sidekicks in your writing? What purpose do they serve in the story?

Monday, June 28, 2010

Writing Funny: Do You Have to Be In The Mood to Write Humor?

When I envision myself looking back in 10 years over the library of books I've had published (yes, wishful thinking is key to this post) I'm hoping that there is one constant between them all - humor.

For me, I can't image not having "the funny" as a central part of my writers voice and that should carry across all my work. Besides, my favorite author are the ones who can make me smile like a lunatic while reading in the middle of a group of people - with literal LOL moments.

Lately though, I've had a hard time being in the right mood to write humorous lines to give my characters the sass and quick wit I want them to have. Reading over the last few chapters of my WIP, Jim and Ronnie (short for Veronica) seem flat and way too dramatic. Where are my cute off-handed comments and cheeky remarks? They aren't there.

Realizing that I've had real life issues that haven't had me laughing it up lately, I started thinking about how to kick start my funny bone so that this manuscript doesn't get too far off track.

First, I started with watching a few funny TV shows and movies. Then I hit the mother load, The Comedians of Chelsea Lately were coming to town and I couldn't think of a better way to get my laugh on. It was a great night and I can already feel my funky mood lifting.

So, my challenge to myself this week is to bring the funny back into my writing. I think I've found my inspiration again so I'm ready for some zingers.

What about you? What mood, if any, do you feel the need to be in for your "voice" to come out in your writing? How do you work around not being "in the mood" for a certain type of scene?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Writing Ideas - Where do you keep yours and do you revisit them?

This morning on Twitter Author Marjorie M. Liu linked to a fantastic post she did called "Time Capsules of the Imagination" about her old writing journals and story ideas on her hard drive.

Besides just the lovely title, it's a post that struck a chord with me. You should head over and check it out here. Also be sure to read the blog post she references from Lynn Viehl on a lost story. Both are interesting posts that had me thinking (and dreaming about the day I can look back and just have 49 page manuscripts I've forgotten about!)

As I mentioned in the comments on Marjorie's blog, I keep a moleskin notebook (I love knowing Hemingway used the exact same one) that is always with me for when any story idea, character, plot twist, etc pops into my head. Every so often I find myself flipping through those pages and it does spark my creativity. It also makes me smile to know that my current WIP is not the end - just the beginning of a lifetime of stories I have in me.

How about you - where do you keep your story ideas? Do you have a writing journal or are you hi-tech and keep everything in files on your computer? How often do you read back over your ideas?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Weekend Warrior: Celebrating a Milestone


My day job keeps me pretty busy during the week, so I get very little time to write Monday-Friday. I know I should stay up burning the midnight oil, but somehow at 31 I've become quite the oldie and once it hits 11:00 I can hardly keep my eyes open.

That's why I'm a Weekend Warrior. With my writing at least.

Trying to cram a week's worth of word count goals into my weekend is a daunting task. I feel overwhelmed and keenly aware that everything (meaning my goals) rides on getting those words to flow on those two days.

After a week of the day job, errands, grocery shopping, taking care of my fur-kids, checking on my first ever vegetable garden, etc, etc sometimes all I want to do is relax with a cocktail and read a great book.

As much as I might want it to be, sometimes writing is not part of my dream equation. But even this newbie writer knows that I need to write even if I don't feel like it, even if the inspiration isn't initially there.

And that's how I managed to hit a milestone this weekend. I officially passed 20,000 words on my WIP. As my word count kept creeping up there, I felt my excitement build and yes, I even pumped myself up by talking myself through it. "You can do this. You can do this." Let's just say a fist pump or two might have been seen by the hubby - who would crack up in laughter each time. "I don't think you are allowed to fist pump for yourself," he said.

Well this writer has no problem being her own cheerleader if that's what it takes to write this book! Bring on the mad lady talking to herself and making crazy hand movements. 20,000 might not seem like a lot to more seasoned writers, but this is the most I've ever written and I'm damn proud of myself.

Friday, May 28, 2010

So I know that no one is coming to this blog yet, but I felt compelled to write something letting my imaginary readers know that I'll be working on getting this blog up and running very soon.

Sabrina