Thursday, August 28, 2008

Give It to Me Quick!

I love “high concept” pitches! Probably because I’m so good at coming up with them (if I do say so myself). Not only am I a romance writer, I’m also a HUGE film buff. And just like movies need a tag line, so do you and your novels. Admittedly “Futuristics from the Heart” isn’t my most fabulous work. I think I do better at summing up novels…except for those 100 word blurbs which I hate! I like it short, simple and snappy like a one-liner. A couple of the examples that follow have gotten me kudos from teachers like Robin Perini and Kelley St. John.

So here are some of my best with a few ways I used them.

A “Saint” meets “Agent Cody Banks” coming of age story.

I loved Val Kilmer in the Saint and adored the Leslie Charteris books I found at my local library. As a nod, my heroine name is Leslie. I used this line in my cover letter as a closing.

Man versus machine terminator tale with an X-man-esque cast.

Of course man versus machine goes with Terminator, but it also symbolizes the way my heroes are fighting huge odds including cyborgs. As for the X-men, I’ve loved them since I was a kid. My genetically engineered team isn’t built on them, but because of their prevalence in the media and movie industry I figured it would be a safe bet to play. Everyone I know loves this one, especially my paranormal writer friends. I used this on my cover letter closing and as a lead into a pitch at two conferences.

A flip-flopped SWEET HOME ALABAMA with a heady dose of STRAIGHT TALK.

This line got an editor to read my chapters after she’s already passed on another submission. In LOVEMAKER, the heroine comes to NY from small town Georgia, so that’s why it’s a flip. Straight Talk is a movie with Dolly Parton where she gives love advice on a hit radio show. Since my heroine’s a love consultant, I thought it fit. And they’re both blondes. ;0)

This is wording I brainstormed for new banners on my website:

A modern-day Walt Disney cursed to be a werewolf,
whose only savior is the Norma Rae of witches.
Who’ll burn who when love is the bottom line?

This is for my new theme park paranormal that I came up with on the way to Florida for vacation. I owe the kernel to a trade magazine I picked up at the Welcome Center in Georgia.

A 1,000 year old feline…
A witch in the making...
Sparks fly and fur becomes manly flesh,
during a raging war for supremacy.
Will love end an ancient curse…
and conquer the Dragon of Deal’s Gap?

This is for the novella I wrote for Samhain, that didn’t final in the shapeshifter contest. It’s a follow up to JUST ONE LIFE and involves racing in the winding hills of NC. Believe me it’s a rush.

What happens when…
a mark warms up to his captor
a bounty hunter falls for her prey
and the client doesn’t bag herself a husband?
When LEAP DAYS hit, business rocks.
Will you side with the hunter or the hunted?

This is for the first book in a new series that stemmed from a wives’ tell I heard. Of course I mixed in a little imagination, a new world and added some grit. This is definitely not your mom or grandmother’s type of romance.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hi, Concept? Is that you?

Okay, so my title is facetious. That's sort of the emotion the term 'High Concept' evokes with me.

Call me a cynic. As authors we hear about 'high concept' all the time. If we're lucky enough to come up with a high concept, we may, in fact, be lucky enough.

Unfortunately, at least lately, I've been disillusioned with the the high concept books and movies I've seen. I think the term has really come to refer specifically to a project's potential reach the impulse buyer.

A high concept is the potato chip of the literary world. It's devolved into something that looks like it's going to taste really, really good, and you get one crunchy bite out of it, then it crumbles. The flavor is there, but it comes from fat and salt and carbohydrates, not from anything nutritional.

The high concept has become a 'bait and switch' - the book with the glossy cover and the celebrity author, or the gimmick that comes with the purchase to entice you into believing you're getting something really new and different, and all you really get is a few salty crumbs and calories you don't need.

I'm sure there are movers and shakers in the publishing world who will say, 'here's a girl who doesn't know what a high concept is,' and maybe as a writer I don't. But as a reader I do. I've bought enough of them, and I've always been disappointed.

Monday, August 25, 2008

High Concept - What is it?

Okay, I’m a fairly bright girl. I’m bright enough to admit when I’m unsure or just plain ignorant of something. I’ve heard lots of people holler about High Concept (HC)and what it is or isn’t. Originally, I think, screenwriters and producers used the term (probably thought it made them sound smarter, heheheh) All I know for certain is it’s a tool to help you sell your work. But how do we define it?

We don’t (ahem, using royal ‘we’ there, lol) We’re busy people with far too little time as it is. So we decided to see what others had to say about High Concept.

After Googling the term, the very first page it came up with was Steve Kaire

He says ‘High Concept is a term that’s been confused, misunderstood and misused by writers for decades. The common belief is that it’s any movie that can be pitched in one sentence.’

Okay, now that I’ve heard before – a one-sentence pitch. Mmm.

I don’t know about you but getting the essence of my books down to one measly sentence is hard, hard, HARD work! And I’m never really sure if I’ve captured it or not. But if we (not royal, this time :D) read Steve’s article, he’s got some pretty cool suggestions/definitions. I’ll list those for you down below.

One of the things he does say is that High Concept stories are pitch driven, where other stories are execution driven. This is kind of intriguing and, maybe, just a little disheartening if true. Does it mean that HC stories can be a little generic (though one of his requirements is originality – but then aren’t ALL our stories original???) We all know the difference between plot-driven and character-driven, right? So what is pitch driven? A pitch is a selling tool, a way to arouse interest or curiosity. A HC is a way to arouse interest/curiosity. Okay, I can buy that. What’s execution driven? A blow-by-blow retelling of the plot? Um, can’t boil that down to one sentence (unless it’s a 250 words long sentence, lol) I might have to wrok some more on understanding execution-criven pitches.

I’m willing to concede he may be on to something with the HC though. Let’s look at his rules to create it.

Requirement #1:


Yeah, okay. Nobodies gonna argue that.

Requirement #2:


Again, no arguments. Very few of us want to write for that one odd, little character sitting by his lonesome on the other side of a tall hedgerow (unless you're just being nice :D). We want to write to sell as many copies as possible, hence we want to write for – tada – the masses.

Requirement #3:


I guess that means it can’t be interchangeable between books.
Or that you can't do a 'fill-in-the-blank' kind of pitch. Darn.

Requirement #4:


Potential? Potential for what? Making vast heaps of money? Probably not (though THAT idea is really appealing, lol) He does explain that you should see the potential for the genre in the pitch/logline. If it’s a romance, you see the potential for romance in the HC. Or if it’s action oriented, you can see the potential for action in the HC. Same with comedy or mystery.

Requirement #5:


Which is what every site/expert on pitching tells us. Nothing new there.

I’m not sure if this really helps define a HC or not but it might be useful to help create a better pitch which is really what a High Concept is all about in my humble and ignorant opinion.

What do you think? Do you know how to define, AND CREATE, a High Concept? Tell me, tell me, please!

-- Lynda
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Friday, August 22, 2008

From One Writer to Another

Other than Craft:

1. Read in your sub-genre. You have to know what’s being published to know how your work will fit in or stack up.

2. Get a good chair! With the amount of hours you’ll have to sit behind your computer to finish that book, your back will thank you. A reliable laptop is also a must have for portability and the ability to change your surroundings!

3. Subscribe to a writing or industry magazine to stay abreast of what’s going on. I get Romantic Times, the RWR (as an RWA member), Affaire de Couer, and Writer’s Digest.

4. Be prepared to promo your books, etc. yourself. Publishers aren’t footing the bills these days. So find ways to be thrifty (to hold onto that advance or take home pay), but still get the job done professionally.

5. Invest in building strong friendships with other writers. You will need them down the road, and you’ll appreciate being their friend when you have to weather tough times.

On the Writing Front:

6. Make sure you have enough conflict in your plot. This is what will keep you from that sagging middle. But be sure the conflicts, especially the main one, isn’t contrived or easily solved.

7. Create characters that people will love and possibly hate (as a villain). The secret is to have your hero, heroine and secondary characters strike a chord in your readers.

8. Don’t be afraid to do something different. You want an X-factor that only you can provide. Voice is one of the number one selling points these days.

9. Build a story that lends itself to a series. These days publishers are more apt to buy in pairs or trios, instead of a single title. Be sure you have something tucked up your sleeve instead of leaving yourself in a lurch.

10. Embrace your emotion and write it like you feel. Describe details about romance, love, loss, and the rest of the emotional gamut to convey the true relationships in your work. Write as if you were living in that moment and you’ll do just fine!

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ten Little Things

Ten Little Things about writing Science Fiction Romance, from the world according to Xandra.

1. No matter what you're writing, Story Is King. It's always all about the story you're telling, and when you boil them down into their most basic elements, every story is some declaration of a truth about the human condition. Even when it's about forty foot-tall extradimensional squid-beings.

2. No story happens in a vacuum. The most exotic setting, however, still needs to be appropriate to the story you're trying to tell--that truth you're trying to express. All those interesting tidbits about the political convolutions of the Gorklemmians of Bizonga 6 won't mean a thing if they aren't relevant to your story.

3. No story happens to nobody. Or everybody. If you can take a character out and replace that character with another character, then you probably don't know enough about that first character. Always ask, "Why you?" And keep asking. Around the 20th time you ask, you start hitting truth. The characters need to be unique and appropriate to the story.

4. Worlds are brain-candy for your audience. When you create a world, you are giving readers a buffet of sensory perceptions to go along with the main dish of characters taking their attention. Make sure you offer them a balanced meal--and don't be afraid to do so. Fantastical worlds can be fantastical without losing a sense of reality, and it's worth your time and effort to put work into finding that balance.

5. Science is interesting. As long as it's relevant to the story, the science and technology going into your SF/Spec romance can be used as an element of storytelling in itself. Do yourself and your readers a favor and spend a little time thinking about the rules of science in your world.

6. Chances are, somebody's already thought of it. In the world of speculative fiction, there are a lot of wacky, crazy ideas. That means the ones you come up with have a likely chance that they will have appeared elsewhere. Accept this, and understand that it is your unique take on that concept that will freshen it and keep it relevant. Somebody may have already done it, but they haven't yet done it your way, and that's where the really interesting stuff happens.

7. Never shut down the playground. Your imagination--your ability to speculate--must always be at work on some level. Speculative fiction is not about following the recipe, it is about experimentation. About breaking the model and creating a new one.

8. Expect some explosions. Speculative fiction is about winging it, sometimes. About trying new things and doing odd things to familiar ideas. Some of those odd things will make those familiar ideas act awkward, feel vulnerable, and not want to call you the next morning. Great discoveries never were made without some stumbles, and if you're not risking something, then you're not in the running for the big payoffs, either.

9. Believe in love, but don't sweat defining it. The fun in speculative romance is that there is no model you're required to follow, and that goes for the romance part as well. In addition to letting your brain swing on the monkey bars of the creative imagination, don't force your heart to sit on the sidewalk with its hands in its pockets while looking longingly at the big twisty slide at the top of the jungle gym. That's just mean.

10. Stories are part of the divine spark of creation. Every story, if you're going to work on it, deserves to have its author(s) spare some of that creative spark for it. If you're hacking it and just writing for money, it'll invariably shake out, even if you're skilled enough to mask it with good craft. You owe it to the story and the readers to give it a spark. If you can't find one thing about the story that you can say you love (but please don't do this when you're in revisions, because then it's okay to be sick of the damn thing), then put it under the bed until you can.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tips for writing SF, F & P

This is a great topic and I’m looking forward to seeing what my co-bloggers have to say about the art of writing Science Fiction, Fantasy and Paranormal Romance.

Of course, a lot of writing is hit or miss with editors. What one loves another will pass on. Selling in these genres is a tough business.

Above all else, I’ve heard this over and over again from agents and editors. Solid world-building is the key.

I’ve been making up alternate worlds for as long as I can remember, and it has always seemed rather easy. My head was somewhere else anyway, and I was comfortable there, so how hard could it be to write about it? However, imagining another world, whether it’s a distant planet, a time far in the future or the past or just a world that’s slightly stranger than our own, is a lot easier than committing that world to paper and making it translate well for readers.

I’ve spent a good deal of my life in a world of my own imagining, but my readers have never been there, so in order to make them believe they are in the world of my story I have to provide not only a broad overview to anchor them, if you will, in my universe, but I need to give them the small details that will help clarify their vision of that world.

I tend to start big and work my way down. In my upcoming science fiction release from Ellora’s Cave, Rogue Heart, I’ve already created a universe where war with an alien race has left humanity scrambling to better itself, wary of all threats internal and external and struggling to survive on planets that are not the most hospitable. The canvas is broad, but the details I paint, such as characters requiring thick, dark sunshades to leave the confines of underground cities will hopefully help readers truly visualize the setting of my story. The detail is small, but significant. The clothes they wear reflect their status, muted colors for the lower classes who prefer to be as invisible as possible, yet dark red for prisoners, harkening back to the days when scarlet was considered the color of sin. These little pieces add depth to the picture and help readers become entrenched in the setting.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Tips for Writing SF, Fantasy or Paranormal Romance

We've had some great theme weeks lately, haven't we? I forget which Star-Crossed lady came up with this theme, but kudos! This one is particularly dear to my heart since I will inevitably pause to read any blog, web page or email that even purports to be somewhat instructional about my favorite genres :D For my part, I'll keep my tips mostly aimed at the science fiction portion.

We have to remember that above all else we're writing romance. That means that we must have a minimum of two protagonists whose goals, or methods in reaching those goals, are in conflict.

Uh, wait a minute. A minimum of two protagonists? Well, yeah, we are talking about SF&F. Who's to say that some planet in a distant galaxy doesn't require three or more individuals to successfully procreate? Granted that idea is more in line with straight SF but, with the advent of some forms of erotica, there have been a number of successfully done stories with three human partners. I generally start with a guy and a gal. At this point, I don't name them or give them any physical characteristics because I'll want to incorporate whatever 'world' they come from into their makeup.

Once I have my embryonic protagonists in place, I have to start building the world they live in because their environment will influence everything to do with their character, their background, their present, and, most importantly, their goals.

The first thing I have to decide is where will the story take place: Is this planet Earth? If yes, then I can use established continents, vegetation and weather. If not, then I must develop enough of the physical world to 'ground' me as I write their story.

The next thing I'll want to look at is the culture these protags come from. Again, if the planet is Earth, I can use one or more of the rich cultures we have for my characters. If not, then I must develop a cultural backdrop, at the very least, for them. And when I say develop a culture, I mean exactly that. I give thought to that world's political and sociological history, to the principle religions, the currency, technology, environmental issues, current leaders, what they do for entertainment. Sigh, the list goes on and on. I might not use a tenth of that but it'll be there if I need it to guide my character's actions.

At this point, I have enough information at hand to begin giving my characters their background. It won't be a final product but it will give me enough of a start that I can see where I'll need to do more research or planning or both. And it will give me the clues I need to understand how their goals will be in conflict. I'll decide on their names, their current occupation, hobbies if any, likes and dislikes, etc.

One thing to keep in mind is that the main characters, even if they're native to another planet, will have to have intrinsically human emotions and motivations or the reader may not have sympathy for them. This doesn't mean they have to be human, but they must have those qualities that humans can admire/understand. Therefore if I want my story hero to be not human, he must still be brave, honest (in his fashion) and devoted to the heroine even if she IS human. We don't worry overmuch about possible offspring -- because we write romance, we have to show that these two are capable of loving and worthy of being loved.

Assuming I've got my main characters almost completely realized, I'll probably write a chapter to introduce them, see how they play together. I may or may not keep that chapter but it will cause me to go back and fill in holes that I discover in their background or history.

At this point, I can start visualizing the plot...which for me means I decide how I'm going to resolve their conflict and end the book but I have to plan it out with the facts that I've developed in the characters themselves and the world they come from.

To me, that's the true beauty of writing.

-- Lynda

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Star Light, Star Bright....Interstellar Interview with Deborah Cooke

Bestselling author Deborah Cooke is a knitter and that's plain to see in
her wonderfully constructed novels whose characters jump off the page. Judges (as well as readers) have taken note and awarded her the Colorado Romance Writers’ Award of Excellence and Greater Detroit RWA Booksellers’ Best Awards as well as a Romance Reviews Today Award. She’s also been a finalist/nominee for Romantic Times Awards (including a Career Achievement Award), the HOLT Medallion, Publisher’s Weekly Quill Award, the Windy City RWA Choice Award, a Affaire de Coeur Award, the Write Touch, National Readers’ Choice Awards, and several FF&P PRISMs.

I never expected to meet Claire Delacroix in the flesh on my first trip to the New Jersey Chapter's Put Your Heart in a Book Conference. But there she was next to my friend Virginia Kantra, and I got to meet her! Isn't it fabulous how women and writers can come together in a crisis like those imposed by travel delays and hotel booking errors? To say the least I was floating on air and super thrilled when I also got her latest book as a favor.

Then one day I was cruising the aisle of Barnes and Noble and a man leapt out at me. Not literally of course. But the moment I saw Quinn from KISS OF FATE, I knew I had to have that book! Of course, I’d never heard of the author but decided to give the book a shot because it was right up my alley (and no, not just because of the eye candy). Of course that eye candy also had me asking for a postcard on Deborah’s blog. When she said yes, I was super ecstatic. When I decided to check her out a little more to ask her about doing a Star Light Interview you’ll never guess what I found out…or as readers, maybe you will. I discovered Deborah Cooke was Claire Delacroix and Claire Cross. Imagine that! So as they say the rest is history! (And yes, Quinn was as yummy as I thought he’d be!!)

Why did you decide to foray into paranormal romance instead of sticking to historicals?

Well, the funny thing is that I often included fantasy (or paranormal) elements in my historicals. People seem to forget that part! ENCHANTED is a medieval romance with a shapeshifter hero who was cursed to become a wolf; A MAGICIAN’S QUEST is a medieval romance with a shapeshifter hero who became a panther; THE SORCERESS is a medieval romance with a heroine who has precognitive dreams. I wrote time travels in the late 90’s under the name Claire Cross (ONCE UPON A KISS; THE LAST HIGHLANDER; LOVE POTION #9; THE MOONSTONE) and often included woo woo elements in subplots of other books. “The Jewels of Kinfairlie” trilogy, for example, has a secondary character named Darg, who is a spriggan (a kind of fairy) who only one of the siblings can see.

What is new about this series is the balance – the fantasy elements in the world of the Pyr are much more dominant than the fantasy elements in those previous books. We enter the world of the Pyr, instead of having it be a detail, and that’s a lot of fun for me.

How do you think
writing award-winning historicals has enriched your paranormals?

Having written a lot of romances makes it easy to balance internal and external conflicts, to pace the book well, to balance dialogue and ensure that sexual tension increases – all of those are basic skills that all writers hone over time, but I do think that having written historicals does help with worldbuilding.

One of the things imperative to a good historical is a strong sense of time and place. I think that historical writers learn a lot more about worldbuilding and about putting the reader into a specific location than is always necessary in contemporaries. That’s because we have a shared experience of contemporary settings, I can say “corporate office foyer” to you or “fast food court” and we each will conjure similar mental images of what that space looks like, smells like, feels like. That works for some extent with medieval settings like “dungeon” because of our shared experiences of movies, but might not work for “street in Paris”. The medieval experience of an urban street is much more pungent than ours and that’s fun to share with readers. There are also the details of social history – as an historical writer, I’m used to thinking of the logistics of, for example, providing a wedding feast. How do you feed 300 people more or less simultaneously, with one firesplace and no refrigerator and no transportation of foodstuffs over distance? What do you feed them, if you’re in Scotland? Or if you’re in Italy? How does it differ?

All of that translates into a habit of thinking about the facts of the world and how they mesh together, as well as making those details vivid to readers, without slowing the pace of the book.

What brainstorm led you to the concept of the Pyr and their origins? Are they or their mythos built upon real places or people?

I’ve always had a fascination with dragons, and it seems ideal to me that a shapeshifter hero should become a dragon. Dragons are gorgeous, powerful, and there are a lot of really great stories about them. Since one of my favourite things is blending the stories in my fictional world with stories from our own world, I literally have a treasure hoard at my fingertips here. I like taking concepts and twisting them a bit – What kind of hoard would a modern dragon have? How would he secure his lair? What would make a dragon vulnerable? What would be his most precious treasure of all? - Answering those kind of questions is a lot of fun.

There are a number of differing traditions about dragons, which is interesting too. In the east, they are the guardians of the four elements, so I played with that, giving each of the Pyr an innate affinity with one element. It just seemed natural to me that part of the power of the firestorm would be bringing four elements into union – one element that came naturally to the Pyr and one element that came naturally to his mate, then one each that they had to work for a bit. I love the idea of love healing, and of a romantic union being more than the sum of the parts, so both Pyr and mate grow into stronger people over the course of each book.

Will your Dragonfire series include novels about all of the Pyr/Slayers or a few key figures?

The first three books feature (in order) Quinn, Donovan and Erik, and each book steps a little further into the world of the Pyr. There will be three more - NAL and I have agreed upon Dragonfire #4 - #6 (titles and publication dates TBD). I know who those heroes are, but I’m not telling just yet! Beyond that, I do have a plan, but will share it with you as it’s contracted.

If you could have a firestorm with any Pyr, who would the lucky dragon be?

Whichever one I’m writing right now! I have a bad habit of falling in love with my heroes, and the one currently under my fingertips (!) is always my current fave. So, right now, it’s Dragonfire #4’s hero. (And you thought you could get me to give it away.) He’s dark and tormented, but honorable deep down inside, which is just so sexy. Yum.

What elemental power of the Pyr would you choose? How would you use your ability?

I’d love to be able to breathe fire, as well as to command it to do my will. I visited an artisan blacksmith to research Quinn’s occupation and it fascinated me. I really like how Quinn can use fire not only to heal, but to create art, so he finds creative power in what could be perceived as destructive. That tension between destruction and creation is interesting – of course, I’d use my power over fire to save the world and help the Pyr!

I’m sure you signed a slew of KISS OF FIRE and KISS OF FURY at Nationals in San Francisco, but where else can lucky readers/writers meet you?

I do have a signing coming up at Bakka-Phoenix Books in Toronto in October. You can find details about my schedule on my Claire Cross website, on the Where’s Claire page ( or watch for announcements on my blog, Alive & Knitting (

One lucky winner will also win a signed copy of the latest novel in the Dragonfire series, KISS OF FURY! So ask those burning questions or show Deborah/Claire how much you love her books!

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Monday, August 11, 2008

Weird Minds = Weird Ideas

I've got new neighbors. Cute male neighbors (two brothers). Tall, dark, good looking. They're younger than I am and like any young men, they have a lot of 'toys'. Most guy home owners would outfit this shed with regulation boy toys like tools. Not these young men.

They have dirt bikes/ATV's. Trampoline in the backyard. Pool table in the basement (I assume - it could be in the living room for all I know). Big screen TV. And a furnished shed out in the backyard.

Shed? Furnished?

Yep. A sofa, coffee table. Electricity. Not sure what else is in there. It isn't that big of a shed though.

When I first saw there was electricity in it (because the boys didn't turn the lights off AND they left the door ajar), I was kind of surprised. I've lived here a long time and didn't realize the previous owners had even put electricity in the shed. But what really had me lifting my eyebrows was the sofa, the table, oh and there's an easy chair. It's wall-to-wall but hey, they ain't my walls :D so I don't care.

But it started revving my weird little mind. Why would they want a furnished shed? Mmm. To have their own doghouse? (One of them is getting married soon and I suspect she'll be in charge when she arrives, lol) Or maybe one of them is a werewolf and needs his own 'fortress of solitude'? So far I haven't heard any howling so I'm guessing that isn't it. Or maybe one of them is a writer and needs his own space? Mmm.

I wouldn't be surprised. Women writers tend to find a corner where they can write. Male writers...need their own space.

But they may not be writers at all. Maybe this IS the dog house for their dog (when he grows up, he's still a pup). Or my dh suggests this is where the soon-to-be MRS is going to stay (riiiggghhht, there's no plumbing).

I think they furnished the shed because they wanted us neighbors to simply speculate about what they were doing.

LOL, they succeeded.

-- Lynda

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Friday, August 08, 2008

One Fan Girl to Another

Fan mail was always one of the things I dreamed about getting once I became a published author. Of course when I got my contract, and got my web site finished I was so excited that people wanted to join my newsletter “fan club”. One lady even said the reason she asked to be added to the group was because my books reminded her of Elizabeth Vaughn’s War series. To say the least I was flattered. And of course, scared that she’d ask to be uninvited when she read TIES OF VALOR.

Unfortunately, I never got to see my readers’ reactions to my wonderful cast of characters. And sending that newsletter about Trisk’s bankruptcy and admitting the book wouldn’t be coming out when they’d been waiting was one of the hardest things I had to do. I knew I had to be honest, and tell them the score, but it made me cringe. I know hoe loyal fans can be and how hard it is to get them back if they’re burned. I was afraid they might not take a chance on me again.

So I can’t say that I’ve received any true fan mail, but I have gotten compliments on my excerpts. In fact I had people asking for more, which is always a great thing! A close second to fanmail was receiving posts on my chapters at Gather and Romance Junkies when I entered their contests. It truly was entertaining, and occasionally interesting what people picked up on in my writing.

Some of the best letters/cards I’ve gotten were from people I’ve judged in contests. They are grateful for the things I’ve pointed out, or atleast appear to be :0) I was just happy to help others as my writing friends had helped me. Since then, I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of those authors in person at conferences, which was extra special!

I think next to chatting with a fan about your books, fan mail is about the closest thing a person can get when they don’t live in your “neck of the woods”. So if I ever get the chance to receive some, I’ll treasure each one. And yes, I know sometimes they’re the good, bad and downright ugly…but atleast they’ll be mine to sock away in a shoebox.

One of the items in my office that I still treasure is Carrie Alexander’s response to a fan letter I sent her. She took the time to write me a six page letter longhand back before computer’s were an everyday tool. These kinds of thoughtful deeds really can change a girl’s life!

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Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Go Fan Yourself

No, I'm not being mean, I just thought it was a catchy title. Hehehhehee ---

Fan mail. The very words inspire goosebumps and giddiness. It's like drinking Champagne while snorting helium. Makes you kind of light-headed and floaty. Though I've had only a few books published to date (many more under contract, thank God!) I have yet to receive very many fan letters. I don't know if it's because folks are not finding it easy to obtain my email, or because like me, they just don't think to write the letter.

I have to admit, I am the world's biggest fan girl when it comes to my favorite writers, and yet I've never put pen to paper or hands to keys to tell them how much I love and appreciate their work. Hmmmm, maybe it's time to start. I have writer friends who always send out a quick note if they read a book they love to let the author know. Such a simple thing. Quick too in these days of email. So, I guess that does kind of tie in with the title of my post. If you act like a fan yourself then in the great universe of reciprocation, perhaps someone will fan you.

But I digress....

I have gotten a few emails here and there and they always brighten my day, make me feel like someone actually "gets" my work. Believe it or not, the highlight of my trip to RT this past April was when a potential fan came up to me at the book signing to tell me she's been a year trying to obtain a copy of Immorati. When I arrived home I had an email waiting for me from someone else that said the same thing. I had the great pleasure of telling them that it will soon see print and they will be able to purchase copies of it. To me, that's like a whole year's supply of awesome sauce.

On my recent publications, I've been more diligent about having my email address displayed promiently somewhere in the book. Hopefully this will increase the number of readers who touch base with me. We'll see.

Oh, and more about the hunky book cover on the weekend!

The Joy of Fan Mail

As Lynda said in yesterday’s post, fan mail is one of the few things that can make you feel like a real writer. It’s odd that so many authors tend to feel like posers most of the time, but it seems to be a universal problem. Until you sell a book, see a review, get fan mail or cash your first royalty check, it’s easy to think of it all as a pipe dream, or a hobby that your family wishes you’d give up on so they could have their dinner on the table in a timely manner. Like vampires crave blood, writers crave validation and there’s no better way to get it than through fan mail.

Before I sat down to write this post, I took a quick look through my own fan mail folder, and I was surprised to note that most of the fan mail I’ve received was about my early vampire novels, Bonfire of the Vampires and Fresh Blood. These were written at the tail end of the vampire craze, just about the time NY publishers had handed down the decree that they were no longer interested in characters with pointy teeth.

Oddly enough, according to my fan mail, readers couldn’t get enough. In order to get around the NY moratorium on fangs and give readers what they wanted, I switched to werewolves, and those stories did well too. Ultimately, I wrote a full length ‘un-vampire story’ which is still making the rounds in NY while editors try to decide if the hero’s ‘lack’ of fangs will work for them. Funny how things turn around.

I love to hear from readers for this reason. It’s not only wonderful to get that validation, to know that someone out there who paid to read my work got their money’s worth, but it’s also great to know what stories really appeal to readers enough that they’ll take a moment to let me know. Those are the stories I want to keep writing, not necessarily because they earn the most money but because they touch readers and bring them into my world.

I’d like to thank all the readers who’ve written to me over the years, and even those who wrote to me back when I was writing fan fiction. Not only did you help give me the confidence to continue my stories, you helped me decide what to write.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Theme Week - Fan Mail

There are a few things that will make a person really feel like a writer -- contracts, royalty checks and fan mail.

A writer spends the bulk of her creative time working alone. Oh, some of us have critique groups who give input or feline companions whose mmrrpphhh-style comments run the gamut of 'well done' to 'needs more cats'. And some of us have supportive family (though mine seems to be generally unimpressed, lol). But mostly we work and write alone.

I think we all get a huge rush of endorphins once we finish a manuscript and it's accepted by a publisher. But that soon fades as we continue to write the next book while we anxiously await the release of our first baby.

Reviews come rolling in -- some great, some not so good, some so-so. The good reviews are a second form of validation and that's a great ego boost in and of itself. But occasionally we writers will get a lonely little email or maybe even a snail mail letter telling us how much that one person enjoyed our work.

Think about it. A publisher is looking to make a profit from a book (nothing wrong with that, so are we, lol). A reviewer is helping to encourage reading and promoting the writer (and we love them for it!) But a fan?

This is a regular person, a Jane or Sally Doe who maybe just needed a bit of escape or enjoyment and found it in your book. And they took the time to let you know. Wow!

That one piece of correspondence can make a frigid Michigan winter day seem that much brighter and warmer. It can make a day where nothing has gone right begin to sparkle like a polished diamond. It can make a writer whose career has maybe gone into slow mode feel recharged and give her the oomph she might need to start a new manuscript or put the finishing touches on one that just needs a bit of polish.

Fan mail is a wonderful thing. And to those who've written me about my books, thanks again! You made my day :D

-- Lynda

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Sunday, August 03, 2008

New Release Available Today!

I’m thrilled to announce my latest release, the sequel to my 2006 werewolf story, Wolfsbane: Aspect of the Wolf.

Here’s the blurb for Wolfsbane 2: Leader of the Pack

Torn between a werewolf and the man who vows to destroy him, hereditary witch Charlotte Swanson is faced with a deadly choice. Vance Garrison’s werewolf blood was a curse he hid for years. Now cured of lycanthropy and still reeling from his broken engagement to an Alpha female who sought to exploit his secret heritage, his resolve to avoid emotional attachments is sorely tested when he finds himself fighting for the affection of the beautiful witch who makes him long for position as Leader of the Pack.

To find out more about Wolfsbane 2: Leader of the Pack visit Amber Quill Press/Amber Heat today!

Friday, August 01, 2008

Sedentary Seduction

One of the things that hit me at the conferences I’ve attended is the issue of writers’ fitness. Everywhere I looked I saw plump middles and “secretary spread”. Since I’m doing the Biggest Loser challenge at my local gym (and starting another Monday at my FT job) I decided to make that my topic for today. Well not those extra love handles or jiggly bits, but easy ways to firm them up :0)

The simplest change would be to use an exercise ball as a chair. Sure you can’t do this for eight hours, but you can swap out each hour or two. (It’s a widely shared tip that office workers should get up from their desks to stretch their legs/arms and de-stress every hour.) When choosing an exercise ball, make sure to get one that is appropriate for your height! You also don’t want to be too low or too high in relation to your keyboard. So how does this help you? Using the ball can strengthen your core muscles, since you have to use them and your legs to balance yourself. (You’ll also have to use those core muscles to keep your posture straight.) This won’t burn a lot of calories, but it will help that saggy middle not to get saggier. For added benefit, during your hour stretch you can also do side to side twists (keeping your back straight) that will work your waistline and obliques. If you write for five hours and do ten reps per side in five minutes, that’s 100 extra exercises in the space of 25 minutes! And if you have extra time in those few minutes, you can also do crunches/sit-ups on your ball ;0)

If you have to get up for a water run, snack raiding excursion, or potty break use the opportunity to do some chair squats. Pretend you’re sitting in a chair with your hips back, back straight, and without your knees jutting in front of your ankles. The lower you go the more you’ll work your hamstring and gluts.

Stuck at a plot point? Why not get some extra energy to break through by doing tricep extensions or bicep curls? You can use things in your office like a set of RITAs, reference books, or the usual hand weights (free weights). Just be careful that you don’t try to lift too many pounds at once. 3 to 5 pounds is a good starting point. For the tricep extensions, bend over at a 45% angle with your back straight and place your weight just in front of your arm pit. Then extend your arm backwards in a full extension, then bring it back to the starting position. A good rule of thumb is 10-12 per arm and you can work both arms at once or individually. To do bicep curls, start with the back of your hand resting against your thigh and curl up, squeezing at the top. You don’t have to touch your shoulder with the weight. As long as you feel your bicep contract as you curl, you’re okay! Also, a good rule of thumb is not to rest your elbows on your hips, because it defeats the purpose. See you could fit 50 to 60 of these in within five hours.

Used to pacing as you plot? Why not change that to side steps or a grapevine? For side steps simply step back and forth from left to right. For more benefit you can also use a stretchy band to add resistance. This will work your inner and outer thigh as well as your gluts. Hold one end of the stretchy band (or handles) in each hand, then step onto the middle of the band and place your hands on your hips. Then simply step side to side while keeping the band taunt beneath your feet as you move. A grapevine will give you a little cardio as well as helping your coordination. Simply put your right foot over your left, then your left foot over your right. Just like the dance! :0) Do either of these for minute intervals each hour (or 3 sets at a time) and you’ll have burn extra calories by the time you’ve finished your daily word count!

My favorite new fitness site is with advice from Bob Harper. There’s one about a writer, but so far I think this video tip is the best:

With these tips you can stop the seduction of being sedentary. Yes, it may take trial and error plus a mindset switch, but if you want to change you can. As my sister who’s lost over 100 pounds says, “If you believe it, you can achieve it!”
Another way to curb spread is paying attention to what you put in your mouth. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I keep a food journal to track what I eat. Healthier ways to snack or feed that frustration are 100 calorie packs as well as low fat/low sugar alternatives. A new personal fave is Hershey’s Dark Chocolate sticks. They’re 60 calories each plus they have antioxidants! It’s so bad to indulge, but oh so good to give in without guilt!

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