Tag Archives: writing

Science Fiction Romance: The African Queen in Outer Space?

Today’s guest blogger is former teacher, principal, and symphonic oboist Edward Hoornaert, who’s here to discuss how The African Queen starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn inspired his latest science fiction romance novel. Welcome, Ed!

Set on an inhospitable moon…

My upcoming science fiction romance, Escapee, is coming out in early 2016 from MuseItUp Publishing out of Montreal. What inspired me to write the book?

The 1951 movie, The African Queen. My version is set on an inhospitable moon, rather than the African Jungle, but in both tales the hero and heroine battle nature and, ultimately, the invading enemy.

How did I transform a movie into a science fiction romance? So glad you asked.

Analyzing the movie

I rented the movie and looked for two things:

  • Stages — Charley and Rosie’s relationship go through a number of stages.
  • Turning points — The events that caused their relationship to change from one stage to another.

I then devised analogous — but subtly different — stages and turning points for Escapee. Here are a few of them, so you get the feel for how the analysis worked.

Stage 1:  Polite disconnect between hero and heroine.

  • AQ — Rosie, a missionary in German East Africa, disapproves of Charley, a crude freighter captain who brings supplies, but treats him with chilly politeness.
  • Escapee — Hector, a stuffy career army officer, disapproves of the freewheeling, lower-class airship pilot, Cattaroon who supplies his base.

Turning point:  The enemy invades. In AQ, it’s the Germans, who leave Rosie alone and stranded — until Charley comes by and saves her.

In Escapee, it’s humans from the Proxima system. While Hector’s on leave, they destroy his entire command, leaving him stranded and alone — until Catt lands, looking for survivors.

Stage 2:  Rosie devises a near-impossible goal that he doesn’t agree with.

  • AQ — Rosie wants to attack a German warship. Charley agrees, knowing she’ll give up when she learns how dangerous the river is.
  • Escapee — Hector wants to attack enemy headquarters. Catt agrees only because she’s certain he’ll give up when he realizes how dangerous a flight across the moon is.

So far the two stories are similar. Now they start to diverge, though the skeleton remains the same.

Turning point:  When mild danger fails to deter her from her purpose, his true feelings come out explosively.

  • In AQ, after shooting rapids doesn’t deter Rosie, Charley gets drunk and insults Rosie. She dumps out all his rum.
  • In Escapee, after getting caught in a volcano’s updraft doesn’t deter Hector, Catt sabotages a cannon stored in the airship’s hold.

Stage 3:  Futile attempts to rebuild a civil relationship.

  • AQ — Charley apologizes for insulting her, but she won’t accept his apology unless he agrees to take her to the Germans’ ship.
  • Escapee — With the cannon gone, Hector realizes how futile his quest is. Feeling guilty, Catt tries to be nice, but he’s too depressed to talk about it.

Turning point:  He agrees to share her goal.

In AQ, Charley’s (deeply buried!) chivalry makes him give in.

In Escapee, Catt remembers all the friends whom the enemy has killed. Hearing her cry during the night, Hector finally talks, voicing his idealistic reasons for wanting to fight. Inspired by his idealism, Catt agrees to make the dangerous voyage to the other side of the moon.

Stage 4:  Falling in love

Etc, etc.

“Inspired By”, Not a Ripoff

This post is getting long, so I won’t bore you with all six stages, but hopefully you get the general idea. Analyzing the movie turned out to be a huge help in developing my plot. You ought to try it some time.

I’d like to emphasize that Escapee ended up having a very different feel than the movie. If I didn’t tell you it was based on the African Queen, you wouldn’t notice. If addition to being science fiction rather than historical drama, here are some of the key differences:

  • Although both environments are hostile, they’re different — river rapids vs. hurricanes and volcanoes.
  • The characters’ genders are reversed. Their wounds are very different, as are the lessons they need to learn.
  • I added secondary characters. They capture an enemy who tries to sabotage the airship. Hector has an alien pet that is ugly/lovable. Finally, Catt’s android co-pilot provides comic relief as well as the book’s most poignant scene, when he dies.
  • The ending is more believable, IMHO. AQ‘s ending requires an act of God (a rainstorm that floats their grounded boat) and a wild coincidence (their sunken boat nonetheless sinks the German ship). Escapee has a logical ending.

What’s It to You?

If you have a favorite movie you love, you might want to turn it into a book of your own. If so, consider analyzing it for stages and turning points.

What movie would you like to turn into an “inspired by” novel? Tell us about it in the comments.

[Jill: Many of you know that Noon Onyx was loosely inspired by Evy Carnahan from The Mummy. None of the plot points are the same though. Want to read about my lunchtime light bulb moment when the idea of the character first came to me? See my FAQ page.]

Guardian Angel of Far Flung StationSuggested Reading

Escapee is the second book in my space opera series featuring the Dukelsky family. The first book is The Guardian Angel of Farflung Station.

Sandrina, a lonely, waif-like genius, conceals more secrets—and power—than anyone on Farflung Space Station. One secret is her hopeless crush on Duke Dukelsky, the handsome head of the station’s security.

But when invaders take over Farflung, Duke needs Sandrina’s help to repel them and rescue the reformed space pirate who cut out her tongue when she was eight. Can she earn Duke’s love even though it means stripping herself of all secrets and forgiving the man who maimed her?

Edward Hoornaert

Edward Hoornaert

About Edward Hoornaert

What kind of man writes romance? A man who married his high school sweetheart a week after graduation and is still living the HEA decades later. A man who is a certifiable Harlequin hero in his own right — Ed inspired Vicki Lewis Thompson’s Rita Award finalist Mr. Valentine, which is dedicated to him.

Ed started out writing romances for Silhouette Books, but these days he concentrates on science fiction romance. In addition to novelist, he’s been a teacher, principal, technical writer, salesman, janitor, and symphonic oboist. He and wife Judi live in Tucson, Arizona. They have three sons, a daughter, a mutt, and the world’s most adorable grandson. Visit him at http://eahoornaert.com.

Ed’s still waiting on the cover and buy links for Escapee. In the meantime, you can check out all of his books here. Thanks for guest blogging today, Ed!


STILL stuck inside? Sign up for my newsletter! (#read #darkfantasy)

We are slowly digging out from under snow storm Jonas, i.e. Snowzilla. Almost two and a half feet here! How about you? How much snow did you get? Are you still trapped?

If you’re still stuck inside and looking for something to do, you can sign up for my quarterly author newsletter.

What will my newsletter offer?

Newsletter

Quarterly newsletters will be sent every September, December, March, and June. Content will vary but will likely be some combination of:

  • Snippets from old or new work
  • Quizzes
  • Fun quotes and tweets
  • Recipes related to the books
  • Random Facts (background info on characters, etc.)
  • First look at Extras I’ll be adding to my website
  • Interesting stuff I’m researching
  • Meet the Team (bios of people who help me behind the scenes)
  • Be an Ambassador (ways readers can help me spread the word about my books)
  • Contests/Giveaways

Newsletters will also be sent out for each NEW RELEASE!

How will the newsletter differ from the blog?

The newsletter is mostly for readers who like my books and want to hear more about them. Some content, including occasional giveaways, will be exclusive to newsletter subscribers.

This blog will continue to be what it always has been – an inconsistently scheduled mashup of all the things I’m interested in: books, movies/TV shows, writing, day tripping, guest posts, etc.

Feel free to share my newsletter sign up link: http://eepurl.com/bAzF7n

Thanks, everyone! Hope you’re all doing well!


Anna Durand: New Year, New Risks, Plenty of Romance

My first guest blogger for 2016 is writer, librarian, and audio book addict Anna Durand. She’s here with a post about goal setting and taking risks. If you’ve somehow escaped making resolutions for 2016, NOW’S YOUR CHANCE! Use this post as your final push to write this year’s To Do List. Welcome, Anna!

Take a Risk With Your Writing This Year

At the end of every year, I start to think about what I want to accomplish the next year. I rarely make resolutions, because I prefer to set goals. Resolutions feel like something you’ve failed at if you can’t live to up to what you resolved to do for the year. Goals, on the other hand, are guideposts for your life and career. If don’t reach your goal, it somehow feels like less of a failure.

That’s why I make stepped goals — do A, if that works, do A1, and after that A2, and so on. In this way, the overarching goal becomes more attainable. If I don’t complete all of goal A or goal B this year, I know I’ve done a good job working toward my goals. This year, most of my goals revolve around my writing career. I plan on taking more risks, branching out into new subgenres of romance, both self-publishing and submitting to traditional publishers.

Last year, I set a goal to write more and write faster. I accomplished that through my self-imposed challenge to write a complete 20,000-word story in five days, as well as by self-publishing two books and contracting another with The Wild Rose Press. I also finished three more books, as yet unpublished.

This year, I’ve set more writing goals:

  • Put the final polish on my three finished manuscripts and submit them to publishers.
  • Write my first historical romance, a time travel story with witches, set in 15th-century Scotland.
  • Write a fantasy romance.
  • Write the third book in the Psychic Crossroads series.
  • Write and publish the fourth and final installment in the Reborn series.
  • And oh yeah, write more erotic romances!
  • Sign up for more guest posts on other blogs.
  • Pay for targeted advertising to boost sales of my currently published books.
  • Schedule more guests on my blog, but only three days a week now. I nearly went insane scheduling them seven days a week!

That’s just what I’ve thought of so far. I will add more goals as I progress with these, and each of the above goals has sub-goals. By breaking things down into bite-size chunks, my goals become more attainable and less forbidding. When I look at my list of goals, I know I can achieve them all. My 2016 will be even better than 2015.

Happy New Year, everybody! May you achieve everything you want and have fun while doing it.

More about Anna

Anna Durand

Anna Durand

Anna Durand is an award-winning writer, a freelance librarian, and an audiobook addict. She specializes in steamy romances featuring spunky heroines and hunky heroes. As a member of Romance Writers of America, she volunteers for its chapters to give back to the romance community. In her previous life as a librarian, she haunted the stacks of public libraries but never met any hot vampires hunting for magical books.

Intuition-AnnaDurandMore about Anna’s Latest Release

Torn apart by their haunted pasts, Grace Powell and her fiancé David Ransom are struggling to reclaim their passionate bond and build a normal life — one without danger and paranormal powers. But David can’t renounce his obsession with hunting down Karl Tesler, who abducts and tortures psychics. David endured Tesler’s tactics himself, but despite what Grace believes, he’s not out for revenge.

Tesler covets her unprecedented abilities and her mysterious connection to a source of limitless psychic power. David will do anything — even abandon and lie to her — to protect Grace from Tesler.

With a psychic stalker on her trail, Grace charges into a desperate mission to uncover the truth about David’s obsession. But Tesler’s agents are closing in on her, and a terrifying new enemy is rising…

As events drive Grace and David toward a battle of epic proportions, they must risk everything — their relationship, their lives, and even their souls — to defeat an enemy who wields unspeakable psychic power.

Buy Links

Thanks, Anna, for guest blogging today!


#Writing Resolutions: 5 Ways to Keep Them!

I’m over at RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter today with 5 Ways To Keep Your Writing Resolutions. Haven’t yet made a 2016 writing resolution? There are plenty of ideas. Made one but not sure how to keep it? That’s what the post is for. Made a resolution and already know how you’re going to keep it? Stop by and share your secrets!

New Year’s Lagniappe: Is your resolution to write a novel this year? I’m offering to coach one member of FF&P who hasn’t yet reached PRO/PAN. Details are in the post. Happy writing, all!

Took this at the NASW Aviation Museum in Cape May, NJ. They have all sorts of vintage 1940s stuff. I suppose, one day, my laptop will look just as dated.

Took this at the NASW Aviation Museum in Cape May, NJ. They have all sorts of vintage 1940s stuff. I suppose, one day, my laptop will look just as dated.


GOODBYE 2015 — Two Things I Did Wrong and Two Things I Did Right

My first post for 2016 is a tell-all. 

Ha. Kidding, of course. I don’t have any shocking or salacious secrets to share. I do, however, love hyperbole, alliteration, and taking stock at year-end.

TWO THINGS I DID WRONG

(SORT OF) IN 2015

Nothing Published

I never promised a new novel in 2015 and for that, I’m grateful. It really bugs me to say I’ll do something and then not do it. I knew even back at the start of 2015 that getting a fourth novel out last year would be difficult. Still, I thought I would be able to publish other, smaller projects, like a Nightshade novella, a standalone of my short story “Dream, Interrupted,” or an audio version of something. But I didn’t. And that sucks. Because I wanted to.

But there were good reasons for each of those projects not happening.

(The Nightshade novella has always been ancillary to the Noon novels; it took longer than I anticipated to confirm that I have the right to do audio versions for the first three Noon books; and “Dream, Interrupted” was somewhat experimental. I’m not sure, frankly, if it’s worth it to do anything more with it. If so, it will require more thought than I want to give it right now.)

Still… not publishing anything feels very unproductive, especially in the current über-prolific publishing world where it seems that authors everywhere are being pressured (regardless of whether they are traditional or self-pub) to publish a minimum of one book a year.

I’ve said many times that if I could change one thing about me as a writer, it would be the pace at which I write. I’ve tried with zero success. When I attempt to write something at a faster pace, I produce garbage. Garbage that can probably be fixed. But fixing it takes time. And then I’m back to square one.

At least I’m in good company. George R.R. Martin recently revealed that he won’t be releasing The Winds of Winter anytime soon. Obviously, he’s GRRM and I’m Jill No Middle Initials Archer, but a lot of what he said in his post really resonated with me.

Ok, it’s true that I don’t have to worry about HBO, the Emmys, or a ginormous fan base, but his simple, truthful admissions (e.g. “sometimes the writing goes well and sometimes it doesn’t”) are encouraging to slow writers like me.

It’s crap that I didn’t publish anything in 2015. But that doesn’t mean that I’m a crap writer.

No Newsletter

Oh. My.

If I could go back in time à la Marty McFly or Claire Randall Fraser nèe Beauchamp I would start an author newsletter in the summer of 2012, two months before Dark Light of Day’s release.

As it is, I neither started a newsletter, nor did I save in any easy-to-locate place all of the email addresses of the various readers who have contacted me in the years since. Stupid? You bet. But live and learn, I suppose. (And, to be clear, I’m not saying I’d sign anyone up for a newsletter without their permission, but I don’t think it’s out of line to email them once to tell them I’m starting one and ask them if they’d like to subscribe.)

In October of 2015, I mentioned here that I’d be launching a newsletter “soon.” Didn’t happen. Why? Well, the biggest reasons are elsewhere in this post, but I also got lazy about learning how to use Mail Chimp and I worried that a year+ after my last release, no one would sign up. Obviously, I need to get over myself. I continue to think that newsletters can be an effective part of an author’s outreach plan. The only way I’ll ever know if it works for me is to do it. The sooner the better, but at the latest, before Pocket Full of Tinder is released.

♦♦♦

TWO THINGS I DID RIGHT

IN 2015

I continued to participate in the writing/reading/publishing community

Though 2015 was a quiet year for me, I didn’t disappear completely. About halfway through the year, I scaled back my online activity so that I could spend more time on Pocket Full of Tinder. But I still posted here occasionally. I checked in on Facebook and Twitter. I lurked on writer’s group loops. I scheduled workshops for FF&P. I read lots of books. I took classes on self-publishing. I responded to readers who reached out to me. I served as a writing accountability coach for a nonfiction writer who lives near me – and SHE published in 2015 – something I was incredibly happy about.

I kept writing and submitting

This is the key to everything, of course. If 2016 shapes up to be a good year, it will be because of the work I did in 2015. I may not have released anything in 2015 but I:

  • Wrote a 20,000 word adult fantasy proposal (I submitted it to my agent, but we both decided it wasn’t ready to be submitted to New York. I could have revised, but decided to stuff it in a drawer instead. I want to finish Pocket Full of Tinder.)

[For those of you who don’t know, once you are published, you can sell future work by submitting a proposal. Typically, a fiction proposal is the first 50-100 pages of the manuscript, a complete synopsis/summary, back cover copy, and your bio. Twenty thousand words may not sound like much, but there’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work that goes into getting those first 20,000 words right. Putting a saleable proposal together is no easy task. Much of the research, worldbuilding, plotting, and characterization has to be done before that first portion of the manuscript can even be written.]

  • Submitted my YA fantasy proposal to five editors (in addition to the six editors we sent it to in 2014). Out of eleven editors, two passed it on to another editor (a great sign), one exchanged emails with my agent (another potentially good sign), but ultimately all rejected (two in one day!!). All of them gave the proposal serious consideration and nearly all of the rejections were kind and complimentary – “clever concept” “intriguing” “fresh and original” “compelling premise” “REALLY good writer” “reluctantly passing”………

But. No. Sale. Argh!!! :-(

[For the record, in case anyone beyond my readers or writer friends reads this, I’m truly grateful for the experience. I very much appreciate that nearly a dozen awesome editors took the time to review my proposal and consider buying it. I think the books would have been fantastic. But publishing is a weird beast, half-creative and half-commercial. Editors not only have to love the books they buy, they also have to believe those books will have mass market appeal. A writers’ life is challenging, but I don’t envy Big 5 editors. It’s got to be a tough gig.]

  • Wrote 50,000 words of Pocket Full of Tinder. Do I wish I was further along? Yes! But I’ll get there. The book’s halfway finished and fully plotted. I found an illustrator to do a custom cover for me and I’m on her wait list. Hopefully, we’ll start designing the cover by the end of February.

♦♦♦

Things I did in 2015 that were neither right nor wrong

Left my literary agency

This was as amicable as it could be. I’m still friends with my former agent and, if I see her at a future conference, I will give her a big hug and ask her if she wants to grab a coffee, wine, lunch, or whatever. I’m so very grateful to her for all that she did for me. She is a terrific mentor and a dedicated, loyal, committed, and tenacious agent. So why leave? After spending fourteen months trying to sell my YA proposal, I knew my next step was going to be to self-publish the next Noon book. Our paths started to diverge and it felt like the right time to clarify my relationship with the agency. I don’t regret the decision but that didn’t make it any easier. It was INCREDIBLY DIFFICULT (anyone who has ever left an agency can probably relate, although every situation is different so maybe not).

Judged myself more harshly than others

This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about recently. The fact that, when other people share their challenges with me, I’m much more forgiving with them than I am with myself.

When I talk with other writers, I’m constantly stressing that the important questions are whether they’re happy, whether they feel creatively fulfilled, whether they’re meeting THEIR GOALS, but with myself, I strive to be unflinchingly objective. This is good and bad.

Setting quantifiable goals and meeting them is a guaranteed way of achieving what you want. You know the Yoda quote, “Do or do not. There is no try.” I get that.

But writing fiction is unlike anything else I’ve ever done. It requires imagination and emotion and letting go as much as it does discipline and structure and bearing down.

♦♦♦

Goals for 2016?

Make the transition from traditional to self-pub

This doesn’t mean that I’m giving up on being a hybrid author. I’d love to sell to New York again. But it will be a while. I’m going to self-publish my fourth novel and then…

And then…

We’ll see. :-)

A lot depends on how that goes. But, after a somewhat rocky 2015, I feel sanguine about 2016.

A return to my irregular, inconsistent blogging schedule

Hahaha. You all know I’m the poster child for “Do as They Say, Not as I Do.” My blog has NEVER been a contender for any “Best Websites for Writers” list. And that’s not me being too harsh on myself. That’s just me calling it like it is. But blogging isn’t meant to be perfect. So, in a way, my blog *is* perfect. :-D

Expect some of the same type of posts I wrote in the past – writing, books, movies… Noon Onyx updates, posts about my first time self-publishing… that sort of thing.

Ok, that’s it for now. If I would have put this many words into Pocket Full of Tinder I would be one very happy lady right now.

How about you? Did 2015 end the way you wanted it to? What are your goals for 2016?


#Writing #Workshops for January (and new puppy pictures!)

This will be my last post as FF&P’s workshop scheduler. Starting in January, I’m going to be coordinating the new release announcements, which happens over at our chapter website. My last workshops post offers info on two great ones for the New Year: one on author newsletters and one on how to write multiple books in a year. Obviously, I could use both workshops! :-D

Also, pictures of our NEW PUPPY are below!!! It’s been almost two years since we’ve had a dog in the house and we were ready! His name is Tug (yeah, makes me laugh too. Do you know how hard it is for a family of four to agree on a pet name?! Like the Spice Cats, Tug was named by my kids.)

And are we the only ones who haven’t yet seen THE FORCE AWAKENS? We’re going tonight…

◊◊◊◊◊

Below are the online workshops being offered in January by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop, please contact Jenn Windrow for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

Author Newsletters: Adding Value to E-Newsletters to Grow Your List and Strengthen Readership Loyalty

01/04/2016 – 01/29/2016

Stumbling along the ever-changing landscape of social media?  Frustrated with posts that only reach 25% of your followers?

Drive traffic to a source you control: your e-newsletter.

In this workshop, you will learn strategies for growing your list by offering value adds to your e-newsletter subscribers.  In addition, we will take a look at tools for measuring the responsiveness of your list, what attracts readers, and what doesn’t work.  Take control of communicating with your readers.  Build an e-newsletter that works for you.

About the Presenter, Jessie Clever

Jessie Clever always wanted to be a writer.

Then she found out you had to market your books.

While she went on to write Regency romance, Jessie kept to the practical course and earned her MBA with a concentration in marketing, gaining hands on experience in companies ranging from entrepreneurial start-ups to multi-channel international retailers. She now uses her knowledge and experience to help authors expand their readership and deepen the loyalty of their readers. Learn more at somedayladypublishing.com.

Cost: FFP Members:$15.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

The Book Factory: Producing Multiple Novels in One Year

01/04/2016 – 01/31/2016

  • Is life getting in the way of you completing that novel?
  • Ever think there’s not enough hours in the day to find time to write?
  • Have a full-time job distracting you from your real passion of being a novelist?
  • Are family responsibilities weighing you down and interfering with your writing goals?

I’m here to tell you that YOU CAN DO IT ALL and DO IT SUCCESSFULLY!

In 2009, I successfully managed one husband, two jobs, three children, a difficult pregnancy, AND still managed to write twelve books, sell ten of those books (including all the editing and promotion), and coped with other various life challenges thrown in just for fun!

How did I do all of that and still find time to eat and sleep?

I developed a method of writing known as “The Book Factory Method”. It does require commitment and desire to “get it done”. If you’re willing to put in the effort, you can produce multiple books in one year.

What’s the benefit of completing multiple books in one year?

The more books you have ready to submit, the more chance you’ll receive contract offers on one or more of those books.

Why shouldn’t you just focus on one book and continue polishing that book all year long?

The cold, hard truth is that you might not ever sell that one specific book. You should always have more than one project “in the works”.

Are you one of those writers who starts multiple projects but never finishes any of them?

Then this class is for you as well. We’ll talk about how to finally see those projects through to completion.

Have trouble with time management or procrastination?

We’ll address methods for getting organized and staying focused. Plus much, much more!

If you want to learn how to get started, stay on track, and get those books ready to submit…this workshop puts a method to the madness of novel writing.

About the Presenter, Kerri Nelson

Kerri Nelson survived a fifteen year career in the legal field and then took her passion for crime solving to the page. But her journey to become a mystery author took a decade long detour into the world of romance where she penned twenty-two novels and novellas in various sub-genres.

Born and raised a true southern belle, Kerri holds many useful secrets: how to bake a killer peach cobbler; how to charm suspects with proper batting of the eyelashes; and how to turn your parasol into a handy weapon.

Kerri is an active member of both Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers and as a mentor to other authors, Kerri has successfully developed her popular Book Factory Method and assisted dozens of authors achieve publication via pitches crafted in her Pitchworthy class.

She also edits professionally through her freelance editorial service, Deep Cover Edits and as a staff editor for two small presses.  Her latest writing adventure is the new #1 Bestselling Cozy Mystery series “The Working Stiff Mysteries” now available wherever books are sold.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

new puppy

“All you need is love… and a dog.” (And some cats…)

TUG


#Writing #Workshops for November (and my two cents on what to do if you hate the scene you’re writing)

Below are the online workshops being offered in November by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

I’m including a picture of flowers this time instead of animals… There’s also a brief bit from me at the end about a scene I’m struggling with and what I intend to do about it. For those of you who are in a hurry, here are the take aways from this post:

  • Register for workshops
  • Keep writing!
  • Carve Pumpkins
  • Eat Candy
  • Happy Halloween!! :-D

Book Covers: The Poster for your Book

11/02/2015 – 11/16/2015

If a book is a  movie in your head, a book cover is the poster to entice the crowds. Whether you’re doing your cover yourself or working with a designer, same principles can be applied to ensure a marketable poster for your book to attract a reader’s eye.

Join award-winning cover artist Fiona Jayde in a two-week course covering the joys of trends, the fun of fonts, common misconceptions, false starts, and Fiona’s driving philosophy on book covers: go big or go home.

About the Presenter, Fiona Jayde

Fiona Jayde is a space pilot, a ninth degree black belt in three styles of martial arts, a computer hacker, a mountain climber, a jazz singer, a weight lifter, a superspy with a talent for languages, and an evil genius. All in her own head.

In life, she is tinkers with images to create cover art for amazing books, possesses a brown belt in Tae Kwon Do and blue belt in Aikido, used to be a hot-shot web developer, scared to death of snakes, loves jazz piano, and can bench-press  20 pounds — with effort. She learned English reading Nora Roberts and watching Growing Pains, and when pried away from her computer, enjoys movies where things frequently blow up.

Cost: FFP Members:$10.00/Non-Members: $15.00

Register for This Workshop

Lessons of Firefly: Learning From the Works of Joss Whedon

11/02/2015 – 11/29/2015

Though Joss Whedon’s television show FIREFLY only aired through the fall months of 2002, it has continued to generate followers through word of mouth, DVD sales and an exhaustible amount of followers known as “Browncoats”.  The Romance Writers of America has many “Browncoasts” in their midst as Jacqui Jacoby learned though discussions with members at the RWA National Conference in both Atlanta and Dallas.  Many of these followers love to listen and talk about what they learned from watching the series.  Discussing dialogue is a favorite pastime, both at the conferences and online in writing loops.

FIREFLY, created by the Rod Serling of our generation, was a masterpiece of writing.  Each of its thirteen episodes taught character development, dialogue and plotting techniques.  Its motion picture sequel, SERENITY, not only touched on these subjects but added relationships, loyalties and loss to its repertoire.

In this workshop, Ms. Jacoby will reveal the lessons of FIREFLY.  By using class participation and examples from the episodes, she will translate with words what Mr. Whedon was teaching us on screen.

About the Presenter, Jacqui Jacoby

As a die-hard Firefly fan who can quote dialogue and scenes from both the series and the movie, Jacqui Jacoby knows how to get a crowd excited about the Lessons of Firefly.

She is a workshop teacher who has appeared both live and online to give such classes as “From Austin to Aliens: How to Create Classic Tough Chicks” and “Behind the Scenes: The Research Before the Book.”

Winner of the Daphne du Maurier Award in Excellence, as well as the Suzannah and the Dixie for her books, Ms. Jacoby’s articles have appeared worldwide.  Lessons From The Giants ran in publications in the United States, Canada and Australia.  Her article, Tough Chicks: Heroines in Today’s Market ran in the June 2006 RWR Magazine.

A graduate of UCLA, Ms. Jacoby lives in the Arizona mountains with her husband of twenty-four years and their three children.  Besides studying martial arts and sword fighting, Ms, Jacoby has recently returned to school to achieve her second Bachelor of Arts, this one in Modern Languages.

Cost: FFP Members:$15.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

"I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers." - Claude Monet "I always like to have flowers on the table. I think they make it look special." -Ina Garten My older daughter made this bouquet in her Ag Science class. I love that class. Assignments are often practical, hands-on, and creative. This project was part of their floriculture unit.

“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.” – Claude Monet
“I always like to have flowers on the table. I think they make it look special.” -Ina Garten
My older daughter made this bouquet in her Ag Science class. I love that class. Assignments are often practical, hands-on, and creative. This project was part of their floriculture unit.

What to do if the scene you’re writing sucks :-D

So Noon #4 is going well. I recently finished a big, emotional scene and I love how it turned out. It made me smile and laugh and, you know, feel stuff. But then I got to the next scene and everything started C-R-A-W-L-I-N-G… like Glacial Pace City. At first, I thought it was bc I’d just come from a big scene and, in comparison, this scene felt small and slow. Not every scene can be a Big Scene, right? Well, sorta but also sorta not.

Every scene doesn’t have to be BIG, but every scene has to have meaning and move the story forward. Every scene can’t be full of non-stop action (at least not in my books), BUT it has to be full of tension. I want readers engaged in the experience of each and every scene. I want them to want to turn the page. So when *I* start to feel kind of blah about a scene, I know readers probably will too.

So what to do about this little bit of blah in my manuscript?

1. “Houston, we have a problem.” The first step in fixing a problem, is knowing you have a problem. If you find your attention drifting when writing, editing, or reviewing your work, it might be a sign that the scene lacks tension, which is a problem that needs to be fixed. How?

2. Make a list of the things that you know are wrong with the scene: When your problem is lack of tension, it’s hard to know how to fix it without digging deeper. One of the things I hate about the scene I’m working on is the dialog. It meanders. I think it’s because I need to better understand exactly what I want the scene to do. The scene also features a secondary character I haven’t 100% figured out yet.

3. Make a list of things that might fix the scene. I’m a big fan of brainstorming lists. Someone once gave me this advice: when you’re stuck, make a List of 20. Twenty things that might work. The trick is to not hold back. Put crazy ideas on that list. The first five will be crap so the more ideas you put on your list, the better. For my current scene, I could: (a) make the secondary character scarier, meaner, nastier; (b) add other characters (sometimes just adding another person to a two person scene changes the dynamic and makes it more interesting); (c) build a more suspenseful set (the place where the scene takes place); (d) fix a possible timing issue (maybe the scene needs a ticking clock… or more room to breathe?); (e) change what the characters are doing (add more action and/or give them something else to do while talking that serves a purpose or has greater meaning). (See? I told you the first five are always crap. ;-) )

4. DON’T PANIC. Don’t let one scene undermine your confidence or give you temporary writer’s block. If you need to, step away from your keyboard for a moment. (That works wonders for me). Know, deep in your heart (because it’s true!), that this scene will get fixed eventually.

5. Do your best and move on.

–OR–

6. Rip it out and start it over (just that scene though!!) If you find yourself endlessly repeating step #6, go back to #5. I’ll admit that #5 is probably the most efficient way of writing a first draft. And for fast first draft fans, the only way. For me, it’s hard though. I tend to build each scene from the scenes that have come before. So if I have a scene I know is weak, it’s hard to move on. To me, it feels like I’m building a house of cards without one of the bottom cards — or a beach house without one of the stilts.

In the end, the advice is always the same: Keep Writing! Only by continuously writing will you be able to know your writing style and what works for you.

BEST WISHES, EVERYONE!!!

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

TO ANYONE STARTING NANO ON SUNDAY — GOOD LUCK!!!


OCTOBER 2015 UPDATE

What’s up with me? In a nutshell:

Noon Onyx Book #4 — well underway. Tentatively titled POCKETFUL OF TINDER. (Thoughts on title? Let me know below or send me a note. The great thing about self-publishing it is I get to pick it. The nerve-wracking thing about self-publishing? I get to pick it. :-D But I’m the one who suggested the first three so I suppose it’s not very different.) No one is sorrier than me for the delay. There are reasons but I want this to be a QUICK update. I’m shooting for an early 2016 release and will keep everyone posted.

Nightshade novella — I envision this as a companion piece to the next Noon book so, if all goes well, I’ll release it around the same time. There may be some extras in it. A deleted scene from WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE featuring Ari and/or some other character vignettes.

Audio versions of Noon Onyx novels — trying to make this happen. Frankly, I’m not sure how it will go. It’ll be interesting to see if I can find a narrator who’s willing to have a go at all the Latin and other crazy, near-unpronounceable words in the books. :-D

Dream, Interrupted — on the back burner for now. I know I said I’d get this published as a stand alone short story, share some discussion questions, and maybe do an audio version of it in 2015, but other projects are more important right now. No one is clamoring for it. It’s a piece I thought was neat and fun to write and I’ll definitely do something more with it — later.

My YA Duology — on submission, which means I really can’t say anything about it other than I WISH I COULD SAY SO MUCH ABOUT IT!!! :-D :-D :-D

Author Newsletter — I will be launching one soon. My plan is to publish it quarterly with a blast for new releases. More details in a future post.

Halloween — what? this wasn’t on my original list of updates back in January? well, it should have been, huh? Only three weekends until the BIG DAY! (That’s my younger daughter below, modeling costume bits and pieces from years past.)

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!!


#Writing #Workshops for October (#indiepub #selfpub and cross-genre #fantasy)

Below are the online workshops being offered in October by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines. (I just signed up for the self-pub one. Come join me! :-) Not in the mood for a workshop? There’s a cat pic below. Enjoy! :-D )

Self-Publishing Part 2: Self-Publishing Your Manuscript

10/01/2015 – 10/22/2015

This workshop is Part 2 of a two-part, five-week self-publishing workshop designed to teach students about the business of self-publishing books digitally and in print. (Part 1 is not required to take Part 2.)

Self-publishing provides an amazing opportunity for authors to take control of their own publishing career. It’s also a lot of hard work. Authors must build successful, long-running businesses and supervise their own production and distribution process.

Part 2 covers:

  • Finding and working with freelance editors, formatters and cover artists
  • Distributing directly to retailers vs using aggregators or publishing services
  • Self-publishing audio books and foreign translations
  • Where and how to sell your book
  • Building a basic timeline and budget
  • Best practices for building your self-published book
  • Understanding metadata and how and where it’s used
  • Is self-publishing really for you?

Workshop Goals include:

  • For students to gain a clearer understanding of how to self-publish
  • For students to take ownership of their publishing career path
  • For students to gain perspective on the financial and artistic reasons to choose self-publishing
  • For students to gain knowledge and tools to help them embark on self-publishing their work
  • For students to discover trustworthy resources for further research

About the Presenter, Kelli Finger

Kelli Finger is published under her pseudonym Abbey MacInnis and publishes books under her sole-proprietorship publishing company. Kelli recently added a certification in grant writing to her writing experience. A classically-trained vocalist with a Masters of Social Work, Kelli is a strong advocate for people with disabilities and has worked for over six years as a Braille proofreader. Having faced the challenges of developing her own self-publishing career, she’s eager to help others save time and understand their many options.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

Defying Gravity: Writing Cross-Genre and Succeeding Anyway

10/18/2015 – 10/31/2015

Genre definitions have a profound influence on writers’ careers. From the first queries where we must specify the book’s genre to long-term decisions about pursuing or giving up on a “dead” genre, dealing with what feels like a false construct is a necessary skill. However, following our hearts and inspiration often means tossing aside these considerations.

Or chopping them to pieces in a murderous rage.

But shedding conventions can be what sets a book apart. That’s what takes a writer’s career from midlist to break-out. So… how do you know? More—how do we find the courage to embrace a bold move?

In Wicked, the heroine Elphaba is faced with that crucial decision, of whether to choose the safe path or to risk flying on her own. This workshop will explore genre definitions and how Jeffe Kennedy went from being a “Crack Ho” – being told that her work fell in the cracks between genres – to receiving a nomination for Book of the Year and an RT Seal of Excellence for the one title each month that stands out from all the rest by an innovative twist on a familiar story or pushing genre boundaries. Participants will discuss their experiences with genre—both coloring inside the lines and stepping across them—and will leave inspired to take risks and follow their hearts.

Everyone deserves a chance to fly!

About the Presenter, Jeffe Kennedy

Jeffe Kennedy is an award-winning author whose works include non-fiction, poetry, short fiction, and novels. She has been a Ucross Foundation Fellow, received the Wyoming Arts Council Fellowship for Poetry, and was awarded a Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Award. Her essays have appeared in many publications, including Redbook.

Her most recent works include a number of fiction series: the fantasy romance novels of A Covenant of Thorns; the contemporary BDSM novellas of the Facets of Passion, and an erotic  contemporary serial novel, Master of the Opera. A fourth series, the fantasy trilogy The Twelve Kingdoms, hit the shelves starting in May 2014 and book 1, The Mark of the Tala, received a starred Library Journal review and has been nominated for the RT Book of the Year while the sequel, The Tears of the Rose, has been nominated forbest fantasy romance of the year. Two more books will follow in this world, beginning with The Pages of the Mind in Summer 2016. A fifth series, the erotic romance trilogy, Falling Under, started with Going Under, followed byUnder His Touch and Under Contract.

She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with two Maine coon cats, plentiful free-range lizards and a very handsome Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

Jeffe can be found online at her website: JeffeKennedy.com, every Sunday at the popular Word Whores blog, on Facebook, on Goodreads and pretty much constantly on Twitter @jeffekennedy. She is represented by Connor Goldsmith of Fuse Literary.

Cost: FFP Members:$10.00/Non-Members: $15.00

Register for This Workshop

Nutmeg Back to School

WHO SAID CATS ARE TOO COOL FOR SCHOOL?


#Writing #Workshops for September (and a goat picture)

Interrupting this irregularly scheduled interruption: I almost made it! :-D

As many of you know, I took a break from blogging this summer. My goal was to take the month of August off, at least. It’s been weird but good. I definitely feel out of touch at times, but it’s also been nice to double down on Noon #4 (I shared a fun snippet on FB over the weekend. Check it out if you missed it!) But I wanted to do a quick post today to let everyone know about FF&P’s upcoming September workshops.

Are any of you planning on either pitching a book or self-publishing soon? If so, check out the classes below. Kerri Nelson’s Pitchworthy class starts tomorrow. Now’s your chance to practice those pitches! Good luck and best wishes, all!!

(Oh, and the goat pic is at the bottom this time. Why a goat? Uh…. Truth is, I have a bizarre habit of posting animal pics when I post these workshop reminders… Enjoy!!)

◊◊◊◊◊

Below are the online workshops being offered in September by RWA’s Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal Chapter. If you are a writing instructor and are interested in teaching a workshop, please contact me for available dates, rates, and proposal submission guidelines.

Are You Pitchworthy?

All You Need to Know to Score Big with your Book’s Pitch

09/01/2015 – 09/28/2015

Want to practice your pitch for an upcoming pitch session to an agent or editor?  Need help refining your pitch to include in a query letter?  Well, practice makes perfect!

Sign on for this handy pitch practice workshop, taught by multi-published romantic suspense author, Kerri Nelson.

During class you’ll get to practice your pitch (up to 4 drafts with suggested revisions); view examples of the good versus the bad; and polish your skills on developing the elusive perfect sales hook for your book.

Over the past five years, Kerri has pitched more than thirty different books in every imaginable genre (from erotica to young adult) to multiple agents and editors with a tremendous success rate for follow-up requests for both partial and full manuscripts.  She has sold twenty-two novels and novellas in the last three years after perfecting her pitch process.

In this intensive interactive course, Kerri offers up the secrets to nailing your pitch, how to score a home run with editors, and how not to stop short of getting the results you want!

Finally get the contract you’ve been waiting for!

Students from prior classes have sold multi-book deals to publishers, been offered representation by agents, and many other successes after perfecting their pitch with Kerri.

About the Presenter, Kerri Nelson

Kerri Nelson survived a fifteen year career in the legal field and then took her passion for crime solving to the page. But her journey to become a mystery author took a decade long detour into the world of romance where she penned twenty-two novels and novellas in various sub-genres.

Born and raised a true southern belle, Kerri holds many useful secrets: how to bake a killer peach cobbler; how to charm suspects with proper batting of the eyelashes; and how to turn your parasol into a handy weapon.

Kerri is an active member of both Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers and as a mentor to other authors, Kerri has successfully developed her popular Book Factory Method and assisted dozens of authors achieve publication via pitches crafted in her Pitchworthy class.

She also edits professionally through her freelance editorial service, Deep Cover Edits and as a staff editor for two small presses.  Her latest writing adventure is the new #1 Bestselling Cozy Mystery series “The Working Stiff Mysteries” now available wherever books are sold.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

Self-Publishing Part 1: Creating Your Self-Publishing Business

09/16/2015 – 09/30/2015

This workshop is Part 1 of a two-part, five-week self-publishing workshop designed to teach students about the business of self-publishing books digitally and in print.

Self-publishing provides an amazing opportunity for authors to take control of their own publishing career. It’s also a lot of hard work. Authors must build successful, long-running businesses and supervise their own production and distribution process.

Part 1 covers:

  • Basics of self-employment models: sole proprietor, LLC, corporation
  • Protecting your privacy if you write under a pseudonym
  • Registering your copyright
  • Obtaining ISBNs and when they’re necessary
  • Creating a preliminary budget

Workshop Goals include:

  • For students to gain a clearer understanding of how to self-publish
  • For students to take ownership of their publishing career path
  • For students to gain perspective on the financial and artistic reasons to choose self-publishing
  • For students to gain knowledge and tools to help them embark on self-publishing their work
  • For students to discover trustworthy resources for further research

About the Presenter, Kelli Finger

Kelli Finger is published under her pseudonym Abbey MacInnis and publishes books under her sole-proprietorship publishing company. Kelli recently added a certification in grant writing to her writing experience. A classically trained vocalist with a Masters of Social Work, Kelli is a strong advocate for people with disabilities and has worked for over six years as a Braille proofreader. Having faced the challenges of developing her own self-publishing career, she’s eager to help others save time and understand their many options.

Cost: FFP Members:$20.00/Non-Members: $25.00

Register for This Workshop

What would Sam-I-Am say?

What would Sam-I-Am say? My younger daughter and I spied these Green Goats chomping away on all sorts of pesky greenery on the hill beside our local Wal-Mart. Ingenious, environmentally friendly way to mow steep slopes, huh? Turns out goats will even eat poison ivy. (Why couldn’t Ladew Gardens have hired these beasties back in July? :-))

What other animals have pimped FF&P’s classes?

Hope everyone’s doing well!


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