Monday, August 23, 2010

Five Things I Learned about Love and Life from Bethany M’Doro by Teri Barnett

Every writer has heard about characters that come to life. You know, the ones who take over your novel and dictate what should be going on with them? I honestly never believed that stuff. Of course, when I was first told this, I was also a sporadic storyteller, flitting from one project to the next.

And then I found my focus and started writing. I mean, seriously writing. No longer toying with words here and there, but really digging in. And that’s when it happened. They actually did start informing me about who they were and what they wanted. This is where Bethany M’Doro comes in. She’s the heroine of my latest publication by LBF Books, Shadow Dreams.

Bethany is a strong woman, fiercely protective of her daughter and the people she loves. She’s also a healer and takes special care of those who hurt. Here’s what she taught me about love and life during the course of writing her story in Shadow Dreams:

1. Be Strong

I suspect this will sound like a clichĂ©, but there truly is beauty in strength. A woman who carries herself with confidence and the knowledge that she really is ‘all that’ is infinitely sexy. Ask any guy. They’ll tell you the same.

2. Go after what you want

Having dreams is great. As a matter of fact, I find it’s essential to my very existence. And one of my dreams is living a life in love. Bethany has taught me that if this is what I want, then I need to go after it. After all, no one owns my life but me.

3. Take a Risk

Love isn’t for sissies. If you really care for someone, suck it up and let them know. Yes, there’s always the chance they may not return the feeling, but how are you going to know if you don’t put yourself out there?

4. Follow your Instincts

There’s an old saying, the heart knows what it wants. For Bethany, it’s her gut that tells her when something is right or wrong. She feels it deep in the very essence of her being. She makes her decisions and goes forward without looking back. She does not second guess herself. If ever there was a lesson I needed to learn, it’s this one.

5. Open your Heart

Keeping an open heart is perhaps the hardest – and greatest - lesson for me. When the heart is closed, there’s no way for love to find its way in. Believe me, I know this from experience. So what did Bethany teach me? To stand tall with my shoulders back and face the world head on. When you lead with your heart, everything else falls into place.

Teri Barnett is a writer, artist, and designer currently living in Indiana. Her publications include Through the Mists of Time (a historical time travel romance) and Shadow Dreams (a paranormal historical romance), both published by LBF Books/Lachesis Publishing. For more information, including where to find her novels, please visit her on the web at

Monday, August 16, 2010

Hero – You’ve met your match!

I’ve written a historical romance anthology for Berkley. It’s rather scandalous. My summer debut, AWAKENED BY A KISS, is a Fiery Tales collection – steamy retellings of three classic fairy tales in the one book. I love it when historical heroes are sinfully seductive bad boys.

In AWAKENED BY A KISS, I’ve created three of them.

There is something about seeing an unrepentant rake fall hopelessly in love with the heroine that I find downright delicious. And in AWAKENED BY A KISS they do fall for them – hard.

Yet, what kind of woman can totally turn a seasoned rouĂ© and steal his heart? I paired off very different women with each of the men in these three Fiery Tales. Three women with different backgrounds and personalities, yet their impact on these rakes is the same. Poor heroes, they didn’t stand a chance. These lovely ladies are unlike anyone these gorgeous men have ever met – and much to their surprise, they’ve found their perfect match.

In the first Fiery Tale in AWAKENED BY A KISS, Sleeping Beau, the hero is rather an infamous rake – the handsome bastard son of the King. Legitimized by His Majesty, Adrien is treated like royalty. A night of raw passion with a mysterious woman has haunted him for five years. When at last he spots his mysterious seductress, he wants to know everything about her. Heck, he just plain wants her. It was supposed to be simply a torrid affair. But it wasn’t. It couldn’t be. Everything about Catherine de Villecourt inspires tender feelings as well as hot desire. This beautiful woman is a widow. Born into the wealthy middle class, she was married off to a Count and trapped in an unhappy marriage until the scandalous death of her husband.

It’s not just Catherine’s beauty that affects our hero Adrien, but her quiet strength, too. And the problems she’s had with her father are something that Adrien understands all too well. He’s had nothing but difficulties with his own powerful sire. She is a painter, a sexual soulmate and his one and only heart’s desire.

The second Fiery Tale, Little Red Writing, has a very passionate heroine. Anne de Vignon is a writer. A woman who feels strongly about the telltale stories she writes about powerful courtiers under the nom de plume Gilbert Leduc. Born into

minor nobility, she doesn’t have much by way of social influence or financial means. What she lacks in social standing and wealth, she makes up for in her drive to seek justice for women against the powerful men who inflict suffering on them. Without recourse, these women were forced to endure whatever hardship, humiliation or heartbreak came their way at the hands of these men. The ambitious Count of Lambelle, Nicolas de Savignac, is a member of the King’s private guard and eager for promotion. His investigation into the identity of the mystery writer is supposed to be the means to his promotion in the Guard. He never expected passionate Anne would move him or touch his heart and leave him torn between love and duty.

Imagine being the favorite daughter of the King. It’s an enviable position to be in, right? Wrong. In the Fiery tale, Bewitching in Boots, Elisabeth must be vigilant at court. She sees the constant intrigue, the dishonesty and corruption as men and women vie for the King’s favor, willing to use her, or worse, harm her younger sister, if she isn’t careful. The only man who is honest and true is the former commander of the King’s private Guard. When Tristan is forced to spend time with the smart, strong Elisabeth, he sees her not as a spoiled royal brat, or a coquette, but as a sensuous woman whose loyalty is as great as her love.

AWAKENED BY A KISS – A Fiery Tales Collection
Berkley Sensation
BY Lila DiPasqua
ISBN: 978 - 0425235560
AUGUST 3RD, 2010

Three classic fairytales—“Sleeping Beauty,” “Puss in Boots,” and “Little Red Riding Hood”—cleverly retold with enough sensual twists to prove wickedly ever after does exist…

Author’s website:


QUESTION: What’s your favorite fairy tale heroine? One random commenter will win a signed copy of AWAKENED BY A KISS. The contest will end Aug 20th and the winner must live within US or Canada.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Editor/Author Relationship, a first-timer’s perspective by Lexie Craig

First thing I think any author needs to do is to actually have a conversation with your editor. Face-to-face or over the phone, I think it is important that you, as a writer have a voice conversation with the person in charge of helping you to shape your masterpiece. You just need to find a connection with them because the next few weeks, you’re going to be spending a lot of time together, and like most partnerships, it works a lot better if you don’t want to kill each other.

Next thing I suggest is to be prompt, but thorough, in your responses to them, though I don’t think this will be a hardship. You want this to go as smoothly as possible for both of you, so they do the work and then you do, making sure to look it over with an eye towards perfection.

I cannot overstate this part: THE EDITOR IS NOT OUT TO GET YOU. THE THINGS THEY SUGGEST, THEY HAVE REASONS, AND INDEED ARE PAID, TO DO SO. YOU ARE MARRIED TO THE CONTENT AND THE SPIRIT, BUT NOT EACH INDIVIDUAL WORD. Pick your battles and fight it out accordingly. The editor is not out to hurt your feelings or make you feel inferior. The editor is just as invested in putting out a good product as you are, because, and this is a big one, if the piece produced looks shoddy or haphazard, they look bad. THE OVERALL CONTENT OF THE BOOK IS THE PRODUCT OF BOTH OF YOUR WORK AND REFLECTS ON BOTH OF YOU, EITHER WELL OR POORLY ACCORDINGLY.

A brief note, you will get tired of looking at your work. By the time it goes to the editor, you’ll have looked it over several times and be pretty confident of your work. You will be surprised by what the editor finds in terms of missed typos, unclear thoughts (or things that are clear in your mind but not on the page), and incomplete plot-points. This is an exercise in ‘stand and deliver’, and you can do this, so long as you realize that the end result will be awesome.

I was very lucky in that I had a very experience editor in Karen Adams. What I write is not a genre she reads, and so her entirely fresh perspective made me work harder to make it make sense. She was super thorough, and as such, I felt pretty confident when I sent my MS back to the publisher after 1 major and 2 (or was it 3?) line edits.

Now that Imminent Danger is finally out, I’m happy and excited about it, but most of all, I’m confident about the presentation of it, because I know that a lot of time and effort was expended in making it the best possible story in the best possible condition it could be.

Armed with this knowledge, I’m pressing on with my second novel and, like always, hoping for the best and working hard to make it so.

For more information about Lexie and her books click here

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Top Ten Author Promotion Missteps by Marcia James

To paraphrase an advertising adage, "Only 50 percent of promotion works, but no one knows which 50 percent." So it pays to understand your PR options, as well as how to avoid undermining your promotional efforts. The following is my personal list of author promotion missteps.

10. Sending too many book excerpts -- or the same excerpt too many times -- to reader loops. Also "drive-by promoting" on reader loops.

Even in promotion, there can be "too much of a good thing", so be aware of how many excerpts and blurbs you send to reader loops. You want readers to say, "Oh, look, another fun book excerpt from Anne Author!" vs. "Oh, no, not another book excerpt from Anne Author!" Also, readers enjoy interacting with authors vs. being treated as a target market. So if you don't have time to participate on these loops beyond posting book excerpts and blurbs, consider picking just one loop and developing reader friendships on it while promoting your books.

9. Bad-mouthing people (especially those in the publishing industry) and other authors' books.

Snark might seem popular on certain blogs, but what you say online can haunt you forever. It's best to follow the old saying, "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

8. Making things difficult for readers: a hard-to-navigate website, hard-to-read text, no printable book list, no purchase link by your website's book blurb/excerpt, etc.

Readers appreciate being able to easily find information about your books and how to buy them. Is your website simple to navigate and read? If you have a reader e-newsletter, can they see how to sign up to receive it? If you have a book series, does your website list the books and their order, so readers can read them in sequence? Is there a clear "purchase link" next to your website's book blurbs and excerpts?

7.Not using an email signature -- and not putting title CAPS in URLs.

Making things easy for readers pertains to more than just websites. Do you use an email signature? Most email programs make it simple to set up a signature. It should include your website URL as an active link, so readers don't need to copy-and-paste your URL into their web browser. The email signature can also include things like your tagline, the title of your current or next release, contest wins, etc. But check the loops you're on to see if they restrict email signatures to three lines. And remember that other writers are readers too, so use email signatures on your writer and reader loops.

URLs aren't case sensitive, so reinforce your pen name within your URL by using title CAPS. For example, it's easier to see my pen name in my URL if I type it vs. And sometimes title CAPS can avoid unintentional connotations. An example of this is a consignment store named Children's Exchange, whose URL was Title CAPS would have prevented any misunderstandings in that example.

6. Treating readers, bookstore personnel, librarians, etc poorly.

I'm always amazed when I hear of authors pulling diva acts at booksignings or snubbing other writers at conferences. Successful marketing includes positive word-of-mouth, so why give the people you meet a reason to tell their friends and family how unkind you were? Booksellers don't hand-sell the books of authors who were a pain at a booksigning. And librarians don't recommend books by someone who was difficult when doing a library presentation. Years ago, I attended the booksigning of a New York Times bestselling mystery author. He was so abrupt (read "rude") to readers, I never bought another one of his books.

5. Discounting the importance of networking.

Power-schmoozing can pay off with contacts who can introduce you to their agent or editor, give you a cover quote, join you in co-promotion efforts (like a group blog), include you in multi-author booksignings, etc. The phrase, "It's who you know" is as pertinent in publishing as it is in every industry. Obviously, extroverts enjoy networking more than introverts, but shy authors can network online through reader and writer email loops.

4. Not Googling pen names and taglines before using them; and spending more on logoed PR items because you're buying them to promote one book vs. your brand.

These two seemingly different missteps are connected under one concept: originality. Obviously, if you Google the pen name and tagline you'd like to use, you'll be able to determine whether or not another author has the same or similar name and tagline. Years ago, when I decided on the pen name "Marcia James", I did a search to see if there were other romance authors with similar names. I found Eloisa James and Stephanie James, who wrote very different stories than I did. So I locked in my domain name. Now, almost ten years later, there are so many authors with James in their names, I made lemonade out of the lemons by interviewing a different one each month for my James Gang feature ( ;-) So while you can't predict who might have a similar pen name or tagline in the future, you can try to make yours as unique as possible today.

Uniqueness is also a good thing when it comes to your logoed promotional items. For example, I give away thumbcuff keychains (over 7,000 and counting) as part of my "Hot, Humorous Romances" author brand. The keychains represent both my law enforcement protagonists and the racy sex in my stories. Because I'm promoting my brand and not a single title with these thumbcuffs, I can order over 1,000 thumbcuffs at a time and save a lot on the bulk order. Last summer at the national Romance Writers of America conference, three people came up to me to tell me they were sorry they hadn't gotten any of the thumbcuffs I'd put in the Goody Room. Why is that important? Because I hadn't put any thumbcuffs in the Goody Room. Another author had bought them to promote a single book that had handcuffs on the cover, but a number of the people who noticed the thumbcuffs thought they were from me. So it would have been more cost-effective and memorable for that author to purchase in bulk a PR giveaway that would become associated with her brand.

3. Choosing to do PR options you hate or are ill-suited for.

No one author can possibly take advantage of every promotional opportunity available -- even with the help of a publicist or a PR site, such as AuthorIsland. So why choose to do those things that are outside your comfort zone or areas of expertise? Instead, use criteria such as your personality, skills, and book specifics to determine your best PR options. This is a core element in my online promotional workshops (including the one I'm presenting August 15-28: For example, I'm an extrovert and love power schmoozing, so networking is one of my chosen promotional options. I'm also a technophobe who would hate learning how to design a website, so I hired a Webmistress (Karen McCullough, to create mine. I'm not saying, for example, that a shy author shouldn't try to develop networking skills; I'm simply saying that authors have limited time and resources, and it pays to use them wisely.

2. Not having a professional, often-updated website.

A website is often considered an author's #1 one promotional tool. Make yours as professional as possible, with interesting, new content to entice readers to visit often. Like many authors, I have a website contest that draws readers to my site. You can also offer free reads, interviews, a blog, book plates and other giveaways, recipes, games, photos, etc.

1. Spending all your free time on promotion vs. writing your next book.

Each book you write brings you new readers, so prioritize your time to allow for more writing than promotion. Social media sites, like Facebook, can be fun but incredible time drains. Protect your writing time so you'll have products (your books) to market during those times you allot for promotion.

That's my list. ;-) As I mentioned earlier, it pays to understand your PR options so you can make educated choices. I have a 300-page Microsoft WORD file on Promotional Options that I give away free to any writer who would like it. To request this file, go to my website's "Contact Me" page and email me. I'll attach the file to my reply email.

Thanks for having me as a guest-blogger today! Happy promoting!

-- Marcia James