Friday, May 29, 2009

Balls falling All Around Me

*NINA PIERCE slides onto blog completely out of breath*

Sorry I'm late. :( My life is totally out of control. It's driving me insane. I just celebrated Beautiful Girl's college graduation. Now I'm rolling into prom week for Little Boy Blue (because his girlfriend goes to a different school = 2 proms) and then there's the company and celebration of his high school graduation. *sigh* I feel like I keep moving yet it seems like nothing is getting done around me. Of course this has to do with the fact that my "to do" list is the length of Stretch-Armstrong's arm and my energy level is somewhere at the bottom of the ocean. Yeah, I'm a little overwhelmed.

But I'm not here for sympathy. Because I'm no different than all authors. It doesn't matter if you write fulltime or if you work at a day job, juggle kids or an aging parent, we all need to carve out sacred time to write whether it's late at night or early in the morning when no one else is around. There are excuses we can all make that pull us from the keyboard and keep us from finishing our books. Besides our families, there is the pull of the internet, whether it's answering emails, social media updates, or marketing through live chats or loops. It's a lot. And sometimes juggling it all is a tad overwhelming.

But successful authors all say the same thing ... "write every day". It's a habit that becomes ingrained and keeps the words flowing. I know this. But, ummmm, I haven't figured out how to do that yet, but I'm working on it.

Through my local chapter of RWA I have joined a goal loop. Our goal is only 100 words a day. No, it's not much, but I refuse to go to bed until it's done. Of course once I start, I get much more than 100 words on the page. When I set a higher word count I often was too discouraged at the end of the day knowing I couldn't meet my goals that I wouldn't even open my WIP. Now, 100 words ... one paragraph ... isn't overwhelming and I open that manuscript and once the words start they just keep flowing. Of course paragraphs add up to pages and pages to chapters and chapters to a full story. And before I know it, I'm subbing a story to my editor.

I'm going to admit that I did take the month of May off from writing. For me, it's necessary due to health issues. But May ends tomorrow. And I'm jumping right back into my goals and writing every day. Being accountable to others works for me.

I'm curious, how do you handle the crazy times in your life and still juggle a writing schedule?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's Always a Good Feeling

When a book you've slaved over, loved, hated, rewritten, finally had an Aha! moment and actually turned it into a book you loved, your publisher buys it, releases it, and THEN you get a review that knocks your socks off. That's what happened with my Latest full length erotic romantic intrigue, Do You Trust Me. I had to peel myself off the ceiling when I looked online yesterday and discovered Romantic Times Book Reviews had given it 4 1/2 stars. (Still doing the Happy Dance!).

Here's what they had to say about it:

This thriller grabs you from the first paragraph and doesn't let go until the satisfying ending. Espionage coupled with BDSM makes for one titillating ride. Secondary characters enhance the action and add to the suspense.
Summary: The locket is the key. Rina's brother gives it to her before he disappears, telling her she will know who she can depend on when the time comes. McCall is assigned to guard Rina and is amazed when she submits to his dominant bedroom games. Although Rina commits body and soul, she's reluctant to reveal her secret -- even though national security depends on it.

And just for y'all, here's a little taste of Do You Trust Me?

What came next stunned her, freezing her in place. McCall put his wine glass down on the counter, reached for her and brushed his lips against hers. Just a brief contact but it seared her down to her toes. Her bones felt as if they were melting and she could have sworn the ground shifted beneath her feet.
Move, her inner voice commanded, but not one of her muscles would obey.
McCall traced the seam of her lips with his tongue, an artist’s stroke painting the surface. A tiny sound whispered from her mouth. As if it was a signal he was waiting for, he captured her in a kiss so hot it burned her lips. His hands cupped her face, holding her head in place, while he fed on her, his tongue pressing inside and tasting the texture of her flesh.
She gripped his wrists but not to pull them away. She couldn’t have broken the kiss if someone paid her to.
Time stood still while he devoured every corner of her mouth, his fingers lean and hot against her cheeks. When he lifted his head his silver eyes had darkened almost to black.
Rina felt dazed and weak.
He studied her face, his breathing uneven. “Two choices. Either tell me to leave or tell me where your bedroom is.”
She had trouble getting the words out. “Upstairs. Last door on the right.”
Do you Trust Me is available at The Wild Rose Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Borders, Fictionwise and All Romance EBooks.

And come see me at

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thunder on the Rock

This weekend was the experience of a lifetime. I'm not sure how many of you out there have been to a true biker rally. Let me say they are wild. I went to my first one this weekend with a two of my best friends and one of their husbands (who is a biker). It was like what I've thought Woodstock must have been like. Amazing.
First off Monteagle TN where the rally took place was beautiful. Very scenic. The drive was fun and filled with a brilliant vista of beginning summer colors. When we arrived we parked in an outside lot as we were in a truck and only motorcycles were allowed in. A wonderful santa clause looking man gave us a ride in his golf cart to the main field where all the music entertainment was to be held. At first he was telling us how to get shots and beads and all kinds of things...Then we told him we weren't going to be flashing. LOL
He was great, didn't bat an eyelash. Just told us where not to go and what not to do. He made sure we were okay when he dropped us off and told us where to find him when we were ready to leave.
Main field was full of people from every walk of life. Young, old, black, white, clean cut, scruffy. Everyone. The smell of beer and pot were there but not over whelming. What I loved the most was the way people were so friendly. (and yes I'm sure the beverages had something to do with that) But what I saw was total acceptance. Everyone was free to do as they pleased, be who they wanted and no one judged. People were polite. Men may have asked to see your boobs but were still smiling and laughing when you told them no thanks.
I felt like a kid gawking as I looked around and tried to soak in the atmosphere. The entertainment was wonderful as well. There was a fantastic new discovery names Sam Hughes. The kid had an amazing voice that I hope to hear lots more of.
So I learned that I'm not a biker chick. But that was okay with them. And I had a great time. So great that I just might have to pen a book about it! LOL

Lacey Thorn
It's your world...unlaced

Monday, May 25, 2009

Free Lunch Free Read

Hi y'all! How's everyone doing?

Recently, my sister-in-law became pregnant and became sensitive to most odors. Hence, she couldn't cook. I was concerned, because she and the baby needed nutritious food, and her husband (my brother) couldn't cook. Normally, she didn't like to receive favors, so I brought out all the reasons (for the baby's good, etc) to convince her to have dinner with us sometimes, whenever I cook. To my surprise, she didn't even demur, but immediately said yes!

Then, a week ago, a friend announced her pregnancy. Unlike my SIL, this friend didn't cook at all. So, um, kind, good-hearted me offered her a meal at my place too. Instant acceptance!

This led me to conclude, anything free is good. No one would reject it. If the free stuff is offered by a stranger, then there may be some suspicion, coz there's no such thing as a free lunch in this world. But when it's offered by a friend, well, it's a blessing and heartily accepted.

So, my friends, to show you how I treasure each and every one of you, I'm offering you all a free read. I hope this would tide you over until my next release At Long Last, Love on July 3.

Journeying to the back of beyond to claim the inheritance left by his great-aunt, Tyler Morrison never expects to find hot, sizzling passion with a woman whose touch scorches him, who makes him ache like no one has before.

Elise longs for love, and she believes she has found it in Tyler, who delights in bringing her to the heights and soaring with her. Night after night, in the darkness where magic has the most potency, they indulge their insatiable appetites and satisfy their lusts. Yet, Elise harbours a deep secret, a secret that has the power to destroy the very thing she has ever wanted…

~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Visit my website and join my yahoogroup for up-to-date news on contests and books. Want to know more about me? Read my blog or join me at Six Sexy Sirens !

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I'm in love...(again!)

Hands up whoever fell in love with a place. Yes, a place. Genus Locii and like that. Places have souls. On my list, up to now, have been the New Forest (UK), the Hebrides (UK), Yosemite (USA), The Everglades (USA), Big Bend National Park (USA), and now -- Lake Lure, North Carolina, (USA). (You in USA have some AMAZING countryside! Cherish it!)

We'd just planned a four-day trip to visit friends who moved there a few years ago, and also because NC is the setting for some of Diana Gabaldon's Jamie&Claire series (Highly recommended, btw.). After a two-hour drive from Charlotte, we hit the mountain country. And I was blown away. 'Last of the Mohicans' was filmed around there -- in fact, after climbing to the famous Chimney Rock, I had to rent the movie and bounced excitedly on seeing the 'off the edge' scene near the end, which was filmed in the Park! We hiked to Hickory Nut Falls, climbed up and down interminable steps, and loved every moment. It's a stunning place!

A drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway was gorgeous, too. Forested mountains, lush with laurel and rhododendrons. Hidden valleys loud with birdsong. We didn't get to drive far, because of construction, but what we saw was enough. I want to go back. As soon as possible.

I know that for most of us, money is tight. But if you are pondering on a vacation, then go there. Actually, go anywhere -- just get away. It's the best way to recharge the batteries, and lord knows, writing is a solitary vice and we NEED to get from in front of the screen and do something else. So get outside. Breathe fresh air, enjoy some sunshine, listen to the birds. You'll be better for it.

I'm still jet-lagged, so this is a short post. Next month, maybe an excerpt from my WiP. Just don't hold your breath...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Alphas and Assholes

As a reader, I've always enjoyed strong dominant heroes. (I also enjoy strong dominant kickass heroines but that’s a blog for another day.)

I love reading about a hero who’ll do anything to keep his heroine safe, who looses his normal logic center to wrap his arms around his lady and kiss her brainless. But I’ve also put away a book where the guy is so predominantly alpha that I got mad at the heroine for putting up with such a dolt.

Maybe he would have redeemed himself at the end of the book. Maybe the heroine would finally smack him upside the head and make him see that he can’t have his way all the time, that she needs to do things her way, even if it means putting herself into a situation he doesn’t like. The tension in this book was amazing – but I could only get to the middle before putting the story away muttering something about damn stubborn males. And I love damned stubborn males! I just couldn't take him anymore.

Where’s the line that divides Alphas from Assholes? How much are you willing to put up with an alpha hero before wanting to smack an innocent member of the male species in the nearest proximity?

**Visit Fiona Jayde at

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mugging the writer

Take a good look. That's me. I'm an ordinary everyday kind of woman. No glamour. No high living. My office is in the living room squashed in with all the other odds and ends. The sole advantage I have over most other writers is that I'm retired with no children at home. It could be that you won't see me again. Why?

Google my name.

In the first page, you'll likely find that my books are listed on multiple piracy sites. Just like everyone else in the world, I work for money. Oh, you thought I wrote for love of the word? Well... not!

Writing is a difficult, thankless calling. In order to write well enough to be published, I must have a workable idea, write a story a publisher will contract and a reader will be willing to buy. For every story of say... fifty thousand words there is an initial time investment of approximately six hundred hours. Hmmm.

Current minimum wage in my state is $6.55. So my initial time investment is worth $3,930. That does not cover my taxes, supplies, or Social Security. In order to recoup my investment I must find a publisher willing to offer me a contract (for most e-pubs there is no advance!) Then I will spend additional hours on edits, final line edits, and promotion--again all without receiving a dime. So let's add in that additional time... That's another $786.

Eventually, approximately eight months after the initial contract, my book is released. Now I'll tell you a secret. The most that I've ever made on a book is $3, 260. That was for sales over a year. That's the only book I made that much money on. My average sales over a year for an individual book are about $1200.

For my best selling book I'm in the hole to the tune of $1456. For my average sales, I'm behind (in time invested) $3520--per book!

As the proliferation of piracy sites and theft have increased, my sales have steadily decreased. In the last six months alone my sales have dropped over 50%. A glance at the download numbers on the piracy sites make it clear where those sales are going.

In effect, I'm mugged by my readers every time I contract a book. I don't know a single person who would continue to work at a profession if they were robbed every time they were paid--if they knew that more than fifty percent of their wages would be stolen by thieves. Why should I?

Quite frankly, the local McDonald's is hiring and I doubt that I would face the same kind of theft there. If I worked the same number of hours--at minimum wage--I would net at least $11,921. That's $2,500 more than I made last year from writing.

So...what would you do?


Thursday, May 21, 2009

ePiracy, because it can't be said enough

I went through my usual google search. As expected, the search pulled up pirate sites which had allowed my books to be uploaded for the general access to all and sundry.

Some readers think it's no different than lending a book out, a library, or used book sales, but that isn't the case. The Internet is a universal access point. The damage is widespread. The theft is massive.
Consider that the author who spends hours a day, sometimes for months on a single project, makes a percentage of sales. A short story selling for just under three dollars might net the author sixty cents per sale. We pay our own taxes, pay social security and federal taxes. If the publisher is international, there is the conversion rate to consider. Then consider that popularity of a book fades after just a few months.

In polling several authors, mainstream and erotic, I found that sales can be as low as a few dollars a month. Most publishers won't issue a check below a certain sales figure. I know one author who wasn't paid royalties for five months because sales and conversion rate put her beneath the minimum earning rate for a check to be issued. Now consider that most writers have families or day jobs or both.

Piracy is piracy. Stealing from a hardworking person, taking from their store of creativity isn't suddenly right because you are Internet-faceless. It is tantamount to a stranger walking in off the street, going into your desk, stealing confidential files you've worked months on and selling it as his own.

The author doesn't get paid. Their families, children, household income suffers significantly. They depend on the income to make ends meet whatever the economy. Some authors may feel giveaways help them. Fine. Let them give away copies without limitations, that's their choice. But making the universal choice for someone else about their work is a violation of copyright, a violation of creative integrity, and a violation of someones financial support structure.

We don't make much. Even those of us who do well still need outside work to pay the bills. We don't strut around in feather boas and lounge in silk pyjamas. We don't have pool-boys peeling grapes for us. We're like the readers, the general workforce, out there who make a living doing what we know how to do and hoping we bring joy in the process.

I'm being stolen from. The site has been given a cease and desist. They took it down and another person re-posted my work. I can see the number of times it has been downloaded and I know that number will reflect in my publication check. In three days my books were downloaded over 1500 times from various sites. I have yet to receive my first paycheck from either of the two publishing companies who published my books. In three days I'm out a lot of money because each download adds up. How much have I lost in two or three months?
On another blog there was discussion about recent movies. A commenter who claimed to read my blog regularly posted a link for a free full movie viewing of Star Trek (in theatres now). I remarked that had she read my blog, even in the last day, she'd have seen my post on piracy. This is what she said:
I agree. Stealing is stealing. But in my defense, first I watch
online, then I buy when it comes to DVD. But I only steal from the rich. Fuck
those Hollywood celebrities and their big paychecks. I would never, ever steal
from a writer. I buy books. The actual rectangular objects made of paper and
ink. None of that online crap.
Of course I reminded her, regular blog reader, that I write that online crap which then goes to print and it's still stealing. Her response:
I will forever and always buy books. I support authors and all of their
hard work. I know it's not an easy industry. You don't make a lot of money
unless you hit it big like Rowling or even those stupid Twilight books. I would
go all vigilante on someone for stealing from authors.
Overall, she back-peddled fast. But she is just one of many (and she from the college age group) who see nothing wrong with obtaining copies for free. They qualify their need and rationalize the theft as though they are doing nothing illegal but heroic. In this case, Robin Hood of movies.

Piracy is wrong. It's stealing. My wallet is being picked and I'm not alone in the battle.

Monday, May 18, 2009

RT--A Somewhat Different Perspective

The grounds around the conference site were gorgeous and very tropical. Having attended another conference in Orlando in July, I can only say the weather was perfect.

True, the bedrooms were spread out over the entire property, which meant some fairly lengthy walks. For those of us (myself included) who consider "walk" a four-letter word, the resort provided golf carts and staff to get us from our rooms to the conference center and back.
Which, I suppose, led to the complaints about NOT being housed in a high-rise hotel.

Having attended many conferences in high-rise hotels, the complainers (in my opinion) had no idea what they were wishing for themselves and all the other attendees.

For example: A glass elevator stuffed to the sides with women trying to get to the same place at the same time when the elevator stuck some ten floors above the lobby. It remained stuck for over an hour while those folks in the lobby grinned and waved! (Expletives deleted!!!!)

At another conference, 2,500 attendees paraded from the ballroom to the dining room. Since they had to cross through the lobby area, other patrons couldn't get anywhere for nearly half an hour. And when dinner ended…2,500 women trooped to the elevators, again preventing lobby dwellers from moving or getting to their own rooms.

Believe me, I didn't mind the walks in Orlando!


Since I'm new to the Goddesses, I'll introduce myself. I'm Dee Brice and I write for Ellora's Cave--a fact that still leaves me breathless.

In 2005 I ran into Lynn Lafleur at a writers' conference. She kindly insisted (lol) the presentation her publisher was doing. I won a Caveman Anthology and thoroughly enjoyed every story, especially Charlotte Boyett-Campo's The Windsday Club. I wondered if I could write something equally HOT and funny.

The result was my first erotic novel and my first ever sale. Five books later with a sixth hopefully available in the near future, I'm still happily writing away.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cruising down to Cairo

For some reason I got to laughing to myself this week about this long ago trip. My DH and I went on a Nile expedition with a Smithsonian group. We usually traveled on ouw own but we'd been strongly advised not to tackled Egypt without expert guides. Fortunately for us, we had them!

Things were fairly uneventful from southern California to Marseilles, but when we transferred to Air Egypt somehow my luggage disappeared. No suitcase at Cairo. I'd only brought one bag but desperately needed it. At Cairo the airline assured me they'd find it and send it to the hotel, where we were booked for three days before flying to Aswan and floating down the Nile for ten days on a boat. This was our dream of a lifetime, please remember. We'd been planning it for years. And saving our pennies. I appeared that night for dinner in a fairly formal hotel dining room, me in jeans and scruffy sneaks.
I was confident the airlines would deliver the lost bag, but did an undie wash that night to get me through 'til my stuff appeared.

No sign of the luggage the next day, and I was getting worried. Did the pyramids in jeans that were getting a little ratty, at least for dinner, and decided I'd better hit the hotel gift shop. I found the shop only open a few hours, and hastily bought some silk pants and a long tunic I still love. Would probably still love the pants if I could get into them. This was when I found out both American Airlines and Air Egypt were disclaiming any responsibility for the bag, each blaming the other. I also discovered the reason the gift shop was open such a short time. We'd hit Cairo on the first day of Ramadan, and every store in town was closing for a week.

The Smithsonian had provided us with not only an American tour guide, but an Egyptian one, a handsome, kind, gentle scholar named Abdul, as hundreds of Egyptians are. Our Abdul took over and we went on a taxi tour of the shopping district, finding street after street with shuttered shops. Finally we found a small one that looked open, and Abdul stopped the taxi, ordered me to stay in, looked at me with an assessing eye, and went in. He reappeared with three pairs of men's jockey shorts. Don't laugh, ladies, they're very comfortable, and I wore them even a home 'til they were worn out.
So that took care of the immediate problem... but still no real clothes for the ten day trip.

We then headed for the airport, where Abdul got in long and heated conversations with several men at the Air Egypt counter and finally told me and my DH to follow him. I swear we went deeper under the airport than I believed was possible. We went down empty corridors for what seemed like a very long time, and finally came to a wire cage at the end of one corridor. The cage was large, and in the middle of a lot of space sat my suitcase. Nothing else. The suitcase no one knew a thing about.

We left the next morning to fly to Aswan to begin the trip, which was the best trip we've ever taken. Air Egypt paid for my purchases and the taxi fares we'd put out, and we had a wonderful time. We had lectures every night to prepare us for what we'd see the next day, from Abdul and a professor at Cairo University. In fact Abdul told me later the crew on board ship grumbled that we were a poor lot of passengers, since we listened to lectures at night instead of partying and tipping.

Woulnd't have missed a minute of it...And we did party in our own way.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Taking Time

It's 1:30 pm out here on the west coast of Canada. Time to settle down and write something brilliant for the Goddess blog. Trouble is, I don't feel particularly brilliant and compared to yesterday's Goddess blog, I have no fascinating news to pass along. No new contracts. No new releases. However, I am not idle!

I am still posting a chapter a week of my romance novel, Dickens and Me, on my personal blog, I post a new chapter every Friday. Chapter Fifteen is in the works. I'll post it later to-day. The title has nothing to do with Dickens. I am emulating the great man by posting an episode once a week as he did early in his writing career to lure in readers. I'm not even on the same planet as the great man but am enjoying the trip. I am getting some hits.

I had a party at The Fairmont Empress Hotel on April 19, to launch the trade paperback edition of my historical romance, A Very Difficult Man. It was a lovely affair, unfortunately for me I was not well. Stomach upset. Could not eat one bite of the super goodies nor could I swallow a glass of Champagne. Finally, towards the end of the party I had to make a mad dash for the nearest washroom and ... was I ever sick!

This has nothing to do with the above or with writing but it struck me as very funny. In Britain the government (taxpayers)pay some of the expenses of the members of parliament who maintain two homes. One in London and the other, usually where their riding is located. One Tory (Conservative, sort of like United States Republican) billed the government $4000 (about 2000 English pounds)to have his moat cleaned. He must live in a castle!

That's it for this Goddess. Happy writing and reading. Until the next time, check out my web site, I am travelling to Toronto to visit my family on May 20 and will return on June 3.



Thursday, May 14, 2009

Just Hit Send

You create your masterpiece. Polish it to within an inch of your life and then you do it. You hit the send button. Let the waiting begin. If you’re anything like me you want instant gratification. After all, with technology the way it is anything is possible. But is a response in a few hours realistic? No, definitely not. LOL I have to take a step back and realize I’m not the only writer my editors are receiving submissions from.
It’s not easy being a writer. When you send your baby off into the big bad world it’s scary. Just thinking about my story being under a magnifying glass, viewed by a critical eye, gives me the willies. With each page the editor examines every word I’ve written looking for errors and wonders if I have a unique plot. She’s looking to see if I can weave a riveting tale.
As time goes by a million questions form in my mind. Will the editor like the story? Will she think – what the f%^& was this writer thinking? Is she laughing at my attempts to write? These are questions I ask myself every single time I send a manuscript out.
I’ve landed six contracts since December 2008, but it doesn’t ease the fear of rejection. And truthfully in between those six contracts I’ve had a few rejections.
I am happy to announce that since my last post I’ve seen the release of Splashing Good Time at One Tasty Night, the sequel to Mistletoe Studs will be available May 22nd at AND my editor at Ellora’s Cave has graciously accepted a story titled Body Shots. It should be published in November as part of their Wet Theme. My last bit of good news is Reign Me In, a short story has been contracted by Noble Romance for their Spank Me anthology. So, while I am scared to just hit send, none of this would have been possible if I hadn’t.
Until next month…

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

When life hands you lemons, give them back.

How can a person be expected to write anything of substance when his or her life is a mess? This week, I was supposed to be off work. Instead I'm required to attend eight in-service classes, complete six internet lessons and tests, get a TB skin test and a Respiratory Fit test. In the meantime, my son just learned that his landlord is required by the county where he lives to repair and remodel the house he rents. The landlord has thirty days to complete these repairs. My son learned of this just yesterday and work began today and my son and his roommate have to get everything of value out of the house by tonight and guess who's moving into my house as of now with his puppy?

My husband and I leave on Friday for our daughter's college graduation. We will drive home next Monday, bringing both daughters back with us - they plan to stay with us for three weeks. I was expecting a busy visit, but not this busy. As soon as my daughter's leave, I have to get a cast applied for a fractured heel and torn medial collateral ligament. I'll have the cast on for at least six weeks. I was supposed to get it on last week, but I didn't have time so I'm walking around on a broken bone.

Last night, when I was bordering on hysteria, my husband said, "What are you worrying about? Some people have cancer." You know, he's right. He's absolutely right and I need to get over myself. Unfortunately, I didn't have the courage to tell him then and there about our son's situation. He'll find out when he gets home from work, unless he reads this blog. I sort of think the hysteria shoe will be on the other foot. Oh my God! I forgot about my parents. They're coming next Tuesday! %$#@!!!!!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Beginning

There are quite a few things in this world that can really make me sweat with nerves. Public speaking is one of them. And shopping when I'm having a "fat" day. Oh, and let's not forget visits to the gynaecologist. Eek! But the one thing that can really turn me into a trembling, itching wreck is the beginning--starting the WIP.

Here's how it goes for me: An idea for a new book usually starts to swirl around my mind as I come to the end of the book I'm working on. The new idea continues to grow and characters bloom in my head, desperate to be put down on paper, to be brought to life. I let the idea sit until I've edited my current WIP and sent it to my editor. Once my time is free to start working on a new book, I open a blank document, name it something random (titles don't come to me till the very end) and then I sit in front of my computer and start to feel sick.

I shut down my computer and go for a walk. And then I head back into my office and stare mindlessly at the black computer screen. My palms start to sweat. An itch crawls over my skin. My head starts to spin. What if it doesn't work out? What if the new book will suck? What if I'll end up hating my characters? What if I spend 6 months writing the darn thing and no editor wants it????

It's a scary place. The new WIP intimidates me more than any school teacher ever did. I get a glass of water and force myself to sit down at my desk. With a shaking finger, I turn the computer on. And then I open the document. I draw in a deep breath and write 1 word. And a 2nd. Soon I've written an entire sentence. I begin to believe in myself again, I can do this! By bedtime, I've written my quota for the day. I know my characters. I like them. And I know their story. The world starts to feel like a safe place again. And when I get up the next morning, sitting down at the computer isn't as difficult as it was yesterday. I've beaten the fear and it feels good!

As I write this post, I have a blank document open beside it. The new WIP is in my head, I just need to get it written. The dread is twisting my stomach but I know I'll get through it. Just need to write the first word and I'll be okay.

If I could just think of what the first word will be...

Wish me luck guys! And I hope you all have a much easier writing time today.


Coming Soon from Ellora's Cave - Cyr's Revenge
Available Now from Liquid Silver- His Lying Eyes
Available Now from Loose Id - Beauty and the Beasts


Saturday, May 9, 2009

the long and the short of it

Does size matter? When it comes to writing, it can. (Why? What did you think I meant?) Fiction sizes can range from a short story to an epic series. When we start to write something, usually we have a rough length in mind. Sometimes we get an idea and just run with it, letting the story tell itself in whatever length it requires. It’s like getting in a car and not knowing if it’s going to take you to the end of your driveway, the nearest town, or across the country.

My very first writing endeavors were novellas. Then I tried to write a romance novel but couldn’t get past the first chapter. Then one day I got an idea for a novel I liked so much I decided to make it a short story so I could finish it. Lo and behold, it turned into a 100K word novel.

Until recently, the idea of writing a short piece of fiction gave me the willies. If I go to the trouble of inventing characters, I want to spend some time with them. In fact, my novels just got longer and longer. I got into great depth with characters, savored every nuance of setting, and rode a twisting, turning plot that just wouldn’t quit.

I got so carried away I wrote a novel that was almost 200K words! At which point, one agent said “uh, I can’t sell something this long” and another said the beginning didn’t hook her enough. I was so concerned about doing characterization well I lost my old skill -- rapid-fire plotting.

So now I’m published--with a short novel of all things. I read some novellas and enjoyed how I could devour them quickly in one sitting. (It’s more fun than slogging through a classic novel of 900+ pages.) The second book I wrote for my publisher was long as usual, but to my surprise I found myself wanting to write a novella for the third book. For the fourth, I pushed further still and attempted a Quickie.

I must say, I enjoy short works. The writing is easier to schedule my life around, the sense of accomplishment comes more quickly, and the tight space forces me to write better. Revisions are easier too. The downside is the fun is over too soon. There’s not as much adventure in taking that long trek writing the first draft where I can only see as far as my plotting headlights. There’s no sense of discovery in rereading a long first draft either. So I’ll probably write a mixture of short and long, enjoying the differences in each--because size always matters!

Afton Locke

Friday, May 8, 2009

What Every Author Fears...Rejection Letters

Writers go through their share of rejection responses from either editors or agents. Some are merely form letters or postcards. I've received my query letters back with "Sorry, not for us" written at the top. Others write what appears to be personal letters, softening the blow by giving information as to why a query/partial/full has been rejected.

I have some memorable rejections I'll talk about...without giving names, of course.

FAMOUS QUERY REJECTION: I'd sent a query to a NY publisher after carefully writing a book for one of their lines. I'd read their guidelines and was sure I'd done my research before sending in the query.
I received a rejection...standard form letter...that had some personal sentences written on it. I was told this particular line didn't want children in it (nowhere in the guidelines did it say that!). Not only that, but this editor didn't think the book would fit any of their that was it for me. I couldn't send a query to a different editor in this publishing house for a different line. The book went nowhere.

FAMOUS PARTIAL REJECTION: I'd send a query to a well-known agent and a partial was requested. I sent in the partial and waited. A personal rejection letter, unsigned, was sent to me. I was thanked for sending in a full manuscript but the agent had problems with things in the story. I wrote back and advised the agent I'd only sent in a partial...and wondered if this person was talking about my partial or someone else's full manuscript. I received a very short reply stating that once the agent sends feedback about a submission, no further response would be given. To this day, I don't know what the agent read and was commenting about.

FAMOUS FULL REJECTIONS: I have two here. When I first started writing, I knew nothing about the industry. I sent our queries and had two agents ask to see the entire manuscript. One rejected it without comment, but the other agent was kind enough to give me some feedback. Seems I forgot to put dialogue in the story. Oh, I had some scattered throughout the story, but I'd narrated almost the entire book.

The second rejection for a full submission was very strange. I sent what the agent requested. Months later, she called me on a Saturday and spent thirty minutes telling me she was almost done reading it, liked what she read, asked me what else I was working on, etc. She said she'd get back to me on Monday or the latest, by the following Friday. A month later, I got another call from her. She proceeded to tell me all that was wrong with the book, how I needed to rewrite it, and gave me the names of four books on writing I should buy and read. I politely thanked her for her time and never sent her anything else.

So, do you have any rejection letter stories that make you shake your head and wonder about agents/editors and the sanity/professionalism of the entire publishing industry?


Thursday, May 7, 2009

preparing to write a new book

Wow, ambitious topic, right? But I'm starting Book four, (Twin Quest One) in my Mage series, so I'm struggling with the fundamentals here. The third one in the series, Jennivere's Journey, was just accepted last night, so I'm dancing! Just got a release date today for the second, Gareth's Gambit, which debuts Oct. 17th. Great week..Yay!!!

I'm hoping to get lots of response from my fellow writers.I'm sure we all go at this in very different ways. I'm hoping lots of you give me your take on what you do first. And maybe readers will have some helpful suggestions. Writing a book is a complex matter, and I have no easy answers. Although I get asked the question a lot, there's just no good way to explain what goes on in your head.

For me, I spend at least three of four weeks in research. All my books are set in a different place and time period. First I start formulating in my mind the characters, and that's pretty hazy at first. Then I really get down to business and start character sketches. This much I usually give as an answer to the casual questioner. I spend about six weeks getting ready to write.

Particularly with my protagonists, I want to know them VERY well before I write a word. I eventually make charts for them both. although I've probably written a part of the book before I get around to that. But they're in my head cooking away. The usual things you're advised to do. Determine the strongest wish, hidden desires, what he fears, faults, etc. Faults are very important to me. You don't want perfect characters, do you? There ain't no such thing. And secret fears delve sometimes into his childhood and he might not even know himself what's motivating him.

One of my favorite things to do is deciding on his Best Friend. You might need that guy or gal badly as a person for someone the hero can volley decisions and especially as someone to just plain talk it out. You might need BF to fall in love with the heroine to wake the hero up. Sometimes this understanding this best friend is easy. In my two series, a lot of the best friends are members of the same family and some are twins so the BF is predetermined. Sometimes not, especially if the twin is a different sex. Anyway BF is usually important.

I'm sure you've all well aware of the hidden fears and second agenda thing as it's covered in almost any lecture on how to write. I personally have fun with that one, and in the work I just accepted by my editor, Jennivere's Journey, her secrets drive the whole book. She's a bright girl, but stupidly stubborn on this point.

In the one I'm writing now, two twins have lived so much in each other's minds that when one decides he needs to find a life of his own the parting is painful. But Jason has to do this for reasons he doesn't quite understand. I'm counting on the heroine to help him out a little, since he's a little dense on this point. Even mages don't always understand themselves, it seems.

Happy reading and writing....

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Marketing Your Book

I attended several workshops at the RT convention 2009. One of the best was:
E-book & E-marketing- How to build a loyal following in cyberspace for print and ebook authors- Presented by Ann Jacobs, Dakota Cassidy, Stephanie Burke, Judith Rochelle and Christina d’Albo.

Here are some advice:
Hang out
Live on line if you can
Never say anything nasty about anyone
Give yourself a certain flavor.
Always answer emails
Blogs are good, but blogging on MySpace or Facebook is even better
Show something of you that makes the readers feel that they know you.
Don’t answer anyone who badmouthed you. Don’t retaliate or flame. One of the panelists explained how she turned a person who verbally abused her into a reader and a fan by offering her a copy of her book.
Always turn a negative into a positive

How do you launch?

· Go to MySpace, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter or any other, and look for authors with similar books.
· Ask people to interview you.
· Leave comments on as many blogs as you can.
· Blogging on your own is time consuming, but being part of a blog is good promotion.
· Keep your post on a blog around 500 words. No one has the time to read several lengthy posts every day.
· Chats are useful as you present your excerpts to the public and have a sort of face-to-face conversation where you can answer questions.
· Run contests. Give your book as prize. It’s the best advertisement.
· Keep a list of your readers.
· Post excerpts on chat or reviewers’ loops on Monday, at Love Romance Cafe, Fallen Angel Review, Night Owl Romance and many others, or on Tuesday, at Joyfully Reviewed. But don’t post the same excerpt every week for a month. Readers get fed up of seeing the same excerpt.
· Be part of a loop or create your own chat loop.
· You can also send an email newsletter to your readers, either once a month or less often, to announce new releases, book signings, contests wins, reviews, or interviews.
· Create a video trailer. Remember an image is worth a thousand words.

Spend so much time on blogs and chats at the expanse of your writing.

Finally remember that a good book is your best advertisement.

Monday, May 4, 2009

In Sorcery's Hold

This month's post was an easy one for me, but I still almost forgot to do it. I have a release coming up on the 13th. In Sorcery's Hold. It's a fantasy menage (m/m/f). See my gorgeous cover!
I absolutely love fantasy as a reader and writer. The magic, the quests, the swords, the magic, the sexy elves (sorry no elves in this story though). Some of my first favorite books were in this genre. As you can tell magic is one of my favorite aspects of the genre and I had to include it when I started writing it.

Let me introduce you to the characters on the cover. The dark-haired hunk is a vampire by the name of Damon. The blonde in the center with the fierce look, which suits her by the way, is Keira, a witch. And the redhead who gave me some trouble while writing the story is Rath, a dragon.

Here's an excerpt of Rath and Keira's first meeting

Keira strolled down the clean street, keeping watch for the little thief. She didn’t have much hope that Verite was here, but she might just get lucky. In truth, the girl was probably already on her way to the temple. When she did finally catch Verite, she intended to teach the greedy little witch a lesson about keeping her sticky little hands off of other people’s property.

She tried not to stare or gape. Everything was so different here. She’d seen dragons before, but until she’d gotten here, she’d never seen so many of them together. Although she hadn’t seen any in this city, she’d seen three of them in the air yesterday.

This entire area was different than she’d expected, much different than the Beserl region. If it wasn’t for the large wall circling the city, she’d never have guessed that they had problems here too. The people here seemed relaxed and cheerful.

A roar tore through the early morning air. Her heart slammed against her chest wall and then began racing. Fear surged through her. Her head jerked up and swung toward the east end of the city. A lantern hanging on a pole at the edge of the cobbled street swung on its hook as the roar came again. She stood tensely, her hands hanging at her side as she tried to figure out what had made that noise.

In spite of the fact that this was a protected city, her first thought was that merdanons were attacking the city. Then she really listened and knew that that wasn’t a merdanon howl. She’d heard enough of those huge fiends’ screams to know the difference. That echoing bellow belonged to a dragon in pain. Even as she wondered what had the dragon so upset, she began running toward the sound.

Cytari relations with dragons were far from cordial, but they were allies in the fight against the Dark Sorcerers and the merdanons. She’d take a dragon over a merdanon any day. Dragons had a tendency toward arrogance, but they were sentient, independent beings. Merdanons were the magical creations of Dark Sorcerers.

She dodged the men and women running away from the sound. Before she even reached the edge of the city, she saw the dragon’s black head swing up above the roof tops as well as the tips of his wings as they spread and folded. Another ear piercing bellow sounded just as she cleared the last of the buildings and passed through the gates of the wall surrounding the city.

Keira skidded to a stop. A huge black dragon stood in the grassy field beyond the last light gray, stone building. Her eyes ran over the beast’s glossy black-scaled body. Red stripes crossed its back and lined the top of its triangular head. She frowned as his tail whipped close to the thick defense wall. If that muscular tail hit it, the wall would probably collapse.

Why didn’t he just change form? Large dark scales glimmered in the sun as she slowly approached the dragon.

Rubbing her damp palms down her black pants, she considered ways to announce herself without getting herself bitten. Messing with a dragon in any kind of mood really wasn’t recommended. They were acquisitive and domineering and often considered wandering witches fair game.

Why was he just standing there? Then the beast turned toward the city. Its large head swung toward her.

She caught a glimpse of his rear flank. A silver trap clamped around its back hind leg. Blood trickled down the huge black limb. She could see gashes on the thick muscled leg where the skin had torn. That had probably happened when he’d ripped the trap free of its anchor. Obviously, it had been meant for something smaller and hadn’t been strong enough to hold him.

Ah Vellos! Her shoulders slumped. There was probably no-one else in the city who could help him with this. That trap was intricately spelled. It would take high magic to release it. She hadn’t seen any other dragon or even a vampire today. They’d have come to his aid if they were in the city.

Once she got it off of him, he’d be fine. He could change form and the wound would be healed during the transformation. The trap was too big for him to change while held by it. Those metal jaws would easily take off a man’s thigh.

She moved forward, making sure the dragon saw her approaching him. Dragon’s had a mouthful of teeth. Most of them were longer than carving knives. But she wasn’t worried about him taking a chunk out of her. There was even more reason to be wary of a dragon bite than those huge teeth. On top of the rows and rows of sharp teeth, a dragon injected venom every time he bit something.

“Hello, I’m called Keira. Since I don’t see anyone else around who can help you, I’m going to free you. Don’t bite me.” She held her hands out in front of her as she walked toward him.

His head lowered and she found herself looking straight down the huge muzzle into golden eyes. He inhaled and tilted his head before it rose away from her. A smile tilted her lips. Apparently, she’d passed inspection. She moved slowly toward his back leg. His head turned and his eyes followed her every move. She raised her hands, holding them just above the gleaming metal of the silver trap.

Taking a deep breath, she began slowly channeling power into the trap, reversing the spell. The metal creaked. The curved, sharp-edged teeth slowly began pulling out of his skin. When the metal maw had opened wide enough, the dragon stepped out of it. She let the metal jaws slam back together.

Turning her eyes to the dragon, she saw the skin on his leg shimmer. The wounds closed and disappeared. Gray and black mist swirled, rising around the huge beast towering over her. It enclosed the dragon forming a dense round cloud around him. The giant ball of swirling magic shrunk and tightened into an oval. With a last glittering pulse it disappeared.

A tall broad-shouldered man stood right in front of her. Even if she hadn’t just seen him change forms, she’d have known that this intimidating muscular male was a dragon.

His hair was the first thing that caught her attention. It would have given him away immediately. Short, deep red hair crowned his head, but on both sides of his head a stark black streak set him apart from normal men. Then there were his ears. Pointed ears weren’t exclusive to dragons, but the brilliant green gem dangling from his lobe did mark him as a dragon warrior.

He’d magically clothed himself as he transformed. A loose gold shirt covered that broad chest. She wouldn’t have minded getting a glimpse of it. Black pants molded to his strong thighs. Not that she would have minded seeing the man naked. From what she could tell by the way his clothes fit, he had a gorgeous muscular body.

He took a gliding step closer to her. His sun-burnished skin gleamed in the bright light. She could see the black slits of his pupils as his eyes ran over her body. A scar trailed from his left temple across his cheek. Apparently, she’d just given aid to a seasoned dragon.

“Thank you for helping me, Keira.” He grasped her hand, enclosing it between his large hands. “It’s been a while since I’ve even felt Cytari magic in this area. Witches from your sect usually stay in the north.” A frown turned gorgeous lips downward. “You’re not dressed in your sect’s uniform.”

She looked up at him. With the unknowns in this situation, she couldn’t trust anyone here. Especially not a too chummy dragon. “I’m here looking for something.

That part was true enough. She had to tell him something. Like most of the High Sorcerers, he was annoyingly alpha. She already had his attention just because she was a High Witch. Dragon’s, vampires and other High Sorcerers were always looking for a complementary mate. He certainly wouldn’t accept an “it’s none of your business.”

The last decades hadn’t been peaceful. All of those with the power to fight had had to make a stand against a growing number of Dark Sorcerers. Dragons, vampires, sorcerers and witches had all stepped forward to fight for their world. Most of the softness had been battered out of those who fought the Dark Sorcerers and their beasts.

“Something? What something?” He raised a red eyebrow in an arrogant query.

“How did you get caught in that? Even in dragon form, you should have been able to see something that big.” Keira put a hand on her hip. She didn’t have much hope for the distraction gambit, but it was worth a try.

“Thick, tall grass… Now try answering my question.” He leaned forward. The muscles along his jaw tightened

“An amulet. I have reason to believe that it’s in this region.” She smiled and shrugged. It really wasn’t his concern that that amulet had been last seen around the neck of a thieving Cytari witch. And there was no way she was going to tell him about the history behind that amulet. She didn’t need him following her around the region. Catching up to Verite was going to be difficult enough. “I have to go begin my search. Maybe I’ll see you again.”

“I’ll be in the area.” His lips curved into a smile revealing flashing white teeth. His eyes ran down her body and his interest was obvious.

She swallowed heavily. She really didn’t need this kind of complication.

Rath watched the witch lick her full pink lips. Those lips just invited kisses. Her magic had sizzled around his leg. It had felt so good as it washed over and around the trap. Even with the pain from the steel trap biting into his leg, his cock had hardened. Arousal still burned through him.

She was a pretty witch with long golden hair. Her skin was a very pale creamy white with only the slightest hint of gold. His eyes traced over the fine lines of her face. Gold brows arched over tilted brown eyes.

He wished Damon was in the area. The tingling burn of her magic had felt so right. The vampire would be able to tell if she was their mate just by the feel of her magic. Rath couldn’t do that. He’d have to taste the sorcery in her blood. He was fairly certain she wouldn’t volunteer for that. For now, he’d keep an eye on her and would wait for his bond partner to get to the city.

He wouldn’t wait to get close to the witch. By Grimlan, she was a sexy woman. He wanted to feel her tall, slender body moving against his. His mouth watered as he thought about tasting those nipples he could see pressing against the thin black material of her long sleeved shirt.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Bright Beltane greetings from Terri Beckett!


Bright Beltane Blessings on our readers! Yes, it's May 1st, and (officially) the first day of Summer.

Beltane is a very ancient festival, celebrated by our pagan ancestors to thank the gods that winter was over, and to hope that fields and flocks would be fertile. And, of course, it was absorbed into the Christian Calendar as
St. Walpurga's feast-day.

This lady was a convent-educated nun who is reputed to have traveled with her saintly brothers to assist her uncle (another saint) -- she is also reputed to be the first female author!

I love May. It can be such a glorious month, and even if the weather isn't kind, it's the month of bluebells and new life. Did you know that the flowering hawthorn is known as may? And that young people would go out early on this May morning to gather branches of the flowers, and to bathe their faces in the dew? What a delightfully romantic notion! To celebrate, therefore, I'm posting the Beltane excerpt from

Reagan became aware that she was sorely out of breath, her scarlet gown was sticking to her back with sweat, she had a painful stitch in her side, and she had never been happier in her life, a joy that ran elemental through her, body and soul. "I think I've got a thorn in my foot," she whispered to the Horned God, as they came together in the figures of the dance, and saw him grin.

"Hate to tell you where I've got thorns, sweeting." Reagan heard herself giggle, and wondered just what was in the sacramental wine. She let herself lean against him, ignoring the spiraling pattern that continued around them, feeling the heat of him and the hard strength.

"I could help you get them out," she offered, her hands feathering teasingly down the length of his back. He gave a stifled groan and his body arched involuntarily.


"No. Goddess. For this night."

"Every day and every night, in my heart, Lady." The fires were dying, and the darkness creeping in, and it was not difficult to slip into the shadows of the trees. The moss beneath the oaks was cool and moist and softer than swansdown underfoot, and she drew him to her. His hands came up to loosen the drawstring at the neck of the gown, and it slithered from her like a sloughed skin to pool at her feet. In the light of the risen moon, her body was glimmering pale as the creaming blossom of meadowsweet, tender as hawthorn flowers. Threads of blue veining traced her whiteness here and there, and her full breasts were rounded and high and pink-tipped in the cool. "Before God, you are fairer than the moon and stars -- " Prayer and invocation both, and for the mortal as well as the Goddess within. She cupped his face in her palms and looked into his eyes. Leofric gazed back, his soul his own again, and she kissed his mouth, tasting the last vestige of the wine.

"My Lord, my love and my lover," she whispered. "I swear Dewi has been lessoning you in sweet words."

"No." He took off the horned headdress and wedged it in the branches above them. "You are inspiration enough to give a dumb man speech." His hair was matted into sweaty elf-locks from the close-fitting cap and Reagan ran her fingers through it before pulling his head down for another kiss.

"I know that by custom we cannot be church-wed until Lammas," he said huskily, "but if you will consent, this night shall be our handfasting and marriage -- vowed before the Lord and Lady of the Beltane Fires, no matter what we must swear to for earthly witness at another time."
Which seemed perfectly logical and right to Reagan.

"Let it be so, then, dearling," she whispered, and pulled him down with her onto the yielding moss.

Beside the Old Gods of the land, even the Horned One is a newcomer. She is Corn Queen, Life-Bearer; He is the Green King, Seed-Sower. And the Land remembers, and makes their Sacred Marriage with each renewing Spring.

Terri Beckett -
Author of - NETTLEFLOWER with Chris Power on
Also with Chris - TRIBUTE TRAIL & WAR TRAIL- reviews on
My web site is