It’s True – It’s All About the Title

Who knew that the very first thing I learned in a Boot-camp for Romance Writers course would become the most important. Well, that and using every-single-keyword-imaginable that’ll even remotely draw attention to readers in your genre. At the risk of ‘blowing my own horn’, I believe I’ve mastered the title dilemma. I mean … just check out my titles in my paranormal, man-love, were-cougar, Cat Calls shifter series: Leviticus’s Purr; Robert’s Roar (both available now in print or eBook on Amazon – or my blog page); Samuel’s Tail (coming soon); Calvin’s Cubs (in final editing stage); and Peter’s Pounce (in its rough-draft).

Not to mention that Coffee’s the New Blood, the first book in my The OLD & the NEW series involving a centuries-old vampire, royalty woes, spells gone array, ghost pets, and a very modern mid-twenties no-nonsense business woman. Which is currently in the hands of my beta readers. What’s in the works now with this series do you ask? Well …  it’s book-2, Hairy, but Not Scary. Any guesses what paranormal ‘regular’ takes center stage in this book? If you guessed were-wolf – you’d be correct. The hero is a shifter of the moon-loving were-wolf verity, and his mate is very gifted in the earthy powers of gemstones, Tarot  cards, herds and woman-power. Adding to her list of credits is her unfailing love of anything with four-paws, fury, and wounded laying on the side of the road.

Warriors and Wicca play a huge part in my third series – Tri-Natured Warriors.  This good-verses-evil standard paranormal romance is my only series that I’m attempting to attract an agent for. That’s right … I believe my first book, Savor the Bond, will benefit greatly as one of the many warrior/witch/demon conflict-filled romances published the “old-fashion” tried-n-true standard publishing way. With that being said, I have received four rejections (so far) from agents. But, the take away from their rejections is their willingness to take the time to briefly write me ways to improve my manuscript. That makes every rejection a total win with me.

Lastly, did any of you count the number of KEYWORDS in this post? Please feel free to email me or comment on this blog if you have come up with more innovative keywords for paranormal romance books that contain all things that go bump in the night. “Write on!”

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No Two Snowflakes are Ever Alike

I was raised in a state that can still boost having all four individually pronounced seasons, with each one owning their particular mood. I’m speaking of Minnesota, although I’m aware my home state isn’t alone in this. I think I was about three-years old the first time I heard that saying, no two snowflakes are ever alike.  Admittedly, at that age, I had no idea what my auntie Eva was talking about. All I wanted to do was catch them on my tongue, form them into snowballs, and avoid any place where our dog had been. Now, of course, I totally get the reason why that saying’s been proven true..

There are dozens of other sayings that were equally perplexing in my youth that also began to make total sense as I warped from childhood to adulthood. Such as:                                                        * That’s how the cookie crumbles.                                                                                                        * Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.                                                                                                * Just alike as two peas in a pod.                                                                                                          *  Don’t judge a book by its cover.                                                                                                        * Enough is as good as too much.                                                                                                          * It’s best to be 30-minutes early than 5-minutes late. (A favorite of my mother’s)  You get my drift, and please feel free to share with me any catchy sayings that you recall.

Of the six I’ve listed, I believe I can totally discredit the logic behind one of them. Any guesses which one? Go ahead … reread them. Now, if you chose – Don’t judge a book by its cover. – you’re absolutely correct. If you chose one of the other five, may I humbly suggest that you go back to my first blog post and get to know me?

As an author, the most important thing to me, after the full completion of my books (including editing), was the cover. I wanted there to be no mistake that at the first glance of each cover, my readers knew exactly what they would find within the pages of the book. In my Cat Calls series, each book will always have a cougar in the forefront with a stunning looking couple (both men) off to the side. Making it clear that your looking at a paranormal man-with-man romance that evolves around world of were-cougars. That alone should be enough to entice interested readers to then read the blurb on the back. And in a perfect world – buy my book.

In my mind, I knew exactly how I wanted my MM were-cougar covers to look. But that seems not to be the case with my standard male/female romance series – The OLD & the NEW. My lead characters are a modern day mid-twenties business woman, with a somewhat untamed gift of precognition. And a nearly 300-year old vampire prince on a mission to make her his own, despite or maybe because of the hurtles thrown at him. Your guess is as good as mine on what that cover will look like.

If you have any suggestions, please send them to me. If I chose your idea … I’ll send you a signed copy of ‘Coffee’s the New Blood’ once it gets published. “Write on.”

 

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Writing Contest … to enter, or not to enter?

That is the question I ask myself that each and every time before I press send. Thrusting snippets of my blood-sweat-and-tears out to individual contests to be scrutinized by professionals in the romance field – other than just another one of my perspective agents or editors. Although my works have yet to be graced with a win, I still enter writing contest because … admittedly, I want validation from my peers that I’m good at what I love to do.

That being said – hold onto your seats. Because as soon as I’d learned of a Haiku local poetry contest a few weeks back I decided to try my skills at a form of writing I’d not even been aware of until then. For those of you like me, Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry made most famous by Matsuo Basho in the 1600’s. This style of poetry consist of three-lines … only! The first and third  lines have just 5-syllables, and the second line has seven. That’s it. That is the whole style – period. Apparently there are two types to Haiku as well. The traditional style of haiku creates a mental image such as a snapshot of a moment in time. Whereas a Pop haiku can cover a myriad of subjects which are often humorous in nature.

Being new to Haiku – or for that matter writing any poetry, I opted to enter one of each style. I offer for your consideration (and hopefully enjoyment) my two entries:                                                   Traditional – Yes, I write romance                                                                                                                                 And my books are my children.                                                                                                             No sitter needed.

Pop style —  While under a tree                                                                                                                                   Enjoying natures bounty,                                                                                                                       A nut hit my head.

I’m sure I need not point out that my traditional entry’s my favorite. Still … I enjoy the whimsy of the pop style. Both styles say a lot about how I love to write.  With each of my books I pen conflict that will eventually lead to lessons learned and boundaries rebuilt. But I love adding a bit a humor to my characters plights. I think it makes for a far more enjoyable read if you add a bit of relief to the tension every now-an-then. “Write on!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s Official

Well, it’s official … my 2019 New Year’s Resolution has come to an end. Oh, I know what you’re thinking and (believe me) I agree. How can anybody make a new year resolution and in just two weeks admit it’s over? In my defense, I give you Webster’s College Dictionary – 2002 edition’s definition for resolution: Resolution (n) 1. The act of resolving or reducing to a simpler form. 3. The purpose of course resolved upon. 5. An outcome or result that serves to settle a problem, uncertainty, or conflict. (Did you notice the pattern?)

As an author, I took the liberty of picking and choosing which ones of  Webster’s 7-plus definitions I wanted to use/agree with. You can imagine the conclusion I was easily able to come to as a result. I actually do comply with my standards of keeping my new year’s resolution after all! I meet #1 because I’ve lowered my word count per-book per-day to an attainable number. And can now celebrate every day when I write over that amount, instead of metaphorically speaking beating myself up. #3 is obtained because I’ve blocked out hours (yes, hours) each day that are all about my writing. Not any particular set time, mind you, but a total hour requirement. These hours involve research, edits, as-well-as new verbiage. And because of my commitment to the first two, I’m able to claim victory over the fifth. The problem settling mention in #5 is perhaps the most important of the three. Since my word-count goals are met – uncertainty dissolves (most, but not all) with every critique I receive from my beta readers, line-editors, and would-be agents’ rejection letters. And conflict, well … let’s just say I leave that on the pages of my books.

So it would seem that my 2019 New Year’s Resolution hasn’t come to an end after all.  That’s great news for me, since this year marks the end to my life-long streak of breaking new year resolutions. And you’re all welcome to use my fix to resolve your own issues with any resolutions you’ve made. “Write on!”

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Good-bye 2018 (RIP) – Hello 2019, Let’s Kick Some Butt

Thank(full) for the cycle of life. Keep your glass half full, fill up on the other things you are thankful for.  ***Quote from Marc Roland’s article in the Columbia River Reader (Nov. 25, 2018 – Jan. 10, 2019)***

Some people look at the world and see a glass half full. Others see it half empty. I always welcome a glass half full especially when it comes to wine. If you fill a wine glass to the brim you are missing out on at least half the pleasure in drinking wine because then you can’t stick your nose in it. Also from Marc Roland’s article.

Not only do I agree with Marc, but I think his half full belief can also be adopted and applied to writing. Which will  now become my New Years Eve goal for 2019. I’ll be striving to keep my muse half full (aka) not pilling so much on my book-writing plate that I don’t finish any of my projects. Currently I have six unfinished books. Three in my ‘Cat Calls’ series; Two in my ‘The OLD & the NEW’ series; and one in my ‘Tri-Natured Warrior’ series. My plan-of-attack is simply – just FDBS (aka) finish the damn book silly.

Yeah, I know you expected my to say – stupid, but there is nothing stupid about my devotion to my writing and growing as a author. To date, I’ve got book-3, Cat Calls – “Samuel’s’ Tail’, ready for its publishing packet; book-1, The OLD & the NEW – ‘Coffee’s the New Blood’, off to my beta readers (again); and still waiting to hear from an agent for book-1, Tri-Natured Warriors – ‘Savor the Bond’. However book-4 – ‘Calvin’s Cubs’ final edits must be completed and book-5 – ‘Peter’s Pounce’ needs its rough-draft finished before I write more in book-5 – ‘Rodney’s Miracles’. As does book-2, ‘Hairy, but Not Scary’ and book-2, ‘Savor the Blood’. So you see – I have plenty of work to keep my author’s glass-of-wine half full. These projects will be placed on a timeline for completion in 2019 before any new stories are started.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, my muse still has lots of ideas for new works – believe me. But those ideas will be jotted down and addressed only after I drain my current writer’s glass. I leave you with one final quote for 2018 ; I could not at any age be content to take my place in a corner by the fireside and simply look on. One must never, for whatever reason, turn one’s back on life. Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady, author, and public speaker, 1884 – 1962 (same reader). “Write on!”

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Happy Holidays!

Finally we have a Monday coming up that a majority of people are actually looking forward to instead of dreading. Christmas Eve-day is on a Monday this year – alas, we Anti-Monday-Morning people have a reason not to dread getting up.  But honestly, there are a few other things over the holiday-craziness that I’ve come to dread infinitely more than Monday mornings. I think Charley Brown, off that beloved Christmas program which airs every year, said it best – “Commercialism … @#{%!”

Moving on. In my Cat Calls series I have a character – Marcus Christian (aka) MC, that was born into the domestic were-cougar rank of omega.  (You meet MC first in book-1, ‘Leviticus’s Purr’, and he cameos in book-2, ‘Robert’s Roar’, and the soon to be released book-3, ‘Samuel’s Tail’, as well as each book the follows – leading into his own story – book-6, ‘Dominic’s Own’, scheduled for 2022.) Simplified, that means MC loves everything about the domestic duties he sees to for the members of his growing pride. In my last blog post, I toughed briefly on the foods that several of my characters from two of my series shared with my muse that they’d typically serve over the holidays. And that got me to thinking. What about real people, like myself for instance? Ones that don’t like to cook. The idea of wrestling with fresh or frozen fowl, raw legs of whatever, or slabs of beef is the farthest thing from holiday fun for us that can be. So, what can we do?

Well, I was lucky enough to stumble onto one solution during a stop off at the Post Office. A lady asked me if I wanted a copy of the magazine, ‘Southern Living’. It seems she’d been getting two a month and the problem was yet to be resolved. Never one to turn down anything potentially useful, specially when free, I thanked her and we wished each other ‘Happy Holidays’. It was the December 2018 issue, and inside was an article by Jennifer Justus titles – The Ham Lady.  The article centered on a family ran business (for generations), currently lead by Nancy Newsom along with her son-and-heir John. The business is called – Newsom’s Old Mill Store, and they’re all about country-cured hams! You can’t have a three-generation business without set-backs, and a few were mentioned that these “aged country hams” professionals were able to overcome. But hey, even Julia Child was quoted in the article singing praises about these hams. The article mentions that at one time they had a mail-order business … and they still do! I know I’ll be googling for more info in time for next year’s holidays. It’s all about the research when you’re an author after all. You non-cooks, and even those of you that cook, can find all of the Newsom’s hams at newsomscountryham.com . “Write on.”

 

 

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What My Characters Eat Over The Holidays

Fun fact concerning this topic – I’ve actually overruled my muse. Pulling delicious memories from my childhood that I know the BFF’s in my ‘The OLD & the NEW’ series’s first book, ‘Coffee’s the New Blood’ – Penelope, Amanda, and Melissa, would have definitely prepared. Chiefly … turkey with all the trimmings for Thanksgiving. But, unlike the omega were-cougar, MC,  from my ‘Cat Calls’ male-with-male series, that I know for certain would have put dark-chocolate in his homemade pumpkin pies and  roasted pecans in the dough of his pecan pies (as well as good Kentucky bourbon in the filling).

The girls would have stayed traditional … right down to stuffing (yes, I said stuffing) their bird with roasted chestnuts and cranberry stuffing. They’d have also had mashed potatoes with giblet-gravy, sweet-potatoes topped with toasted marshmallows, glazed carrots and bacon green-bean casserole made with fresh (not canned) beans with very crunchy onions on top. (FYI: My mother used canned cream-of-mushroom soup in this dish – but I like it better without it. Sheesh!) Now, since my were-cougars are carnivores through-and-through, MC wouldn’t have complicated his Thanksgiving feast with hot veggie-dishes. But, if you read the first two books in that series, ‘Leviticus’s Purr’ and ‘Robert’s Roar’, you already know that MC is always about a well balanced meal. Therefore, a huge bowl of mixed greens with delicious home-made blue-cheese dressing would have graced his table.

Literally surrounding that salad would be several high-protein options. A tremendous honey and whisky-glassed bone-in ham, venison, several rabbits, and a whole head-to-tail (though cleaned) king-salmon. Its cavity stuffed with a verity of fresh herbs and lemon wedges. (Although I’ve had this fish both baked and grilled … I prefer it baked.) Every item mentioned above I’ve enjoyed one year or another while growing up. Other than Christmas Eve, where we always had a verity of finger-foods, home-made cookies and candies –  along with a huge pot of freshly made clam-chowder, Christmas dinner mimicked Thanksgiving. So – I fell it is the same for my characters. Don’t misunderstand – there were many, many more options that were interchangeable. Far too numerous to mention. But I feel certain that in up-and-coming books, for both these two series at least, I’m going to convince my muse to pen a holiday feast.

If you have any fun-family-memories, or food favorites that have become a must have during the holidays … please share them with me. I’ll consider your suggestion(s) and perhaps include it in a future book. If I do – I’ll not only contact you, but will also mention you and your contribution on the acknowledgement page of that book. “Write on.”

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Physical Theatre’s adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 horror novel

Now that’s a handle if ever there was one. Although I live in a fairly small town by the ‘world standards’ … we are not without our offers of genuinely fine theater performances. Now, it’s no secret that I love everything paranormal. Either through my writing, my published books, Facebook, lite-conversation in a grocery store line, or my Blog … I enjoy everything in the paranormal genre. So, it would stand to reason that my family would have picked up on my interest – right? Nevertheless, when one of my favorite nieces surprised me with birthday tickets to see ‘Dracula’ at our local Columbia Theatre for the Performing Arts … I was beyond flabbergasted.

I’ll not cheapen the reading experience of those of you (however few there must be) that have yet to read the original book on this subject, I will go on to applaud the creative interpretation  of ‘Push Physical Theatre’s Dracula’. Push’s creative performance, in my awe-struck interpretation, gave credence to the genre that dominates my muse’s every-waking-hour. Suffice to say –  it was the best birthday gift ever.

Moving on – I want to continue with a couple ‘Quips & Quotes’ that I noticed in the Oct. 15 – Nov. 24 ‘Columbia Reader’ (a complimentary locally published small paper).                                                                                                                        Mark Twain (1835 – 1910): The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read.                                                                                George R. R. Martin ( 1948 – ) A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives only one.                                                                ***Evelyn R. Loren-Martin (1956 – ) If I could grant anything … it would be to send adults back in time to recapture their love of reading before they allowed life’s annoyances to mutate that enjoyment. ***Disclaimer – my little quip wasn’t in the Columbia Reader.

I realize this is a short blog post – and long in coming. No excuses offered. Suffice to say … my writing has remained on track. I hope to interest my old publisher to pick up ‘Samuel’s Tail’ next year, while still pursuing an agent to accept ‘Savor the Bond’. Meanwhile – ‘Coffee’s the New Blood’ has been manipulating my time. Writing new word-counts will always be my ‘JAM’. But when you find your finished manuscript falling short of the required minimum, things get a bit ‘jiggy’.  Until next time, write on!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rules of Engagement

Actually, I’ve decided that  – Rule of Engagement – would be far more accurate. What is that one rule you ask? Well, I’ll tell you … eventually.

When I first started writing, admittedly less then six-years ago, penning my stories came fairly easy (and still do). I always knew my genre would be paranormal romance, and my muse and I agreed that we’d tackle three-separate series – two standard male/female and one male/male. Within a week I had the beginnings of the rough-drafts for each of the first books in their prospective series. Looking back now, I realize that that was the last of any stability for me in this business.

Each year more and more publishing houses are closing their doors as the lemmings (aka)  new authors rush towards the steep cliffs of self-publishing. As more and more established authors fight for – and win – the rights back for their earlier works, they too are eagerly flooding the market with new covers on old works. An endeavor, by-the-way, that I commend them for as many are re-adding verbiage that was omitted by their original publisher, getting their new edition re-edited and having much more say about the outcome.

Times are forever changing. Submitting query letters, synopsis, polished first ten-pages or, if you’re really lucky, the first 3-chapters of a manuscript to try and score with an agent is becoming a thing-off-the-past. Although I still hold onto high-hopes that I’ll catch the interest of an agent for my ‘Tri-natured Warriors’ series, using smaller publishing houses or going completely independent has become the new norm. And even that too is changing each time I look into options for my latest finished manuscript. All the many ‘Rules of Engagement’ I found lately while just trying to decide if I want to stay with my current publishing house, give another further inquiry, or tackle the totally Indy-dragon is nothing short of mind-boggling.

And as if all the above isn’t enough – word count requirements change each year, as-well-as the guidelines that define erotic-romance from erotica. Luckily, I still fall into the former with my ‘Cat Calls’ series (Whew!). Then there’s having to search out a reliable pre-editor within a budget and locate free-pictures that best match an idea for any given cover artist to use. They’re their own separate nightmare that even Hollywood wouldn’t dare make movies of.

My rant is over about the business side of writing. But before I return to the personally  much more satisfying portion – my word count, as promised … the Rule of Engagement is –  there are no longer any rules. Write-on, and if you happen upon an author out there, give her/him a hug.

 

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Quips & Quotes

You may have tangible wealth untold;                                                                                                Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.                                                                                                  Richer than I you can never be –                                                                                                            I had a mother who read to me.                                                                                                                                Strickland Gillilan

It is likely I will die next to a pile of things I was meaning to read.                                                                                              Lemony Snicket, pseudonym of Daniel                                                                                        Handler, American writer, 1970 – 

Frederick Douglass taught that literacy is the path from slavery to freedom.                        There are many kinds of slavery and many kinds of freedom, but reading is still the path.                                                                                                                                                                                             Carl Sagon, American astrophysicist, 1934 – 1996

To encourage literature and the arts is a duty which every good citizen owes to his country.                                                                                                                                                          George Washington, first U. S. President                                                                                                                   1732 – 1799 

When your ‘must read’ pile of books exceeds the allotted shelve space you so lovingly and longingly provided, it’s time to take a little – you time – and get to reading.                                                                                Evelyn R. Loren-Martin, pseudonym of Robin Martin                                                                              Paranormal-Romance author                  (The first four Quips & Quotes were found in the Sept. 15 – Oct. 14. 2018 complimentary Columbia River Reader, courtesy of Debra Tweedy.)

The last one is my own offering by way of an apology, of sorts, for not only neglecting my weekly Blog post, but also my word count for the book my beta readers and editor have been literally hounding me for.  Admittedly, taking some much needed me time when ‘Coffee’s the New Blood’ is about three-chapters short of being finished was poor timing. But it was indeed a much needed reprieve. As many of you probably know, catching up with all the neglected e-mails is the worse part of returning from any respite.

Now that that’s done I’m ready to tackle my word count – full speed ahead. Sending off the necessary corrections for ‘Coffee’s the New Blood’ to my lead-beta is goal #1. The minute I get the manuscript back from her, I’ll commit whatever time is needed to revise it before finally sending it off to my nail-biting editor.  I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to start using an accountability-calendar to keep me on task. Simply relying on my habit of writing every day isn’t pro-active enough, and jumping from book-to-book in my word count has become too frazzled.  Although I’ll always be a ‘write by the seat of my pants’ author, projects are nothing without a completion of goals set.

Now, I realize that this is not a new lesson for most of my author friends, but since I’ve only been writing for a few years – I consider myself lucking to have finally picked up on it. “Write-on.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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