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 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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Drawn in and TRAPPED

Audrey

The autumn wind has been gusting all day, setting the maple tree outside your room swaying to and fro.

Safe and warm beneath your covers, you fall asleep to the sounds of leaves rattling softly and a gentle tapping at you bedroom window. 

It’s a lulling, repetitive sound, and you already almost asleep, so you never stop to consider: the maple tree doesn’t reach your windowpane. It never has. 

                                                                                                                    by: Mallory Hobson                                                    The SALAL Review – literary and visual art Vol. 18 Spring 2018

Well … were you drawn in and trapped before you even knew you were hooked by this short poem the way I was? Nothing has stressed the significance of writing tight to me as much as Mallory’s poem. I imagined myself immediately popping up in bed, drawing my blankets up to my shoulders and … ever so slowly – looking out towards my bedroom’s window to that maple tree.

As a writer of paranormal romance, I believe that I share a similar challenge with my sister-genres fantasy and science-fiction. Even though we have the levity of building our worlds outside the constrictions that history has placed on historical romance authors, and  holds-to-reality that our modern-times place on contemporary authors –  we too have certain guidelines that govern our genres.  I won’t speak of the two genres I share a loose kinship with, but in paranormal-land: vampires must have a food source (usually blood or energy) to survive,  and shifters ‘honor’ the moon in one way or another.  And, of course … there’s the zombies with their brains fetish and ghost with their visibility issues. Yet, after reading ‘Audrey’, I came away thinking that there is perhaps one genre that has all the others trumped (including my beloved paranormal). I can find no restrictions in it to govern/hinder an author’s muse. Can’t imagine any genre that it can’t snuggle in and find fertile writing ground. And, whats more … I sincerely believe that everyone of my favorite books contain it. If you haven’t guessed what genre I’m talking about, perhaps you should consider giving the above poem another read. 

Suspense.

That’s right – suspense. Although some may argue that suspense is the fraternal-twin to mystery, I think not. Follow along with my imagery here … suspense is like an arachnid (aka) a multi-legged Ink-slinger spider that has spun its web into every single genre. Attaching its sticky silk to our inner-muse in order to guide our creative little flies, err – that is plot bunnies, into a cohesive protagonist-versus-antagonist flow. In conjunction with our hero/heroine getting their point across to the other just short of clubbing him/her for their own good and ‘tying’ them up somewhere safe (here’s where I should mention that I do write some erotic scenes here-and-there). 

Mallory Hobson has lit a new candle under my outlook as an author.  And for that, I’ll be forever thankful. Although my ‘Cat Calls’ series has three completed books, with two published, and my ‘The OLD & the NEW’ series has one book set for editing – I’m excited to have learned the importance of including suspense in my future works. ‘Write-on’. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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To Edit, or Not To Edit … why is this even debated?

“Editors should not be a substitute for the planning, writing, and hard work that goes into writing. Handing the cleanest manuscript possible to an editor will keep her focused on the big ideas rather than having to make corrections on mistakes that could have ans should have already been fixed.”                                                                                                                                          J. Thorn                                                                                                 c/o Writers Digest’s Newsletter

I found this quote extremely poetic. Having had to go through a very lengthy search for an independent editor for two of my three series’ books – Cat Calls and The OLD & the NEW, there were times when I fell into hubris thoughts. (1) My book’s are amazingly perfect already, after all … I read their completed manuscripts 6x’s before I sent them off to my beta readers. (2) Okay, even though my betas found ‘some’ errors … I took their advice/corrections under advisement – and NOW they’re perfectly suitable for Indy-publication. (3) Waiting for an editor to get back to me after reading my work (when I know it’s perfect) and taking their critiques to heart will take too much time. My readers ‘deserve’ the next book – asap!

Well, I’m happy to say that although those prideful thoughts still remain tempting … I fully embrace each and every step in the process of becoming – and remaining – an author that holds her readers enjoyment uppermost in her thoughts. Writing is a business of entertainment after-all. And we all know that entertainment usually comes at a cost. As the ‘entertainer’, I pay with the time it takes to perfect my manuscript, get it edited, hire the cover artist, promo the completed book, and light the candles needed to praise the Powers-that-Be as they oversee sales (and dare I hope – reviews). All the reader needs to do is decide what they want to spend their hard earned – budgeted for entertainment – monies on. And that right there is the best argument this author can stress for the importance of an editor. 

So, thank you Mr. Thorn, and Writer’s Digest, for sharing your wisdom. Now it’s time for me to get back to my word count … until next time – “Write-on.”

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Special ‘Sharing is Caring’ Sunday

I’m especially excited about today’s blog-post. An author friend of mine – CHRYSTA MANE accepted my invitation to share with you her first book in an amazing paranormal romance series involving … nope – no teasers here, you’ll just have to read her blurb:

FALLING FOR SNOW – Mystery of Keyser Ridge #1; By: Chrysta Mane

What happens when Fate steps in and throws a curve-ball?  One preservers in spite of the ethereal intrusion.  Yet Braxton Taggett and Gabriele  Pope meant to try and succeed even if it nearly kills them. Years of being tormented for being different, Gaby relishes the unconditional freedom offered by college life and then her first real job. However, listing for the sexy Environmental Studies professor and now he lad boss is not a bullet point on her life plan. Tell that to her body and inner cat. Both hunger for the man as if starved and refuse to listen to reason. Professor Braxton Taggett’s orderly, fact-orientated life was going along fine, until curvy, opinionated Gabriele Pope walked into his intro class, and turned everything upside down and ultra-chaotic. Who ordered a mate? Definitely not him, yet listening to the whine of his inner cat, it seems one walked in despite his wish. Gaby’s effect on him is nothing short of miraculous. His body and inner cat crave the sexy one-of-a-kind female snow leopard shifter more than life itself. Keeping her safe as well as his alone soon becomes a test of fortitude as well as ingenuity, thanks to her relation to one Braxton blames for the greatest loss of his life.

Wow, becoming a firm believer in Fate never fractured into any plan, but neither did finding and falling hard for a female snow.

***NOTE: This book contains explicit, erotic sexual content for mature readers only.***

If you were intrigued by her blurb – and I can’t help but believe you were – here’s a short biography of Chrysta that I’m equally sure you’ll enjoy. BUT FIRST –  you can find Chrydta’s books here: https://www.books2read.com/u/3R1KJL 

NYC born and raised, Chrysta has lived in suburban Maryland for most of her adult life. When not busy writing, she is catching up on reading, doing research or planning next year’s crop of container vegetables. Her stories ranch from modern day shifters to period historical, but all have one thing in common … a happy ever after. 

I have to admit that sharing a book from an author I enjoy on my blog was a great deal of fun. I hope I can continue my NEW ‘Sharing is Caring’ every Sunday with different authors. If you have a favorite author – let me know. I’ll gladly contact them and ask to share their latest book(s) as well. And remember … “Write-on!”

 

 

 

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Libraries Are Everything

I had one of the best experiences in my life as an author this past week. Truth-be-told, I was curious how well my first book – Leviticus’s Purr’ – was doing with the local readers. Imagine my surprise to learn that my small-town Public Library had ordered a paperback copy to go along with the hardcover I donated because of the high interest my book generated.  They now have a donated hardcover copy of my second book – Robert’s Roar. I’m confident that it’ll be just as well received. 

In this Bi-monthly copy of ‘Writer’s Digest’ magazine, their annual agent feature was back. Featuring 35-reps each seeking new clients in a variety of genres, and sub-genres. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were THREE very strong contenders interested in my standard paranormal romance, and as many as 7 that I’ll do more in-depth delving into to see if they’d want to consider my work as well. Although not all the agents were interested in my particular genre – everyone of them left ‘Tips For Writers’ that I very much appreciated. See if you don’t agree – here are just a few examples:  

             * Find a critique partner who can be objective and can tell you what is and isn’t working at a craft level. What is well-established in your own head doesn’t always come across on paper. – Whitley Abell @whitleyabell 

             * Don’t be discourage by rejection. This being a subjective business, that is bound to happen many times over. Learn from constructive criticism and grow. – Mark Gottlieb @mark_gottlieb 

             * A thoughtful, tailored query always gets further than something that feels it’s been spammed to me and all my colleagues. It’s not a race: do your work justice by being just as thoughtful about its submission process.  – Erik Hane @erikhane 

             * Being a published author is a business and you would never go into business without knowing your competition. Read other successful authors in your genre; know what books have been busy. – Abigail Koons – @abbykoons

             * When you’re putting together a list of agents to query, remember to look in the Acknowledgements sections of books that are close in subject matter or tone to yours, or books you generally admire [to find mention of agents]. – Emma Patterson @empat222

             * Remember that your goal isn’t just to sell a book, but to build a career. Make sure when you’re talking to an agent that you want to work with that agent for years, possibly decades to come. – Dongwon Song @dongwon

Now, as I mentioned – these are but a few … but every single agent in the article left tips along with what they were interested in, and perhaps more importantly – what they don’t want. The best advise I’ve been given, and by numerous authors I might add: Always know all there is to know about the agent your trying to ‘hook’.  Although I haven’t heard back from the agent I submitted my Tri-natured Warriors first book – Savor the Bond, to after RWA18, yet … no news could be good news – right?!? 

“Write-on, my friends.” 

 

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What’s In A Word?

Interesting question that, wouldn’t you agree? Well, here’s a quote from someone that does: The difference between the almost right word and the                                                   right word is really a large matter. ’tis the difference                                                     between the lightning bug and the lightning. – Mark                                                       Twain

Currently I’m going back through my first book ‘Coffee’s the New Blood’ from my second series, The OLD & the NEW, because I discovered that the minimum word count for a standard manuscript in the paranormal romance genre is now 10-thousand higher than it was last year. Although surprising, this switch-up gives me the perfect opportunity to add more depth to my plot and more ‘character’ to my characters. Prior to RWA18, I’d thought ‘Coffee’s the New Blood’ was editor worthy – now, learning that I’m shy a few thousand words I’ve been given a new focus. Starting dutifully at page one, I’ve been re-vamping the manuscript to add more flourish to my words. In short … I’m adding the ‘lightning’ to my bug, and I know my readers will benefit through their enjoyment of this – FINAL – final draft. 

In the in-between time I’m doing a mini-marathon session – reading Shelly Laurenston’s ‘Hot and Badgered’ book, again, before I tackle her {aka} G.A. Aiken’s newest dragon book ‘Bring the Heat’. Of course I have both series proudly displayed on my re-read shelve, which may lead to a major-marathon session if I’m not careful. (FYI: Shelly’s an excellent paranormal author that pens with a unique touch of levity. In fact, she’s one of my favorite authors that inspired me to try my own hand at humor in ‘Coffee’s the New Blood’.) 

Time to get back to my word count and ‘write-on’. 

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Finally Back On Track

Do any of you travel much? I don’t know if it’s just me, but for some reason I spend three-times as long unpacking after a trip then I spend packing. And on top of that … no matter how much I try to downsize how much I take with me  – I still never use around one-fourth of the clothes/shoes. Although I’m proud to say that both my suitcases were well under the maximum weight allowed, that is,  pre-conference flight (no need to mention that the extra carry-on I packed was put to full use on the way back home – right?). As you may recall from my earlier post, I was headed off to Romance Writers of America (RWA18) in Denver, Colorado. It was an amazing conference. I managed to make a couple new contacts, meet up with some old friends, and even make a few new ones. As a fairly new author myself, I love it when I get the opportunity to share my don’t do what I did sage advice to RWA ‘virgins’. 

On the business side of things, I happened upon an agent waiting by the elevators on the third-day. Reaching clear down to my pedicured and polished toenails for courage, I managed to ask her what genres she preferred to represent. After taking a quick glance at my name-tag, she said she was interested in fantasy, sci-phi, and paranormal romances. BINGO! Needless to say, I offered up my elevator pitch for my third series – Tri-Natured Warriors, Savor the Bond … as we rode the elevator all the way up to her floor (several floors higher than mine). The series’s pitch: Judged by their deeds, a powerful entity chooses one man per-century. Gifted with three otherworldly natures, and centered by their mate, they protect mankind. When she asked for more, my business persona kicked in and shared the pitch for the first book: Inept vampire-like creatures attack a group of campers. Although holding their own – injuries pile up. With Ho;y-water running low, Michael’s left with only one choice. After just a couple more questions, and reaching her floor – she gave me her card and requested the first three chapters and a synopsis. SQUEEE!

I rode the elevator back down to my floor – all the while doing the ‘happy dance’, thankful that nobody else was in the elevator with me. Now … it’s time to get back to my word count, after I perfect Savor the Bond’s synopsis. Wish me luck. 

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