Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Fascination With Fallen Angels

They're everywhere, from YA to erotic paranormal, and almost everything in between. But what exactly are fallen angels? As with most paranormal creatures, there are many myths and legends.

The stories a lot of us learned came from Sunday school and the Old Testament. Fallen angels helped lead men into acts of depravity, and one of the consequences was the Great Flood.

One of the archangels, Raphael, was told to put the fallen angel Azazel into chains and cast him into a pit of sharp stones in the desert, and cover him with darkness where he'd remain until Judgement Day.

Another archangel, Gabriel, was charged to proceed against the bastards and reprobates, the sons of the angels begotten (isn't that a great word? no one uses that word anymore) with the daughters of men, and plunge them into deadly conflict with one another. Perhaps it's this legend that sparks so many romance novels where fallen angels get it on with humans?

The descendants of Cain seemed especially linked to the wiles of fallen angels. According to legend, Cainite women and men alike were in the habit of walking around naked and giving into every conceivable manner of lewd practices. The women were said to be able to tempt angels from the path of virtue.

Lucifer is said to be a fallen angel. His names means "light giver" or "light bearer," referring to the morning or evening star. In Roman mythology he is the son of Aurora, the Roman personification of dawn. In Greek mythology he is the father Ceyx. Some scholars believe Satan and Lucifer are actually two separate fallen angels. Lucifer's sin was pride, suggesting he was the first angel to sin. His banishment was due to his complete egotism and pure malice.

In Genesis, the fallen are referred to as Nephilim, or sons of God, who came to Earth and reproduced with humans. These events caused God to cast them from Heaven. According to the Book of Enoch, there were some two hundred of the fallen. Of these, nine chief angels led them.

One of the most famous literary works to cover the plight of fallen angels is an epic poem titled Paradise Lost by John Milton, written in 1667. It incorporates the legends and myths of various religions and cultures regarding the fallen ones.

Whether you cull your fallen angel story from a myth or legend, or take liberties with your prose and make up your own, our fascination with these creatures has come down through the centuries. Won't you share your own fallen angel stories with us today?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

When Backstory...Isn't

**Spoiler Alert - this post contains spoilers for the movie HEREAFTER.

This weekend the family and I sat down and watched HEREAFTER starring Matt Damon. As a big Matt Damon fan, I tend to love all his movies. My daughter,though, had seen this one in the theatre and had warned me that I wouldn't care for it.

Impossible! Okay maybe not impossible, but Matt has a great thumbs up record in my book. Anything starring him, I give the benefit of the doubt.

Sadly, my daughter called exactly it right.

As writers, we study craft and by learning craft, we are changed. You never quite look at stories the same. Subconciously, you're waiting for the next step in the hero's journey to unfold. You're gathering clues through great (or not so great) dialogue. You're making mental notes about character and, of course...backstory.

As the closing credits played across the screen, my daughter turned and asked my opinion. I sighed.

She was right. I didn't care for the movie. IMO, it was slow. Too slow. The fact that a third of it was in French with English subtitles turned the pacing to molasses. But the main problem was pretty simple: it was backstory.

Now, honestly I'm not here to bash any artist's vision, but the trailers set up the story as something very different than what the movie delivered. And that is something we, as writers, need to stay conscious about: backstory is NOT the story.

We love our characters like children. We live with them 24/7 until we push them out into the world. We adore them so much that we want to share every little discovery. Remember that crazy enthusiastic first-time mom who shares every breath of her pregnancy with a total stranger on line at the supermarket checkout? Yeah. That's us and too much backstory = TMI.

Your reader only needs to know enough backstory to flesh out the character. And it should always relate to the real story you're telling. It's "why" or the underlying motivation of the action. Underlying being the operative word here.

If it takes center stage...it's just another diaper tale.



Working on an editor or two

I haven't had too many suggestions, but I am working on getting a couple of editors to come visit us here. If you have someone you'd particularly like to see, please let me know. I'd like to see a bit more response here - there may be a surprise when you do!


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Urban Fantasy Markets

I'm always looking for new markets to sell paranormal fiction/urban fantasy/whatever they're calling it right now, and every so often I come upon a good site with listings for several kinds of writing. Here's the latest one I found:

As listed at writing.com - http://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/1737453-Urban-Fantasy-Markets - by Nikola © Copyright 2011 Nikola (UN: nmarshall at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.

69FoP's tastebuds tend toward horror and dark fantasy. While horror is our favorite dish, we most love to serve it in a slipstream/cross genre stew. We love monsters and unknown beings of all types (just remember, though, there's a billion of 'em out there, so yours had better be tasty) and the contemporary/urban fantasy found in The Twilight Zone. LotR/Harry Potter-style fantasy, hard sci-fi and poetry are not particularly palatable to us, and we've been known to spit those pieces out before we finish chewing. Nothing particularly wrong with them, mind you, just not the textures we savor. 69FoP gives first consideration to short stories originally served up in small press 'zines prior to the turn of the century, though we will take a bite of anything published in any periodical through 2004. We will also accept original fiction, but if it's good enough to submit to 69FoP, it should be good enough to put out to the paying markets first. That said, if you really want your recipe associated with such a groovy title, and it has the right ingredients, toss it in our oven and see if it bakes...

An imprint of established fiction publisher BelleBooks, Inc., Bell Bridge nutures emerging fiction voices and broadens the Southern brand of its parent company, which has been defined by its quality Southern fiction program. Included in Bell Bridge's list will be fantasy, horror, young adult, mystery, general fiction and even some Southern fiction.

We are currently accepting manuscripts in the science fiction, fantasy, paranormal and horror genres. A wide range of material is considered within each genre from old-fashioned space-opera to high-tech SF, sword and sorcery to contemporary dark fantasy, paranormal romance and gothic to modern horror. Above all, a story must be well told with good character development. Paranormal romances may be sensual and erotic, but tastefully done. Sample the books of Kelley Armstrong or Charlaine Harris and you will get an idea of what we will accept.

While your story must always contain some mythic fictional elements, please choose the most appropriate imprint to receive your submission. Drollerie Press publishes our stories through a number of “lines” or “imprints” to help our readers better find the books they want to read. Drollerie Press: For fantasy works, including urban fantasy, myths, legends, and fairy tales. Chrysography: If you consider your work more literary in nature. Gauffer Press: If your work of mythic fiction resides primarily in the areas of suspense, thrillers and mysteries. Grotesqueries: for mythic works of a horrific or dark speculative bent. Quadrivium: If your work fits within the genre of science fiction. Kettlestitch: If your work is intended for audiences between the ages of 14 and adult with sophisticated conflict and intelligent, engaging characters between the ages of 16 and 19. Pen Flourish: We have combined our romance and erotica under Pen Flourish. We are committed to publishing diverse works by talented authors regardless of race, sex, creed, religion or orientiation.

FaePublishing is a new way of doing business in the the Indie publishing industry of Science Fiction and Fantasy. We want YOU, the fan to have input into what we publish. Tell us what books you like most in Science Fiction and/or Fantasy, why did you like what you read, what didn’t you like? What would you REALLY like to read? Faepublishing’s purpose is to find out what you want to read, we will not base what we publish on what sold last year, or the year before.

Fantastique Unfettered, a Periodical of Liberated Literature exists to provide well-written, compellingly readable, original stories of fantasist fiction to readers. We will publish both established and new writers alike, and intend no certain genre as transcendant over another, though Science Fiction should be sent to our sister publication, M-Brane SF. Some stories might look like SF or Fantasy depending on one's perspective (stories that follow in the tradition of Philip K. Dick, for instance). We are interested in such tales. There are also specific areas of overlap that are outlined in our Writers Guidelines.

Fantasy Magazine is an online weekly magazine of all forms of fantasy fiction. High fantasy, contemporary and urban tales, surrealism, magical realism, science fantasy, and folktales can all be found in our pages. We are looking for stories that delight, entertain, and enrapture readers, stories ranging from delicious treats that melt on the tongue, leaving only a trace of sweetness, to the dark and poignant tale whose memory lingers with you for days, perhaps years. Fantasy Magazine is entertainment for the intelligent genre reader — send us stories of the fantastic that make us think, and tell us what it is to be human while amazing us with your mastery of language and story elements. From the very first issue, Fantasy has featured authors of significant literary reputation, such as Jeffrey Ford, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Stewart O’Nan, and Holly Phillips. Send us your best. While we run the gamut from light to dark, we don’t have as much of the former as we’d like, and are always looking for more.

Fickle Muses is an online journal of poetry and fiction engaged with myth and legend. Fickle Muses publishes writing that connects the contemporary reader with ancient tradition and a sense of wonder in the world of past, present and future.
FICTION: Stories that creatively incorporate myth or legend (e.g. stories which combine contemporary or historical settings with mythic elements; fantasy which consciously evokes its mythic roots) are welcome.
POETRY: Poems that creatively incorporate myth or legend (e.g. by retelling ancient myths or exploring myth in the context of the contemporary world) are welcome.

HEX is a bi-annual publication and an online community radicalising European traditions and giving voice to the modern Heathen household. We are here to explore and celebrate the European peoples’ ancestral traditions and beliefs. Hex strives to recall the evident truths of the seasonal cycles, the folk ways & rites of our cultural heritage, earth stewardship, self-sufficiency, and sustainable living. By making old world knowledge and wisdom available for use in our everyday lives, we aspire to bring continuity to the present and heart to future generations. PLEASE NOTE: we are NOT a Christian publication and will not accept Christian-themed material. Also, fantasy-themed material needs to be thematically related to the Hex Magazine concept (e.g. we do not accept generic high fantasy). PLEASE check out our site thoroughly before submitting as we receive many inappropriate submissions.

Kitsune Books was founded in 2006 to make available to the reading public a variety of artistic, well-written books that might be passed over by big mainstream publishers concerned mainly with sales figures and advertising budgets. We publish literary and some genre fiction, nonfiction literary commentary and memoir, and poetry collections. Please see the Submission guidelines for details.

Lyrical Press, Inc. is owned by the husband and wife team of Frank and Renee Rocco. Their goal is to provide authors with a friendly, fun and safe home for their books and offer readers an eclectic mix of quality titles to chose from. LPI offers books in both electronic format and Print On Demand on all tiles over 70,000 words. A full service publishing house, Lyrical Press, Inc. is actively seeking all genres. From tender romances to gothic paranormal horrors, we welcome all submissions. If you dare to write it, we dare to consider it.

Mundania Press is a publisher of select novels and short stories. We specialize in science fiction, fantasy, horror, mystery, romance, and paranormal. Currently, our catalogue is full through 2011 with science fiction and fantasy, so at this time we aren’t looking for either of those genres. Presently, we are actively looking for unpublished quality manuscripts in the genres of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, horror, and steampunk only. We will consider young adult books as long as they’re in one of the genres we’re looking for.

PodCastle is looking for fantasy stories. We’re open to all the sub-genres of fantasy, from magical realism to urban fantasy to slipstream to high fantasy, and everything in between. Fantastical or non-real content should be meaningful to the story. We are an audio magazine. Our audience can’t skim past the boring parts. While we appreciate beautiful stories, those that feature beautiful language at the expense of plot may not translate well. Ideally, fiction should have strong pacing, well-defined characters, engaging dialogue, clear action, and still be beautiful. Above all, we’re looking for stories that are fun to listen to. Humor is encouraged. Podcastle hopes to publish fiction reflecting the full range of settings and tropes found in fantasy fiction. We’d particularly like to see more stories set outside America, and stories that feature characters who represent a range of backgrounds and ethnicities.

Pyr® publishes only science fiction and fantasy novels.
IMPORTANT: They only accept unagented submissions in the fantasy genre.

Realms of Fantasy is a full-sized bimonthly color magazine, dedicated to publishing the best in fantasy fiction, nonfiction, and artwork.
FICTION: Stories can address any area in the realms of fantasy: heroic, contemporary, traditional, feminist, dark, light, and the ever-popular “unclassifiable.”

Welcome to Wild Stacks: the Library of the Imagination, the online magazine that is home for stories that explore and expand the imagination. All types of fantasy will be considered, from horror to heroic fiction, sword & sorcery, urban fantasy, steam-punk, supernatural, surreal, weird fiction, and noir crime.

Good luck, and get writing!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Look Inside Evernight Publishing,Featuring Carolyn Rosewood

Although 80% of Americans believe they have a book-worthy story inside them, few ever complete their book. Of those who do, I wonder how many authors manage to get their books published?
Carolyn Rosewood, our newest blog sister, is a Tennesseean who has succeeded. Her book, "THE LAST SOUL," came out April 20th. I’d like her to introduce herself.
Carolyn. ...
"I love to read all genres of romance. I’ve been reading romance since I was 19. I’m a PRO member of the RWA (the Romance Writers Association), and serve as treasurer for our local RWA chapter here in Nashville, the Music City Romance Writers. I also have a contemporary romance, 'Haunted Heart,' due out in July from Etopia Press.
"I work outside the home as a claims adjuster, and have been a critical-care nurse. I’m married to my real life hero, and we have a daughter in college."
Carolyn has graciously agreed to answer my publishing questions which, I’m hoping, are yours, too.

1. How did you get started as a writer?
"I’ve been writing since I could print. I’m that geeky kid who walked around junior high school and high school with a notebook full of hand-written stories. But it wasn’t until two years ago I joined RWA and our local Nashville chapter, the Music City Romance Writers, and began to get serious about my writing dreams.
2. Getting "The Call" is the moment many unpublished authors fantasize about. It’s that time when authors hear that a publisher wants her work. Can you describe your experience?
"Actually mine was a series of e-mails! My editor at Evernight Publishing, Emma Shortt, also is a moderator on Litopia.com, where I’ve been a member for almost two years. She put up an informal challenge thread and I wrote a 1,000 word erotic horror story. She liked it so much we began e-mailing about turning it into a paranormal romance for Evernight. After a few revisions, she e-mailed me to say Evernight was publishing it, and the next day I received an e-mail with my contract."
3. How long was it from the initial publisher’s request to see your manuscript until it reached published form?
"Six weeks. I know ... fast! But that’s all it took.”
4. What steps were involved to elevate your manuscript from a submission to a published novel?
"The cover art, marketing and blurb form, signing the contracts and mailing them to the publisher, then two rounds of edits and one final proof."
5. What surprised you most about being published?
"How much work goes into it from their end."
6. What advice would you give other unpublished authors who hope to interest your publishing house in their manuscript?
"Read their titles. If you write what they’re publishing now, polish that submission until it shines and then submit it."
7. What reasons would you give an unpublished author for sending his or her manuscript to Evernight Publishing? In other words, what do you particularly like about your publisher?
"Their professionalism and the way they make everything so easy."
8. Tell us a little bit about Evernight Publishing? Is it an e-publisher?
"Evernight is an e-publisher with a print program that is sales based."
9. Typically, how long does it take you to write a book? What’s your writing schedule?
"I work a full-time job outside the home so my writing during the week is in bits and pieces. Typically I write on weekends, as much as I can. I can’t really say how long it takes to finish one book. I wrote 'The Last Soul' in a few weeks, but I have novels in various stages that I’ve been working on for over a year."
10. How do you generate ideas for your stories?
"They come to me at odd times, and often in dreams."
11. What excites you about your current work-in-progress?
"The fact my heroine is Faina’s best friend in 'The Last Soul.' I’m hoping readers will connect with her better that way."
12. Could you share an excerpt from your books?
"Here’s an excerpt from 'The Last Soul':

"Faina donned a Betsey Johnson flowered dress and wedge sandals, then materialized a few blocks from where Jace worked.
"It felt so good to be outdoors. The warm air was soothing, the traffic noises and bustling crowds reminding her of New York City. Faina didn’t often get nostalgic for her human life, but today she did. If she succeeded in this mission, she’d be human again. Warm weather, noisy crowds and city life would be her reality, not simply the realm in which she was allowed to work.
"Unless Mastema had tricked her. No. She wouldn’t think about that now. She had a job to do. She took her time, peering in shop windows and trying to look like just another California trust fund babe out for a stroll on a bright summer day. The fact nearly every man pounding the pavement tripped over his own two feet as she strolled past wasn’t lost on her. She didn’t have the baby face, long blonde curls, and legs up to there for nothing.
"She avoided eye contact. It was enough to leave them with her scent, they’d have trouble getting it out of their head for weeks, but to look them in the eyes would be downright cruel. Even when she’d been alive all she’d had to do was turn her baby blues in a man’s direction and he followed her around like a dog in heat. She’d made more money for Madame Lily during her first six months than most of her girls made over the course of two years.
"As she made her way to the entrance of the 770 Wilshire Building, she caught a whiff of burned toast. She ducked into the nearest shop and pressed her nose to the plate-glass window, scanning the crowd for a familiar face. She’d only seen Mastema appear once in human form. He’d looked ridiculous dressed in a long coat and cowboy hat on the streets of Aurora, Nebraska, population 4,2025 as of last year. His bad-boy Western get-up would have been more appropriate for Arizona in the late 19th century.
"Either Mastema hadn’t been the demon she smelled or he’d already evaporated. The sidewalks were filled with six-foot blondes and men who looked like they walked off the cover of GQ. Not a weird outfit or menacing swagger in sight.
“Help you, Miss? You need mani and pedi today? We have new summer colors that look perfect on you.”
Faina whirled around to face the ancient Vietnamese woman. She’d ducked into a nail salon. Her senses had been so focused on the burnt toast smell and Mastema’s human form she hadn’t noticed the acrid smell of nail polish.
“ 'No, not today. I’m sorry. I’ve got to go.' ”
"Faina opened the door and strode to the parking garage entrance of the building. On the way a clock struck five. The smell of burnt toast wafted from a nearby taco stand. Had that been what she smelled? Tacos? She was jumping at shadows. That wasn’t like her.
"She made her way to Jace’s sports car by visualizing it. As the flood of workers poured into the garage, she hoped Jace would stay calm when he saw her. She was taking a risk as there would be plenty of witnesses if he wigged out.
"He was busy scrolling through messages on his phone as he sauntered to his car, and didn’t see her until she stepped in front of him as he was about to open the door.
“ 'Oh Jesus. Holy fu—.' ”
" His warm brown eyes opened wide and he visibly swallowed. 'How did you... you’re real. Holy shit.'
“ 'Get in your car, Jace. People are staring. One of them looks like he’s going to take a picture with his cell.'
"The lie snapped him out of his trance. He unlocked the doors and she slid into the passenger seat. 'Start the car but don’t move yet.'
"He stared straight ahead as the engine roared to life. Beads of sweat pooled at his hairline. She could hear his heart pounding. When she reached up to wipe his forehead, he moaned. 'It’s all right, Jace. Just try to relax.'
“ 'I don’t understand.' His voice shook.
“ 'You don’t need to. Wait until the garage clears out a bit. Then we’ll leave.'
“ 'I... I have a dinner date. A family friend. I have to go. I don’t want to but… I… I should.'
“ 'Do you want me to leave?'
"He looked into her eyes with the most desperate longing she’d ever seen on a human face. A flash of apprehension shivered down her spine, unbalancing her. She was going to hurt him. Badly. He’d lose everything. His home, the Foundation, his dinner date, maybe even this fancy sports car. And some kid wouldn’t have a place to sleep on a cold, winter night, or a youth group to keep him off the streets.
"The men she brought to Mastema were bad-to-the-bone to begin with. They just needed a little help to push them in the right direction. The inevitable direction, as he liked to call it. But Jace Blackmon was a good guy.
"Then why does Apollyon want him? But what if he didn’t want Jace? What if Jahi was right and Mastema had forged the contract?
“ 'Faina.' His whisper pulled her back to the present. Until she had proof to the contrary, it was Jace’s soul or her eternal torment as one of Mastema’s sex slaves. This was self-preservation. Nothing more.
"She looked into his eyes and smiled. 'Yes, Jace?'
“ 'Please don’t leave, Faina.' ”

(Any formatting errors belong to Brenda's web skills--not Carolyn.)

13. Where can readers find you on the Web? (Twitter, blog, Facebook, Website)?

We hope you’ve found Carolyn’s interview interesting. We appreciate your questions or comments.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The ‘IT’ Factor – Debut Author Darynda Jones

First Grave on the Right

St. Martin’s Press

February 2011

Book Blurb:

Charley sees dead people. That’s right, she sees dead people. And it’s her job to convince them to “go into the light.” But when these very dead people have died under less than ideal circumstances (i.e. murder), sometimes they want Charley to bring the bad guys to justice. Complicating matters are the intensely hot dreams she’s been having about an entity who has been following her all her life…and it turns out he might not be dead after all. In fact, he might be something else entirely.

First Grave on the Right was the 2009 Golden Heart winner for Best Paranormal Romance. It’s also received great reviews and rave cover quotes from some big time best-selling authors in the paranormal genre so I was eager to see what this book was all about.

What It Has Going For It:

Charlie Davidson – A wise-cracking, sassy, and not without her flaws heroine. She is certainly not the first character to appear in a romance moonlighting as a supernatural being who escorts the dearly departed into the light. However, she claims to be THE Grim Reaper, but I don’t see how this could be possible. With 100+ deaths each minute around the world, she wouldn’t have time to work her day job as a PI, or help her uncle solve the murders of some of the recently dead, or have a life for that matter. Which she does. A very busy one. I took it as she helped those few who failed to cross over, for whatever reason, while the rest made it to the pearly gates on their own.

Reyes Farrow – A dark and mysterious hero. Jones does a great job of keeping Charlie (and the reader) guessing as to exactly who and/or what he is. I loved the mystery surrounding him and to experience the plot unfolding as Charlie slowly pealed the layers away on this character.

Humor – By the bucket load! Jones starts with the opening line -- I’d been having the same dream for the past month—the one where a dark stranger materialized out of smoke and shadows to play doctor with me. -- and never lets up.

What Could Make It Better:

There’s such a thing as too much of a good thing. Jones has a voice for humor and I love humor. But at times I had the feeling she was trying to make each and every single line funny. It was almost too much. (I know, *gasp*). Some of it came across as forced and a few instances of what was supposed to pass for clever banter ended up being more silly than witty. Toning this down just a smidge would give the reader a breather. It’s okay to mix the dark with the light.

Charlie has a bit of ADD. Conversations would be going on about one thing and suddenly veer off on some wild tangent before returning to the topic at hand. This got confusing at times.

The ‘IT’ Factor:

Minor flaws aside (and they were minor -- the writing was so good, I easily overlooked them) this is a fabulous 1st novel. I’m a sucker for humor and this one is packed with it. It also had enough mystery and sexual tension to keep me turning the pages. This was a book I could not put down. Ms. Jones will definitely be making a name for herself in the paranormal genre.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Markets and who else do you want to chat with?

Here's some market news from the net...

Urban Echoes Entertainment, is currently seeking submissions for Pulse Publishing, their new traditional publishing imprint. Desired genres: Romance, Urban Fiction, Christian Fiction, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, and General Nonfiction.

Pulse is committed to fostering the success of their authors through the combination of widespread distribution and comprehensive promotion. For more info, visit www.pulsepub.net.


Both Eternal Press and Damnation Books are calling for Steampunk themed
submissions. Novels and novellas are the lengths we prefer. 10,000 words
and up.

Eternal Press is looking in particular for Erotic Steampunk, Romantic
Steampunk or Steampunk with a Mystery twist.
Damnation Books is taking submissions for Steampunk with a darker side.

Please send submissions to "Submissions Eternal Press"
submissionseternalpress@gmail.com with Steampunk and erotic, romance,
mystery or dark fiction in the subject line. For submission guidelines,
click on the web links in my signature for Eternal Press or Damnation


Samhain has also issued a Call for Submissions for a Superhero Romance Anthology. Submit your 25,000 to 30,000 word story featuring a super hero (or super heroine). No fanfic, please. Deadline for submissions is September 1, 2011 for publication in Spring 2012.


As I get more market news, I'll pass it along -

and who else would you like to have answer questions - editor or agent - and I'll do my best to make it happen!


Friday, April 15, 2011

The Things They Do Nowadays!

Okay, I admit it, I’m not really 25. And my daughters are not older than me. Sigh. I am a middle-aged woman who is totally amazed with the changes in technology over my lifetime.

I remember when it was a big deal to go down the street to the neighbors’ house in order to see Walt Disney Wonderful World of Color in actual color. Our TV was black and white, as were most of the TV’s back then. Most TV shows were filmed in black and white too, so it really wasn’t a big deal. Right now, I’m sitting across the room from a 42-inch flat screen (a gift from my daughter and son-in-law). Times have changed.

I remember the evening I recorded the last few minutes of an episode of Scarecrow and Mrs. King on our spanking new VCR thingy, I was totally blown away. Back then, transistor radios were cool; and calculators, which could do little more than add and subtract, were all the rage. It was a fun time. I now have to capability to record four shows and watch another, all without tapes. My cheapo cell phone can  do the calculations, along with texting, reminding when my favorite show is on, I can play games, and oh yeah, I can call people on it. The pone is about the size of my first calculator and smaller than my first transistor radio.

While people are talking about changing to Blue Ray, I still have a VCR (it’s a VCR and DVD player—so there!). I love DVD’s. They’re much more reliable and definitely easier to store. We currently have a huge box of VHS video tapes that we don’t have room for, but replacing them would be impossible, or expensive, which amounts to about the same thing.

I also have a record collection. No, really, records. Vinyl man, it’s cool, dude. But I digress. I know CD’s are easier to store, have better sound, and are incredibly cool, but I love my albums. Of course, now there is the download thing. But what happens if you accidently delete the thing? And I change what I like to listen to a lot. And then much later I like to go back to my old stuff because after a while it becomes fresh again. Therefore having CD’s that I can then download onto a computer or MP3 player makes more sense to me. Or, maybe I’m just a bit behind the times? Oh well.

Actually, mostly I listen to the radio (or computer equivalent) most of the time. Pop when I’m writing and classical at other times We leave classical radio on all night. It’s great to wake up in the middle of the night to hear something familiar, relaxing, and uplifting; or new and beautiful. Everybody has their own favorite music, of course. For the record (or is that CD), I listen to and enjoy many different types of music. And have written while listening to many of them. Pop works right now, but may not for my next manuscript.

Speaking of manuscripts, I wrote my first “novel” with pen and paper (may you never be unfortunate enough to read the pathetic thing). I tried to type the thing into a typewriter. I type fast, but make a LOT of mistakes. I truly don’t believe I’d be published if I had to do all the work on a typewriter. Did I mention I have a love/hate relationship  with my computer? But then, many people do.

The thing is, I’m lucky enough to have been born at a time when technology was changing; I’ve had a chance to see all this stuff happen. And I was lucky enough to enjoy watching the space program take off. To see Neil Armstrong walk on the moon, and I was old enough to understand what was happening. The moon landing was one of the highlights of my life. I’m glad I was there.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jenny Bent surprise

The extra surprise about Jenny's visit is she's going to look at three query letters here from the people who asked questions, so I threw them in a box and drew three random names, which are:

Monica McCabe
Writer and Cat
Mary Hughes

Post your queries here - if you don't have one to post, let me know and I'll pick another. Good luck.


Name That Character

If you've read anything I've written on blog posts or message boards, you know one of the first things I do after sketching an idea for a new story is to name my characters. Once they have a name they come to life for me. They take on facial features, body types, hair color and eye color, and a definite personality. For me, the name is very important. Not only can't I write them without a name, but once that name is cemented in my brain, it's very difficult to think of that character as anyone else. It's because of this I had so much trouble getting back into revising Crossing the Dark Moon. You see, I changed the name of my hero and heroine. Long story. And a different blog post. :)

For today, I'd like to talk about Faina Daniels and Jace Blackmon, the hero and heroine of The Last Soul. Faina is a demon. She's been dead one hundred and fifty years. In order to create her demon world I had to figure out what I was going to call the other inhabitants. I've never written a story with demons as characters before. I've done contemporary, time travel back to WWII and fantasy. Crossing the Dark Moon takes place in an alternate universe, similar to our medieval period, so all the characters have medieval names. But demons? Where to start?

It's amazing what you can find on Google. I literally googled (when did that become a verb?) "demon names" and all sorts of sites popped up. Go on and try it. I'll wait for you. Wasn't that fun? And while I was looking for interesting names I found out demons have specific jobs. Like Apollyon the king of demons. He's named in the Book of Revelations. Or Mastema, the leader of fallen angels whose job it is to tempt men to sin and accuse them before God.

Some names I paired with their specific job, but others I took a bit of liberty with and changed their job description a little. Faina isn't a demon name, because my heroine used to be human. It's actually a Russian name that means shining. When I found it, I pictured blonde hair and startling blue eyes, and Faina was born.

Jace isn't a demon name either. My hero is a philanthropist and the son of a Baptist preacher, so you can imagine how meeting a demon posing as a human rocks his world. As near as I can tell, Jace is of English origin and is a shortened version of Jason or other variants. I chose the name because I knew a man named Jace. We went out on one date. And no, I didn't base the hero of The Last Soul on this man. Not even close. I just like the name.

The reason we only went out on one date, you ask? Well, it's because when he told me his favorite thing to do on a Saturday afternoon was drink beer in front of the TV until he passed out, I decided he might not be quite what I was looking for. Truth be told, I wasn't sure what I was looking for at the time, but I knew it wasn't that. :)

But I digress... I'd love to hear how you name your characters. Do you choose themes? Time periods? Certain meanings? Do you base them on people you know, or movie characters? Tell me about the names you choose, or about certain names you really love, and why.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Jenny Bent's answers

And here are the rest of the answers from Jenny Bent. Thanks for being patient while I attended RT - it was fabulous!

1) I notice you list commercial fiction as one of your interests. What are your favorite genres of commercial fiction?
2) I am sure the authors you represent are authors you also read for pleasure! Are there any genres you read for pleasure that you don't represent?
Writer and Cat
I like romance, urban fantasy, and thrillers.
I read a little bit of everything, including sometimes adult fantasy like Terry Pratchett. I wouldn't represent something like that because I wouldn't know the right editors to send it to.

Hi Jenny. Is it preferable to write a paranormal series, or is there still a market for stand-alone, full-length paranormal romances?
Carolyn Rosewood
Right now I would say it's preferable to do it as part of a series.

I know you don't rep sci fi, but am wondering if you enjoy it in TV and the movies. If so, what are some of your favorite sci fi films/shows?
Annie Solomon
I haven't seen a sci fi movie in AGES. I did enjoy TOTAL RECALL years ago as well as the brilliantly subversive STARSHIP TROOPERS.

Hi Jenny,
I love adventure stories, YA or adult romance, especially those set in unusual places. I also notice they are hard to find on the bookshelves. Do you see many submissions of this type? And do you think the YA market is open to adventure that does not include paranormal aspects?
Thanks for stopping by the Diner!
Monica McCabe
I'm hearing now that YA publishers are looking for realistic thrillers, not paranormal, so the answer I guess is yes, maybe. But I'm not really sure what you mean by "adventure stories," I guess. Do you mean thrillers, or something like Indiana Jones?

Hi, Jenny. I was wondering what do you think of the "New adult" category of Young Adult fiction? Where do you see it going in the future, or is its time already passed? Thanks.
I always thought that "New Adult" was an exception, rather than a rule, meaning that some of these books worked very, very well, but not so much that there should be a new genre or imprint devoted to them, necessarily.

Hi Jenny,
In the world of YA what trends would you like to see, what avenues are worth exploring, and are we done with good vampires yet?
Eve WI
I keep saying that I'm dying to read a very wholesome young adult book with a female protagonist in an interesting setting, and I think that's starting to happen now that YA Publishers are buying some Amish romance. I don't think we'll ever be "done" with good vampires, as it's a classic fiction trope, but certainly it's not what editors are looking for right now.

Hi, Jenny! How does your author career development work? Do you suggest new avenues of writing, help find marketing partners, sell to excellent publishers--some combination? Thanks! Mary
Mary Hughes
Yes, all of the above. It's all about thinking long-term and figuring out strategies for success.

Hi Jenny,
Do you think some agents, if approached respectfully, might be open to looking at a significantly revised manuscript? (Especially if their website doesn't specifically outlaw it). If so, what would you recommend that a writer say in the new query?
Marlo Berlinger
A lot of agents will tell you that unless they specifically ask to see a revision, they don't want to see one. Having said that, is there any harm in asking? I would say that you have nothing at all to lose by asking very politely: remind them that they requested the ms in the past, briefly describe how you have revised it, and ask if they would be willing to see it again. If the answer is no, at least you tried!

Hi, Jenny. I've been wanting to ask an agent directly, so since you're kind of a "captive audience" here on the Otherworld Diner, here's my question. What is the minimum word count that you would consider representing? The minimum for fantasy or romance genres, if different? A basic type of question, but since I don't want to offend an agent by sending something too short to be worth her, or his, while. Thanks for answering a newbie type question and for making yourself available to the Otherworld Diner.
Well, an agent can't do much with a 20,000 word novella. Something needs to be I would say a minimum of 65,000 words for me to be able to sell it to a publisher. It might help you to go to a book store and look at the various genres—do an estimated word count for a page and then multiply it by number of pages. You'll see that most books are in the 75,000 to 100,000 word count range.

Hi, Jenny and thanks for the opportunity. We sometimes hear things like, "that genre is out, that time period is in" from agents or publishers. Should you write what you think 'they' want, or should you write what you are best at (what you are in love with) even if its not the 'in' thing?
I always say the same thing about this, which is: be aware of the market, but don't let the market dictate what you write. The market is a very fluid thing. If you try to write something because you think it's popular, or working right now, by the time you finish it, the market will have changed. But the flipside is that you should know what's working or what's not working because if you are writing romantic suspense, but romantic suspense isn't what's working right now, you need to be aware that you're going to have an uphill battle. That doesn't mean that you shouldn't write romantic suspense, but that you should be prepared to make the case to an agent or editor that your romantic suspense is different enough, exciting enough, to really break out.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Some answers from Jenny Bent

Thanks for your patience - Jenny and I had a little disconnect (most likely because I had to fly off to RT), so we're a little slow. Here are some of her answers - and if you don't see your questions here, they're still coming!!

Hi Jenny. Welcome to the Otherworld Diner. Guess I'll go first. *G*
What's your take on time travel romance? Is it a hard sell or a subgenre that's holding its own, especially now that Dorchester (who I considered was a leading publisher for TTs) has fallen on hard times?
Lori Dillon
I'm not sure, to be honest, because I haven't tried to sell any recently. I have an author (Sandra Hill) who writes New York Times bestselling time travel romance, but she's very established in the genre. I see almost no queries for it, I can tell you that much, so that may partially be an answer.

Hi Jenny,
What trends are you seeing in your slush pile? What are you tired of seeing? What genres are you most excited about? What makes you most excited about a story?
Nicole Zoltack
I'm seeing lots of young adult fantasy and women's fiction. I'm kind of tired of the very snarky female first person narrator. There's always going to be an exception to that of course, but in my opinion that kind of voice got really over done. I am really excited about seeing female-driven suspense or literary horror (also female driven), as well as high-concept women's fiction like The Weird Sisters, or young adult fiction that plays off of fairy tales, like Ash. Anything vaguely magical, romantic, set on an island, having to do with gardens (Forgotten Garden, Garden Spells), riffing off of classic books like Persuasion, or Little Women, etc. What makes me most excited is a book with wonderful characters that has me turning pages.

Hi Jenny,
Although I have friends who have agents, my idea of what an agent does is vague. How many queries do you receive on an average day or week? What do you look for in a query? What typically happens when a person signs with you? What are the steps you and the client go through before a sale? Is there an average time frame to the manuscript selling?
Brenda ND
I get anywhere from 50 to 100 queries a day. I look for queries that communicate the voice of the writer, that are lively and interesting, not just by the numbers. I also like queries that show me that the author has done her homework, and knows the titles I represent or even something about my professional history. The process varies by client, but essentially, we work together to get the work ready for submission and then I submit the manuscript to editors. There's no average time frame. Sometimes it takes just a few days, sometimes it can take over a year, or even years, if the author revises and then I do a second round or even a third round of submissions.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Gardens on the Mind

With the weather warming (finally!) and seed catalogs arriving, my mind has gone to the seeds and bulbs I’ve buried in my garden. Crocuses popping up from their winter slumber make this obsession even worse. You've figured it out: I just want to think of flowers right now and so to indulge my mood -- and perhaps yours -- here are 13 quotes about gardens.

Header courtesy of samulli

1. Each spring, a gardening instinct, as sure as sap rising in the trees, stirs within us. We look about and decide to tame another little bit of ground.-- Lewis Gantt

2. If you've never been thrilled to the very edges of your soul by a flower in spring bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom. -- Terri Guillemets

3. When the world wearies and society fails to satisfy, there is always the garden.-- Minnie Aumonier

4. Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity.--John Ruskin

5. Earth laughs in flower.-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

6. If dandelions were hard to grow, they would be most welcome on any lawn.-- Andrew Mason

7. We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.-- Abraham Lincoln

8. Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers where I can walk undisturbed.-- Walt Whitman

9. Perfumes are the feelings of flowers. --Heinrich Heine, The Hartz Journey

10. I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.-- Claude Monet

11. "Look at us," said the violets blooming at her feet, "all last winter we slept in the seeming death but at the right time God awakened us, and here we are to comfort you."-- Edward Payson Rod

12. When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one and a lily with the other. -- Chinese proverb

13. Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed the soul. -- The Koran

    Those crocuses aren't the biggest or the showiest flowers in my garden. But I love them for their spunk and their willingness to be the first to bloom. To me, they say spring, at last, has arrived. Do you have a favorite flower? A sign you look for to herald the coming of spring? Please share.


    http://www.quotegarden.com/flowers.html http://www.northerngardening.com/quotes.htm

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    The ‘IT’ Factor – Debut Author Dianne Duvall

    Darkness Dawns
    February 2011

    Book Blurb:
    Once, Sarah Bingham’s biggest challenge was making her students pay attention in class. Now, after rescuing a wounded stranger, she’s landed in the middle of a battle between corrupt vampires and powerful immortals who also need blood to survive. Roland Warbrook is the most compelling man Sarah has ever laid hands on. But his desire for her is mingled with a hunger he can barely control . . .

    In his nine centuries of immortal existence, no woman has tempted Roland as much as Sarah. But asking her to love him is impossible -- when it means forfeiting the world she’s always known, and the life he would do anything to protect.

    In my last ‘IT’ Factor post, I warned you that vampires were making a big comeback among debut authors lately. Duvall’s DARKNESS DAWNS is another one of them. Funny how both this book and the last one I reviewed have almost identical openings: heroine stumbles upon a wounded vampire out in the middle of nowhere and helps save him from certain death. Each author handled it differently and did a good job with it. I just thought the synchronicity was interesting. Now, if the next book also starts in a similar fashion, I may have to wonder what’s in the water.

    Twist on the Vampire Myth
    Duvall gets points for taking a different approach to the vampire myth. In her world, there are actually two types, each caused by a mysterious virus. There are the vampires who kill and the immortal guardians who protect the innocent from them. The vampires and immortals are very similar in that they both need blood to survive, have an aversion to sunlight, and are preternaturally strong and fast. Where they differ is the vampires descend into madness rather quickly, the blood lust making them indiscriminate killing machines. The immortals are “humans”’ who had special gifts (telepathy, touch healing, ability to see ghosts, etc.) when they were mortal and the virus mutates inside them, basically making them vampires with a conscience. They also live much longer than the vampires (thousands of years if not more) since the crazies don’t affect them. I put the word “humans” in quotes because it’s hinted that the gifted ones with their freaky DNA may not be human at all. Even they don’t know the truth. Maybe we’ll find out in the next book. *G*

    Stumbling Blocks
    Organic food overkill – we’re reminded ad nauseam of how healthy everyone eats.
    Info Dumping – Quite a bit of it, unfortunately. Usually contained within parentheses.
    Parentheses -- It was like hitting a speed bump every time one popped up (usually at least once a page) and often it contained the aforementioned info dump.
    Deus ex Machina – SPOILER ALERT!! Throughout the book, it’s explained that all immortals have some sort of ‘gift’ as a human and sport black hair and brown eyes. Sarah has brown hair and hazel eyes and no apparent psychic gifts whatsoever. Which means she can’t be transformed into an immortal and live out eternity with Roland. No HEA for them. But surprise! At the end we find out that the gene pool has been mixing with non-gifted humans so long that there are actually a few gifted ones with brown hair instead of black. OK, I can buy this one. However, we also conveniently discover at the end of the book that Sarah can tell the future with her dreams, she just never realized it. Really? Would have been nice if the author had shown us a few of her dreams so this idea didn’t come totally out of left field. And to top it off, lead immortal (Seth) can sense when a gifted one, human or immortal, is around. So why did he wait until the end of the book to go, “Oh, by the way, you’re gifted and can be transformed into an immortal if you want.”? Too contrived.

    The Hot and Steamy
    I’m split down the middle on this one. Duvall has a talent for writing a good sex scene, no doubt about it. She proves it several times. My problem is that the one I consider the most important (with the exception of the first love scene, which is always significant) gets short-changed. In the end, when Roland bites Sarah to transform her, all we get in essence is “he took her to bed, gave her the best orgasm of her life, then bit her.” It was quite literally two paragraphs long. I expected much more than that after all the other well-written naked wrestling matches.

    The Secondary Characters
    The author does a fantastic job of fleshing out the secondary characters. At times, I started to care more for them than I did for Roland and Sarah. Glimpses into Seth and the mysterious Ami’s relationship had me wanting to see more from them. And poor Marcus, who lost the love of his immortal life, so deserves a second chance to get the girl. Great setups on both their parts for future books.

    The ‘IT’ Factor
    This book is very similar to a lot of other vampire/guardian books out there already. The thing ‘IT’ Factor that sets this one apart is the different take on the vampire myth and who or what the immortal guardians really are. That will be interesting to see unfold in future books in the series.

    Saturday, April 2, 2011

    Carolyn Rosewood, Midnight Barista

    Carolyn Rosewood eagerly answered an ad for someone to serve coffee in the wee hours of the morning at the Diner. An early riser, she's also been known to stay up all night when writing her sexy paranormal stories or surfing for new writing blogs to follow, with the help of caffeine, of course. She moves so fast she's likely to spill your coffee over the side of the cup while pouring it, then spend ten minutes apologizing while writing a few Facebook posts at the same time.

    Carolyn has two debut releases in 2011: The Last Soul, a paranormal novella from Evernight Publishing, and Haunted Heart, a contemporary romance from Etopia Press. By the time you read this she'll have written a dozen more stories, refilled everyone's coffee cups, wiped up the spills from earlier, written a guest blog post for another debut author, and offered to help someone change a flat tire. And it's only noon.

    Visit her website at: http://carolynrosewood.com