Friday, February 25, 2011

Facebook Me!

As a child of the technology generation, I can’t tell you how important it is to learn everything you need to know about sites like Facebook and MySpace. I know, I know, some people don’t see the importance. I myself can’t get around to using Twitter. It’s like texting was ten years ago. No one really used it when it first came out. Now all we do is text and experts are afraid people are losing their ability to interact with one another.

Most beginning writers do not realize that there is another side of being an author. The commonly held belief is once the book is written and handed over to someone to publish, the writer’s job is done. However, this isn’t true. In today’s publishing world, it is not enough for an author to be talented. They must also be business savvy. One way to enhance the business side of your writing is to gain connections in the industry.

So why do I think Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are important? They are a great way to market yourself. (Remember it is you and your potential you’re selling to someone!) These are high-high tech networking. The traditional methods in the publishing world was to attend conferences and do certain met and greets with those who hold the clout to get your book published or with readers who will buy copies. Today, an author must combine both in order to get their name out there. Many author’s like Stephanie Julian have their websites linked with Twitter updates and Facebook feeds/fan pages to provide information about their books and build readership. You can, also, make friends with other writers who are trying to publish and set up a critique group.

Another way to be noticed is to create a themed group with other writers. Themed groups help sell your books and also give you another source of promoting your book through word of mouth. An excellent example to check out is Hope Ramsay’s The Ruby Slippered Sisterhood. It’s a group of authors who have teamed up to help promote each others books on their web pages and give each other a hand when it’s needed. Often times, they become great friends.

So all in all, the web is becoming an extremely important tool in marketing and writing. I would caution, however, that you keep your business as a writer separate from your personal pages on Facebook or MySpace so you can maintain a level of privacy.

If you haven’t checked any of this out or aren’t currently considering it, you should. And remember, always act professional!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Guest Blog: Finding an Emotional Touchstone

We welcome Hope Ramsay to the keyboard today as we continue to celebrate the release of Welcome to Last Chance, Hope's debut from Grand Central Publishing/Forever Romance. Without further ado:

I try to write emotional stories. It's something I work on diligently. Writing emotional stories doesn't come as easily as finding plot twists or complications for my characters. And I know that I can get pretty caught up in the plot of a story, and lose the emotional aspects of it that are so important when writing romance.

For this reason, I won't even start a story without an overarching emotional touchstone for the novel, as well as emotional touchstones for the hero and heroine.

What's a touchstone? It's something tangible that can put me right into the correct emotional frame of mind. It's a way of borrowing an emotion from something, because it's hard to write a sad scene when you're feeling happy, or to write about a character who needs to take chances, when you are naturally a risk taker.

I need short cuts, and that's what a touchstone is.

Because nothing moves me emotionally the way music does, my touchstones are always songs. And a group of them in a play list on my iPod are almost like a soundtrack for the novel I might be working on. I'll put that play list on while I'm writing and I'm never very far from where the story lives emotionally. When I get lost, or I need to rethink something, I dial up a particular song and listen to it repeatedly. It always works.

So, to celebrate the release day for WELCOME TO LAST CHANCE, I thought I would share a portion of the book's soundtrack.
  • God Bless the Broken Road by Rascal Flatts is the song that moved me to write this story. I first heard this song on my way to an RWA chapter meeting, and I knew, right then I had found the theme for the next book. WELCOME TO LAST CHANCE is all about how the hero and heroine have to overcome their broken pasts. In fact, the troubles my lovers have suffered in the past are precisely what makes them ready for each other.
  • Ask for More by David Wilcox is a song whose title I shamelessly use in a scene that takes place in the local beauty shop, where Miz Miriam, my town matchmaker, tells my heroine, Jane, that she should "ask for more." The song is about listening to the signs from on high that whisper in your ear and tell you that you are selling yourself short. Jane needs to learn how to love herself, and asking for more is the first step on that journey.
  • When the Sand Runs Out also by Rascal Flatts is a song about living one's life to the fullest. This song is the emotional touchstone for my hero, Clay. He's in the middle of a life crisis where he's spending way too much time worrying about what happened in the past and trying to be safe. The song is all about taking a chance -- something that Clay really needs to do.
I have a dozen other songs in this sound track. Some of them apply to minor characters, and some apply to specific scenes and turning points. I can't share them here without spoiling the story for you.

But don't know how I would write anything worth reading without finding inspiration and emotion in music.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Release

Today we're celebrating the release of Welcome to Last Chance, the first in a series by debut author Hope Ramsay set in Last Chance, South Carolina, where the Cut ‘n Curl is gossip central, the Kountry Kitchen serves up biscuits that melt in your mouth, and the local good ol boys are good looking and mostly single. When Wanda Jane Coblentz blows into Last Chance with five bucks to her name, she meets local fiddler Clay Rhodes at a bar and spends a hot first night at the local no-tell motel. She expects to move on soon, but it seems like she and Clay may be more of a match than she ever dreamed. Clay's mother, Ruby Rhodes, is going to do everything she can to make sure Clay and Jane figure out they're singing the same tune. Publishers Weekly gave the book a starred review, saying "Ramsay strikes an excellent balance between tension and humor as she spins a fine yarn." Hope is celebrating her release today over at the Ruby Slipped Sisterhood. Check it out and pick up a copy of Welcome to Last Chance today!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sum it Up

When I come to the end of a partial, I am always eager to read the synopsis to see how things will turn out for the characters. Because it’s the last thing I read, the summary really sticks with me. So, as difficult as it is to trim down an entire novel into a short summary, it truly is necessary. Summaries help to give a sense of your work as a whole. They should be concise and to the point, but don’t forget to make them interesting! It seems like a daunting task, but you can do it!

It’s natural to want to include everything you love about your novel in the synopsis, but try to detach yourself from the work and only include the storylines that are essential to the plot. Here’s a good way to figure out what’s most important for your synopsis—pick the major point of each of your chapters, and string these together to form the backbone of the summary. This way you don’t leave out anything too important, but you won’t have a lot of extraneous information either.

I find that some writers like to leave cliff-hangers at the end of their summaries. As hard as it is to ruin the ending, it must be done. We really have to see how the novel ends to see if we want to pursue the full.

Finally, be sure your synopsis makes sense. This can be difficult—after all, you know this story like the back of your hand, so of course the summary will make sense to you! It helps to get an outsider’s perspective, just to make sure everything’s as clear as it seems.

While the summary doesn’t hold as much clout as the partial itself, it still is important in helping us make a decision about a manuscript, so make sure it lives up to your standards and reflects your vision. I look forward to reading what you come up with!


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Valentine's Day Party!

On Valentine’s Day, Tawny Weber is having a party on her website:! Easy to get to, and you can party in your pajamas even! It’s going to be tons of fun. It will wrap up Tawny’s Top Ten blog tour, and come complete with its very own Top Ten (Top Ten Tips for a Hot Valentine’s Night), a free downloadable short story as a door prize for everyone who attends, and all attendees will be entered in a drawing for a fun Valentine’s Basket.

All you have to do to enjoy the fun is RSVP so you receive your exclusive invitation.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Submissions Update

Just a brief update from the agency on submissions. As of February 15th, 2011, the agency will be closed to new queries due to the large volume of submissions currently under consideration. Queries submitted to Elaine or Naomi after the 15th will be deleted unread. Stay tuned to the website and blog for updates. Thanks!

New Releases Round-Up

In The Doctor Takes a Wife, the second book in the "Brides of Simpson Creek" series by author Laurie Kingery, Sarah Matthews knows that Dr. Nolan Walker is a good man, not to mention a handsome one. But she just can't return the Yankee's affection so soon after the War. When the town is struck by a deadly influenza epidemic and Nolan battles to save Sarah's life, Sarah will have to decide if she could love this man. To read more about The Doctor Takes a Wife, click here. Additionally, Mail Order Cowboy, the first book in the series, is currently available from Harlequin as a Books on a Budget special!

In Breaking the Rules, by Tawny Weber, Max is off duty, but he still has one last job to do--look in on his best friend’s kid sister. Only once he meets Sophia, all thought of keeping his hands to himself go out the window. A recent widow, the last thing Sophia needs is another man telling her what to do. Even if that gorgeous man leaves her drooling in a puddle of lust... To read more, click here, and stay tuned for a special Valentine's Day event from Tawny Weber tomorrow.

Monday, February 7, 2011

On Queries

For my newest blog post, as well as my first post in 2011, I’d like to discuss something that we haven’t really been talking about thus far: queries. As our first impression of you and your writing, query letters are incredibly important for a new writer hoping to be published. A bad query letter could disguise a fantastic manuscript, so it is definitely a good idea to take the time to make sure that your query is intriguing enough to merit a second glance (or a request for a partial).

With that in mind, here are a few tips for writing a successful query letter:
  • Language: this is a kind of cover letter, so make sure you maintain a level of formality throughout the letter. Cover letters that begin with “Yo Elaine,” for example, do not make me optimistic about reading the rest.
  • Plot summary: remember my previous blog post about using details in manuscripts? The same thing applies to queries—we’re not looking for an incredibly detailed description of every major and minor event in your story. Just give us an overview of the major plot elements as well as an idea of who the characters will be.
  • DO include your contact information (name, address, etc.) as well as any accolades you have received as an author.
  • DON'T include the first few chapters of your manuscript in the body of your email—we will request that from you once your query is screened.
I know that writing query letters can be difficult and confusing, but it’s worth it to take the time to write a good one, since a good query letter is that much more likely to be requested as a partial.

Happy writing, and good luck!