Sassy Trollops & Revealing Music + #Giveaways with @RumerHaven

Pop the bubbly for sassy trollop Rumer Haven as she celebrates the release of her debut novel, Seven for a Secret! The story goes back and forth between the Roaring Twenties when the “New Woman” was born and the modern Noughties when she really came of age. Lucky me got ahold of an advance copy and spent an entire weekend thoroughly engrossed in this suspensful and romantic tale.
Read my full 5 star review at Goodreads

Now for my revealing one-question interview with Rumer:
If you had to choose one song that best captures the essence of Seven for a Secret, what would it be and why? 

What a fun question. :)

If I had to choose one song, I instinctively think of "Tonight You Belong to Me" by The Bird and the Bee. As a modern-day cover of a 1920s song, it's the perfect bridge between the past and present story threads and what I could hear playing as the final scene fades to credits if Seven for a Secret were a movie. The 1926 original features in the story because it's such a sweet love song yet also presents a romantic conflict between old and new flames, which relates to my characters' own struggles. And to me, the 2008 synthpop version has a sort of celestial, standing-in-line-for-Space-Mountain-at-Disney-World effect, which suits Kate's planetarium job and all the stargazing throughout Seven for a Secret.

Working in the reverse, though—a 1920s-style cover of a modern song—my publicist tweeted a while back that Postmodern Jukebox's rendition of Jason Derulo's "Wiggle" featuring Snoop Dogg would be a great companion song for the story. I'd never heard that one before and absolutely love it as another great blend of past and present!

Seven for a Secret at Amazon * Barnes & NobleGoodreads
Rumer on Twitter * Facebook * Blog * Website * Goodreads

 Seven for a Secret Release Day Facebook Party 
Join Rumer and many other authors (including moi) at this fun event that will be roaring all day long with giveaways & triva.

Seven for a Sweepstakes!

Omnific Publishing is giving away seven ebook copies of Seven for a Secret and 4 adorable key charms (keys are the key to Olive's mystery!) There's a *secret* entry for a very special prize: Send proof of purchase or review on Amazon to Traci.Olsen@OmnificPublishing.com to enter to win a custom made 1920's style cloche hat from www.annachocola.com. You, too can dress like Eva Hughes!

Congrats, Rumer & thanks for answering my question!

Who else has those adorable songs playing in their heads now?


Historical Fiction Meets Contemporary RomCom #iwsg

I'm tacking onto to yesterday's post for this month's contribution to Insecure Writer's Support Group (brainchild of Alex J. Cavannaugh. Visit Alex and the IWSG website to learn more about the group, join it & find the full list of participants). This month I'm wondering about sub-genre mixing. What I'm wondering is---can readers handle it?

It seems like guidelines for genres and sub-genres have become more like rules, and when they're broken, readers act like something is wrong rather than simply different. Since my first novel was published over four years ago, I've become aware that many readers believe certan things shouldn't coexist in a book. Sex and religion, for example. This sincerely confuses me because sex and religion coexist in many, many, many people's lives, so why shouldn't those real-life aspects be merged in a book? But if readers don't like them together, should I refrain from mashing them in future stories I intend to publish?

Have you ever found that there are elements in your own writing that readers balk at combining? How do you respond to that?

By now you might be wondering why I'm tacking onto yesterday's post. It's because yesterday I revealed the cover of a book that does an excellent job of combining two sub-genres that you don't often see together: Historical Fiction and Contemporary RomCom. Seven for a Secret by Rumer Haven breaks molds in a way that I think readers are going to love, and I hope it gets lots of people rethinking the "rules".


 Today I'm taking part in a cover reveal for a story that I'm particularly excited about. Before I tell you anything more than what's in this post title, zee cover...

Coming August 12, 2014

Simple and elegant, yes? What does this cover say to you without knowing anything else about the story?

To see how close you are to the actual plot, read the blurb at Goodreads. You can also add it to your to-read list while you're there AND enter to win one of 5 paperback copies.

Now get to know a little something about the author:
Rumer Haven is probably the most social recluse you could ever meet. When she’s not babbling her fool head off among friends and family, she’s pacified with a good story that she’s reading, writing, or revising—or binge-watching something on Netflix. A former teacher hailing from Chicago, she presently lives in London with her husband and probably a ghost or two. Rumer has always had a penchant for the past and paranormal, which inspires her writing to explore dimensions of time, love, and the soul. Seven for a Secret is her debut novel.

Say hi to Rumer at her blog, on Twitter, or at her Facebook Page


Broken Branch Falls Review @TaraTylerTalks #MiddleGrade #Fantasy

To describe Broken Branch Falls by Tara Tyler in one word: delightful.

To describe it in a lot of words...
Gabe the Goblin's life isn't really all that different from that of the average teen---grappling with the cliques at school, feeling like he doesn't quite belong where everyone expects him to be, and crushing on the unattainable girl. I adored the little touches added to the Broken Branch world, like Looky Links and MeStar, that make it like our world but with a silly twist.Tara balances Gabe's teen angst with wry humor that made me like him immediately, and I kept that connection with him the whole way through the story, even when his circumstances became very different from anything human teens have to deal with. 

What starts out as fun, teen hijinks takes a surprising turn when Gabe finds out that his peaceful little town is a lie...sort of. And if he doesn't do something, it's going to disappear. Here's where the story takes off on a great adventure. A sort of "fellowship of the Falls" assembles along the way with each new member being an imaginitive creature with a distinct and entertaining personality.

I thought the pacing of the story was perfect. It was packed with action but it never becomes overdone. We're given a chance to catch our breath before the next thing happens, I was grinning like a fool pretty much the whole way through at the clever and often hilarious scenarios. And then, when the secret they'd been searching for is revealed, it was totally gasp-worthy. It's a revelation that will get you thinking---far deeper than I ever expected from a Middle Grade novel.  

Broken Branch Falls is all around a wonderfully crafted story that I recommend to adults as well as middle-graders.

Broken Branch Falls is available at
Add it to your to-read list at Goodreads


Ask the Acquisitions Editor: What's She Looking For? #amediting

Hey, hey, here we are at the last installment of Ask the Acquisitions Editor wiht CK Wagner, acquisitions editor with Omnific Publishing. I'm so glad you've all been enjoying it as much as I have. If you missed any of the earlier posts, you can find them here:

We'll finish up this series with questions from Nick & Donna regarding the type of stories she's looking for: 

Nick: Are you looking for fresh ideas? Is another vampire story a turn off or turn on?

CK: We are definitely looking for fresh ideas that embrace our “Romance without Rules” tagline. This is bearing in mind, however, that there is nothing new under the sun. Every story will have elements that have been done before, but the way those elements are mixed and matched (and told through an engaging sense of voice) can create a special X-factor that does set a story apart and make us want to give it a platform. I do initially groan when I see a vampire/werewolf query, only because as a consumer I’m quite done with that for now. But as an editor, I would never reject it on that basis alone. Even if the current market for it seems exhausted, those stories continue to be told because people continue wanting to read and write them. So basically the same expectations apply: If the story is told in a fresh and non-formulaic way, we will consider it. We actually have a vampire novel in our current publication queue that’s pretty cool.

Donna: Do you accept women's fiction? Its hard to tell on the submissions list.

CK: I generally say yes, but it depends. Our “Romance without Rules” tagline reflects that we are not interested in formulaic, old-school romance, and I would argue that much of what we end up publishing as a result of that is women’s fiction. We look for strong, smart, and independent heroines who can save themselves. And a story doesn’t have to be sexy to be romantic (some of our best books fade to black), but we do require that a romantic relationship be at the core of the story. Our hero doesn’t need to be an alpha male who rescues the fair damsel in distress, but we should see growth in his relationship with the heroine and believe in the substance of their emotional connection. The emphasis can still be on the woman’s personal journey, but her love interest should somehow be central to that and ideally result in a happily ever after (or at least happy for now) ending.

Thanks a million gazillion, CK!


Sidelined with @KLennonWrites

Kyra Lennon is wrapping up her blog tour to celebrate the release of her latest addition to the Game On series, Sidelined, and I get to be a stop today. The question I typically ask authors goes a little something like this:

If you could choose one song that best captures the essence of Sidelined, what would it be and why?

She's already answered this question in her tour post over at Alex J. Cavannaugh's place last week, so I shall send you to there for the full answer. But I'll give you the video here. Kyra says "How Long will I Love You" actually makes a good fit for the entire Game On series. Go on, stop over at Alex's to find out why.


At the age of twenty-one, Bree Collinson has more than she ever dreamed of. A handsome husband, a fancy house, and more shoes than Carrie Bradshaw and Imelda Marcos combined. But having everything handed to her isn’t the way Bree wants to live the rest of her life. When an idea to better herself pops into her head, she doesn’t expect her husband to question her, and keep her tied by her apron strings to the kitchen.

Isolated and unsure who to turn to, Bree finds herself falling back into a dangerous friendship, and developing feelings for the only person who really listens to her. Torn between her loyalty to her husband and her attraction to a man who has the perfect family she always wanted, she has some tough choices to make.

While Bree tries to figure out what she wants, a tragedy rocks the Westberg Warriors, triggering some dark memories, and pushing her to take a look at what’s really important.

About the Author: Kyra is a self-confessed book-a-holic, and has been since she first learned to read. When she's not reading, you'll usually find her hanging out in coffee shops with her trusty laptop and/or her friends, or girling it up at the nearest shopping mall.

Kyra grew up on the South Coast of England and refuses to move away from the seaside which provides massive inspiration for her novels. Her debut novel, Game On (New Adult Contemporary Romance), was released in July 2012, and she scored her first Amazon Top 20 listing with her New Adult novella, If I Let You Go.

Find Kyra online: Website/Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest/Goodreads/Join My Mailing List

Congrats, Kyra!


Ask the Acquisitions Editor: Manuscript Turn-ons & Turn-offs #amediting

CK Wagner is back to answer more of your acquisitions questions. CK is an acquisitions editor at Omnific Publishing (yes, the Omnific Publising that just signed a sweet deat with Simon & Schuster). For previous Ask the Acquisitions Editor posts, see:

And now we get down to today's nitty gritty regarding manuscripts.

Jackie: You've read the first chapter of a manuscript... what makes you want to keep reading and what would make you pass?

CK: We’re always looking for something fresh and non-formulaic. If we feel like a story’s premise or voice doesn’t offer anything new or intriguing, it’s risky to take a chance on; so much goes into bringing a book into being that it has to be worth everyone’s time and effort. We’re even less inclined if we can’t authentically connect to the protagonist and situation straight away due to shallow character and conflict development. One-dimensional characterization is unrealistic and unsympathetic—even more so without clear signs of growth and rising tension. The most difficult stories to finish are those with flat character/story arcs.

Crystal: What turns you off fastest about a submission? What are the big red flags you watch for?

CK: To start with the basics, frequent spelling and grammar mistakes truly hinder the comprehension and enjoyment of a story. It could be a great concept and well-written otherwise (stylistically and developmentally), but an unpolished manuscript tells us that someone was too eager to dash the story out and send it off to earnestly value the integrity of his/her work. The same goes for awkwardly phrased or superfluous content—that trips up the flow or drags down the pacing, and the reading becomes tedious. I’m not saying submissions should already be professionally edited—we expect to tackle this stuff in our editing process—but a good first impression is easily achieved through diligent proofreading, by you and at least one other set of eyes.

LD: What is your number one turn off, something that would make you stop wanting to read on?

CK: I think my biggest turn-off is immaturity in style and perspective. Too much telling-vs-showing, unnatural-sounding dialogue, or lack of variety in sentence structure, for instance, can contribute to a juvenile, See-Spot-Run sound. And nothing screams “juvenile” to me more than a story rife with inaccuracy, implausibility, or stereotype. Thoroughly think through the logistics of what you’re expecting your readers to believe or you risk pulling them out of the story. There’s a lot of creative freedom in writing fiction, but even fictional settings/situations/people need grounding in reality.

Thanks, CK!

And in another bout of shameless self promotion, I'll be tremendously grateful to anyone willing to share this graphic and/or text in any way you like:

It's a different kind of love story: #DivineTemptation by @NickiElson3 http://goo.gl/AGjBLI


The Most Awesome Summer Playlist Ever #SongsofSummer

Welcome to my stop on the Songs of Summer Bloghop, hosted by The Armchair Squid, Suze at Subliminal Coffee, and Cygnus at Servitor Ludi. Their fabulous idea is for each of us to name 5 songs that scream summer to us for one reason or another. By the end of this hop, we shall have the most awesome summer playlist ever. Please feel free to add your name to the linky below and play along. Here are my contributions (song links open in a new window in case you want to listen while you read):

Never Tear Us Apart; INXS  This one played many a time on my boom box with twenty-year-old me slathered in baby oil, catching maximum rays on my parents' back deck...despite all of my wise father's warnings against the practice. I was in a major angsty, melodramatic phase (dark mood to go with my dark skin coloring, I guess) so this song was my absolute fave.

Lava; B-52s  'Tis hot and not to be taken too seriously, just like summer. I saw the B-52s one summer at the World Theater in Tinley Park, IL. The memory is a melancholy one because the concert was supposed to be a birthday gift for my baby sister, but the little tyke was sick and couldn't come with. :(

Dani California; Red Hot Chili Peppers  This one brings to mind family road trips. RHCP is one of the few of my husband's musical preferences that I don't whine about, so when we're stuck together in a hurtling tin vessel, we listen to them a lot.

Soma; The Strokes  Reminds me of summer simply because Julian Casablancas's voice makes my temperature rise. Grrrrr

In Summer: Olaf  C'mon, I can't be the only one to have this on my list. I know the movie's become highly overdone, but this li'l snowman's naive charm and spunky 'tude are as fresh as a...wait for it...summer's breeze.


Ask the Acquisitions Editor: Query Letter Do's & Don'ts #amediting

As promised, I'm back with more answers to your questions for CK Wagner, Acquisitions Editor at Omnific Publishing (who just announced a super exciting deal with Simon & Schuster). You can read her answers to questions about cold querying, crazy queries, and the importance of online presence & past sales in last week's Ask the Acquisitions Editor post. Today's questions are all about queries and synopses.

Liz: What do you love to see in a query?

Donna: What three things do you look for in a query that piques your interest every time?

CK: I personally like to see a query letter that gets right to the point. The fundamentals I care about most are:

1. Summary. Keep it clear and concise (two to three short paragraphs usually suffice. A cover letter shouldn’t exceed one page when printed; the synopsis is your chance to elaborate). Set up your main character and conflicts so we understand what drives the story and can already establish a connection. An effectively condensed blurb also shows how much grasp you have on the plot—a good indicator of how tightly controlled it is in the actual manuscript.

2. Stats. Specify word count, genre, subgenre, and intended audience. I automatically reject anything that doesn’t meet a minimum of 60,000 words or doesn’t fall within the romance genre. It’s also good to know whether your story is paranormal, contemporary, historical, dystopian, sci-fi, etc. (we consider any number of subgenres) and if it’s intended as young adult, new adult, adult, or erotica.

3. Bio. A concise paragraph about who you are and what you do is helpful for simply getting to know you as well as seeing if perhaps your professional background lends itself to your writing and/or content (a plus if so, but still okay if not. We’re just curious).

L. Diane: When is a query letter too long?

CK: Anything beyond what's listed above is icing on the cake—which is too sweet for my taste, if I’m honest. :) Beyond being unnecessary, flowery explanations of your passion for writing and aspirations as an author are my number one turn-off. Your love of writing and dreams of being a published author are implicit in the act of querying. And, really, I don’t regard one writer’s passion as more distinctive and special than another’s.

Margo: Does personalizing the letter at the beginning really make any difference, or do agents/acquisitions editors prefer you just get to the story description?

CK: Oddly enough, I’m also not swayed by specific praise for Omnific because, really, how do we know you’ve read our books and enjoyed them? People can say anything to butter us up. I’m more interested in knowing that you’ve done your research on us, which is at least reading the submission guidelines on our website. This doesn’t have to be stated explicitly in the query—show your awareness of our genre specialization by querying a romance. Show your awareness of our process by not submitting anything more than what we request of you. For our first stage, we only accept cover letters and a synopsis; unsolicited chapters or full manuscripts aren’t considered unless we ask for them as the next step.

CK: Every publisher/literary agency is different, of course. If a business’s website clearly specifies certain content and the order/length of such, you need to follow those instructions to a T. Inboxes get flooded with queries every day, so being a stickler for submission guidelines is another means of filtering. Seeing whether someone has read and followed the rules is a pretty black-and-white way for editors/agents to gauge how much thought and diligence was put into querying their company specifically—the logic being, if you can’t be bothered to read their website and honor their requests, why should they bother reading your submission when there are so many others to consider who have put forth the effort? Are you serious about being represented/published by this particular company, or are you just playing a numbers game and blasting a one-size-fits-all query to everyone regardless of what they’ve asked for?

Feather: All agents have specific submission criteria. Some even state the required information must be in a specific order. I have also been advised that all query letters should have specific information in each of the four paragraphs. There is such a wide range of formats. Why? Is it possible to create one well written query letter that will be accepted by all agents?

CK: I’m just playing devil’s advocate here. As a fellow writer, I completely understand the frustration of having to tailor every query to every publisher or agency. I wish the industry would adopt a universal standard. But unfortunately, it’s just not the case, and so we adapt. I think there’s generally more difference in expectation for synopses than cover letters, though, so there’s at least that. If you draft a letter that contains the three pieces of information listed above, you should be good to go for many places. It probably wouldn’t hurt to tack on the bit about the company itself, too, just to be safe. While I don’t personally prioritize it as an acquisitions editor, others out there do want to hear what you know about their company and why you think your story would be a good fit.

Bonus commentary on Synopses:

CK: And where the synopsis goes, I quite like that Omnific doesn’t dictate a maximum length. That allows some freedom, though I do prefer within five pages. Anything in excess of that alerts me that your story might not be tightened either. (As a rule of thumb, I’d say a 60,000–80,000-word story can be effectively summed up in two to three pages. 90,000+ can understandably stretch to four or five if the plot is rather complex.)

CK: Also, don’t paste actual story excerpts into the synopsis. I think some people do that for filler or to sneak in a writing sample. But if you’re writing the synopsis correctly, the story’s tone and your style should show through without that. Also, like I said about the query letter summary, the synopsis demonstrates your command over your own story. If your synopsis is a long, rambling hot mess, we have every reason to believe your manuscript will be, too—and it’s one thing to read a few pages of that, quite another to entertain a few hundred.

Isn't she great? Thank you so much, CK for your forthright and honest answers. I'm taking away a lot from this series and I hope everyone else is too! 

On a different note, I want to do something with the schnazzy new graphics I just made for my books,so if you're of a mind to Tweet, Tumbl or Facebook the text & image below, please have at it. Thank you!

"A laugh out loud romance that will keep you smiling" #ThreeDaves http://goo.gl/nPGZEF

CK Wagner will be back to answer more questions as follows:


Ask the Acquisitions Editor #IWSG

Holy stromboli, it's already time for the July meeting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, founded by Alex J. Cavanaugh. During the May meeting I took questions from a bunch of you that I passed along to CK Wagner, an acquisitions editor at Omnific Publishing. Sometimes the not knowing fuels insecurity more than anything else, and CK's marvelous answers will definitely shed some light on the querying process and hopefully help alleviate a bit of anxiety.

I'm going to post her answers on Wednesdays throughout the month of July, starting with a few choice questions as part of IWSG:

Mary: Are you more likely to accept from an author you've met or a cold query?

CK: For me, story and style are king, so I’m indifferent to whether I’ve met the author or not. Existing Omnific authors, of course, have the advantage of being a known quantity—we’re familiar with them, their work ethic and cooperativeness—but even they can (and have) been rejected if the story is not what we’re looking for at the time.

Elizabeth: Do past books and online presence matter very much when submitting or does just the book you're selling at that minute matter? (Answered along with Jennifer's question)

Jennifer: How much attention do you pay to the writer's prior publication record/sales?

CK: It’s nice to see if someone already has an online presence and publication history, but truthfully, that doesn’t make or break our decision. I’ve rejected writers with massive followings simply because their queries were all over the place or their writing left something to be desired. Social media and sales numbers don’t necessarily equate to a high quality of work. We also love to launch the writing careers of debut authors, so not having previously published work is not an automatic strike against anyone. And in the case of those first-time authors, it’s understandable that they might not have a robust online presence yet—but they’ll be expected to develop it on being contracted.

Stephanie: What is the craziest query you've ever received?

CK: It’s probably a toss-up between the 20+ page synopsis (that had story excerpts and dialogue and everything) and one that read like five different stories/genres in one—it went from contemporary rom-com to something almost Jane Austen, and then a ghost showed up in the middle of it (but only for the one scene, it seemed), and then the whole thing kind of shifted to international action/adventure. I’m pretty sure there was some other random twist in there, too, but I can’t remember it now.

No offense to either of those authors; in both cases, I think they just lost sight of what they wanted for the story and tried to cram in too many ideas that weren’t ultimately in its best interest. One thing to remember is that you can always save an idea for another story! Killing your darlings in one manuscript doesn’t mean they can’t find new life in another.

Jennifer: What's the weirdest place you've read a manuscript? 

CK: A cemetery!

Please come back for more of CK's wisdom throughout the month.
Here's the schedule:

Thank you so much, CK, for taking the time to answer all these questions!


Congrats @taratylertalks on the release of Broken Branch Falls!

Today is the release of Broken Branch Falls by Tara Tyler!! I was the lucky winner of an ARC duirng the cover reveal, so I was able to read it early, and oh my goodness what delightful story it is. I can't even tell you how many times I laughed out loud at Gabe the Goblin's hilarious inner thoughts. (I'll save my full 5-star review for my August 1 blog tour post.)

This is a fantasy story written for a Middle Grade audience, so I'm not sure what it says about me that I enjoyed it so much---actually, I think it says more about Tara's writing that it can be so eagerly devoured by adults as well as kids. Such great adventure mixed with lighthearted teenagery angst.

Broken Branch Falls is now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Publisher Curiosity Quills.

 Gabe is an average fifteen-year-old goblin. He’s in the marching band, breezes through calculus, and gets picked on daily by the other kids at school, especially the ogres. Gabe’s closest friends are goblins like him, but Gabe is tired of being a goblin – he’d like to try other things. And he has his eye on the new ogress at school. It’s against all beastly rules, but there’s just something about her.

When a prank goes wrong, Gabe is forced to join the football team as punishment – but finds a way to make it work. Soon the whole school is getting in on the rule-breaking fad of mingling with other species. Too bad the adults have to step in and ruin things by threatening to destroy the school and split up Broken Branch Falls. And Gabe is their scapegoat. With help from friends, old and new, Gabe sets out on a quest for a relic of their mysterious past, which hopefully holds the key to saving Broken Branch Falls. After all that trouble, it better work.

Add it to your GOODREADS list!


Versatile...or Inconsistent?

The marvelous and loveable Janie Junebug has given me an award! The Versatile Blogger Award. I looked up versatile in good ol' Merriam-Webter, and here's what I found:

(1) capable of turning forward or backward
(2) capable of moving laterally and up and down

As I am capable of both (1) and (2), I shall hereby accept this award in good conscience. All I have to do is tell you seven things about myself. Prepare to be fascinated...

1. My favorite job ever was being a lunch lady at my kids' school.

2. I can't STAND to leave my toenails unpainted.

3. I complain about bunnies eating my plants, but truthfully I like it (I figure it's repayment for all my enjoyment of their cuteness).

4. There's only one show on TV that I must watch: Survivor.

5. I've watched every single season of it.

6. And I'm chuffed when people who've never watched a full season get all snootyish about it.

7. I wish Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon would stop vying to take over the world and each just stick to doing what they're truly good at.

I am now to tag 15 more bloggers, and I choose to tag the first 15 people to comment here. But please don't let that discourage you from commenting!  If you'd like to be immune from making an acceptance post, simply state "I found the hidden immunity idol" in your comment. :)


Then and Now: The Sure Thing

Today is the the "Then and Now" blogfest, hosted by Armchair SquidSuze, Moi & Nancy Mock. Squid & Suze were the instigators, and I thank them for letting me tag along. The idea of this here hop is to reflect on a movie that meant something to us at an earlier stage in our lives and explain how we view it differently now.

Before I jump all the way into my post, I want to apologize to visitors of my Insecure Writers post last week. I appreciate all of your lovely comments for Carol, and I'm sorry that I haven't been able to repay your visits yet. Y'see, right after I got that post up, I had to pack my bags and make a road trip for my daughter's college orientation. I know! I can't beleive she's leaving me either. Anywho, it's crazy what just a few days away from everything can do to my good intentions. But I still have them, and I'll see ya very, very soon.

The time on a college campus was fun and totally gave me a hankerin' for my undergrad days (apparently writing Three Daves didn't quite get it out of me). It also helped me to finally land on which movie to focus on for this post...

I loved this movie in the 80s and I love it now. But I have come to see the male lead, Walter Gibson, a/k/a Gibb, in a different light. Back then he was perfect, the kind of guy who would keep his woman laughing and laughing and happy forever. As I said in my Grown Ass Man post last fall, I've learned that Fun Guys aren't always so fun. So while I'm glad the Gibster helped remove the giant stick that was stuck up the leading lady's arse, I no longer imagine that the two of them will make the perfect couple forever and ever. I imagine his jokes growing old and her moving on to someone more mature and more serious, someone more like herself.

Not that he won't mature over time, but I guess what I don't believe in anymore is that people can or should change for each other. I'm not saying that two people have to be exactly alike to be compatible---the differences can be what keeps a relationship interesting into old age, and every successful relationship requires compromise and learning from each other, but I don't know...too much of the growth in The Sure Thing relationship seemed to depend on her becoming more like him and him becoming more like her instead of them each being who they were and appreciating what the other was. It makes for a great movie and is an entirely realistic scenario, but I don't think it has potential for long-term happiness. Does that make any sense?


IWSG: 4 Things I've Learned about Publishing in 4 Years from @CarolOates

It's Insecure Writers Support Group tiiiime. This monthly hop is one of my favorite things on the internet and was founded by Alex J. Cavannaugh. It also has its very own websiteThank you all for your Ask the Acquisitions Editor questions last month. I've passed them off to CK, and my grand plan is to post the answers during next month's IWSG. 

This month my biggest insecurity is time and my inability to beat it into submission, but that's for another post. Because I just happen to have the perfect IWSG post already in my back pocket---written by Carol Oates, a wonderful author of supernatural Young Adult and New Adult stories. I originally posted these 4 publishing wisdoms from Carol at my Facebook page to celebrate her recent release, Shades of Avalon, and she's graciously agreed to let me re-post them in one volume here for your benefit. 

You can tell Carol thanks at her blog, on Twitter, or at her Facebook page. Alrighty then, shall we let Carol take it away? Yes, yes we shall...

It’s been four years since Shades of Atlantis began the editing process. I’ve developed as a writer. I’ve also mellowed a little about the daunting publishing industry. Here are a few things I’ve figured out.

1. It takes a village to raise a book

I’m sure most people realize that the book fairies don’t magically transform the (scrawled by hand in my case) first draft of a manuscript into a shiny, beautiful book. But, before I decided to publish, I really didn’t understand the extent of work required from so many people. Up to that decision, I was writing for my own pleasure and I didn’t much care if I had missing words or plot holes. Publishing is like an iceberg, only 10-20% is visible, the rest is below the waterline. When I decided to plunge in, it involved gathering trusted people around me that I knew would point out the flaws in my work. That’s before the manuscript even hit an editor’s desk. Manuscripts go through many hands even before distribution and promotion come in to it.

2. Publishing doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing 

I used to thing publishing and writing were the same thing. When I set out years ago to publish, I had this fantasy of sitting at my desk in my writing cave all day…writing, or attending bookish events to commune with readers and bookish type people. All while someone else took care of everything else—see point 1. Those book fairies, maybe. In truth, only a portion of my time goes on writing books. The rest is spent doing the production stuff in getting from manuscript to book, communicating with readers(fun bit), organizing promotions(fun bit), keeping up to date with the industry(can be filled with drama lamas). And reading, of course(back to fun bit).

3. No one knows the right way to publish a book

Lots of people will swear they do, but the truth is there is no one way, no sure fire route to success. Every author is different in what they want to achieve with their career, if publishing is even a career to them. Each project can demand a completely different approach. When looking at an individual project, we’re talking a glass slipper being tried on by every disappointed girl in the village, rather than one-size fits all slipper socks. What one author claims worked for them may only work for them, that one time.

4. The opening night nerves never go away 

Shades of Avalon is release seven, and its feels like a special one because it’s the sequel to my debut, Shades of Atlantis. You’d think, I’d be used to release days by now but my tummy still flutters wildly every time I think about my work being out in the world on those first few days. The outpouring of support in the book community can be wonderful and overwhelming in the best possible way. It goes a long way to soothing my frazzled nerves.

Have a great rest of your week!


Cephalopod Coffeehouse: Redcoat by Bernard Cornwell

As proof that I'm just not cut out for this club---I'm still about 85 pages pages away from finishing the book I want to feature. And I JUST got a message from the library prompting me to renew. Again. Urg. Nevertheless, I shall push forth...

This month's read is Redcoat, an historical fiction by Bernard Cornwell set during the British occupation of Philadelphia during the Revolutionary War. Historical fiction is how I prefer to get my history, and Cornwell does a great job of working in the minute details of the time and place to make that piece of history come alive for me.

Did you know that it was considered a luxury to have dentures that were crafted from teeth yanked from the heads of soldiers who died on the battlefield? Cornwell's detailing gets delightfully nasty like that without going overboard, just enough to make me cringe and put me in the rawness of the period.  He also tosses in sublte touches of humor and romace without getting the least bit gushy about it.

This paticular story has lots of main players, and their stories are nicely woven together. There's one in particular that has me intrigued---he's bad, but he's also got potential for greatness. I don't think it's going to happen, but I'm so hoping he reaches a glorious moment of redemption before the story is done. That kind of depth of character is what keeps me turning the pages of any book.

One thing that chuffs me about Cornwell's stories---I've noted it in other books I've read by him as well---is that the female love interests can't just be plain or regular pretty, they're all bestowed with astounding physical beauty that nears perfection, as if they couldn't possibly be worth capturing a man's heart or notice without that all-important quality.

I also noted something odd on the copyright page---the copyright isn't held by Bernard Cornwell but by something called Rifleman Productions, Ltd. I Googled it, but my search only led me to an Australian dance company. What do you suppose the reasons are for the copyright not going to Cornwell? Does this mean it's actually written by a team of ghost writers or could there be other business reasons?

To see what the rest of the Coffeehouse gang is reading, click around below. Thanks much to The Armchair Squid for hosting.


WRiTE Club Submissions Due This Week #WRiTEclub2014

DL Hammon is at it again, and this is the last week to submit your 500-word piece to WRiTE Club 2014. Get the full low-down on what the contest is all about by clicking here.

Here's the quick 'n dirty: a group of readers will rate all anonymous submissions, and the top 32 will face off in head-to-head bouts. Winners move on to face off against other winners, and so on and so on until there is one winner standing with arms raised at the center of the ring. The final round will be decided by an impressive panel of celebrity judges from the publishing world. Entries are due by May 31. You can submit absolutlely any genre of writing---the only rule is that it can't have been previously published anywhere else for public consumption.

Not only is WRiTE Club wicked fun, it's a great way to get invaluable feedback on your writing in a totally anonymous way. As another perk, I've found that readying my pieces for submissions in past contests has given me great tools for polishing future works. The venture has even caught the attention of the DFW Writer's Conference!

Also, my upcoming sexy chick lit from Swoon Romance was put up on Goodreads over the weekend! It's not expected to release until spring of 2015, but if you think you might want to give VIBRIZZIO a whirl, please do add it to your to-read list.


What I Do and Why I Do It

The marvelously talented and huge-hearted Suze from Subliminal Coffee (she's the beauty in the pic to the left) has tagged me to answer the following four writerly questions. Suze is celebrating some majorly fantastic news right now (she just signed with a hot agent!), and you can learn more about it in her answers to these same four questions at her place.

And now please allow me to interview myself:

What am I working on?

It appears I have talked myself into an option on a series with my new publisher, so while I await edits on my upcoming chick lit/office romance, I'm busy noodling on a sequel. The trouble with me is, I like to vacillate between light & happy and something a shade darker & heavier, so this new plot has been wanting to deal with issues too hefty for a naughty chick-litty series. But have no fear, for it doesn't take much to lighten my mood and I've come up with ways to turn events in more giggle-worthy directions.

How does my writing differ from others of its genre?

I love this comment from a reviewer of Divine Temptation: "This book did a beautiful job at depicting something in romance novels that is often missing: the actual romance." ~Book Bliss

I'm a romantic fool, but I'm also a realist, so for me a love story can only be compelling if I actually believe it could happen. This doesn't mean the characters have to all be human or living on earth, mind you, but for me it means that the relationship has to develop over time and the affection needs to be grounded in something more substantial than instant attraction. So one thing that makes my stories different from many others in their genre is that the romance takes a bit longer to develop---but the wait is worth it, I hope.

Why do I write what I do? 

See the "romantic fool" comment above.

How does my writing process work?

It starts with me envisioning a particular scene. If the scene's powerful enough to keep me thinking about it, my mind will develop a story around it. After the mental plotting is pretty well fleshed out, I'll create a rough outline---just a sequence of the things that need to happen and the order in which they occur. Then I tell the family to LMTFA for designated chunks of time and I pound out the first draft. Any necessary research is done along the way.

It's during the first draft that I get to know my characters on a more intimate level, so there's a lot of re-positioning and enriching during the second draft. After the second draft, I like to get feedback from a trusted reader/writer. Third draft is all about doing something with that feedback, and fourth draft is all about polish.

And now I get to tag four writers to answer these same questions and give us insight into what they do and why they do it. I'm choosing four great writers whom I've had the pleasure of getting to hang out with in person!  

Rumer Haven at Rumer has it... lives in London and is on the verge of her debut release, SEVEN FOR A SECRET, a ghost story romance that straddles contemporary times and the 1920s. She's a classy lassie with a wonderful wit and a beautiful way with words.

Michael Di Gesu at In Time... currently resides in Chicago (though he escapes to more tolerable climates whenever he can) and is the author of AMBER AND THE WHISPERING WILLOWS, a middle grade fantasy, and PORTRAIT OF A TEENAGE MILITARY BRAT, a YA that will one day soon take the world by storm. He's a gifted writer with a generous spirit.

Jennifer Lane lives in Columbus, Ohio and is the author of the romantic suspense novels of THE CONduct SERIES, and STREAMLINE, a New Adult romance/drama. Her other life as a psychoanalyst makes her a wonderfully insightful writer and reader---and the best crit partner a girl could hope for.

Cherie Colyer lives in the western Chicago 'burbs and is the author of super natural YA novels in the EMBRACE SERIES and CHALLENGING DESTINY. Even though she's already a great story teller, she's a tireless learner of the industry and definitely inspires me to keep moving forward.


Nostalgia Warrior

The greatest films stand the test of time, speaking to us in different ways at various life stages.  Is there a movie that was a part of your life when you were younger that you see differently now? Like fine wine, has it improved with age or did it die in the bottle? Has maturity brought you new insights you missed in your youth? We want to know all about it!

Join us for "Then and Now," a bloghop hosted by Armchair Squid, Suze, Nicki Elson & Nancy Mock.  Tell us about a movie you loved when you were younger and have come to see differently over time - for better or for worse.  Please sign up below, then post on Friday, June 13th.


And now for a cover reveal. Jay Noel's Dragonfly Warrior cover was a big hit here a few months ago, so I'm excited to have him back to wow us again with the cover for Shadow Warrior, the second book in his steampunk series, The Mechanica Wars.

The agony of a failed quest haunts Kanze Zenjiro, but the betrayal by those he once trusted has turned his world upside down. With a heart full of hatred and defeat, Zen is desperate to return home and demand the truth from his father.

Meanwhile, the Iberian Empire sends their soaring airships and steam-powered giants into the Orient. They threaten to upset the balance of power, hoping to exploit the faraway land in their greed for the resources needed to power their machines. Zen and his companions must fight to keep the world from plunging into total destruction.

And at the center of it all is a nine year old boy with the power of a god.

Shadow Warrior's release date is scheduled for August 4, 2014.


Bad Boys, Acquisitions Angst & Good Vibrations

Before we get to my post proper, a bit of bonus fun. As the title would imply, there are 3 Daves in my first novel, Three Daves. but usually it's just one Dave who gets the spotlight in my promos. So it seemed only fair to finally let my bad boy, Dave #2, out to playay in a short character interview over at Dawn's Reading Nook. If you have a few minutes, I'd love it if you'd stop by.

And now on to my contribution to this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group, brainchild of the one and clonely Alex J. Cavannaugh. Raise your hand if you've ever queried an agent or publisher. Hmm, quite a lot of you. Okay, raise your hand if you intend to query an agent or publisher at any point in the future. Goodness, that's nearly everyone. All right, last one -- raise your hand if you think querying an agent or a publisher is the least scary thing you've ever done in your life.

Anyone? Anyone?

I'm sure there's no need for me to list off the many reasons why sending our lovingly crafted stories out into the world to be judged is a frightening prospect. We all understand that this is a highly subjective biz, but rejection friggin' hurts no matter how gently it's worded.

Like I said a few months ago, sometimes it's the fear of the unknown that most feeds our insecurity. What do acquisitions editors love to see? What turns them off of a query? What makes them want to read more? I'm sure the answers vary from editor to editor, but to help scrape off just little bit of the acquisitions unknown, I've asked CK Wagner, an acquisitions editor at Omnific Publishing, if she'll take questions from my peanut gallery (that's you guys)---and she said yes! 

So she's all yours, kiddies. In the comments below, fire away with anything you've ever wanted to ask an acquisitions editor, and I'll have CK back later this month to answer your questions. (I'll take questions through Sunday & then will pass them on to her.)

Before you go, would you like to hear an acquisitions angst story with a happy ending? Yes? Well, at the beginning of this year I faced my fears head on and sent out a few query letters for my funny/naughty office romance, tentatively titled Vibrizzio. After a couple of agents passed on my query, I revised the letter and sent directly to a couple of small publishers along with a few more agents...small publishers seem to be my comfort zone and are a nice fit for my low patience threshold...both publishers requested fulls and Swoon Romance followed up quickly with an offer!

Swoon Romance is young, fresh and innovative and has a great catalog of books. So I was giddy when owner Georgia McBride told me she'd read my manuscript in one sitting, laughed out loud many times, and loved it. I signed an author agreement with them in the midst of AtoZ. So...yay.

You can bet I'll be sharing more about the story here, but for now you can check out a short summary at the Pinterest board I created for the WIP: The Movie blogfest. Urm, you're going to need to read that in order to understand the joke below that was made on annoucement day by my funny new Swoon sister, A.J. Matthews

Alrighty, what've you got for CK? 


26 Letters and 25 Roses - Reflections on #AtoZchallenge

Two years ago when I participated in the A to Z challenge, I thought of myself as a failure because although I posted each day of the challenge, I didn't visit many other blogs beyond repaying the visits of those who'd commented on my posts. My schedule just wouldn't allow for more than that. This year ended up being pretty much the same, but you know what? I'm counting it as a success.

My choice was to either do what I could do or not participate at all, and although I certainly wasn't a power AtoZer, I had a great time reading the posts I did get to and was still able to form connections with new bloggers. Like Stephanie Faris, for example. She did a highly enjoyable A to Z theme on indulgences, and every time I stopped by, my eyes wandered over to her sidebar to the adorable cover for her novel 30 Days of No Gossip. So when she asked who wanted in on the reveal for her upcoming book, 25 Roses, I was all meeeee!

Thank you A to Z organizers & helpers for facilitating this fun event. You all did a great job, and the blogging community is stronger for it. And now, get ready for that cover reveal...

So cute & fun, right? Feel free to stop by Stephanie's place to tell her how fabulous it is. Here's the story blurb:

Valentine's Day means one thing at Stanton Middle School: students will send each other chocolate roses. Each year, Mia Hartley watches while the same group of students gets roses and everyone else is left out. This year, she decides things will be different. As the student assigned to write names on the cards, Mia purchases 25 roses and writes her own cards, designating them to 25 people she's personally chosen. But she soon learns that playing matchmaker is much more complicated than she thought it would be.


Z: Zooming Stock Market *90's Pop Culture Favorites* #AtoZchallenge

Can the stock market be considered to be part of pop culture? Well, when it's as fun as it was in the 90's, I say yes. Imagine a time when opening your latest 401k statement was a joyful event rather than something you did with one eye closed and the other tensed and ready to join its partner should the numbers be even worse than expected.

Using the S&P 500 as an index, the 1990's experienced only one year of negative returns (and that only -3.1%) with 3 years at over +20%, and another 3 years at over +30%! 1999 ended with a ten-year annualized return of a phenomenal +18.21%  Compare that to the following decade, which ended at an annualized -.95%.

Thirty percent+ annual returns seemed mythical for a long time after the 90's, but fret not---2013 saw that level once again, and even with all the miserable returns during the new millenium, the market's 25 year annualized return is above 10%. We'll just ignore what's been happening so far this year... #LongTermBaby

CONGRATULATIONS on completing the 2014 A to Z Challenge,
and thank you, THANK YOU to our illustrious hosts
most especially to Arlee Bird for dreaming the whole thing up.


Y: Yada, Yada, Yada *90's Pop Culture Favorites* #AtoZchallenge

And other phrases made infamous...and in most cases made up...by the forever relevant Seinfeld (1989-1998), liiiike: Festivus, Soup Nazi, Spongeworthy, Urban sombrero, Close talker, Low talker, High talker, Re-gifter, Double-dip, Shrinkage, Master of your domain, Manssiere, Bro, Puffy shirt,  Anti-dentite, Mimbo, Mulva, Manhands, Serenity now, Cabana wear. 


X: The X-Files *90's Pop Culture Favorites* #AtoZchallenge

TechnicallyI've never watched The X-Files (1993 - 2002). Er, I haven't figuratively watched it either, not so much as one episode. I wasn't as in touch with my nerd-side in the 90's as I am these days. BUT I adored the fandom that sprang up around The X-Files, and I'm 100% certain that whenever I get around to Netflixing or whatevering the show, I'm going to love it. Plus, X is a really, really difficult letter to work with so I'm going with it.

Hey, maybe while we're here you can help me out---do you have advice for a newb? Like, were the early seasons really good but they petered out later, or are any seasons skippable? Or does the series stay strong the whole way through, and I'd better get on it tout de suit?


W: Wayne's World *90's Pop Culture Favorites* #AtoZchallenge

Wayne's World, Wayne's World, party time, excellent.  Sorry, but there was really no other way to start this post. While I did enjoy the movie very much, the real purpose in giving it the W slot is to spotlight Mike Myers and Dana Carvey, two great comedic actors whose careers took off in the 90's. In my opinion, they're two of the funniest guys to have ever graced the Saturday Night Live Stage.

In addition to doing funny original characters, like Garth and the Church Lady, Dana Carvey was a master imitator of SO many people, including George H.W. Bush & Johnny Carson. What's rather cool about Carvey is that he ended up withdrawing from the limelight because he didn't want his kids to grow up with a dad who was gone all the time.

Ah, Mike Myers. He's just so lovably goofy as SNL characters like Simon ("Don't look at my bum"), Linda Richman (based on his mother-in-law) and Dieter from Sprockets. He played two roles in 1993 movie So I Married an Ax Murderer. He was both the male lead and the male lead's severely-Scottish father. And of course it was his character Austen Powers that put him into the major big time.


V: Video Workouts - Tae Bo *90's Pop Culture Favorites* #AtoZchallenge

Jane Fonda may have started the video workout craze in the 80's, but I didn't jump in until Billy Blanks caught my attention with the Tae Bo video workout series in the 90's.  It's a very fun workout that lets me kick and punch out all my aggression while toning and working the cardio. And Billy is just so, so sweet and motivating.

The original Tae Bo video collection kept me happy until the poor tape got stretched to its limits and finally snapped, but I still meet up with Billy on a bi-weekly basis in his Insane Abs DVD. And I've gotta say, it's really nice to not have to remember to rewind the tapes.


U: Unforgiven *90's Pop Culture Favorites* #AtoZchallenge

Unforgiven (1992), starring Clint Eastwood, has the distinction of being the first and only Western I've ever enjoyed...unless you count City Slickers (1991), which I don't think anyone is. Can anyone think of a U word that would go with City Slickers? Like maybe...the Unwestern? Because really, that movie deserves this slot more than Unforgiven. My self-imposed mandate for this challenge is to highlight 90's things that I still love, and I quite honestly don't even remember anything from the Eastwood movie other than that I was surprised that I liked it, and I've never been of a mind to watch it a second time. City Slickers, on the other hand...just thinking about it makes me giggle and gives me an hankerin' to see it yet again.

Which camp do you fall into---are you an Unforgiven or a City Slickers?


T: There's Something About Mary *90's Pop Culture Favorites* #AtoZchallenge

Ah, the Ferrelly Brothers, so irreverent, so quirky, so freaking hilarious. Combine that with Ben Stiller, Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon & Chris Elliott, and fuggedabouddit. There's Something About Mary (1998) is still one of the best Rom Coms ever, with classic moments like the hair gel scene, franks & beans, Brett Fahvaruh, "Exceptional, my ass"; "He was down there closing the deal with the Rice-a-Roni people the whole time"; "I know this is the Bible Belt and everything, but where I come from, this is not  big deal." Etc., etc. A bonus for me was that during the movie's heyday, several people told me I reminded them of Cameron Diaz in "that movie"---thus cementing the film into a very special place in my heart...and ego.