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Bad Boys Reading Challenge 2017

Being an update

badboysofromancechallenge

Time for an update! To see reviews of the books I’ve already read, go check out the posts on Reading Challenge 2017 or Countess Here I Come.

To sign up for the Bad Boys of Romance Challenge yourself (there’s still time!) go here to Delighted Reader’s blog. The minimum number they ask for is five books and you can get through five books by November 30th, right? Of course you can, my fellow bibliophiles. Rock on.

We’ve already established that I have this socially unacceptable love for Bad Boys in romance, the Damaged with a Heart of Gold character, Redemption as a trope, and hot sex in my books. So this challenge has been a blast, because I’ve read books that have all of those yummy things, plus some hilariously witty dialogue.

yas queen
On an unrelated note: go watch Transparent because it’s heart achingly wonderful

The best part? Finding author Kylie Scott. She writes nothing but Bad Boys, she’s hilarious, and I love her books. In the last update I wondered how to go about borrowing her Stage Dive series and whether or not my local library even contains such naughty books. Turns out they do and they didn’t even blink when I wanted them to order the rest of the series. This leads me to believe that a) there’s more of a market for erotica in this city full of elderly retirees than I thought or b) librarians don’t judge. Probably b.

On to the scoreboard! Blew past Level one and I’m now on Level 2 (10-15 books)-Engaged to the bad boy.

Heart of the Dragon by Gena Showalter. Redemption plot. Heat level: scorching.

Jewel of Atlantis by Gena Showalter. Rescue/Protector/Destiny plot. Heat level: scorching.

The Nymph King by Gena Showalter. Taming of the Shrew/Redeemed Rake plot. Heat level: OMG scorching.

Flesh by Kylie Scott. Menáge romance with zombie apocalypse. Heat level: hot to scorching, interrupted by lots of deadly peril.

Skin by Kylie Scott. (New read.) The second in the zombie apocalypse series. In this brave new society Nick wants a woman. He bargains for Rosalyn, with a van full of canned goods, no less! She refuses to accept the new social order, but she’s still attracted to Nick. Much shouting ensues. I thought Rosalyn edged into Too Dumb To Live territory a few times, and got frustrated with her. She’s walking the line between self-respect and staying alive and she edges into doing stupid things just to prove a point (which will get her killed) several times. Uggh, Rosalyn. Heat level: Medium.

Dirty by Kylie Scott. First in the Dive Bar series. Lots of Drama plot, and super funny/sassy heroine. Heat level: Sweet and Spicy.

Twist by Kylie Scott. Second in the Dive Bar series. Mistaken identity/Enemies to Lovers trope. Heat level: Sweet and Spicy.

Lick by Kylie Scott. (New read.) Stage Dive series #1. A twist on the Marriage of Convenience trope, with a One Night Stand element. Evelyn wakes up after a bender of a night in Vegas with a new husband, who happens to be the lead guitarist of a huge band. When the haze of alcohol clears, she’s not even sure she really loves him. David thought he had found someone who saw beneath the rock star to the man underneath, and jumped into love full of hope. Heat level: Sweet and Spicy.

Play by Kylie Scott. (New Read.) Stage Dive series #2. Fake Relationship trope. Mal needs a Good Girl for a while, and Anne needs her rent money before she’s evicted. “Pretend” girlfriend doesn’t last long with the extreme heat they’ve got going on between them. First romance in a while that I had to put the book down because I was laughing so hard, Mal is hilarious and Anne adores his crazy. Heat level: Scorching  with the occasional snort of laughter.

Lead  by Kylie Scott. (New Read.) Stage Dive series #3. OMG you guys. OMG. Enemies to Lovers/Redemption AND Damaged with a Heart of Gold, all in one. This one was absolutely my favorite. Lead singer Jimmy has hit bottom and just come out of rehab. Lena is his assistant and sobriety companion and she’s one of the few people who can keep him on the straight and narrow. She’s desperate to keep her growing feelings professional, and he’s truly certain he doesn’t deserve love. Heat level: Holy Ice Cold Showers Batman.

Deep by Kylie Scott. (New Read.) Stage Dive series #4. Sort of a Redeemed Rogue/Accidental Pregnancy plotline, where the Rogue acts like a total douche about it and requires not one but SEVERAL come to Jesus talks. Unexpected pregnancy throws Lizzie and the womanizing, bachelor-for-life Ben together. I have to admit this one was a miss for me, mostly because of Ben. I was honestly doubtful whether or not he would ever man up and support Lizzie and the baby. So well done there Ms. Scott for throwing a genuine obstacle in front of the lead characters. Heat level: Sweet and Spicy.

Photo courtesy stocksnap.io & Rachel Walker

 

 

 

 

7 Parenting Sites/Magazines that Will Pay You to Write for Them

Everyone likes to get paid for their words

Trying to make some extra income by freelancing is hard. I find myself heading for Google over and over to search for things like “websites that pay writers” and “mom blogs that pay”. It’s easy to find lists like these, but less simple when you start clicking on the links.

First of all, a lot of times the sites are not a viable option for you. They’re no longer paying for guest posts (i.e. ScaryMommy) or have found a stable of writers and don’t need submissions anymore (i.e. A Fine Parent.) And don’t get me started on how many of the magazines/websites are regional. Only for parents in Michigan, or Arizona (where I don’t happen to live, so, yeah, can’t write for them.)

Second, in the world of the Internet things change constantly. Lists of paying sites that were accurate in 2015 are no longer a good resource. I’ll try my best to make sure this list stays live and accurate as things change but I’m sure that in two years it will have to be completely updated.

Anyway, I’ve found the lists, tried the links, submitted, been rejected, and sometimes accepted. In the process I’ve found sites that aren’t on those lists. Let me share the trial and error I’ve done with you. If you’re interested in writing for a parent focused site and getting paid, this is for you.

1. Her View From Home

Up to 100$ per post, paid by page views.

Her View is aimed at “millions of mothers connected by love, friendship, family and faith.” They’re looking for 600-800 words. Payment starts at 0$ for 0-250 page views of your article and works all the way up to 100$ for 4K + views. Page views are tracked for 30 days after your piece goes up. Online submission form.

write for her page.

2. Stork Guide

50$ per original article, flat fee.

Stork Guide is aimed at new parents and covers topic from pregnancy to dealing with toddlers. They’re looking for a minimum of 700 words, shorter posts do not get paid. On the plus side, you get paid regardless of pageviews. Online application form.

write for stork

3. Sammiches and Psych Meds

Up to 50$ per post, paid by page views

Sammiches and Psych meds is the new Scary Mommy. Written with lots of humor and maybe some cussing, they want 500-1,000 word posts for parents at all stages. 0-999 page views gets you 0$, 999-1,999 is 25$ and 2,000 + is 50$. Submissions go through the online Submittable site.

write for sammiches and psych meds

4. Focus on the Family/Thriving Families

50$ Flat fee for 50-300 word posts

Focus on the Family is an online and print based place to find articles on Christian parenting. Two separate magazines, but under one parent company with one submission form. Do not approach them unless you are willing to write faith-based pieces. They have ongoing calls for specific submissions (holidays, summer break ideas, specific family issues) and explicit instructions about how to submit for each call with a separate email for each one.

Focus on the Family Call for Submissions

5. Mamalode

Up to 50$ per post, paid by page views

Parenting with a modern, humorous twist. They’re looking for articles between 400 and 1,500 words that are authentic, heartfelt and non-judgmental. Views are tracked for 30 days after your piece goes up and you are paid based on that. 5,000 + page views will net you 50$. Submissions are done online through Submittable.

write for Mamalode

6. Family Fun Magazine

1.25$ per word, depending on which section you’re writing for

Family Fun magazine is “the country’s number-one magazine for families with children ages 3-12.” They’re looking for articles on activities, vacation ideas, cooking, parties, and crafts. Their writing guidelines have specific sections like “Idea of the Month” or “Explore” and each one has a different word count and quoted payment. Payment runs anywhere from 100$ flat fee to 750$. Competition is stiff and I personally have had zero luck getting accepted by them but that doesn’t mean you will, so don’t let that stop you! Submissions are all emailed to the same lady with the appropriate section specified in the subject line.

Write for Family Fun

7. Parent.co

50$ flat fee plus up to 300$ in social share bonuses available

Parent.co is looking for research backed investigations, personal essays and timely reporting on all topics to do with parenting. Their keywords to remember are relatable, fresh, and informed. They respond within 21 days, which is nice, and offer the chance to become part of their writer Facebook page when you’re accepted. Submit online through Submittable.

Write for Parent.co

Need some more ideas? Start here with an excellent article by Elna at Twins Mommy.com on 12 sites that pay 100$ or more.

Or try this older article (from 2015) that still has some pretty good ideas from The Write Life, 28 Parenting Blogs and Magazines that Pay

A General Slang Dictionary for Writers

Not so much 2017 specific.

How about some more dialogue ideas? The slang specific to 2017 has been covered here already, but there is a lot of slang that’s been floating around and survived a long time. Survival of the fittest and all that.

I’ll be focusing on a lot of the slang from the state of California, specifically Southern California, since that’s what I know the best. Yep, there’s a difference between Southern and Northern California slang. As if U.S. English wasn’t complicated enough anyway.

So if you have a character in your book interacting with the state in some way, at least you’ll have some fun ideas for what they can say, maybe what can confuse the heck out of them when they visit. Or just have fun with the weird ways language works. Enjoy.

Dude

All purpose identifier. It identifies a man, woman, or child of any gender and any age. It’s been stereotyped as a surfer thing (Duuuude) but it’s become a pretty normal use word. It also means many things. It’s an expression of disapproval (Dude) surprise (Dude!) congratulations (Dude!!) anger (Dude, no!) or anything else you like. Nonverbal cues are used to demonstrate what it’s supposed to mean in the moment.

 

PicardFacepalm
Alpha: “I have programmed the kitchens to get rid of all sugar and caffeine stimulants.” Captain Picard: “Dude.”

“Yeah, no.”

Very firm negative statement. One step above just saying “no”, it means really, really not OK, no. Generally an expression of extreme disapproval.

example; “Dude, do you want to go to the Justin Bieber concert with me?”

yeah no

“No, yeah” or “No, yeah, for sure.”

Firm positive statement. Said while nodding your head yes. It means that would be fine, yes, sure.

example; “You want to go to the bookstore? I need some new reads.” “No, yeah, that sounds cool.”

Tripping Balls

Descriptive phrase. Extremely messed up on drugs. Freaking out. Very, very high. So high that anyone watching can tell something is wrong.

example:

tripping

Grody

Adjective. A little old fashioned now. It means gross, disgusting, broken, vile. Can refer to a person, place or thing, whichever you’re trying to describe at the moment.

example; “The roof leaked and the whole inside of the house is full of green fuzzy mold. It’s so grody man.”

Sketchy

Adjective. Similar to grody, but less emphatic. Something sketchy is something that just doesn’t look right, or safe. Some parts of the state use “Janky” to mean the same thing.

example; “I was going to go pee but the gas station bathroom looked really sketchy. I’ll just wait.”

Psyched/Stoked

Verb. It means very excited or happy about something.

example; “I’m so psyched I just passed that class with an A!” or “She’s stoked to go buy her new car today.”

stoked
Definitely stoked

Sorry not sorry

Not so much a California thing, this one is all over. It’s a phrase, said all together, almost like one word. It’s both sarcastic and sincere at the same time. It expresses an apology, but not a true apology. Sometimes it’s even an expression of pride.

example: “I ate the last piece of that salted caramel cheesecake, it was so good. Sorry not sorry.” Or “I went to the gay pride parade and apparently that pissed the hell out of my parents. Sorry not sorry.”

I can’t even

Again, a slang phrase that is everywhere, not just California. A complete phrase. It means the speaker is totally done. They can’t explain how very done they are in words. They are out of patience and a long way past annoyed.

example: “I tried to re-set my password twenty five times and this still says I’m doing it wrong. I can’t even.”

cant-even-oakley
Tyler Oakley is famous for being unable to even

Very Much Petted Peeves

Another edition of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group and the glory that is their steadfast support.

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If you’re into things like that, their Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG
The awesome co-hosts for the August 2 posting of the IWSG are Christine RainsDolarah @ Book Lover, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, Yvonne Ventresca, and LG Keltner! Go check out their posts and enjoy.
~The more I post with this group, the greater has become my gratitude for it. Now that I’ve been posting with big public sites like Her View From Home and Mamalode I have run into the internet fun that is trolls and it just makes me appreciate the wonderful people who wander over from IWSG more.
Not only do you guys click on my site and read you leave comments. Nice comments. Thoughtful comments. Comments that don’t include any ALL CAPS or nasties. It’s like an oasis, after dodging through badlands where some comments are ok to step on and some are raging lava geysers that come out of nowhere. So, thank you guys. Thank you for being normal, kind, decent, supportive commenters.~

August 2 Question: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

Woot woot! A pet peeve post. My peeves are much petted and I love ranting so this one is going to be fun. Let’s make this a listicle, cause why not.

Pet peeve the 1st: Being unable to disappear into a book because I’m mentally editing while I’m reading.

Now that I know the tips, tricks and tools they stand out EVERYWHERE. It’s like those magic pictures where there are lots of colored blobs and then you adjust your vision and all of a sudden there are shapes and faces in it. Now that I know, the author has to be really good to get me to turn off that inner editor and just read. I guess that’s also a benefit? In a way? My filter for bad writing has become much finer. Silver lining or no, that’s going down as a peeve.

Pet peeve the 2nd: Not being able to use adverbs in my writing.

I adore those lovely scene painting bits of goodness. A lot of my favorite authors use the heck out of them (Hi Robin McKinley! As if you’d need to be on my blog, but whatever.) The universal discrimination against them right now peeves me. They’re like gorgeous embroidery that used to adorn clothing back in the day. They will be back in fashion some day though, and then the books written in this DeATH to teh adVERBS!!!@ way will look old-fashioned and silly. Meanwhile, I sneak in a couple adverbs per page and try hard to make them necessary (while also, of course, using lots of strong, action-y writing and not relying on adverbs to be my crutch because there’s a difference between richly detailed writing and just plain weak writing.)

Pet peeve the 3rd: Second-guessing every freaking word I chose to write when I edit.

When I go through to edit I forget that I’m editing and start *writing* again. Half the time I don’t make it more than a few sentences before I start to re-write. From here on out I will cease to think of it as “editing” and think of it as another draft. I’m polishing up the manuscript with many drafts. Not editing. This must be why God made editors.
How about you? Pet peeves? Slight annoyances? Tell me all about it! Just, you know, keep in mind how much I raved about your kind comments in the beginning of this post when you tell me adverbs are straight up green slimy evil.
featured image via Stocksnap.io and Annie Spratt

Nevada: The South

Viva Las Vegas

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photo credit: Nations Online Project

Continuing the series about the state of Nevada, let’s start with the Southern part. The beginning part of all of this with fun facts about the state in general can be found at Nevada: The Start

So, what’s in Southern Nevada?

Las Vegas.

What else? Not much, to be honest.

First thing to know for visitors: Las Vegas is almost TEN HOURS by car away from the other big cities of Reno and Carson City. A lot of people assume they are close and then get upset when they look at a map and figure out they are at opposite ends of a very large state. If you visit, plan on one big city at a time or including extra days for driving time. There are nonstop flights from Vegas to Reno if you don’t want to drive. There is no public transportation between the two.

The south is the driest, hottest, rockiest part of the state. More like the stereotypical image of desert that everyone pictures when they hear the word. Sand, heat that shimmers in the air, no trees but cactus and a few hardy bushes, not much water. It’s all there, and aside from Las Vegas and a few sunblasted towns sitting along the highways to Las Vegas that’s ALL that’s there.

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the road into Valley of Fire State park, courtesy Stocksnap.io

Things to do in Southern Nevada:

  • Las Vegas. Sorry, I had to. Las Vegas is an experience in itself. Go in the winter when it’s nice and cool at 70* (21* Celsius) instead of 120* (48* Celsius).
  • There are also ghost towns, if you’re into mining/pioneer history and ghost hunting. Plenty of camping and some cool state parks like Valley of Fire, Beaver Dam state park, Kershaw-Ryan state park, and Rainbow Canyon.

Bring lots of water and never, ever (and I really mean this) leave your car for a long look around without bringing water and some sort of map. You might think you’re just going to hike to the top of the hill to see the view, snap some pictures for Instagram, and you’ll head right back. That’s how people get turned around, can’t find the car, and die of heat exposure and dehydration. It happens, even in this era of modern cell phones and Google maps. Please if you go visit keep full water bottles in your car, keep the car in sight unless you know where you’re going, and take the water bottles with you everywhere.

Some cities and attractions in the South part of Nevada:

Las Vegas: (here is the Visitor’s Authority website) Tourist destination with internationally famous Hotel/Casinos, shows, attractions, shopping, food, and pretty much anything else you could want. There is a surprising amount of outdoor activity available here that you might no know about, including the Valley of Fire state park and camping (an hour North of town.)

stocksnap.io nishan joomun
courtesy stocksnap.io and Nishan Joomun

Laughlin: the furthest South city in the state, with attractions like Hoover Dam, casinos, hotels, shopping, the Colorado River and lots of recreational activities. It’s practically part of Arizona.

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Hoover Dam

Seven Magic Mountains: Some Swiss guy decided to drop 25 foot towers of rocks in the desert 10 miles South of Las Vegas and paint them bright colors. The result is pretty striking, worth a look if you’re headed that way. Website here

Beatty: Tiny little desert town a few hours North of Las Vegas on highway 95. Their fame comes from the ghost town of Rhyolite and the Goldwell Open Air Museum. They’re also just a few hours away from Death Valley National Park when you approach it from the East.

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Ghost town of Rhyolite. Photo courtesy beattynv.info official visitor’s website
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The Last Supper statue at the Goldwell Open Air Museum. Photo courtesy beattynv.info official visitor’s website.

Caliente: on highway 93 in the Southeastern part of the state. A lot of people use it as a rest stop between Ely and Las Vegas when they drive down. It’s still a busy train station for the Union Pacific railroad, if you’re interested in trains.

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Looking down at the town of Caliente. Photo courtesy Exploring Nevada.com

Pioche: Half an hour North of Caliente on highway 93 is Pioche. Like most of the other towns it started life as a mining camp in the Wild West era of the state. They have a neat historical museum and lots of outdoor recreation around the town. It’s up in a small mountain range at at 6,000 feet elevation too, which keeps it cooler than most of the Southern desert part.

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Downtown Pioche. Photo courtesy Exploring Nevada.com 

Goldfield: You guessed it, another mining town, on highway 95 close to Tonopah. Point of interest: The International Car Forest of the Last Church, just east of Goldfield. Basically it’s forty cars/trucks/buses, buried nose deep in the sand and painted with different murals. Here’s some information on it from Atlas Obscura

Tonopah: Roughly halfway between Reno and Las Vegas on highway 95. There are hotels and restaurants for you to stock up and rest on the drive. Like everywhere else Tonopah started as a mining town and has a mining museum. Far outside Tonopah is the military test range where they try out big bombs and see what happens. Area 51 is also out there off of highway 95 somewhere, but for what it’s worth I’ve never seen even the hint of an alien. Possibly they all moved to Tonopah. For outdoor people the Toiyabe mountains, Big Smoky Valley and Arc Dome Wilderness are also close.

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Looking at Tonopah from the hills. Photo courtesy Exploring Nevada.com

 

Writing a Query Letter: Part the Fourth

The Cook who wrote the book

Winding this series up with the last bit you need to make your query letter the most amazing one ever.  At the very least, you’ll know you have everything in a row and have not forgotten one piece of information. As always, I still recommend reading examples of successful query letters.

Part 1 is all about writing an opening to your letter that isn’t cheeky, is spelled right, addressed to the correct person, and avoids the obvious epic fails. You can find it here

Part 2, writing an enticing hook that clearly outlines the protagonist and the stakes of your story is here

And part 3, giving the specifics of your book with genre, word count and title, can be found here

We’re working off “the hook, the book and the cook” because it sounds cool and covers all the basics you need in one sentence. We have now made it to the part about The Cook (that’s you!) Note that this series is for Fiction authors, Nonfiction is a completely different game in which I have no experience.

Unfortunately for an already bruised ego, this is the shortest part of the entire letter. The one all-pervading piece of advice everyone seems to agree on is that no agent wants to hear endless paragraphs all about you. Why you love writing so much and how you started writing when you were five and being an author is your whole life and writing this book took you six years of gut wrenching effort but it’s the most amazing story and you put little pieces of yourself in each character so that you really got to know them . . .

giphy (1)
Danny DeVito says no

Don’t do that. My one piece of advice to remember for this part is:

Publishing is a business. Agents treat it like a business. Your book is your product, they want to hear about the product and not much else.

Some posts recommend no more than 50 words for this part. Some say a couple of sentences. Seriously, I’m supposed to condense my awesome self into fifty dinky words? Yes. Now is the time to give your ego a swift chop to the neck and tell it to shut up.

So what should you put in your precious two sentences? Who you are and why you are the best person, the only person, to write this book.

Ideas of what to include, in no particular order of importance:

  • writing credits you already have-literary journals, articles, online sites, short stories, etc. Don’t list the title and source of everything you’ve ever published. Brevity is the soul of getting an agent.
  • any relevant writing experience-you volunteer as a slush pile reader, curate an online writing magazine, teach creative writing at the local college, pick books for your local library to purchase, make a podcast on SciFi books for a website, regularly guest blog, and etc.
  • any degrees related to writing-B.A. M.F.A. the letters look impressive.
  • if you were previously published-Only if the book did well. Otherwise leave the information that you self-published and sold 100 copies total for the heart to heart talks with your agent later. You will have to tell them, if they end up representing you.
  • any life experiences that influence your book-you were a police officer and you wrote a crime novel, you worked in social services and the book is about a depressed teen working his way through the foster system, you’re a librarian and the book is about a librarian who moonlights as a demon banisher on weekends.
  • amazing things that have already happened to this manuscript-awards from contests (especially the big ones!) writer’s fellowships, requests from movie companies to buy the rights to it, you somehow blackmailed a great review of it from a New York newspaper (leave out the blackmail part.)
  • If you’re part of a large writer’s association-RWA, MWA, SCBWI, etc. This can make you look more serious and professional.
  • Your platform and publicity– if it’s genuinely impressive. You have Twitter-pated 10,000 followers? Put that in. 100,000 eyeballs a month on your writing blog or 20,000 people already signed up to your newsletter? Wow, yeah, put that in. If, like me, you have 20 followers total and maybe 200 visits in a month it’s not so necessary to put that in.
fluff
Look at all the amazing glittery things about my book! Look at them!

Before you put anything in ask yourself two things. Is this relevant to this manuscript? And, will it help this book get published? If not, leave it out. Anything that wanders into the realm of trying too hard/bragging will actually put agents off your book, the opposite of what you want. Remember; business. They want to sell this book. They’re not selling you (that’s illegal.)

If you’re over there laughing and shaking your head, sitting on a finished manuscript without any of these wonderful shiny things to dangle from it (like me), don’t despair. If not one of these things applies to your work your bio will be super short and sweet. A couple sentences about you will be easy, maybe just something like where you’re from and that this is your third finished manuscript.

In her take, Jane Friedman says that if you have nothing to include, don’t include anything. Just end your query letter and let your story speak for itself. This seems ballsy to me, but if Jane Friedman says it it’s solid advice. Go with your instincts on it and good luck!

resources for you:

Author Karma Brown’s take on hook, book, cook here

Writer’s Digest article on How to Write the Perfect Query Letter, part of an excellent series they do where a successful query letter is shown and the agent who requested it breaks down exactly what they liked about it which is just the best

How to Write a Darn Good Query letter, from the NY Book editors.com. Funny, succinct and very helpful. Find it here

What Should You Write in the Bio Paragraph of a Query Letter? by Chuck Sambuchino over at Writer’s Digest here with a good list of what NOT to include.

 

feature image courtesy Stocksnap.io and Jessica Ruscello

Updates on the Fledgling Author

Time to suck it up and update anyone who cares about how being a professional author is going. I started attempting this seriously in November 2016, so it’s been about eight months.

paperwork
feeling a bit like Sheldon right now

First of all:

Hello to Georgianna (what a cool name.) I was afraid it might be creepy to use your personal email address, and my contact page doesn’t show comments so I’m saying thank you on here in hopes that you see it 🙂

Second, Hi to Canada! The top number of visitors to my site after the U.S.A. I also get a lot of readers from New Zealand, the U.K. and India, for some reason. Whatever brings you to the site all the way from India, thank you and welcome. Let me just take this opportunity to apologize deeply to all of you for the psycho my country elected and express the firm hope that he’ll be kicked out of office in the next year.

Anyways. I’ve been putting off an update for 2017, hoping to have some brilliant news. TL;DR summary-I don’t. No agent, no agents requesting a read of my manuscripts and no publishing contract.

What I’ve done so far:

Collected a mounting stack of rejections, in many different flavors. I also have three finished manuscripts.

  • The first one is a historical romance, and a learning experience. It got rejected 100% of the time with zero interest in even a partial request, which was my clue to take a break on that one. It will live in storage for a while, until I have the time to attack it with everything I’ve learned and all the feedback I’ve gotten on it. Lots of telling to be fixed to showing, it will need a lot of work.
  • The second one is decent and I’m querying it in a casual way, seeing what kind of response I get. It’s full on erotica with a taboo aspect, a lot of fun to write. I’m trying small indie publishers with it and if they don’t like it I’ll self-publish it. Goal for that is next year (2018).
  • The third one has been entered in two different RWA chapter contests (I hear if it made it to the finals in September, for those contests) and beta-read three times. It’s polished up and awaiting one more good edit from me before I start querying it. It’s a New Adult with fantasy elements and a good love story. I have huge hopes for it. Goal for that is to get an agent by the end of this year (2017) and publish in 2018. Fingers crossed!

Very Good News

An old post of mine is about entering RWA contests with that first manuscript, the historical romance in storage, and it may interest you to know how that turned out. It made it to the finals in the Cleveland Rocks NEORWA contest, novella category, which is really cool! Three different agents will now read it and I’ll find out if it won anything at the end of September. If one of them likes it they may request a read of the manuscript, which would also be amazing. Feeling pretty good about that. I got excellent feedback on it from each of the contests so no matter what I have a lot of revision to do on it.

What I’m doing now:

otter-gif
I’m the otter in this situation. My muse gives me the cups.

Three more manuscripts are in progress, in stages from 4,000 words to 25,000 words. I realize this sounds stupid but it’s how I write. I get all fired up about living inside one story for a month or so and then burn out on it and get excited about another one. Rinse and repeat. My muse is kind of a jerk and has no sense of timing.

It works better if I can leave the one that’s boring me and take up the other one, rather than trying to force my way through just to finish one at a time. I’m sure the process will change if I ever get an agent and have like, contracts and timelines and things. For now this works for me.

And finally, Somewhat good news:

I’ve been able to hunt down and kill . . .  I mean get accepted for many different guest posts and articles. My two most consistent sites are Books Rock My World (Hi Ana! You’re awesome!) and Her View From Home. I also have gotten pieces on Mamalode, the Women on Writing blog, and Writers Helping Writers. I have earned: a grand total of 10$, many fun comments from great people and two passive-aggressive troll comments. Yay!

Hopeful and overly-confident, I’m trudging on. The biggest goal right now is to finish at least one of the WIPs and query the heck out of that third polished manuscript at the end of the year. Maybe by the time I write an update at the end of 2017 I’ll have some great news to share. Whatever ends up happening, thank you so much for reading along with me on here.

 

 

 

Featured photo courtesy stocksnap.io and Alisa Anton.

 

 

Media Resources for Authors

Litigation free photos, online media tools and other goodies for indie authors and DIY traditional authors.

This author online thing can be both the highest obstacle in your path and the biggest blessing you will find.

Writing blog posts? Easier than finding beautiful images to grace them with that won’t then get you sued six ways from Sunday.

Getting 80,000 words + down as a book? Seems like a breeze when you compare it to figuring out how to market that sucker with professional looking images and a great cover.

One of the reasons I’m going to try so hard to get traditionally published before considering self-publishing is my lack of confidence in the media area. Computers and I have an uneasy alliance. My go-to tech support method when the computer is being an asshole is to turn it off and make it think about what it’s done for a while. When that doesn’t work, I am lost at sea. I tell you this to make sure you know that if I can use these websites I’m about to list for you, then you know they are user friendly.

In my wanderings around the webnet I have found resources for images, media/marketing, and Ebook covers that look amazing at a reasonable price. I’d like to share them with you here so that you can get your own book out there covered in chrome plating.

Freesource Stock Photo Websites

Some of these are free of copyright and/or are creative commons public domain and require nothing but pointing and clicking. Some of them ask that you give the source credit (i.e. attribution.) ALWAYS double check the fine print before you go downloading all willy-nilly.

My go-to site: Stocksnap.io. Landscapes, general cityscapes/indoor shots, and specifics like food & medicine. Search what you need.

Super popular collection of high res photos: Unsplash.com

More artsy/abstract sort of photos, all by photographer Ryan McGuire and free to use: Gratisography.com

Also a great selection of generic people, animals, fashion, food, nature and architecture: Freestocks.org

Vintage photos free of any known copyright (useful for those old-time history posts) but be warned, there’s no search feature so you have to wade through lots of photos to find one you want: New Old Stock

This awesome article from Snappa.com was my source for this post, they have a nice list of 21 different places to go for photos. Check it out!

Media/Marketing

Snappa.com for social media, blog posts, marketing/ads. Use their templates, size and resize for different social media, save, and use. You have to create an account to use it, but you can do most things for free (super fancy stuff is, of course, a paid service.)

Highly recommended by other authors: Canva.com. Also needs you to create a free account so you can create, save, and edit projects.

Ebook/Print Book Cover Designers

Packages starting at 395$, premade covers starting at 195$: Damonza.com

The largest selection of premade covers online, starting at 65$ and going up to 200$ or more. This site focuses exclusively on premade covers, so no cover packages. Gotta be honest, some of the cheaper covers look cheap, but most of them are fantastic: The Book Cover Designer.com

Pre-designed covers by genre. Custom packages start at 350$, premade covers start at 99$ and go all the way up to 195$ premium ones: Covertopia.com

Hopefully this post eases some of the pain of searching for resources. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Beautiful header image via Stocksnap.io and Sergei Soloviev.

*Although Stocksnap.io is one of the freesource websites I listed I always give it credit, plus the photographer who uploaded the picture to Stocksnap, for two reasons.

1) They’re gorgeous photos and the artist deserves a shout out even though they made it free to use, and 2) just in case the rules ever change, to cover my ass. Giving credit to the source when it’s a free-use site is only mandatory when they ask for attribution. I do it to be extra careful, in this sue-happy world.*

The 7 Deadly Sins

Romance Writing Edition

  1. Too Much Telling. This is my biggest sin, first on the list because it’s the one I struggle with. As I understand it, if your sentences explain everything happening and how your characters are feeling it gets old fast and it’s too boring to buy. Don’t be like me. Show, let your readers interpret, describe, show some more.

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2. Boring Characters. Along with the yawn-inducing telling, boring characters will kill your book. A heroine who is so ‘everyday girl’ that she literally has no personality, a hero who is too perfect to be believable, friends who exist just to move the plot along with stereotypical behavior (and, what’s worse, it’s obvious) are all sins. Go forth, find resources to help you write developed characters, and sin no more.

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3. Plot Holes Big Enough to Fly a Starship Through. She’s trying to text her beloved about some critical plot point in a tunnel, under a river, in a no cell service area, and complains that she can’t hear a dial tone. Ominous, chilling childhood memories are alluded to in a dark, brooding fashion and then never mentioned again. This is why God created critique partners. Use them. And then say thanks, find another one, and have your story read over again. It has saved my story, and it will save yours.

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4. A Book That’s Much Too Long. For the record, J.K. Rowling’s books are the perfect length and in fact need a few hundred thousand more words all about Harry Potter, the Grown Up Years. Hint hint Ms. Rowling. The quote below was funny, that’s the only reason I used it. In general, if your books are routinely hitting the 150K + range it’s possible you need to evaluate. Do you really need that many words? This isn’t fantasy or science fiction, the world building is minimal. Unless you’re writing paranormal romance, in which case, carry on while keeping in mind that over 200,000 is still a bit much.

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5. A Book That’s Much Too Short. On the other end of the stick, if your books can barely tiptoe out of the 20,000 word range (this is another one of my sins) you may also need to evaluate your writing. There are lengthier stories on fanfiction websites, why should someone pay money for your teeny book when they could find longer stuff on the internet for free? What complications are you leaving out? Are your characters developed, and doing interesting things? Consider Snape’s displeased face down there, and go attack your manuscript with some more words.

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6. Corrupting the Common Comma: Self-Publishing is a thing. It is a good thing, and I am 100% for it. Still, don’t publish without getting your grammar together. Traditional publishers will have a line-by-line edit before your book is printed but in self-publishing you’re on your own (or hiring an editor, which can get pricey.) Please, please know the basics of periods, commas, nouns, verbs and general spelling. There is no excuse not to know the difference between two, to and too, for example. I have seen self-pubs that don’t do this, and it’s not pretty.

*Note* that I’m not saying your manuscript should be perfect in every detail of the most obscure grammar. For one thing, I’m not that good at the picky details myself (bless me Father for I still cannot remember where exactly the semicolon is appropriate and I have to look up the difference between affect and effect every time.)

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credit:https://www.tes.com/lessons/vJXuSreiv4pyyg/grammar-memes

7. Thou Shalt Not Envy Other Authors. In this long, frustrating and rejection laden process you will find comfort from a community of helpers. Other authors are a fantastic group who truly want to see their fellow writers succeed. This includes you, towards other authors, whether you like it or not.

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At some point a friend from the query trenches will leave them for a fantastic book deal, or self-publish something that turns out to be super popular and you will feel jealous. You will not want to, you will try to push it back, but the green-eyed monster is sneaky and slithers through anyway. Acknowledge the feeling, admit the monster sunk its fangs into you and then banish it.

Feeling envious doesn’t make you a bad-author friend, it makes you human. What would be bad is letting the feeling stay and fester, which you will not do because you are part of the wonderful supportive author community and have been educated on the seven deadly sins for romance authors.

Someone’s Dragon is Double-Parked Outside

Or; I should be working on my word count but this was too much fun.

Two of the many cool titles the readers at Terribleminds.com came up with stuck in my mind and suggested a story last week. I wasn’t alone with this title though, 90% of the other stories submitted were the double-parked dragon!

So I posted Paper Cuts Make Good Bait to that site for the challenge and saved this one for you guys, because you are in all ways better and more refined than Terribleminds. Also, it would have had a tough time in a crowded field with many awesome stories of the same title.

So here is the second flash-fic from the five word title challenge that Chuck Wendig posed to his readers. Hope it makes you smile.

Someone’s Dragon Is Double-Parked Outside

The night started out with the Evil Witch Queen puking in the priceless cut-glass bowl full of rum punch, and everything went downhill from there.

Maria tried not to stereotype, she really did, but the woman had two different colors highlighting her expensive haircut, lacquered nails and when they poured her into her minivan outside it had, “I Heart My Stepdaughter” on the bumper sticker. Ugh. Definitely the type to have a loathly kind of night and be very sorry about all the dead knights and their mutilated steeds later. The butler, Markel, helped her shove Evil Witch Queen into her driver’s seat to sleep it off.

Walking back inside, she winced when the chiming tinkle of breaking glass rose above the general noise. Three separate waiters converged on her in the wide marble entryway to worry about the bowl of puke punch.

“Take it back to the kitchen,” she hissed in an undertone to the nearest complainant. She made sure to maintain a pleasant expression, especially towards the avid faces of the twelve Princesses at the table in front of her. Wouldn’t they love a bit of gossip about the Evil Queen to go with dessert.

“I’ll just go help clean up the glass first,” Louis murmured back. “Grabag The Strong knocked a goblet off his table. Probably trying to get at the last roll.” He smiled brightly at the Princesses. Two of them were leaning all the way over the sides of their chairs, trying to hear the quiet conversation between Maria and the wait staff she had hired for the party.

“I’ve got to change out the warming spell under that pasta,” Alya excused herself.

Maria looked at the last member of the trio, dark eyebrows raised. “And your excuse?” she wanted to know.

“Ooops, that’s the Grand Vizier beckoning at the head table.” Adriana shrugged. “Everyone knows he’ll start beheading first and ask questions later. Sorry, bye.” She motored away and lucky for her Maria could see the Vizier waving imperiously with one ring-bedecked hand. She sighed, but only on the inside.

“Is there anything I can get you ladies? Anything at all?” she asked the nearest Princess.

“Nothing, thanks. The food is wonderful,” the blonde beauty enthused. Maria nodded and smiled back, just as insincere.

From the doorway to the kitchens, all the way across the darkened room, the Chef was waving. His hat was a moving spot of white, like a lost cloud over the darkened dance floor. Keeping a gentle smile pasted on Maria wound her way through the throng of chatting, laughing magicians, royalty and heroes standing at their fancy tables. Bright, colorful music trickled down from the ceiling in little flashes and flakes of color. She patted her hairdo as she went; making sure the charm to hold her deep brown curls up was still working.

“What, Raul?” she hissed as soon as she was within earshot.

“That man, that fiend, that terrible, fishy thing!” Raul wailed. Two of the nearby guests turned to look.

She nudged him further back through the doorway, shoving at his thin, lanky body with both hands. A strong odor of frying wafted back along the corridor to her from his white coat.

“Yes, yes, the Sea Witch at table twelve. What did he do?”

Long, elegant fingers went up in a gesture of utter despair, missing her nose by a millimeter. “My food, he despises my cooking! I cannot work like this! One wants well done but not too well done and that one at table nine, she will not eat carrots and the whole table next to them cannot have anything made of grains of wheat. Bah!” Raul spit out a sound of pure disgust. “And the plates come back full of my food! Why do they pay me to create art if they won’t eat it? What did I do to deserve such ingratitude?”

Maria reached out to capture his hands firmly in her own. “Raul. They love your food. Prince Charming was just raving to me about your appetizers. And the Twelve Princesses told me the food was wonderful.”

“Really?” For a heartbeat, hope gleamed in Raul’s dark eyes. Then he sighed. “This means nothing. That man loved his wife from the size of her shoes, and the Princesses have the palate of a donkey. What can they know of great food?”

Inside, Maria died a little more. She always had to have the best for her events, and that meant Raul, but she often wondered if he actually had an artistic temperament or if he threw his tantrums to seem arty.

“Tell me what the Sea Witch said Raul. Maybe I can fix it,” she suggested, knowing that it couldn’t be fixed.

“The drinks, he says, are too weak for one accustomed to the salt of the sea. If I have to hear about his wonderful deeps again Maria, I may vomit.”

She winced. “Please don’t. I’ll speak to him, see what I can do.”

“They work you too hard, darling,” Raul said, already on his way back into the kitchen.

“I’m the best at what I do,” she murmured. She could feel little tendrils of hair escaping to tickle the back of her neck but the spell keeping her four inch heels comfortable was still working, at least. Sucking in a deep breath she went back through the doorway to see what her guests had been up to.

“Maria, that punch bowl, did you want-” another one of the waiters was hurrying over. He paid more attention to the enchantress snapping her fingers for service at the next table than his path and walked right into Maria. As she felt his dress shoe scrape down her instep she saw the Queen approaching from the other side of the room, with something like panic spread over her round, powdered face.

“Sorry, I’m sorry, I didn’t see you,” he apologized.

“It’s OK. Pour some of that punch into a frosted stein from the kitchen; ask Raul where to find one. Tell him it’s for the Sea Witch and he’ll help you. Throw the rest out and get the kitchen staff started cleaning the bowl. Carefully,” she said.

Although he gave her a skeptical look, he turned around to get started.

Maria threw back her shoulders and turned to face the oncoming royalty. “Your Majesty, good evening. How is your party going?”

Fluttering, pale hands were clasped to a bosom just barely covered by fluffy clouds of white voile. “The food is excellent, do compliment Raul when you see him Maria. And as always the service is impeccable . . . but the entertainment, do you think it’s entirely appropriate? These magic users are always so touchy and the very last thing we need is a hundred-year curse on one of my daughters, we only just sorted the last one out-”

Even as the Queen fluttered the lights were dimming and a fanfare trilled. In a puff of smoke, large colorful shapes appeared. Rioting across the open space, the audience was treated to a stunning, life size display. Hot wind raced out of the picture, ruffling skirts and blowing hair. The scent of sunbaked grass followed it, with a hint of sweaty horse and a rust smell of old armor. The moving story pictures were beginning. It was the latest technolomagic, an interactive, all senses display.

Maria smiled. “I’m sure the entertainment will be the best part of the evening Your Majesty.” She kept herself from shifting from foot to foot as the woman’s pale eyes darted to the moving pictures and back to her face, once more to the audience, back to Maria.

“There was something else. Markel told me . . .” The Queen trailed off while arrows shot over the crowd and into the picture, felling several riders. They pulled out horse bows and returned fire, causing several guests to duck. One arrow sped all the way across the room and into the Queen’s massive pile of white curls, where it vanished. She squeaked, and ducked. Maria reached out to grasp her elbow and assisted her on the way back up.

“Markel told you?” Maria prompted.

“What?” Several of the riders had fallen off their horses and the rest were racing for the cover of a large stone fort. There was a lot of blood. “Are you sure this entertainment will be suitable?”

“It’s good heroic fun with lots of adventure, peril, and deaths, Your Majesty. The Grand Vizier, at least, will love it.”

“I suppose you’re right,” the Queen said. Behind her, the Twelve Princesses cheered, in unison, as a rider took an arrow through the eye. “Oh, yes, Markel told me to inform you: Someone’s dragon is double-parked outside.”

Maria stared at her. “Someone’s . . . dragon?”

“ . . . Is double-parked, yes. It wouldn’t be so bad, except I’m told it’s eaten the Prince’s wife’s pumpkin carriage and four of the horses. Of course, the Sea Witch will be wanting to leave early and it’s his Kelpies that are blocked. It’s a dreadful muddle.”

Dreadful muddle was perhaps understating things. People always wanted the biggest and the shiniest. Right now that meant dragons and, apparently, ignoring the special stone-lined courtyard with big, flashing signs that said “DRAGONS PARK THIS WAY.”

“Event planning is a wonderful business,” Maria hustled around the edge of the room. “Everyone loves a good party in Fairyland. You’ll make such a good event planner, Maria!” she mocked gently.

As she rocketed by, the Sea Witch raised his full stein to her in a tentacle salute and grinned. She nodded back, fighting down a grimace. From the floor-to-ceiling picture window, she caught the edge of a burst of yellow flames.

The way the night was going, she’d rather be out in the minivan with the Evil Witch Queen.