May 31, 2013

For Everly: Excerpt & Giveaway!

The cover has been chosen, and For Everly is officially out and available for purchase (on Amazon and at Barnes & Nobles).  Raine Thomas is offering a sneak peak of the following excerpt and even a giveaway for one lucky reader!

Excerpt from For Everly, by Raine Thomas

Thirty minutes later, she finally arrived at the restaurant. Between traffic and the unfamiliar area of town, it took her longer than she expected to get there. She thought she had given herself extra time, but she was still five minutes late. When she pulled up, she found herself at a valet stand. Rolling down her window, she flagged the valet who eyed her car as though it had just broken down at his feet. He approached with notable reluctance.

May 27, 2013

Guest Post: To Love A Heroine

By Amber A. Bardan

I have been thinking about what makes a good romance heroine. It was something I previously struggled with, but now have clear opinions about. Not only have I been thinking it but I have been reading about it, hearing about it, even debating it with friends. There seems to be a lot of 'rules' forming about what makes an acceptable heroine; she must be super assertive, in charge of her own life, in control, successful, never needs to be rescued, no virgins, it goes on.

But overall the attitude I am picking up on is that people (particularly in the writing community) want strong heroines. Sure, she can have her weaknesses (she's got to be accessible after all), but she should stand up as a full and capable character without reliance on the hero to give her purpose.

May 24, 2013

Flashing Back on Flash! Fridays

It's time for Flash! Friday! Unfortunately, being out of town, I won't be able to participate for a few weeks. I'm bummed to miss the next few prompts, which are sure to inspire some fantastic stories, as always. Despite my being unable to participate (and writing this ahead of time), I do hope you will pop on over and try your hand at this fantastic contest, just for fun!

Flash fiction isn't my strong suit, and aside from a few class assignments as I finished my degree, I rarely wrote any flash fiction before discovering the Flash! Friday contests. I enjoy being descriptive and writing complex and full stories, as opposed to vivid vignettes. Still, flash fiction offers a wonderful chance to perfect saturating our words with as much meaning as possible, allowing the vignettes that make up those longer stories to be more vibrant and evocative. Each word must pull its own weight.

May 20, 2013

Respect Your Editor!

So, yes, I am a writer, and I understand that as writers—especially incipient ones—we generally have very limited financial resources. However, this is absolutely not a reason to expect qualified professionals to work for ridiculously low amounts of money. Publishing independently comes at a cost—the costs traditional publishers usually front are the responsibility of the author; they are not dispensable.  

Real examples I've recently seen: 
  • A 275,000-word manuscript seeking proofreading, with a budget of $150.  If a proofreader read about 10 manuscript pages (250 words / manuscript page) per hour, that would mean s/he would earn $1.36 per hour, or about 14 cents a page. (On
  • A 90,000-word manuscript, seeking developmental editing, with a budget of $500.  Developmental editing takes more time than proofreading, so let's say the editor goes through 5 manuscript pages per hour: $6.94 per hour, or about $1.39 per page. (On

May 17, 2013

Flash! Friday: Prompt #24

The rules: 250 words exactly, based on the following picture.  Ready? Try it for yourself!

Photo by John C. H. Grabill

Coil of rope, gloves, bandana, leather pants, pistol. Jackson really embodied the Old West. Janie giggled. The horse looked as unamused as her rider.

“You cut that out now, y’hear?”

Janie rolled her lips between her teeth, stifling the laughter. Maggie – the horse – shook her head in a complex figure eight.

May 14, 2013

Crucial Cover Choices

As every published (independently or otherwise) writer knows, covers are crucial. They must stand out, draw attention, & be artistic and evocative—and now all in thumbnail form. The general consensus is that writers without design skills (i.e. most of us) looking to self-publish should hire cover designers. But however the covers are designed, as the ultimate word on what works for the project, an independent writer must make many choices, usually on our own—ones that may very well define the success of our projects. Yikes. 

On the plus side, independently published projects can fairly easily switch out a cover that just isn't working. However, if you're publishing with an ISBN, as far as I am aware, you will need to purchase/use a new one for a work whose cover you're changing (not so for correcting stray typos and such that sneak through). Plus, we want our first cover choice to be perfect—by which we mean one that will get attention and inspire readers to read a preview or outright buy our books. 

May 13, 2013

Guest Post: The Myth of the Constant Writer

By Molly D. Campbell

Writers write. At least, that is what I always thought. A writer is born, not made. From the time he or she can just barely form the letters of the alphabet, there are little sentences, tiny stories.

When I was a child, I read about Jo March writing in her chilly garret, crunching on apples and bending over a candlelit trunk. Anne Shirley also wrote stories and poems from the time she was adopted by Matthew and Marilla. These were fictional writers, but I also knew about Emily Dickinson, Beatrix Potter, the Bronte sisters, et. al., who wrote volumes as they grew up.

Interview with Molly D. Campbell

From two-time, Erma Bombeck Award-winner, Molly D. Campbell, comes a humorous collection of short stories: Characters in Search of a Novel.  I'm offering a bit of space on my blog to support this fellow author and encourage you to do the same by purchasing this book on Amazon – after reading the interview below and her upcoming guest post, of course!

When and why did you begin writing? 
I had to have facial reconstruction surgery after a nasty skin cancer. I looked like Frankenstein for months. I began to journal the experience to a group of friends.

How long have you been writing? 
I have been typing for years and years. Writing a blog, a column, and a book since I was Frankenstein—about 7 years. I won two Erma Bombeck writing awards along the way, and that was a tremendous boost to my confidence and credibility as a writer.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing? 
My father always said, “If you can’t do something extraordinarily well, then don’t do it.” Terrible advice. It kept me from being a writer for 58 years.

May 10, 2013

Flash! Friday: Prompt #23

It's that time again... If you missed my story from last week, it did surprisingly well. So make sure to check it out or even pop over for my 60 second interview!

This week's prompt asked for a story of 190-210 words, based on this fun picture:

May 8, 2013

What To Avoid In Your Romance Novel

Frustrated as I sometimes am with people who disparage the romance genre, especially without any experience with (quality) romance novels, I can usually forgive them their ignorance. As a reader, what pushes me over the edge are those who write romance novels as though they actually believe those stereotypes both about the genre and about their readers. 

"Just as the role of women in society has changed over the past 30 years, so have romance novels...most romances today feature strong, smart, savvy women. And smart romance characters attract smart romance readers."
Unfortunately, too many new romance authors write not to the smart romance readers, choosing simply to recombine elements from other popular romance novels and hoping that their readers will be too distracted by the sex or the happily ever after—or simply the checklist they themselves have created for what a romance novel must include—to notice.

So, I've decided to create my own (likely incomplete) list, of what one absolutely should not do if writing a romance novel targeted to today's smart romance readers:

May 4, 2013

Excited Grins Abound!

So, when I finished my Flash! Friday entry from this week, I wasn't sure I liked it.  Then I read many of the other entries and saw my story wasn't quite in line with the theme and message that other writers had picked up from the prompt—some of which were utterly heart-wrenching. Though I had been lucky enough to be awarded the distinction of Honorable Mentions for my first two stories, I had accepted that this week's attempt (like my 3rd story) wouldn't quite make it.  

Still, as I have come to do, I carefully watched Flash! Friday's twitter, waiting for the announcement.  Then I had one of those "rereading what's in front of me multiple times" moments, because my story was chosen as this week's winner!!  Looks like 4th time's the charm! Just goes to show that writers are awful judges of our own work.

This week's judge, Beth Peterson, wrote:
This story really pulled me in; the sights, the sounds (especially of the snow crunching under the boots) and the wash of the heat from the open oven… all contributed to a very well-written, immersive story. The reader-driven probability of a misdirect gave this slice of life story an added boost of pleasure.

Now I get a swanky winner's page with my story and this fiercely fiery winner's badge:

This also means I'll get to do a "60 second" interview this upcoming week.  All in all, pretty exciting news! (Thus all the exclamation points.)  Much thanks to Beth Peterson and to our dragon-loving host, Rebekah Postupak!

May 3, 2013

Flash! Friday: Prompt #22

It's time for Flash! Friday! This week's prompt requires a word count of 145-155, based on this picture:
Photo courtesy of Flash! Friday site

Winter's Refuge

Shadowed figures plodded toward her, silhouetted against the setting sun.  They blended together into one undefined mass, then separated into two distinct lumps – one half the size of the other – and congealed again, morphing with each movement.

May 2, 2013

Continued Tales of Title Woes

For the last couple of weeks, I've regularly reprimanded myself for not working on the poetry collection I had hoped to have completed by now.  I can make perfectly "reasonable" excuses, but in reality, the block I'm up against is titling my poems.  It wasn't that long ago that I was faced with titling my manuscript, which was trying enough, but titling poetry is significantly more challenging.