Great Opportunity to Read Free Books!

I know a lot of avid readers out there (myself included) that would hurdle over a semi-truck for this chance to read a bunch of great books like this! BookLove

North Texas RWA is holding a new contest for published books, called the Carolyn Reader’s Choice Awards. Judges will read various Advanced Reader Copies of novels (for free!!!) from up to 9 categories, and score them based on certain criteria.

Here’s the sweet part: they need judges! Anyone salivating yet?

The judges are avid readers who are not members of any professional writing organization or associated with the publishing industry in any way. That means no authors, no editors, no agents, etc… Just people who love to read romance novels! Since these are romances (varying heat levels), they require all judges to be at least 18 years old.

There’s an online application if you’d like to become a judge. You can fill out your preferences for which categories you’d like to read, which heat levels you’re comfortable with, as well as which length novels you’d prefer. Talk about best of all worlds!

Here’s the kicker: there’s a time frame you MUST stick to. You can choose which round you’d like to enter, the first or the final. First round is through March 14th, 2014. You’ll need to read at least the first 30 pgs of up to 6 novels. The final round begins March 31st, and ends May 14th, which means you’ll need to read up to 3 full stories in that timeframe. But that’s not as intimidating as it sounds. With awesome books like these, you should fly through them like a G6 plane!

For more information on the contest, click here

To apply to judge the Carolyn Reader’s Choice Award, click here

2013 NTRWA Logo Full Color

If you’d like to see more about North Texas Romance Writers of America, click here. They’re a local writer’s group full of experience, resources, and fun!

Hope you enjoy!

My First Joint Author Book Signing!

I’m thrilled to announce I’ve scheduled my first joint Author Book Signing event! If you’re in the Dallas/Ft Worth area on Dec 7th, I’d love to see you!

kisses

coffeeloveroseA ROMANCE AUTHOR MINGLE

 

 

RomanceAuthorMingle

Saturday, December 7th, 2013 from 3-5pm at the Coffee House Cafe in Dallas, TX.  Come join me and 7 other awesome authors for a Romance Author Mingle! Mark your calendars and come see us! No charge, just come and get books signed, have some coffee or something to eat, and ‘mingle’ with us!

Participating Authors are: J. Kathleen Cheney, Kimberly Packard, C.A. Szarek, Anne Conley, Bethany Daniel, Amanda Alberson & Lara Lacombe

 

Deceiving the Reader is Bad

Putting on my reader scarf for this post. Just forewarning.

Deceiving a reader is good in suspense or mystery novels. Not with reprints.

I ran across a few books this month that looked intriguing. Beautiful covers (yep, I fell for it), an author I hadn’t read before and I was excited when I sat down to read them.

And was immensely disappointed.

Found out it was a republished novel from the author’s backlist. And not just from 5 or 6 years ago. From 1989.

If it was a relatable story with vivid characters, it wouldn’t have bugged me. But this was clearly an outdated story, with un-relatable characters, completely unrealistic plot and an old writing style.

All the author did was recreate the cover and slap a new copyright on it.

This is deceitful in my opinion. Nowhere on the book or the website did this state it was a reprint. I had to find out on Goodreads afterwards (shame on me for not doing my research before I bought it) that this was a 23-year-old book.

And because I’m that kind of reader and feel deceived, I’m not buying any more of that author’s books. And have sworn off that publishing imprint entirely.

I understand an author trying to send out their backlist again… on e-pubs. With proper identification of it as such. But only if it’s relevant to this time and not outdated. An old plot or characters =  huge turnoff. It’s like picking up a ‘contemporary romance’ where the hero uses a typewriter or a massive brick-like mobile phone.

Come on. They should have at least revised the manuscript before sending it in. And shame on that editor for letting it get through without a necessary re-haul. And backlist stories shouldn’t go into reprints. Physical books. At least not series or category romances. Stick to e-pubs.

The deceit feels worse since I bought a physical book, one that takes up space on a real shelf. (Not mine- I’ll toss this sucker away). The author lost a reader for anything they do in the future because of this sneaky trick. Was it worth it?

Well, chalk this up to a lesson learned on my part. Be more careful to research before I buy. And it’s a practice I won’t participate in if I’m ever published.

Changing Face of Publishing, Including Romance

My mind has been preoccupied for the last 2-3 weeks on one overwhelming thought.

I’m not certain I’m writing in the right genre anymore.

Everyone knows the face of publishing across all genres is changing. Dramatically. With the boom of e-publishing, closing of independent bookstores and distributors and the profit squeeze for authors, agents, editors, and publishers (everyone, really), it’s inevitable.

But more specifically, the genres themselves are changing. Not just ‘vampires are on their way out, dystopias are one their way in’ blah blah blah. But the face of romance and it’s intensity has changed.

Just in the last 3 years, I’ve noticed a dramatic swing of editors looking for spicier, hotter, and more descriptive love scenes. Things that a decade ago would have been considered in the erotica lines, but are now mainstream.

I recently had an in-person pitch session with an editor for a newly launched romance line. Half way through my pitch, she stopped me.

“This sounds more like a suspense story than a romance. How much of your story is the romance?”

My reply was 60-70%.

The look on her face told me her answer without another word. But she explained anyway. (Thank goodness).

Their line, as well as most other publishers, are now looking for romance to have 90% or more of the pages be strictly the romance. All thanks to the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey craze.’

(Raise your hand if you just rolled your eyes).

Though my story sounded extremely interesting to her, she couldn’t use it for her line.

Another dear friend of mine received a similar response from another publisher, claiming she didn’t have enough ‘romance’ in her romance novel, though hers was dramatically spicier than mine, both in content and frequency.

I’ve been baffled ever since.

I don’t think my writing fits the genre anymore.

I have too much romance to be considered a suspense, or even general women’s fiction. And I have too much suspense to be considered a romance. At least today’s definition of ‘romance.’

So now I’m left wondering: do I change my style to fit what publishers want, or do I keep my style and voice and hope it finds a home somewhere… eventually?

I know I’ve read this same situation on dozens of other blogs and interviews. Particularly with science fiction and fantasy writers.Too much romance to fit in strictly sci-fi or fantasy genre, and too much sci-fi or fantasy to fit in romance genre.

Why can’t there ever be a happy medium? While the romance is important (showing that relationship between two people), but I also relish a good plot. Not everything is about sex. Why can’t I write that in my novels?

Inspirational Settings

In a few short days, I’m heading to this lovely island with my family.

Guess which island? Nope- not in the Caribbean. It’s actually not even tropical.

Hilton Head Island in South Carolina.

As I look at these photos knowing I’ll be playing on the beach with my son and hubby, it reminds me of the exotic and far away settings a lot of books have. I’m a big historical romance reader, so a lot of settings are in mist-covered castles all over Europe, all built against picturesque lakes, lochs, or cliffs. Those kinds of fanciful stories are a great escape from the every day life of toddler tantrums, runny noses, laundry, dishes, and fretting over potty training.

Then I compare these incredible settings to the ones in the stories I write. I write contemporary romance and romantic suspense. And they all take place in North Texas. Hardly exotic. And it brings up an interesting question in my mind. How can I love to read about unique settings and be thrown into fantasy worlds, but I write about normal people in every day settings? They could take place in a Normalville in any state. But perhaps its because I view contemporary hometowns (like mine) as my strength. Perhaps writing in far away islands or mountains is my weakness. I don’t know. I’ve never tried.

But they say to write what you know. And I know my state. I know my surroundings. And when I close my eyes and envision the setting my characters live in, I see Texas. And they always tell you to write what you see. Maybe that means I’m not very imaginative. And I’ll be the first to tell you that, if I truly am not as creative.

But then I widen my scope (literally, as I sit here and type this), and think of the vacations and exotic places I’ve been. And I’ve been to several. Heck, I’ve lived in several.

Maybe if I steal away a few precious, uninterrupted hours on my vacation I’ll try to write a short diddy in one of these locations: Curacao, Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Belize, or Honduras. I mention Curacao first because its one of my favorite vacations I’ve ever taken. Pure white sands and the most awesome scuba diving ever. I could write a contemporary romance in that spot any day. But now I just have to imagine the characters and the jaw dropping storyline.

Any romance author or editor will always say setting is crucial; like another character intertwined in the storyline with its own personality and flavor. And I’ll admit, characters aren’t my forte. In the stories I’ve written I focus on the plot first and think secondly on characters. Which is why my local settings aren’t as creative. It’s like a tertiary character to which I hardly give any thought.

So that’s what the back of my mind will focus on while I’m bouncing around Hilton Head Island with my family. Widening my scope to more creative settings.

What about you? What settings capture you in your readings, and if you’re a writer, what places do you see in your mind?