What We’re Reading Wednesdays-Barbara Longley

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I’m just going to put this out there: I’m a total sucker for time travels. Especially when they feature big beefy Scottish men in kilts. Not going to lie. You put those two elements together, along with a feisty heroine from my home state of Minnesota, and yeah, I’ve got my grubby little paws all over that story.

Thus is the case with the delightful Loch Moigh Series from Barbara Longley. Her delightful and rather spicy time traveling series is set in the Scottish Highlands with men like Malcom, aka Alpha Jerk, there to rescue recently transported Minnesota girls.  It’s a time travel. There is going to be some confusion, acclamation, and denial going on, all while in the presence of that beefy alpha Scot. Oh yeah, it’s good stuff. But what really makes this series fun is the element of the paranormal and the special ‘gifts’ the heroines in the series possess.

Here are short blurbs from Amazon:
True to the Highlander
Barbra-Longley-True-To-The-Highlander

Native American violinist Alethia Goodsky had plans for her future, and they didn’t include time travel, hocus-pocus good luck charms, or heroic deeds. And she certainly never intended to lose her heart to a fifteenth century Scottish warrior or an orphaned boy unable to hear her music.

A life hangs in the balance, and only Alethia can tip the scale. This is all the supernatural being posing as a Renaissance festival fortuneteller reveals before transporting Alethia back in time to the Highlands of Scotland. Alethia must unravel the mystery before it’s too late if she’s to return home. She throws herself into the task only to have her efforts thwarted by her overbearing, self-appointed protector—Malcolm of clan MacKintosh.

It is 1423AD, the year before Scotland’s King James is ransomed from the British to take his rightful place upon the throne. The Highland clans are at each other’s throats, and all of Scotland suffers under the ruthless reign of their regent, the duke of Albany. Treachery and intrigue rule the day, and all Malcolm wants is peace. Finding a gently bred woman alone on MacKintosh land can only mean more trouble. When the exotic foreigner reveals her strange tale, Malcolm believes she was placed in his path to warn him of coming danger. He cannot allow the willful beauty to put herself in harm’s way for his sake. Malcolm is determined to keep Alethia safe and by his side—if only she’d let him.

Surrounded by enemies, with the mystery still unsolved, passion grows between Malcolm and Alethia until her heart is torn. Should she follow the dictates of reason and find a way home, leaving Malcolm and the young boy she’s adopted behind, or should she listen to her heart and remain true to the Highlander?

The Highlander’s Bargain

The-Highlanders-BargainBefore he can settle down, blond-haired, blue-eyed Robley of clan MacKintosh needs to taste true adventure. So when the faerie Madame Giselle asks him to retrieve her stolen property in exchange for two enchanted tokens that will whisk him across the centuries, he jumps at the chance.

Nurse and future midwife Erin Durie is broke and alone, thanks to a roommate who skipped town and the psychic gifts that make relationships too intense and painful to bear. Then a kilted man magically drops into her arms, looking for a guide to the twenty-first century, and she can’t deny the attraction. But magical treachery soon throws open time’s portal once more—and puts a blade to Robley’s throat. Now Erin must decide where—or when—her healing powers can do the most good . . . and whether she can live without her handsome Highlander.

In the second thrilling Novel of Loch Moigh, award-winning author Barbara Longley delivers more of the action, adventure, and romance that began in the pulse-pounding True to the Highlander.

Of the two, the first is my favorite–for a couple of reasons:
1. I prefer alpha over beta heroes and the hero from the second book is a tish too…lovey dovey for my preference.

2. Taking a medieval Scottish knight and plunking him into the 21st century and reading about his fascination with modern marvels isn’t quite as exciting as taking a bewildered modern girl and thrusting her into the past. There is a reason I write and read historicals–I love the element of history. I enjoy escaping into another time. The second novel gives me that–but not until much later than I would like.

3. I enjoy reading sexual tension. Heavy on the tension. The first delivers it more than the second.

Now, that isn’t to say I didn’t like the second book, because I did. Barbara Longley’s voice is a treat to behold regardless of the book, but the story itself didn’t captivate me quite as much as the first. My preference isn’t swaying me off the series, though. In fact, I’m eagerly awaiting the third and last installment of Loch Moigh that is due to release next year.

Be ahead of the game, get over your “Outlander” withdrawal, and get your copies of Ms. Longley’s paranormal Scottish time travel, which, by the way, just happens to be sitting pretty in the Amazon top 500 romances. It’s a best seller for a dang good reason and that’s argument aplenty.

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You Get Better

If there were one piece of advice I could go back and give my former self, it would be this: You will get better.

I’m not sure about you, but back in my early days as a writer, I thought pretty highly of myself. Sure, I was disabused of the notion that I was any sort of singular talent, and fast, but I still approached my work from a weird, flawed position.

I was afraid that if this manuscript didn’t sell, then obviously nothing I wrote ever would. This manuscript was my best effort. It had to sell. If it didn’t, I would’ve wasted all that time I put into it! All those beautiful words!

But here’s the thing: that first book? Good or not (it was not), the process of writing it taught me so much. It helped me figure out that I do in fact need to do at least a little bit of plotting. It gave me a better sense of how to approach my pacing. It afforded me the chance to get a sense of my own voice.

Whether or not it sold (it did not), the time I put into it was in no way, shape or form wasted.

Writing is a craft and a discipline. It takes talent, but beyond that, it requires patience and practice. We improve by practicing our craft. And sometimes, we may not even be aware of how much we have improved.

I recently had the occasion to go back and look a manuscript I wrote a couple of years ago. While I was writing it, I thought it was the best thing I’d ever written, and even though I’d come a long way, I still had that niggling fear at the back of my mind, telling me that it might well be the best thing I ever would write.

Now? It looks amateurish. I have come so far, and I had no idea.

So here’s my advice to my former self: You will get better. Don’t worry about this manuscript, or the next one, or even the one after that. You’re learning just by writing them. You’re not wasting your time.

Delete that scene, even though it cost you blood, sweat, tears, and hours. The next one you write will be better.

Let go of that book that isn’t getting any nibbles. The one you write next will be better.

Keep going. Keep writing.

Because no matter how good you think this book is. Remember. The one you write next will be better.

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It Gets Harder

Ah, my newbie writer self: so innocent, so enthusiastic, so convinced major success was waiting to fall into her lap. So enamored with her new calling, her story permeated her life. It was the focus of her dreams: both kinds. Her husband got jealous of the time she spent obsessing over another (albeit fictional) male. Her mother (almost) got tired of reading new drafts. Convinced of the rightness of her place in the writerly universe, the words flowed, and she put them all to use.

 
Notice I didn’t say “to good use” back there. Oh no. As Mae West once said, “goodness had nothing to do with it.” Her themes were cliché, her descriptions went on forever, and I’m pretty sure there are Duran Duran videos with more plot than her original novel had. But the passion was there, and her output showed it. The only thing standing between her and success was hitting that Submit button. Soon, (possibly too soon), she did. Instant success? Not so much. Did the realization dawn on her that she maybe had a little more to learn? Did it ever! So learn; she did. Young Syd got better—a hell of a lot better. Her story began to resemble a seventh-grader’s attempt at erotic fan fiction a little less and a real book that other people might actually want to read a little more. She got better feedback from critique partners, contest judges, and agents. She was getting closer—and not just in the lollipop landscape of her own mind.

 
This is where things changed. Somewhere along the way, it started to get hard to make the words come. It got harder, and I’m afraid to say, it stayed that way. So, when the Bad Girlz got together and decided to put together a series of “advice to our newbie selves” posts, I knew already what the title and concept would be. It Gets Harder. Thanks a lot, Debbie Downer.

debbie downer gif

 

 

 

 

 

Poor little newbie-writer Syd! What did she ever do to deserve such a crap mentor? And for that matter, how did her mentor-self become such a hardened old broad? It was a lot of things, some of which are beyond the scope of this article—but mainly it was a matter of quantity vs. quality. I knew more, so I recognized when my words were off right away. I became a compulsive editor, honing each sentence until it felt perfect, no matter if it was a first draft. Each day, I’d begin writing by going back over and picking apart what I’d written before. The quality was better, but boy was the going ever slow! The time it would take to produce five pages now produced one. As metamorphoses go, the timing utterly sucked. This time of my life is one where creative windows come in furtive snatches, much like trying to eat a cookie around a toddler without him sussing it out and demanding five for himself. A lot of little chances get wasted when you’re fussing around with old words instead of putting new ones on the page.

 
When thinking about this post, an idea came to me. Instead of bashing newbie Syd over the head with a club of her broken dreams, I’d think about what she could teach me. Her enthusiasm kept the same old story fresh through countless revisions. Her desire to entertain people with her stories made her fearless about handing them over to readers. Her exhaustive detailing of every little thing (down to her heroine’s favorite nail polish AND brand of topcoat) made sure she was never at a loss where to begin. Girl wrote in real time, y’all. So what if half of it ended up in the white void where deleted words spend eternity? That’s where the hardened broad comes in to do her thing!

 
I’m glad we’ve had this theme of looking back for our posts lately. It’s prompted me to think about not just the advice I’d give to my newbie writer self, but it also made me realize that she has a lot more to offer than I’d given her credit for, and she’s someone I want on my team.

 
So tell me, what awesome qualities did you have as new writers that you’d like to have now?

 

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What We’re Reading Wednesdays – The Wedding Dare Series (Entangled)

WWRWThe Wedding Dare books are an interconnected series of category romances from the Brazen line that take place at a destination wedding of the couple we meet in the prequel novella. Be warned, the heat level is close to scorching (and awesome!)

 

Dare to Resist (prequel novella) by Laura KayeBtMoH_500

Falling for the Groomsman by Jen McLaughlin

Baiting the Maid of Honor by Tessa Bailey

Seducing the Bridesmaid by Katee Roberts

Best Man with Benefits by Samanthe Beck

I’m used to reading (and writing) single title length books, so all of these read like novellas to me. They made for a quick, light read, and I finished all of them over a weekend. I very much enjoyed all of them, but I’ll admit to having a favorite—Baiting the Maid of Honor by Tessa Bailey.

For me, Ms. Bailey’s contribution was the most emotionally driven and had the most relatable main characters. The heroine, Julie, is a do-good Southerner who feels the need to make sure everyone else is happy without leaving time for herself. The hero is a dirty-talking, damaged sexy beast—my favorite!—who forces her to enjoy herself in delightful ways while letting go of his own baggage.

My second favorite was the prequel novella, Dare to Resist by Laura Kaye. Loved both of the main characters and would have loved spending more time with them (although the couple does weave through all the stories since it’s about their wedding, but there was a nice, kinky twist to their story that I really enjoyed.)

While I was reading these, I had a hard time turning my writing brain off and kept wondering how in the world the four authors managed to interweave the stories so thoroughly. Each book might feature the same conversation from a different point of view. Did they email or phone constantly? Did they get together for a big weekend sleepover and plot/write them together? The latter sounds a lot more fun!

The best line (IMO) came out of Seducing the Bridesmaid by Katee Robert:

“Southern women. Sweet as pie until they’re pissed, then it’s all shotguns and setting shit on fire.”

This made me laugh so hard. Maybe it’s because I’m from TN and have ties to where the characters are from, Manchester, TN. Or maybe it’s because I’ve taken a home cooked dinner to a sick friend and then turned around and pulled my boots out of the closet to offer to kick another friend’s a-hole spouse in a dark alley. Even though the series takes place in Colorado, there is a definite Southern flavor to several of the stories, which I am a total sucker for.

This was the first interconnected series by different author’s that I’ve read, but it won’t be the last. There is a group of historical authors who have put together a anthology called At the Duke’s Wedding (Ashe, Lindon, Neville, Rodale). That might be my next foray into an interconnected story.

I would highly recommend this series from Entangled. I passed a very enjoyable weekend at the wedding.

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The Waiting Game

I’m not a patient person.

I hate waiting—–in line, for an email response, for my boyfriend to purpose—- I want instant gratification. I fall in-between a Generation X’er and Millennial, one of those horrible people who rely too much on technology and would not know what, God forbid, they would do if forced to unhook from the internet for more than a day. I’m used to instant text responses, to 30 min or less email replies, and to live streaming videos. If I can’t get something when I want it, I take matters in my own hands and get it done. Hence why my boyfriend is now my husband, and has been for the past 16 years. I proposed to him. The year after we graduated from high school, because gall darn it, I got tired of waiting on him.

Don’t even ask what it was like to wait NINE months to see each one of my babies. Just know it was BRUTAL, even with the sonogram sex reveal.

Writing, or more specifically, the industry of writing and publication, forces me to do that which I loathe: WAIT. And with a big fat capital “W”.

My young naïve self sent in my very first query thinking I’d hear back from the agent in an hour, maybe two. I’d at least get a note saying she had received my submission and would take a look at it–right?

Sorry, let me wipe the tears out of my eyes, cause girl, I’m still waiting.

The writing world does not run on my time. It is a professional business, and as such, runs on its own schedule, which, at times, can be slow. Really slow. And sometimes stand still slow.

That doesn’t mean, however, things do not get done. They do. But it happens at its own pace, often times much slower than many of us used to instant feedback, would like. I’ve learned, after waiting days, weeks, months, YEARS for a response, that publishing a book takes time. Hearing from an agent or an editor takes time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, my friend, and just like it took you months and maybe even years, to write that first book baby, it takes an equal amount of time, if not longer, for your book to be discovered, published, or represented.

Waiting to hear back on your proposal can be heart-wrenching. You may think you might die if you don’t hear back from your editor or agent in the next week. But you will survive. You might click that refresh button on your inbox every 60 seconds, but that doesn’t make things go faster. It actually makes it go slower. If you really want time to go by quicker, write. Delve into that next project. Write the next chapter. Stock up on blog posts. Whatever you do, don’t sit there and stare at the screen while biting your nails into bloody stubs. It doesn’t bring a faster response. Trust me, I’ve tried.

What does, is working. Staying busy. Doing that thing that made you happy in the first place: WRITING.

I can’t promise you’ll get a response. But I can promise that you will wait for one. My mom always said good things come to those who wait. And she’s right. While not every response will be one you wish to hear, the good ones– the acceptance letters and contract offers–are worth the wait.

Take a breath. Relax. And remember–waiting is a good thing. It’s a part of this business, and the sooner you accept that, the sooner you can get started on the next project. That way, when the business knocks on your door, rings on your phone, or emails you that acceptance letter, you can’t be blamed for keeping anyone waiting.

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Critique Partners: Not an Option

If I could go back in time and give advice to my new writer self, what would I say? Easy. SHARE YOUR WORK WITH A CRITIQUE PARTNER.

The conversation would go something like this:

ME 2014: Please do not send that time-travel you just wrote to the agents you have listed in that notebook.

ME 2009: Why not?  I had my cousin read it, and he loved it.

ME 2014: Let me list the reasons.

  • Because your cousin is an architect, not a writer.
  • Because you’ve only been a reader and know absolutely nothing about being a writer.
  • Because you’ve head-hopped throughout the manuscript.
  • Because you haven’t researched the era.
  • Because your hero’s conflict is weak.
  • Because, I could go on and on. So let’s just sum it up, IT SUCKS.

ME 2009: OOPS. Too late.

My advice to new writers is, get a critique partner who is not your cousin. You need to show your work to other writers.

You’re probably thinking, “But Lori of today, what if it’s bad?”

Oh trust me, IT’S BAD! And that’s okay. Before you reach inside your computer and choke me, let me clarify.   I’m sure the story is fantastic. It’s the technicalities of the writing craft that probably could use some improvement. The things your editor/agent expect in a good story (goal, conflict, motivation, believable characters, and realistic dialogue) may be missing.

It’s okay if your writing isn’t perfect in the beginning. We’ve all been there. Do you know how many times the Bad Girlz have laughed about how naive we were when we first started writing? Lots!

If you only learn one thing from my many blogs on writing, let it be the importance of a critique partner. You’ve got to share your manuscript with other writers before you submit it for publication. I know this isn’t a simple request. To be honest, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my writing career. However, I knew if I wanted my stories to be read by people other than my family, I had no choice.

“What if they tell me it’s horrible and I need to stop writing?”

A good critique partner will teach and support. If anyone ever tells you to stop writing, GET A NEW CRITIQUE PARTNER!

Better yet, get more than one. You’ll be surprised how often each person will catch different things. And it’s important to get a second opinion.  If one tells you to delete a scene and you feel it is significant to the plot, before you remove it, let your other critique partner weigh in.

Trust me. It’s much better for them to catch the mistakes than an editor or agent. Industry professionals don’t have time to teach writers craft. They expect us to know it. Don’t let your manuscript end up in a slush pile, along with 2009 Lori’s time travel, because you submitted without the review of critique partners.

Release the white knuckled grip you have on your manuscript and pass it on so other writers can help you get it in shape. YOU CAN DO IT!

Remember to Dream Big!

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What We’re Reading Wednesdays – Simone St. James

 

WWRWWith the kickoff off the new website and lineup, the BadGirlz are also introducing a new feature: What We’re Reading Wednesdays! Just to be perfectly clear, we don’t solicit books, and these posts are not reviews. If a BadGirl reads a good book that needs sharing, then we share. We’ll cover romances, women’s fiction, and literary works—whatever strikes our fancy. Just like you, we are a diverse group of readers.

A few months ago, I was reading the RWR (Romance Writer’s Report—a publication put out by the Romance Writers of America). In each issue, they interview a successful, current romance author. This particular interview was with Simone St. James.

Now, I’ve professed my obsession adoration for gothic romance writer Mary Stewart a few times now in blogs. (here and here) Her books are on my keeper shelf, and I reread them on a regular basis. Stewart’s writing heyday was in the 1950s and 60s. Her heroines were strong-willed yet fallible, adventurous yet inexperienced. In short, relatable. Her books stand the test of time, and I encourage you to read all of them. Now.

So, it’s not shocking that Ms. St. James hooked me as soon as she mentioned one of her influences was Mary Stewart. Plus, Ms. St. James’ first book, The Haunting of Maddy Clare won two Rita Awards—basically an Oscar for published romances. I spent a lovely weekend with my head down reading The Haunting of Maddy Clare and her second book An Inquiry Into Love and Death.

Here’s a short blurb from Amazon for each: (And, aren’t the covers gorgeous?)

Haunting-of-Maddy-Clare-400-200x300The Haunting of Maddy Clare

“Sarah Piper’s lonely, threadbare existence changes when her temporary agency sends her to assist a ghost hunter. Alistair Gellis-rich, handsome, scarred by World War I, and obsessed with ghosts- has been summoned to investigate the spirit of nineteen-year-old maid Maddy Clare, who is haunting the barn where she committed suicide. Since Maddy hated men in life, it is Sarah’s task to confront her in death. Soon Sarah is caught up in a desperate struggle. For Maddy’s ghost is real, she’s angry, and she has powers that defy all reason. Can Sarah and Alistair’s assistant, the rough, unsettling Matthew Ryder, discover who Maddy was, where she came from, and what is driving her desire for vengeance-before she destroys them all?”

Inquiry-Love-and-Death-400An Inquiry Into Love and Death

“Oxford student Jillian Leigh works day and night to keep up with her studies—so to leave at the beginning of the term is next to impossible. But after her uncle Toby, a renowned ghost hunter, is killed in a fall off a cliff, she must drive to the seaside village of Rothewell to pack up his belongings. Almost immediately, unsettling incidents—a book left in a cold stove, a gate swinging open on its own—escalate into terrifying events that convince Jillian an angry spirit is trying to enter the house. Is it Walking John, the two-hundred-year-old ghost who haunts Blood Moon Bay? And who beside the ghost is roaming the local woods at night? The arrival of handsome Scotland Yard inspector Drew Merriken, a former RAF pilot with mysteries of his own, leaves Jillian with more questions than answers—and with the added complication of a powerful, mutual attraction. Even as she suspects someone will do anything to hide the truth, she begins to discover spine-chilling secrets that lie deep within Rothewell…and at the very heart of who she is.”

These books differ somewhat from traditional gothic tales in that they feature the real thing—ghosts. There’s no Scooby Doo-type unveiling at the end blaming flesh and blood, old Doc Hinkins. These are ghost stories. Creepy and chilling and scary. The ghosts aren’t Hollywood creations designed to give you nightmares. They are the ghosts of people who walked the earth, people with tragedies they can’t let go of, seeking closure and solace. They are…empathetic. But, still pretty dang creepy.

Both books are both written in 1st person (like any good gothic tale), and the heroines of both were appealing as were their love interests. The books tied together very loosely, but there was no character crossover.

If someone locked me in a room with an angry ghost and made me pick which book I enjoyed more…I would give a slight edge to An Inquiry Into Love and Death. I can’t really say why…whether it was the heroine or the hero or the ghost(s). That being said I really loved them both. They had the dark feel of a classic gothic, but with a tad more sex thrown in and real, (un)live ghosts.

With the weather turning chillier, it’s the perfect time to grab a copy and curl up one blustery afternoon in front of a fire with Ms. St. James’ ghosts. You won’t be sorry.

 

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Just Write!

*steps out of DeLorean time machine*  E. Michels of 2012, I’m here to warn you!

2 years ago pic 1

Yes, you. I see you, standing there in your cute boots. You’re smiling as you celebrate your first book deal, but you can hide a lot behind a big smile. I know. I remember. You’re worried. Someone just gave you the advice, “Keep writing. Don’t get distracted by your book releases.” But, that’s not what has you concerned. Once you’ve written most of a manuscript in a hospital waiting room, you can write anywhere, through anything. You know that. What worries you is what you write.

Let’s face it, you found your way though the slush pile pretty quickly. People in the publishing industry seemed to like that book. And, that’s great.  But, now you’re writing another. The characters are different, the plot is different, and, soon with book 3, even the setting will be different. But, don’t sink into a mire of “what if” scenarios. That’s why I’m here. You’ll lose valuable days to worry over if book 2 is too dark, or if book 3 is too traditional. But, all you need to do is trust your voice.

I was recently at RWA Nationals—yeah, you finally get to go instead of looking at your Twitter feed and sobbing into a carton of ice cream for the week. While I was there, I went to a workshop where voice was discussed. They said your voice is like your accent. You can’t hear it, but it’s there. Readers can hear your voice in everything you write. It will always be there.

You could write cozy mysteries or fantasies that takes place on the moon, and it would still sound like you wrote it. Your characters could sit at a proper tea together or bury a body at midnight together, and they would still be your characters. Trust them to live their story. Trust yourself to write it. Trust that if your editor hates it, she’ll make you rewrite parts of it, but life will go on. And, trust your readers to follow along, curious about what you’ll attempt to write next.

Your voice is uniquely yours and you can’t change it, even if you try. So, just tell the story with no thoughts about branding or how you’re being marketed to the public. Stop stressing over what if this book isn’t ___, or what if it’s too ___, and just write the book. Seriously, Go. Write. The. Book! I’m not kidding, go write.

But, before you go and since I’m already on this soapbox, here are a few tips. You might want to get out your pink monogrammed pen and take some notes. I know you’re dying to use it anyway.

  • Don’t wear silk to your first national conference no matter the level of cuteness of the outfit.
  • Make time to see your friends even when you’re on deadline, trust me you’ll need their support.
  • Don’t party like it’s the last night of the conference on the first night of the conference—seriously, this is a pattern. Just stop.
  • You will survive your developmental edits. You’ll shake through dinner the last night, but you’ll survive. So, stop freaking out about them.
  • NEVER trust a PDF document! EVER! Save a copy and make sure it contains your notations and comments before you click that little x.
  • Prepare what you’ll say and the excerpt you’ll read before you show up for a book signing. There will be a podium and people expect more than a smile and a, “Thanks for coming.”

You’re in for a wild ride over the next two years. Enjoy the shining moments, don’t forget why you write stories, and trust your voice to be there beneath you as you go. Now, I must go at 88 mph back to the future. See you in 2014!

2 years ago pic 2

Let’s talk about voice. Have you ever doubted that your voice will carry from book to book?

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If You Can’t Laugh at Yourself: A Funny, Serious, and Somewhat Embarrassing List of My Newbie Mistakes

When we first came up with the idea to give our former selves writing advice, I thought, how on earth can I limit it to just one thing?  I’ve learned so much over the last five years about myself, my writing, and the industry.  How can I pick the most important?

Well, I can’t, so I’m not gonna try.   Instead, I’m going touch on all the things (or at least most of them), and hope my former self realizes she needs to do her research!

Dear poor, clueless Jenna P,

So…you want to write a novel, huh?  It worked for that Stephenie Meyer chic, so why can’t it work for you?  You’re smart, good at grammar, have one hell of an imagination, and won a bunch of creative writing contests when you were younger.  You’ve got this in the bag!  Piece of cake.

Cake

Not.

Sure you can do this.  I truly believe that.  But in no way will this be a piece of cake, so let me save you a lot of spilled milk and give you a few ingredients of advice before you begin.

Don’t be ashamed of your writing — it’s a gift and there are others out there just like you.  The first chance you get, join a writer’s group.  You’ll meet some of the best friends you’ve ever had, and you’ll learn lots of stuff too.  Like what a mimosa is, what POV and GMC stand for, and that head-hopping is NOT a good idea.  You’ll learn that 160,000 words isn’t a romance novel, it’s an epic, and just because you have a suspenseful scene doesn’t mean you write romantic suspense.

Oh, and while we’re on the topic, you don’t write romance.  You write something called women’s fiction.  So read it.  A lot of it.  You’ll see what I mean, I promise.

Get comfortable because this adventure you’re on will be a marathon, not a sprint.  I know you hate that because you’re as impatient as they come, but this is something you can’t control.  There’s a lot to see along your path, so keep your eyes open and enjoy the journey.  And be sure to pace yourself, or you’ll burn out before the end.  Along the way, people will pass you and the finish line will seem to get farther away, but don’t stop.  Keep going even if you have to crawl.

 running in heels

What you write will take longer to produce, be more difficult to reduce down to a query, and be harder to sell, but don’t take the easy route.  You’ve got something here, and your main goal is to share it with the world.  Keep that in mind when the rejections start coming in, because they will.  You’ve got to pay your dues because you’re not going to be the exception to the rule, no matter how much you think you will be.

You’ve never been a jealous person, but be prepared:  Writer jealousy is inevitable, no matter how hard you try to look the other way.  Your friends will get more requests than you at times, some writers will get signed after only a few months of trying, and you might just be the last one to make it.  That’s okay; doesn’t mean you’re any less of a writer.  This business is a lot about luck and market, and it might just mean you weren’t in the right place at the right time holding onto the next hot genre.  Being a great writer sometimes just isn’t enough.

Don’t use the word quite quite so much.  Watch out for waist/waste and peak/peek.  Don’t let anyone talk you out of your oxford comma.  Find a better way to describe your protag than through a mirror.  Don’t open up your book in a dream sequence.  Skip that last drink at your first M&M banquet.  And for goodness sake — don’t send that query the minute you type THE END.

Oh, and hey – fiction doesn’t need a table of contents, dork.

Your future self,

A much older, wiser, and few pounds heavier,

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And The Winner Is…

A huge thank you to everyone who participated in our two year anniversary giveaway, celebrating two years of blogging together, our new crop of BadGirlz, and our brand new site design.

We are thrilled to announce the winner of the giveaway was Lauren H! (Lauren, we’ll be in touch via email soon about your prize.)

Stay tuned for more information about future giveaways and celebrations. In the meantime, happy reading and writing :)

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