Currently browsing tag

Short Fiction

Welcome to Temperance Falls

Seven months ago, half-tipsy and amped up on chocolate, I was having dinner with local friend and fellow writer Ellis Leigh. Our conversation wound all over the place, as per usual, from husbands to kids to trips to business to writing to recent books we’d read and loved. During that conversation, we realized we both had deep love for quick, fun, and filthy books—nothing too heavy, nothing too dramatic, but deliciously dirty all the same. Off-handedly, I suggested we should write books like those together for the hell of it. Instead of laughing it off like I thought she would, Ellis’s eyes got bright and she responded with, “We should.”

When we both realized we were totally serious, we got down to business. We planned (because that’s what we do). We discussed boring things like LLCs and business accounts and budgets. We fretted over a pen name (and, of course, did a throw back to our fanfic roots with it—London Hale). And once those pesky details were out of the way, we got to the fun stuff. Like sex positions and pet names and varying forbidden romance tropes (our text messages are a thing of beauty, truly).

We’ve worked hard these past seven months, writing a total of six books and creating a pen name from scratch. Today we celebrate the release of our first book in the Temperance Falls series, DADDY’S BEST FRIEND, the first of three books that are part of the Experience Counts: May-December Romance trilogy! The remaining books in this trilogy will be released in May.

Normally this is where I’d put an excerpt, but, well, I’m not sure I could find more than a single sentence that’d be appropriate. *devilish grin*

Amazon US: londonhale.com/dbf-azus
Amazon UK: londonhale.com/dbf-azuk
Amazon AU: londonhale.com/dbf-azau
Amazon CA: londonhale.com/dbf-azca

 

2 Comments

My Life Away from the Computer Rocks!

If Writing is my Art, Music is my Muse.

Music inspires me. Songs inspire me. Bands (and the introspective hotties in them) inspire me.

The lyrics. The melodies. The bass lines. The guitar riffs. The drum beats.

In this post, I’m giving you a glimpse into my life outside of writing. Music is my social life. Whether it’s hanging out at places I can take my kids that have live music, going to concerts with my husband and friends, or just cranking the volume and dancing around the house. Music is always in my life. For example, here’s my concert schedule for the next 2 months:

May 24 – The 1975 in Milwaukee
May 25 – The 1975 in St. Paul
(Yes, I am flying to see The 1975 in 2 cities in two days! I LOVE them)
June 15 – The 1975 in Charlotte
June 28 – Twenty One Pilots in Charlotte*

*Schedule does not include the following shows in May that I WANT to go to, but haven’t bought tickets for yet… The Wombats, Silversun Pickups, Weezer, Death Cab for Cutie.

Did I mention that I may be a teeny tiny bit obsessed with The 1975. As a throwback to my teenage self going wild over The Cure—I simply adore The 1975 right now.

You haven’t heard of The 1975?? Oh my. Start googling now. I tried to upload some concert clips, but for some reason my movies are telling me the file is not found. (I type this calmly, though I’m panicking on the inside!!! My adult life in concerts–gone??? A freakout for another time, like 5 seconds after I post this…)

Music is my muse in many ways. Matty Healy, the lead singer of The 1975, inspired Aleksandr Varenkov’s hair in DELAYED PENALTY.

IMG_9365Matty’s hair is EPIC!! It’s difficult to see just how glorious his locks are in this pic. Again, just google him.

Every key scene in each book I write is inspired by a song. No joke. If you look at my playlists for each book, you can piece together which song inspired a certain part of the book.

When I write I listen to a ton of stuff: The 1975, Twenty One Pilots, The National, Frightened Rabbit, Catfish and the Bottlemen, James, Depeche Mode, The Cure, Poe, Shakira, The Griswolds…there are hundreds of artists.

When I write sexy scenes I listen to a lot of New Politics.

 

Let’s jam together. I love trying new bands or rocking out to old favorites, so hit me with you favorite music in the comments below!

*Meanwhile, I’ll try to find some personal concert footage I can upload. 😉  (NOT FREAKING OUT. YES, I AM.)

Sophia Henry writes Heartfelt Flirty Fiction featuring hot, hockey-playing heroes. DELAYED PENALTY and POWER PLAY, the first two books in the Pilots Hockey series from Random House Flirt, are available now at all major e-book retailers.

11 Comments

Tiny Treats: A Holiday Collection

Perfect for this hectic time of year, Tiny Treats is an anthology of micro-stories, all with different holiday themes. The best part of all is it’s free!

25 different authors offer tales in perfect bite sized pieces. Several of our own Bad Girlz contributed: Jeanette Grey, Sally Kilpatrick, Heather McGovern, Tanya Michaels, and Trish Milburn, with Trish Milburn editing and organizing.

Pick up a free copy today!

Amazon – Barnes & Noble  Smashwords Tiny Treats website.

tiny treats

http://tinytreatsfiction.wordpress.com/

No Comments

Writing Short Fiction For Fun and Profit, Vol. 5: Ready To Submit?

Okay, so you’ve written a short story. You’ve found a call for submissions or a publisher that deals in shorts, and you’re ready to go. The hard part is over, right? Well, not exactly, but the process of getting it submitted doesn’t have to be torture, either.

romance short story calls for submission

In the end, querying a short story for inclusion in an anthology isn’t all that different from querying a novel. My three main pieces of advice are the same, no matter the length of your work: 1) Keep It Simple, Stupid, 2) Follow the Directions, and 3) Keep Your Head On Straight.

1) Keep It Simple, Stupid: Here’s the good news about submitting a short: it’s a short. The query letter should be similarly fun-sized. Remember, if it’s for an anthology, the editor is reading hundreds if not thousands of submissions. All they need are the basics.

Here’s a nice, basic format for a short story query letter:

Dear [Insert Editor Name Here]:

[Title of Story] is a completed, [word count] word short story, written with [name of anthology] in mind.

[One short paragraph about the premise of the story. Hook the editor in. Make it enticing, like a mini-blurb for the back cover of a book. Two to three sentences, max.]

[One short paragraph about you, including your real name and your pen name. Include any publication credits you already have. If you don’t have any, referring to yourself as “a working writer” is a delicate way of saying you’re still working on it. This is good place to mention your memberships in any writing organizations. It is not a good time to bring up the name of your pet or that you’re desperate for money or that your story is JUST PERFECT for this anthology. Just the facts. Keep it simple. Again, two to three sentences, max.]

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
[Your real name]
[all of your contact information]

Simple, right?

Before you ask, yes, you do need to write a query letter. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, paste it into the body of your email, preferably as plain text. Ta-da!

2) Follow the Directions: Most editors for anthologies will tell you exactly what they want. Give it to them.

  • If they ask for your story as an attachment, send it as an attachment. If they specify a preferred file format, send it in that format. (If they don’t, .doc or .rtf are your safest bets.) If they ask for the story to be pasted into the body of the email, for goodness’s sake, paste it into the body of the email.
  • They have almost certainly specified a word count range. Follow it. Again, this poor editor is reading a ton of submissions. If you’re outside the requested word count range, it’s the quickest, easiest rejection that editor will ever have to send.

3) Keep Your Head On Straight: Remember, it’s just a short story. It probably wasn’t a huge investment of your time to write, and if it isn’t chosen, it is not the end of the world. If you’re patient, you can probably submit it to a different call someday if an appropriate one comes along, or you can always post it as a free read on your website, which is great for promotion.

Also, a rejection is not necessarily a reflection on the quality of the story or on your writing. The editor’s job is not just to pick great stories—it’s also to assemble a seamless, cohesive collection of stories. If your piece isn’t a good fit for the way the anthology is shaping up, or if it is too similar to another story the editor has already chosen, it might not make the cut, no matter how wonderful it is. (Veteran editor Rachel Kramer Bussel has a very nice article about this, which you may find enlightening.)

Hopefully, these tips will help you get your story ready to submit and give you the guts to click that big scary ‘send’ button.

And in case you still haven’t found any good opportunities to try your hand at short fiction, here are a couple calls for submission for romance short stories and novellas that caught my eye this week:

Holiday Magic with Scandalous
Publisher: Entangled
Submission Deadline: July 15, 2013
Guidelines: Any winter themed holiday historical romance taking place from 900-1949 with a word count between 10,000-20,000.
More Info

Commanding Desire: Military Erotic Romance
Editor: Kristina Wright
Publisher: Cleis Press
Submission Deadline: September 1, 2013
Guidelines: Erotic romance involving a military hero. 2,500-4,500 words, primarily heterosexual pairings with a female audience in mind.
More Info

Happy writing!

8 Comments

Bigger Isn’t Always Better, or Writing Short Fiction For Fun And Profit, Volume 4: A Foot In The Door

short-fiction2

Those long, lonely, rejection-letter-filled nights, have you ever thought to yourself, “Gah! If only I knew what these people wanted from me!”

Here’s a tip: when publishers put out calls for submission, they’re telling you just that.

As you may or may not know, I got my foot in the door with one of my dream publishers, Samhain, by answering a call for submission. In the end, the novella I wrote wasn’t selected for the collection I submitted it for, but an acquiring editor took an interest anyway. A couple months later, I had a contract in hand for a single-title release. I also had a relationship with a great press, and I’m in the beginning stages of working on my third title with them.

If you’re interested in getting your foot in the door with a specific publisher, take a peek and see if they have any editor-wish-lists on their site or any open calls for submission. The call might not be for the manuscript you currently have in your hand, ready for querying. They might be looking for something shorter, or something on a different theme. But here’s the thing: keep the long game in mind. If they like your submission for the special call, it opens the door for being able to talk with them about your other work, too.

Quality romance and erotica publishers like Samhain, Ellora’s Cave, Carina and Entangled all put out calls from time to time. Even Avon has been known to. Whoever you’re looking to publish with, keep an eye open and an ear to the ground, because you never know when an opportunity will arise.

Current calls for submission for short fiction in romance and erotica (click link for further submission details):

Couples’ Erotic Romance Stories
Due
: June 1, 2013
Word count: 1,500-4,000 words
Publisher: Cleis
Theme: The guidelines are pretty flexible, with a preference for heterosexual couples and contemporary settings

Best Women’s Erotica 2014
Due: July 1, 2013
Word count: 2,500-4,500 words
Publisher: Cleis
Theme: Again, . guidelines are wide open, so long as the story is sexy and focused on a female, primarily heterosexual audience.

Paramour (Valentines 2014)
Due
: August 1, 2013
Word count: 15,000-20,000 words
Publisher: Total-E-Bound
Theme: May-December romances featuring an older woman and a younger man.

Heartwarming
Due
: August 1, 2013
Word count: 5,000-18,000 words
Publisher: Dreamspinner
Theme: Male/male stories centered around the winter holidays

One Night In…
Due
: open call
Word count: 10,000-40,000 words
Publisher: Entangled
Theme: Contemporary romances that start out as ‘one night only’ affairs. Open to pairings of any orientation.

2 Comments

Bad Girl For a Day: Rebecca Grace Allen – Saying More in Fewer Words

Rebecca Grace Allen author photo

As a writer, I have always struggled with keeping things brief. At one point during my creative writing workshop in college, my professor gave me my most terrifying assignment ever: to write an entire story in a single page. I’ll be honest—I panicked. How on earth could I manage to grab the reader, set the scene, and show some semblance of plot in a single page? It’s impossible! I sat for hours in a coffee shop with my laptop, typing and deleting over and over again. What I ended up writing about wasn’t very memorable, but I do recall being exhausted when it was finished. Needless to say, it was one of the most frustrating and rewarding exercises I did in my entire program.

I still don’t think I’ve mastered the art of saying more in fewer words. It’s so much easier to just write. To let the ideas flow and revel in hefty word counts at the end of the day. And don’t even get me started on editing. So what do I do when I need to remind myself how to make every word count when there’s fewer of them? I turn to flash fiction.

In case you’re unfamiliar with flash fiction, it’s a style of writing defined by its brevity. Flash Fiction World describes it as “a unique type of story that has been whittled down to its essence whilst remaining a complete story, with plot, narrative, character/s, conflict, and resolution.” The word count can range from as few as fifty to as many as one thousand, and it’s a great exercise that I highly recommend.

So how can flash fiction help you as a writer?

1. It’s good practice. The very nature of writing within the restriction of a word count forces you to think past all those flowery words you want to put down, and cut to the heart of a character.

2. It gets your head out of your character’s…head. Stuck on a scene? Your hero or heroine isn’t talking to you? Switching to the point of view of a brand new character for a completely commitment-free piece can help break a block.

3. You get to meet new people. With all the different flash fiction contests available on the interwebs, not only will you get to play with other writers and broaden your virtual social circle, but you’ll also get more people to see your mad skills.

4. Some of the contests have prizes! (*Cue the ooohs and aaahs*)

5. It’s fun!

Where can you write flash fiction?

There are lots of contests out there. Some are time-focused like Five Minute Fiction. Some keep to a very short and challenging word count, like 55 Word Fiction. As I participated in these and several other contests, my thoughts kept drifting to the erotic. A photo of a lush forest became the optimal a place for sex against a tree. A dangerous, winding staircase became a blindfolded walk up to a dungeon or playroom. I thought there might be others like me out there, so I searched for a flash fiction contest that was full of…well…smut. And when I discovered there wasn’t one out there, I made my own

Behold, the birth of Sinful Sunday.                         

Sinful Sunday is an all erotic flash fiction contest. There’s yummy photos to get your, erm, juices flowing. There’s a word prompt, but synonyms are often used too, cause that’s how I roll. And best of all, you get to snag a fancy badge if you win.

In the almost thirty weeks since I started this contents, I’ve been blown away by the writing I’ve seen. The participants are so talented, the vibe among them is so supportive and fun, and best of all, I don’t have to judge! The winner or runner up from the previous week’s contest is always the next week’s judge. The difficulty of moderating a contest like this is finding new participants.

So, have I convinced you yet? What are you waiting for? Jump in the flash fiction pool. I promise not to bite…hard.

sinfulsunday

http://www.rebeccagraceallen.com/sinful-sunday

Bio: Rebecca Grace Allen has been writing derivative adult fiction since 2009. An aspiring erotica author, Rebecca Grace holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a double concentration in Creative Writing and Literary Comparison. She has a novel in the works as well as a novella, and has several short stories lurking around on her computer. Rebecca Grace is an avid reader, a caffeine addict and incessant gym-rat. When not writing she can be found at Starbucks, or a spin or boxing class. She lives in New York with her husband, and a cat with a very unusual foot fetish.

Website: http://www.rebeccagraceallen.com/

Twitter: @RGraceAllen

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rebeccagrace.allen

9 Comments

Bigger Isn’t Always Better, or Writing Short Fiction for Fun and Profit, Volume 3: Determining Your Story’s Scope

short-fiction2

There are so many different ways to categorize writers. Pansters and plotters, monogamists (writers who are more faithful to their one true manuscript than most people are to their spouses) and polygamists (writers with a girl—er, manuscript—in every port). And then there are what I like to refer to in my head as apartment-dwellers and land barons.

You know the types. Apartment dwellers, in the writing world, keep things simple. A kitchen, a living room, a bedroom and a bath. A hero, a heroine, an antagonist, and maybe the heroine’s best friend. One or two major plot lines, clean, simple character arcs. Everything is streamlined, because goddamn it, there’s just no room under the bed for anything else.

Land barons, on the other hand, inhabit sprawling estates, with multiple buildings, parlors on every floor, twelve guest rooms, maybe a stable for the horses, and a barn. Their manuscripts have a whole world of supporting characters, with everyone from the cashier at the grocery store to the kindly old lady in the house next door having a name, a goal, and an arc. Seven different plot lines interweave and intersect; subplots and themes lurk inside every page. There’s just so much room to spread out and stretch your legs!

And one of the easiest, fastest ways to tell which kind of writer you’re speaking to when it comes to this is to ask them if they write short stories. Your apartment dweller’s eyes will light up and she’ll go on and on about how they’re so much easier than novels! Your land baron, on the other hand, will bury her head in her hands and curse the gods.

Here’s the reason: apartment dwellers already know the secret to writing good short fiction, and it’s not just being less wordy. It’s this: simplify your scope.

The cold, hard truth is that a short story is not the place for intensive world-building or a large cast of characters or a plot that spans multiple decades. None of that is to say that you can’t immerse your reader in a unique world or have multiple characters or convey an arc that takes a little time. But you have to be judicious about it and narrow your focus to a few key elements and a few key scenes.

Everyone’s different, and writers whose styles tend toward the wordier side will not have the same results as writers who typically write more sparely. But in my experience, you can only afford a specific amount of complexity for any given format of shorter fiction.

Let’s follow my metaphor to its illogical conclusion, and compare these formats to apartments:

Studio Apartment (aka Flash Fiction – fewer than 1000 words): KISS, KISS, KISS. Keep. It. Simple. Stupid. You’ve got room for one to three characters and only one scene (maaaaaaaybe two, if you’re really compact) to get across whatever you need to say. Pick one point you want to make, one theme, and illustrate it by showing how it plays out in this tiny snippet of your characters’ lives.

One Bedroom (Short Short Story – 2000-4000 words): Okay, you have a little more room here, but you’re still going to have the most success with two to four characters, one to three scenes, and one major plot line / theme / conflict.

Two Bedroom (Medium Short – 5000-8000 words): Two to six characters and three to five scenes. Two characters can have real (if simple) arcs, and you can probably even fit in an internal and an external conflict. There’s really only room for one (maaaybe two) turning points, but you can actually start to do some more involved story-telling in this range, so long as you don’t get too ambitious with your scope.

Three Bedroom (Novelette – 10,000-15,000 words): Personally, I love this length, and I think you can do a lot with it. I’d still keep it to a couple major characters and a small handful of supporting ones, if you like, and only a couple of major conflicts and arcs. But you can really build up to a good climax and dark moment, and still pull everything back together before you type ‘The End’.

Townhouse (Novella – 18,000-40,000 words): Another favorite of mine. As long as you limit yourself to a handful of main characters and a only couple of turning points, you can do just as much with this as you can a full-length novel. There’s plenty of room for well-fleshed-out arcs, complex themes, and genuine conflict.

If you’re an apartment-dweller kind of writer, you already know what I’m talking about with all of this. If, on the other hand, you’re more of a land baron, consider trying your hand at shorter fiction as an exercise in learning compact story-telling and limiting your scope. Carve out just that part of your story and your world that encapsulates the very essence of what you need to say. No extras, no side plots, no characters that do not contribute directly to the heart of your message. I think you’ll be surprised by just how much you can do and how much your writing can benefit from letting all the extras go.

9 Comments

Bigger Isn’t Always Better, or Writing Short Fiction for Fun and Profit, Volume 2

As I’ve mentioned before, writing short stories and novellas can be a great way to jumpstart your muse, refine your craft, build a readership and augment your writer resume.

But if you’re thinking about wading into the short fiction market, where should you start?

Finding General Calls for Submission

A google search is an obvious place to begin. Try searching ‘calls for submission’ and add something about your genre. You’ll likely find a lot of options, including some that pay professional rates (better than a penny a word), some that pay…less than professional rates (anything at all), some that are kind enough to at least throw you a bone (a complimentary author copy of the collection) and some that are, ahem, just for fun. Depending on your motives, any of these may be worthwhile.

There are also some great databases and email discussion loops out there focused solely on listing calls for submission for short fiction. Duotrope and Absolute Write have entries for all genres and all pay scales, and the Creative Writers Opportunities List on Yahoo! Groups is a reliable source of information that I’ve been subscribed to for years.

Special Focus: Calls for Submission in Romance and Erotic Romance

You’ll probably have the most success looking for places to query your short stories if you get to know your genre. My genre happens to be romance, and the hotter the better, so that’s where I’m most knowledgeable. I frequently scout sites such as the Erotica Readers Association. I also check out the individual pages for publishers I know to be in need of short fiction, such as Xcite Books, Total E-bound, and Dreamspinner Press.

And lucky for you, I also happen to collect calls for submission and share them with my Bad Girlz.

Here are a few that may interest you, all with deadlines in the next couple of months:

Dressed to Impress: Outfits for Special Occasions and Steamy Liaisons
Mischief Books
~4000 words
Submission Deadline: November 1, 2012

The Baby Is A Secret!
Avon Impulse
20,000-25,000 words
Submission Deadline: November 15, 2012

How could he not know? After all, he’s the father of a child…but he doesn’t, because it’s been kept a secret from him—sometimes for years. Now it’s your chance to put your own twist on the ever-popular, ever-perplexing ‘secret baby story.  We’re looking for short contemporary novellas, 20-25,000 words that will convince us that a baby really can be kept a secret!

Snow On The Roof
Dreamspinner Press
3,500 – 12,000 words, Male/Male pairing
Submission Deadline: November 19, 2012

“Just because there’s snow on the roof, doesn’t mean the fire’s gone out in the furnace.”  There’s something to be said for maturity and experience, and in all of these relationships, at least one of the lovers is over forty.  Whether it’s a May/December romance, a second chance at love, or finding a soul mate later in life, these stories prove that it’s never too late for love.

Editor’s Note: At least one of the couple must be age 40+.

Hopefully those get you thinking! From time to time, I’ll update you on additional opportunities in the genres of romance and erotic romance, but in the meantime, don’t let that keep you from hunting down your own.

 

4 Comments

Bigger Isn’t Always Better, or Writing Short Fiction for Fun and Profit, Volume 1

It’s pretty much every writer’s dream to land a big publishing deal and see your name in print on the cover of a book. (It’s certainly my dream!) But novel-length fiction isn’t the only game out there these days, and there are lots of other avenues for getting exposure for your writing, making a name for yourself, and even pulling in a few bucks. Best of all, writing short fiction can be a great way to reinvigorate your work or get out of a slump, as well as to hone your craft.

Because I’ve made something of a habit of writing short fiction, I’ll be doing a semi-regular series about it here. Today I’ll be focusing on…

Why Write Short Fiction?

Like I said, there are a lot of good reasons. I’ll break them down into three categories:

Business / Promotion:

  • Publishing a story in an anthology or even as a single-title piece with a small press is a great way to get your name out there.
    • You can list the publishing credit on your query letter as just a little extra something to help propel you out of the slush pile.
    • If you’re trying to promote a book, it can help attract new readers. The best part about reading a collection of short stories is getting to discover new authors so you can buy all their books!
    • It’s the perfect opportunity to network with the other authors who have work included in the anthology.
  • Querying a short story is like a dry run for querying a full-length manuscript. Get used to the format, see what works and what doesn’t. Get your practice in so you’re all the more ready to write a dynamite letter to knock the socks off a potential agent.

Financial:

  • If you deduct your business expenses on your taxes, being able to show proof of even a little income can be super-helpful for supporting your claim that your writing is a business. As you probably know, you’re allowed three years of deducting expenses carte blanche, after which you need to justify your existence. Income goes a long way toward justification.*
  • Generally speaking, if you publish a short story, you get a check. It may not be for much, but it’s still money you made. From your writing. How cool is that?

Creative:

  • Let’s face it: writing a novel is hard. You get bogged down, you get blocked. Sometimes, you just need to stop and think things through. Writing something short is a way to take a break and get a fresh perspective without completely walking away.
  • Writing short makes you a better writer. You still need to fit in all the basic elements that make a compelling novel: engaging characters, conflict, plot, resolution. You just need to do all of it in a way that’s pared down to the bones. It forces you to look at your process and may even lead you to a breakthrough.
  • Have you got an idea you’re playing around with, thinking maybe it could make a great novel? Why not try a variation of it in short story form first? Work some of the kinks out without the pressure of having to invest months or even years in it, and see if it’s got legs to become something more.

Have I sold you? Here’s hoping. Tune in next time for more thoughts on writing short fiction, including determining the scope of your narrative, promoting yourself with your words, and finding publishing outlets for your stories.

Yours always,
-Jeanette.

*Please consult a tax professional. Bad Girlz may Write, but they do not offer unsolicited tax advice.

10 Comments

%d bloggers like this: