Friday, January 28, 2011

I've been interviewed! And I have man candy!

So excited for my first author interview today! The lovely Linda Kage, author of contemporary romance, is hosting me, my books, and my first fictional love, Lucien Demarco, over at her blog:  Come check us out HERE.

If you would like to know, or, er, see more of this beautiful, brooding, Italian, fanged male, you must go. Now! What are you still here for? ;)

Hmm, wonder how much more of this sleeping beauty you might see at Linda's blog?

Thanks for stopping by! Now go visit me at Linda's place!
Laura

Monday, January 24, 2011

Meet an Author Monday!

Here's what I have to say on this fine Monday morning:

Is it Friday yet?????

Oy!

Check out these new-to-you authors and drop a line to say hello. We love visitors. ;) Thanks for stopping by, Laura

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Five Things You Should Know About Critique Partners

I'm extremely lucky to have access to a number of other people who will read and offer feedback on my writing.  My best friend, Lea Nolan (that's us over yonder), is also a romance writer, and she is my most trusted critique partner. She reads almost everything I write and gives me her unbridled, no-nonsense thoughts on the pages I put before her.  My RWA chapter just established a monthly critique group, the MRW Critters, and four of the twelve members are up every month to have 12 pages of their current project critted.  The value of these experiences has been immeasurable for my writing, but without question has made me a better writer and my manuscripts better,  more compelling reads.  Next week, I'm back under the critique gun for my group, and that got me thinking about some things others might like to know about critique partners.

1) WHO TO GET TO CRITIQUE: If you're lucky, lots of people might agree to read your writing. Your mom might be an avid reader. Your sister might be your biggest cheerleader. The online readers of your fan fiction stories might love you so much they offer.  A good friend friend from your book club might offer to host a chat about your first chapter. If you're looking for a general "is this a fun read/does it makes sense/does it hold your attention/please tell me I don't totally suck" kind of reassurance, go for it when these folks offer.  But I want to propose to you that just because someone's a reader doesn't mean they're the best fit for you as a critiquer. Readers know what they like to read, but they don't know how to advise you to successfully write.  They probably don't know what you mean if you ask if you're showing or telling. They probably wouldn't really understand what purple prose is, and things you can do to edit it out of your writing. They may not understand the intricacies of consistent verb tense and point of view issues. They've probably never heard of 'head hopping.'  And they probably haven't poured over agents' and editors' blogs seeking advice on what the industry wants. Because readers don't study the craft of writing or the publishing industry.  But writers do.  Writers, especially those pursuing publication professionally, have likely read books on how to write, taken workshops to hone their craft, and received advice from agents/editors/other writers that they've taken to heart and can share with you.  Finding a willing writer can be difficult, but most writers are eager to get other writers to comment on their work, so join a writing organization and get to know people, post an 'In need of a YA romance critique author' message (or whatever your genre is), or join one of the established critique groups that many writing organizations and RWA chapters have. Writers, not readers, make the best critiquers. 

2) HOW CRIT PARTNERS CAN BENEFIT YOU:  Whether individual critique partner, larger critique group, or online workshop partner, critique partners can bring you and your writing multiple benefits.  First, they can help you grow in your craft. Through their feedback writers will force you to take your writing to the next levels.  They'll challenge your use of cliches, point out when you've gone a little adverb crazy, remind you of the puppies you harm every time you overuse exclamation marks or ellipses.  Second, crit partners can offer you encouragement. They know what it is for your manuscript to be rejected, because they've gone through that too.  They know how frustrating it is for your muse to go silent or your real life to eat away all your writing time.  But they also know you have to dust yourself off and get back on the horse--and they'll push you to do it.  Third, crit partners can help hold you accountable.  If you meet monthly, you'll need something new to bring to the table.  Having someone who cares and asks about your writing makes you want to have news to share--whether it's that you've gotten new queries out this week or made your writing goals each week.  Finally, having a critique partner means you're also honing your own critiquing skills.  It's sometimes easier to spot errors and problems in other people's writing than your own, and the more you crit others' writing, the more you learn to identify and revise writing problems, and the more you then apply those lessons to your own projects.  The benefits of having critique partners are numerous.

3)  WHY IT'S IMPORTANT TO ESTABLISH SOME GROUND RULES:  When you take on a new critique partner or join a new critique group, establishing some rule for how things will work is important. One thing writers don't have enough of is time, so to maximize time it helps if everyone knows and follows what's expected.  You don't want to get in a position where you're doing all the critiquing, and your partner blames deadlines and real life crises for never getting to yours.  Do you want a line edit or comments on only the plot arc?  If it's a group you've joined, how many pages will be critiqued, how frequently, and what is the author's role during the actual discussion of your piece? Are there rules for who can join?  Are the members seriously pursuing publishing, or is this a group of hobbyists?  Knowing all this going in will make things smoother, more efficient, and thus more useful to you and your writing. Establishing expectations and rules from the beginning makes critique relationships work best.

4) WHAT TO CONSIDER ABOUT CRITIQUE GROUPS:  If you've found a critique group, whether online or in your area, consider these issues:  How frequently do they critique? What genre do the other members write? How much will you be expected to read of others' work and how often? What proportion of members are novice, pre-published authors versus multi-published veterans.  It's great to have the feedback of the veterans, but this may also intimidate some newbies.  And, while we all should play the role of mentor to the extent time allows, you probably don't want a situation where everyone's fresh out of the gate and below your general level of knowledge.  Make sure the group or partner is the right fit for you.

5) HOW TO OFFER CRITICAL FEEDBACK IN RETURN:  The worst comments I ever received on my writing came via a contest entry.  Two of the judges had enjoyed my work and scored it rather high (25/30 and 28/30).  But the final judge gave it a 17/30.  On the score sheet, she'd marked multiple categories as 1/5, the worst possible option.  She called my story "highly unoriginal" and labeled my characters as "two-dimensional."  The tone of her comments was dismissive and patronizing, and she offered nary a positive comment or suggestion of how to make it right.  This is an example of how not to be a critique partner.  Nothing is all bad.  Start by emphasizing the things that work for you.  When you read through, highlight passages or phrases that really stand out.  When you get to the more critical feedback, be honest (because sugarcoating the problem will not help your partner) but also be kind about it.  Remember that the person whose work you're reading put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into it and probably cares about it like it's her firstborn child.  To the extent that you can, go beyond pointing out the errors to give her a sense of how to fix them.  If passive voice plagues the piece, take the time to show her what an active phrasing might be.  Remember how you feel when someone points out your flaws, and couch your comments the way you would want to receive them.  Be nice.  Have empathy.  But be honest.

Do you have an established critique partner?  How does it work for you?  What other advice might you offer?

Thanks for reading,
Laura

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The. End.

Over!

Done!

Fini!

109,755

Oh, sweet, sweet relief.

Thanks for stopping by, ;)
Laura

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Review of Laura Wright, Eternal Hunger

Eternal Hunger (Mark of the Vampire #1)Eternal Hunger by Laura Wright

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I definitely enjoyed this first in a series featuring vampire Alexander Roman's evolving connection with Dr. Sara Donohue. Sara was smart, strong, and able to roll with the punches, and she was immediately likable and sympathetic. Alexander's unique physicality made him especially appealing, as did the interesting powers he had as a "morphed" vampire.  The world building in EH was very interesting and spun a different take on vampires' role in the modern world. The sexual tension between the characters crackled throughout the whole thing.

Since this _is_ going to have sequels, here's some things I personally hope she'll further develop in the coming books. First, I would've liked to see more of Alex's childhood suffering, I wanted her to up the angst-factor with him; I wanted to feel what he'd overcome even more than I did. I wanted a bigger moment of him finally giving in, trusting, taking that leap of faith that someone wouldn't hurt him again. It fell a little flat to me, a little two-dimensional. Second, I wouldn't have mind longer/more detailed sex scenes, at least a few times. Don't get me wrong, they were good, but they almost always seemed to end too quickly. Part of it, I think, was wanting to feel more of the connection, the romance, between them. Third, this got better by the middle of the book, but the introduction of the vampire-specific vocabulary felt a little forced in the beginning. Presumably, having established a lot of this, it'll continue on smoother in the follow-on books. Finally, there were a few word choices that just tripped me up every time. While I *loved* the description of his eyes as cherry-black and/or merlot, the repeated description of hers as blueberry drove me freaking nuts! There were also a few squick-worthy sexual references, like his penis kissing her womb (ouch) and her nether region as a "mouth" (ew). Obviously, these are all highly subjective--one person's squick may very well be another person's turn-on.

I devoured the book--lured in by the molten-hot cover!--in a day and a half. When the last page ended, I found myself disappointed it was over and wanting more--so, in the end, Ms. Wright did her job. Recommend!

View all my reviews
Thanks for reading,
Laura

Monday, January 17, 2011

Meet an Author Monday!

It's Monday, so I'm hopping.  Actually, I really am hopping in my seat--nervous energy will do that to you.  But all this waiting around is really getting to me, y'all!  I'm waiting for my new website to get done.  I'm waiting for not one, but two, release dates!  I'm waiting for Harlequin to say 'yes' already!  I'm waiting for this weekend to get here so me and my besty can go on a girls' writing weekend together!  So, you see, I'm well justified in my restlessness... ;)  What's got you sitting on the seat of your chair or checking your email every five minutes?

Thanks for reading,
Laura

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Under Construction, Courtesy of ParaJunkee Design!

Big changes are coming 'round these here parts!  Stay tuned for the unveiling of my new website, courtesy of the talented graphic designer behind ParaJunkee Design.  I'm dancing in my seat watching it come together.  It's looking gooo-oood!  And, yes, this blog post does represent procrastination at its finest.  For those of you playing along at home, we're at 99 and counting now.  I think I may be getting manuscript fatigue.  It's a real syndrome, I'll have you know. ;)

Thanks for reading, Laura

Monday, January 10, 2011

Meet an Author Monday!


Howdy ho!  I know it's been a few Mondays, but I'm back to hopping.  So, drop in on some new-to-you authors and say hello.

Thanks for hopping!
Laura

Saturday, January 8, 2011

94 and Counting

I can't tell you how many times this week I've said, "Just two more chapters, I think." LOL Coming down the home stretch with the WIP (currently at 94freaking000 words--yep, this is the one I'd estimated at 85K) and cheese and crackers it's as slow and painful as giving birth.

That's the why-for on my end.  What's up with you?

Thanks for reading, and now I'm back to it,
Laura

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Celebrating with a Friend! The Release of Lily of the Nile, by Stephanie Dray!

So excited to help my friend and Maryland Romance Writers chapter-mate, Stephanie Dray, celebrate the release of her debut novel, Lily of the Nile.  Check it out, people!  What are you waiting for???
 
Based on the true life story of Cleopatra's daughter.

With her parents dead, the daughter of Cleopatra and Mark Antony is left at the mercy of her Roman captors. Heir to one empire and prisoner of another, it falls to Princess Selene to save her brothers and reclaim what is rightfully hers...

In the aftermath of Alexandria’s tragic fall, Princess Selene is taken from Egypt, the only home she’s ever known. Along with her two surviving brothers, she’s put on display as a war trophy in Rome. Selene’s captors mock her royalty and drag her through the streets in chains, but on the brink of death, the children are spared as a favor to the emperor’s sister, who takes them to live as hostages in the so-called lamentable embassy of royal orphans…

Now trapped in a Roman court of intrigue that reviles her heritage and suspects her faith, Selene can’t hide the hieroglyphics that carve themselves into her flesh. Nor can she stop the emperor from using her for his own political ends. But faced with a new and ruthless Caesar who is obsessed with having a Cleopatra of his very own, Selene is determined honor her mother’s lost legacy. The magic of Egypt and Isis remain within her. But can she succeed where her mother failed? And what will it cost her in a political game where the only rule is win or die?

Visit Stephanie Dray and learn more about Lily of the Nile at her website

Berkley Trade January 2011 (Trade Paperback, 430 pages)
# ISBN-10: 0425238555
# ISBN-13: 978-0425238554

Buy Lily of the Nile (Come on, you know you want to!):
Thanks for reading,
Laura

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Writing Goals for 2011


HAPPY NEW YEAR, friends! This day is starting busy for me--with a house full of my husband's family, today is also the first day of Savvy Author's 30-day Editpalooza, and I'm putting my WIP, The Fantasy Life of a Middle-Aged Wife through the editing ringer with the help of an editor mentor and a crit buddy. The hope is it'll emerge at the end of the month ready to submit.  So, before I get lost in the busy-ness of it all, I wanted to put my 2011 goals down in black and white:

1) Achieve RWA PAN status (PAN status is reserved for published authors who have made at least $1,000 on one published work)

2) Edit and then sell Fantasy Life of a Middle-Aged Wife (thus, Editpalooza)

3) Land an agent

4) Write at least 3 short stories/novellas (one, Snow's Man, is already started and needs to be completed/submitted to The Wild Rose Press by March 1 for consideration for holiday 2011 release)

5) Draft new novel by RWA Nationals (June 28) that I can pitch there--still figuring which story to start on next

6) Attend RWA Nationals

7) Attend Iowa Summer Writing Festival workshop

8) Serve my new VP role in the Maryland Romance Writers

9) Blog at least once a week

10) Be there for my crit partner and crit group members

That list is as exciting as it is daunting! Better get back to work, then...

Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year, all!
Laura