Seek and ye shall find …

After I blogged about the possibility of venturing into self-pubbing, I went in search of a past article that featured a “to-do list,” for all self-published authors.

In the past 12 hours, I’ve destroyed my office in search of the electronic and hard copy of this article, gave my dog good reason to wonder why the hell he chose to live with me, and gave my neighbors proof that “The writer” next door really has a few screws loose.

But it doesn’t matter because I found it!

The article, 8 Things Readers Want from Self-Published Authors, which was posted in the May, 2011 issue of Writer’s Digest, offers a “to do” list for the discerning self-published author, who wants to be taken seriously. I thought this relevant topic was worth sharing and reading again.

The top three to-do’s:

Hire professionals for editing, proofreading, and design.
Put most of your cost toward editing. That means, aside from development or content editing, you must eliminate all proofreading errors and typos if you want to be taken seriously. Evelyn Lafont also recommends using beta readers to put out quality work.
Hire a conversion house for clean e-book formatting. (By the way, TheGreenStudy offered that bit of advice in our discussion about self-publishing. Way to go!)

You may want to take a look at The “Self-Pub Is Crap” Debate, which served as the catalyst for the to-do list.

This time around, I’m making a copy to hang on my wall and I’m storing one in Google docs just before I clean up the mess that is now my office.



Is life too easy for your characters? Bring on the obstacles …

When writing fiction, particularly romance, we have been taught that readers want a heroine or hero who experience tragedy and then rise back from the depths of hell to claim (or reclaim) their true love. My words, but you get the gist.

Short and sweet, a character must overcome obstacles (and many) if your story is to have a satisfying ending, or for romance writers, the must have happily ever after.

If you’re having trouble doing that, an article, “Throw Obstacles at Your Characters” from Writing World may help you get started. This is one of the best writer’s reference sites around. I keep a binder filled with a plethora of articles on the craft and business of writing that always come in handy.

Case in point.

I’m working on my second book, and for some reasons I didn’t think my heroine, a pediatric nurse and single mother, who is afraid of getting involved with another man after a mentally abusive relationship with the father of her child, didn’t have enough obstacles. So I went back to my trusty binder and reread, “Throw Obstacles at Your Characters.”

So far, the list of obstacles in my wonderful heroine’s life goes like this. While camping with the new love of her life, she falls off a ravine, sprains her ankle and gets bitten by a snake. At some point in the story, when she finally finds true love, she loses it. She chooses not to believe the hero when he tells her that her ex-lover, who has slithered back into her life, isn’t sincere and has ulterior motives for coming back. And if a separation isn’t enough, the ex-lover kidnaps her son (and his) to force her hand into marriage. Nice guy, huh?

Oh, and did I mention that professionally, my heroine comes under suspicion for aiding and abetting a criminal in an illegal prescription drug ring?

Hmmm … I think I need more obstacles.

The Irreplaceables: bad boys with nice asses (and other attributes)

You knew it was coming, right? How could I blog about bad ass heroines and not pay homage to their counterparts? Why would I give up the opportunity to blog about two of my favorite subjects? 🙂 Men and movies.

My romantic heroes/characters range in their level of bad assness (New word! Take notes, Mr. Webster). Since I love Alpha males, it’s surprising that my heroes aren’t all Alpha types. They’re actually a mix of Alpha, Beta and Omega traits, who adamantly refuse to be lumped into one category. It goes against their grain.

However, they’re all smart, sexy, attractive, down to earth, and compassionate. And guess what? Not perfect.

My characters are real estate tycoons, chief financial officers, journalists, police officers, and hot shot cowboy-like entrepreneurs from Nevada. For good measure, I have an ex NavySeal turned chef and a moody, talented musician to keep things interesting. Each have gripes, pet peeves, and unresolved issues like bad tempers, problems with authority, and playing the field. See? Nothing too major.

My heroes also have the innate ability to admit, (after fierce denial) when they’ve been outsmarted or outdone by that special woman who has finally captured their heart.

Now, I’ve been informed (by my heroes) that they’re no pushovers, and they will never lose themselves in a woman or let her have complete control over their feelings. (Yeah, right if they say so.) However, they admit that if the woman is worth it, they do learn to compromise. (Okay … compromise, I’ll buy that for a dollar.)

Some of my favorite bad ass heroes who have graced the silver screen often inspire me, and just out and out make me drool:

Hugh Jackman, X-men, “Wolverine.” When that eyebrow goes up, and he bites down on that cigar, it’s all over. Back up, and head for the hills.

Jason Statham, “The Transporter” is too cool for words. He fights, loves and drives like a madman. But he still has a touch of compassion for those in need of help.

Denzel Washington’s portrayal of a former assassin turned bodyguard in “Man on Fire” had me in tears. He was scary as all get out going after the bad guys, but a real “Creesy Bear” to Dakota Fanning’s kidnapped character.

Bruce Willis in “Die Hard” is always a winner. John McClain is as Alpha as you can get, but he loves his family and his job. And he’s a smart ass! Love that!

Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry,” always makes my day, Wesley Snipes takes charge on “Passenger 57”, and Antonio Banderas in “Desperado,” is a smooth and sexy bad ass with a guitar. Whoa.

Mel Gibson’s, “Mad Max” on his motorcycle—fierce. Sylvester Stallone as “Rambo” and his bow and arrow—all that. Will Smith’s Mike Lowery in “Bad Boys” makes me want to go to Miami. Right now.

And we can never forget classic bad asses, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, Yul Brynner, and Bruce Lee.

Of course, I have to name literary bad boys that just knock my socks off. A Linda Howard classic, “Mackenzie’s Mountain” with Wolf, as its patriarch, is the beginning of a family of bad asses. His sons, Joe, Zane, and Chance all have books of their own and all are to die for.

:::Fanning:::: Let me stop. It’s getting a little warm at the computer. Anyway, the Mackenzie series is a serious must read.

Last year, I watched (and purchased) the “Expendables” starring a sweet collection of some of the toughest, sexiness bad asses around. Of course, I was in heaven. By the way, “The Expendables 2” starts in theatres on August 17. Check out the trailer. Guess who will be there taking mental notes. 😉

Oftentimes, I get inspired by a movie I love, and my fingers won’t leave the keyboard. On occasion, some of my favorite movie characters may be seen talking to my romantic heroes. It’s okay if they chat, I just don’t want John McClain or “The Desperado” taking over the pages. Let my guys do their own stunts. 🙂

When it Hit Me …

understandingI remember sitting on a white, sandy beach in El Condado, Puerto Rico thinking my life had hit rock bottom. I thought I was destined for unhappiness because I was leaving another “going nowhere” relationship. While watching the massive ocean stretched before me, thinking how insignificant I was, it happened—my “scare the crap outta me” epiphany. It was a wakeup call, a call to slap myself in the face and say, “Hey, girl you don’t need the aggravation or the drama of a relationship that’s not working.”

It seems as though most crossroads in my life occur that way. (I’m sure many of you can relate.) Whenever there’s an important, life-altering decision or choice I have to make, I’m thankful that common sense and gumption step in.

My journey as a writer has been the same way. Almost 25 years ago, I applied for a job working in communications and on a newspaper. I was young, ambitious and knew I had some talent. I also knew I had to learn the ropes and pay dues. And I was okay with that. When the hiring communications director complimented my writing samples, I was thankful. Yet when he told me I wasn’t qualified because I didn’t have a degree, I was heartbroken. My disappointment, and to some degree anger–perhaps unwarranted–stemmed from knowing another person had a similar job and no degree.

Yet the experience was an epiphany of sorts. It was constructive because it propelled me into action. (I had already been attending college at night, in addition to raising a family (three daughters) single handedly and working full-time.) My disappointment pushed me to take additional courses, so I could graduate earlier. Guess what? I’m now in the department doing the job that I was turned down for 20 years ago. I’d gone full circle. Yeah, it hit me.

I said all that to say this:

When I attended Romance Slam Jam (RSJ), it changed my life. I had another epiphany. I knew I wanted to spread my creative wings, but for whatever reason hadn’t. As I mentioned, I’ve always love romance novels, and have a voracious appetite for reading. Meeting some of my favorite authors at RSJ was exciting, uplifting and a huge part of my epiphany. They encouraged me to start writing my books. They counseled me on how to carve out time from my day-to-day writing to create my stories. I’ve haven’t slowed down yet. I’m usually huddled over my computer until the wee hours of the morning, before I go off to write for my day job.

Epiphanies are wonderful things. They’re motivating and often followed by courses of action. However, epiphanies with support and encouragement are blessings. I’ve had a few in my lifetime and it’s a great feeling to comprehend when it finally “hits” you. Oh, and that relationship I thought I needed so badly? Done, dead, not even a distant memory and definitely not happiness. One source of my happiness takes place in my mind and on the keyboard of my computer.

May all your epiphanies be as productive.

Sex Standing Up

73777091Many years ago I watched a movie, where the entire town was prohibited from dancing. Sound familiar to anyone? Anyway, I thought about the reasoning behind the edict: Dancing leads to sex. You know, maybe that’s not far from the truth–at least from a romantic, fictional perspective.

In my book “Falling Again” the two main characters shared a passionate dance–the salsa. The hero held the heroine possessively as they danced across the ballroom. Her gown moved fluidly with every step, every pulse and all eyes were on them. Having danced together for so many years, their moves were instinctive and sensual, and there was no need for second guessing.

Afterwards, they found that all the things they argued about in the past weren’t very important. The only thing that mattered was the space they occupied as they caught their breaths amidst the applause and the feel of their bodies beneath aroused fingers.

There’s nothing like a good dance to bring lovers together. And if they’re lucky, it will lead to other non-fictional things. 🙂

Oh, and eventually my hero and heroine made love (lying down).

Adding Fuel to the Fire

coupleMore times than not, there comes a time in relationships when you hit a lull. I’m not saying you don’t love your partner, but there are times when your passion needs a little pick me up, a kick in the butt or a reminder of just how wonderful the person you’re with really is.

It’s nice to surprise your lover with a pair of edible undies or strawberry flavored body powder–anything that may add fuel to passion’s fire. For those who can keep the passion going 24/7, you’re my idol!

So, let me hear you. Don’t be shy. What do you do keep the fire burning?

What Makes it Sizzle?

sizzleI believe there’s a few things that make it sizzle …a look, a smile, a provocative whisper, or great set of biceps or legs wrapped tightly around a body. Any of these things can be the beginning of a wonderful interlude.

How about you? What makes it sizzle for you?