Say “No Fear” to Rejection

Rejection. No one likes it. But dislike isn’t the same as fear. Let an author school you in how to say “No Fear” to rejection.

The road to a published book is paved with rejection letters.

Nowadays, make those rejection emails.

“I enjoyed reading your story…but the team has decided not to move forward with your novel.”
“We appreciate the chance to read your work, but unfortunately, the work is not a fit for our list at the moment.”
“Best of luck finding the right publisher for this work.”
“We’re going to pass, but we wish you the best of luck on your publishing journey.”

These are all taken from rejection letters I have received within the past ten months. There are more, but after reading one, they all ring with the same tone.

In the early days, I cried whenever I read a rejection. Maybe I stuffed myself with dark chocolate. Or perhaps curling in the fetal position with the covers over my head soothed my battered heart.

                                                      What I didn’t do was stop writing.

Not since deciding to “do this writing thing” for real.

I’ll admit that the beginning of this year, I was battered by all the rejection. It seemed like every open door slammed in my face.

Maybe I should stick with writing short stories and novellas. Perhaps I didn’t have the skill to craft a novel that would engage readers from the first line to the last.

Doubt wormed it’s way into every writing session.

Why am I even doing this?

And that was the right question.

Be dauntless, my friend. When the doubts seep in after rejection pulverizes you, seek your personal motivation.

Why do I write?

Because I can’t stop writing. I was born to do it. I’ve been making up stories since I learned to read and write.

“You don’t have to publish everything you write,” a published author friend of mine told me. “Some stories are lessons.”

True, but do the published authors of the world still need those lessons? Can they spend months on a project and then throw it aside?
I don’t want to do that anymore. I want to write only those stories which will find a home in readers’ hearts.

   So post them on your blog.

I rejected the inner voice without a second thought.

Maybe I should have listened. All those months hammering out the GATES OF ASTRYA series only to have four manuscripts hanging out on my hard drive. More months creating a rocky world of dragons, and DRAGONS AWAKENING isn’t fit to circulate in the world of readers, if rejection letters are any indicator.

Be dauntless. Why did I ever choose that word?

Because fear wants to defeat me. It hopes to silence the storyteller, keep the truths my characters discover from shining into the world.

Sorry, Fear. As this quote says, writers persist. Rejection makes us stronger.

In the spirit of sharing emails from publishers. Here’s one I got recently from my friends at Roane Publishing.
“Thanks for sending along the 2nd installment in your series so quickly. Roane Publishing would be pleased to offer a contract to publish it. Congratulations!”

Who wouldn’t prefer this sort of email about their creative endeavors?

If I had given up on this “whole writing thing” when I read the first hundred rejection letters, I wouldn’t have ever made it to the point where I would here the golden words “we want to offer you a contract.”

If this post appealed to you, you might like Hero Delivery. It’s a bulletin with deals and specials from Sharon Hughson. It can be on the way to your inbox in a few clicks.
Check out Finding Focus and my other books. You’re sure to find something worth reading.
Already read one or more? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. Those reviews are the same as the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.

THE CRIMSON CURSE’s Creator Speaks (And a Sneak Peek inside the story)

Today, I’m thrilled to have my friend and Pen Sister, Melissa Crispin as a guest.

We’re celebrating our co-authorship in Roane Publishing’s Novella Niblets line. Melissa’s retelling of Beauty and the Beast is the second story to be released in this new, digital-only collection.

MelissaJCrispin-AuthorPic
Author Melissa J. Crispin

Melissa: Hi Sharon, Before we get started, I just wanted to say thank you for having me on your blog today!

ME: Beauty and the Beast is my  all-time favorite Disney movie. What version of the story inspired The Crimson Curse?

Melissa: Beauty and the Beast is my all-time favorite Disney movie, too!

ME: *SQUEE* We’re practically twins. *collects herself*

Melissa: I CANNOT WAIT for the live action movie to be released in March of this year. I’ve been stalking all the trailers.

When I thought about the original story, I wondered what it would be like if the roles were reversed, and if the woman were the beast instead of the man. I worked my way backwards from that notion, considering how she could’ve ended up cursed, and what it would take for her to break free from it. There is still a strong emphasis on a woman’s physical beauty even in this day and age. As cheesy as it sounds, I really do believe true beauty comes from within and it doesn’t hurt to remind the world of that from time to time. If that makes me seem like a total sap, then so be it.

ME: Nope. The more technology advances, the more we become obsessed with visual images. And true love is more than skin deep, which is one of the reasons I LOVE  the story Beauty and the Beast.
I was going to ask what your favorite Disney movie was, but since you’ve already copied my answer *sticks out tongue* what is your second favorite Disney movie? Have you ever considered doing a retelling of it?

Melissa: My second favorite would be Cars. My son absolutely loved this movie when he was little and I watched it countless times. In fact, I could probably recite a bunch of the scenes verbatim. I love watching Lightning McQueen’s struggle to figure out what happiness means to him. Also, I love the slow realization that success has different definitions as well.

I think it would be very difficult to do a retelling, but I definitely have other stories that revolve around this theme.

Thanks for giving us a “glimpse behind the author curtain.”

Crimson Curse

And because I have an inside track with Melissa, she’s agreed to give us a sneak peek inside the lovely cover of The Crimson Curse.

You’ll only read this  segment of  The Crimson Curse right here (unless you purchase the novella, links below).

Here’s an exclusive excerpt from The Crimson Curse:

Calliope may not have been able to leave the estate, but at that exact point in time, with her heart feeling so full, she couldn’t think of anywhere else she’d rather be. “What are you making?” she asked.
“Cookies.” Yareena turned, flashing a toothy grin. Flour dusted the little girl’s nose and clothing. “Mrs. Widdleworth is teaching me how to bake.”
“I most certainly am, and this child is a natural.”
Calliope approached and gestured at their preparation area. “May I?”
Mrs. Widdleworth drew back. “But, you’re the lady of the house.”
“So? When has that ever mattered? Yareena is a guest, yet here she is. You’re having such a wonderful time. I’d like to help.” She wiggled between Yareena and Mrs. Widdleworth, giving them each a light hip bump to make room for herself. She reached for the bowl filled with the prepared dough.
“Don’t you know three’s a crowd?” Bastian’s deep, baritone voice came from the kitchen’s doorway.
Calliope turned. “Excuse me?”
“I just think you should let the girls enjoy themselves.” He held a straight face, but the corner of his mouth twitched.
She raised an eyebrow. “Is that so? And what about me? Am I not allowed to partake in any fun?”
He leaned against the doorjamb and crossed his arms. “I thought you might like to take a walk instead?” A sly grin pulled at his lips, suggesting a different kind of enjoyment.
Calliope’s cheeks flushed.
Mrs. Widdleworth’s jaw slackened at the same time she dropped her spoon, causing it to clang on the countertop. “It’s a beautiful day outside.” Her eyes pleaded with Calliope to go as if the woman feared she would turn him down.
“All right,” Calliope said, “but I’m not convinced your company will be as entertaining as theirs.”
“We’ll see about that.” Bastian’s eyes met hers, filled with wicked suggestion, causing a tingle to travel down her spine. He held his arm out for her and she took it, allowing him to lead her out of the kitchen, and through the front door.
After walking a fair distance from the house, Calliope’s teeth chattered. The harsh winter weather had faded, but not enough to be outdoors without a coat.
They stopped, and Bastian faced her. His mouth quirked as if he was holding back a laugh. “I’m guilty of poor planning. Should we go back indoors before we turn into icicles?” The deep rumble of his chuckle warmed her insides.
“That might be wise,” she said, even though she would be more than willing to endure the cold in exchange for his company.
“Perhaps, but I should warn you, I may not be so wise when it comes to you.” He stepped forward and circled his arms around her waist, pulling her body against his.
His lips met hers, their tongues swirling in a delicate dance. All thoughts of the weather dissipated. She welcomed the feel of his body and the wave of desire that followed. Her fingers traced the angle of his jaw and caressed the back of his neck.
After a long while, he drew back and framed her face with his hands, taking care not to disturb her golden mask.
Her hands dropped to his shoulders. “You’re shaking.”
He leaned in until their foreheads touched. “You have that effect on me.”

Buy your copy now:

Roane’s Store (you can find the link to your favorite retailer here)

Giveaway

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a $25 Roane Publishing Gift Card, Bracelet with charm from Sweet Inspiration, Hot cocoa mixes and mug from The Crimson Curse

GIVEAWAY!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I Want to be a Libriomancer

Books are magical. Reading transports you to a different place and time and introduces you to more people than you could ever hope to meet. That’s why I want to be a libriomancer.
You might be scratching your head, wondering what I’m talking about. If you’re a geek who knows some Latin, you might realize this has something to do with books and magic.

If you’re a fan of the Magic Ex Libris Series by Jim C. Hines, you know exactly what I’m talking about. (Still not sure, read my review of his earlier books in the series).

What is a Libriomancer?

Libriomancer-FullA libriomancer is a person who can draw magic from books.

I know, I think I’ve been one by that definition for most of my life. And I know C. S. Lewis was one because he transported me to Narnia via book dozens of times.

In Hines’ world, a libriomancer can access the magic inside a book to draw objects from the book.

You’d like an Invisibility Cloak? A libriomancer could grab one out of Harry Potter’s closet (if only those Harry Potter books weren’t locked. Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read Libriomancer, book one of the series).

The “librarian” who is the hero of the series is pulling Lucy’s bottle of healing potion out of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in every installment. Fighting evil is a dangerous business. Best to be prepared for the worst.

                                              How does this work?

People read books. The more people who read the book and suspend their disbelief to embrace the story, the more magic potential that waits inside a book.

There are limits. The object has to be small enough that it would fit through the covers of the book. I suggest huge hardbacks for working these spells, so you can make certain Excalibur makes it out of King Arthur’s hand intact.

The magician has an innate sense of magic. They must be able to fully picture the object they want to pull from the book in their mind. Small imaginations need not apply.

Why I Want to be One

I fit all the qualifications for libriomancy.

  • I read books.
  • I have a great imagination.
  • I can recall scenes with vivid detail that’s just crazy considering how many books I’ve read.
  • I have a desire to be innately connected to a magical continuum.

In fact, since I’ve been claiming books are magic portals for years, I should be at the front of the line for receiving the gift of libriomancy.
Also, I’m conscientious. I wouldn’t abuse my power.
What other qualities do I need?

Book-ReviewA Review of Revisionary

Recently, I joined a Facebook book club (more on that later—maybe). One of the founding authors for the group asked what the best book we’d read this year would be.

Revisionary by Jim C. Hines was at the top of my list.
Revisionary-199x300
Even though I didn’t give it five shiny stars (I found a few things a mite of a stretch), it was the book I wanted to read the most that didn’t disappoint me.

I love Isaac Vainio, and I was wondering how things were working out for him since the wider world discovered the existence of magic and magical creatures at the end of book three.

As you can imagine, governments are trying to regulate magic while also exploiting it for their own purposes.

Magical creatures are starting to unite against humans. Humans fear them, so they want them crowded onto reservations and registered like firearms. Since they aren’t human, they don’t have protection under the U.S. Constitution.

The political finagling in this book rivals spy novels.

And we know how much Isaac adores jumping through hoops and cutting through red tape.

Lots of action in this book to keep you turning pages. Plenty of clues and twists keep you guessing to the end whose the mastermind behind the plot behind the plot of the plotters.

Readers of fantasy will love this book. Yes, there is some foul language. However, other adult themes are kept to a minimum.

The Surprise

The most startling thing to me about reading this fourth book in this contemporary fantasy series was learned when I read the acknowledgements.

Most of the time I skim these things. I know! As an author, I should read them. I understand how it takes a village to get a book from the idea stage to a library shelf.

Still, I don’t know most of the people mentioned.

I also don’t know much of anything about most of my favorite authors. I’ve never been one of those people who joins fan clubs and follows every media account of a celebrity. Even one I like.

Color me shocked when I discovered Mr. Hines was not a full-time author.

Excuse me? He’s writing these amazing books at a rate of once per year or so and that’s not his JOB?

Well, it wasn’t his job. With four books in a successful series, Mr. Hines has now donned the cape of insanity. He joins the rest of us spending his days holed up in an office with imaginary friends.

I’m thrilled. I hope that means there will be more books in this series I dearly love.

And if he could grant me the power of libriomancy…all the better.

If this post appealed to you, you might like Hero Delivery. It’s a bulletin with deals and specials from Sharon Hughson. It can be on the way to your inbox in a few clicks.

Check out Finding Focus and my other books. You’re sure to find something worth reading.
Already read one or more? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. That’s like the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.

Putting Yourself Out There

One of the hardest things about being an author is putting myself out there. It goes against every self-protective gene in my body. Not to mention coughing up a big loogey on my mother’s manners curriculum.

Today, I’m over on a fellow author’s blog. She’s someone I admire. I have fan-girled over her books on this blog.

I love the colors of this cover
I love the colors of this cover

Because of that, she’s asked me to read the next book in her young adult science fiction series and it’s a pulse-pounder. I’ve also been privy to a book she’s begun marketing that’s written for adults.

I’m happy to give her partial credit for my acceptance in the anthology she’s helping me promote today. She read the first chapter and shredded it.

When I sent her the rewritten scene, she praised it. Talk about making a writer feel pretty good.

“An amazing author in this genre thinks this is great.” *dancing around the room*

But I’m getting off the topic. There’s two ways that putting myself out there is most difficult.

Putting Stories from my Heart in Harm’s Way

Some of the stories I write are turned out in days for a specific reason. Although there is an element of “me” in them, my heart isn’t fully vested.

A novel that has taken months to write, rewrite, revise and edit? There’s a huge investment of my heart, soul and mind on those pages.

And then the agent rejects them.

The publisher criticizes the story line.

Readers rip on the characters in a review.

Or worse…people read it and then *crickets*

And I don’t want to ask, “What did you think of my book?”

Because if they aren’t bubbling over about it, the words that will answer that inquiry will wound me. Even if they’re spoken kindly.

Bragging about my Books so People Buy Them

Isn't she lovely? And on sale until the end of the year.
Isn’t she lovely? And on sale until the end of the year.

Okay, I don’t think I really ever brag about my books.

But I do post links on social media so people can buy them. I run ads. I carry boxes in my car.

I’m eager to make a sale.

And not for the money.

But so I can return to the position mentioned under number one. Because I want my story to burrow into the hearts and minds of readers.

If I had a dozen real fans (meaning they aren’t related to me and probably have never met me in person), I would hyperventilate. A dozen?

That’s how pathetic I am. Because all the big indie book marketers know you need 1000 readers to have a “successful” book.

And your inner circle of dedicated fans should be at least 100 so they will make your next book release amazing. After all, hitting high rankings on Amazon is what it’s all about, right?

Wrong.

And that’s why putting myself out there still feels like walking naked on the stage at high school graduation (not that I KNOW how that feels).

Cold. Embarrassing. Terrifying.

So, if you can give Jennifer a little love today by clicking through and leaving a comment on her blog, that would be like dropping a robe over my shoulders.

If you shared this post with your group of friends on Facebook or Google, this writer couldn’t get more fully clothed.

Have you ever put yourself out there? What was hardest about it?

If this post appealed to you, you might like Hero Delivery. It’s a bulletin with deals and specials from Sharon Hughson. It can be on the way to your inbox in a few clicks.
Check out Finding Focus and my other books. You’re sure to find something worth reading.
Already read one of more? Please leave an honest review on your favorite site. That’s like the author discovering a gold nugget in the bottom of her washing machine.

		

Jana Begovic talks about POISONOUS WHISPERS

If you’ve followed my site for very long, you know I love books and authors. And I’m especially fond of fantasy.

Although POISONOUS WHISPERS isn’t a traditional fantasy romance, it does have fantastical elements.

Today, I’ve invited author Jana Begovic to talk to you about her debut novel.

PoisonousWhispers_Cvr

Jana, thanks for coming today. Reincarnation plays an important part in POISONOUS WHISPERS. How did you become interested in this idea?

Thank you, Sharon for your excellent questions and willingness to feature my novel. The first time I found myself mesmerized by the concept of reincarnation was when my uncle, who is a psychiatrist, told a story about a patient whom he’d hypnotized, and who under hypnosis started speaking in a language he couldn’t recognize. He recorded her and later discovered she was speaking ancient Greek even though she never studied any foreign language and had never visited Greece. My interest in the topic continued through my reading of books on Buddhism, but it culminated with my discovery of Dr. Brian Weiss’ books on past life regression therapy. His work was the main inspiration for Poisonous Whispers.

Jana, you are from Europe and this novel takes place in several European countries. Have you visited all the places in your novel?

The only place mentioned in my novel that I have not visited is Ireland. I have always felt drawn to that country, to its music, dance and lore, and it is an attraction I simply cannot explain.  It is a seductive thought to think I may have lived there in one of my past lives.

Your settings are quite real. Readers want to know: is it difficult to translate the culture and ambiance of a place onto the page?

It is difficult to translate the culture and ambiance into fiction if you have not lived in that place. I believe the portrayal may stay somewhat superficial as there is so much invisible culture, which is difficult to convey unless it is a part of who we are.

When we first talked about your novel, you said it didn’t fit neatly into the romance genre. What would you say to compel readers of traditional romances to try out your novel?

 I would say that most readers would agree that the universal themes of love, romance, loss, heartbreak, suffering etc. cannot and should not be confined within the rigidly defined boundaries of any genre. Readers want quality books, novels that will give them reading pleasure and perhaps, teach them something new, or make them reflect on their own life and experiences.

By breaking out of the traditional romance parameters my novel aims to offer a multi-layered story, with characters that are flawed, like we all are, characters that make bad and morally dubious choices, suffer profound heartbreak as consequence, and become better versions of themselves along the way.

I also believe very few readers are strictly devoted to one genre exclusively, and are willing to venture out and try something different. In short, I’d tell them, please give it a try, and I promise you will not be disappointed. Like ice cream, romance comes in many flavours, from commercial to literary, traditional to less traditional.

I decided to feature you here because I see this novel as a fantasy/paranormal romance (and I’m more about fantasy than romance around here). What elements of fantasy are present in this story? How would you interest fantasy readers in your novel?

 Fantasy elements in Poisonous Whispers are the supernatural forces, or malevolent gods who play with the heroine’s fate across several incarnations. She hears their voices in her dreams and in a state of wakefulness and wonders if we humans are the objects gods use for their own amusement. In one of her past incarnations, the heroine also has special powers she uses to protect herself. Readers who are mostly interested in fantasy may not find enough of it in Poisonous Whispers, unless they consider reincarnation as part of fantasy.

You have an academic background. What inspired you to write a fiction novel?

I’ve always been intoxicated with the written word, and I’ve always been an avid reader. My decision to pursue literary studies was an easy and natural one. My writing attempts began in elementary school. I wrote a Western story, then a collection of poems and fables. I always wanted to write a novel, but never trusted my ability to write one.

My inspiration for writing novels comes mostly from the stories friends and acquaintances tell me. I am fascinated both by storytelling and human stories. For that reason, my novel is full of sub-plots.

There are many historical elements in your novel. Did you do research on those time periods? Why did you choose the times you did?

 I researched the historical periods trying to reflect them as credibly as I could. For example, I researched witch trials in Ireland and opera in Italy. Because the novel describes past life incarnations, I selected the times in which the heroine could have lived before her current incarnation. I selected Ireland and England because I find both countries highly alluring, and I chose Italy because I’ve visited it many times and could never get enough of it. I’d like to mention that most of my research was spent on the psychology of adultery, which is one of the main themes of the book.

Now that you’ve published a novel, what’s next for your writing career? Any hints about what you’re working on now?

I have written two short stories and am writing a third one. I have started a sequel to Poisonous Whispers, in which I plan to show what happened from the perspective of other characters. Most of us have heard about the Rashomon effect, that is, everyone’ perception is subjective. In Poisonous Whispers the reader sees the events through the eyes of Leandra, the heroine. In the sequel, the male protagonists will give their account of the same events. I also plan to write another scholarly article based on a project I have been leading as part of my regular job.

Thanks so much, Jana.

Readers, do you have questions for Jana?

Be sure to check out the giveaway for a $10 gift card. All the purchase links for Poisonous Whispers can be found here.

A Novel way to Write a Novel

image from www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com

There are books on the process of writing a novel. Entire websites are dedicated to the subject. And none of them suggest doing it the way I’m about to demonstrate.

As I move through the process, the reason for that will become abundantly clear. In fact, multiple reasons for avoiding my novel way of writing a novel will flash like neon warnings.

But did that stop me?

And it begins

I’ve been working on a short story project since March. I’ve alluded to it several times in posts here or updates on Facebook.

However, even though I have a signed contract, I was sworn to secrecy. It was my Top Secret project.

As I pen these words, I still haven’t been given the go ahead to announce the project or my participation therein. What was supposed to have an October 2015 publishing date has been pushed back to February 2016.

The repercussions of a story I wrote specifically to submit to this secret project ring like aftershocks in my writing world.

It all began with a line from an email:

“Last, but not least, the publisher is curious as to whether you’d be interested in developing The Demon Was Me into a full novel! (Way to go, Sharon!)”

In a world where I sent queries into the depths of cyberspace, pleading for a chance to send my fully written, revised, edited and proofed novel for their reading enjoyment, that simple sentence knocked me for a loop.

And there were expectations

I would have been crazy to shrug off this opportunity. So, I sent a cautious reply to my editor.

And the email correspondence continued for another week.

What the publisher wanted, however, wasn’t a novel – or even the outline of a story. These were the specifications for what she wanted:

“To retain threads of time, theme, characters in the short story and throw out ideas that can be explored further” in a novel-length work.

Does anyone go about building a story this way?

Isn’t the seed usually for a premise or concept, or maybe a character or problem?

And there were plenty of lee lines hanging around in my short story. In fact, my main character had something like a heavenly directive given to him in the resolution of the 9000-word experience (otherwise known as short fiction).

So, rather than outlining his complete story, I was supposed to brainstorm possibilities for what happened afterward.

Yeah, I scribbled out three full notebook pages without pause.

But how can I organize these tidbits into something compelling enough to convince this publisher she wants the story?

And deadlines

The initial deadline to share my visions of where the story might go (after it ends in the short story bought and to-be-published) was given.

“The publisher would love to have a 10-point outline from you by October 1.”

More gaping.

I have an idea factory inside my brain. Every fiction writer I know has something similar. The slightest thing becomes a seed for a full-blown tale.

The same was true for the universe I imagined in detail as the setting of this short story.

So the scribbles continued. First, I guessed I had enough for a four-book series. On closer thought, I condensed it into a trilogy.

But the stakes and the ticking clock needed for the first installment still seemed a little week.

And wait! Am I even supposed to be planning this stuff?

The ten points that are due …the clock is ticking on that…don’t have to outline a complete story.

Shouldn’t I have sighed with relief? Instead, frustration mounted.

I seriously didn’t know how to pitch on incomplete story idea. Should I focus on a few premises? Let the publisher take her pick?

And brainstorming sessions

Those original three handwritten pages were a drop in the bucket.

I expanded the 500-word history I’d written for my setting into a nearly 3000-word history. I laid out the different sub-sections of the war-torn country. I gave each of them inhabitants and a governing style and leaders.

Now there were people for my hero to meet on his journey.

And so I filled more notebook pages with descriptions of the people and their problems. I listed possible conflicts that would arise when my hero encountered those systems.

And it still looks like a trilogy in the making or one FAT novel (not the preference for YA readers).

But I didn’t know what to include in the requested outline. So I called on my fabulous editor.

And waiting

When it was all said and done, written down in sparkling clean fashion and emailed to the publisher, the waiting began.

Again.

Sometimes it feels like writing is more about waiting than it is about transcribing pretty words on a page to form cool adventures.

Are you writing a novel? If you’re nodding yes, don’t follow this plan. Seriously.

The Artisans by Julie Reece: a MUST read

Sometimes I avoid reading a book because I think the subject matter is wrong for me. That was the case with The Artisans by Julie Reece. It was reviewed as a ghost story.

First of all, horror movies are not for me. I will have nightmares for weeks. The same goes for scary books (because my imagination is every bit as good as Hollywood’s best special effects).

So even though I heard great things about this book – and interact with the author in an online critique group, I avoided reading it.

Then it went on sale for $3. Yep. I couldn’t avoid the impulse purchase.

And after finishing the book this morning, I’m not at all sad to have caved in to my baser need for books. I only wish I had snapped the thing up when it first released into print.

Summary

Raven’s stepfather’s in trouble. His alcohol problem has led to a gambling debt and getting on the nerves of the powerful Maddox family. To get him the help he needs, she agrees to live with and work for Gideon Maddox.

She thinks she’d in danger from Gideon, but she soon discovers things are not all peaceful and serene in the enormous mansion where she lives and works. While her heart fights attraction to the complex master of the house, ghosts from the past make her fight for her very life.

This is a modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast with a paranormal twist.

My Review

I’m not a fan of ghost stories. Did I already say that? Sorry. To reiterate, I don’t read ghost stories. If they don’t make me have nightmares, they make my eyes roll in disbelief.

I read to immerse myself in a different world. Why would I read something that constantly kicked me back to reality because it was unbelievable?

That is not Ms. Reece’s ghost story. She has a plausible explanation and resolution for the spirits haunting the pages of this young adult romance.

I adore Raven. From the first page to the last, I wanted her to succeed. Her backstory was complex and well-constructed and her personality had just enough contradiction to keep her believable.

I loved the banter between Raven and her two friends. Although they were minor characters, her friends were well-drawn. No cardboard cutouts here.

Although Ms. Reece did a fine job making Gideon likable, I still had trouble seeing past his veneer. Of course, that works for the first part of the story. He won me over when he chased after Raven. Seriously, I hate when guys let the girl of their dreams walk out.

The magical element – why Raven could see and hear the ghosts when no one else could – was never explained. This bummed me out a little, but didn’t keep me from loving the story.

After all, “The Force was a lot more interesting before it was explained.”

My Recommendation

If you love quirky teenage heroines, you want to read this story. If you like a little bit of ghost with your romance, you’ll find this book worth every moment you spend in its pages.

Hot guys? Yep, that’s here. Laughter and tears? Another yes. A book that’s hard to put down? Oh, yeah.

If you’re an adult, you’ll enjoy this book. The mystery and intrigue will keep you wondering. There isn’t too much angst and only a couple hot-and-heavy kisses.

Don’t let the description of “Southern gothic horror” deter you if you’re not a big paranormal fan. Is it creepy in spots? Most definitely. And I refused to read it after dark on principle.

But I could hardly wait for it to be daytime so I could start reading it again. Worth five stars in my book.

Waiting for News? Write on!

By the time you read this post, it will have been four weeks since I mailed out my queries for Doomsday Dragons.

The first week after they were gone, I was still combing through the manuscript. I read it aloud. Strengthened the sentences with stronger verbs and more precise nouns and descriptors. Tried to polish it to a sparkling gem.

Then I closed the Scrivener file and moved on to a different project.

What? Did I check my email every ten minutes looking for manuscript requests?

Not really. But I didn’t need to.

Early Responders

Shock of all shockers, I had answers to some of the queries in the very first week.

In fact, within six days, three agents responded with “no thanks.” I was impressed by this because all of them requested between four to eight weeks to get through their queries.

One of these only allowed query letters. Their only taste of my story came from the query description. Obviously, they weren’t impressed by dragons.

The others? I guessed they also probably weren’t piqued by a dragon story. It takes a very specific sort of person to imbibe the myth and fire.

The fourth response was a notice of an undeliverable mail. So even though I checked all the links and double-checked all the email addresses, one of the agencies was no longer receiving mail at the address they advertised on their website.

Four of twelve responses within one week. Not too shabby.

Except they all amounted to 100 percent rejection.

Non-Responders

There were just as many who made no promise to even respond to every query.

Of the twelve, four of them said that hearing nothing after a certain time frame would be equal to a “no thank you” email.

The surprise? The amount of time given before drawing this conclusion ranged from two weeks to twelve weeks.

Talk about holding out hope.

Or maybe it would be more accurate to assume dashed hopes. And then if an email magically appears, it can only be good news.

People I Pitched

Of course, the two people I pitched my idea to at the writer’s conference will get the full 90 to 120 days before I begin to assume the worst.

At least they’ll respond.

I hope they’ll remember me favorably enough to offer advice if they decide the project isn’t for them. Don’t I deserve at least that much?

The Rest of the Pack

That leaves only two out of twelve agencies that will still respond to me sometime during this lengthy waiting period.

Fortunately, I’m not holding my breath.

I’m not sitting on my hands or biting my nails.

I’m following the professional writer’s prescription for winning this waiting game: write something new.

In fact, I had to polish a novella that’s coming out in a month or two and deliver it to an editor. Then I nibbled on the idea for another short story.

And, of course, the women’s fiction novel I’d begun writing while waiting for the last of the beta edits on Doomsday Dragon still needed finishing.

The best way to insure a watched pot boils is to walk away.

In writing terms: write something else without constantly checking your in-box.

What about you? What are your tricks for making waiting bearable? Please share. Not that any of us our impatient or anything…

Whose story is it anyway?

In a non-parody of a comedic television show, let’s take a moment to investigate the ownership of a published work. Recently, this author has been pondering this oft-debated issue, and I’ve come up with four possibilities.

One of the co-authors in the romance anthology Accidental Valentine posted on the topic July 16, 2015. Her points made me reconsider this whole notion that a story belongs to any one person.

I hope you’ll take the time to read Wendy Sparrow’s post on this topic, as well as the comments (there were only two at the time of this writing). I won’t attempt to paraphrase what she says because I don’t want to twist her original meaning.

And there is the crux of this issue for me. How can I know Shakespeare’s intended meaning a few hundred years after his death? 

If an author is still living, and of sound mind, I suppose we could interview them to find out what they meant. However, if we assume that words can take on a life of their own when formed into a story, is the original intention even the point?

Those questions are to give you a hint how my brain arrived at the four possible owners of a story. (And I’m not talking about copyright issues because we have laws that clearly govern those.) Once a story is penned, published and consumed, does the story belong to the author, the readers, the literary community at large or the characters?

Perhaps you have a fourth alternative. I hope you’ll share it in the comments.

Author

As an author, it’s no surprise that my first thought of ownership centers on the story’s creator. Surely, the one who created it should be able to say, “That’s my story.”

As Wendy Sparrow says in her post, ” authors pour a little bit of themselves into what they write, so taking the author’s opinion away from the work might strip it of some of its value.”

I would say authors pour heart and soul into whatever piece of fiction they’re working on. And creative non-fiction based on personal experiences takes an even bigger chunk. If the author holds back, the writing lacks authenticity.

Like Hemingway said, “It is easy to write. Just sit in front of your typewriter and bleed.” (Read more on the debate of the true origination of this quote here.)

However, I can’t take full credit for any of the stories I’ve created. Something in the real world sparked the idea in my brain. It originated from that little seed. To grow it, I just kept expanding on the idea, asking “what if” until I had a solid story line.

Readers

I agree with Sparrow in that I am a reader first. I love to write. I live to write (or is that I write for a living?), but my first love is reading.

Once an author releases a story into the world through publishing, it settles into the hearts and minds of readers. Some stories are in the mind only as long as it takes to read them. Others embed themselves deep in the heart, offering up reminders of characters whose attitudes and experiences shaped my own worldview.

Do I write for readers? Yes. My stories are as much for them as it is for me. If I didn’t want to share it with someone, I wouldn’t.

Does that mean I’ve relinquished ownership to them?

What does that mean? Ownership, according to dictionary.com is “the state or fact of being a person who has or holds” some object. Ownership implies possession. If I possess it, it is mine.

Once I publish the story, I have consented to share its ownership. By making it available for public consumption, I’m sharing my creation. It’s like baking a cake. Everyone who consumes a part of the cake becomes owner of its deliciousness. I can’t take it back. It’s in them.

The same with written words. Once they are consumed, they become part of the consumer. That story is now part of the reader. It might go out as quickly as the cake. Or it might stay around for awhile (like the fat on my waistline from all the cake I’ve consumed over the years).

Sparrow says it well: “Authors want readers to invest in their stories…to become so involved that they care what happens to the characters. In some ways, we want to pass on ownership of our vision to the reader so that they immerse themselves in reading. It’s the only way a book becomes more than just text and becomes a journey.”

Literary Community

Once a book is published, it’s fodder for the public. One major voice in this realm is the literary community. You know who I mean, the professors at universities and English teachers at every level.

We’ve all suffered through a lecture on symbolism in some classic story or another. We were told the blue walls represented the author’s depression. The sword was a euphemism for death or power or kingship. (How can it be all three at once?)

In her post, Sparrow cited some literary figure and his theory on “The Death of an Author” (read more here if you’re interested). He’s one of many who believes if an author didn’t infer or state something in the text, it shouldn’t be later implied to be there.

Can we hear professors of literature everywhere sobbing?

Let’s face it, stories – especially fiction – are subjective. Each of us interpret the text through the stained glass of our own experiences. And the author did the same while they wrote it.

Can a story mean more than one thing? Certainly. It can live a thousand lives in the heart or mind of anyone who reads it and gleans meaning from it.

As an author, I want people to find themselves in my stories. I want them to relate to characters who are like them and find compassion for those who are completely contrary. Some of my writing is purely for entertainment, but even a short romance story I wrote had a deeper message: “breaking free from expectations takes determination.”

Characters

This is where my mind went after I read Sparrow’s post.

I might have birthed the story. In fact, I know I labored hard to perfect it on the page. It’s my baby. Or, I should say, it’s about a bunch of my babies. I’ve given them life by writing their story down and sharing it with others.

“Dream Architect” is whose story? Ashlin’s and Dylan’s. I told their story and submitted it to a publisher. The publisher liked it and bought the first American publishing rights to it. (So maybe the publisher is the owner of the story-for three years anyway.) Readers consumed the story.

But the story is about Ashlin and Dylan. It belongs to them. They lived it (as much as a fictional character can). They experienced the accidental encounter and the turmoil that followed. I wrote their experiences down and readers learned about them through reading, but the story is Ashlin’s and Dylan’s.

What do you think? Does a story have a single owner (possessor)? Do all of these people share in ownership of a story?

Meet the Author: Krista Ames

Author_interview

Today, I have a special treat for my readers. We’re going to talk to a real live author. She is working on a new romance series and the first book, a novella, released this week.

Along with chatting up Krista Ames, you can read all about her book (I’ve read it, and it’s definitely worth checking out) AND enter an awesome giveaway (Link at bottom of the post).

Welcome, Krista. Thanks for taking time out to chat with my blog followers.

First of all, authors aren’t all about writing. We like to get out of the house sometimes. Let’s go to the movies, Krista. What sort of film do you want to see?

I love the movies, let’s go !!!!!  My all-time favorite type of movie is actually the mushy romantic movies (a romance writer’s dream) with a full-fledged happy ending!  However…in the last five or so years, since I met and married my hubby, he’s opened my eyes (kicking and screaming, of course) to horror (*shivers*).  Not gory horror but the mysterious,  scary horror (*shivers even more*).  I’ve also gotten hooked by my children on some of the Dystopian movies and just about anything paranormal.

What film comes to mind when someone says “the best movie ever”?

As far as “the best movie ever”?  I could group a bunch in that category but my all-time favorite movie is Price & Prejudice, the one with Kiera Knightly!

Let’s talk men, for a moment. My perfect hero is a combination between the generosity of my husband and the hot-factor of Gerard Butler. Describe your perfect hero. Does he resemble anyone in your world?

Photo credit to mygezza.com

There is definitely something to be said for Gerard Butler for sure, and I’ve for sure got my hotness favorites like Channing Tatum and Kenny Chesney but I think my perfect hero is my hubby (me too!).  He came into my life when I was grieving over a failed marriage and raising three kids on my own.  He is everything that I always wanted in a husband.  He holds my hand when we go for a drive or a walk, he hugs & kisses me for no reason and tells me he loves me all the time.  It’s really nice to hear it first.  There’s always a kiss good morning, a kiss when he walks in the door from work and even if we do argue over something before bed, we still kiss goodnight.  He loves me and makes sure I know it 🙂

Readers always want to know about an author’s quirks. Let’s talk about where we work. I love writing in a well-lit area that is extremely quiet – could be my office or my patio. What is your best “creative” space like?

I am a stay at home mom with four kids and FOUR crazy schedules so, the place I actually like to write is the dining room table.  It is right in the midst of the living room and kitchen.  I can see all from that spot.  Big table so I can spread out and a lot of light to see.  Plus I can watch those horror movies with my hubby and still be in my work area.  The laundry room is right around the corner for when the dryer dings or a hop-skip to the kitchen sink for dishes.  My kids always know right where to find me.

WOW! I admire full-time moms who can turn on their creative genius in a house full of controlled chaos. I could never figure out how to do that, which is why my full-time writing career is happening now that my nest is empty.

I’m still waiting for my first fan letter from someone I don’t know personally. What is the most meaningful thing a stranger has ever said about any of your stories? OR what would be the most meaningful thing a stranger could say to you about your writing?

To be honest, I’m still waiting on mine as well   I did one time have a couple different review blogs tell me how great my writing was, and it made my heart melt !

Now for a few quick answers, just for fun:

  • Army or Navy? Do I have to choose?  Ok, Navy
  • Cowboy or Fireman? Tough choice….  Cowboy
  • Chocolate or Strawberry? Strawberry
  • Mints or Gum? Mints
  • Morning or Evening? Evening
  • Cats or Dogs? (I know you have both, so yes, this is a trick question) lol, Dogs
  • Bike or Walk? Walk
  • Unicorn or Pegasus? Pegasus
  • Greek or Roman? Greek

So much for us being twins! We agree on cowboys, mints and Pegasus in this list. Oh well. It was a blast getting to know another author. Thanks for stopping by and chatting with us.

Sharon, thanks so much for having me on your blog.  I had a great time answering your questions!

All you ever wanted to know about the Author:

Photo from KristaAmes.com
Photo from KristaAmes.com

Born and raised in Northern Indiana, Krista now resides in Northern Lower Michigan.  She is married to a very supportive man who allows her to follow her true passion of writing and never complains when she is pirated away on her computer for hours.  He is excellent at bouncing ideas around with and even helps the occasional writers block.  He’s also a terrific “in house” editor.  Krista is also a mother of 4 ornery children who keep her plenty busy.  With an addition of 2 beautiful chocolate lab sisters and a playful kitty, there is never a dull or spare moment in her household.

Krista has always loved to read and would often sit up for hours into the night not able to put down a book until she was finished.  She still reads when she can but her main focus is creating her own stories to share with the world.

She loves to communicate with her readers so please feel free to drop her a line anytime.

 Connect with Ms. Ames on these platforms:

Email: krista@kristaames.com

Website: http://www.kristaames.com

Blog: http://www.apassionforromance.blogspot.com

 

MorgansMountain_Cvr_FinalTitle:  Morgan’s Mountain, A Montana Series Novella
Author:  Krista Ames
Publisher:  Roane Publishing

Blurb:

On the proverbial run from another failed relationship, Morgan finds herself in the one place she always found solace. With every intention of being alone, she’s surprised when she comes across the one person she never expected.

Luke would go to the ends of the earth to figure out why Morgan ran away five years ago and make things right with her. However, a dangerous trek up the mountains to her family’s cabin might not have been the smartest choice. To say she was happy to see him would be a huge lie.  Having to rescue him, mortifying for Luke.

Toss a kidnapper into the mix and their feelings for each other are brought into perspective, revealing parts of themselves they never thought would come to light.

Buy it now at your favorite retailer:

Roane Publishing
Amazon
Amazon (UK)
Barnes and Noble
Smashwords
Bookstrand
All Romance eBooks

Find Morgan’s Mountain on Goodreads!

Don’t miss the rest of the tour!  http://www.roanepublishing.com/morgans-mountain1.html

a Rafflecopter giveaway