Pages

Monday, June 30, 2014

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Cheryl Brooks

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! Today I have a special guest--my fabulous critique partner/beta reader, Cheryl Brooks!!! Her latest Cat Star Chronicles book, Rebel, releases tomorrow, and I can tell you it's a fast-paced, action-packed (and of course, HOT) story for those of us who love Zetithians. Yes, I've read it. My well-laid plans to beta read/critique two to three chapters a day failed. :) Be sure to comment for a chance to win a copy of Rebel--reader's choice of e-book or print!

Here's a peek:

Blurb:
Recently retired from the Zetithian Palace brothel, Onca rescues a homeless Zetithian woman and becomes enmeshed in her crusade to liberate her friends from slavery.

Orphaned at an early age, Kimcasha Shrovenach has lived by her wits, but she’s never encountered a man she can love until she meets Onca.

Excerpt:
Other women paid for him,
Only she gets to keep him.


The city of Damenk never slept, but parts of it did get a little drowsy now and then. Onca strolled down a dimly lit street in just such a neighborhood, enjoying the peaceful stillness. Talwat was a residential district. No pheromones or subliminal advertising fogged the atmosphere here, and it was quiet after dark, especially in the hours just before dawn.

Although he’d taken this same route hundreds of times, this day was unique. His most recent client had seemed honored that she was his last before taking a much-needed rest. She had smiled, tucked a lock of her hair behind her ear, and told him to call on her if he ever needed help. Allowing her to feel special had cost him nothing, but really, it didn’t mean a damn thing—even her name escaped him now. That session simply marked the end of a long stretch before the time when there were no appointments, no ladies waiting for the use of his body, and certainly no need to sleep at the Palace. He was going home.

There were plenty of men who would have loved his job and would never have considered taking a vacation. Onca didn’t see it that way. No matter how pleasurable or lucrative it might be, it was still a job. He recalled hearing someone say that any occupation, no matter how much fun it was as a hobby, took on all the trappings and burdens of a job the moment money became involved.

That someone was right. Since his partners Jerden and Tarq had left the business, Onca had been trying to keep up with the demand, but he was finally forced to admit that even he couldn’t maintain the pace forever. He had fucked six—no, eight—women that day. Although none had complained that he’d rushed them, he knew he had. Still, he doubted they would have blamed him for hurrying had they understood the circumstances. Onca’s days began at ten and went until four the following morning, and he’d gone from doing one client every three hours to one every two—an hour with the lady followed by an hour to relax, plus an hour each for lunch and dinner.

It’s a wonder my dick still works.

He didn’t even have that excuse. One whiff of an aroused woman’s scent, and he was ready to go again—all set to dive cock-first into a hot, wet pussy. He could think about it now, but without the scent, his cock remained flaccid. He’d even gotten to where he could stifle an erection if he smelled feminine desire in public, which was a useful skill for a Zetithian man to possess. Particularly one who worked in an area where the street pheromones had every passing woman panting with need.

He planned to put that skill to good use over the next few weeks. From now on, he was simply another inhabitant of a large city—anonymous and invisible. He had even donned clothing prior to leaving the Palace, something he’d rarely bothered to do before. For that matter, he didn’t always go home. Roncas had long since given up trying to wake him after the last appointment, merely allowing him to sleep right where his client had left him. She would wake him in plenty of time to have breakfast and a shower before his first session of the day.

Poor Roncas. The tiny Zuteran woman would be left to deal with the calls from new customers, even though Onca had told her to stop making appointments two years ago, following his return from Jerden’s wedding on Terra Minor. Instead of posting an announcement, she had opted to stay on for a week or two before taking her own sabbatical—no doubt deriving some sort of fiendish delight in telling desperate women that the resident Zetithian stud had taken an indefinite leave of absence.

She certainly didn’t need the extra pay. Onca knew precisely how many credits she had stashed away, and her hefty parting bonus would allow her to live in style for the rest of her days. He could have lived like a prince himself, had he chosen to do so. However, he preferred a simpler lifestyle. Granted, he owned a house on Rhylos, which was pricey enough, but it was a modest dwelling in a neighborhood noted more for its peace and quiet than its ostentatious display of wealth.
Until the next moment, when the blessed silence was broken by running footsteps. The smack of two bodies colliding followed, accompanied by a masculine grunt and a decidedly feminine gasp.

“Let go of me, you creep!”

The man’s chuckle raised the hair at Onca’s nape. “Not likely, girly. You’re mine now.”

Onca sighed. A knight errant, he was not, although he was carrying a pulse pistol—something Jack had insisted upon if he persisted in pursuing what she considered to be a dangerous occupation for one of the galaxy’s few remaining Zetithians.

“You’ll end up dead,” Jack had warned. “Rutger Grekkor isn’t the only jealous man in the universe. You just watch yourself, bucko—especially when you’re out on the street. And in restaurants, make damned sure you’re sitting in the gunfighter’s seat.”

She’d had to explain what she meant by that, of course. Jack had made a study of old Earth’s culture, with the result that her conversation was peppered with figures of speech that no one else understood, and she took smug satisfaction in insulting miscreants with thousand-year-old expletives.

Unlike the words now issuing from the captive lady’s mouth. They were all explicit, succinct, contemporary terms—some of them having their origins on worlds far removed from Rhylos.

A highly diverse vocabulary for a lady.

Rounding the corner, he spotted the couple. A hulking Herpatronian with enough leather strapped to his simian body to satisfy the most perverse fetish held a struggling woman against the wall of a nearby dwelling.

At least, Onca assumed she was a woman. At the moment, all he could see of her was a mass of dark brown curls peeking out from beneath her captor’s arm. Then it struck him that if her size was any indication, this was a young girl rather than an adult. Suddenly, the fact that he was armed was immaterial. A child must be defended, if only with bare hands and fangs.

However, since he was armed, he drew his pistol, set it for a light stun, and fired a shot, pinging the man in the ass. With a howl, the beast abandoned his victim and took off running.

If Onca had expected the girl to fall at his feet in gratitude, he would have been sorely disappointed by her reaction, which was more akin to the ire of a hissing, spitting cat.

“You idiot!” she screeched. “What the hell did you do that for?”

Onca stared at her, not quite believing his pointed ears. “Let me get this straight. You wanted that big ape to rape you?”

Her scowl was enough to scare off more than a Herpatronian; therefore, he concluded that she must not have been trying to escape. A quick once-over revealed a small, thin girl clad in skimpy strips of ragged green satin—attire that might have been alluring on a more voluptuous form, yet only made her look like an underage streetwalker fallen on desperate times.

“No, I did not want that big ape to rape me,” she mocked. “I’m trying to find my friends.”

“Peculiar method,” he commented. “Unless, of course, he knows something you don’t.”

Her face seemed to crumble slightly. “I don’t know whether he does or not. I’m trying to find out what happened to them. Three of them just…disappeared.”

“Why didn’t you go to the police? I’m sure their methods would be more effective—and less dangerous.”

Bowing her head, she muttered something he couldn’t catch.

“What was that?”

Her head snapped up, and she glared at him. “I said they’d probably lock me up if I said anything.”

“You mean the police are in on this?”

“No, I mean…” With a wince, she sniffed in a breath, crossing her arms over her nonexistent bosom. “I’m the sort of person they don’t like running around loose.”

“Ah, I see.” A homeless waif—and probably an orphan—which was one of the few things Rhylos prided itself on not having in abundance. “I agree. You shouldn’t be running around loose. It’s much too dangerous, as you can see. There are schools and orphanages for kids like you.”

“I’m not a kid.” She practically spat the words at him. “I’m twenty-two years old and I’ve been on my own since I was ten. I can take care of myself, thank you very much.”

At least she had said thank you. Sort of. “Did you ever consider that the authorities might have picked up your friends? If they were living on the street and someone reported them…”

She shook her head. “I don’t think so. I’ve seen that happen before. It’s very official and well publicized. The cops like to advertise when they do something good—at least, something they think is good. This was different.” Her arms were still crossed over her chest, and she hugged herself, shuddering. “All three of them disappeared during the night without a trace.” She nodded in the direction her assailant had taken. “He was the first lead I had.”

Onca refused to apologize. “Don’t worry. I can report this little skirmish to the police myself. After all, I was a witness.”

Squaring her shoulders, she glared up at him, sweeping her curls behind her ears in an angry, infuriated gesture as she stomped her foot. “You will not.”

Onca’s jaw dropped. “Mother of the gods,” he whispered. “You’re Zetithian.”

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Rebel-The-Cat-Star-Chronicles/dp/1402285167/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1379597580&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=Rebel+cheryl+brooks
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/rebel-cheryl-brooks/1116882546?ean=9781402285165
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/rebel/id786669595?mt=11

Author Bio:
Cheryl Brooks is a former critical care nurse and native of Louisville, Kentucky, who resides in rural Indiana with her husband, two sons, two horses, four cats, and one dog. Rebel is the tenth book in her Cat Star Chronicles series, which includes Slave, Warrior, Rogue, Outcast, Fugitive, Hero, Virgin, Stud, and Wildcat. She has self-published one ebook, Sex, Love, and a Purple Bikini, and one erotic short story, Midnight in Reno. Her self-published erotic contemporary romance series, Unlikely Lovers, includes Unbridled, Uninhibited, Undeniable, and Unrivaled. She has also published If You Could Read My Mind writing as Samantha R. Michaels. As a member of The Sextet, she has written several erotic novellas published by Siren/Bookstrand. Her other interests include cooking, gardening, singing, and guitar playing. Cheryl is a member of RWA and IRWA. You can visit her online at www.cherylbrooksonline.com or email her at cheryl.brooks52@yahoo.com.

Links:
Website: http:///www.cherylbrooksonline.com
Blog: http://www.cherylbrooksauthor.blogspot.com
Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.brooks.963
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/CherylCatMaster
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/cbcatmaster/
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Cheryl-Brooks/e/B001JS6XN0/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/CherylBrooks55
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/752898.Cheryl_Brooks
Shelfari: http://www.shelfari.com/search/books?Keywords=Cheryl%20Brooks#Page=3

This book is a must read! Leave a comment by midnight EDT on Wednesday, July 2, for a chance to win your choice of e-book or print of Rebel!!!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Reviews

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! A writing career consists of much more than writing stories. Be prepared. Be educated. Make well-informed decisions. For writing craft topics, see the Labels list in the left sidebar as you scroll down the page or check out my handbook in e-book or print.

Reviews...the coveted, the uplifting, the ego-killers. They can help produce sales and make books eligible for certain types of paid promotion and advertising.

Every author wants readers to love her stories—it’s human nature. However, reading reviews can lead to writer’s block, fear of failure, and bad behavior for the unprepared. Here are some rules to live by:

Rule #1: Not everyone will like the book. Award winning, best written, bestseller—none of it matters. Each reader will have his/her own opinion, which may or may not be the same as the author’s or another reader’s.

Rule #2: Grow a thick skin. Agent and editor rejections are usually polite, if impersonal at times. Reviews can be scathing and blunt.

Rule #3: Avoid reading reviews. Yes, a great review can boost the ego, but a bad one can affect writing. Writers write. Reviewers review. Keep them separate.

Rule #4: Bad reviews might actually help sales. Curiosity can lead to readers wanting to know why a book was rated low.

Rule #5: Sometimes, authors review books for the sole purpose of giving low ratings. Retaliation is tempting. Following through lowers the author to the author-reviewer’s level. Rise above and maintain professionalism. Do not encourage readers to behave in the same manner as the author-reviewer, either.

Rule #6: Professional reviewers may or may not like authors thanking them for reviews. Tread carefully.

Rule #7: Screen reviewers before sending ARCs and books. Some reviewers pirate free review copies. Talk to other authors and choose wisely.

Rule #8: Ask readers to leave reviews and ratings on retail sites, Goodreads, etc. politely, without pressure, and occasionally rather than frequently. Begging is unbecoming.

Rule #9: Reviews can be personal attacks on the author and may contain inaccurate plot, character, and story references. They may also be poorly written, with bad grammar and horrendous spelling. Let the review speak for itself. Most readers will recognize an unhelpful review when they see one.

Rule #10: Do not respond to negative reviews. Repeat. Do NOT respond to negative reviews. Say it with me. DO NOT RESPOND TO NEGATIVE REVIEWS. Defending a book can quickly become a lose-lose situation. Close the browser window and step away from the keyboard. Do. Not. Respond.

Reviews are simply another part of a writing career and maintaining a professional demeanor is vital in the publishing world. With today’s instant social media network, an author’s single bout of bad behavior can spread to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. with a single click, resulting in lost readers and potential readers. Agents and editors will think twice about working with an author who makes a public misstep. Be the author those professional colleagues will respect.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Loc Glin

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! Loc Glin joins me this week and shares a peek at her book, Unleashing the Woman Within, book 3 of her Mystic Museum series. She's giving away a copy to one lucky commenter, so be sure to comment for a chance to win!

Blurb:
Rowena Milestone, corporate executive, has an accomplished career. Yet one thing eludes her. Try as she might she can’t seem to have an orgasm even though she likes sex. Her position in the corporate man’s world tends to intimidate her dates. They perform well enough in bed, but they just don’t push her over the edge, until she meets Stephen.
Stephen Sloan has a secret. He belongs to a very special, no holds barred, anything goes sex club. He never thought he’d meet anyone like Rowena there, so he wanted to believe her outrageous story that she didn’t know how she’d gotten there. When she disappeared without a trace he knew she’d been telling the truth. Now armed with three pieces of information he is determined to find her.
Rowena was devastated when the curator of the museum couldn’t help. Minerva had said, "If the universe is willing, he will come to you." Fat chance she has of that happening.
Note: This book contains forced seduction.

Buy link: http://www.bookstrand.com/unleashing-the-woman-within

Interview:
Me: What inspired you to write your first book?
Loc Glin: I still wonder about the answer to that question. At the time I was reading a lot, which is sort of normal for me. I had a "What if" moment. For whatever reason, an idea for a story came to me. I'd never even thought about being an author. The story was a magnificent, space, time travel, intergalactic, love story that was filled with superpowers. No small undertaking for someone with absolutely NO writing experience. Well, it has yet to be published. The amazing thing, at least to me, was the fact that I finished writing it in the first place, and then I went on to create a sequel with one of the characters. The sequel has also been completed, and again, it hasn’t been published. This year, I am seriously considering dusting them off, tweaking them a bit, and working on getting them published. I've learned a great deal since those days. Today they would fall into the genre of New Adult.

Me: Do you see writing as a career?
Loc Glin: As opposed to a job? Yes, I'd say I see writing as a career. Since I hold down a full time job, right now writing is more like a hobby that takes up an enormous amount of time, but has the side benefit of having earned me a few bucks. I'm working on and hoping to turn it into a career.

Me: This book is part of a series. Do you prefer to write single title or series? Why?
Loc Glin: This is the third book in the series. Each book in The Mystic Museum Series is a standalone single novella, unrelated and vastly different from the others. So far there are six stories, three of those are published. The first is a shape shifter ménage, called Howling at the Moon. The second is a MM/F ménage about a widower exploring his changing sexual desires. It's called Dulce Isle. The third is called Unleashing the Woman Within, which contains BDSM. The connecting factor is the museum.
I wouldn't say that I prefer to write series. It just seems that when I write, supporting characters sometimes catch my imagination, and their story simmers until it just has to be told. The stories aren't really connected. It's more like the character was "born" in the first book.

Me: How did you come up with the title?
Loc Glin: This title, like so many of my titles, was a long time in coming. The book didn't name itself until the very end. Given enough time, my books seem to name themselves.

Me: What’s your favorite sub-genre (contemporary, sci-fi, etc.) to write? To read?
Loc Glin: Fantasy with a capital F. Actually you can all cap that. I love to create magic and special powers, alternate realities and strange universes. I suppose you could throw some sci-fi and romance into that mix. Historical romance is probably what I read the most. I'd love to be able to write it more comfortably. It takes a lot of research to do it well. I do have one historical romance published called The Curse of Winford Manor. Since you know what I like to write, it shouldn't be difficult to figure out that it has paranormal elements, like a ghost, and time travel. There’s a bit of a mystery in it as well.

Me: I usually get plot ideas in the shower and while driving. When/where does inspiration strike you?
Loc Glin: Usually when I'm writing, or trying to fall asleep, which can be quite annoying. Other than that I'd say anytime, anywhere.

Me: What new stories are you working on?
Loc Glin: A few days ago I completed a novel that named itself after the twenty second chapter. As I said, titles take a long time to come to me. It is called The Benefits of Betrayal. Soon, I'll start working on the story of a secondary character that was "born" of that novel. Before I start anything new, I want to go back and take a look at the "first" manuscript I created so many years ago.

Author Bio:
I live in Little Falls, New Jersey. I am happily divorced, and I am proud to be able to say that my ex-husband and I are still on friendly terms. We created two beautiful daughters in our union together. For that we will be forever grateful to each other.
My son in-law is proudly defending our country. Because of that, I see too little of my grandson. Duty stations are never close enough to home.
I share my home with a cat I inherited from my daughters and the man I consider my soul-mate.
I work full time, and write in my spare time. I like to watch TV and movies. I like to read. When the warm weather comes, sitting poolside in the sun and swimming take over. I like horseback riding. Unfortunately there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things I like to do, so I choose to write.
I’m the first to admit that my life is uneventful, one could consider it dull. But I’m happy, that’s what matters. Not many people can truly say that. If more people were happy the world would be a better place.

Links:
Website: http://www.LocGlin.com
Blog: Books and Banter http://locglin.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/locglinauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/LocGlin
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/locglin
Amazon UK Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B008D69BBW

Remember to comment by midnight EDT on Wednesday, June 25, for a chance to win a copy of Unleashing the Woman Within!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Balance

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! A writing career consists of much more than writing stories. Be prepared. Be educated. Make well-informed decisions. For writing craft topics, see the Labels list in the left sidebar as you scroll down the page or check out my handbook in e-book or print.

While writing is a full-time career for many authors, not all are able to sit at their computers for six or more uninterrupted hours each day. In fact, the vast majority of writers must Balance numerous demands on their time. Many have part- or full-time jobs in or out of the home. Some have young children or ill family members to care for. Those who homeschool their kids have an important responsibility to fulfill as well. Children’s extracurricular activities or a job requiring travel can mean lots of time spent on the road and at various venues. Laundry, grocery shopping, meals. And a clean house—what’s that???

That doesn’t even take into consideration the time required for social media, promotion, attending events, etc. in relation to having a writing career. The list goes on and on. What about writing time???

Finding a way to balance it all can add stress to an already hectic life. Unfortunately, no single template will work for everyone. The non-writing demands for every author differ greatly and every writer has a method that fits her situation best. Create a manageable calendar with reasonable and realistic goals. Above all, resist comparison to other authors.

Prioritize... Make a list of those things that require a scheduled or unscheduled commitment each day or certain days.
What non-writing jobs/tasks must be done at or by a specified time?
-Day/night job
-Childcare
-Caregiver
-Homeschooler
-Transportation to and/or from school activities
-Meals
-Pay bills

Other variable responsibilities or activities:
-Laundry
-Volunteer work
-Housekeeping
-Doctor/dentist/vet appointments
-Grocery shopping
-Vacation
-Holidays/birthday parties/anniversaries
-Family time
-Exercise

What writing jobs/tasks must be done at or by a specified time?
-Book deadlines/submissions
-Events/appearances/signings
-Writing chapter meetings
-Blog appearances/scheduled posts
-Contest entry judging

Other variable responsibilities or activities:
-Recordkeeping
-Email
-Website updates
-Social media/promotion
-Critiquing/beta reading

Writing...
What time of day is the most effective for writing?
Are publisher- or self-established deadlines achievable with reasonable and realistic word count goals?
Is the location/atmosphere conducive to successful writing?
Is the plotter/pantser/plantser approach still working well?
Are current critique partners/beta readers offering constructive feeback?
Is the current manuscript the best one to write at this time?

Schedule...
Even if the times vary, penciling in tentative writing times can provide enough motivation to stay on track. A calendar also provides a visual account of available time to help establish good writing goals and make adjustments to non-essential activities. Less wasted time means more writing time.

Relaxation time, family/friends time, and self-time are also important in the balance. Authors can avoid the set-up for failure and finally achieve balance with the most basic of schedules, one that lays out exactly what must be accomplished each day, or anything in between.

Take a deep breath. Prioritize. Schedule. Write.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Author Spotlight--Mackenzie Williams

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! This week my guest is Siren author Mackenzie Williams! Read on to find out more about her and her latest book!

Save Me from The Orchard series:
Blurb:
Megan's first party at The Orchard didn't go well. Her fears caused her to panic and she was told she wasn't ready for the BDSM club. She just couldn't walk away, though. Megan felt that Master Brad was the man she had been looking for. A Master that she could trust and would make her happy.
Master Brad has seen something in Megan that has peaked his interest and decides to give her another chance. The pairing was going well and the Dom was even thinking about giving Megan his apple necklace, a club symbol of ownership.
Things soon get complicated, however, when someone from Megan's past comes back into her life. Her ex, Tate, just won't let her move on. Can she overcome her fears and her past for a future with Master Brad? Can her Dom protect and save her?

Buy link: http://www.bookstrand.com/the-orchard-save-me

Interview:
Me: What inspired you to write your first book?
Mackenzie: I love to read. I started having my own stories running through my head and my husband convinced me to try writing.

Me: This book is the second in a new series. Do you prefer to write single title or series? Why?
Mackenzie: I generally prefer series because it gives the reader more chances to get to know the characters and their world.

Me: Give us some insight into your main character. What makes him/her special?
Mackenzie: Megan is the sub we are following in this story. She is a woman that has a hard time feeling content or satisfied. She is always wandering through life. Megan hopes that the club can help her find what will make her happy.

Me: I usually get plot ideas in the shower and while driving. When/where does inspiration strike you?
Mackenzie: I also get ideas in the shower. It is easy for my mind to walk through scenes there. I also seem to get ideas right when I first wake up. Maybe it is the leftovers from my dreams.

Me: What new stories are you working on?
Mackenzie: I am currently working on the third Orchard book.

Author bio:
I am a small town girl from Iowa. I grew up in a large family with four younger brothers. After high school, I went to college and studied Education. I found my future husband there and we were married soon after graduation.
I started writing in the Erotic Romance genre because these are the types of stories I like to read myself. They are exciting and emotional. When I'm not writing I like to turn my brain off and listen to music or watch movies.

Link:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/mackenziewilliams.author

Thanks for stopping by! Now, go check out Mackenzie's books!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

2014 IGO Contest!

Happy Thursday!

Hey, unpublished writers, check out Indiana RWA's IGO Contest! Submit up to 55 pages (including synopsis) and get detailed constructive feedback from trained first-round judges. Our four-page score sheets are category specific. Second-round judging offers TWO acquiring editors for each of our seven categories (contemporary romance, erotic romance, historical romance, inspirational romance, paranormal romance, romantic suspense, and young adult romance).
Ten of our 21 finalists from the 2013 IGO Contest received requests for full manuscripts from our editor judges! Four of last year's finalists are finalists in RWA's 2014 Golden Heart Contest! Many of our previous entrants are now published authors!!!

Deadline to enter is July 1, 2014!
For complete rules go to http://www.rwa.org/p/cm/ld/fid=1180.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Goal Setting

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! A writing career consists of much more than writing stories. Be prepared. Be educated. Make well-informed decisions. For writing craft topics, see the Labels list in the left sidebar as you scroll down the page or check out my handbook in e-book or print.

To have a successful career in publishing, authors must sell books and produce new releases on a regular basis. In order to complete new works, many writers use Goal Setting to stay on track and meet deadlines. A combination of short- and long-term goals can help writers achieve success, on a small or large scale.

Goals can include daily/weekly/monthly/annual target word counts, self-imposed deadlines for chapters/manuscripts/series, meeting sales goals, making a bestseller list, winning a prestigious contest, etc. They can also include attending conferences, conventions, and workshops. Book signings can be part of an author’s goals too.

Word counts depend on many factors. Authors may have other jobs or careers in addition to writing. Some have children or older parents to care for. By setting achievable goals, a writer can make progress while not putting too much pressure on herself. Ten thousand words a day may be doable for some, and others are able to write a chapter or a thousand words. Track progress and avoid comparison to others.

Deadlines can be effective for those who work well under pressure, but be sure to set realistic deadlines. A set-up for failure won’t help the creative process. Slower writers may need to complete two or more manuscripts before submission or self-publication to ensure timely releases.

Book sales have a direct correlation to a bestseller list goal. However, a lot of marketing and promotion time goes into making those sales. Time spent on marketing and promo is time not spent writing. Word counts and deadlines may require adjustment to take those aspects into consideration. Budgeting comes into play as well.

Contest finals/wins can increase exposure and, subsequently, sales. Entering contests can be costly and time-consuming, and each author has to weigh the benefits versus the expenses. Is it a good return on investment?

Conferences, conventions, workshops, and book signings also mean time away from writing. They all have their advantages, though. Improving writing craft and learning about the publishing industry help authors grow. Reader interaction is important for maintaining readership and increasing it. Are they good choices for a writer’s career?

Use goal setting to map out a good mix of writing, promotion, and education by budgeting both time and money. Assess which activities help achieve designated goals. Adjust when necessary!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Aurora Clairmont

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! My guest this week is Aurora Clairmont. Here's a peek at The Starlet, book 1 in her Set in the Old West series! She's giving away a copy so be sure to comment!

Blurb:
Starlet Diana Winters arrives on set of the Western she is starring in, completely naive to the fact her world is about to be turned upside down when she meets her two handsome costars.
Jason Lance plays the sweet ranch hand Jimmy Wes, and the infamous Cody Hartley plays the Wild Red Samson.
When the camera turns on, so does she. Diana’s attraction to each is apparent and goes beyond her acting out her character’s feelings for each of theirs. Diana’s heart and body is torn between her two painfully handsome male leads. Each man has so much to offer, and she wants it all. Who will she choose? Does she really have to? A voice in the back of her mind is refusing to accept that as the only option.

Excerpt:
He scooped her into his arms like it was nothing. His strong arms lifting her up made her heart jump, the exact same feeling she got when a roller-coaster ride made the first nosedive. Her face reddened and she didn’t know why. She couldn’t do anything except wince from the weight her shoe put on her ankle as it dangled. Her head rested against his shoulder and she tried to measure her breathing, while once again experiencing his intoxicating scent. She felt warm and satisfied in his arms while quickly beginning to feel guilty that she was getting that sort of warm feeling from a man other than Jason.

As he carried her around a few bends and toward the light, she turned her head to look where they were going. It was active up on the platform and very well lit. Everyone was out, the whole crew and all the actors were mingling and eating buffet-style. It smelled like BBQ and Diana’s stomach turned painfully in her belly, again complaining at her for eating such a small breakfast only to miss lunch.

People saw them coming and several came forward to help, but the man shook them off and carried her all by himself. They went up the steps of the platform and to an open seat that had a bench from a different table near it. He moved the bench into place in front of the seat with his foot before setting her down as gently as a man could hope to.

As she winced in pain for the millionth time, she saw Jason through the crowd. She wanted to smile at him, but he was lost in the crowd of concerned and questioning people. The man who had saved her was answering questions for her. Explaining how he had found her in trouble and that her ankle seemed injured. In the meantime someone had left to find the doctor.

Diana looked up at him to try to start interjecting and her heart skipped a beat. He was so handsome. She felt her body respond, thinking of his smell and how his strong arms had been holding her. The warm feeling from their closeness hadn’t gone away, and it lingered on her skin in much the same way Jason’s kiss had earlier.

What hadn’t registered while she was in pain and being moved suddenly rushed in. His face, so handsome with chiseled features, and his in-control aura. It felt like she had seen him before somewhere, and her heart started to hum with emotion, a bit different than with Jason. Not replacing him at all though. It wasn’t nearly as strong a reaction…not until he looked down and their eyes met for the first time. She felt an explosion inside of her and realized a moment too late her mouth was agape. She closed her mouth and replaced her stunned expression with a smile that she could manage to maintain despite the pain she was in.

“Why were you walking into the trailer?” the man asked, eyebrow raised. “It seemed like you couldn’t see where you were going.” Attention was on her suddenly. The feeling of a bunch of people she didn’t know focusing on her so intently was a little overwhelming when combined with the pain.

“Night blindness,” she admitted, wondering if anyone there had ever heard of it. “Even in low light I start to have trouble seeing what is around me.”

Everyone hushed down for a moment and when it looked like they were about to ask anything else, they were halted with the arrival of the resident doctor. In a movie like this, things were bound to happen, so there was emergency staff present on set.

He asked her questions and started poking and prodding at her ankle. Diana started answering them, and while talking to the doctor she was distracted from the fact the man was walking away. She watched his back as he moved away from her. She couldn’t go after him, and she didn’t even know his name. Her heart sank. She had really wanted to introduce herself to him, even though there hadn’t been a good moment for it.

While the doctor checked her ankle for a break, she gestured someone toward her who was just turning to leave. She needed to know.

“What was that man’s name? The one that helped me just now?” she asked, voice trembling slightly with pent up emotion. This was all more than one girl should have to handle in one day.

“His name is Cody. He is playing Red,” the older man said with a casual smile, having no idea the predicament he had just thrown the young actress into.

Buy Links:
Siren-Bookstrand: http://www.bookstrand.com/the-starlet
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Starlet-Siren-Publishing-Menage-Amour-ebook/dp/B00JDLXB08
Barns and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-starlet-set-in-the-old-west-aurora-clairmont/1119074343?ean=9781627413534

Author Bio:
Aurora Clairmont grew up in Texas, always dreaming of living on a ranch, but fully aware she was a city girl to the core. Her childhood was spent on the stage; musical theater, ballet, Shakespeare, and of course horseback riding lessons as well.

By college her interest in theater waned, switching over to an interest in crafting stories from her own mind, not just playing out the roles others set out for her. Her last stint in acting was a delightful experience as an extra on a Western film set just before she entered college. Now she has graduated, this experience has become the inspiration for her writing.

Links:
Website: http://www.auroraclairmont.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aurora.clairmont
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuroClair
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/auroclair">https://www.goodreads.com/auroclair">https://www.goodreads.com/auroclair

Remember to comment by midnight EDT on Wednesday, June 11, for a chance to win a copy of The Starlet!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Fear of Failure...and Success

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! A writing career consists of much more than writing stories. Be prepared. Be educated. Make well-informed decisions. For writing craft topics, see the Labels list in the left sidebar as you scroll down the page or check out my handbook in e-book or print.

Fear of Failure...and Success goes hand in hand with writer’s block. Writers tend to be artistically minded, and lack of—or overblown—confidence often comes with the territory. Not only can self-doubt be a problem, concern over becoming successful may contribute to a stalled career. Overconfidence has its own issues and can be just as detrimental, but that’s another story for another day...

Finishing a manuscript is one of the hardest feats of being a writer. Throughout that arduous journey, many authors vacillate between loving and hating their stories/writing. Is the plot good enough? Am I showing instead of telling? Are the characters likeable? Do I suck??? Critique partners and/or beta readers provide valuable feedback, but having honest and thorough yet constructive comments is vital. The worst part? No matter how well written, not everyone will like every book. Focus on education in weak areas of writing to gain confidence. Push through the low spots and try not to edit during those times.

After the editing and polishing process, submission is the next step. Will the editor/my editor/an agent/my agent like the story? What if it’s rejected? Was the first book sale a fluke? The majority of published authors still suffer from a case of butterflies from hitting the send button. Rather than worrying about that submission, begin work on the next book. Practice is a far better way to improve writing craft than procrastinating for days, weeks, or months while waiting for a response. Nervousness is normal, but agonizing over a submission can be crippling. Writers write as an escape. Use it to your advantage!

The manuscript has sold or gotten a thumbs-up from the editor/agent/freelance editor/critique partners. Now, authors get to fixate on whether or not the book will sell to readers. Will it get good reviews? Will it make a bestsellers list? Will I make enough money to quit the day job? Do I need to market more? What kind of marketing should I be doing?

Again, rather than focusing on all those questions and possible scenarios, writers need to work on the next book. Yes, this is a never-ending cycle. This is what makes writing a career.

It sounds difficult, doesn’t it? It is.

Fear of success can also cause an author to subconsciously derail her career before it starts.

But...what if my book sells 10,000 copies the first week? Can I write another book that’s just as good? Will I be a one-hit wonder? I have to interact with readers? I don’t know how to do that! Interviews??? I’m an introvert! I can’t go out and meet people! Public appearances? Every day is a bad hair day!

Take a few deep breaths. Put that active imagination to work on a book. Write for the joy of writing.

On to the most important questions...

Why am I writing? Am I writing to satisfy an inner need or simply to make money? Do I need to write to make myself happy?

The answers help define the fear. Someone who’s in it only for the money doesn’t usually put her heart and soul into every story. She doesn’t have as much to lose by submitting, publishing, and waiting for sales numbers. Produce, produce, produce is the object of the game for her.

However, the love of writing doesn’t have to mean suffering through the “Am I good enough?” complex. Keep things in perspective. A great book may not produce great sales and great reviews. Bestseller doesn’t necessarily equate best-written story. That’s reality, not a judgment of any person’s ability to write. Telling a heartfelt story is the top priority. Authors should please themselves first and spend less time consumed by the need for approval and acceptance. Make your own confidence.

Repeat after me. “I am a writer. I’ll learn what I need to learn to become a better writer.”

Did you notice the lack of adjectives in the first sentence? Awful, good, great... What do they matter? A writer IS a writer. Craft and industry knowledge can be learned, and even great writers never stop seeking that knowledge in this ever-changing publishing world.

I am a writer. I’ll learn what I need to learn to become a better writer.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Julie Shelton

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! This week, my guest is Julie Shelton and she's giving us a peek at Loving Sarah, a BDSM menage, and her writing process. Be sure to comment for a chance to win one of two copies of this hot Siren book!

Blurb:
Eight years ago Jesse Colter fled his small town, leaving behind eighteen-year-old Sarah Marshall, broken-hearted and devastated. Now a retired Navy SEAL, he’s back and he wants only one thing—Sarah Marshall—preferably bound, naked, and on her knees before him.
She has never forgotten Jesse. He’s been the object of all her sexual fantasies since she was fifteen, as well as the star of nightly dreams that have become increasingly erotic over the years. So when he suddenly reappears in her life, she is torn. Can she trust him not to hurt her, or will he once again break her heart? Warily, she agrees to let him introduce her to his world—the world of bondage, Domination, and erotic slavery. When he also introduces her to his best friend, Adam Sinclair, Sarah faces a daunting future of sexual submission to two powerful alpha males.
But Sarah faces an even bigger challenge. Someone is stalking her. Is it the old enemy who’s just been released from prison? Or is it someone else from her past who is determined to destroy any chance she has at happiness? Can Adam’s and Jesse’s love protect her? Or will her world explode in a cataclysm of betrayal and violence that will destroy them all?

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/18BMwQe
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1bv0Pmt
Siren-Bookstrand: http://bit.ly/IOPGpE
Kobobooks: http://bit.ly/19Pmv0z
Sony: http://bit.ly/1hkw77X
GooglePlay: http://bit.ly/1g4GSYk

Interview:
Me: What inspired you to write your first book?
Julie: Nancy Drew. She inspired me to write my first book, which was, oddly enough, about a teenage girl detective and her two sidekicks. Total rip-off, but it made me realize I could do it. Then life intervened and I didn’t pick it up until many, many years later.

Me: Do you see writing as a career?
Julie: It is absolutely a career. My new, late-in-life career.

Me: This book is the first in a new series. Do you prefer to write single title or series? Why?
Julie: Loving Sarah is the first of three books. The sequel, Owning Sarah, follows immediately after the events of the first one. And my new book, Keeping Sarah, coming out some time this summer further carries on the adventures of Sarah Marshall and her two Doms. Their honeymoon turns into a nightmare when they find out they are the targets of an Albanian blood feud.

Me: Give us some insight into your main character. What makes him special?
Julie: Loving Sarah started with the character of Jesse Colter, the main hero. The name came to me and I spent months thinking about him. What would someone named Jesse Colter look like? Sound like? Be like? I knew he was going to be sexy, but before I ever wrote a single word about him, I discovered BDSM and knew instinctively that he was a Dom.

Me: Is there a message in your novel you hope to convey to your readers?
Julie: That love is only possible when there is honesty, trust, and respect between all the members of the relationship. And when all those things are present, the depth of the connection that results is one of the most powerful forces on earth.

Me: I love a good conflict. What draws your main characters to each other and keeps them apart?
Julie: Jesse left Sarah the day of her eighteenth birthday, after rescuing her from a would-be rapist. He stayed away for eight years, thinking she was better off without him, thinking she would forget him, thinking she deserved so much better than he. But he realizes that he no longer wants to live without her and goes back for her. He introduces her to the D/s lifestyle and she realizes she is deeply, naturally submissive, but only for the right man. Or, in this case, men, because Jesse has introduced his best SEAL buddy Adam into the picture and Sarah finds herself falling for him, too.

Me: How did you come up with the title?
Julie: I don’t recall having to think about it at all. It was just there.

Me: What’s your favorite sub-genre (contemporary, sci-fi, etc.) to write? To read?
Julie: Contemporary, BDSM, both menage and traditional MF. I’m toying with an idea for a future MM book.

Me: I usually get plot ideas in the shower and while driving. When/where does inspiration strike you?
Julie: Usually just as I’m about to fall asleep. Or when I’m reading. I see a word and that takes me off on a whole different tangent and I just have to write it down and keep it for a future book. I once came up with an entire medieval novel just by seeing a minor character wearing a blue gown in the movie Becket or Lion in Winter. Can’t remember the movie, but I’ve never forgotten that blue gown.

Me: What new stories are you working on?
Julie: I’ve just started working on the first of three books about some of the former SEALs who now work for Adam Sinclair’s security company. I’m around ¼ through the first one. I’m planning to release them one right after the other after the first of next year.

Author Bio:
Julie has always loved stories, both reading and writing them, ever since she was old enough to hold a book in her hands. One of her favorite childhood activities was smuggling books under the covers to read by flashlight after she was supposed to be asleep.
A career as a children’s librarian eventually led to her dream career as a freelance storyteller and puppeteer, a business she operated successfully for twenty-five years. During that time she created and wrote all the original material for a monthly language arts newsletter full of poems, songs, puppet and flannel-board stories, fingerplays, and other resource material for early childhood educators. For that endeavor she won the prestigious EDPRESS Award for the best educational newsletter of 1982. She has also written other resource materials for preschool and early elementary teachers.
Julie lives in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Now widowed and retired, she once again has time to devote to her two favorite things—reading and writing—especially her new love, erotic romances.

Links:
Website: http://bit.ly/Nn2gPE
Facebook: http://on.fb.me/19nGsh2
Twitter: /@JulieCShelton
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/IEAADL

Remember to comment by midnight EDT on Wednesday for a chance to win one of two copies of Loving Sarah!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!