Pages

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday: Writing Advice from Jim Cangany

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Jim Cangany, IRWA's awesome Token Dude, is offering his advice to new writers today.

Hi, Jim! Great to have you visit again! What wise and wonderful words do you have to share?

Thanks so much for having me today, Mellanie. I'm thrilled to be here. You know, I spent days trying to figure out what knowledge I could possibly have that would be worth imparting to someone just getting into this writing game.

I was considering offering my take on writing truisms like "write what you know" and "do your research," when something happened with a book my agent is currently shopping. After a round of editing, she told me liked the characters and loved the story, but was concerned that the romance might be a little too quiet. Because of this, she sent my manuscript to a romance consultant with whom she works to get a fresh take on the story. I won't bore you with the details of what the romance consultant's comments were, but I will say that fresh set of eyes gave me some invaluable insight that helped make a better story.

The reason I share this story with you is to illustrate a point about writing that, I believe, all too often gets lost in the shuffle--writing a book is truly a collaborative process. I know, I know, we read things every day that reinforce the image of the solitary writer, alone at his or her keyboard, with the door shut, wearing sound dampening headphones…I'll grant you, there is quite a bit of truth in that scene.

But.

It you step back, the picture begins to change. Maybe the writer is fixing a problematic scene after talking about it with a friend or spouse. Possibly the writer is working on the manuscript after receiving feedback from a critique partner, or a beta reader, or an agent, or an editor. It's quite possible the writer just received the book cover from the publisher or a free-lance artist and is writing a blog about how gorgeous it is.

What I'm trying to say is this, when it comes to publishing a book, it really is a group effort. For an indie author, the group may be as small as a single critique partner and a cover artist. On the other hand, it could be as large as a small group of critique partners, a few beta readers, an agent, an editor, a personal assistant, and a publicist.

The thing to keep in mind, regardless of how big or small your support group may be, the members of it want one thing and one thing only. They want you to tell the best story you can. They want you to succeed. They are on your side.

So keep that in mind on those days when a critique partner questions your heroine's motivation, or your editor asks you to cut a scene you love, because those days will happen. On those days, it hurts to be a writer. But you know what? Being a writer is hard. As the saying goes, if it was easy, everybody would do it. It's the hard that makes writing great.

It's also those people in your corner who will help you reach that greatness. Yes, it will be your name on the cover of the book, and for that you should be quite proud. Just do me a favor, and when it's time to publish, be sure to thank all of those people who helped you along the way. After all, the more people you have to celebrate publication with, the better!

Bio:
Jim Cangany started writing when he could no longer ignore the persistent voices in his head who demanded to be let out. He was a hundred pages into his first manuscript when he realized he was writing was a love story. He went with it, and has found his niche writing sweet, contemporary romance novels.
He lives in Indianapolis with his saint of a wife, Nancy, sons Seamus and Aidan, and the princess of the house, kitty-cat Maria. You can find him on the web at http://jimcangany.com

More awesome advice, don't you think? I'm gathering quite a collection!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Siobhan Muir

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! The lovely and talented Siobhan Muir is visiting today with her latest release, A Centaur's Solstice Wish. Be sure to comment for a chance to win a copy!

Blurb:
When making wishes on the Hunter’s star...

It will take more than wishes to improve Sedgewick Icetrotter’s Solstice. After being sent to the infirmary, again, for dislocating his shoulder while stringing his bow, he figures he’s got a snowball’s chance in hell to impress the centaur he loves. Until Corporal Ronin Creekjumper brings in two injured centaurs suffering from unusual insect bites, and Sedgewick knows how to treat them.

Ronin can’t believe his good luck when Sedgewick saves his men. It also gives him a chance to do more than light candles for his injured friend. Ronin takes the chance and invites Sedgewick to spend the Solstice holiday together. Just the two of them.

And a pack of hungry dire wolves who’d like to put Sedgewick on the menu. Who says Solstice can’t be exciting?

Buy Links:
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/513978
All Romance Ebooks: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-acentaur039ssolsticewish-1732784-143.html
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Centaurs-Solstice-Wish-Rifts-Book-ebook/dp/B00SQFD5YY/
Barnes&Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-centaurs-solstice-wish-siobhan-muir/1121128128

Bio:
Siobhan Muir lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, with her husband, two daughters, and a vegetarian cat she swears is a shape-shifter, though he's never shifted when she can see him. When not writing, she can be found looking down a microscope at fossil fox teeth, pursuing her other love, paleontology. An avid reader of science fiction/fantasy, her husband gave her a paranormal romance for Christmas one year, and she was hooked for good.

In previous lives, Siobhan has been an actor at the Colorado Renaissance Festival, a field geologist in the Aleutian Islands, and restored inter-planetary imagery at the USGS. She’s hiked to the top of Mount St. Helens and to the bottom of Meteor Crater.

Siobhan writes kick-ass adventure with hot sex for men and women to enjoy. She believes in happily ever after, redemption, and communication, all of which you will find in her paranormal romance stories.

Siobhan’s latest release, A Centaur’s Solstice Wish, is the second story in her new Rifts series. She has published A Hell Hound’s Fire (a free read), The Beltane Witch, and Cloudburst Ice Magic in the Cloudburst Colorado series. Siobhan has also published Bronco’s Rough Ride and The Navy’s Ghost in the Bad Boys of Beta Squad series, Not a Dragon’s Standard Virgin and Queen Bitch of the Callowwood Pack through Siren Publishing, and Her Devoted Vampire through Evernight Publishing.

Links:
Website: http://siobhanmuir.com
Blog: http://siobhanmuir.blogspot.com
Google Plus: http://plus.google.com/u/0/118081545120488658410/posts
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Official.Siobhan.Muir
Twitter: http://twitter.com/SiobhanMuir
Tsu.co: http://www.tsu.co/SiobhanMuir
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5760938.Siobhan_Muir
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/siobhanmuir35
All Romance: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html?searchBy=author&qString=Siobhan+Muir
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Siobhan-Muir/e/B007CRB2F6/
Bookstrand: http://www.bookstrand.com/siobhan-muir

Thanks for sharing, Siobhan, and thank you, Readers, for stopping by! Remember to comment by midnight (EST) on Wednesday, February 25, for a chance to win a copy of A Centaur's Solstice Wish!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday: Writing Advice from Siobhan Muir

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Siobhan Muir, one of my favorite online author friends, is visiting today to share her advice for writers.

Hi, Siobhan! Thanks for being here. What great advice to do you have to offer?

Release (Word) Weight with #flashfiction

Odd title, huh? But what’s the most common thing we have to do for our health? Release weight, extra pounds that impede our bodies over time. It comes from bad habits of eating too much and remaining too sedentary.

It’s the same thing with our writing health. Time to trim the fat. But how?

Four years ago a friend of mine came to me and asked if I’d be interested in writing #flashfiction. I didn’t even know what it was much less how to do it, but it sounded interesting. #flashfiction is the art of writing a clear, concise, and full story in a limited time and a limited word count. Sound impossible? It’s not, but it does take discipline and effort.
This is what’s needed for longer writing, too, and the same skills you use for #flashfiction can be applied to writing novellas and novels. So how do you do this? Here’s a handy dandy list you can take with you.

1. De-was-ify.
What does this mean? It means get rid of every version of “was” that you can. You don’t have time for lazy verbs. De-was-ifying makes the writing more active and interesting. Instead of: “The ladder was against the wall where he’d left it.” It could be: “The ladder sagged against the wall where he’d left it.” Sagged is far more interesting than was.
Instead of “She was blonde with blue eyes.” It could be: “She tilted her blonde head and narrowed her blue eyes.” Using more active verbs gives the reader more to hold in their minds and anchors them in the story.

2. Delete or decrease long descriptions
You don’t have time or space in #flashfiction for long narratives telling the reader about what something looks like, yet you need to make your setting and characters as clear as possible. The same can be done in a longer tale. Instead of a long wind-up describing the world in which you find your characters, you can use dialog and action to show the same thing.
For example: “It was the hottest part of the day and everyone who did not need to be outside was not. She dismounted and began to unload both her horse and the packhorse before the stable boy took them into the shade. The weight of the treasure was heavy and oppressive in the heat, but she bore it gamely as Brandon led the way into the foyer of the inn.”
Versus: “Brandon turned the bay into the courtyard of an inn at the edge of the marketplace and dismounted. Iliana looked around as she pulled Aristotle up. The courtyard sat empty until the stable boy came out to take the horses.
“This is a good inn and the innkeeper is fairly honest.” Brandon unhooked his saddle bags and slung them over his shoulder. “I’m going to see about a room.”
Make it interesting and give the characters a reason to be in the environment you’ve created.

3. Picking the right words to evoke an image.
You need to make the tale interesting and action/dialog is far more interesting to read than long drawn out narrative, even in science fiction or fantasy writing. You want your pacing to be good in longer tales, and you want it fast and tight in #flashfiction.
For example: “Inside, Brandon was deep in negotiating for their room. There was much haggling as Iliana took in the foyer, which was full of palm trees in pots, tapestries hanging from the walls, and richly dressed merchants sitting on cushions, smoking. She did not meet any of their eyes, but scanned the place as if she was just another male traveler come in from the sun.”
Versus: The scent of dry, hot stone mixed with the salty brine of the sea as the wind zipped through the courtyard. Despite the air movement, Iliana sighed with relief as she entered the cool shade of the inn. Potted palm trees filled the corners of the common room and tapestries hung from the walls around a few richly dressed men perched on cushions, smoking.”
Which is more interesting? Which tells you more of what’s going on? Which example brought you into the scene?

4. Don’t use dialog tags, use action to identify your characters.
He said, she said is all well and good, but it can sometimes jar the reader out of your tale, and in #flashfiction, you don’t have the space to name everyone each time. Instead, use action to tell the reader who’s saying what, and how.
“Brandon narrowed his eyes. “If you're an actress, what are you doing out here in the Karobis?”
“I have no idea.” She glanced up at the blue moon. Wow, the song wouldn’t be so poignant here. “I didn’t start out here. I was somewhere distinctly different a few days ago.”
“In the oasis with Kyra.”
“Yes. No.” Iliana shook her head. “No, I’d never been there before the moment I met you.”
Each action gives a sense of what they’re feeling and how they’re responding, and identifies who the speaker is. It’s especially important when you have characters of the same gender speaking. Then he said, he said gets confusing and boring to read. When you have little space and less time, using action sucks the reader in and keeps the pacing up.

Just changing these four things in your longer pieces will give you a leg-up on the typical writers out there. It strengthens your writing, pulling the reader in as if they’re part of the action, and makes your stories more memorable. Stronger stories is the goal. If you can make the reader feel it, you’ve succeeded. And #flashfiction is a great tool for tightening your writing skills.

Siobhan

Bio:
Siobhan Muir lives in Cheyenne, Wyoming, with her husband, two daughters, and a vegetarian cat she swears is a shape-shifter, though he's never shifted when she can see him. When not writing, she can be found looking down a microscope at fossil fox teeth, pursuing her other love, paleontology. An avid reader of science fiction/fantasy, her husband gave her a paranormal romance for Christmas one year, and she was hooked for good.

In previous lives, Siobhan has been an actor at the Colorado Renaissance Festival, a field geologist in the Aleutian Islands, and restored inter-planetary imagery at the USGS. She’s hiked to the top of Mount St. Helens and to the bottom of Meteor Crater.

Siobhan writes kick-ass adventure with hot sex for men and women to enjoy. She believes in happily ever after, redemption, and communication, all of which you will find in her paranormal romance stories.

Siobhan’s latest release, A Centaur’s Solstice Wish, is the second story in her new Rifts series. She has published A Hell Hound’s Fire (a free read), The Beltane Witch, and Cloudburst Ice Magic in the Cloudburst Colorado series. Siobhan has also published Bronco’s Rough Ride and The Navy’s Ghost in the Bad Boys of Beta Squad series, Not a Dragon’s Standard Virgin and Queen Bitch of the Callowwood Pack through Siren Publishing, and Her Devoted Vampire through Evernight Publishing.

Links:
Website: http://siobhanmuir.com
Blog: http://siobhanmuir.blogspot.com
Google Plus: http://plus.google.com/u/0/118081545120488658410/posts
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Official.Siobhan.Muir
Twitter: http://twitter.com/SiobhanMuir
Tsu.co: http://www.tsu.co/SiobhanMuir
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5760938.Siobhan_Muir
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/siobhanmuir35
All Romance: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html?searchBy=author&qString=Siobhan+Muir
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Siobhan-Muir/e/B007CRB2F6/
Bookstrand: http://www.bookstrand.com/siobhan-muir

I love your analogy about releasing weight, Siobhan! Tight writing is essential for any length of story. Great pacing keeps the reader engaged and wanting the next book! Thanks so much for visiting and sharing!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--R.L. Syme

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! R.L. Syme is my guest this week, and she's brought a hot Highlander with her!!! Be sure to check out her giveaway over on Goodreads! See the link below.

Blurb:
They took his family, they took his freedom...but he's back to reclaim it all...

Lachlan MacLeod survived an English dungeon. He held his own under torture and brutality. He survived the death of his wife and alienation from his family. He managed to take back his ancestral home and restore his son's inheritance. But the English threat has never truly abated. According to his nephew, invasion is imminent. Tired of being subject to the whims of the English, Lachlan will take control of his own destiny. By any means necessary.

Lady Evangeline, daughter of an invading English earl, has been raised to privilege and the expectation of an advantageous foreign marriage. She is as eager to escape her father's control as Lachlan is eager to kidnap her, though the wilds of the Scottish Highlands could be a tad more welcoming. The secret she holds could have deadly consequences--not only for Lachlan, but for his entire clan, not to mention the proud English lady and her companions. But this is one secret she cannot wait to spill...

"I liked it so much I read the whole book through. Grab this book." -Margaret S. (5 stars)
"I really enjoyed this series, it was action packed, filled with romance and adventure." -Nicole L. (5 stars)

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1AAjAX6
iBooks: http://bit.ly/1KTNve1
Page Foundry: http://bit.ly/1AwDtOR
Scribd: http://bit.ly/1zSlmSK
Kobo: http://bit.ly/19hCkQI

Bio:
R.L. Syme is a best-selling, award-winning author of both contemporary and historical romance. After careers in youth work, musical theater, and non-profits, she writes about hot Highlanders and extreme Chefs. A member of RWA (Romance Writers of America) and SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators), Becca lives in Montana with her cat who drinks wine and does not answer back when she talks to him.

Links:
Website: http://bit.ly/1yMsOd0
Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1HsOtl9
Twitter: http://bit.ly/1vgjeEH
Pinterest: http://bit.ly/1KeFyj4
Fan Group: http://on.fb.me/1znxWYC
Newsletter: http://bit.ly/1yMsOd0

Goodreads Giveaway (until February 22): http://bit.ly/1zU11eH

Thanks for visiting, and good luck in the giveaway!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday: Writing Advice from Donya Lynne

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! We're on Week 6 of Writing Advice. Donya Lynne, another of my wonderful IRWA friends, is here to share some great tips!

Hi, Donya! Thanks for visiting with me today. What advice do you have for new writers?

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a magic formula to follow to achieve publishing success? Unfortunately, more often than not, what works ridiculously well for one author fails miserably for another. Some authors find success with blog tours. Some don’t. Some find that giveaways enhance reader traffic, while others find that giveaways are just a means to allow the crickets to sing. Alas, there is no magic button.

So, as I thought about this article and what advice I would give to new writers, I found myself rifling through three years of self-publishing experience in an effort to find that one grain of truth that all fledgling authors need to know before they embark on a writing career. Something they could latch onto for hope and inspiration while not sugarcoating the business and emotional upheaval it can cause.

I could preach the virtues of actually learning the craft of writing before publishing. I could warn you that you need to develop a skin thicker than an alligator’s. I could express that writing for publication is the hardest work you’ll ever do (and if you’re doing it right, it is).

Instead, I’ve chosen to emphasize that no matter what happens, you need to be true to you. You need to follow YOUR plan, not someone else’s.

I realize that sometimes you need to follow someone else’s plan (or a lot of other peoples’ plans) for a while as you figure out your own, but, ultimately, you need to find your own process and adhere to it. You need to figure out your own voice, your own method, what does and doesn’t work for you, and more importantly, what it is your heart wants. And then you need to shut out all the peripheral voices, including your inner voice that tells you that you should be doing this, that, or the other, and focus on your own path.

For over two years, I did what everyone said I needed to do. I did the blog tours. I did giveaways and bought swag and held release parties and signed up for some kind of writer event every weekend in October and November of last year (and ended up making myself sicker than I’ve ever been in my life, I might add, due to the stress). I thought that this was what I needed to do to be successful and find new readers. There was this voice in my head telling me that I was falling behind if I didn’t do these things.

All I did was spend a lot of money, overshoot my budget by an ungodly amount, and decimate my writing momentum in the process.

At the end of last year, as I recovered from the worst cold I’ve ever caught, I took a hard look at what I’d done for three years and what I wanted to achieve going forward. What I found is that my heart wants to write. I have stories to tell that aren’t getting told due to all the time, energy, and work I’m putting in on all that other stuff. Furthermore, I can’t afford to spend money that doesn’t produce results. No one can.

What I’ve found is that blog tours are a nice break, but I don’t need them for every single book release. Release parties are fun, but they are stressful and take a lot of time and work, so, like blog tours, I need to reserve them for special books. Swag is great for giveaways, but I don’t need to buy every trinket under the sun. Pens, desk calendars, keychains, and bookmarks are enough, and it seems that most readers like these items the best. Author events and book signings are a great way to network with other authors and meet readers, but I don’t have to attend every single one that comes along. Three to four a year is plenty. The message here is that everything is good in moderation. Don’t go overboard.

So, after reevaluating my goals at the end of last year, I decided this year was going to be all about the writing. I’m going to say no to things I’ve said yes to in the past. I’m not going to allow my inner voice to tell me, “You should do this.” No, I should be writing, because that’s my path, and it’s what my heart wants to do. I know that now. My focus will be on churning out manuscripts, not all that other stuff.

Your best marketing tool is your next book, not your bookmarks, not your appearances at signings, not your blog tours, not your giveaways. Your next book. Everything else comes after that. The more books you write, the more people will read them.

So, my advice is to let go of all that other stuff. Let go of doing all the peripheral mumbo-jumbo. Focus on your writing. And make it high quality writing. Learn the craft and write the books. If you haven’t published yet, the best thing you can do is to write, write, and write some more (while saving a money to hire an editor and a cover artist who can create awesome, high quality covers for you), until you have 6-12 completed books ready to go. Then publish one every couple of months as you continue to write more books. This will build momentum and a following.

Don’t get caught up in all the hype as you watch author after author doing huge promotions and giveaways. Plenty of authors hit the New York Times without ever doing a blog tour. But what they do is write. Write, and keep writing. Once you have a large body of published work, you can think about doing all the other stuff. It will benefit you more once you have several books published.

Best wishes!

Bio:
Donya Lynne is the author of the award winning All the King's Men Series and a member of Romance Writers of America. Making her home in a wooded suburb north of Indianapolis with her husband, Donya has lived in Indiana most of her life and knew at a young age that she was destined to be a writer. She started writing poetry in grade school and won her first short story contest in fourth grade. In junior high, she began writing romantic stories for her friends, and by her sophomore year, they had dubbed her Most Likely to Become a Romance Novelist. In 2012, she made that dream come true by publishing her first two novels and two novellas. Her work has earned her two IPPYs, one gold and one silver, as well as two eLit Awards, also one gold and one silver. Donya has many more novels and novellas planned for years to come.
Links:
Website: http://donyalynne.com/
Blog: http://donyalynne.com/blog/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDonyaLynne
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DonyaLynne
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+DonyaLynneAuthor/posts

Thanks so much for sharing this great advice, Donya! Writing and the next book often get pushed aside for promotion, which defeats building a strong writing career. I'm off to work on the next book(s). See you next week!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Sandy James

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Wednesday! Sandy James is sharing her thoughts on writing series or single title, and she's having a great sale on Turning Thirty-Twelve to celebrate the upcoming release of her newest book from the Ladies Who Lunch series! Leave a comment for a chance to win your choice of one of Sandy's e-books!

Hi, Sandy! Thanks for visiting with me today!

Blurb:
Jackie Delgado didn't want a new man in her life until a dreaded blind date turns out to be more exciting than she'd ever imagined. When her youngest son leaves for college, Jackie is hit hard by empty nest syndrome and pours herself into her work as a teacher. Bowing to pressure from friends, Jackie agrees to a blind date. But when Mark Brennan calls, she realizes the date won't be "blind." He's the father of one of her students.

Widower Mark Brennan isn't looking for love. After only a few dates with Jackie, he realizes he's quickly forming deep feelings for her. Wracked with guilt that he's "abandoning" his late wife, Mark resists the pull toward dynamic Jackie. When Mark's daughter begins to date Jackie's son, things become more complicated.

Can Jackie and Mark find the courage to leave the past behind and embrace a new love? And how will a surprise pregnancy affect all their lives?

Buy Links: Only 99 cents for a limited time!
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DH0D80O/ref=pe_245070_24466410_M1T1DP
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/turning-thirty-twelve-sandy-james/1100404238?ean=2940016682631
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/327558

Thanks for giving me a guest spot on your blog, Mellanie!

Today I’d like to talk about writing a series versus single title. Having written both styles, I can’t say I favor one over the other. Both have advantages and disadvantages.

When I choose to write a single title, it’s because I have a story in mind that has a deliberate beginning and end. Take, for example, Turning Thirty-Twelve. That was the first book I wrote with absolutely no notion of creating characters that I could use in subsequent stories. The heroine, Jackie, had friends and children, but none were targeted for a sequel. It was Jackie’s story, so I told it in first person and planned “The End” to be the true end.

Single title stories are great for new readers, who might avoid series books so that they don’t have to commit to the expense/time of reading several stories. It’s easier to know that one book is all there is. Of course, that can be a drawback if the reader falls in love with the author’s voice.

The other appeal of single title is that a writer can “stretch her wings.” Perhaps that title is a new genre for her, or perhaps she’s venturing into a first person point of view rather than her typical third. A single title gives her room to try something new.

All that being said, there are disadvantages of single titles. As I said earlier, if a reader truly enjoys the story and the characters, she might be disappointed that there are no more stories featuring people she “knows” well. I also think single titles are harder to sell to publishing houses, which might be more inclined to invest money in the form of advances and advertising into several books rather than banking on only one.

So what are the advantages of series? Readers seem drawn to them, and no wonder. If the author already won their loyalty, the readers will be happy to snap up any new story. The characters and locales are familiar, as is the author’s style and voice. People are ultimately creatures of habit, and series books are nothing more than a reading “habit.”

The problem comes when readers become disenchanted with a series. For example, I was a huge fan of the popular Dark Hunters series—for about five books. Then the stories began to seem formulaic to me. Writers of series have to be careful that the premise and characters don’t become stale, a huge danger of sticking with a series for too many books. That’s one of the reasons my series tend to be “closed”—limited in the total number of books. My Alliance of the Amazons and Ladies Who Lunch series are four books. No more, no less. With the Alliance of the Amazons, my readers seemed to appreciate that there was a distinct conclusion to the Amazons’ quest and a showdown with the series’ mega-villain.

The ultimate irony of all this advice is that I have now written a sequel to my single title, Turning Thirty-Twelve. It was something I did as a lark, a way to see if I could tie one of my older books into my Ladies Who Lunch. I aged Jackie’s son, Nate Ryan, and made him the hero for Fringe Benefits, the fourth Ladies book. I’m anxious to see if my readers embrace him as a hero and if my Turning Thirty-Twelve fans enjoy seeing Jackie and Mark again.

Thanks again, Mellanie! I had fun writing for your blog readers!

Bio:
Sandy James lives in a quiet suburb of Indianapolis with her husband of thirty years. She is a high school teacher of both psychology and U.S. history, and also teaches psychology on the college level. Sandy and her husband own a small stable of harness racehorses and enjoy spending time at the two Indiana racetracks. She’s also an Amazon.com bestselling author and the winner of two HOLT Medallions (Murphy's Law and Rules of the Game). Look for her popular series--Damaged Heroes, the Alliance of the Amazons, and The Ladies Who Lunch. Visit Sandy at www.sandy-james.com or find her as sandyjamesbooks on both Twitter and Facebook. Sandy is represented by Joanna MacKenzie of Browne & Miller Literary.

Every time I try to write a single title, a secondary character tries to tell me he/she needs his/her own story!

So, Readers, series or single title? Be sure to leave a comment by midnight (EST) on Wednesday, February 11, for a chance to win one e-book title from Sandy's long list of books! Thanks for stopping by!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday: Writing Advice from Elle Boon

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! The sweet, sassy, and Southern Elle Boon is visiting this week with some terrific advice for new writers.

Hi, Elle! Thanks for being here, and I hope we can get together at RAGT again this year!

My Advice For New Writers

Being a new writer is hard, filled with lots of pitfalls, but it is also a wonderful place to be. You don’t have mistakes that already mark your career that you need to overcome. I am a new writer, but I have been a part of the writing community for many years in one form or another.

I started out as a reader when my youngest child started school. I then became a reviewer for the National Readers Choice Awards. I then attended my first reader-author conference where I befriended a few authors. From there, I became a critique/beta reader for a couple of them. That was waaaayyyy back in 2007. Oy, that seems like a lifetime ago.

After several years of helping authors, many of whom are NYT and USA Today bestsellers, they encouraged me to submit a story I had written. That story is now published and I’m on book 4 in the series.

With all that being said, my biggest advice is to never give up. I started writing in journals as a young girl. Poems, stories, and general things girls write. As I got older, the things I wrote depended on my moods. I didn’t get serious with my writing until 2011, after hanging out after a reader-author conference with a group of ladies. We call ourselves “The Bitches,” and one of the ladies I beta for said, “You should write a book.” So I went home and while in the shower Selena’s Men came to me.

The second advice I would give new authors is to not let other people, whether they be new or old friends, sway you. Don’t let them make you think you are less than you are. If you have success, you will have those who will be happy for you and there will be those that are jealous. Stay true to yourself. Don’t become what you think others expect you to be. If you are just you, people will continue to love you and your work because it’s honest.

Third, always be grateful. Say thank you to everyone who has helped you, no matter how much they’ve helped, because they didn’t have to do anything. You don’t have to fawn all over them or give them expensive things. A simple heartfelt thank you goes a long way.

Fourth, don’t assume you know how to write. Just because you are published doesn’t mean you know what you’re doing. Lol. Seriously, this is true. With each book I’ve written, I learn new things, new techniques, and become a better writer. There is always room for improvement. When a more seasoned author offers you advice, take it. You can always grow as a person and a writer.

Fifth, pay it forward. This is very important. When a new author comes along, offer advice and support. Pass on knowledge that you’ve been given, since you were once where they were. Don’t get too big for your britches and don’t, for the love of all, become a DIVA. ☺

Now when you are sitting down to write your first book, I suggest you keep lots of notes, whether it’s on google doc, or word, or on old-fashioned paper. Each author has a different way of writing. For me, I like having my info on paper when I start out. You should keep a character log. Make sure you keep the details of each person handy. Jot down notes of what they look like, what their height and weight are. Do they say a specific phrase? If they connect a certain scent to the heroine, what is it? When you are into the story, it’s good to have that doc or book near—that way you can add to it as you go.

You want to always be open for criticism from readers, reviewers, and last but not least editors. NEVER, and I mean NEVER engage a reader or reviewer when they give a negative review. Everyone has their right to their opinion, and just because they didn’t like your story, you should never argue with them. Be grateful they took the time to read and review your work. Take the constructive criticism and learn from it. If it’s just a bashing, then you’ll just be feeding them and make yourself look bad, so just don’t do it. As for editors, take their feedback and learn what to do and what not to do for next time. I’ve found with each book, I have less and less edits.

Now, I said never engage a negative, but you should always when possible say thank you when someone has posted a review or given you a compliment in regards to your work.

The reason I write isn’t to become rich and famous, although I sure would love it, but because I have all these stories in my head. If you think you are going to become rich overnight or sell a thousand copies of your first book, I wish you luck. I really do. However, I don’t think that happens to most of us new authors.

My final piece of advice is to be happy with what you have. I’m happy to be published. I’m happy with all my friends I have. All the ones I had before I became published and all the ones I’ve made since. I can honestly say I am blessed beyond measure.

Am I rich? No, not monetarily, but I am beyond wealthy in the fact I have friends and family that love me. I have readers that I call friends and vice versa. I have fellow authors who I call friends and vice versa. And I know when and if I stumble, there are going to be lots of hands there to help me up. That, my friends, is what you want to have as a new author. Lots of hands willing to help you up.

Bio:
I’m a wife and mother who is a retired stay at home mom of 2. I say retired because my youngest is 14 and my oldest is 21 eeek. When my baby went to school, reading saved my sanity, and then the same year he started school, I was diagnosed with Cancer, again reading saved my sanity. When I recovered and realized how quickly life could change, I made a bucket list. The number one thing was to live. Check. On top of that list was to become a published author. Check. Eight years later I have accomplished that goal and several others.
I live in the Midwest, but I”m a southern girl with only a slight twang who says y’all quite frequently, and am known to say “Bless Your Heart” A LOT. If you know what that means, you do not want to be the one I say that to, lol. I cuss worse than if a trucker and a sailor were put together, but I do it with class *WEG*.

I write what I love to read, erotic romance. My books are definitely full of lots of story, but I leave nothing to the imagination in or out of the bedroom. My hope is that after readers have read one of my stories, they fall in love with the characters as much as I have.

The best part of my new journey is that I get to create new worlds, and have all kinds of stories in my head just waiting to be written. I truly love to hear from readers. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter or my website, but I’m on Facebook all the time, so find me. I’d love to you from you ☺.

Links:
Website: www.elleboon.com
Facebook profile: https://www.facebook.com/elle.boon
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elle-Boon-Author/1429718517289545
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ElleBoon1
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Elle-Boon/e/B00K03HY42/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1415849092&sr=1-2-ent

Elle, give a holler if you ever need a hand! I know you'd do the same for me!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Author Spotlight + Giveaway--Elle Boon

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! Elle Boon is back with her latest release, Kira's Warriors, book 4 in her Ravens of War series. Read on for a super hot excerpt, and be sure to comment for a chance to win an e-book copy!

Blurb:
Kira lived the life of a pampered princess of a wealthy Japanese man who mourned the loss of his son, and missing wife. She’d been given everything a girl could want, but nobody was allowed close enough to love or hurt her. All that changed when her life was threatened and he hired the Ravens as her security.
Thane and Garrick never expected to find their Fated, let alone that she’d be touched by a god. The legend of the Kitsune was steeped in mystery, but they’d need all the help they could get to save their Fated from the god who possessed her brother. They’d need to travel into the deepest levels of hell, and fight the Shinigami to save her and her brother.
Kira realizes Thane and Garrick would give up their own lives to give her the family she’d never had. She would fight to hold onto the best things she could ever ask for, her warriors.

Adult Excerpt:
Thane stood, Kira’s juices coating his lips and chin.

Garrick watched her pull Thane to her, trailing her tongue against the seam of his lips. “Goddess, I love how firm your mouth is,” Kira said.

“I love how you taste.” Thane licked his lips. “Do you like how you taste, kitten?”

Turning her face to him, Garrick saw the blush she couldn’t hide. Her eyes were cloudy with desire. He smoothed his hand down her flat stomach, loving how wet and silky she got, tight like a fist around them. He swore nothing had ever felt better. Nothing ever would.

The bed dipped behind them, but he couldn’t take his eyes off Kira. He sucked in a swift breath, trying to remember where he wanted to be was inside his Fated’s body. She mesmerized him with her beauty.

“Kira, climb up here,” Thane said.

Garrick helped her maneuver around to face Thane. His best friend held his arms out while Kira crawled up the big bed like the kitten they called her. He groaned at the sight of her perfect ass as she moved on all fours toward Thane, her pussy playing a game of peek-a-boo with him. Her cream from the orgasm still coated her thighs.

He waited until she was positioned over Thane and watched her slide down, taking him inside, before he moved behind her. Garrick could be patient.

“I need you, too, G. I want you both, hard and fast. I need to feel you inside me when I come, and I want to do that around you, surrounded by my warriors.” Kira groaned, moving up and down on Thane.

Garrick slipped his fingers between Thane and her, testing how wet she was, seeing how ready she truly was. Her slickness coated his fingers. Their girl was perfect.

Thane pulled Kira down, taking control of her movements while Garrick ran his hands over her backside. He carefully prepared her for him, inserting one finger at a time in her rear channel. He made sure to add lube before adding a second finger. She gasped and thrust back against him as if she wanted more.

“Easy, Kira. You need to let me make sure you’re ready.” Garrick grit his teeth at the feelings Thane was sharing.

She pushed back again, her hips swiveling. “I’m more than ready.”

The noises she made were reassuring.

He had three fingers deep inside, scissoring them while Thane held Kira in place. Garrick used his powers to add more lubricant, and then pulled his fingers back.

A generous coating was applied to his dick as he placed the head against the puckered opening. “Hold her open for me, Thane,” Garrick said between clenched teeth.

The first inch slipped in, and she tightened around his cock. Both he and Thane fought for control, not wanting to injure her.

When he was seated fully inside, he held completely still, his breath sawing out like he’d run ten miles. The spiral path opened up, allowing them into Kira’s thoughts. It was like coming home to Garrick. He sucked in air, trying to remember when he’d ever felt so extremely satisfied.

She giggled.

“What are you laughing at, woman?” Thane asked.

“Are you hearing his thoughts? He’s satisfied and he isn’t even moving.”

Straddling Thane’s legs, Garrick swatted Kira’s ass, a light tap meant to tease, not hurt, causing her rounded flesh to quiver and her ass to tighten even further. “I think our Fated liked that, Thane.”

Garrick pulled back, his hands gripping her slim hips, and set up a slow rhythm. He and Thane worked in counterpoint. One of them had their dick buried deep inside her heat at a time, while the other pulled back.

Sweat covered him, even with his ability to regulate his body temperature. A light sheen coated her body.

“I’m not gonna last much longer, G.”

Garrick wrapped one arm around Kira’s chest, pulling her shoulders back into him, granting Thane access to her clit. “Play with her clit, Thane. Make her come.” Without another word, his friend reached between Kira’s thighs. Her clit was so hard and swollen, it wouldn’t take but a few strokes to get her off. Hell, he was so ready it wouldn’t take him but a few strokes, but first, they wanted to make Kira come.

Her hips bucked, and she threw her head back. “Oh, oh, y—yes,” Kira hissed.

A heartbeat later, her orgasm struck, clamping down on them like a wild convulsion. Their strokes increased in speed, becoming rough and uncontrolled. He flicked Thane a look, naked need written on his face, and with a nod, they both let go.
Garrick groaned. The knowledge Thane was as lost to sensation as he was pushed him even closer to the edge. Kira’s moans joined theirs, sending delight through him knowing she was already climbing the peak again. With every stroke into her ass or pussy, she whimpered.

The air was thick with their combined scents. The smell of Kira’s arousal permeated the room. Every breath he took, he smelled Kira, building pressure in his balls, filling him with the need to come.

“Ah, fuck, I’m gonna come.” Garrick groaned.

A bead of sweat trickled down Thane’s temple. “Me, too, kitten. Come for us one more time. Squeeze our cocks.” Thane started hammering in and out of her pussy.

Whether it was the raw words or the wild movements of the man beneath her that pushed Kira over, Garrick couldn’t care less. The moment she started to come, her greedy little pussy and ass began pulsing around Thane and him, and they, too, fell over the edge. He roared out his pleasure, while Thane swore in several languages. Garrick’s balls drew up, full of semen, his seed spurting from his dick like it never wanted to quit. In perfect sync, Thane released, his voice equally hoarse by the time he was spent.

Buy Link: http://www.bookstrand.com/kiras-warriors

Interview:
Mellanie: What inspired you to write your first book?
Elle: I had been a beta and crit partner for a few NYT and USA Best Selling Authors for several years. They’d encouraged me to submit my first book after reading it. After several revisions and a couple “sobbbb” rejections, I was accepted by Siren.

Mellanie: Do you see writing as a career?
Elle: Absolutely! I’ve always kept a journal, and now I get to do what I love, and share the stories in my head with everyone. Even if I didn’t make a penny, I’d still write.

Mellanie: This book is the fourth in a series. Do you prefer to write single title or series? Why?
Elle: I prefer to write in a series, just as I prefer to read books in a series. When I fall in love with characters and worlds, I hope that the author continues to build on them. My hope is that readers will want the same from me.

Mellanie: Give us some insight into your main character. What makes him/her special?
Elle: Kira is a Japanese American who showed up in Jaklyn’s Saviors. She saved Jaklyn’s mother from a demon possession. In her book we meet her again because she’s being stalked by an unknown person. Kira is more than just an average human, she’s Kitsune.

Mellanie: Is there a message in your novel you hope to convey to your readers?
Elle: My books are all paranormal, with a twist on the Greek mythology. I take factional places and events, whether it be folklore, myth, or real life happenings and twist them into my world. The only message I truly convey is that good will always triumph and there will ALWAYS be an HEA. No serials from this lady ☺

Mellanie: I love a good conflict. What draws your main characters to each other and keeps them apart?
Elle: The guys are all drawn to their woman and know she is meant to be theirs, only they have to convince her they are good enough. The conflict in each story varies, but in the first two books the main bad guy was Cronus. What keeps them apart is usually danger where the ladies are in an extreme situation. I don’t write my heroines as wimps or crybabies though, or the “too stupid to live” either. LOL

Mellanie: How did you come up with the title?
Elle: For all my Ravens I wanted something that would be cohesive and decided to use the women’s names and the second part to describe the men.

Mellanie: What’s your favorite sub-genre (contemporary, sci-fi, etc.) to write? To read?
Elle: Hmmm, that’s a hard one. I love paranormal, shifters, vampires etc. When reading those are the ones I pick up first. My second go to would be ménage with suspense of some sort. I love Sophie Oaks' Bliss Colorado series <3 Mellanie: I usually get plot ideas in the shower and while driving. When/where does inspiration strike you?
Elle: I can get ideas pretty much anywhere, and tend to get them right when I get in bed lol, or in the middle of another book.

Mellanie: What new stories are you working on?
Elle: I am ¾ of the way finished with book 2 in my Mystic Wolves series, tentatively titled His Perfect Wolf. This is Niall’s story which is the follow up to Zayn Malik’s book Accidentally Wolf. I’m also self-publishing a paranormal book titled Smoke Jumper in March. This will be my first foray into self-pubbing, and it’s only a novella, but I’m really excited.

Bio:
I’m a wife and mother who is a retired stay at home mom of 2. I say retired because my youngest is 14 and my oldest is 21 eeek. When my baby went to school, reading saved my sanity, and then the same year he started school, I was diagnosed with Cancer, again reading saved my sanity. When I recovered and realized how quickly life could change, I made a bucket list. The number one thing was to live. Check. On top of that list was to become a published author. Check. Eight years later I have accomplished that goal and several others.
I live in the Midwest, but I”m a southern girl with only a slight twang who says y’all quite frequently, and am known to say “Bless Your Heart” A LOT. If you know what that means, you do not want to be the one I say that to, lol. I cuss worse than if a trucker and a sailor were put together, but I do it with class *WEG*.

I write what I love to read, erotic romance. My books are definitely full of lots of story, but I leave nothing to the imagination in or out of the bedroom. My hope is that after readers have read one of my stories, they fall in love with the characters as much as I have.

The best part of my new journey is that I get to create new worlds, and have all kinds of stories in my head just waiting to be written. I truly love to hear from readers. You can find me on Facebook, Twitter or my website, but I’m on Facebook all the time, so find me. I’d love to you from you ☺.

Links:
Website: www.elleboon.com
Facebook profile: https://www.facebook.com/elle.boon
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Elle-Boon-Author/1429718517289545
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ElleBoon1
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Elle-Boon/e/B00K03HY42/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1415849092&sr=1-2-ent

Thanks so much for visiting today, Elle, and thank you to those who stopped by! Be sure to comment by midnight (EST) on Wednesday, January 4, for a chance to win an e-book copy of Kira's Warriors!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...Romance With A Kick!