Thursday, January 30, 2014

Blog Party & Giveaway!

Stop by the Fantasy Promotions blog for my post on their Ringing in the New Year Party! Enter for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card, plus you'll be registered to win other great prizes, including a signed print copy of Love Served Hot! Contest runs from January 30 to February 3, 2014.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Publishing Contracts Part 2

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! I’ll be discussing career topics for the next several months. 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.

Are you ready for another look at Publishing Contracts? We barely scratched the surface with Part 1.

A lot of work goes into preparing a book for publication. All of these areas should be included in the contract. If you aren’t able to negotiate acceptable terms, be prepared to walk away.

To protect both parties (author and publisher), the contract should contain an author’s statement of original work. The author must own the rights to the work. This means no plagiarism, no works in the public domain, no other publisher can lay claim to rights, no copyright infringement, etc. Although some parts of the contract will seem like common sense, they have to be in writing to be enforceable.

The projected release date should be clearly stated in the contract. Does the release date apply to digital versions, print version, and/or audio version?

While many traditional publishers register the copyrights for the books they publish, many small presses do not. Self-published authors must decide on their own whether or not to complete this step. Is the author responsible for registering the copyright and its cost? Who is responsible for legal fees and filings if the copyright is infringed upon?

Will the publisher provide an ISBN for the book? They aren’t mandatory for some retail outlets, but books without ISBNs aren’t recognized by the big bestseller lists. How important is this aspect to you?

The publisher typically sets the selling price for all formats it provides. How is the price set? Are works with comparable length and subject matter used to determine the selling price? The contract should state the policy for discounting and special sales. Does the author have the option of purchasing discounted copies?

The cover is probably the most important marketing tool for books. Does the author have input on the cover art? Can she ask for changes? The author should be provided with a cover art questionnaire to help the artist create an appropriate cover. Is the author allowed to provide her cover art at her own expense, subject to publisher approval?

Blurbs also attract buyers. Who will create the blurbs for your book? The author knows the story best, so most times she’s required to write them. Does the publisher reserve the right to edit or rewrite the blurbs? If the publisher creates the blurbs, is the author allowed to provide feedback?

Another part of marketing is the title. Will the original title be kept? If it’s changed, does the author have input or approval of the new title?

Editing is one of the most important aspects of publishing. How many rounds of edits will your manuscript undergo? The contract may or may not go into detail regarding editing, but you’ll be better prepared if you discuss the procedure with the publisher prior to signing. Does the author maintain the right to accept or reject editorial suggestions? Remember, the story is yours. You should have at least some say in the final product. The contract should state that the publisher will notify the author prior to making any substantial changes. What happens if edits aren’t returned on time? Is the release delayed or the contract terminated?

The manuscript also has to be formatted for publication. The publisher should be responsible for correctly formatting the book for all distribution outlets. If the publisher fails to complete this process and make the book available within a reasonable defined time period after the agreed upon release date, do publishing rights revert to the author?

How about we tackle promotion, marketing, and distribution next time?

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Author Spotlight--Tatum Throne + Giveaway

Welcome to another Author Spotlight on Monday! This week's guest is Tatum Throne, one of my fellow Siren Publishing authors. Besides having written for the same publisher, we're both Ohio girls and share a love of hiking. We seriously need to plan a writers' getaway at Hocking Hills!

Meet Tatum Throne! She's giving away an e-book to one lucky commenter!
Author Bio:
Tatum Throne has a master’s degree in social work. She left the field of medical social work to be a stay at home mom and to pursue her dreams of writing romance. She has three rambunctious boys with her husband, Mr. Throne, and two rowdy hamsters named CJ. She also has a pet rabbit named Coco who has taken over her office.

When not indulging her fantasies, Tatum enjoys baking chocolate chip cookies, hiking, spending time with her family, and spreading awareness of eosinophilic disorders.

You can find Tatum all over the web at:
Find her on Facebook!

Check out her latest book, Branding Ben (MM):


Border agent Nick Marshal is a Dom who likes to work and play outside his professional and personal lines. After a fight with his coworker, Nick is reluctantly reassigned to the Rough Riders program. He’s been assigned to Ben Stone’s property to watch the border. Nick’s first assignment is to find Ben, who has suddenly gone missing.

Ben’s a cowboy who has just taken ownership of his late uncle’s ranch. In over his head, Ben has a lot to learn about what it takes to keep a ranch running. The first mistake he makes is going out alone to get the lay of the land. Ben doesn’t have any long-term plans. Will he realize what he has before it’s too late?

As things get intense, Nick takes control. Nick knows that this cowboy is wild and needs to be tamed by his rules of submission, but will Ben submit to Nick’s commands or will he need to be wrangled?


Border patrol Agent Nick Marshal froze in his tracks. He glanced over his shoulder at the mud slinger, Clint, as the hair on the back of his neck stood on end. “Try saying that to my fucking face.”

“You’re a pussy,” Clint said.

Nick shoved Clint up against the filing cabinets, shaking the potted plants on top. One plant knocked over, sending dirt and fertilizer all over the papers on top of the cabinet. He lowered his voice to a whisper that only Clint would be able to hear. “Don’t pick a fight you can’t win.”

“You’re too much of a pussy to fight me,” Clint said. “We both know that.”

Right now, Nick wanted to smash the smug satisfaction off of Clint’s face. “Try me.”

Clint’s auburn hair was buzzed short. There was a bad attitude stamped in his eyes as he stared Nick down. Nick was well aware that he didn’t have any friends within the department. Clint liked to point that fact out every chance he got. Nick was a loner. He just didn’t make friends the way a normal person did. Nick was an introvert. Most probably took that as arrogant. He did his job and went home. Of course, home was where his demons started to play tag in his mind. He did not want this fight today. Clint stared at him, egging him on.

“What the fuck is going on with you, Clint?” Nick asked.

When silence echoed back, Nick shoved Clint up against the file cabinets again, denting them this time.
“I’d watch your step,” Clint said.

Nick knew he was crossing the line, but he didn’t care. He was tired of the rumors swirling around the department about his sexual orientation. Yeah, he could have deflected them by coming out, but he wasn’t about to do that to satisfy someone’s else’s perverted urges to crucify him. Nick was so far into the closet that he wasn’t about to step out in front of this firing squad Clint was organizing. He was positive they didn’t know a damn thing about his past. That was long ago buried. Or was it? Had someone gotten ahold of his personnel file? Had someone in the department leaked his private hell?

Nick let go of Clint with a shove. “Leave me the fuck alone. Stay out of my way and we won’t have any more problems.”
Nick strode to the doorway that led to the main hall. He had to get away from Clint before he did something epically stupid.

“You’re still a pussy.”

There was going to be a nasty fight. Nick froze midstride. Clint was going to keep pushing until he got one. Nick fisted both of his hands, wishing for clarity. It wasn’t happening. He clenched and unclenched his fists. He always did when he was so fucking pissed off that he couldn’t think straight. He tried to see past this moment, but Clint was making it really difficult.

“Say that to my face.”

“You’re a pussy.”

It was on.

Nick rushed up into Clint’s face, but didn’t touch him. He blocked him in between the cabinet and the corner desk. “Hit me.”

Clint grinned. “Not going to happen, pussy.”

Nick crossed his arms and leaned in close, lowering his voice. He knew if he didn’t cross them he’d be reaching out to strangle Clint. “By the time this is over, you’re going to be munching my cunt if you keep calling me a pussy.”
Nick turned away, heading out of the room. He had to get control of his emotions running wild through his body. Clint’s laughter slapped the back of Nick’s head with the force of a bowling ball.

“Fucking pussy.”

Before Nick could process the move, he was across the room and grabbing hold of Clint by the front of his tactical shirt. This time he wasn’t going to let go. This time he was going to make a statement to everyone in the department to leave him the fuck alone. The window was open. Nick wanted to chuck Clint out of it, but Nick put a stop on that temptation. Nick swung Clint by the shirt, tossing him across the room.

Papers went flying as Clint slid across his desk. A cup of pens and pencils hit the wall and rolled across the floor. Clint fell off the desk and onto his ass, knocking his desk chair back with a bang against more filing cabinets. Clint sprang to his feet, spinning a binder at Nick’s head. Despite ducking, the rough corner of the binder hit Nick’s temple. This fight was a long time coming. Things weren’t the same with Clint since Nick got the promotion and Clint was bypassed. Heat dripped down the side of Nick’s face. He knew he was bleeding.

“Leave me the fuck alone,” Nick said. “I don’t want any more problems with you.”

He rounded and came face to face with his director, Sam Peters. This was not good. Sam took a look around at the destruction in the office. His hands were cocked on his hips. One hand was on the butt of his Glock while the other fingered the holder of his cuffs. Yeah, it was clear that he was thinking about shooting first and asking questions later. Sam would probably bury them both in the desert and then go to lunch. Sam’s hard edge had hard edges that Nick didn’t care to understand. The man looked absolutely dangerous in the light of day. It probably had a lot to do with the scars on his right arm that he never talked about.

“Both of you, in my office now,” Sam said. “Now!”

Sam turned and headed into the hallway. Clint glared at Nick, waiting until Sam was out of earshot.

“Ladies first,” Clint said.

Don't forget to comment for a chance to win an e-book copy of Branding Ben from Tatum!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Want to read a short a short excerpt from Just Desserts, the first book in the Love on the Menu...With Extra Spice series? Head over to Facebook and like my author page to meet Meg and Aidan! Release is next month!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Publishing Contracts Part 1

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! I’ll be discussing career topics for the next several months. 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.

The day you’ve been waiting for has arrived. After months or years of writing, self-editing, and submitting, you finally receive an offer from a publisher. Are you ready to sign those Publishing Contracts?

In today’s ever-expanding world of publishing, anyone can call himself a publisher. Did you research the company? Does the company have a reputation for treating authors well, having good editors, and paying on time? Are the contracts straightforward and fair?

Remember that when dealing with a publisher, money flows to the author. If the publisher charges for cover art, editing, promotion, etc., you’re looking at a vanity publisher. While self-publishing requires an investment, the author doesn’t share profits with any other parties.

If you haven’t done your homework yet, do it BEFORE you sign the contract. Getting out of a bad contract isn’t always possible, so learn what to look for or get a legal expert to review the terms prior to signing. Protect your interests and your rights!

Every contract needs to include your legal name, your pseudonym, title(s) of the book(s) being published under that contract, the publisher’s name, and the date of the offer. The amount of any advance should also be stated, including how and when it will be paid.

What is the term of the contract? NEVER sign a contract without a defined number of years for publishing rights. Two to fifteen years are reasonable terms. Full term of the copyright is not. It currently means your lifetime plus seventy years in the US. If you discover you aren’t happy with the publishing house, in many cases you’re stuck after signing a contract with an undefined term.

In addition to term, the contract should state which publishing rights are included. Print, digital, audio, foreign rights—if the publisher doesn’t offer some of these, why would you sign them away? Don’t give up rights they don’t offer!

Check for a section on royalties. What percentage is paid to the author for digital sales? This varies from publisher to publisher and averages 30-40% of gross sales from some retail distributors and net sales from others. How much is earned for print sales? Average print royalties are 6-8%. How often will the author be paid? Monthly or quarterly are most common, but also be aware that some publishers only pay when the author has reached a minimum payout amount for that statement period. If you were paid an advance, you won’t receive royalties until you’ve earned out that prepayment.

Be sure to check the type of accounting used to determine payment of royalties. Basket accounting combines advances from more than one book/contract, and all advances must be earned out before royalties will be paid on any of the included books. This method is not in the author’s best interest. Negotiate it out of the contract or don’t sign!

Will your pen name be exclusive to the publisher? Some publishers offer special perks to authors who agree to exclusivity for a pseudonym. Be sure those advantages are listed in detail in the contract. With this stipulation, be prepared to create another persona if you self-publish or enter into a contract with a different publisher.

Are you writing a series that requires giving the publisher first right of refusal or exclusive rights to your characters or a unique species/world? If the publisher doesn’t offer a contract for a book in the series within the contract-specified time frame, do you maintain the right to submit/sell to another publisher or self-publish the work? Some contracts contain a first right of refusal on any book or a specific number of books. All these issues must be addressed in the contract and should be negotiated.

Continued next week…

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Author Spotlight--Valley Brown + Giveaway

Welcome to Author Spotlight Monday! Today's guest is Valley Brown, one of my IRWA friends. She's offering a free e-book to one lucky commenter! Thanks for visiting with me, Valley! Take it away...

Writing can be a bear. Sometimes it’s a cuddly, favorite-stuffed-toy of a bear. Sometimes it’s a big, enraged momma-grizzly-bear – you know the kind that eats you for lunch after it’s swatted the living daylights out of you.

Right now I’m in the middle of writing “Divided Highway” – Book Three in The Rocky Road romantic suspense series, and I’m facing down a grizzly bear. It’s not enraged, not yet, but it’s teetering on the edge of that fence.

The whole reason this bear is stalking my keister is because this book has something to prove. Not that the first two books aren’t worthy efforts. They are very important parts of my series. They introduce my main characters and their sidekicks. They provide essential backstory woven into the overall plot. They are also the steps leading to some serious personal revelations between my main protagonist, Christine, and her other half, Doug.

Some pretty important stuff has to come to a head in Book Three. My developmental editor, bless her little steel-trap mind, has beaten this point into my overwhelmed brain. Book Three has to take a big stand on several issues and tackle them head-on. It’s also going to veer away from the suspense element some, in order to deal with these issues, and that’s an issue itself. The series will go back on track after this one. Like the title implies, Chris and Doug are approaching a critical juncture in their relationship journey and have to make some heavy choices. The wrong choice could have them going in opposite directions, with a median they can’t cross. But I digress.

I’ve been girding my loins for battle with this bear, researching, analyzing and trying to make everything fit in real-world fashion. Fortunately, I’ve met several people recently with life experiences that nearly parallel my story line. Both are delighted and generous enough to share their accumulated wisdom and insights with me. It’s amazing how help arrives when you need it most. God bless 'em! I do believe I’m gonna get me a bear.

Author Valley Brown and her husband live in Southwestern Indiana along the Ohio River. When not writing or working with art glass, she takes short road trips on her Honda Shadow, and makes art quilts. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Indiana Chapter of Romance Writers of America, Indiana ABATE, American Quilters Society, Raintree Quilters Guild, and the International Quilt Association.

The Rocky Road romantic suspense series is about one woman’s journey through trauma and tragedy, and how the power of love keeps her moving forward. It touches on the sensitive topic of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the different ways in which people deal with wounds that never heal, yet somehow find strength and courage to love again. Speeding Tickets (Book One) debuted in 2011. Rough Piece of Road (Book Two) was released July 2013. Divided Highway (Book Three) is “under construction”.

Connect with Valley...
Amazon Author Page
Valley Brown Facebook Page

Be sure to comment for a chance to win a copy of one of her e-books!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Pseudonyms

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! I’ll be discussing career topics for the next several months. 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.

Your book is written, critiqued, and polished. You’ve begun researching your publishing options. You may have even started submitting and pitching.

Before that contract offer, you have to make another decision—to write under your real name or to choose one or more Pseudonyms. Some authors prefer a different pen name for each genre or sub-genre they write. Others stick to a single pen name.

Writers choose to have pseudonyms for a variety of reasons. Perhaps your non-writing or your spouse’s career would be adversely affected by using your real name. Maybe you want to protect your privacy. Do you write erotic and inspirational romance? Thrillers and children's picture books? Whatever your reasons, choose your pen name wisely.

Avoid choosing the name of a well-known author. Ignorance is not an excuse. Whether your intentions are above board or not, you risk people seeing you as trying to ride the coattails of another author. And, yes, some writers and publishers have used this method to get noticed and gain sales. Not only is it unethical, you may find yourself in a legal battle. At the very least, your peers will likely judge your choice tasteless and laughable.

Something else to keep in mind—pseudonyms and real names typically are not copyrighted. If you decide to use a common name, you’ll find many other authors with the same or similar names. Should everybody sue? Of course not. Use your best judgment in picking a pen name. Conduct a reasonable search on Google or another search engine to see if someone in your genre is using the name. Chances are you’ll find someone with the same first or last name or both. If a match appears for an unusual name (both first and last), I recommend going back to the drawing board.

Remember, you don’t own your first or last name. Names are simply part of language. If another author has the same or a similar name, she probably wasn’t aware of your pen name. Unless you’re a huge name in publishing, let it go. Rather than threatening legal recourse or bullying another author, recognize that your work will stand on its own. Use your brand to create uniqueness and interest. Spend your time writing instead of nursing your ego.

Above all, be professional.

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Author Spotlight--Nan Reinhardt + Giveaway

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays!

This week my guest is friend and fellow IRWA member Nan Reinhardt. She's been generous enough to offer a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter, so show her some love! Take it away, Nan!!!

New Year’s Writing Resolutions, Systems

I read a fascinating article a couple of days ago by James Clear about why not having goals might lead to a happier life. ( Go ahead and check it out, I’ll wait.
Ah, welcome back. So this article made me completely rethink my usual set of New Year’s resolutions. Generally, on January 1, I make a list of the things that I intend to accomplish that year. The list invariably includes losing weight, being more organized, exercising more regularly, and of course, writing every day. Also invariably, I break every resolution—often as early as January 10.
But after reading Clear’s article, I decided not to make resolutions for 2014. I’m abandoning goals in favor of systems. I’m setting up a writing system wherein I will write for an hour at least five days a week. I’m not setting a word count goal, simply writing for an hour each day. So I’m not stressing over whether I produce 100 words or 1,000 words. My system is about writing, not about holding a word count sword over my own head.
I’m thinking that, as Clear points out, I can apply systems to other areas of my life where I often set goals and then become disappointed with my inability to achieve them. I shall make a system for exercising, focusing on moving my body each day, whether it be getting to the gym for a swim, riding my bike, or simply going up and down the stairs several times a day. My system will be movement—any kind of movement.
Who knows what I’ll accomplish in 2014 if I release the urge to make goals and instead enjoy each day’s progress.

Nan's Bio:
Nan Reinhardt is a writer of romantic fiction for women in their prime. Yeah, women still fall in love and have sex, even after 45! Imagine! She is also a wife, a mom, a mother-in-law, and a grandmother. She’s been an antiques dealer, a bank teller, a stay-at-home mom, a secretary, and for the last 17 years, she’s earned her living as a freelance copyeditor and proofreader.
But writing is Nan’s first and most enduring passion. She can’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t writing—she wrote her first romance novel at the age of ten, a love story between the most sophisticated person she knew at the time, her older sister (who was in high school and had a driver’s license!) and a member of Herman’s Hermits. If you remember who they are, you are Nan’s audience! She’s still writing romance, but now from the viewpoint of a wiser, slightly rumpled, menopausal woman who believes that love never ages, women only grow more interesting, and everybody needs a little sexy romance.
Visit Nan’s website at, where you’ll find links to all her books as well as blogs about writing, being a Baby Boomer, and aging gracefully...mostly.
Twitter: @NanReinhardt
Talk to Nan at:

Here's a peek at Nan's latest releases from her wonderful Women of Willow Bay series:

Once More From the Top
What do you do when the one who got away... comes back?

Carrie Halligan never regretted the choice she made sixteen years ago to raise her son Jack by herself in Willow Bay, Michigan. A successful photographer by day, at night Carrie satisfies her musical passions by playing piano at a hotel bar, maintaining a balance that works for her and Jack. Walking away from Maestro Liam Reilly without telling him she was pregnant with his child may have been the hardest thing she’d ever done, but it was definitely the right thing.
When Liam shows up in town to perform a benefit concert with the local symphony, however, Carrie’s carefully crafted life spins out of control. After sending Jack to summer camp, she realizes she can’t keep Liam in the dark forever. Telling the truth to the man she once loved more than life itself isn’t near as hard as spending time in his presence and realizing that the years haven’t diminished his power over her heart. Will her lie be too much to get past, or will the spark of passion between them overcome everything?
You can download Once More From the Top from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords by using these links:
Amazon: Nook:
reinhardt/1117906419?ean=2940149063536 Kobo: Smashwords:

Sex and the Widow Miles
His life ended. Hers didn’t.

Model-thin, beautiful, and aging gracefully, Julie Miles was looking forward to retirement with her husband, Dr. Charlie Miles, in their idyllic Willow Bay, Michigan home. But when Charlie dies of a heart attack, simply getting out of bed becomes a daily struggle. Desperate for a change of scene, she leaves her home to stay in her friend Carrie’s unoccupied Chicago apartment.
Her handsome and young new neighbor, Will Brody, seems to enjoy his assignment to keep an eye on her, and Jules can’t help but be flattered. She embraces life—and sex—again, until the discovery of a dark secret shatters her world once more. She knows her feelings for Will are more than casual, and he’s made it clear he wants her, but how can she ever trust a man again when her perfect life turned out to be a lie? Determined to get to the bottom of it all, Jules goes in search of the truth and discovers that there’s always a second chance to find real love.
You can download Sex and the Widow Miles from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords by using these links:
Amazon: Nook:
reinhardt/1117906420?ean=2940149063543 Kobo: Smashwords:

Don't forget to comment for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card by midnight (EST) Wednesday, Jan. 15! And go buy these two fantastic books!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Friday, January 10, 2014

WTW Handbook ~ Available Now!!!

I clicked the publish button today for Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook! Get your e-book copy on Kindle for 99 cents. Print will be available in a few days for $4.99. Buy the print version on Amazon and get the e-book for free with Matchbook!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

WTW: The Writing Craft Handbook Cover!

The fabulous Bethany Michaels at Dragonfly Press Design has created another great cover! Coming later this week to Amazon in e-book (99 cents) and print ($4.99) format...
Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Writing Tip Wednesday--Pitching

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! I’ll be discussing career topics for the next several months. For writing craft topics, see the Labels list in the left sidebar as you scroll down the page.

One way to get your manuscript in front of an editor or agent is to pitch your book, either online or in person. What is Pitching?

Imagine a 30-second to 15-minute job interview. In that short span of time, you have to spark enough interest to get a partial or a full request—the next round of interviews. A partial request can consist of anywhere from a few pages to several chapters from the beginning of your manuscript. A full request is the completed manuscript.

Yes, the completed manuscript. Unless you write very quickly and need very few edits, put off pitching your project until you’ve finished writing the book. A previously published author may, on occasion, pitch a proposal rather than a completed manuscript. The author has a track record the editor or agent can see, so the risk of making an offer with the book not being finished is much lower than with a new writer. A proposal is often the first three chapters and a synopsis.

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might remember I wrote a post about blurbs and taglines. Use those short attention-getting, interest-sparking teasers as your pitch. They introduce the main characters, their goals, and their conflicts. Your pitch should make the editor or agent want to ask how your characters will overcome the conflict and achieve resolution. Be prepared to offer that explanation. Think synopsis here—ending included.

Editors and agents may host online pitch sessions on Twitter, a Facebook page, on a blog or website, or through some other social media. Use your editor/agent research to decide if the opportunity fits your genre. Read and follow the posted rules for the pitch sessions. Conduct yourself in a professional manner. That means thanking the host for his/her time and accepting your offer to submit or refusal for submission with grace. Do not behave rudely or belligerently to the editor, agent, or other pitching authors. The publishing world is small and close-knit. Behaving unprofessionally will earn you a reputation as such and discourage anyone from wanting to work with you.

Do not pitch on social media without an invitation to do so. Social media is for being social and promoting your books/blogs/etc., not for stalking editors and agents.

Conferences often hold editor/agent pitch sessions in conjunction with workshops and other events. These in-person interviews can be nerve-wracking and stressful. Start by dressing comfortably and appropriately. It’s a job interview. Dress in business to business-casual attire. Be on time for your appointment. Remember that editors and agents are people too. They’re looking for good stories and have more than likely been meeting with writers all day. Smile. Be friendly.

Don’t feel like you have to memorize your pitch. Many times, a recitation of your blurb can sound wooden and simply…memorized. Have a note card to help with the words if you think you need it, but know the basic premise of your story. Most of all, show the editor or agent that you love your story. Let him/her see your passion for writing.

Follow through when you receive a request. Send the requested materials in a timely manner and follow directions. If you receive and accept an offer elsewhere, let the editor or agent know that you’re no longer looking for an agent or your manuscript is no longer available.

Last but not least, pitch only during appropriate times and in appropriate places. This doesn’t include interrupting a private conversation in the restaurant, the bar, or the elevator. It also means the restroom is not the place to corner your dream editor or agent. Use good judgment.

Are you ready to pitch?

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Author Spotlight--Siobhan Muir + Giveaway

Welcome to my new Author Spotlight series on Mondays!

My first guest is the lovely Siobhan Muir. We connected on Facebook because of my Hungarian heritage and her awesome Hungarian husband, only to discover common interests in geology, sewing, and food as well. One of these days, we'll have to meet face to face! Maybe San Antonio in July, Siobhan???

Here's a peek at her latest release:

A SEAL is strongest with her Team…

Ensign Christiana "Ghost" Brickman is the only female SEAL to survive BUD/S training, a real Navy Jane. But when an ambush ends her career as an active SEAL, she’s free to pursue other interests. Like her two best friends Lt. Jim "Retro" Waters and Chief Warrant Officer Todd "Magic" Hunter. She's wanted them for over a year, but never dared to approach them while in the squad.

Retro has fought his dark desires since high school, certain the need to share a woman unnatural. Magic had never considered sharing before Ghost mentions it, but it solves his dilemma of choosing between his best friend and his woman. But Retro balks at Ghost’s offer to share and retreats from both when she marries Magic.

Everyone feels Retro’s loss, but he ignores the ache of their broken connection in favor of living ‘normal.’ When Ghost and the other wives of Beta Squad are kidnapped, Retro must reevaluate how much both Ghost and Magic mean to him. And he must decide how far he's willing to go to save the woman he loves, before she becomes the Navy's ghost.

Copyright © 2013 Siobhan Muir
All rights reserved.

“Then you gotta wake up and talk to them ’cause they want to make sure you get the message loud and clear. Do you hear me, Ensign Brickman?”

“Yes sir.” Chris struggled, twisting her head back and forth as if shaking off a smothering hood. Sweat beaded on her forehead, sliding down the side of her face to soak the pillowcase but her eyes opened clear, fastening on Jim.


“Hey, Ghost. What the hell is going on? Why are you succumbing to some measly little fever? You giving up on something?”

“Waters.” Chris shifted her gaze to Todd.

“Hey, Magic. You okay?”

Why would she talk to Todd rather than him?

Because Todd Hunter is the better man and didn’t yell at her, moron.

“Actually, no, not really.” Magic squeezed her hand. “I’m pretty damn worried about you. See, from where I’m sittin’, it looks like you’re givin’ up and that just ain’t right. If you give up, then I won’t be able to tell you how beautiful you look or how much I love you ever again. In fact, I’m bettin’ you’d miss a whole buttload of opportunities to hear how I feel if you just give up and die.”

Chris didn’t say anything for a long time, her gaze studying Magic’s face. The blond man’s expression filled with all his love for her and Jim had to blink back his tears. Damn! Why hadn’t he ever seen Todd’s feelings for Chris? Either the man was better at hiding them or he’d been too tied up in his own emotions to notice.


“How do you feel, Magic?” she whispered at last, her expression wary.

“Well, that’s where it gets real complicated real fast.” A smile curled across Todd’s handsome face. “See, I’m pretty head over heels in love with you, Ensign Christiana, and I have been for some time now. When you got shot in the warehouse, I figured I might lose the best woman in the world, the only woman I love, and it didn’t sit well with me.”

“You’re in love with me?” Her eyes widened.

“Yes, ma’am, I am.”

“Are you sure?”

Magic barked out a half-offended, half-amused laugh. “Yes, ma’am, I’m sure.”

Her hazel eyes shifted back to Jim and he fell into her gaze. He wanted her so much it made his chest ache, but he wasn’t worthy of her. He couldn’t contaminate her with unnatural needs. But he could, and did, love her.

“What about you, Retro? How do you feel?”

“Right now, you got me nervous, Ensign.”

“Nervous about what?”

“Nervous you might leave before I could tell you I love you.” He glanced at Todd and his buddy dipped his head in encouragement. “It’s hard for me to admit after Magic gave you his declaration, but if you’re giving up on life, I’d like you to know before you go.”

Chris’s gaze shifted away, scanning the room beyond them and the new vases of flowers decorating the room. Then she refocused on the men.

“I’m still in the hospital.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Magic said.

“How do I know this isn’t a dream? The last time I talked to you two, you looked like I’d just told you I was gonna to run a marathon unarmed in Afghanistan. How do I know, with all the drugs in my system, this is real?”

“Does this feel real to you?”

Before his mind could catch up to his body, Jim leaned forward and kissed Chris. Even with the scent of fever and medicine, her soft lips damn near dragged a groan from his chest. He’d fantasized countless times of kissing her and reality bested the fantasies. He kept the kiss tender and sweet, but arousal shot through his body and stiffened his cock. Jim forced himself to pull away, to revel in the little pleasure he’d taken.

Chris sighed and a pale smile lifted her lips. “That was a dream come true.”

Jim grinned, suddenly giddy. “For me, too, Ghost. I love you, sweetheart.”

“I love you, too, Jim.”

She reached for his hand and he engulfed it in his large palm. Her skin scorched his.

“Are you gonna give up on this fight, then?” He coughed around a large lump in his throat.

“No, sir. Not if you’re waiting for me in the clear water.”

“You can count on it, Brickman. We’ll both be waiting for you.”

Even if I don’t take my share, I’ll still wait.

Siobhan is offering a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter! Deadline to enter is 11:59 pm EST January 8, 2014.

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Siobhan’s recent release, The Navy’s Ghost, is the first book in the Bad Boys of Beta Squad series. She has published A Hell Hound’s Fire (a free read) and The Beltane Witch in the Cloudburst Colorado series. Siobhan has also published Not a Dragon’s Standard Virgin and Queen Bitch of the Callowwood Pack through Siren Publishing, and Her Devoted Vampire through Evernight Publishing.

Siobhan Muir lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, 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.

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Thanks for stopping by! Remember to comment by 11:59 pm EST on January 8, 2014 for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card!

*skipping over to Amazon to get my copy!*
Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Researching Editors & Agents

In today's publishing world, Researching Editors and Agents has taken on new meaning. Not only do authors have more choices in their publishing paths, they also can choose multiple avenues, becoming a hybrid author. This leads to numerous questions.

1) Which publishing avenue are you pursuing (traditional print house, e-book/print house, e-book only house, self-publishing, or a combination)?
2) Are you researching acquiring editors, acquiring agents, or content/developmental, copy, and/or line editors?
3) Do you have a particular publishing house in mind for submission?
4) Does the path you want to follow require an agent for submissions?
5) If you've chosen to self-publish, do you want an agent for negotiating contracts for foreign/audible/print rights?
6) Do you write in more than one genre? Will you need more than one agent?
7) Are you prepared to write synopses and query letters?
8) Will you participate in pitch sessions at conferences and online?

Once you decide on your avenue, you can see which questions apply to you.

If you’re planning to submit to a publishing house that accepts unagented submissions, you’ll need to research not only acquiring editors but their publishing houses as well. Be sure that house or editor publishes or edits the genre/subgenre you wish to submit. Check their guidelines for details.

Follow publishers and editors on Twitter and like them on Facebook to see how they interact with authors and assess their general presence on social media. Get a feel for their personalities. Not every author will fit well with every publisher or editor. Take time to look at publishers’ websites, their submission requirements, and editor profiles/bios.

Check Preditors and Editors and Writer Beware for information on bad practices and complaints. Ask authors who’ve worked with those houses and editors whether their experiences were positive or negative. Were contracts problematic? Was the editing helpful, thorough, and professional?

If you’re planning to submit to a publishing house that accepts only agented submissions, you’ll need to research agents. Know what services you want the agent to perform before you query—representation as a submitting agent, contract negotiation for an offered contract, sales and negotiation of print, foreign, or audible rights. Think long term needs.

Check out the agencies’ websites, submission requirements, and agent profiles/bios. Agents have specific genres and subgenres they prefer. Don’t waste your time and theirs by querying a genre they don’t represent. Again, follow agents on Twitter and like them on Facebook to get a feel for their personalities. Some agents are more hands-on than others. Do you prefer more communication or less? Someone to take charge or someone to discuss every move with you?

Visit AgentQuery and QueryTracker for information on which agents represent which genres and whether they’re accepting queries and new clients. Always go to the agent’s website for the most up-to-date wish list, submission requirements, and instructions.

If you’re planning to self-publish, you’ll likely need content/developmental, copy, and/or line editors. Content editors review plot and character development. Copy editors check grammar, spelling, and punctuation, verify legal and usage questions (like trademarked names), and check/verify facts. Line editors are usually responsible for pacing, story continuity, and content. Some tasks overlap, depending on the editor’s skills.

Most reputable freelance editors have websites with a list of services provided and pricing. Contact fellow authors or join a self-publishing group for suggestions and recommendations. Ask for references and follow up by getting feedback from clients. Shop around!

Finishing your book is on the first step in becoming a published author. Educate yourself on the industry and learn everything you can about publishers, editors, and agents before you take the next step. A bad publisher/editor/agent is worse than no publisher/editor/agent!

What are your questions???

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!