Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday--Writing Advice from Michelle Graham

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! Iced Latté is now live at most online retail outlets and I'm in the process of adding links to the blog and my website!

This week my guest is Michelle Graham! She has some great advice, so read on. Welcome, Michelle!

Things That Drive Me Nuts As A Reader

I’m a voracious reader. I also judge my RWA chapter’s contest, and I have critiqued many manuscripts in a variety of capacities, from personal to professional. There are some things in books that will make me want to toss my Kindle at the wall or have me screaming in frustration at my computer. Following is a list of things that drives me absolutely nuts and that I wish all aspiring authors could eliminate from their writing. I’ve even seen professional writers do some of these things. No one is perfect.

I’ll admit that I have been guilty of making some of these mistakes myself, but if I had had this list when I started my writing career, I could have avoided a lot of rejection. I hope you find it helpful!

1. Characters who are TSTL (Too Stupid To Live) – “You’ve had 10 beers? Why yes, I think I’d love to let you drive me home.”

2. Damsels in Distress – “Oh, how tragic that I’ve been kidnapped and tied up! If only a big, strong man would come and save me!” (see #1)

3. Misunderstandings – So you saw him having lunch with another woman and instead of asking him, you just assume he’s having an affair and go off and have a snit fit?

4. Ridiculously descriptive language – She plucked the blood-red cherry from the heavily laden tree, which drooped from the weight of its abundantly flavourful load, and savoured the sweet explosion of sticky juice between the impeccably flossed enamel of her teeth.

5. Huge passages of backstory; especially at the beginning – She hung up the phone and remembered every single event from her birth to the phone call in question.

6. Characters who have long internal monologues, especially which feature arguing with themselves – “I’ve always been afraid of commitment. Maybe if I hide and don’t answer the phone, I won’t have to deal with her. But if I don’t deal with her now she’ll just keep calling. How I hate the sound of the phone ringing or her annoying nasal voice. I just won’t answer the phone. But what if she tried to call from a different number and I talked to her by accident? Maybe I should just answer it. I remember a time when I didn’t hate answering the phone…”

7. Typos or incorrect usage – Eye sea your knot a grammer nerd.

8. Trick endings – It was all a dream!

9. A huge cast introduced in the first 2 pages of the book - also a huge cast with similar names (I’m Terry and this is Jerry, Carrie, Larry, Tammy, and Pammy).

10. Endings that drag on – So we lived happily ever after. We had a beautiful wedding with 3 kinds of cake and bridesmaids dresses that had a sweetheart neckline, which matched the bow ties of the groomsmen. Then we went on a beautiful honeymoon and had lots of beautiful sex. Once we got back we bought a beautiful house and made beautiful babies and lived into our eighties and had a slew of great-grandchildren…

Thanks this awesome list, Michelle! My head almost exploded when I read #7. :D Writers, are you guilty of any of these mistakes???

Michelle is a multi-published author with books available from Siren Publishing and Evernight Publishing. She lives in southern Ontario with her husband, son, daughter, and two fur babies.

Twitter: @MichelleGAuthor

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday--Writing Advice from Andrew Jericho

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! I'm back after a brief hiatus to get past the funk of having three deaths of family and friends in a month's time and finish Iced Latté Release date is July 27!

Andrew Jericho is joining me this week to give some insight into his writing process to help new writers! Hi, Andrew!

Thanks for having me as a guest, Mellanie, on Writing Tip Wednesday!

Many Paths to Becoming an Author

I don’t believe in a “one true path” to becoming an author. I never had an epiphany that writing was my calling. I began my career as a freelance journalist and photographer, and became a ManLove erotic romance author in November, 2012 upon the publication of my first book, Ripped, with Siren-BookStrand Publishing. I’ve always been a writer in one form or another.

As an author, I’ve been asked numerous questions. I enjoy hearing from readers, and encourage e-mails and comments often. While there are too many questions to address in this guest post, I’ve chosen several topics to share. I hope my answers will help others authors develop their paths to success.

New Author Advice:
The first step is getting published. The next? Promote, promote, promote! Also when writing, don’t be afraid to share your thoughts. There will be people who respect you, not only for your ideas, but for your honesty.
Be kind to readers and other authors. Give shout-outs to fellow writers. However, promo shouldn’t be the only thing you post on social media. Readers want to feel connected to their favorite writers. Post about other interests besides writing.

Character Development:
I don’t have any one formula for character development. A character can be a compilation of many, or the product of a few. For example: a voice from one, or a personality from another, is often woven into my literary figures.
My characters write their own lives. While I provide them with literary direction, they ultimately make their own decisions. Once an idea for a book forms, I feel compelled to see it through to completion. The characters I write about demand their stories be told as uniquely as they’re forming in my memory. Many times, I’ve told characters to, “take a number.”

Writing Inspiration:
My partner, John, is my greatest inspiration and muse. I infuse my characters with bits and pieces of the man who shares my life. The real-life depiction of ManLove we share has inspired my writing.

Writer’s Block:
I get writer’s block all the time. In addition, I’m a slow writer. My theory for coping is when a story is ready to be told I’ll write it. I can’t force the process.

The Hardest Part of Writing:
The hardest part of writing my books is weaving romance, passion, and eroticism into a realistic story. I strive to capture gay men in real situations of life and love.

Handling Negative Reviews:
I’ve had negative reviews, as likely all authors have. Not everyone will like your work. For every negative review, there is always a reader who has positive comments about a book. Also, never argue, or post a response, to a negative review!

Why Erotic Romance?:
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Erotica as, “works of art or literature that deal with sex and are meant to cause sexual feelings.” As a ManLove erotic romance author my writing not only includes sexuality, but is a blend of romance and passion. Romance. Passion. Eroticism. All three words in that order define my definition of erotica.
I write about gay men in real situations of life and love who are intense and sexual. Those who read my books know what to expect. My writing is not for the faint of heart. However, readers also know they will find romance within my stories. I believe erotica is an emotion born from the intense and sexual nature of the human spirit, infused with the need for human affection, or romantic ideals.

While erotica does explore sexuality, it also shares the emotions and romance necessary to move my characters towards different levels of intimacy with their male partners. Erotica focuses on many human emotions within us all.

Bio: Andrew Jericho is a ManLove erotic romance author for Siren-BookStrand Publishing, and a long supporter of LGBTQ rights. His writing proves love and erotic attraction are the same regardless of gender and/or sexual orientation. In their purest forms, Andrew has seen those concepts transform characters into better individuals.

He is a gay transgender man, who lives with his partner, John Jericho, and family. He enjoys photography, eclectic tastes in music and the arts, and browsing the local library and art galleries. All of Andrew’s work can be found at: Andrew Jericho.

Facebook page:

Thanks so much for visiting today and sharing your advice for new writers, Andrew!

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday--Writing Advice from Bethany Michaels

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! My guest this week is the fabulous Bethany Michaels! Not only is she a talented cover artist, she's also a terrific writer and a good friend. Does her affliction sound familiar??? It should--to almost every writer!

Writing is Hard: Head Games

I've been writing seriously for over 10 years now and I'm telling you, it NEVER gets easier. You might think one would gain confidence once she writes and publishes a bunch of books.


Most of the difficulty for me relates to the head games I play with myself. I often waver between "This is awesome. I am awesome. I rock! Pulitzer Prize, baby!" to "Oh my God, no one is going to read this. This sucks. I suck. I am the worst writer EVER. Someone should shoot my laptop and put it out of its misery. I'm getting a lobotomy...TODAY." This all happens within a ten-minute time span...and is an internal reaction to the exact same piece of work.

This is normal. Almost every writer I've ever talked to has the same reactions to her writing at some point, whether she is a first-time author or a New York Times bestseller. Writers' neurosis never really goes away; you just get better at managing it.

I think that these voices telling you that you suck, or that you are the best writer ever, are all defense mechanisms. Writing is an art and, like any art, you put a piece of yourself on the canvas—your desires, your needs, your world view. You open yourself up to ridicule and rejection and to letting people who know you in real life see what a weirdo you really are. It's scary!

Telling yourself you suck keeps you from having too many expectations of success, so you're never disappointed when you get a rejection letter or don't immediately hit the NYT list with your first book. You knew you sucked anyway, so you were right all along. Score!

Telling yourself you are the next (insert big-name author here) pumps you up to keep putting words on the page, but it can also make you do things to turn other writers, editors, agents and readers off, especially if you truly believe your own hype. Self-promotion is absolutely necessary when you're a publishing author, but I think we've all seen the "look at me, me, me, buy my book, buy my book, buy my book" types online. So annoying and really kind of sad.

I find that head games I play with myself are the reason it's so hard to get started sometimes. It's better to avoid writing completely and binge-watch Alex O'Loughlin in "Hawaii 5-0" than put myself though all the emotional angst writing engenders.

But most of us writers MUST write. It's a way to let the crazy out a little bit at a time so we can function as normal human beings when we have to.

Here are a few tips for wrangling the crazy-talk in your head and getting down to work:

-Bring it on: Try physically writing down all the negative crap your inner hater is whispering to you. Put it all on the page and then...get rid of it. Burn it, wad it up, eat it, flush it...whatever. Poof! It's gone, physically and symbolically. You can also just listen for a moment and then visualize all the lines of negative words streaming out of your head and vaporizing. Or coming out in word bubbles and popping. Weird but effective. Try it! It's too hard to work with all those niggling little whispers bouncing around inside your brain. Do whatever it takes to exorcise those demons. They'll come back, but now you know how to temporarily rid yourself of them. Repeat as needed.

-Just do it: Do a writing sprint. Set a ridiculous word count goal and do everything you can to meet it. If I'm writing fast, I don't have time to listen to those confidence eaters. I'm too focused on typing as fast as my little fingers can go! This is the theory behind NANOWRIMO, where your goal is to draft 50,000 words in one month with no internal editor to hinder you. On Twitter, you can join other writers doing sprints (maybe trying to vanquish the same demons?) at #1k1hr.
-The DELETE key is your friend: A good thing to remember is that your writing is private until YOU choose to make it public. As Stephen King says, "Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open." Give yourself permission to write a shitty first draft. No one will see it but you. And if it really, really does suck eggs, you can employ this fancy little keyboard trick: SELECT ALL---> DELETE.

Personally, this is huge for me. I know I can write a bad scene with really awful dialogue and too many instances of "gaze", "she sighed" and "inner goddess" and no one will see it. EVER. Critique groups work for a lot of writers, but they don't work for me. I found that I was so worried about the feedback I was going to get on Chapter One that I could not go on to Chapter Two. I was writing to please the group rather than writing to get my story on the page where I could work with it and improve it. Now I write and revise until I'm happy with what I've got and THEN I share.

For the record, the phrase "inner goddess" has never made it to the final draft of any of my manuscripts. Or the first draft, for that matter ;)

Ok, procrastination time is over. Go banish the writing demons and get to work!

Thanks for visiting today and sharing your great advice, Beth!

Bethany Michaels grew up in a small Indiana farm town, which gave her lots of time to indulge her love for reading and writing. She graduated from Ball State University with a degree in English and logged hours towards an MA in English at Butler University. Bethany currently lives outside Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and children.

Bethany is the author of over a dozen short stories, novellas and novels. She writes hot sexy love stories for several publishers including Red Sage, Whispers and Siren and is working on some independent titles as well. She earned a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Nomination for her novel, Nashville Heat and is a member of Romance Writers of America, Music City Romance Writers and Indiana Romance Writers of America.

When not at work on her next book or catching up the laundry or dishes, Bethany enjoys watching movies, hiking, reading, travelling and volunteering with her kids’ scout troops. She is trying to enjoy snacking on vegetables and using the treadmill rather than snacking on potato chips and using the television, but isn’t quite there yet.

Bethany loves to hear from readers! Contact her at


Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!