Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday--Writing Advice from Jacie Floyd

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! A big part of crossing the threshold from writer to author is never giving up. Perseverance and continuing to expand your knowledge of writing and publishing can make all the difference in the world. If you don't believe me, the fabulous Jacie Floyd will set you straight!

Editing is More Than Typos and Commas

I had been writing for a very long time with pretty good success for an unknown, unpublished author. I joined RWA and several local chapters to stay current on publishing news and trends. I participated in critique groups. I attended conferences. And I entered contests.

I had been a Golden Heart finalist six times, and I had won twice, along with several other big competitions. I was on the right track and knew what I was doing. Or so I thought.

The first time an editor reviewed one of my contest entries, she asked to see the full manuscript. I sent it and waited. And waited some more. Waited a long time. Finally, after more than a year and numerous calls and letters, I received a response. A form letter Rejection. With a capital R. The same scenario repeated itself over the years, occasionally with more personal letters or revision suggestions. Editors told me I should get an agent. Agents told me “No, thanks.”

At the 2013 RWA National conference, the year of my last Golden Heart nomination, my daughter attended the conference with me. While I was busy enjoying my GH status, she went to self-publishing workshops. She asked me why I hadn’t tried self-publishing. Mostly because I didn’t have any of the required technical skills.

But luckily for me, my daughter was a wizard at the technical things and was willing to help. I just had to handle some of the non-technical things. Like chart my course, hire an editor, choose a cover designer, figure out Amazon, PR and marketing, and other tasks that I didn’t have any idea about. But I asked around. Got recommendations. Sent emails. With my daughter’s help, I was able to fulfill a lifelong dream and publish Meet Your Mate, my first romantic comedy. We might have struggled through that first publication, but we managed, and each one has gotten easier.

Now which of these things did I wish I had done or learned about previously? Which of them might have helped me get better rejection letters from editors, more consideration from agents, and possibly, a book contract with a traditional publisher?

The freelance developmental editor.

It was clear from the contest wins and requests from editors that I knew how to write.

But it wasn’t until I hired a developmental editor to look at my completed manuscripts that the light dinged. If there were spotty problems with structure, organization, coherence, or logical consistency, I couldn’t detect them on my own. This was the reason I hadn’t made the final connection with agents and editors in my quest for publication. This was the “special” something that my manuscripts lacked. My stories and plots were good, but not quite good enough. And I was too close to it to see the problem.

When your manuscript is perfect, when you think it is as good as you can possibly make it, whether you intend to self-publish or submit to a traditional publishing house, hire a professional editor look at it first.

The charges and services of a developmental editor vary. Some charge by the hour, some charge by the word. Check out their websites. Check with other authors who use them. To guarantee that they offer the type of expertise you’re looking for, some editors will review a few sample pages for you before you commit to a contract. But if you spend money on only one thing prior to publication, it should be spent on this.

Should you blindly follow all of their suggestions?

No, absolutely not. Only if it works for you and fits into your vision for your book. But even if it doesn’t, it may point out the trouble spots and give you something to think about that will lead you in a new direction. Possibly a better direction. This may be the thing that takes your work to the next level, the highest level, above everything else sitting in the slush pile or languishing in the Amazon rankings.

Make your manuscript shine with a professional polish of a developmental editor before sending it out into the real world.

Jacie Floyd writes contemporary romance, romantic comedy, and emotionally rich stories about the kind of strong women and bold men you want to read about and know.

Current books:
The Billionaire Brotherhood:
Winning Wyatt
Daring Dylan

The Good Riders:
Meet Your Mate
Cursed By Love
Meant For Me

Summer Kisses: Ten Golden Heart Authors Boxed Set

Twitter: @jaciefloyd

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday--Writing Advice from Mellanie Szereto

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! I'm hijacking this week's post to share some very important writing advice for all writers. As I push through judging IGO Contest entries, I've noticed a few things. They remind me of staring at the ever-changing patterns of a kaleidoscope--different yet the same--for each entry.

The Craft of Writing

Like any craft, writing takes practice and requires a set of specific skills. Those skills must be learned and developed in order to complete a project of good quality. Some writers have a natural aptitude for some of the basics. Grammar, punctuation, and spelling fall into this category. Many (far more than half) of the contest entries I've judged over the past several years are weak in those areas. Even some published authors have a difficult time deciding where to put commas and how to punctuate dialogue. There, their, and they're cause lots of headaches, not to mention how to avoid misplaced modifiers and comma splices. What if grammar, punctuation, and spelling are weaknesses?

Invest in a resource library. It doesn't have to be extensive, but it should contain a Merriam-Webster or Oxford dictionary and at least one widely used style guide like Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS). While these three areas are some of my greatest strengths, CMOS is my go-to guide for all grammar and punctuation questions. I refer to it on a regular basis. High school level handbooks, such as Writers Inc. and Plain English Handbook, are also very helpful.

Besides basic knowledge of grammar and punctuation, writers need to learn writing craft rules that apply to fiction. Point of view (POV), showing vs. telling, backstory vs. exposition, and goals, motivation, and conflict (GMC) are among the most important. These areas are linked to almost all other aspects of writing craft and, done correctly, provide a strong foundation for any story. How can writers learn and improve those skills?

Again, books on writing craft are a worthwhile investment. My Writing Tip Wednesday: The Writing Craft Handbook covers a lot of writing craft topics, while Debra Dixon's book on GMC focuses on a narrower one. Attend conferences, workshops, and online classes. Many RWA chapters offer monthly programs on a variety of writing topics. Kristen Lamb's Warrior Writer blog is an excellent free resource, as are other writing blogs.

Take time to expand your writing skills. Learn them. Practice them. Get feedback and improve.

Writing is a journey, not a destination.

When her fingers aren't attached to her keyboard, Mellanie Szereto enjoys hiking, Pilates, cooking, gardening, and researching for her stories. Many times, the research partners with her other hobbies, taking her from the Hocking Hills region in Ohio to the Colorado Rockies and the Adirondacks of New York. Sometimes, the trip is no farther than her garden for ingredients and her kitchen to test recipes for her latest steamy tale. Mellanie makes her home in rural Indiana with her husband of twenty-eight years and their son. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Indiana Romance Writers of America, Contemporary Romance Writers, and FF&P Romance Writers.

Check out Mellanie's books and appearances on her website at href="">
She loves to hear from her readers! Contact Mellanie at

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Writing Tip Wednesday--Writing Advice from Valley Brown

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! The wonderful Valley Brown is sharing her advice for new writers this week. And it's the tough truth.

Writing Without Illusion or Delusion

Writing. One of humankind’s greatest creative outlets. It epitomizes and gives tangible form to our best thoughts, but not all who embrace it are destined to have their words consumed and glorified. In today’s digital world competing for reader attention is a task akin to Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders. Millions of new books arrive each year. That’s a lot of newbie writers floundering in a cutthroat global market.

So what would ever make any writer hope they could outshine millions of peers? Perhaps it’s the pervasive myth that being a writer is a glamorous, wildly creative life. The physical and mental gymnastics involved in writing, while often arduous, are the undoubtedly the most enjoyable aspects. Everything else tends to become a necessary evil.

Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Vonnegut, Tolstoy, Shelly – biographies abound with romanticized gatherings and carousing, bestseller limelight and grand literary awards, with bright careers occasionally ending in tragedy. Before you fling yourself into this abyss, consider what the personal cost of devoting your life – and that of your family, if you have one – is in actuality, for there is far more to writing than grand sporadic inspiration. Writing is only half the battle.

Marketing is a huge investment of time, energy and funds. It sucks as much of those resources as you allow and then some. Whether under contract to a traditional publishing house or self-published, expect to spend enormous quantities of time and effort toward generating discoverability and sales.

Today’s writer spends little time traveling for personal appearances. Today’s writer is tethered to online devices in continuous interface with social media and potential readers utilizing the virtual world. There are out-of-pocket expenses to all this jockeying for attention, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars every year, year after year. How prepared are you to do this?

How supportive will family and friends be when you: a) withdraw from everyday life to write intensively; b) start shelling out for websites, promotional copies, swag, contest prizes, and travel expenses; and c) if self-pubbed, take returns of trade hardbacks or paperbacks in quantity? (Yes, not everyone will love your work enough to not return it for a refund! Printed copies need to be returnable if you want vendors to agree to sell them.)

Are you willing to forego family and social events because of deadlines or marketing obligations? Are you self-disciplined enough, determined enough and hungry enough to treat writing and marketing as legitimate full-time jobs? Because that is exactly what they are. They are full-time occupation of your waking hours. Schedule your work, play, and personal maintenance. Includes time for decompressing with people you care about. If you can’t, chances are you won’t succeed.

Being a writer is a tough road to travel. Literally sit down with your family and have the discussion. Jot down the positives and negatives in front of each other and do the math. Even if the odds are nowhere near in your favor, take heart. It doesn’t mean you have to deep-six your dream. It only means you should follow it without any delusions.

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”.

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Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Author Spotlights on Mondays--Andrew Jericho

Welcome to Author Spotlights on Mondays! My guest this week is Andrew Jericho. Here's a peek at his latest release!

Ace Freeman is the president of Prison Masters, a BDSM club for gay males. He’s in love with cellmate Tyler Chase and guard Paul Ryder. Ace is Dominant, desiring to take both men as pets.

As an experienced sub, Tyler wants to give submission to two Masters. He slips an explicit drawing into Ace’s notebook. Later, he blurts out his affections for Paul. Tyler hopes his actions will gain collars from both men.

Underneath Paul’s shy and soft-spoken exterior lies a man who lives the BDSM lifestyle. Paul is a switch. The guard desires a Master who can fulfill his need for no limits, and a pet to dominate. However, Paul knows his desires for Ace and Tyler have the potential to cost his job.

A good Master cares for his pets. Ace believes that principle. Once a triad begins to form, Ace needs to find a way to ensure their love will survive even in the hard times.

Within two months, Ace was sleeping in Carlos’s bunk every night. One month later, the handsome Latino whispered, Te amo mi amor siempre. Ace still heard his tender voice. That was the first time another man had declared love. Ace had to eat his own words. The same night, he gave his body to the one who would become Master.

Carlos had been twice his age, but neither man cared. I’ll always love you, Master. The sentiment filled Ace’s mind. Tyler stirred, bringing him back to the present.

“Shh, baby,” Ace said. “Sleep. You’re safe.”

For two years, Ace had felt safe in Carlos’s arms, too. The Latino’s gentle touch kept him sane. Carlos had given him the freedom to explore sexuality. From puberty, Ace had wanted to kiss boys. As he grew, so did his desires. Carlos became his best friend, lover, partner, and Master. Then one day, it was all over.

Carlos had been in charge of the Prison Masters’s club. He hated the word “gang.” Carlos believed it incited violence. The group was for gay men, including those interested in the BDSM lifestyle. Submissives were also welcomed. A riot between Prison Masters and White Aryan Resistance had broken out. Carlos was shanked. He bled out in Ace’s arms. Ace still wore Master’s collar. More memories of the man he still loved filled his thoughts.

* * * *

“I’ve taught you well, pet.” Carlos’s voice quivered in pain. He reached for Ace’s hand. “I’m so cold.”

“You’re all right. Master, stay awake!”

“Pet, you’re in charge now. You’ll make a good Master, because you’ve known submission.”


“One last scene.”

“Anything, Master.”

“My last order—I bind your submission to me. Never give it to another.”


“Mi amour—”

“Master? Master! Wake up! Dammit, don’t leave me!”

* * * *

Sometimes ten years ago seemed like yesterday. At others, Carlos was a distant memory. Ace didn’t even have a picture of him. The memories lived in his heart. He would always be in love with Carlos Sanchez. Their final scene would be eternally played. Ace had never given submission to another man. Carlos had symbolically bound them in that dynamic forever. Out of respect for Master, he had never spoken of that moment with anyone.

Ace had become a man in his Latin lover’s arms. Carlos had made love to him first. Then, several months into the commitment, they had negotiated their first scene. BDSM had saved Ace, mentally and physically. The positive effects counteracted the negativity of prison life. While it wasn’t completely negated, it made it bearable.

From the first time Carlos had put him in subspace, Ace craved it. It hadn’t just been the cuffs on his hands and ankles, or the way Carlos flogged him, but his lover’s dominant words. The euphoria came slow, arriving like an evening tide. Once Ace surrendered to it, every inch of flesh tingled. He experienced sensations of tunnel vision. Carlos’s face was the only image visible. BDSM quickly became their preferred form of lovemaking.

After Carlos’s death, Ace had assumed leadership of Prison Masters. The club’s members accepted Ace without question. Even though Ace had been Master’s pet, he was now a Dominant man. Since then, he had experienced Domspace, but subspace would always find its way back. Many nights, Ace recalled Carlos’s final order. Raw arousal burned through his body. He would cuff himself, imagining it was Carlos’s hands buckling the leather. The memories slipped him over the edge.

Some of the club’s older men defined him as a switch. Others saw his dominance. Regardless he had earned their respect. Members from rival gangs didn’t lay a hand on anything belonging to Master.

One afternoon, six months ago, Ace had learned it was possible to be in love with three men—Carlos, Paul, and Tyler. The twink in his arms ignited his dominance in ways no other man had, except for Paul Ryder. Paul started work as a guard a year before Carlos’s death.

The blond-haired, soft-spoken man still worked the midnight to noon shift. He was a decent guy, just trying to do his job.

Prison Masters met each morning at breakfast. The group had nearly two dozen members. Even though Paul was on duty, he always seemed to be more interested in their meetings than guarding. Paul had been friends with Carlos, so it was natural to continue the camaraderie with Ace.

A year ago, Paul’s Dom had passed away, leaving the handsome guard an emotional mess. A few months after the man’s death, Ace had eased Paul’s pain, making him feel like a submissive again. Two months before Tyler arrived, both men admitted their love, but held each other at arm’s length. Ace knew it would cost Paul his job to become involved. What type of life would they have with Paul dividing his time between prison and the outside world? Ace feared the heartbreak.

Sure, he had been with other men besides Paul and Tyler. He had fucked, made love, and even been Master to several during play. Men transferred units, and some got paroled. Prison Masters provided a safe, sane, and consensual place to play, but Carlos had whetted his desires for more. While Carlos had awakened his submission, Tyler peaked his dominance. Ace not only wanted to play with the young man, he wanted a commitment again.

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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.

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Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!