How was the London Book Fair, you ask?  I have your answer right here!

Since I started yesterday’s post with a note about how Lynn Flewelling and I met, I thought I’d start today off with the same about Karen Whiddon.  Karen and I met years ago at a writing conference, which ties in perfectly with the piece I did for our recent Knight Agency newsletter.  (I believe it was Dreamin’ in Dallas or maybe Desert Dreams, but I could be wrong.)  Karen was already published at that point.  She’d written a few novels for Kensington and had her first paranormal romance, POWERFUL MAGIC, out from Leisure Books.  She was looking for an agent to build on the career that was already underway.  I left there with a copy of POWERFUL MAGIC, a very good impression of a professional, put-together writer, and motivation to read.  POWERFUL MAGIC hooked me right away, and many, many books later, Karen and I are still going strong.

Karen’s latest Pack novel (werewolves and so much more!) is THE WOLF SIREN, out solo in digital (ex. Kindle and Nook) and combined in mass market with Bonnie Vanak’s DEMON WOLF, which is what Harlequin Nocturne is now doing for print – bundling two books together into one attractive package.  Cover and copy are below.

the wolf siren THE WOLF SIREN by Karen Whiddon (Harlequin Nocturne)

When a werewolf and the beautiful siren he once saved meet again, resistance is futile…

As Pack Protector, Kane McGraw never gets involved with the victims he saves. But Lilly Gideon may be the one exception. She has intrigued him ever since he helped free her from a religious compound called Sanctuary. So when he learns that she’s still in danger, he can’t stay away—not even if it means exposing Lilly to the fanatics she’s trying to escape.

Years of psychological torture have left Lilly without the ability to control her shifter nature. Any man she touches is driven mad by an all-consuming desire. Though she wants Kane more than any man, she’s forced to deny him the release they most crave. That is, until he decides it’s time to take matters—and her—into his own hands….

As mentioned, I have three great new releases out this week ( THE WOLF SIREN by Karen Whiddon and TEACH ME A LESSON by Jasmine Haynes in addition to Lynn Flewelling’s novel below) and I’m blogging them one at a time.

Today, I’m talking about SHARDS OF TIME by Lynn Flewelling, the latest the Nightrunner novels, featuring two of the loves of my life, Seregil and Alec (rogues, thieves, spies, heroes…they’ve been called a lot of things over the years). Lynn and I first “met” through the query process.  As in, she sent a query back in the days when you had to print it out, sign, fold it into an envelope with an SASE enclosed, address and stamp the outer envelope, stick the parcel in the mail…whew!  There may have been initial chapters involved at that stage.  I was intrigued.  I asked for more.   Now, here’s where it gets good.  I’m fairly certain that she sent that first manuscript to me in 11 point type with 1 1/2 spacing rather than double, perhaps to use less paper for her 170,000 word tome.  I might be exaggerating, but…no, I don’t think so.  I started reading.  And reading, incredibly caught up in the narrative.  The words started to fuzz and swim.  I had to hold the manuscript pages increasingly close to my face to read them.  Yet, I would not stop because the story was that amazing.  I read late into the night and nearly went blind with the reading, but I took her on as a client.  One of my first.  The moral of this story is that agents are not out to say “no”.  We’re not out to get you if you don’t do everything right (though it certainly helps and increases exponentially your chances of success).  We ARE out to find amazing talent who we can tell stories on down the line.  Lynn is an amazing talent, which is probably why her Nightrunner series has gone on for so long, spanning so many books and a related series (book list below).

shards of time SHARDS OF TIME by Lynn Flewelling (Del Rey, mass market)

Acclaimed author Lynn Flewelling brings her beloved Nightrunners series to a close—at least for now—with a thrilling novel of murder, mystery, and magic.
 
The governor of the sacred island of Korous and his mistress have been killed inside a locked and guarded room. The sole witnesses to the crime—guards who broke down the doors, hearing the screams from within—have gone mad with terror, babbling about ghosts . . . and things worse than ghosts.

Dispatched to Korous by the queen, master spies Alec and Seregil find all the excitement and danger they could want—and more. For an ancient evil has been awakened there, a great power that will not rest until it has escaped its otherworldly prison and taken revenge on all that lives. And only those like Alec—who have died and returned to life—can step between the worlds and confront the killer . . . even if it means a second and all too permanent death.

Nightrunner Books

Luck in the Shadows

Stalking Darkness

Traitor’s Moon

Shadows Return

The White Road

Casket of Souls

Shards of Time

Tamir Triad

The Bone Doll’s Twin

Hidden Warrior

The Oracle’s Queen

I’m time crunched at the moment between the vacation backlog and the final prep work for next week’s London Book Fair, so while I have three amazing book birthdays this week (SHARDS OF TIME by Lynn Flewelling, THE WOLF SIREN by Karen Whiddon and TEACH ME A LESSON by Jasmine Haynes), I’m going to celebrate them with a post a day so that each gets to shine on it’s own!

Before I start, I have to wish HUGE congratulations to TJ Bennett for finaling in the RITA Award for Best Historical for her wonderful, atmospheric novel DARK ANGEL and to Ramez Naam, whose received even more recognition for his sf thrillers NEXUS and CRUX, this time by being shortlisted for the Prometheus Award.  So proud!

And now (drum roll please)…  I’m so thrilled with the early attention Jasmine Haynes is receiving for her latest erotic novel TEACH ME A LESSON, like this fabulous quote from Heroes & Heartbreakers: “There is no one who writes pure erotic fantasy better than Haynes.”  I’m sure you can all guess that I think she’s wonderful, but you shouldn’t take my word for it!  Run out and see for yourselves.

Teach-Me-a-Lesson250 TEACH ME A LESSON by Jasmine Haynes (Berkley)

Do what you have to do, Principal. I deserve it…

High school guidance counselor by day, sex therapist by night, Charlotte Moore’s passion is people—whether helping students with the realities of life or helping their parents with the fantasies. Enter Principal Lance Hutton, the perfect subject for Charlotte’s method in recharging the sex drive—and it’s going to take some discipline. Considering this hot older man is her boss, it makes sense that he dole out the punishment. Besides, Charlotte’s begging for it.

But when Charlotte’s after-school extracurricular activities are made public, it threatens her job, her reputation, and the career of the man she’s falling head over heels in love with. Now, if this town wants a scandal, Charlotte and Lance are ready to give them one—and a lesson in bad behavior they’ll never forget.

—–

You can read more with RT’s Hump Day Excerpt here.

Now, it just so happens that Jasmine Haynes came up today in Amy Christine Parker’s and my vlog for YA Rebels.  Not because she’s YA (decidedly not!) but because when I went out to Los Angeles to research my first Latter-Day Olympians novel, she came out to meet me, and we had a grand old time.  Only a fraction of our travels and travails made it into BAD BLOOD, but I’ll have the memories for a lifetime.  If you’re interested in hearing a bit more, here’s the vlog talking about writing, travel and inspiration.  Enjoy!

Since I’ll be away in L.A. (look, Ma, I’m rhyming!) when Vicky Dreiling’s most excellent Regency historical romance WHAT A RECKLESS ROGUE NEEDS comes out on Tuesday, I wanted to wish Vicky an early Happy Book Birthday!  For those of you who haven’t yet been introduced to Vicky’s work, she’s a multiple-RITA-Award nominee and a wonderful, witty writer.  Her book description is below!

What a Reckless Rogue Needs WHAT A RECKLESS ROGUE NEEDS by Vicky Dreiling

“4 1/2 stars! TOP PICK! In the second of the Sinful Scoundrels series, Dreiling brings the Regency to life in a wonderfully evocative fashion. With believable, intelligent characters–including an honorable rake and a strong-willed lady–this moving tale, fraught with sexual tension, hits just the right notes.” –RT Book Reviews on WHAT A RECKLESS ROGUE NEEDS

WILL THE ROGUE’S PERFECT PLAN . . .

Colin Brockhurst, Earl of Ravenshire, has no desire to wed, this season or any other. So when his father demands he give up his wild ways and take a wife, Colin refuses. But his father raises the stakes and threatens to sell the ancestral home if Colin doesn’t comply. Now Colin has no choice but to find a wife. Unfortunately, the only woman he wants is the one whose heart he broke years ago.

LEAD TO THE PERFECT SEDUCTION?

Regardless of the ton‘s whispers, Lady Angeline Brenham won’t settle for anything less than true love. After rejecting more than her share of suitable suitors, spinsterhood looms before her-until the devilishly handsome Colin reappears in her life with a proposition. Angeline vows to keep her feet on the ground and her heart in check. That is, until one searing kiss melts her resolve and reignites a burning desire for more . . .

nexus Before I do anything at all, I want to wish a HUGE congratulations to Ramez Naam for making the shortlist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award for his debut science fiction novel NEXUS!  So proud!  So well deserved!

This past Saturday, the Florida chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and the Orlando Public Library teamed up to present a free half-day writers workshop featuring a panel and break-out sessions with  Jessica Khoury, Jessica Brody, Amy Christine Parker, Christina Farley, Vivi Barnes, J.A. Souders and Anna Banks.   I may be a bit biased, being one of the presenters myself, but it was a great day.

A few people asked about notes for my talk, and I promised to write them up for my blog, thus here they are.  Some of the information here I grabbed from previous posts I’ve done, so there might be parts here that are familiar to some viewers!

The Publishing Process: From Gaining our Attention through Publication

Of course, it all starts with your manuscript, so I want to talk a bit about standing out from the crowd.

First of all, don’t take the easy way out.  Don’t do what’s common or expected.  Don’t do something anyone else can do.  When you’re generating ideas, it’s often a good idea to throw out your first two or three thoughts.  They come quickly and easily because they’re rote.  You’ve seen them and heard them before.  They’ve been done, many times over.  Push yourself beyond those first few ideas.  Challenge yourself.

Come up with something unique, whether it be your character or storyline…or better yet both.  Just as you don’t want your storyline to be predictable or cookie-cutter, you don’t want to people your novel with stereotypes or cardboard characters.  You should know more about your people than ever make it onto the page.  If someone were to ask their favorite ice cream or how long they take in the bathroom, you should be able to answer without thought.

Don’t shy away from tension or true danger.  Your reader needs to truly fear for the emotional or physical wellbeing of your character.  Torture your characters/torture your reader.  It sounds cruel, but it’s honest.  Remember that in every scene there should be something at stake.

What often takes a novel from okay to amazing is the voice.  Your voice, your point of view character, is the lens through which we see the world.  Think of it this way—if you have two children and both told you about the same fight, would it sound the same?  No, it would have a slant…about who was at fault, who started things, who did what to whom.  Some details would make it in and others would be left out.  What words would be used?  Would they be uttered in anger?  In a rush, tumbling over each other?  What would the body language be?  Whoever’s POV we’re in should be distinctive and unique and they should have an angle on things. Everyone has an angle.  (Not necessarily a bad angle.  Someone might give too many chances or see the best in everyone rather than the worst, but his/her personality and experiences will lead him or her to treat an event or individual in a certain way.)

Okay, so we’ve got great stories and great characters.  What else?  Well, great writing, of course.  Your first draft is often just that…drafty.  It should never be the product that goes out the door.  Amy Christine Parker and I did a vlog for YA Rebels on Revisions, which I’ll post below, but here are some quick notes based on beginning mistakes I see time and again:

-Do your best to rid your manuscript of waffle words, like “just,” “only,” “seemed to”.  Also, “she decided,” “he thought,” “she mused”…that sort of thing. Thought tags like this are the equivalent of said-bookisms in dialogue.  (For example: “I hate you!” she shouted angrily.)  Some things are understood and telling them to us is redundant.  Show, don’t tell.  This will make your writing much more immediate.

-Avoid passive voice. For example: Passive: “The door opened to admit her;” Active: “Benny slammed the door open at her knock, shocking her back a step…”  As you can tell, the second option is much more effective.

-Go back over emotional scenes particularly.  Chances are you shied away from the true depth and these need to be further explored now that the full context surrounds them.

-Make sure you have sensory and physiological details where appropriate.  For example, if someone’s running for his/her life or being kissed for the first time, the body will react.  Blood flow will increase or rush to certain parts of the body.  Breathing will change…

-Make sure every scene is told in the right point of view, that of the participant, not the observer.

-If you’ve jigged when you should have jogged and gone down the wrong path with your novel, now is the chance to change that.  You’ll hear many professional writers say that they write two or three books for every one published.  That’s because of how much they throw out and start again or how much is rewritten beyond recognition.  I won’t say that first-drafting is easier, but revisions are where the real work comes in!  (At least for me.)

-Make sure that you’ve revised your work until you can’t stand to look at it anymore.  Then put it away for a few weeks to a month and look again with fresh eyes.  Readers and critique partners are invaluable in this process as well, because they don’t know what you meant to put down on the page.  They only know what’s there, and they can help you discover sections that came out differently than intended or plot points that didn’t come through at all.

-Mantra: Thou shalt send out no manuscript before it’s time.

Next, I discussed the querying process, what an agent does and what a publishing house does for you.  Since I’ve covered these things in previous posts, here are those links:

Finding an Agent

The Role of Agents in the Modern Publishing Landcape

Querying, Part 1

Querying, Part 2

Querying, Part 3

What a Publisher Does (aka It Takes a Village)

Other links you might find helpful that I offered in a hand-out:

My blog

My author website

Knight Agency website

TKA submission guidelines

Association of Authors’ Representatives

The SFWA Writer Beware site

Preditors & Editors

Worldbuilding

Characters

Defining Moments

Suspense/Tension

YA Rebels vlog on Revisions:

Today, I grill…er, interview…my son about what he likes as a reader/books for boys/whether or not he’s truly King of the Fish People.