Jeanne: About That Cover…

Recently, a friend messaged me about a bookstore in a nearby town that she thought would be willing to stock my book(s), so last Tuesday I went to visit New & Olde Pages Book Shoppe in Englewood, OH.

I explained why I was there and the proprietress said, “Let’s see what you’ve got.”

I pulled a copy of The Demon Always Wins from the small box of books I’d brought with me and held it out to her.

demon_wins_1500--POD

“That’s a problem,” she said. Continue reading

Jeanne: Subplots

One of the things I struggled with when I was learning to write novels was subplots.

Category romances (those shorties you used to see in the supermarket) don’t have subplots. They deal with a single story line and pair of characters. But longer books get really tedious if all we hear about for 350 pages is one set of characters and one story problem.

In a book with subplots, here’s how it goes: your main character encounters an obstacle. She figures out a way to deal with it, only to discover her approach yields unforeseen consequences and she now must deal with them, too. Meanwhile…. Continue reading

Jeanne: Telling Parallel Stories

Like Jilly, I have been spending time judging contest entries lately. Unlike Jilly, some of rails-3309912_640mine have been pretty good. One, in particular, interested me because the story paralleled the romances of three different couples, which is what I’m trying to do with my third demon book, The Demon Wore Stilettos.

I was especially interested because every time I tell other authors what I’m working on, they say, “That’s way too complicated. You need to get rid of some of that.”

And it may come to that, but I really want to keep all three stories, so I was happy to see someone else had tried the same thing with, I thought, some success. Her stories were all set in the same small town and used the marriage-of-convenience trope for all three.

Mine are all set in Minneapolis-St. Paul and all revolve around the second-chance-at-love trope.

Where I thought the contest entry could have been stronger was in cohesion. The stories run along side-by-side like train tracks, never crossing, never even approaching each other. In mine, the three couples are, respectively, demons, humans and angels. All three couples have had past romantic encounters and all are now, for various reasons, no longer in those relationships. Continue reading

Jeanne: What’s in an (Author) Name?

Because I’m a feminist, there was no question that, when crafting my author persona, I’d include my maiden name.

Because my husband has been wonderfully supportive through multiple dead-end manuscripts, a year of grad school, and all the expenses and woes attached to self-publishing a pair (so far) of romance novels, there was equally little question I’d want to include my married name.

So that’s how my author name ended up being Jeanne Oates Estridge.

It’s not the most euphonious romance author name in the world. (The most euphonious author name is Lorelei Celador (I just made that up. Close your eyes and say it out loud. L’s and R’s and S’s are the most pleasant sounds in the English language.) ), but it is who I am. That means it should be a) natural for me to answer to and b) easy to enter into whatever software requires it.

Right? Continue reading

Jeanne: What’s in a Name?

Recently, a friend in my RWA chapter did an advance read of The Demon’s in the Details, Book 2 in my Touched by a Demon series, which came out last Tuesday on Amazon.

demon's in the details ebook coverShe did a terrific job of catching little errors my copy editor and proofreader missed, but in one case, she brought my attention to a problem that I didn’t think was a problem. She pointed out that in the first scene, my protagonist thinks of her father and stepmother as her father and stepmother, but later she becomes less formal, thinking/referring to them as “Dad” and “stepmom.”

There is, she pointed out, a best practice in fiction writing of choosing a single name for each character and always using that name to reference the character.

As a general rule, I completely agree with her. When you have a character that is sometimes called, “Charles,” sometimes “Charlie,” sometimes “Chuck” and occasionally “Binky,” the reader has to stop each time and figure out who this is. While there may be valid reasons for switching names–maybe every other character thinks of him differently, or your POV character thinks of him by different names depending on the current state of their relationship–it’s extra work for the reader. And, in general, we want to make reading our books as easy as possible.

But in this case, I felt differently, for two reasons: Continue reading

Jeanne: Happy (Book) Birthday to Me!

demon's in the details ebook cover

The second book in my Touched by a Demon series comes out today!

It’ll be a cold day in Hell before artist Keeffe Blackmon gives up the statue created by her late mother, a world-famous inspirational sculptor. Keeffe’s not selling—not even to a man as rich as devil’s food cake and handsome as sin—the gorgeous but morally repulsive billionaire Seth McCall. That is, until Keeffe decodes a fiendish contract and discovers she has just one month to prove she’s earning a living with her art or lose her sculpture forever.

Demons will ice skate on the Lake of Fire before Satan puts Abaddon, aka Bad, the demon of sloth and Hell’s brainiest minion, back in charge of Hell’s technology hub. But when Satan’s stooge McCall fails to acquire the powerful statue, Bad seizes his chance. To win back his job, Bad offers to possess McCall and, with the unbeatable combination of McCall’s good looks and his own smarts, melt Keeffe into selling him the sculpture.

As Keeffe races to complete a mural in McCall’s McMansion and earn the cash she needs to keep her statue, the billionaire blows hot one minute and cold the next. It’s almost as if he’s two different men: one a jerk, the other sweet and nerdy—and hot as Hell.

Aboveworld for the first time, Bad finds out his heart is even bigger than his brain. He is entranced by Sedona’s stunning landscape and seduced by Keeffe’s passion for art, life and the man she thinks she sees in McCall.

Bad may be the smartest demon in Hell—but is he smart enough to win Keeffe’s trust and ice Satan’s devilish plan to destroy Sedona?

You can check it out on Amazon in either ebook or print format.

Jeanne: The Dunning-Kruger Effect

dunning-kruger--edited

A few weeks ago at church, the minister talked about something called the “Dunning-Kruger Effect.”

This concept, defined by psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger, describes the cognitive bias of inexperience that causes people who know almost nothing about a topic think they are experts because they don’t know enough to realize the extent of their ignorance.

If you’ve ever critiqued a manuscript for a beginning writer, you know exactly what this is. The newbie will bring you her precious creation and hand it over, dewy-eyed with confidence that the next day (because it’s so good you’ll stay up all night reading it), you’ll call to tell her that she is the next J.K. Rowling/Nora Roberts/E.L. James/Gillian Flynn. Continue reading