Jeanne: A Week of Firsts

The Demon Always WinsThe second week of November was a week of firsts for me as an author:

  • My first opportunity to meet with a book club (who had all read my book!)
  • My first author signing event
  • My first piece of fan mail (okay fan email) from a total (well, near-total) stranger

The book club invitation came from a former co-worker. I thought it would be fun, but it turned out even better than I expected. It turns out that there’s something really gratifying about people liking your book enough to want to know how you came up with the idea and wondering about all kinds of details you wove in.

They also invited me to read. After a short discussion, we settled on the first scene from The Demon’s in the Details, the second book in the series, which comes out in January. They must have liked it, because they invited me to come back once it’s out.

The next day, I attended my first author signing event. A little town about twenty miles south of where I live holds a Christmas Festival each year, including a parade and lots of vendors. The historical society arranges a signing event for local authors–first come, first served. As soon as I saw the notice on Facebook, I hopped right on it. Continue reading

Jeanne: Recipe for an Offbeat Romance

recipe-575434_640Recipe for Belial, Hell’s Chief Operating Demon

(and hero of The Demon Always Wins ((Book 1, Touched by a Demon))

Ingredients:

  • 1 fallen angel with:
    • The face of a seraph
    • The body of an archangel
    • The arrogance of a demon who never fails
  • 1 wager—
    • Satan’s second-in-command vs. God’s chosen champion
  • 1 goal—
    • Seduce her into abandoning her beliefs
  • 1 prize—
    • a single, human soul

Preparation:

  1. Strip away wings
  2. Scent with vanilla and summer rain
  3. Gift with a voice like the strum of a lute
  4. Marinate in the desperation of the eternally damned
  5. Combine with the one woman in the world who can redeem him
  6. Simmer for 300 steamy pages

Accompaniments: Best served with scented candles, a glass of Syrah and some good, dark chocolate.

Yield: One sizzling romance with a feel-good ending.

This post originally appeared on  I Smell Sheep on September 9, 2018.

And now for a real recipe you can actually make and feed people: Continue reading

Jeanne: The Chunky Writing Method

Chunky candy barThis weekend my RWA chapter, Central Ohio Fiction Writers, hosted Allie Pleiter, inventor of the Chunky Writing Method. The Chunky Method is a way of scheduling your writing time to make yourself more productive, based on how you naturally write–in big chunks or small chunks.

The size of your natural chunk can be determined by how many words you can write on a normal day before you run out of energy/creativity. In the absence of writer’s block or incomplete research, which will stop any writer from moving forward, each writer will still hit a point where they just run out of steam.

Big chunk writers, according to Ms. Pleiter, can write thousands of words before that happens. Small chunk writers run dry after only a few hundred words–or even less.

But, she says, don’t despair. By figuring out which kind of writer you are, you can adjust your writing schedule to make the most of the way you write. Continue reading

Jeanne: The Stages of a Manuscript

quill-175980_640Stage 1: This is a brilliant idea! Once this thing is published, it will make me instantly famous and very, very rich.

Stage 2: Okay, it’s a good idea, but how in the world am I going to make this work?

Stage 3: Whatever possessed me to think this was a good idea? Joss Whedon himself couldn’t figure out how to make all these pieces come together.

Stage 4: Okay, okay, I think I see how it can work. I really am pretty smart.

Stage 5: But I SUCK as a writer. This has to be the most boring pile of manuscript crap ever committed to paper.

Stage 6: So that was a pretty good scene. Clever banter, a little humor. Maybe not every reader will abandon ship on page 1.

Stage 7: I have a book! It didn’t turn out quite like I thought it would (or, it turned out nothing like I thought it would), but there’s a worthwhile story here.

Stage 8: Okay, it’s out in the world. How do I make people aware of its existence?

Here’s where I am with the first three books in my demon series:

Book 1: Stage 8

Book 2: Stage 7 (with sudden trips back to Stage 3 as I work through my editor’s feedback)

Book 3: Stage 3

How about you?

Jeanne: Writing the Unlikable Protagonist

Some of my very favorite books have unlikable protagonists:

  • Ain’t She Sweet, by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  • A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby
  • Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn,
  • Girl on a Train, by Paula Hawkins
  • A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy O’Toole
  • Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte.
  • Citizen Vince, by Jess Walter

But, you point out, most of those novels are literary fiction. Only one is a Romance.

True, but I’ve never subscribed to the notion that Romance can’t take on the same challenges as other genres. The only two rules your book has to follow to be a Romance are:

  1. Must have a central love story.
  2. Must end with a happy ever after.

That’s it. Somewhere along the way, a lot of romance authors (and, to be honest, readers) have added a third, unwritten rule: The protagonist must be likable from Day One. I beg to disagree. Continue reading

Jeanne: The Many Facets of Love

letter-42461_640The Greeks have 7 different words to describe love:

  1. Eros (sexual love)
  2. Ludus (playful love)
  3. Philia (friendship)
  4. Agape (selfless love)
  5. Philautia (self-love)
  6. Pragma (longstanding love)
  7. Storge (love of children)

Good romance novels depict most or even all of these.

1. The couple is attracted by eros. Sexual chemistry initially draws them to each other, but that’s barely enough to sustain a one-night stand, never mind a happy ever after.

Example: every romance novel ever written. Continue reading

Jeanne: So How Are Those Amazon Ads Working Out for You? Part 2

Last week, we talked about how Amazon ads work for authors at a hypothetical level. This week. we’re going to talk about how they worked for me when I ran them.

My ad campaign was put together by a publicity agency with stock set of keywords for my type of novel, plus some that I suggested.

Here are the overall numbers and top performing keywords from Campaign #1:

Ad copy: Sometimes you have to go through Hell to claim your Heaven. Continue reading