Jeanne: The Year of Cooking Dangerously

Yesterday I started drafting The Demon Goes Hungry, which will be the third book in my Touched by a Demon series. (The Demon Wore Stilettos has been pushed out to the final book in the series. It made sense as Book 3 when I was planning a trilogy, but now that I’m planning an ennealogy it needs to be Book 9.)

The premise of the story is that heroine Katie Rose Landry owns a food truck called “Devilish Delights,” from which she sells Cajun-spiced food, including deviled eggs that Satan adores.

In fact, Satan loves them so much he orders Belphegor, the Demon of Gluttony and Master of Hell’s Kitchen, to recruit Katie to become his private chef.

Much silliness and danger ensues. I hope. Continue reading

Jeanne: The Dreaded Synopsis

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Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

Last Saturday, Julie Sturgeon, editor with Tule (pronounced Too-ley, completely against the phonics rules I learned in Mrs. Young’s second grade class) Publishing, spoke at my chapter on Five Career Sabotages You Probably Don’t Know You’re Doing and then stuck around to take pitches.

Tule publishes Contemporary romance, with a special affection for small-town stories. I recently completed (finally!) work on Girl’s Best Friend, a Contemporary romance set in the mythical village of Russet Springs, Ohio. I’d already decided that I can’t really afford an editor and cover for a book that is not part of my base brand. (See the little she-demon in our header? That’s me–not because I’m a she-demon (although some people might argue that point) but because I write about demons and Hell most of the time. Anyway, for the reasons described, I’d already decided to try to sell GBF to a small press, and Tule has a good reputation, so I pitched it to Julie. Continue reading

Jeanne: 5 Writing Tips from a Cranky Judge

crayon-colored-pencil-150994_640I recently judged in my chapter’s writing contest. My entries were really good–great premises, interesting characters, but writer did some things that pulled me out of the story:

1) If you have your character perform a complex physical action (like cupping his jaw while simultaneously pulling on his lower lip) do the action yourself, exactly as you’ve described it, in front of a mirror. Is it possible? Does it look the way you imagined it? If there’s any doubt at all, snag someone and have them read your text and then perform the action for you. Are you still happy with it? If not, rewrite until it works.

2) We’re constantly told “show, don’t tell” but be sure what you’re showing tells the reader what you intend. “A lick of fire curled through her belly” tells me she’s experiencing a strong emotion, but does the fire represent anger or lust? Make sure that’s clear from the context.

3) Gratuitous prepositions and adverbs. “She sank down to the floor.” You can’t sink up and even if that weren’t true, the floor is a dead giveaway. Trim those suckers!

4) Pronominal reference. I get that all the tutorials on close third POV tell you to minimize using character’s names, but if there are two men in the room and you just say “he,” make sure it’s crystal clear which “he” we’re talking about.

Also, by default, a personal pronoun references the last noun of the same gender. Example: “Marisa didn’t want Leah to go. She would be lonely without her sister.” I believe this means that Marisa would be lonely, but what it says, as written, is that Leah would be lonely because “She” references the last noun of the same gender–Leah.

5) If you’re going to define a new term that’s part of your world building, give us the term and then the definition, not the other way around. Don’t make us go hunting through three paragraphs trying to figure out what you’re defining. There’s a reason the dictionary is written the way it is.

Jeanne: Identifying Your Reader

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Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

This week I happened across a new writing blog, How To Write Anything (Well), by Dana Sitar.

What led me there was a guest post she did for Joanna Penn’s, The Creative Penn, on tone and voice in writing.  It was a good post, but an embedded link led me to one I found even more interesting–this post on understanding your audience. 

In it, Dana recommends, rather than writing what you like and then identifying the reader who might enjoy it. you identify your ideal reader and then write what she wants to read,

How do you identify that reader? By filling in the blanks of this sentence (which is totally Dana’s and not mine and, seriously, go check out her blog):

As a [type of person], they want [some goal] so that [some reason].

I approached this writing gig backwards, the exact way Dana recommends NOT doing it. I wrote a couple of books I really enjoyed and now I’m trying to figure out who might want to read them. Since I am where I am, I figured it was worthwhile to go through this exercise. Continue reading

Jeanne: Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

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Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

On Friday, after 46+ years working in the same building (two different employers, multiple different jobs and all three shifts) my husband retired.

I’m excited for him. When I quit my job two years ago, I discovered that I LOVE it. Although I’ve always been a fairly achievement-oriented person, it turns out I’m happy as a clam having my days to call my own. Hubs is much more mellow to start with, so I predict he will luxuriate in not having to get up at five a.m. to go into work.

On the other hand, it will mean some changes. Less income, of course, and new health insurance, courtesy of the U.S. government (in return for a reasonable monthly payment). Continue reading

Jeanne: To See or Not to See

ParagraphsA few weeks ago, I attended a book talk at Paragraphs Bookstore in Mt. Vernon, Ohio with Donna MacMeans, a member of my RWA chapter and former treasurer of RWA National.

Donna’s first novel, The Education of Mrs. Brimley, won the Golden Heart® for Historical Romance back in 2006. She has since followed it up with nine more published novels.

At Paragraphs, she described the book as “a book-length strip-tease.” She went on to explain the premise: unmarried Emma needs to escape London and the twisted domination of her uncle. She discovers an advertisement for a teaching position in Yorkshire, but the successful applicant must be a widow. Desperate, she applies anyway, forging a reference that nets her the job. Then, attired in her late mother’s widow’s weeds, she heads for Yorkshire. Continue reading

Jeanne: Affirmation Is Sweet

NRCA finalistI recently received an email from the Oklahoma Romance Writers organization, letting me know that The Demon Always Wins is a finalist for Best First Book in their National Readers’ Choice Award contest.

I was thrilled. Although TDAW did well on the contest circuit back when it was just a manuscript, it hasn’t fared as well in more competitive contests against published books. Continue reading