Jeanne: Bloody, but Unbowed

Sailboat

On Sunday, Justine posted about her decision to publish independently.  One of the factors, she said, was watching me win the 2015 Golden Heart® for Paranormal Romance, only to fall short on getting a publishing contract.

Just for the record, I have to confess that I sent out a grand total of 12 queries. That included two requests for full manuscripts that I received via contests I entered in preparation for entering the Golden Heart®. From conversations with other GH finalists, I gather 12 queries constitutes a pretty lame effort. One of the 2015 group told me she made over 400 queries and/or pitches before she secured a contract.

Four. Hundred. Attempts.

By that standard, I gave up without a struggle. Continue reading

Justine: My Decision to Go Indie

jackrusselIn my long-ago, faraway dreams (reality check: when I started writing in earnest 5 years ago), I had always intended to be traditionally published. In fact, if you looked at my goal wall displayed prominently in my office, the goal right smack in the middle (after writing a good book and before being a bestselling author) was “traditional publication” with logos of some of the big publishing houses. I was always so certain of it…publication, that is, even knowing much of that decision was out of my hands.

Over time, I became a lot less certain. Things started happening…fellow Eight Lady Jeanne won the Golden Heart (which used to be carte blanche in terms of getting an agent/editor), but no one picked her up (she has since decided to go indie. Yay Jeanne!). Last September, I went on a writer’s cruise and the editor expounded on the genres that she couldn’t buy…historicals being one of them. I was unnerved by that, but didn’t let it deter me. Continue reading

Michaeline: Finding inspiration inside your own writing

A samurai smashing up a Japanese interior -- he's stomped on the sliding door, and there's an upturned table with a broken vase a little shogi game pieces all over the floor.

“No, no, a cracked cup and a torn sliding door actually shows the beauty of impermanence!” #Why we can’t have nice things at our tea ceremony. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

I was chatting with a friend yesterday, and she was explaining why she wasn’t writing anymore; it was a long tale of interesting diversions (and socially responsible ones!), and she said that one thing that is taking up her creative mojo is introducing Japanese culture to foreigners. She provides a tea ceremony experience that is more than just people sitting on a mat, drinking the traditional bitter tea and having a taste of the beautiful tea sweets. She asks them to think about why the tea ceremony came about.

How much do you know about the Japanese tea ceremony? In many schools of tea philosophy, it’s very ritualized, and kids can join tea ceremony clubs in high school, while adults can study further and become teachers. Everything is prescribed: you fold your napkin this way. You rinse the teapot that way. You admire the tea bowl, take a drink in a certain manner, wipe the rim, then pass it to the next guest for them to admire, drink and wipe.

This ceremony often takes place in a very small, humble hut with a little door that looks like it was made for Little People. Big people must bend over and enter – the official line is that it shows humility and a lack of pride.

But my friend asks people to look beyond that. She gave two examples of why Continue reading

Elizabeth: Friday Story Time and Sprints

Friday again – how did that happen?

This has been a busy week at Ye Olde Day job, with the arrival of this year’s batch of summer interns.  That, coupled with my meeting with a group of GenX staff members, has left me feeling positively archaic.  And tired.  They’re all so bright and eager and energetic.

My Friday looks to be filled with meetings (oh, what fun!).  When I get home there is a slow leak in the outdoor sprinkler system that needs to be located, which means digging up a bit of the front lawn, and a rapidly disintegrating back fence that needs propping up.

Before I get started on my delightful home-repair projects, I’m going to open up my writing journal, take the story prompt below, and get some words on the page, since I’ve been doing far more reading than writing this week.

Care to join me?

For those of you working away on a story (whether a first draft or a polished version on its way to publication), we’d love to hear a bit – whether it’s a scene, a paragraph, or even a phrase that you are especially pleased with and would like to share.

If you don’t have a story in progress, or just want to work on something new, maybe today’s writing prompt will catch your creative fancy.   This week we’ve got a character to go along with our random words.

Ready?

Here is today’s writing prompt:

Write a story featuring:  a misanthropic bartender

And includes any (or all) of the following random words:

bully                 mysterious         insanity              horror

cadaver            royal                   chameleon          horn

void                  gin                      award                  ambidextrous

vixen                buffet                 collision               assassin              

Whether you’re sharing a bit of your current work or writing something fresh based on the writing prompt, we hope you’ll join us for today’s Story Time.

Happy writing to all!

Michille: Summer Reading Lists

Research Isn't Just for HistoricalsAlternative title: Like our TBR Piles Aren’t Big Enough

I’m going to piggy-back on Nancy’s post from Memorial Day Weekend, which is generally viewed as the unofficial start of summer. In my county, we are in the midst of another one – high school graduation week (there are 7 high schools in the county) – so the summer starts for them now. Only two of these lists are specifically romance but most include at least one. One surprise is that there is very little overlap on these lists. Usually there are a couple of books that are on everyone’s list. Not this year, except maybe Circe – that’s been on a couple. Continue reading

Elizabeth: By Age 35 . . .

After all of the accountability and progress reporting earlier this week, I thought I’d lighten things up a little today.  A few weeks ago, MarketWatch posted this relatively innocuous tweet:

What was intended as simple financial advice exploded into a Twitter-storm and eventually turned into a meme, as readers weighed in with their increasingly amusing opinions.    If you haven’t seen them, there was an entertaining summary of the whole thing in the Washington Post entitled:  By age 35, you should have saved up enough despair to understand this meme.

The replies referenced everything from “Avocado Toast” to collecting “Chaos Emeralds”.  My favorite (probably because it struck close to home) was:

I first saw a literary twist on this meme on a post by a librarian friend of mine, which included such entries as:

By age 35 you should have thrown away your copy of War and Peace.  You know you’re never going to read it.

By age 35, if you don’t know who Elizabeth Bennet, Miss Havisham, George Knightley, or Colonel Brandon are, you never will.

So, what would your “By age 35″ entry be?

Jeanne: May Progress Report

Sometime last month, I realized I completely skipped my April progress report, so this update will stand in for both.

Goals for April:

  • Write 15,000 words on The Demon Wore Stilettos.

That manuscript is currently sitting at 11,275, so even now, two months later, I haven’t hit that goal. There’s a reason for that, which is that I got distracted cleaning up my Contemporary romance, Girl’s Best Friend. It’s currently about a week’s work away from being ready for my beta readers.

Being ADD (undiagnosed) does not help in meeting project deadlines.

  • Prep my first-ever newsletter to go out May 1. (If you’re interested in receiving it, you can sign up here.)

Okay, so that didn’t happen either. It would have gone out June 1, but when I looked at my MailChimp account, I realized it included my home address. And while I realize that anyone can Google my name and find my address, just sending it out felt like a bad idea. So I arranged with another local author to split a PO Box. Continue reading