Michaeline: Three Questions for Jeanne Oates Estridge about her professional debut!

snake winding its way around a practical female hand holding an apple

The Demon Always Wins (image via Amazon)

Today marks a red letter day for us: not only is our blog celebrating five years of existence, but one of our Ladies is publishing her first book today. Jeanne Oates Estridge started The Demon Always Wins in May 2012 in response to the popular Twilight series.

I got to read an early version of it in the McDaniel course for romance writing during the 2012 school year, but lots of people have seen the book in progress. Jeanne mentions her long-time critique group, as well as a group of writers known as The Cool Kids that she met at the Midwest Writers Workshop, members of a one-day workshop in Indianapolis with Lucrecia Guerrero, several of the Eight Ladies and a handful of beta readers. Whew! It takes a village, doesn’t it?

The book was a finalist in all of the five contests Jeanne entered it in, and won the 2015 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart award in the paranormal romance category with an earlier incarnation called Demons Don’t. The sequel, The Demon’s in the Details, was also a finalist in the 2018 paranormal romance category of the Golden Heart. Another version of The Demon Always Wins won first place in the paranormal/SF/fantasy category of the 2015 Diamonds in the Desert contest under the name of Demon’s Wager.

Having read the latest version, I can tell you the book has evolved from good to great over the years – the words are different, but they stay true to the underlying story. But enough from me. Let’s ask Jeanne a few questions!

8LW: We did the McDaniel course for romance writing together in 2012-2013, instructed by best-selling romance writer Jennifer Crusie. What lesson from the class had the most impact on your final book? Continue reading

Michaeline: Lois McMaster Bujold Answers Three (Okay, Four) Questions about the Writing Process


Today, we’ve got a short interview with Lois McMaster Bujold about the writing process. Just in time for National Novel Writing Month’s first weekend! Lois writes the thrilling tales of the Vorkosigan family, the Wide Green World, and the World of the Five Gods. This week, the third story about Penric in the W5G came out: Penric’s Mission was published on November 2, 2016. (Announcement on her Goodreads blog, here.) Lois is a master of speculative fiction, and her liberal use of romance in these genres makes her worlds rich and real. Grab a cyber beverage from the Eight Ladies Writing fridge, and pull up a seat!

MD: So, National Novel Writing Month is basically about creating a first draft of at least 50,000 words. What’s your favorite thing about writing the first draft?

LMB: Finishing it. (-:

Starting it runs a close second, true. Then, probably, those moments when a sticky knot gets suddenly undone by some neat idea or inspiration that I didn’t have — often couldn’t have had — earlier. Continue reading

Elizabeth: Self-Publishing 101 – Editing

publish_buttonSo far in our Self-Publishing series we’ve talked about the Benefits of Self-Publishing,  Book Covers  (the first and oftentimes only chance for a book to make an impression on a potential reader) and Taglines, Loglines and Concepts (those tantalizing bits that hint at what your story is all about).

Spending all that effort with an eye toward attracting readers will be for naught, however, if those readers give up on your book a few pages in due to grammatical errors, inconsistencies, uneven voice and the like.

Which brings us to today’s topic:  Editing. Continue reading

Jilly: Finding The Right Words

What would you call these?

What would you call these?

What would you call the footwear in the picture on the left? American readers of this blog may be surprised to learn that in the UK they would be known as baseball boots. I have no idea why. I never thought much about it until I put my heroine, Rose, in customized pink-and-silver baseball boots, and Kay read my scene and told me she had no idea what they were. Jennifer O’Brien followed up by pointing out that boots with high tops (for ankle support) and smooth soles (to avoid damaging wooden floors) are worn by basketball players. Baseball players wear low-rise shoes with cleats to grip the field. Obvious! No wonder my American beta readers were baffled.

I’m surprised and delighted to report that I made it to the final of the Long Contemporary category of the Virginia Romance Writers’ Fool For Love contest. As Elizabeth said in her Contest Aftermath post, I’m already a winner, because I got a wealth of useful feedback from the judges’ comments. Most of it made so much sense that I just took it on board, but there were a couple of bigger questions that required some careful thought.

The thorniest issue is my antagonist, scary Sasha, and I’ll do a post about her next Sunday. The other recurring theme is Continue reading

Justine: Seeing the Forest for the Trees

forest for the trees, eight ladies writing, justine covington, beta readersThis beta reading experience has been very enlightening for me. I’ve learned that I have a tendency to not see the forest for the trees. Take for example a bit in the first scene of my book. I originally (as in a long, long time ago) had the scene finishing up with Susannah’s uncle telling her that her wardrobe was deplorable and she must immediately set out to find a dress for an impromptu dinner that evening with her soon-to-be husband. The bit about the dress was there because the next scene was the one where Susannah and Nate met on the street as she was on her way to find said dress. When I changed the second scene to be one where we’re introduced to Nate and his role at the Home Office, I still had the bit about the deplorable wardrobe in the first scene. It still didn’t come out after I deleted the whole dress-buying debacle in its entirety. Despite the changes I had made in scenes later on, I hadn’t stepped back far enough to see that a change in one place would necessitate a change somewhere else. I just accepted that the dress bit had to be in the first scene.

Continue reading

Jilly: Writer’s Toolkit – Giving Critique

Giving CritiqueOver the last couple of weeks Kat and I have been beta reading Justine’s Royal Ascot contest entry (the first 7k words of her book). In her most recent post, Cultivating A Good Writer / Beta Reader Relationship, Justine offered her top six tips for managing the process from the author’s point of view.

Writing a good critique takes time, but it’s a smart investment, and not only because you’ll be asking your friends to return the favor some day. Analyzing what works and what doesn’t in another writer’s manuscript is a great way to improve your own craft. Here are my half dozen suggestions for delivering a quality beta read: Continue reading

Justine: Cultivating a Good Writer/Beta Reader Relationship

beta reader, eight ladies writing, justine covington, writingIn preparation for the Royal Ascot contest that I have registered for, I sent the first 7,000 words of my story to Kat and Jilly to beta read. In all the back-and-forth between us (they’re now on my second revision and will likely get a third before my April 1st submission deadline, if they’re willing to re-read it), I thought about what makes a good writer/beta reader partnership. I came up with Continue reading

Jilly: New Year, New Writer – Critique Partners and Beta Readers

Critique Partners & Beta Readers

They can see what you can’t

I’m a newbie at the writing game, but I’m a lifelong reader. I always check out the acknowledgements page, which means I’ve read thousands of heartfelt thank-yous to critique partners and beta readers, usually along the lines of “they read this story when it sucked, so you don’t have to.” I knew before I ever put finger to keyboard that getting feedback was important, but as Justine discovered with conflict and Michaeline learned regarding revision, I had no clue what that actually meant. I had a vague idea that I should ask a few readers for comments and they’d tell me if they liked the characters and spot mistakes in the details. I imagined the contemporary romance equivalent of the online comments on the new Sherlock – the train carriage belonged to the wrong tube line, and the photographers in the press pack were using the wrong lenses. Continue reading