Sunday, March 16, 2014

How to succeed in Writing.

Ever since I inked the new contract, people seem to be more interested in me! And in several places, I've been asked what to do to succeed. Quick answer is that I don't know, but on further thought, maybe I do. If you like this post, I could do a series of them on each point, going into more detail. 
Now I could sprinkle this post with gifs and stuff, but they get on my nerves, so I'm not going to. But you do get a cat. I like cats. 
Writing isn't one thing. It's a succession of things. It's getting the idea, creating the story, with all its ups and downs, then writing it (my favorite part!), then revising, editing, submission, editing and more editing, then cover art, blurb, marketing...
That's if you want to do it properly.

So if you want to succeed commercially in your writing, these are the things you should consider doing:
  1.          Write fast. Publishers and readers want more these days. But it does get easier as you go along. For me it was pacing, and deep third point of view. Once I'd cracked that, my writing flowed better. So establish the vulnerable spots in your writing, and get working on them. Do classes, read books from authors who excel in that area. 
  2.           Keep writing. Just keep getting ideas, moving forward. Don't rely on one book, one manuscript to bring you all the success you're looking for. You learn as you write. 
  3.         Write often. Every day. Write every day, even if it's only a paragraph, a sentence. A thousand words a day and you have a short book in 60 days. 
  4.         Write in series (not necessarily open-ended stories, but linked stories that have characters in common. Readers like series. They don't have to be about the same characters all the way through, as my Richard and Rose series was, but they can be stories that feature a set of characters, a situation or a "world." Or all three! Like the Nightstar series, where each story features a different member of the band.
  5.         Know the market. Read the books in your chosen genre, especially the best sellers, even if they make you grit your teeth. Someone loves them. Try to find something in common between that book and your writing, and you've discovered a marketing hook. As long as it's not too close. Mind you, you can make a lot of money with a derivative work, but where's the fun in writing that? And forget the past. Read what is selling NOW, not fifty years ago, or even three. For instance, the Pride and Prejudice mashups of two years ago are dead. Gone. There is still a trickle crawling out, but they're not selling half as well as they used to. If you're already in the market, and you're a market leader, then you can write more, because you've established your groove. Go you.
  6.         Put yourself about a bit, off and online. Go to conventions in the places you want to sell (eg I sell mainly  in the US, so I go there every year to a major conference). If readers and editors can put a face to the name, they're more likely to remember you and recognise your work. But see the rest of the points. If you're a lovely person, but you can't write for toffee, then you're still not going to get published, unless you do it yourself. 
  7.         Have a blog, and a website, and chat regularly on social media. Not always about your book. You have to know how boring that is, a one-note person. 
  8.        Produce professionally. Well edited content, “clean” manuscripts, don’t miss deadlines, and remember that publishers are in it for the money, not the glory. Give them something they can sell.
  9.         Don’t rely on one person or one thing for success. The market changes. Never put your career in the hands of one person or entity, whether it’s publisher, agent or outlet. You will eventually come to regret it. Believe me, I'm talking from hard-won experience here.
  10.        Never judge yourself on the standards of others. Your success is whatever you decide it is. And your sales aren’t a reflection of other people’s, especially in the romance market, where readers will buy half a dozen books a month, not just one. And they won’t all be yours.

You’re still not guaranteed success, of course, but those things will certainly increase the chances. 
Oh, and one more thing. If this doesn’t suit you, don’t listen to any of it. Writers are lemmings, and they will follow any trend they think will help them sell. Likely that the first and second writers will, the followers will make a bit and then there’s that long tail.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Lots of news for March, 2014!

Here in the UK, spring is definitely on the way. After having come within a couple of streets of being flooded, the rain has receded, leaving some terrible devastation behind. But we’re here, safe and we still have all our bits intact, so we’ll soldier on.
This year is the anniversary of the outbreak of World War One, and there have been some fascinating programs on TV. I thought “The Great War” was a good one. But I’m not an expert in the period. Too tragic for me, I’m afraid. I know the Edwardian and inter-war period is popular, though, but I don’t think I’ll be writing books set at that time.
Although my emphasis recently has been on the history aspect.
I’ve been offered a contract from Samhain for the second of the “Even the Gods Make Love” series. You haven’t heard much about this because it’s a new venture, and I wanted to get everything ready and make sure everything was working. It’s working. Oh, how it’s working!
It’s a historical, based in my favourite period of the eighteenth century, and it features the Greek and Roman gods, who have been living among us all this time, in high society. It started when I read an article that said that in the eighteenth century, the aristocracy were gods, and that got me thinking. Not that all of them are, or that they know, but it’s a superb fit. It concerns the age-old fight between the Titans and the Olympians, but if I’d called the series “The Olympians” people would have thought it was about sports!
The first book, “Lightning Strikes” comes out in May, in time for RT Booklovers, so if you want to know more about it, do find me and chat. It’s a completely new concept and I’ve been bursting to talk about it. The gods aren’t all-powerful, they’re not even the same people they were years ago. The Olympians have long since accepted that free will is important, and that people should have the power to decide their own fates. The Titans are after ruling the world. Again.
The first book features Jupiter and the woman he falls deeply in love with, who has a brother she needs to keep away from their father. You can also read about Bacchus and Mercury. Bacchus is the subject of the new book I’ve just contracted, and you’ll forgive me jumping up and down and going “squee” a lot!

I’ve also signed a contract for the second in the Thorndykes series from Loose-Id. If you enjoyed “Dispossessed,” then the next book continues with Nathan’s story. A series about Talents who need to find sanctuary, or change their lives, the first trilogy is about three Regency rakes turned vampires or shape-shifters. That will be coming out later in the year.

The fifth Nightstar book, “Sail to the Moon” comes out on March 15th, but I’ll post a reminder to the group and my blog when that happens. That’s from Ellora’s Cave, if you want to pre-order. It’s Zazz’s story, and one that is dear to my heart. I love the members of this band like I love my family.

To round off the news for now, “Crystal Captive” is out with a much lower price and a new cover, but it’s the same book! In the future I want to continue the Dept 57 series, because there are several characters without a story of their own. I still get emails asking for Laurie’s story, for instance.

For that and everything else, don’t forget to check my website. I’ve redesigned it, or rather refined the existing design, so that it’s much easier to navigate and it’s so pretty now!


Crystal Captive

Laughing, she let him usher her out the front door of the house, where a limousine with shaded windows awaited them. The Citro├źn C6 was discreet, black, and undoubtedly expensive. The driver, a dark-haired, dour-looking man with sunglasses on got out to open the back door for them. Nicole gave him a smile, but Domenici didn’t spare him a glance. The driver took his place behind the wheel, and Domenici leaned against the leather-upholstered seat and kept his gaze on her.
Although she didn’t like being watched in that way, especially the way he heated her blood, she bore it and sat stiffly upright. Domenici chuckled before he leaned forward to press the button that erected the privacy screen between them and the driver. “Come here. I want to touch you.”
His low tones fired her, but she tried not to show it. She went into his arms and lifted her face for his kiss.
Cradled against his shoulder, she felt vulnerable and fragile, something she wasn’t used to feeling. She wasn’t sure she liked it. But she did like his kiss. Lingering, he took his time, tracing her lips with his tongue before he touched her jaw, urging it open so he could feast inside.
Nicole gave up and grasped his shoulder, which flexed powerfully in the cup of her hand.
He explored inside, searching and stroking. When she brought her tongue into play, caressing his in turn, his low groan found its way from his throat to hers, reverberating in harmony. Touching him like this, exchanging caresses, Nicole felt their rightness, their togetherness, but that little voice of reality inside reminded her that it was nothing of the kind. Ships in the night, strangers meeting to exchange lonely greetings, desperate for connection. At least, she was.
He lifted away but stayed close so she felt the heat of his breath on her damp lips. “You know what happens next, don’t you?”
“We go to dinner?” But when she raised her eyes to his, she saw no humor, no pleasant anticipation. Only gravity and serious intent.
“I’ll do my best to help you, but I wish you’d trusted me more.”
None of what he was saying made sense. She’d told him everything, all she knew. “I was supposed to flirt with you. Gary said to do everything necessary, but when I did it, when I saw you, I didn’t want to. You became human.”
“You weren’t just supposed to get an interview, though, were you?”
She sighed. That must be what he meant. “No. He wanted you to be a regular contact for the magazine.” She tried to keep the pleading out of her eyes, to just ask him. “Will you?”
“If I did that, how long would it be before I was found out?”
She bit her lip, but he moved closer and licked it. “Every time you do that, I want to soothe it better.” He smiled. “You’re not what I expected.”
“You expected me?”
“I thought you’d be harder, more predatory.”
“I should be. I usually am.”
He lifted her and settled her on his lap. She liked it there. His warmth, his obvious desire for her, made her wish to stay there. “Some of them have different personas, the ones they show or allow to be discovered, and the ones they keep to themselves. Some open themselves completely, and they’re the idiots.”
“Mmm.” She felt sleepy, her mind drifting.
“That’s it, baby. Go to sleep now. We’ll see what’s waiting for us on the other side, hmm?”
Mists drifted into her mind, and when she opened her eyes, trying for one last bit of awareness, she could have sworn she saw a curl of smoke in the air. She opened her eyes wider. Yes, she saw it. Not smoke, some kind of gas. No smoke without fire. Maybe it was fairy dust.
With that last, whimsical thought, Nicole gave up and slipped into unconsciousness.
Domenici settled Nicole more firmly on his lap and breathed the fumes deeply, just twice, then held his breath. He had to let them render him unconscious, but he wouldn’t stay that way for as long as they expected. Not long now, and he’d join her in oblivion. He checked and found the link with Esti Hart, Team Crystal’s resident Sorcerer. The link disturbed him, although he knew it necessary, but Domenici kept his inner self strictly alone and apart. Even being a member of a team made him feel uncomfortable. Relying on others made him paranoid.
Still, it was there, though as soon as this operation concluded, he wanted it removed or obliterated or whatever she did. It should be over soon, because this was it. He’d let the PHR put him under, knowing he’d come around and knowing that his team would track him down. Then he could do his job and obliterate the whole cell. He prayed that didn’t include the woman nestling so sweetly in his lap.

You can get Crystal Captive here: