Saturday, September 29, 2007

Professionalism in Publishing

As authors, every time we submit a story we take a risk. That risk is tenfold when you don’t have an agent, because all the homework is on our shoulders. We’re forced to research each publishing house before we become involved with them; not doing so will undoubtedly result in poor handling of your manuscript, or nonpayment of royalties. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to tell the rotten apples from the good ones. *everyone nods in agreement* All of us have been forced to eat a worm or two over our writing career. Some of you have already been through at least one horrible fiasco. Some of you have had the misfortune of becoming involved in multiple bad experiences—through no fault of your own. So, today I want to talk a little bit about something I find very disturbing, lack of integrity.

The definition of integrity: Steadfast adherence to a strict moral or ethical code.

I’m seeing more and more publishers forgetting that this is a business involving real people, not machines. We work hard to create a story worthy of reading. Most of us spend hours and hours at the computer, day after day, just to get a rough draft. Laundry takes a backseat. Our kids are sometimes forced to play outside while we attempt to think over a particular scene. Lots of sacrifices are made. Therefore, when a publisher doesn’t hold up their end of the bargain it’s like a big slap in the face. We’re forced to adhere to their guidelines or don’t even bother to submit, right? So why is it okay for their personal lives to interfere when it comes time for them to hold up their end of the bargain?

I’m not talking about breach of contract. I’m talking about honesty. Once upon a time, deals were made based solely on shaking a man’s hand. We trusted them to keep their word. But with some publishers all you hear are excuses, sometimes nothing at all. Emails are ignored. How does this make us feel? Frustrated. Angry that we kept strict to our moral code, but the publisher thinks its okay for them to make the rules up as they go along.

No, it’s not okay. We’re not machines! We’re human beings, working hard to create a wonderful tale filled with love and emotion and believable characters. A tale they’re going to profit from, I might add. The least they can do is honor their end of the handshake.

What do I look for in a publisher before I submit?
1. Primarily, check out their website.
2. Buy a book and do your own little critique. Is the story edited well, or are there many things that were missed?
3. Is the cover art well done or something your kid could have colored?
4. How many authors do they have on the payroll?
5. When was the company established and by whom? Most times, you can Google the woman/man behind the name and find information about them. This is a good way to learn more about this person’s company.
6. Ask your fellow authors a few pertinent questions--privately. If they’re unhappy with their publisher, most likely they’ll let you know. This is also a good way to find out who the good guys are.
7. Lastly, check out the Piers Anthony and Predators and Editors sites for any negative feedback.

Now for a list of things publishers do that put them on my no-no list (this list came from a member of my yahoo group, The Romance Bistro After Dark):
1. Publisher doesn't answer emails. Cannot be reached by phone or reg. mail. Basically falls off the face of the earth for an extended length of time.
2. Publisher does not pay on time.
3. Publisher pays but checks are short-changed (I'll pay you the rest later. or Ooops, my mistake. I'll send you the rest soon.), unsigned (Ooops, my mistake. I'll send you another one.), or bounce (It's the bank's fault).
4. Website is not updated for new releases. New releases are pushed back or postponed.
5. Editors are not paid. Cover artists are not paid. Other employees are not paid, and publisher does not answer their inquiries.
6. Fictionwise and ARe sales are not commiserate with author's spreadsheet. (Clue: The new release has 8 ratings, which means AT LEAST 8 people bought the book, but when paid, author is stated "No Sales". or Author's book is sitting at # 1 or # 2 for publisher, but author is stated single-digit sales.)
7. Google search discovers another website and publishing company under publisher's name.
8. Google search discovers author's books for sale on eBay and overseas Amazon sites that authors were not aware of.

***Now I’d love to hear from readers, writers, editors, anyone in the industry who has more insight into this. Or, if you’d like to share your own horror story, we’re here to listen. After all, the Romance Rules tagline is: a bunch of romance authors ranting about writing!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

To condom or not to condom (in our writing that is)

I've been curious how readers feel about this and also how other writers feel about it: Do you think the h&h should always wear condoms in books or does it depend on the circumstance? So far, my characters have always used condoms in their love scenes. I've wondered if it breaks the moment for readers. Are they really getting into the scene when we put up a big stop sign to put on the condom? Lets face the facts that in today's world using a condom is not only the responsible thing to do but the smart thing to do. It can save your life. But I know a lot of people read books to get a little escape from reality. To step into a world that maybe you don't always HAVE to think about those things. For those reasons is it okay not to use the condom or do you feel like the characters are being irresponsible if they don't? Especially if the heroine is on the pill, does that give them the okay to not use a condom? Also do you think its different for erotica? Why or why not?

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Us Cats and Them Dogs

Is is just me or has anyone noticed how so many writers have cats for pets? I know a couple authors who have dogs too, but not nearly as many. Could it be the solitary nature of our work and the solitary nature of the animal? Perhaps cats don't tend to interrupt us during those critical creativity explosions when we MUST finish the scene or the chapter. A dog will not quietly wait to go for a walk or to play or to eat.
Don't get me wrong, my cats have their ways of letting me know what they want, like practically tripping me to make sure I head to the food bowls as I walk through the house in the morning. One parks her butt on my desk in front of my computer screen when I haven't shown her the acceptable amount of attention. I wonder if Ernest Hemingway's multitude of felines took up residence on his typewriter when in need of some head-scratching or chin-rubbing.

So what about you? Are you a cat person, a dog person or neither?

Friday, September 21, 2007

What POV do you like?


I'm not talking about head-hopping (a previous blog where we all expressed our likes/dislikes on that topic). I'm wondering what POV readers enjoy. Of course, the POV of hero and heroine are of utmost importance. But I'm wondering about other POVs that sometimes writers use. For example, a villain's POV. Do readers enjoy a villain's POV? What if the villain is a vile, despicable child molestor? Do you really want to know, much less read, that character's POV? I've come across several stories where the killer/child molestor/etc., POV is used extensively.

Personally, I don't really mind it, especially if it adds to the suspense of the story and I've also written in a villain's POV before. I suppose it depends on how despicable the villain is. What do ya'll think? :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


One of my publishers realized that authors need some direction when it comes to promoting our work. Most writers are by nature loners, observers, so putting ourselves out there is hard. Luckily, with this class on how to promo on the cheap will teach us what to try, and what not to waste our time on!

With promo on the brain...I thought I'd ask here what YOU respond to as a reader. Bookmarks, candy, free books, book trailers, internet chats, website interviews, reviews...

For me, it's largely word of mouth, which as an author you have NO control over. Next comes authors who spend time on forums I frequent, then chapter one excerpt booklets - but only in genres I already read...

What about you? What has moved you to buy a book in the last...year?

Jenna is hard at work on her next title for Mills & Boon Modern Heat. In the meantime, check out her website, blog, or reading group, We Call It Research.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Novella vs. Full

Dang, am I the only one glad it’s the weekend? I need a beer. Heck, a six pack would go down pretty good right now! LOL Somehow, my weekends have gotten just as hectic as my weekdays though. How did that happen?

*sips coffee and wishes it was a cold Coors Light*

Yeah, whatever. On to today’s topic! This one’s for readers and writers alike.

Why do some reader’s refuse to read a novella length story? Why do some readers refuse to buy anthologies? Please, inquiring minds wanna know! Don’t hold back, tell us your reasoning.

For me, I’ll read anything. I don’t base quality on how big the book is. If I did that, I’d never read Stephen King. Lori Foster. Shannon McKenna. Lucy Monroe. Most of my ALL TIME FAVORITE authors have written novella length stories. Heck, that’s how I discovered some of my favorite authors to begin with! For me, anthologies are a great way to try out a new author.

Nevertheless, from what I’ve seen on various reader message boards and yahoo groups, there’s a whole horde of readers who feel novellas are second rate. As if a novella isn’t going to have the same intensity and depth as a full length story. I do understand how hard it is to write a short story and get all that drama, emotion, laughs, HEA, etc in there. You don’t have a lot of time to fit all that in. In some ways, a novella can be pretty tough to write. However, it’s my opinion, from the various books I’ve read, that some authors can pack quite a punch in their novellas. And as far as plot? I’ve read plenty of 500 page books that didn’t have squat for plot. There’s been many times where I’ve sat there holding a ‘New York Times Bestseller’ and thinking to myself, ‘how on earth did this horrid thing make it to print?’

So, to me, it’s not length that makes a great book, it’s how well an author executes the concept. One of my wonderful editors once said: ideas aren’t unique, it’s what the author does with that idea that makes it exceptional.

So, here’s my Saturday question. Does length really matter? LOL...come on, you knew it was coming (no pun intended).

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Romance Community

Happy Thursday everyone!!

Today I wanted to talk about the romance community in general. In the past couple years since I've discovered the wonderful world of romance novels I've noticed one thing: the romance community is filled with some pretty exceptional people! When I first started reading romances when I found an author I loved I contacted them through their website. Nine times out of ten I'd get a reply. And it wasn't your typical blah, blah, reply it was always very personal. Through some of these contacts I found message boards and yahoo groups and started to talk so much with some of these ladies that I now consider them friends. Two examples of authors I befriended before I ever wrote my first words are Lori Foster and Lucy Monroe. Both are terrific writers and phenomenal women. Lori supports so many causes from the troops, to battered women's shelters, to protection of animals. She and multiple other authors made a cook book called, The Write Ingredients where proceeds to go a very worthy cause. Next year 12 authors including Lori and Lucy are participating in an anthology where proceeds go to the battered women's shelter. Also every year Lori Foster and Dianne Castell host the Reader and Writer get together where this year over 4,000 dollars was raised for the battered women's shelter and 500 dollars for animal adoption. Lori and Dianne work so very hard to make the reader and writer get together a success. They're both very special women for all that they do and all the work that goes into the weekend.

Lucy Monroe has supported me so much while on my journey to become a published author. She's answered question, believed in my, and blogged my books when they were released. I don't know if she realizes how much faith she gave me in myself.

These are just a couple examples of the kindness I've seen within the romance community. I know there are tons more out there like them! All the readers and writes in the romance community that I've been lucky enough to meet either online or in person are truly caring, giving people. Their friendly, always willing to help out another person and they offer so much support when needed. I've been so lucky to meet some truly wonderful people within the romance community. I don't know if it stems from our love of romance, and happily ever afters. Maybe we carry those wonderful feelings we get from out books into our life's. Whatever the reason, I count myself very lucky to have found such a group of great people. Reader and writers alike.

What about you? Any special stories you want to share about readers or writers you've met? Any special causes you know certain authors support? What do you love the most about the romance community in general?

Monday, September 10, 2007

I did a book signing this weekend with four other local authors at a Borders in the Orlando area. I couldn't help but notice how many customers picked up our books or passed them by based solely on the cover. Is the cover THAT important? You bet.
The guiltiest of all is me! In a sea of books, I always pick up the one with a candy-colored picture on it that screams FUN. That usually earmarks a Chick-Lit book, my favorite guilty pleasure.
One of my first e-books had a cover I hated. At the time, I didn't feel secure enough as a writer to question the publisher. I can't tell you how many people emailed me to ask me what the picture was. It was a closeup of a man's face, but you really had to study it for a minute to realize that. I've never made that mistake again. I was so excited when I got the cover for an upcoming short story from The Wild Rose Press and it was PERFECT! Exactly what I'd wanted. I'm waiting for my next full-length book cover now and am hoping for something wonderful.
What about you? Do you choose what books you pick up at the bookstore based on the cover? Have you ever bought a book based on the cover and been sorely disappointed that it wasn't what the cover conveyed?

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Greatest Moments In Writing!

*grabs a hanful of M&Ms and munches* I was thinking about this particular topic because of Kelley’s fantastic news—CONGRATS KELLEY! It’s these success stories that keep me going, constantly working to improve my craft. So, today is all about you, the author! I’d love to hear about that truly great moment when you sold your first story and knew a sense of accomplishment like nothing else in this world. When you realized that someone other than mom was going to read your stories.

Here’s my Great Moment. First, let me explain a few things about Anne Rainey. I’ve been writing since 2003. No, I didn’t just pop up a year ago. LOL The first things I submitted never even got rejected, as I never actually received a rejection letter. Apparently, I was either that bad or that unimportant. *grumbles and eats more M&Ms* So, after waiting for months and months on a few publishers who couldn’t even take the time to send me a letter saying ‘you suck’, I decided to take some time off from writing and research my craft a bit. I learned a lot in this time. Everything from how to write a query letter to sagging middles (and I’m not talking about waistlines, lol). After I felt more confident, I picked the pen up again and started writing. This time when I submitted, I did get a rejection letter. Hey, at least I’d moved up from being a nobody to someone worthy of a ‘you suck’ letter. LOL

What did I do? I went back to the beginning. I researched and attempted to figure out what I was doing wrong. At last, I’d figured it out. It wasn’t that I was writing crappy stories, they just weren’t fleshed out. It was as if I were submitting rough drafts. So, I went back to that first manuscript and basically gutted that sucker. Oy! I submitted it and BAM! I sold! No, it wasn’t my first sale, because as I waited for this particular print company to back to me, I wrote a few other stories and submitted those. ah-ha! Two more sales! Finally, I’d made it.

So, I suppose my shining moment happened twice. First, when I got the email from my editor at Samhain Publishing, Ltd.. I’ll never forget her words: “it was a sharp, sexy, well-written story”. I hooted and laughed and thought to myself, “Yes!” All the time I’d spent researching my craft was worth it! The second time was when I got that phone call from my dear editor at Red Sage Publishing, Inc.. I screeched and cried and finally, I opened up a bottle of wine. LOL Since those moments I’ve sold two more stories to these two wonderful companies--more on that when the details are ironed out--and I couldn’t be happier.

Now it’s your turn! What’s your shining moment? This is your time to brag, ladies!

Friday, September 7, 2007

To ePub or Not to ePub

There's been a lot of cyber chatter about the recent demise of Mardi Gras Publishing, here and here for starters. Sadly, the former owner of MGP bid her adieu via the following statement:

~Mardi Gras Publishing is officially closing September 1, 2007~
I have been forced to make this decision based on lack of finances - hormonal females and bitching.

That's just a snippet, folks. It gets worse, read her entire rant here. The epitome of class and professionalism isn’t it? 2007 has been a bad year for e-pubs. First the Trisk debacle and now this. The problem with e-pubs is the business model. Anyone with a computer and a modicum of web design knowledge can start their own e-business. The onus is on the author to thoroughly check out any publisher prior to signing a contract. There are real, legitimate e-publishers and small presses out there. Though, it can be difficult to spot the shysters from the professionals. Here are a few great tips (courtesy of Dear Jane).

Piers Anthony runs a great site devoted to this. He periodically updates it, so it’s worth checking out every month or so. Below is a list of legitimate small presses. Please don’t take this as gospel, then come after me if things don't work out for you (for whatever reason) as leading you astray. As far as I know, given my own experience and after extensive research, I found these to be reputable. Of course, any business can fold at any time. But I know other authors published through some or all of these who are doing quite well. I, for one, enjoy seeing my book stocked at Borders and in libraries across the country, and as most know, I’m published with The Wild Rose Press. The key is to find an honest, professional publishing house (whether big or small).

Recent changes regarding TWRP, all authors can now get their first sales listed in RWR. Furthermore, you can now enter your stories into RITA. This is a big step for a small press; but just another example that there are “good guys” out there as well.

Cerridwen Press
Cobblestone Press
Elloras Cave
Red Sage Publishing
Samhain Publishing
The Wild Rose Press

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Thursday 13...A First Time For Us!

Thirteen Keywords That Have Led People To ROMANCE RULES

  1. romancing a woman sexually
  2. deb dixon author
  3. getting romance back women's view
  4. guys and forbidden fruit rule
  5. blooming laundry
  6. you'll mess up my head, we'll mess up our bed. (know what? That's a line from ON AGAIN)
  7. romancing a polish lady
  8. why women won't fully commit to a relationship
  9. online romance books
  10. Hugh Jackman DAY
  11. I’m lollygagging (that's Anne. The lollygagger.)
  12. romance heroine rules
  13. weakdom (???)

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Jennifer McK
2. Jenna Bayley-Burke
3. Dara Edmondson
4. Morgan St. John
5. Debbie Mumford
6. Susan Helene Gottfried
(leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

Monday, September 3, 2007


It's not procrastinating if you can make it work for you... If you're on the lookout for hero fodder, The Pink Heart Society has quite the collection going on, so much in fact, they've named it Hugh Jackman DAY!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

That Crazy Writing Process!

Okay, since so many kids are either back to school or going back very soon, I thought this would be a good time to shed some light on the process of writing.

*sips coffee* My routine is pretty set. I’m the type of person who needs a schedule or I get off track, then pretty soon I’m lollygagging. I wake up every morning at 6am. The first thing I do is roll my lazy butt out of bed and nudge my oldest daughter awake. I get her breakfast, then I’m off to the dark, dreary laundry room to iron my husband’s work clothes while he showers. The kitten plays with the dangling ironing cord and usually by the time I’m finished with his shirt, I’m smiling over her silly antics. Once the clothes are pressed, I take them to him and push my daughter off the couch so she can start the hour long process of making herself more beautiful than she already is. The number one rule in my house: get everything (clothes, shoes, bookbag) ready the night before! This way we aren’t scrambling around searching for things. Usually, by the time the dogs have been let out to potty and the coffee is on, I’m able to get myself dressed and now I’m allowed to kick up the computer. I check email while I’m making lunches. Once my daughter is ready, lunches are done, and my husband is out the door (with a kiss and a smack on the ass, lol) I take my oldest to school. Once I’m back from that it’s usually about 7:30am and I have a few minutes to answer some emails and eat cereal.

Then I wake my second daughter at 8am. The routine starts all over again. After I get her to school, I can really start my day. I write from about 9:30am until 1:30pm with the T.V. on in the background. I can’t do anything when it’s dead silent. Drives me nuts. Comes from growing up in a rowdy family I think. Noise to me says ‘comfort’.

At 1:30 I’m forced to stop, save whatever I’ve managed to work on, get myself ready, let the dogs out again to potty, and go pick up my kids. The rest of the day is spent doing homework, chores, errands, etc. I’m lucky to get back to the computer after the kids are home. Usually we’re too busy with...stuff. at around 4:30 my husband calls and we chat on the phone for awhile (he’s got a long boring ride home, so that’s usually our time to catch up on each other’s day).

From 6:30pm on, it’s dinner, showers, getting ready for the next day, then whatever show we can’t live without. Weekends for me are a hit or miss. Sometimes, I can get some writing done, or at least some editing. Most times, if I get to the computer on the weekends, I’m updating my website or playing with graphics. Banners, backgrounds, that sort of thing is my way of unwinding.

How many pages do I get written a day? I’m not really sure. I don’t adhere to a strict number. It can be anywhere from getting 5 pages, to 20pages. Depends on how fast the story is coming to me. Some days I spend more time researching. As an erotic romance author my research can be pretty...wild. The most eye-opening research ever done is without a doubt the 60k story I wrote “Lavish Me” which has some pretty naughty scenes. That story was both fun and shocking to research. *snickers*

*sucks down the rest of the coffee* So fellow authors, what’s your process? Do you adhere to a certain number of words/pages a day? Do you just let the story come to you whenever? Do you write during the day or are you more creative at night? Tell me, because inquiring minds wanna know!