Today I'm moving on to the second installment of my After "The Call" series, where we discuss all the work that continues after you sell your book.
I recently wrapped up my line edits for my first Harlequin Special Edition book, 'Twas the Week Before Christmas. I sold this book quite a while ago, and I've written a few more since, and therefore it had been some time since I read over the manuscript. When my editor sent it back to me, it was as if I was reading it for the first time! In some ways, this was to my advantage, as it allowed me to really step back and review the book with a more critical eye.
The line edit is essentially a marked-up copy of your book, wherein your editor will tighten any prose, question anything that seems confusing, suggest deletions, word replacements, or maybe ask you to elaborate on a specific point. Whereas the revisions are more broad in scope, the line edit is much more detailed. And see, the thing is that I could just get nit picky for weeks... But ah, see, that's another thing that comes After "The Call": deadlines.
I learned a few things going through my line edit - things like words I over use. The exercise itself was great, and it will only improve my future work before I ever get to the line edit stage. It was also reassuring to have the opportunity to scrutinize the manuscript again and to be able to make changes when asked, or where I thought just needed to happen for my long-term sanity.
I spent more hours than I had anticipated on that line edit, knowing this was the last chance I had to change a word here, delete a sentence there. The AA's (Author Approvals) have landed in my inbox, and it won't be the same experience. For the most part, I will be forced to sit on my hands, trust what's there, and live with it. So why does that somehow feel like a greater challenge than writing the book in the first place?
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
I'm thrilled to welcome fellow Entangled author, Annie Seaton onto the blog today. Her latest book, ITALIAN AFFAIR, was released just two days ago and it's a beauty!
So, now I get to be very nosy with some questions ...
Free-spirited sex therapist Brianna Ballantine has four days to find a fiancé so she can inherit her birth mother’s Italian villa. Commitment is not on the agenda. Writing her sex therapy book and signing legal papers are. And once all is said and done, she’ll return home to Scotland.
For finance guru Tomas Richards, relationships have been a bad investment—give him stocks and shares any day. When Tomas offers a marriage of convenience to help Brianna secure her inheritance, the sizzle between the sheets promises an affair to remember, despite family complications at every turn.
But Tom must convince Brianna to stay, and make this Italian affair a lifelong commitment.
Welcome to The Hot Pink Typewriter, Annie! Can you please tell us a little about yourself?
When I retired from full time work as a high school principal a couple of years ago I put on a few new hats. I am a writer, an editor, a nanny (as in a granny) a tutor, a wife, a gardener, and the owner of a large dog who needs a walk on the beach every day... oh and I don’t sleep.
Wow! You’re one busy lady, are you a naturally disciplined writer? Or do you have any tips you can share about keeping the word count flowing and meeting those crunch deadlines?
I have a fridge magnet that says ‘if it wasn’t for the last minute nothing would get done in this house!’ That applies to my writing too—I write best under pressure when I know a deadline is looming.
My biggest problem is the necessary evil of social networking for promotion. It can be such a time waster. So when I have a deadline, I don’t allow myself to peek until I have written 1000 words. If the deadline is really close, I make myself go 5000 words before I dip into the online world!
What sub-genres of romance do you write and why?
I write mainly contemporary now, as that is where the contracts have appeared from the contract fairy. But my first love is historical romance... and I am trying hard to find the time between books to pursue that love of history in my romance writing.
I flit in and out of the steampunk genre... I had never heard of it until I saw a call for a competition about three years ago. I did the research and fell in love with the freedom of world building, alternative history and creating techno-contraptions.
Where do you do your best work?
I sit in a lovely cane chair near a window which looks out over the ocean. Water is my element and the view inspires the words. The winter sunshine bathes my back and it is very easy to imagine exotic settings in such beautiful surroundings.
Your latest novel, Italian Affair was just released, congratulations! Can you tell our readers what they can expect of it?
Italian Affair is the story of two very different people who have very set ideas...or so they believe... of what they expect out of life. Each is a little flawed by their past experiences. I had great fun setting them up so they had no choice but to fall in love. And then that is the dilemma for both of them. The cover quote says it all... I hope readers will ‘laugh, cry and sigh!’
Your latest release Italian Affair is your second Indulgence release, and I know it’s early days, but was this experience different/similar to the release of Holiday Affair?
Holiday Affair was my first real contemporary release and I had had no experience of the publishing world. I was so green, I didn’t realise that getting to #364 on Amazon was such an achievement for a debut book! Now that I know the industry almost inside out, I am an obsessive statistic checker. Now that I have a few books to check by the... er... hour... er.. .half hour, I may get no words done in a day!
The dedication at the front of Italian Affair is deeply intriguing, can you tell us more about this and the inspiration behind the story?
Tom, the middle brother in Holiday Affair needed to find his happy ever after and I mulled over his problem and what sort of woman he would need to fall in love with, to complete his happiness.
Now, for those of you who have read Holiday Affair, you will remember Tom as a bit of a stuffed shirt, as one reviewer of Italian Affair described him! Tom needed someone who was free spirited, who could tease him, but who would also fall in love with the wonderful man he is.
Inspiration came to me through a very dear friend and I have dedicated Italian Affair to this friend, Melissa Lulham. As writers we take very little time away from our keyboards and don’t have the time for pampering ourselves. My secret weakness for pampering myself is having a facial—it does wonders for the stiff neck from sitting at a keyboard all day. Melissa is a beauty therapist and one day as I lay back with gunk on my face and cucumber on my eyes, she told me how she had discovered her birth grandfather on Lipari Island.
My eyes flew open, the cucumber went flying and Brianna Ballantyne was born in that moment. Free spirited and with an urgent need to find a husband in four days, she meets Tom on the plane on the way to Italy. And that is where their story begins. I adore this book. I have learned and developed so much as a writer over the past couple of years; I hope everyone enjoys their story as much as I do
The descriptions of Lipari are so evocative, have you been there yourself?
No...not yet. I do plan to travel there next year. I relied on Melissa’s descriptions ...and Google Earth is amazing as a research tool for settings. Being a historian and a librarian for many years, I know the value of research and I do research all of my settings down as far as the types of cobblestones in the square. The only thing you can’t capture without a visit is the smells!
If you could go anywhere in the world right now to research your next book where would that be?
New Orleans has always called to me. I am planning my historical and it begins in a fire in New Orleans in 1794...so I think a trip to the RT conference next year in New Orleans is a must do!
Can you summarize Italian Affair for us Twitter-style (140 characters or less)?
Stuffy, stitched-up, list-making Tom and sassy, vulnerable Brianna confront change, family ties and finding the right person to love.
For a bit of fun, can you open your book to a random point and tell us what’s happening?
A rhythmic creaking sound drifted in through the open window, and he lifted his head away from her hair and turned to the sound. The grating of a key in the metal gate on the back balcony followed. He shook Brianna’s shoulder when he heard a voice call out, “Allo? Allo?”
“Brianna,” he whispered. “There’s somebody in the kitchen.”
“What?” She sat up and smiled at him, her expression relaxed and contented.
“There’s somebody in the kitchen.” His words were confirmed by the running of water and the clanging of dishes in the sink. Then a quavering female voice burst into song. Bells will ring ting-a-ling-a-ling, Ting-a-ling-a-ling and you’ll sing, ‘Vita bella’
Tom and Brianna have finally ended up in bed and are interrupted by the arrival of the second person that she meets in her blood family... Great Aunt Maria!
Do you have a favourite scene in Italian Affair?
The final scene where Tom is waiting for Brianna to come home to him, not knowing what the outcome will be, is one of my favourites. An astute reader will see the parallels to the first time Tom sees Brianna at the airport in Sydney.
Oh... deep breath...and then expelled in a huge sigh.
I think I am a mad woman!
I have three books completed and in edits with Entangled Publishing. Outback Affair which follows Holiday Affair and Italian Affair, is complete and with my editor. Worth the Wait is the first book in a three book Bliss imprint series and is in edits. Dangerous Desire is a romantic suspense and I am just waiting for the cover; it will be out in September. I am also writing a paranormal for the Covet imprint which is due to my editor before we go off on our outback adventure in a couple of weeks. I also have other news which I can’t reveal yet but is my favourite genre above!
If you could have dinner with any three authors, who would you choose and why? And what would be on the menu?!
Well... the menu is easy.
I would invite them into my home and serve them fresh fish as that is what we live on here on the coast! Served with lots of lovely Australian white wine and followed by Pavlova!
The dinner party would be made up of: Nora Roberts as I would want to know how she disciplines herself to be so productive; Sharon Penman... to find out how she completes her historical research and Ian Rankin so I could listen to his lovely Scottish accent!
Thanks so much for joining us here today, Annie, we wish you many sales and lots of luck with all your up and coming projects.
You can find out more about Annie on her website and the buy links for ITALIAN AFFAIR are:
Posted by Rachel Lyndhurst at 3:04 AM
Monday, June 10, 2013
As you can tell by the time this post is going up that this week the clock is being me. *sigh*
Sometimes it works out that way. Family obligations overtake work deadlines. This is a shining example.
But most times, I can hit my deadlines. This month and next month will put me to the test as my debut, RANCHER TO THE RESCUE, releases July 1st and I embark on my first ever blog tour. It’s a little intimidating, a bit overwhelming and a lot exciting. :-)
And while all of this is going on, I’m back on deadline. So how do I beat the clock and get my newest manuscript turned in on time?
It all started years ago when I started doing NaNo. And it doesn’t hurt that I came from a background of statistical work which relied heavily on spreadsheets. So every time I have a deadline, I set up a spreadsheet.
I use a calendar format and make it big enough to encompass the beginning and ending dates. Then I simply add formulas to calculate how many words I write each day, how many words minimum I must write to finish by my deadline.
Since I’m sort of a #’s freak, I love updating the spreadsheet and seeing my percentage finished climb. When I’m writing, I generally update it each time I save my manuscript. What can I say? It’s the simple things that entertain me. :-)
How about you? What keeps you on track?
Jennifer Faye’s debut, RANCHER TO THE RESCUE, is available NOW at Harlequin.com. Or it’s up for Pre-order at Amazon & B&N. She’d love to hear from you via Twitter, her website, or Facebook.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
I had a hundred balls in the air, and this was the first time in a long time I wasn't able to juggle. I got sick, and in typical 'mom' fashion I just ignored it and kept going, full speed ahead (thank you, coffee addiction). Anyway, my husband finally convinced me to go the walk-in clinic (I didn't bother making an appointment with my regular doctor-because who has the time, right?). I received a prescription for antibiotics five minutes later and was on my way. Or so I thought. A few days later I was getting progressively worse and in between popping antibiotics was chugging coffee and Advil's.
That Saturday night, I was at Whole Foods with my son picking up some takeout because we had friends coming over for dinner and I was too wiped to cook (see, that was what I thought was taking it easy. It didn't even occur to me to cancel). Anyway, food bought, on our way to the parking lot and I just stopped. Suddenly, it was like all the pain I was denying I was in, couldn't be hidden anymore. All I could feel was the intense throbbing in my cheekbone, like someone had taken a chisel to it and was carving out a new mountain. I had a hard time making conversation with my son (luckily, he talks a mile a minute and barely noticed) and the drive home took intense concentration. We arrived home, I dropped the groceries on the kitchen floor and mumbled to my husband that I needed to sit. Kids were scavenging through the bags (every time groceries come home, it seems they turn into these ravenous little monsters who haven't seen a morsel of food in days) and the noise level was reaching a disastrous level. I was having a hard time concentrating on anything, even simple conversation. Hubby put the kids to bed and then tried to figure out what was wrong with me. My symptoms were all over the place-my cheekbone killed, my teeth ached, my 'bite' had changed and I couldn't line up my teeth properly, and I felt despondent. The poor guy thought I was having a stroke. We did cancel on those friends, and I went to bed (without eating a scrap of that delicious takeout-a true sign something was wrong). The next morning at the urging of a friend who's had a root canal recently, I called the 'after hours' number on the back of the dentist's business card and explained my symptoms. At this point I really thought I was dealing with a root canal. It sounded like that to him as well-considering the tooth movement-and he prescribed an antibiotic and said to go see him next week. This was somewhat reassuring and frightening at the same time because I'm totally afraid of dentists and dental work. I just realized how long this post is going on...sorry, will try and wrap this up!
These antibiotics were starting to work and by the time I went to the dentist a few days later I was beginning to feel human again. He took X-rays and saw...nothing. Nothing. Then he examined my mouth-my bite had changed, because a tooth (the one I thought was infected) had lowered in much the way it does when the root is infected. Anyway, as he's looking inside my mouth he asks me if I'm under a lot of stress. Hmm. What was I supposed to say? I'm a romance novelist, small-business owner, and mom? I felt a little ridiculous. So I just kind of shrugged and he told me I was grinding my teeth and had actually shifted that tooth. He then shaved off some enamel so that tooth would be even and I need to go back for a follow-up. That medication he prescribed was working for my sinus infection and after a visit to my regular doctor-and some more X-rays/ultrasound, found my left sinus blocked. I received a referral to a specialist and now it's wait and see. Fingers crossed this will clear up and sinus surgery isn't a must.
So, very long, long story, short? Don't ignore your body-get whatever it is dealt with as quickly as possible and take the time to rest. Don't feel guilty for admitting you can't do something (this is the hardest-I still feel horrible for asking for help). I cut out all social media for a few weeks (that feels very strange actually). I was honest with my agent and editor who were very understanding and now I'm playing catch-up. Take some time for yourself-go for a walk, take a bike ride, get yourself some flowers if no one else buys them for you :)
I'm so grateful to be feeling well again...and I'm trying to say no to the five thousand requests I get on a daily basis to help someone out with something...um, that being said, I'd better run: the two-year-old has just whacked older brother on the head with Hello Kitty dollhouse...
Friday, May 31, 2013
I’m super excited to welcome fellow Bookouture author Nancy Barone into the Hot Seat. THE HUSBAND DIET is out today, so I’m thrilled she was able to join us for the launch.
Erica Cantelli's life feels more suffocating than a size 4 dress. On the surface she's maintaining the image of successful career woman, perfect wife and a doting mother with two wonderful children. In reality she's running out of hours in the day; 6 dress sizes bigger than she wants to be; and the only man who shows her any affection is her gay best friend. In fact fantasizing about how to kill her increasingly disinterested husband is just about all that keeps Erica sane. That and a whole different type of fantasizing about the incredibly handsome new school principal, Julian Foxham. When her husband jokes about trading her in for two size tens, Erica knows something has to change. But is another diet really the answer? Or is getting rid of him the fastest path to happiness? Now if she could only stop thinking about the gorgeous Mr Foxham... For any woman who has ever felt under-appreciated, or thought about giving up on their dreams, Erica is a hilarious breath of fresh air.
And on with the grilling...
Q) You live in Sicily. In what ways has this influenced the story?
A) Hi and thank you for inviting me over! Living in Sicily would influence a hippo on tranquilizers! Seriously, nothing works properly in this part of the country (not that it’s any better up North, mind you) and you really have to shout if you want something done. But, oh, the weather, the colour of the sea and the changing hues as the hours pass by (can you tell I live nearby?)! Not to mention the FOOD which got me into this mess in the first place! So yes, being in Sicily influenced me, made me impatient towards the Domani, domani (tomorrow, tomorrow) attitude just like Erica, but Sicily really got my good side with all the beautiful people and places. I wish I could even come here on holiday- but I’m already here! It’s no wonder Erica’s dying to come to Italy!
Q) The Husband Diet is a superb title. How did you come up with it?
A) Ah, wish I could take the credit- and for the cover! But in both cases I have the fantastic Oliver Rhodes of Bookouture to thank!
Q) Erica is a plus-size heroine. In what way is that integral to the plot?
A) If Erica had been a normal size (and that goes for me as well) this book would have never been written. She thinks all of her problems derive from being big, like not being able to run after her kids, tie her shoes without grunting and get on her husband’s good side. So I’d say that Erica drives the plot also because of that- only she comes out in flying colors!
Q) What came first – the heroine or the concept?
A) They came together. As I just said, one can’t exist without the other. If she were someone else she’d be fighting men off with a stick, trying to decide which shoes or outfit she’s going to wear to Fashion Week, but no- Erica’s problems are much more nitty-gritty- like how to kill her husband, for instance!
Q) What makes Erica so unique or special than anybody should care enough to read about her?
A) I think everybody loves Erica because she is real- you have to root for her because she’s like your best friend who’s leaked out her most intimate secrets through clenched teeth when she’d rather be joking or dancing on a table sloshing a margarita around. But no, she’s bogged down by what she thinks she should do to please everyone else. I’ve done that (not doing it again) and I’m sure everyone at some point has made a compromise to please a loved one, but it’s not at all healthy if it doesn’t make you feel good! And Erica’s story makes you feel good!
Q) There are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in the book weighted with some deeply poignant emotional ones (I cried a lot). Keeping that balance is remarkable. How do you do it?
A) Thank you very much- now that makes me feel good! I didn’t do it, though. Erica is a woman in her own right and I think she even bosses me around. An example? When she planned to surprise Julian in her birthday suit, I wanted her to chicken out and go home, but she turned around and said to me, “And you want me to miss out on this? No way!” So she took off her clothes and waited for Julian. I didn’t have the guts to stick around, but she did!
Q) Ira (Erica's husband) is portrayed as the bad guy from the beginning. Is that really fair?
A) To be honest, I gave the guy a chance- more than one. But you know, when a man isn’t doing his best to please his woman and you don’t see eye to eye- and he becomes a jerk- what’s a girl to do?
Q) You have created a terrific balance of dialogue and inner monologue to really help us connect with both the internal and external character. Which of those do you find easier to write?
A) I’d say the interior monologue is easier for me because I’m abrasive only in my private world. At work or with people I don’t know that well I’m quiet and cautious. Even funny, sometimes. Like Erica- on the outside she’s funny. But that’s not my doing- it’s the situations she experiences that make her snarky and hilarious.
Q) The emotional level in some of the scenes is deeply moving. Is any of it inspired by personal experience, however loosely, or are you just empathetically gifted?
A) I’d like to say being big has never bothered me but I’d be lying. Who hasn’t tried to squeeze into a dress, regretting last night’s French fries? And dessert? But that’s about it. I have a cool sister, a close-knit, loving family and a great husband and my mum is nothing like Marcy.
Q) Your writing style is simple yet superbly effective. That’s quite a skill. Do you naturally write that way or did you have to develop it?
A) That’s very kind of you- can we keep these compliments coming forever? LOL. I have a pragmatic mind. Practical. There’s a story. Show all the best bits. No one cares what colour a dress is unless you’ve managed to fit into it and you’re going to knock your date out!
Q) Your cover is fantastic. A perfect reflection of the book. How did you feel when you saw it?
A) I immediately thought, ‘Yes! That’s Erica.’ Although her toes look a lot like mine. Hers are prettier, though.
Q) You’ve been published before. Have you learned anything on this new part of your journey?
A) Absolutely! I’ve learned that I like writing both romance and women’s fiction and I swing between the two to recharge my batteries. But I must say that I feel super-pampered by Bookouture- there is a professional but caring relationship between writer/ publisher/ editor. Oliver is absolutely great, with a wide, strong vision of what readers want and Emily Ruston is a truly top-notch editor who won’t let anything slip, not even with her busy life. You are amazing, Emily! Please work with me again!
Q) What made you decide that Bookouture was the right home for THD?
A) First of all, the video introducing the company. They are truly so unique and optimistic! Plus at Bookouture they don’t have straight-jacket rules where you can’t be yourself. They don’t want to pidgeon-hole you as a writer. If they think your story is good they’ll take you on board.
Q) I hear that The Husband Diet has an awesome HEA. What constitutes a HEA for you?
A) For me, a HEA is not always about ticking off every item on your wish-list, but it’s about putting big smileys next to the ones that you have ticked! We can’t have everything, but we can sure try and be happy, which is half the battle!
Q) Do you have any tips for writers looking to be published?
A) You’ve heard it before but it’s all true.
If I may: never stop writing. Don’t waste time. If your MS is with a publisher, keep going, write as much as you can. Make sure it’s all quality stuff or in any case stuff that you can improve.
Listen to professional feedback and always be courteous and professional in return.
Join writing associations that can help you hone your craft. I’m with the RWA and I love it! Also, I have my precious Matera Brainstormers in Italy- foreigners who’ve chosen Italy as their home or dream-home in any case. Great people who give me plenty of support.
Thank you for having me!
It’s been our pleasure, Nancy. Thanks so much for coming to visit! We wish you loads of luck with the success of your book.
And here's a little more about Nancy...
Nancy grew up in Canada, but at the age of 12 her family moved to Italy. Catapulted into a world where her only contact with the English language was her old Judy Blume books, Nancy became an avid reader and a die-hard romantic.
Nancy stayed in Italy and, despite being surrounded by handsome Italian men, she married an even more handsome Brit. They now live in Sicily where she teaches English. Like Erica, the heroine of The Husband Diet, Nancy is of Italian descent, but she swears that is where the similarities stop. And she’s absolutely never fantasized about murdering her husband.
Nancy has had a number of romance novels published, but The Husband Diet is her first Women’s Fiction book. She is a member of the RWA and a keen supporter of the Women’s Fiction Festival at Matera where she meets up once a year with writing friends from all over the globe.
And the buy links for THE HUSBAND DIET...
Amazon.com // Amazon.co.uk // Kobo.com // Barnes & Noble // US iBookstore // UK iBookstore
Amazon.com // Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com // Amazon.co.uk