My advice to an aspiring writer

I posted this to Wattpad a few days ago, and finally real life had calmed down enough that I remembered to post it here, too.

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Read. Read in your chosen genre and outside it. Try to find what works and what doesn’t work in every book you read.

Write. Write absolute crap that you never intend to show anyone else. Rewrite it so it’s a little bit better. Rewrite it again. Learn to love rewriting.

Delete. Don’t be scared to delete 50,000 words if it’s not going where you want it to go. Nothing you write is ever wasted. Every single word you write makes you a better writer, because it’s been a learning experience.

Learn. Learn grammar inside and out. Get a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style, the AP Style Guide, or another style guide and read it. Learn how to structure sentences, how to use commas, when to use semicolons, and so on. You can’t break the rules until you know the rules.

Persist. I’ve been writing stories since I was a child. I’m going to be 44 in a month, and I just published my first book this past July. I constantly let myself get sidetracked with work and other projects, and I was always too much of a coward to submit a manuscript to the slush pile, but I never stopped writing.

I just got the phone call that authors love

No, not the one from a publisher offering me a great contract. This one was from a reader.

I have a great relationship with the veterinarian’s office over at the local Air Force base. They’re professional and friendly, and they’ve kept me sane through unexpected seizures, attempts at faking death (thanks, cat!), and all the usual crises that come with having pets. So when I had some extra copies of my first book, The Longest Night, I brought them over and handed them out.

My vet just called to say that he loved it. “I really didn’t think I’d enjoy it, and I thought about not even saying that, but I really did. When’s your next book coming out? Where can I buy it?”

Talk about a great way to brighten an author’s day!

STARRED review from Publishers Weekly for The Deepest Night!

Read it here! What really stands out for me is this:

Where The Longest Night stood out by demonstrating that consent is sexy, this smashing sequel shows that respectful communication is downright scorching.

For me, consent and respect are two of the most important parts of a relationship. I don’t want to read about a character — hero or heroine — who can’t take no for an answer or who puts down their love interest at every turn. There’s nothing sexy about “you say no, but you mean yes” or being disrespectful.

While I know that a lot of people enjoy “forced seduction” books or say “but it’s just a fantasy, not reality!” that’s not for me.

I really hope that you guys enjoy The Deepest Night. Remember, it’s out on December 6 (the day after my birthday!) but you can preorder it now at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, iTunes, and other major retailers. And it’s been recorded for audible.com by the same narrator who did The Longest Night, Nichol Zanzarella!

Workshops at Northern Arizona Romance Writers of America

Date: Saturday, November 15
Time: 11:00-12:00 (first workshop), 12:00-1:00 (lunch), 1:00-2:00 (second workshop)
Location: Prescott Country Club, 1030 Prescott Country Club Blvd., Dewey, AZ 86327 (928.772.8812)
Cost: Free for the first meeting, guests $5 thereafter, according to their website

My first workshop will be on Natural Dialog, helping writers refine dialog to sound… well, more natural. My second will be on Consent & Condoms, helping writers integrate both into sex scenes without sacrificing spontaneity and heat.

Anyone going to be in Dallas for #RT15 next May?

Me!

I’m registered for the RT Booklovers Convention in Dallas next May! I’ll have more details later, but so far I’m signed up for the book signing event and for two appearances at Club RT.

Currently, I’ll be at Club RT on Thursday, May 14, 10:00 a.m. and Friday, May 15, 10:00 a.m. This is subject to change, though, so don’t mark your calendars yet.

Who else is going? This is a convention for readers, authors, and industry pros, so there’s something for everyone.

Sometimes, we all need a little time to ourselves

Sorry for the silence! Lots of things have been going on over this past month, both good and bad.

Darian bath 004Darian

 

First off, my darling Darian has been having seizures again. He’s averaging one every five days, almost precisely, so it’s time to go back to the vet.

I’ve finished proofreading The Deepest Night and sent it back to Sourcebooks, so we’ll be seeing ARCs soon. There’s also a Goodreads giveaway for ten copies, so go sign up for a chance to win! The Bookish Babes featured The Deepest Night in this week’s Waiting on Wednesday, too.

And The Longest Night is now available for preorder as an audiobook from audible.com! I had a fantastic time working with Nicol Zanzarella, the narrator.

Other than that, I’ve been busy writing. It seems to be a toss-up — writing books or blogs — and books will win most every time. :)

How about you? What’s going on in your lives right now?

Some questions to ask yourself when editing your writing

We all have to reread our work. Self-editing is tough and should never be the only edit pass your writing gets. But if you’re looking to do a first pass on your zero draft, there are a few things you can do to help yourself.

For one thing, you need fresh eyes. You (hopefully) know exactly what you meant when you chose those words to convey that idea. Fresh eyes will help you spot the parts where nobody else knows what you’re talking about, especially if you were writing at 3:00 a.m. Not that I’m guilty of that… Timing will help with the ‘fresh eyes’ issue. After you finish your work, put it down and walk away. The longer you can let it sit, the more fresh your eyes will be.

So, you’ve finished your work. You put it down and walked away for a week or a month. Now what?

Continue reading

Our dogs are members of the family, too

Darian bath 004Darian

This is Darian, our buffalo dog. He’s okay now, but a few months ago, he’d been having seizures. He had another one just this morning. If he follows the same pattern as last time, there may be several others over the next week or so, increasing in frequency, followed by nothing else again for a few weeks or a few months.

I have a prescription for phenobarbital that I can fill, but I’d rather not. It carries risks I’m not willing to take unless we have no other choice. I actually almost put him on it after his last set of seizures — the set that ended with months of seizure-free good health. The phenobarbital would have masked that.

We’re all very lucky to have access to the fantastic vet at Luke Air Force Base. He’s not one to recommend potentially unnecessary or invasive (or expensive!) tests without cause, and he’s great at quickly getting in touch.

Do any of you have experience with dog seizures? They’re apparently more common than one might expect.