Sunday, September 28, 2008

Breakout Book

I'm reading Donald Maas's Writing the Breakout Novel. Have you read it? It's challenging my story ideas, which of course is Donald Mass's point. You don't want to write A Story; you want to write A Breakout Story.

Donald Maas asks a lot of pointed questions, including:
- Why are you writing this story?
- If you stopped writing this story, why would it matter?

Hmmm. Good questions. Can we answer them? I'll go first.

I usually find the purpose for the stories I write in the themes the characters are trying to convey. I think I may have mentioned that before. If I have trouble with a scene, I go back to my theme.

For example, in my last romantic suspense, On Fire, the theme is trust. I wrote the story to express my belief that trust is a vital part of any relationship. If I didn't write that story, I wouldn't be able to express how a lack of trust could destroy a relationship.

In my contemporary romance, which I just completed, Sweet Deception, the theme is identity. That story is important because the conflict is one a lot of people, especially women, experience. Do you define yourself or do you allow others to define you? In addition to entertaining readers, I hope the story inspires those in similar situations to define themselves.

What about you? Why are you writing your story?


Monday, September 22, 2008

Industry news

Author Cindi Myers provides a free monthly e-newsletter that provides information on the publishing industry - updates on what publishers are looking for, personnel changes, contests, etc. If you're interested in subscribing to this newsletter - it's free - send a blank e-mail to cynthiasterling-subscribe@yahoogroups. com. In the meantime, I've pasted the parts of Cindi's September e-newsletter that pertained to mystery, suspense, crime and thriller publishers below.


Mystery Writers of America and St Martin's Minotaur is sponsoring a Best First Crime Novel competition. The grand prize is a $10,000 advance and publishing contract with St Martin's Minotaur. The contest is open to any writer who has not previously published a novel. You must submit a manuscript of at least 60,000 words in which a crime is at the heart of the story. Entries must be postmarked by Nov. 30, 2008. Details are available at or (Last year this contest received only 400+ entries. So far this year, submissions are down, so your odds are good.)

Benjamin LeRoy founded Bleak House Books in 1995. The Madison, Wisconsin-based company publishes approximately 20 titles a year, focusing on crime fiction and dark literary fiction. These are character-driven stories featuring flawed protagonists. Several Bleak House titles have been nominated for Edgar awards. The company will consider unagented submissions, though they want to see a query only at first. Detailed submission guidelines -- be sure to follow them -- are available at Also, check out the blog and some of their upcoming titles to get a feel for what they're looking for.

Daniela Rapp is an editor at St. Martin's Press, where she acquires thrillers, mysteries, literary fiction and upmarket women's fiction, as well as narrative non-fiction. St. Martin's press accepts only agented submissions.

Faith Black is an associate editor at Avalon Books. Avalon publishes romance, mystery and westerns, in hardcover, primarily for the library market. Avalon stories contain no graphic violence, no swearing and no sex -- "good stories and wholesome entertainment." The books are short -- 40,000 to 60,000 words. Avalon accepts unagented material. See their submission guidelines at They also have an FAQ page with a lot of useful information.

Denise Little, executive editor at Tekno Books has worked in almost every aspect of the publishing industry. She was the national book buyer for Barnes & Noble before she joined Kensington Publishing in 1993, where she oversaw her own romance imprint, Denise Little Presents. She has been executive editor at Tekno Books since 1997. Tekno is a book packager. A packager acquires and oversees projects that are then sold to various publishers. Tekno acquires titles for Five Star Books. Like Avalon, Five Star publishes hardcover titles, primarily for the library market. Five Star Expressions is the company's romance and women's fiction line. They're looking for 75,000- to 100,000-word manuscripts in any sub-genre of romance, including contemporary, historical, inspirational, sweet romance, romantic comedy, romantic suspense, time travel, fantasy and paranormal and gothic romance. They will also consider chick lit. They also publish women's fiction. . Five Star also publishes mystery of 75,000 to 100,000 words. They are interested in cozies, private detectives, hard-boiled mystery, suspense, techno-thrillers and historical mystery. They pay a $1,000 advance against royalties. They accept unagented submissions, but not simultaneous submissions. They accept e-mail submissions only. For guidelines and more information, e-mail Rosalind Greenberg at


Good luck, and happy writing!


Friday, September 19, 2008

The Other Call

I know. I know. I've been seriously shirking my blogging duties. I didn't mean to disappear. I had a really good excuse. I've been writing my hiney off working on two books. Or at least I was, until I got a call last Friday that changed everything. It was the call the every author dreads. While I was rushing to finish book five in my Kendra Clayton series, my agent called to inform me that my publisher, Kimani Press, has decided not to publish my next book, which was scheduled for a 2009 release. The official reason given was that they're moving in a different direction towards edgier, sexier books. My little small town murder mysteries don't fit in with this new direction and apparently weren't cutting the mustard sale wise, either.

Honestly, I saw this coming a mile away. Back when I was first told my fourth book was being postponed I had a sinking feeling something was up. If you follow the publishing world as closely as I do, you learn that postponed usually ends up meaning cancelled. But I remained hopeful and kept writing. As for what will happen with my series I can't say anything for certain except that Kimani Press is out of the picture. Whether I can find a new publisher for the series remains to be seen since I've heard it's really hard to find a new publisher for an existing series. But I remain hopeful. I'll keep you posted ; ).

Have a great weekend!


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Coming back

I'm sorry I've been missing in action for the past two weeks. That wasn't my intention at all.

The draft for my contemporary romance, Sweet Deception, was due to my editor Labor Day, Sept. 1, 2008. I made my deadline with five minutes to spare. But that rush to the end gave me a tension headache and eye strain. Or maybe the headache was a byproduct of the eye strain.

I thought a nap would help me feel better. I'd planned to start my next two projects - a romantic suspense proposal and the proposal for my second contemporary - after the nap. Silly me. I needed a lot more than just a nap.

Have you ever been completely wiped out after completing your manuscript? I felt as though my nerve endings had been fried. Although I was really tired after the long days of heavy revisions, I felt edgy and restless the entire week. Does that sound familiar?

Some people say they're depressed after completing their manuscript because it's hard to leave their characters. I don't feel that way. I'm excited to have told my characters' story. I love this book, and I really hope my editor does, too. But now I'm ready to move on to the next project. I feel as though I'm finally coming back to myself.

How do you feel after completing your manuscripts, and how do you celebrate your accomplishment?


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