Everyone loves a freebie, and publishing companies know it. That is why booksellers like Barnes and Noble and Amazon, always have free ebooks on their shelves. It’s a great way to get readers to try new authors, and it’s a fantastic advertising strategy.
While surfing Amazon’s list of limited-time promotional offers, I ran into Lila Dubois’ Lights, Camera…Monsters. I was so excited! I’ve wanted to read this book for months now, I just hadn’t gotten around to purchasing it yet.
Thank you Amazon and Samhain!
It’s no secret that I’m obsessed with beautiful cover art, and I willingly admit that I judge books by their covers. That is why I urge all authors to check out a publisher’s cover art before you send them your proposal. If they don’t take the time to produce good cover, then they’re not marketing your book properly. To help save everyone some time, every Thursday I’ll showcase a different publisher’s artwork.
Below are a few selections from Evernight Publishing.
Novellas are so rarely done right. They either have too much going on or not enough. When novella’s go wrong the characters are lifeless, the plot is none existent, and the relationships feel forced. To avoid this, writers must go about writing a short story in the same way they would write a full length novel. There needs to be rising action, climax, and falling action. There should be surprises and originality, not just sex. Sex is good, even in abundant amounts, but not when the sex scenes feel forced and pointless. It must feel relevant to the plot, and natural for the characters to behave in such a manner.
Today, I’m showcasing Patricia Briggs’ novella, Alpha & Omega. Although, this lacks the steamy scenes we all love, it’s a good example of how to pace and plot your novellas. Even though this is a short story it feels complete and realistic (for PRN and UF, anyway).
She drove well, if a little overcautiously — which trait he didn’t mind at all, though it didn’t stop him from bracing one hand against the dash of the rental. She hadn’t said anything when he told her to drive them to her apartment, though he hadn’t missed the dismay she felt.
He could have told her that his father had instructed him to keep her alive if he could — and to do that he had to stick close. He didn’t want to scare her any more than she already was. He could have told her that he had no intention of bedding her — but he tried not to lie. Not even to himself. So he stayed silent.
As she drove down them down the expressway in the rented SUV, his wolf-brother had gone from the killing edge caused by the crowded airplane to a relaxed contentment Charles had never felt before. The two other Omega wolves he’d met in his long lifetime had done something similar to him, but not to this extent.
The anger and the hunter’s wariness that the wolf always held was only a faint memory, leaving behind only the determination to take this one to mate — Charles had never felt anything like that either.
She was pretty enough — though he’d like to feed her up and soften the stiff wariness in her shoulders. The wolf wanted to bed her and claim her as his own. Being of a more cautious nature than his wolf, he would wait until he knew her a little better before deciding to court her.
He leaned against the door to give her a little more space and looked out at the city lights so she’d feel safe stealing a few glances at him if she wanted to. He’d been quiet, hoping she would get used to him, but he thought now that might have been a mistake.
“I’m a little older than I look,” he said, smiling a little. “Two hundred years ago, an Indian lodge was pretty fancy housing in Montana.” Like most old wolves he didn’t like talking about the past, but, he found he’d do worse than that to set her at ease.
“I’d forgotten you might be older than you look,” she said apologetically. She’d seen the smile, he thought, because the level of her fear dropped appreciably. “There aren’t any older wolves in the pack here.”
“A few,” he disagreed with her as he noted that she said “the pack” not “my pack”. Leo was seventy or eighty, and his wife was a lot older than that — old enough that they should have appreciated the gift of an Omega instead of allowing her to be reduced to this abased child who cringed whenever he looked at her too long. “It can be difficult to tell how old a wolf is. Most of us don’t talk about it. It’s hard enough adjusting without chatting incessantly about the old days.”
“My mother was Salish,” he said. “Of the Flathead tribe.” She snuck a quick look at his perfectly normal forehead. Ah, he thought, relieved, there was a good story he could tell her. “Do you know how the Flatheads got their name?”
“Because the other tribes weren’t trying to alter their foreheads, but to give themselves a peak at the top of their heads. Since the Flatheads did not, the other tribes called us “flat heads”. It wasn’t a compliment.”
“We were the ugly, barbarian cousins, you see.” He laughed. “Ironically, the white trappers misunderstood the name. We were infamous for a long time for a practice we didn’t follow. So the white men, like our cousins, thought we were barbarians.”
He shook his head. “Father is a Welshman. He came over and hunted furs in the days of the fur trappers and stayed because he fell in love with the scent of pine and snow.” His father put it just that way. Charles found himself smiling again, a real smile this time and felt her relax further — and his face didn’t hurt at all. He’d have to call his brother, Samuel, and tell him
“So your opinion is unbiased?” He slid out of the car with a feeling of relief. His brother made fun of his dislike of cars since even a bad accident was unlikely to kill him. But Charles wasn’t worried about dying — it was just that cars went too fast. He couldn’t get a feel for land they passed through. And if he felt like dozing a bit as he traveled, they couldn’t follow the trail on their own. He preferred horses.
After he got his suitcase out of the back, Anna locked the car with the key fob. The car honked once, making him jump and he gave the car an irritated look. When he turned back, Anna was staring hard at the ground.
He was going to have to be careful this time he realized as he tried to pull the wolf back under control. Usually when his father sent him out to deal with trouble, he could do it coldly. But with an Omega wolf around, one that he found himself responding to on several different levels, he was going to have to hold tight to his temper.
He decided that further attempts to reassure her were likely to do the opposite. She would have to learn to accept that he was a man of his word. In the meantime he would give her something to think about.
“The logical part of my brain knew he couldn’t scent the vampire in me, but my nerves didn’t know that. My survival instincts had already decided in favor of flight but the predator had zeroed in, and any movement would be a signal that I was up for the chase. Escape was out the question, but I could distract him. He might be were, but he was still a man.
“It’s Burberry,” I whispered, looking up at him through my eyelashes.
His lazy hold became rigid, and he asked me, with no small amount of suspicion, “Burberry?””
Since we’ve been on the topic of hooks this week, I thought I’d share with you one of my favorites. The Fever series by Karen Marie Moning is superb, and in my opinion Darkfever has one of the best hooks of all time. (Click on the quote for a full excerpt of Darkfever)
Beautiful! There is a reason this book is a bestseller, and it’s Moning’s ability to suck you into the story. Her writing is suspenseful and intriguing. When writing your hooks–scratch that, when writing your entire manuscript, you should incorporate this same atmosphere. Readers want to feel the tension. Make me want to read more. If your first sentence isn’t good enough grab my attention, chances are, neither is the rest of your story. I’m not saying this to be cruel, but you need to realize that first impressions last the longest. Think of Twilight. Why do you think so many people made it through the insanely slow pace of that book? The prologue! It catches your attention.
“I’d never given much thought to how I would die–though I’d had reason enough in the last few months–but even if I had, I would not have imagined it like this.”
Whether you love or hate Twilight doesn’t change the fact that that’s a good opening line, because it makes the reader curious. Who’s going to die? Why? How? What reasons did the narrator have to think he/she would die?
Your hook should create questions, so that people have a reason to move forward.
Every great book has a great hook.
Bad rhyme aside, there’s a wealth of truth in that statement. We live in a fast-paced world, and you have to assume everyone has ADHD. If you want a reader to get past the first page, you have to grab their attention and hold on to it. Nothing does this like a great hook. Unfortunately, there is no recipe for greatness. As my Mama would say, “it either is one or it ain’t.”
The question is, how do you know if it’s a great hook?
The only way to really test your hook is to let others read it and be the judge. That’s what this post is for. In the comments, post your hook (one to two sentences) and your blog/website address(preferably to an excerpt or blurb, if you have one). I will post everyone’s hook in a new post, and you’ll see how intriguing your hook is by the number of hits your link gets. And even if your happy with your hook, this is a great why to advertise.
So show me your hook!
Adam Hauptman is alpha of the Columbia Basin Pack. He has a strict moral code, and a hot-temper. Anyone who knows him knows where he stands on any issue, and how he will react to a threat. Adam is loyal, brave, and a complete control freak.
Occupation: Owns a security company
Weaknesses: His daughter, Jesse, and a hot temper
Special Qualities:immortal, ex-military, raised in the south, and he’s fourth in line to become Marrok (the lead alpha position).
I am eternally indebted to Patricia Briggs for brings me the Mercy Thompson Series, and if you haven’t read it yet, shame on you! It’s wonderful. Adams great, but Mercy is better. She’s my favorite heroine of all time. She’s not whinny or overly feministic. She has that balance.
It’s sounds like a bad horror film, and if you’ve ever written you’ve one, then you know that’s not such a bad comparison. Blurbs are hard work. You have to sum up the concept of the plot, introduce the characters, and engage your readers in two paragraphs or less. It’s enough to make any writer consider a career change. I wish I knew of some secret formula to make writing blurbs easy, but there just isn’t one. The best advice I can give you is to familiarize yourself with as many blurbs as possible. Writing is a “watch and learn” process, so browse your local bookstore and pay close attention to the blurbs. Which ones catch your attention? Why? Which ones didn’t?
Their wolves are howling at the moon. Their human halves are on different planets.
Takhini Wolves, Book 1
Lone wolf Shaun Stevens’s automatic response to the words “happily ever after”? Kill me now. Yet with all his friends settling down he’s begun to think there may actually be something to this love-and-roses crap.
One thing’s for sure: his dream mate will have to out-cuss, out-spit and out-hike him. So he never expected the one to push his forever button would be a blue-blooded Southern debutante with a voice as dark and velvety as her skin.
When Gemmita Jacobs steps off the plane in Whitehorse, Yukon, it’s about more than her caribou research project. It’s her declaration of independence from an overprotected upbringing. Except there’s something in the air she can’t quite define—something that unexpectedly rouses her mating instincts.
Moments after their eyes lock, the deed is done—and done thoroughly. When the pheromone dust settles, though, all the reasons they don’t belong together become painfully clear.
It’s enough to make a wolf learn a whole new set of cuss words…
Two strong wolves getting exactly what they deserve. Includes wilderness nookie, shifters being naughty in public places, the Midnight Sun as a canopy for seduction and grizzly shifters on the loose. Oh, and don’t forget the sarcasm.
Landing an Agent is no small task. It takes hard work, dedication, and a little “know how.” If you’re manuscript is in agent-ready condition then I’d say you’ve already mastered hard work and dedication, now you need someone to show you the ropes. Agent Kristin Nelson is just the woman you’re looking for. Nelson is the President and Senior Literary Agent of Nelson Literary Agency, LLC. She’s represented bestsellers such as Gail Carriger, Ally Carter, Sara Creasy, and Sherry Thomas. She’s experienced and successful, which makes her blog, Pub Rants, a must have. Nelson keeps it updated with the latest news in the publishing industry, and helpful pointers on how to land your own agent. Give it a click, you won’t regret it.
The most damaged heart can fly with the right pair of wings.
Madelyn’s life is far from fairytale perfect. She is second in line for the throne of a corrupt, brutal monarchy. Or at least she was until her dark guardian sacrificed his life to hide her safely in a realm of infinite possibilities.
For years she’s lived among a colony of escaped slaves as her guardian’s widow. Even in this simple life, though, nothing is as it seems. Her hero kept a secret—a younger brother named Clayton Delaney. Warrior, winged demon…and the man who now wants to lay claim to her heart.
No longer cast in his brother’s shadow, Clayton meets all obstacles head on, including one named Maddie. His infatuation with her reaches the breaking point when she undergoes a royal rite of passage, going into heat and pushing them both over the edge.
Just as Maddie learns that some risks are worth taking, she discovers that her guardian may be alive. And she’s forced to make a choice between the man she’d thought she loved, and the demon willing to lend her his wings.
This book contains virginal angst, a hero who’s too nice for his own good, wings, claws, and convenient use of glamour. It contains heartbreaking loss, conversation with a woodland creature, and sweet, sweet demon loving.
I had the pleasure of beta reading Hailey Edward’s Everlong, last year and I was very impressed with it. Hailey is an amazing writer and I can’t shout enough praises for this book–and I read the draft! I just placed my ordered for a paperback copy, and I plan to reread it this month. If you’re in the mood for a sweet romance that is both suspenseful and satisfying, then you should grab a copy, too.
Breaking into the romance market seems impossible at times. There are so many wonderful, published authors that it feels like there is no room for newbies, especially those of us who are unagented. Well, I have good news for you!
There a few online/small press publishers looking for manuscripts from writers like me and you. Anything from full length novels to fun-sized novellas, are accepted regardless of your credentials. No, this probably isn’t your shot at becoming the next New York Times Best Selling Author, but it is the foundation. Any previous publications look good in your query letter, and having something like this on your résumé just might make the difference to that agent you’ve been dying to snag.
So check out my Open Call for Submissions page, and see if there is anything there that interests you. I’ll update this page monthly for those of you who are interested. Also, I’m compiling a list of romance publishers and their criteria. I plan to have that page published July 10, 2011.