Writers’ Toolbox: Avoiding The Too Stupid To Live (TSTL) Heroine

I found this article, Avoiding The Too Stupid To Live (TSTL) Heroine, and knew I had to share it. I absolutely hate these heroines! They are the reason I get up and turn off a horror flick. Masochism and women do not mix. Females are supposed to be smarter than this. We do not walk into dangerous situations when there are alternatives that don’t involve going face to face with a sociopath–like sending in the hero to check it out. Before you start screaming sexism, I think it’s stupid for men to do it, too, but unlike women, men have higher levels of testosterone and therefore have a believable excuse for this sort of stupidity.

Six Sentence Sunday #3

Another six sentences from Let Me Lie.

“What Brannon doesn’t know…” I left the rest unsaid, because we both knew if Brannon ever found out, he’d be really hurt, right before he hurt me. Brannon didn’t take betrayal in any form, and that’s exactly what my existence was to him. A betrayal. I should have never taken that job, should have never let myself that close to him.  Let him get that close to me.

Michael laughed and sauntered towards me. He pushed me against the wall a little too roughly for foreplay, but that was alright. I’d show him rough.

Writers’ Toolbox: Autocrit

Editing is never painless, even for those who are good at it. It’s easy to miss the small things like repeated words or slow pacing, and beta readers aren’t perfect. Autocrit.com has been a blessing. This program examines 11 different areas of your writing (pacing, clichés, repeated words, dialogue, pronouns, sentence variation, etc.). Better yet, it’ll examine your entire novel at once to give you an over all picture. Go to the website and give it a test drive, you’ll be amazed by what this program catches.

Writers’ Toolbox: Bookends, LLC — A Literary Agency

Much like Pub RantsBookends, LLC — A Literary Agency is a blog written to help aspiring authors land an agent. These agents know it’s not easy, because they’re the ones that reject hundreds of queries every week. Believe it or not, they are not out to get you, and they enjoy giving rejection about as much as you enjoy receiving it. So do yourself a favor and keep and eye on these blogs and others like them.

Can’t Resist Covers: Evernight Publishing

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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.

Written Right Wednesdays: Alpha & Omega

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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.

This must be what it was like to be fully human.

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.

“My apartment isn’t much,” she said in an obvious effort to break the silence. The small rasp in her voice told him that her throat was dry.

She was frightened of him. Being his father’s chosen executioner, he was used to being feared, though he’d never enjoyed it.

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.

“Don’t worry,” he told her. “I am not fussy. Whatever you apartment is like, it is doubtless more civilized than the Indian lodge I grew up in.”

“An Indian lodge?”

“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.”

She didn’t reply, and he looked for something else they could talk about. Conversation wasn’t his forte, he left that to his father and his brother who both had clever tongues.

“What tribe are you from?” she asked before he found a topic. “I don’t know a lot about the Montana tribes.”

“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?”

She shook her head. Her face so solemn he was tempted to make something up to tease her. But she didn’t know him well enough for that, so he told her the truth.

“Many of the Indian tribes in the Columbia Basin, mostly other Salish peoples, used to flatten the foreheads of their infants — the Flatheads were among the few tribes that did not.”

“So why are they the ones called Flatheads?” she asked.

“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.”

The scent of her fear faded further as she followed his story.

“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.”

“You said your mother was Salish,” she said. “So the Marrok isn’t Native American?”

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

that he’d finally learned that his face wouldn’t crack if he smiled. All it had taken to teach him was an Omega werewolf.

She turned into an alley and pulled into a small parking lot behind one of the ubiquitous four story brick apartment buildings that filled the older suburbs of this part of town.

“Which city are we in?” he asked.

“Oak Park,” she said. “Home of Frank Lloyd Wright, Edgar Rice Burroughs and Scorci’s.”

“Scorci’s?”

She nodded her head and hopped out of the car. “The best Italian restaurant in Chicago and my current place of employment.”

Ah. That’s why she smelled of garlic.

“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.

The anger that being in her presence had dissipated surged back full force at the strength of her fear. Someone had really done a number on her.

“Sorry,” she whispered. If she’d been in wolf form she’d have been cowering with her tail tucked beneath her.

“For what?” he asked, unable to banish the rage that sent his voice down an octave. “Because I’m jumpy around cars? Not your fault.”

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.

“Anna,” he said, fully in control again. “I am my father’s hitman. It is my job as his second. But that doesn’t mean that I take pleasure in it. I am not going to hurt you, my word on it.”

“Yes, sir,” she said, clearly not believing him.

He reminded himself that a man’s word didn’t count for much in this modern day. It helped his control that he scented as much anger on her as fear — she hadn’t been completely broken.

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.

“Besides,” he told her gently, “my wolf is more interested in courting you than in asserting his dominance.”

He walked passed her before he smiled at the way her fear and anger had disappeared, replaced by shock . . . and something that might have been the beginning of interest.

Writers’ Toolbox: SlushPile Hell

When it comes to writing query letters, I cannot tell you what to do. I can explain format and what agents/publishers expect, but there is no secret formula that I know of–if you have one please share the wealth :). What I can offer you is SlushPile Hell, a blog that will tell you things you shouldn’t do.

It might not be a secret formula, but it’s a start.

Dangerous Curves

Draumr Publishing deserves a pat on the back for their Dangerous Curves line, featuring beautiful big women as their heroines. These stories do not focus on women losing weight to gain acceptance or to win the heroes attention, but rather on big women being loved for who they are. Dangerous Curves sells sub-genres of romance including, but not limited to: erotica, paranormal, contemporary, chick lit,  lesbian, adventure, science fiction, historical, fantasy, suspense and horror. It’s about time a publisher realized that not all women are built the same, and neither are all heroines. Big is beautiful, too.

What truly impresses me is that Draumr is accepting genres outside of the normal “humorous” take on curvaceous romance. I like that the book can have a Gothic or suspenseful atmosphere. It’s books like these that will help beat stereotyping, and build the average woman’s self-esteem.

Draumr Publishing is actively seeking stories for this imprint. For more information on the Dangerous Curves imprint, and other themed submissions, check out my page, Open Call For Submissions.

Six Sentence Sunday #2

This Six Sentence Sunday’s excerpt is from my current WIP, Let Me Lie.

“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?””

Writers’ Toolbox: The Association of Authors’ Representation

We have discussed Writer Beware and Predators & Editors. Both are invaluable websites when you’re trying to decide who to query. Another great resource for checking the credibility of an agency is The Association of Authors’ Representatives(AAR). AAR is a nonprofit organization dedicated to setting a standard for agents. In order for agents to gain an AAR membership, they must met certain requirements and agree to the a code of ethics. It’s kind of like a Better Business Bureau for literary agents.

Remember, not all reputable literary agents belong to this organization, and the ones who do aren’t monitored at all times. Make sure to use all resources available to make sure you’re not being scammed.

Writers’ Toolbox: Predators & Editors

Predators & Editors is the place to go when you’re in search of an agent. There are a lot of websites out there that keep a running list of agents, and even searchable databases, but those websites are not always aware of how trustworthy those agents are. Predators & Editors is great about keeping their website up-to-date on which agents are reputable and which aren’t. So, before you send out that query make sure to the check the credibility of the agent your querying.

Writers’ Toolbox: Duotrope’s Digest

I have to thank Caszie for introducing me to Duotrope’s Digest. It’s the go to place if you’re looking to get published in the fiction or poetry market. They have the most comprehensive list of publishers that I’ve come across, and they have a detailed search engine. You just type in all the details of your manuscript, and tada, you have a suitable list of publishers to submit to. Better yet, they have response time stats and acceptance rate stats, and they gather this information through their submission tracker; which could be highly beneficial to you if you’re looking for a way to keep up with all of your outgoing submissions, and publishers you’re interested in.

Written Right Wednesdays: Darkfever

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)

“My philosophy is pretty simple–any day nobody’s trying to kill me is a good day in my book.”

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.

Writers’ Toolbox: Absolute Write & Romance Divas

Writing is networking. If no one reads your material, then what is the point of writing it? The best way to put yourself out there and make connections, is to join a writers’ community. They are the perfect places to meet like-minded individuals, potential beta readers/critique partners, and keep up with the current industry news. My favorites are Absolute Write and Romance Divas.

Take my advice register for an account with at least one of them, today. You won’t regret it.

I Want To See Your Hook

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!