Friday, September 23, 2011

Read "Proud Surrender" - My Entry into the New Voices Contest

I managed to get in my entry for the New Voices contest well in advance of the deadline.

Check out my entry, Proud Surrender:

Please vote and comment on it, too, even if you only have "constructive criticism" to offer! :)

And if you're thinking about getting serious about your romance writing, try entering the contest yourself.

Good luck!  (And wish me luck).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Romance is NOT Dead!: New Voices Contest

Today, I just found out that Mills and Boon UK is running their New Voices contest again this year!

Argh!  Just when I was preparing to submit a new erotic romance to another Call for Submissions.  What is a busy romance-writing girl to do?

Ideally, I want to enter both submissions.  Wouldn't you?  The only problem is (and it's a biggie) is that I have barely completed about 10% of the erotic romance story and I have no idea which of my many many (many) first chapters to polish up and submit to the New Voices contest.  Double argh!


Okay, so last year I didn't do too well in the New Voices contest.

This year, before I start tearing up the keyboard, I wanted to do some preliminary work to get my mind thinking c-o-n-t-e-s-t.

My first step in submitting to the New Voices contest is to read over my submission from the last contest and see what the comments were from the folks who took the time to read it.  I want to improve on what I did last year, for sure.

The second step will be reading over the finalists' entries and seeing what they did right.  I don't want to copy what they did, not in the least, but simply get an idea of what makes the winning chapters tick for both the readers and the judges.

Lastly, I think I will check out the statistics on the entries - how many entries were submitted in each sub-category (Contemporary, Paranormal, etc.) and how those entries (as a category) did within the other rounds.  I know, I know, that the winner many not necessarily be chosen from a particular category but I write all kinds of romances and I want to be able to narrow down my decision on what kind of story to enter.

Come on, why don't you enter with me?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Road to Publication - My First Revision Request

This summer, I received my very first revision request.  I was over the moon!

It may not sound like a lot but this was the first time anyone in the romance publishing industry had taken notice of my writing enough to say: hey, why don't you work on this story and get back to us.  It helped that the editor also said that she loved my story. I was literally grinning for days.

But then came the hard part -- actually making the revisions.

Some stuff was fairly easy: fixing a few typos and so on.  The hard part was changing several of my scenes that were guilty of "head hopping" or switching between the points of view of more than one character.  In one scene, I found that I had switched back and forth at least three times!  Ouch.

It was the first time I became aware of my technical writing habits (read: flaws).  Head hopping appeared to be my favourite technique.

It took me weeks to change the scenes to my liking and to ensure that each scene was structurally sound, which meant going through my story line by line, word by word.  It meant re-reading my work over and over, turning a task I usually find enjoyable into a labour of love.

Labour, I did and eventually I succeeded in producing a manuscript that met with my editor's liking.  Let me tell you, those few days' wait between sending off the corrected story and waiting for her to say it was good were a killer!

The process of revising taught me a great deal.  With someone else watching over my shoulder, I recognized my common mistakes and was able to develop a technique for fixing them.  Yes, it's painstaking but it was well worth it to get back that email saying my story looked good.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Writing an Hour a Day

I make a lot of resolutions.  Some almost impossibly ambitious (eat only natural whole foods) and others a little more realistic (submit five short stories for publication every month).

My resolutions usually focus on what I can change (writing, submitting) rather than those goals that are outside of my control (publish more, get accepted by a literary agent).  My mantra is all about "stick-to-it-iveness" (thank you, Principal Skinner).  If I keep creating and putting my writing creations out there, regularly, and strategically, I will eventually be published.  I sincerely believe that.

Oddly enough, I tend to make resolutions all throughout the year, without relying on that anxiety-inducing New Year's Eve fever to start me on my righteous new path.  I make those resolutions, sure, but I also make resolutions in February, March, etc.  Every new season brings a new set of goals.

Many of my resolutions deal with my writing habits.  Write more.  Submit more.  Edit more.  Research more.  Yes...and blog more.

My resolution for the new school year (no, I'm not in school still but I do tend to think the year begins afresh in the fall) is to write for an hour a day.

An hour, you say?  Fie.

Yes, I mean it.  Kinda.

I'll admit that my definition of "writing" will be somewhat loose. I will be perfectly happy if I submit stories, edit, research agents, etc. during my "writing" time. In other words, any writing related effort that I would otherwise be trying to cram into my already packed weekends will now be spread out throughout the week.

The benefit, as far as I can see it, will be inertia. Not a day will go by when I'm not thinking about my works-in-progress and my writing career as a whole.  In addition, it will take the pressure off of me trying to writing for ten hours during the weekend when I need to do things like spend time with my family, see my friends, clean my house and cook.

Will my Hour-A-Day Experiment work?  We shall see.

Come on, try it with me!

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Blogging the Easy Way

Ha. That title must have caught you, didn't it?

I am here to tell you that there is no easy way to blog. Specifically, there is no easy way to blog well.

For one thing, you can't get around the writing. Writing a lot is not writing well. Indeed, the opposite is quite often true.  Everyone has heard the quote where the harried writer, alternatively believed to be Twain or Voltaire, states that he didn't have time to write a short letter so he wrote a long one instead.  The same axiom applies to blog posts.  A long post is often the sign of shoddy research or editing--not knowing (or having the time to determine) what is important, you include every fact or tip that could possibly be important.  Result: a long blog post and an increased chance that no one will read it to the end.  Or, worse yet, you will have lost your message in the tedious confusion of your writing.

That said, I have recently learned of my nomination, by the wonderful Kate Kyle, for a blogging award.  Wow!  I hardly thought folks were reading, much less enjoying, my blog so well.

I am flattered and amazed at the recognition that has come from my little blog that could.  It has fulfilled its original function of reaching out to fellow readers and writers (especially in the romance genre) and it has made me feel much more a part of the larger virtual community of writers, which I now realize is enormous.

Yes, there is no easy way to blog.  You must steal time from the rest of your life, and your writing, to research, write and edit your posts.  If, like me, you started out with the aim of posting every week, this can be an incredible challenge.  But, in the end, I hope you find that your blogging is worth every minute.  Like I just did.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Journey to My First Romance Publication

This is my first blog post in over a month and I am pleased to share a bit of good news that has kept me occupied for that period of time...I have had my first romance short story accepted for publication!

I am thrilled!  And busy!

When I last left this blog, I was deep into the process of preparing and editing my short story for submission into the Total-E-Bound erotic romance call for submissions.  This was, in fact, my very first attempt at writing an erotic romance story, a task I struggled with.

Apparently, I succeeded.

I received a request to make revisions to my story late in July and, after a few weeks of revisions, I resubmitted the story and had it accepted for publication.  I am now in the process of signing forms, giving some input into the cover art process(!), etc.

But, never fear, I will be back on these pages to chart my journey towards this first erotic romance submission, revision process, and acceptance.  I want to share my good fortune with everyone out there and remind you all that success is possible if you just keep at it.  Okay, I will stop myself from breaking into song.

(PS: I am now working on my second erotic romance story...I will keep you posted on that as well).