January 22, 2013

On Launches & Legacies

Filed under: Backstory,The Writing Life — jenny @ 8:36 am

It’s been four years since I started blogging, and this site has been quieter over the past week than I think it was since the day I launched it.

Launch. There’s that word.

I began blogging at my husband’s behest in 2009. I was far from the first, but blogs weren’t quite as ubiquitous then as they are now, and my husband, a tech guy, wanted me to jump into the pool while there was still water left in it.

I was wary, though. After all, who was I to write a blog? After a whole decade of writing novels and querying agents and trying to get published, I still hadn’t broken in. I wasn’t a writer…I was a failed writer.

I solved my problem in two ways. If I invited other authors to contribute posts, then I wouldn’t have to put myself out there. And if I sought in those posts some source of wisdom, perhaps I could glean nuggets that would help me along my own journey.

Mysterious BookshopThus was born the Made It Moments forum. Over 275 authors have to date answered the question, “How did I know I’d made it?”

The funny thing is that every single one of these posts is utterly unique, and every single one says the exact same thing.

“I haven’t.”

Over the past week, a lot of wonderful friends and writers and readers I’ve come to know–in no small part due to blogging; thanks, husband, you were right–have written to say things like, “Congrats on your Made It Moment!”

You see, after that decade-long struggle, and then another four years thrown in, my debut novel was published just last Tuesday. After fifteen almost-offers, and more no’s than I can bear to count, my eighth novel finally found its way to the brilliant editor who could help me become the writer I always wanted to be.

But like all the authors who have been kind enough to appear on my blog, I don’t feel I’ve made it. I haven’t even gotten close enough to write a post about how I haven’t really made it.

The Bookstore PlusWhat have I done? I’ve launched. Like birds leaving the nest and six year olds starting school and marathoners getting to the starting line, I now have something that I can bring to you, that I can try to do myself.

What about you? Have you launched anything lately, or do you hope to? Please tell me about it. Please join me in my hopeful march to the Made It Moment.

January 14, 2013

Guest Post: Richard Godwin

Filed under: The Writing Life — jenny @ 9:41 am

The Secret Hour

Back for Part II of a Double Feature, is Richard Godwin, wisest man on the web. Richard’s post the other day

contained insight about the two different publishing paths today. While this post delves into another pretty hot topic–can we say, 50 Shades or Why Erotica is So Hot? Best yet, one lucky commenter will win a beautifully wrapped copy of Richard’s earlier crime novel, Mr. Glamour. So dive on in, share your thoughts, and be entered to win!

Richard Godwin

I blame Paris Tongue, that fiery blonde seducer, the gigolo who meets his lovers in the Secret Hour. He knows all about making it. His success is the cause of the chagrin of many husbands, although it is never his indiscretion that is in question. It seems we are riding the crest of a wave at the moment where erotica is concerned.

When I was contracted by Italian publisher Atlantis to write a Noir erotica novella for their Lite Editions I penned “The Secret Hour”. It centres on a character named Paris Tongue who is proving as popular with the readers as he is with the ladies in my prose.  Now I am sure if you asked my seductive protagonist if he thinks he has made it he would dismiss the notion, since such conceit would deprive him of his appeal, as he seeks new conquests. He would say each women needs to be treated as if she is the only one, and while confidence is key to his character, he would never assume a lady’s virtue was easy picking. He would also waive any contractual obligations to his lovers.  How did he come about?

“He was the bastard child of a killer, and he had survived by trading on his looks and sexual knowing. He’d inherited money from a wealthy uncle at an early age when his exotic fragile mother had fled with an Arab prince to settle in Dubai where after several miscarriages she bled to death one day on an ottoman.”

The premise of Lite Editions is that each novella focuses on a city. “The Secret Hour” is set in London. It describes many of the most beautiful and luxurious parts of London, such as Mayfair and Piccadilly, the locations where Paris carries out his seductions:

“They shopped at Burlington Arcade, ordered there by Lord George Cavendish, on what had been the side garden of his house, reputedly to stop passers by throwing oyster shells over his wall. Paris bought Viola a cashmere cape from Ana Konder….”

The atmosphere of the city imbues Paris’s sexual encounters.

I have now written the sequel, “The Edge Of Desire”, which is set in Paris, suitably, since my hero takes his name from the city. And while the first episode of his sexual adventures sees him seduce the wife of a gangster who is stalking them, the second sees him discover something about himself as he profits from his looks. Paris is about to travel the world, and each city he visits acts as a backdrop to his sexual exploits. Cities all have their own atmospheres, their own sexual natures.

London features heavily in my second novel, “Mr. Glamour”, which was published in paperback this April. It has its share of erotic scenes and is packed with beautiful women in exotic settings. While I am known for writing crime and horror fiction, I do enjoy other styles. And so a gigolo who signs nothing has enabled this author to sign a mini-series.

Richard Godwin is the author of crime novels Mr. Glamour and Apostle Rising and is a widely published crime and horror writer. Mr. Glamour is his second novel and was published in paperback in April 2012. It is available online at Amazon and at all good retailers. Mr.Glamour is Hannibal Lecter in Gucci. The novel is about a glamorous world obsessed with designer labels with a predator in its midst and has received great reviews.

January 11, 2013

Made It Moment: Victoria King-Voreadi

Filed under: Made It Moments — jenny @ 10:15 am

Interrogation Tango

This Made It Moment raises several questions that have, from time to time, occupied corners of my mind. Lesser: How *do* writing teams collaborate without throwing their coffee cups (virtual or real) at each other? Greater: What does history do with its cultural atrocities? How do we ever put them down? And of particular interest to me right now: How do we find what we’re meant to do, the path we’re supposed to be walking?

Victoria’s Made It Moment concerns all three, and that is no small feat. I hope you enjoy it.

Victoria King-Voreadi

Getting published is a long and winding up-hill road strewn with difficulties, disappointments and “made it” moments of varying magnitudes.  Were there a Beaufort/Richter scale for writing success then a Pulitzer or Palme d’Or would be a 12, while completing your tax return would rate a 1.  Meeting Donald Schwarz was a life event impossible to rate on any scale.  The ultimately film noir convergence of a darkly comedic curmudgeon and a sarcastically cynical 6ft. “shiksa showgirl” was bound to produce something “not quite ready for prime time” but nonetheless fascinating.

Interrogation Tango was Don’s obsession even before we met.  I originally read it as a slim screenplay (under a different title).  The idea was great, the dialogue intense, but all of the characters had the same voice, Don’s.  He had projected parts of himself onto both Georg Elser and Arthur Nebe, and the Burger Brau Keller bombing was the sort of audacious act he himself aspired to, he simply didn’t have a cause.

“Mathematics is detective work with an imaginary perp…” was one of Don’s favorite lines.  Our challenge was to make the characters come alive without forgetting that Elser, Adolph Hitler and Arthur Nebe were certainly not figments of anyone’s imagination.  We had three key questions to answer in order to develop a realistic yet entertaining story that respected but was not totally confined by fact:

What sort of an individual could have done what Elser did?

What sort of men comprised the “Middle Management” of the Third Reich?

In what ways is history deliberately distorted and/or abridged by the last left standing?

Peter Riva of International Transactions told us “Congratulations you now have an intelligent and engaging tale on your hands.”  October 19th 2010 is when I knew we would get published… now hurry up and wait!

Victoria King-Voreadi’s favorite game was always “What if”. She studied dramatic arts in Los Angeles, then after a mediocre play Robert De Niro gave her some advice: “Kid, in L.A. you’re just another tall blonde who wants to be in show business. Go to Europe, get some culture and figure out what you really want from this industry.” Greece seemed a logical place – home of the muses, birthplace of arts, sciences and philosophy. She wrote funding grants for EEU Media Programmes, scripts, travel articles, edited and translated manuscripts. In 1994 she met Donald Schwarz. Just like every oyster needs an irritating grain of sand in order to form a pearl, Donald and Victoria have been irritating the hell out of each other for years. She asks: “Is our book Interrogation Tango a pearl?”

January 7, 2013

Guest Post: Lois Winston

Filed under: The Writing Life — jenny @ 11:59 pm

Revenge of the Crafty Corpse

Having just been lucky enough to get to see the revival of Annie on Broadway (Christmas gift; thanks, mom!) I have a third figure from history in my head. If you’re wondering who the first and second figures are, well, you’ll meet them in a moment in Lois Winston’s returning guest post.

But first let me give you FDR’s quote: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

Lois has faced some huge writing and publishing mountains. And if she feared them…well, she got over it, with wonderful results for her readers. Lois, as we enter this new year, I wish you everything good in it.

Lois Winston

Leo Tolstoy said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

I totally disagree. My life has been a series of changes, some precipitated by me, some thrust upon me. Circumstances change, situations change, we change to adapt to these changes. The only thing that is certain in our lives is uncertainty. As Old Blue Eyes said, you can be riding high in April, shot down in May. (And when was the last time you read a blog post that mentioned both Leo Tolstoy and Frank Sinatra?)

When Jenny invited me to guest once again on Suspense Your Disbelief, she suggested I write about “walking both publishing paths.” And that got me thinking about the changes that have occurred in my life since I first decided to write a book.

Like Jenny, my path to publication was anything but instantaneous. It took me a decade –  almost to the day that I first sat down to write – to sell my first novel, Talk Gertie To Me, a humorous take on the relationship between a mother and daughter. Along the way I learned quite a bit about both writing and the world of publishing, so much so that shortly after I sold Talk Gertie To Me, the agency that reps me invited me to join them as an associate. Within the span of a few months I went from being an unpublished writer to a published author and a literary agent. Huge changes.

As any published author will tell you, selling a book is no guarantee of sales of future books. After the publication of my first book and my option book, the romantic suspense Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception, I made the decision not to publish any more books with that publisher. This was one of those take-a-deep-breath-and-do-what-you-know-you-need-to-do changes.

Unfortunately, the publishing industry was also changing at this time, and publishers were hot for books in genres other than the ones I wrote. “Hot” being the operative word here as erotica and erotic romance were becoming all the rage.

At the suggestion of my agent, I began to write a crafting mystery. Another change for me. The result was Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in what was to become my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. Today is the official release date of Revenge of the Crafty Corpse, the third book in the series.

But this wasn’t the end of the changes, either for me or the publishing industry. Many authors were beginning to have success with independent publishing, both with their backlists and never-before-published works. Once upon a time the thought of self-publishing would never have occurred to me. However, I was sitting on two out-of-print backlist books and several manuscripts that had received rejections, not due to the writing but for being the wrong manuscripts at the wrong time.

So this past summer I took the indie plunge. I brought out the unpublished works under a pen name, Emma Carlyle, because I didn’t want to confuse the fan base I’d built for my mysteries. Mystery readers read to solve whodunit; romance readers read for the relationship between the hero and heroine. I also published my two backlist books, two novellas, and a non-fiction book.

One of the novellas, Elementary, My Dear Gertie, is both a sequel to Talk Gertie To Me, and a cross-over, plunging the characters from my humorous women’s fiction novel into a mystery. Crewel Intentions is a short story featuring the protagonist from my mystery series.

And finally, there’s Top Ten Reasons Your Novel Is Rejected. This is a book that came about from teaching workshops and continuing education courses. After years of students telling me I should write a book on the subject, I finally did. The book contains much of what I’ve learned from my years as both a literary agent and a published author.

As I write this, I’m in the midst of more changes, having once again made a difficult take-a-deep-breath-and-do-what-you-know-you-need-to-do decision. I’m hoping for a positive outcome, but whatever happens, the one thing that’s certain is I’m changing once again. Tolstoy was so wrong.

Award-winning author Lois Winston writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series featuring magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Kirkus Reviews dubbed it, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” Death By Killer Mop Doll was released this past January. Crewel Intentions, an Anastasia Pollack Mini-Mystery is now available as an ebook, and Revenge of the Crafty Corpse is a January 2013 release.

Lois is also published in women’s fiction, romance, romantic suspense, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. In addition, she’s an award-winning crafts and needlework designer and an agent with the Ashley Grayson Literary Agency. She’s also the author of the recently released Top Ten Reasons Your Novel is Rejected.

January 3, 2013

Guest Post: Richard Godwin

Filed under: The Writing Life — jenny @ 4:34 pm

Mr. Glamour

I’m always excited to welcome an author back to the blog, especially when he has become a real friend in the writing world. Richard Godwin hosts one of the deepest interview series I’ve seen on the web, and his Made It Moment appeared here not too long ago. Richard thinks about the world in ways that bone right down to its very core, and this dimension comes through in both his fiction, and his perceptions about the industry. Read on to get a flavor of both.

Richard Godwin

As my second novel Mr. Glamour makes its way in the world, I am once more reminded it’s a big ocean of literature out there. I have been writing professionally now for two years and started as a produced playwright in London. I write in a range of styles but my crime and horror fiction is what sells.

If I were to give any advice to young or aspiring writers I would say this. Write every day and read the authors who speak to you. Read them and ask yourself how they achieve their effects.

What has being published as a crime and mystery author taught me? For one, the hold the big publishing houses have had on publications has been challenged by Amazon and the rise of the E Book. What do I make of the revolution? I am in favour of it. I used to read reviews and many times bought books based on recommendations only to be disappointed. I often found books by unknown authors which I thought were brilliant. When any industry has a monopoly on taste it inevitably churns out the formulaic and the staid. That for me has nothing to do with why I write.

I write because I love it and because it is a process. You can never reach a ceiling.

This is an exciting time for new writers. I say this as someone who is traditionally published. The E Book has opened the door for many writers to reach an audience. So I say to new writers out there make use of the present time. Find your audience.

Some reviewers are going to hate what you do. If you pay attention to them you will miss out on the point of writing, and that is to find your own audience.

An illustration of the economics behind publishing comes in the form of the recent revelations about price fixing. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Department of Justice plans a suit against five publishers and Apple for colluding to raise the price of electronic books.

It will be interesting to see how this pans out. That kind of tactic doesn’t care for the reader and indicates that profit is driving the bus. But writing is a qualitative enterprise and when an industry attempts to impose quantitative standards on that, things suffer.

My debut novel Apostle Rising did well last year, got great reviews, and sold foreign rights in Europe. I hope Mr. Glamour does as well. It’s about a glamorous world of designer goods, beautiful women and wealthy men and a killer who is watching everyone.  It was released last week by Black Jackal Books and is already picking up great reviews.

Richard Godwin is the author of crime novels Mr. Glamour and Apostle Rising and is a widely published crime and horror writer. Mr. Glamour is his second novel and was published in paperback in April 2012. It is available online at Amazon and at all good retailers. Mr.Glamour is Hannibal Lecter in Gucci. The novel is about a glamorous world obsessed with designer labels with a predator in its midst and has received great reviews.


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