Monday, June 30, 2008

MIDDLES



MIDDLES:

Okay, I've been avoiding the subject of middles, mostly because they are harder for me to write than beginnings and endings. This, I am sure, isn't as tough for other writers, but it is definitely my personal challenge.

I start off a project full of moxy, excitement and enthusiasm. I'm in love with my characters and I know exactly how I'm going to torture them and finally reward them at the end. Then I get to page 150 or so and stare at the blinking icon on the too white screen of the computer and wonder what the heck I'm gonna do now.

I've often gotten the stakes so high that I'm not even sure myself how the heck I'm gonna get my people out of the mess they're in. It's like a raging storm that won't let me see beyond that spot into the resolution.

Worse, there are times when I just run out of steam and loose the energy of the story. My muse runs off to a dark corner and simply will not come out. Times like these I have to start a new project for a while until I get my momenum back. Yep. It's just hell sometimes.

I once thought a crit partner or group would help in the sagging middles but, for me, it just ain't so. They get me off track and send my thoughts out in too many different directions. I do better with crit groups when the work is finished--not in progress.

Right now I have two WIPs, Harmonica Joe's Reluctant Bride (a time travel western) and The Light of Valmora (a dark fantasy). It suites me to have a wide gulf between the two concepts of my WIPs because--well, I'm not sure why except that the extreme differences in the subject matter helps rejuvenate my mopping muse.

Am I the only one who has this problem? Are there other authors out there who cringe at the thought of getting through the middle? Or do most of you sail through the middle dulldroms of your unchartered novels maintaining your quest for the fire of your story unphased by the middle ground?
Sarah McNeal

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Reader/Writers

I still would like to maintain, that after the last three years that I've been finding ePublishers around the place who want to publish my writing, the best part about the ePub industry are the people you come to meet and get to know. It's hardly a controversial statement to make that ePubs open and close, will give you grief and tears of happiness, but the friends you make, people who you can trust to read your work and give you an honest opinion, and the people who's work you can read in return, are the most valuable part of the ePublishing industry, and indeed, the most valuable part of any writer's art.

Having just finished a previous project (a project set after Unity, titled Awakening) which took me the better part of half a year to write to its completion, I have recently started on a new project, the next in that series. I like to think that the series I am creating has something of a Charles De Lint slant. I've spoken about him before. Just check the tags for previous posts I've made about the fantasy author. All of the stories I am writing right now are a part of the same universe, but the characters who are main shift and change and accommodate include new characters that bring new life and interest to a series that I think would be much less if it depended on previous novels.

But these are my novels. Of course I think they are something special.

After coming out the other end of a horrible stint of writer's block, with the help of one of my reader/writer friends, I only want to thank all of the people who are patient with me, who love to read my writing, who love that I read theirs. I think that all of you know who you are. I dearly appreciate you.

Thank you.


Nikki Watson.
http://nikkiwatson.blogspot.com/

Monday, June 23, 2008

New submission...

I was introduced to gay romance by the place I review for. Prior to 2006, I had never read a gay romance, never even knew they existed. Well, what can I say, now I'm hooked! So much so that I decided to try my hand at writing a couple of them. I'm presently working on Doomed to Be Charmed, a paranormal gay romance, and I just finished and submitted to a publisher Homecoming a science fiction gay romance.

Homecoming came about because I wanted to just write something and finish it. I love writing longer novel lengths but sometimes as an author I just want to write and finish something for that feeling of accomplishment you get when you do finish a work no matter how big or small. That can be the beauty of non-fiction articles which I also write, but I wanted to do something fiction. Anyway, this idea popped into my head and the old "what if?" reared its head, and became, "What if a younger man left his lover to see the universe, but then realized that it wasn't what he really wanted? Would his lover who was older, accept him back into his life after five years or would he want revenge for the pain he was caused?" Anyway that's the premise of Homecoming which I really enjoyed writing. It took me about six hours total from rough draft to polished version, but I was very happy with it when it was completed.

I'll be posting here once I hear back from the publisher I submitted it to!

Space: THE FINAL FRONTIER

I just finished watching "When We Left Earth" on the Discovery channel. It was a great series that went from Kennedy's challenge to land a man on the moon in ten years to our plan to send a manned spacecraft to Mars. There have been so many challenges and hazards along the way that some critic have said it's just a waste of money.
I beg to differ.
The space program lifts us up out of our self-focused thoughts, away from disputes between countries and takes us up into the heavens with wonder and awe etched in the skies. It is euphoric to think that we have actually had a man on the moon and that we might some day set foot on the red planet. Humankind have always had wanderlust surging through our veins. We want to know what's out there. Just like Fox Mulner, we search for "the truth" that's out there.
But even if you could care less what is in the universe, you have to appreciate the achievements that have been accomplished. Without the efforts of the space program, there would be no cell phone service, no satellite TV, no GPS,; not even Velcro.
It fills me with excitement as I await the next adventure by man into space.
What about you? How do you feel about the space program? Are you like me, excited and enthused, or do you think it's a big waste of time and money.
Sarah McNeal
Author of THE VIOLIN at Amira Press
THE DARK ISLE at New Concepts Publishing
LAKE OF SORROWS at New Concepts publishing

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ebooks and print books



I have been experimenting with ebooks for the past year or two, because there are books that I have on computer that would probably not have been published. I love writing and write far more stuff than any one publisher would want to put out. So far I have had a best seller in A Shameful Secret/ Anne Ireland/Amira Press. Of course the sales are not anywhere near what you expect from a mainstream papberback or hardback, but it was a book I loved and I am happy for it to be out there. I think on the whole that is the way to look at ebooks for the moment. Enjoy them being out there. However, I am convinced that evetually ebook will overtake print if only to save the trees!




My book Too Hot To Handle, a sensual contemporary as Linda Sole and out with Eternal Press is a book I would never have produced just as it is had it not been for ebooks. I find it such fun to promote. fingers crossed it will do well!




Monday, June 16, 2008

First Sentences, Redux

Last week the lovely Sarah McNeal blogged about beginnings, and the first sentence of each book. Thinking about what to say this week, I decided I'd piggyback off her and share the opening lines to some of my work, and some of my books to read.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte - "I have just returned from a visit to my landlord - the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with."

Great Expectations, Charles Dickens - "My father's family name being Pirrip, and my christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip."

The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner - "
Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting."

I do disagree with Ms. McNeal's statement that stories like these would never sell today. I think the first line is important, true, but not the end all, be all. In fact, it's near impossible to judge a book by its first line. Are we a culture of decreasingly short attention spans? Yep. But I think lovers of books still know the game, so to speak. So here are my first lines:


Svetkavista
- "The night air was damp and cool on her bare arms as she approached the flickering light of the bonfire, a distant beacon lighting her way across the field."

Leading Her to Heaven - "
Lady Susanna Cavendish paced her antechamber like a tiger in the London Zoo."


Caging Kat - "
Kat did her best to suppress a groan as she took a quick survey of the ballroom."


Unspeakable - "
The ballroom was insufferably hot, and Trevor's mood, foul to begin with, was worsening rapidly."


Eyes Like Yours - "
The dream is the same night after night, so startlingly vivid that at times I wake convinced it is real."

A Scandalous Arrangement - "
Anna blinked back the tears that clouded her vision and shook her head, trying to banish the thoughts that plagued her."


Woman of the Forest - "
She fled to the forest."

Reckless Liaisons - "
The horse’s hooves beat a clamorous tattoo against the cobbled streets, stirring the low fog that had settled like a blanket."

A Compromising Evening - "
Bloody hell, he was bored."

Endings

ENDINGS

Just like real life, endings in our books are sometimes dramatic, occasionally sudden, once in a while drug out in like a terminal illness but then, just every now and then, they are sweet, just and better than you ever thought they could be.


I love it when the story gets the main characters into a deeper and ever deeper mess. There just doesn't seem to be any way out, until the characters just throw in everything but the kitchen sink, against all odds, giving it one last shot, all or nothing and then, despite all the cards stacked against them, they come out on top, win the woman or man of their dreams, become the town hero and win the day. Even better, because of their enormous effort and noble character, they win the lottery or find the gold at the end of the rainbow as well as winning their true love and defeating the enemy.


I've written some good endings and some so-so endings. I have two favorites. The first is from the first short story I wrote that was published by Rhapsody Romance back in the day. It's about a woman with a horrible scar on her face who has discovered a way to surgically implant artificial optics to help the blind see. The hero is a man of the future whose people are all born blind--except him. At the very end the heroine is embarrassed that he can see her horrible scarred face. Here is the ending from BLIND INTUITION.


"Oh, Maria," Roth whispered as he kissed me and cupped my face in his hands, "Everything will work itself out."
He brushed my cheek gently with the back of his hand, "And the scar, well, who doesn't have a scar of some kind or other? A scar is just a place that hurt once then healed."


The second ending is from THE VIOLIN published this year by Amira Press. Of course, I might just wait to share that one with you since it would ruin the story for you. But you get my point I'm sure that endings are as important as beginnings. If that story doesn't end the way you promised, readers are going to howl with disappointment and I can't blame them. I've quit reading books by authors who left me high and dry at the end. I read Stephen King's IT. It was a fat book filled with clues about a monster that no one could see but children. There were so many wonderful clues about innocence, water and the lack of response by adults. I knew the end was going to be something spectacular. Well, disappointment reigns because the wonderful clues were just red herrings leading nowhere and the monster turned out to be a lame space spider. Yep. Space spider. That was the last Stephen King I ever read. As much as I respect him, it's like he just got tired of writing the story and dumped me off at the curb.
Endings are difficult to write, as difficult as beginnings. But when it's done right, it's the cake, the icing and the plate!
I hope you've read or written some great endings and I would be glad if you would share those endings with me. Bring 'em on.


All good things to your corner of the universe.


Sarah McNeal






Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Homeless Heiress


The Homeless Heiress/ Anne Herries is my new Regency coming in July from Harlequin Mills and Boon. I have another Regency in December and two more books from Severn House this year. The Lie/Linda Sole is the first in a series called the Family Feud. Forbidden Love/Anne Herries is the third in the Upstairs Downstairs series.


On the ebook side I have just had a book published by Eternal Press. Too Hot To Handle/Linda Sole. They are bringing an Anne Ireland book out in September hopefully, which is a historical time slip. I still have a couple more contracted books to do for Red rose Publishing.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Beginnings



"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." Now that is truly a great beginning in so many ways. But the classics in literature have not always been so wonderful.

Moby Dick: "My name is..."

David Copperfield: "I was born..."

If we started off books like this today, do you really think they would sell? Nope. No way. Granted, the classics got nice and juicy after you waded through the monotony of the first two to three chapters but, in our world, there is a whole lot of competition. We have televisions, movies and video games. On top of that, we have to compete with all the other talented writers.

Writers know that the first line in our story is our one big chance to snatch a reader's interest and the first paragraph must reel them into wanting to know more about our story. We worry over it and suffer if we don't get it right.

I'm right there with the rest of the authors wanting the reader to find my stories entertaining and interesting.

Here are the first lines from my books:

THE VIOLIN: "Genevieve tossed restlessly in the bed, her breath quickening as she fell into the familiar dream."

THE DARK ISLE: "Deep, deep beneath the ancient crumbling stones of the black castle, seated on the Dark Isle in the middle of the Lake of Sorrows, there below the dust and cobwebs lay Mahara, the creature of the Black Blood and the Old Clan."

LAKE OF SORROWS: "Hawk leaned back in his chair and propped his booted feet on Noratuke's saddle.

LIGHT OF VALMORA (WIP): "Death whispered to him its dark, seductive song."

Harmonica Joe's Reluctant Bride (WIP): " 'This place is spooky as hell,' Lola whispered to herself as she climbed the narrow span of wooden stairs in the back of the closet that led up to the attic."

Some of my opening lines are good and some, not so much. I try to improve as I write.

So I invite you to reply with your favorite first lines whether they are your own or by someone else. What grabbed your attention to the book you are presently reading? Did the first line in the beginning make a difference to you?

I look forward to hearing from anyone out there who cares to respond with their favorite first line.

All good things to your corner of the universe.

Sarah McNeal

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Progress on Destiny's Decisions...

Well I've been making some pretty good progress on Destiny's Decisions, this one might actually wind up being quite a bit longer than Destiny's Choices which I think will make fans happy. Especially since so many expressed interest in knowing more about Tiana and James and their lives. I at first didn't think I had much more of their story in me, but as I've been working on the piece I discovered that those who expressed this interest were right, there was more! Amazing how a little thing like a tiny kernal or a few words from those who read the first book could take root and then blossom into a whole other sequel. I may actually finish this one in the next month or so and then it's back to Doomed to Be Charmed.

Stay tuned for an exerpt here pretty soon. :-)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Too Hot To Handle Published!



Too Hot To Handle/Linda Sole/Eternal Press
Sylvie is Vulnerable. Rafe is angry. Sparks will fly!
Available from http://www.eternalpress.ca/

Published 7th June


Enjoy!

Sylvie knew that most of her friends settled for sex and a mutual liking, companionship and someone to share their lives. They went in for relationships that were never intended to be permanent, which might last for a few months or a few years, but would eventually end as one partner moved on to a new relationship.
"Marriage doesn’t matter anymore," was the general theory, and Sylvie had gone along with it, but in her heart she couldn’t help wanting more.
Well, you’re not likely to find it with Rafe Wilde, she told herself firmly. He simply isn’t the marrying kind.
She sighed, then smiled at her own thoughts. Mr. Wilde was just too attractive for her peace of mind.
And yet there had been a moment in his arms when she would have given herself and not though twice about it. Even now there was a tender, sensitized feeling between her thighs, a need that she had never felt before.




Come and friend me at myspace!


Too Hot To Handle Republished


Too Hot To Handle/Linda Sole is published on June 7th by Eternal Press. This is a contemporary romance, level three. the book was first published last year by another publisher that closed shortly afterwards. It went to number one in the contemporary section, but I never did get to know how many books sold. I am hoping it will do well for the publisher this time.


I have another book - Trial by Fire/Anne Ireland coming from Eternal Press in September.


The Homeless Heiress is out with HMB in July in paperback. I now have some books to give away. Visit my website at http://www.lindasole.co.uk/ and enter the competition to be in with a chance of winning. I have quite a few so you could be lucky!


LOL Linda

Monday, June 2, 2008

Patience, Premonitions, and Open Doors

I love my profession. I really do. But there's one thing I could do without: the waiting.

It's a simple fact that the higher up the "food chain" you move, the slower the process becomes. My first book, Svetkavista, was accepted for publication before it was even finished. I began writing it in February 2006, and it was first published in ebook late July of the same year. Leading Her to Heaven was published a few months later in September.

In 2007, I wrote "A Scandalous Arrangement," specifically for a submissions call at Freya's Bower, for a BDSM anthology. About a week after I submitted my story, I received an acceptance. That was one long week!

This past March, I attended the Southern Lights Conference here in Jacksonville, held by my RWA Chapter. I pitched my latest novel, Reckless Liaisons to a few editors and agents. One agent in particular seemed very excited about the idea, and requested a partial with a synopsis, which I rushed home and promptly sent out. The wait this time was over two months.

She got in touch with me last week and passed. It was disappointing, of course, but honestly I think it was the right thing. While she seemed to like my voice and style, she wasn't sold on some of the plot points, but she did ask me to send over anything else I might be currently working on to look at. Unfortunately, I don't have anything at the moment.

But here's why I'm not upset: every author gets rejections. It's a natural part of being a writer. When I was growing up, I rode horses. My trainer used to tell me, "you're not a horseback rider until you've been thrown off at least three times." You fall down, you get back up. I officially have my first rejection! Rather than being crushed I'm thinking, "phew, now that's over with." Will I get more? Probably. But at least that very first one is now out of the way.

Several months ago, good friend Stella Price was interviewed on a radio show, and for the life of me I can't remember the name of it. The host was a tarot reader, and Stella was talking about her own knowledge of tarot. I called in to say 'hi,' and they did a reading for me. The host (whose name I can't remember either) asked if I was working on a book currently. I was working on Reckless Liaisons and had been for some time. Her prediction, based on the cards, was that my current project would be a big stepping stone for my career, and would help take it to the next level.

Perhaps you don't believe in "that stuff." I do. I also feel in my gut that she is right. So rather than be discouraged by Ms. Agent's rejection, I set to work sending out queries to various publishers and agents that very afternoon.

Within two hours I had a response from a certain NY publishing house (which shall remain nameless for fear of jinxing myself), requesting the full, complete manuscript. I could hardly believe it. That old cliche whispered in my mind: When one door closes, another opens. In this case it was certainly true. I rushed into my office, laptop precariously balanced in hand, and printed out all 200 some pages (I'd just bought a new printer the weekend before. Coincidence?) signed my cover letter, scribbled "Requested Material" on the envelope and away it went.

I have hope. I have confidence. I could probably use a dose more patience. All I have left to do now is more of that blasted waiting.

Journals And Journaling



Back in the day, we used to write in diaries. Later, we journaled. It sounds so much more sophisticated to write in a journal than in a diary. My dad was a devote journal writer. I don't know when he started, but he must have started somewhere in his teens. I can't even imagine my dad as a teenager. Anyway, he wrote daily about things like the weather and when he went to work then added only those events that were most remarkable like birthdays, somebody died or someone was born. He was very succinct, no frills or personal opinions allowed. My dad believed so deeply in the importance of journaling that it became a tradition for him to give my sister, Mary, and I a leather bound pocket journal every year at Christmas in preparation of New Year's.

In the beginning, I wrote about boyfriends and the tyranny of my parents. Later, I attempted to write in French to improve my language skills and to keep my sister from being able to sneak a peak and tell my parents of any transgressions from house rules. I gave that up when I discovered I couldn't express myself as deeply in a foreign language.

I saved all my journals in my trunk until I discovered a breech in security and an invasion of my privacy and burned every single journal except the one I wrote in about my father's death.

I started a writer's journal. I find it very beneficial for story ideas. If I see something strange, hear a snatch of conversation that's interesting (yes, I ease drop-LOL) or I observe an intriguing situation, in my writer's journal it goes.

My personal journal has changed tremendously. I only write a few words now and then because the majority of my journaling is done with drawings. I'm no artist. Sometimes I use stamps and stickers but I do draw pictures. I don't do it every day, only when deep feelings come into play and I do most of it in artist's notebooks because they're big enough to really draw feelings. I use colored pencils often. I find that I can relinquish feelings that would otherwise fester and I can do it in a very satisfying way by draw-journaling.

Do you journal? What is your favorite kind of journal--a notebook, a leather bound tomb, a pretty pink journal? Have you ever tried different means of journaling? What kind satisfied you most? I'd be glad to hear your thoughts on the subject.

All good things to your corner of the universe.

Sarah McNeal


Sunday, June 1, 2008

May Contest Extension...

Well originally I was going to choose a winner for my promo goodie package today, but I decided last week that I really want to add more goodies to the package. So...I'm extending my May contest to June 30, 2008 and I hope to get lots more entries and add lots more goodies! Some examples of goodies that will be included are bookmarks, and a CD with several desktop wallpapers created by me in Poser just to name a few. The rest will of course be a surprise! So if you like promo goodies or any kind of goodies and you like to win, then by all means enter my contest, you can find the details on my website in the contest section.

Oh, and don't worry if you live in another country, I don't discriminate. ANYONE can enter my contests. :-)