Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Nyla Rose's Yuletide Fire Released Today

Why I love Christmas by Nyla Rose

Everyone has their reason for loving this winter holiday. For most it’s the endless gorging on turkey, ham, pies and chocolate. Okay, it’s just me, then? For others it’s the chance to catch up with family, exclaim on how the kids have grown and lament on why Uncle Bill hasn’t given up on the darn pipe smoking already!

For me, Christmas is about one thing – time to read. After all the eating, when everyone is in post-prandial euphoria, is the time when I sneak off with a previously and carefully selected novel. This time is really important, because it’s the only guaranteed time when I know I won’t be disturbed by kids wanting drinks or snacks or toys because there’s someone else around to see to their needs.

I truly treasure this time and on most good Christmas afternoons, I can read a short novel in a few hours.

That, my dear friends, is sheer bliss.

So it was in honor of this yearly event, that I wrote my soon to be published book. And by soon to be published I mean, just three days before Christmas, soon!

Yuletide Fire is one of those stories that sprung up from a single, obscure thought. In this case, it was watching an advertisement with a grumpy old granddad who was fed up with being his family’s go-to person to solve all their problems.

My heroine, Maxine, has relied heavily on her granddad since her formative years. And rightly so – he is her only remaining blood relative.

Unfortunately for her, Granddad has decided to teach her a lesson just before Christmas when her world seems to be falling apart. What ensues, I like to think, is a tale of humour, quirky eccentricity and a heavy of dose of red, hot loving. I hope you enjoy meeting Gabe, Maxine’s hero, when he rides to her rescue.

I attach a little excerpt of Yuletide Fire for your delectation.


 Excerpt – Yuletide Fire by Nyla Rose

Gabe paid and dismissed the cab driver. Grasping Maxine’s hand, he ushered her toward his apartment building.
Absently, he noted the heavier snowfall and wished he’d rented a cottage in the middle of the Scottish highlands instead of a high rise in the centre of London. For what he intended to do with Maxine, a snow bound cottage would’ve come in very handy. Not that she was putting up any fight.
He looked down and saw her face turned up toward the drifting snow. Nose, as cute as an elf’s, wrinkled in childlike delight. His footsteps slowed and he indulged her pleasure, even though his senses clamored for the instant gratification he’d craved since setting eyes on her again. Dressed in that clingy red number with her silky hair and fancy bangles, she resembled a sexy Christmas gift he couldn’t wait to unwrap. As he watched, a bold snowflake danced low and landed on her eyelash, staying there until she blinked. Then it dropped onto her upper lip. With a sleek pink tongue, she licked it away.
Just like that, the urgency was back. Not that it had gone very far.
His hand tightened around hers. The cold of her gloveless fingers registered, and he rubbed them in his as he guided her through the revolving doors toward the elevator.
As soon as the doors shut on them, he turned to her.
Her eyes widened, and she backed away.
He moved in.
She turned to her mirrored reflection in the elevator. Seeing the flakes on her hair and shoulders, she gave a breathy laugh. “I’m covered in snow.”
He smiled inwardly at the silly comment. He moved closer until he stood behind her. Her perfume whispered over him. “Hmm.”
“I love snow.” One slightly trembling hand touched the melting flakes in her hair.
His gaze found and locked on hers. “I can tell.” His own hands slid up her hips to rest on her waist, keeping her in place. Her deep tremor transmitted to his hands.
She seemed unable to look away. “I—I used to get up at the crack of dawn to build snowmen when I was a child. Drove my parents crazy.”
“Yes?” she responded huskily.
“You’re driving me crazy.”
Her pupils dilated. He drew in a harsh breath. Damn, she was still as responsive as he remembered. More so. And crazy at it sounded, her inane babbling about snow turned him on, her smoky voice strumming excitement along every last nerve in his body.
All through lunch, he’d been unable to tear his eyes away from her. When she’d gotten a small smear of cranberry sauce on her lip, the fierce need to leap over the table and lick it off had damn near unmanned him.
Now she was here, in his arms.
The elevator pinged its arrival. Turning, he dragged her after him.
“Gabe, slow down!” she gasped.
“No,” he growled.
Beneath his fingers, the pulse in her wrist leapt. Yes. Plunging a hand into his pocket, he yanked out the key and jammed it into the lock.
           Two seconds later, they were inside.

Happy Holidays and Happy Reading.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Rewriting Miss Fanny

It is
(1) an undertaking of major proportions
(2) totally necessary
(3) taking a long time

The book got to the second rounds of review, according to the editor who was working on it, but in the end she decided to pass. Was I disappointed? Yes After reviewing the story myself, did I agree with her decision? Yes.

The protagonist's love interest was uninteresting.

The mystery didn't progress meaningfully.

The whole premise needed major tightening up.

So, here I am slogging through the middle where the greatest weakness lies. It is slow going. One day this week  actually rewrote 25 pages. After that, I made 10 pages in a day. Then it dwindled to 0 to 2 so far today, and I am being paged by the dog to rise, dress, and take her out, so everything is grinding to a halt. With company coming on Wednesday, I have things to do that don't include writing.

I have to say that this has been a learning experience already. I hope I never get to the point where I think the words that flow from my fingers are sacred and set in stone. I think, if that ever happens, I will have come to the end as a writer. Since I don't want that to happen, I shall continue to be my own toughest critic and consider rejections as the opportunity to do better.

Therein lies the adventure and the promise.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Side Bar

December 14

I need more time to work on the promised links, so bear with me.

Meanwhile, I just received some happy news from Donna! She had recommended that I write and submit to History Magazine, which I did back in the summer. Not having heard from them, we'd been discussing if/when I should query about the status of my submission and how to phrase it. So today she IMed me and asked if I'd emailed, and when I said no, she said, "Don't." It seems my article on china dolls is in the current issue of the magazine!

Needless to say, I'm delighted and will beat it into town tomorrow to purchase a copy at Books-A-Million! This is a paying market, so I can also anticipate a check in the future! Color me happy and encouraged!

I've spent most of the day taking notes from The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture Volume 4: Myths, Manners, and Memory as part of research for the novel I'm hoping to write for the WRP Crimson Rose series, "Jewels of the Night". Though contemporary, it will rely heavily on antebellum history. Also, in today's mail, I received a nice fat 2009 Official Tour Guide for Mississippi--requested for the same research. I'm about to dive into that.

It's been a good writing day!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fan Fiction Part 4: The Future of My Fan Fiction

Most of my fan fiction for the Big Valley Writing Desk centered around the non-series characters I created: Victoria's second husband, Royce Wardell, who owned a shipping business in New Orleans, and their adopted daughter Kate, called KatieBee by her much older brothers and sisters. In what I have come to call "The Kate Chronicles", I have taken KatieBee from infancy to adulthood through a series of stories focusing on major issues/events in her life.

Because they were well-received in the Valley, I decided to resurrect them in the mainstream. Such new life requires a total make-over of characters, at least in name, and setting, so that there is no resemblance to the television series. That's the easy part. Then I had to make the decision about whether or not I wanted to put the time and effort into finding a publisher who deals with children's/mid-grade/young adult fiction. With two novels needing revision before they're fit even for consideration for submission, and a third in the planning stages, I decided I didn't have the time. Too, I have to be realistic and understand that "The Kate Chronicles" are old-fashioned and would, in all likelihood, not find an audience with today's young people.

So the decision is 99% made to undertake self-publication of "The Kate Chronicles" in four volumes:
The Beginning
The Middle Years
The Harvest Years
The Golden Years
Right now I'm looking at a couple of options for cobbling these volumes together at no cost to me and having them available for print-on-demand at various online markets. Then, too, they will be something "extra" to have available when I do book-signings for my traditionally-published books. And, they will make a nice legacy of my fan-fiction days. I loved writing the stories, and I feel there are those who will enjoy reading them.

Why not? The stories are rattling around on the computer, going nowhere, doing nothing. For me at my stage in life, writing is not about making a living and certainly not about being among the "rich and famous". It's about realizing a dream and enjoying myself in the process. Writing, like any craft, has its rules and taboos, but maybe it shouldn't. Maybe the writing life should be lived with (responsible) abandon and joy, taking pleasure in one's personal accomplishment, rejoicing in the accomplishments of others, but never--never!--falling prey to the shaking heads and wagging fingers of those who would say, "But that's not how it's done."

I was taught to consider my options, weigh all possibilities, and stick by the decisions I made. I'm convinced that I'll never regret--and reap a rich reward of joy--in giving new life to The Kate Chronicles. And that's what it's all about.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fan Fiction Part 3: The Changing World of Publishing

The world of publishing is changing, especially because of these precarious economic times. Mainstream publishers are still looking for the Stephen Kings, Dan Browns, and John Grishams, as well as the next blockbuster novel. It's out there somewhere, of course, but it may not be yours or mine! Does that mean the rest of us are doomed to be unpublished? Absolutely not.

As I wrote yesterday, some in the publishing business consider anything put out for public consumption as published--and that includes fan fiction on sites visited only by their members. "But," you say, "I want to be in print--and I want to be paid for what I write." I have no statistics on the freelance writers who make a living, even a comfortable one, but they exist.

But back to the changing world of publishing. Smaller publishers have stepped in to fill the need of authors whose manuscripts populate the slush-piles of mainstream publishers--and they are having great success. Not every novel is a blockbuster--that doesn't mean it's not worthy of being published--and smaller publishers are taking savvy advantage of this fact. It's a win-win situation: authors see their work published and earn money from royalties--and publishers cover their expenses and then some. No, the six-figure advances aren't there, but that simply isn't a deterrent for most of us who consider ourselves writers and just want to write.

E-publishing, still brushed off by some, is a viable option for publishing, especially shorter works. POD publishing, a venue embraced by smaller publishers, makes total sense. Print the books as they are ordered--why spend money before it's guaranteed to come back to you? (Don't bakeries, for example, bake what they expect to sell fresh in the course of a day?)My personal opinion is that this business practice is a brilliant concept. How many of us browse bookstores where unsold books wind up to be sold for discounted prices? (They go in the trash after that, or so I understand.)

Self-publishing is still widely debated. Some authors have chosen this route and then had their novels picked up by a publisher. These cases are, so I'm told,  the exception rather than the rule. That doesn't mean that an author hasn't enjoyed some success otherwise. It is necessary, of course, if one chooses this route, to distinguish between the kinds of self-publishing. With a vanity publisher, you could be out "big bucks" and have cartons of books stacked in your garage from now 'til eternity. Learn the difference.

A savvy author is not in such a hurry to see her name on the cover of a book that she doesn't check out all possibilities. And, writers who want to write, love to write, and are determined to write should never discount or dismiss any possibility--and that includes fan fiction! Get the experience--make lifelong writing friends--hone your craft. It's all good.

Well, it looks like my three-parter is going to become a five-parter!  I still want to discuss the future of my personal fan fiction, and I want to share resources and publishing possibilities with readers of this blog. So stay tuned for Monday and Tuesday!

Monday: The Future of My Fan Fiction

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fan Fiction Part 2: An End or a Beginning or Something In-Between

Yesterday I mentioned that, as I penned my little tales and posted them on the Big Valley Writing Desk, I considered that the "someday" I'd always hoped for hadn't arrived. But in all actuality, it had. If, as many publishers decree, that anything posted anywhere for public consumption is indeed published, then "someday" for me was here as soon as I clicked "post". Was I not fortunate enough to be "published" in the Valley? Was I not more fortunate than authors who put their work other places, even in print, and never receive any comments or feedback?

Once I retired, I realized that the time had come to look seriously at  trying for publication. Right off the bat, one of my BV fan fiction stories--rewritten for the mainstream--won the Editor's Choice award in a contest and publication in an anthology of holiday stories. To say I was elated is an understatement!

So, although I had come to the end of ideas for my fan fiction, I found that the stories had possibilities elsewhere as mainstreamed fiction. The most important point here is that they would never have come into being at all had it not been for the opportunity to write fan fiction.

Consider the character of Victoria Barkley played by Barbara Stanwyck. "Missy" started as a chorus girl, paid very little, uncredited when the productions were advertised, unnoticed by the world at large. But she had a dream, and she knew that she had to start at the beginning and learn her craft, and that's exactly what she did. Without those early years of "hoofing" and barely surviving, would Ruby Stevens have become Barbara Stanwyck? Probably not. Later, she spoke of those days with pride and affection. Everyone begins somewhere.

Writers get all kinds of advice, including "Don't give it away"--but a clip is a clip, whether it is paid or unpaid. It's a matter of opinion and individual choice--and payment often comes in other ways than monetary. Every writer has choices to make about his/her work. However, I believe that giving credit where credit is due is an obligation, not a choice, and that belief spurred this blog topic.

Tomorrow: Fan Fiction Part 3: The Changing World of Publishing and the Future of My Fan Fiction

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fan Fiction Part 1: My Personal Experience

Many writing-related topics are fraught with disparate opinions and perhaps none more than what we call "fan fiction". For anyone unfamiliar with the term, fan fiction is simply expanding on a favorite story, book, movie, or television program--carrying on the story, as it were, with stories of our own. It's a world of fantasy--and let's face it, we ALL like to fantasize about something at one time or another.

My first venture into this realm, although I didn't even know the term at the time, was in 1958 when, at the impressionable age of 14, I saw the musical "South Pacific" and fell in love with love. I spent hours with Nurse Nellie Forbush and French planter Emile de Becque, married and living happily ever after. What did it gain me? Writing experience!

Then, seven or eight years ago, I fell into the wonderful world of the "Big Valley Writing Desk", a place where fans of the television series "The Big Valley" (1965-69) came together to remember, discuss, and write about their favorite characters: Victoria, Jarrod, Nick, Heath, Audra, and the elusive Eugene. Because the show and one of its stars, Barbara Stanwyck, were dear to my heart, I felt I'd come home. Over the years, I probably wrote some 50 or more stories, some of them better than others. I created some characters of my own, namely Victoria's second husband Royce, and KatieBee, the daughter they adopted.

The person in charge of the site gifted the authors with pages of their own on which to display links to their stories. I used to--and still do--click into my page and look at it--and sigh with pleasure. At this point, encouraged by the other "Valley Dwellers", as we called ourselves, I began to write seriously. There were discerning readers there, as well as other authors whose opinion I valued, so I had to work harder at crafting my stories instead of just writing "for my own amusement." Having written all my life and said, "Someday I'll be published", I knew that "Someday" hadn't arrived yet. Nor was I in any hurry for it to arrive. I was content in the Valley. Indeed, every day that I spent there, I was learning and growing. Every comment--positive or negative or perhaps with a suggestion for a different direction--helped enormously.

But better than all of that were the associations I formed--either by meeting a fellow Valley Dweller in person or online. My world expanded, and my life grew infinitely richer with these friendships. Whether we simply shared the love of the television series or an interest in future writing endeavors, we were part of a larger world with ever-growing boundaries. What did I gain? More writing experience and people with whom to share it.

Tomorrow: Part II: Fan Fiction--An End or a Beginning or Something In-Between?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Jana Richards on "Pacing" Your Stories

Perhaps you’ve had comments from an editor or agent such as “your novel moves too slowly.” Or you’ve read a review about a book that raves about its “breakneck speed”. What exactly are they talking about?

They’re talking about pace and it can be the difference between a humdrum book and an engaging read. Or perhaps, the difference between a sale and a rejection letter.

So what is pace? Pace is the speed at which the events in a book move and the speed at which a reader reads. It is also the rhythm of the book. In her article on pacing, Vicki Hinz says that pacing is “using specific word choices and sentence structure--scene, chapter, and novel structure--to tap the emotions of the reader so that the reader feels what the writer wants the reader to feel at any given time during the story.” At some points in the book, the pace will be slow and languid, while at other points the pace will be quick, moving us along breathlessly with the action. In most books, the pace is quicker in the latter chapters than in the first chapters as we race to the finish.

If you think your novel is moving too quickly or too slowly, how can you control the pace in your story? When should you slow down or pick up the pace? (FYI: Jack Bickham, in his book “Scene and Structure” says that after years of teaching writing he found that at least 90% of pacing problems are novels that move too slow.)

If you think your novel is moving too fast. Jack Bickham says that novels are made up of scenes and sequels. A scene is a segment of story action, written moment by moment, without summary, presented on-stage in the story “now”. It is not something that goes on inside a character’s head; it is physical. It could be put on a theatre stage and acted out. Scenes are fast paced.

Sequels, on the other hand, are parts of the story in which the writer explores the viewpoint character’s emotions, thoughts and decisions. The sequel gives our character the opportunity to mull over what just happened to him in the scene, or to think about events in the past. This introspection is generally much slower paced than scenes.

Long stories are created by linking together scenes and sequels in a scene-sequel-scene configuration, although many variations exist. Bickham says that one way to slow down the pace is to eliminate a minor or weak scene and tell about it in a sequel. Another method is to enter a scene somewhere in the middle. For instance, if your scene is a meeting that begins at 7 pm, rather than dramatizing the whole meeting, start it later, beginning the scene with something like, “By 8:30 everyone was exhausted.” Conversely, consider expanding previously unexplored emotional reactions of your characters in a new sequel.

Vicki Hinz says that if you want to emphasize something slow down the pace by fully describing it. That will let the reader know that this event is important. For instance, a love scene is a good place to slow down the action and get creative with description and emotion. Long, flowing sentences and stretches of narrative will slow down the pace.

When you want to quicken the pace. Consider removing a sequel of introspection and thought that slows the pace. If a sequel can’t be completely eliminated consider shortening it. Conversely, examine your story to see if you’ve overlooked an opportunity for an exciting piece of action that you can develop in a scene. In existing scenes, find ways to raise the stakes, increase the conflict, add to the viewpoint character’s desperation or make disasters more disastrous.

In dramatic situations, the pacing must be brisk to help carry the right emotional impact. Here, long sentences or paragraphs won’t work. They’ll bog down the action, and negate any compelling sensation from the drama you’re trying to build. Use dialogue to quicken the pace by giving the illusion of action. Lean writing with strong verbs and short punchy sentences also increase pace.  Sentence fragments are read quickly by the reader and convey a sense of urgency.

One last word about pace. Pace should naturally vary throughout the novel. After moments of intense drama and quick pace, the reader needs a little breathing space with a sequel of introspection. Then after a break pick up the pace again. The closer to the conclusion of the story the faster the pace becomes.

Do you have issues with pacing? What’s your favorite way of picking up the pace?

Jana Richards’ books are available at Uncial Press  http://www.uncialpress.com/lists/author.html#r   , Awe-Struck Books  http://www.awe-struck.net/authors/jana_richards.html  , Amazon   http://www.amazon.com/Jana-Richards/e/B002DEVWWG/ref=sr_tc_2_0 , and All Romance Ebooks http://www.allromanceebooks.com/storeSearch.html?searchBy=author&qString=Jana+Richards  .  Her novella “Burning Love” will be released by The Wild Rose Press on January 20, 2010.  Please visit her at www.janarichards.net  to read excerpts, blurbs and reviews of all her books.  To celebrate the release of “Burning Love” Jana has two contests running on her website.  Please enter!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

"A Very Kate Christmas"

My Christmas story, "A Very Kate Christmas", written as part of "The Kate Chronicles" for the Big Valley Writing Desk and later mainstreamed, is up in the December issue of A Long Story Short. A couple of years ago, it won the Editor's Choice Award in a contest and was published in an anthology of holiday stories, 'Tis the Season. 

 This year, the ezine published twelve of my Kate stories in a special feature column. This story will end the feature because the rest of the stories in "The Kate Chronicles" are much too long and can't really be shortened without affecting the story. I hoping these stories will see print in 2010 and do have a plan. I think they would be good "extras" when I do book-signings or promotions for the books from TWRP. We'll see what develops.

Meanwhile, I've decided NOT to move this blog to my website. The blog page there presented some technical difficulties that I just didn't want to mess with--so I simply set up a page on the website with a link to this blog and some other blog features. Beginning in January (if not before), I plan to blog three times a week. Mondays will be for sharing writing resources/research ideas; Wednesdays for a book reveiw; and Fridays for guest-bloggers.

The invitation to guest-blog is open to everyone who writes--so if you're reading this and you write, I hope you'll consider a guest spot at The Word Place. All I need is your copy and pictures (j.pegs, please) if you have them, and I'll post on a first-come-first-serve basis. I've put out the invitation on TWRP loops and have had one response already.

The rest of you know who you are: Linda, Pat, Donna (and writing friends), Leona, the house elf--and then some local authors, too! I KNOW where to find you!

Remember what's on my homepage--the quote from Margo Dill that inspired me--YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE PUBLISHED TO BE A WRITER! 

Friday, December 4, 2009

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Blogging Elsewhere Today

I'm guest-blogging for Anne Marie Novark  today--her first guest-guest-blogger ever--so check it out!