Posted in Circle of Desire, My Books, Odd Observation, Reading, Recommendations, The Circle series

Stories from Dark to Light

Readers are really benefiting from all of the independent publishing. You like dark romance, you have your choice of how dark. Want a romantic comedy? Yep, you bet your sweet bippy they’re out there. How about erotica? What type? BDSM? Of course, sir. Age play? Yes, Papa. Have a fetish? There’s a book out there for you. Historical or paranormal? Or both? Or everything above? Goodness, yes.

I love all kinds of romances, but I’m still old fashioned about one thing. My heroine or hero (read or write) cannot be married to another when the relationship is starting up or going on. Oh, yes, there are romances out there like that. Crazy, heh?

CircleofDesire mm cI love marriages of convenience (historical or contemporary), male – female spy teams, cowboys (historical or contemporary), and reverse roles (like my book Circle of Desire, the heroine was the dangerous assassin). Most of my reading and writing is dark, though I do enjoy reading romantic comedy on occasion. But the hero or heroine cannot be or act stupid. Bad or dumb luck is okay.

As I like to do every once in a while, here are some recommendations.

Lucas: A Cold Fury Hockey Novel  By Sawyer Bennett:  I do love this series. This book is one of her best. Such an unusual heroine. She has issues I can relate to. A great guy hero. Sweet story. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hot. Just lots of feels.

Alien Slave Master series by Samantha Cayto (The Captain’s Pet, The Rebellious Pet, The Untamed Pet, The Captive Pet, The Inconvenient Pet, The Undercover Pet.) Now be aware, these are not for everyone. So go with caution. Be sure to read the excerpts the on-line booksellers provide. The author did a great job on the emotions, and there was a wide spectrum.

I’m presently listening to the audio of Louise Bay’s The Empire State Series: A Week in New York, Autumn in London, and New Year in Manhattan. Lots of sex, but it doesn’t get monotonous. Good narrators and just an enjoyable story. Ms. Bay continues to make me happy.

I have mixed feelings about the dark romance (audio) Echo: A Dark Billionaire Romance (Bleeding Hearts Book 1)  by A. Zavarelli. In one of my earlier recommendations, I mentioned some of her books. (Love Ghost.)  This one . . . I liked but it went off in left field a few times. Still I enjoy this author’s unusual characters. I might get the second book’s audio. Still debating.

Her book, The Beast, no. It was too much of everything — too dark — and I read some crazy stuff. If you decide to check it out, be aware the male lead rapes the female. Multiple times. I just can’t call him a hero. Then again that might be your thing. You’ve been warned. I feel this is one of her older books she released after some/a lot success from her newer ones. Then again, what do I know. By the way, I listened to the audio and wasn’t too happy with the narrator.

Speaking of the narrator, for the last two books mentioned, she had a lilt at the end of every sentence. Bug the crap out of me. I guess I’ll stick to reading A. Zavarelli’s books, instead of listening to them.

Posted in Odd Observation, Thoughts

The Beast Inside

I’m screaming inside right now.

That’s what happens when you hear news you don’t want. As a reasonable human being with manners, you know you should never scare the people around you. You should grin and bear it. Never let people see you cry or be upset. Otherwise, you’ll have to explain what happened. When you explain, you relive the devastating reality. Then people give you platitudes you can live without. Usually, they say those things because they believe it’s the proper thing to do. So in other words, they say the words to make themselves feel better.

All you can tolerant is someone who will talk about the nice weather. So you keep your mouth shut and manage a faint grin.

Most people do not understand how I feel, so I rather not hear their opinion or receive their sympathy. I keep the screaming inside until I’m numb and can come to terms with the person I am, not the one who I thought I was.

Yet I move on.

Posted in Odd Observation, Thoughts

What Did You Say?

Beautiful Woman Enjoys CoffeeSo you’re planning to speak to a group of writers. Most guest speakers will give a little spiel about themselves.  All good. Be sure to tell the things that have relevance to what you’re going to talk about. Sure, you can include a short little story about that time you climbed a mountain, but make sure it’s funny or interesting. Otherwise, drop it.

So you want to enlighten your audience on how your company or organization came to be? Or how the industry changed over the last few years. Be sure to keep it short. Chances are you’re telling your audience what they already know.

I have found that I rarely hear a speech that inspires me. When I do, it is usually because they have told me something I didn’t know, and/or I find it to be of use.

If I can read your slide(s), and they follow along with what you’re saying without adding anything, then they are defeating the purpose. You’ll bore your audience.

You’re probably asking, what should I do?  Of course, follow the major key points on the slides, but colored in between the areas with more information or explanations in your speech. In other words, be sure to explain (in an interesting way) publicwhy those key points are important.

Include “real life” points. That’s when I love hearing about the speaker’s life and their experiences. Or maybe their friend’s or information about a stranger’s experience that’s been verified. Or a funny or emotional, fictional the-moral-to-the-story point. If you’re not funny (personally, I’m sarcastic, not funny), place unexpected pictures or comics in the middle of your slides. It will wake your audience up. Be sure to keep it relevant, borderline relevant is okay.

Be sure to keep your pace steady, but take a couple seconds in between points. Breathe. Do not over explain. Modulate your voice. NO!  Not into a monotone. More into a good rhythm. Stopping and going in a middle of a sentence will make the audience wonder if you know what you’re talking about. UNLESS, you’re using it to make a point or draw attention. Do be sure to practice the presentation. And it’s okay to be excited at times about what you’re talking about. Try to smile though most of the speech. It will come through in your tone.

picture
(Don’t be a dinosaur)

Do you stand behind the podium? Do you stay in a chair? NO! Get up. Move around. Use your hands. Wave them around on occasion. Like everything in life, do not overdo. Spread the love in various ways.

The most important thing to remember is DO NOT READ YOUR SPEECH.  🙂  Print out an outline of the key points you want to tell the audience. If you’re near to being blind like me, blow up the print. And again, practice your speech.

Posted in Odd Observation, Research, Writing

Researching Mundane Words

photo meThe things you learn when you double check something you’ve never really thought about such as the difference between button-down and button-up shirts. I’ve always called a dress shirt (besides dress shirt) a button-up shirt. Well, it turns out that’s wrong. A button-down shirt includes the button on each collar to hold it in place (that’s the button-down part). The button-up does not. AND a dress shirt will always have the buttons on the collar. Thus always a button-down shirt. The things authors have to know.

By the way, my mom would always correct me as a kid when I referred to my top as a shirt. She said boys wore shirts, girls wore blouses. I can see that except when it’s a t-shirt. (Of course, the spelling of t-shirt is another argument. ) HA!

Posted in Odd Observation, Writing

Enough is Enough

1pic for blog[Reprint of post from Romance Magicians’ blog May 29, 2011]

This still applies and maybe will help others to understand the need to continue and be dedicated in becoming published with a traditional publisher or in finishing a novel and becoming self-published.  

When is enough enough? I’ve thought about this a lot the last couple years. My first submission was sent out in 1992 and I didn’t send anything else out for ten years. Partly because I had no self-confidence and partly because life got in the way. In 2002, I decided I wasn’t getting any younger and if I really wanted this, I had to find out what I was doing wrong. Nothing has been as important to me to accomplish since I wanted a second child. She was born eight years and 12 hours of labor after the first one. This delivery was a hell of lot longer.

I worked on improving my grammar, bringing out my voice and learning how to pitch to editors and agents. I practiced writing query letters, talking to an editor and agent at conferences, and being the best I could be as a writer. For the next nine years, I drank, ate and slept writing. Am I perfect? Oh, goodness, no! But I have ten books to prove my perseverance. Being at my RWA chapter meetings helped and encouraged me to keep trying.

One evening at a conference, I had the pleasure to relax with Sherrilyn Kenyon in her hotel room, and we were talking about what it takes to be a published author. Sherrilyn’s road to publication and staying published was a hard one. If you ever get a chance to hear her talk about that road, do so. It’s scary but also an uplifting story. Anyway, she mentioned how sad it was that a friend of hers had given up on writing. She’d read her work and hadn’t understood why an editor hadn’t snatched it up. She encouraged me to keep trying.

Since I couldn’t quit my day job, I gave up watching television, having floors I could eat off of, and reading one book after another. All my spare time was dedicated to what I wanted most. To be published. But my rejections continued to come in.

So the question is still how to know when enough is enough?

I believe it is when you can say, I quit it all. When you no longer have a story nagging at the back of your mind, or you read a book and say I can write better than that or I wish I can write a good story like that. When you don’t imagine dogs and dragons in the clouds or hear words of mystery and intrigue whispered in your ears by the wind. When you can close your eyes at night and don’t feel the presence of someone looking over you (good or bad). When you can ignore the wide-eyed pleads of your children or nieces and nephews to repeat the stories of your childhood or the made-up scary ones. Then that’s enough.

I came close, but thanks to the Good Lord, I wanted more.

This post was written just after I had gotten my first call from HarperCollins. Now it has been three books with HC and two books with Random House (Loveswept). So see, hard work pays off. Keep trying and decide what you want and be willing to change.  Goodness knows, the publishing world changes often, and as an author you need to be willing to do that too.

Posted in Odd Observation, Writing

The Emerald City

wizard-of-oz-quoteBeing a published author is like being Dorthy going to the Emerald City. You want to get to that beautiful, magical place of where your wonderful story will be presented to the world. But you have to go through trials and detours. Scary things like flying monkeys trying to hold you back and witches trying to stop you, but when you finally arrive, it takes your breath away. It’s more than you ever imagined. You’re fascinated by all of the exciting activity, and how everyone wants to make your story pretty as possible.

And then you go to see the wizard (booksellers and reviewers).  Still a little scary, but you know this is what you want and you’re determined to show how brave you are. Then with a lot of clanging and smoke billowing, you find out the truth.

It’s what is in you that makes you successful. Not all the hoopla or even the polishing, your writing is all that counts and will bring you to where you should be. So simple, yet so difficult.

[As you can tell, I quite often relate writing to movies. My post is from the one I did for the Romance Magicians’ blog on January 15, 2016, but changed a little.]

 

Website: www.carlaswafford.com
Twitter:  @carlaswafford
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Posted in Odd Observation, Writing

Ten Things I Hate About Writing

!FB memeIf you follow me here or on Facebook, you know that I love lists. This is one I did at the Romance Magics’ blog back on August 14, 2009.

10. I hate how I have to wait months and months (I’m a slow writer) before I can find out how my own book ends.

9. I hate how I fall in love with my hero and then have to give him up. He belongs to the heroine.

8. I hate how I have to concentrate on one book at a time. I have two hands, two sides of one brain (the logical side to set the plot, the creative side to make a love scene believable). Why can’t I write two books simulaneously?

7. I hate how I can’t save children from predators and kick butt like my heroines.

6. I hate how my love life isn’t as exciting as my heroines’. Oops! Did I just type that?

5. I hate how I have to write a synopsis to sell my book. How do you say CliffsNotes?

4. I hate writing the synopsis.

3. I hate how I get a bug-eyed look from non-writers when I talk about writing.

2. I hate how I can talk about nothing but writing.

And drum roll please….

1. I hate how no one [publisher] has bought any of my books yet.

Since I wrote this, I’ve sold three books to Avon (HarperCollins) and two books to Loveswept (Random House).  And I’ve self-published one novel and two novellas.

For more information about my books, click on one of the following booksellers.

AMAZON

BARNES AND NOBLE

KOBO BOOKS