Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Publication Path of Two Old Farts

Just a quick update:

Our little opus has been sent to a smattering of agents and epublishers. The agents was done with a complete understanding that not one would sully their livelihoods with our crap.

The publishers might.

So far we have received two form letters from agents suggesting that ditch digging might be more on par with our talents. We are seeking out photographs of them to photoshop coming out of animal rears.

One publisher has responded with a lovely letter stating "an editor and one member of our management team have reviewed ..." (Sometimes misery must be shared.) "Regretfully we don't feel your story is right for us at this time." (Nor for anyone with any sense.)

Actually, before I snark too much I should say that the letter gives a lot of detail of how to fix the story and suggests that they might be interested in seeing it again once corrected.

We're feeling pretty good right now.

We'll keep you updated as more rejections come our way.

Your friend,

The Literary Losers.

Monday, March 29, 2010

How Getting Published Has Changed


I was thinking about publication the way it used to be. When I say that it’s with the understanding that my first publication came 30 years ago pre-computer, pre-cable television, pre-electronic revolution.

When I was first being published, poetry had a more thriving reputation in the world as did short stories and literary fiction. There were small literary magazines opening every week, closing every week and some getting great word of mouth.

My first publication was a small, just created literary magazine that made me feel wonderful. The next publication was a literary journal that had a little prestige behind it’s name. I read the American Poetry Review religiously and discovered other literary magazines with good reputations and the kind of clout to build a writer’s reputation.

I submitted to those. I was published by them also.

I stopped writing about the time I was dragging my ass to jobs I hated, worrying about money and trying to figure out where I belonged in this world. My poetry career ended with a whimper and just between you and I, it was a sad day when it did. I would never have become Robert Frost but had I stayed on the path, I might have created a name in that field that was known by some.

Years went by of not writing and in the last few years I’ve been writing fiction and looking at the market. And it occurred to me that the e-presses are the literary magazines of yesteryear. If New York is the goal (New York meaning paperback publication with a bona-fide publisher) then are e-presses the current stepping stones?

Back when I was a struggling poet, the fiction market looked the same as the poetry market. There were the 100’s of small magazines where short stories ran, then there were the Samhain’s and Ellora’s Cave of short stories: Playboy and Redbook. To get a short story published in Playboy was literary prestige. Just as Samhain (perhaps Carina will also) be to the new romance writer today.

The e-presses today have literary merit and most are trying to put out product that will sell and also advance their reputation. As a writer I imagine that to look at them as the necessary steps to create a current career and publishing back-list is important. American Poetry Review has been replaced by Samhain. Poetry Magazine is now Cobblestone Press.

People are holding tightly to how things used to be without stopping to recognize that in many ways they remain the same. The face has changed but it's the same business. And there's nothing wrong with recognizing how it runs and what you have to do to be successful in it.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Butterfly Tattoo by Deidre Knight


I finally got to read this book - at last! I'd heard so much about it and the excerpt I'd read made me eager for more.

Michael Warner is bisexual. He was partnered for 13 years with with Alex (Al), a pediatrician, surfer, and a guy almost too good to be true. They even start a family and have a daughter, Andrea.

Al is killed by a drunk driver while Andrea is in the car. Andrea is very emotionally scarred by this and Michael has been numb for a year.

Then he meets Rebecca and each of them have an immediate attraction to the other.

I was halfway through the book before I realized it was written first person, present tense.

"Holy shit!" I said silently. Wow, does that ever work with this book. At least, it did for me.

How else could you achieve the immediacy? How else could you know what both protagonists were thinking?

I admit, there were times toward the end when I wanted to slap Rebecca and tell her to GET ON WITH IT!

But consider: we readers know all of Michael's hangups and emotions and just how sincerely in love he really is, because we're right inside his head. At the same time, we can see his reluctance to completely let Al go and he makes some stupid mistakes.

Rebecca doesn't have our advantage and has to learn the big T word - TRUST.

She has her own hangups, as does Andrea and how they all overcome their weaknesses - their mental scars and physical scars - and grow as people, makes this a beautiful, emotional love story.

Oh hell, I can't say it right. But I can say that this book deserves all the hype it got.

A real keeper and if I were grading, it would be a definite A.


I finished it last night. It did something no book has done in ages: it made me cry. And I cried numerous times while reading it.

Unlike Carolyn, I felt a greater connection to Rebecca. Her story was that she had been an actress on a successful television show and was attacked by a stalker. She was stabbed and left for dead. Her best friend found her and she was saved in the nick of time but the scars inside and outside are always there.

Needless to say, trust would be a very big deal for Rebecca.

There were things that Ms. Knight did that worked crazy great. The entire book was in first person present with chapter alternating between Michael and Rebecca. It made everything more immediate and I found myself sometimes wishing that I could hear what the other person was thinking as well, a sign of my involvement in the story. I was pulled in and caring so deeply what their experiences were.

But more than anything this book was written by a woman who loves writing and writes for the love of words. I was awash with the poetry of her words, with the great canvas she painted using her words as bright and bold colors and evoking landscapes in places, people's histories and emotions. Los Angeles, movie studios, twins and little girl's broken hearts were painted and not just told.

This book was almost perfect. It deserves it's accolades and deserves a wide, wide audience reading it.

Friday, March 26, 2010



I read with horror a post by an writer who wrote for Ellora's Cave. Good lord! The pay must be really good for someone to put up with this:

Now, you have to go through a proposal that must be written in a certain way. If the proposal is accepted you submit the manuscript. If your editor isn’t having a bad day, PMS, or the raving loons, you get a contract. Your title must be approved. Then you go through something arbitrarily called pre-edits. Then you go through first round edits. Then second round edits. Then third round unless the editor isn’t a martinet who thinks she knows all there is to know. Far be it for you to question her, though. You’re basically told to piss off. When she deems your work ‘finished’ then you submit the blurb and the cover request…which must be a certain way…and then the excerpt. You get to see if the editor approves all that. If not, you do it again. All the forms get changed about once a year so you have to make sure you keep up with that.

I have a pretty good paying job now. It's all relative, of course. In the big city it's probably peanuts, but for my little town, it's a very well paying job. And for my pay I work hard and consistently.

But outside of my job, I'm a lazy SOB and I can only say that the royalties must be amazing for someone to put up with this.

Here's the thing - and I don't think it's sour grapes. Writing means something to me. It's a comfort when I'm depressed, it's a shot of adrenalin when I hit something right on. And always it's a pure pleasure, no matter how outdone I get sometimes. I enjoy it, it makes me happy.

Why then would I put all this pressure on myself? To have my fifteen minutes of fame? Hell, that's not a given. I can see myself trudging to my keyboard, making myself do what was once done with joy and without thinking twice.

Maybe it is sour grapes. Maybe I'm making excuses. But I'm just too damn old to be struggling with such shit and for sure, I don't want to lose the rush I get when I get in an experimenting mood. Trying different POVs, crafting a story that is mostly dialogue and that seemed to go over well with the readers, utilizing flashbacks inventively - oh, all sorts of things that probably would not be accepted professionally.

I don't think I'm rigid or too proud to take critiques - I don't think so. But I have enough stress in my life; I have no desire to add to it. Nope. Nuh uh.

I shall relish my ignorance. :-)



To add a little perspective let's note the author of above was anonymouse and posting on Karen Knows Best and there was a discussion of how EC is suffering in the sales department.

This is also the reason that when these two old farts are sending work out to publishers the short old fart (that's ME!) is doing all the work. And the tall one who says y'all just moans about the work.

Now I got to ask y'all, is there anyone who doesn't understand why I have this crazy chocolate addiction?

Still ... I think the dreams of publication pale a little with the work of publication. But the work could well be worth it all to see one's name in print. Just depends on what matters to you, I guess.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Lori's Confessions Of an Idea Lady

So I had an idea...

So many conversations begin that way. And it's one of the things that define me. I had an idea. I have lots of ideas. My brain is over-run with ideas.

Almost daily I can think of a great idea for a story. Just this morning I was thinking about a story with a woman who's a personal assistant to a movie star. The star is a Jennifer Lopez type: beautiful, ambitious, Latina. She has an on again/off again relationship with a hot Latin hunk.

The star (who is described by a tabloid as *fat* because she has curves) hires a private chef to put her on a diet. The assistant then finds herself caught between the chef and the Latin hunk.

Cute idea, huh? It has the possibility of doing a little media jabbing and playing with the ideas of weight. The female star can be a great character for a variety of reasons while the assistant can be empathetic and more every woman.

Oh that's just today's idea. Yesterday I had an idea involving two best friends...

Most of these ideas are do-able. Some might even be brilliant. And yet so few even get attempted and most die at about the 3000 word mark.

I don't know if I'm waiting for THE story that I just must write or if the ideas are the extent of my creativity.

It's not always easy being the idea lady.


It can be a great thing to be recognized as an Idea Lady. It's part of who you are: imaginative, optimistic, enduring. I hope one day Mollie knows how lucky she is that her Mom is an Idea Lady.

As for me, I make shameless use of you. I'd apologize but I think you like it as much as I do. Excited conversations, hurried writing because we can't write fast enough.

Most times I can't buy an idea; the few times I come up with one, I rely on you to make it even better, to take the story in directions I never considered.

When I think of my Idea Lady, I imagine ideas and story lines tumbling over and around each other, fighting their way to dominance. "Me next, me next," they're shouting. It makes me smile sometimes.

I'll take what I can get; finished or unfinished, 3000 words or 100,000. It's all good and worth the read.


I have to add that I've been thinking more about this since we seem to have a lot of stories happening currently and I have some really strong ideas demanding attention. I think maybe it's the ideas that make the most sense to me to write that finally get worked on.

The movie star idea I forgot completely until I read this blog entry and I shook my head. That didn't resonate beyond a moment of thinking of it. The idea of the dog swallowing the engagement ring is still with me and the idea of the devil falling in love and I'm still thinking about Sugar and her checkered past...

Ideas are wonderful sparks that say your creative mojo is in working order. The ones that you sit down and have to write or that rattle around in your brain slowly adding more substance: those are the ones that call to me as a writer.

I like being the idea lady, truth be told. It means I usually have a movie going on in my head and what can be better than that?

I'm so easily amused...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Pride Mates by Jennifer Ashley


Okay, I LOVED The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley and since I've sort of been leaning toward the paranormal, etc., I was excited to see she'd written a shifter book. And while I finished the book, I was disappointed in it. I was really expecting more.

I did like the world building. The Shifters have voluntarily allowed themselves to be collared, to repress their penchant for violence. They live in Shifter towns, segregated from the rest of the populace and are considered second class citizens.

Kim is a lawyer defending a young Shifter accused of murdering his human girlfriend. Her quest for information takes her to Shiftertown where she meets Liam.

Here's the thing. I can tolerate a 'mating bond' from the Shifter side. I mean, he changes into a big cat, a Fae cat and such a magical creature is bound to have unusual strings attached. So Liam meets Kim, almost immediately he knows she's his bondmate and he's in lust thereafter, but manages to control it with the help of the collar. Hold, protect and fuck, that's the mantra of the male Shifters for their females.

Where the fail came for me was Kim. Besides the fact that the name was so vanilla, I found the character to be just a tad unbelievable. She's a lawyer, she dresses in power suits and dates men who are workaholics and pencil sex into their schedule. She has polite little orgasms and never felt any need for more. Never felt any wildness or lustiness deep inside herself, screaming to get out.

Now she's with Liam and he has only to look at her for her to cream her pants. They had sex ALL NIGHT LONG, and she never said 'enough', or 'your 10" prick is killing me here after the 8th time' (the author made sure we knew his prick was 10" and THICK!).

She changes from her association with the Shifters. They become family to her. Her way of dressing changes, her priorities change. And that's all well and good.

But she's a human female and she was never defined as a nyphomaniac or something similar and I just found this constant fucking at the drop of a hat, anytime, anywhere, to be just a bit over the top.

If you like a sex crazed heroine, this might be the book for you. *grin*. I prefer my relationships to grow slowly, with the coming together as the pinnacle, a reward if you will.

I find I don't like a heroine in heat.


And yet you love me. Go figure.

Friday, March 19, 2010

By the way

These two old farts don't just talk about romance, they sometimes write it. Sometimes they write it together. Sometimes they take prescription drugs and mix them with a little wine coolers and write. Sometimes...

The point is that these two old farts have sent a manuscript out in the hopes of creating vigorous vomiting and riotous diarrhea amongst the romance agents and editors of America.

If anyone shows interest, we'll let you know.

And each rejection letter shall be posted here with a subsequent picture of the voodoo doll with needles sticking out of it's eyes that will have the rejecting agent or editor's name on it...

We do so enjoy ourselves.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Sweetest Words


I’m not talking about I love you or even the sweetest words in the world: your table is ready. No, the sweetest words in the world for any writer or aspiring writer are the words that start your story.

Ever since nanowrimo in November, I’ve been having problems connecting to anything I’ve written. 3,000 words and then I fizzle out. The story isn’t right, the characters aren’t making sense to me, the writing is tepid.

A few days ago I had an idea for a story that was crazy original but not … not something I was ready to invest in. Last night my daughter and I were discussing it and she gave me a huge piece of plot that made perfect sense. (Whenever stuck, consult an 8 year old. To them the world is all plot and action.)

But this morning the first line of the story came to me. I won’t say that four simple words made the story leap to life and now my writing block is over but those four words changed a lot. The right four words and suddenly I heard the voice of the character. In four words I felt like maybe I could write this story.

Carolyn, tell me what works for you.


God - you had to ask that, didn't you!

Well! ....

As you know I've had very good luck with baths. Nice hot water, scented whatevers, lounging back and closing my eyes and letting my mind (what's left of it) drift. Showers just aren't the same somehow, don't know why that is ...

But baths are mostly for cogitating an already thought of idea. And already thought of ideas are few and far between.

Lori is my idea lady. But the truth, and no offence to Lori, is that to write the idea, it really has to grab me. If I were male, I'd say by the cojones, but I'm not, so I'm not quite sure where it grabs me.

Usually a combination of books I've read, articles I've seen on the internet, bits and pieces of my own past, will sometimes spark an idea that grabs me so tightly I can do nothing but write it. Los Defensores was like that and Quatrain and now Resurrection.

It doesn't matter if no one else thinks it's the best thing since sliced bread. If it resonates with me then it's when I write my best.**

Sometimes I build a story around a title I refuse to give up - Quatrain was like that. Mariposa, Annie and Reflections was the first line, just like you said.

I've heard it said that a lot of writers have a set routine, that it's necessary to be successful. I don't know about that; I do know the Muse attacks me in different ways each time and when it grabs and squeezes hard, the words pour out of me.

Next step is making it last a whole book, lol.

**Best doesn't mean successful. I've never been published and probably never will. I hate to call writing a hobby, that seems direspectful somehow, but I do not have a set goal. I just have the love for it.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Talking Men


So what exactly constitutes a romantic hero? Carolyn and I discuss this sometimes and haven’t come to any kind of agreement.

In paranormals the hero is always an alpha male who can look down at the puny 6-foot men. He reaches 7 feet, wears leather and a snarl, his hair is usually long and as much as he’s an absolute asshole, with the heroine he’s a softie and protective and always raging an eleven inch hard-on.

In a standard harlequin he’s ruggedly handsome. His hair isn’t pony-tail long but brushes his collar long. He can wear jeans and look like he’s in Armani. His grin is rakish, his penis averages ten inches and he’s good to his family. Usually that hero has a misunderstanding with the heroine of some sort and so there’s a bit of an asshole factor in effect.

In real life our heroes are … what? For me a good looking man is a pleasure but a funny man has a better chance of getting into my panties. (Despite rumors, not every man can get into my panties, there are one or two standards set.)

The heroes I like to write? I like to write men they way I know them. Not big-ass soppy romantics with Mom issues but men who are as messed up and looking for love as well as a woman, I suppose.

Are they betas? How do we measure it?

The most loving man I’ve ever experienced in my life is my brother. He’s minus a single judgmental bone and will love and accept you for exactly who you are. Now there’s a romantic hero. Of course it took him four tries at marriage to find a woman as awesome as he is. Is that romantic?

When I was being courted a few years back the gentleman in question brought me cheesecake and fans for my hot flashes. Romantic? No. But man, he knew what I needed.

What’s romantic anymore? The Bogarts of yesteryear are the Zac Efrons of today. Do we need them looking like movie stars? Is a bald man sexy? What about a middle aged, bald man?

Would Vin Diesal have been sexy to anyone had he not been a movie star? What about the Ah-nuld?

And if a man with a pot belly and a comb-over showed up at your door, what are the chances he could win your heart?


I don't mind me an alpha hero.

But make him a vulnerable alpha hero, and I'm a puddle on the floor. Lord Ian Mackenzie - need I say more? Christian in Flowers From the Storm. Sebastian in Lord of Scoundrels. *sigh*

I'm married to a tall, slightly pot bellied, bald male, with not even enough hair for a comb-over, lol. There's not a romantic bone in his body, but you know what? You learn to look for the little things.

He leaves the light on low in the bedroom when I come to bed late. He eats every piece of atrocious food I cook and asks for more. He never says a thing about all the books he trips over. He rubs my back and my feet when I'm feeling bad and he thinks a headache is backed up passion and insists on giving me relief. The weird thing is, it works, lol.

I read romances for things I don't get in real life, the grand gestures. But real life dudes, if they really care, don't need grand gestures.

And as I've aged, I've learned that looks are way, way down my list of 'necessaries' in a man. Personality and caring mean so much more and oh, btw, last sooooo much longer!

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Hot Spot by Jill Shalvis


I have to write this review quickly before I forget everythng I read. Which tells you how this book is going to stay with me.

I got this book because the reviewers on Dear Author and Smart Bitches praised it to the heavens. Hot, sassy, fast paced. A great contemporary, they said.

I love me a great contemporary.

This book took me about two weeks to read. Let me reiterate: two weeks. The entire time I read it I thought of all the other books I could be reading: Taxes for Dummies. The Life and Times of Edward Boringard. Toenail Fungus and You.

So there's this baseball team called the Heat and they uh... play baseball. Every single one of the players looks like a rock star and has a ten inch cock. (Really, it's in their stats.)

So Wade is like the Joe Namath (wrong sport, wrong century, I know) of baseball and Sam is the publicist who knows all the men's stats because of the amount of time she spends in the locker room (you can buy a similar book called Fucked in the Dugout by Ravenous Romance)...

Anywhere, where was I? Oh yeah. We have the fake relationship trope on top of the misunderstanding trope along with the sudden kid to take care of trope and just in case we're missing a trope, there's an alcoholic father showing up trope too!

Four tropes for the price of one!!!

There was also mention in the professionals reviews of hot sexxoring but if you think doing it in a public restroom and then getting caught by a Mom and kid is hot, we need to reexamine what hot sexxoring is.

The book was so meh as to be outstandingly bleh. Don't fall for the hype, get the History of Peridontitis to read instead. Now that one sizzles.


Well, I've already forgotten most of what I've read and it's only been what - a week or so?

But I don't remember having any problems reading it; I got through it quickly and as for the tropes - well, shit happens. I should know, lol.

I've seen complaints that the author has a lack of basic baseball knowledge. I suppose they're right, but frankly I didn't read it for the baseball (insert wiggling eyebrows here). And I do love catchers - yum!

The book wasn't such that I'd track down her back list, but it was a pleasant little read, albeit somewhat shallow. I don't know that I'd go out of my way to buy any new releases either. In my old age, I've become more demanding. I want something special and while this was competent writing, it just didn't fit my expectations.

Monday, March 8, 2010

A Writer Is As A Writer Does by Carolyn

So - there I was five years ago, in Divo fantasyland, feeling the hormones stirring and letting John take advantage of my condition. Heh. And it was perfectly evident it wasn't only my hormones getting stirred.

I discovered fan fics.

Good ones, bad ones - they were all there, right there on Il Divo's official web site and some of them were right frisky too! I was gabberflasted, to quote a certain fictional Spaniard.

The more stories I checked out, the more fascinated I became. Some of them were pretty bad. I remember thinking, I could do this and so much better too!

And then I found The Cheeky Spaniard and I fell in love forever. It never occurred to me that I could outwrite that particular writer, but it gave me the final push to try a story of my own.

Okay, I said all that to say this: I wrote from my heart. Sort of flowery, really really descriptive, and I imagine I broke every rule in the writing book and some that weren't even there.

I look back at that first effort now and can see where improvement is needed, see all the flaws and other stuff that's just plain wrong. But I also see the heart in it.

To try to write emotion, the feelings one person has for another; to try to convey the picture or vision in your mind - it can be difficult. But when it works, it's better than money. It just is.

So, my technique hasn't changed all that much. And it's for sure not what the experts are wanting. Today's writing is supposed to be sparse, pared to the bone, with lots of action, action, action. There was a short period when I lamented my shortcomings, but you know what? I've learned to live with it and even celebrate it.

Mostly I like what I write - or I wouldn't write it, lol. I guess most amateurs say that. But I LOVE what Lori writes; it's hard for me to be objective about her writing. She slashes and burns her own stuff relentlessly, always trying to improve. I'm not much use to her there, because I think it is so good. It's like sitting down with a good friend and listening to them talk; it just flows. She can make me believe anything, make her worlds seem so real.

So what's the point of all this rambling? I think the point is to write what you love and love what you write. There is always room for improvement, but that doesn't devalue what you've done. It can still be worth a lot to people, just like Cheeky was to me.

Cheeky Spaniards make it all worthwhile. :-)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Looking Forward (Books! Books! Books!)


I had many good reads in 2009. Discovered new authors and tracked down many a backlist.

What do I have to look forward to in 2010?

Lots of new releases by many of my favorite authors!! Woo and hoo!

Already have one - Lessons in French by Laura Kinsale. Historical romance. Thanks Lori. Mwah!

The fourth book in the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews, Magic Burns, is due out in May. I can't wait for this one. :-D

Lady Isabella's Scandalous Marriage by Jennifer Ashely, Lord Mac's story will be published in July. Another one I'm dying to read. I LOVED The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie.

Two new 'In Death' books by J D Robb are due in February and November of this year. Nora Roberts releases are The Search in July and book 4 of the Bride Quartet in November.

Jennifer Crusie is releasing two books this year also: Wild Ride in March and Maybe This Time in August.

The next book in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs is coming out in March: Moon Called. Oh, I can't wait for this one!

I'm sure there's others that have slipped my mind.

Lori - do you have a list?


Well I'm a bad reader because I have no feaking idea what's coming out. I can tell you what I'll be reading this year but they're all old releases.

I'm going to work my way through Loretta Chases backlist. I've already purchased Mr. Impossible and Not Quite a Lady.

Anything Jennifer Cruisie has coming out I'll read.

I have the second of Nora's wedding series, Bed of Roses, to read. I have some older titales of hers than my darling friend Carolyn sent me that I haven't yet read.

I have Courtney Milan's Proof of Seduction still to read. And Kristan Higgan's has a new book out I have yet to purchase.

I have Letters in French by Laura Kinsale to read but I still also have Flowers in the Storm on my shelf.

I want to read The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten because he's so marvelously crusty and also Sapphires and Garlic by Rita Someone, a New York Times food critic.

And OMG!! Louisa Edwards!!! On the Steamy Side is coming out and you know how I glom on foodie books.

I'm also catching up (or planning to) on Jasper Ffjord's writing and I have a whole bunch of Janet Evanovich and Victoria Dahl and is Tessa Dare going to put more out...

Anybody else have a list or title they're looking forward to reading?