Quint needs your vote!

My publisher, Kensington Publishing, has its annual HERO v. HERO Tumblr contest up and running this week. Lord Quint, Damian Beecham, from THE LADY HELLION is up for BEST HERO in the competition today. He needs your vote!

VOTE HERE: http://kensingtonheroes.tumblr.com/post/141070733464/the-viscount-vs-the-earl-which-high-class. (Also, you can vote more than once. Just sayin’.)

As a reminder, Quint is:

  • a genius
  • sexy
  • able to woo in 7 or 8 different languages
  • a great fencer
  • a (recent) lover of dogs

Need I say more? Sophie, Quint, and I all thank you for your vote!

Make Your Own Luck

The Harder I work the Luckier I getAs we ring in the New Year, like so many others, my thoughts are on plans and goals for 2015. You know that old adage…the harder I work, the luckier I get. Just recently I shared with a writing pal that more and more I believe this is an industry where we must make our own luck. There are tons of writers out there. I find the amount of books published in the span of one year overwhelming, mainly because I want to read them all! Given that, how do we get our work noticed in the industry? As I’ve mentioned before, I’m in RoseAnn 2.0 mode. Meaning, while I have a published series, I have certain goals for the next phase of my writing career. First, I’d like to find a publisher for my new Young Adult work. Second, I’m looking for a publisher for my new Contemporary Romance work. Lastly, I’m looking for an Agent, someone who can represent both genres.

The biggest challenge is always getting your work in front of the right industry professionals. So, here are some thoughts I have on how we writers can make our own luck.

Contests

Our Femmes group has had a good run when it comes to contests. There’s a lot to be gained from entering contests. With so many out there, it can be hard to determine which one is right for you. Research the final round judges. If they are on your target list then a final placement guarantees they will have read your work.

Back in October I entered my new Young Adult into a few contests. That piece placed second in both contests, however it earned two full manuscript requests. So, while I didn’t win, those contests contributed to my 2015 goals.

The Cold Query

There is much to be gained from pitching at conferences. However, don’t discount the cold query. I’ve had a bit of success going this route in the past. It can be cumbersome, so you want to make sure you’re funneling your energy in the right direction, and putting your best food forward. Here is a bit of advice on the cold query process.

  • Do your research: Don’t waste your efforts or any industry professional’s time. Make sure those you query represent and/or are looking for what you write. RWA has a list of agents and what they represent. However, I have found the contest trail once again a great resource for this. Agents and editors who volunteer their time to contests usually judge a category of interest. Also, follow industry news. I get a lot of information on my twitter feed, and from my writer friends. When I come across someone I feel a good fit, I add them to my spreadsheet which includes their bio, what they represent, their query process, and any special notes or comments, such as…did I meet them at a conference, do they represent an author I admire, etc.? I track the progress of the queries in the spreadsheet as well. It’s good to have all this information in one place so when I decide it’s time to start the process I don’t feel unprepared.
  • Write a great query letter: I realize that sounds rather obvious. There are a lot of resources on the web when it comes to writing a solid query letter. In researching agents you will find many of them have examples of what they consider good query letters on their websites. I come across blogs written by agents on writing good query letters. The thing to keep in mind about a query, similar to a pitch at a conference, is that the Agent or Editor wants you to succeed. They want you to have the story they are looking for.
  • Personalize it: The best piece of advice I can give on writing a query letter, beyond including your GMC and ending in the story summary, is to personalize each letter. Make sure an agent knows why you have selected him or her out of the vast sea. Why do you think they are the right person to represent your work and career? Always make sure to include any professional publishing credits, organizations you belong to, where you can be found on the web, and a short bio. Always thank them for their time.

Keep Writing

It sounds simple. We’ve heard it a million times, but keep writing. Just because you’ve had some requests and/or you have material out there, that does not mean it’s time to take a ciesta. Unless you’re feeling burned out. If that is the case, some time off might be exactly what you need to recharge your batteries. You never know what opportunities might present themselves down the road. When they do, you’re going to want to be ready with plenty of material.

So, what are your writing goals for 2015? How have you made your own luck? I’d love to hear your stories!

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Believe

Photo credit: 2 little banshees / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: 2 little banshees / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

I love this time of year. That is to say, I usually love this time of year. Last year was the first Holiday season where my Christmas Baby had been ruthlessly pulled under the truth about Santa tent. With her birthday on the holiday, she’s always had double the fun, double the spirit, and double doses of believing in the season. Nothing could pull her out of her holiday slump last year. This year…she’s back, and it has made all the difference as we prepare for the season. This naturally turned my thoughts to writing and inevitably…my sock drawer. Completely logical, right? I promise, it is…let me break it down for you.

I’ve been in a sorting, organizing frenzy over the past few weeks, throwing things into the donation pile with an abandon I usually never attain. It’s been liberating. Finally, it was time to tackle my sock drawer. When I started I BELIEVED I had NO socks. As I started to sort, match, organize, discard, I soon realized that I was a sock junkie. True, I found some socks with holes, like those you’d find in a plot that you’d need to discard. I also found items that didn’t belong, like long sleeve black gloves I’d worn when I was a bridesmaid a MILLLION years ago, kind of like those scenes that should be ruthlessly cut from a manuscript. BUT I also found a lot more of value than I ever expected. In fact, the draw is filled with a wealth of riches. The truth is, I’m a bit of a sock geek. I mean, who doesn’t want to wear their warm and fuzzies during the winter while curled up on the sofa reading a good book…or writing one?

While sorting, my thoughts turned to a new Young Adult Mystery novel of mine. I started it back in February for the NJRW JeRoWriMo writing sprint. I’d written 15 K words in one week and then left the story for crap. I stuck it way down in the bottom of the sock drawer, so to speak, and focused my energy on a new Humorous Contemporary Romance series. In short, I slid back into a comfy pair of old socks and got down to the business of writing. Nothing wrong with that, I LOVE this new contemporary series, and I hope to one day share it with my readers. However, this summer I pulled the YA out and found I truly LOVED the story. I darned the holes I could now see, polished it a bit, and submitted it to two contests. Guess what? That story, WINGING IT, I’d left for crap, is now a finalist in both writing contests!

Writers (or at least this one) are emotional. It is so easy to doubt ourselves. If we don’t believe in our work, who will? So, at this time of year, when we are focused on the magic of the season, I’m going to remind everyone, regardless of your passion, please remember that fulfillment in any endeavor starts first with your own ability to BELIEVE.

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Get Wicked With Entangled Blog Hop!

“Trick or Treat” OR “Trunk or Treat” – Which do you prefer?

Welcome to the Get Wicked With Entangled Blog Hop! Stop by each blog to check out their favorite Halloween stories and enter to win their giveaways.

For this stop, I’m giving away a $5 Amazon gift card and a copy of my soon-to-be released historical romance, A SPY UNMASKED, the first book In The Crown’s Secret Service Series. The winner will receive an ebook copy on the date of its release on November 10, 2014.

Halloween Blog Hop

 

amazon

For the first time this year, my town hosted trunk or treat for the children. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Trunk or treat is very different from the way I grew up celebrating Halloween. We went door to door from block to block repeating the mantra “trick or treat” until our feet ached and our pillow cases were bursting with as much candy as we could carry home.

Trunk or treat is different. Families volunteer to decorate their cars with flashing orange lights, cobwebs, and big hairy spiders. The cars were parked in a big circle, and children walked around from car to car and filled their bags with candy. It’s an alternative to the old-fashioned Halloween in a much more concentrated setting where all the local parents can keep a watchful eye over the children. My kids had a great time. They saw their friends in one place—something they wouldn’t get to do if they walked around each of their separate neighborhoods.

But here’s the catch—they will still trick or treat this Friday on Halloween. So they get twice the candy. Fun for the kids? I’m still undecided.

So what do you think? Do you prefer “trick or treating” or “trunk or treating?” Please leave a comment and enter to win a $5 Amazon gift card and an ebook copy of A Spy Unmasked on its November 10, 2014 release day, then HOP to the rest of the participating blogs. Good luck!

A SPY UNMASKED

 Coming November 10, 2104 from Entangled (Cover is Top Secret!)

The mission did not go quite as Robert Ware—known in society as the new Earl of Kirkland–planned. A spy in the service of His Majesty, Robert is a “guest” at a masquerade party as he retrieves vital information for a murder investigation. Until he’s quite unexpectedly interrupted by an exquisite, masked woman with glittering green eyes. And a pistol she has cocked and aimed right at him…

Lady Sophia Merrill has defiantly taken up justice’s shining sword, determined to expose the brigand who murdered her eccentric but brilliant father, and stole his latest invention. Now she must masquerade as Robert’s betrothed in order to infiltrate the Inventor’s Society and find the killer. But the undeniable potent attraction between them not only imperils the investigation, but Sophia’s reputation… and both of their lives.

Happy Halloween!

Tina Gabrielle

Enter to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

HOP to the rest of the blogs!

 

You can find me at:

 www.tinagabrielle.com

 http://twitter.com/tinagabrielle

 https://www.facebook.com/TinaGabrielle

In The Barrister's Bed InTheBarristersChambers LADYOFSCANDAL Cover Original Artwork A Perfect Scandal

Ingredients Of A Great First Line

Golden Heart necklace2A special CONGRATULATIONS to our very own Femme, Joanna Shupe, whose historical manuscript, Drawn to the Earl, finaled in RWA’s Golden Heart contest! We’re all thrilled for her and wish her good luck in Atlanta!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve agonized over the first line in every one of my manuscripts. We’ve been told we only have a few lines, a paragraph, or maybe a page to draw the attention of an agent or editor. Talk about pressure. I recently attended a workshop on writing a fabulous first line, given by the wonderful Sarah MacLean. Let me share some of the ingredients Ms. MacLean shared to help writing your first line a little easier. I found them helpful and I hope you will, too.
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Snippet #3 – Love’s Second Chance

I’m not sure about you, but I’m still on a high from a FANTASTIC weekend at the NJ Romance Writer’s Put Your Heart In A Book Conference. A huge CONGRATULATIONS to Femmes Michele Mannon & Jenna Blue who won first place in the Put You Heart In A Book Contest.

During the conference, we met many fabulous writers and made new friends. Check out our new Photos page for some pictures of special moments from the conference. I’m always amazed to hear real life stories from authors who started at the bottom and fought their way to the top. Hearing their inspiring stories of how they overcame both personal and professional challenges puts things into perspective for me. Although I may not be at the very bottom, I’m working my way up the ladder toward success. And while there are times I may get knocked down a rung or two, I grasp on tight and climb right back up. This post goes out to all my writer friends who are frustrated with the journey. It’s tough. We know that going in but that doesn’t make it easy to handle when bad stuff happens to us. Be strong. You have a huge support system of writers rallying for each other. Sometimes you need to regroup and come up with a new game plan, but don’t give up.  Hugs, Maria

In case you didn’t read it, we’re holding a special One-Year Anniversary Contest from 10/12-11/16 and are giving away a Nook Simple Touch. Click the link below or the link from the right side-bar to enter.

Below is a snippet from my completed manuscript, Love’s Second Chance, which won first place in the CT Chapter’s Write Stuff Contest and is currently a finalist in the Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest.

After losing her family to a tragedy, Kate has spent the past four years avoiding emotional attachments. After asking a former lover for help designing a restaurant her parents plan to open, she’s faced with fighting her attraction and denying the growing feelings she has for this man. Exhausted after a long day baking cookies with a six-year old orphan, Kate is vulnerable and succumbs to Edward’s healing touch.  

          Edward glanced down at the high-heeled black leather boots she wore. They came up to just under her knee and hugged her calf like a second skin. As usual, the heel was close to four inches, and while looking at them made the blood rush to his groin, they didn’t seem practical for an afternoon of baking cookies. Unable to refrain from the temptation, he unzipped one of the boots and slipped her foot out.

            Kate’s eyes flew open. “What are you doing?”

            “Relax, luv. I once dated a masseuse and she showed me pressure points to apply to become perfectly relaxed,” he said, rubbing the instep of her foot.

            She snorted. “Yeah, I can just imagine the pressure points she showed you.”

            Edward briefly thought back to Lana, at least that’s what he thought her name was, with a fond memory. She had fantastic hands and could get herself into the most flexible positions. It made for some very creative sex.

            But now he only had thoughts of Kate as he stroked her foot. He remembered she had the sexiest toes, always polished with bright colors. He wondered if she just did that for the summer or if they’d be polished now.

            “You’ll be appreciating the special skills she taught me in a few minutes.”

            “Yeah, we’ll see.” She crossed her arms around her middle but closed her eyes again.

            Not being able to resist, he stripped off her sock and felt his pulse increase. They were just like he remembered. Candy cane red today and perfectly manicured. He reached for her other foot and started the same ritual.

            He studied her relaxed face, a slight curve to her mouth. A moan escaped her mouth and he wanted nothing more than to reach for her across the table and kiss her. Fully aroused, he sat trying to will away his erection all the while thinking how much he wanted to run his mouth up the length of her slender leg.

            “I take it you like?” he asked, his voice husky with desire.

            “Mmm hmm,” she murmured. “You’re hands are magic.”

            And then, almost as though she just remembered that he was the one rubbing her feet, she sat up, now wide-awake. From the heated glaze of her eyes, he knew she was just as turned on as he. A satisfied smile spread across his lips.

            “I seem to recall your saying that about a lot more of me than my hands.”

            She licked her lips and met his smoky gaze with her own. “What, are you fishing for compliments now? I didn’t realize you were so insecure.”

            “I’m not. I wanted to see if you still remembered.”

            “You should know you’re not very forgettable. Of course I remembered.”

One Year Anniversary Contest

That’s right. The Violet Femmes blog will be 1-year old in November.

One year ago, four romance writers attended the NJ Romance Writers conference. After many wonderful workshops, good food, and a bottle of wine, concept for The Violet Femmes blog was born.

We’d like to take this opportunity to announce and welcome our newest Femme, Jenna Blue. Jenna has guest-blogged with us and we’re thrilled she’s officially joining The Femmes. Stay tuned for a fresh look to our blog coming over the next month.

In conjunction with NJRW’s Put Your Heart In A Book Conference (10/12-10/13), we’re starting our celebration a little early. If you’re attending the conference, stop by the Goody Room and look for our special gift. Visit The Violet Femmes website 10/12-11/16 and enter our anniversary contest. You can get to the contest link from the upper right-hand side bar or directly by clicking the image below:

Thank you for following us over the past year. We look forward to many more exciting topics and guest posts over the next year!

Hugs from The Violet Femmes,

Maria, Michele, Joanna, Jaye, and Jenna

Why You Should Go to a Conference

With the one year anniversary of The Violet Femmes fast approaching, I’ve realized once again how blessed I am to have such a great group of women supporting me.

As you may or may not know, The Femmes came to fruition at last year’s Put Your Heart in a Book Conference, put on by New Jersey Romance Writers, an excellent sub-group of Romance Writers of America. Encouraged by a glass (or four) of white wine (it’s surprising how much wine can promote creativity), holed up in a hotel room after the awards ceremony, the Violet Femmes were born. It goes without saying that if we weren’t all at that conference, our little group might not exist. Which is what prompted me to write this blog.

First of all, I want to propose that we coin a new term…Pro-ference. Because, really, there are no “con”s to attending a writers conference.

So, here are my top five reasons for attending a Pro-ference…whether it be Put Your Heart in a Book, another local conference, or (gulp!), RWA Nationals:

1.  Camaraderie.  There is no better feeling for a writer than being in the company of others…lots of others…who understand the daily trials, self-doubt, and successes of being a writer. Plus, the sharing usually involves cocktails!

cocktails

 2.   Advice.  Michael Hauge recently spoke at a special event for New Jersey Romance Writers, and he made an observation I found to be true from my first NJRW meeting. Romance writers, he said, above writers of all other genres, are generous to a fault when it comes to sharing information about our business.  Sure, there are egos, but I have never met a romance writer who guarded trade secrets more closely than Colonel Sanders guarded his secret fried chicken recipe. For example, at my first NJRW conference a couple of years ago, USA Today bestselling author Leanne Banks gave the Special Presentation, reserved for the first 100 registrants for the conference. We spoke a bit before her presentation, and I actively participated in a little exercise she conducted.Photo: Me sipping a "Harlequin Heartbreaker" at the Harlequin bash.

Later, she sat on a panel with Susan Litman, of Harlequin, and they talked about what Harlequin looked for in its different lines. Susan had just requested a full manuscript from me when I pitched her my category romance, so I sat in on that session. Leanne greeted me when she came in the room. Afterwards, I cornered her (poor woman!) in the bar as she grabbed a quick glass of wine, and asked her a question that had been nagging me ever since I had pitched to Susan. Leanne spent about fifteen minutes with me, answering questions and giving advice. And I had just asked her one question!

3.  Pitches.  As Michele discussed in last week’s blog, pitching is a prime reason to attend a pro-ference. Where else do you have the opportunity to meet, chat with, and pitch to several editors and agents in one place? Most regional conferences offer pitch sessions. NJRW’s conference offers lots…probably aided by our proximity to New York City, that publishing mecca. This year, NJRW’s Put Your Heart in a Book Conference offers a choice of almost 30 agents and editors…that’s a lot of potential to sell your manuscript!

 4.    Workshops. Probably the biggest draw for serious writers is the schedule of workshops offered. From the craft of writing, to resourcing, to brainstorming, workshops give us writers the tools we need to get the job done…not an easy feat, I can assure you. They help with confidence building, show us ways to get out of that corner we’ve just written ourselves into, and tell us what to do once we feel our manuscript is ready for someone’s eyes other than our own.

5.     Market knowledge. Whether it’s gleaned from editor and agent panels, or in conversations with other authors, finding out what agents and editors are seeking is invaluable information for aspiring and published authors alike. As audience demands are constantly changing, it is important to understand where the minds of the people helping you sell your book lay. Understanding the business of writing is instrumental in getting those books of our hearts published.

So, have you attended a pro-conference? What was your reason for attending, and what did you take away with you?

Hugs,

Jaye

p.s. Stay tuned for a special contest celebrating the one-year anniversary of The Violet Femmes! Thank you to everyone who has followed us over the past year. We appreciate your support!

Conference Fever

Be sure to stop by the Violet Femmes blog each week this month and comment to be entered in our contest. This month you’ll be entered to win two novels, Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins and Beguiling the Beauty by Sherry Thomas. Come back every week and leave a comment to increase your chance of winning!

I’ve never been a lucky person in terms of winning things. I’m horrible when I go to the casinos and the most I’ve ever won on a scratch-off lottery ticket was, surprisingly, $20. So when I went to the Connecticut Fiction Fest conference last weekend and waited, anxiously, while the results of the Write Stuff Contest were read out, I tried to prepare myself not to take first place.

And I was overwhelmed with emotion when, amazingly, I did exactly that.

FIRST PLACE in Single Title Contemporary. Woo Hoo!!! It was a great feeling to win and I was especially glad to have fellow Femme, Michele, with me to cheer me on. Many thanks to the Connecticut Chapter of RWA, the judges, and agent Sara Megibow who picked the winner in the Single Title category.

I’ve posted the first paragraph of Love’s Second Chance at http://mariakalexander.com if you’re interesting in stopping by.

The Conference

Above is a picture of Michele Mannon (left) and me at the Connecticut Fiction Fest conference.

Aside from the contest win, which had me shaking and grinning like a new parent, there were a lot of other nice things about the conference. This conference was smaller than NJRW’s conference, which made it more intimate. It was easier to network with people and provided lots of opportunities to pitch to agents and editors. Below, I’m going to share some of the learnings I took away from the conference.

Sherry Thomas kicked off the conference with an inspiring keynote speech. She encouraged us to not give up on our manuscripts, despite the rejections. She re-worked hers quite some time before finally getting published. I personally believe that the trick is finding the magic combination of all the skills that work and that once you do, everything will click into place.

The fabulous Kristan Higgins held a workshop on writing the dreaded Chapter 1. If you’re like me, I’ve written and re-written Chapter 1 many times. Finding the right place to start your story can be a challenge and it might take a couple attempts until you get it right. One of the main things Kristan shared is finding that eye-catching first line. You know it when you hear it, but finding it is not that easy. Another key component in the first chapter is to make sure the main character’s primary goal is clear. If we don’t have an invested stake in knowing what’s important to the H/H, then the reader may not continue. The other main takeaway is about backstory. I’m sure we’ve all gotten feedback that our first chapter has too much backstory. Finding that right balance of just the right amount is definitely something I’m still working on. It needs to hint at events of the past that you’ll eventually build on in the later chapters. Essentially, you need to put in enough to tease your reader and want them to keep reading more.

In the workshop Raising the Stakes, Toni Andrews spoke about character-driven plotting. She encouraged us to figure out our H/H worst case scenario, and then to make it happen. It’s about not being afraid to create problems for your characters. Who wants to read a book where everything is perfect and no one has any problems. Yawn! We want issues, drama, and conflict. Make your main characters hit rock bottom and then show how they overcome their obstacles to find their HEA.

What conferences do you all have planned this year? The NJRW conference will be here before we know it. Registration hasn’t started yet, but keep checking the website below for more details. http://njromancewriters.org/index.php?/conference/put_your_heart_in_a_book_conference/

Is anyone going to RWA Nationals? If so, I’m very jealous. I went with Joanna last year and it was a wonderful experience. Next year’s conference is in Atlanta, so start saving your pennies, Femmes! It’s roadtrip time.

Maria

Winner! Maria K. Alexander Places First in The Write Stuff Contest

Congratulations to VF Maria for winning FIRST PLACE in CTRWA’s The Write Stuff contemporary category with her ms Love’s Second Chance.

We’re so proud of you, Maria! Way to go!

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