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

 

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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

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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

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Option Clauses in Publishing Contracts – friend or foe to an author?

As mentioned, I’m going to talk about different aspects of publishing contracts in my blogs with the femmes. This month’s topic is option clauses.

We’ve all heard of option clauses in publishing contracts. But what exactly are they and how important are they to authors?

In simple terms, option clauses require an author to offer her next book to the publisher before anyone else. They’re also referred to as “a right of first refusal” clauses. It’s fair to assume that any clause in a contract is written in favor of the party who wrote it. In this case, the publisher.

 

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Now I know of authors who like the option clause. They say it gives them a sense of comfort knowing the publisher wants their next book. But this could very well be a false sense of comfort. Remember what I just mentioned above? Any clause in a contract is written in favor the party who wrote it. What the option clause is doing is prohibiting the author from submitting to other publishers while the publisher has no related duty. Not entirely fair, right?

If you’re a new or even a midlist author, you may not be able to eliminate the option clause entirely, but you may be able to effectively and professionally negotiate some points. Here are some concrete examples.

Limit the terms

Try to limit the word count or genre or both. The more specific the language of the option, the better for the author. For example, if the contract says “for author’s next fiction novel,” you can attempt to limit the option to “for author’s next 50,000 to 60,000 word contemporary paranormal romance.”

Limit the time you are required to submit your next book

For example, limit the amount of time you have to submit another book under the option clause, for example, number of years (one or two years). Otherwise, an option clause may be construed as endless.

Limit the publisher’s time to respond

Try to limit the publisher’s time to respond to the option work offered. For example, thirty to ninety days.

Limit the option work to a specific proposal

For example, write a short paragraph of your next work that you want covered under the option clause.

So have you ever heard of another way to effectively negotiate any type of contract? What’s your best tip? I’d love hear your views, so please share!

And please look for my next blog on different contract clauses.

Tina Gabrielle

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

You can find me at:

 tinagabrielle.com

 http://twitter.com/tinagabrielle

 https://www.facebook.com/TinaGabrielle

Recap of RWA 2014

RWA photo

Last week, I attended Romance Writer of America’s (RWA) conference in San Antonio, TX. It wasn’t my first National conference and it certainly won’t be my last. For the most part, writing is a solitary job. Authors keep their characters and their stories in their head, sharing with critique partners and beta readers. Attending a conference with approximately 2,000 other writers, agents, and editors is an amazing and inspiring opportunity to break out of that shell and network.

Here’s a highlight from a few of the fabulous workshops I attended:

I was surprised and excited by the number of workshops geared towards the romantic suspense genre. There was one on Guns for Writers where I learned the different classifications of guns and the correct stance for holding a gun. There was another for Writing a Believable Police Hero, Practical Self Defense (which, sadly, I missed), and Homicide Investigation 101. In case you didn’t guess, the hero in my WIP is a cop.

Cindy Ratzlaff gave an engaging talk about social book marketing strategy. Catch the Animoto video I created at the end. Totally cool!

Kristan Higgins, Alyssa Day, and Elizabeth Hoyt gave a fun workshop on Beyond the Alpha Male and Spunky Heroine. They challenged us to get deep into our hero’s character, including things such as knowing their weaknesses, how they’ve suffered, and deepest fears. What don’t they want the heroine to know?

For the heroine, there is a fine line between a strong heroine and a bitch. Be careful not to make her too bitchy and unlikeable, unless, of course, that’s your intent. What are her ambitions and desires that define her? What is her low point and why is the hero the worst person for her? How does he bring her back to that low point? How does she find her own inner strength to overcome it?

“Writers today must be both a writer and an entrepreneur.”Sylvia Day

“Each happy ending is a brand new beginning.”Karen Rose

Random highlights

  • Riverwalk boat tour with Michele Mannon
  • Meeting Joan Johnston in the elevator and gaining some interesting career advice
  • Meeting Nora Roberts and getting my own signed copy of her RITA® nominated book, Whiskey Beach
  • Signing at my first RWA Literacy signing
  • Cheering my fellow NJRW chapter mates, Nancy Herkness, Beth Ciotta, and Marnee Bailey on at the RITA® and Golden Heart® award ceremony
  • Books – I got way more books than I intended. Look for a giveaway soon on my author Facebook Page (Maria K Alexander – Author)
  • Getting my headshot taken at the trade show
  • Cowboys – you’ll have to watch the video link below for details
  • Meeting new friends, including another early riser and co-swag queen, Anabelle Bryant
  • Meeting wonderful Wild Rose Press authors, including editor and freelance designer, Diana Carlile, who designed the cover art for Untangle My Heart
  • Meeting Julie James, whose FBI/US Attorney series covers inspired Untangle My Heart. I even gave her a bookmark!

While I’m back to the grind and the day job today, I’m re-energized to jump back into edits for Forever In My Heart and my WIP.

Check out the video below which I made with pictures from the conference.

Hugs,

Maria

 

The Art of Contract Negotiation for Women Writers

We’ve heard it before: Women earn less money and benefits than their male counterparts. But the question is why? I believe the answer lies in the fact that women tend to shy away from negotiation. Women who do ask for more money or benefits are often viewed by society as overly aggressive or pushy. Overwhelmingly, romance writers are women who will find these essential skills helpful when negotiating their own publishing contracts.

3Contract

As an attorney, I’ve had the benefit of hours of negotiation training and have negotiated scores of civil settlements. Negotiation is a craft that can be studied and learned and will help with every facet of a writer’s career. I plan to blog about specific author contract clauses in the future, but I’m starting out with the very important art of negotiation.  Here are some tips:

 Don’t be afraid to ask.

I know as well as the next writer how hard it is to get “The Call.” I received many rejections before I sold my first book. We are all hesitant to ask for anything after waiting so long, and we feel we should be eternally grateful. But asking does not mean we aren’t grateful. Asking means we are taking our writing careers seriously and that we are intelligent businesswomen who intend to be successful in this profession.

Be Prepared.

Research is key.As members of RWA and our local chapters, we have excellent resources. The RWA website as well as the monthly Romance Writer’s Report magazine have a wealth of information on contract clauses. Conferences frequently offer workshops on author contracts and what’s standard in the industry. And don’t forget to ask fellow authors what is in their contracts and what clauses in particular they negotiated. Gathering as much information as possible is the best strategy.

Create a script in advance.

Before you call or meet with the editor or agent, you should have a mental outline of what you want. Items in that outline should include: your wish list; your reality list; and a deal breaker item, if there is one.

Develop options.

Understand in advance that you will not get everything you ask for. I’m not just talking about money here—there’s so much more to a contract. There are publishers that do not negotiate royalties or advances. This does not mean, however, that you cannot negotiate other sections of the contract to your benefit. What about the author’s grant of rights, for example, foreign rights? Publisher option clauses? Rights of reversion clauses? Basket accounting? Author’s rights in case of publisher bankruptcy? Or even more basic, what about more free and discounted author copies?

Know your negotiation power.

This is critical. If you are unpublished and you get an offer from an agent or editor, you have significantly much less negotiation power than a NY Times Bestseller. This doesn’t mean you have no power, but you must keep what you do have in perspective. An unpublished author cannot insist on a six figure deal and a cross-country book tour. That is demanding and unprofessional.

Stay Unemotional.

I know. This is your baby. You have spent countless hours polishing the first page, let alone the first chapter. But remember that publishing is a business, and the agent or editor is interested in selling your book and making money. The most effective negotiators are the unemotional ones.

Take a time out.

Don’t agree to anything immediately. Wait at least a day, preferably more, to think things through and clear your mind. Talk to other writers. Your spouse. Your critique partner. Your attorney, if necessary. That means if you get “The Call” and are jumping up and down with joy, do not agree to the representation or sign on the dotted line without waiting the requisite time period. After you calm down, you will be able to look at the fine print with different eyes.

Be professional.

Ask, don’t demand. Start out by saying, “I have a few concerns with the language of the contract…”

You’d be surprised what you can accomplish. Even if you do not get everything you hope for, you let industry professionals know that you are serious about your career and your books and that you are an author who is a worthwhile investment.

So have you ever negotiated any type of contract? What’s your best tip? I’d love hear your views, so please share!

And stay tuned  for my next blog on contract clauses.

Tina Gabrielle

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

 You can find me at:

 www.tinagabrielle.com

 http://twitter.com/tinagabrielle

 https://www.facebook.com/TinaGabrielle

Author Website Design 101

Recently, I spoke to a colleague who made her first sale. I remember the feeling for me, almost a year ago…a little numb, a lot anxious, and very excited. During my journey, I began establishing the social networking tools for publication: Twitter, Facebook, and a website. Signing that contract changed my perspective on my toolset. As a result, I refined my author repertoire in preparation for “release day”.

One of my big changes is that I completely revamped my website. Never having done a website or a blog before, I had started out with a free WordPress blog that doubled as my website. While that helped me get my feet wet, I wanted something with a little more pizazz. My domain was hosted through 1and1.com so I started there but ended up choosing Wix to create the actual website. Having a tech background, I didn’t mind rolling up my sleeves to figure out how to use the application, which is very user-friendly.

Below are some things you need to consider before you get started.

Branding

What is your author brand? Not your book brand, although the genre you write is a part of branding you as an author. What do you want your readers—yes, you’ll have them—to think about when they hear your name or first come into your site? If you write dark, paranormal stories or romantic suspense, you may want darker colors or a picture that will allow the reader to convey this at first glance.

Since I write contemporary, I struggled with my brand. Finally, I decided to keep it simple. I picked colors I liked and found an image of vines that reminded me of my Tangled Hearts series.

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Swimming Through Writer’s Block: Can Exercise Make You A Better Writer?

I never believed in writer’s block until I was working on my last manuscript. I did everything right. I had detailed character sketches. I plotted and wrote a wonderful synopsis and first three chapters which sold “A Spy Unmasked” to a publisher. I pulled out all the tricks I learned at writing workshops. I raised the stakes, I put the characters in an impossible situation, I heightened the emotional and external conflict, and then…well…nothing. I was stuck. I wrote myself in a corner.

For the first time, I had writer’s block.

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I knew about writer’s block, of course. I was just fortunate enough never to experience it. Let me first say that I was working nonstop. I love the story about a sexy Regency era spy, an emotionally damaged hero who blames himself on the death of his wife after one of his missions goes terribly awry. He’s forced to work with a feisty, intelligent heroine who wants revenge for her father’s murder. It’s a great love story with a hint of mystery. But I was working part time, writing, stopping to get the kids off the bus and seeing to their needs, and then writing all night. I was ignoring my needs.
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The Dreaded Sagging Middle

I wanted to blog about a topic many writers—including myself—dread. It’s the sagging middle. And I’m not talking about out waistlines. I’ll save that weight loss discussion for another day. I’m thinking of the middle chapters of our books. The part of our story that loses its drive, its enthusiasm, and well…its umph.

frustrated writer

Others call this midbook burnout. But whatever you call it, the result can be disastrous for both new and established writers. We start out strong. We picture our hero and heroine in our mind with vivid clarity. We know what they look like as well as their initial goals and motivations. We craft wonderful beginning chapters and maybe even strong endings. Then something happens mid-way through. The essence of the story gets lost. The conflict is too simple or too complicated. We sit at the computer for hours in frustration and write little. We decide the writing process is too hard and we even think about giving up.

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? The good news is there is a way to work through our frustrations. Here are the four tips that I find most helpful:

Flesh out character development scenes

 My favorite book on craft for writers is Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey. He breaks down the twelve stages of the hero’s journey. He calls step six “Tests, Allies and Enemies.” I’ve found this particularly helpful when I’m stuck in the middle of my book. By testing your hero and having him make allies and enemies you are allowing for great character development. You can learn a lot about a hero’s character by the friends and enemies he makes. Romances are all about the character growth of both the hero and heroine. So flesh out these scenes.

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Starting the Next Book

How do you start your next story? I don’t mean where, exactly. We all know the first chapter should begin with a life changing event. Ideally with a smidge of the everyday world shown, enough meat to show the character’s character, her (or his) dilemma without backstory slowing us down though.

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[Gpointstudio/Young Thoughtful Woman/Photos.com]

Sigh. If it were only that easy. For me STARTING the next book, period, is the hard part. I’ve attempted freeform scribbling of story ideas—you should see the disjointed pages of “maybe’s” I’ve got. Maybe he should do x, maybe this happened to her in the past, maybe that. If there’s a gem in that mess it’s hiding pretty well.

I’ve tried starting with only the most basic premise, using bold, black marker to set out the major plot points on index cards. This tactic is supposed to be so great. The cards can be rearranged so easily, you can take them everywhere! To begin, you only need a few big scenes! This major thing happened, they have to end here, something crushing has to happen about there, etc. Then you play a game of connect the dots—more index cards forming a dotted path from A to B to C. Except wait—you have to actually write something on them. And therein lies the trouble. Anyone else find all those blank rectangles laid out in row intimidating? Stilting? Truth be told, I did start my last book this way… sort of. But it didn’t get me very far. This time, index cards seem to be getting me nowhere.

Some people research heavily, all the gems of information igniting story ideas and plot twists galore. Ummmmn. If I don’t know what I’m writing, how do I know what to research?

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Housekeeping and Editing…Two Challenging Tasks!

I admit I’m not much of a housekeeper. I know mothers that excel at having a well-kept home. I’ve stopped by to drop my kids off at scheduled play dates or even unexpectedly to sell Girl Scout cookies and have been invited into homes that are often tidy and beautiful. I do clean, but more often than not, there are toys strewn about, and my office/playroom is well…just plain messy.

MessyDesk

One rainy afternoon, I was mumbling under my breath while cleaning out closets when my hubby walked in and said, “What’s the big deal? Think of it as cleaning up your manuscript after the first draft.” I dropped the trash bag stuffed with kids’ clothes intended for Goodwill, and looked up at him in shock. As an engineer and introvert, he’s definitely on the quiet side, but sometimes he blurts out very helpful and insightful things. I started thinking and came to the conclusion he was totally on point.

So what do cleaning the house and editing your book really have in common? It turns out to be a whole lot.

Read the entire manuscript in one sitting

Get the feel for the story. Resist marking the pages and making notes in the margins. Just read for the content. This will reveal overwriting, sections that need more explanation, or unfinished plot points. It’s similar to walking through the house and noting what needs to be cleaned, which closets need to be organized, and how big of a task you have ahead of you.
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Our Newest Violet Femme: Tina Gabrielle

I’m so pleased to introduce our newest Femme, Tina Gabrielle, a historical romance author who has published with Kensington and is now contracted with Entangled. Tina, as one of my first NJRW friends, I wish you a warm welcome! Let’s help our readers get to know you.

Original Artwork A Perfect ScandalJenna Blue: When did you fall in love with romance? Did you always know you’d end up writing?

Tina Gabrielle: First I’d like to thank the Femmes for inviting me to join them. It is an honor, and I’m happy to have such good friends!

I’ve been an avid reader since I was a young teen, but I didn’t start out as a good reader. English was my second language, and I grew up in a very ethnic Armenian household. My mother spoke four languages, and I remember starting kindergarten speaking very little English. It was a challenge! All through grade school I struggled with reading and writing, and I vividly recall being pulled out for speech therapy. It wasn’t until I was a teenager and our family took a summer vacation in the Poconos that I discovered a love for books. I was the youngest of three sisters and my oldest sister had a summer romance with another vacationing teen and my middle sister had a fling with one of the waiters. My parents were out with friends, and I was left alone in the hotel room. I was bored and picked up my sister’s historical romance, a spicy western. I was hooked! Thereafter, I started reading every romance (and popular fiction novel) I could find in my local library. I was too young to be reading some of these romances by today’s standards. My family had no idea what I was reading, they were just glad I was reading.

Years later, I started writing my own stories. I wrote my first book when I was sixteen. I remember typing furiously on the family computer, only to get frustrated when I was interrupted by one of my sisters. I thought the book was the greatest ever written, a Jackie Collin’s spin off, and believed it was my ticket to instant fame. How little did I know!
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