Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Free Stuff!

My good friend and awesome critique partner, Katie Reus is giving away a Kindle and all sorts of other goodies to celebrate the release of Alpha Instinct and His Secret Past. You can learn more about her giveaway HERE

Below, find all the info direct from Katie on the contest, then get started building points!

Starting January 1 - February 18, 2012 (that's less than a week away!) I'm going to be giving away fun prizes each week. Each entry will also be included for the Grand Prize drawing of a new Kindle (US only for the Kindle). Here is the list of weekly prizes:

Week 1 (1/1-1/7): $15 Amazon Gift Card or a copy of Alpha Instinct (as soon as I get my author copies), a digital copy of His Secret Past, & a digital copy of Touch Me by Callie Croix (her latest release!). Week 1 winner announced by January 15, 2012.
Week 2 (1/8-1/14): Ghirardelli Milk & Truffle Squares or a copy of Alpha Instinct & a digital copy of His Secret Past. Week 2 winner announced by January 22, 2012

Week 3 (1/15-1/21): $15 Amazon gift card or a copy of Alpha Instinct & a digital copy of His Secret Past. Week 3 winner announced by January 29, 2012

Week 4 (1/22-1/28): A copy of Eternal Hunger by Laura Wright + a Mark of the Vampire swag bag. This is the first book in her Mark of the Vampire series. The 3rd book releases 2/7/2012 so if you haven’t started this series here’s your chance. I’ll also be giving away a copy of Alpha Instinct and His Secret Past. Week 4 winner announced by February 5, 2012.

Week 5 (1/29-2/4): A copy of Alpha Instinct & a digital copy of His Secret Past. Week 5 winner announced by February 12, 2012

Week 6 (2/5-2/11): $15 Amazon gift card or a copy of Angel of Darkness by Cynthia Eden, a copy of Alpha Instinct and a digital copy of His Secret Past. Week 6 winner announced by February 19, 2012

Week 7 (2/12-2/18): Amazon’s newest Kindle (the one without the annoying splash ads, US only eligible), a print copy of Alpha Instinct and digital copies of five of my books to download to your new Kindle (Books include: Destined Mate, Killer Secrets, Dangerous Secrets, Deadly Obsession and His Secret Past). Week 7 winner announced by March 3, 2012.

To enter, please visit my website contest page here. Complete list of entry instructions (please remember to fill out the form letting me know you're entering!) and official rules are listed there. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Hanukkah!

Today is the first day of Hanukkah. Whatever you celebrate, may you be surrounded with love, light and good fortune! Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Win Loads of Books!

Check out the JUST ROMANTIC SUSPENSE Christmas Giveaway HERE. ONE insanely lucky person will win all these books on the night of December 19th:

Dee J Adams – Dangerous Race
Becky Barker – Cade’s Challenge
Anne Marie Becker – Only Fear
Allison Brennan – Love Me to Death
Lorelei Confer – Deadly Revenge
Wynter Daniels – Sizzle At Sea
Lena Diaz – He Kills Me, He Kills Me Not
Marcelle Dube – On Her Trail
Misty Evans – Operation Sheba
Adrienne Giordano – Risking Trust
Angela Henry – Paris Secret
Rita Henuber – Under Fire
Betsy Horvath – Hold Me
Victoria Howard – Ring Of Lies
Autumn Jordan – In The Presence Of Evil
Sylvie Kurtz – A Little Christmas Magic
Gennita Low – Hunter
Kat Martin – Tin Angel
Dana Marton – Guardian Agent
Julie Miller – The Shadow Of The Hawk
Maureen A. Miller – Endless Night
Terry Odell – When Danger Calls
Anne Patrick – Fire and Ash
Patricia Rasey – Deadly Obsession
Christy Reece – Sweet Justice
Jaime Rush – Unforgivable
Carol Stephenson – Courting Death
Carla Swafford – Circle Of Desire
Debra Webb - Obsession
Norah Wilson – Guarding Suzannah

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Most Unappealing Kiss Ever

It takes a lot to shock me. Hell, I write about kinky sex! But now I've seen the most unsexy kiss ever! I watched an episode of The Virgin Diaries  on TLC, which chronicles snipets of the lives of several people in their twenties and thirties who are still virgins for various reasons -- some by choice, some not by choice.

One of the vignettes is about a couple about to get married. The show follows the thirty-ish pair in the days leading up to their wedding. Not only have they not yet had sex, but they've never even kissed -- anyone! When the minister pronounces them husband and wife, they embark on what can only be described at eating each other's mouths. All I can say is it's totally icky. They kiss and kiss and kiss and as I watched, I was so glad I had nothing in my stomach.

Okay -- am I being a total prude, or a bitch? Watch the video and tell me what you think. The couple's first...and second...and third kiss are the most unappealing thing I've ever seen. What do you think?

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Dreaded Slump

Some people call it writer's block. I call it a slump -- that time when I seem incapable of writing anything new. I might be in the middle of a book or maybe I haven't yet begun a new one. Either way, it can be really depressing to be in that space where I can't seem to write. It happens to me and many other writers, so I have developed a few behaviors to overcome the stagnation. I hope they help anyone else out there who suffers a similar affliction.

1. Put my current WIP on ice and start something new. That something doesn't have to be an epic novel. It can be a short story or a novella. That change can often push me out of a creative rut.

2. Adjust my daily word count goal. Sometimes taking off some of the pressure can help. If my current daily goal is 2,000 words and I'm overwhelmed by the idea of writing 20, I change that daily goal down to 500 words. That little mindset switch can re-energize my creative juices and the decrease in pressure sometimes does the trick. I switch it back up once I have my mojo back. Hey, I figure 500 words is better than no words.

3. Take a breather. Sometimes I allow myself to take a little time off. Life happens. I might have company in town or just lots of things in my mind. I have to tell myself it's okay to take a vacation from the writing as long as I set the parameters of how long that break will last. I try to keep it to a max of a few days.

4. Write with friends. I occasionally go to a cafe with members of my RWA chapter to write. Sure, we spend part of the time catching up with each other, but we also get some writing done. Seeing others working can kick-start my On button.

5. Break up that daily word total into manageable blocks. I allow myself a short email break every 100 words or so. Or I do a 250 word sprint then take a break to get outside or get some chores done.

What about you? Do you sometimes get creatively blocked? Do you have any suggestions for ways out of the dreaded slump.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Book Three in Long and Hard Series!

It's here! The third book is finally out. Crescendo completes the Long and Hard trilogy. Comment here and I will pick one name win the book!

After a painful break-up, concert violinist Chloe Carmichael just wants to be alone. But when she is targeted by a stalker, she’s forced to allow a sexy stranger into her life.

Security expert Wyatt Long is trying to protect Chloe. Staying as close as he dares to the beautiful musician proves difficult when she insists on performing a public concert. When the job becomes personal, he has way more to lose than a client.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Taking Research to the Next Level

I'm just beginning work on a new project -- a series of paranormal romances set in my home state of Florida. If you're familiar with my books, then you know the paranormal genre is new for me.

I have one short story out that deals with a psychic. But Spirit of Seduction  only scratches the supernatural surface.

The new series will go way deeper into several occult topics, the first of which is wiccan magic, or witchcraft.

I took a big step and signed up for a six-week course on basic wicca, which is turning out to be great. I've now attended an authentic wicca Samhain (pronounced sah-ween) ritual. I've also started devouring everything I can get my hands on about witchcraft, magic, casting spells and pagan rituals.

Frankly, the class is so much more interesting than anything I did in my years of collegiate learning. I don't know why I didn't take this step a long time ago. Next on my agenda will be research on the subject of the next book -- either reiki healing, tarot cards or astrology. I haven't worked up the outline yet.

What about you? What's the most extreme step you've taken in the name of research?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thursday with an Editor - Angela James

Today is the final installment of Thursday with an Editor. Today's guest is industry icon, Angela James, always a fount of great information. Thanks for joining me, Angela.

Apparently I'm the wrap-up crew here at casa de Wynter. Whenever you have a wrap-up post you usually get a highlight of what's come before, but given the number of awesome editorial posts she's managed to snag, I don't think that's possible, so I suggest you go re-read those earlier posts from the last few months. The other thing we usually get with wrap-up posts is some kind of predictions or things to think about as we move forward. Now THAT I can do.

So, without further ado, here's 3 things I want you to think about as we move forward into publishing in 2012.

1) It doesn't have to be self-publishing OR traditional publishing OR digital publishing.

Honestly, there's room for all kinds of publishing. There's no either/or situation here and we should all stop presenting publishing as if there are no shades of grey. That type of thinking doesn't lead to logic-supported arguments. Nor does cult thinking or drinking the kool-aid, so knock it off and let people decide how THEY want to publish, not how you THINK they should publish.

When you choose one of these paths, than I assume it's because you did your research and concluded it was the right path for you to achieve your career plan. I'll hope you didn't do it out of visceral reactions, or because you were told publishers pull the wings off butterflies, or because you think every single self-published book is dreck. Don't do it for those reasons. Do it because what you choose is good business for YOU.

2) If you're self-publishing, and millions of you will in 2012, don't skip all of the steps that go with publishing.

Just because you don't think solid editing and good cover art and excellent formatting and a well-thought-out story aren't important doesn't mean your readers don't. Every time you skip one of those, you damage your brand. And your brand is how you sell books. Don't damage that which makes you money and builds your publishing career. It's foolish.

3) Last, my favorite quote, the one I'll probably have engraved on my grave marker some day: Never, ever forget that there's a difference between CAN publish and SHOULD publish.

Just because you wrote it doesn't mean people should get the opportunity to read it. Remember your brand? Everything you write and publish (whether available for free or for sale) adds or detracts from your brand. Don't foolishly damage what you've worked to build just for the sake of a quick buck, or because you can't bear to write it and never have it seen. Not everything everyone writes is meant to be published. There. I said it. I'm sure most of you actually agree. You just don't think it applies to you.

So there you have it, three things I think authors should keep in mind as we move into 2012. There are a lot more things I think you should keep in mind (always wear clean underwear when you leave the house, realize there's a difference between signing terms of service and a contract, embrace the opportunity for choice as one that's good for an industry, and follow @angelajames on Twitter) but we'll stick with these three highlights for now. There will be plenty more time to dissect publishing, both past and present.

Executive editor of Carina Press, Harlequin’s digital-first imprint, Angela James is a long-time advocate for digital publishing after nearly a decade in the industry. She frequently travels to conferences around the world to meet with authors and readers, and to drag them to the digital dark side. You can find Angela on both Twitter and Facebook.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sue Grimshaw, Editor for Random House Publishing

It's my pleasure to have Sue Grimshaw here on my blog today for this edition of Thursday with an Editor.

Sue was the romance book buyer for Borders and Waldenbooks stores for more than a decade. As of April this year, Sue is Ballantine Bantam Dell’s Category Specialist & Editor At Large.  At BBD, Sue is working primarily with the digital end of the business thus learning how to ride the waves of the changes that are ongoing of late in the romance industry.  Sue is actively acquiring for BBD’s Loveswept digital imprint relaunched in Fall this year.


        What does your job entail?
As Category Specialist & Editor At Large for Ballantine Bantam Dell (Loveswept), I report directly to Gina Wachtel, VP Publishing Director/Associate Publisher.  I’m very involved with the social media aspect of Romance At Random.com website; Facebook; Twitter; Tumblr; Google Buzz & Plus communities implementing posts; in general, facilitating daily communications.  As Editor At Large, I acquire, edit, & implement new titles for primarily, the Loveswept digital line.  As you can imagine, I do lots of reading . . . much of what I read are submissions from agents, authors, and even from un-published authors– it is great fun & I could not have wished for a better organization to work for.  I also attend many conferences through-out the country, taking pitches & facilitating workshops usually discussing the industry and its trends, as well as, what readers are looking for.  I guess I’ve become an author liaison of sorts, unbeknownst to me <G> 
I enjoy meeting unpublished authors & hearing about their books . . .then finding that diamond in the rough that you know readers will love & adore.  BECAUSE OF YOU, by Jessica Scott, is our debut for Loveswept (11/2011) & I believe this is a story readers will enjoy – the emotional level is high with a hero to die for; our heroine is strong, confident & caring --- & above all, their romance is sizzling!

2.       How many authors do you edit and how do you choose them?
Depending on the manuscript, I’m reading two to three unpublished authors a week.  I’m working about 4-5 mos out, meaning that if I received a MS today it would take me that long to get back to the author/agent with a response.  I think I’m like most editors & I choose manuscripts based on whether I think they can be a good book or not, but above all, whether I think the reader will enjoy the story.  Having had a bookseller background, I believe it has given me an insight into what readers enjoy.  As I read the manuscripts, I tend to use this knowledge as a benchmark, which is just another tool to help me decide whether or not the story is something we would publish.  On top of all that, Gina is a romance maven – she has an eagle’s eye for what works, so by the time we’ve acquired & edited a story it is golden <G>  I work very closely with Junessa & Angela, two of BBD’s savvy editors, who help me with lines edits and the other details of publishing.

3.       What are the perks of your job? The pitfalls?   
Finding that ‘diamond in the rough’ – finding that debut author & being able to help deliver her story to romance readers everywhere.  The feeling you get from making that happen is the biggest perk for me J 
Pitfalls . . . probably not being able to read everything, or being able to respond with a detailed    critique to help authors with their books.

4. What’s your favorite type of submission? Is there a specific genre you love (more than others) to edit?  I used to have a favorite sub-genre, but now, I’m more about characters . . . their development & journey.  I find I’m reading more contemporary than ever before, but I believe that is because there is more out there.  Similar in opinion to that of many romance readers, it is really all about the characters.  I guess that is why I’ve loved Nora Roberts & her stories for all these years.  Nora nails characters.

5. What do you like to read for pleasure (assuming you have any time left over in your busy schedule)? LOL – lately, my work is my reading pleasure – I love to read new submissions!  However, at some point I’m sure I’ll have to back away & read other things although they still will be in the romance genre.  One of my favorite authors (besides Nora) is Catherine Anderson, I am so looking forward to her next release.  Mary Balogh is another author who never disappoints & I’m behind on her latest books.  And some day I’d like to get back to reading Nelson DeMille – sarcasm through-out which is always laugh out loud great fun.

6. Have you ever written and published any fiction? If not, do you secretly aspire to be a writer?
God no.  I’m not a storyteller – the best authors are storytellers at heart.

7. Are you planning to attend any conferences in the near future?
Yes, I’m heading out to Silicon Valley – CA, RWA chapter meeting this Fall & then have several conferences planned for 2012 including:  RWA; RT & Romcon.

8. What’s the best advice you can give aspiring writers? 
It sounds cliché, but really, write the best book ever!  The book of your heart --- because if you feel what you’re writing the reader will feel it too.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thursday with an Editor - Theresa Stevens

Please welcome independent editor, Theresa Stevens for today's edition of Thursday with an Editor.

In my career, I’ve been an agent, an in-house acquisitions editor, and a freelance editor. Of these three roles, which do you think gives me the most opportunity to dig into manuscripts and nurture writers? Most people guess wrong, but if you guessed freelance editing, you’re right.

Agents have priorities which allow them to shape some manuscripts and groom some authors, but they also have other demands on their time. They must maintain their networks with authors, with organizations, and perhaps most important, with editors. They must review royalty statements and contracts. They must train staff, read queries and submissions, and (depending on their policies), send out rejections. These are important jobs, things you want your agent to do, but they take away from the time they can spend on development.

Ditto for in-house editors, who function partly as project managers. They must shepherd the manuscript through pre-press, which means coordinating with sales, art, and other departments to create the physical book and get it into the distribution stream. Important tasks? You bet. Nevertheless, these things do cut into the time available for actual editing.

As a freelance editor, I have one job and one goal: making your manuscript as good as it can be. I do that not only by marking up the pages, but by demonstrating techniques which can be incorporated in future manuscripts, too. For example, if I see an issue with dialogue tags, I don’t merely fix the punctuation and edit the tag. I explain in a note why I’m doing that, the difference between a tag and a beat, and when and how to use them. I also did this sort of thing when I was editing in house and agenting, too, but it was not my primary focus. Freelance editing gives me more time and flexibility to focus on the teaching side of the process.

Now, here’s a dirty secret from behind the scenes. Some industry professionals – and no, I won’t tell you which – scorn the notion that they have any responsibility for training or nurturing authors. I’ve heard more than one of them openly mock the idea of “teaching moments,” and the prevailing attitude during these conversations seems to be, “If the writer doesn’t already know these things, why should I hire them in the first place?”

This attitude is both wise and foolish, wise because authors should certainly be writing to a certain competence level before publication, and foolish because no writer ever stops learning. Nor ever should. The curiosity and inventiveness that drive the learning process are key ingredients in the makeup of a career author, the kind who generates book after successful book. Failing to respect and nurture those impulses is a mistake, in my opinion.

Obviously, others disagree. I once had a senior editor at a “Big Six” house tell me that she would never even think to point out to an author when she’s doing something right. Another editor at another traditional press insisted that it was the agent’s job, not the editor’s, to show them how to fix an error. They have their reasons, and I understand those reasons, but I disagree with the result.

So, for me, freelance editing gives me the freedom to focus on the manuscript, and only the manuscript. I don’t have to drop my red pen to scamper off to a staff meeting. I don’t have to wonder whether marketing will want the romantic suspense to be more suspenseful or more romantic this time around. I don’t have to run up sales projections or quibble over contract terms or fret over whether an artist will hold it against me if I request changes to a weak cover. All I have to do is analyze the story and edit the prose. My goal is – because it can be – showing the author how to make the book better. And most days, much as I miss the pace and perks of life in-house, this goal is more than enough to satisfy both me and my clients.

After earning degrees in creative writing and law, Theresa Stevens worked as a literary attorney agent for a boutique firm in Indianapolis where she  represented a range of fiction and nonfiction authors. After a nine-year hiatus from the publishing industry to practice law, Theresa worked as chief executive editor for a highly acclaimed small romance press, and she is currently the Publisher of STAR Guides Publishing, a nonfiction publishing company. Her articles on writing and editing have appeared in numerous publications for writers.
Visit her blog at http://edittorrent.blogspot.com where she and her co-blogger share their knowledge and hardly ever argue about punctuation.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thursday with an Editor - Kelli Collins

My special guest for today's Thursday with an Editor series is the brilliant and sarcastic Kelli Collins, Editor-in-Chief of Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.

1. Did you always want to be editor-in-chief for a publisher of erotic books?
Can’t say it ever crossed my mind. In school, I leaned toward science and mathematics, but I was also a rapacious reader, never went anywhere without books. My careers ended up following that path organically and, I have to admit, rather effortlessly.

2. How do your husband and family feel about your job?
They don’t feel any particular way about it. It’s what I do, not who I am, and they get that. I certainly don’t hide it, nor do I edit under a pen name (many do and that’s fine; it’s a highly personal decision). The hubs enjoys my wackier author stories. And owing to the size of my family (17 kids; hard to keep track of all those careers!), I suspect some of them probably think I’m still working in a bookstore in Florida (2 states and several jobs ago).  :)

3. What is your educational and career background?
I relocated from Michigan to Florida halfway through a finance degree. As much as I love math, I ultimately didn’t love it enough to make it a career. While living in Tampa, I charmed my way into a journalist job at a chain of alt-weeklies. (Note: I have the most amazing job luck.) I really had nothing to recommend me but a sparkling personality (*smirk*) and some natural writing talent. Ultimately, that was enough. I had worked my way up to associate editor when, in 2004, I edited a cover story about a little e-book company owned by Tina Engler…  It was inspiring, to say the very least. The next thing I knew, I was freelancing for EC. In February of 2009, I accepted the Editor-in-Chief position.

4. How many authors do you edit yourself and how do you choose them?
Technically I have 59 authors in my stable, but their writing schedules are such that I’m working on projects for perhaps a third of them or less at any given time (barring those rare times when they submit en masse; an evil plot to make me go mental, I’m sure). And I use several criteria to choose authors, all important to me, but item #1 is imagination. I can explain technical stuff; I can teach grammar and structure and the particulars of characterization, world-building, etc. I can give authors a lot of tools, but I can’t give them an imagination. If a story is unique and inspiring, if I fall in love with the characters, I’ll do what it takes to help an author translate her/his vision to the page.

5. How many editors do you manage?
I’m personally responsible for talking 14 content editors and 9 copy editors off the occasional ledge.  ;-)  The publisher, Raelene Gorlinsky, edits a small group of authors as well. We also employ 2 acquisitions editors, who work more closely with the COO.

6. What are the perks of your job? The pitfalls? (It’s okay to dish, we won’t rat you out to your boss ;-)
Great conversation is high on the list. Lol! Both in the office and with authors. I go to several conferences each year, which are a blast (I love just hanging with and meeting authors, EC’s and others). And I’ve never worked at a more fun office; we have some seriously funny people at HQ (CEO Patty Marks being the funniest of all), which is important to me. If I can’t laugh, I die. The company is also extremely generous. We all know it’s impossible to please all people, all the time. But EC really does do everything within its power to keep the authors happy. I’ve also witnessed truly extraordinary kindnesses during my time here, the sort of behind-the-scene things you’ll certainly never read about in the blogosphere. As for pitfalls…reading about sex for 7 years can make you jaded.  :)  It’s a rare day when an author surprises me with his/her sex scenes. And because of the digital nature of the job, the potential to overwork is high. I’m at home, relaxing, playing on my laptop…why NOT edit some more? I have to force myself to turn off my computer most evenings.

7. What do you like to read for pleasure (assuming you have any time left in your busy schedule)?
I rarely ever have time, but when I do…horror, suspense and a wide array of nonfiction.

8. Have you ever written and published any fiction? If not, do you secretly aspire to be a writer?
God no. And I could if I wished; EC has no rule against editors writing. A long time ago, I thought I might one day publish something, have even started a few projects over the years. But despite that aforementioned modest writing talent, I simply have no love for it. I can happily edit for 12 hours but I can’t force myself to write for 20 minutes. Editing is what I’m crazy-time passionate about, so I don’t push it. I know too many people who aren’t even doing something they like, let alone lucky enough to do what they love.

9. What’s the best advice you can give aspiring writers planning to pitch to you at a conference?
I don’t bite. So take a few deep breaths and relax. I feel just wretched when someone is so nervous during a pitch that they can’t speak. And here’s the thing about that—I’m really no big shot. I don’t get my jollies by intimidating authors. And I truly believe I can’t edit effectively, certainly not with the author’s best interest in mind, if I let my ego go unchecked. I’m not in this for worldwide editorial domination, don’t treat bestsellers differently than I would an unpublished author, and have no interest in popularity contests. I never want an author to feel as if I hold the fate of her/his career in my hands—just one particular book’s fate at EC.  The worst I can say is, “No thank you”, and if I do, I wholeheartedly encourage authors to try again.

10. Chocolate, vanilla or something entirely different?
Which day? Which hour? You know what they say about variety…  ;-)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Thursday with an Editor - Rhonda Helms

Please welcome the lovely and talented Rhonda Helms to Thursday with an Editor. Thanks so much for stopping by, Rhonda!

Writing and Editing--Living on Both Sides of the Desk

by Rhonda (Stapleton) Helms

I started in publishing as a writer, snagging an agent and finally selling a teen romance trilogy to Simon and Schuster. But somewhere along the way I also discovered and cultivated my love of editing. Now I'm fortunate enough to write fiction and work as a freelance acquisitions/developmental editor. 

Editing isn't for everyone. Writing isn't for everyone either, come to think of it. But these two aspects of publishing both appeal to me in different ways, and each has helped strengthen the other.


The writerly side of me has benefited from my editing job because I've learned a lot about craft, the industry, and the like. I've read a LOT of manuscripts--hundreds of them--and have learned how to quickly evaluate a manuscript for its potential, analyze the plot, characters, pacing, setting to see if they intrigue me, if they feel realistic and yet compelling, if the writing is sophisticated and interesting. The first five pages hook me into a story. 

So as a writer, I know I need to make the first few pages of my story shine. But not only that, I've read manuscripts in an editorial capacity where the first 3 chapters are amazing--polished, well-plotted, fascinating characters--but the story falls apart after that. If I can't keep that sparkle going throughout the whole manuscript I know my story will be rejected. It happens ALL the time.


The editor side of me has benefited from being a writer too. I know how nervous writers get (especially new authors); they need to be kept in the loop on how the process is going to go, what to expect, how I work, what I need from them, etc. I try to explain the whole process to my authors so we're all on the same page. I offer comments in the manuscript--both positive and constructive--so they see what they're doing right and what can be strengthened. I reply to emails as quickly as I can, usually within 24 hours. I'm honest and open and professional and fun because the point is to create a collaborative environment that encourages and fosters a healthy working relationship. 

As an editor, I know the anxieties my authors face. I know how they worry about sales, promotion, craft, and so on. I try my best to be transparent and answer questions so they feel a little less lost in this massive industry.


I know a number of editors who are also writers. But guess what? You can do this too...it's not just for people who work for a publisher. Authors can develop their inner editors. Here are a few tips/thoughts on that:

1--learn how to read analytically. When I read a novel, I have a hard time shoving that inner editor aside. But that's not a bad thing. Yes, I read for leisure, but I also read to analyze how an author's craft works and doesn't work. I read published novels to learn how author A makes her characters resonate, how author B weaves intricate pacing that makes me turn the pages, how author C makes setting feel alive. Pick up novels in the genre you're writing. Pick those books apart--what works for you? WHY? And what doesn't work--what would you do differently?

2--learn how to critique. Man, I could write a whole book on this art, haha. Critiquing not only benefits the author whose manuscript you're evaluating, it also benefits you. With novels, you're reading stuff that's already been polished and through editing. Here you can see the story in its most raw form--the SAME way you draft. You'd be surprised how much you learn by reading manuscripts in volume. So branch out and find critique partners. Ask that person what his/her strengths and weaknesses are. Learn how to not only do a general crit, but how to read for characterization. For plot. For pacing. For setting. For subplot. For sophisticated prose.

3--talk, talk, talk to other industry pros. Most editors, agents, writers are happy to answer questions. Check out their blogs, their websites, their twitter feeds, their Facebook and Google+ pages. We're giving you information on what we see, and it's all free. So take it! Editing isn't just about picking a manuscript apart. It's also the art of relationships, of communication. As an editor I interact with industry pros every day. I build those relationships. You should be doing the same.

Any questions? Ask away, and thanks for tuning in! 

Rhonda Stapleton Helms is experienced on both sides of the editorial desk. She's a published author with Simon and Schuster's young adult imprint, Simon Pulse--visit her website at rhondastapleton.com to learn more about her as an author. Rhonda is an acquisitions/developmental editor for Carina Press, and she also freelance edits manuscripts--check out rhondaedits.com for services, rates and testimonials. 

Friday, September 30, 2011

Another Day, Another Release!

Book 2 from my Long and Hard series is out today!!! Yippie. Loose Lips makes its debut on the Ellora's Cave website. So, without further ado, here's the blurb:

Olivia Worthington has a problem. A guy she barely knows stole precious jewels from the museum where she works and it was all her fault. Distrustful of the police, she seeks her ex-boyfriend’s help. But when she draws him into a hornet’s nest of trouble, will he walk away for good?
Computer geek and security expert Grady Long was just starting to get over Olivia when she showed up on his boat begging for his help. How was he supposed to resist the woman who regularly walked through his dreams? Will his weakness for her cost him more than he has to give?
If you'd like to read an excerpt, you'll find one HERE. Comment to be entered in a drawing for a FREE book!

***Update - winner is Ranae. Please email me at wynter@ wynterdaniels. com (no spaces). Congrats!***

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thursday with an Editor - Stacy Boyd

Please welcome Editor Stacy Boyd to the blog today.

Senior editor of Harlequin Desire, watching publishing respond to digital media, living HEA in NYC with a five year old, missing my family in Georgia, wanting time to be lazy.

1. Would you tell us what your typical day looks like?

My typical day is filled with email! I’m usually answering requests from marketing about book covers or copy; from authors about submissions, contracted materials and scheduling; from production about the status of edits; from art about cover information and proofs; from upper management about my strategy for the line and our authors’ career trajectories; and from many others about special projects, conferences, social media, etc. In the midst of all of this, there are many, many meetings. I love how busy my days are, and the diversity of my responsibilities. The best part, of course, is that I get paid to read romance novels. J

2. What’s your favorite thing to read for pleasure?

I read a lot of non-fiction and YA when I’m outside the office, and I especially love magazines. Right now, Bloomberg Businessweek is my favorite.

3. What’s the best perk of your job? Any pitfalls?

The best perk is being able to read really great stories from my favorite authors before they’re available elsewhere. Oh, and free books. The biggest pitfall is that I never have time to read everything I’d like to read.

4. How many authors do you edit yourself? On average, about how many new authors do you take on each year? 

I have an author base of about twenty, a number that fluctuates, and I take on about one new author each year. The entire Desire editorial team, however, usually takes on 3-5 new authors a year.

5. Do you enjoy going to writers’ conferences? Which ones will you be attending in the near future?

I love writers’ conferences! It’s so fun to gather with people who love books as much as I do. I’m attending the New Jersey Romance Writers of America conference on October 22nd, and I’ll be at the Liberty States Fiction Writers conference in the spring of 2012.

6. What’s the best advice you can give aspiring writers planning to pitch to you at a conference?

Think about your story as you would think about a published book. What’s the one thing about your story that would hook you, if you were reading back cover copy? Pick what intrigues you the most, and open with that.

7. Is there a set number of books you expect your authors to pen a year?

For series romance, prolific authors have an advantage. They can more easily build their audience by appearing on the shelves more often. I usually ask new authors to do at least two books a year. Some of our top-selling authors do 3-5 books a year, or more.

8. How would one of your authors describe your editing style?

My authors are always very polite, so they may be thinking one thing and saying another. J Hopefully, they find my editing style to be supportive of their voice and helpful in making their narrative intentions clear to readers.

9. What’s the most common question you’re asked by aspiring writers? And the answer?

The most common question is “What are you looking for?” In broad terms, I’m looking for a good story. More specifically, I’m looking for sexy, short contemporary romance with a lot of drama, an alpha hero with a heart of gold and an unexpected take on plot or characters.

10. What was the last movie you loved?

I’ve been glomming on long-form TV—watching several episodes back-to-back. Longer than movies, but just as engrossing! My recent favorites have been Game of Thrones and True Blood.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Got Hero?

I do, actually. Yeah, I can brag on him cuz he's just that awesome. Our family has had some difficult situations to deal with lately and every single time, my man has stepped up to the plate and taken control.

I don't know about you, but that's the sort of guy I want to fashion my heroes after in my books. Lucky me that I have such a great role model. And trust me, I've patterned more than one of my leading man after my own leading man.

Romance is fantasy, right? Escapism and all that stuff. I can deal with the guy who leaves peanut butter fingerprints on the cabinets and doesn't put the seat down every single time because he sure makes up for it in other ways.

So here's to you, babe! It's so nice to know you've got my back.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Thursday with an Editor


Welcome to the first installment of my Thursday with an Editor series with Kensington Publishing's Megan Records, who has graciously agreed to kick off the series with an editor's interpretation of what your cover letter/query really says.

Megan Records has a B.A. in English and a M.S in Publishing. Before Kensington, she worked at an educational publishing house. Now, she’s found a job that actually pays her to do what she was already doing in her spare time—reading romance. For reading recommendations, tips for aspiring authors, and random comments from daily life as an editor, follow her on Twitter @meganrecords.

What we REALLY think when reading your cover letter/query
We editors are masters at tempering rejections. I have at least 5 stock phrases that sound much nicer than “I was bored by this book.” But what’s really going through my head when I read queries? Take a look:

I haven’t seen anything like this in the bookstore, so I decided to write it.

I think: Yeah…there’s probably a reason you haven’t seen this premise before. Or: Yeah, you clearly haven’t been in a bookstore in the last 10 years.

I can’t wait to go on Oprah and to see my book made into a film.

I think: Good luck with that. Clearly you are super out of touch with publishing reality. And I don’t feel like being the one to burst that bubble.

I’m a published author.

I think: Why don’t you list who you are published with? *googles your name* Oh, PublishAmerica.

I’ve been published in my high school newspaper, and had several letters to the editor printed in my local paper.

I think: This doesn’t count as published.

It took me thirteen years to write this book.

I think: I need you to write at least a book a year, if not two books a year. I’m thinking that’s going to be a problem.

I’m a mother of two high-schoolers, so I know how to write YA that appeals to all teenagers.

I think: I manage to dress myself every day, but that doesn’t mean I’m qualified to be a fashion designer.

If you are not the appropriate editor for my project, please give it to the correct one and send me their contact information.

I think: Riiight. If you can’t do your own research, I’m not going to do it for you.

I’m sending this to you exclusively.

I think: Why? I haven’t asked for one. Your query process is going to take forever if you give everyone exclusives.

The main characters are based on real people.

I think: In other words, you fictionalized your own life story. I’m guessing you probably won’t be open to editorial changes regarding plot or character…

This is a women’s fiction romance mystery with vampires.

I think: I don’t know how to sell this.

This manuscript has been a finalist in 17 contests.

I think: 17? And yet no editor/agent has picked it up yet? Most likely you’re spending too much time entering contests and not enough time revising the bulk of your book.

I’m a member of RWA (or ITW, MWA).

I think: Hooray!  This author is definitely interested in writing as a career.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Editor Series Begins This Week!

As my guest editor series draws near, I thought it would be helpful to say a few words about what editors can do and what they mean to writers.

First and foremost, an editor is your first reader. Sure, they are gatekeepers and as such, they must bar the work that isn't up to par for their company. But gatekeepers also let the worthy in.

An editor is way more than a proofreader. He or she is tasked with making your work the very best it can be. And hey, who doesn't want their work to be its best when it rolls off the line?

An editor is someone who knows the publishing world (probably a lot better than you do) and she knows  where your work fits into that world. She's not your mother or your friend. If she says likes something it's because it's good, not because she doesn't want to hurt your feelings. And the opposite is true, too. She won't let you slide on something that just isn't right to avoid hurting your feelings.

An editor is a teacher. If you pay attention, editors can teach you a lot. I've learned something from every editor I've worked with and to date, that's more than a dozen of them. I still get an occasional grammar lesson  -  usually about some obscure rule or exception to one. But more importantly, they point out things like plot holes and characterization issues and big things that can make or break the story. Some editors even teach courses and write books chock full of awesome information for writers. Want to learn a whole lot about writing? Think about taking the Before You Hit Send workshop by Carina Press Executive Editor Angela James. There's one starting in a week!

More than anything, an editor is a purveyor of the written word. She can do for your work what the fairy godmother did for Cinderella's look. Yeah, she's that amazing. Stay tuned for editorial wisdom.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Under Pressure

I think we've all had this happen. Someone gives us a book and says you MUST read this. It's awesome. Then they gush about while you smile politely because you know it isn't your taste in reads.

As a writer, there are literally dozens of books on my TBR shelf at any given moment. From craft books to novels written by writer buddies to those my agent thinks I ought to read, to the monthly read my book club has assigned, I am inundated with books, books, books. And I love to read - heck, it's one of the great pleasures in my life.

Recently a relative (whom I love dearly) gave me a book and insisted it had to be next on my TBR pile. Okay, because I love her so much. But then I saw it was over 800 pages. Uh oh. What's a slow reader to do?

So far, I've read a chapter or two and honestly, it's just not grabbing me. Now this is a very well known, popular book. It's just not my thing.

So I'm curious. Has this happened to you? How did you handle it?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thursday With An Editor Series

I can't begin to tell you how excited I am about a new series I've come up with for this blog. Beginning in mid-September, I will host an editor every Thursday either for a guest post or an interview.

Now I am not talking your run-of-the-mill line editor, no. I've got some of the best and brightest editors out there. Who, you ask? I have interviews with Harlequin Desire's Stacy Boyd, Ellora's Cave Editor-in-Chief, Kelli Collins and Random House's Sue Grimshaw. I also have guest posts by Carina Press Executive Editor Angela James, Carina Press editor Rhonda Stapleton, Kensington editor Megan Records and independent editor (and former Red Sage Managing Editor) Theresa Stevens.

Is than an amazing lineup or what? The generosity of these ladies is humbling. I can't begin to imagine how busy they are and I am so grateful that they will donate their time and expertise to the series.

Stay tuned. The series begins on September 15th with Megan Records and Angela James will wrap it up on November 3rd. It's going to be great!

If you have any questions you'd like me to pose in advance to any of the interviewees, please leave a note in the comments.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Book Club Nirvana

I can't wait to read the next two selections for my book club. The first is The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Yes - half the readers out there are probably reading this one, but one of our founding members chose this one long before the movie came out. I've just delved into the first few pages and I'm already hooked. This is good news because I absolutely hated the last book, The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel, a book that scoffs at the all-important writer rule of showing rather than telling. Every emotion is told to the reader and there's hardly any dialogue. Honestly, I couldn't finish that one, but my reading group buds are cool about that. Part of why we meet is to discuss the book, part of it is merely intelligent conversation with some interesting women.

After we meet next month to discuss The Help, we'll make a date to go see the movie together. I can't stand seeing a movie first then reading the book. When I ordered this book, I went ahead and bought our next selection as well - Some Girls: My Life in a Harem, which is a true story by Jillian Lauren. This one is calling me, too so I'd better hurry up and read The Help!

What about you? Are there any books you're dying to read? If you are a member of a book club, have there been any selections you hated? If so, did you finish the book?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Guest Author - Bonnie Paulson

Please welcome today's guest author, Bonnie Paulson

Own your Genre

Romance is known for its steam scenes, happy endings and men with muscles that go on forever.
I’ve been teased for reading “smut”. I hid my genre when I started to write it. I claimed I wrote mysteries, thrillers.  I went so far as to say I wrote literary. I even tried writing that way. Then I had an epiphany.
I couldn’t figure out why it was so dang hard to write. Everyone says write what you know. Finally, I acknowledged to myself I know romance. I’ve been reading the awesome genre since I was 8. It’s my fall back. I’ll stray and check out other genres (Harry Potter, for example) but I always return to romance.
What I learned is no genre is “more” prestigious than another. To the reader, whatever genre they like is the royal genre to them.

This is a subjective business and not because of agents and editors. Subjectivity comes from the different tastes of the readers. People like different things at different times – like food.
Whatever you write or read, be proud of it. Say it clear – don’t mumble like I used to. Jeesh, you would’ve thought I was an alcoholic or something.

I’m a romance writer. I like the mushy stuff. I like a solid, well-delivered line that creeps under my skin and kisses my bones.

I’m Bonnie R. Paulson and I read and write romance.
How about you? 

Find Bonnie at http://bonnierpaulson.com

********Bonnie has graciously offered to give a digital copy of Breathe Again to one commenter***********

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I am over at Not Your Usual Suspects today dishing on the lessons I learned on my recent family vacation. Also, we have a new member at Naughty Author Chicks! Callie Croix, a talented author and all around sweet lady is now officially naughty.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Guest Author - Dianne Venetta

So glad to be here!  Thank you, Wynter for inviting me to blog this week.  Hopefully you'll still be happy upon your return. J  Never know what kind of trouble these guest bloggers can get into while the home blogger is away…especially with the mood I've been in!

I've been discussing guilty pleasures of late; a topic that is oh-so-appealing but oh-so-troublesome!  When there's guilt involved, you can be sure trouble is right behind.  Whether it's my guilt over that second brownie or third scoop of ice cream, the trouble to my thighs is sure to follow.

Or how about that sprint to the mall? It was more of an "I-had-to-get-out-of-the-house escape than an I-had-to-buy-something-new kinda spree which is never good.  Impulse buys not only ding the wallet but they attract all sorts of unwanted looks from your husband. 

Followed by the questions.  "What do you need with that?  Don't you have enough skirts? How many pairs of jeans can you wear at one time? Don't we have enough dishtowels?"

"It's an herb keeper and it will save money by keeping our herbs fresher, longer.  Now that you made me return to work part-time, I need more skirts.  One—obviously—but jeans shrink (really, it's the dryer—not me). And no, you can never have enough dishtowels."

Didn't even try to explain to him how cute these particular towels were or how styles change when it comes to jean fashion.  He simply wouldn't understand.  Speaking of things he wouldn't understand, one of my secret guilty pleasures is reading yummy books (the likes of which I wouldn't let my husband see the movie version!).

Yes, I'm talking bodice rippers, sexy contemporary flings, erotic romance...  You name it, I'm reading it. Funny, isn't it? How we humans are still engaging in the same types of behavior all these centuries later; tearing into clothes, tearing off clothes, passing time enmeshed in passionate lovemaking…

But allow my husband such spicy reading material? Well, isn't that what he has me for? :)

Oh—is that what he's for, too? But he's never ripped my bodice before and for good reason—those things are expensive! My last trip to the mall proved as much, though he has yet to see that little gem.  Though he did slip those fishnets off with without incident…

I'm sorry.  Am I revealing too much?  Dang if that isn't the problem with indulging in guilty pleasures—eventually one can get caught!

Perhaps I should stick with the exorbitantly priced glass of wine. You know, the Chardonnay that tastes like butter with a hint of oak and apricot? Or how about the Cabernet that rolls over the tongue with a rush of blackberry and tannin, followed by a smoky finish?

Hmmm...  I'm craving one just thinking about it. Can't usually afford the good stuff but  I do like to splurge on occasion. And by the way, splurging is good for the soul, kinda like purging, only better. By releasing pent-up desire, you don't allow it to fester. Festering of any kind is icky and highly undesirable. Get it out of your system. And stay healthy!

Now how's that for clever rationale?  Works for me!  Now I think it's time to get back to the old work-in-progress and start putting some of these "clever" ideas to work on my next novel.  How about you?  Any guilty pleasures you want to share?

There's a free copy of my debut novel in it for you!  Simply leave a comment on today's post and you'll be entered to win a free copy—print or ebook—of my recent release, JENNIFER'S GARDEN.

In a race against time, cardiologist Jennifer Hamilton is caught between her mother's dying wish and taking the risk of a lifetime with Jackson Montgomery. He's the man hired to complete the landscaping for her new home; the venue for her upcoming wedding. Jackson's everything she never wanted in a man, but as the job progresses, his lure pulls strong. It's an attraction she cannot deny.

And one that puts her career on the line.

Jennifer has some decisions to make, choices that pull her in opposite directions. Her best friend Samantha Rawlings is pulling her toward new horizons yet her traditional mindset resists. And then there's Jackson.

Personally, I'd follow him anywhere! 
In fact, I could use a personal landscaper.  When not whacking away at the keyboard crafting my next novel you'll find me in my very own organic garden, chasing grasshoppers and plucking hornworms all while crafting wild analogies between kids and plants and men.  Definitely men.

A girl's gotta have fun, right?

You bet.  With guilt or not. J

Friday, August 12, 2011

Happy Release Day to Me!

Yup, another one. But this one is the first book in my very first series. My Long and Hard Series is about Long Shot Security, a company that specializes in protecting the rich and famous.

Book One is Sizzle at Sea. Here's a little about it:

All heiress Kara Mikos wants is a vacation cruise and a hot shipboard fling. When her father phones to say there is a plot to kidnap her, she brushes it off as another of his many attempts to control her life.

Private security expert Harper Long doesn’t mean to fall for his client’s sexy daughter but what better way to keep her close enough to protect? Granting his libido free rein comes with a price, though—a treasure he’s not willing to lose.

You'll find an excerpt HERE, but beware, it's smokin' hot! I will give a copy of the book to one commenter here and over at Katie Reus's blog, where I am hanging out today. 

***UPDATE: We have a winner! I drew Taryn's name for a download of Sizzle at Sea! Congrats, Taryn***

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Two Hawt New Covers

I can do a little happy dance today. Getting a new cover is a lot like Christmas! Check out the revised cover for the revised Employee Relations (Which I made myself) and the gorgeous one for my upcoming release, Sizzle at Sea, first in my Long and Hard series from Ellora's Cave.

Be a Winner!

I love to win stuff. In fact, the only thing I enjoy more is giving stuff away! So enter my Rafflecopter, make me happy. And win a gift car...