Friday, April 27, 2012

Why People Hate Adverbs

I stood resolutely in my pro-adverb stance. I loved the adverbs fiercely, truly, emphatically.

When a character said something, they said it annoyingly or brashly, sometimes harshly. If they were happy, they'd wave ecstatically, nod excitedly, jump up and down feverishly.

I stubbornly jutted out my chin. Desperately, I needed someone to take up the fight for adverbs. There I was, happily scribbling away, each word hungrily yearning to make it to the page until I realized how pretentiously boring they all sounded and erased them.

The hero strutted proudly about. The heroine quivered suddenly as she realized he was the only one for her. Quickly, they united in body and mind. Until the conflict heartlessly ripped them apart. The climax unerringly leaving them questioning each other's motives. Finally, the hero would gently raise the heroine's chin. He'd gaze lovingly into her eyes. He'd kiss her softly, slowly.

Disgustedly, I throw down the pen. My descriptions are packed full of adverbs, and yet I find them unendingly lacking. They're slow, boring, juvenile. Or, rather, they read slowly, boringly and juvenile-y. Just kidding. Still, as an editor, I can't say I haven't seen that done.

The ending is nearly here. The villain fruitlessly tries to win his spoils. The hero steps in, loudly proclaiming his good nature and heart. The heroine swoons delicately.

And everyone lives happily ever after.

And that is why everyone hates adverbs. Just say no to them. They're consistently padding otherwise solid writing. ... See?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Why Use a Pen Name?

I hear this a lot:

"You're telling everyone under the sun that you're getting published. You've used your own pictures and linked to your real blog. Why are you bothering with a fake name when you tie everything back to your real life, name included?"

Well, first, I'm proud of myself. As me. I want people to know that I accomplished something.

Second, it's not like I'm F. Scott Fitzgerald. If this book is going to sell, I'm going to need the strength of my friends, family and online network. I'm not breaking new ground. I'm just telling a good story that will never be read if no one hears about it. I need people to know who I am. I need the support.

So, why choose a pseudonym?

1) The obvious reason: You don't want people to know who you are. (Clearly, this is not my reason).

The reasons behind this reason are varied and compelling.

Some authors believe in the stigma of whatever they are writing, be it fan fiction, romance or erotica. Any genre has its definitions and innuendos. Do you want your name behind them? Judgement from other people, particularly loved ones, can be daunting. It's no wonder why some authors would choose not to face it.

Some authors do it for show. They want to add to the mystique of their brand. A faceless person behind the curtain gives readers a story to try to figure out beyond what's written on the page. It creates interest not just in one book, but possibly in a lifetime of work.

Some authors simply want to divorce their writer from their lives. By choosing a new name, they allow themselves to choose a new persona to go along with it. If someone is a stay at home mom at 35, suddenly she can become a skydiving 20 year old without a care in the world.

Use caution if you're going to make up an entire other person, though. You must be careful about ages, as an 18 year old might get praise for writing something groundbreaking that would, perhaps, be more expected of a 35 year old. And if your fans find out, and they believed your name to have some semblance of a real person behind it, they might be hurt, annoyed and turned off.

2) Categorization.

This is more along the lines of why I'm using a separate name. I will hopefully branch out as a writer and complete projects of a literary nature, or maybe break into another genre of fiction. People reading the romances will expect only those romantic types of stories from Ninette Swann. If I threw a space baseball fic in there, it would confuse them and probably lose sales.

Many romance authors have double pseudonyms, in fact, for any specific type of story. M/m would get a different name from f/m which in turn would get a different name from shape shifter or menage work. Some have different names for historical versus contemporary romances. It's all in the categorization.

3) You don't want certain people to know who you are.

This is also me. While I don't mind my family and friends and current online network knowing exactly who I am and what I do, ten years from now I don't want my kids being made fun of by some jerks because "their mommy writes porno."

If little Joey comes over and sees my real name and picture on a book with a graphic of a sex scene on the front, he's not going to bother reading through it to get the gist of the story. It's going to end right there, in loads of embarrassment for my little girls (assuming the false generalizations and stigmas in romance writing still exist).

It's one thing for you all to know me, and / or make fun of me. It's quite another thing for my tween girls to have to worry about their friends making fun of them over it.


To round this out, I would say that one reason people do not choose pen names is because they are ashamed of their own work. With both 1 and 3, it's not the author who is the problem. It's the society in which that author lives.

Choosing to use a pen name or not can be nerve-wracking. Before you decide how fake you want your new persona to be, and how many people you want to tell, consider your personal reasons for taking one.

I really like the way I'm going with this. I feel by choosing one in the first place, I've added a modicum of safety for my family in the future, and allowed myself room to branch out. I feel by telling everyone about it, I've spoiled any big "reveal" that critics or fans could make, which would take away from the work I'm putting forth.

So, yes. I have a pen name. But it's not a secret. And that's not so bad.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Man Candy Blog Hop


I'm always looking for more book blogs to peruse and this one happens to come along with man candy. Aces. Please follow and leave a comment so I can follow you back!

I give you the best soccer player in the world.

Cristiano Ronaldo.

Here's the linky list, too!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Author Interview: Tatiana March (The Layton Prophecy)

Like I said on Tuesday, The Layton Prophecy is free starting today! You should definitely go check it out. I would pay full price for this book, no joke. If you want to see the blurb and an excerpt, click here.

If you want to buy it (get it for free on Amazon) right now, click here.

And luckily for me, the author has taken time out of her busy schedule to answer some of my questions about the book, and about herself.

I give you, Tatiana March.

What's your favorite part of the Layton Prophecy and why?

Easy. It’s the prophecy itself, the rhyme. I love the flow and cadence of it, the glimpse into the past, and the subtle menace in the words. I wrote just the rhyme to start with, intending to write a book to go with it, but another project came along and I put the rhyme aside. A couple of years later, I was tidying up my notes and found it. I thought, got to write this book. So, I did.

What inspired you to write this book?

Apart from the rhyme, I wanted to write a modern version of a gothic novel, where the heroine falls in love and then starts to fear that the hero is plotting to do her harm. I wanted the suspense to be inside the romance, as well as external to it. I’m a big fan of Mary Stewart and Victoria Holt, and I wanted to write something with a slightly traditional feel to it, but with some heat.

When and why did you first start writing?

I started writing in 2002, when I took a break from my job. I’d read lots all my life, ever since I was a kid. I have long arms, and I think they must have stretched when I carried loads of books home from the library every week. As a teenager, I used to win writing competitions at school, and my teachers expected I’d become a writer. I took a different path, but I used to travel a lot for business, and I made up stories in my head during long haul flights when couldn’t sleep. Eventually, I decided to have a go at writing down one of those stories, and I got hooked.

How do you come up with your ideas?

My stories start from a situation. For example, in the opening scene of my contemporary romance, PROJECT SEDUCTION, an intruder jumps down from the roof to the heroine’s balcony. She’s in new surroundings, having just relocated from the UK to the US. She runs for help, and the man whose door she knocks on is the same one she’s just fled from. That’s the trigger situation –he frightens her, she goes to seek protection, pounds on the door of a neighbor - and finds the same man again.

Describe the writing process as you experience it?

I don’t plot in advance. Even if I do, it will come out different when I write it down. I start with the situation, and the key characters, and some idea of what the story will be about. By the time I have a few chapters down, the story starts to get clear in my head. By about a third of the way through, I usually know what’s going to happen in the rest. I need to write intensively, capture each scene as it unfolds in my head. If I don’t, the ideas start fading. It feels as if the characters get angry and just start standing around, their arms crossed across their chest, saying I already did that yesterday, I’m not doing it again. So, I need to catch the story as it happens in my mind, one scene at a time, without looking too far ahead. However, to balance the lack of planning, I edit a lot. Endlessly. I love the flow of words, the music and lilt of the language. I need to get every sentence exactly right, including its relationship to the next sentence, and the next, and the next. By the time I’m done, I’ve usually revised the story at least fifty times, and can recite big chunks of it by heart.

What are your other hobbies / passions?

Travel, hiking, the gym. I love sleeping – I’m an insomniac and can never get enough – and having long, hot baths, which I like sharing with the man in my life. I ought to patent my method of fitting too normal sized people comfortably into a bathtub. If you ask nicely, I might tell you how to do it.

What is your favorite work of your own?

I’ll have to pick three, one in each length. Full novel: PROJECT SEDUCTION. Category: HOME FOR A SOLDIER (although it’s a tie with RECKLESS ENCOUNTER). Novella: LEARNING TO FORGIVE.

What elements in romances do you feel are overlooked?

There is a lot of pressure to write high heat, high conflict, short works without a plot. I miss reading gentler stories about falling in love.

Visit Tatiana's website to learn more about her and her work.

And don't forget! Go get The Layton Prophecy right now!  You will not regret it. It's the best money you never spent.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Layton Prophecy: Review

I have to talk about the best book I've read in...well, probably since high school. I don't know how many of you have heard of author Tatiana March, but she's a prolific writer with slews of romances under her belt. They're all pretty darn good.

But the Layton Prophecy. The Layton Prophecy is amazing. It's a mystery wrapped in a romance tied up in suspense and intrigue. You've got your love, your loss, your betrayal, your triangles and foibles. It's a fast-paced page-turner with so many levels and mysteries, you'll be compelled to keep on reading.

Here's the blurb:

An ancient curse. A derelict mansion. Rumors of a hidden treasure.

When a lawyer contacts Alexandria Holt to reveal a family secret, she discovers she may one day inherit the crumbling Layton Manor.

 Miles Kendrick, a visiting American academic, claims to be a relation. He convinces Alexandria that the Layton Prophecy threatens her life. Together they set out the break the ancient curse, and uncover a trail of past betrayals over a fortune in gold and diamonds.

 Alexandria begins to suspect that instead of protecting her, Miles is planning to kill her so he can inherit Layton Manor.

 She offers him her heart. Will he take her life?

I read dozens of romantic suspense novels a year. As you may or may not know, I moonlight as a editor for a publishing company. This book is beyond a doubt the best of this genre I have ever read.
It had me complaining angrily about the hero to my husband. It had me in tears. One of the minor characters...a MINOR character...had my heart in knots. Who was she, what was her purpose? Each word is effortlessly laid down in a complex pattern sure to ensnare you for the long haul.
If you don't read one other book this year, you must read this one.
Tatiana has been kind enough to furnish me with an excerpt. You'll notice it's part of the prologue. Because this novel is so good, she didn't even have to go searching for a tantalizing tidbit; this is enough.

Of course I was familiar with the Layton Prophecy. I’d grown up with it. Many a summer, I’d skipped through Layton Village, Holly Jameson and Grace Parker trailing in my wake, my cotton socks bunched around my ankles, my sandals clattering against the cobblestones as we chanted the rhyme under our breaths.

Old Man Layton, he goes first
Lost and lonely, dies of thirst
Bonnie Maiden follows soon
Love and marriage, that’s her doom
Death is diamonds, curse is gold
Those who seek them, won’t grow old
Children, children, you be ware
Heed this warning, leave it there

We all knew that “Old Man Layton” meant Lord Francis Layton, who’d been a gentleman adventurer. He met his death in South Africa in 1929, while scouring the Kalahari Desert for gold and diamonds.

“Bonnie Maiden” was Cleopatra Layton, his only child. After her father’s disappearance, she promptly married a scoundrel and perished giving birth to twin sons, who twenty-five years later went on to blow up Layton Manor, turning the house into rubble and getting crushed to death in the process.

The rhyme was supposed to be a curse, cast by a dismissed servant. More likely, the verses had been composed by some local poet fascinated by the decaying ruins. Generations of village children had spent countless happy hours getting muddy in the overgrown gardens, digging for the gold and diamonds we all firmly believed to be buried somewhere on the estate.

In actual fact, the Layton Prophecy had first been recorded in 1658, and eight more verses existed in addition to the popular chant. But by the time I found this out, it was too late for me to heed the warning.

In this breathlessly smooth, adrenaline-pumping novel, nothing is as it seems, so don't let the prologue fool you!

I haven't found myself caring so much about characters on a page since reading for the first time what has become my favorite book: Jane Eyre.

This book gets FIVE STARS.

I'd tell you to go buy it, but instead, why don't you bookmark this page. Because it's going to be FREE this weekend.

Go here. You won't be disappointed in what you find. I can't say enough good things about The Layton Prophecy.

Find The Layton Prophecy on Amazon

Find out more about author Tatiana March

And check back here on Friday, when I'll be lucky enough to have her as a guest interview!

Happy reading.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Writer / Reviewer Blog Hop

So, there is an amazing blog hop going on right now with hundreds of links already! If you're looking for a new review site, author interviews, or anything to do with books, there are so many to choose from! For a fledgling like me, this is a dream. If you're visiting from there, leave a comment, and I'll be sure to check out your site and follow you!

If you'd like to link up, here's the list! If you add your name, just make sure to follow the hosts and the featured bloggers! Them's the rules.

Friday, April 13, 2012

How to Come Up with a Tagline for Yourself

One of the first hurdles you'll approach as you try to market yourself is coming up with a good tagline.

It's got to be catchy, memorable. It can't be too lyrical or ethereal. It's got to say everything about you in five words or less. It's got to ooze character, stamina and oomph.

Is it even possible?

Of course.

1) Determine exactly what you are taglining. I am using this blog as romance writer Ninette Swann. But all of the good, general romance or erotic taglines are being used. Trust me. I checked google. So, I couldn't go that route without ending up with something like my Twitter profile which is "Romantic suspense writer is full of romantic suspense." At least it's honest about the fact that it doesn't know what it's doing, but still, no good for a writer's actual page.

2) Ask your friends. I used Facebook. I got such gems as:

"‎It's my dick in a book."
"The Quivering Member"
"All the awkwardness you can handle, and more!"

I love my friends. Still, as genius as these are (and I loved every one of them), it behooves someone branding themselves to go a little more serious, unless it's totally obvious they are comedic and that's where their following comes from. I've a feeling more than a few true romance readers would be turned off by "my dick in a book." (Though, really, it would be their loss.)

I got one amazing suggestion:

"Where love and fiction meet."

It's perfect. It's not too vague, not too precise. It covers exactly what I'm attempting to do in simple and pretty language. But it's just enough. (Okay, who am I kidding, I was just too impatient to wait for all the suggestions to roll in before doing this thing.)

Anyway, point being, ask your friends. You'll get a lot of laughs and maybe even some valuable imput.

3) Pick one aspect of yourself that you are looking to showcase. The whole kit-and-caboodle is too much. No one will be able to squish it down into a caption-sized slogan. So what's one thing you enjoy, one aspect you want to share, one image you want to get across?

Don't try to think of the words. Use a general theme. Then use Google.

For instance, Patch of Sky:

First I tried Nabokov quotes...because I like Nabokov. But that's too tenuous a link, even if it is pretentious enough for my stuffy tastes.

That's when the obvious hit me. Proust, duh. (Has that fragment ever been typed before? I think not.)

Now, I don't know Proust by heart, so Goodreads to the rescue.

Patch of Sky comes from this quote from Swann's Way in Remembrance of Things Past "Always try to keep a patch of sky above your life."

It's a good tagline because it does and is these things (which you should also have your tagline do and be):

- It's a quirky reference that a few people will really, really, appreciate.
- It explains how I feel when I write and about my life in general all the time, so it's me.
- I will not easily outgrow it (see my other blog, Tales of an Unlikely Mother...well, after three years of being that mother, I am not unlikely any more. It should now read, Tales of a Completely Ordinary Mother.)
- It comes with an easily imaged background.
- It has name recognition on Google already (this was accidental, but I assume fortuitous) as there is a band out there called This Patch of Sky, and maybe lovers of their music will also love romance novels? One never knows, but more traffic is good traffic, in my opinion.

Good luck tagging yourself!