Help Me Celebrate The Upcoming Launch Of Unlikely Venture!

Yay!  I’m officially kicking off launch preparations for Unlikely Venture this Fall!

Help me celebrate by entering the celebratory giveaway!  For a Facebook like, A Twitter follow or a Booktropolous Social friend request, you get a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

Click Here For A Chance To Win A $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Unlikely Venture, Fall 2014

Unlikely Venture, Fall 2014

Unlikely Venture Synopsis

Here’s the thing about keeping secrets…they can only protect you for so long before threatening to destroy everything you hold dear.

Meet Jessica Latham:  a bright, sassy, workaholic with a penchant for plunging necklines and Christian Louboutin stilettos.  She has her dream job at the top management consulting firm in Manhattan, but it is coupled with the daily nightmare of an overbearing and demeaning boss who consistently undermines her abilities and challenges her at every turn.

And that’s the least of her problems.

Devastating news threatens her livelihood and sends her fiancé running for the hills without so much as a backward glance.  Newly single and fearful about her future, she focuses on work to escape the looming uncertainty…until a moment of weakness changes everything.  During a night tinged with one too many glasses of chardonnay, she meets Paul Emerson, a mysterious stranger who becomes an eager and willing participant in Jessica’s efforts to finally regain some control of her life.

It was supposed to be an isolated incident, something she subconsciously needed to restore her confidence and clear her head.  But what Jessica soon realizes is that taking control doesn’t always mean she is actually the one in control and things don’t always turn out as planned.

After being awarded a coveted opportunity at work, Jessica thought she was headed for a much-deserved promotion and some degree of stability.  But she didn’t anticipate meeting James Callahan, MIT-graduate-turned-start-up-CEO and she certainly didn’t expect for Paul to walk back into her life.  The internal struggle intensifies when threats to her future resurface.  Her worlds collide when everything Jessica thought was important is pitted against everything she wants for the future and she needs to quickly get her head and her heart in sync before somebody gets hurt.

If You Want Perfection…Well, Good Luck With That!

Do you have any idea what happens when you change the ending of a novel?

You end up looking like THAT.

Figuring out the alternate ending was STRESSFUL!!!  But at least it got glowing reviews from my beta readers.

So I plopped it over the original ending.  But I wasn’t even CLOSE to done.  I had to open up the rest of the manuscript (previously perfected and edited, by the way to the tune of $850) and retool, revise and restructure.  I liken the process to a doctor sewing up a patient after a successful surgery, then realizing a scalpel was left behind.  Mother eff.  You have to get it out before it does any long-term damage.  And hopefully you can stitch up the patient even better than before.

The good news?  Well I don’t have any to share quite yet.  It’s heading back out to beta.  Hopefully, the changes were for the better.  I know it’s cliché but you only have one chance to make a first impression.  If your first book is a snoozefest, readers won’t give you another shot, no matter how awesome book 2 is.  So here’s to making every word count.

I thought Unlikely Venture was perfect.  Until I finished Nothing Ventured.  Then I understood what I missed the first time around.

I am on a quest to perfect these novels. But as anxious as I am to get them out there, I refuse to rush the process.  As a voracious reader, I know what it takes to capture an audience and I will continue to work tirelessly to meet that goal.  And with any luck, a September release is still in sight.

Vic-tor-ee!!!

So now I look like THIS!

southernwritersmagazine.blogspot.com

southernwritersmagazine.blogspot.com

The Lady Devil With A Passion For Jamba Juice

As I write this post, I am actively fighting the urge to devour the remaining Russell Stover chocolate marshmallow eggs in the pantry.

Just saying.  I really need to get rid of this leftover Easter candy.  Sugar comas = lost productivity!  I get way too fidgety to write compelling dialogue when I’m all amped up on sugar.  Caffeine is another story.  I can drown in coffee and it only makes my stuff more compelling.  LOL!

Today, I finished the first draft of Nothing Ventured.  I love it.  If you’ve been on my Facebook page or seen my recent tweets, you already know this.  We’ve established that it’s narcissistic but, whatever.

The plot twists didn’t come easy…I drew a lot of inspiration from Fuel’s greatest hits, but it worked.  =)

I’m hoping my beta readers enjoy it just as much as I did, three times over.  Of course, there are certain scenes I might have read more than three times, but we’ll just leave it at that…

I love the characters that really evolve the most throughout a novel.  The more they change, the more invested I become.  That’s one of the reasons why I’m totally crushing on my latest hero, Chris Camden, who bears a striking resemblance to this young gentleman below.

liam-hemsworth-in-cannes

And here is my heroine, Mia Bradshaw.  They look so good together, don’t they?  =)

Ashley Greene

So now I pretty much have two-thirds of The Venture Series written.  And it feels awesome.  I’ve still got editing to do (hopefully not as much as I did for Unlikely Venture!), but I’m excited!

I can’t wait to share them with you!  Bear with me as I prepare to navigate this whole publishing universe!

Please Don’t Ask Me About The Shower Scene…

My house is crazy-noisy.  Like, ALL THE TIME.

My husband and Lulu constantly break out into song…about anything that comes to their minds and at any given time.  Sometimes, they take turns with piano accompaniment.  Angry Bird telepods are forever sailing through the air.  Super Mario 3D World…UGH…the music alone makes my ears bleed after a while.

So just imagine how challenged I am to craft erotic scenes with this non-stop activity.  Three little kids, climbing on top of me, whining, crying, yelling, tattling…SIGH.  Getting through those scenes is always a major accomplishment, trust me on that.

Quick segue..I don’t know if you have ever heard of Fiverr, but it is the most awesome site EVER!!!  You need something, get it there…for $5!  I just got a kick-ass logo from Sami.  She turned my extremely non-committal requirements into the fabulous logo you see splashed across the top of my site.  Love?!?!

Anyway, I showed the last image to my dad this morning and it prompted some chatter about my book.  It was very basic at first, like the type of romance, the premise of the story and the point of view of the characters, blah, blah, blah.  But then he asked the dreaded question I knew I’d have to answer at some point but didn’t care to really answer EVER.

The hand rises to cover one half of his mouth, just in case the kids are in range.  “Does your book have…um…sex scenes in it?”

Eeek.

“Yes, Daddy, it does.” <CRINGE>

A nod.  Then, “Are they…graphic?”

Ack.

“Yes, Daddy.  They are explicit.”  <ARGH!>  (Please don’t ask me where my inspiration came from though, because THAT would make me uncomfortable.)

He took it in stride, though.  (No Daddy, I don’t really write porn.  Just a few little spicy takes, that’s all.  Almost perfectly innocent.  Except for that shower scene…)

My dad is difficult to read (no pun intended).  He almost never lets you know what he’s thinking.  Great freaking poker face if I ever saw one.  He doesn’t need sunglasses at all.  But even though he’s all calm on the surface, in his head, he’s totally freaked out that his little girl is writing about raucous bedroom romps that our friends and family might read at some point.  I know he’s also thinking about how my mom is going to take that when she finds out.  That’s  conversation for another day, though, preferably after I’ve had several Manhattans.

Sorry guys, little girl’s all grown up now.  =)

The $25 Thumbnail…Pretty Cheap For Soft-Core

I’m OBSESSED with creating images for Unlikely Venture.  Gotta love the digital age!  One of my fabulous author friends (who is on the best-seller list for New Adult Contemporary on Amazon UK!!) sent me something she put together for one of her books and I decided I needed to create one for mine.  So the search began.  Here’s what I found out.  Images are ridiculously PRICEY!!!  I bought what is basically a THUMBNAIL for $25!  

So many sites have cheesy images that I wouldn’t doctor and post if someone paid ME.  Then there are others that are borderline porn…need to steer clear of THAT as it’s not exactly my genre.

I think I struck a happy balance with this one, although Hubby doesn’t understand why I’m so impressed with my efforts.  “You put some text on a PICTURE for crying out loud!”

Yeah, but I did it MYSELF…and it’s for MY BOOK.  =)

Image

Oscar! Oscar! Best Actress Does Not Equal Best Dressed…By A Longshot

#TGIF.  Seriously.

My first-pass synopsis for Unlikely Venture is begging to be trimmed but I don’t think I’m in the right frame of mind.  It is a lot of work for me to “trim.”  I am, by nature, long-winded.  I’ll never forget my editor’s feedback about the very first iteration of my manuscript.  She said, “I bet that you write the way you speak, am I right?”

Um, yeah.  I do.  If something can be summarized in five words, you’d better believe I’ll need forty-five to get to the same place.

But, have no fear prospective publishers!  I’ve successfully modified my style.  So now my writing is in direct opposition with my conversational (and blogging) style.  I can’t turn myself completely inside out.

Anyway, I digress.

Let’s return to my original point.  See?  I told you I can get wordy.

Sunday.  The Oscars.  The dresses.

I surfed a bit tonight to unwind after a long week and came across this infographic, courtesy of Cosmopolitan UK.

To be completely honest, there have been very few gowns that have really tooted my horn over the years.  I mean, there have been horrors for sure – Cher, Jodie, what the frock????  Oh, wait, it was the frocking ’80s

I think my fave was from 2004 – Charlize and her stunning Gucci.  I am always curious to find out the styles embraced by those being celebrated.  It’s a darn good thing that some of these ladies are so talented since they’d never make it as fashion icons.

But just to be perfectly clear, if someone invited me to join them on the red carpet in one of the many atrocities panned over the years, I’d do it.  Just saying.

http://www.mediarundigital.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/hi-res-oscar-dresses1.jpg

http://www.mediarundigital.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/hi-res-oscar-dresses1.jpg

Maybe “Nice” Isn’t Such A Great Compliment After All??

So, where did I leave off with Unlikely Venture…?  Oh YES.  Seeking beta readers.  Edits are complete, I need to do my own final run through, and then it goes to beta so I can see if there are any major holes to fill.  God I hope not…what are the odds that they will love it as much as I do???

Image

I’ve been trying to watch last week’s episode of Nashville for a week now, but abc.com just started doing this annoying thing where it asks me to verify my cable provider before providing me with viewing access.  Aha!  Thought you got me ABC?  Think again!  I’ll just wait until Thursday to watch!!!!  Would be helpful if I had the account information but that’s hubby’s department and he was off the grid.  Sigh.

Nashville is one of my favorite shows.  And one of the scenes in last week’s episode struck a chord with me.  No pun intended, folks.  I know there’s a lot of honky-tonk songwriting and singing, but I wasn’t intentionally trying to be funny right there.  It just kind of happened.  LOL.

Anyway, in a nutshell, (bear with me, non-fans) Scarlett needs Liam to help her produce an album.  Liam is frustrated because Scarlett is singing songs that don’t accurately portray who and what she is.  Since Liam’s an artist, he likes to dig deep…and do drugs…and drink.  But he’s also brilliant and introspective.

She tries to defend her music and he presses her to see if there’s more to her than meets the eye.  And golly gee, there IS.  Which is great because she’s kind of annoying…they definitely need to spice her up a little bit.  She needs a dark shadow.

So one of the key things Liam says is (and I’m paraphrasing here) inside every nice person is some damaged alter ego looking to claw its way out.  Hmm.

I don’t think another soul has ever used the word “nice” to describe me.  But you know what, I’m okay with that.  I’m not running from demons, I don’t have any deep dark secrets, I’m not a tortured soul.  It’s all out there in the open.  You can take me or leave me.  I’m colorful.  =)

So long story short, please don’t be disappointed when none of my heroines turn out to be that sweet-as-pie, boring, baggage-less little Miss Perfect.  I can only write what I know.  =)

Stop Trying To Bypass The Process! It’s There For A Reason!

I’m a very process-oriented gal.  It’s a big part of my day job and I’m good at designing them.  There are very good reasons why processes are developed, implemented and executed.  They guide an initiative to completion.  They lay out a set of logical steps that individuals can follow in order to achieve a specific end.  They account for deviations and exceptions along the way and they include alternate steps to avoid pitfalls and challenges that may crop up.

Generally speaking.

As a newbie author, I didn’t realize that I could apply a process to the development of a novel.  I thought that creativity trumped organization.  I was SOOOOO wrong.  

My wonderful editor Cindy showed me the error of my ways and because of her, I used PROCESS to learn about my subjects.  One of the key steps in the process of developing a compelling novel?  Develop your characters!  Learn everything about them!  Create a robust backstory for each character in your story, so that you know where they came from, what past experiences shape their views, and how they interact with others.  After I followed the process and learned about my characters, I was able to rewrite my story with depth and purpose.  I didn’t realize how shallow my first versions were until I spun out the third.

But yet again, I find myself resisting the process.  What the hell is wrong with me?

I got halfway there.  I know Chris like the back of my hand, but I’m still not sure about Mia.

Cindy gave me a few different scenarios to build out as I developed my character sketches.

1.  Most Embarrassing Moment

2.  Angriest Moment

3.  The Character’s Reaction to a Dog’s Incessant Barking

You’d be surprised how well you get to know someone as you create the events leading up to these scenarios.  My immediate problem is that I’m only halfway through Mia’s character sketch.  I haven’t fully developed her backstory.  Sixty pages into Nothing Ventured, and I’m still at a loss.  I don’t know where I’m going because I don’t know HER.

This madness has to STOP!  I need to embrace the process or the whole story will unravel like a cheap rug.

It’s All About The Cover…And The Eye Candy On Display

Regardless of the publishing method I ultimately choose for Unlikely Venture, one thing is certain.  I need a cover.  But not just “a cover” – the right cover, the one that will stop potential readers and cause them to click into my virtual world so they can determine if my story is worth their time and money.

So many romance novels have covers graced with half-naked swarthy tanned males with pecs that seem to ripple as you stare at them.  Sometimes, they include the half-naked female counterpart as well, whose very perky boobs are usually popping out of her dress, ready to wave hello.  Just as an interesting aside, very rarely, if at all, do you see a heroine by herself on a romance cover…?

Every book and article I’ve read on the subject stresses the fact that the cover is equally as important as “the blurb,” especially if a potential reader is purchasing an e-book.  Of course, you can always sneak in some free sample content to gently nudge them toward a purchase.  But really, readers need to be sold on the eye candy.

I don’t want to go against the grain here, but I’ve always preferred a different type of cover, one full of innuendo.  I want to create the images of the characters as I read; I don’t want to be told what they look like.  I prefer the use of inanimate objects over flesh to convey the mystery of what lays within the pages of a romance novel.  I don’t need heaving breasts to tell me that there will be intimacy laced into the story.  It’s a romance novel so I expect it!

There’s A Story Inside Me…I Just Can’t Figure Out How To Tell It

Writing

Writing

I’m not usually one who gets crippled by writer’s block.  But when I first started writing Unlikely Venture, there were many times when I didn’t know where the story was headed.  I made a lot of notes but had no outlines or synopses prepared as reference.  I was always anxious to write because I wanted to find out what would happen next in the story.

The second time around, I find myself in a similar position.  Except now that I actually have the story for Nothing Ventured in my head, I just can’t get it out.  I’m choking on the words and when I finally cough them up, they’re flat.  There is so much to this story but it’s not shaping up the way I want.

So I returned to the outline concept.  It’s helpful but I still feel that I tell a more powerful story when it’s written off the cuff.  A guide is all fine and good but the writing flows when I don’t draw parameters around the chapters for what has to happen when and who needs to be involved.  New and different twists come into play when I just type.

Maybe I’m hitting a wall because I promised myself a break this weekend.  I hope so.  I don’t really want this to be a one-hit wonder.  =)

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