Posted by: Jenna Jaxon | July 20, 2014

Back in the Saddle Again…Querying

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

After over a year of respite, this week I finally began querying my current WIP.  It is an activity I approach with the same enthusiasm as a trip to the dentist.  Querying agents is part and parcel of being a writer if you desire to get your work in front of the Big 5 New York publishing houses.  So it’s a necessary evil.  Emphasis on the EVIL.

The beginning of the process, writing the query letter, is even fraught with perils.  You work for months creating a 90+K novel and then have to condense it down to 150 words.  And getting the wording and correct information in there is terribly stressful.  Because the book may be wonderful, but if you can’t convince the agent in 150 words that the book is wonderful, then you have a query that doesn’t work.  Unfortunately, the only way to tell if the query is working is to send it out.  And if it’s not working, you just blew your shot with that particular agent for that particular book.  There are no do-overs in querying.

The worst part of querying, for me, is putting the letter together with the specific requirements sited on the agent’s submissions page.  Some want only a letter.  Some want 5 or 10 pages in the body of the email.  Some request the first chapter and a synopsis.  Each agent is different.  And you have to get everything just right or your query just gets deleted.

The exacting nature of the query is what makes me crazy.  What makes it most difficult for me to press the SEND button.  I read and re-read the whole query letter.  Double check the spelling of  the agent’s name against what’s on her website. Double check the specifications.  And then check everything again.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I read the letter through five times before I screw my courage to the sticking point, take a deep breath, and click SEND.

I actually have gotten less paranoid about querying, believe it or not.  I have to tell myself that if the query is rejected it’s not the end of the world.  It doesn’t affect world peace.  It doesn’t mean children will go hungry at night.  It just means I have to work a little bit harder to get my work in front of the perfect agent who will love my pages and give me “the call” I’ve been waiting for for five years.

Wish me luck!

 

Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | July 19, 2014

Beware of Using Other People’s Photos

Hi everyone,
I’m writing this as a public service. I’d hate to see any one get into trouble. A ton of people from around the world blog as a hobby and love sharing photos.

Recently I read the letter of a blogger who had use a photo from Google Images and credited the image. She thought she had done everything right. Her blog was a hobby, not a way to make money. She got a legal take down notice or a DMCA notice (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) it means that you are using the material illegally or are infringing on someone’s copyright and must take down that material immediately. She took it down right away, then she was sued for $7000 for copyright infringement for which she had to go to court.MrsBrightsCover

I’ve seen and heard this happening with image sharing sites. So beware when you’re on Flicker, Pinterest, Google Images, and other sites. Some photos have watermarks, an embedded copyright, the logo of a company above the comment box, and some of those company logos are difficult to decipher. Always click
and check out the link and find out who it is. If you are in doubt, go through the process to get permission to use the photos and abide by any restrictions they may have such as giving credit and the their link. This permission may not be available for more than one post, read their restrictions carefully and ask questions.
If they say no, then live without it.

For more information on Take Down Notices visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Notice_and_take_down
In the meantime, get out your camera and take your own photos.

There is the cover of my next release, my steampunk romance, Mrs. Bright’s Tea Room, where they serve more than tea. It’s coming out this month.  Ashley Marko is the cover artist.

Good luck with your photos, be original and take care.

All the best,

Susan
Susan Hanniford Crowley
http://www.susanhannifordcrowley.com

Posted by: malanouette | July 18, 2014

A Cool Breeze…

A cool breeze, the sun’s rays are warm and the coffee is hot. I couldn’t ask for anything else on this beautiful summer day. What are you reading this week? I’m reading Jody Lebel’s Playing Dead.

 

I’m curious–How many of you use storyboards? I just started using one. At first I didn’t know if it would help my process. BUT, WOW! It is making a big difference in the organization,  rationing the POV’s and the story plot line. I didn’t come up with this idea, in fact I’m working with someone who has perfected the idea and is teaching me how to use it properly. And one of the greatest points I see–if a scene doesn’t work where  you originally put it, you can take that sticky and move it around until it fits (or discard) without a lot of struggling and lining up your document.

 

I still create the story as a pantser-plotter to get the idea down on paper. When the 1st draft is finished, I use the storyboard to flush out the characters and story. Some people don’t write one word until their storyboard is complete. Whatever works for you try it. All it takes is a bunch of different color post-it notes and a tri-fold board. Based on my mentors suggestions I draw lines on the tri-fold board breaking the story out based on Michael Hauge’s Six Story Structure. Google it. I’ve posted a link here to the various layouts of this method. Here’s the link:

 

https://www.google.com/search?q=michael+hauge+story+structure&newwindow=1&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=wAvJU6bWN-av8AGG9oGwBg&ved=0CDYQsAQ&biw=1778&bih=836&dpr=0.9

 

Happy Plotting and enjoy your weekend.

Marian

Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | July 17, 2014

It’s Been a Tough Week by Gerri Brousseau

This past week was one of the toughest I have had in a long time. One of my co-workers lost his daughter, Carlee, on Saturday. It’s been a long two-year struggle as she battled a very aggressive form of cancer. She was already in the throes of her battle when I started working at this company, but I was quick to hop on the wagon offering prayers.

The first time I met Carlee, she was undergoing chemo and was completely bald, yet she was still smiling. My co-worker, Ray, kept a brave face at work throughout the entire time Carlee was in treatment.

Last year, Carlee had tickets to see Beyonce. We did everything we could to try to get her a backstage pass, but met with no success. Carlee went to the concert and by holding up a sign that said “I missed Chemo for you,” managed to accomplish what we couldn’t. Beyonce saw the sign and called her up on stage and invited her back stage. That was her life. She faced things head on. Still, we continued to pray and she continued with the chemo. At one point the tests showed Carlee was 100% cancer free. We were thrilled. Prayers do get answered. But, that joy was short lived when a few months later, Carlee found another lump. The cancer was back.
This time the family decided to seek out alternative treatment and went to Mexico to get a new treatment that was yet to be approved in the U.S. Not only was the new treatment not covered by the medical insurance, but it didn’t work. Complications developed and Carlee was sent to a hospital in San Diego.

Finally they were able to get her back to Connecticut to Yale New Haven Hospital. She decided not to have any further treatment and she never left the hospital. In June, her doctors told her she wouldn’t make it to July. On July 3rd while still hospitalized, she married the love of her life. She was the most beautiful bride I have seen in a long time, despite the fact she was on oxygen and covered in pain patches. She was radiant. She embraced life, love and her faith. On Saturday, July 12th she lost her battle.

Even though we all have problems, they are insignificant in comparison to what I watched this family go through. Going to the wake and funeral was difficult. At the wake, hundreds of people passed the casket, and although it was difficult, that was nothing compared to the funeral. Oh, I know she’s no longer in pain and she is in a far better place, but my heart broke for this mother and father that lost their child. They lost a young vibrant young lady who was full of life and love. It was difficult to even imagine this type of loss. She was 20 years old.
Watching my friend and his family go through this really caused me to put things in my life into prospective. Yes, it’s been a very tough week, but I couldn’t help but thinking there before the grace of God go I.

Although my friend’s daughter no longer needs our prayers, I know that he and his family need healing. Please keep him and his family in your prayers.

Posted by: Toni Kelly | July 16, 2014

The Moon Means What?

Okay, I’m not necessarily saying that the moon has to mean something, but with the recent “super moon” this weekend, I couldn’t let it go without it being said that the moon makes quite a few appearances in books and movies, from those for the wee little children to those for us adults. I mean just off the top of my head, I can think of the recent movie, Rise of the Guardians which is a film for children about their guardians (good old Sandman, St. Nick, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and the unlikely, Jack Frost). In this film, the “man in the moon” tells these guardians of their duties and honors them with the role of guardian. There is also of course the romantic movie called The Man in the Moon, starring Reese Witherspoon and Jason London among several other prominent actors.

As a kid (and even now), I loved anime, but favorite among all shows was Sailor Moon, about Princess Serena, a very un-princess like teenager who turned into a super hero who used the power of the moon when danger called. She even had a cat named Luna, which means moon in Spanish.

Even doing a search on google, I come up with tons of books and movies that either have moon in the title or some kind of principle theme in regards to the moon. Even one of the genres I write in (paranormal romance) has built up worlds of shifters and were creatures around the moon and its abilities (although not all shifter books refer to the moon).

So what does it all mean and why our fascination with the moon? I honestly can’t answer that question but I must admit that I too find the moon absolutely fascinating. Perhaps many of us have our own special interpretation or love affair with the moon, and there is no sort of blanket explanation. I remember many nights when I first started writing where I’d sit next to the window and watch the moon move across the sky through the night (of course I had more writing time then). Accompany that with my laptop, popcorn and a couple Guinness and I was set for my Friday evenings. I wouldn’t trade my current life situation for the world but I sure do miss those nights.

What about you all? What does the moon mean to you, if anything? I have you taken the time to think about it?

Happy writing this week!

Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | July 15, 2014

Don’t Judge A Book By Its Cover. Except…

Hi there! I’m back, a little late today, sorry about that, But! I come with something to show everyone who cares about this sort of thing :3

the-shepards-agony2

 

My new cover for the third book in my Things in the Night Series! Yay :) I love it so much. What you’re looking at is the cover and the spine, the back isn’t done yet, but will be in a couple of days.

Anyway, aside from patting myself on the back, I was also curious about the readers here who do look at books, see what has to be an amazingly epic looking cover, and then immediately assume it has to be a great book. Even if the book isn’t something you would necessarily put on your keeper shelf, how much of that cover influences you to later say to your friends, “Yeah, I read it, it was pretty good.”

I’m wondering if a terrible cover would have the opposite response. I sometimes think that a book which is written not too badly, but has a beyond terrible cover on the front, might make people talk about how bad it was, assuming they’d read the entire thing. Or at least half the book at all.

I tend to shy away from books that have awful covers. I’m not talking about the books that just have covers that aren’t to my taste, but I mean the ones that are obviously made by someone with no experience in graphic design. (Lol, I did that once as an experiment. That cover didn’t stay up for long, let me tell you) Which is proof that at least some other writers do the same thing as readers, despite knowing that it’s supposed to be what’s on the inside that counts.

I’m curious about this. How many of you avoid books with terrible covers, and how many of you are willing to take a chance on them? When reading fanfiction of our favourite series books or worlds, I’m guessing it’s a little different since almost no one makes cover art for those, and the only way to judge if it’s a good story or not would be to read the actual story itself.

 

Cheers

~Mandy

 

Mandyrosko.com

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Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | July 14, 2014

Weekly Paranormal-Scope

While I am not qualified in any way to read neither stars nor planets, I am intimately linked to the paranormal in the world in many ways. So are you.

The paranormal scope is for entertainment purposes only and is not meant to guide your life by.

The week for:

Aries:
Whales go for the deep cool waters when the sun blazes hot.  Keep cool and stay in the shade when traveling.

Taurus:
Hobbits like spicy foods.  It’s time to mix up a little excitement and invite friends over for a festive feast.

Gemini:
Goblins are natural bankers.  Look over your investments.  It may be time to move money, diversify or even redo your will.

Cancer:
Werewolves are adorable and fuzzy.  They may not be hot dressers like a vampire, but they do love to cuddle.  Consider a cuddler.

Leo:
Shapeshifters love to surf and swim.  Remember the sunblock when you go to the beach.

Virgo:
Vampires love the mystery of the night.  A romance may be headed your way or an old romance may revive.  Time to energize that look in the mirror.

Libra:
Pixies are messy but fun.  Forgive the little messes and have more fun in life.

Scorpio:
Faeries have given you a gift of serenity.  Enjoy it while it lasts.

Sagittarius:
Werewolves are industrious.  Things are happening with the job.  Keep your eyes open.  An opportunity may open up.

Capricorn:
Hell hounds are sleeping on your front doorstep.  Go out the back.  Lie low for a while and avoid conflicts.

Aquarius:
Dragons love bubble baths.  Indulge in some relaxation time.

Pisces:
Gremlins specialize in how machines work. It’s time to take inventory for any foreseeable repairs coming up and budget for them.
A mysterious stranger is coming into your group.

-Susan
Susan Hanniford Crowley
www.susanhannifordcrowley.com

New release: Vampire King of New York now in print at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Also in ebooks.

Posted by: Jenna Jaxon | July 13, 2014

Beleaguered is Live!

Although the official release date is tomorrow, Beleaguered, the third book of my medieval serial novel, Time Enough to Love, has released on Amazon and Smashwords!

beleaguered3

I’m really thrilled to have the book complete, because this was the first book I ever wrote and it holds a very special place in my heart.  It took me six months to write, starting in January, 2009 and writing THE END on July 28, 2009.  Originally it was 187,000 words long and was your typically bad first novel.  Headhopping all over the place, repeated words and phrases, anachronistic words.  There was even one whole chapter that I took out upon first revision because absolutely nothing happened in the whole chapter!

But this was the work of my heart and I didn’t give up on it.  I found out that a typical historical novel was about 100K words, and 120K was maybe the top end.  And though I managed to cut it down from 187K to 160K in the first revision, I knew it was still too long.  A colleague suggested publishing it in installments and that then became my mission in life. I found the most wonderful editor, Danielle Fine, who also created the beautiful covers for me, and she and I have worked hard for over a year to take a “first novel” and turn it into a publishable novel.  Mission is now complete.

The first two novellas were around 47-50K, and Book 3 is actually novel length at 71K, so I think I’ve added some back. :)  When the print version comes out, it’s going tobe a BIG book. :)

If you’re interested in Beleaguered, or the whole Time Enough to Love novel, I’ve got the blurb below and buy links for all three books.

Thank you for helping me celebrate a dream come true!

BLURB FOR BELEAGUERED:

When death holds sway in the world, can even the greatest love survive?

Finally in France, Alyse and Thomas return to their roles as courtiers to Princess Joanna. Their passion for one another continues to smolder hot and deep—until one fateful encounter changes everything.

During a formal banquet, Alyse must share an intimate dance with Geoffrey, her first love. His searing touch proves Alyse’s love and desire for him is as strong as when they first met. Tormented by this revelation, Alyse is bitterly torn between the love of her life and her love for her husband.

Into this agonizing situation, the disaster of the Black Death rears its head, decimating the princess’s retinue and threatening all their lives. Alyse, Thomas and Geoffrey must try to save the princess from the ravening disease but at a dire cost to themselves. With her world plunged into chaos, Alyse struggles with her feelings for both of the men she loves. But which love will survive?

EXCERPT FOR BELEAGUERED:

“There were dead rats on the dock.”

“Alyse!” Thomas’s outraged tone brought censure for her bald statement, but she cared not.

Geoffrey had trapped her into speaking with him or risk being rude and bringing about the displeasure of her husband. Common sense warned her to avoid all contact, including conversation, with Geoffrey Longford. Since he had made that impossible in this instance, she chose her own bold method of bringing an end to the conversation—make it as unpleasant as possible.

carriagel“Well, ’tis true, Thomas. We passed them on the way to the carriage.”

Geoffrey laughed, apparently determined not to take offense. “Aye, lady, you will find them living and dead all over the town, not just at the quay.” Turning to Thomas, he added, “There were fewer of them at Port St. Croix than at St. Lucie. ’Tis why Sir Robert decided to land the nobles here. Where the men-at-arms and the long bowmen came ashore, the dead rats were almost knee-deep in places.”

“Lord have mercy!” Alyse shuddered, sudden pity arising for the soldiers.

“They have had a plague of them recently here in Bordeaux, I am told.” Geoffrey’s gaze lingered on her face, a quiet satisfaction alight in the blue depths. “Brought into port aboard foreign ships. You would probably have to fire the entire town to get rid of them.”

Alyse trembled, not only at the thought of the unsavory animals running through the town, but at the look in Geoffrey’s eyes that made her stomach clench and her womanhood throb. She drew closer to Thomas, a potent misery stealing through her for the first time in days.

The men continued to talk, but she paid them no heed, caught in a private hell from which she had believed herself safe. She would have to be vigilant to ensure neither she nor Thomas were burned by the fire that had been kindled months ago between her and Geoffrey Longford. She could not trust any of them now—neither her husband to keep his jealously in check, nor Geoffrey to cease his pursuit of her, nor herself to keep him at bay.

She had believed she loved Thomas enough to lay the ghost of Geoffrey to rest in their bed. But from the moment she had seen him on deck this morning, her beloved still, she knew deep in her very core that Geoffrey had been right: it would never be over between them until they were dead and in the tomb.

This realization frightened her beyond all reason. It was as though she had been two people in one body all day, each belonging to a different man. As long as they lived that would never change. She played with fire each time she met with or spoke to Geoffrey, and one day the banked embers would flame up and consume them both.

There would be hell to pay one way or the other. The only question was how much damage would be wrought. Immortal souls hung in the balance, waiting for Judgment Day.

Beleaguered (Book 3:  Time Enough to Love)  is now available at Amazon and Smashwords.

Betrothal (Book 1) and Betrayal (Book 2) are also available at Amazon and other e-tailers.

 

Posted by: Susan Hanniford Crowley | July 11, 2014

Secret Lives!

Underfoot's Revenge 1
Many people have secret lives!   A webmaster by day and a paranormal romance author by night.  A web developer by day and a singer in a rock band at night.

Last night under the brilliance of the Super Moon, I went to the Murdercycles’ Annual Hot Rod Riot at the Lebanon CT Fairgrounds.  I was thrilled to my very core with the music of a rock band called UnderFoot’s Revenge and their female vocalist Cera Crowley.   The band played and from time to time a motorcycle roared by.

symbol of the Murdercycles

What did I get out of this wild child experience?  New friends! A great time with great music!  And a new black hoodie with Murdercycles on it.

-Susan
Susan Hanniford Crowley
http://www.susanhannifordcrowley.com

 

 

Posted by: malanouette | July 11, 2014

Good Morning

A beautiful day here in New England. The sun is shining and the humidity is low. This morning I’ll be writing on the deck, and this afternoon lunch with a friend and a swim in her pool. Ah, I love summer.

beach

 

What are you reading? I’m reading Power Play #18 in the FBI series by Catherine Coulter.

When I woke up this morning, I had research on my mind and it got me thinking. I send a letter or an email requesting an interviews with a person in their field. This will request will have a list of questions I’ll ask. I follow this up with research online or in the library (Yes, I still love going to a library). I’ve also over the years have an extensive collection of books for research. Some are pretty scary. I’ve got books on wounds, guns and serial killers (this one was particularly disturbing.) It’s all interesting reading and I find I have to pull myself out of the research or I’d never get any writing done.

Does that happen to you?

I’m glad I’m not the only one who can get lost in their investigation of a subject. I recently went to a book launch signing and the author spoke of the psycho’s twisted mind. It was quite interesting to say the least. She had first hand experience on the subject, because she prosecuted them for a living. I could have sat and listened to her stories all day. In fact, next up on my reading list is her newest book. Stop by next week to find out which one it I’m talking about.

Well I’m off to have breakfast, and then writing most of the day. What’s on your agenda today?

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