Sunday, September 28, 2008

And the big news of the week...!

I can't believe I totally forgot to blog about this. It so made my week!

Jim proposed to Pam!

Office fans all over the world do the dance of joy. You have to admit, the proposal in the rain on the side of the road by the rest stop did absolutely ROCK. It was a perfect shot of true romance in an otherwise dismal week.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Friday, September 26, 2008

Choosing a publisher

There's some minor buzz about a new publisher planning to open it's doors this spring and I figured this might be a good time to post a couple of my tips on choosing a publisher.

For some scoop on what's being said, visit Dear Author.

For some rules of thumb that might be helpful, read on....


I’m no expert, but I have to say I’ve been fairly lucky with the publishers I work with. I know there are lists like this out there, but here’s my own take on what to look for and what to avoid when choosing an e-publisher.

1.How long have they been around? Not to say that brand new publishers should always be avoided. There are some fabulous pubs out there who are relatively new but doing a magnificent job for their authors. That being said, use great caution when getting in on the ground floor with a brand new publisher. It may be a wonderful opportunity, but only if you’re careful about who you get involved with.

2. Do they have a web presence? And I don’t just mean a nice website. Today, so many people have web design experience that having a professional looking website isn’t necessarily a sign of an upstanding company. Obviously a shoddy website is a red flag, but a nice one isn’t a guarantee of anything.

3. Beyond a website, what does the publisher do to promote their products? You will hear a lot of talk about how promotion falls largely on authors in the e-pub community, but remember, your book is the publisher’s product as well. They need to advertise their site, be willing to take out print ads to promo their company, have good relationships with review sites and plan to have a presence at conferences and conventions. If they don’t have the time or the budget for these things, steer clear.

4. Staff. No one can do it alone. Plenty of people think they can start up a business and run it out of their homes in any industry, but who picks up the slack if the CEO gets sick? No one works 24/7, so what’s customer service like when the President is sleeping, ill or worse, working at their day job? A publisher needs to be committed to the job, which means they have to have a staff of more than one or two people to handle all the aspects of the business.

5. Authors. The best way to learn about a publisher is to talk to its authors. Are they happy? Some authors will put on a good front for chats, or public appearances, but you want the nitty gritty. A private e-mail to an author asking sincere and respectful questions about their experience with a particular company should get you some honest answers.

6. Cover art. This is a big one for me. There are a number of fabulous digital artists out there and the first thing an e-pub should do is hire a good one to create covers. Crappy, poser covers will not sell books and the aim of a publisher should be to sell books. If you don’t like the cover art a publisher has to offer, they may not be the one for you.

7. Books. Read a few of the books your target publisher has to offer. If they don’t have anything available yet, it might be prudent to wait until they do. Look for good stories, solid editing, professional formatting, competitive prices, ease of ordering etc.

8. Who’s talking? If the publisher offers a reader chat group, it may be a good idea to join and see what’s going on. Are there actually other readers present or does it seem to be just a hang out for the authors who are promoting their books to each other? A lot of readers prefer to lurk, so you may not see many even on a busy, popular list, but if the publisher has ten authors and their chat loop has ten members that could be a sign that no one is listening.

9. Contract. Does the publisher offer a sample contract on line? Not all of them do and that’s fine, but it’s great to be able to get an idea of what you’re getting into if you sign with them.
Do they blog? Some publishers maintain their own blog site where authors post on a daily or near daily basis. This isn’t a necessity of course, but it’s nice to be able to drop in and see what’s going on. It’s another way to connect with authors and get a feel for their enthusiasm for the publisher.

10. Reviews. Check out reviews of some of the publisher’s books. Now, even NY pubbed novels get panned by critics from time to time, so a bad review doesn’t necessarily speak ill of the publisher, but if their books seem to garner only mediocre praise as a rule, it might be a warning sign.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ursula is happy

Those are three words you don't see very often.

My editing alter ego, Ursula, is not usually a jovial person. She can be difficult to work with because she demands perfection [of me especially]. Think of a tight-lipped headmistress of some high-end European girls' school: hair in a severe bun at the back of her head, half-glasses hanging from a pearl chain around her neck, she often wears gray wool and licks her thumb before turning the pages of a manuscript.

Well, for a change, she's let her hair down and put on comfy clothes because she's editing something that is...just...really good!

I won't mention the author's name or the details of the story, but I'd like to mention all the things that make an editor like Ursula giddy with delight.

1) She has yet to find an incident of 'she felt/he felt' - the story is SHOWN, not told by filtering it through the tactile sensations of the POV characters.

2) She has yet to find an instance of 'he could/she could' - characters do things, say things and be things in the immediate sense, not the probable sense of 'maybe' implied by the constant use of 'could'

3) ‘Was’ and ‘were’ are scarce. Of course they have been used but so sparingly as to be invisible. The author uses ACTION verbs nearly all the time. Nothing is benign and passive, everything moves and breathes. It's truly amazing how dynamic a narrative can be when every other verb isn't 'was'

4) The narrative is not peppered with incorrectly used semi-colons. Ursula sees this so much - a semi-colon is not a comma and should not be used in place of one.

5) The chapters have hooks! No one falls asleep, the chapters end where scenes end or major POV switches occur. They're not just arbitrary chops in the story.

6) The characters are in motion through the plot. There are no long info-dumps. Information is given in small bites throughout so the background of the characters becomes an expanding file of information, not a stew of unchewable chunks that occur while characters are sitting and staring into nothingness 'thinking' for interminable moments.

7) The author has set up questions - Ursula is wondering what happens next. The whole plot isn't evident from the get go.

8) The writing is smooth - so smooth. There are no choppy blocks of sentences designed to make the reader think choppy thoughts. There are no boggy passages of nothing designed to calm the reader. Nothing is 'designed' to do anything to the reader but carry them along through the story. Reading this is like riding one of those inner-tube raft rides - a constant, comfortable flow, no fancy tricks or games woven into the narrative.

9) There are hardly any repetitive words or phrases. No echoes. Each thought is unique.

10) Adverbs are scarce, so the ones that exist are also virtually invisible.

11) Adjectives are used well, not piled in unmanagable layers, ie 'her long wispy expensive sapphire blue satin nightgown was waving wildly in the cold salty eastern ocean breeze...'

12) Characters don't do three or four things at once. Each action occurs in sequence. He didn't 'put on his shoes as he walked toward the door while dialing his cell phone as the bell rang alerting him to the fact that he felt cold.'

13) Sentence structure is varied. Not everything begins with a gerund, or 'He/She/It was'.

When Ursula is happy, I'm happy. Maybe she'll be less hard on my manuscript when she's in a good mood, so I'd better get writing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

New Release!!!

ISBN-13: 978-1-60272-364-1 (Electronic)Genres: Historical / Pirate / Series
Heat Level: 2
Length: Extended Novella (34k words)
Description: New from Jennifer Colgan, author of the best-sellers The Demon Of Pelican Bluff and Ken'Ja.....

In 1708, kidnapped and ransomed by the legendary lady pirate, Captain Fallon Robard, Sheppard York finds his only salvation in the kindness of the captain's beautiful young ward, Rhea Galant. But when negotiations with Sheppard's wealthy father go sour, Captain Fallon plans to exile him to a deserted island where he will have to fend for himself and face possible death. After weeks of tending her captain's handsome prisoner, however, Rhea discovers she can't bear to part with him, let alone see him abandoned, and plots to help him escape. What will be her reward for abandoning her shipmates for love?...........Find Out More!

In other news...

I'm hard at work on the sequel to A Rogue's Reward and hope to have it submitted shortly.

I did manage to finish that scene I was whimpering about the other day, and darn it all if my editor doesn't still want MORE!! Arrrgh!

I'm kicking around an idea for a fantasy you know any imps looking for work?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

'Tis the Season...

Ah! Don't throw figgy pudding at me, but yes, I'm talking about Christmas in a round about way.

One of the myriad reasons I love the fall is an odd one - 'tis the season the holiday food catalogs start arriving and I LOVE to look at them.

Yes, I admit, I like food. Food is really nice. Artfully arranged snack foods and holiday decorated spreads are especially nice. Sure my mailbox bursts at the seems from now until January with catalogs of every description, but I really don't mind.

I got my first Figi's catalog the other day and I sat down to peruse pages and pages of fancy feasts. While staring at cheese logs and petite fours and spiral hams and cookies, I realized that it's not necessarily my enjoyment of eating that makes me like these catalogs so's a desire to experience a good, old fashioned holiday. When I look at these catalogs I think of snowy Christmas Eves with friends and family gathered in a cozy home, red and green and gold decorations, and a beautiful buffet on the table.

Our family holidays have gotten smaller over the years. Family members have moved away or passed away, the kids have grown up, the celebrations are smaller and over sooner because everyone is tired and wants to go to sleep early.

So the catalogs are like a trip to the past for me, a mini-holiday. It's weird, I know, but I'm used to being weird.

Do I buy from the catalogs? Yes, ultimately I do, though not in September. That's a ritual in itself - hours pouring through pages, comparing prices, making lists-another part of the holiday season.

Go ahead and throw your figgy pudding at me, just artfully arrange it first and take a picture for the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

One scene!


I need to add literally one scene to a contracted story - a bridge, if you will to provide a little more emotional impact and make the ending seem less easy.

I've been writing some interesting nonsense, rearanging words, eating lunch, blogging, staring at my laptop, looking for the cat, checking my e-mail incessantly and talking to myself, but I still haven't the faintest idea how to write this scene.


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

One step forward, two steps back in time...

Now and then I get tired of living in the future...this summer, for some reason, I preferred living in the past, and writing in the past and this weekend, the fruits of that labor will be released at Amber Quill Press/Amber Heat.

My first historical romance novella, A Rogue's Reward, comes on September 21st!

Here's the blurb and a brief excerpt:

In 1708, kidnapped and ransomed by the legendary lady pirate, Captain Fallon Robard, Sheppard York finds his only salvation in the kindness of the captain’s beautiful young ward, Rhea Galant. But when negotiations with Sheppard’s wealthy father go sour, Captain Fallon plans to exile him to a deserted island where he will have to fend for himself and face possible death.
After weeks of tending her captain’s handsome prisoner, however, Rhea discovers she can’t bear to part with him, let alone see him abandoned, and plots to help him escape.
What will be her reward for abandoning her shipmates for love?

Rhea imagined her face would catch fire if she had to spend another minute staring at Sheppard York’s naked body.

She fought to keep her aim steady on the center of his chest while he shrugged out of his shirt. The muscles beneath his tanned skin flexed with each careful movement as he fished the melting lump of soap from the kettle pot, then dipped the cloth in the now-cold water and wrung it out. She should have turned around and given him a small measure of privacy while he scrubbed his face and chest, the back of his neck and quickly under his arms, but Fallon had warned her not to. Even if she’d been given leave to avert her eyes, Rhea wasn’t sure she could have. Having never seen a naked man before—fully or partially—she simply couldn’t look away.

She swallowed a gasp when he reached for the buckle of this belt and tore the fastening of his breeches open. “You’re not going to—”

“I have to relieve myself. Perhaps you’d like to help with that?”

His smirk annoyed her, but in all honesty she couldn’t take offense. He’d been denied all amenities for half a day, and after a night she figured he’d spent mostly lifting tankards of ale, he had to have been terribly uncomfortable.

“I’ll step outside. There’s a bilge grate in the corner.”

“Ah, the finest accommodations.” He turned away and, before he lowered his breeches, Rhea ducked out the door. Sighing, she let the pistol droop. Had Fallon assigned her this thankless task as a form of amusement, or simply because no other member of Gabrielle’s crew could be trusted not to damage the governor’s son before the ransom was paid?

After a few deep breaths, she steadied herself and chanced a polite knock on the partially closed door. “Are you through?”

“I am.”

She let herself back in, leading the way with the pistol barrel in case he thought to jump her. The heavens above knew she’d never shoot an unarmed man…in the balls or any other body part, but she owed it to her captain to make the prisoner think she would.

Once inside, she let her eyes roam his body, and her mouth worked to produce some sound. He stood wearing nothing now but a dun-colored pair of under breeches, which left little about the shape of his nether regions to the imagination. His smooth chest sported only a few dark hairs, unlike his muscular thighs and calves. The hair on his head was damp now and slicked back as if he’d run wet fingers through it to tame the sleep-tousled ends.

He’d shed his boots along with his clothes and had placed them neatly aside with his thick leather belt coiled atop them. With a hopeful expression, he held his pants out in her direction.

“You might wash these, too.” His tone held no irony, though she couldn’t imagine why not. “They also smell of stale beer. Did your lady captain drag me through every barside gutter in Tremont on the way to the dock last night? I reek like a common drunk.”

Rhea swallowed hard and accepted the garment. He’d pay for this somehow she decided before backing out of the room, while instructing him to replace the cuffs and toss her the iron key. Lord York would definitely pay for his insolence. She just hadn’t figured out how.

Stay tuned for more about A Rogue's Reward and updates on the sequel [finished the rough draft yesterday, A Rogue's Redemption].

Monday, September 15, 2008

Is it bad... breathe in the smoke of a green lemon?

Seriously, not making this up. I was cleaning out the fruit and veggie drawer in the fridge yesterday afternoon and I came across a green object stored in one of those flimsy supermarket produce bags. It looked like half a green pepper, however, it seemed to be smoking.

As I pulled it out of the drawer, a puff of...dust like substance wafted out of the bag, then another and on closer inspection I realized the object was...a lemon.

Well, it had been a lemon at one time. Now it was a science experiment. I hastily chucked it, and it continued to emit puffs of green dust, some of which I’m sure I breathed in. common are fungal lung infections caused by breathing in the smoke of green lemons?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pardon my rant...but

I grappled with ranting today - not because I don't think the subject warrants it, but because I don't want to turn my blog into a whine and cheese fest. Believe me, it would be so easy...

Nevertheless, I must complain about celebrity stupidity and sense of entitlement. I just read that actor Daniel Dae Kim became the third member of the cast of LOST to be arrested for DUI in Hawaii and I'm disgusted.

I'm not a huge fan of Kim, and I'm certainly not a huge fan of his predecessors, Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Watros, but I am a fan of the show. It saddens me to think that so many members of the cast have so little regard, not only for state laws, but for human life.

Being internationally recognized and being paid an obscene salary to live on paradise island seems to engender a sense of irresponsibility in these celebrities. While I can almost understand the euphoria that comes with fame and fortune leading one to overindulge in alcohol, I fail to see why none of these people seem to possess the intelligence required to say to one of their friends, their family, their entourage, body guards, security staff, etc, "Could you please give me a ride home, since I've had a couple too many to drink?"

Seriously, how hard is that, people? Actors routinely whine about needing more money, dealing with the hardships of working on location, leaving their children and soon-to-ex-spouses for long periods of time while they put themselves through grueling twelve-hour work days and promotional tours and appearances. Somehow they manage to deal with these difficult situations, like having no privacy, being followed by paparrazzi and the occasional tragedy of not being recognized somewhere and actually having to be treated like a regular person. You'd think if they could handle all that, it wouldn't be so hard to hand some poor schlub the keys to their Porche and say, "You drive."

It might be the most important line of dialogue they ever deliver.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


Today I'm over at Star-Crossed Romance talking about author voice. Drop by and tell me what you think.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

So tell me again...

...why vampire stories are on the downslide when it comes to romance publishing?

It wasn't long ago I heard from several sources that NY publishers were tired of heroes with teeth [pointed teeth anyway]. Vampires and werewolves were passe', blase' and sooo five minutes ago.

Okay. Fine. Aside from the fact that I love vampires and have written about them and werewolves with moderate success, I can understand the market could get saturated, but hello -
vampires seem to be alive and well [pun intended] on television.

Ever since [big sigh] Angel disappeared from the airwaves [what WERE they thinking?] there have been a long line of pretenders to the throne.

First came Blood Ties, starring Christina Cox and Kyle Schmid - an abrasive cop and a broody 480-year-old Duke.

Then came Moonlight, starring Sophia Myles and Alex O'Loughlin - an annoying reporter and private investigator turned reluctant vampire by his ex-wife.

Now, we have True Blood, premiering tonight on HBO which brings to life Charlaine Harris's bestselling Southern Vampire Mystery series.

Is it just me, or does anyone see a trend here?

Not that I'm insinuating the powers that be in TV Land really know what viewers want to see [they invented reality TV, after all, and there went ALL their credibility] but let's face it, vampires are hot. They were hot, they still are hot and I predict they will continue to be hot, so why the 'no teeth' preference in publishing? Give viewers and readers what they obviously crave, heroes with BITE!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

A Wrinkle In Time

No, I'm not talking about the excellent YA science fiction adventure novel written by Madeleine L'Engel.

I'm talking about how the flow of time gets all scrunched up now and then causing everything to happen at once.

You know, like the toilet overflows just as the doorbell rings, or the baby starts spitting up just as the toddler reaches for the hot stove. Moments like that when you have to be in two places at once or think two thoughts at the same time.

I had one of those wrinkles today. It wasn't major, like the toilet thing, though I've been there. It only lasted a second, but it was annoying nevertheless.

I start out on the phone with Vista Print. I got an order of promo stuff today with some items missing. As I'm on the phone with a customer service representative from the other side of the planet who is reading off a scripted apology to me in heavily accented monotone, I look out my window to see some guy waving a day glow yellow wand at my front lawn.

Since I don't live at Hogwarts, the sight of someone waving a wand at things is unusual. So I throw open the window and yell, "Can I help you?" which interrupts the canned apology on the phone. I'm telling the CS rep, "Hold on a minute, please. I have a problem here." And wand guy thinks I'm talking to him. He starts talking about looking for some cement monument which he believes is buried in my yard.

Uh, right. So I yell out the window, "Just hold on one second." I hang up with Vista Print, apologizing for not being able to listen to her rehearsed apology and rush out the door. By now the dog is having a conniption, and the school bus is pulling up outside.

Wand guy starts telling me about this surveyor's monument, which according to his handy dandy map is right in the middle of my front yard. He assures me he won't be digging anything up, he just needs to know where it is, and the beeping, glowing wand will tell him that. Uh, okay. Now DD is off the bus and demanding to know if I watched 'Ghost Hunters' last night [I had to tape it because I was watching the season premiere of Bones - which basically sucked, but that's another story]. So I'm fielding DD, and Wand Guy and the dog is still barking.

Now, I know, you're saying, so what? And I agree. It's not like a national disaster, it's just a small glitch in the Matrix, but it's annoying nonetheless. Things should happen linearly and one at a time like they do in novels, so I can process one thing before I go on to the next.

Note to the universe: Iron out the wrinkles, please. I can't do two things at once.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sometimes technology rocks

I got a new phone.

Now, if you know me, you know I hate change when it comes to technology. It's hard for me to learn gadgets, especially those with tiny buttons that aren't clearly marked with English words - symbols often confound me.

I hate reading manuals, mostly because half the time they don't make sense.

However, when DH told me I could upgrade my cell phone to a new one and I saw this - I had to have it. Mostly because even though the picture shows it in Rose Pink, it secretly also comes in Awesome Metallic Purple [at least that's what I call the color, though I couldn't find a picture of it.]

This phone is cool because not only does it have a wicked cool display on the front that shows through the metallic case, it only took me 15 minutes to reprogram my entire address book [a project that spanned several years with my old phone].

It's the little things in life that make me happy. Metallic purple cell phones and new technology that actually is easier to use than the old stuff.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Happy September!

I know technically it's still summer, but yay! In my little world, fall begins today. I'm going to put up my fall decorations and rejoice in Septemberness.
Happy Labor Day everyone!