Sunday, November 23, 2014

Three Uppity Women

Earlier this year an attendee at a workshop dubbed me and my two colleagues “Uppity Women.” I have been accused of that before, but Lois Gerber, a retired nurse and highly published author of articles, stories, and books on nursing can only be described as caring and nurturing. Our other colleague, Joan King, says she’s never been called uppity, but has been called a hick because she comes from a farming family in Oklahoma. She is a retired high school music teacher and I would refer to her as talented, kind and generous.

This Sunday, this “Uppity Woman” is meant to give a “solo” speaking performance at our public library—a first of its kind author event. Newspaper notices and flyers state I will talk about 1. NANO, 2. The Florida Writers Association, and 3. Publishing. Each notice is different. As is my name on the notices. I am Hart or Hunt, depending on which you read.

With that in mind, I pondered on what to write for the Vineyard, I also considered how I want to be treated by my publishers. Three things stood out: 1. Respect, 2. Appreciation, 3. Praise, attitudes we all want wherever we work. Fortunately I get all three from the editors and publishers at both companies with whom I have contracts.

Sometimes the communication wanes and I don’t hear from one of them for a while. I begin to chew fingernails. Did they not like my most recent submission? Are my books not selling well enough? Should I be doing something differently?

No matter the exterior packaging of a writer, I believe that underneath we are all jellyfish, quivering on the inside, insecure and needing our hands held.

So this Uppity Woman will speak on Sunday using the following as a guide:

National Novel Writing Month inspired me to write a complete novel in 2002. It’s still sitting on an antique disk. Since then I have written the minimum 50,000 words at least eight times. In 2008 I wrote The Prince of Keegan Bay, edited it with the help of two critique groups over the next four months, and then submitted it to The Florida Writers Association Royal Palm Literary Awards. It won first place for humor in 2009. I subsequently submitted it to Champagne Books, who published it. Champagne now has four of my books under contract and I have at least one more in progress to send to them. I also have a second in progress I might self-publish, just for the experience.
Since the publication of The Prince of Keegan Bay, I have had had two more books, begun as NANO projects, published by Double Edge Press: Elena-the Girl with the Piano and The Reluctant Daughters, both historical novels. All my work is passed through the FWA writing groups.
So, for my talk I shall explain 1. NANO, and how writing at a rapid pace without stopping to edit can help your writing, 2. The Florida Writers Association, and how its writing groups, magazine, conferences and competitions can help your writing, and 3. Publishing, which feeds the ego and allows you to share your work with the world.

By the way, Joan, Lois, and I now bill ourselves as The Three Uppity Women, Writing Workshops.

Veronica Helen Hart (aka Ronnie) lives and works in Ormond Beach, Florida. You can read more about her and her books at

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Calling All Authors: Can You Relate?

Calling All Authors: Can You Relate?
…This is not being done as a promo contest. I’m truly interested because I’m trying to make some personal / author decisions, and I wondered if anyone else had these same issues. So, if you’ll go to my website and answer these questions, I’ll enter you into a drawing for my next book in Feb. 2015. How many of you are part of a writer’s group? How do you like them? Do you find them instructive? Is the friendship there soothing? What else can you tell me about them?
…What odd questions we get as authors, and I imagine, there are plenty of questions people are thinking, but they’re too nice to ask. As Becky Lower pointed out, when she was asked an odd question by a reader, “I once had a 90-year old reader ask me if I was married or living with some man. When I said no to either situation, she then asked how I could write such steamy love scenes!” Well, I’m assuming that if you’re not a virgin, you can write a love scene, but…I once had a fellow author in my writer’s group who was a virgin, and she wrote steamy novels. She’d obviously read and studied a lotJ
…Joanne Myers was asked, "When or if you receive negative reviews for your book(s), how do you handle that? and
Has anyone ever told you, that you should not be a writer? How do you handle that?” Well, those are tough questions just on the surface because we just don’t want to hear negative reviews about our books, even if they’re meant to be helpful, and the problem is, many of them aren’t meant to be helpful. They’re just commentary, and that old saying about bad publicity being better than no publicity is just not true. Not for sales. Certainly not for our emotional wellbeing and encouragement. So…I guess that means I don’t handle the crits well, or so it seems, but that’s not totally true. It depends on the person doing the critique, and the method of delivery. As far as the part of whether we should be writers or not…well, that’s like saying, only God can judge because only YOU can decide if you want to be a writer or not, or a teacher, or a preacher, or anything else. If you want to write, write, and write the way the want to.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Future of YA

Several days ago I went to our first TeenReaderCon, an event put on by our local school district in conjunction with BOCES.  What I saw firsthand was The Future of Young Adult Literature.

Of course a big part of this future is the writers. Six renowned young adult authors—Patricia McCormick, Jay Asher, Eric Devine, Joesph Bruchac, Jackie Morse Kessler and Steve Sheinkin—appeared at this event. They did two group panels, along with several individual presentations. I saw four of the individual sessions (Kessler, Devine, McCormick and Asher) and they were all outstanding. These are exceptionally talented, respected authors, many of whom have best- selling YA novels published. The authors all seemed thrilled to be there, interacting with the people who read their books. Their fans, in fact.

But the more impressive part of the event, to my way of thinking, was the large group of young people who showed up. On a Saturday morning, when they could have been doing a myriad of other things, the high school auditorium was filled to near capacity with excited, chattering happy kids. All of whom were there not to see film stars or pop stars or cultural icons, but to see, of all things, writers

 These young people were engaged. They interacted with the authors. They asked intelligent questions. They fan-geeked over favorite characters. They discussed the writing process. They discussed their own favorite books, and sometimes turned the authors on to a new series. They wondered aloud about the authors’ next books. 

And they bought books. My word, did they buy books. No stats, but I saw countless young people with bags chock full of books they’d just purchased. And they stood in lines so they could get those books signed, and talk to their favorite authors one-on-one.

Disclaimer: I don’t write YA. I don’t generally even read YA. But what I saw at this event convinced me of several vitally important things. 

First--there are some excellent YA writers out there whose books I’ll be loading onto the Nook soon. YA is alive and well and producing some great books.

Second—despite all the moaning and wailing about the supplanting of books by electronic media (i.e. movies, video games and social media), the kids I saw were indeed the future of YA. They hungered for the written word. They longed to be taken to new worlds, to meet new people, and to garner new ideas, courtesy of the writers who hold the keys to those worlds. And they longed to see their own generation reflected in those same books. To know that in what they are experiencing as young adults, they are not alone. That someone understands. And that there is hope. 

Third—All those young people who are reading YA now? Guess what? In five or ten years, they’re all going to be grown up. And hopefully still hungering for those written words. And they will be the audience that will read my books. And your books, if you write for adults. 

They are the future. And to me, it looks pretty bright. 

Keith W. Willis


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Magic of Conflict: part two

The stakes in an emotionally satisfying novel have to be about death of which there are three kinds to choose from:

 (1) Physical Death: The stakes are obviously highest here. The main character has to win in the arena of conflict or he’s a goner! Most thrillers are written with this being what’s at stake. Maybe the hero has a secret that the bad guys don’t want revealed or he’s in a business that leads to trouble. But it’s the highest stake and causes the most tension and suspense for the reader which makes a book a page turner if well written.

 (2) Professional Death: What is on the line in this scenario to drive a novel forward is the hero’s or heroine’s calling in life is under attack. Her career might be over, her future a cloud, her life’s work a failure. High stakes indeed to die professionally.

 (3) Psychological Death: This is all about the personal death, dying on the inside. The stakes can go as high as suicide, though that’s at the extreme end of it. This type of death elevates the emotions of fiction like no other aspect. It is the key to all romances because no one wants to miss out on their soul mate. A writer needs to be very good at creating the illusion of imminent psychological death because of the happy-ever-after caveat. And what they are suffering about has to matter to them enough, and make the kind of sense that it will become a page turner which is our ultimate goal, I believe, as writers.

*All these “deaths” have to be chosen with the near-end in mind, bringing your story’s conflict to its crisis point which is what your readers are waiting for. Keeping it strong and life changing will make your story matter and give your readers something or someone to root for.

Happy writing!

Best, January Bain

The Forever Series

Monday, November 17, 2014


You’ve signed your first contract. Celebrate, then come out of the clouds and start working to publish and market that book. Maintaining a positive relationship between an author and the publisher(s) will make that job easier for both. Being under contract with multiple publishers makes the relationships a bit more complicated. In my opinion, the burden of multiple publishers should be on the author who decided to enter into multiple contracts. As stated in previous posts, this post relates to e-publishers of romance.

Introducing yourself. When an author writes a query letter for a submission, (s)he should have done their homework. The submission should address an expressed need of the publisher. Don’t waste your time or the publisher’s by submitting your manuscript to a publisher who doesn’t want it because of genre, content, or length. After introducing your story, share your writing credentials – writing history, publishing history, and related info. Don’t give a family history.

Publishers don’t expect authors to write solely for them. Having a contractual agreement to submit books in a series or to write exclusively for a publisher, however, changes the picture. Those circumstances aside, it’s important to share your publishing credentials with a new publisher. It shows that you are capable of completing the publication process.

I’m happily contracted with four publishers. When I wrote the query letter to #4, I included that I was actively published with three publishers and assured them I would be able to complete my editing and marketing responsibilities since I don’t have a “day job.”

Simultaneous submissions. When some authors complete a manuscript, they send it to several publishers at the same time. Simultaneous submissions might get a quicker response from a publisher but can also waste their time, especially when the author doesn’t withdraw the submission after it is contracted. Publisher statements on their submission page state their policy related to simultaneous—follow them. Note: I don’t do simultaneous submissions. I write a story with a publisher in mind using their style requirements and wait.

Post-contract responsibilities. After the contract is signed, attention shifts to editing, publication, and marketing. There are additional considerations for authors published with more than one publisher. Depending on the publisher, the contract to publication time varies from a few months to almost a year.

Meet your deadlines. Publishers have clear deadlines for the overall publication process. Authors must meet deadlines, if they want to contract for additional books. Immediately acknowledge by return email when anything has been received. Note: My goal is a 48 hour turnaround for most requests—even if I have to set my writing aside. If I see an edit will take longer, I notify the editor and give them an anticipated date.

Marketing. Marketing in e-publishing is generally the responsibility of the author. When a publisher does sponsor a marketing opportunity, ALWAYS participate to support your publisher. I focus on after-release marketing with visits to other authors, reviews and review sites, blogs at marketing websites, posts at Yahoo Groups, blog-hops, as well as my own webpage and social media. Authors should NEVER use one publisher’s resources to advertise another publishers’ books.

Flexibility. Things don’t always go the way publishers or authors would like. Flexibility with edits, releases, and marketing is important.  Don’t, however, commit to something you can’t do.

Caveats. Again, don’t commit to something you can’t do. Plan your writing around anticipated edits and release dates that will require marketing.  Also, most publishers maintain a private chat group for their authors which is confidential. Never carry tales among your groups or publishers. Finally, enjoy the writing experience. Don’t do more than you can comfortably manage, regardless of whether you have a “day job.”  

Next Month, Writing a Holiday Story


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Strange and Rare Causes of Death

When I first heard the threat of Ebola, my mind flashed to Stephen King's novel, The Stand. Like in the book and movie of the same name, I wondered if I'd parish immediately or if I'd be struggling to survive and making a choice between the forces of good and evil. I was relieved to read that in the United States, if you catch Ebola you at least have an 83% survival rate. So I thought it would be interesting to put Ebola in perspective for everyone.

You have a :
1 in 3.7 million chance of being killed by a shark
1 in 9.6 million chance of dying from a lightning strike
1 in 11 million chance of dying in a plane crash
1 in 13.3 million chance of catching Ebola

I also thought it would be fun to research strange and rare ways people have died over the years. I know you are questioning my use of the word fun, but remember in addition to writing action thriller Bolt Action,  I also write paranormal horror. In my beginning draft of Haunting of Ingersull Penitentiary, all my characters were killed off by chapter three and I had to create more characters and rewrite!

Strange and rare causes of death:
1794, John Kendrick was killed by a cannonball salute in his honor.
1814, people where killed in a London beer flood.
1871, Lawyer Clement Vallandigham accidentally shot and killed himself trying to demonstrate how the victim could have killed himself.
1919, people were crushed and drowned by a molasses flood.
1974, Basil Brown drank himself to death with carrot juice.
2010, Mike Edwards was crushed to death in his car by a rolling bale of hay.

I'm pretty sure we all have a better chance of winning the lottery than dieing of Ebola or any of these other strange and rare ways to die. I'd love it if you'd take the time to check out my website, and my books. I have something for everyone, murder mystery, paranormal novels, and for children picture books, chapter books and puzzle books. Thanks, Victoria Roder

Friday, November 14, 2014


A:  I was thinking about a kiss.
Z:  (passes the bag of chocolate kisses basically ignoring her because he was writing about a man's hands on the edge of a his intended's panties, edging by the waist band, inching toward the playground of passion... wanting... needing... demanding... and unrelenting.)
A:  (does her to the ceiling and back again eye roll) Not that kind of kiss.  (at the same time, she grabs the bag and tucks it next to her computer.)
Z:  Busy.  (still riveted to his computer screen, fingers dancing over the keyboard, eyes portraying passion, and deep breaths taken after being delayed)
A:  With what?  ( she leaned in close and read his screen)  You dog.
Z:  No, he's the dog and I'm just trying to challenge the freeform lust of a sex starved paramour.
A:  I was thinking about a kiss... huh?  (she gave the hairy-eye ball wanting him to deal with her)
Z:  Not chocolate? (he leans back in his chair, turns from the computer and grins, bouncing eyebrows as if...)  Ah, you mean, the ones of amour, passion, the hero and heroine exchange of spit and tongue, sharing heat, desire replenished with each touch, a validation for hearts, and the first salvo of the entwining of naked flesh.
A:  Now, there's a romantic image for you.
Z:  Hey, you caught me off guard.  We were working on sexual character development, not let's get down and dirty.  (he gave the serious look of querying)  Did you want to...?
A:  Wasn't thinking about that either.  I was actually thinking about the four parts of a kiss, and discussing it over the next several weeks.
Z:  Parts of a kiss?  Upper lip... lower... tongue... and drool?
A:  Get real.  That is juvenile.  I mean the emotion and purpose.
Z:  Oh... those parts of a kiss?
A:  Yup, well... kinda cause the last bit is the ending and that isn't truly the kissing part, but...
Z:  But... you digress.  If I may?
A:  You may.  (she sucked on a kiss... a chocolate one... eyes became dreamy... the spontaneous drool rolled quickly... and the want for more, undeniable)
Z:  (he adjusted his pink necktie, worn with a t-shirt.  As a side note, the tie was to honor breast cancer month) According to Levende Waters,  A kiss seals two souls for a moment in time.  A kiss can pause all time and flash those sharing to a dimension so private and so personal.  However, I suspect you are thinking of a different moment, not the actual kiss itself,  to share this week.
A:  Aye, aye, Captain Intuitive.  (she saluted)
Z:  Strip and give me twenty!  (he commanded as if a drill sergeant)
A:  Haa-haa.  That was so funny I forgot to laugh or... ever will.
Z:  (providing the oh-well shoulder hunch, he continued) You wish to wax upon that moment before a kiss, you know when lovers gaze into each other's eyes, when the world disappears and their breaths mingle.  At first the lips don't even touch, but the heart is screaming to be noticed as it hammers inside one's chest, a warm tingle spreads throughout one's suddenly paralyzed body. 
A:  Paralyzed? 
Z:  Ah, we must not rush the...well...rush.
A:  So true, we are in the prolonged fragment of a forever blink.
Z:  Yes, still in that instant, the one that goes on and on, an eternity in a second.  Those few tick-tocks of such bated anticipation that sometimes breathing momentarily halts and all sense flees and there is nothing, nothing at all more important than the desirous urgings that pulse through a person.  The urgency to kiss so base it is almost animalistic.  The pull to kiss a virtual trove of pain held at abeyance by trite questions of should I, screamed down by the roar of the tigress and tiger that are them.
A:  Ahhhh, the prelude.  (she fanned herself feigning being verklempt by emotion)  Beauregarde, you toy with a lady so.  (her southern drawl still held a Yankee twang)
Z:  I'm not lifting you in my arms and carrying you to the boudoir.  So stop batting your eyelashes.
A:  Shucks!  You know how to fancy talk a lady!
Z:  Back to talking about the kiss.  Yes, the singular instant, that utter bliss and utter agony, wanting it to happen, needing it to happen, fearing it won't, fearing it will, fearing the loss of control, yearning for that loss of control.  Mouths usually open at that point, can't be helped, you know.  It's instinctive.  Sometimes heads will tilt, preparing for that initial contact which soon becomes inevitable.  And it all happens so fast, yet so slow.  To me, it is the ultimate in romance.  It isn't about sex, it is about the possibilities of heat and fantasy and endless passion.
A:  (As he spoke, she frantically searched through computer files)  Got it!
Z:  Got what?
A:  An excerpt from KILLER DOLLS that touches on just what you have been talking about.


While bio-terrorists use her handcrafted dolls to attack the innocent, Letti Noel falls for FBI agent Taut Johnson. Deceit is a growing barrier to their love, but it's the stalking terrorists that threaten their lives.

He was so close. Her breathing was sparse.  Her free hand landed on his shoulder. So much strength. So much heat. What would it feel like to have that heat curling about her, that strength taking all she wanted to give. Her gaze searched his. She wanted him. The draw of it nearly had the words spilling from her mouth. "It was an…an amazing evening," she stammered, barely able to string the words together as he moved his hands to her waist, nearly circling it as he pulled her to him, thigh to thigh, belly to belly, breasts pleasantly pressed against his rock-like chest.

"Letti," he said her name as if paying homage to a goddess...
 Her head tilted to one side, her eyes half closed, and...

A: That's it, you're stopping there?
Z: But, of course, it is that moment you wanted, nothing more, the prelude.
A: Hmmm, it does keep one wanting more.
Z:  But of course.
A:  Where is that book, now I want to read the rest.
Z:  I hid it.
A: Dog!


We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at (Write - Blog Dawn - in subject line) and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi ~ Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane - -

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Every Once in a While I Need to Take a Break

Can the average writer’s brain suffer from wordplay overload? Apparently mine can. It has probably been a month or so since I wrote anything completely new.

First, I have been working with my harried editor on a new novel coming out in March 2015. That probably stretched tired my brain for at least the last thirty days while we went back and forth trying to make sense out of the beast and attempting to translate my weird sense of humor.

Then two weeks ago I ran a session at an out-of-town writer’s retreat. It was fun, but that meant some pre-preparation, and the actual retreat took up three days out of my life. Last long weekend was Comic Con. Had a booth there, sold a few books, and talked to an awful lot of people.

This past weekend I did something I probably haven’t done in a very long time. I did absolutely nothing that had anything to do with writing. I watched some TV, read some magazines, and talked with my family. Told them I was taking a couple of days off.

Okay, now I have to get back at working on the sequel to The Queen’s Pawn. This mean’s re-reading several of the chapters to get back into the flow and tone of the story. I had to look over my notes to figure out where I was originally planning to go with this thing. It took a while, but then the words started to flow again and I was refreshed and away to the metaphorical races.

I think all writers need to take a break every once in a while. Not just the step away from the computer every hour and rest your eyes and get a fresh cup of coffee, break, but something more substantial. Besides, whenever I look out the window, or pick up a magazine, I usually get more story ideas.

Now back to work.


The Novels:
The Dark Lady Trilogy
The Queen’s Pawn

The Novellas:
Knight’s Bridge
The Housetrap Chronicles (six…so far)


Monday, November 10, 2014

You Know it Don't Come Easy

"They had it too easy." The old pro said to me, regarding former critique partners who found publishers right away, and a certain amount of fame. That was nice to hear at the time. I'd have loved to have had it 'too easy' and found some recognition and immediate gratification for my work, but since it took me a lot longer to reach my goal, it was nice to think there was some virtue in this.

I'd written three full-length novels, only one of which I thought worth shopping around – and an agent did, too – but it met with nothing but rejection. After twenty years, I finally started writing again. I wrote another novel, rewrote it, over and again, with feedback from critique partners, polishing my craft until I had something I thought truly worth reading.

I joined MFW, the local chapter of Romance Writers of America, and met dozens of women who told of writing for years, of putting projects on hold while raising children, of writing and rewriting, having work judged through contests, going to conferences to meet agents, dealing with rejection after rejection… And I witnessed many of these women finally meet their goals, connecting at last with publishers who wanted their work, some doing better sales-wise than others, but all happy to have some vindication for their efforts. At least half a dozen of the writers who'd been unpublished when I joined MFW are published authors today – including me. I have two novels, three novellas and a couple collections of short stories out at this point. 

To tell you the truth, I'd have been thrilled to sell that long ago novel right off the bat. I'd be doubly thrilled to have earned some money from it. And also true: my later work is something I'm much more proud of than I was of that generic earlier novel.

At that time nobody had heard of cross-over romances with science-fictional and fantasy elements. I had always loved f/sf, and writing a romance that ignored my own proclivity produced something much less than it could have been – a nice story, but lacking the enthusiasm I later brought to the table when writing stories including the magic of fairy godmothers or powerful djinn, superheroes and world-spanning challenges. I brought more of myself to my later work. I brought my sense of magic, my sense of wonder and my passion for big ideas. I brought a new determination and the quiet, persistent power that comes from persevering through setback after setback and picking oneself up from one failure or rejection after another to stay the course.  

The characters in my stories benefit (and suffer) from my experience. It's all well and fine to start out with blithe characters of good heart, but I want them to grow in the course of a story, and having been through the process myself, I can do better with taking them through it. 

One of my first short stories placed in a contest early in my career, one of the first stories I'd ever submitted anywhere – which made it all the harder for me when that first novel met with nothing but rejection. I'd gotten an inflated idea of my abilities, and when it was punctured, I went decades before taking up my pen again in any serious way.  I'd taken the failure too much too heart. I started writing again at last because it was something I wanted to do for my own amusement and fulfillment. It wasn't until I'd established myself in the practice that I made a goal again of bringing my work to publication.

I don't know in any ultimate sense whether my one-time critique partners really had it too easy at the start of their careers. Life puts us all through trials of one sort or another. Where one aspect of life comes easy, others may come very hard indeed. If one success comes too easy, it makes it all the harder to face rejections later on. If their first publications in fact came too easy, I've no doubt that time corrected any issues that may have engendered. And, at this point, I don't need comfort for having taken a longer road.  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Word Music

Rosa Musicales
courtesy of  Wikemedia
It may be because I began my writing life as a poet that I fell in love the music of language. I suppose this is what we mean when we talk about voice. the kind of music you made in writing words and sentences.
     I revel in words that echo their meaning—calypso, ping-pong, jalopy, buzz—all sound like the things they represent. I love alliteration and assonance. Oh, I know it can be overused and overbearing, but when it’s done right it creates a kind of magic on the page. Consider these lines from Robert Frost’s “Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening”: “The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep.”  Can you hear the music in them, the resonance of d, b, p  like a baseline , the repeating of long vowels crooning ‘ooo, ooo, aa, eee,’ like backup singers? Or this line from Wild Geese, one of my favorite poems by Mary Oliver “ Meanwhile, the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes.” Can you hear the clear pebbles as they tap against the window?  The soft  percussion of the s sounds, like a brush of rain against a wall?
     There is magic in the way words sound when you put them together into sentences and paragraphs. Sometimes, when writing stories, I forget about this. I am busy, after all, trying to put meaning into my story, I am trying to make the plot move forward, to create tension, to breathe life into characters. But I forget music at my own peril. If I’m not careful, the words begin to glop together like gum stuck to the sole of an old shoe. They become clanky and mechanical in the way they sound. Worse, they become lifeless and boring.
     The longer I work at this writing thing, the more I can play with the music of words and use them to underscore the writing. I can add mood with sound—“cold dark night” hits hard with single syllables and hard consonant endings, creating a kind of dissonance."Cool evening breezes” lilts softly and gently, with long vowels and is soothing as a lullaby. Letters become the notes on a scale. The possible combinations are endless.

            Do you think about the music of words when you write?

'Til next time