Monday, January 30, 2012

Suzanne's Minxy Guide to dealing with the dreaded R

After more than 700 rejections (and 107 sales in various guises - thank you very much), I have perhaps had a bit more experience than most of dealing with my work being hurled back at me. Sometimes with a speed that leaves me reeling. (Actually, I'm exaggerating with the 700 Rs - but only because some people don't reply and about half of the submissions were never heard of again.)

Just now, as I celebrate the thirteenth month anniversary of my partial - which was REQUESTED by a big publisher - I'm bracing myself for another big R. They say it's still under consideration, but the cynic in me suspects this is their way of saying it hasn't been looked at yet.

In my vast and varied experience of these things, a reply after this length of time can only have one outcome: Even if they might have been interested had they looked at it when it was submitted over a year ago, by now times have moved on and they will be looking for something completely different.

So, how to cope with that number of knock-backs without going completely bonkers?

1. The chocolate cupboard. Everyone knows chocolate makes things better. Even good days can be enhanced by its consumption. Dedicating a cupboard to it will ensure your supplies never run out and there will always be some sweet stuff to hand when it seems the world doesn't love your writing.

2. Have lots of stories in lots of baskets. If all your hopes are chained to one submission, then if it's sent home with a 'no thank you' letter, it will break your heart. But, if you have other stories under consideration, then only a fraction of your dreams will be tied to each one, so it stands to reason the Rs will sting a little less.

3. Try different kinds of writing. For years, I only wrote category romances. But when I tried short stories, I was astonished to find that not only where they quicker to write (what an idiot) but I also managed to sell a few. I then tried writing other things - such as articles and fillers. My only rule was (and is) that the market I'm aiming for pays. The thrill of seeing your name in print is hard to beat - and sometimes it doesn't matter how you get there. And once you've sold a piece of work, and you realise an editor likes your words enough to pay, it will give you confidence in all your other writing.

4. Never use rejection as a reason to give up writing. If that's what you truly want to and love to do, then carry on regardless. Accept that there are any number of reasons why an editor might decide a project wasn't right for them - and some of them will have nothing to do with your writing.

5. Target your work. There are some markets I'm pretty sure I'll never break into. But that's okay, because there are others who buy a very high percentage of everything I send them. (Can it be a coincidence that these are the stories I like to write best?) So now I make sure most of what I write is targeted to these markets. But I'm also aware market forces and tastes are apt to change, so if these markets start to reject, I'll widen my net again until I find somewhere else my work's suited to.

6. Make plans. My highly anticipated R won't be the end of the world when it arrives, as I'm already planning to tweak and rewrite it for another market.

7. Find a support network - join critique groups and make contact with people who understand. Step forward lovely Minxes and other writing friends - who have held my hand and offered encouragement and advice (and sometimes cake).

It's taken me a very long time to reach this level of acceptance and to view rejections as just another part of the writing/submitting/getting published process. Those of you who've known me a while will probably remember I submitted my first romance for consideration when I was 16. It was written on an antiquated typewriter, over many, many months and returned in the blink of an eye. Even the lovely and encouraging two page rejection letter didn't help. I cried for weeks and went off in a huff for two years.

My giant sulk after the second rejection lasted another two years - during which I wrote nothing. In a parallel universe, where the middle-aged me was around to offer my teen self advice, I'd have gone straight back to the typewriter and be world famous by now. Well, a middle-aged girl can dream.

The waiting though, that's still very hard to deal with, because, despite deep down expecting that R, until it actually arrives that glimmer of hope still lives in my heart, making it impossible to move on properly. And getting on with other things doesn't make you forget your baby's still out in the world awaiting it's fate.

Look out for that invitation to my partial's thirteen month anniversary party.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Writing Inspiration Straight From Your TV

For today's post I'd planned to write something on craft but then I started “researching” and it all went horrible wrong... or horribly right. It depends on how you look at.

Today we're going to be talking about the hottest men TV in 2011, and we’re talking hawt! If you're looking for a little hero inspiration this is the place to get it. Hang onto your keyboards because here we go...


Wilson Bethel

Television Series: Hart of Dixie
Role: Wade Kinsella


Tyler Hoechlin
Television Series: Teen Wolf
Role: Derek Hale


Paul Wesley

Television Series: The Vampire Diaries
Role: Stefan Salvatore


Patrick Dempsey
Television Series: Grey’s Anatomy
Role: Dr. Derek Shepherd


Matt Bomer
Television Series: White Collar
Role: Neal Caffrey


Joseph Morgan
Television Series: The Vampire Diaries
Role: Klaus


John Barrowman
Television Series: Torchwood
Role: Captain Jack Harkness


Jesse Williams
Television Series: Grey’s Anatomy
Role: Dr. Jackson Avery


Jesse Spencer
Television Series: House
Role: Dr. Robert Chase


Jared Padalecki
Television Series: Supernatural
Role: Sam Winchester


Ian Somerhalder

Television Series: The Vampire Diaries
Role: Damon Salvatore


Eric Dane
Television Series: Grey’s Anatomy
Role: Dr. Mark Sloan


Simon Baker
Television Series: The Mentalist
Role: Patrick Jane


Dean Geyer
Television Series: Terra Nova
Role: Mark Reynolds


Alex O’Loughlin

Television Series: Hawaii Five-O
Role: Steve McGarrett


Jensen Ackles
Television Series: Supernatural
Role: Dean Winchester


David Boreanaz
Television Series: Bones
Role: Seeley Booth

What, oh what, will 2012 bring? And more importantly, have I missed anyone?


The winner of the Sarah Morgan book give away is Amanda Holly!  Congratulations, Amanda. Please contact us with your details to claim your prize.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Author Spotlight - Sharon Kendrick

The Minxes are very excited today to welcome USA Today Bestselling author Sharon Kendrick to chat with the Minxes today :-)

Thanks so much for being with us today, Sharon!

What is your writing process?

I’m not sure that I have a *process* because every book is different. Sometimes I start with a man who wants me to tell his story. Sometimes it’s a woman. Or I might have a scene which I can see very clearly in my mind. Then I need to weave some kind of compelling thread which links them all together. Having said that, sometimes the scene that I loved so much just doesn’t work – and then it ends up being deleted. I can be ruthless about ditching stuff – particularly at the beginning - because if my story isn’t writing fluidly, then I can’t continue.

Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?

I have a confession. For me, buying shoes is like a trip to the dentist when you have an unexplained nagging in one of your molars. You’re screwing your face up in astonishment, right? A romantic novelist who isn’t orgasming over shoes? But let me explain my unfashionable aversion… my feet are so big that getting anything to fit takes a miracle. It they look half-way decent, it’s a bonus. I’m Cinderella in reverse! But to address the main point of your question: I consider writing to be a job, just like any other job. So, just as someone who (say) worked in a bank, wouldn’t dream of saying to a customer, “I’m really sorry, but I’m just not that into it today” – neither would I. If I’m really stuck, I might go and make a coffee or watch some trash TV – but I’m always back at my desk twenty minutes later. Whether I then choose to surf the Net or to lose myself on Twitter is up to me, but I know that if I have got a couple of thousand words down by the end of the day – I’ll feel considerably better than if I have the horror of having made no progress. And even a bad writing day will always yield something good.

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer? 

I do. For me, exercise is imperative. It gives me ideas, clears my mind – oh, and it helps combat my natural greed by making my bottom less big than it should be (though never as small as I’d like it to be!). I run. I walk. I do one of those classes where you lift weights up and down. And since spending a week with a friend and his personal trainer in Italy, I have now (very reluctantly) started doing some interval training.

Do you believe in writer's block?

I do believe in block and for me, there’s only one reason for it. Quite simply, the story isn’t working. When dialogue between your two main protagonists is forced, then your characters aren’t real. When your story isn’t flowing, you need to go back and fix it.

Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?

It’s impossible not to use incidents from real life, but seen through my eyes they may bear little resemblance to the original! Gathering inspiration from the world around them is as essential to the writer as gathering grapes is to the vintner. Obviously, I’m careful!

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?

You know when people say: “It was like a dream come true”? Well, that’s exactly what it’s like – and I always guessed it would feel that way.

Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?

I do radio and newspaper interviews and have appeared on national television. I blog (not very consistently!) over at I Tweet @Sharon-Kendrick (and would love your readers to follow me!) The main way I strive to reach more readers is by writing the very best book I can, so hopefully they will come back and read more – and tell their friends to do the same.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?

Always be charming to journalists and they’ll remember you. Be original. Embrace social media and get your local newspaper to do a feature on you. Be memorable. But the main tip is to be so damned proud of your book, that you’ll want to tell everyone just how great it is – and hopefully, that will snowball.

What did you learn while writing this book?

That you can never put too much emotion onto the page.

What was the most fun part of writing this book?

Becoming Francesca (my heroine) and falling madly in love with Zahid (the hero).

And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?

I think he might take her back to Morocco – because they had such a flaming row last time they were there!

Monarch of the Sands

An impossible love affair--with a Sheikh!

Francesca is shocked when family friend Zahid Al Hakam turns up on her doorstep. After all, he's now the Sheikh of Khayarzah--England's surburbia is hardly his regular stomping ground! But he is as achingly gorgeous as ever...and she's certainly tempted by his invitation to come to the desert and work for him. Zahid finds the geeky, gauche teenager he once knew is now an understated beauty. Embarking on a secret affair is bittersweet--but, however all-consuming their passion, Zahid's duty to his kingdom must surely come first?

Monarch of the Sands is still available at Amazon UK and Mills & Boon and has now released at Amazon US and if you're lucky enough to be in the UK, Sharon's latest Sheikh is available now over at Mills & Boon!!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Read or Write?

I haven't finished reading a single book yet in the new year and we're almost through January. This is because I've been concentrating on getting some writing done and I haven't yet figured out how to do both in a given day.

 Reading is a bit of a weakness for me..or a big one actually...I start reading, and if turns out to be engrossing...I can't put it down...I've slept only a couple of hours countless times and got up to go to work because I'd spent yet another night unable to stop reading....and faced the day looking like a ghoul...
And since I want to make a head start into the year and get some much needed writing done, I've been kinda scared to start reading something that I know will suck me in...

And time's really limited, so at the end of the day- it's coming down to read or write? and I've been picking write over the past three weeks..But I have no doubt the long clutches of my TBR pile will suck me in and will surrender to the reading one of these nights and pull an all nighter...

How about you? Do you read when you're in the midst of a writing binge? Or is  reading a good book your reward once you've achieved your writing goals?

PS - Don't forget you have up to Friday 27 January to win a copy of Once A Ferrara Wife by Sarah Morgan. Just leave a comment in the reivew post telling us the best book you read in 2011. Good luck!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Book Review: Once A Ferrara Wife by Sarah Morgan

Before I knuckle down to review this book I must warn you that I have a serious girl-crush on this author. Her writing makes me want to track her down and tackle-hug her just for being so, so, soooo brilliant!! Ahem.

Once A Ferrara Wife is a reunion/marriage-in-trouble story with a neat twist that will have you on the edge of your seat, or like me, feverishly reading but secretly hoping the story goes on and on and on…!

Cristiano Ferrara and Laurel were married for only short while before incredibly horrible circumstances drove her to leave. Now she’s back in Sicily to attend the wedding of her best friend, who also happens to be Cristiano’s sister. From the very first page sparks fly between these two. Laurel doesn’t want to be there because of heart-wrenching memories, and Cristiano’s seriously ticked off because she walked away from their marriage.

But what makes this book stand out, I hear you ask. From the very first page, it’s Cristiano who is pouring out his feelings, risking his heart and fighting desperately for the marriage to work. Laurel on the other hand is a completely closed book. Circumstances in her past have made her untrustworthy and she would rather skin herself alive than reveal even an ounce of feeling. To say this neat twist was seriously sexy is an understatement. Hearing an alpha male say, “I’m crazy about you. I’ve always been crazy about you,” (paraphrasing) in the first few scenes makes for a completely different kind of hero, in my opinion.

Laurel’s journey was equally awe-inspiring. The pain of losing her child and the difficult journey of learning to trust the husband she thought had betrayed her in the cruellest possible way made my heart melt for her. I couldn’t even bring myself to hate her when I found out she was a fitness instructor with a body to die for, lol.

Seriously, this is a must-buy and definitely a must-keep. And a little bird told me (well, it was Sarah herself via the Harlequin Blog) that Cristiano’s hot brother, Santino’s getting his own story! All I can say it, I can’t wait for The Forbidden Ferrara to come out in May! In the scenes where he featured in his brother's story, my heart missed a few beats for him too ;)

Now for the even brilliant bit. I have a copy of Once A Ferrara Wife to give away to one lucky non-Minx commenter.

Just tell me the best book you read in 2011 for a chance to win, and good luck!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Author Spotlight - Talli Roland

What is your writing process?

I usually have a spark of an idea, then I sit down and sketch out the major turning points for my main character – what do I want her to learn by the end of the novel? I connect the dots as I write the first draft, and then the hard work begins when I have to make sense of it all!

Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?

Oh, sigh. It would be so much easier to go shoe shopping! Well, I have a very strict writing regime – it’s the only thing that works for me. I sit down at my desk at eight in the morning, and I write at least three-thousand words a day.

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?

Er . . . sort of! I tend to go in fits and starts. I love jogging, and I’ll have a few weeks when I go religiously. Then something will get in the way, and I’ll be right back to ground zero.

Do you believe in writer's block?

This is a contentious issue, but no, I don’t. There are times when writing is harder than others, but I treat it like a job. I sit down at the desk and pound away at the keyboard, fervently hoping something usable comes out! Giving myself permission to write rubbish has been really helpful to push me through those tough times.

Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?

Oh, yes. In fact, there are a few incidents in Build A Man, my latest novel, that are loosely based on things I experienced during my time working at a five-star spa in central London. I’ve changed details significantly, though, so I haven’t got in trouble.

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?

I had dream that published writers are confident, secure, and able to write exactly what they want. Ha! The reality is that nothing in the publishing world is secure, and confidence is hard to come by when you’re putting a product out to the public. I have learned that you can’t please everyone.

Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?

Social media has been the key for me to reach my readers and spread the word about my novels. Twitter, Facebook, blogging . . . they’ve all been critical for my promotional campaigns.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?

Make it fun – and have fun doing it. The less work you make it for people to spread the word and the more innovative and interesting you make your promotional efforts, the more likely people are to remember you and your novels.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned that I LOVE writing in first person. My previous novels were penned in third person, so this was a new thing for me.

What was the most fun part of writing this book?

I had a lot of fun writing Build A Man, mainly because my main character, Serenity, gets to say to the wealthy clinic clients many of the things I’d have liked to when I was working in a similar environment!

And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?

He’s a fairly down to earth bloke who enjoys nature, so I’m going to say Wales. Great question!

Slave to the rich and the rude, cosmetic surgery receptionist Serenity Holland longs for the day she's a high-flying tabloid reporter. When she meets Jeremy Ritchie -- the hang-dog man determined to be Britain's Most Eligible Bachelor by making himself over from head to toe and everything in between -- Serenity knows she's got a story no editor could resist. With London's biggest tabloid on board and her very own column tracking Jeremy's progress from dud to dude, Serenity is determined to be a success. But when Jeremy's surgery goes drastically wrong and she's ordered to cover all the car-crash goriness, Serenity must decide how far she really will go for her dream job.

Buy Links: Amazon, Amazon UK

Monday, January 16, 2012

Did you get books for Christmas?

I did. They are my favourite kind of gift, next to pretty notebooks or stationery - I am a self confessed stationery whore.

In my stocking this year I had:

The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society by MaryAnn Shaffer
Miracle on Regent Street by Ali Harris
It started with a Kiss by Miranda Dickinson
A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French
Pip by Freya North

From them, i've read 'It started with a Kiss' - I chose this one first as it has the 'curl up by the fire at Christmas and enjoy' factor right from the start of the sparkly cover. It didn't disappoint, was a real cockle warmer, can recommend.

Pip. Have to say the husband got this one wrong as i've already got it - I love Freya's books, so he'd find it hard to find one I haven't read. My fave of all of hers is 'Cat' - it's based around the Tour de France, which in itself is an unusual setting for women's fiction. Have to confess an interest in it, as my other hlaf is a huge fan and it's become a fixture of our summers.

I've just started on Dawn French's book, and the jury is out right now. I always enjoy Dawn's sense of humour on screen, and you can really hear her voice in the book. I don't know if i'd enjoy it as much if it was from an unknown author. Hmm. Will read on and report back.

The others on my list are sitting on my bedside table waiting to be read. I love having them there, and not knowing what lies beneath their covers yet. Tempting, like unopened boxes of chocolates.

My other massive reading discovery of late has been Jenny Crusie. I read 'Bet Me' and she had me hook, line and sinker. Honestly, I adore her writing so much. It half makes me want to try harder with my own writing, and it half makes me want to stop altogether because I have so far to go. Am reading 'Tell Me Lies' in tiny chunks right now so I don't get to the end too quickly.

How about you? Did Santa bring you any books to recommend?

Friday, January 13, 2012

Addicted to Series

My name is Sri and I’m a series ho. Give me a set of three dimensional characters, a dangerous paranormal world, or a memorable setting, whatever the time period, whatever the genre, I will return again and again to that set of characters.

Here are a few of the series I love, and wait on for the next installment.
  1. The Black Dagger Brotherhood by JR Ward
  2. Thomas Pitt series and William Monk series by Anne Perry
  3. Armand Gamache series by Louise Penny
  4. Immortals after Dark by Kresley Cole
  5. The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency Series by Alexander McCall Smith
  6. Lords of the Underworlds by Gena Showalter
  7. Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh
  8.  The Gaslight Mysteries by Victoria Thompson
  9. The Elder Races novels by Thea Harrison
  10. Royal Spyness Series by Rhys Bowen
  11. The Amelia Peabody Series by Elizabeth Peters

Anytime a book comes out in the above series, and the first few of some of them were even written before I was born, I will pick it up ,glad to visit the same world, and in some cases, again the same characters, knowing that the author will deliver and surprise me.

How about you? Which authors or series are automatic buys for you? Do you like series novels where you can return again to that setting/fictional town/or world?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Author Spotlight - Tracy Sumner

In today's spotlight we have historical romance author Tracy Sumner. Formerly published by Kensington, she has a slew of awards to her name, and is now branching out into indie publishing. She chats to us today about her two latest releases, Tides of Passion and Tides of Love.

• What is your writing process?
I think I’m in the middle between complete novel fleshed out and flying by the seat of my pants. For some reason, I’m always intrigued by the occupations of the hero and heroine and usually start my research there. For example, in TIDES OF LOVE, Noah is a marine biologist. I researched the time period surrounding (1898) and the location. I chose that based on a place I had prior knowledge of – Beaufort, NC. And a marine research laboratory built in the time period.

Once I start to visualize the characters, I start to see them interacting. That’s where the snaps of dialogue come in. I place these in chronological order in a scenes summary. So, when I’m writing that scene, I refer to these. Could also be setting snaps or something I think belongs in that scene. I do not plot completely. I have these scene summaries to guide me. And as I get through the book, the scenes get their own notes. Even if its only half a page.

• Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?
Well, I’m not so great at this. But I think the best advice is to keep your butt in the chair. I just read a blog post about not feeling like the muse is with you for every word. To write when it stinks, when you don’t feel like, when it’s not flowing well.

• Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
I like yoga and Pilates. I also have a four-year-old and a FT graphic design gig that keep me very busy!

• Do you believe in writer's block?
Yes. Though I think it’s self-imposed. Or a psychological thing writers do to themselves, if that makes sense.

• Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?
No, I think I may use little pieces of dialogue – I see this when I read the book even if I didn’t see it when I was writing. But no actual instances. Though I write historicals, so this could hamper that a little.

• In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
I’ve been published for quite a few years. And I think I learned a lot after the initial “wonder” wore off. About how hard the business was. About how the first published book is not going to make a career. I think people are surprised by how much of a business it is. Promotion alone requires a great deal of marketing knowledge – and I work in marketing FT, so I see how hard it is.

• Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?
Promotion is great! If you’re doing it for the right reason. I’m very interested in gaining new readers because I love the characters in my books as if I’d birthed them.  And I want people to love them – and enjoy the stories. I have a FT career that pays my bills.

What have I done to reach more readers? Ads, blog tours such as this one!, giveaways, contests on my website. Free copies of the books. I do that a lot.

• What is your top promo tip for other authors?
To know your audience. And, perhaps, that writing a great book is the best promotion ever.

• What did you learn while writing this book?
Which one?  I think I learned with TIDES OF PASSION to let my creativity flow and not worry so much. I wrote TOP faster than I’ve ever written a book and under a bit of duress, and it’s the one mentioned most often by readers, and it won the most awards (the biggest The National Reader’s Choice for Best Long Historical).

• What was the most fun part of writing this book?
Creating characters! With all their quirks and insecurities. And I love picking names!

• And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?
Hmmm…for Noah, TIDES OF LOVE. His would be somewhere where he could complete a bit of research on the side.  He’s a sexy nerd. But a very, very sexy nerd! Elle is fairly intellectual, too, and would not mind the side trip for research. She’s very patient that way.

For more information on Tracy and her books, you can find her at her website, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

National Reader’s Choice Winner: Best Long Historical
“Terrific dialogue…and hot loves scenes. If you haven’t read Tracy Sumner before, Tides of Passion is a good place to start.”
—All About Romance

“This novel realizes with a great and witty gusto that independence isn’t so much about being on your own as it is about choosing to be together.”
—Romantic Times

She is his greatest temptation.
He is her forbidden desire.
A battle of wills leads to love.

“I picked up Tides of Love…just to give the book a quick peak. That quick peak turned into four hours of reading that didn’t stop until I finished the book!”—The Romance Reader

“A powerful relationship novel that explores the heartache and triumph of love.”
—Romantic Times

He left all he loved behind...
Will he be able to return and win her heart?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Expanding your options

Happy New Year everyone!

I'm doing a blog post today about options-with the message that there are many ways to be published, and this year should be the year that all romance writers should open themselves up to opportunities, and investigate them.

When I first started putting my writing out there, I had a couple of goals.
1. To find an agent.
2. To be published by my ideal publisher, sign a contract, and see my books in print on the shelves of my local bookshop.
I haven't achieved either. Things just didn't work that way for me. I certainly tried it, I have a drawer full of lovely rejections to prove it. I was despondent about it. Dispairing even. But after a few rejections of what I considered to be good work, I altered my approach, and it seems to be working for me.

My first romance wasn't good enough to achieve publication. I had a lot to learn, and the more courses I did the more I realised I didn't understand all the components that are needed writing romance today. The second romance I wrote is Bound to Love. Agents weren't interested. My ideal publisher turned it down at partial stage. Another publisher read the full, and turned it down. I worked on it, changed it and rewrote. Then I wrote another story. This one followed the same route. Agents weren't interested. My ideal publisher turned it down at partial stage (but gave good feedback). And then a second publisher, The Wild Rose Press, liked it enough to buy it. Woo!

Last February for the first time I achieved half of one of my goals. I had a book out in print, although it wasn't available on the shelves, but rather through Amazon. I was happy, up until the publisher went bust, and my rights reverted to me. To be honest, the temptation to stuff the book in a drawer and sob on the sofa was strong.  Years had passed, and I still hadn't achieved my goals. But like all writers out there, I had options, if only I'd consider them.

I decided to re-release Bound to Love as self-published. Sure, I hadn't achieved my goals, but it was time to modify those goals. To readjust my thinking. Since then I've had 2 more books accepted by Wild Rose, and at the end of December, had 2 more fulls out with publishers. I'd love to say I was selling lots, but I wasn't. The self published route or small publisher route is a hard one, there's a lot of promotion and networking to be done to get reviews, build an online presence etc. But all the writers I know are doing this anyway, published or not. We have to.

For me, I realised that my goals were based on giving me validation that my writing was good enough. I wanted an agent to like it. And being accepted by my ideal publisher would be fantastic. But when it didn't happen and I took a fork along the path to publication, I got what I wanted anyway. Readers. People who liked my writing enough to buy one of my books. And found a group of fabulous friends who have helped me so much along the way. Things went crazy for me last week when 19,000 took advantage of the opportunity to try Bound to Love for free. That's 19,000 people who hadn't read a book of mine before. I hope all of them like it.

So this year, if you haven't achieved your goals, maybe it's time to listen to your critique partners when they tell you your writing is good. Have faith in your writing. Explore your options. Don't let a rejection crush you (or at least, not for long). Try something different. I'm glad I did!

Friday, January 6, 2012

January Man of the Month Poll: Disney Heroes

Yes, you read that right. I really am going to do a Hotties poll on animated characters.

But first, Our Man of the Year for 2011 was Jonathan Rhys-Myers, with an overwhelming 80% of the vote - thanks to a little help from the JRM Fan Club, it seems.

Since the voting may have been skewed [rose pruning flashback!] it’s worth mentioning that NCIS LA's Chris O'Donnell came in a more honest second.

Now back to our January poll. For something a little different to kick off the new year, I’ve chosen the theme of Disney heroes. After all, these are the most classic of all romances.

Before you all roll your eyes, you haven’t yet seen the work of artist David Kawena. He has a completely different take on the Disney heroes.

So without further ado, here are today’s contenders in chronological order.

Skipping over Prince Frederick from the 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarves - and yes, he really did have a name - I’m starting with Prince Charming of Cinderella (1950). This is the one contender David Kawena hasn’t drawn, but I’ve chosen to include him for the benefit of any blog readers who are suckers for a man in uniform.

Next up is Prince Philip of Sleeping Beauty (1959), the man who braves a dragon to save the Princess Aurora. Now tell me that’s not alpha hero material.

Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid (1989) is our third choice. I’m not too taken with a man so easily duped by a sea witch, but luckily for him Ariel has balls enough for the both of them.


  The Beast from Beauty & the Beast (1991) isn’t given a name in the movie itself, but reliable sources inform me he’s credited as Prince Adam. Robbie Benson’s voice is just melt-worthy in this role.  

You have to admit that any man who can take his girl on a magic carpet ride and introduce her to wonders she’s never seen before, is worth a vote. Just in case you’re not as familiar with the Disney movies as those of us with kids, that’s Aladdin (1992).

If you can get your head around the idea of Mel Gibson as a romantic hero, then John Smith of Pocahontas (1995) fame makes a pretty swoon-worthy hero.

Next up is Li Shang from Mulan (1998), another man strong enough to handle a strong heroine.

More recently, after a decade hiatus, Disney finally gave us a hero and heroine worth watching. Prince Naveen of The Princess and the Frog (2009) becomes a better person because of his love for Tiana. And of course I just love the 20s flavour of this movie.

Flynn Rider is Disney’s newest addition. As the bandit who inadvertently comes to Rapunzel’s aid in Tangled (2010) he rivals Prince Philip for his Rescuing a Damsel in Distress abilities. What’s not to love about a bad boy made good? 

Well, there you have it: nine dashing heroes to choose from. Though I think the winner this month should be David Kawena. Don’t you agree?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Author Spotlight - Nina Jade Singer

Welcome back to a bright, shiny new year. Our first author in the Minxy Spotlight is Nina Jade Singer, who is here to talk about her debut novel, Secrets of the Knight, a dark paranormal romance.

1) What is your writing process?
I’m definitely not a plotter. Though I wouldn’t say I’m a straight pantster either. I try to make sure I know what I’m going to write before I sit down at my desk. I’m constantly thinking about the story – in the grocery store, the kitchen, when I’m driving. So my process includes some pre-plotting. But I don’t outline or anything. As ideas come to me, I jot them down on index cards which I keep pretty much everywhere!!

2) Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping? 
Well, in the interest of honesty, I will admit that some days I do just go shoe shopping. On really rough days though, I turn to my writer friends for encouragement. They understand and know just what to say.

3) Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
I try to do something physical everyday, whether it be a gym class, getting on a treadmill, or playing a little golf during the warmer months. Plus, my puppy keeps me pretty honest about getting a daily walk in. I get some of my story ideas just by moving around or being outdoors.

4) Do you believe in writer's block?
I did at first. But I heard Janet Evanovich speak at an event a few years back and she said something very interesting. She said she doesn’t believe in writer’s block, just good writing days and not so good writing days. I really took that to heart.

5) Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?
Trouble? You mean you can get in trouble for that? I do it all the time. Uh oh.

6) In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
It’s very exciting, that part I expected. The social media and promotion piece is all new to me. Still working my way around that piece. Seeing something you wrote as a book in print is a bit hard to describe. A little overwhelming in a really good way!

7) Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?
See above question! I’m still riding that learning curve. I hope to know more by the next book!

8) What is your top promo tip for other authors?
Get out there and get the word out! You can’t be shy in this business.

9) What did you learn while writing this book?
This was my first published book. I’m learning as we ‘speak’. The whole process, from revisions to promotion, has been a huge learning experience.

10) What was the most fun part of writing this book?
I really like the hero and enjoyed writing him. He’s so flawed yet honourable and strong.

11) And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?
Secrets of the Knight is set in the Caribbean. The hero makes his way there after losing everything he cares about. All he needs is the heroine, who manages to find him. They’ve got an evil enemy to defeat, but they’re already at the perfect honeymoon destination!

About Secrets of the Knight:

Several years ago life forced Thomas (Bo) Bowden to give up everything, including the woman he loves, and take refuge on a Caribbean island. Little did he know, he was taking the first step to fulfilling his mystical destiny.

Nicole Balian has come to the small island of Trenado to find a missing teenager. She's shocked to the core to find her former lover instead. And the attraction between her and Bo is as strong as ever.

Working together to solve the unexplained disappearances plaguing the island, they find themselves in a frightening world of voodoo and magic. Trenado's history is shrouded in supernatural mystery. The danger they face serves to reignite their love. But as Bo fights an ancient evil that haunts the island, will Nicole be able to save the man she loves? Or will she lose him once again, this time forever?

Secrets of the Knight is available in both paperback and eBook formats through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

You can find Nina on her website, Facebook and Twitter.

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One lucky commenter will receive Secrets of The Knight. Followers and commenters of the blog tour will go in the grand draw of an Amazon Gift Certificate of US$100.00! For Nina's full blog tour itinerary and more chances to win, check her AUTHOR PAGE!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Best wishes for a fabulous 2012

There's nothing we can add that hasn't already been said in dozens of other places across the blogosphere, so we'll keep it simple: we wish our blog readers all the best for 2012.

This blog re-opens for business on Wednesday 4th January, with our first Author Spotlight of the year.