Monday, April 30, 2012

How do you keep going?

As the minxes and some other friends in the writing community know, I have a full time job (well at least more than 32 hrs/week most weeks), two demanding princesses 4 and 1, and oh yeah, a husband. How sad is that the poor guy is the last one on the list? :-)

But actually, it's writing that comes the last for me, literally, at the end of the day around 9 pm at which point I'm exhausted.
When I had revisions requested by an editor, somehow, I kept going even though it was the same exhaustion, kept working until I had them done.
Only that motivation is kinda lacking now.

I'm still working on the next WIP, but it's just a little bit harder to sit in front of the computer or look at the laptop and get some words done...Instead, at the end of the day when I'm tired, I want to read a book, watch may be a little mind numbing tv or just even get to bed early and catch, OMG, I don't know maybe 8 hours sleep....
And I have trained myself to think it's ok to give in now and then...or else the guilt is enormous, trained myself to give myself a break, that I will pick up the slack the next day..

And you know what?

I did, motivating myself came easy after a day off or a bit of a reading or catch up on tv....

What about you? Care to share some ways you keep yourself going when writing is the hardest to do?

Another truth I've accepted. On some days, writing is the hardest and I've given myself A-Ok to take a break that day and get refreshed....

Friday, April 27, 2012

Keep Dreaming...

You know that saying – "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take"? That has never been more true or real to me than in the last two weeks. As some of you may know, (sorry if you're hearing this one too many times!) I sold to Harlequin M&B recently. But amid the euphoria of realising my dream, it occurred to me how easily all this could’ve come to nothing if I'd given up, given in or let myself be discouraged along the way.

Believe me, I've certainly come close in the past. Just before and after my second full rejection, I had several weeks of "what's the point?-ness", where my motivation was reduced to nil. It would've been so easy to throw the towel in and just give up.

Luckily, I have very supportive group of people around me who would ask, "So, how's the writing going? or, "Have you written anything lately? Tell me about it." My CPs also helped loads, often times indirectly. Sometimes just by being around someone who is excited about their own writing can give you the kick up the backside you need. If you don't have this background support, reading your favourite writer's latest book can induce envy, yes, but it can also get your juices flowing in ways nothing else can.

The moral of this story is, if I'd given up when the road seemed too tough, or the rejections too heart-breaking, I wouldn’t have sold. It's that simple.

So by all means, cry about those setbacks, moan, gorge on chocolate and cookies, use your laptop to watch endless YouTube clips of stunning, successful people while eating more cookies. But do it with the firm proviso that you're taking a break, recharging the batteries.

What you must not do is give up! Remember how many rejections JK Rowling received before she sold her first Harry Potter?


Keep Dreaming!

Keep writing!

Because it does happen.

And the odds are way better than winning the lottery, although that would be nice, too, lol.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Author Spotlight - Rachel Lyndhurst

The Minxes are delighted to welcome Minx favourite and friend, Rachel Lyndhurst here today under the spotlight to answer the minxy questions. Her book, Kidnapped by the Greek Millionaire was one of the launch titles from the new Indulgence line from Entangled, and is flying off the virtual shelves.
Here goes!

What is your writing process?
I have school age children which means, at best, I have between 09.00 and 14.45 to fully concentrate on writing during term time. If I give myself 45 minutes for essentials like cups of tea, lunch, the loo and the doorbell, that gives me a maximum of five hours writing time as long as I do nothing else.
So it goes like this: 07.00: boot up lappy, reply to urgent overnight emails that I haven’t dealt with by Blackberry the previous evening and check my sales statistics (unnecessary, but I can’t stop myself). By 8.30 I am child free, so I might go mad and have a shower. I begin working at 09.00 to 09.30 (I have long hair, it takes ages to blow dry), often typing up stuff I’ve scribbled in a notebook the night before. I then just try to keep going until 14.45, but social networking and fascia salesmen are evil …
From 15.30 to 20.30 I deal with the housework, children, The Exec if he’s at home and do a bit of Twitter/Facebook on the move if I can. There is always a notebook and pen within reach – I have a new one with each manuscript and there’s usually a glass of wine somewhere in the mix after six in the evening. :0)

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?
Um, I shout at myself sometimes if I really am faffing about, but if I need a break, or shoes, I have them. Writing has taken over my life for the last five years and I know in the back of my mind that it probably isn’t healthy to be so obsessed, but it’s how I function. Even if a day goes by without actually getting some words down, I’m thinking about the current WIP, the next WIP, the WIP after that and I scribble like a lunatic. Always. Even on holiday. So I rarely beat myself up about slacking because I find it hard to switch off.

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
Ah, that … the answer would have to be no, BUT, I have a whole load of excuses. Here we go: an hour in the gym would lose me 20% of my writing day (not including travelling) and I’ve never set foot inside one either – would probably turn into a pillar of salt or something.
During the daily 3.30 to 8.30 domestic shift I literally don’t sit down and must spend at least an hour carrying laundry up and down the stairs. And loo rolls. And school bags …
I do my very best to get out and about with the family at weekends and school holidays- walking is great exercise and it’s not boring if you go somewhere nice (with a camera and notebook of course just in case.)
My G.P. says I’m just as active, if not more so, than someone who sits in an office all day (just before I beg him not to weigh me).
But I should do more. Tell you what, when I get that villa on the Amalfi, I’ll make sure it has an infinity pool and I’ll use it every day. And I’ll get in a young Italian gardener to chase around … Hehe!

Do you believe in writer's block?
No, not as far as I’m concerned. You can get through any problems with your manuscript if you work at it hard enough. Concentrate hard. This might mean ripping it all up and starting again, but no pain no glory, right? If your job and childrens’ next meal depended on writing a report for the CEO of your day job, you’d just get on with it wouldn’t you? Writing is the same. One of the things I shout at myself (see above) is JUST DO IT! Works for me. Shout it really loudly.

Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?
Not entirely. There have been loads of real life incidents and personalities that have inspired certain things in my books. For example, I got lost, hot and bothered in Lindos village once – it gave me the idea for my heroine’s torturous arrival at Lindos in Kidnapped by the Greek Billionaire – I didn’t want to waste all my bad temper! The most outrageous incidents haven’t made it near an editor’s desk yet, so I’m safe. I’d always be very, very careful though; it’s a small world …

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
It’s really not that glamorous and you have to work a whole lot harder to earn the same as you would in a ‘normal’ job. Until this year, shelf stacking in Sainsbury’s part time had the edge. Really.
And Beryl in the Post Office is still rude, she’s never heard of Rachel Lyndhurst …

Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?
The usual stuff, really. I’m published digitally at the moment, so there are no book signing events and this means the Internet is my big friend. I blog, have a Facebook account and Tweet. I think the best thing you can do is to make yourself accessible and interact with people as much as you can. Being nice costs nothing.

Having said that, I’m incredibly fortunate to have a dynamic publisher that invests in and promotes their authors. Entangled pay for advertising, give you a publicist who organises blog tours and interviews and the Entangled ‘family’ are amazing. You can never have too many friends out there; a tribe can do wonders spreading the word about you and your book.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?
See above! From personal experience: interact with as many people as you can, be nice, be humble, stay out of politics and never, ever think you can ignore the US market – you can’t.

What did you learn while writing this book?
The learning came after I wrote Kidnapped by the Greek Billionaire. Personally I don’t think you can overestimate the value of an experienced editor – a good one can turn manuscript straw into gold. Working with someone who really knows what they’re doing has given me knowledge that I didn’t get from any of the craft books I have piled up. I have learned that I still have an awful lot to learn!

What was the most fun part of writing this book?
The most fun part of writing Kidnapped by the Greek Billionaire was getting it published and seeing it sell. Everything up to that point was actually quite painful!

And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?
Andreas is a bit of a globetrotter in his day job actually, so I think he’d like to honeymoon on his private Greek Island. Naturally, if Kizzy objected, he’d take her anywhere she wanted. Or buy it for her. God, I love Billionaires!

The blurb for Kidnapped by the Greek Billionaire:


Or that’s what it feels like to Kizzy Dean when a business disagreement with arrogant Greek lawyer Andreas Lazarides leaves her no choice but to accompany him to the Greek Isle of Rhodes. It doesn’t help matters that this sexy brooding stranger, who is unaccustomed to the word No and the very idea of commitment, shows her what it feels like to be truly desired.

Amidst the ancient myths and alleyways, tensions run high as Kizzy feels an immediate attraction for the man she wants to both ravage and strangle.

Accustomed to gold-digging women, Andreas is mesmerized by Kizzy’s feisty nature and Gypsy beauty. Guilt and sorrow have been his only bedfellows since his sister’s death, but Kizzy stirs up a desire he’s unwilling to succumb to . . . until she makes him an offer he simply can’t refuse.

You can pick up Kidnapped by the Greek Billionaire (because picking up a Billionaire has got to be fun!) with the following links:
Barnes & Noble

Connect with Rachel on her blog, Facebook, and on Twitter.

Monday, April 23, 2012

What's Your Favorite Trope?

One of the keys to writing a fresh category romance is to take a well loved trope and give it a twist. My favorite example of this is to combine the secret baby trope with the amnesia trope. What's the twist? The heroine is the one who doesn't know she has a child. This storyline was most recently executed in Strangers in the Desert by Harlequin Presents author, Lynn Raye Harris.

Here's a list of tropes found in romance writing that I hope will inspire you when it comes to plotting your next book: 
  1. Accidental Pregnancy: forces hero/heroine to face their fears.
  2. Amnesia: hero or heroine has lost their memory temporarily or permanently.
  3. Beauty and the Beast: hero or heroine is physically marred.
  4. Betrayal: Heroine has intentionally hurt the hero or made a mistake in the past that has hurt the hero or vice versa.
  5. Business competitors: hero and heroine compete for high business stakes only one can win.
  6. Cinderella: rags to riches story.
  7. Class: a class difference sets a couple apart.
  8. Family feud: e.g. Romeo and Juliet.
  9. Friends to Lovers: a hero and heroine’s friendship becomes more.
  10. Kidnapping: hero kidnaps heroine or heroine kidnaps hero.
  11. Marriage of convenience: arranged/forced marriage.
  12. Masquerade: hero, heroine or both pretend to be someone else.
  13. Mistaken Identity: hero or heroine isn’t who he/she appears to be.
  14. Opposites attract: good girl/bad boy or bad girl/good boy.
  15. Secret Baby: heroine falls pregnant but doesn’t tell hero about it.
  16. Secret: hero or heroine keeps a dark secret.
  17. Stranded: hero and heroine are forced together.
  18. Twins: hero or heroine has “evil” twin, hero or heroine masquerade as twin etc.
So, what's your favorite trope? And which one/s are you using in your current WIP?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Where are they now?

I've just discovered that the late 80s TV series 21 Jump Street has been made into a movie (or rather a sequel). I loved the original TV show - though I was of course very young when it aired ;-)

We all know what happened to the career of the show's main asset, but it made me wonder where the rest of the cast are now. A little Google searching revealed some interesting tidbits that I thought I'd share with you.

That was then ...

Johnny Depp as Officer Tom Hanson
'Nuff said

Holly Robinson as Officer Judy Hoffs
After 21 Jump Street, Holly continued a successful run on TV with the sitcoms Hangin' with Mr Cooper and For Your Love. More recently, she co-hosted the CBS talk show The Talk. But Holly's most interesting achievements have happened off camera. Before 21 Jump Street she attended the prestigious Sarah Lawrence College and spent a year at the Sorbonne. In 1995 she married football quarterback Rodney Peete, and they have four children, one of whom is autistic. She sings and writes. Her woman's guide to pro football, Get your own Damn Beer was released in 2005 and her 2008 book about Parkinson's disease, Proud Hands, is a tribute to her father. In 2010 she released a childen's book, My Brother Charlie, co-written with her daughter Ryan and author Denene Millner.

Peter de Luise as Officer Doug Penhall
Son of a well known acting family, Peter got an early start, making his film debut at the age of 13. 21 Jump Street was his most prominent role in front of camera, the bulk of his on-screen career consisting of guest and supporting roles. It was on 21 Jump Street that he was first offered the chance to direct. He has since gone on to direct on many shows, including Andromeda, Stargate, Stargate: Atlantis and SGU Stargate Universe. He now produces and writes in addition to directing.

Dustin Nguyen as Officer Harry Truman Ioki
Like Holly Robinson, the most interesting moments in Dustin Nguyen's life seem to be the ones that happened off-camera. His parents were both in artistic professions, his mother an actress and dancer, his father an actor, writer and producer. Dustin was just 13 when they made a dramatic escape from Vietnam before the encroaching Viet Cong forces. They lived in refugee camps until settling in Missouri. While 21 Jump Street was pretty much the height of his career, he has an impressive list of credits. He is currently hosting, directing and producing Amazing Race Vietnam.

Steven Williams as Captain Adam Fuller
There's very little personal info out there on Steven Williams' personal life, but his career, spanning more than 30 years, has included appearances in dozens of high profile TV shows, from MacGuyver and The Dukes of Hazzard, to The X-Files, Stargate and most recently Supernatural ... hmm, I'm seeing a pattern in his more recent work.

Richard Grieco as Officer Dennis Booker
Richard Grieco arrived on 21 Jump Street in 1988 after a stint on the daytime soapie One Life to Live. With heart-throb appeal rivalling Mr Depp's, he left after just two years to star in his own spin-off, Booker. That show only ran for two years. Since then he's appeared in numerous B-movies and had a singing career, but I think most people will agree that time has been least kind to this former Calvin Klein model.

If any of our blog readers see the new movie, please leave a comment and let us know what you think (cos I don't get out much so I'll have to wait for the DVD release!)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Author Spotlight - Andrea Laurence

The Minxes are excited to welcome debut Desire author Andrea Laurence to blog with us today. Andrea's given some incredibly inspirational answers that are sure to help everyone :-) 

What is your writing process?

My process has evolved over the years out of necessity. I work full-time, so my precious "spare" time goes to writing and occasionally dusting. When I bought my most recent house, I claimed a bedroom as an office, bought a great desk, decorated with inspirational things like pictures of Johnny Depp and salt lamps… and I never sit in there. It's kind of sad, actually. When I sold my first book, I bought a great laptop and now I do all my writing on it. Typically, in the big overstuffed chair and ottoman in my living room. Nights and weekends, that's where you'll find me. I have to make the most of my non-working hours, so I've been known so sit in that chair from Friday afternoon around four until Sunday night at ten. I grab a bag of peanut butter M&Ms and a diet coke and I just crank out the words. I don't even know if that qualifies as a process. Does caffeine, sugar and binge writing constitute a process? It works for me. That's all I know.

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?

As I mentioned, I have to make the most of my writing time and that does a good bit to keep me motivated. I'm also a plotter. That's a dirty word in some circles, but I'll admit it. Knowing where I'm going in a story helps keep me on track. I don't know every little detail, but I know what plot point I'm moving toward. Deadlines help keep me focused. As does getting paid. I'm not too much of an artist to say it. Turn in a book = get a check. It's a beautiful thing. But sometimes, even with all that, a girl just needs a day on the couch watching a marathon of Cupcake Wars or the History Channel. Or online shoe shopping. Breaks are important to the creative process, too.

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

I wish I could say I get up every morning and jog five miles, plotting bestsellers in my head, but uh… no. Not even close. It's bad, I know. I've toyed with getting one of those treadmill desks, but I'm not the most coordinated of people. What I have been doing is a lot of neck and shoulder stretches and strengthening exercises. Spending almost all of my waking hours at a computer earned me a couple weeks of physical therapy this summer. And I do not want to go back there. As a result, I try to be really conscious of my posture while I write. I also made sure my desk at work was ergonomically correct, and I try to stretch and get up and walk around throughout the day. Balance is something I'm always working on. As is that whole jogging fantasy.

Do you believe in writer's block?

Yes and no. I don't believe in just flat-out writer's block. I think there's always a reason behind it. Pressure, stress, underlying medical conditions… I can imagine if I got a huge book deal, I'd have a lot of pressure to deliver. That could definitely do it. Or going through coping with a death in the family or a painful divorce. That can suck the creativity out of you. For me, when the words stop flowing, it's usually because I've written myself into a plot corner. Before I sold, I could just stop writing that book and ignore the issue. Now, I have to keep moving forward. It requires a lunch with a writing friend to talk it through, then I back up, fix it, and find I can move forward without a problem.

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

I think some version of reality slips into every story in one way or another. In the book out now, What Lies Beneath, the heroine originally had a different name. I'd named her after a co-worker who just had a perfect romance heroine name. I never anticipated the book to actually sell, so it didn't matter. Until I sold it. Then I realized I should probably change it to avoid any stickiness. Another time there was a heroine who was a lot like me, personality-wise. The editor that rejected it said she was unsympathetic and cold. Ouch.

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

My mentors were always quick to point out that the business side of publication was where the headaches come in. And they were right. Writing a book and trying to sell a book is hard. Painfully so. It took me eight years to do it. But then you have to market your projects — not just to an editor but to your agent, booksellers and readers. You have to understand contracts and what you're signing up for. You start to worry about internet piracy and print runs and bad reviews. The idea of reviews make me nauseated. And then, there's the realization that someone is actually going to READ your book. Not just you, your critique partner and a disinterested agent or two. I had that moment revising a love scene. The "my grandma is going to read this" moment. But you have to tell yourself that's the whole point of writing a book and let it go.

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

I'm a social networker. I'm on Twitter (@Andrea_Laurence) and I have a Facebook Fan Page. I'm not that annoying friend that constantly pushes people to buy her book, but I maintain an online presence. I post funny thoughts or stories about my life. I share writing news when I get it, like a new cover. I have also been on a group blog and website for over six years – The Writing Playground. That's a fun place for readers and writers alike to hang out. I think all of that builds a network of people who like you as a person. And then, when you have a book to sell, they're more likely to buy it.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?

I think it varies by the kind of book you write, but the best advice I've received on promotion is to write the best book you can possibly write. Then do it again. And again. That builds readership faster than candy or pens. That said, I did get some nifty romance trading cards done. I'm using them in place of bookmarks and business cards.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned that I perform best under pressure. I had been working with my editor for months on another project. I was certain this was the one. Then, in February, I got a rejection and a request to see something else. I wanted that pink "First Sale" ribbon at RWA so badly. I did not want to wait another year to earn it. So I wrote a proposal in a weekend. When my editor liked it, I wrote the rest of the book in three weeks and mailed it back. I'd never written a book that quickly in my life — pretty much a chapter a day for two weeks, then revising. They bought it at the end of May and I got my pink ribbon in New York. Desperation is a powerful motivator.

What was the most fun part of writing this book?

The heroine of the book is a fashion designer. One of my favorite TV shows is Project Runway. It was fun for me to live the designer fantasy through the heroine. I couldn't mend a hole in a sock, much less make a dress, but my heroine could do it! When I went to NYC that summer, I walked around the Garment District and even went to Mood, the fabric store featured in the television show and the book. I got a t-shirt. I like to visit the real places featured in my books when I can so there's a level of authenticity in it. The internet only does so much, but alas, I'm not a millionaire like my heroes, so sometimes, pictures of an Upper East Side penthouse is all I get. :-)

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

This one is in the book, so it's easy — Bali. Two weeks in one of those private thatched huts out over the clear, turquoise water. Perfectly secluded except for an on-call butler to clean and bring food. The ideal way to unplug for a workaholic like Will.

WHAT LIES BENEATH April 2012, Harlequin Desire #2152

She’s Awake. So Why Can’t She Remember? They say she’s Cynthia Dempsey, fiancĂ©e of media mogul Will Taylor. But try as she might, she can’t recall their high-society life or the man sitting by her hospital bed. Though her body certainly remembers him. Even as she senses the distance between them, the electricity when they touch is undeniable. Will can hardly believe Cynthia’s transformation. Gone is the ice queen who betrayed him, and in her place is a woman who seems genuine and warm. But can he risk his heart again, not knowing what might happen when her memory returns?

Amazon UK, Amazon USHarlequin

Monday, April 16, 2012

I'm moving to Bon Temps...

They sure have more than their fair share of hot men in Bon Temps, don't they?

I've decided to move there, but I'm troubled. See, I just can't make up my mind who to visit first. Work with me here, it's a real gnarly problem.

I'm thinking I might go see Alcide Herveaux first off?

I tried to find a photo of him with clothes on. Honestly.

The whole werewolf thing is sexy in itself, but holy schmoly guacemole - the man is smokin'!
His only drawback is that dog-gawn loyal, good boy streak he has. In real life that would be fine and dandy, but in Bon Temps, bad is definitely better. Which brings me on to my next house call...

Eric Northman.

I know the whole vamp thing is old hat, but BITE ME! I hate the way they stripped him of his memories in the current series and made him gentle - bring back my murderous blood sucking bad boy, damn you!
Until then, i'll head on over and visit...

Jason Stackhouse.

Okay. He wasn't at the front of the queue for brains, but frankly he doesn't need to speak. I'll be honest here - shirtless was part of my image search criteria. But when i've finished looking, i'll nip over for a coffee with...

Sam Merlotte.

You'll note I went for shirt on here. That's because Sam is old school sexy, an all round good guy. He's a shoulder to lean on, everybody's buddy, and I *think* he might be my pick of them all. However, in the interest of fairness, I'll pay one last house call to...

King Bill Compton.

Have to confess, he doesn't float my Bon Temps Boat as much as his handsome neighbours, but I am a giving sort of girl, so here he is...

So, what do you make of my new neighbourhood? Who would you visit first?

Friday, April 13, 2012

We got The Call!

Do you hear all that cheering around Blogland, and the popping of champagne corks? It's because Maya Minx has sold to Harlequin Presents!!

We are all so proud of her, and we know the rest of the world is going to love Maya's stories just as much as we Minxes do. We promise, you're in for a treat.

Come join in the celebrations! There's a party on the new eHarlequin community boards, and you can read Maya's Call Story in full on her blog. Please leave comments to show your love, and for every comment you're entitled to one free glass of virtual chocolate. (Yes, you read that right).

Congratulations, Maya!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Author Spotlight - Empi Baryeh

In today's spotlight, we feature Ghanaian author Empi Baryeh.
Welcome, Empi.

What is your writing process?
I wish I had one. The plan is always to write whenever I have some free time. “Freetime” being evenings and weekends, because I work full-time. But in terms of process, I try to start or set up the next chapter/scene in my head before I sit at my laptop to write. Usually, all I need is the right entry or feeling for the chapter/scene to get into it. When I sit to write, I tend to go over the last chapter/scene before continuing.

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 do love shopping. To be honest, I try not to stress myself out. If it’s not there, it’s not there. It all comes back to setting the scene up in my head prior to taking out my laptop. If the scene is ready to be written, then shoe shopping will easily take a backseat. However, retail therapy does have its benefits in creating inspiration. Imagine getting a new pair of shoes, and then coming home and writing that naughty scene with nothing but your brand new shoes on!

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
I’m really bad at exercising. I do a lot of stretches, and tend to opt for walking instead of driving everywhere all the time. But I’m proud to say that last week, I finally got off my arse and did a one-hour walk, which I’m planning to keep up at least three times a week.

Do you believe in writer's block?
Absolutely! My few attempts at plotting have led to serious blocks! Okay, maybe that’s just an excuse. The real answer is, whether a writer believes in it or not, there are always periods when one can’t seem to produce any material worth its weight in gold. But I also think there are ways of motivating oneself to write. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a change of scenery – and that can simply mean moving from the study to the dining table.

Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?
Every story I write has a piece of real life in it – not always my life, mind you. I try to let real life events and people inspire the story/scene/character etc. rather than pick something verbatim and put it in a story. I must be doing it well enough, because I haven’t yet got in trouble for it. Yet (LOL)

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
Well…life doesn’t dramatically change. You don’t suddenly have every reader clamouring for your book and everyone recognising your name – okay, so I wasn’t really expecting *that* to happen. In terms of writing, I’m still facing pretty much the same challenges I did as a pre-published author…and then some.

Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?
Ah! Promotion. Are you sure it isn’t a dirty word? Cos I blush every time I hear it :-). Okay, on a serious note, I love blog tours because they introduce me to new readers and vice versa. I try to join conversations on writers’ and readers’ groups. I think a writer’s best endorsement is herself/himself. If a writer’s own wit (in normal conversation) is interesting, I might for that reason alone try their book. I hope that the same applies to other readers. I am still learning the nooks and crannies of Twitter, which I’m beginning to really like. But most importantly I try to do some reaching every single day.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?
Reach out every day. If you’re going to join groups, don’t lurk – join the conversation.

What did you learn while writing Chancing Faith?
Ooh, tough one. I haven’t thought about this before, but I suppose it’s that a writer must know a lot more about the story than what actually goes into the story. For example, the very first scene I ever wrote for Chancing Faith never made it into the book. I tried, believe me. I also learnt how to re-write to remove head-hopping even though it meant doing away with some of the lines I was most fond of.

What was the most fun part of writing this book?
Spending time with my hero and heroine. I really love these two as a couple. They complement each other perfectly and it was such a joy to watch them fall in love.

And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?
Thane is all about making Naaki happy, so his honeymoon destination of choice would be some landmark tourist spot in Ghana – the crocodile pond in Paga, or the butterfly sanctuary in the Eastern Region, or the Volcanic Crater Lake, Bosomtwe in the Ashanti region. This may actually be relevant in the Book 2 in the series (shhh).

About Chancing Faith


American ad exec, Thane Aleksander, doesn’t date co-workers either—until business takes him to Ghana, West Africa, and he meets Naaki. Now he’s at risk of breaking all the rules. Can he stop this headlong fall before it’s too late?


Naaki Tabika has a burning need to prove, to herself and others, that she’s more than wife and mother material. To do so, she’s prepared to give up everything for her job. Meeting Thane, however, makes her want to get personal. But falling for her boss could destroy her career. Will she be willing to risk it all for the one thing that can make her truly happy?

Two divergent cultures, two different races, two career-driven professionals, only one chance at true love—will they find the faith to take it, or will their hearts be sacrificed on the altar of financial success?

Chancing Faith is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance eBooks, and direct from the publisher, Black Opal Books.

You can visit Empi online at her blog, on her website, or at Goodreads, or chat with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Romance Minx in ridiculous rhyme shocker!

Spring is sprung, the grass is riz,
This romance minx is in a tiz.
Conflict, character arcs, POV...
I think I need a cup of tea,
With mini eggs (I'll have a few),
And maybe a cream egg or two.
Before I sit down at my Mac
And wonder what my story lacks.

A tortured hero, a dead parent or two?
I feel a stirring to write something new.
Not a heroine with a nasty ex,
Or perfect euphemistic sex.
But characters I'd like to know,
Traveling to places I'd like to go.
Plot twists that tantalise and please, 
And sexy heroes who love to tease...

But before I do
I think I'll have another egg or two ;-)

Any rhyming readers out there? Please add your own lines in a comments box.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Author Spotlight - Rhoda Baxter

Today the Minxes welcome romantic comedy author Rhoda Baxter into the spotlight. Her latest book, Patently in Love is a Spring release from Uncial Press, and is short-listed for the RNA's Joan Hessayon award.

* * *

What is your writing process?
It differs from book to book. For Patently In Love, I started off knowing the characters and where they worked, but needed to flesh out the conflict. Once I hit on the idea of someone running away from fame, I drew up a rough outline, started at scene one and wrote right through. I tried the same approach for the next book and found it kept getting stuck. In the end, I wrote out all the scene names on post it notes and moved them around until I ended up with a slightly different storyline. Suddenly, it all started gathering momentum again. I’ve always thought of myself as a pantser, but it looks like I’m a plotter really.

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?
When I’m not writing, I’m a working mum, so my writing time is precious. Once I sit down at the computer I have to either write or do promo work. If I’m honest, I spend too much time messing around on Twitter and Goodreads etc when I should be writing. It’s easier to focus on the writing once you’ve got past the saggy middle stage, because it’s a rush to get to the end. Once I get to that stage, I’m usually desperate to sit down and start typing.

It’s probably a good job I have so little time. Otherwise, I’d have too many shoes and notebooks (I love pretty notebooks).

Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
Exercise? Ha ha ha! Oh, you’re serious. No, I don’t really have an exercise regime – it would take too much time. I have a bad back, so I have to do physiotherapy exercises every evening to avoid being in pain. This seems to keep me in reasonable shape. I think I’d be a lot thinner if I didn’t have serious chocolate habit.

Do you believe in writer's block?
I believe it exists, but I think it happens when something is wrong – for example, you’re trying to write a book that you haven’t got straight in your head, of you’re in the middle of a scene where you’re trying to make your character do something that is...well...out of character. Often the best thing to do is to go back to where you were before you got blocked, figure out what went wrong (if you can!) and rewrite.

If the block is preventing me from starting a book, then the only way I can get past it is to wade in and start writing. I usually end up having to cut out the first few chapters by the time I get to draft no 2, but if I don’t start somewhere, the book will never get written.

Have you ever used an incident from real life in a book? If so, did it get you into trouble?
I never use real people in my books, but I have been known to take a real life incident (nearly always something funny) and change it around a bit to fit into my story.
I do use real places as settings. I spent a few years working in an office near Chancery Lane, so I set Patently In Love in that area. I wrote one scene set in the The Knight’s Templar pub (which has the most spectacular Ladies loos, incidentally), but I had to cut the scene out because it was too much about the setting and not much to do with the story. Shame.

In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
I’m not sure being published is that different to being unpublished. I thought I’d feel bigger/taller/glossier, but I still have to write and sell the next book. Being published means that real people read my books. I still find this a terrifying thought. The reviews for Patently In Love have been positive so far. I know that I’ll be devastated the first time someone says they hated it.

Promotion is no longer a dirty word. In what ways do you strive to reach more readers?
I have Twitter open on my desktop while I write. I also have a blog and a profile on Goodreads. I try not to be too pushy (self-promotion does not come naturally). I really enjoy chatting to people and making new friends, so I do that online. The only problem is that I’m only online for a short time in the evening. I’d like to be able to be more interactive.

What is your top promo tip for other authors?
Write a great book, then another, and another, and another. And go out there and make friends. Don’t think of it as promotion. Think of it as getting to know people who are interested in the same books as you.

What did you learn while writing this book?
The first book I wrote was a lot more ‘serious’ than Patently In Love. I was in the Romantic Novelists Association NWS scheme and my first report said I was trying to stifle a naturally funny voice and should write the sort of book I enjoy. I took my reader’s advice and tried to write something that made me laugh. I like dialogue, so I wrote a large part of the story in emails. I used characters that are funny and smart. In short, I wrote the sort of book that I’d like to read, rather than one that I thought would sell. I had a ton of fun writing Patently In Love and I think it shows.

What was the most fun part of writing this book?
The heroine, Jane, is running away from fame and being hounded by gossip magazines. I had to read some gossip magazines for research purposes, so that I could write extracts in a similar style. It’s probably the most fun research I’ve ever done.

And just for fun: what would your hero’s honeymoon destination of choice be?
Marsh is very aware that Jane wants to get away from the limelight, so he’d take her somewhere remote, where she can relax and not worry about being photographed. He’d probably go for a nice holiday cottage somewhere rural. Marsh is a great cook, so it’d have to be a cottage with a decent kitchen.

New Job, new city, new hair. No one will find her now.

After her popstar boyfriend publicly humiliates her, Jane wants to start a new life away from media scrutiny. Maybe even find a new man.

Marshall wants a partnership in his patent law firm. He just has to prove he’s totally focussed on his work. No distractions. No office romance. Unless, of course, no one knows about it.

The last thing Jane needs is to have her picture splashed on the front page of a gossip magazine. To makes matters worse, the only person who could have told the paparazzi where Jane was… is Marshall.

 Patently in Love is available from Amazon and Amazon UK. All other eBook formats are also available through Uncial Press. You can find out more about Rhoda at and chat with her on Twitter.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Bigging your hero or heroine

My recent visit to The Hunger Games movie got me thinking about heroic qualities. I'm not going to talk about the Hunger Games because I know a lot of people are going to see it over the next while, and I don't want to be responsible for any spoilers, but I will say that there are a lot of heroic qualities on show in The Hunger Games, and they make it a compelling piece of work.

So, back to writing romance. We call our characters 'the hero' and 'the heroine' rather than 'the bloke' and 'the gal', and sometimes don't have our characters be heros and heroines, but rather blokes and gals.
Why does it matter - and does it matter? I think it does.

A hero/heroine doesn't have to be Thor or Supergirl, but they should, right at the beginning of the story, have something about them which means that we, as readers, care about what happens to them. An admirable quality, which doesn't have to be a big one, but has to be there. Maybe they care about someone else, a sibling, a parent, an animal. Maybe they have something to overcome, their fear of loving another or self doubt.

Blake Snyder talked about this quality in 'Save the cat'. He said to have a scene which reveals an inner quality of the hero/heroine that makes the reader/audience identify with them. He called it the 'save the cat' moment because he used the analogy of a character that initially perhaps we can't see the humanity in, taking time out to save a cat, acting in a small, heroic way that changes the way that the reader sees that character, giving the character humanity.

The words hero and heroine give an image of an over the top character, who's brave and fearless. But real heros and heroines aren't. They're human. With a spark inside that challenges them to care or act in a way against their self interest in the pursuit of someone else's happiness or wellbeing.  No matter how damaged they are by their past experiences, they try. And because they try, we root for them. Care about them, and want to turn the pages to see if they will win. If they will get their happy ever after. They have a lot to learn, a journey to take through which they'll learn and change, but the spark should be part of them from the first moment that they appear on the page.

That makes them true heros and heroines for me.