Tuesday, July 29

Hook Me!

I love hooks!

There one of my favorite things about writing. I kind of like to think I'm good at them. *smiles modestly* It's good to know your strengths and weaknesses.

Karin Tabke used to have a First Line contest. You entered your first line, and if it got enough votes, it moved to the next round. And then you added another line. I loved that contest! It was great fun. I never won it, but I got through quite a few rounds. Ms. Tabke's contest taught me a lot about the importance of a great opening line, a hook!

So, in that spirit, please leave up to three of either your first or last lines and ONE buy link!

Here is mine from Liy's Summer Cowboy:

“You coming, Lil?”

“On my way.” Lily Halderman’s hands trembled with exhaustion as she filled her cup from the big silver pot sitting on a table in the back of the Methodist church’s meeting room.




Monday, July 28

Dawn Luedecke on How To Deal With Bad Reviews

Imagine you wrote a book. That book hit the Amazon shelves and quickly climbed the charts, successfully soliciting reviews, and not all good ones. What would you do? Me? I may cry to my husband, and maybe even drink a little rum while listening to Toby Keith’s “The Critic”, but once my alcohol-induced fog is over; I sit down and read it again to see if there is anything of merit in the critique that I can use. Sadly, however, not every author maintains this level of professionalism.
Recently I watched a (fairly new) indie author fall all over the Amazon boards chastising and
flaying into every bad reviewer that came her way. Her book made it to the NY Times Bestsellers list for the second week of its release. But when I read the fierce words she used to those readers who didn’t like her book, I had to cringe and file her under fellow authors never to read (and believe me, there are only a couple authors on my ‘do not read’ list).
In the literary world, critiques and reviews are an essential component to the success of a book. Many times and author has to deal with harsh words and blunt opinions. Sometimes the review/critique can even be completely wrong or off base. The most important thing for an author to do is to maintain a constant air of professionalism when dealing with critics. I’ve asked a few friends of mine, and fellow authors, how they deal with bad reviews, and this is what they said:

Bad reviews are a fact of life. You have to accept that they happen and move on with life. Of course they hurt when you have poured your heart and soul into writing the best story you can. Tell yourself that criticism is sometimes justified and be willing to learn from it. As a reader, there are books I start but don't finish, and books which irritate me. Therefore, as an author, I accept that not everyone will enjoy my work.

Madeleine McDonald

Not everyone will love them. That’s just a fact of life. You can write the most perfect, beautiful, soul rendering piece of art and I guarantee you someone will not like it. Someone will even hate it. And you have to deal with it. Here’s how.
Crystal-Rain Love

When I come across a bad review, I’ll read it to see if there’s any nugget of constructive criticism that I can apply to my writing in the future. Sometimes, there is. Oftentimes, not. Then, I mark it as unhelpful, and move along.

Becky Lower
Amazon Best Selling Author

When I get them, I don't do anything. If it's something I HAVE to respond to for whatever reason, I just say I'm sorry the reviewer didn't like the book. I believe if I had a really scathing one, I'd quote it and use it as a tool. (As in "If I read this review, I'd HAVE to read the book to see if any romance writer is that stupid--none of the ones I know are!")

Liz Flaherty

I've heard authors say how they don't read reviews, and I'm not sure how
they can stand it. If there's a new review, I have to read it. What's
important is remembering a review is one person's opinion, good or bad.
As authors we hope for more good than bad!

One reader didn't like MY KIND OF CRAZY because there was (gasp) sex in
a romance novel. I belong to a group of authors on Facebook where we
share the good and the bad, and help each other deal with the
frustrations that come with being in a subjective field.

Katie O'Sullivan

Dealing with bad reviews can be soul crushing, but in the end the only way to do it is to simply get over it and realize that it’s an important part of the publishing process. If you as an author just can’t bring yourself to accept other’s negative opinions of your work then you are setting yourself up for failure in your career.
I’d like to thank those authors who participated, and encourage other authors to leave a comment with how they deal with bad reviews/critiques. For my readers: feel free to leave reviews for my books (whether good or bad), and maybe even a comment on the blog.

A country girl born and bred, Dawn Luedecke has spent most of her life surrounded by horses, country folk, and the wild terrain of Nevada, Idaho and Montana. As a child she would spend many afternoons reading books, watching western classics, and Rogers and Hammerstein movies. When she grew up she decided to leave the quiet country life for a chance to find adventure by serving a successful tour in the United States Coast Guard. During that time she found her soul mate (and alpha male) and started a family and writing career. She enjoys writing historical and paranormal romance and spends as much time as she can working on her current manuscript. For more information visit www.dawnluedecke.com.
To Tame a Montana Heart
Big Sky Brazen
The Lighthouse Anthology
Midnight Room
Coming Soon

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Thursday, July 24

Conference Mania

It's all about conferences this time of year--my Twitter and Facebook pages are lit up with updates from RWA and in anticipation of Comic-Con this weekend. Two places I have never been, but are on my bucket list of events to attend.

I try not to be green with envy, but there are times, I become a little green monster.

I am going to my own conference next weekend, but it doesn't have near the star-power of RWA--although Diana Galbaldon, she of Outlander fame--is going to be the banquet speaker. But I usually don't spring for the $50. dinner.

A couple of years ago, I was just finishing up my lunch when Robert Dugoni sat next to me. We exchanged pleasantries and even though I had been planning to leave, I stayed. Look at him--he's gorgeous. And a great speaker and writer. I wasn't going to pass that up, even if I was too tongue-tied to carry on an actual conversation.

In 2003, I attended Surrey International Conference in Surrey, Canada, and enjoyed lunch with Terry Brooks--my all-time favorite fantasy writer. I mean, Magic Kingdom for Sale--genius. He was very nice and easy to talk to. It was really a good lunch.

Those are my literary brushes with fame. But, hey, maybe in a couple of weeks, I'll have a new story to tell. Who knows, anything can happen when you're immersed with a bunch of writers--the best people on earth, bar none.

Have a great time at RWA, maybe I'll see you next year.

Wednesday, July 23

Just Listening

So, the RWA 2014 Conference is in full swing this week - and if you've been on Twitter or Facebook you know all the details (or you will soon). You can follow using the #RWA2014 hashtag on Twitter and *almost* feel like you're there.

I've attended several conferences, both writing and non-writing related. I have to say that, although I'm not a social butterfly, I'm not a wallflower, either. I like to chat with new people, although I rarely go up to a group and chime right in. I like to listen first. That goes with my people-watching penchant. But, this post is about the listening.

My favorite part of conferences are the workshops. I could talk writing forever, but let me sit back, take notes and learn from an established author, agent or editor? I'm in heaven. I love learning new ways to plot, to turn off the internal editor, to create well-defined characters. I've been known to take workshops on serial killer profiling or crime scene investigative procedures - and I write straight contemporary or contemporary-with-humorous-elements stuff. No crime - other than the stealing of hearts! - no murder..nada. But I love to learn.

I think that is an important part of being a writer. We need to be passionate about what we write, but we also need to be passionate about learning - because every book we write needs to be better than the last. If we aren't learning along the way, I think we're selling our readers short. How about you? What is your favorite part of a conference?

Monday, July 21

To conference...or not

           I’m not going to RWA’s National Conference in San Antonio. I haven’t been to a national conference since the year it was in Chicago. It was so much fun and I’d love to go again. To hear the wonderful speakers and schmooze in the bar with old friends, new friends, and ones I haven’t met yet. I’d love to wear cool shoes—well, I love the thought of cool shoes; I hate wearing them. I’d love to wear cool clothes, at least four or five sizes smaller than my actual size. I’d love to take home lots of cool free books—well, send them home.
          But I’m not going this year. Maybe next year or…no. Although New York City is closer for me than Orlando, Denver, or San Diego, it’s still over 1000 miles and an expensive flight. The truth is if I went to National, I’d spend such a large percentage of my writing earnings that I’m not sure there’d be enough money left to pay the accountant come tax time.
          While I freely admit I don’t make enough money writing to live on, the idea of spending virtually all of it on a conference is horrifying to me.
          So I will stay with the small ones, the regional ones. I had more fun at Chicago’s Spring Fling this year than I’d ever had at a conference. This November I’ll go to a retreat in a huge house with 20 or writers and a ton of great food. Next year in April, I’m going to Indiana RWA’s mini-conference featuring Lani Diane Rich  and Alastair Stephens. I will miss some things by not going to National, but I’ll gain some, too.
          I hope everyone at the conference has a great time, I hope those on the lookout for editors and agents find them, I hope someone has a rum and Coke with a twist of lime for me as they’re hanging out in the bar. I wish good luck to all Golden Heart and RITA finalists. I will be—honesty makes me admit this, drat it—so jealous during conference time. I will wish I was there. I will say maybe next year, but I won’t mean it. The crowds overwhelm me and the costs horrify my frugal Midwestern soul and checkbook. Though there are things in the San Antonio conference I want—I’d love to meet my Carina Press editor face-to-face and go to the Harlequin party—there is nothing I need.
          So, tell us—how do you feel about conferences? About big ones, small ones, and everything in between.