Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Divorce Etiquette Is Going Greek!

I'm so excited to share...brag?...share the news that I've been offered an extension on my contract for Divorce Etiquette from my publishers AND it's being translated into Greek!! Cool? I think so.

Here is an EXCERPT:

He hunched down next to her chair, leaned in a couple of inches to add intimacy to his deep rumbling tone. "I have a few rules of my own."

Michelle gulped. This was going to be harder than she thought. "You're breaking the second rule."

"Am I?" He was so close her stomach did a little flip. She wanted to lose herself in his beautiful smoky gaze. "You made five rules. I want five too."

"You do?" What restrictions could he possibly put on her? She was completely innocent in this. If he would just keep his distance, she could move on, and everything would be fine.

"Rule six," he began, his gaze roaming over her face. "Stop looking at me as if you'd like to lick ice cream right off me."

Michelle gasped under the shock of his evocative words. A memory of her doing just that hit her low in her belly.

Before she could recover, he continued, "Rule seven. No wearing sexy little hipsters that flash your underwear when you bend over."

That did it. Her gasp turned to a splutter, her face suffused with heat that had nothing to do with the warm sunshine.

"Rule eight," he continued, as though she wasn't about to suffocate under the weight of embarrassment. "Don't wear your hair down. It makes me want to bury my hands in it.

"Rule nine. No wearing little black dresses--they make me want to see you naked."

His cultured voice reverberated through her until every nerve in her body jangled, her bones melted, and a shuddering sigh escaped her.

"And ten, no more crying." He didn't even seem to notice she'd practically dissolved at his feet. "It makes your mouth pouty and far too kissable." He stood and took the Maplewood chair opposite Michelle's, his knee brushing hers as he sat down.

Obviously, rule five meant nothing to him.

Here are just a few of the places where you can purchase a copy of Divorce Etiquette:

The Wild Rose Press



Five Stars
I was hooked from the very beginning. It made me laugh, cry and the tension made me want to shout out loud. A very good read which kept me wanting to turn the page to find out more. Its the sort of romance novel that you just want to relax on the sofa and read from beginning to end with no interuption. Would definately recommend it :O)
(Reviewed by Jennifer Reed)

Four Lips
Divorce Etiquette is a well-written story that kept me riveted to its pages and I enjoyed the taste of England that Ms. DeVere provided so vividly.
(Reviewed by Sal from Two Lips Reviews)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fast Writer: Candace Havens

I have another fast writer for you...Candace Havens!
She writes for Harlequin Mills & Boon, Berkley and Entangled Publishing. You would have probably seen the post below where I shared that I was about to take Candy's Fast Draft class. It's amazing! Candy hosts it several times a year and if you are vaguely considering it, I urge you to seriously consider it!

I hope Candy doesn't mind me telling you this, but she recently wrote a book in FOUR AND A HALF days!!! AND got it accepted before she edited it. Is that cool or what?

We like Candy, she's cool beanz ;D Here is her interview.

MONIQUE: Thank you very much for agreeing to be interviewed for my Fast Writers blog series, Candy. First, I’d love to hear about your writing day in a quick snapshot. Do you have a special time to write? Or do you grab moments whenever you can? I guess I’d like to know how structured you are.

CANDY: I write whenever I can. I usually break the day up into non-fiction writing for my day job as a film and TV critic and I write my books later in the day or at night. But I’m never stuck with one way of doing things. I mix it up all the time. 

MONIQUE: What sort of writer are you? Planner or pantser? 

CANDY: I have to write a brief synopsis for my publishers, but for the most part I’m a pantser. I never stick to those synopses.

MONIQUE: Can you tell us a bit about the technique you use to help you to write quickly, and how you developed it?

CANDY: The class I teach is called Fast Draft. It’s a process where you write your first draft in two weeks. People think it’s impossible, but it isn’t. I have certain rules and tools that help you psychologically get into almost a state of hypnosis to write. Your subconscious is a much better writer than you are and that’s what we delve into.

MONIQUE: Did you always write this way? Or is your method something you picked up along the way?

CANDY: I have a crazy life. I’m a film and tv critic and a radio personality. I write three columns/cover stories a week for the TV job. I’m the president of the TV Critics Association. I have kids, who are older now, but were young when I started. I had to write fast or it was never going to get done. I’ve revised the process over the year, but it works every time.

MONIQUE: How many words do you write per hr/writing session? 

CANDY: I try when I’m doing Fast Draft to write 20 pages a day. I sometimes break that up and do 10 pages early in the day and 10 pages at night. I can write between 1000-1700 words an hour. I do a lot of #1k1hr on Twitter, which is a great motivator. It’s just nice to have people going through the same thing you are.

MONIQUE: How many hours per day do you write? And how many days per week?

CANDY: I honestly have no idea on the hours, but I write about six days a week, seven if I’m on a tight deadline, which happens a lot.

MONIQUE: How quickly can/do you finish a book?

CANDY: From first draft to polished book about a month if I have to. I like to let a book sit between first draft and that first set of revisions if I have time.

MONIQUE: Do you know what you're going to write each day before you start your writing sessions? For instance, do you draft the scenes/chapters you’re about to write just before you write them, or do you thoroughly outline before you even start the book (if you’re a planner, that is J)?

CANDY: I don’t plan that much. I just write the next scene I know. Sometimes that might be in chapter three, and sometimes it’s the last chapter. When I finish writing, I leave my self notes about what I just did and where I was thinking about going every time I finish a scene. That way when I pick it back up, I know where I want to go. The great thing about Fast Draft is your continuity is better because you eat, drink and sleep that book.

MONIQUE: How do you prevent your internal editor/critic from interrupting?

CANDY: This is the toughest part of writing for everyone. I tell people to send their internal editor on vacation. Maybe to Fiji or Alaska. Somewhere far away. You have to give yourself permission to write a crappy first draft and you have to write even when you don’t feel like it. I’ve found that when I write when I’m tired, the words are better. That’s because my subconscious takes over.

MONIQUE: Do you have any more tips you’d like to share?

CANDY: The trick is being disciplined. There isn’t a job in the world where you can work for a few hours and then pick it up three weeks later and expect to be successful. Set your hours and goals for the week and stick to them.  

MONIQUE: Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to spend time with us here today. We’d love to hear about your new book, would you tell us a bit about it?

CANDY: I have a new series debuting in October 2012. The first book is Iron Demon. It’s a southern steampunk. Professor Maisy Clark is a female version of Sherlock Holmes who hunts down paranormal creatures. She has a trusty sidekick, a Scotsman named Barnes. And there is a hot cowboy involved. Oh, and there is a hot U.S. Marshal involved with Maisy. And I have a new Blaze novella with Lori Wilde and Kathleen O’Reilly called “All I Want for Christmas…” and my story in that is “One Hot December Night.”
Thanks for letting me hang out. It was fun.

MONIQUE: It was fantastic having you here with us, Candy!

Author Bio:

Bestselling author Candace Havens has written six novels for Berkley including, Charmed & Dangerous, Charmed & Ready, Charmed & Deadly, Like A Charm, The Demon King and I and Dragons Prefer Blondes.

Her new venture is writing for the Blaze line of Harlequin. Those books include Take Me If You Dare, She Who Dares, Wins, Truth and Dare, and The Model Marine. She is also in the anthology Spirited, and the proceeds go to help literacy. And she has a new southern steampunk series debuting October 2012 with Iron Demon. Her books have received nominations for the RITA's, Holt Medallion and Write Touch Reader Awards.

She is the author of the biography Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy and a contributor to several anthologies. She is also one of the nation's leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities including Tom Hanks, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, George Clooney and many more. Her entertainment columns can be read in more than 600 newspapers across the country.

Candace also runs a free online writing workshop for more than 1800 writers, and teaches comprehensive writing class. She does film reviews with the Dorsey Gang on New Country 96.3, and is the President of the Television Critics Association. Her book Model Marine is a 2012 National Readers Choice Finalist.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Applying Story Engineering To Internal Conflict

I've had the privilege to speak with Larry Brooks--love this guy--recently and I asked him a question I've been dying to ask him every since I read his book Story Engineering. I thought you guys might like to read Larry's answer.

Monique: Hi, Larry, 

I’ve read many books on writing and story structuring over the years and I can say, without a doubt, Story Engineering is one of the very best I’ve read. I love the Plot Point/Pitch Point method (Milestones) you teach in your book.
But we all know that category romance is all about strong internal emotional conflict. However, when we think of structuring our stories, we automatically think of all the exciting external conflicts we can write.
Unfortunately, this is not what category romance is about. If we wish to write for this market, we must narrow our focus on our protagonists’ emotional conflicts—all the internal stuff.
Can you show us how to use the Plot Points and Pitch Point Milestones for internal conflict?

Let's begin with an assertion: the principles of structure are no different in category romance than in any other genre, romance and otherwise. That said, the very essence of "genre" is a specific emphasis and certain criteria, so in that sense category romance is very much a narrow lane. The issue is APPLYING the principle, not looking to bend it.
The essence of the pinch points and the other milestones (plot points and the mid-point) is the nature of the narrative content. With pinch points, it simply means the story shows us the antagonistic force, thus reminding us of what the hero(ine) is up against. This applies with equal effectiveness to both internal arcs and exterior conflicts. In fact, the former usually depends on and informs the latter... an external story point is the CATALYST for an emotional response. When that response changes the story (evolves it), then it becomes a powerful one-two punch for both pinch points and other milestones.
Let's look at an example. Say the nature of the "conflict/opposition" in a story is age -- the lover/hero is a lot older than the heroine, and her family and friends don't approve. She needs their approval (for whatever reasons)... thus, her emotional journey. Let's say we're at the 38th percentile in the story, the target location for a pinch point. We need to SEE this antagonistic force -- his age, their disapproval -- in full glory at this point.
So... the hero comes to a family gathering with our heroine. Her brothers are all over this guy, treating him as an old fart. A driveway basketball game ensues... and not only does our guy look better with his shirt off than her beer-swilling brothers , he actually challenges them to a two-on-two game, with HER as his teammate. And they win. He's a vastly superior athlete, even though he's twice the age of the brothers. Her affection for him is deepened (hormones tweaked by his physicality, and his grace in victory), and yet, her family is even more resistant simply because the brother's masculinity has been challenged, and defeated.
Okay, maybe not the coolest example, but I hope you see the relationship between exterior conflict and the heroine's inner landscape: both are elemental to the pinch point. Which is as it should be.

Monique: Thank you so much, Larry.

Larry is amazing! You can find out more about him here: Story Fix. To purchase a copy of Story Engineering go to AmazonUK or and where ever else Larry says on him blog!

You can show Larry your appreciation by buying his books.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My Next Step In Learning To Write Fast

To follow through with my great endeavours to write faster, I've signed up to Candace Havens' Fast Draft and Revision Hell which starts on May 14. She promises to teach us how to write a complete first draft in two weeks--Yikes!

I'll keep you posted...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Fast Writer: Rachel Aaron

Welcome to the Fast Writers blog series, Rachel. So lovely to have you here.

Thank you for inviting me!

·         First, I’d love to hear about your writing day in a quick snapshot. Do you have a special time to write? Or do you grab moments whenever you can? I guess I’d like to know how structured you are.

I like to think I run a very tight ship here at the Rachel Aaron Word Factory! My day is divided into two sections, morning and afternoon. I usually sit down to work around 8:30, 9:00 am and work until 11:00am. Because I have several books out already, I usually use this time to answer email, do promotion, write out interviews, all that sort of stuff. If I don't have any like that lined up (or if I'm trying to make a deadline), I get to write! On days when I write in the morning, I usually try to get about 2000-3000 words before lunch. 

Afternoon is my serious writing time. I take 30 minutes for lunch and then drive to the coffee shop where I do all my real work. I write every weekday afternoon from 12:00 – 5:30 without fail. Seriously, if I miss my afternoon writing time, someone had better be dying and I'm their only hope.  During these 5 and a half hours, I try to get at least 6k words, though I usually end up with 7-8k, or a little over one full chapter.

A chapter a day is always my goal, but on days when I write in the morning and afternoon I usually pile on 9-10k to my manuscript, or about a chapter and a half. I will also sometimes write on weekends if I have the time or I'm REALLY EXCITED about something, but I try not to. My husband does like to see me sometimes... 

·         What sort of writer are you? Planner or pantser?

Militant plotter. I have a system and plan everything, it's the only way I can get the kind of speed I do. I actually have a blog post outlining my whole process from initial book idea to ready-to-write, and as you'll see, it gets pretty detailed. You could call it overkill, but I'm the sort of person who loves knowing exactly where I'm going. The more details I can get in advance, the faster I can write, and the faster I can write, the more time I buy myself to make my books amazing before they're due. Also, writing super fast is amazingly fun!

·         Can you tell us a bit about the technique you use to help you to write quickly, and how you developed it?

I write using a process I call “2k to 10k,” because I went from writing 2k to 10k words per day using it. That sound super impressive, but really it boils down to 3 almost embarrassingly obvious elements: knowledge, time, and enthusiasm. I'm actually going to cheat and just go over each one briefly here, but if you're interested in the details so you can give my process a try in your own writing, please see my blog post “How I went fromwriting 2000 words to 10000 words a day. There are graphs and everything!

The first and biggest change I made that really boosted my word count was knowledge, or knowing what I was going to write before I wrote it. Before I write a scene, I take five minutes and write out what's going to happen in my notebook. Nothing big, just short descriptions of places, rough outlines of conversations, what happens when, that sort of stuff. Really, really simple, short hand notes, but taking the time to plan things out rather than make all my decisions in the actual text where any changes could mean cutting paragraphs made a HUGE difference in my words per hour. 

I've had tons of people write me and leave comments that this one extra step has doubled their word count. So if you're only going to make one change to your writing, this is the biggest bang for your buck. I've found it's also the best for my writing in general since thinking about each scene on a macro level before I write it has taught me a ton about tension, pacing, and using scenes for multiple purposes. This means I'm not only writing faster, I'm writing much, much better. Total win.

The next change I made was time, making sure I was always writing at my most productive hours. Basically I kept track of my writing for a month, writing in different locations and times of day. From my findings, it was clear that my words per hour were best in the afternoon, out of my house, and when I had a writing block that was at least 3 hours long. 

This step is especially good if your writing time is very limited. By taking the time to find out when and where you write best, you can schedule yourself to make sure that your precious writing hours aren't wasted. Again, a very simple change, but one that can have a big impact on your wordcounts.

The final change was enthusiasm. This was probably the most headslappingly obvious one. Basically, I write faster when I'm excited about what I'm writing. I know! Revolutionary! 

But seriously, pumping yourself up about a scene, whether it's a battle or a love scene or whatever, is one of the simplest way to supercharge your writing. And if you have a scene where you can't seem to get excited, maybe it's time to consider changing that scene. I mean, if you as the author can't get excited about a scene, there's no way your reader will. 

This step is probably the one that has helped my writing the most. I've cut and redone several perfectly good scenes because I just wasn't excited about them. Boring scenes have no place in my novels. 

·         Did you always write this way? Or is your method something you picked up along the way?

This was something I stumbled into in phases. If you're interested in the particulars, they up on my blog post, but the cut and dry version is that I was up against the wall on a deadline. I had a very limited amount of time to write each day and if I couldn't figure out how to squeeze more words out of every hour, my writing career was in real jeopardy. So I got serious, got scientific, and ended up completely revolutionizing the way I wrote novels. Now, instead of 2 novels a year, I write 6-7. Not bad, I think. :)

·         How many words do you write per hr/writing session?

1100 wph is what I think of as my happy writing number, though I can hit 2000 wph when I'm really on fire. Anything under 1000 wph means I'm having trouble and should probably look at the scene again to see what was holding me up (usually a lack of tension or a character acting contrary to their nature). My wph also goes up dramatically the further I get into a writing session. Most of the time I'll write about 800 words in the first hour, 1200 in the second, 1500 in the third and every hour after that, which is why I always try to make sure my writing sessions are at least 3 hours long. The beginning is the dross, the real word burning comes later when I'm nice and immersed in my world. 

·         How many hours per day do you write? And how many days per week?

As I mentioned earlier, I try to always write at least 5 hours a day every week day. If I can write in the mornings, I usually get in another 2, 2.5 hours there, for a total of about 7 hours per day. Of course, I'm always thinking about novels and jotting down notes. An author is always working, but that's OK when you have the best job on the planet! 

·         How quickly can/do you finish a book?

I've written a book in 12 days! (Which has now been edited and sold :D) But that was kind of a crazy marathon combination of a test to see just how fast I could write and a book I was freakishly excited about. A more normal time span for me is about a month, usually writing a chapter per day (6-7k) with a few days of backtracking and fixes thrown in. Editing times vary wildly depending on the book, but I usually budget about a month for that as well, meaning I go from idea to novel ready to go to my agent in about 2 months.

·         Do you know what you're going to write each day before you start your writing sessions? For instance, do you draft the scenes/chapters you’re about to write just before you write them, or do you thoroughly outline before you even start the book (if you’re a planner, that is J)?

*Looks up at previous walls of text* Ohhhhh yeah. I plan. :D For every book, I make a story map listing all my scenes and a written out description of the whole book, scene by scene on top of the pre-writing planning I do before each scene. But even this isn't enough to catch every mistake, and often I'll end up going back and redoing large sections of my planning to take into account new ideas I had while writing or problems I hadn't considered. Novels are complicated!

·         How do you prevent your internal editor/critic from interrupting?

Iron hard confidence and the knowledge that I can go back and fix things later. That said, if I know I'm writing something that is crap, I can't go forward. I actually backtrack a lot in my novels to fix problems that prevent me from moving on. Honestly, I don't think there's anything wrong with that. I'd much rather take a day and go back to fix a huge plot problem then write a scene I'm 90% sure I'm just going to end up throwing away.

Basically, my aim on a first draft is “good enough.” A scene doesn't have to be perfect, but it has to be good enough to support the scenes that come after it. If it can't hold up, I have to go fix it or replace it.  

·         Do you have any more tips you’d like to share?

Yes! The internet is full of writing advice that begins with “butt in chair” time. I agree that is necessary to being a writer, but it's important to remember that writing isn't something you get better at by putting one word in front of the other until you end up with 100k words. 

If writing is like pulling teeth, if you dread opening up your manuscript, you're doing it wrong. Stop. Remember why you love your story. Remember why you wanted to be a writer in the first place. Never be afraid to take a step back if something isn't working. There's always more than one way to solve a problem. Don't be afraid to do something different. You're the author, you are god in your world. Revel in it, delight in your creation, and you'll finish that book. Guaranteed.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to spend time with us here today. We’d love to hear about your new book, would you tell us a bit about it?

Certainly! I'm the author of The Legend of Eli Monpress series, a light hearted, old fashioned fantasy adventure series about a disastrously charming wizard thief, his taciturn swordsman, and the monster who follows them. Think Lies of Locke Lamora with more tongue in cheek and faster pacing. 

Eli Monpress is talented. He's charming. And he's a thief. But not just any thief. He's the greatest thief of the age - and he's also a wizard. And with the help of his partners - a swordsman with the most powerful magic sword in the world but no magical ability of his own, and a demonseed who can step through shadows and punch through walls - he's going to put his plan into effect. The first step is to increase the size of the bounty on his head, so he'll need to steal some big things. But he'll start small for now. He'll just steal something that no one will miss - at least for a while. Like a king.
This omnibus edition contains the first three books of the Eli Monpress series, including The Spirit Thief, The Spirit Rebellion, and The Spirit Eater.
The first three books are currently out in a very well priced (read: cheap) omnibus, and the highly anticipated fourth book, The Spirit War, comes out in June. If you like charming thieves and are a bit worn down by how dark and gritty Fantasy has gotten lately, you should totally go to my site and read the first few chapters. The Spirit Thief You won't be disappointed!

Author Bio:
Rachel Aaron is the author of The Legend of Eli Monpress series, a fun fantasy adventure published by Orbit Books. She is also the mind behind the popular “2k to 10k” word count boosting method and the author of 9 novels, 5 of which were written in the last 10 months. You can learn more about Rachel's books and her tips for writing at lightning speed on her website,