Death Notice

Death Notice

AVAILABLE NOW!

A killer has something to say—and he’s using her obituary column to get his point across...

When columnist Monroe Donovan receives an obituary notice with a date of death two days in the future, she dismisses it as a typo. Then, a second incorrect obituary comes in, and a woman whose name matches the name of the deceased is murdered—on the date listed in the obituary. Now, Monroe realizes...

Misunderstanding Mason

Misunderstanding Mason

AVAILABLE NOW!

Sometimes the most vivid pictures go unseen...

When Kirstin Jones agreed to work with her live-in boyfriend, Mason, on a free-lance job for a wealthy client, she never thought it might destroy their relationship. But the client’s keen observations show her that she’s been little more than Mason’s shadow. Fed up with his insensitivities, she moves out. Weeks later, desperate to stand on her own, she accepts work with the same client once again. Only this time...

Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes

Twenty-Eight and A Half Wishes

AVAILABLE NOW!

“It all started when I saw myself dead.”

For Rose Gardner, working at the DMV on a Friday afternoon is bad even before she sees a vision of herself dead. She’s had plenty of visions, usually boring ones like someone’s toilet’s overflowed, but she’s never seen one of herself before. When her overbearing momma winds up murdered on her sofa instead, two things are certain...

A Perfect Bride for Christmas

A Perfect Bride for Christmas

AVAILABLE NOW!

Alex King wants to follow the family tradition and marry his perfect bride on Christmas Eve. There's one little hitch -- Bianca dumps him at the altar. He wakes up in Vegas with a hangover, a ring on his finger, and in bed with his best friend, Zoe Hillman. She's overweight and plain, nothing at all like his image of the perfect wife. So begins the shortest Vegas marriage in history...

Stripped

Stripped

COMING, JANUARY 2010!

Body of secrets…

As a member of the CIA’s elite, Black Opals, Natalya Trubachev must live a lie, working undercover as the lover of Dmitri, a Russian mob boss. His business is trafficking vulnerable Las Vegas strippers overseas for twisted sex games. Natalya’s business is to blow the ring wide open and bring down Dmitri and his American contacts. But the stakes are raised when she learns...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Looking Forward

Posted On 12:52 PM by Claire Ashgrove 0 comments

Well, it's that time of year again, where I start looking at what I did this year, and what I want to accomplish next year. I'm working on a series of posts about goals on my personal blog, The Muse, so I'm going to skip that discussion here. But I thought I'd do a brief recap since part of our Dreamweaver blog is geared to share experiences.

QUERIES/SUBMISSIONS:
Thank every being that is powerful and divine I no longer have to deal with this. My agent (bless her a hundred times over) now holds the bulk of this responsibility. Sure I have to input. Sure I have to provide the content for her to work with. But wowee, this is the best darn part of having an agent for me -- I only have to write these damnable things and open myself to blood-letting rejections for contests or in preparation for a face-to-face pitch.

That said, I'll share a little bit of insight on what was shopped this year.

--My Templar book1 went on submissions, and sold.

--My historical project has met the brick wall of currently not in market demand. Sad, as I am particularly in love with that series, but so be it.

--I submitted a brand-spanking new project to my agent, in a brand-spanking new subgenre that will go out sometime early in 2011.

--I revisited a previously completed paranormal project and it is currently under review.

SALES:
I had two sales this year, the Templar series and A Christmas To Believe In to the Wild Rose Press.

PROMOTIONS:
Where I've shed the nightmare of queries, I've inherited the nightmare of promotions. This year I've blogged my little heart out, tried to network as much as time can allow. I purchased some advertising opportunities (after extensive consulting with fellow authors -- more time), that will happen in 2011. I've made book trailers for three books/projects. (Go check 'em out!)

WORKS COMPLETED:
Hee. This is always my favorite part because what I have done in a particular year is never obvious by an end-of-year recap. Where I only show that I sold two books, I have written six and 3/4 books, plotted in detail double that, revised one, started a side-project, and handled edits on two. Shew!

So what am I looking at in 2011?

Well, of those manuscripts completed, two already sold, another two are contracted, and I already discussed the others. Which leaves me looking at finalizing the Templar series in 2011, starting a new historical project, finishing the side-project, completing another project for TWRP with Dyann, and writing the follow up to the brand-spanking new project. All told, I'm looking to complete seven full length manuscripts in 2011. If the project currently under review gets the go-ahead, that will also mean revisions on the second book already written.

I anticipate a year of heavy editing as well. I'll have edits for Templar1, possibly edits for Templar2. Edits for the TWRP project.

My special project is in a field completely unrelated to romance. That requires some intensive market studying and research there as well. But I hope to break into the market and embed myself professionally there too. If it goes, I'll have to change out one of my planned writing projects to write a sequel.

RELEASES:
I will see the release of Waiting For Yes. That's all I know concretely at this time. Though I anticipate an additional Christmas release, and the release of Templar1.

PROMOTIONS:
The bane of my existence will only intensify. Each book sold will require a trailer -- not necessarily a demand but something I've committed myself to maintaining. Blogging has to keep up, and I must maintain my attempts to network.

I'll also be traveling this year, presenting a workshop at the NOLA STARS conference in March, and hopefully attending two other events that I haven't quite nailed out yet off my list of possibilities.

2011 is promising to be a busy year. While on the surface it may seem impossibly busy, it's really not much more than what 2009 or 2010 has presented. It's just a readjustment of priorities and a matter of trading out some of the things I was doing, for some of the things I must now do.

To accomplish these things I've developed a very tedious schedule and a whole set of individual goal lists.

As I mentioned before though, and will continue to mention on The Muse, being a writer is a job. It isn't just a lark. And while some might believe that getting published is the end of the ladder, an accomplishment that makes life easier... oh heck no. The only time it becomes easy is when a writer attains the status of King, Koontz, Roberts etc. Authors who are household names and folks who don't even read the genre know them. I'm not saying their work is any less difficult than mine, necessarily, but one thing is for certain... they can be counted on to sell just on name alone, and promotions definitly isn't something the author has to invest a lot of time with. Submissions/queries/sales neither. They have their own share of heavy demands. But when one attains that level, the job of being an author falls more in line with the perception of having a 'cush job'. I'm absolutely certain the reality is different.



Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Release Day Celebrating

Posted On 4:30 AM by Claire Ashgrove 1 comments

Okay, I am shang-haiing the blog (yeah, I can't spell that) today. My book is out! Whee!!


There's a certain magic about release day, no matter how many titles an author has published. This one holds even more for me. Not only is it coming on a holiday weekend, for the holidays, but this whole project is very special. Collaborating with Alicia Dean and our Dyann Love Barr was incredibly challenging, but oh so fun as well. Nothing like sitting down to pow-wow characters and plots and knowing we are all going to use the same rough elements, then seeing each one take shape and come to life individually.

The whole series is awesome, if I do say so myself, and the reviews coming in are proving that.


Way to go Dyann and Alicia!


Now, for a little tidbit about my book, the third book in the Three Kings Series.



A CHRISTMAS TO BELIEVE IN
The Three Kings, Book 3

When a man's dreams are in ruin, all he needs is someone to believe...

Struggling Thoroughbred breeder, Clint King, hasn’t been home for Christmas in five years. Like his brothers, Alex and Heath, life has kept him away. Clint’s farm is barely hanging on. His prize mare's due to foal any day, and in the wake of his father’s death, Clint can’t stand the idea of returning. The memories are too much, let alone his father’s imposing shadow. Except, Alex is getting married on Christmas Eve, and their mother’s put her foot down. She’ll have her boys at home. With his mare in tow behind him, Clint prepares to meet a sister he’s never known and Alex’s unexpected triplets. The one salvation he looks forward to is childhood companion, tomboy Jesse Saurs. Yet when he reunites with Jesse, he uncomfortably discovers she’s become all woman.

Jesse Saurs has everything she needs – financial security, a home, and a foster child who’s about to become her son. She’s spent two years breaking down Ethan’s emotional barriers, and with the final hearing scheduled just before Christmas, this year promises to make his dreams come true. When she learns Clint and his brothers are returning, she anticipates a holiday reunion that’s sure to entertain Ethan. But on the night of Clint’s return, the ‘brother’ she expected leaves her trembling after just a single hug. Even worse, Ethan makes it clear Clint's not welcome.

Will this Christmas destroy what's left of hopes and dreams, or will it give the three the gift they've all been longing for?


EXCERPT:


“You’d like him, Ethan. He was a lot of fun when we were younger.

”“Uh huh.” Noncommittal, he answered in a flat tone.

Jesse lapsed into silence, sensing she walked a thin line. Still, she couldn’t let the subject rest. There had to be a way to convince Ethan that Clint wasn’t a threat to his stability. Until she achieved that, she couldn’t just let go and let him harbor hate. Clint didn’t deserve it. Cautiously, she ventured, “Horses could be a lot of fun.”

Ethan snorted.

“You might give it a try. Something new and different. It can’t hurt, at any rate. If you don’t like Angel, well, then you’ve at least given it a shot.”

He tossed his controller in front of him, his interest in the game lost. She braced herself for the inevitable, knowing full well, whatever came out of his mouth next would hurt.

“Give it up, would you? I don’t want to know him. I don’t have to like your friends.”

“But Ethan-”

He scooted away like she’d cracked a whip in his face. “Enough! Don’t you get it? I don’t give a fuck about him.”

“Ethan Scott!”

“What? Too crude for you, Jesse?”

She flinched, drew in a deep breath and held it. Jesse. He hadn’t called her by her first name for over a year. Exhaling slowly, she set her controller down and slid off his bed. Though she knew in her heart, too many years of pain drove his emotions, the barb stung. On the same hand, she’d pushed. Ethan couldn’t tolerate pushing. He had to come to things on his own time.

Foregoing the lecture, she crossed to the door. “Goodnight, Ethan.”

He said nothing. Merely picked up his controller and set the options back to one-player. On a heavy sigh, Jesse left his room.

Inside hers, she clicked on the lamp by her bedside and reclined against her pillows. Tears brimmed in her eyes. She closed them to keep the salty flow at bay and curled her fingers into the sheets. In a thousand years, she never would have imagined that the only man she’d ever truly wanted would be Clint. In his arms, she felt safe. Protected. Undefeatable. He lit her up in ways she had only begun to comprehend, and it seemed as if fate determined to work against her.

If she weren’t careful, she’d lose Ethan. Every agonizing step she’d made would crumble under the weight of his fears. He’d close up, inevitably turn back to the life he’d known before he entered hers, and she couldn’t stomach the thought of where that would lead him. Jail, if he were lucky. Dead, if he wasn’t.

Yet, shouldn’t she be allowed some personal happiness as well? There were so many unwritten rules to parenthood – sacrifice for the children, put all personal goals aside, give up everything to see to their happiness. She’d exchange her life for Ethan’s in a heartbeat, but Clint offered something no child could. Even if it was only temporary, and this giddy feeling that brimmed in her soul would end when he left, he promised fulfillment of a need that ran so deep she couldn’t name it.

A tear slipped between her eyelashes and trickled down her cheek. She sniffled to hold the rest in check. She never should have let him kiss her a second time tonight. The first had been catastrophic enough. The second…

She wouldn’t be satisfied with anything but all of him after that second kiss. Instinct demanded she leap at what lay in front of her. Hang on to it until it burned itself out with his inevitable departure. Logic, on the other hand, warned her that if she did, she’d lose the one thing that mattered most – her son.




Saturday, November 20, 2010

Farewell

Posted On 12:52 AM by Claire Ashgrove 1 comments

I write for a reason -- it's therapeutic -- and I am a writer, which means I'm typically good with written word, not so much spoken word.

And today I need to say goodbye to a cherished friend. Look closely, the horse on the left is the horse on the cover of Waiting For Yes... His name is WDA Orion, and he was a dream come true.

Not only for my breeding futures, or the business plan for my Arabian breeding program. No, this handsome man was a friend. Like so many Arabians, he had a personality that refused to let him be "just a horse" or "just a business investment." Not only was he breathtaking to look at, he was breathtaking to be around. He communicated with me through his eyes. When we drove into the farm, he came running up to the car door and waited for us to get out. Once or twice, he even tried to follow us into the house. Would have, if we hadn't ushered him right back outside. (more at my blog)



Friday, November 19, 2010

W00T!! My Book is Out!!

Posted On 11:28 AM by The Dreamweavers 1 comments

Okay, enough of the exclamation marks. My book, A Perfect Bride for Christmas came out November 12th. It's published through The Wild Rose Press and you can find it on http://www.thewildrosepress.com/a-perfect-bride-for-christmas-p-4310.html or Amazon.com and Borders Books. Check it out.

Now that the commercial is over, let me tell you, I'm flying high right now. There may be a time when I fall to earth, but for now, I'll spend a few days soaring. The reviews have been positive for a first time author. I still can't believe it when I see the cover and know it's out there for the public to read. Wow. I've been holding my feelings close to my chest for so long, and now, all I can do is a little happy dance.

What happens when the dance is over? Work, lots of work. Marketing and promotion of the book, plus writing the next book and the next.

I'm getting ready to submit my paranormal after the first of the year. My beta readers will read my manuscript and give me an honest opinion. I don't expect them to o-o-o and ah over it. They will make me bleed. There will be lots of comments and suggestions on how to improve the story.
There must be a bit of a masochist in every writer. If there isn't, you'll never be able to stand the heat. That sounds kinky, but it's not. Maybe masochist is too strong a word. A writer has to be able to take criticism and roll with the punches. Once the beta readers are done, I look through their comments and assess what they've written. If one if them points out an inaccuracy in my facts, I'll change it. A couple of them might say my character needs a deeper point of view in a certain scene. I'll fix it. However, if only one of them dosen't like the color of my hero's hair or think the heroine is being silly-- well, I'll have to politely disagree and leave it as written. That's my prerogative as the author. Only time will tell who was right.

So, on top of soaring, writing a current novel, revising the older book, coming up with an outline for the third book in the series, and marketing, I'm trying to fit in a normal life. I'm coming to believe that this is a normal life for an writer. Whoever said being a published author was a piece of cake never got a book published. I wouldn't trade it for the world.



Dyann Love Barr








Friday, November 12, 2010

Jewelann Is Coming To Town

Posted On 3:29 AM by Claire Ashgrove 1 comments

If you put a pause in between Jewelann's name, the title fits "Santa Clause is Coming To Town", incidently.

So yes, I'm super duper excited that Heartland Romance Authors and Midwest Romance Writers elected to bring Jewelann Cone, from the Cascade Literary Agency, (my agent) in to speak to their authors about the industry, generally meet and greet, and hopefully garner some mutual benefits!

I've always wondered how I would handle my first face-to-face meeting with my agent. And not just since signing here, but back in the days of still searching. I presumed it would transpire at a convention, like Nationals, and I'd be nervous. I'd wonder if I talked too loud, if my laugh was funny, and I'd wonder if I was dressed horribly out-of-fashion.

Now, though, as the reality of things hits settles around me, all of those pesky worries are gone. I'm excited! I'd say, kinda like getting a new puppy, if I didn't feel that might come out all wrong. (Shh. I didn't say that.)

I'm not intimidated, and I believe this is, in part, because I've been made to feel at home from day one. My perception used to be that agents were a far-off partner, only really dealt with when active business was on the table. Oh, how wrong, I was. It's much more than that. A very mutually-supportive relationship.

But anyway, this isn't meant to be a sales pitch. I've accomplished little to nothing all week because I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas Eve, and can't keep focused. Next week, I'll give a brief overview. And who knows, maybe I will even have a funny story to share!


Friday, November 5, 2010

Starting A New Book

Posted On 4:11 AM by Claire Ashgrove 1 comments

This kinda ties in with what Dyann was saying:

There's a certain energy about a new story, and I think this is probably my favorite part of writing. First, the idea takes hold. Then, the plot unfolds (because I'm a plotter.) Then, about a week later, I get to put words down... and for me, there's no better thrill. All that thinking starts to develop. All that imagry comes to life.

For the first time in my life, I'm doing NaNoWriMo, and I put off starting my Templar book until the 1st of November. Add into the fact that this is one of the stories I've been wanting to write since I developed the concept, and the fact that the outline has been done for months, and there was some serious anticipation building!

Now though, I'm fully immersed in the story, and having the time of my life. About six chapters to the end, I will wish I was already done, and then I'll hit the final climax, and won't be able to write fast enough to keep up with the ideas in my head.

It feels good to be writing after a few forced weeks doing nothing but edits, housekeeping stuff, and critiques.

How about all of you? Do you share that special energy when you get to put those first chapters down? Are you NaNoing this year at all?

PS -- everybody glance sideways. Our brilliant silent member, Kimberly, is kicking some rear on NaNo -- go Kimberly!! (So are Dyann and Cathy, but I wanted to give a special shout out, given she's working extra-special hard to find time.)


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Voices in My Head

Posted On 1:43 PM by The Dreamweavers 2 comments

"I killed Ash today." I picked up one of my fries and popped it into my mouth. "It made me sad but I had no choice. He had to go."

Dennis just nodded. "That's too bad. I know how much you liked him."

It's not unusual for me to tell my husband about my writing over the evening meal. Tonight it was Mickey D's. The person in the next booth gave me a wide-eyed look before they gathered up the last of their meal and scurried away to dump their trash.What had to be going through their minds as they pulled out of the parking lot?

So, yes, the characters in my books have a tendency to use my head as their personal playground. The craziness hits when I'm so into the story that they become real. They aren't just little cut-outs to move around in my busy brain. They have goals, motivation, and conflict-- just like the rest of us. That's the most important thing to remember when writing--give your characters life. Make them well-rounded, even the villains. They are as important as your hero or heroine. Use a deep point of view whenever possible to get the reader inside the character's head.

I like to think of my books as character driven but with a strong plot line. I chart my characters well before I ever sit down to write the actual story. I make out a list of their history, their likes, dislikes, their goal, motivations, conflicts and even little quirks they may have. This way I know if something doesn't feel right. Is the motivation too weak, are the conflicts enough to carry the story? So do I even care if this character lives or dies? Are the stakes high enough?

The next thing I do is an outline. Yes, I used to be a pantser but my current and former critique partners have shown me the light. I can write much faster if I know where I'm going and what my characters are doing at any given point. I still allow myself wiggle room for creativity. One critique partner keeps a firm rein on her characters at all times. She doesn't allow them out to play. This is the way she works. Everyone is different. Another critique partners has a list of high points and where her characters intersect but she still has a steady hand at the wheel. My outlines tend to be more like a ten to fifteen page synopsis with the character chart attached. This is when I sit down to write the book.

And then it happens.

Regardless of all my fine planning, my characters let me know if I'm trying to make them go in a direction they shouldn't. I can almost see them with their arms crossed over their chests with a belligerent look on their faces. I created them one way and if I try to write them into a situation that doesn't fit, the book comes to a screeching halt. Like people everywhere, they have to be true to themselves.

So, yes, your characters can drive you crazy, you fall in love with them, and when you really love a secondary character--that's the time to kill them off, or save them for another book. Either way, they have to fade into the sunset.

I know every writer approaches their books in different ways, but I don't know of one that hasn't had a character stop them dead in their track at some point. It happens. And when it does, listen to the voices in your head. They are your friends.

Dyann Love Barr


Friday, October 29, 2010

First Book I've Ever Set Aside

Posted On 1:08 AM by Claire Ashgrove 3 comments

Now... I'm not going to names, first and foremost.

But tonight I set aside the first book that I've ever picked up and started to read. The book was published by a house I usually gobble up everything they put out. The author was new to me. (And if you've watched my posts at Cascade -- no it wasn't one of the two books I mentioned there that I was interested in.)

In the first three pages of the story I changed points of view so many times it was frightening. And that just set off the nails on chalkboard feeling for me. So, I literally tossed the book aside. I don't know about the rest of you, but after listening to class after class on craft, I have become more or less a POV purist. I want the change blended smoothly if it isn't at a scene or chapter break, and I want to stay there for at least a page. I don't like author intrusion -- when a character starts describing things they couldn't possibly see/know about themselves -- and I don't like to feel like a ping-pong ball when I'm trying to follow a story.

Ask my poor crit partners... these things drive me nuts.

I even double-checked the publication date on the novel -- 2010. The cover was awesome. The premise really enthused me... but wow... I just can't get past the head hopping and author intrusion and how it cleared an editor's desk. Espeically out of this house where everything is usually something that makes me wish I had written the book.

Anyway, it got me thinking about how I've grown. I remember one early critique partner pointing out my head hopping, and to think that my personal writing avoids even the blended POV shift now is kinda funny.

I've heard pre-published authors talking about "Well so and so does it..." and I hadn't really realized how much of this still happens beyond some of the big, established names. (And to my knowledge this author doesn't qualify as "big" "established"). But now I can see where confusion comes from. I can see how come folks have trouble with "my manuscript was rejected for head hopping" when published authors are doing this.

Have you all noticed this? I say, I have to toss my hat into the "confused" pile now.

Anyway -- Folks, don't succumb to the 'cheat' of head hopping. There's a place and a time to switch POV, and it isn't a bad thing to switch POV. But switching every three to four paragraphs tends to infuriate readers like me.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Revison Horror

Posted On 10:36 AM by The Dreamweavers 0 comments

I love writing 'The End'. It's a bit sad and I know I'll miss my characters. No, let me rephrase that, I'll miss discovering all the little things about my characters that I didn’t know when I started the journey. Especially their quirks, sense of humor, and the unexpected lines that sometimes pop out of their mouths. It's always a sad goodbye. Think of Joan Wilder in ‘Romancing the Stone’.


That is until I realize I'm headed for, as one of my friends calls it, 'the suck from hell'. Yes, I'm talking about rewrites, revisions, edits, whatever you want to call it. I can hear it pulling in my time and at my brain like a black hole. I put it off as long as possible because I want to remain in love with my characters. They are my children and I hesitate to take them to slaughter.



The amazing thing about rewrites is that I find out how good I am, and how bad. Now my friend Claire Ashgrove will tell you that I spray commas all over the place, much like a boxer's spit when he's hit with a good right hook. My grammar needs a lot of work. I notice some of the stimulus/response is backward. Sheesh! But then, in the midst of all this mess, I find gems that I can’t believe I wrote. They make me laugh, cry, and sigh as the romance goes forward.


So, now I’ve fixed the most egregious mistakes and send the work out to my critique partners. I’m confident they will say it’s great and send it out for submissions. The poor thing comes back bleeding. I look over their comments and decide which areas of the story have to be reworked. Poor baby. This means I have to start from the beginning and reread, fix it, and send it back. More revisions. By now I’m getting a little tired of my characters. I know them backward and forward. Sometimes they even begin to annoy me – like my least favorite aunt with the grating voice. It’s one more time around the revision block.


I send it off and it sells. Yay!! Now the editor takes a whack at it. Three more edits later, I’m ready to kill every one of my beloved characters in the most bizarre and satisfying ways. I’m itching to go on to the next book. The creative fires are burning bright and I’m stuck in revision hell.


There is a happy ending to this horror story. The first time I saw my book cover and it’s love all over again. Yes, found find things I wished I’d changed, things even my critique partners and my editor missed but it’s done. Now all that’s left is wait for the review—but that’s another story.



Dyann Love Barr




Thursday, October 21, 2010

Twitchy Fingers

Posted On 8:09 PM by Claire Ashgrove 2 comments

Well, for the first time in probably the last two years, I'm confronted with the reality that... I'm not writing right now. And I have twitchy, itchy fingers.

I finished up my last project, affectionately known as The Monster, a couple weeks ago. Decided then that it was time to catch up on some much-needed house-keeping writing wise. So I caught up on some blogs that I follow, touched base with a few authors I don't talk to nearly enough, and have been doing this and that here and there, for the last ten days or so.

Then, edits landed in my lap, for my last Wild Rose project and a few cleaning up tasks required on a manuscript my agent is working with. And it was time to do some piddling with my 3rd Templar book as well.

So here I am... with the cleaning up tasks left, and 9 contest entries to judge for MARA, and I can't put a single creative word on paper. I'm going crazy!

The plan is that I'm going to get these things finished over the weekend and actually read. Then, come Nov 1, I'm delving into a new project, with my critique partners (I think) and playing NaNoWriMo. But man... that seems so far away...

Wail. What am I going to do?! This idleness is killing me.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Amen to That!

Posted On 8:59 AM by The Dreamweavers 3 comments

I originally intended this to be a comment to Claire Ashgrove's blog on the business end of writing. As I wrote, I realized it had turned into a blog.

The first thing most people say to me when they find out I'm a published author is, "Oh, how fun. It must be nice to stay home all day and play." It's clear they've never tried to tell a story, work with goal, motivation, and conflict-- to create a riveting tale that will make an agent sit up and take notice. Or how about trying to balance writing time with family time, running all those errands people ask you to do because "You're home all day, right?".

The first word in an author's vocabulary needs to be NO. I learned that from my former critique partner, Shannon K. Butcher. This will preserve your sanity-- believe me on this.

The notion that an romance author sits on the couch with bon-bons to the side, while writing with a quill pen and parchment paper, seems to persist. They've never gone through revision hell.

Claire is right. The business end was a staggering revelation that still has this newbee perplexed and a bit overwhelmed. Somewhere in there, between edits and marketing, you have to work on the next book. Days that you used to spend eight hours in writing might turns into only three or four hours. Granted, there are those who have Super Sonic fingers and live on fumes-- I'm not naming names here, but I'm not one of them. It takes me a good two and a half to three months of solid writing to finish a book. So each hour taken away from my writing for the business end of the profession makes me have to work harder and become more focused. Maybe that's not a bad thing in the end.

I am just lucky to have several published authors who I can contact if I need advice. Thankfully, they leave bread crumbs along the way to guide me to the right paths.

Dyann Love Barr


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Learning To Be An Author

Posted On 12:21 PM by Claire Ashgrove 1 comments

Shew!

I used to have this perception that being an author wasn't, necessarily, work. Writing is fun -- erego not a job. WRONG.

I figured this out somewhat after my first book saw publication and the world of, dum-dum-dum promotions became part of my life. So, website up, blogs somewhat active, presence scattered, newsletter out... Added that into my schedule.

Kids, it only gets worse!

This week, I had a deadline that I was in a rush to meet because the project was new for me and some of the elements are unfamiliar. Then it was 2 hours on the phone with my agent, discussing a multitude of things and options, one of which was a slight request for revisions on a previously submitted manuscript. Then, as my week of catch up and downtime is beginning to fade, I get edits back for a contracted manuscript.

In short, each day that passes, I learn more about the job of being an author. Promotions never fade. If there's nothing slated immediately, there's a need to keep back list material circulating. Add in the need to keep interest up about what's coming down the pipe -- promo work increases exponentially to the number of titles (at least at this point in my career).

The website is never current enough. The newsletter never feels engaging enough. Workshops to plan and propose. Chapter responsibilities which also increase with more available titles (and they should within reason).

There's a constant learning curve. My PAN membership went through, and now I'm learning more about what I should be doing, and what to expect as things unravel more. I tell ya -- if anyone ever tries to tell you being an author is a "cush job" -- please laugh in their face. It's seriously not. We do have the benefit of working from our homes -- but try and convince family and children that just because you're sitting in the living room at the computer, doesn't mean you can't get up to attend to their immediate needs or carry on a conversation.

So for anyone who's seeking publication, get a handle on this stuff now. Add it into your routine. Trust me, having it fall in your lap can make you topsy-turvy in ways you'd never imagine.

Those of you who've already mastered it -- big kudos from me!

And on that note -- what are your promotional tools?


Friday, October 8, 2010

Pushing Boundaries

Posted On 3:43 AM by Claire Ashgrove 2 comments

In working with this new project, I've had to change up some of my habits and break some routines so my "boundaries" wouldn't be the same. One of the things that I've altered is, I've started listening to music while I'm writing. Not anything I'm a crazy fan about (like good classical, or sweeping orchestral because that totally distracts me.) Pop music actually. Which is great for a drive, but not normally part of my writing formula.

Anyway, I've discovered something that I probably should have realized a long time ago. There are a few songs that I absolutely cannot stand because they provoke such intense reactions. For instance, Rhianna's Unfaithful. When I first heard this song a year or so ago, it really made me ill. The message conveyed in there just... well, it bothered me.

Now, the song bothers me because it's very... raw. I've gotten over the need to preach "Hey. You can control yourself, lady." Now it just twists my guts because of the deep emotion in the song, even though I don't agree with the "message". Eminem's song, I Love The Way You Lie does the same thing to me. I mean for goodness sakes, lyricwise, the message is pretty disturbing. But combined together with the vocals and how the vocals are sung, it's a very moving song.

All of which, in an odd sense, has made me change a few approaches in my writing. Being able to appreciate the artistic value of songs that I'd previously snorted over, has allowed me to expand my own writing horizons. It's made me realize that it is okay to use a word choice that might not be pleasant for someone. (Always depending on context). It's okay to, where appropriate, have a little shock value.

I haven't been a writer who's afraid to use profanity, or afraid to open the bedroom door, or liberally apply blood. Don't get me wrong. But with this project specifically, it needed to be a little raw. Which I've been able to achieve with moderate ease, after pushing different boundaries.

And the moral of this little rambling? Sometimes it takes literally removing the box, not just stepping outside it, to grow. If, as a writer, there's something you want to accomplish, but perhaps you aren't certain you can, before you decide whether you're really capable or not, change your habits. Explore new territories. In the end, you'll appreciate the fact you have.

And now, back to writing, so I can meet my commitment of having this to Jewelann Monday. EEP!


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Stumbling Into the 21st Century

Posted On 9:12 AM by The Dreamweavers 3 comments

What do critique partners, blogging, and putting on my 'big girl panties' have in common?
I've been dragged, kicking and screaming, into the the 21st century. I'm one of those people who are computer illiterate. No, that's wrong. I know just enough to be dangerous. Until now, I've refused to see my computer as something more than a glorified typewriter.Besides, my husband is the IT officer at his office-- he'd do all that 'stuff' for me. Why should I have to know how to do anything? Who cared?

Let me tell you.

My first book, A Perfect Bride for Christmas, is coming out on November 12th from The Wild Rose Press. I thought, okay, that's done-- on to the next book. Ideas are flowing and I'm ready for my characters to hit the page. Not so fast my friend. Did you know there was a business end to this whole getting published gig? I had a vague idea, some abstract notion that I might have to do 'something'. Marketing hit me in the face like lemon meringue pie.

Website construction is the first. Now that has been a dozy. My critique partner generously offered to help me tidy up my website and make it look presentable to any agents that might take a peek. I actually had to have content. My brain was ready to burst. Then there's the whole bookmark thing which again, my overworked critique partner guided me through the rocky shoals. This went above and beyond.

There's more. One friend strongly suggested I get on Twitter. Another Facebook. Yikes-- then blogging. I began to feel overwhelmed and relied on everyone to do these things for me. At one point, both my critique partner and husband stopped holding my hand or refused to listen to my whines of "But I don't know nothin' about doing a blog, or how to do a book trailer." Their look said, "Frankly, my dear. I don't give a damn." Don't get me wrong, it was more an nudge in the right direction than a complete refusal to help. They gave me some tools and told me to go for it but they wouldn't do whatever I needed. I had to learn to do them for myself.

I'm still shaky on a lot of this stuff. All my critique partners will offer helpful hints if I get to the point of banging my head against my desk but I know I have to man up and do things myself.
Now I'm working on a book trailer, stumbling and falling along the way, but I'm finding myself enjoying the experience.

It's baby steps but that's what it takes.

~Dyann


Friday, September 24, 2010

Reviews, Reviews!

Posted On 11:55 AM by Claire Ashgrove 1 comments

I'm sharing two reviews that I received this month:

Both reviews were conducted by Marissa at Sizzling Hot Books.

The first is for Seduction's Stakes, my Contemporary romance centered around a passionate race for the Triple Crown.

FOUR STARS



"Seduction's Stakes is full of unforgettable characters, and an amazing love story. The story between Riley and Maddie is amazing, and like a fairy tale come true."

For full details, go here.

The second review is for All I Want For Christmas... Is Big Blue Eyes, a Christmas romance between two high school sweethearts who got everything wrong the first time around.


FOUR STARS


"All I want for Christmas... is Big Blue Eyes, proves once again that Claire Ashgrove is a talented author. The characters are unforgettable, and the story is believable. You can add All I want for Christmas.... is Big Blue Eyes to your list of Holiday traditions because it is defiantly one for the keep shelves."

For the full review, go here.

If you'd like to find out a little more about these two titles, and my other stuff available while we're waiting on those darkly sexy Templar Knights, take a peek at my Contemporary Romances on my website.

Next time I'll go back to witty and mundane :)


~Claire
http://www.claireashgrove.com/


Friday, September 17, 2010

Writing Is Like Chess

Posted On 4:55 PM by Claire Ashgrove 0 comments

Stolen from the Cascade Literary Agency Blog

Occasionally while doing the total mundane (such as brushing my teeth) a few gems of wisdom pop into my head. Well, maybe not wisdom. But I like to think they are. Tonight while working through the next scene in my current work in progress, it occured to me to pull off what I'm striving for, I have to move each player very carefully.

Like chess. And thus the thought took root.

For anyone who writes with secondary characters, or includes extensive sub-plots, chess is a very appropriate term. Each person and element has to play off the other. The "Checkmate" is the resolution to the story. Getting there requires strategy, not just haphazard relocation of pawns and bishops (and if you're writing about Templars, the occasional Knight.)

Characters and elements can't just appear. Readers get highly annoyed by this. They have to be layered in, embedded in a plausible fashion, and dropping these little tidbits isn't nearly as easy as it may sound. Those who've faced the delimma of how to expose just the right amount of detail without giving away the whole package, should be jumping up and down in agreement. I think for some writers this comes more naturally. Others practice it (Romantic Suspense authors) so regularly it becomes habit. But those of us who are focused on different aspects of different genres have a bit of a difficult time with the chessboard.

Who moves to black? Who kills the pawn. When? With what piece? And how does that affect the pawn behind him?

I admire pantsers for this reason. I would seriously go into fits if my characters changed an aspect of my plot. I have to plot and in detail. But to sit down at a keyboard and possess the ability to navigate unexpected twists and turns? Simply amazing. Kudos to those of you who do.

Others, like myself, dictate out our plots over several pages, and then still stare at the screen, or pace, or chew on our nails as we realize "Oh. THIS must be in here. Now how to do it."

My current WIP is pushing that aspect of my brain a great deal and I am finding the challenge immensely enjoyable. But I'm curious -- how do you do it? Are you a strategic chess player, or are you the sort that takes the move, and then re-evalutes how to make the next one?

While you're considering that, I'd like to share with you the teaser for my Templar series.

For the higher quality version, go here: My Paranormal Website Page

For the faster-loading, but lower graphics quality YouTube version, go Here

Be sure to come back and share your thoughts on both.

~Claire
www.claireashgrove.com