Death Notice

Death Notice


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


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


“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


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...




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...

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


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.