This blog is for those 18 and older.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Reading Over the Holidays

Who doesn’t look forward to having time off, a break from the same old routine? I know I do. This holiday season I’m not traveling, or visiting family or anything. When I realized I had 10 days to do whatever I wanted, my mind started racing so fast it made me light headed! Ten whole days, what could I do with all that time, in addition to writing that is :-) It took a whole three minutes to make a list longer than my pad of paper, so I thought I’d better just share what I hope to read over this holiday season.

First, I must read Nicole North’s KILTED LOVER. I bought this eBook as soon as it came out and it has been waiting for me for over a month! I’ve read a novella by Nicole and really enjoyed it, so I am looking forward to this next one by her. Besides, who can resist a guy in a kilt? But beware, this is a very hot novel.

Next, I just have to read Jennifer Ashley’s THE LONGEST NIGHT in the anthology A CHRISTMAS BALL. I absolutely love everything this amazing lady writes and I know reading her novella will add to my Christmas spirit! This story takes up where her novel HIGHLANDER EVER AFTER left off and that was a wonderful romance with a touch of paranormal.

I also plan on reading Kathryne Kennedy’s new book MY UNFAIR LADY. It’s set in 1885 London, but the heroine is from America and has come to England to get polished up. Her “tutor” so to speak, is an impoverished Lord and from what Kathryne has said, it is a fun and humorous book. I’m all for laughing during the holiday season!

In addition to these books, I simply have to read Denise Domning’s A LADY IN WHITE which has been re-released by CVS Pharmacy. Denise gave me some great pointers on improving one of my manuscripts so I can’t wait to read her book. With Queen Elizabeth pulling the strings, this book promises to be a great escape back in time.

This next book I want to read is Kayla Janz’ HEART OF GLASS which features a rock star and is an erotic romance. What a combination! This is the second book in her RIGHT MAN . . . RIGHT NOW series. Definitely want to read this one soon, especially as I will be joining Kayla’s critique group in January.

Lastly, of great importance and edification, but probably not quite as fun as the others, I plan to read Donald Maass’ new book THE FIRE IN FICTION. I’m hearing wonderful comments about this book by this agent extraordinaire, so I’m hoping to learn a lot to utilize in my own work.

So those are my reading plans for the holidays, how about you? Do you have any plans to read? If you do, please share. I would love to hear what you plan for your reading pleasure.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Take On Writing Contests

Here at Happily Ever After Thoughts I usually focus on romantic fiction, but this week I’m taking a side road to talk about nonfiction. Actually, it’s about my article that was published in this month’s Romance Writers Report and I’m so excited about it! The article is titled “Contests: Proving Ground” and it’s about how writers’ contests can help a pre-published writer develop habits and skills that will stand her in good stead when she becomes a published author. I’ve pasted the beginning in here, but if you want to read it in its entirety you can go to my website at and click on "articles." I hope you like it.

Contests: A Proving Ground
Unpublished writers can gain much from writing contests

Contests are a great way to hone a writer’s skill and develop good author habits as long as the contest route is taken with “practice” in mind. Like making the Olympic team, we need to develop a routine, exercise our muscles, practice our art, and enter competitions, so when we make the publishing team, we have a solid foundation on which to build and we won’t let our teammates down.

But we must be very conscious of how we approach this path and what our expectations are. If we enter contests simply hoping our entry will pass the test of the first-round judges who will pass it along to the final judge who will then request the full manuscript, and love it so much they’ll decide to publish it, then we are losing out on the education that can be gained from the experience itself. Not every competition will be won, but we can take something away from every competition entered.

The Reality
Feedback is probably the most controversial area of entering a contest. Horror stories abound about the belittling judge who told a writer never to write another word. To me, this type of critique tells me more about the judge than the work. However, it amazes me that a writer will receive feedback from three judges and two will offer wonderful praise and the third will trash it. The writer can’t stop talking about, and, yes, obsessing over, the negative feedback. Granted, positive critiques don’t give you a lot to work on, but, for some reason, we always focus on the one negative. Are our egos really so delicate? For writers, they’d better not be, or trips to the psychologist will far outpace trips to the bank!

Yes, getting a harsh critique can be tough, but guess what? Editors and agents are not all going to have the same opinion. They aren’t going to like the same genres, writing styles, voices, and plot lines. They will come to your manuscript with their own personal biases and beliefs, just as the many volunteer judges do for our chapter contests. Some editors will think my manuscript needs work. Others may think it should be thrown in the trash (though they won’t say so), and then, there will be that one editor who thinks my story has great potential and will want to publish it.

Notice the similarity? The judging portion of the contest world is simply a microcosm of the publishing world. It is a competition for your Olympic manuscript. Feedback from the “good” judges is like our coaches sharing their experience and wisdom. The feedback from the “bad” judge is the opposing team’s trash talk. Are we really going to waste time on trash talk?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Kathryne Kennedy - My Unfair Lady

This week I'm very excited about a new book that came out today, MY UNFAIR LADY. It's by one of my favorite authors Kathryne Kennedy. She is a great writer and a truly wonderful person. But instead of talking about the book and the lady here, I am posting a link to another blog where you can read a great interview with Kathryne and comment for a chance to win a book from her. I already left my comment so now it's your turn :-)

The link is for the blog Jenny Loves To Read. Join me over there to get an idea of why I'm so excited!