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Learn more about my books at ShoshannaEvers.com

Friday, January 29, 2010

Pen Name

Hello Fellow Writers! (post written in January 2010)

So I'm still waiting to hear back from both Ellora's Cave (my erotic romance "The Art Thief's Punishment" went past the initial editorial review and is being considered by the acquiring editors) and Silhouette Desire (they requested a partial based on my synopsis for "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant"), which is to be expected.

I've been working on another erotic romance called "Taste of Candy", which is targeted towards Ellora's Cave theme "Musical Madness". It's about a rock star and the woman named Candy who he falls in love with.

I decided that when I'm writing erotic romance, I will use the pen name "Shoshanna Evers". Not because I plan on being anonymous - I just don't think that my real name is particularly appropriate sounding for erotic romance. I also don't want future readers of my category type romances to accidentally pick up one of my erotica books and get surprised by the content! This way it will be easy for readers (ahem, future readers, that is) to know what sort of story of mine they are about to read.

UPDATE, 2014: Well, after 4 years of using the name Shoshanna Evers, I've been blessed to build up a following of awesome readers, and guess what? Readers are extremely smart. They don't need you to have a different name for different genres - there's plenty of crossover between readers who enjoy erotic romance, and readers who enjoy contemporary romance. The cover of the book, and the blurb are what tell the genre to the reader - so just make life easier on yourself, and use the same pen name across genres! Otherwise, you'll need to have two websites, two Twitter accounts, two Facebook pages, etc etc. Unless, of course, you're writing erotica, and say... inspirational Amish romance. Then maybe use two names. ;)

Look how different these titles and covers are, for example (one for an erotic romance, Punishing the Art Thief, which did end up selling to Ellora's Cave, (recently I got the rights back and re-released it!), and the other for a contemporary romance from Entangled Indulgence - The Tycoon's Convenient Bride...and Baby.


I don't need different author names because my readership already knows me as Shoshanna Evers. The different genres tell them what they need to know.

Back to 2010:

I found an interesting article by Michael Pollick entitled "Should a Writer Adopt a Pen Name?". Here is an excerpt, click here for the whole article.
PRO: Pseudonyms can increase an author's overall marketability. If you write action/adventure novels, you may want to adopt a name that is more suited to the genre. "Rivers of Blood" by 'Tank McThunder' may appeal more to the readers than "Rivers of Blood" by Murray Fishbinder. Not that there is anything intrinsically wrong with the Fishbinder name, but in a promotional sense you need to hook your readers from the beginning. Other pseudonyms may take on even more significance, such as "Trevanian" or "Phaedrus". As a marketing tool, a good pseudonym can boost sales and create enough positive buzz to give your 'name' some strong selling power.

CON: A poorly chosen pseudonym can hurt your chances of acceptance. As a beginning writer, you have very little leverage with publishers as it is, so you may not want to muddy the waters further by using a pretentious or gimmicky pen name. Insisting on a blatantly obvious pseudonym may make you a one or two hit wonder, but won't give you staying power. If your own name is reasonably marketable and your work is meant to be taken seriously, you should not resort to a meaningless pen name. Later in your career you may feel the need to use a pen name for works outside your established genre, but you need a name and reputation first.
PRO: Pseudonyms can make artistic statements for the author. Sometimes a writer takes on a subject that is highly controversial or threatens to expose secrets. Rather than remain anonymous or risk personal injury as the named author, you may want to use a pen name for protection. The pen name you choose may reflect some element of the controversy, or establish your credibility as an expert on the subject. "Secrets of the Emergency Room" by 'Dr. Dread' may sound like a gimmick, but it does establish that the author is a doctor and that his or her information may jeopardize careers. In a different vein, you may choose a pseudonym based on a character you enjoy from literature or history. A well-chosen pseudonym can add an air of mystery or intrigue.
CON: Pseudonyms can create 'identities' from which there is no escape. In the same way that an actor may be linked forever with a popular character, an author may be linked forever with the character created by a pseudonym. Some authors may create elaborate backstories to give dimension to their alter ego pseudonyms. In essence, the pseudonym's fantasy personality may overwhelm the actual writer's persona. Many authors who use pseudonyms discover that they must keep using that pseudonym long past its usefulness. Efforts to publish works under their real names may be met with rejection or reluctance. If you are comfortable with the idea of perpetuating a character that writes your books, then a pseudonym can work. If you are concerned that a gimmicky pen name will take away your future credibility, then don't use one.
Additional insight, from 2014: While I use a pen name, there is no false "persona" at all. I am my pen name, my pen name is me. Everything about me is real. I meet my readers at book signings. I don't hide myself. And, personally, I don't like what Pollick says about how you should use your own name "if your work is meant to be taken seriously."

Whatever. I write romance, and heck yeah I expect to be taken seriously! It seems Pollick thinks that pen name = silly name, like the aforementioned examples Tank McThunder or Dr. Dread. Not the case. You can just use your real first name or a nickname (unless you hate your first name, in which case, use your favorite name!), and pick a last name randomly that works well with your first name, or is your maiden name or something. I think pen names are essential for privacy. Think about it.

Back to 2010:

This week my focus will be on finishing the first draft of "Taste of Candy". I expect it to be between 10K and 15k words. (UPDATE: Taste of Candy sold to The Wild Rose Press, then I got the rights back when the contract ended, and I released it myself as a freebie! Enjoy!)

Wish me luck, and good luck to you too!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Response from Ellora's Cave!

Hello Fellow Writers!

Today I mailed off the partial that Shana Smith at Silhouette Desire requested. I used the priority mail envelopes both to mail the partial and also for the SASE. I wonder how long before I hear if Silhouette is interested in seeing a full manuscript? Fingers crossed!

I also heard back from Ellora's Cave! The email said "Thank you for submitting to Ellora's Cave Publishing! Your manuscript has been read by our initial editorial reviewer and has been placed in queue for our acquiring editors to consider further."

I'm very excited about this!

Now I need to get started on another book. "Snowed in With a Millionaire" is finished but I need to wait until I hear back from Harlequin/Silhoutte about "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant" before I can submit again. I'm also planning on taking another writing class where I'll bring "Snowed" to be critiqued.

I'm tossing around an idea for another contemporary category romance targeted toward Silhouette Desire called "Seduced by Her Captor"... but I'm still in the planning stages.

Also, I wanted to share this link to a website I found, BrendaHiatt.com, with a page called "Show Me the Money!" - it lists everything the author knows about romance novel advances and royalties for various publishers. Interesting stuff!

Wish me luck and good luck to you too!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Friday, January 15, 2010

Silhouette Desire Requested a Partial!

Hello Fellow Writers!

I have exciting news. Drumroll, please.... five weeks after submitting a query letter and synopsis of "The Movie Star's Very Personal Assistant" to Silhouette Desire, I got a letter in the mail requesting a partial manuscript!

So I printed out the first three chapters, read through the pages and made a couple tiny changes, and then printed them out again along with another copy of the synopsis. Now I need to buy a couple of envelopes big enough to hold the partial and to use as a SASE. I also need to figure out how many stamps the darn thing needs!

I had originally sent the query to Diana Ventimiglia, but the letter I got said that she wasn't working in that position any longer, and that all the queries sent to Ms. Ventimiglia were forwarded to Shana Smith. So it was Ms. Smith who requested the partial.

I'm very excited about this whole thing. It's a step in the right direction!
Wish me luck, and good luck to you too!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Advice Column

Hello Fellow Writers!

I had a grand old time at the Hudson Valley chapter of the RWA monthly meeting last weekend. I read a five page excerpt from "Snowed in With a Millionaire" and got some great feedback - most importantly, that those five pages should be the first five pages of my novel. The opening scene I had can come later, after we see the hero and heroine's first meet. Good stuff!

It's too bad that I'll have to miss next month's meeting since that's my 'on' weekend at the nursing home. One of the published authors from Hudson Valley RWA, Janet Lane Walters, offered to read the first chapter for me, which I think is very nice if her.

I also got my contract for the weekly advice column I will be writing for a new local paper, The Mahopac News. The column will be called "Ask Shana". I've already written the first column and sent it to the editor, and he approved it. I got the job by writing a spec column and pitching the idea to the paper!

On that note, I want to offer some advice from an article about writing for a newspaper. If you ever decide to write the news to supplement your fiction career, this information will come in handy. Check out the whole article at NorthernStar.info.

First five pararaphs
All the work of producing a news story is futile if the story does not engage the reader immediately. Writing coaches have identified four key elements that should be present in the first five paragraphs of any news story (not necessarily in any particular order). They are:
The newest information: the basic facts of who, what, when, where, why and how ... the most relevant information.
What a situation means and who is affected. Tells readers what the news changes about their lives and, maybe, what they should do.
The general perspective that frames the background of the news. It addresses the relationship of things around the news. Context helps readers understand whether something is normal or surprising.
The human dimension. Takes a story from abstract to reality. Offers personal elements that help readers understand the story. This is not necessarily a quote, but it could be.
I also submitted my romantic erotica story to Ellora's Cave for one of their theme submissions.
Wish me luck, and good luck to you too!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Friday, January 8, 2010

Harlequin Spice Briefs

Hello Fellow Writers!

Tomorrow I am going to the Hudson Valley chapter of Romance Writers of America's monthly meeting. I went last month and found it very interesting. Authors read excerpts from their works in progress and were critiqued by everyone. I'm debating whether or not I should bring something from "Snowed in With a Millionaire"... we'll see. The jury's still out on that one.

I haven't heard back yet from my critique partner Maureen regarding a story I wrote and intend to submit to Ellora's Cave by January 31st. I'll have to ask her about it at the Hudson Valley RWA meeting tomorrow (unless it snows again, in which case I doubt she'll drive)!

Harlequin also has a line of erotic romance called Spice. The shorter stories are called Spice Briefs. Here are the writing guidelines for anyone interested in submitting to them, from their website at eharlequin.com.
Spice Briefs
Word Length: 5,000–15,000 words
Format: eBooks
Editor: Susan Swinwood
Assistant Editor: Lara Hyde
Editorial Office: Toronto
Spice Books is looking to acquire bold, sexually explicit editorial that pushes the envelope for its new eBook erotica program, Spice Briefs. These are highly erotic short stories; although brief, these novellas should still establish context for the erotic content through an interesting and engaging premise (a great hook), a well-constructed plot and believable characters. Quality editorial is paramount.
Like Spice Books, what will set Spice Briefs apart is its broad spectrum of sexy editorial. We are looking for all kinds of subgenres—contemporary, ethnic, literary, mystery/suspense, historical and paranormal stories told in first- or third-person point of view or, if it works for the story, multiple points of view. Authors should feel comfortable exploring any and all sexual scenarios, even ones considered "taboo," and should avoid using euphemisms in favor of the frank, graphic language typical of the erotica genre.
Only complete manuscripts submitted electronically will be considered; no partials or queries, please. Submissions should be sent as a Word file attachment, or in a program that can be converted to Word. Submissions should also follow standard formatting guidelines—double-spaced and written in a clear, legible font on numbered pages. Author name and title should appear as a header or footer on each page, and please ensure that the title of the submission appears in the e-mail's subject line.
Spice Briefs
E-mail address: spicebriefs@harlequin.ca
I really like how you can submit the entire manuscript, instead of just a query and synopsis. I feel like that brings you one step closer to publication since you don't have to hope the synopsis conveys the feeling of the story, you can let the story speak for itself.

If I do end up reading an excerpt from one of my manuscripts tomorrow for the Hudson Valley RWA meeting, wish me luck and good luck to you too!

Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Resolutions!

Hello Fellow Writers!

Happy New Year! I can't believe that it's 2010 already. Feels like we should have flying cars or something by now, right?

I finished reading "Mistress of the Art of Death" by Ariana Franklin. It was wonderful! I also finished writing my story that I will be submitting to Ellora's Cave for their "Alluring Arts" theme, due January 31st. After I finished (it's 11k words) I took a couple days off so I could look at it again with a fresh eye. I reworked a couple of things, and now I just have to send it to my critique partners.

"The Art Thief's Punishment" is an erotic romance, so I find myself getting a bit shy at the idea of people reading it and thinking it's a peek into my bedroom, when in actuality it's a peek into the bedroom of the hero and heroine. Since it's targeted for Ellora's Cave, it's more than a peek... the bedroom door has been blown off it's hinges!

2009 was a big year for me. I started this blog. I revised a romance novel and submitted a query letter to Harlequin about it (still waiting on that response, I'll keep you posted). I wrote a second romance novel and revised it. I wrote a short story that I plan on submitting this month. And I sent a spec advice column to a new newspaper and they liked it!

For the New Year, my resolution is to keep writing 1000 words a day (although I find that when I'm into it, I end up writing more) and - and this is the hard part for me - submit my writing for publication. It's hard for me because I've always written things and then hidden them away. The thought of opening myself up to rejection is scary, but I know if I want to be published then I need to actually send my stuff out there.

What are your resolutions? Will you take a writing class? Will you start (or finish) your novel? Will you try to find a literary agent? Let me know!

Wish me luck, and good luck to you too!
Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers