Welcome to The Writer's Challenge

I'm updating weekly-ish and whenever something exciting happens, so please come back often, browse the archived information,
and use the search feature to find information!
Learn more about my books at ShoshannaEvers.com

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Just Write, Damn it!

Hello Fellow Writers!

I've been so busy with my day job lately that I haven't really been writing much. Certainly not meeting my 1000 words a day goal. Basically I switched from one part time nursing job to another, and the new place is making me orient during the week - so I've had to deal with finding childcare and coming home exhausted, with only about an hour of time to spend with my son before it's his bedtime.

Now I know why writing full time doesn't really mix with working full time and taking care of a family. We've eaten take-out every night this week! Fortunately, I'll be back to my usual every other weekend nursing schedule at some point (hopefully after I get back from Romanticon 2010).

But guess what happened at work? In two different conversations, I was asked what I do when I'm not working as a nurse. I didn't want to say I write erotic romance (I'm in the closet so to speak at work) but I did mention that I write an advice column. Both times, they said "Oh, that's you? I read your column every week!". It was really cool. Made me feel slightly famous, lol.

I've decided I'm going to try and write 80,000 words during NaNoWriMo instead of the usual 50K, that way I can write my entire first draft of Protecting Emily, my post-apocalyptic romance novel. That's the plan, anyway. Or maybe I'm just procrastinating starting the darn thing. If you haven't participated in NaNoWriMo before, I urge you to join us this November. It's tons of fun, writing a whole book in a month!

I also was contacted by a company who heard I was a writer and they want me to write a press release for them. I'm debating whether or not to do it...

And I want to write another short story - a threesome - for an anthology. So that might happen soon. I just need to put my hands on the keyboard and go for it. 

Wish me luck, and good luck to you too!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

From Acting to Writing: Charmaine Gordon

Hello Fellow Writers!
I still haven't heard back from my editor at Ellora's Cave about Hollywood Spank, but I sent her an email asking if she wanted me to wait to submit Taste of Candy (a Quickie) until she finished Hollywood Spank, and she said, no, just send it on over... so I did. So now I'm wondering if I should submit Chastity Belt as well...

Anyhoo, I asked one of the published authors from my RWA chapter (Hudson Valley RWA) to talk to us about how she got into writing. Charmaine Gordon has three books in print with Vanilla Heart Publishing. Here's what she said:

Charmaine: After a bunch of years as an actor on daytime drama, commercials, movies including Working Girl singing Happy Birthday to Melanie Griffith, I reached Off Broadway in a wonderful play, The Fourth Commandment. Toward the end of the run, I had an idea for a story. Kissing the sweet time good bye, I began a new career as a writer. Good fortune smiled upon me when Vanilla Heart Publishing offered contracts for “TO BE CONTINUED” and “STARTING OVER” two romance/ survive & thrive books and my most recent book, “NOW WHAT?” a paranormal romance/suspense.

Shoshanna: What's your writing schedule like? What do you *wish* it was like?

Charmaine: Writing schedule is morning, noon, night in bits and pieces due to writus interuptus. Wish it were uninterrupted-peace and quiet the way it should be. I did write one book in one week recuperating from rotator cuff surgery. A good story.

Shoshanna: Ahh, writus interuptus. Sounds like my writing schedule. Where do you want your writing career to be in five years, and how to you plan to get there?

Charmaine: I plan to be alive writing better each year with movie credit. I won’t write the screenplay. Will get there by... good stories written from the heart, no holds barred.

Here's an excerpt from Charmaine Gordon's latest book, Now What?:
It was 2:30 a.m. when the phone rang. I fumbled for it, my heart starting a race toward bad news. Our doctor’s voice urged me to hurry. I crammed into clothes as if I expected this call.
It is only a fever that won’t go down, isn’t it?
Our doctor shook his head. “. . .Carly, I’m so sorry."
He lay on the hospital bed where I’d kissed him goodbye not so many hours before. I’d said, “See you tomorrow.” My husband of thirty years replied with words I hadn’t heard in a long time. “I love you.” Not since the heart attack two years before when he began listening to his heart beat  and forgot about me. Maybe we both sensed the crossroads ahead, the impending doom.
Settling in beside my Bob, I held his cooling hand and asked the two words spoken many times during our years together. “Now what?” This time there was no response.  I was on my own for the first time.
When my fingers touched his wedding ring, I slipped it off and held it in my fist. The gold band was warm. “Come back to me, dearest.”

The first contact Bob made was with our dogs at the edge of the woods bordering our property. My heart soared. I knew he’d return for me. I’d made a quilt from Bob’s shirts and draped it around my shoulders. Bob’s Old Spice clung to the fabric. A shimmer beckoned to me and I ran to the aura of silvery white, purple, yellow as I was enfolded, caressed and loved to fulfillment and then it ended. I knew he’d return. The dogs scampered to my side and guided me home. What this meant, I didn’t have a clue. Bob’s true purpose would be revealed as I struggled through the hurdles of making a new life.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Why Janet Walters loves E-Pubs

Hello Fellow Writers!

Want a chance to win a *free* copy of my new Ellora's Cave release, Punishing the Art Thief? Come today, 9/20/10, to author Darah Lace's blog and leave a comment on my interview!

Today I'm pleased to welcome Janet Lane Walters to The Writer's Challenge. She is an Eppie Winning author, with more than 20 books to her credit in both print and electronic format.

Hi Janet! So, are you a plotter or a pantser?
I had to think about this for a long time because I think I'm both. Yes, I do develop my characters and my plot before I begin and I have a general idea of what kind of scenes will be needed the each story. When I sit down to write, I sort of block out the scene but in an outline order to get the main points down. Then I free-write the rough draft. Actually I'm a re-writer and work from very short to long. There's a draft for getting the story down and then I begin to beat it into shape. I do a plot draft to make sure things are flowing to the end. Often I tear out a scene and totally re-write it taking a slightly different path. There is a setting draft to put all the settings to make sure I've used enough description to put people in the place. Then there's the character draft where I make sure motivation, actions and reactions are in place. Finally I go over the manuscript for word usage, trying to get rid of the passive sentences and the boring bits. Then I finish the book with a spell and grammar check as well as a ruler read. So which am I panster or plotter, I think I get the best of both worlds.

Almost a complete panster on the rough draft which is generally about a third of the finished book and plotter on the rest.

How do you feel about literary agents?

My feeling on literary agents is iffy. If you want to go to New York, they can get you in the door and they can perhaps get you a better deal. Since I've been there and done that and don't intend to leave electronic publishing for me a literary agent would be useless. In the past I have had three agents. Two of them did little to nothing to advance my career. I won't discuss the details. That's between them and me. The third who was my first created a writer's block, my own doing. Part of the problem was that I can't write on demand and I often can't write the same kind of story over and over again. Perhaps if I had been content to stick with contemporary romance or, mysteries or, suspense or, historicals or fantasy an agent would have been a plus. With electronic publishing an agent won't get you in the door any quicker that a good query letter and a short snappy synopsis, often no more than a paragraph of two. An agent won't get you better terms in electronic publishing either.  Having an agent depends on your long term goals.  At my age, my goals are from day to day.

You publish mainly with e-pubs, can you explain the advantages and disadvantages of going with an e-publisher?

In the past I've been published in New York with 5 romance novels and 3 non-fiction ghost written books. In 1998 my first ebook was published and I haven't looked back. I like the freedom writing for epublishers gives me. I don't have to stick to one genre or have a half dozen pen names. Epublishing was on the edge of technology when I began and I kind of like the idea of being out there. With the rise in major publishers going electronic with their releases suddenly epublishing has become legit. Years ago when I began you wouldn't believe the names I was called for taking that road. I'm not sure there are that many advantages, except the idea that acceptances and reads are much quicker in the electronic publishing groups. I'm not in this for the money. I enjoy the sales I make and the royalties I recieve. I also like that with many publishers the books on your back list are available for years.

The only disadvantage I can see is the money but publishing is in flux at the present time. Who knows what will happen. Another disadvantage is piracy but there are people not only pirating electronic books but pulling apart print books and scanning them in and offering them for free to people who think stealing is fun.  Also when my first electronic book was published I joined EPIC which is the Electronically Published group where I've met many new friends and very supportive people. I've learned so much about electronic publishing and promotion from this group.

Thanks so much for answering my questions! Here's some info on Janet's latest release, Mistress of the Moons. I just bought this book and it's a very imaginative story!

Mistress of the Moons by Janet Lane Walters

The Three sworn to the Mistress of the Moons are dying. They must call three women out of time and space …

Ashiera…The Seer to Come,
Dian… The Warrior to Come,
and moon-touched Egeria…The Healer to Come.

As they make their way to The Place of Choosing in the Shanara Mountains, they face many challenges, many dangers, and in the chaos, each discovers the heroic strengths they hold inside…

Even as the women reach The Place of Choosing they face yet another test... They reject the teachings of their counterparts after realizing that only by acting with their male partners can they defeat the priests of the Lord of Shadows.

Will they survive the final confrontation?

Mistress of the Moons by Janet Lane Walters

The Warrior of Bast by Janet Lane Walters

Tira has always been fascinated by ancient Egypt, but circumstances and finances have kept her from becoming an archeologist. Her dream of seeing her older sister drug free is shattered by Luci’s murder by a drug dealer. Tira must run to be safe from the killer.  A crumpled flyer offers an escape…The answer is in your stars.

Tira flees her pursuers and reaches a brownstone where two elderly women cast her horoscope. She is offered refuge but must undertake a dangerous quest. She will be unable to speak of her world, or anything alien to the culture she enters and… she will remain there forever.

Kashe is the unloved middle son of the nomarch of Mero.  He reminds his father of the Nubian slave ancestor the nomarch wishes to forget.  Though Kashe wants to become a warrior of Horu, his father has other plans.  A desire for power drives the nomarch.  To see his eldest son, Pian, as pharaoh, the nomarch plots with the priests of Aken Re.

Since the rebellion twenty years ago the Two Lands has been without a ruler.  By making Kashe the leader of the priests' army the nomarch will have his desire satisfied.  The arrival of a sacred hawk with an amulet naming Kashe as chosen by Horu thwarts the devious plans.  The hawk also delivers a scroll speaking of three who will come from afar and that Kashe must aid one of these, whom he soon discovers is Tira.
The pair sets out on the quest for the symbols; the flail, the crook and the double crown.  Tira learns this Egypt has many differences from the Egypt she has studied.  They must face nearly insurmountable challenges as they pursue their sacred quest.

Friday, September 17, 2010

My First Release Day *Ever*

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday my erotic romance Punishing the Art Thief was released by Ellora's Cave. I went on a couple of blogs to do interviews (see here at Natalie Dae's blog and here at Lily Harlem's site). Hubby and I went out to dinner last night to celebrate :)

When I first started writing this blog, it was because as an aspiring writer I found myself constantly searching online for good information for writers. How to format my manuscript, how to get a literary agent, how to write a synopsis, how to write a query, etc. And I wanted all that information to be put in one place: my blog. And along the way, I've been telling you folks all the steps I've been taking on my path to becoming a published author. Now the sorts of posts I'm blogging have changed a bit, partly because I've covered all the basics in previous posts before but also partly because my own interests have changed. Now I'm interested in hearing what other more experienced authors have to say, and I have an even stronger interest in finding myself a literary agent (I think).

So last night at dinner, the fact that I actually accomplished my life-long ambition of getting published just sort of made me woozy with excitement. (I probably ate enough calories to even out the fast I'm doing for Yom Kippur, lol).

My beta reader got back to me with her notes on my novella Chastity Belt, so I'll probably take a look at those today. And I really need to get a proper outline going for Protecting Emily. Or maybe I'll just "pants" the whole thing, like Stephen King does?

Wish me luck, and good luck to you too! Please, if you read my book, drop me a line and let me know what you think. I promise to write back :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tracey H. Kitts: "Pirates Cut Into My Earnings"

Hello Fellow Writers!

Can you believe it's already September 14th? That means my book Punishing the Art Thief will be out in just TWO days. I'm so excited but I'm also a bit freaked out. My dream of being published is about to become true. Then I think - "Oh no, what if my parents read what I wrote? Sunday dinner will never be the same again!" Then I think - "Well, I'm married and we have a baby, so surely they don't think I'm a virgin still, right? RIGHT?" As you can see I'm a little weirded out.... lol

I was chatting with another Ellora's Cave author (who just happens to be multi-published) Tracey H. Kitts, and she agreed to answer some questions for us! Of course the whole literary agent thing is on my mind, so I started off asking her about that.

Shoshanna: Do you have a literary agent? If yes, how did that come about? If no, do you think you need one? 

Tracey: I don't have an agent. But someday, it would be nice:) I don't think that everyone needs an agent just starting out, but eventually once you make it big (and we all plan to, right?) then you'll probably need one. As the literary world goes more an more digital, I find myself pushing back when I'll look for an agent. At first I thought it was really important. Then, I learned to put together proposals and got several contracts on my own. Plus, pirates keep cutting into earnings. So, am I glad right now to not have to pay someone else a cut of my hard earned royalties? Yes. It's one of those tricky things that I'm not always sure about. Right now, I think I'm doing alright by myself.

Shoshanna: I've heard a lot about pirates stealing e-books. That sucks that they eat into your royalties. Any tips on promoting your book once it's out?

Tracey: I think that like a lot of authors, I'm still trying to figure out the best type of promo. I've done a little bit of everything. One of my editors told me that the very best promotion is to follow it up with another good book. I agree with her:)

Shoshanna:  Ooh, me too :)

Tracey: Thanks so much for having me:) "Grab life by the fangs" www.traceyhkitts.com

Shoshanna:  Thanks for being here! And can I just say I am *drooling* over the cover of Sex Symbol!

Okay, it's Shoshanna again. So, fellow writers, I've been having such a ball interviewing other authors for their professional tips and advice. I think it's really helpful to hear things straight from the people who know!

Today will be a busy day for me, because I got back the critique from one of my beta readers of The Wooden Pony, the 5000 word short story I just wrote, and I need to revise and submit it soon for that anthology. I know it's a long shot since they are only accepting 20 stories but it was fun to write anyway!

Have a good week, guys, and if you have any questions of your own for Tracey (or me of course) please put them in the comments and I'll pass them along to her!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Find a Good Critique Partner (Tips from Author Lily Harlem!)

Hello Fellow Writers!

I just read one of Ellora's Cave's free reads (what they call "Naughty Nooners") and my first thought was wow - that's a really good, hot story. And free? Sign me up! Now I want to read all the Naughty Nooners!

So anyway, after I read Stockholm Seduction, I emailed the author Lily Harlem and told her how awesome it was, and asked her a couple questions - such as how did you go from aspiring writer to published author? She had a lot of great info to share and she said I could share it with you folks: 

Lily Harlem:  "I first got published through a competition win. Spring 2009 I entered the Love Honey Vulgari Award for Erotic Fiction. I'd entered other writing comps before but nothing erotic - in fact I hadn't even tried to write anything saucy. I dreamed up a tale about the first female president of the US having a secret and passionate affair with the British PM!! It was a wild ride in the Oval Office and a Love Honey sex toy had to be incorporated into the story. I blushed the whole time I was writing it and then hit send never expecting to hear back. You can imagine my surprise when they called and told me I'd won first place in the long story section. Yippee!

"It was financially rewarding but more than that it gave me a massive boost of confidence as I realized I'd finally found my genre. And phew, what a genre! I got writing, writing and writing. I checked out the Erotic Reader and Writer Association on line, they have lists of calls for submissions. I sent off loads of short stories and got plenty of rejections, ranging from 'we like your voice but this is not what we're looking for at the moment' to just 'your writing skills are not strong enough for us'. But I kept on writing and gradually the acceptance emails started to come through - very exciting and worth the disappointment of getting the rejections.

"The best bit of advice I would give my pre-published self is to stick to short stories. I wasted literally hundreds of hours on a few full length novels that were just rubbish. It's so much easier to play around with shorter ones and get them just right without addling your brain. Also find a good crit. partner. Someone who is already into the genre and can pick out glaring mistakes, for example if you're writing about a wild orgy, you don't want someone so shocked by the content that they won't notice if your characters are doing things that are physically impossible!"

Good point there, Lily! I completely rely on my beta readers to save me from embarrassing mistakes... once I changed the Hero's name halfway through. Um, oops. Thanks beta reader, lol!

Here’s the blurb for her fast paced, kinky kidnap…

I was having a fabulous extended gap year in Oz. Sun, sea, sand and seriously hot surfers rolling in on every wave. Mmm, what could possibly be better?
But then I was taken…taken against my will. Stolen like a prized object. I was tied up, held for ransom. I didn’t know if I would survive, if I would walk away alive. And then, to top it all off, I was tortured in the sweetest, most delicious, most sensual way imaginable.
That was when I realized my fun down under had only just begun.

If you want to read Lily's free book Stockholm Seduction, click here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

"Stick With It!": Author Darah Lace

Hello Fellow Writers!
So recently I wrote a 5K word erotic story to try and submit to an anthology. They only need 20 entries though, so the chances that mine will be among them is slim, I admit. Still, it was fun to write! I sent it off to one of my beta-readers for critique, and I also took on one novella and one story from two of my beta-readers to read for them, so I will be a busy bee for a while.

Today I asked one of my fellow Ellora's Cave authors, Darah Lace, to chat. She wrote Saddle Broke for EC, and Unmasking Zorro and Bachelor Auction for The Wild Rose Press.

Shoshanna: When did you first get published, and did you get rejections before that?

Darah: Rejections? OMG, yes. I have a file cabinet full of rejection letters from editors and agents. I think that goes with the business we're in. My first novella, Wrong Number, Right Man, was published in 2006 at The Wild Rose Press, but I sort of dropped off the face of the earth for a while. I didn't try again until 2009 and in 2010 I sold to EC (Saddle Broke) and TWRP (Unmasking Zorro and Bachelor Auction). It's been a great year so far.

Shoshanna: If you could go back in time and tell your pre-published self something that you know now about writing, what would it be?

Darah: I'd tell myself, "Self, stop short changing yourself. Don't stop trying. Stick with it!" After a particularly disheartening rejection I lost my self-confidence and it took me way too long to get it back.

Shoshanna: I did the same thing years ago, I got a form rejection and just completely stopped submitting stuff! Fortunately I kept writing, even though I was just sticking my manuscripts in a a drawer, lol.

Without further ado (has anyone ever said "we need more ado?"), here's the blurb for Bachelor Auction:
Marcus Preston wants a relationship built on love and trust, but the woman he wants made it clear long ago she's only interested in fun and games. Yet, moving on proves difficult when no one else can erase the memory of the night they shared last summer.
Charlotte Reese doesn't believe in love, marriage, or happily ever afters. An occasional one-night stand is all she needs to take the edge off her loneliness and enhance the bad-girl image she uses to discourage commitment-seeking men—especially Marcus, the only man to melt both her body and her heart melt.
When Charlotte wins Marcus hot off the block of Houston’s Most Eligible Bachelor Auction and they’re forced to spend the weekend together, she seizes the opportunity to seduce him and extinguish the attraction sizzling between them once and for all. But for Marcus, it’s all or nothing. He won’t be seduced. Instead, he’ll show Charlotte she has more to offer a man than sex.
This week is a holiday week (Have a sweet New Year, L'Shana Tova!) so who knows how much I'll get accomplished. I'll probably get all my reading done if possible. And I still need to outline Protecting Emily. Or maybe I'll just go to temple and not get a thing done...Today I'll write my advice column for The Mahopac News early so I don't have to worry about it tomorrow. Wish me luck, and good luck to you to!

And thanks Darah Lace for joining us! Oh, and by the way, I adore her tagline: The Seduction of Lace.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

45 Books Published and Counting: Author Natalie Dae

 Hello Fellow Writers!
As many of you know, now that I'm published with Ellora's Cave (will I *ever* tire of saying that? Nope! lol) I am part of several author groups on Yahoo, and I have the wonderful opportunity to chat with other authors and learn from their years of experience.
Then I thought - hey, let's share! So, I asked author Natalie Dae a couple of questions.
Shoshanna: When did you first get published, and did you get rejections before that?
Natalie: I was first published back in 2006 with one of my other pen names. That book was my first submission, so I got lucky. I’ve been rejected about 6 times now, and since then, in my various names, I have had 45 books published and feature in a few anthologies. I have seven books yet to be published, all in the editing stages, and I’m in the process of writing three more. It’s all go!

Shoshanna: If you could go back in time and tell your pre-published self something that you know now about writing, what would it be?
Natalie: That I can push myself harder and produce better work. I’ve always been a self-doubter, so finding out that there is more inside me that I’ve yet to tap into has been great. We never stop learning, and our voices change over the years, but the experience along the way is so refreshing, I would tell my former self—and myself as I am now!—to stop worrying and just enjoy writing.
Here are the blurbs from two of Natalie's books - click the titles for more info and to read excerpts!

Carrie Marsh anxiously awaits her online lover of two years, pacing the station in her stylish red coat with nothing but luxurious black lingerie underneath and stilettos on her feet. Will Rob Edwards really be on the train from Scotland? Will the attraction still exist in person? Can she even stave off the first anticipation-induced orgasm before he arrives? Excitement spirals through her, for Carrie has planned a night to remember.

Rob is shy, and Carrie intends to show him how to unleash his sexy side during a series of sexual encounters. But once he arrives, she can’t wait until they get to the hotel, let alone a bed. No. They hardly make it to the first tree, where anyone could spot their antics.

One unforgettable evening of passion leads two virtual lovers to a lifetime as each other’s soul keeper.

Cursed at birth, Dion is a demon who has searched for his beloved for centuries. Upon meeting Morgan, he knows she’s the one he’s been waiting for, the one woman he can love forever, the one woman capable of helping him break the curse. However, Jistin, the curse-giver, has other ideas…

Morgan longs for a relationship and release from her solitary life aboard her yacht, The Magenta Starling. She longs for Dion—who’s not all that he appears. When he reveals his feelings for her, Morgan allows Dion to take her to his world, the realm of Thradmos. Her love for him growing even as she struggles to accept his reality, Morgan realizes she would do anything for him—including give up her life in the real world.

At a party held in celebration of Dion’s impending freedom, Morgan is snatched away by Jistin. In a final battle, Dion will fight not only for his freedom, but also that of his beloved, lest he be cursed for all eternity…and lose Morgan in the process.

Thanks, Natalie, for sharing, and come back to The Writer's Challenge to visit anytime! 

 I also want to point out that Natalie's book Soul Keeper is a "Quickie", which is what my book Ginger Snap will be. And now you've gotten a preview of what *my* book cover for Ginger Snap will look like, because I actually chose the same Quickie cover that she did, lol!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Can You Write Two Books at the Same Time?

Hello Fellow Writers!

Love that comic by Dave Coverly. It tells how I'm feeling at this moment! Um, figuratively, that is.

My self-imposed internet restriction has gone smashingly well. I don't even need all the time I allotted myself. The trick has really been to avoid constantly checking my email inbox. Three times a day and I'm good! There's no way people can say that I don't get back quickly if I go online thrice daily, right?

Last night I finished writing an erotic novella tentatively titled "Chastity Belt". One of the main characters, Casey, gets involved in a menage with the couple in Chastity Belt. But Casey deserves her own HEA, so I'm thinking about presenting Chastity Belt as Book One in The Gentlemen's Club series, (the GC is the name of the exclusive BDSM-flavored club the book is set in) - and Book Two would star Casey as the heroine. Whaddya think?

Of course that means now I *really* want to get started on Casey's story. But I've also got this epic book roaming through my head that I think really needs to get out and get on paper...um, keyboard. In my head, this book is tentatively titled "Protecting Emily". And it's a *big* book. Longer than anything I've ever written. So I probably need to get some sort of outline going.

Part of me thinks - hey, outline Protecting Emily while you write Casey's as-of-yet untitled story! But I just don't think I can write two books at the same time. Can you?