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

Monday, March 28, 2011

Wanna be on The Writer's Challenge?

Hello Fellow Writers!

Today I'm interviewed on Tonya Kinzer's blog. One commenter on Tonya's blog will be picked to be interviewed here on The Writer's Challenge.

If you're a reader, I want to find out how you add books to your To Be Read list, what makes you love (or hate) a book, and why you might decide not to buy a book. I have tons of questions but I'll save them for our interview!

And if you're an author, I'll do an author interview as well!

Please stop by and say hi! A winner will be drawn on Saturday.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Balancing Life & Writing

Hellow Fellow Writers!

Today I'm on newly contracted and soon to be published author Heather Thurmeier's blog. She interviewed mw about how I balance life, family, work, and writing!


Stop by, say hi!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Writing a Nonfiction Book Proposal…and What to Do Next!

Hello Fellow Writers!
I'm thrilled to have Marianne Stephens guest-blog to tell us how she got her non-fiction book published. As you know it's a very different process than getting fiction published.


With the first nonfiction book I wrote, I didn’t check what protocols were acceptable. I wrote the entire book and then decided to try and get it published. I queried agents and publishers…and found many wanted a book proposal even though I’d completed the book.

Book proposals sounded ominous and my head spun with the many versions considered “approved methods”. But the timing for my book, a ghostwritten autobiography about a speaker from a women’s shelter, was off. O.J. Simpson had made the news, and suddenly everyone had an “abuse” story to tell…mostly celebrities. No one was interested in an average woman’s struggle when faced with selling millions of celebrity “abuse” books.

That book was published by Online Originals as in ebook in 1999. Unfortunately, the timing was off there, too. Ebooks and readers weren’t as widespread as now. And, the company changed hands many times. When the original owner finally got it back, there were no records of my sales. I learned an important lesson about timing in the publishing world!

My recently released nonfiction book, “Guilty Survivor – Memoirs of Tamerla Kendall”, had a different journey to publication. This time, I researched how to do a book proposal…and still came up with many versions

The first difference I noted: I did not need to write the entire book before sending out proposals. I compiled the basic elements of a book proposal that most sources suggested:

  • Overview of book
  • Marketing Plan
  • Promotion of the Book
  • Competing Books
  • About the Author
  • Table of Contents
  • Book Synopsis
  • Chapter-by-Chapter Synopses (Chapters Four – Eleven)
  • Sample: Thirty Pages (Chapters One – Three)

Overview: A general description of the book. I mentioned the contents of the book, the fact that it would be written in first person, and photos were available to be inserted in the story. I should have mentioned in this section that a professor in Austria, Dr. Florian Bieber, allowed me to use some of the historical background text from his book on the Bosnian War. He wrote Bosnian War reports for the United Nations and then his own book about the war.

Marketing Plan: Mothers, women, those interested in history or war stories would be the target audience.

Promotion: I talked about my past promotional endeavors, how both the subject of my book and I would be ready to do interviews, my website, blog, and other Internet outlets where I could do promotion.

Competing Books: This is tricky and time consuming. I researched books similar to war survival stories or book specifically about the Bosnian War on Amazon. I checked their ranking numbers and quoted these in this section. A brief description of each book was also given. I listed 6 books.

About the Author: I gave my biography, what I’d written, what articles I’d had posted, and previous speaking engagements.

Table of Contents: Here’s my list for “Guilty Survivor”.
  • Acknowledgements
  • Dedication
  • Foreword
  • Profile of Characters
  • Chapter One: Surviving War
  • Chapter Two: Before the War: My Early Years Through College
  • Chapter Three: After College to the Beginning of the Bosnian War
  • Chapter Four: During the War, Part One
  • Chapter Five: During the War, Part Two
  • Chapter Six: During the War, Part Three
  • Chapter Seven: Dangerous Trips Out of Sarajevo and Back
  • Chapter Eight: After the War, Part One
  • Chapter Nine: After the War, Part Two and New Husband
  • Chapter Ten: Time to Leave
  • Chapter Eleven: Life in the United States

Synopsis: A detailed synopsis of the book.

Chapter-by-Chapter Synopses for Chapters Four – Eleven: A one-page synopsis for chapters four through eleven.

Sample: Thirty Pages – (Chapters One – Three): First thirty pages – short chapters.

After preparing this 61-page proposal, I queried agents and some publishers while I completed the book. Since my projected word count was under 30,000, I received only one request for more material. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t make the book longer. The heart of the book centered on my subject’s War years…a three-year period in her life.

I finally submitted to online publishers, and accepted a contract offer. Although Secret Cravings Publishing publishes mostly romances books, they have a Living and Learning imprint for nonfiction. My book is published as an ebook now, and print copies will be offered later.

Doing publicity and getting reviews has been difficult. I’m a member of the romance community, and the outcome of doing promo to these readers has been less than what I’d like to see in sales. I’m finding that some romance review sites/blogs also do nonfiction, and have started doing promo where I can.

Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are also sources for doing promo. I’ve sent a press/news release to my local area papers, TV and radio stations, since both the subject of my book and I live in the Kansas City area. And, I’ve offered to speak at a Women’s group…while I look for more speaking engagements.

If you plan to write a nonfiction book proposal, I hope my experience helps in your endeavor!

Here's the Blurb for  “Guilty Survivor – Memoirs of Tamerla Kendall” by Marianne Stephens, which released on 1/26/11 under the “Living and Learning” imprint of Secret Cravings Publishing. It's also available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and ARe (Omnilit).

She looks like any woman you see rooting for her son at a sporting event or shopping for groceries. Yet, Tamerla Kendall's past includes masquerading as a United Nations soldier and riding in a tank in order to cross Bosnian War (1992-1995) checkpoints to visit family...and facing interrogation by the police because someone betrayed her trust.

Another dangerous trip had her switching cars and drivers to get through checkpoints, done to get her daughter to the safety of family outside the war zone in Sarajevo...only to return and find her home torched and family restaurant robbed. Her daughter, brainwashed by her father, believed she'd been abandoned by her mother, causing years of heartbreaking separation and non-communication.

With either trip, she risked getting caught, arrested, or shot. And, with each trip, came the critical decision to return to Sarajevo to save the family restaurant business. Each day presented the challenge of finding supplies on the Black Market or by bartering with the military to keep her restaurant operating.

"Guilty Survivor - Memoirs of Tamerla Kendall" by Marianne Stephens, presents the memoirs of Bosnian Croat, Tamerla Kendall...now a US citizen. Grenade bombings of her restaurant, cleaning blood off the streets and buildings after random attacks, and witnessing people dead and dying, convinced her she'd be able to shoot the gun she'd bought for protection. When a gun was pointed at her head and her family threatened after the war because she'd married an American, Tamerla made the crucial decision to move to the United States.
About the Author:
Marianne Stephens writes nonfiction and mainstream contemporary/paranormal romance books. Check her website, http://www.mariannestephens.net,  for more information. She's a member of: Mid America Romance Authors, Romance Writers of America, Published Authors Network, Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal, Long Island Romance Writers, Dunes & Dreams Romance Writers, Published Authors Special Interest Chapter. Also check: http://www.aprilash.net for erotic romance books. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

What I do When I'm Not Writing

Hello Fellow Writers!

The Hollywood Spank Blog Tour continues...
Author Juniper Bell interviewed me on her blog & asked all about my day jobs as an advice columnist & RN!


I'd love it if you could stop by & comment! :)

Friday, March 18, 2011

A Writer on Head-hopping

Hello Fellow Writers!

Recently I was on CoffeeTime Romance and a writer named Tonya Kinzer commented on my post. Since then we've emailed back and forth a bit and followed each other on Twitter :) She'll be interviewing me on her blog here on March 28th, and she was kind enough to write a guest post for me on the craft of writing.

Head Hopping Loses Readers
by Tonya Kinzer

Have you ever wondered why some books are a faster read than others? Or perhaps why some books are a bit more confusing and harder to read and follow than other books? Think back on the last book you put down and never finished. Open it up and reread a few paragraphs again and see if the following isn't true.

If the author is in a different character's head in every other paragraph or maybe every two paragraphs, the reader has to keep going up to reread those lines to figure out who's doing what or who's thinking what. Don't do this to your readers. Your book will end up sliding down the wall when they throw it!

Try to stay in one characters head at least through a scene if not through that entire chapter. What do I mean by staying in one character's head? Let's take a peek....if you're in Tom's head and he's watching a woman entire a bar and loves the sway of her hips that is making his blood heat, your reader is getting his thoughts on how he feels and what he sees. So when their eyes finally do meet, you can NOT write that she loves his blue eyes because you're NOT IN HER HEAD! TOM can see her eye color but you can't write anything at this point of HER thoughts or what she sees.

Now remember back on a book that read so fast you hated that you finished it so quick. That is because the author didn't bounce you from one head to the other and constantly make you go back and reread lines. The writing is smooth and one thought easily leads to another because they all belong to the same character. Most likely the entire chapter read that way and the next chapter may have been in another character's POV. Point of View is all about head hopping...or NOT head hopping to be exact.

I hope this has helped you understand POV a bit better. Go back and edit some of your work and if you have to do a few rewrites, so be it...Your work will be a better, smoother read for your audience! The same goes with dialogue tags...don't use them unless you have to, then keep them belonging to the character whose head you're in. Instead of dialogue tags, try this:

"Care to buy me a drink?" Her eyes held a promise of a longer night.(seen by Tom)

You know right away that Tom didn't say this and it was done without adding 'she said'. Are there a few dialogue tags you might be able to remove as you edit? I hope this has also helped you a bit. Good luck and I hope to see you around the net!

Tonya Kinzer

To check out Tonya's writing, you can find her self-published erotica here:
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/tonyakinzer
Barnes & Noble: http://tinyurl.com/6cgprjf

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I used to be an Actress...

Hello Fellow Writers!

Today I'm at Gem Sivad's blog, talking about how I used to be an actress. Meow! (that's me letting the cat out of the bag)
Stop by, say hi! :)


Monday, March 14, 2011

Sunday, March 13, 2011

First Drafts are NOT Salable!

Today I'm at Naughty Author Chicks, blogging about why first drafts Are NOT salable!

Come by, say hi! http://naughtyauthorchicks.blogspot.com/2011/03/special-guestshoshanna-evers.html
 That's about how old I was when I first started writing. ;)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

OMG it's here! Hollywood Spank!

is a BDSM erotic romance 
available now from Ellora's Cave!

Click here for more info or to buy Hollywood Spank.

It's finally here, release day for one of my very favorite books. Please email me if you read it and let me know what you think - I promise to email back!


When the studio heads for Mark Cannon’s new action movie discover that their leading man likes to spank his personal assistants, they insist Mark hire a professional submissive who won’t run to the tabloids with his kinky secret.

Andrea Landley may be a wonderful assistant, but she lied through her teeth about being a BDSM pro to get the job—and now her real career as an undercover tabloid reporter has gotten very interesting.

Andrea is willing to do whatever it takes to get the dirt for her scathing exposé—even if it means learning how to take a spanking from a movie star. She doesn’t realize until it’s too late that Mark Cannon has a lot more in store for her than just a simple stinging bottom.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Count Down to Hollywood Spank!

is a BDSM erotic romance releasing Wednesday March 9th from Ellora's Cave!

Click here for more info or to buy Hollywood Spank.


When the studio heads for Mark Cannon’s new action movie discover that their leading man likes to spank his personal assistants, they insist Mark hire a professional submissive who won’t run to the tabloids with his kinky secret.

Andrea Landley may be a wonderful assistant, but she lied through her teeth about being a BDSM pro to get the job—and now her real career as an undercover tabloid reporter has gotten very interesting.

Andrea is willing to do whatever it takes to get the dirt for her scathing exposé—even if it means learning how to take a spanking from a movie star. She doesn’t realize until it’s too late that Mark Cannon has a lot more in store for her than just a simple spanking.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Story Seeds: Author Lily Harlem on Writing

Hello Fellow Writers!
Today we have quite a treat. Multi-published erotic romance author Lily Harlem, winner of the 2009 Love Honey Award for Erotic Fiction, is guest blogging today about her writing process.

Read on to learn:
1. How to start a story
2. How to hook your reader
3. How to pick your characters, location, and plot

Lily Harlem:

Where to start writing a book?

It’s a tricky question which I’m sure doesn’t have one correct answer whatever the word count you have in mind. I’m equally sure every author has different methods for coming up with plot, characters and the location of their story. Today I’ve been pondering on my own methods for writing erotic romances and I’d love to hear other people’s comments, strategies and opinions on what works best for them, what they enjoy reading and of course what they enjoy writing.

The first line is a good place to start. It has to be done, it’s pretty essential. One option is to throw the reader immediately into the story – The sleek, black car pulled alongside the lone girl, with the windows tinted and the stark glow of the headlamps it resembled a panther hunting its prey – or the first line could be a statement - Loneliness is gaping hole just waiting to be filled but like a key in a lock only the right person will fit. Another option is to dive straight in with dialogue – “You cow,” Sarah screamed down the stairs. ”How could you sleep with him when you know what he did to me?”

Opening line for me is one of the first things I dream up for a new novel, but not the absolute first. More often than not I begin with a stand-alone scene popping in and out of my head. Stephanie Meyer famously visualised Bella and her hot vampire Edward lying in the meadow then worked the story around this scene. The meadow was midway through Twilight and I really related to her method as it’s something I do a lot. (Unfortunately I haven’t got the multi-million dollar film deals to go with the ideas! Hey-hoo!)

For example in my Mattress Music series I kept thinking of a group of seriously sexy rock stars, talented hands, gritty lyrics and all yearning to fall in love with women who liked them for them and not just their fame and fortune. I enjoyed playing with ideas in my head, initially wondering how a scenario could come about where a girl was out with a multimillionaire rock-star but hadn’t recognised him. Another idea for a scene was the boy and girl next door, young lovers, who’d gone separate ways but then come back together with new histories and identities, him of course as a global superstar.

So to the actual characters—the girls in this trilogy were easy-ish to dream up. In Mattress Music Nina is in a pickle, living in a new apartment and trying to muffle the sound of her weekend hook-ups from her new flatmates – I’ll say no more! Jenny in Mirror Music is a well-respected doctor who loved lead singer Robbie Harding long before his face adorned posters and cd covers. Sylvia in Ménage à Music popped up in Mirror Music and just called to me to find happiness, she was so dreary and down in dumps. Let’s just say she does find happiness! Big time!

Ahh, the men, brooding and gorgeous, the stuff of fantasies. I let my imagination run wild here. Rock stars – tattoo’s, piercings, muscles from beating the drums, callouses from plucking guitar strings. I was in heaven dreaming these guys up. Phew!

Hand in hand with the characters and plot goes the location of the story. I picked London for all of the Mattress Music books. They say ‘write what you know’ and I lived in London for many years, the sights, the smells, the sounds and the way the inhabitants adjust to the seasons is indelibly printed on my mind. I adore this city, like actually, really LOVE it! Often I set stories in the USA where I have travelled a lot, this works well for me, though I couldn’t imagine setting a story in for example Russia where I have never been. Some people manage this very well, but its not for me.

So that’s how the seeds of my stories germinate pretty much every time, a few key scenes and the characters. Then the ideas grow and the little stalks rise above the surface of the mud which takes up back to the ‘first line’ point. For Mattress Music I chose the first line - Elton was killing me. – Short but sweet and to the point. Mirror Music starts with a lyric being blasted out at Wembley Stadium - Jenny, Oh Jenny, I’m still here, still waiting, still aching – sending the reader straight into the loud, hectic moment. In Ménage à Music I start with a statement - Six months was long enough to nurse a broken heart. – this then leads on to more details about the protagonist’s situation and in turn sets up the story.

It’s important to get the hook in early on, the nearer to the first line the better. My creative writing teacher always said you should never go more than 150 words without hooking the reader into the story.

When all of this - locale, characters, etc. - is in place then comes the good bit - thinking up the sex scenes. I love the first time a ‘crazy for one another couple’ gets it together after that volcanic build-up of sexual tension. It’s such a release, so explosive and it’s all so new, every sense is overwhelmed and because I often write in first person the reader is really there, really experiencing what it’s like to be having wild, delicious sex with a hot, hard - in this case – rock star – Phew!

Every story must have an outcome which is realistic and a way for the characters to move on in their world. Happy ever after is good, so is happy for now, and it goes without saying that all loose threads in the plot must be sewn up, otherwise you will leave your readers scratching their heads.

So that’s how I nurture my story seeds into books. A lot of time letting them burst to life in my imagination and then adding a pinch of real life experience, a dose of inspiration and a location which is a feast for the senses. It’s a very personal journey for an author, sometimes it floods you in weeks, other times it lurks around for years.

I would love to hear from anyone who shares my idiosyncrasies when it comes to writing, (or don’t as the case maybe) thoughts, comments and ideas are always very welcome! I’ll be hanging around to chat although probably in a different time zone!

Lily Harlem x