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Monday, January 14, 2019

Enter Writing Contests - Yes or No? by Marianne Stephens 

Do contests help you as a writer? Are they frustrating? Is it necessary to enter contests to succeed?

I've entered my share of contests in the past, and have found most to be slightly helpful. Some were wonderful and gave some insight into my writing, both good and bad. But most have left me shaking my head and wondering why I wasted my time and money to enter.

Comments from contests should be well-written and logical. By what I receive, I shouldn't have to wonder whether or not the judge has been writing 2 days or 20 years. Guidance for judging should be given and understood. I expect some type of professionalism...and so should you.

I sent in a paranormal romance entry. One judge wrote she couldn't suspend disbelief. Huh? Why would you judge a paranormal if you can't "open" your mind to the unexplained? How could I find anything she said helpful...and there wasn't much she a low score was given.

Have I made changes after receiving credible comments? Absolutely. Would I enter contests again? No. I no longer enter contests.
Does winning a contest mean you'll get published? I know people who have won and are still waiting to publish. We have to remember that whoever is judging is giving their OWN opinion, and not necessarily that of a seasoned editor or agent...unless you get to that final round where editors and agents do a "final" judgment of entries.

As a judge, I cringe when I get something that has spelling/grammar errors, lots of POV changes, too much/little character/scene description. I once read an entry and by the time I'd read 30 pages, I still hadn't met the hero. Very little had been said about the heroine and there was a travelogue given describing Alaska.

I remember reading another entry where there were 8-10 people in a scene...and few dialogue tags. I had no idea who was talking with every comment made.

Do YOU enter contests? What do you think about them?

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Rebooting the Book

One thing that happens to authors sometimes is that their books, for one reason or another, drop out of publication. What do you do with a book that's already been published? Unless you're a household name, odds are, no major publisher is going to lift a pinkie finger to snatch it up, no matter how awesome it is.

The options left are limited:

  1. Stuff it back in your shelf and forget about it: Once upon a time this was really the only option authors had. 
  2. Self-publishing: Though the vanity press has existed for centuries, this has become so much more a thing during the digital age. It does, however, make the author responsible for every single aspect of the book--artwork, formatting, editing, and promotion, in addition to the actual writing. This gives you lots of control, and all the profits, if there are any, go straight back to you. But each aspect of the book can cost you hundreds, leaving the idea of profits slim, unless you're very good at the promotion angle.
  3. Small Press: There are a bunch of publishers out there, primarily e-first companies that are perfectly willing to look at previously published novels, novellas, or short stories. You have to be careful though. Not all of them are honest and some of them couldn't care less if your book sells or not.
I'm at a position with my career where I have a lot of out-of-print material to handle, due largely to the dissolution of my largest pubisher. I've been really slow at getting the 30 or so works they had of mine back out, but I've taken a multi-prong tactic, basically including all 3 of the options above.

Why different options for different works? Here's a few things for anyone with that kind of backlist to think about:
  • Cost and cost/profit analysis: These are not the same. Cost is straight up, do I have the money right now to pay a good cover artist? An editor, if the original wasn't that great (I'm lucky that way--most of my editors have been good.)? Promotion?  Cost/profit is figuring out if the book is going to eventually make back what you paid out. Both are important.
  • Branding: Does the book still fit the brand you've established or are hoping to build? If not, the back of your hard drive might be where it belongs. At least one of my stories will not be going back up for sale, because it's just not where I want my readers to go.
  • Series: Do you intend to write more, or is it being returned to you as a complete series? One reason I chose a publisher for my newest re-release is that I want to add more books to the series, and want an editor and cover artist, which I simply don't have the cash to pay out of pocket. It's a publisher I trust, run by people with both good romance pedigrees and good business sense. Yes, they take a chunk of the profit, so I am paying for all those things out of my sales. But their distribution department will help make sure my book reaches a wider audience than just my current readers.
  • Updating, or putting it out as-is. I have a series of books which involve a lot of tech. Now that tech is 10 years out of date. So do I self-pub? The updates might actually change the plot. Would a publisher help me with that? I haven't actually made that decision yet.
At this point, I want to give a shout out to my newest publisher,. This coming week (Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019) one of my favorite novels is coming back out into the world. You'll be able to find it in e-book and print at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Google Play. I'll come back in and post the links as soon as they're up! Hopefully a sequel will be scheduled later this year! It's so good to get back on the horse--or dragon--or dolphin again! Happy 2019, everyone!

Supernova distributes to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo and Google Play.

Dead! Well, not quite. Yet.
Heidi’s day started out well enough, studying dolphins with best friend and research partner, but things took a turn when they got caught in the middle of a drug exchange. Her friend is missing, probably dead, and Heidi was shot at and left to die, too.

Girl meets…guy?
Then the hottest boat bum she’s ever seen rescues her. Tall, dark and handsome, Jake is every girl’s dream. Still, the last thing on her mind is romance. The drug dealers figured out pretty quick she wasn’t dead. Now, they want to finish the job, and her mysterious, drop-dead gorgeous rescuer might not be able to save her—or himself.

Jake’s got a fishy secret of his own—complete with fins. He’s exiled from his colony and cursed to shapeshift with the moon. As a merman, Jake can’t afford to be around humans, especially a marine biologist who might discover his species. But he can’t throw Heidi to the men after her. He’ll fight drug lords, pirates and even the gods to protect her. Piece of cake, right? It’s easier than the other problem, the biggest problem of all: the massive attraction growing between Jake and Heidi, an attraction neither can deny.

A centuries-old merman and an air-breathing, very human scientist might fall in love,  but where would they live? And can that love even survive?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

January 13 Is Here. Hold Onto Your Britches!

Posted by R. Ann Siracusa

Imagine this scenario.

It’s the middle of January in New York. As you trudge toward the entrance to the subway, the snow is high enough to sneak over the tops of your boots and dampen your thick wool socks. Icy winter winds whip between the tall buildings and right through your down jacket until you feel as if your bones are frozen. Your cheeks burn under the heavy scarf across your face. Your teeth are loose from chattering and you’re afraid when you take off your beanie, your ears will fall off.

After a miserable wait, you finally get on the train, find a seat and try to warm up a little. But the doors slide open at the next stop, letting frigid air assault you while a group of people enter the car. Typical commuters wearing winter coats, gloves, hats, and -- your eyes nearly pop out of your head – only their skivvies above heavy shoes and high boots.

What!? Well, after all … this is New York City.New York City- Photo source:


You’ve never heard of this?

You must have lived a protected life, or lived in a small town, because “No Pants Subway Ride Day”, which was started by Charlie Todd [Improv Everywhere] in New York in 2002, is now in its nineteenth year and is celebrated as annual event more than sixty countries all around the world. In the UK the event is called “No Trousers On The Tube Day”, since the word pants in the UK means underwear.

Improv Everywhere is a comedic performance-art group that stages unexpected performances and pranks in public places. These performances are intended to surprise and delight random strangers through positive pranks, and to make people laugh. IE’s slogan is “We Cause Scenes.” The group preceded both YouTube and the FlashMob trend and its only agenda is to make people laugh and have fun.
Berlin, Germany Hannibal Hanschke/ Reuters - Photo source

There were only seven participants in 2002, but four years later [2006], 150 people in New York participated and during that event, eight were handcuffed for disorderly conduct, but the charges were later dismissed. By 2013, over 3,000 New Yorkers and 60 countries around the world participated in the event. Improv Everywhere's videos had been viewed over 455 million times on YouTube, and the organization has over 1.9 million YouTube subscribers.

Prague, Hungary - David W Cerny/Reuters - 
Here's how the event works:

● The purpose of the event is to surprise people, make them curious, and make them smile or laugh.

The premise is simple: 1) Dress in everyday clothing from the waist up, just don't wear pants; 2) Ride the set route; 3) Keep a straight face and behave naturally; 4) Don’t let on that you know the other people who are pantsless, except two or three you maybe be traveling with; 4) Be tasteful and hygienic – no thongs; 5) Carry a valid ticket, and 6) Oblige if any “person of authority” (police, Metro employees or others) asks you to put your pants back on.
         Jerusalem, Israel 
Each city participating has a coordinator.
Participants have to sign up but there is no cost to participate.
The date, hours, rules, and route to be followed are posted on the Improv Everywhere Face Book page.
Some cities have meetings of participants beforehand.
The event is not held during rush hours on work days. 
Sydney, Australia-Photo source:
The team leader divides them into smaller groups, assigning their group a specific stop where they will remove their trousers. As soon as the doors shut at the stop, they should stand up and take their pants off and put them in a backpack, briefcase, or whatever.
If anyone asked asks them why they'd removed their pants they should tell them that they were "getting uncomfortable."
Participants should exit the train at their assigned stop and stand on the platform, pants-less, waiting for the next train to arrive so they enter the next train in the same car as they exited the last train.

The ride ends near a place where participants can warm up, dress, and have a drink.

Prague, Hungary - Photo source:
Bangalore,India  Getty Images
 Photo source:

Most the participants are young and most of the females can get away with a lot of leg … but not all. And the men, not so much.
In January 2016, the event happened for the first time in Moscow, Russia. The participants were investigated by the police under the offense of the "instigating of mass public disorder", however the accusations would not stand ground, since the organizers' goal was to make people laugh.
Based on the photos below, some people didn’t get the e-mail about choosing their clothing and acting in good taste.

Travel to Foreign Lands for Romance and Intrigue


New York - Carlo Allegri/Reuters
Photo Source:




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