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Archive for the 'Writing Tip' Category

Writer Tip: Brenna Lyons

“The editor is there to do two things: to make the book as polished and professional as she can and to help you and the publisher avoid infringement suits. There are no brownie points for refusing reasonable edits. My first editor [Suzanne James] taught me: “An editor is not dismembering your baby; she’s polishing your gem.” To that, I added: “Sometimes you have to cut off the rough edges before the soft cloth comes out.” While you may not agree on precisely what changes need made to smooth the work, you should work with the editor to come to a compromise and not dismiss the concerns outright. Chances are, if the editor sees a problem, the readers will as well. Remember, what you see in your mind’s eye is often filling in the blanks between the typed lines, because you know the subject so well. For a reader to see the same thing, it has to all be on the page.”

Brenna Lyons, author of the EPIC’s e-Book Award-winning TIME CURRENTS

Writer Tip: Cheryl Brooks

“I don’t know if my tip is unique or not, but when I’m writing, I keep what I call a tracking sheet on each book. Whenever I start a new chapter, I add in the chapter number and the page it begins on. This enables me to know just how long each of my chapters is and when I should start thinking about ending them. I keep that and a synopsis and a style sheet with character names and a few brief characteristics in separate files on my computer and update them as I go along. The style sheet helps me keep character names and spellings, (which are always hard to remember since I invent most of them) within easy access of my increasingly Swiss cheese brain so I don’t have to go back and scan what I’ve already written looking for the name or description.”

Visit Cheryl Brooks’ Website
Purchase a book from Cheryl Brooks’ The Cat Star Chronicles

Writer Tip: Shelley Munro

Read. You’ll probably hear this from every published writer you meet. You’ll probably hear it at every conference you attend too. It really is important to know how the romance genre works and the classic hooks that are popular with readers. Analyze each book you read. Treat them like textbooks and learn from every book. Discover what works for you as a reader, learn how other writers deal with dialogue, narrative and love scenes. As you read, you’ll absorb quite a bit of craft and you’ll probably find that you do things instinctively after a while.

A bonus tip: Take the time to exercise. Not only does it keep your mind alert and give you down time to plot and work through problems, it helps keep the dreaded bottom spread at bay. What? You thought bottom spread was an urban legend put out by published authors to scare you off? No, unfortunately. It’s quite true. If you spend all your time writing and don’t exercise you will end up with a large backside. Heed my warning and exercise! :grin:

Visit Shelley Munro’s website
Purchase Shelley’s latest release, The Bottom Line

Writer Tip: Maria Zannini

Go to the source: Want to know how it feels to sit in a Mercedes Benz, or the smell of a horse, or the sound of a forest?

Go to the source.

Window shop at a high end car dealer, visit a horse veterinarian or enlist the help of horsey friends. The woods are not silent. Spend a night–or at least several hours hiking.

Nothing beats the real thing in order to describe it well. While some of us can’t go up in space, we can simulate the experience by spending a few minutes in a cramped metal shed or the cockpit of an airplane. Writing about the past? Turn off all the lights in your house and fetch water out of a rain barrel.

Now submerse yourself in the experience. As you transport yourself, you’ll transport your readers.

Visit Maria Zannini’s blog.
Purchase Touch Of Fire • Samhain Publishing

Writer Tip: Christina Phillips

Don’t be afraid to experiment with your writing.

So what does that even mean?

For five years I targeted Harlequin Mills and Boon because that was the house I wanted to be published with. I did eventually progress from form rejections to personal ones and then onto revisions but something just wasn’t clicking. However, HM&B was where my heart lay and I was determined to succeed!

But eventually, disheartened, I decided to try writing single title. And then paranormal romance (which I had always loved). At the insistence of my CPs I finally pushed right out of my comfort zone and tackled erotic romance – something I had always insisted I would never do because it was far too difficult!

Suddenly, it was as if a great halogen lamp exploded overhead! My voice fit the dark, erotic tone as if this was where I had always meant to be. As another experiment to stretch my writing muscles further, I then wrote my very first erotic historical romance – and it was that book that landed me an agent and two book deal.

So this is my tip: Sometimes it really does pay to try another sub-genre you love – even one that you might not have considered attempting before. It could make all the difference between “thanks but no thanks” and “We love it! Please sign on the dotted line!”

Visit Christina Phillips Website
Purchase Christina’s upcoming release, FORBIDDEN ~ Berkley Heat, Sep 2010

Writer Tip: J.A. Saare

“I have a feeling my writing tip is one that’s been shared, but just in case it hasn’t, I wanted to remind everyone that writing comes in all forms. It can be a stanza of poetry, a blog update, a letter, a book review, a diary entry, or actually sitting down to write a short story, novella, or full-length tale.

Every day I write in one of these forms. If I’m not in the mood to get into the headspace of a character, I’ll focus on my blog. Or if I need to be creative, I’ll think about a book I’ve read recently and compose a review for Goodreads, Amazon, or (did I mention) my blog. The key is to stay creative and keep the mind sharp. Ideas are born of the most mundane things. Perhaps inspiration will strike as you’re thinking of something else — much like those wonderful brainstorms that occur during the shower or while you’re folding laundry. The mundane has one bright side — it forces the mind to relax, think, and daydream.”

Happy Writing!
Jaime AKA J.A. Saare

Visit J.A. Saare’s website
Purchase J.A. Saare’s latest release, Dead, Undead or Somewhere in Between

Writer Tip: Tawny Weber

“Goals and Goal Timelines

Writing goals are fabulous tools. They get us to put the words on the page, they motivate us to submit our manuscripts, they push us over hurdles when we’d rather give up. You’ve sent goals, right? Finish the first draft – or better yet, finish the first draft by XYZ date. Maybe even goals like pitching or submitting to a certain number of editors and agents before the end of the year.

But what about those ultimate goals we’re all striving for- the goal to sell a book? How can we set that goal when the decision is in the hands of someone (or someones, in the case of books bought by an editorial committee) else? Can we put a deadline on something like that?

Yes and no.

We can create a goal timeline. If the ultimate goal is to sell a book, make a list of everything that has to be done first. Write the book, polish it (maybe get critique partners or enter it in contests for feedback). Submit, resubmit, revise, use feedback and revise again. Realistically look at your time – do you work full-time? Have kids who take up time? Are you a fast or slow writer? Where are you at in terms of knowledge of your craft?

So taking into account where you’re at, what you have to learn, and where you want to go – how long, realistically, would it take for you to complete all the steps on the timeline? This is what you can control. This is the part to focus on. This is what your goal should be – to do all the things on your timeline. Then, after you’ve submitted the book, to do them all over with another book while you’re waiting to hear.”

Tawny Weber is usually found dreaming up stories in her California home, surrounded by dogs, cats and kids. When she’s not writing hot, spicy stories for Harlequin Blaze, she’s shopping for the perfect pair of boots or drooling over Johnny Depp pictures (when her husband isn’t looking, of course). In September 2010, her tenth Blaze, RIDING THE WAVES hits the bookshelves. Come by and visit her on the web at

Writer Tip: Helen Hardt

“Seize the moment with sensory detail! Have you ever read a story that just didn’t grab you, even if the plot was compelling and the conflict abundant? The prose probably lacked sensory detail. Sensory detail is what infuses writing with emotion and helps the reader get inside your character’s skin. It is especially important in romance writing, where the success of the story depends not only on the reader’s allegiance to the hero and heroine, but also to the building emotion and sexual tension between them. Help the reader see, hear, taste, smell, and feel everything the character does. While writing a scene, ask yourself what your heroine sees. Are there any smells? Tastes? How does she feel on the inside, both physically and emotionally? How do her surroundings affect her? Your scenes will come alive, and your reader will turn the pages rapidly, and then feel a sense of sadness when the story ends and look frantically for your next book!”

Visit Helen Hardt’s website
Purchase Loving Eve, one of Helen’s recent releases.

Writer Tip: Lorie O’Clare

“Something I started doing a couple years ago has really helped me a lot. I keep a notebook next to my keyboard. Every morning when I start my day, I write the date down. Then whatever I do gets written in my notebook. If I go through all email, spend an hour catching up on blogs, or focus on some research to help me build a plot or characters, it gets written down in my notebook. Then of course, when I start writing for the day, I write down the page number and word count at the beginning of the day, then write it again at the end of the day when I’m through writing.

I always make sure my notebook is something pretty. I like spending a few extra pennies to buy a notebook with an attractive cover. For some reason it’s always more fun writing in a classy notebook than in a plain, normal every day notebook.

I’m on my third notebook and I must say, after sticking to this little routine daily I’ve become much more efficient with my writing. When you clock yourself every day so that you’re able to see when you had good writing days and bad writing days, it helps you stick to it and not let your word count for that day dwindle down too low. It’s that competative nature in us. Keeping this notebook has also helped me with my absent-minded memory. I can tell how long it takes to finish certain types of promotional tools. I can see how much time I spend on the Internet, chatting with people, and going through emails in the morning before I start writing. It’s nice to know a schedule, know it’s tried and true, and know there is always room to grow and improve.”

Visit Lorie O’Clare’s website at
Purchase one of Lorie’s recent or upcoming releases – Strong, Sleek and Sinful or The Bodyguard

Writer Tip: Maggie Robinson

“Be patient and don’t ever give up. I started writing “for fun” in 2003 and did not know anything. And believe me when I say anything. It took me three years of knocking around before I got a clue (well, a couple of clues) and met like-minded writers online. Thanks to some positive contest feedback, in 2007 I got really serious about publication—finishing, revising, querying. I landed my agent in 2008, got contracts for 8 (!!!) books in 2009, and will have 3 books out this year—the first out almost seven years to the day I woke up in the middle of the night itching to write.

Seven years is a long time and I’m not exactly a dewy-eyed debutante. My author photo is wonderfully photo-shopped. :) But I didn’t give up—and I became a better writer with every book, even the ones stashed under the bed. I learned what works—after experimenting with a number of genres, shape-shifting cats are really not for me.But I found my historical voice and hope it strikes a chord with readers over the next couple of years.

I’m debuting soon under two names. On April 27, the first of Maggie Robinson’s Courtesan Court series Mistress By Mistake, comes out from Kensington Brava. On June 1, Margaret Rowe’s edgier erotic Tempting Eden will be on the shelves from Berkley Heat. On November 30, I’ll be part of the Brava anthology Lords of Passion, also featuring romance legend Virginia Henley and Kate Pearce. Even though I’m a “real writer” now, I can’t express in words how excited I am by this turn of events.

Come visit both of me at and There are always contests and giveaways on one or the other site! And write, write, write, every day if you can. But if you can’t, don’t beat yourself up—life happens.”