Saturday, March 26, 2011

Five Scribes Interviewee Kaki Warner, a Double-RITA Finalist

On March 25, 2011, Romance Writers of America announced the best of the best romance authors in the industry. Among them was Five Scribes' contributor, Kaki Warner. To read her interview with us, check out http://fivescribes.blogspot.com/2011/01/chasing-sun-with-kaki-warner.html

Congratulations, Kaki. We're thrilled for you, and we'll be cheering you on in July in New York at the RWA's National Conference.


2011 RITA FINALIST FOR BEST FIRST BOOK

Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner (Berkley Sensation; Wendy McCurdy, editor)


2011 RITA Finalist for Best Historical Romance

Open Country by Kaki Warner (Berkley Sensation; Wendy McCurdy, editor)


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Romancing the Script Screenwriting Contest...Deadline Approaching

The deadline for entering is fast approaching. 
Don't miss out on this great opportunity.





Any questions?  Please send me an email.  Lesann@juno.com

Best of luck,
~LA

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Series Business: Three Types of Writing Series

I love reading books in a series, don’t you? No matter what your favorite genre, you can find a series that grabs you by the imagination and refuses to let go, story after story. The best series are like Calgon…they take you away from your world and give you a free pass to live vicariously through the characters.

As an author, I enjoy writing series as well. When my muse produces a fun character who takes me on an exciting rollercoaster ride, I hate to write ‘The End’ when their story is finished. I want to spend more time exploring their world, watching them get themselves in and out of trouble, and help them on their quests to find true love, save the world, or fight the devil. They become good friends who make me laugh and cry, and sometimes, they even show up in my dreams.

I’ve turned my love of reading and writing series into teaching others how to write them too. I thought I’d share some info today about series you might not know.

There are three basic types of series: serials, sequels and spinoffs.

Serials: The same main character is featured in each book, but each book can stand alone. Most mystery/suspense and action/adventure series fall into this category. While you learn more about the character as the series progresses, the stories themselves are mostly episodic. A few examples:


Stephanie Plum (Janet Evanovich)

Tempe Brennan (Kathy Reichs)

Kay Scarpetta (Patricia Cornwall)

Spencer (Robert B. Parker)

Eve Dallas (Nora Roberts)

Sookie Stackhouse (Charlaine Harris)

Harry Bosch (Michael Connolly)

Spenser, Jesse Stone & Sunny Randall (Robert B. Parker)


Sequels: Sequels have a finite number of books where the plot is introduced in the first book and concludes with the last. Many fantasy and science fiction series fall into this category. While the individual books can be read as standalones, readers get more out of the story if they begin with the first book and follow the series in order. A few examples:


Harry Potter (J.K. Rowling)

Lord of the Rings (Tolkein)

Mortal Instruments (Cassandra Claire)

Twilight (Stephanie Meyer)

Witches Anonymous (Me, Misty Evans)


Spinoffs: Spinoffs take a minor character, setting or plotline from the original standalone and develop it. In many cases, the series characters are a specific team engaged in a heroic profession. Spinoffs, or ensemble series, work well for romance writers who need a fresh couple for each book’s romance. A few examples:


Troubleshooters (Suzanne Brockman)

Black Ops (Cindy Gerard)

Bullet Catchers (Roxanne St. Claire)

Black Dagger Brotherhood (J.R. Ward)

Lords of the Underworld (Gena Showalter)

Dream Hunter Novels (Sherrilyn Kenyon)

Rosatto and Associates (Lisa Scottoline)

Super Agent Series (Me, Misty Evans)

Scoundrals Series (Carrie Lofty)


One of my favorite resources to find series and sequels is the Los Angeles Public Library’s Index for Series and Sequels: http://www.lapl.org/resources/indexes/sequels.html . Type in an author and get a list of books in their series, including the main characters and special notes about location or other important facts. Also, try the interactive search through this library: http://ww2.kdl.org/libcat/WhatsNextNEW.asp

For Historical Fiction series, check out: http://1mpages.com/HistoricalFiction.html

A great list of Inspirational Series: http://www.sos.mo.gov/wolfner/bibliographies/inspirationalfictioninseries.asp

Small, but concise Western Series:

http://www.sos.mo.gov/wolfner/bibliographies/westernfictionseries.asp

Sequels and Prequels to Classic Literature: http://sachem.suffolk.lib.ny.us/advisor/sequels.htm

SciFi Series classics are listed here (though the site is hard to read): http://home.austarnet.com.au/petersykes/topscifi/features_series.html

Even Fictionwise has a series list, although it’s not inclusive to all the series on their site: http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/serieslist.htm

Series allow readers (and writers) to get to know fabulous characters and explore their world in detail. Often when a series ends, we feel disappointed and a little lost. The great thing is, there are more great series out there, in every genre, and written by many of our favorite authors under pseudonyms. All we have to do is find them. Check out these lists, then head to your local library, independent bookstore, or online bookstore to find a new series. Happy reading!


Misty Evans writes the best-selling Super Agent Series and paranormal Witches Anonymous series. She likes her coffee black, her conspiracy stories juicy, and her wicked characters dressed in couture. To learn more about Misty and her books, or to sign up for her newsletter, visit www.readMistyEvans.com. And don’t miss her upcoming two-week online workshop, Plotting the Romance Series April 4th – 17th at http://redriverromancewriters.com/workshops.php .

Monday, March 14, 2011

Interview with Marisa Corvisiero, L. Perkins Agency

Marisa Corvisiero is an attorney as well as an agent with the L. Perkins Agency. She is actively building her client list and focusing on science fiction, fantasy, horror and romance, as well young adult and children's literature. In non-fiction, she is interested in seeing proposals for memoirs, how-to (in any industry), guides and tales about the legal practice, parenting, self-help, and mainstream science.

Come meet Marisa in person at the June 17-19th, 2011 Crested Butte Writers Conference.


  1. Which categories do you currently acquire? Which category has a special/constant place in your heart?
    Answer: I am currently acquiring Romance and Cross Genre Romance; Thrillers, Adventures, and Mysteries; Science Fiction, Fantasy and Paranormal; Young Adult and Middle Grade in any of those genres; and Picture Books for Children. In non fiction I like environmental and popular science books; How To, Self Improvement, Parenting and Baby Books, and Spiritual.

  1. What length synopsis do you prefer to see with a partial? Single spaced or double?

Answer: Two to Three double spaced pages.

  1. In terms of submissions, what are you sick to death of and what would you like to see more of?

Answer: I’m tired of the feisty female protagonist, and glamorized oversexed vampires. I’d like to see more far out plots and character growth. If you’re going to give me vampires, please let them be unique. Sexy is good, but do they all have to be hypnotically beautiful? It gets old…

  1. What are the most compelling elements you feel are necessary for a good
    read? What particularly grabs your attention?

    Answer: I like situations that are not ordinary. Mix that with a quirky or flawed or unaware character and you have a good mix. The key is to make me want to know what happens, but don’t make it so weird that it looks like you’re trying to just shock the reader.

  1. For you, which elements in a fiction submission are terminal problems garnering automatic rejections and which are tempting and fixable meriting a look at a revision if a talented author is willing to accept your advice?
    1. Voice – must have an interesting voice. I don’t like whining or shallow characters unless there is a reason for it.
    2. Weak Grammar- Fixable
    3. Common plot- If it’s been done before, make sure you give me a reason to read it.
    4. Poor character development- Can be enhanced, but make sure they are compelling enough to make me/reader connect.
    5. Story is too controversial (ie rape, politics, religion—what else?) Not a problem, just make it work. Controversy sells, but don’t just shock me without a reason.
    6. Mediocre / uninspired writing- It depends on many things. May suggest rewrite.
    7. Excessive use of violence or cursing- It depends on plot and characters. There should be a reason and it should fit the plot or scene.
    8. Lacking genre –specific requirements like, suspense/sexual tension/ world-building- As long as author has a good idea of what is going on this can be fixed.
    9. Pacing is off—plot is too slow- Fixable, but if you loose me too quickly I may not get far enough to make helpful suggestions.
    10. Story starts in wrong spot- May be a turn off and I’ll stop reading.
    11. Ending is unsatisfactory- Not good. I’ll make you rewrite it. I like neat packages even if its sad. Something about it must give me satisfaction and make me feel like I didn’t waste my time.
    12. Other

  1. Does meeting an author face-to-face at a conference make a difference in your response time, the submission process, or the rejection process (ie. Form letter vs a few sentences of advice)?

Answer: Yes, it makes a lot of difference. The majority of my clients are authors that I met at conferences. My response time is often quicker too. I always try to give some constructive feedback. If I don’t, it means that the story just really didn’t grab me or the writing is not ready.

  1. Besides the writing, the story and the talent, what are the most important elements you look for in an author, ie. contest wins, cooperativeness, affiliations to writers organizations, knowledge of publishing industry, promotability, etc?

Answer: I look at the whole package. Often the writing speaks for itself, but it helps in many ways when an author is marketable and easy to work with.

  1. Do you have any pet peeves?

Answer: I don’t like to waste time and I don’t like to be rushed. I appreciate it very much when people understand how hard I work and how busy I am.

  1. What are you addicted to?

Answer: New romances when the characters or one of them dislikes or misunderstands the other; time travel; and serendipity.

  1. What have you always wanted to do?

Answer: Space and/or time travel; Sing in public…but I’m too shy ;)

  1. Do you have a favorite quote?

Answer: “If there is no other life out there, then there’s an awful lot of wasted space” Carl Sagan- Contact.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Print Me A Stradivarius....WHAT?

From "The Economist" magazine, one of my favs.

And yup, it's a bit off topic, but oh-so-cool...and when you think about it, we've been talking about digital publishing...ebooks etc, so maybe it's not so far off after all. The world is a'changing.




You've got to check this out: http://www.economist.com/node/18114327 story_id=18114327&CFID=164096295&CFTOKEN=27427329 While it's not the entire article, it's enough to blow you away.

http://www.economist.com/node/18114327/

Article and photograph courtesy of The Economist Magazine. http://www.economist.com/

I hope you enjoy,
~LA

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Author Angi Morgan's Journey to Weight Loss

A few months ago when Award-winning Angi Morgan shared her call story, she failed to mention she'd accomplished something even more monumental. Angi took back her life. Today she's here to tell us how she did it. Please welcome Angi Morgan to the Five Scribes.

Thanks to the ladies at Five Scribes for having me back to chat again. I appreciate the opportunity, especially with a subject that I’ve become passionate about over the past 11 months: Getting Healthy. When Donnell asked me in December to chat about my weight loss journey over the past year, I thought sure, great, why not? It had been easy and why not share with everyone some of the things I’ve learned. Well, since the time I said yes and today, I’ve discovered a ton of things about myself. So I apologize for the lengthy post, but couldn’t cut anything. Before I begin I want to throw out a caution that you hear over and over: before starting any weight loss or exercise program, consult your physician, consult others on the program, get recommendations, keep good records, and most importantly ask yourself one question… What makes this time any different than before?


Obviously, weight loss is a very personal subject and you may want to know how (or why) I believe it goes hand-in-hand with writing. The things I’ve “learned” this past year actually are things I’ve “known” but hadn’t seriously applied. I’m putting these habits into play in all the facets of my life with all of my dreams. But a little about my journey first.


On March 16th of 2010 I emailed a proposal to my agent. I had time to breathe, had time check my Facebook status, and had just finished watching THE BIGGEST LOSER. I’m a fan. I admit that for several seasons I sat on the couch eating my nightly ice cream, not getting “it.” Then I felt like I’d been hit over the head: I was 3 pounds heavier than two women’s starting weights. I WAS BIG ENOUGH TO BE ON THE BIGGEST LOSER.


So chatting on FB with my cousin (an RN), I asked how her weight loss program had gone. She’d been successful and asked if I was interested in her program: Take Shape For Life using Medifast products. I said yes, but she asked a very important question: What makes this time any different than before?


She didn’t want me to start and fail. And until you know that answer…you know the answer, you really aren’t willing to change what’s failed. So what was different for me? I knew. I didn’t have to think about it, the list just poured out of me…all I needed was for someone to ask the question. For me:


I was 5’ 2” and weighed 233 pounds. I was big enough to be on the Biggest Loser. And no one knew it. I hid it well with lose t-shirts and sweats. I was attending a conference and bought a size 22.


My doctor had referred me to a cardiologist, my cholesterol & triglycerides were at dangerous levels, they couldn’t stabilize by blood pressure (normally around 140/110), I am allergic to statins (used to fight cholesterol) and I was on five asthma meds.


But two startling revelations: My 20 year old daughter had no memory of me healthy. Not to mention slender…just healthy. And since she was pre-med, not planning on having children for a while, and I was about to turn 50, I just might not be around to see them in 15 years.


WOW. Things had to change.


I began TSFL on March 24th. It was easy for me because it wasn’t about the weight loss. It was getting my life back. A life I’d lost because I was over-weight and very unhealthy. Starting weight: 233 pounds. I set periodic event goals which I met. Be in the 180s by my daughter’s party, be in the 160s by national conference, be in the 140’s by my birthday (barely made that one). On October 8th I weighed in at 149, I was a size 8 on my 50th birthday. I’d lost 84 pounds in a little over 6 months. I’d written a book, had my first book signings, knee surgery … life was good. Everyone was happy. And the unconscious sabotage began. “You look great.” “You don’t need to lose anymore.” “You’re taking this too far.” “One bite won’t hurt.” “Don’t deprive yourself.”


Then I stalled. No, not the weight loss. My writing. And when the writing became more difficult…I cheated on my diet for the first time. My editor wanted a proposal. I’ve had trouble writing it. I lost 5 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then disaster. They asked for the proposal again. I still didn’t have it. The week after Christmas I weighed 137 pounds. I was 4 pounds away from my goal weight. So, so, very close and so, so, very far.


I’ve gained and lost the same 5 pounds for the past three months.


The difference in Take Shape for Life and other weight loss programs: MY HEALTH COACH. TSFL is a program that walks you through not only losing the weight but keeping it off. Learning WHY you gained weight, but also learning about yourself and understanding what you truly want in life. Yeah, yeah, yeah…we ALL KNOW this. But I’d made a couple of mistakes after my birthday.


First: I let people sabotage me. They didn’t mean to, but their comments sunk in and let me detour…so I slowed down my weight loss. Second: I never learned to take time for me. Whoa…2010 was ALL about me. Right? Wrong. I strictly adhered to the TSFL program. I sold book 2 and wrote it in 6 weeks. Had knee surgery. Won the Golden Heart. My first book went on sale. I was totally all about me. Yeah, that’s what I thought, too. But honestly…nope. I never took half an hour and did anything for myself.


EVEN THOUGH writing was my life-long dream. EVEN THOUGH I was working at the job I’ve always wanted. It is still a job. The weight loss was to get healthy, to be there for everyone else. I never knew I was stressed to the utmost limit—I thought I thrived on stress. Get real folks…no one THRIVES on stress. Stress kills.



In January, we (my husband who has lost 37 pounds by eating right and exercise) began working out together. We have a goal: to be fit to travel and mountain bike. He was cyclist when he was younger and riding a bike is one of the few things I can do with my very cartilage-deprived knees. So we’re working out together most days and we feel great. I try to take (still feels selfish) half an hour to just play with my dog, read, enjoy something—look at old pictures, organize shelves or pictures or my office (yes, I know that seems like work, but it’s low on my priority list so it’s actually fun). Something just for me.


So there’s the weight loss journey. Oh, here’s where I get to mention that I’m comfortably in a size 6 JRS (can fit in a size four). I’ve lost 78 inches and a total of 96 pounds (you don’t get to count the yo-yoing). I’ve lost count of the number of people who have used Tim & I as inspiration to get healthy. Which has been a blessing, helping others.


How does all this apply to writing? Well, stalled both in the weight loss and writing because I hadn’t set an end-goal. Everything I’ve learned about weight loss, I knew from writing. It clicked and made sense because I’d learned it through writing. Set a goal, practice, get a support system in place, keep at it, don’t give up, keep track, celebrate the wins, find out what you did incorrectly, correct the problems, and keep going. Don’t stop. And most importantly BELIEVE. Believe in yourself, in your capabilities, in your goals.


So was I referring to weight loss or writing? Or any dream you might have?


I messed up in October in both areas: writing and weight loss. I needed a new goal. A new goal of writing: my proposal; and in weight loss: reaching 100 pounds. The proposal is next week. The 4 last pounds is March 24th. A lot’s happened in the past year. Life’s moving faster and faster and I’m finally taking the time to live it.


So my question to you: If you want to _____ (insert your desire, dream, or need), what makes this time different than any other time? And in the words of a very wise Jedi: “Named must your fear be before banish it you can,” & “Do, or do not. There is no try.”


Angi Morgan writes Intrigues where honor and danger collide with love. She combines actual Texas settings with characters who are in realistic and dangerous situations. Her Golden Heart winning Hill Country Holdup is still available and an RT 2010 Best First Series Book nominee. Her second Harlequin Intrigue, .38 Caliber Cover-Up, is currently available. Check out her website www.angimorgan.com/www.AngiMorgan.com for rules and details on the 38 DAYS OF .38 CALIBER romantic suspense basket give-away on March 6th. You could be the winner of 3 DVDs, 12 books, and of course…chocolate. Cause even on the road to great health, everyone needs chocolate.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Interview with Michael Braff, Assistant Editor Del Rey Spectra

Bio: When he graduated with a BA in Comparative Religion and World History from McGill University in Montréal, Mike Braff did not have a clue as to what he should do for a living. An internship at a printer lead (in a round-about way) to a position in the editorial department of Del Rey Books (Random House Publishing Group) where he is currently acquiring science fiction, fantasy, graphic novels, urban fantasy, and thrillers. Mike loves genre fiction in any form, and his favorite books are the ones with a well-realized world, iconoclastic characters, and new twists on well-loved themes and ideas. He currently works with authors like China Miéville, Peter Watts, Richard K. Morgan, and on Del Rey’s successful game- and movie-tie-in novels.

Mike will be attending the June 17-19th 2011, Crested Butte Writers Conference.

  1. Which categories do you currently acquire? Which category has a special/constant place in your heart?

    Answer: I currently acquire fantasy, science-fiction, urban fantasy, thrillers, and graphic novels. My personal favorite genre to read and acquire is epic fantasy: the bigger, the better!

  1. What length synopsis do you prefer to see with a partial? Single spaced or double?

Answer: I prefer to see the synopsis at less than one page, double-spaced so I can make notes between each line. If an author can’t hook me quickly, their work is going to have a hard time hooking readers quickly.

  1. In terms of submissions, what are you sick to death of and what would you like to see more of?

Answer: I am sick to death of kitchen-sink urban fantasy. If I get another submission that features a werewolf/zombie/vampire assassin/thief/bodyguard, who is locked in battle with an evil demon/vampire/wizard in the city of Seattle/LA/Chicago/New York I swear I’m going to feed myself to a lycanthrope. I would love to see more epic fantasy and space operas; anything with broad world-building and a sense of history.

  1. What are the most compelling elements you feel are necessary for a good
    read? What particularly grabs your attention?


    Answer: I love to read stories set in a world that is bigger than the story at hand. When I feel that every miniscule detail in a story could spawn its own storyline, I am in love. Of course, strong characters and clever story arcs are extremely important as well.

  1. For you, which elements in a fiction submission are terminal problems garnering automatic rejections and which are tempting and fixable meriting a look at a revision if a talented author is willing to accept your advice?
    1. Voice
    2. Weak Grammar
    3. Common plot
    4. Poor character development
    5. Story is too controversial (ie rape, politics, religion—what else?)
    6. Mediocre / uninspired writing
    7. Excessive use of violence or cursing
    8. Lacking genre –specific requirements like, suspense/sexual tension/ world-building
    9. Pacing is off—plot is too slow
    10. Story starts in wrong spot
    11. Ending is unsatisfactory
    12. Other

Answer: Immediate rejections: A, D, F, and H. If a submission is missing these things, it is going to be nearly impossible for it to be taken seriously.

Fixable: B, E, I, J, and K. All of these things can be tweaked and improved upon, if the author is collaborative and open to suggestion, of course.

  1. Does meeting an author face-to-face at a conference make a difference in your response time, the submission process, or the rejection process (ie. Form letter vs a few sentences of advice)?

Answer: It would make a difference in the submission and rejection processes, since I am more inclined to have a close look and respond with suggestions and constructive criticism. As far as response time, I’m afraid that depends on just how busy work is at that point.

  1. Besides the writing, the story and the talent, what are the most important elements you look for in an author, ie. contest wins, cooperativeness, affiliations to writers organizations, knowledge of publishing industry, promotability, etc?

Answer: Knowledge of the publishing industry and online presence are becoming more and more important. The world of publishing is changing very rapidly, and we need authors that (apart from writing great books) are able to adapt to these changes and are willing to market themselves online.

  1. Do you have any pet peeves?

Answer: Authors who are unwilling to be edited. There is nothing worse than an uncollaborative author, one who thinks their work is already as good as it can be. There is ALWAYS room for improvement and tightening-up.

  1. What are you addicted to?

Answer: Nerd culture! I love fantastic storytelling in all its forms, from videogames and comic books to novels and movies. A good story is bigger than the medium that conveys it and, for me, the “geekiest” stories are the ones I like the most.

  1. What have you always wanted to do?

Answer: This is probably not surprising, but I would love to write a fantasy series. In fact, I’ve been working on one for almost six months now and I hope to be able to start shopping it around soon.

  1. Do you have a favorite quote?

Answer: “Part of the appeal of the fantastic is taking ridiculous ideas very seriously and pretending they are not absurd.” ~China Miéville