Friday, July 29, 2011

Entangled Publishing Ready to Launch

I'm busy editing a fabulous book due to release this fall, but I wanted to pop up here and let Five Scribes readers know about two giveaways going on during this next week. I mentioned in an earlier post that I've taken a job editing at Entangled Publishing. After lots of excitement, it's time for their launch. To celebrate, they're offering a few opportunities you as readers should know about.

Play a game of Jumble with some of Entangled's release titles and win a bundle of books. Find information at Books on Board.

Compete for a chance to win a Kobo during a Scavenger Hunt at Coffee Time Romance. This will take place on August 5th at 10am Eastern time.

As a writer, you might be interested in hearing about Entangled's releases and asking questions about writing for Entangled.

Coffee Time Romance is hosting a live chat on August 2nd at 9pm Eastern. Join Lisa Kessler, Aubrie Dionne, Sarah Gilman, Rachel Firasek,Natalie Damschoder, and Nina Croft to discuss their releases. You can also ask Lisa and Natalie how scary I am. Ha!

On August 5th, the gang will hang out at Bitten By Books to answer your burning questions, as well.

Of course, you can always ask questions here, too.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Camaraderie of Writers

Hello, everyone. Today our guest at Five Scribes is Marilyn Levinson, author of A MURDERER AMONG US, which currently holds the #1 spot of Wings ePress books sold at for Nook readers. Please welcome Marilyn Levinson.

About A Murderer Among Us...

The envelope contained half a dozen photographs. Lydia stifled a gasp as she stared at more than she’d ever hoped to see of Viv Maguire. A shawl had been draped over one shoulder, discretely hiding her bulging middle and considerable thighs, while displaying one drooping breast. The smile, no doubt meant to be enticing, had a gruesome intensity that sent shivers down Lydia’s back.

Lydia shoved the photos back into the envelope and returned it to its hiding place amid the napery in the drawer. Whatever doubts she’d had about the extent of Marshall’s involvement with Viv had been laid to rest. The question was, had their affair begun before Claire was murdered or after? If is was before... Lydia shuddered, hating to speculate further. But the thought pushed itself forward for consideration. If they’d been lovers before Claire was murdered, it stood to reason that they might have conspired to kill her.

For love? Money?


Fiction writing is a lonely profession. We writers come up with a plot, invent some characters, and set about creating a world that, if we’re lucky, will live on in the memories of our readers. To get through the process, we depend on the camaraderie of our fellow writers.

Many years ago, I took a writing course with Roberta Gellis. Roberta helped me through my first novel, a romantic suspense, which never saw the light of day. I went on to write novels for kids. Roberta and I spent a good deal of time together -- mostly doing ordinary activities like shopping and eating out. She continued to help me resolve plot problems, but eventually became more of my sounding board. I’d present the situation, she’d make a suggestion, and I’d come up with a completely different solution than the one she’d suggested. To this day, Roberta remains one of my dearest friends.

I sold my first children’s book, and joined a children’s writing group. The group’s meetings centered around the business-side of being a children’s book author. Roberta brought me along to the first meeting of the Long Island Romance Writers. I was awed by how organized romance writers seemed to be -- their conferences, their on-line courses on writing. Years later, while writing my second romantic suspense novel, I joined the group. Though I soon went on to write mysteries, I remained a member of LIRW because I continued to learn a good deal about writing and publishing through them and their speakers. I formed a critique group with fellow LIRWers and I continue to participate on their annual author-editor luncheon committee. At the luncheon this past June, I was touched by how many members came over to congratulate me on the sale of my first mystery.

I’ve no idea how many years ago I joined Sisters in Crime and the Guppies. Every new mystery writer should join the Guppies, The Great Unpubbed. A misnomer since many Guppies get published but rarely leave the group because of our great camaraderie. We buoy each other up through disappointments and rejections; we share information from such topics as agent hunting to forming critique groups. I’ve made wonderful Guppy friendships through the years.

Don’t ask me why, but I dreaded attending conferences. Finally, in 2010, the year my mystery, MURDER A LA CHRISTIE, was a finalist in the Malice Domestic contest, I ventured to go to Malice. What a smart decision that was! I got to meet so many of my fellow Sisters in Crime, and came away convinced it was time to start a Long Island chapter of Sisters in Crime. I asked my friend and fellow writer, Bernardine Fagan, to co-found the chapter. I’d never undertaken anything of the sort, but my participation in LIRW helped, along with assistance from Beth Wasson and Sandy Parshall, Teresa Inge and Meredith Cole. Hank Phillippi Ryan heard of our new chapter and offered to be our first speaker. Many LIRW members attended Hank’s talk.

When my first mystery novel debuted in June, I was struck by how much publishing had changed since my last children’s book came out. I was suddenly overwhelmed by all I had to do to get A MURDERER AMONG US into the hands of readers. I was responsible for PR and marketing, reviews and announcements, tweeting, guest blogging, and Facebook. The fate of A MURDERER AMONG US rested on my shoulders.

I asked for help on the listservs of the various writers’ group I belong to, and my mystery writer comrades responded. They ushered me along the path of post-publication every step of the way. Two fellow Wings ePress authors offered to review my book. They each read A MURDERER AMONG US in a day or two and wrote marvelous things about it. One writer friend told me about Murder Must Advertise and the importance of guest blogs. Another helped me design a bookmark. Still another sent me notices of conferences, where I’d be on panels and have the chance to sell copies of my books.

Writers are a wonderful group of people. We cheer each other up over rejections; we rejoice in each other’s successes. I continue to make new writer friends online. When we finally meet in person, we greet one another as if we’ve known each other forever.

I wrote that the fate of A Murderer Among Us rests upon my shoulders. Thanks to the people I've met both online and in person, the load doesn't seem as heavy.

Isn't it wonderful that writers don't have to hole up in their caves these days? What do you do when you start to feel all alone in the world? Social networking, in-person meetings? Which do you prefer?

Marilyn Levinson’s debut mystery, A MURDERER AMONG US, came out with Wings ePress in June of this year. Her ghost mystery, GIVING UP THE GHOST, will be out next spring with Uncial Press. Her novel, MURDER A LA CHRISTIE, was a 2010 Malice Domestic finalist. All of her mysteries take place on Long Island, where she’s lived since moving from Brooklyn at the age of fourteen and a half.

Marilyn is the author of several novels for children and young adults. Her first, AND DON’T BRING JEREMY, was a nominee for six state book awards. RUFUS AND MAGIC RUN AMOK was selected by the International Reading Association and the Children’s Book Council for “Children’s Choices for 2002.”

After attending her first Malice in 2010, Marilyn decided it was time to start a Long Island chapter of Sisters in Crime. With Bernardine Fagan, she co-founded the chapter, which held its first meeting August of 2010. She is the chapter’s current president. She also belongs to the Authors Guild, MWA, RWA, and the Guppies. She was a Spanish teacher many years ago.

Marilyn's book can be found at the Wings ePress site:
at for Nook readers and

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Tsunami of Change

Borders StoreChange along the lines of life-altering reality (as far as publishing houses and the industry go) is in the making. On July 19th, Theresa posted on the decline of the brick and mortar book outlet, the most renown being Borders. This in itself is tragic as far as I’m concerned. It signals the end of an era—an era I’m not too sure I want to give up.

But, that future is not in my hands. I still stop in and browse our local Borders and never leave empty handed. Obviously, my shopping habits are not enough to keep the bookselling giant afloat. Still, I have a clear conscience that I have done my part.

Now, the publishing world is taking a look at how they’re approaching this brand new world of bookselling. It started with cyber stores such as Amazon offering the public a quick, easy way to purchase books, CDs, DVDs from the comfort of their home or office. Then technology expanded and soon you could order from almost any electronic device in your possession. Then the inventory of such cyber stores increased to include event tickets, household goods, clothing, etc. You name it; you buy it. All of the cost of shipping and handling and a couple of days in transit.

Still available as eBook!

amazon.comThe global marketing of all the biggies - Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, to name a few – now fused together into one-stop-shopping. You peruse an extensive collection of inventory all on one site, so if you wanted the lasted sci-fi thriller, collection of preschool board books, manuals on technology, along with your favorite Harlequin category Inspirational for the month from Love Inspired (you knew I had to throw that in), you just punch in the url of your favorite site and voila! You find hundreds of choices in every category under the sun.

Cool, huh?

And then the advent of the Kindle revolution began. Digital downloads hit cyberspace running with each publisher testing the waters and creating splashes of their own. At first, the paper copy premiered followed by its digital sibling a few

months later. It didn’t take long for the publishing houses to realize the lost revenue in the lag time and now most bound copies and their digital counterparts release at the same time, each catering to their own audience.

Where do we go from here?

An exciting thing happened July 2011. Tyndale House Publishers launched their Digital First program. They selected manuscripts from first-time authors and have published them DIGITALLY first. Tyndale is the first publisher to go direct to digital publishing with paper versions to follow. They’ll monitor the stats of this new endeavor first and if they like what they see, they might offer more books in this Digital First format later in 2011.

According to an article in Christian Post:   “The audience for ebooks continues to explode. We’ve watched it grow exponentially,” says Jan Stob, senior fiction acquisitions editor for Tyndale House Publishers, based in Carol Stream, Ill. “It has grown across the board but primarily in fiction. When we look at our top 10 best-selling fiction titles, ebooks have begun to appear on that list, which wasn’t true a year or so ago.”

With Digital First, Tyndale will be able to publish more authors.

“There are a limited amount of physical slots in a warehouse to house books – digital is limitless. We can focus on quality without the confines of quantity. [The ebook format] allows us to be much more agile regarding trends,” says Stob. “A print book can take six to 12 months from finished manuscript to publication, while digital can be much more immediate.”

Digital First’s initial ebooks include Delivery, Cash Burn, Stealing Jake by Pam Hillman, The Reinvention of Leona Harper by Lynne Gentry and 40 Days without Food: Divine Goodness to a Starving Soul by Russ Masterson. The ebooks will be priced at full retail. Tyndale will promote its Digital First titles similarly to its other ebooks, which is mainly through reviews and online marketing.

Exciting times, eh? Please pay particular attention to the second book on the list. Pam Hillman is a good friend of mine and fellow Seeker (Seekerville) who has been rescued from Unpubbed Island by signing a contract with a publisher. Pam is no stranger to the Inspirational romance contest circuit. Award winning author – including RWA’s Golden Heart – Pam has finalled and won with many manuscripts including Stealing Jake, her Tyndale release. Congratulations to Pam Hillman and to Tyndale House on their groundbreaking endeavor. Go check out her book on Amazon Kindle. They’re doing a special FREE book promo for their newly launched authors, and celebrating Digital First!!
Stealing Jake
AND check out Pam's Kindle Contest in honor Stealing Jake!

So I guess, I’m giving away an opportunity for a free copy of Stealing Jake for visiting Five Scribes, LOL!

It won’t be long before other publishers follow suit. Check out Pam’s website for a list of her blog tour where she talks about all things writing and her thoughts on being one of the newest Tyndale House authors!

Watch out for the publishing Tsunami! It's coming!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Older & Bolder: Why Mature Women Matter

I know the irrepressible Lynne Marshall through RWA's Medical Chapter Heartbeat. Her writing is thought-provoking and poignant as you will see from the following article. Please welcome the ageless Lynne Marshall to The Five Scribes.

Recently I was with a gorgeous redhead at a writer’s conference (my roommate for the event) and we came upon one of the workshop presenters (who happened to be a man closer to my age - probably older - than hers) who graciously responded to my roommate’s question and proceeded to invite himself along for another function. That was all well and good, and fine with me. Here’s where it got sticky, I tried to insert myself into the conversation a couple of times, but quickly discovered the silver-haired man did not know I existed. He only had eyes for youth and beauty.

I don’t blame him, my friend is gorgeous, but whatever happened to common courtesy? “Hello, other person who I am not the slightest bit interested in. Nice to meet you, now, let me ogle your friend, if you don’t mind.”

My solution?

I don’t put up with stuff like that anymore. I wish I could say I grabbed him by the lapels and forced him to look at me. “I exist, jerkhead! Therefore I am.” But, unlike him, I enforce that common courtesy I was pining over in the prior paragraph. So I disappeared, (how can you disappear when you don’t exist, you ask?) and went off where I knew I would be welcomed. Who has time for that stuff at this age? My gorgeous friend is perfectly capable of handling social situations, and, as it turned out, karma was afoot.


A fact of life’s stages

There comes a time in each woman’s life when she slips from the radar in some areas, but comes into her own in so many other aspects of life. I didn’t seriously pursue writing until I was fifty years old (I’m being honest and vulnerable here, so be gentle!) Sold my first book three days before my fifty-sixth birthday, and continue to write stories about falling in love for Harlequin, Mills & Boon, and The Wild Rose Press.

My favorite quote:

"To all, I would say how mistaken they are when they think that they stop falling in love when they grow old, without knowing that they grow old when they stop falling in love..." Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Life applications

That quote can be applied to so many things in life! I worry about people who become overly cautious, or stop doing things because they feel past their prime. I ziplined for the first time in 2010 in Kauai, got on the back of a motorcycle for the first time last year, too. I took a class on gun safety and spent time at a shooting range a couple years back. In 2005 on my own, I picked up and went to the UK because my daughter was spending a semester in Oxford. Did I worry about traveling alone? A little, but not enough to hold me back. I welcomed the adventure of staying in B&Bs, learning the local transportation, and discovering pubs unlike anything I’ve found in the U.S.

As a writer, I get to hang out with wonderful women of all ages at writer’s conferences. Instead of feeling intimidated, it invigorates me. We have a common thread – we all write some form of romance. And though, after twenty-nine years of marriage, the first spark of falling in love may be a distant memory, it has never been forgotten. I love rekindling that spark with each book I write.

In our hearts we’re eternally twenty-five

One quick look in the mirror re-enforces our true age, but soul-age is eternally young. Ask anyone with white hair. When a person gets swept away by music, do they feel any specific age? Or when they’re engrossed in the wonder of a Monet painting, is age an issue? When I close my eyes and ride amusement park rides, I’m a kid again. Snorkeling in refreshing azure seas, I am ageless and timeless. Tasting the subtly infused herbs and spices of a new chef, my palate knows no age requirement. And love, yes, if you’re lucky, falling in love happens several times a day. With who and what, is completely up to you.

These days, older and bolder heroines are the kind I want to read about! What is your favorite kind of heroine?

There you have it, Readers. Answer Lynne's question or comment about her post and you will be entered to win an e-book version of One for the Road. Be sure to leave your e-mail address. We'll draw a name on Friday morning, July 22nd. Thanks & Happy Writing!

ONE FOR THE ROAD a Wild Rose Press Contemporary Romance tells the tale of a 46 year old D’Anne Palmer, stranded and broke, a 40 foot RV her only possession, and Tyler White an ex-country star on his comeback tour. As they journey from Nashville to Las Vegas, via Texas, with the band and Tyler’s dog, can close quarters help a has-been singer and a widow with California style find love?

For an excerpt of One for the Road go here.

Lynne Marshall loves to write older heroines with a few lines on their faces to prove they’ve stared down that enemy who tries to tell them, “You’re too old. It’s too late.” And if her daunting stare doesn’t scare the negativity away, she has recently mastered a mean sidekick that will leave doubt and insecurity on their respective keesters.

One for the Road – The Wild Rose Press

Amazon Kindle –


Bookstores: Borders Closing

While on vacation, touring Alaska, I checked out the bookstores in several cities. Not exactly surprising, many little towns we visited didn't have any, but I found the Hearthside Books in Juneau, and low and behold . . . I was thrilled to see that they had our own Kaki Warner's newest release.

Then yesterday I saw the very sad announcement that all Borders stores will be closing by September. Borders bankrupt? For good? Borders is . . . a giant. They can't be just a memory. I guess I figured there'd be some solution. The airlines and car industries go into bankruptcy every now and then and some solution is dreamed up to save them. I somehow just figured it'd all work out for Borders too. I guess not. I know it's not a fair comparison, but to a writer, the publishing industry and books are our livelihood. Borders is closing. Soon. So. Sad!

Now I'm an Amazon fan and love to save money as much as the next guy, but as a writer, I also spend the extra money and buy from Independent as well as chain bookstores. For a society that seems to trend more and more towards immediate gratification . . . this seems inconsistent. There are times when I don't want to wait for Amazon to ship me a book. Occasionally--not often--but occasionally, I'm an impulse buyer. Now I guess all my impulse book buying will have to be at Barns and Noble--or target or the grocery store.

Or is Borders demise a function of the increasing popularity of ebooks? Will ebooks take over some day and print books will go the way of vinyl records? Print books will just be memorabilia for collectors? How sad. Will the closing of Borders force people like me to buy Kindles and other E-readers to satisfy that instant gratification habit?

I know, I know. I shouldn't be surprised. People have been forecasting this for years. But still it makes me sad and leaves me feeling disconcerted and disoriented.

What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Setting: A defining element in fiction

Hello Five Scribe Readers. I'm blessed to know Linda Lovely on three levels. I first met Linda as a finalist in Mainstream for the 2010 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. Next, I met her as a 2010 Golden Heart finalist and one of my Unsinkable sisters, and, lastly, Linda is a fellow Guppy and member of Sisters in Crime. So when she talks about setting, I don't know about you, but I'm going to listen. Please welcome Linda Lovely as she tells us about her award-winning book, DEAR KILLER, and then brings it altogether in setting.


Marley Clark, a retired military intelligence officer, works security for a Sea Island community simply to keep busy. A single night patrol transforms the feisty widow’s yawner of a job into a deadly battle of wits when she finds an islander drowned and bobbing naked amid a potpourri of veggies in a Jacuzzi.

Asked to serve as the lead investigator’s liaison, the 52-year-old heroine is startled to discover she’s become Deputy Braden Mann’s target as well—for romance. Yet their steamy attraction doesn’t deter the pair from sorting through a viper’s nest of suspects as the body count grows and the pun-loving killer plans a grizzly epitaph for Marley.

DEAR KILLER is the first in a series of Marley Clark adventures that promise to dish up heart-pounding suspense with a side of romance.


How important is a book's setting?

In some women's fiction or erotical novels, it may play an insignificant role. Where (or when) a heroine lives matters little when a novel tightly focuses on a woman's effort to escape a co-dependent relationship or details her immersion in a sensuous ménage â trois.

Yet, in most fiction, setting--location and time period--vie with character development and plot as a defining element, an essential ingredient that imparts a unique feel and flavor to the novel.

Let's consider three of my favorite authors and their selection of wildly different series settings.

In J.D. Robb's "In Death" series, her main character, Eve, resides in a future, gritty New York where she often investigates bizarre homicides in a noir, edgy environment--a world tailor-made to showcase her hard-driving personality and obsession with justice for the dead.

Here's Eve's view of her New York. "It was good to be home, driving downtown to Cop Central through ugly traffic, blasting horns, hyping ad blimps, belching maxibuses just put her in a cheerful mood." -- J.D. Robb, Indulgence in Death.

Robb's decision to place Eve in a futuristic mega-city gives her tremendous plotting freedom. She can concentrate on the "why" that drives a person to murder--jealousy, greed, lust, power, etc.--and construct murder scenarios that reflect a killer's motives without fretting about forensic details. Robb's urban conjecture allows her to invent both murder methods and investigative technologies.

Her setting helps addict readers to this series. It allows us to focus on the protagonists' and villains' raw emotions and reminds us that while technology may undergo rapid change, basic human needs and desires do not.

Of course, the fantasy aspect also adds zest to Eve's steamy encounters with Rourke. In contrast to Robb's metropolis stage, Cathy Pickens' "Southern Fried" present-day series plays out in the small rural (and very Southern) town of Dacus, where Avery, a lawyer, hangs out her shingle.

Here's a glimpse of Avery's world: "I had to wonder what this guy was doing in Dacus besides scraping the bottom of the journalistic barrel. A really bad journalist? A checkered past? The witness protection program? To be fair, he might be thinking the same thing about me."--Cathy Pickens, Hog Wild.

Pickens' setting offers the ideal backdrop of her main character's gentle humor and wry observations about her hometown and its inhabitants. Invading Yankees present a wealth of options for cultural conflict and the fixings for good traditional murder mystery plots.

Then there's Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum, who inhabits "The Burg," a geographic gem that manages to combine the gossipy feel of a small town, good-natured ethnic humor, and a generous helping of big-city vices.

Here's a sampling: "There aren't a lot of secrets in the Burg and according to Burg gossip, Michael Barroni didn't have a girlfriend, didn't play the numbers, and didn't have mob ties."--Janet Evanovich, Eleven on Top.

It's difficult to imagine Evanovich's characters--Stephanie, Lulu, Grandma Mazur and more--living anywhere except the Burg. The town itself is a living, breathing character.

These protagonists are totally integrated into their environments. The action takes place on their home turfs.

Does that mean a heroine should be a "native" in a novel's setting?

I don't think so. The opposite can work just as effectively. Place a heroine in a setting or time period (think time travel or Alice in Wonderland) where everything is foreign. This allows the heroine to see the world from a fresh perspective, one that's likely quite different from a "native's" view. The novelty of her surroundings will increase her awareness of beauty or ugliness, charming customs or environmental evils.

When I wrote my debut mystery, Dear Killer, I knew I wanted it set in the South Caroline Lowcountry. I lived here for a dozen years and never ceased to wonder at its beauty and variety. Inspirations for scenes ran the gamut from Hunting Island State Park, a showcase for nature untamed and untouched, to Beaufort's historic district, which celebrates the Old South's architecture and charm. I was itching to incorporate sandy beaches and shifting dunes, pluff mud and crabs, spring tides and fog. Gullah culture and beachfront mansions, alligators and ocean creeks. These unique features of the Carolina Sea Islands gave me all sorts of ideas for plotting.

Yet, I knew I couldn't pull off the creation of a heroine who'd grown up in the Lowcountry (or even the South). So my heroine, Marley Clark, shares my Midwest upbringing, language and sensibilities. (Though I did take the liberty of giving her talents and a figure I only wish I had.)

When the story begins Marley, a recent widow, has vacationed on Dear Island for years and has lived on the resort island for a year. At age 52, she's younger than most of the retired residents and single. That makes her an outsider. Yet, her familiarity with the island and its residents is sufficient to be part of the community.

When Cathy Pickens reviewed my book, she said I'd manged to describe "the Low Country South with the curious eye of a newcomer and the affectionate detail of a long-time resident." Her comment couldn't have made me happier--that was precisely the balance I tried to create.

I'm not sure anyone can describe the beauty and sensuality of the Lowcountry better than Pat Conroy, but I worked hard to serve up at least an appetizer in my novel. Like Marley, I love the Lowcountry, from its moss-draped oaks and beaches decorated with the bleached bones of trees to its lighthouses, shrimp boats and lilting Gullah dialect. If you read Dear Killer, I hope you feel the Lowcountry is a prominent character that flavors this mystery.

I'm curious. Most folks who read Five Scribes are writers. Where do you place your settings: reality, fictitious, otherworldly? What makes the best setting for you?

A native of Iowa, Linda Lovely has called the South home for more than thirty years. She lives with her husband beside a peaceful South Carolina lake, where she regularly perturbs the geese and one honking big turtle by jumping off her dock for a swim or pedaling (yes, pedaling not paddling) her kayak. Linda is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Sisters in Crime and the South Carolina Writers Workshop. She feels quite lucky to have found both close friends and exceptional critique partners—snarky, funny, talented and generous—through these writer organizations.

Linda can’t imagine going to bed at night without a book in hand. Thankfully her husband shares her passion for reading so she doesn’t have to use a miner’s light to indulge her nocturnal habits.

Her manuscripts have made the finals in 15 contests, including RWA’s prestigious Golden Heart and Daphne du Maurier competitions and mystery contests such as Deadly Ink, Murder in the Grove and Malice Domestic. Her stories dish up a main course of suspense, action and adventure with a generous side of romance. Her upcoming L&L Dreamspell release is set on a fictional Sea Island in the amazing South Carolina Lowcountry, known for its Gullah roots, historic plantations, fabulous food and pirates.

Readers: Answering Linda's question or commenting on the blog will enter you in a contest to win DEAR KILLER. We'll be drawing the winner's name on Thursday morning, July 14th.

Happy Writing & Finding the Perfect Setting.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I'm baaaack...

Hi Everyone!

Please let me RE-introduce myself : ) Audra Harders here and, thanks to the patience and kindness of my fellow scribes who have not given me up for lost, I am the FIFTH Scribe.

Suffice it to say, life does not slow down, or even stay even keel, just because you’ve sold a book. For all the wonderful news and announcements I’ve missed over these many months, a huge congratulations and kudos to well-placed efforts.

And also, my sympathies extend to everyone over disappointments garnered while slogging through this wacky world of publishing. And for personal losses experienced having nothing to do with writing. Yep, life swaggers along and we’re along for the ride.

I’m not even going to think about recapping the last year, so let’s start with current events. Did anyone make it to New York for the Romance Writers of America’s annual conference? Unfortunately, I did not. I’m over it now, but a month ago? I could drop a perfect pout in the blink of an eye.

The attraction of the RWA Conference?

Conference hosted in New York City

My Love Inspired debut book, Rocky Mountain Hero, was eligible for the Literacy signing

Timing with day job actually made it feasible to attend this year

…Did I mention the conference was in NEW YORK CITY???

The only element missing from my equation of blissful dream was … … money. Silly little detail. I guess I should start saving NOW for RWA New York City in 2015.

I did manage to stay informed through friends who did attend. As attendees rushed all around to fit in as many workshops as possible, so too did awards ceremonies hosted by various Chapters demand a fair chunk of time. As Donnell mentioned, the Daphne du Maurier Awards were presented at the annual Kiss of Death, Death By Chocolate party. Being an inspirational writer, I was tickled when a good friend, Anita Mae Draper was awarded an Honorable Mention for unpublished Inspirational Romantic Mystery/Suspense, and Renee Ryan walked away with the honors for published Inspirational Romantic Mystery/Suspense. The Daphne du Maurier contest has a stellar reputation and to be counted among the finalists earns a huge honor. Congratulations, ladies!

Of course, the big night for contest awards shone brightly as the Golden Heart and RITA awards were announced. Rumor has it there were some mighty classy acceptance speeches given. I must give a shout out to Pam Hillman who finaled in the Inspirational category of the Golden Heart with Stealing Jake. Unfortunately, Pam didn’t win the award, she did better than that. Tyndale House bought Stealing Jake, bestowing Pam with the honor of published author status. Nice trade off, right? By the way, Stealing Jake is available now!!

Another shout out goes to Mary Connealy as Doctor in Petticoats finaled in the Inspirational category of the RITA. If you’re looking for romantic comedy at its finest, check out ALL of Mary’s books published by Barbour Publishing. Mary has recently changed publishers and her Bethany House release, Out Of Control, will be available August 2012.

As you probably have guessed, my life revolves around the Inspirational romance world. Forgive me my long absence, but I’m back now and promise to update the Five Scribe followers with all things inspirationally romantic from now on!

See you again real soon!

Audra Harders writes “rugged stories with heart” featuring cowboys who haven’t a clue about relationships rescued by ladies who think they have all the answers. In real life, she’s married to her own patient hero, has two teenagers about the leave the nest, and is surrounded by everything conducive to writing about farming, ranching and cowboys at her day job in the county Extension office. She began writing right after her son was born and sold her first book to Steeple Hill Love Inspired mere months before that same son graduated from high school. Surviving those years in between remind her God does have her plan for her life…and that He has a tremendous sense of humor. You can visit her at her website and her blog. Don’t be shy!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

You know the rules, but do you know MAN LAW?

Hello everybody. Today I am pleased to introduce to you the very talented Carina Press author Adrienne Giordano as she debuts Book One of her Private Protector Series. For you romantics out there who love romantic suspense and action/adventure, Man Law is a must read. For anyone who might have trouble with male speak, all I can say is read this book! You don’t know the rules until you understand Man Law. Please welcome Adrienne Giordano to the Five Scribes.

D.B.: Adrienne, I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read Man Law. Now, I haven’t read your in-depth bio, but I don’t think I need to. I already know you’re a team member of Romance University and that you are a fabulous storyteller. So let’s get right to it. Exactly how many psychology and sociology degrees did you have to earn to write Man Law? And how much fun did you have creating Vic Andrews?

A.G.: My psychology degree came from The School of Italian Jersey Girl. I grew up surrounded by what I call alpha males on steroids. These men were larger than life and wanted to be heard. I honestly think most loud-mouthed alpha males (the nice ones anyway) have a soft spot somewhere. It's just a matter of finding it.

I decided early on to give Vic a potty mouth and it was such fun dreaming up things he could say that would get him into trouble. Of course, my mother is fairly stunned that her daughter knows some of those words, but we writers have to do what we have to do.

As much fun as I had with this book, Vic was a complicated character. He'd learned to shut himself down to the point of emotional bankruptcy, and I had to figure out what would make that hardened heart crumble.

D.B.: Vic is a great character, and, Readers, when you read this book, you'll know what Adrienne means about that soft spot. Okay, no PhD, but you could have fooled me.

As I read your deep POV of these characters, I thought, wow, this woman’s either an avid studier of Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus or in a previous life, she was a man. ;)You create beyond three-dimensional male characters who show amazing chemistry not only with women, but with each other.

Have you always been able to write from the male perspective? Do you read male authors? Or how have you developed this ability?

A.G: For some bizarre reason, the male characters are much easier for me. I'm not sure what this says about me (since I'm a woman! LOL.), but I do enjoy exploring the male mind. They are such interesting creatures. They don't worry over things like we women do. And when men argue, they do it with vigor but then it's over and they shake hands. They don't hang on to the anger.

For pleasure, I read a lot of fiction books by male authors. Harlan Coben is one of my favorites. For the Private Protectors series, I read non-fiction books written by men with military backgrounds. Within those books I found similar speech patterns in the dialogue and studied the cadence. Men speak in shorter sentences. Quick and to the point.

D.B.: Absolutely. I hate to give a plot away, but for the readers’ benefit, I’ll tell you the gist of the story. Our hero in this book, Vic Andrews, is ex-military and has gone into to business with the heroine’s brother, Michael Taylor. The two are now partners in a private security firm, Taylor Security. A large part of the agency fights terrorism overseas. They surround themselves with a talented team of men and a woman with another individual with ties to the State Department. (Think NCIS on overdrive.)

Gina Delgado, Michael’s sister is a widow, the mother of three children, two boys and girl, the eldest of whom, is a teenager. (And I don’t have to tell you how the teenager and Vic get along). Gina works for her brother at Taylor Security in the accounting department, and naturally like any good romance, Gina and Vic find themselves fighting--and--losing a sizzling attraction for each other.

The author can’t let that stand. So Adrienne Giordano throws in enough conflict to flood a war zone. Raised by his aunt after his mother abandoned him, Vic has all sorts of commitment issues, has never been tied down, and of course thinks he wants it that way.

Gina comes from a sound and loving family, puts her children first and foremost, misses Danny, her firefighter husband, and swears she will never get involved with a man in a dangerous occupation again. See the conflict already? Still, the author heaps on more. There’s Man Law number one: Never mess with your best friend’s sister.

Adrienne, I’m sure you’ve heard many writers are rejected for lack of conflict. I don’t think that’s your problem, however ;) Talk about the conflict in this book. Are you a plotter or panster, and did the conflict arise as seamlessly as it appears?

A.G.: Man Law had its share of rejections, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't because of a lack of conflict. ;)

I'll admit I'm obsessed with plot structure. Pantsers, please don't kill me. I typically like to have all my major turning points mapped out before I start writing. I know that sounds boring, but (in my own defense) many of the scenes between the major plot points come to me as I'm writing. I have found that the story gets away from me if I don't have a "map" of the middle and end to keep me on track.

Before starting this book, I did in-depth character interviews for both Vic and Gina. It was the first time I'd tried interviewing a character and it worked so well for me that I do it for each book now. From the interview I found Vic is fearless in a lot of ways, but I also discovered he's terrified of abandonment. Once that happened, I was able to come up with all sorts of conflicts!

D.B.: In addition to writing well-drawn men, you know Gina incredibly well. She’s a feisty gorgeous Italian woman. Now, hmmm. Let me study my notes. Gina’s last name is Delgado. Yours is Giordano. I’m sensing a pattern here.:) How much is Gina like you, and then tell readers how is Gina different?

A.G.: Well, I've occasionally been known to get feisty (just ask my husband) and Gina's ideas on parenting are similar to mine, but that's the extent of it. She has more patience with Vic than I could ever have. I love him, but he's a major challenge and I'd have to kill him. :) I think that's why I had so much fun with them. She never gives up on him. Even when he's at his worst, she has faith and I love that about her. She has an ability to show enormous love for people even when she's mad at them.

D.B.: Despite Vic and Gina’s best intentions, they get involved, sporadically at first, and then on a continuous basis, wreaking havoc on Gina’s already emotionally suffering kids. Then the unthinkable happens. A terrorist by the name of Sirhan sees Gina and her kids with Vic, and rightfully assumes they’re Vic’s Achilles heel, in particular Gina's seven-year-old daughter. In romance, we’re told never to harm to a child. But then what better way to make your protagonists suffer. Were you ever advised to tone this down?

A.G.: No one ever asked me to tone it down. As I was writing, I continually found that my attempts to break Vic weren't working. Everything I threw at him, he pushed through. He's very task oriented. He also hates to fail and will do whatever necessary to complete his mission. With that comes this emotional bankruptcy I talked about earlier. Vic is able to handle assignments most of us would find unthinkable. As much as I didn't want to go there, I knew a threat against Lily was a way to chip his armor.

D.B.: In addition to understanding how men think, you have a great grasp of military operations, weapons and more. Do you have a military background? What kind of research went into the writing of Man Law?

A.G. All the military information within the book is based on research. I read non-fiction books by former Delta Force operators and Navy SEALs. They were fascinating books and I was in awe of the mental toughness required of the men who serve. I also watched a lot of programs on the Military Channel. Those resources helped me with the weapons.

The handgun Vic carries is the same one a police officer friend of mine carries. His favorite is the Sig .45, so that's what I gave Vic.

D.B.: Let’s turn to the craft portion of this interview. A book like Man Law obviously takes discipline to get the pacing and the dialogue just right. Tell us about your writing life. Do you write in drafts, do you send your work out for critique, and how long did it take you to write Man Law?

A.G. Man Law took me eight months to write. I usually get an idea brewing for the next book while I'm still working on the previous book and I start researching/brainstorming/plotting. That allows me to jump right into the next book when I finish the one I'm working on.

My process has changed quite a bit since I wrote Man Law. I used to write and then immediately edit scenes and send them off to my critique partners. With the last couple of books I've found doing what I call my "crappy first draft" allows me to see the pacing problems before I spend precious time trying to perfect scenes that might eventually get cut. The crappy first draft is basically all dialogue, but it's enough to see where the plot holes might be.

Once I get the crappy first draft down, I go back and make sure all of my turning points are in the right places. Then I go back to the beginning and start adding description, internal thoughts, etc. I find sending my critique partners 50-100 pages at a time helps them to get the rhythm of the book and find any pacing issues.

D.B.: You create a wide cast of characters in this book. Tiny, Monk, Roy, Billy, Duck, Janet, Lynx. Do you keep spreadsheets? Any advice on developing characters? Did you get to know them before you developed the series, or do you plan to get to know them as you give them their own story?

A.G. I didn't develop the characters before I started the series. I actually didn't realize it would be a series until I finished the first book. I now do character interviews right before I start the new book. By then, I've already gotten to know the hero of the new book from prior books and it gives me a starting point. With Monk, I initially put a do-rag on him in Man Law without giving it much thought. I was simply trying to differentiate all the guys, and giving Monk a do-rag worked. As I got to the end of Man Law, I thought the do-rag should be a symbol of something. So, I did a character interview for him and decided he'd be my next hero.

My advice for developing characters is to figure out what their core need is and make them act in accordance with that need. For Vic, his core need (even if he didn't know it) is to be loved and not abandoned. His fear of abandonment was keeping him from connecting with someone so his need was not getting fulfilled. In the beginning of the book, his life decisions all revolved around him being alone and not having to deal with his emotional issues.

With Monk, his core need is to be a caretaker. I'm not going to give you too much info on that book because it'll be a Man Law spoiler, but just know that I made Monk feel like he wasn't being a good caretaker and I exploited it.

As I mentioned, you’re not afraid to tackle difficult subjects. Your characters speak like military men. There's a twist in the second act that must've been difficult to write. I take it you decided that twist was necessary for Vic’s character growth?

A.G. Vic was so emotionally locked down I knew I'd have to deliver a blow that would make him realize he needed to change. So, yes, I was very mean to him.:) I'm not afraid to tackle difficult subjects, but it's never easy. I was conflicted about how far to push and consulted with my good friend (also an editor) Theresa Stevens. She reminded me of a quote that I now keep on my desk. It's "Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid."

I think sometimes we need to go beyond what we think the boundary is to figure out if it'll actually work.

After writing the scene that finally broke Vic, I needed to take a few days off and recuperate emotionally. The fact that I needed to take that break told me I had probably found the one thing that would force Vic to change.

D.B.: These character certainly become real. Amazing story, and great quote by Theresa. You’re published with Carina Press. How is it working with them, and when will we see book two in the series? Did your book come out in Audio? Will future books follow the Man Law theme?

A.G.: Working with the Carina Press team has been an amazing experience for me. Between my editor (I call her "the fabulous Gina Bernal") and the support team, I've learned so much. Getting back to tackling difficult subjects, my editor is also not opposed to pushing boundaries and always manages to show me how to go far, but not too far. For Monk's book, the heroine is a sexual abuse survivor and she is damaged. I did a lot of research on sexual abuse and interviewed survivors because I wanted to be as true to the character as I could. I was concerned Carina would ask me to tone down Izzy's issues regarding sex, but they took the leap with me and I'm so grateful. In one scene, my editor asked me to push even more and I nearly fell off my chair in disbelief. I'm glad she talked me into it because it's another powerful scene that forces the character to change. As rough as it is for me to read, I really like that scene.

Yes, Man Law will be out on audio! Yay! The other books in the Private Protectors series will be out on September 5 and November 7. I'm working on book four now. That one is Billy's book and I am having a grand time with it.

D.B: Fantastic, can't wait to read Monk and Billy's story, or listen to Man Law on audio. In addition to the Private Protectors series, what else are you working on?

A.G.: I have a cross-genre women's fiction that I'm polishing. I'm hoping to expand that one into a series. It was a ton of fun to write and I'm told it has the zaniness of a Stephanie Plum book.

D.B.: Finally, since Five Scribes is for writers, and we’re undergoing a tumultuous publishing industry, what advice would you give to aspiring authors?

A.G.: This is an easy one. It's also probably advice everyone has heard before, but I'll reiterate.

Keep writing.

Keep writing.

Keep writing!

Here's why:

One year ago, I was an unpublished writer struggling with the fact that I'd come close a few times but still hadn't sold. After a friend accepted an offer from Carina Press, I decided to submit to them. I thought if they bought my book, I'd be under the Harlequin umbrella. Not too much wrong with that scenario. One year later, I have three books being released within five months.

If I hadn't kept writing, I wouldn't have had two other books ready to submit when Carina bought the first one.

Keep writing!

Readers, are you jotting this down? Adrienne, it’s been a pleasure. Man Law is an intense, sexy, oftentimes funny read. I felt for Gina as she tries to pick up the pieces after her husband’s death and then deal with the safety of her children. She’s a great character I identified with. I think you did an outstanding job following through with storyline threads, e.g. Vic’s coming to terms with his own past, his aunt and his mom, his deep emotional connection to Gina and the kids. In a nutshell, you know how to pull at readers’ heartstrings. I loved Man Law. I know readers will, too.

For readers, if you want to develop your own PhD in Man Law, my best advice is to pick up this book. You can find Adrienne Giordano’s book at

Carina Press

Thanks, Donnell. I'm so glad you enjoyed Man Law. I love all my guys, but Vic taught me some great lessons on the craft of writing.

My pleasure. Readers, Adrienne will be giving away a copy of Man Law to one lucky commenter. We'll draw names on the evening of July 8, 2011.

Adrienne Giordano writes romantic suspense and women's fiction. She is a Jersey girl at heart, but now lives in the Midwest with her work-a-holic husband, sports obsessed son and Buddy the Wheaton Terrorist (Terrier). She is a co-founder of Romance University blog. Adrienne's debut romantic suspense, Man Law, is available from Carina Press. Her second book, A Just Deception, will be available from Carina Press on September 5, 2011. For more information please visit Adrienne can be found on Twitter and Facebook

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Awesome 2011 Crested Butte Writers Conference

The 2011 Crested Butte Writers Conference was AWE-SOME.

It was smaller than usual—only about 30-40 people, which was fine for us. We had many great opportunities to get to know everybody better—especially our guest agents and editors. Since a picture speaks a thousand words, I’ve posted a bunch of them on Crested Butte Writers Facebook page. Take a look!