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Showing posts from August, 2012

West Houston RWA Contest Now Open

Looking to test drive a new writing project? West Houston Romance Writers of America's Emily contest is one of the best, with great feedback, top-tier finals judges (editors and agents) and many, many finalists going on to sell over the years. Also, the contest is open to both published and unpublished writers. (Published authors eligible in categories in which they haven't previously published or haven't published within the last five years.) Check the website via the links below for more details. Here's the official release: The 2013 Emily Contest opens for submissions this Saturday, September 1st, 2012 and closes at midnight, September 30, 2012. For more information and to enter: * All Electronic ~ Fee: $30 (WHRWA members $20) * No synopsis ~ maximum of 7,000 words * Three first-round judges ~ lowest score dropped * Open to published authors (not published in category for three years) * Multiple entries allowed * Entries capped at the fi

100% of August royalties for HURRICANE LOVER will go to Red Cross

This seriously blows! On the anniversary of Katrina, New Orleans citizens are evacuating as Isaac roars into the Gulf. I'm giving 100% of my August royalties for The Hurricane Lover  to the American Red Cross. Please help me spread the word on Facebook and twitter . The Hurricane Lover  was inspired by my experiences volunteering with relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina. I also witnessed the amazing work of the Red Cross after Hurricanes Rita and Ike here in Houston. (Hey, that's life here on the Gulf Coast .) While I was doing research for  The Hurricane Lover , I became fascinated with the science behind these megastorms, and there's a lot of that in the book, but my real goal (beyond telling a good story) was to put human faces - the faces of lovers, parents, families, communities - on the Weather Channel forecasts and disaster updates. A lot of story elements, including this heart-wrenching moment , are based on stories I heard from Katrina survivors in long FEMA li

The Real Rules (*Cough, Cough*) of Writing

Some authors, editors, and instructors are fond of laying down rules for writing, absolutes that You. Must. Always. Obey. As if they're speaking from on high (Mount Olympus, maybe?) and you, the groveling peon, should tremble before their pronouncements. Or maybe they're only trying to be helpful, sharing what they've been told, or what's worked for them. Here are a few I've heard over the years: 1. Never start a story with the weather. This one's nicely exploded by author/editor Roz Morris at her blog, Nail Your Novel.) 2. Never include more than one point of view per scene, and limit these viewpoints to a very few main characters. Funny, how often and successfully this constraint is ignored by many, many authors, including New York Times bestseller (many times over) Nora Roberts, who's been known to sneak in a dog's point of view when it suits her. In my own romantic thriller, Beneath Bone Lake , I wrote one scene from an alligator's POV, a

Translation Fun: Capturing the Commando

Few things are as much fun as receiving a copy of a book with your name and artwork on the cover in an unrecognizable language. After a bit of sleuthing, I figured out that this is the Icelandic translation of my May 2011 release, Capturing the Commando . It's my first translated edition for Harlequin and my first even Icelandic edition. So I thought it would be fun to share! Sorry for the poor scan. My scanner's on its last legs.

Crafting the Relatable Protagonist

No matter which genre of novel you're writing, the author has a couple of immediate imperatives: to create a relatable character and toss him or her into a situation you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. Today, I'm going to talk about the relatable protagonist. Creating a relatable character doesn't necessarily involve creating a likable character, just one with whom the reader can emotionally connect with and admire on some level. In the 2002 comedy About Schmidt, Warren Schmidt (played by the incomparable Jack Nicholson), is the ultimate in non- Save the Cat anti-heroes. I mean, the guy tosses a cute (but annoying) little dog down the garbage chute in the opening scene, for heaven's sake, and he says exactly what's on his mind, no matter how offensive and non-PC. Still, he's relatable because A. he's hilariously curmudgeonly, B. we've all had moments where we wish we had the guts to do or say exactly whatever outrageous thing was ripping throug

Reading on a Micro-Level and Doing It Well: An Interview With Benjamin LeRoy, the owner of Tyrus Books

This summer, I taught a crime fiction course in the prison.  When doing my research for the class, I came across Benjamin LeRoy , owner and editor at Tyrus Books , a small publishing house that specializes in books that "explore the human condition--especially the survival of regular folks--when faced with tragedy."  I thought this sensibility would resonate a lot with my students, and, coincidentally, I realized that Tyrus had just published Sweet Land of Bigamy , by Miah Arnold , a friend of mine from the University of Houston, so I emailed Ben to see if he'd do an interview for my students and for this blog.  He graciously agreed--and this guy is crazy busy--so I was very happy.  In a few days, I'll do a follow up interview with Miah about Sweet Land of Bigamy , and we'll continue to explore how the genre of crime fiction is changing and the ways in which literary and crime fiction intersect. In my class at the prison this summer, we talked about how crime

Go with God, Phyllis Diller

Kill Smartie Breedlove

Pulled the trigger on my new novel on Thursday. Huge THANK YOU to 18,000+ readers who welcomed Smartie to the world and made her debut the #1 mystery download on Kindle! From the official flap copy: A deliciously quirky whodunit by the bestselling author of SUGARLAND and THE HURRICANE LOVER… Recently widowed private dick Shep Hartigate, a dishonored cop reduced to chasing cheating spouses for a ruthless Houston divorce lawyer, teams up with free-spirited pulp fiction writer Smartie Breedlove to find out who’s killing the inconvenient exes of Texas—including Smartie’s BFF, Charma Bovet, a centerfold with a heart of gold. Could Shep’s gorgeous but unscrupulous employer really have a secret bimbo/mimbo hit list? Or is Smartie Breedlove a few peeps shy of an Easter basket? A colorful cast of problematic lovers, longsuffering family, and stalwart friends (both two-legged and four-legged) close ranks around Smartie and Shep as they sift clues and maneuver to stay alive. Calling on her long

5 Quick Ways to Help Your Favorite Author

1. If you loved her last book, tell a friend. Or thirty. ♥ 2. Loan out her book if you'd like, since it's a great way to win over new readers. 3. Or better yet, recommend it to your book club. 4. "Like" the author's books on Amazon. 5. If you enjoyed the book, please consider writing a review on Goodreads,, or other online venues. As an author, I consider happy readers my most effective marketing allies. I love hearing from you and very much appreciate your plunking down your hard-earned entertainment dollars to purchase the stories I work so hard to bring you. Thank you!

Goodbye Gore Vidal