Tag Archive: Excessica


Chris Ryan’s Thanksgiving Prayer…

Thanksgiving and Christmas season is upon us and I figured I’d say a prayer of thanks. 

I’m thankful that Jessica is alive, even if she isn’t with me.  I’m still a little sketchy about what really happened, but I’m alive and Frank’s dead and  all’s right with the world. 

I’m thankful Eric was too young to understand what a monster I really was otherwise I would have died in that concrete prison.  But in his eyes, I saved his mother, so he saved me, healed me with some serious mojo that I’m still carrying around today.  I can feel it in my bones, flowing through my veins like white lightning.   

 I’m thankful I’m not rotting in some prison awaiting a death sentence.  If there were any justice in this world, that’s where I’d be, but for some reason, the cops believed the ruse that I am indeed Christopher Aris and I had no knowledge of what my brothers were doing.  Thank God I was able to erase any proof of Chris’s participation before I got out of there.  Now, I’m just waiting for that fiction to crumble. 

 I’m thankful that everyone loved my brother enough for him to be named in all their wills.  When I took on his identity, I didn’t imagine I’d be a richer than God.  My first act when the money was free and clear was to make sure the victim’s families were compensated, including Jessica and Tom.  I know money can’t erase my conscience, but it certainly helps me to think I’m trying to make amends for all the horror.

I’m thankful I kept the tapes of Jessica and I because without them, I wouldn’t have lasted five years away from her. I would have sought her out before she had the chance to marry Tom.  I would have begged for her forgiveness and I would have done something I would live to regret. 

 You see, I just want her to be happy.  I’d like to believe I’m the one that can make her happy – but I know that’s just a ludicruous fantasy.  Unfortunately, I now have to break my silence, because if I don’t she will be devistated. 

 So please God, please don’t let this be a mistake. 

 To find out more about Chris Ryan, pick up MIND GAMES by J.E. Taylor at Amazon.com!

Dishing it up with Mia Natasha

Hi folks, today I have the pleasure of having erotic romance author Mia Natasha on my blog. Her first book, Cinderella Club came out at the beginning of August.

JET: Your first book – Cinderella Club just came out at the beginning of August. Can you tell us a little about the book and why readers should add this to their “must have” collection?

Mia: Cinderella Club is a fairy-tale love story. With non-consent elements. My book has graphic sexual content but also plot, mystery, humor and strong characters.
I know what I like in an erotic story and I’m hoping readers will feel the same way. I’m not a BDSM person, but I find bondage very sexy, you know, without a lot of the spank, spank or whip, whip. As a fiercely independent woman, I long for the type of man who can handle me – who can dominate me in bed, and still love my feisty spirit. If that is you, too…then you’ll like Cinderella Club.
I think a lot of women fantasize about being kidnapped and held as a sex-slave. It’s a potent fantasy, especially with strong, independent women who long for a reduction of responsibilities.
In addition, there’s a twist on the Cinderella fairy-tale in Cinderella Club. I know so many women who reference Cinderella in daily conversation. They want to look like a princess on their wedding day, or they feel like they do so much for so little compliment, and they wish someone would appear and sweep them off of their feet, someone all other women find attractive. A charming prince. Miller Smytheson gets swept off her feet. The book opens with her bound and hanging from a chandelier.

JET: What enticed you to write erotic romance?

Mia: I’m a visual artist, a painter. My work has a child-like quality to it, and because of that, I guess I’m seen as a role model for children. But, you know, I’m not a nun. A journalist reviewing my art show asked me if I’d ever consider creating work that explored sexual themes and I said no. Why would I do that? A month later I was out shopping and I looked at a small spiral notebook on the shelf – and boom. I had this weird sense that I would write a story. I know; it was one of those out-of-the blue type things, like the universe works in mysterious ways mumbo-jumbo.
I wrote stories in notebooks when I was a tween. Privately. My stories then had characters kissing, nothing more than PG, of course. No one encouraged me because of it. I can’t really explain how I found my way back to it. I just did. I started writing. The whole plot of Cinderella Club hit me completely.
It’s like a waking dream. Like I was meant to be a writer all along – even though I never pursued it academically, even though I didn’t know it.

JET: What’s been your most challenging hurdle on the road to publication?

Mia: I haven’t had one. Is that bad? I worked on Cinderella Club for two years. I had a draft and sent it off to e-publishers. The rejection letters were incredibly positive. I was told they liked my dialogue and I had a good story but…. And the ‘buts’ were very helpful. Show don’t tell, flush out the characters or whatever. One told me to find a critique partner.
I saw it as a one-door-closing-while-another-opened scenario. I began corresponding with another writer. I’d read his stuff on http://www.literotica.com. I was just a fan and did not expect more than that. His encouragement, I don’t know, it’s just been so amazing.
At Christmas, I sent the revised manuscript to Selena Kitt at eXcessica, and within days she said she’d publish it! Then came the edits. When my editor said, “You have something good here”…wow, I just got misty eyed remembering that.
So, no set-backs.

JET: What was your favorite moment in the journey?

Mia: Holding the actual book in my hand, certainly, is my favorite moment. I wrote a book. It’s the size of a real book, 439 pages, and the cover makes it look like it could be another chick-lit read in one’s bookshelf – very unassuming. I love it. I love touching it and opening it up to a random page and reading my words.
It’s a resurrected dream, an item on my life’s bucket list fulfilled.
There have been many positive moments on this ‘journey’. I won the Valentine’s Day contest at Literotica.com with a ghost story called Ghost of a Chance (as mia_erotica). Having other writers, real writers who do this for a living, compliment me and tell me I’m a great writer. Great? What? I can’t believe it. How can that be, you know? It’s just…really nice.

JET: Which authors had the most influence over you growing up?

Mia: I don’t know. If I was influenced by writers – well, it didn’t happen consciously. I was an avid reader growing up. If I liked an author I’d want to read everything they’d written. They were mostly books that allowed me to embody the characters. I didn’t worship writers. Artists, fashion designers – yes and yes.

JET: When did you know you wanted to take the plunge into the writing world?

Mia: The minute I started writing Cinderella Club I knew it would be a published book. Because nothing else made sense. It felt right. I have a very strong work ethic and my belief in myself made this possible. I didn’t give up. I kept going back and reworking it, molding it as I would a painting or sculpture or dress design.
It might not amount to much. I don’t know what to except in sales. I don’t really know whether this plot-filled fantasy will appeal to anyone else. But based on the feedback and emails I’ve gotten for my short stories, I have to say that writing seems a lot more exciting to me than painting right now. I’ve corresponded with people all over the world. My book will be available all over the world – even India and the United Arab Emirates. It’s pretty incredible to think that people will have access to something I sat quietly alone in my room writing.
I’m writing a sequel, which means I want to stay ‘plunged’.

JET: What’s the craziest thing you’ve done in the name of book research? Most interesting fact you uncovered?

Mia: I hope you’re not suggesting that I reveal anything of a sexual nature here. Because if I have tried anything kinky to see if it was feasible, I’d keep that private.
I use Google a lot. For example, I look up artists to confirm that my art history knowledge is accurate. I looked up the spelling of Moët & Chandon. Google is so convenient.
I also keep a fat old dictionary on my lap. When I first started writing I thought my vocabulary was probably not good enough, you know? Even though most people tell me I use a lot of ‘big words” when I speak. I spent a couple days, actually, looking through the dictionary and writing down words and their meanings to help improve my vocab. Is that crazy? I’m embarrassed to admit it.

JET: All right – now that I’ve hammered you with the big questions, let’s tackle my favorite (and geeky) quick ten. . . starting with Paper or Plastic?

Mia: I’m probably going to sound like a wishy-washy goof-aroni here, but speaking as a true Gemini, my answer to a lot of these is both. Or neither. This is like a mind-field because I might hurt someone’s feelings, or worse, not pass the personality test. Yikes!
Okay, so I use both paper and plastic.

JET: Steak or Tofu?

Mia: Chicken. Steak’s great on occasion. I’ve only had tofu like four times.

JET: Beach or Mountains?

Mia: Neither and both. I don’t go to either as I am a high-maintenance stiletto-wearing city girl. I’m very active and wouldn’t mind a jog along the beach or a mountain hike once in a while.

JET: Country or Rock-n-Roll?

Mia: Rock, definitely. I prefer alternative. I’m stuck in the early 90s musically. But classic rock from the late 60s & 70s – I like everything about the era, the hair, fashion…I’d time travel to hook up w/ young Mick Jagger in a NY minute.

JET: Classics or Modern?

Mia: Are you referring to literature here? Because in fashion, I love classics. In art, I love modern. Books? Pride and Predjudice. It might be set in the past, but it’s timeless.

JET: Vamps or Wolves?

Mia: As a cat lover of a cat who loves to bite, I’ll say vampires.

JET: Zombies or Demons?

Mia: Neither. I don’t get the attraction. Bring on the hate mail.

JET: Horror or Comedy?

Mia: Comedy.
My life is a comedy. I’m very lucky, but at the same time I just happen to see humor in everything. Sometimes I laugh at things that people think are inappropriate. For example – nope, I better not give you an example.

JET: Salty or Sweet?

Mia: Both. My favorite thing right now is honey on Saltines.

JET: Coffee or Tea?

Mia: Both. Coffee from the Keurig is very satisfying in the morning. Tea, Earl Gray, like Captain Jean-Luc Pickard. But only when I have a sore throat.

JET: Thank you for indulging me. Before we wrap this up, can you tell us what you’re working on now? What’s next?

Mia: I’m 56,000 words into my sequel to Cinderella Club. It’s called Cinderella Thyme. It’s set in 1996 and the present. I just reworked chapter 5 and that took me an entire week!

JET: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat on my blog. Folks, you can find out more about Mia Natasha and her work at the following places:
http://mianatasha-erotica.blogspot.com/?zx=19af20a896ae65cf

http://excessica.com/blog/index.php/tag/mia-natasha/

Next week I’ll be talking about how much a pain it is to lose your hard drive and the importance of backing up your PC.

See you then,
Ciao.
JET

Hi all. Seeing as it’s Friday, I figured I’d let one of my more colorful characters have cart blanc reign over the blog today. So without further adieu, I give you Ty Aris.

*Laughs* You know, I’m not sure Ms. Taylor knows what she’s doing here.

I’ve never blogged, so forgive me if I screw up some mysterious blogger etiquette.

I’m certainly not used to the spot light.

Well, I take that back, I have had a starring role in some . . . a-hem . . . risqué flicks. My talents extend well beyond the screen and my step-brother benefits from some of the most sought after black market porn in the industry – pieced together by yours truly.

While the one’s I’m in are much more mainstream–you know, the hot and steamy type — the one’s my step brother insists on producing are vile and violent and twisted beyond reason. I’m sure Ms. Taylor’s fine fans probably wouldn’t have the stomach for it. Hell, most of the time I don’t either, but what am I going to do?

Walk away?

*Laughs*

Yeah, like Frank would allow that. I’d probably end up another prisoner in his fucked up fantasy world.

You see, I was fine with operating the cameras and the occasional screw – just fine with it.

Until I kidnapped Jessica Connor.

I should have known better. I really should have. My gut told me she was trouble from the first time I laid eyes on her. But my gut wasn’t what was in control when I saw her. Nope – it was a little south of there and it took over my entire being.

Man what a colossal fuck up.

Now all I can think about is getting my hands on her. I can’t stay away from the holding cell where my step-sister is prepping her for the videos and even though she’s drugged to the hilt, the woman fights any time her conscious pulls through the haze.

My problem? . . . Well, I don’t want to share and I can tell that’s going to cause problems with Frank.

I see the gleam in his eyes too.

Shit, speaking of Frank . . . I gotta run.

Ms. Taylor – Thanks for having me and perhaps I’ll run into some of you folks in the near future. 😉

Thanks for swinging in and catching a glimpse of Ty Aris, one of the main characters in Survival Games which is due for release on July 19th from eXcessica.

“SURVIVAL GAMES started out with a hook and made me anxious to read more. . . . This book had it all, and even though I started off not knowing if I would truly like the content, I was blown away by how honest, true, emotional, and frightening it really was. J.E. Taylor has spun a story that is sure to catch reader’s attentions and hold it until the last page. If you are looking for a story that will keep you on the edge, make your toes curl from the eroticism, and make you feel love and sorrow, then I would highly suggest SURVIVAL GAMES. I can’t wait to read the other two bookin what is to be a wonderful trilogy. Bravo Ms. Taylor!” – Manic Readers: http://www.manicreaders.com

Sexy dark and intense, SURVIVAL GAMES will bind you to the page, kiss you slowly and then kick you where it hurts the most; I couldn’t stop reading until I knew who won the game . . . Jessica Connor is one amazing character, and SURVIVAL GAMES is one hot read!” – John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of The 13th and Siren

Pre-order your ebook now: http://excessica.com/store/catalog/product_info.php?manufacturers_id=124&products_id=410&osCsid=8231fcc410768f6edb2cfdd40c309de8

Or order the book in print on July 19th at : https://www.createspace.com/3417288

Today, I have the pleasure of having my publisher, Selena Kitt on my blog to answer a few questions.  First let me tell you this woman is an absolute dynamo and I love working with her and her staff at eXcessica.  She’s a sassy, outrageous author who lives with her husband and children in the Midwest.   Her writing embodies everything from the spicy to the scandalous, but watch out – her stories often include intriguing edges and twists that take readers to new, thought-provoking depths.

Her list of short stories and novel length erotica is impressive including the following:  Samhain Publishing released Rosie’s Promise in March 2008. Selena has also been published in four Coming Together anthologies. Whiskey Creek Press published  two of her stories: I’ll Be Your Superman and French Lessons in Torrid Teasers #49 in August 2008 and Phaze published Sacred Spots,  Happy Accident,  Blind Date, and Christmas Stalking, The Surrender of Persephone and The Song of Orpheus.

Selena has also been published in The Shadow Sacrament: a journal of sex and spirituality and The Erotic Woman. Her story, Connections, was one of the runners-up for the 2006 Rauxa Prize, given annually to an erotic short story of “exceptional literary quality,” out of over 1,000 nominees, where awards are judged by a select jury and all entries are read “blind” (without author’s name available.)  She was also a top ten author finisher in the 2006 Preditors and Editors Poll. Her book, EcoErotica was a 2009 EPIC AWARD FINALIST and The Real Mother Goose was a 2010 EPIC AWARD FINALIST.

 [JET] My first question is aimed from a publishing standpoint, what are the things you look for in a story?

[Selena] Does it go without saying that grammar, spelling and punctuation are tantamount? And of course, you have thoroughly read and followed our submission guidelines… right? If those things are in place, well, it’s kind of like the Supreme Court justice’s definition of obscenity—it doesn’t matter what genre it’s in, I know a good story when I read one.

[JET] What is the submission process like at eXcessica and what sets it apart from other romance e-book publishers?

[Selena] I suppose it bears repeating – we have submission and editing guidelines for a reason. Please utilize them before submitting. After that, we ask for up to 4-6 weeks to read submissions and respond. Usually, we get back to authors within 2-3 weeks. As for what sets us apart? I think everyone knows we push the envelope. We accept more taboo subjects like nonconsent and incest and allow our authors to explore topics not usually found on other erotic romance publisher’s virtual shelves. That said, we also publish some of the sweetest romances around. What can I say? I like diversity!

[JET]  Not only do you operate in the capacity as publisher, but you also edit anthologies and write yourself – how do you find the time?  

[Selena] That’s a really good question! The truth is, I have a time travel device that allows me to add another 24 hours to every day… ha. I wish! Actually, it just involves sticking to a schedule and not getting too distracted by all the pretty flashing things on the Internet…

[JET]  What is your favorite story of all the ones you wrote? Why?

[Selena] Connections. I wrote it a long time ago, back before cell phones and the Internet. The characters are interesting and it’s actually a very sweet romance. (Readers might be surprised if they read it after they’ve read some of my more popular works…) They’re two characters who have stuck with me for a long time. It was also first runner up for the Rauxa Prize in 2006, and—bonus!—it’s available as a freebie if you join our eXcessica Yahoo Group!

[JET]  Can you tell us a little more about your other ventures beyond eXcessica?  

[Selena] I home-school two grade-schoolers, grow an organic garden and love popping bubblewrap every chance I get—even as environmentally unfriendly as the evil stuff is! I have an advanced degree in psychology and have taken photographs professionally. But to tell you the truth, for the past few years, eXcessica has taken up most of my time!

[JET]  As an author, what is your favorite genre to tackle?
[Selena] Horror. It’s my first love. I cut my writing teeth on Stephen King and Clive Barker.

[JET]  Is there a genre that you feel would challenge your reach?  What and why?

[Selena] Hardcore sci-fi. I just don’t have the knowledge to even fake it—and boy, those guys know when you get your particle accelerators wrong!

[JET]  When you have time to read for pleasure, what are the titles/authors you reach for first?

[Selena] Stephen King. Did I mention him? 🙂 I also read other popular fiction. Yes, I did read the Twilight series, because my teens got into them. Horrible books, great stories, in desperate need of a good editor. I also read Harry Potter and we’ve started the Lightning Thief series as well. But I also read things like Elie Wiesel’s Night and The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I like magical realism, and Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill, recently wrote a good one called “Horns.” I highly recommend him – it’s not often the son can do as well as (or better) than the father. It’s a big shadow to carry, but he does it well!

[JET]  What is your absolute favorite line from any book that you’ve read? 

[Selena] “Any word you have to hunt for in a thesaurus is the wrong word. There are no exceptions to this rule.” – Stephen King.

Thank you so much for joining me today Selena.  For those of you looking for her latest books, please visit her at http://www.eXcessica.com or www.selenakitt.com and enjoy some of her free reads!

Blogging. . .

May 1 is tomorrow, so I figured I’d write this like it’s the first post in May, but before I get ahead of myself, I’d like to give a shout out to my husband on this last day of April. Happy Birthday honey! Enjoy Maine and I’ll catch you on Sunday.

Quite a few of my Backspace brethren have book releases in May so without further adieu, check out these titles this month: William Mills – A 30 DAY RETREAT: A PERSONAL GUIDE TO SPIRITUAL RENEWAL, Emily Winslow – THE WHOLE WORLD, Marie-Claude Bourque – ANCIENT WHISPERS, Robert Gregory Browne – DOWN AMONG THE DEAD MEN, Chris Grabenstein – ROLLING THUNDER, Boyd Morrison – THE ARK, and Marlys Pearson – HELPLESS. Congratulations folks and here’s to stellar sales!

 

 Now onto my blog, which I am transforming a bit over the next few months. I’m going to start bringing in guest bloggers and doing author interviews instead of just my aimless rambling, and I’m also going to pledge to more than once a week. I plan on mixing up the questions as well, to bring more fun and snap to the Q&A sessions and leave the same repetitive blog tour questions at the door. I also plan on letting my characters take the helm as well. So hang on for a wild ride!

So far I have a handful of author’s booked starting with C.R. Moss at the end of May and Lauren Baratz-Logsted in June. I’ve also got a commitment from Anita Philmar for July and am currently nailing down a date with Jeremy Shipp. I’ll be filling in the schedule over the next couple weeks and as you can tell, I’m not genre specific here, I go from romance to chick-lit, to YA – to middle grade all the way to horror, so whatever your preferences are, I hope you will find some mind bending and enlightening posts here!

Anyhow, that about wraps it up. I’m off to take my son out to dinner. It’s rare that he and I are left to our own devices without my daughter or husband around, so it just seemed fitting to celebrate with an ice cream sundae!

Ciao!

JET

J. E. Taylor, suspense writer and Allegory E-zine assistant editor is delighted to announce the acceptance of her debut novel by FIDO Publishing. Dark Reckoning, scheduled for release on July 5, 2010, is the first in a planned series featuring undercover FBI Agent Steve Williams.

DARK RECKONING: released by FIDO Publishing (www.FIDOpublishing.com) on July 5, 2010:

A sadistic killer stalks the secluded college town of Brooksfield, New Hampshire. With bodies piling up and rumors of the murders being part of sacrificial hazing rituals, the FBI plants Special Agent Steve Williams in a fraternity at Brooksfield University. His investigation takes a ninety degree turn into the bizarre when he’s introduced to Jennifer, a clairvoyant co-ed who swears the killer isn’t human.

Steve considers the plausibility of the extraordinary, the unspeakable, even the inconceivable when his notebook starts bleeding cryptic messages. Messages that indicate Jennifer is at the heart of the darkness in Brooksfield.

When she describes her latest vision, a trail of violent deaths, including his, Steve asks the million-dollar question: Is Jennifer trying to help . . . or is she actually the one responsible?

J.E. Taylor’s short stories have appeared in Niteblade and Allegory and she has credits in three upcoming 2011 and 2012 eXcessica anthologies.

Her first erotic suspense novel Survival Games received a 4–star review from Manic Readers, an edgy, erotic, hang by the edge of your seat thriller that will be released on July 19, 2010 by eXcessica.(www.excessica.com) Mind Games and End Game, the final two in the Games trilogy are due to be released by eXcessica on November 29, 2010 and February 14, 2011 respectively.

Ms. Taylor lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children.

Visit her at http://www.JETaylor75.com.

My first review. . .

I have to admit, I was ill prepared for a review like this. It left me breathless, and hyper and ecstatic beyond words. I set my expectations very low so I wouldn’t be disappointed when they started rolling in. I’ve seen some good writers filleted by reviewers, and who isn’t a bit insecure in their abilities – I certainly am.

   
So when I took a moment yesterday morning to open my email, and I found my first review notice, I gulped, not really looking (or comprehending – I saw it but it didn’t compute) the four stars indicated in the email. I clicked the link and started reading, and it wasn’t until I was halfway through that I realized it was favorable. But the last paragraph – the last paragraph was stellar. What every writer hopes to hear from their readers and I nearly fell out of my seat.

    
Dear Claudia Rhyes over at Manic Readers – you made my day. Hell, you made my millennium!

      
4 Star Spinning
This book had it all, and even though I started off not knowing if I would truly like the content, I was blown away by how honest, true, emotional, and frightening it really was. Jane E. Taylor has spun a story that is sure to catch reader’s attention and hold it until the last page. If you are looking for a story that will keep you on the edge, make your toes curl from the eroticism, and make you feel love and sorrow, then I would highly suggest Survival Games. I can’t wait to read the other two books in what is to be a wonderful trilogy. Bravo Ms. Taylor! – Manic Readers

     
I’m still expecting that bad review and I’m sure it will come, but until then, I’m going to ride the wave of this one, the euphoria and the validation that I don’t suck.

     
Survival Games will be released on July 19, 2010 in both e-book and paperback. You can pre-order the paperback on Amazon.com (or at least sign up for notification of availability). I really hope you folks will buy the book in one format or another and nearer to the release date, look for information on getting signed paperback copies!

    
Ciao – and here’s to a wonderful weekend!
JET.

What editors want . . .

I figured since I’m knee deep in reviewing submissions for Allegory and operating as a content editor for both eXcessica and FIDO, I’d take a moment to talk about what I am looking for in a story. 

I lead a very busy life between my day job, my writing, my marketing efforts and operating in an editorial capacity, so when I sit down to read a submission, I want to be swept away. 

I want to forget about the ten gazillion things on my plate and get lost in the story. 

I want to feel something; love, hate, fear, sorrow, joy.

I want to be moved in some fashion by what I read. 

In order to do that, the writer must leave passive voice at the door.  Passive voice is the kiss of death in my book.  Telling the reader the story instead of letting them experience it for themselves is a cardinal sin and a lesson I learned with a little help from some very savvy and very patient writing friends.  

Let me give you a hideous example of passive voice from my own archives: 

This is from the very first draft of Survival Games:

They sat in solemn silence as the memorial service began.  The priest had inspirational words for the family about knowing that their loved one was at peace with God.  Family and friends shared stories of their experiences with Jessica and expressed how much they would miss her.

BORING!  No wonder why the original version didn’t get the fan fare I hoped for.  Frankly – it sucked.   At the time, I didn’t know better but as I said before, I learned.  Not only did I benefit from harsh critiques but I also invested in some fantastic on-line writing courses.  My favorite series by far is Margie Lawson’s Deep Editing courses, I highly recommend them for the beginning writer and even those more seasoned writers that want to dig deeper. 

After a long road from first draft to where I am today, I’ve learned to write with impact.  

Now compare the original with the same passage in the published version:

They sat in silence and the memorial service began.  The priest shared inspirational words for the family about their loved one being at peace with God, but it did nothing to fill the hollowness in his soul. He didn’t want to know Jessica was in heaven, he wanted her here to help raise their family, to watch them grow, to rejoice and celebrate year after year together.  He wanted his wife and as family and friends shared stories, Daniel listened with a bitter and empty heart.   

Twenty years together.

Twenty years gone in the squeal of tires and exploding gas. 

Twenty years and now he was alone.

This passage engages active voice and enlists rhetorical devices, letting the reader into the character’s head, thus making it a more compelling read than the earlier version. 

If something akin to my original version crossed my desk, I’d stop reading right there.  Basically, if the first page is riddled with ‘was’, ‘were’,  ‘is’, ‘are’, ‘to be’ and ‘had’, I won’t read any further and your story will be rejected.   I know that sounds harsh, but it is what it is. 

Another thing I watch for is info dumps.  The key with back story is to sit and write everything you can about a character and then read it with an ultra critical eye.  What does the reader REALLY need to know?  Will this information propel the story forward?  If the answer is yes to either of these questions, the info can stay, everything else should be nixed.  Too much back story brings the momentum to a grinding halt. 

The key to a fantastic read is letting your audience get into the main character’s head, into his hearts, feel what he is feeling, tasting, hearing, smelling and touching.  But this can be taken too literally, too far and what ends up happening is head hopping from one point of view to another, which is another faux pas.  The reader loses a sense of connection when the point of view is constantly switching. 

Each passage, chapter or section should be one character’s point of view unless your book is from an omnipotent point of view, but that is another challenge all together.  If you’re in Johnny’s head (POV) and he has his back to Sally, you shouldn’t show Sally’s facial expressions unless Johnny’s an alien and has eyes on the back of his head.  *wink-wink*

I’m usually a little more forgiving on this unless it starts to pull me out of the story, then like passive voice and info dumps – the story will end up on the rejection pile. 

The last thing I look at is dialog and the overuse of adverbs. Period pieces aside, if dialog doesn’t ring true, or sounds contrived or forced, you are dead in the water.  The best advice here is to read it aloud, that flushes out the more awkward phrases and such. Also, ask yourself if you would speak like that.  If the answer’s hell no – change it.    

And as far as adverbs – I’m of the opinion that these are the lazy man’s alternative to writing fresh and too many will land you on the rejection pile.    

I’m sure none of this is new or ground breaking for those who have been around the block, but for those new to the ring, I’m hoping this will help you step back and look at your piece with a more critical eye before submitting to any publication.  The writing has to be concise and compelling no matter what the genre. 

So, I wish you a sharp pen and an even sharper razor to cut the needless phrases, the passive voice and those pesky adverbs. 

Good luck and God bless!

JET.

The journey . . .

Another Friday – another blog. This time I asked my friends and fan base over at Facebook what they’d like me to talk about this evening. I got some great ideas but the first post intrigued me. For the others that piped in, I’ll tackle your ideas in subsequent Friday posts.

Anna Walls piped in with this gem:
As a relatively new author, I’m always intrigued with how my peers made that journey. Was it planned? When did you start planning if it was? That sort of thing. What did it feel like to see your own very first book in published form?

Was this planned – no not in the least, at least not the path my life took when I got married almost twenty one years ago. In college, I had dreams of being a writer, producer and director. My major was in Communications with a concentration in radio and television broadcasting. I loved it. I mean LOVED that world. When I got out of school, I went to work at a local television station in the capacity of a film editor. What that meant in the practical world is I reformatted movies to fit into the specific timeslots and took out scenes that were not suitable for broadcast television. I also helped out in the news room at times and on occasion wrote and directed kids news spots. It was a fun job, but it paid a pittance, so when the opportunity came to switch gears into the world of finance.

In all the years I worked and raised a family, writing was always in the back of my mind, but time just wasn’t there. But even during that time, my imagination stored all the ideas away into a “this might be interesting” file cabinet in my head.

The catalyst for change was in the beginning of 2007, my daughter asked the million dollar question.

If you could do anything, what would it be?

That was an easy question to answer. Write a book and get it published. And with that, my husband and kids gave the go ahead. For close to two years I wrote almost non-stop – every evening, every weekend, every vacation and I have eight manuscripts to show for that crazy brain dump. Since then I’ve written dozens of short stories, but my focus has been on refining those manuscripts.

I made the classic rookie mistakes with query letters, from the first batch which was really more like a typical business letter introducing myself and the stack of manuscripts I had written to the naivety of being sucked into those less than reputable publishers – luckily I got wise before I peeled off any cash.

The turn of everything happened when I met Lauren Baratz-Logsted on MySpace and she turned me onto Backspace (www.bksp.org) and the forum there. Talk about eye opening and humbling. I had a lot to learn and the folks there were exceptional at sharing knowledge and pushing me to write better, cleaner, more compelling prose.

That is when I started planning. I set up my own website, my own blog, branched out from MySpace to the other networking sites, and then started refining my pitch. I met the editor of Allegory and volunteered to be an associate editor on the E-zine and landed my first publishing contract myself. So now it’s a balance of branding my name, writing, editing and learning more about the craft. While I’d like to have an agent and get my more mainstream books in the hands of the big markets, I can’t complain.

As for actually holding my first book in my hand, it’s an amazing, surreal, joyous, unbelievable feeling that I can’t begin to describe.

Now all I need to do is find balance between my writing life and my family life. Once I find that, I’ll be golden.

This week has been quite an experience starting with the receipt of my Survival Games ARCs. Wow, let me tell you cutting the tape off the box and pulling out that first copy was surreal. It’s been a dream of mine since high school, and I had the pleasure of sharing it with my folks who were at the house to get my son off the bus like they do every Monday afternoon. I actually made my father tear up because that first book I pulled from the box, I gave to him as an early birthday gift. You have to understand the relationship I have with my dad, he is and always has been my hero. The man has a heart of gold and an equally sharp sense of humor that has defined my outlook on life, so it just seemed right for him to receive that first copy.

And here I thought my week couldn’t get any better than that but then Monday night I received the preliminary artwork for Mind Games from a stellar cover artist down under. Working with Scott Dawson was a pleasure and after a few minor adjustments in the image eye color, we had the cover ironed out and submitted. I posted that cover over on Facebook and I’m telling you, it is beyond beautiful.

The rest of the week was tied up with work – my day job overriding a lot of my time and sucking the life out of me so I had nothing left at night and even wading through the Allegory submissions was slower than usual. Well, I guess that’s what you get for taking close to two weeks off from work. LOL. I did get an invite to the Winslow House Bookstock event in Mass on October 2nd and set up a couple guest blog events close to the release dates of both books, so it wasn’t a total loss.

The week ended on an up-note. I was hired as a content editor and my story Grayson House hit in the top ten over at the P&E readers poll which thrilled me to no end. I’d love to see this story get within the top 5, so if you get a chance, please take a second to vote for me before the polls close on the fourteenth. Here’s the link and I would be eternally grateful for your vote! http://www.critters.org/predpoll/shortstoryh.shtml

Well, that about does it for me for this week faithful fans. Until we meet again!