Category Archives: writing

Are you enjoying the writing journey?

Have you met your goals? What do you do when you succeed? Or fail? What about when you disappoint yourself? Beat yourself up for not being dependable? I have a confession… rainbow_stage_spotlights_vector_background_529094-copy


 It’s October? OMG – How did I get here and how did I get side-tracked from my writing goals? One thing that interferes with getting my writing done is having more pressing issues that keep popping up, forcing me to re-prioritize.  My family’s needs always take priority over everything else, and my uncle has decided to move into assisted living. With no children of his own, I’m trying to help him find a suitable place near his friends. It’s giving me good practice for finding out what I will want when the time comes for me and my husband. But it’s time consuming and distracting.

“Hair of the Wolf” is late. I’m beating myself up over not meeting the goal for a planned  September release. The first humorous paranormal book in my As the Chair Turns series should have been released by now, but Irma showed up and blew (pun intended) that and several trees in my yard all to hell.

My house is way too large for my husband and I to maintain. We were ready to downsize and reduce the stress in our lives. Half our belongings are in boxes. We installed new flooring, new roof, and updated the kitchen and the bathrooms. There’s still more to do and, now after this hurricane season, there’s more. I also planned to put “said” home on the market last month. Real retirement is beginning to feel like an illusive dream.

Needless to say, my plans have changed. But although we had no firm plans in place for moving on, we did have a few dreams; so now, frustration is setting in.

Since I’m not wealthy enough for my writing income to take precedence over my other sources for paying the mortgage and bills … such as emergency hurricane preparedness and cleanup, I need an alternative vision. I edit part time, mentor/coach part time, work as a hairdresser part time, and then write. So writing comes last, and money that I’d like to spend for promotion and advertising is being gobbled up in daily living expenses.  I am not the only author suffering from this dilemma.

What I’ve decided to do is stop setting “firm” goals for my release dates and avoid the guilt. I have at least eight books in progress at this time, and because I value good story and character development above churning out crap, I am taking a step back.

One of the observations I’d like to make for writers is that you should set your own pace. Yes, the authors who are releasing quickly and often are having success, but don’t sell your work short. Don’t self criticize because you take more time to tell the story the way you want to. Do it your way in your own time.

The self-publishing market makes it difficult to rise above the algorithms, keywords, and massive numbers of releases daily. What I see are opportunists, sharks feeding on minnows, finding a way to make more money for themselves without a care to the quality of what they turn out or how they affect the market in general.

Are we dumbing-down literacy? Yes. And genre fiction. The Chicago Manual of Style reviews editing rules about once a year because colloquial language and needs within the US are changing with the speed of social networking. There are age-gapped and style changes taking place every day. English, in all its forms, has different rules around the world, but in addition to that, I believe, fiction in (American) English is being swamped by books published with little, no, or unprofessional editing.  The results are chilling.

Incorrect uses of tense, words, phrases in books and TV, social media, and radio infiltrates our daily experience. Which came first? Does it matter? The results are the same. Confusion and inconsistencies. Authors who discard the rules and, through advertising and promotion, convince readers it doesn’t matter.

To each her/his own. I can’t live with “incorrect” or inconsistencies in my books. And believe me they have them. But I strive to improve with each book I write, because, as in all art, fiction and novels are a personal matter of taste. Correct language, grammar, and punctuation is not. Dialogue can be true to form, narrative can not.  An author can maintain her or his voice without compromising quality editing.

Be careful when comparing your goals, needs, and successes with other peoples’. Be good to yourself. Enjoy the journey no matter where it takes you.

 

Author Tips for Writing Detail

Detail has a purpose. It should provide something to the story. It should do something to the reader. The picture I used for my page has that romantic couple in a sexy pose. But in describing it, can you as an writer describe the scene accurately to draw a reader response? It makes me think of a sandy beach (yet it’s a wooden floor, reminiscent of Dirty Dancing) perhaps because of the way the light strikes the two characters. I think heat.

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I remember the way the sun feels against my skin as it soaks in, the way it also heats me from the inside without the need for a kiss. Has he just finished kissing her or is he about to kiss her? The sensations before and after are different, and depending on expectation and circumstance, so are the emotions and response.  In describing this moment, an author will know which words to choose to evoke the exact reaction intended from the reader.

Can you imagine the moment leading up to this point? Can you begin to imagine what comes next? Everything depends on story. Characters react to story. Having a plot in mind puts the characters in the story, then knowing your characters well determines how they will react. They have options if they’re three dimensional characters, so they may surprise you, and also the reader, with their reaction. How will he touch her? Where? What does he want? What keeps him from taking what he wants? Maybe he will. maybe he won’t. Details like background noises may define the moment. Maybe an interruption sends them into hiding…everything depends on what’s in the author’s head…and where the story has been as well as where the plot is going.

Think about this when you add detail. What he’s wearing or not wearing can set a scene for what comes next. With both of them scantily clad, sexual tension can elevate quickly, especially if they are forced into close proximity. Does he hear her breathing heavily? Does she notice perspiration form on his forehead? “Showing” these details makes “telling” the reader the obvious unnecessary, but it does put the reader in the scene and  into the story.

Remember the books that frightened you? I had to take breaks while reading The Shining by Stephen King, I could “not” breathe. Normally, writers give the readers time to breathe between scary scenes. Not King.

Remember the books that turned you on? The one that comes to mind for me wasn’t an erotic book; it was a suspense…All the Queen’s Men by Linda Howard. I was on a plane and deep into the dangerous scene of the book, when the sensual tension began to build. OMG danger and suspense and sex! I was seated in an aisle seat in business class surrounded by men. Lost in the story, I must have been holding my breath because when I finally exhaled, the man across the aisle turned around, winked, and asked, “That good huh?” I flushed to the roots of my hair. But “yes” it was that good, and I immediately bought one of those paperback book covers to hide my choice of titles in the future. (Although that cover had had nothing on it but chess pieces, I wasn’t ready to get teased over something like Fabio’s chest. It’s nothing to laugh at!) Getting lost in the details is a reader’s pleasure and the author’s job. Authors must draw the picture, set the scene, create the mood, string the reader out until they want to scream in pleasure or fear, or cry or laugh, or clap and cheer. Emotion is key. If an author can make you feel something…the job is done. Details create sensations that develop the emotions. Make certain the details you choose move the story forward. Set the stage for the scene.

Happy writing makes happy reading!

I Blame Harlequin for this…

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As the Chair Turns (a paranormal, tongue-in-cheek romance series) by Eliza March begins with Hair of the Wolf, Book One coming this Fall.

Anyone who’s ever read my writing knows I have an underlying sense of snide… Is it humor? Or sarcasm? Or scattered brain cell patterns from working with too many chemicals and inhaling too much hair spray?But funny? I’m not so sure. Lately, maybe more so than ever.  Nevertheless, I was a reader (and, also apparently a drinker) before I was a writer.

I belonged to Harlequin’s “books of the month club”. Not sure what it’s really called. But I got additional gifts when they arrived. Purple wine glasses I had to use while I read the books they sent. I had a book a day habit and the purple glass always looked full … too bad it wasn’t. My wine habit couldn’t keep up with my reading or I’d pass out before I finished the book…and four books, Harlequin? That didn’t keep me satisfied. I went to the used book store to supplement my reading addiction, ordered books online, and then discovered a few small ebook presses. Whala! I would never go without something to read again…and I could download at 2 AM! Book two in the series completed? Ah! Book three is available immediately! Yea.

Soon, the series didn’t satisfy, the authors couldn’t write fast enough, I’d imagined the story twist differently, the characters reactions differently, and I had an idea…write it myself. At least I couldn’t drink and type at the same time.

When I first began writing, one of my stylists suggested As The Chair Turns for a title, and with her blessings I am going to use it. The series was originally intended to be reality based and a serious, non-fiction fiction. I just couldn’t do it. Fifty years in this business, in one capacity or another, didn’t allow for it.

What I didn’t suspect at the time was that:
1. I’d ever write it.
2. It would be paranormal.
3. It would be funny.

Karsley, “like Parsley,” thank you.  Now that I’m finally going to use it, I hope you find it up to your title suggestion. I doubt Karsley ever suspected it would be something like this. But she has a great sense of humor so I think it will be perfect.

I’d started out writing romantic suspense, then for a while, found my niche in erotic paranormal romance. And I was pretty darned good at it, too. The only thing funny about that is the idea of me writing erotic anything. My husband suggested I write what I know. I have had one husband, five children, the beauty industry, and reality for experience. That was more what he had in mind. But hey, Problem was I read lots of fiction. Don’t forget that book a day habit. And I read sexy fiction. Paranormal fiction.

I guess he didn’t expect me to stray off to my wild imaginary, sexy-shifter worlds. Uh-duh…that had become my escape reality. Who needed more of what I did every day? I refused to consider writing about the industry I’d been immersed in for…well…forever. (Fifty years is close enough to forever to qualify, I believe.)

One morning I woke up with my hero and heroine in my head in a scene in a salon.  Deja vie. They were sexy. New addition. Nice. But they were funny. Too funny. I didn’t write funny. I’m not funny …or I wasn’t, anyway.

i thought for a moment and suddenly realized in recent years,  I’ve started having comic-strip visions in my head when people speak or I read something. The intent changes and I see the hysterical side of life.  Everything has a humorous side, right? The visions I have usually include little clouds of dialogue pointing to the characters’ (sometimes cartoon animals’) heads. Often, I have to bite my tongue to stop the hee-haw response I feel swelling up inside me. You experience that too, don’t you? No? I’ve wondered why my imagination for story-telling waited so long, but it was probably for the best while I was doing personal things to people’s hair and bodies.

Here’s an except from Hair of the Wolf from Book One of As the Chair Turns. To set up the scene, Dela is the only human working in Frankie de Wolf’s world renowned salon and spa in Boca Raton, FL. They are going to a hair show in Vegas…Dela is the responsible one until the slot machines start singing…

All rights reserved Copyright 2017 Eliza March

…Our group filed past the flashing lights, then the digital billboards caught my attention. Suddenly, I had a change of heart. My gambling release switch flipped off and desire did a happy dance in my pants. Images of gyrating, shirtless men from “Down Under” put me in a different frame of mind.

Vegas. Sin City. I began thinking of all the potential sin and felt my lips curl. I was here to party. What happens here…yadda yadda yadda…right?

“Earth to Dela. Are you ready for a couple of those in your lap?” Selena, the female cat shifter, purred, pointing to the Chippendale poster.

Frankie didn’t look at me, waiting for my answer, but I noticed the way his ears perked up. They sort of twitched in my direction. I weighed my answer carefully, reconsidering my previous let-it-all-go moment, and just gave the shifter my non-commital smile.

I had enough on my plate with this raucous bunch of supernatural species, who, under normal circumstances, did their best to look human and contain themselves. Here, I’d already seen evidence of their loss of control. Eye shapes and colors were the first signs. Contacts were a good explanation since shimmering silver eyes weren’t a color humans were naturally blessed with, but that was just for starters. Some of their other traits weren’t as easy to explain. The younger vampires were already setting off smoke when direct sunlight hit them and one of the younger werewolf’s ears sprouted hair.

Never mind. You get the gist.

Controlling them at Luna de la Mar promised to be easier than keeping my staff’s identities secret in a town filled with them…. In Boca, being the only human in charge of every paranormal species unknown to the local inhabitants was harder than making them seem eccentric or weird instead of different. Here, I had a feeling my boss and the staff were going to be, not only uncooperative but, downright bad influences.

By the time I rounded up transportation for everyone and gave directions to the hotel and instructions regarding where to pick up the hair show tickets, I’d lost half the group and all their attention.

Whatever! The staff were all adults of a sort. They could fend for themselves. After all, I wasn’t their caretaker this weekend. They were powerful, magical, and gifted. I, on the other hand, was merely human. “Screw it,” I mumbled to no one in particular. Only a handful of the staff were still nearby, close enough to hear me anyway.

“You need a drink and entertainment, sweetie.” Jen, the witch, slipped her arm around my neck and scrunched her magical nose at me. Before I could argue, one of my favorite witches prepared to glamour me right there in the taxi line, in front of fake Elvis, a poster of Neil Diamond, and God knows how many witnesses.

I gasped and held up my hand to ward off Jen’s magic, then realized she was right. “What the hell? Do your worst!” I opened my arms wide as she doused her magic over me.

Hell, the six-inch red stilettos didn’t even hurt my feet. Wow. I could get used to this. I liked the taller illusion. The view was pretty awesome. I just hoped I didn’t topple over what with all my cleavage piled up in front like this.

Carrie, my other witch-bitch, just grinned up at the billboard. “We need three or more of them…” She pointed at a digital video of bare-chested Chippendales.

Chippendales and Thunder From Down Under?

Be still my thundering heart. How would I ever get through the weekend? With a low moan, I clenched my jaw and turned away from the smorgasbord of flesh and muscle. Calculating the idea of  “more” … my right brain did the math while my left side did the architectural planning…

There’s more, so much more so if you liked this excerpt and want more, sign up for my Newsletter HERE  at http://eepurl.com/buCZLf  You’ll be the first to get them and hear about the release date.

 

 

Trends in Romance – Mature at 30? Or 40?

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Sizzling Romance

The new trends in romance are moving toward romance about millennials and the issues they’re faced with every day. Is age a barrier to love? Women  seeking careers, for years, had to face the questions many women today face: now or later? May-December romances used to refer to older men younger women, now older women-younger men barriers have come crashing down. Although it wasn’t the norm years ago, it wasn’t unknown. Do women still feel the stigma? I have two aunts who married younger men. Both lied about their ages for years. My husband is a few months younger than I am. We’ve always joked about it. My sister, daughter, and cousin all married younger men. I never considered it an issue, and then the problems that come with aging have silenced ticking fertility clocks. There are ways for all of us to remain younger looking as our life expectancy increases; and ways to extend the years we have before parenting.  So we can love who we chose with less stigma.

Want to get into one woman’s head? Read my More Than a Stud, a short erotic study on two people who want it all.

More Than a Stud by Eliza March

With her biological clock ticking away, Carina Roth, CEO and owner of a corporate security company, wants a child. On the night of her forty-second birthday, her thirty-five-year-old corporate intel officer, Evan Douglas, surprises her by admitting he’s always wanted her. But when he offers to be her baby’s daddy, she’s not sure she wants to risk complicating their working relationship even though she’s spent years pushing him out of her sensual dreams.

Evan has waited too long for Carina to realize what they have between them is perfect. When he discovers she’s considering in vitro fertilization, he decides he can’t wait. Not only does he want to father Carina’s child, he sets out to prove he can fulfill her every need despite the difference in their ages. For Carina, he wants to be…more than a stud.

The POWER OF THE LIGHT – The 1st Journey in the Gemini Prophecy series

Before the Gemini Prophecy, the World of the Fae and Underworlds clashed. Here is one ins300px-Fortingall_Yewpiring photo of the ancient yew that I wrote about in the story. Many of the old stories are derived from folklore, but this tree has stood in this place throughout the times the tales were told. Fascinating.

235px-Dunedin_Andr_Mem_Chapel01This old church reminds me of the one I wrote about as far as shape and size, but the location and material was off. irish SO with further research here is the one in Ireland I imagined; white-washed walls, mold, and ancient cemetery included.

Now how did I come up with the cliffs, you ask? I envisioned the Cliffs of Mohr with trees and a stone circle. Caves and wooded forests filled the images I had of the outskirts

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Coming SOON

of Washington, DC. The location where the psychic was killed may have looked like the image at the bottom of this mock-up cover for the first book in the series; POWER OF THE LIGHT. Certainly, the Traighon is aptly portrayed here. Blue skin and all.

 

Have you read the prequel? The Fae Myth may be a good place to begin before the first book in the series is released. In the coming months look for Power of the Light, followed by Power of the Sea…then two more books in the series will be following in 2018. Each is a stand-alone story.

The Gemini Prophecy final copy

Where to BUY

AMAZON

 

Giving Away Books? How About a TIP?

19475622-Arrangement-of-five-dollar-signs-with-focus-on-center-one--Stock-PhotoNo. I mean a real tip. You know…money? I’m thinking about all the free books authors give away and call it advertising expense.  Sometimes I get a really good book and think, perhaps I should give the author a tip. I could buy the next book, but that isn’t really expressing the value of the book I just read. So I rate it five stars and write gushing reviews. Still I feel something is missing. five-starsI see SMASHWORDS has an option under pricing for the reader to choose their own price. Anyone tried that? Reader? Author? I’m curious. Given the choice, how many or which  books would you pay for? How about an option to TIP the author for an excellent read?

Instead of  T-I-P (TO INSURE PROMPTNESS) satisfied readers could give extra TO INSURE PLEASURE? or PERFECTION? Or we could just insert a DONATION button. I’ve seen them on blogs (idea).

What about the ones when we can’t get past the first chapter? I’m all forimages emojis but I always seem to feel an emotion they haven’t developed a face for. A middle finger could work well for so much, but some would be offended. Nope. Not a good idea. Rudeness is available everywhere lately. If you can’t say something nice…don’t SAY anything, don’t TIP. don’t DONATE or leave a REVIEW. “NO” review speaks volumes. “BAD” reviews make you sound like a TROLL. I’m voting for tipping. If it’s a FIVE +  STAR book, the only thing left is a TIP.  For me? I’m okay if you buy my other books — I won’t be offended.

1021368484-thumbs-up-star-free-vector-in-adobe-illustrator-ai-ai-jvovkf-clipartI started this thought, tongue in cheek, but it’s beginning to sound good. Where is that emoji for the face I’m making right now? Eh?

Oh and in case you haven’t signed up for my NEWSLETTER yet…now would be a good time. NO SPAMMING. In fact, unless set-of-hands-with-thumbs-up_1134-312I have something to offer you like a FREE book or a BIG DISCOUNT or a chance to WIN something … or tell you a SECRET no one knows about yet … I won’t bother you. I will give you my email address so you can contact me back with suggestions. Or just leave them here. I get them.

The link to sign up below will ask you what genres you prefer.

Sometimes it’s hard to decide. I think you can pick them all.

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Maybe… You Weren’t Rejected

From my Editor’s “Sorting Hat”… One thing I’ve noticed is that submitting authors have come to expect rejections. They accept rejection too easily.  Even when they aren’t being rejected.

Most new authors have no idea how the publishing system works. They are writers. So now what?

I was fortunate to finally find answers to my questions, and to questions I hadn’t even thought of, with experienced authors at RWA and then at Tampa area Romance Authors, the local chapter I joined, where the wealth of information about the publishing process was invaluable. Gracious published authors like CL Wilson, Julie Leto,  Karen Rose, Virginia Henley, Betina Krahn, Terri Garey, Roxanne St. Claire, Kresley Cole, and so many others, gave their time and experience to pull up promising authors. The information and advice they shared helped everyone.

So when I encounter a new author who doesn’t really know how to format her manuscript, or write a submission letter, or know where to find advice, I recommend joining a professional group. In my case I did join a group of writers early on, but they were a mixed group. I write romance and was too embarrassed to read aloud during critique sessions. So without a critique partner I still learned plenty about writing from critiquing other people’s work. I am a reader, after all, and I know what I like and don’t like.  Did it drag? Did it grab me right from the start? Did it confuse me? Did I stop reading it? Was the dialogue bad? Were the characters interesting, flawed or boring?

So it didn’t take me long to begin looking at my own work with a discerning eye. I couldn’t seem to cut what I needed to cut. I wrote around passages that didn’t fit to keep them in because I liked the way the words sounded or the illusion they created. It slowed the pace, it didn’t move the story forward or show the reader anything about the characters.

Even when I did find a patient soul or two to critique my work (I can’t believe they are still my friends after all this…) I didn’t want to change it. So where did the manuscript go? I submitted it and got rejections. No explanation of why. But in retrospect you know why, right? All my critique partners were right. I knew it. I just didn’t know how to fix it.

There are plenty of wonderful editors and agents who look at your manuscript and want to publish it. They like you. They like your characters. They like the plot. But sometimes they don’t have the time to fix all the things your manuscript will need to make it a viable published book. If you get a rejection letter with suggestions…your manuscript may NOT have been rejected after all.  Do NOT be afraid to ask if you can revise and resubmit. If you are lucky enough to get the okay to resubmit, do NOT rush through it and send it right back. I’d get everyone’s opinion who reads your genre to take a look before you send it back. I’d let it sit for a while after I addressed the obvious concerns. Time is the best judge of your work. If you go back to your book and are absorbed in the story and surprised and pleased with the dialogue and narrative when you reread it, fantastic. I can’t tell you how often I don’t remember writing certain passages, and I wonder who did. I was in a zone, and my muse had completely taken over. It was beyond good. Beyond what I believed I was capable of writing.  And then there are the other times when I read a scene and wonder what the hell I was thinking. The sentences are a jumble of crap. I misspell words, misuse words, mix metaphors, write a scene out of point of view…ugh. You get the picture.

Self edit. Gather all the information you can about the industry, the editors, the agents and agencies you want to submit to. If you get your manuscript in front of anyone  make certain it will reflect the best you have to offer. If you get rejected, confirm whether you should revise and resubmit or whether your book is not a good fit for the publisher or editor. You want someone who loves your book as much as you do to manage it, agent, editor, or publisher. You want all hands on deck when it comes to producing your book.

I have had to chase after authors who thought I’d rejected their books and explain I want them to fix what I pointed out. It isn’t hopeless. Sometimes, there’s too much story for the length, or not enough. Sometimes the clutter is hiding the magic.  That can all be an easy fix. But sometimes it isn’t good for the publisher or the genre line. That may not be fixable. No one benefits if a reader isn’t looking at a publisher or distributor for your book because yours maybe mystery and the reader only reads paranormal. So make sure you are positioning your work well.

I’ve probably forgotten to include a million other issues but I hope you get something out of this post. I’ve been editing for The Wild Rose Press for almost ten years under the pseudonym, Frances Sevilla and independently freelance editing as Maureen F. Sevilla.

When I’m a writer, Eliza March, I am exactly like every other writer.  I have a hard time seeing my books’the flaws.

Check out my book, Maximum Impact