Tag Archives: historical romance

The Details Start the Engine

by Kay Springsteen

Imagine building a car and forgetting to install a crucial part of the engine. If it starts at all, it’s not likely to run well, and it may end up stopping rather abruptly. Those who assemble cars, no matter what stage of the car they work on, follow a blueprint—detailed plans that outline exactly what part goes in what position. Every part has a place and every place requires the part that fits.

Writing is much the same. A story is made up of various elements, to include characters, plot, setting… And it’s the details of each of these that are built upon to present the whole picture. A thought here, a bit of dialogue there, the way the wind pushes the curtain or a ticking clock fills a silence.

When my collaborator, Kim Bowman, and I wrote A Lot Like a Lady, we researched the historical details surrounding our chosen time period and our setting. We probably didn’t get it all right but we’re confident that some of it, at least, is as authentic as we could make it. But because of our research and desire to get it right, our writing actually suffered. Kim and I both tend to write in deep third person point of view and we love to show our characters’ emotions to the point where the reader feels them along with the character. We also like to pay attention to details of the setting – not heavy paragraphs loaded with description but a kind of filtering in of the details as the characters (remember in deep third pov) might experience them.

But in the writing of A Lot Like A Lady, it was as if all the research into the history meant something had to be displaced—the filing cabinet was too full and the detail folder slipped to the rear, or the detail tool bar slid to the side and we failed to notice it. So we wrote a good story between us. We knew what things were called, we found the procedures, the hierarchy of nobility, what servants did what…

And then we went to editing. We were thrilled to have one of the best historical fiction analysts out there as our content editor, J. Gunnar Grey. The attention to historical detail Gunnar gives when writing is carried over into the editing field. This was it. Picture Kim and I giving ourselves high fives. Our good story was about to be made better.

And then the sound of a whip cracking could be heard amid the partying.

“What room are they in? Is it light?”

“Does sunlight filter through the window? What does it hit?”

“Do sounds reach the characters from outside?”

“Are there any vases of flowers sitting around? Is the fragrance light and pleasant or overpowering?”  

Page after page of questions like this. Now imagine Kim and I looking at each other in confusion. Did we really write our story and forget all the settings?

The short, and somewhat embarrassing answer here is simply: Yup. We did. At least for the most part our first draft of A Lot Like A Lady had our characters telling their story in a vacuum.

Now, once we were made aware of this by our jewel of an editor, it became a simple matter to do what we both always do—that being to run back through the entire manuscript and filter in the details that show what the characters saw, heard, touched, tasted, and smelled. We added splashes of sunlight and gentle breezes, the scent of lilies, the splash of a brook.

To soften the blow of pointing out our mistake, our editor did, very nicely, tell us that it was obvious we had simply overlooked layering in these details during our first self-edit in our zeal to provide a more historically accurate picture.

Bottom line here? The details make all the difference. We added a few thousand words worth of details and our characters were no longer telling their story in a vacuum.


Find A Lot Like A Lady on Amazon, Astraea Press, and Barnes & Noble


5 Great Lines from Elizabeth Hoyt, Wicked Intentions

5 Great Lines from Elizabeth Hoyt, Wicked Intentions


“Like the legless man, I’m unaccountably fascinated by those who can dance.”


“Every word you have ever uttered, is engraved upon my heart.”


“If he presses, tell him it’s a female matter. That stop any question.”


“You’ve used me to punish yourself, haven’t you?”
He watched dawning realization spread over her face, a confirmation more positive than anything she could ever say, and that arrow twisted deep in his
chest. Yet still he had to ask the last question.
“Am I anything to you but a punishment?”


“I’d walk through fire for you,” he rasped, his voice hoarse and broken. “I have walked through fire for you.”

Ava Delany
The Fetish Club Series, The Homecoming Series, and The Beginnings Series.
Look for my newest release- A Surprising Day – on Kindle, Allromanceebooks, and many other places where ebooks are sold.

5 Great Lines Married By Morning, by Lisa Kleypas

Today’s 5 Great Lines come from Married By Morning, by Lisa Kleypas. Enjoy.


“You are not a perfect woman.You have an evil temper, you’re as blind as a mole, you’re a deplorable poet, and frankly, your French accent could use some work.” Supporting himself on his elbows, Leo took her face in his hands. “But when I put those things together with the rest of you, it makes you into the most perfectly imperfect woman I’ve ever known.”


“I have a very pure soul. It’s only my private parts that have gotten me into trouble.”


“Fencing isn’t really fighting. It’s more like chess with the risk of puncture wounds”


“You seem to think you have a choice,” Cam said “But you have it backwards. Love chooses you. The shadow moves as the sun commands.”-


“I’ve told you before, I love like a madman,” he said. “Immoderate, jealous, possessive…I’m absolutely intolerable.”

Ava Delany
The Fetish Club Series, The Homecoming Series, and The Beginnings Series.
Look for my newest release- A Surprising Day – on Kindle, Allromanceebooks, and many other places where ebooks are sold.

A Tale of Two Book Offers.

OKAY! After a few weeks spent with my feet off the ground, I am now officially back to work and ready to blog. Gosh, where do I begin? In the space of little more than a month I have gone from 2010 GH finalist to Golden Heart winner for THE YARD MAN. And as the Aussie guy who sells the onion chopper on TV says––but wait there’s more!

On July 27, I was in the Dallas airport waiting for my connecting flight, checking my phone for messages. I was expecting to meet a GH finalist sister there, who was on the same flight to Orlando. There was a message, from a 212 area code. NYC. My heart rate accelerated slightly. Turns out it was Audrey LaFehr, Kensington, with a book offer for recently completed manuscript THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK.

Great! Awesome! (Insert numerous crazy-mixed feelings here.) I had an offer and no agent.

During the conference, my crit partner and I e-mailed every agent I had queried over the last four months and you would not believe the response. And I’m talking big agents. HUGE. It was both exciting and overwhelming. One afternoon, Richard Curtis sat down beside me at the Dolphin fountain and we struck up a conversation. (Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you––if you are in the Magic Kingdom, Orlando, Florida.) That evening THE YARD MAN won the Romantic Suspense category and Richard took my crit partner and I out for a glass of champagne. Three days later, after reading both my manuscripts, he offered representation. I could not be more thrilled. He is the perfect agent for me. We are muy simpatico.

On my trip home from Orlando, sitting in the airport, my cell phone rang. Damn! If it wasn’t another editor with an offer for THE YARD MAN.

From now on, when anyone asks me how to snag an agent or publisher, the simple answer has got to be: Always check your messages in airports. And spend plenty of time skulking around the hotel lobby at writer’s conferences!

On August 19, 2010, Richard called to confirm electronic hand shakes on two book deals. The offer we accepted for THE YARD MAN came from Danielle Poiesz, Pocket Books and we have also accepted Audery LaFer’s offer for THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK. Both offers are three book deals.

After a carefree happy dance around my desk, I sobered up fast when Richard called back and went over a tentative release schedule and my delivery dates for books two and three––of two contracts. I did a bit of quick figuring and calculated I have four books to deliver in just a little under 24 months.  Yikes!

As I prepare to hit the ground running, I appeal to blog readers and writers everywhere for HELP! If you have any practical tips, time saving ideas, or schedule-juggling-pointers, please drop a line in comments. This has been an awesome summer I will never forget, and now if you will excuse me, I have books to write!

G. Jillian Stone

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is a 2010 Golden Heart winner for THE YARD MAN, which has sold to Pocket Books, release date spring 2012. Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. Her recent novel, the story of a devilish occult detective who falls for a sultry Cajun beauty titled, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK has also sold to Kensington, for release in fall 2012. For blurbs on both books please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com

Catching up

I know I’ve been away much too long. I won’t be out of the loop from now on, but as they say, ‘life happens.’ I’ll do my best to give you a brief snapshot of where I’ve been during my time away from the blog. I’m only really starting to recover from all the excitement. Great thing is, there’s much more ahead.
Last month passed in a blurr. I was getting ready for my first-ever RWA National conference, (which was absolutely amazing). I caught up with members from The Greater Detroit chapter – my local chapter. I met some wonderful people, my fellow GIAMers, some fellow conference newbees, and Harlequin Romance Senior Editor, Kimberly Young in my hotel elevator. Ms. Young wasn’t wearing her nametag, but I recognized her voice from the podcasts on the Eharlequin website. By the way, those podcasts are chalked full of great stuff! If you’re a writer, and targeting Harlequin, definitely check them out.
While at conference, I spent time with chaptermate Renee Alexis and my roommate and pal, Jodi Redford I wish I had photos of the three of us at Animal Kingdom. If you haven’t yet been to Disney, IMO, you need to experience its allure and fantasy-like ambience firsthand. It really is a magical place. You don’t have to be a kid to have a good time. I’m sorry though, that I wasn’t able to check out the Magical Kingdom and meet some of Disney’s finest.
As for the conference,
RWA did a fabulous job coordinating all the workshops. The presenters of the many workshops I attended during the course of the conference provided me with a plethora of new material to add to my creative and business arsenals. I’ll mention two here, because it’s over two weeks later, and I still remember them. *g* Margie Lawson and the Carina Press spotlight with Angela James who did an excellent job giving the audience a clear picture of Carina and its mission. As a side note: I’ve just finished up Angela’s editing course with Savvy Authors If you haven’t yet taken it, you need to hurry up and get your spot for her next available class! She presents her lessons with no fuss, no frills added but with plenty examples to get her point across. And I loved that! Go ahead. I’ll wait. *g* Back to conference recap.
The Wednesday night literacy book signing, alone, was very interesting. I sat with Jodi Redford who was signing. To our left was Deanna Raybourn who is so down-to-earth and so nice to chat with. I had fun making small talk with her when she wasn’t busy with her readers.
Keynote speaker, Nora Roberts and Awards Lunch-in speaker, Jayne Ann Krentz are wonderful presenters who impressed me with their incredible amount of knowledge and sound advice, while making me laugh along the way.
The Golden Heart and Rita ceremony left me on the edge of my seat. I can’t imagine how anxious the nominees must’ve been. It was an emotional evening at times for me. I found myself tearing up when one of the winners, (any winner) would become emotional. I especially loved when Julia Quinn was inducted to the Romance Writers of America’s Hall of Fame after winning her third Rita in the category of best Regency Historical Romance with What Happens In London. And my fellow blogger, G. Jillian Stone not only won a Golden Heart, she also snagged an agent. 🙂 Go Jillian!
Since I’ joined RWA in 2006, I learned quickly that the Rita and GH ceremony along with the literacy book signing are infamous with members. Each year, up until now, I’d read others accounts of the conference and events there, and I’d wonder what it would be like to attend and experience them for myself. They were both pretty awesome! After attending this conference, I’ve gained an even greater appreciation for the romance genre, and writing in general. I’ve sharpened my own focus, expanding my dreams while narrowing my goals to the more practical few that I can control.
After returning home from Orlando, , I dove right into my family reunion, the MacInnis family reunion. My relatives from all over Canada flew in for the four-day event. I met second and third cousins, and wives/husbands/children of those cousins it made my head spin. But I had a lot of fun doing it. I heard the Harlequin party was a blast, but trust me, no one can party like my family. *g*
Next up for me, in September, is the year-long mentorship class with Lori Wilde I’m extatic for this course to start. This course looks like it’ll be a blast.
Well, there’s my not-to-concise recap. I hope those of you who attended conference had a fun time just as I did.

Orlando Update: What if there really is a Magic Kingdom?

First, some of you may or may not know that THE YARD MAN won the Golden Heart RS category––but what you don’t know is the whirlwind of other things that happened last week, before and after the awards banquet.

All I can say is, when it happens, it happens fast and I don’t care how long you have waited, YOU ARE NOT PREPARED.

A little over ten days ago, I was sitting in the Dallas airport waiting for my connecting flight to Orlando. I was hoping to meet another GH finalist there, as we both were both on the same flight, so I checked my cell phone. There was a message with a 212 area code. NYC. My heart raced a little. I returned the call and to make a long story short, when I got off the phone I had an offer on my newest manuscript, a historical paranormal, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK. (Based on a contest final, for those of you who enter RWA chapter contests.)

Great. I had an offer and no agent.

When I arrived at the hotel my crit partner, a.c. Mason, was already in the room. I sat her down and told her what had happened. After the screaming died down, she and I set about e-mailing messages to every reputable agent we could think of (I had all their addresses stored in my iPhone as I had been querying for months) I sent a very brief message stating that I had received a three book offer and would they be interested in representing me? Well, you may or may not believe the response, but I was overwhelmed by sudden interest, and from HUGE agents.

Needless to say, the next events might read like a fairy story, but, let’s face it, we write them, why can’t they come true? While stalking Steven Axelrod around the Dolphin fountain in the lobby, I managed to run into another agent, Richard Curtis.

That afternoon Mr. Curtis bought me a diet coke and we talked. In the hotel bar, après the Golden Heart Rita Awards, Richard, my crit partner and I celebrated with a glass of champagne. Several days later, after reading both manuscripts, he proposed representation and I am thrilled to announce that I have signed with Richard Curtis Associates. Since the GH win, several publishers have also expressed interest in the THE YARD MAN. Last week, Richard and I worked on series proposals for both books and I hope to be able to report more good news in the weeks to come.

Here are my best insights for those of us who write and are as yet, unpublished (which still includes me). Never give up. Take BOLD RISKS with your writing and SHOOT HIGH, especially when it comes to agents and publishers.

So, what do you think? Was it the Tinkerbell pixie dust that did it?

G. Jillian Stone

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is a 2010 Golden Heart winner for THE YARD MAN, the first story in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: gjillianstone.com


Every morning, still in pajamas, with coffee mug in hand, I wake up my computer to check e-mail. This is always a thrill, as New York is three hours ahead, and I have query letters out. I ready my index finger above the delete key, punch through a number of advertisements––and yes, I admit, I often trash my own cousin Dick’s daily e-greetings, without opening them.

Dickey likes to send/forward chain e-mail greetings to everyone in his universe of cyber friends. I’m sure you have received one of these. They often have cartoon drawings in them or funny jokes. Dick makes sure I know they are funny because he tells me so at the start of every e-mail by using a little animated emoticon. Sometimes these chain letters are made up of fantasy billboards or bumper stickers, which often involve Viagra jokes and loads of cornball sexual innuendo, or they can be political and offensive in nature––you know the ones. Anyway, these e-greetings circulate all over the internet. I hesitate to use the word viral, because I refuse to forward any of them……..except…….for this one e-greeting I happened to open and read the other day.

This one actually had some relevance to my daily writerly workload. When the e-mail came, I had received two requests for a new manuscript, one from a contest judge and one from a QL, which caused a week of furious edits/rewrites. Arrrgggh!!! Generally, one of the last things I do, is take a look at how I have used the senses––sound, sight, smell, taste, touch. Which brings me back around to the humorous (?) e-mail of the day. In a way, this odd little piece of prose reinforced the importance of using all the senses. Here is the unedited, (dreadful amount of tell) unexpurgated version, compliments of my cousin Dick:

A new Supermarket opened in Elk Grove, California. It has an automatic water mister to keep the produce fresh. Just before it goes on, you hear the distant sound of thunder and the smell of fresh rain.

When you pass the milk cases, you hear cows mooing and you experience the scent of fresh cut hay.

In the meat department there is the aroma of charcoal grilled steaks and brauts.

In the liquor department, the fresh, clean, crisp smell of tapped Miller Lite.

When you approach the egg case, you hear hens cluck and cackle and the air is filled with the pleasing aroma of bacon and eggs frying.

The bakery department features the tantalizing smell of fresh baked bread & cookies.

I don’t buy toilet paper there anymore.

You’ve got a brand profile and tagline. Now what?

One of the fastest and least expensive ways to launch your brand is through social networking. And what might be the best way to do that? Website? Blog? Facebook? Twitter? Can a writer do all that promotion and still have time to write? Time management is a huge concern and rightly so. Every writer has mixed feelings about how much time marketing and promotion takes away from their writing.

Might I suggest you start with baby steps? And only commit to what you can reasonably manage and feel comfortable doing.

Twitter is like a teeny-tiny blog. You get 140 characters (not words) to message your Twitter followers. Great way to announce news and drive traffic to a guest blog or website contest. I was recently told about a writer who only Twitters. That’s it. She finds it easy to bang out a few brief messages every day and stay on schedule. She is contracted to write three books by year’s end. Who wouldn’t choose Twitter?

Published or unpublished, you must consider your website launch a priority. An author website communicates to everyone in the publishing world that you are serious about the business of author/book promotion. If this is your first website, and you are not confident about creating one on your own, there are web development firms that specialize in web design and implementation for small businesses. Many of these companies have hundreds of attractive templates to choose/customize from. And do call in all your favors! Like, do not be afraid to ask for help from a tech-savvy friend or graphic designer relative.

Once your author website is up and running smoothly, you can add a blog. A weekly blog is less of a commitment, but a daily journal/blog is brief and can also be stress free. And if you find you have nothing to blog about, you can always plug in a vacation picture, video of your cat, or a new recipe! Don’t want to blog alone? A blog site concept created with a crit partner or critique group might be exactly right for you. Plus, whatever you blog can be linked to your website.

If the idea of a website or blog commitment is just too daunting, why not ease into your author brand promotion with a Facebook page? It’s a terrific way to network with other writers and romance readers. You can add fan pages and blog links later on. You can also use the tabs in Facebook to post reviews, add book cover art or trailers, and make announcements about signings and workshops.

Website? Blog? Facebook? Twitter? I would pick one or two and then add more, only if you feel like you can handle more. COMING NEXT WEEK: Advanced work in advertising promotion and the importance of testing.

G. Jillian Stone

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is a 2010 Golden Heart finalist for THE YARD MAN, the first story in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com jillstone@mac.com

Author Taglines. Yes? No?

You’ve selected the key words culled your brand profile and created an author brand tagline. Yes? No? Well if you haven’t yet or you’re stuck, read on. Help and inspiration is on the way.

An author tag line is almost always a recommended part of branding. It is your brand positioning taken to a high concept, creative level. You want the line to be memorable, yet flexible enough to allow you to grow as a writer––but not so all encompassing that the line ends up trying to say too much. I see examples of author taglines that are working too hard all over cyberspace.

How can you tell if your tagline is trying too hard? Count the commas. Too many commas in a tagline usually means: 1. Author can’t self edit. 2. Writes in several subgenres. 3. Describes the tone and style of the writer, usually without much tone or style.

A quick piece of advice. Avoid puns. Always. Unless a pun is really, really great, please try to resist. I know this is tough for you clever ones, but you must trust me on this.

How about a few examples of taglines?

A little bit of laughter, a pinch of spice, and a sprinkling of magic dust.

Critique: Generally, this does not sound adult. The tone is younger than YA. Disney-ish. Avoid being too cute, or too friendly or folksy, unless, of course, that is what you write.

How about this tag?  Edgy, elegant, erotic romance.

Critique: The alliteration takes this no more than a half-step away from what I call a blueprint tagline. The author has basically taken words and phrases from her brand profile and strung them together. Note the commas.

“Science Fiction, secret agents, and bad boys gone good.”

Don’t use quote marks. It’s cheesy. And those commas are back again. Does this author write cross-genre or does she write in three different genres? Bad boys gone good, begins to get me interested. A playful line, but it needs something more. An erotic author who writes troubled, darker heroes might edge that up a notch. Now, bad boys gone good, becomes:

Bad boys can be very, very good. In bed. Why not bring the author’s voice into the line? Let me show how very good bad boys can be. Keep playing with ideas and tossing around lines.  See how outrageous you can be––take it way out there and then pull back.

Which leads me to the two sentence tagline. A descriptive sentence, then a second shorter sentence to punctuate the tone or concept of the first line.

And now for an excellent example.

Erotic Romance writer Delilah Devlin’s tagline seems to be the one used and quoted extensively in blog’s all over the internet. Here it is.

Get in bed with Delilah. Everyone else has.

Critique: Note the use of two sentences. One to set up a provocative premise. The second to drive home a clever bit of humor. Implied in the second line is the idea that many readers have read and enjoyed her novels. And no commas!

Now get back to work and create the next great tagline. No pressure! And please remember that you are allowed to refine your tagline as your writing matures or changes. It’s not the end of the world to freshen up or evolve a brand tagline.

COMING NEXT WEEK: You’ve got your brand strategy and your tagline. Now what do you do with them? Website and social networking are the foundation of your brand. A quick pass through those in the weeks ahead and then we’re on to advanced work in advertising and promotion for pubbed and unpubbed authors.

G. Jillian Stone

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is a recent Golden Heart finalist for THE YARD MAN, the first story in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com jillstone@mac.com

ONE MAN’S THOUGHTS: The Story With In A Story

‘It all started when the phone rang that afternoon.’ Kyle stared into his glass of bourbon as if it were a crystal ball replaying the past. ‘Most everyone in the office, including the secretary, was at lunch so I answered. The voice on the other end, a woman’s voice, sounded desperate for help. She wanted to speak with Mr. Strauss, the firm’s best corporate lawyer, but he was downtown with the other partners enjoying an expensive meal at a haughty restaurant.’

‘Is that what you told her?’ The bartender scratched his gelatinous chin.

‘It should’ve been,’ Kyle said. ‘Though the situation was obviously over my pay grade, I couldn’t just send her voicemail. That voice was so sultry; I was compelled to talk to her. I had to know more.’ Kyle tipped the glass back and downed his drink. ‘Biggest mistake of my life.’

The bartender poured another without prompting.

‘If you don’t mind my asking, what the hell happened?’ He asked Kyle with a hushed tone.

‘That’s what I keep asking myself,’ Kyle said.

A simple but effective technique is the story within a story approach. In the example above we learn about the events of a story as Kyle speaks of them while at the same time a second story is told of the bartender and his reaction to the first story. This gives the reader more information than would be available if the scene only described the events at the office. Kyle’s melancholy attitude and the bartender’s interest show the reader the emotional impact that those events will have on Kyle thus building tension.

Another form of the story within the story concept is the confessional. This is a pause in the main plot where a scene about a character’s past is included. It can be either narrative or dialogue, but the purpose is to take a look at an important point in the character’s past and learn something of the character that explains why they are the way they are or what motivates them. It is fun to drop a familiar character in a whole new set of circumstances and take a break from the current story. It allows the reader to see more aspects of them and keeps the story fresh.

Story with in a story is a simple idea and is used a lot in a myriad of forms. It will add a dimension to your writing that will give your plots and characters depth they didn’t have before.

Until next time- happy writing.

Michael Matthews Bingamon

Let Jodi Redford Light Your Fire With Her New Release

New Release by Jodi Redford
Well, just as I promised last week, here’s this week’s new release info. 🙂
Out from Samhain Tuesday, June 29, is a new hot and kickass release from Jodi Redford And to celebrate her new release, Jodi is offering to one lucky person who leaves a comment, a $5 gift card to My Bookstore And More
Be sure to check out Jodi’s contest page. To celebrate her new release, she’s giving away an Advanced Reading copy of Light My Fire! There’s also some other cool prizes, but you’ll need to check out her contest page for the rules. But hurry, because the contest ends tomorrow.
Be sure when you leave your comments here to include your email address so Jodi or I can contact you. Best of luck, everyone! We’ll draw the winner on Sunday!

Light My Fire by Jodi Redford (Out this coming Tuesday from Samhain.)
Double the firepower, triple the heat.
Aiden Fortune’s orders are clear: Find the woman, claim her as a sexual
sacrifice-and share her with his horndog twin brother. Distasteful as it is,
the Drakoni council insists the ancient custom be honored. Or Aiden will be
One glance at Dana Cooper, and Aiden is thrown into the dragon version of a
tailspin. Claim her? Hell, yes, he’ll claim her. Problem is, she has no idea
her father signed away her destiny at birth.
Dana has dated enough whack-a-doodles to fill an insane asylum. Two gorgeous
men claiming to be dragons? Par for the course. Until they give her a
tantalizing glimpse of their inner beasts, which makes her think she’s the
one headed for a padded cell-for actually considering their offer of the
hottest sex of her life, for life.
Her resistance melts away under the onslaught of two men who pack enough
heat to set off smoke alarms in a six-block radius. Especially when she
realizes she’s falling for Aiden. But with a town full of dragon hunters and
an enemy lurking in the shadows, surviving a week of Aiden and Jace’s
double-teaming will be the least of her problems.
Warning: Contains two smokin’ hot dragons and their not-so-unwilling
sacrifice. A few wardrobe malfunctions and inappropriate use of
paintbrushes. You might want to have your local fire department on speed

Breakthrough Branding for Romance Authors. Part Deux. The Brand Signature.

This week, I will be posting examples of the kinds of brand signatures you should be able to formulate by completing the brand profile. So, if you are stumped or have run into a block, this should help. I am going to spend a lot of time with this profile before we move on to other areas of branding and promotion, because the framework is the foundation for everything that comes after–like developing a creative strategy. Strategy is the next phase of your brand work, as well as planning promotion and advertising; what kinds of media to use, print/cyber, whether to twitter or not, holding contests/giveaways, etc.

Branding is emotional, just like romance novels. A reader’s decision to purchase a new release from a branded author is not based on a value proposition or couponing. Whether a reader purchases a favorite author for $6.99 through Amazon or pays $7.99 at Barnes & Noble is irrelevant. Once your brand is established, readers will purchase again because they enjoyed your other novels and you deliver a great read. How did Donald Maass put it, again? “Delight your readers with your own brand of story, then continue to delight them in a similar way (only better) on a regular basis.”

EXAMPLES OF BRAND PROFILE DIRECTIONS: Pull out four or five key words or phrases from your profile, then, create a run-on sentence––string them all together. I have put together some examples below.

Chick Lit Profile: These female survival guides promise laughter, steamy love scenes, sexy infuriating men and sassy smart heroines.

Take away: WOW! This author makes me laugh. She is fresh and vibrant. I love her sexy, infuriating men! I want to look her up on Amazon and purchase.

Erotic Romance Profile: Buttoned-up business women loose their passions with powerful, difficult alpha males and reveal darker, hidden agendas.

Take away: M-mm. Sounds like she sets up interesting tensions. Power chicks, dark sexy heroes and kink. I’m intrigued.

So, what is your brand signature? Dark and erotic? Fresh and funny? Let’s do one more:

Paranormal: Magically-powered heroines pair with ultra sexy/macho mortal heroes for hot sex/adventure.

Take away: I’d love to know how the mortal men keep up, or keep it up? Haha! The brand sentence above seems like it is limited to a series. In that respect, if I was the author, I might want to broaden the signature. Also what is the tone? Is this light paranormal or dark? Could be either.

The place to crystallize your brand is in the signature or tag line. I’ll use myself as an example. I write historical romantic suspense, as well as historical paranormal, on the hot end of the love scene spectrum. My brand signature is:

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

What does this say to you? Well, I am trying for several things. Fields in time says historical, but also hints at paranormal. What about hot or erotic content? Burn with desire. I’d say so! Meet me there. Invites the reader into my world of fiction.

Most everyone I know writes in more than one subgenre, so dig deep and look for the defining characteristics of your work, beyond category.

Go back through your profile and consider your brand signature. If you would like feed back please e-mail me direct or leave a comment on this blog. My website and email address are listed below. Above all, don’t get discouraged. Even if you set the profile aside for a while, keep working on your brand. Eventually, you will hit upon an idea and things will click into place.

Graphics (visuals) as well as copy play a huge role in branding, here is your HOMEWORK FOR NEXT WEEK:

Sometimes concrete examples help with the finer points of branding, so I have created what I hope is a fun exercise. I want you to visit several author websites. They must be sites you have never visited before. And they must be authors who do not have established brands. Click on a few tabs, and gather impressions. TRY NOT TO READ ANYTHING. Now, quickly close up the window.

Write down your impressions of each author. What is the brand personality of the website? Based on your glance at the graphics, what subgenre do they write? Are you intrigued? Now go back to the sites for a second visit, read a few pages. How well did the writers/authors do? Does their site reflect a strong brand identity? Did you guess their subgenre correctly?

I have included a few websites at random. Some are unpublished authors, others are pubbed. They are all in the process of building their brand. How well do we think they are doing? Next week: How to Create a Brand Strategy.








G. Jillian Stone

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is a recent Golden Heart finalist for THE YARD MAN, the first story in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website: www.gjillianstone.com jillstone@mac.com

Another new release by Jane Beckenham

For the next two weeks, I’m very excited to share two new releases from two of my good friends and fellow authors. This week,
Jane Beckenham
has a new release out with
Red Rose Publishing
which I’ll share with you in a moment, along with an excerpt to whet your apitite. Next week, I’ll be sharing info on a new hot number by
Jodi Redford
On with this week’s new release!
In Love With The Sheikh
Desert Rose Anthology
Jane Beckenham
Mainstream Romance: Contemporary, Interracial/Multicultural
ISBN: 978-1-60435-723-3
Cover Artist: Missy Lyons
Editor: Zena Gainer
Word Count: 49,380
Release Date: June 17, 2010

Desperate to discover her past, Lilly Duprés outbids Sheikh Kalim Raschid for an antique brooch. Her triumph is short lived. She can’t honor that bid. Accepting an offer to solve her financial embarrassment, Lilly discovers Kalim has every material thing yet spurns what she most desires. Love. Family. To belong.
After a lifetime spent watching his father hurt his mother, Kalim has vowed he would never imitate his father. But Lilly breaches his defenses leaving him vulnerable.
Faced with something he never wanted, Kalim must choose his future, and Lilly must accept her past, until life and love can come full-circle.

ONE MAN’S THOUGHTS: Roll of the Dice

I don’t know if anyone has heard of a series called Twilight, but my wife sure has. The hardback copies are stacked on the bookshelf in the other room, the movies are constantly in the DVD player and on an occasion when I’m in my lovely wife’s car there is even a Twilight soundtrack to listen to. I am grateful that we have no posters— yet.

When it comes to that series I’m not a fan. The characters are all indecisive and full of self-pity. I cannot relate to male characters because they don’t behave like men and don’t even get me started on Bella. However the point of this week’s blog isn’t what I think is wrong with a series of books that is selling like surgical masks during a SARS outbreak, the purpose is to say that I am inspired by Stephanie Meyer’s work.

As a writer it is important to know that your work is comparable to anything else out there. That belief will keep an author writing and encourage them to present their manuscripts with pride. A writer must tell the story that is important to them— not write about whatever the current fad may be. A story written from the heart, no matter what the shortcomings are, will be more satisfying. Meyers did this and struck a chord with millions. It is the intensity of her characters that give them popularity, not their motivations or reasoning. In short, the specifics don’t matter; it’s all about the emotions that they elicit.

Charles Frazier’s Cold Mountain motivated me to finish my novel. Cold Mountain sold well, they made a major motion picture and it was the man’s first book. I was flabbergasted upon learning that. His first book! Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t anticipate that level of success for myself but you can’t help but think that if he can do it the so can I. Then I discovered that Charles had a doctorate in English and that, my friends, is a bonus. Still, it was quite the accomplishment and it compels me to remain at the laptop tapping away at the keys to tell my own stories.

Something all struggling artist should be aware of if they’re not already; there is an enormous amount of undiscovered talent out there. While there are certainly best sellers that perhaps are overrated, there are many who never touch the charts that are better than I could ever hope to be. The best advice is to keep at it and roll the dice with each new manuscript.

Until next time— happy writing.

Michael Matthews Bingamon


Today I find myself with one chapter left to write on my latest manuscript. There is something satisfying about completing a story. It is difficult to explain to someone who doesn’t write, but it is a sense of fulfillment followed by a bit of sadness at the void it leaves behind. The characters become like friends as you imagine them speaking and doing things each in their own way, and like friends, you miss them when they’re gone. It’s been three months of labor and twenty two thousand words to tell this particular tale, but I am proud of what I’ve come up with.

I once attended a writer’s seminar and an accomplished author, Michael Stackpole, offered a bit of advice that every writer should think about. He said that each new work should challenge the writer in some way. An author should push their boundaries and attempt something new with each book they write. If a writer doesn’t expand their horizons they will simply repeat themselves and not only lose the interest their readers, but are at risk of losing their own passion for writing.

In the story I’m wrapping up, I broke my tendency to portray my characters as flawed people. In all my works my character’s behavior and morals land in a gray area. The plot has as much to do with understanding those characters as it does the sequence of events that unfold. By seeing first hand their motives, even if the reader doesn’t agree with the character, they should relate to the character. This approach is great for gritty science fiction, but not so much for romance. The goal in romance is focus on the fantasy; make it less complex and more colorful.

I have learned so much from this exercise. A friend of mine, and fellow science fiction writer, teased me for my endeavors into romance writing. I told him it may sound easy but romance is a delicate genre and requires a lot of planning. The reason is that everyone knows where the story is going, but you still have to make the journey fun. Honestly, romance is significantly more difficult to write in a lot of ways than other genres. In romance the heart of the story is about two people falling in love. If the reader doesn’t care for the characters then it doesn’t matter what else in the book is done well, it is fundamentally flawed. While in every other genre an author still has to have good characters and characterization, that isn’t necessarily at the heart of the story. In fantasy books it is often the setting, in a mystery an intriguing case is the framework for a great plot, in science fiction it is the science fact behind the fiction— but romance it is the relationship between two people.

There is nothing more complicated in life than a relationship.

With all this in mind I have come up with a love story that has pushed me as a writer, uses some intrigue, a little action and a memorable cast of characters. Thanks to the advice of another writer on this blog, I have written something to be proud of and hope to be able to share it soon. Here’s a blurb to give you a taste.

In High Heels & Hexes three witches go in search of a forth member of their coven after she is kidnapped by the demon Vaciro. This tantalizing tale follows the charming trio of Shelly, Annabel, and Jasmine, as they become entangled in lustful encounters while they unravel the mystery of Caroline’s whereabouts. The naughty witches make allies with a surprisingly cordial demon named Nezel, whose only experiences on Earth was during the mob days of Chicago. They also meet Jack, a hunky half demon and half man, whose motives are unclear. Though Jack has a vendetta with Vaciro, Shelly finds the inscrutable half demon as dangerous as he is delicious.

Until next time— happy writing.

Michael Matthews Bingamon