Friday, August 31, 2012

Author Sotlight with Angie Fox

 Let's give a warm therapeutic welcome to Angie Fox, who's stopped by today to talk about her newest release Immortally Yours. Welcome Angie.

Thanks everyone. I’ve been looking at all of the great writing advice being offered up on Much Cheaper Than Therapy and it struck me that another thing that’s important for writers (one thing that we always seem to resist) is stepping outside the comfort zone.

It’s tough for me personally because there are so many things that can trip me up and twist me around while writing a book. Adding another element to the mix doesn’t always seem like the wise thing to do! But, it’s exactly what we need to do in order to keep our readers guessing and coming back for more.

Of course, that doesn’t mean we’re not allowed moments of panic during our enlightenment. For example, I sold a new series about a group of paranormal MASH doctors during a great supernatural war. I was all excited because Immortally Yours is a departure from the books I’ve written before. It has more of an edge.

And then…panic. I remember calling my critique partner about a week after I’d sold the book and asking her, “What did I just do? I told them I could write a book about an immortal war. I write funny. How am I supposed to pull this off?”

Once she calmed me down, and talked me into a bit of therapeutic chocolate (thank you, Kristin), I realized that the underlying drama of war could serve to bring the oddball personalities in the MASH camp together. These doctors and nurses don’t have much, but they do manage to find ways to save their sanity and create the kind of relationships that offer a port in the storm.

It forced me to grow as a writer, to push the story to places I’d never gone before. Yes, it was scary, but it was really cool too.

And then an entirely new element emerged. You see, there’s PNN (The Paranormal News Network) that covers the war. It’s the supernatural version of CNN. I loved writing PNN because it let me explore my own love/hate relationship with sensationalistic 24-hour news.

In fact, I had so much fun that I’ve developed It’s the official website for PNN, and I set it up to be a bit like a paranormal version of The Onion. I figure it gives readers a taste of the series. And okay, the real reason I did it is because I had a blast coming up with my own take on paranormal news.

So if you’d like to win your very own copy of Immortally Yours, visit, then come on back here and tell us the headline of your favorite article. 

Or I'm doing a release week contest where you can win naming rights to a character in the next book.

The link is:

Immortally Yours

No one patches up the incoming wounded like Dr. Petra Robichaud. Recruited by the gods for her uncanny medical skills, she’s the best M*A*S*H surgeon in the army. Along with a nosy guard sphinx,vegetarian werewolf, and otherparanormal paramedics, she bandages soldiers who are built like Greek gods (literally). But when one sexy immortal ends up on her operating table—half dead and totally to-die-for—Petra’s afraid she’ll lose her patient and her heart…

Commander Galen of Delphi is one gorgeous but stubborn demi-god. When his spirit tries to slip out of his fatally wounded body, Dr. Petra has to slip it back in—unwittingly revealing her ability to see ghosts. Now that Galen knows her secret, he’s convinced she’s part of an ancient prophecy. If the oracles are right, Petra could lead Galen’s army to peace. And if he seduces her on the way to hell and back? Heaven knows—all’s fair in love and war…

 Angie Fox is the New York Times bestselling author of several books about vampires, werewolves and things that go bump in the night. She is best known for her Accidental Demon Slayer urban fantasy series. She is also writing a series about a group of paranormal M*A*S*H surgeons. The first book in the Monster MASH trilogy, Immortally Yours, is out now. The second book, Immortally Embraced, releases in February 2013.

Visit Angie at:
Twitter: @AngieFoxauthor or

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I'm currently helping a new writer with her query letter, and since I'm covering similar issues, I thought I'd also share this with my readers who might be aspiring authors.

A great query letter is clear, concise, and to the point. It doesn’t meander or include information that’s not pertinent to luring the agent/editor into reading/asking for your manuscript. As a rule of thumb, if you’re in doubt as to whether something should go into your query letter or not, leave it out. Some of these tips you might already know, but I’m writing this to include people who have no experience with query letters.

The basics of a great query letter are:

Your hook, general details of your manuscript, and reason for querying particular agent/editor.

Your comparison/tagline and book summary.

Your bio and platform.

It sounds simple, but to write a dynamic letter with so few words and in one page can be a challenge! So here are some suggestions to help you:

1. Salutation. Never use a general form of address like Dear Madam or Dear Sir. Address your query letter to the editor or agent you are sending to by name.

2. Start the first paragraph with your hook or pitch.

Why am I suggesting you start a query letter with the hook for your novel? Because agents/editors get hundreds of queries a month, and generally will only read the first couple of sentences before going on to the next. This is your chance to (hopefully) lure them in to reading the rest of your letter. This is a subject I hope to expand on in a future blog post. For now, I can suggest that you research other author’s pitches on the internet to help you come up with yours.

Follow your hook with pertinent details (What type of book is it? Word Count? Is it a finished manuscript?)

Then follow with the reason you are writing to this particular agent/editor. Whether it’s because you were referred to them, or they publish another author whose work is similar to yours, or maybe you’ve just read a lot of the books they publish/represent. Also, if you have met the agent/editor at a conference and they asked to see your work, be sure to remind them of it here…and if you’re querying via email, put Requested Material in your subject line. If you are querying by snail mail, put this on the envelope, somewhere under the name and address of the agent/editor.

3. Now launch into your plot summary, and lead with a tagline and/or comparison of another book, author, movie, or character.

Here’s some examples of comparisons to help you: Indiana Jones meets The Real Housewives. In the tradition of The Lord of the Rings. Harry Potter for grown-ups. The imagination of JK Rowling and the romance of Julie Garwood.

If you need help on how to come up with a tagline, I wrote a blog post about it here:

 If you’re struggling with your plot summary, study the back cover blurbs on books in your genre to help you formulate an intriguing summary. Another way to approach your summary is to write one paragraph about your heroine, and then another about your hero, working in their goals and motivations. In a romance, you want to show why these two people are uniquely perfect for one another. Weave your plot in with the emotional conflict.

4. For your biography, include personal information about you if it pertains to the book you’ve written. For example, you raise Arabian horses and have written a Western. You did your Doctorate on Italy and have written a historical romance in that time period. Include any major publishing credits or contest wins. Keep in mind that you don’t need to pad your bio. Sometimes less publishing experience will work for you.

And here’s a tip that I’d suggest in this internet era. List your platforms, if you have any. If you Blog or Tweet or have Facebook friends, include them here. And if you have other platforms available to you, mention your profession or degree. Why? If you’re an attorney, for example, you have a platform within that community. If you have a degree, you have a platform in the university alumni.

5. Your closing sentence, short and professional. Be sure to submit only what the agent/editor’s guidelines asked for, which means that you should have already visited their website for this information.

Include your own website url or blog (if you have one) after your signature/name if you haven’t already included it in your address information. Most agents/editors want submissions via email, so you may not have a formal return address on your letter.


Here’s an example of a professional query letter to help you with the points I’ve mentioned above:

Dear Ms. Wheeler:

When a Wild West American heiress travels to London and hires an impoverished Duke to launch her into English society, his predictable Victorian life is turned upside down. This is the premise of my single title Historical Romance novel, complete at 100,000 words. I’m interested in your representation because I attended your workshop at the Desert Dreams conference and appreciated your insight into promoting an author’s career.

Who says a proper lady can’t carry a knife? Inspired by the classic tale of Pygmalion, My Unfair Lady is about a Wild West beauty who takes Victorian London by storm. Frontier-bred Summer Wine Lee has no interest in winning over London society--it's the New York bluebloods and her future mother-in-law she's determined to impress. She knows the cost of smoothing her rough-and-tumble frontier edges will be high. But she never imagined it might cost her heart.

The impoverished Duke of Monchester despises the rich Americans who flock to London, seeking to buy their way into the ranks of the British peerage. So when railroad heiress Summer Wine Lee offers him a king's ransom if he'll teach her to become a proper lady, he's prepared to rebuff her. But when he meets the petite beauty with the knife in her boot, it's not her fortune he finds impossible to resist.

I have published several short stories in various magazines, including a Sword and Sorceress book anthology. I earned Honorable Mention twice in the Writers of the Future contest. I am a member of Romance Writer’s of America and have served as librarian in my local chapter. I am on many social-networking sites, including 400 Twitter followers, 500 Facebook friends, 1,500 Myspace friends, and 500 Gather connections. I have a degree in Business Administration and am a licensed insurance professional.  

I’m sending you the first twenty pages of my manuscript per your submission guidelines. Thank you for taking the time to review my request.  I look forward to hearing from you.


Kathryne Kennedy

I hope you find these suggestions helpful, and if you have any questions or comments, feel free to share!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Read It Out Loud

Continuing with the subject of self-editing, the best advice I can give is to read a printed copy of your manuscript. Your mind will pick up flaws you overlook on a computer monitor. When possible, I also read my work out loud.

When looking only for spelling mistakes, you can read lines backwards.You can also read pages out of order so you don't get caught up in the story.

I'm off to Barnes and Noble to do some self-editing myself.

Until next Sunday,
happy writing!

Tina Swayzee McCright
aka Tina LaVon

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Villains, anyone? by Caris Roane

 I’m having more fun.  I’m exploring all the dark depths of my latest villain.  I’m thinking of calling him ‘Daniel’, because the name sounds so harmless.  Daniel, how sweet, then he strikes you down with a long sharp dagger.  Or maybe he uses his hands.  Or a cold, short chain with weights on each end.
He laughs a lot for a villain, but it’s not a pleasant warm laugh, but a cold, malevolent, enjoying-life-at-the-expense-of-others kind of laugh.
Getting to know a new bad guy has been an interesting experience.  I knew my last villain, Darian Greaves, inside and out because he’d been with me through six novels and a novella.  I knew how he moved, what he thought about, how his bald head could catch a reflection at times.  I knew his polished manners served to set everyone at ease before he made his move against all that might be precious in your life.
Darian crossed his legs at the knee.  He rarely shouted and in all these stories, he might have spoken one foul word, while our noble warriors and, ahem, the infamous leader of all of Second Earth, Endelle, employed fs and shs and hs as though the rest of the English language had been designed to support all this wonderful profanity.
Villains are fun and my latest is emerging as a real prince, yes, of darkness.
What’s fascinating to me is that I still don’t really understand what he wants or why he’s pursuing dominance the way he is…except that maybe he just likes creating chaos, taking control, and manipulating everyone around him.  Imagine a villain being like that!
Daniel belongs to my new series, tentatively called, MEN IN CHAINS.  Although, really, they’re all vampires…but the use of the word ‘men’ sounded better.  I’m enjoying this early part of the creative process although I experience the occasional anxiety because everything is in flux right now; what the villain did to put this world in crisis, why my warriors ended up in prison and unable to escape, whether or not the villain really does possess a weapon that could destroy the entire vampire race.
I wonder, too, if Daniel’s name will change…

You can find me at:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Writer = Juggler

It's totally true.  Most writers don't live the life glamour.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  For the vast majority of us, we are working day jobs, keeping the household running, raising kids, caring for aging parents, or any number of other things "normal" people do.

The only difference is that write, too.

I'm no exception to the rule.  I recently signed a deal with Pocket Books for my next three books--a new series.  I am over-the-moon excited, but also where's-my-straitjacket stressed.  Juggling is second nature to me by now, but there are still prospects, like moving to a new publisher and wanting to impress them, that terrify me.

Wish me luck and look for the first book in my new series, THE FIVE DEATHS OF ROXANNE LOVE, coming in Fall 2013.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Print and Read

The most important advice I can give on the topic of self-editing is to print your work. Today, I will print my proposal (first three chapters and synopsis - in this case 3 synopses) and take it to the cafe at Barnes and Noble. When I read through it, I'll mark any changes needed. I'll be looking at all aspects of writing, but mainly I'll be checking to make sure enough details are there to give the chapters sparkle, to make it come alive. Later, I'll use the hard copy to alter the original on the computer.

Done? No. I'll go through this process at least two more times and I'll read it aloud at least once. Reading your work from the printed page and reading it aloud helps find those mistakes your mind often skips over when reading from a monitor.

Why did I include a picture of a sundae? That is what you can give yourself when you are finally done.

Until next week,
happy writing!
Tina Swayzee McCright

Friday, August 17, 2012

Author Spotlight with Carol Cassada

Westmore: Broken Ties


Some bonds are unbreakable. While others crumble under pressure.

In Westmore: Broken Ties, relationships and family bonds are tested. Plus, a deep dark secret threatens to destroy one family.

Whose relationship will survive? And whose will come to an end?

Release date: July 19, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Polish That Manuscript

Saturday, September 8, 2012
8:30 am to 4:30 pm
A full day of writers’ workshops
Northwest Valley (47th Ave. & Union Hills)

Small group where everyone gets personal attention.

In this competitive market more than ever, You want your prose to shine. Whether you submit your book to an editor, an agent, or intend to self-publish, it has to be perfect. Learn the tricks from an established author, so your book will impress agents, editors, reviewers, and readers alike.

A refresher on the no-nos you know... and those you don’t
 Each editor and agent has a list of no-nos, and they are not always what you think. I know a reviewer who throws the book across the room the first time she encounters one of them. Learn which habits or common mistakes will cost you the chance to get published or happily reviewed.

The words that weigh you down
Circumvent the words that weigh you down. They are insidious, ordinary, and often repetitive. They indicate a weakness in your writing, one you could remedy if you knew what it was. We all have them, and because that’s the way we write, we are not aware of them. Even if you self-publish, readers may not notice... but most reviewers will.

Tighten, tighten, tighten
 Learn the secrets of tightening the prose without losing the flavor. Learn to enhance it instead, whatever your style.

Characters, Motivation, Conflict
Often upon editing, you’ll discover that one character is missing something. His/her voice is not as unique or as crisp as it should be. His/her motivations are unclear. Learn to refine your characterization as you polish your manuscript. I often received rave reviews about a character trait I added as an afterthought upon polishing.

Hooks - Cliffhangers - Pacing
 Do you have all your hooks in the right places? Does the pace make us turn the page? Time for a last check.

$70.00 per person – limited seating
$60.00 before August 10 (early bird)
Register by mail or online. All cards accepted through PayPal


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cures for a Sagging Middle

Kim Watters here. Okay, I’m depressed. You know, that mind numbing depression you face when you stare at that manuscript after you’ve ditched yet another pair of too-tight pants that are now lying in a pile on the floor. Finally I realize that I’ve hit that road bump of mid-life, and in a writer’s life, I have a sagging middle; one of the most common problems a writer faces. I’m sagging under the weight of the story.

How did this happen?

For my body, all it took was a few years at a desk job and a healthy appetite for sweets. For my book, all it took was a lack of conflict. Sigh. It took a bit longer for my body to decide to rebel than my characters, but still. I mean, come on. It didn’t have to happen this way but I have no excuse. No thyroid issues to blame it on. The blood tests came back normal. Nope. Just the daily inactivity of sitting in front of a keyboard and trying to achieve that happily-ever-after without an outline or game plan.

So I go back to the drawing board and pull out my old notes on how to write a book. Refresher courses are good in real life and for our characters. Voila. The focus of the middle of the story is to push your characters to the climax. Weak structure and wandering from the main plot will make your story cave in on itself. Duoh! Note to self, panster syndrome aside, at least create an outline to keep on task. I need to keep in mind that every part of the novel should be integral to the whole and make sure to sustain sufficient conflict to sustain the story. I need to make the character stakes high enough to matter to the reader and create the conflict where the character has to make a decision or take action.

For me that action is to start a workout routine and do an outline for each chapter. Sure the panster in me will change things when I get there, but a basic roadmap is good. It will remind me that each section has to have four events: Inciting incident, complication, crisis, and resolution. It will remind me to add new problems, new conflicts, or a new direction and make each obstacle more difficult. Change the way the characters see their situation and don’t hold back.
I’m not. Fortunately for me, the sagging middle of the manuscript is going to be an easier task to face than going for a brisk three mile walk each morning.

The manuscript won’t require expending an enormous amount of energy or sweating from places I didn’t even know had sweat glands or snubbing that last spoonful of ice cream left in the scooper after I dish out some for the kids. Nope, fixing the manuscript is just going to involve massive amounts of brain energy and some more computer time, which is what got me in trouble in the first place. (We won’t talk about the chocolate, though.)

So if I need a workout, then it’s time to put my characters through the wringer too.

While I’m out for the brisk walk--I really don’t like to run,--I mentally add a new dimension or depth to my characters and force them to grow and change by throwing another obstacle at them. If I can work hard at my goal, so can they.

While I’m doing stomach crunches, which I hate by the way, I can twist the plot into a different direction that forces my characters to make different choices. For me and my own plot direction with the dreaded diet, that might be whether or not I allow a piece of chocolate or a slice of French Silk Pie into my mouth or a stick of celery.

Or I can tape a picture of that skinny pair of pants to the front of the refrigerator, which would serve as a constant reminder of my goal and strengthen the conflict within just as I can strengthen the conflict between my characters by revisiting their goals and motivations.

I’m determined to get rid of both my sagging middles. So what’s stopping me? Nothing.
Watch out. That woman waking quickly down the street with a picture dangling in front of her while she’s doing stomach crunches to boot is on a mission. Stay out of her way or you may be written into her next book.

Photo by rmalek86 salad/rmalek86/fruit-salad.jpg?o=16

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Editing Resources

Continuing with this month's topic, I would like to share a few books I've used to assist with self-editing.

The First Five Pages - A Writer's Guide to Staying Out of the Rejection Pile by Noah Lukeman

Self-Editing For Fiction Writers - How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King


The Grouchy Grammarian - A How-Not-To Guide to the 47 Most Common Mistakes in English Made by Journalists, Broadcasters, and Others Who Should Know Better by Thomas Parrish

Until next week,
Tina Swayzee McCright
Aka Tina LaVon

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Cowboy's Duty 

byMarin Thomas 

Harlequin American Romance

 Aug 2012Miniseries: Rodeo Rebels 

Category: Heart & Home 

Paperback ISBN: 9780373754182 (#1414)

Back of the Book

Never trust a man!

That's what Dixie Cash learned from her mother. That and fathers don't stick around. She's pretty independent, and doesn't need help from her baby's daddy, sexy rodeo rider and ex-soldier Gavin Tucker. But he seems determined to do right by her. Just as Dixie starts to imagine that together they might be a family, tragedy strikes—and Gavin shows his true colors. She knew he wasn't honorable!

After what Gavin went through in Afghanistan, he was more than happy to lose himself in the rodeo circuit—and in sweet Dixie's arms. But doing the right thing can be hard sometimes, and when Dixie—Gavin's lifeline—doesn't need him anymore, he's at a loss. His heart still longs for her, though he's not sure he deserves a second chance.…

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Phoenix Rattler Writing Contest

The 2012 Phoenix Rattler Writing Contest
Opens August 18th thru September 1st 2012
Sponsored by Christian Writers of the West (CWOW)
Arizona affiliate of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW)

CATEGORIES (Note: the Rattler categories have been expanded to match the Genesis contest)
  • Contemporary Fiction
  • Contemporary Romance
  • Historical Fiction
  • Historical Romance
  • Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
  • Romantic Suspense
  • Women's Fiction
  • Speculative Fiction
  • Young Adult
FINAL-ROUND JUDGES to be announced

ENTRIES: 10 pages plus 100-word synopsis; required synopsis does not count in page total; formatting guidelines and contest rules available on contest website.

REWARDS:  The opportunity for your entry to be read by published authors in the preliminary round and prominent agents and editors as a category finalist.  Finalists and winners receive contest award certificate and are featured on our website.

GRAND PRIZE:             2013 ACFW Conference ‘paid’ registration (member’s fee)
                                          minimum of 150 entries required to award the grand prize
CATEGORY PRIZE:    $25 for each Category Winner

ELIGIBILITY: The 2012 Phoenix Rattler “Does Your Story Have Bite?” writing contest is open to all unpublished novelists. Published authors may enter if at least five years have passed since their last novel publication. Self-published and e-published manuscripts okay, if not printed or for sale in last five years.

FEE: $25 fee (PayPal) 
ENTRIES DUE: Aug 18th-Sept 1st, 2012 (email only)         WINNER ANNOUNCED:  Jan 5th, 2013

Watch for details and entry forms:
General questions, contact:
CWOW President, Betty Springer