Friday, January 18, 2013

What's in YOUR Reading Pile?

What does your reading pile say about your personality? I had a few days of sickness (like the rest of America) this week where I had some time to stare at my bedside stash of books and contemplate why I read what I read. I don't know if I came up with any profound answers, but it was fun!

Here's a peek:

Saw the movie, loved it! Read the author's story, how he quite his job as a high school English teacher to write. Can't wait to read this! Very nuanced, very emotional, and a love story!!! My perfect kind of book!

I've been studying the Harlequin Special Edition line and loving the heartwarming stories about home, love, and family. I loved this book by Helen Lacey! It takes place in a unique setting--Australia, and is a romance between a responsible, no-nonsense bed-and-breakfast owner who lost her husband and a handsome firefighter...who happens to be nine years younger. It's an RT Reviewers' Choice nominee for best Harlequin Special Edition of 2012, and I can see why. Lacey's latest book was released in January, called His-and-Hers Family. I've got that one, too!  

Okay, I heard so much about this book last year, I had to see what the buzz was about. I'm wondering if I can get through it before someone accidentally tells me the answer to the driving question, is her husband guilty or not?!

This isn't any old edition of's annotated...meaning in this case that the original text is on each left page, and explanations, pictures, paintings, etc. of all sorts of interesting period things are on each right page. I've always prided myself at being pretty good at understanding older language without too much help...but trust me, I am completely humbled by this type of reading experience. Also, it weighs in at almost 900 pages!

I've read one or two books by Rachel Gibson before and loved them. This looks cute and fun!

I've been "saving" this book for a time when no one interrupts me , as I do with all of Kleypas's books(probably the reason I haven't read it yet--there is no such time!!). I'm dying to read it but I'd better hurry because Lisa's next book in this series is out next month.

So there you have it. I haven't even got to e-books, but doing this did make me realize I tend to buy paper when I want to study a book carefully or when it is textbook-like (the Emma edition). Now, if only there was time to read all these wonderful books!!

So...what's in YOUR pile?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Eliza Knight on Editing

Today I'm proud to present a fabulous article on editing written by historical romance writer Eliza Knight, who gave me permission to post this today. For more about Eliza and her latest release,see the end of the article. Thanks, Eliza!
Finished the Damn Book – oh no – Editing!
By Eliza Knight

Congratulations! You’ve written “The End.” I assure you this is no easy feat. Many people set out on a quest to write a tale and, for one reason or another, do not complete it. The question is: now what? You must edit!
Why should edit your work? Your work should be edited because competition is fierce in the publishing world—the number of submissions accepted is quite small. The average number of books accepted by publishers for publication is around 2-4%. That is not very high. For every one-hundred manuscripts they receive, only two, maybe four on a good day, will be offered a contract.

With odds like 2-4%, you will want your book to be in the best shape it can possibly be. Here’s an example of why:

Jane Editor at Big Six Publishing House has two manuscripts in front of her. They are both phenomenal! The plots are compelling, the characters intriguing. Both books are sure to sell well, but she’s been told by the editorial board she can only accept one book—that’s all they have room for, as her own list of authors and books on the table is vast. Jane Editor goes back and forth between manuscripts. The decision is hard to make. She wants both. How will she possibly decide?

Well, as it’s been mentioned, Jane Editor has a very busy schedule. She already works 60+ hours a week, and during her free time at home she reads over her authors’ work. Another quick look at the two manuscripts shows that Manuscript#1 has a lot more editing issues in it that Manuscript#2… Decision made, Jane is going to go with the manuscript that will require the least amount of work.

And if all goes well, that’s yours!

A few pointers to keep on hand when editing your manuscript

Tightening up those sentences – By paring down on filler words, weak words and strengthening verbs, you can tighten up your sentences. Writers tend to put a lot of extraneous words in our sentences we do not need.  Remember, Evil = that/had. You can’t delete all the “that” and “had” words, but do a search and find, read the sentence thoroughly. Do you need the word? Often times we write in something like:  “She had gone to the market earlier that day.” This is a sentence that can be easily tightened: “She went to the market in the morning.” Another example of what we can do to tighten up sentences is delete redundancy. Instead of saying she sat down, say sat. Stand up, becomes stood. Turned around becomes turned. Don’t let too much backstory bog down your pages. Sprinkle it in through dialogue, action, reaction. If it doesn’t move the story along, delete it.
Inconsistencies – Beware of inconsistencies! Eye color, location, years, setting, season. A character with a broken leg won’t be miraculously healed the next day. If it’s the dead of winter, your heroine won’t be picking roses unless she’s in a greenhouse.
Format – Always check the submission guidelines for format. If none stated, use the standard 12pt regular font, double-spaced, 1” margins, 1st line indent.
Using the 5 senses – Readers want to experience the story. Show them what is happening with the characters. Let the reader, touch, see, hear, taste and smell what the character does. This works great during every scene and should be especially potent in love scenes and highly intense scenes.
Hooks beginning and end – Draw your reader in and keep them there. Examples of hooks are: danger, strong emotion, shocking situation, evocative narrative, witty dialogue.
Point-of-view – Pick the character who has the most at stake in a scene and use their POV. Use transitions to switch “heads”. Don’t hop back and forth. If you feel that in a scene you need more than one POV, do it smoothly so that you don’t confuse the reader, and don’t do it for only one line. If you only have one line, best to save it for a separate scene when the character is reacting to the previous scene. For one scene with two POV’s, authors will often have the first half of the chapter in one character’s POV and then switch the last half to the other character. Some do only one POV per chapter and then switch. Whichever way you choose, make sure it is done in a way that does not confuse your reader.  A note here on secondary characters: it is fine to a scene in a secondary character or two’s POV. But don’t go overboard. And above all, remember this is a story about the hero/heroine. You don’t want secondary characters to take over.
GMC – Make sure your characters have goals, motivation for those goals and conflict that impairs them from reaching their goals. This is the what, why, and how. Make them strong, believable and meaningful. If your GMC is not rock solid, you story won’t be either. You don’t want to have wishy-washy characters. If your characters are flaky, the reader will become frustrated. Characters can have more than one goal. Their goals can also change throughout the story as they grow and change. Don’t forget your secondary characters! They need to have believable GMCs also. Don’t forget conflict is both internal and external. What inside the character is keeping them from meeting their goal? What outside force is interfering?
Story Development / Plot / Characterization / Setting – Create a world—your setting, make it interesting, unique. With this and your characters’ GMC and Arc (how they grown and change), develop a story line. What if…?  Develop your who, what, when, where, why. What is the black moment? What is the resolution?
Show vs. Tell – Instead of telling the reader your character is scared—describe it. How does this feel? What is happening inside the character? What are they thinking? Show us so we “see” it in our minds, rather than just being given a recap. As I said previously, a reader wants to experience a story. They want to visualize it as though they were watching a movie. Ramp up your sensory detail, paint a picture, get those gut-wrenching emotions pulled, thrill them. Show us what is happening through dialogue, action and reaction.
Active vs. Passive – Make sure your writing pops. Instead of saying “She felt sad.” Say, “Despair clouded her mind.” This goes hand in hand with show vs. tell. A passive writer tells the reader a story, wheras and active writer shows the story. Get rid of as many: saw, felt, feel, heard, look words as you can. Replace them with sentences that allow the reader to experience the story. Instead of telling the reader: “She saw a hundred troops lining the top of the hill.” Show: “At least one hundred mounted troops topped the hill. The sun glinted blindingly off the metal of their helmets. Their horses’ hooves pawed and stomped the earth.” Use the senses. Make sure your pacing isn’t being bogged down by too many wordy sentences.
Dialogue – Use dialogue whenever possible to bring your characters to life. Dialogue shows the reader your character's personality, sets the tone for the scene, explains what is happening, shows reactions, shows us the character’s unique beliefs, values, etc… It also shows us the personality/beliefs/reactions of other characters. Read your dialogue aloud to make sure it flows naturally. Don’t overuse “he/she said” tags, and on the flipside, don’t use too little. Whenever possible use an action tag. “Wow, I hate editing.” She threw her pen down.
I hope these tips will help you with making sure your book is in tip-top shape! Take your time, and do it right. Don’t rush the editing process—but don’t take the next ten years to shape your book either. Try to do it in thirty days. If you make daily/weekly goals for your editing process, you will get it done in a much orderly fashion. Always read through your book one more time before sending it in for submission—and better yet, see if you can have one or more people read through it too.
Best of luck!  Happy Editing!
Eliza Knight is the award-winning, multi-published, Amazon best-selling author of sizzling historical romance and erotic romance. While not reading, writing or researching for her latest book, she chases after her three children. In her spare time (if there is such a thing…) she likes daydreaming, wine-tasting, traveling, hiking, staring at the stars, watching movies, shopping and visiting with family and friends. She lives atop a small mountain, and enjoys cold winter nights when she can curl up in front of a roaring fire with her own knight in shining armor. Visit Eliza at or her historical blog, History Undressed,., Twitter: @ElizaKnight and Facebook:

And here's Eliza’s December release...THE HIGHLANDER’S LADY

A Highlander tamed…

Laird Daniel Murray seeks adventure, battle and freedom for his countrymen. Putting off his duties as laird—with a promise to his clan he’ll return come spring—Daniel sets off with his men to fight alongside William Wallace and the Bruce. But soon he stumbles across an enchanting lady in need. She tantalizes him with an offer he simply can’t refuse and a desire he attempts to dismiss.

A lady’s passion ignited…

Escaping near death at the treacherous hands of a nearby clan, Lady Myra must find the Bruce and relay the news of an enemy within his own camp. Alone in a world full of danger and the future of her clan at stake, she must trust the handsome, charismatic Highland laird who promises to keep her safe on her journey—and sets her heart to pounding.

Together, Daniel and Myra will risk not only their lives, but their hearts while discovering the true meaning of hope and love in a world fraught with unrest.

Friday, January 4, 2013

How My Writer's Space Feng Shui Has Gone Awry

Happy New Year--does your office embrace the principles of good Feng Shui for writers? I called upon the expertise of Pam Gaulin, Kerrie Flanagan, and Regina Paul who wrote online articles about this topic if you're interested in reading more.

There is probably something to be said--a lot, actually--about having a tidy, neat, calming writer's space to  cause the Chi (the invisible life force or energy that is all around us) to flow in positive directions for maximum creativity and focus.

But I'm coming off the heels of the holidays and my office is a mess. (And no, there will not be pictures posted today until my Feng Shui gets more in order.)

But when will that be? The desk cleaning I did recently involved moving a large pile from the top of my desk to the side where no one can see it from the hallway. Other things accumulating on this same secretly shameful side:  books, conference materials from October, cords. Bad Chi for sure!

Regina Paul tells us that Chi can be blocked by clutter, and blocked Chi can lead to frustration and the inabiltiy to create.

So, you shouldn't stack your work on your desk because then it appears like an obstacle that's impossible to overcome. (I don't need paper clutter to make me feel like that--all I have to do is open Word every day and stare at the blinking cursor :)

More Feng Shui advice: Be sure your back is not to the door so you can keep an eye on things and the good Chi can enter freely. Have a wall behind you to feel supported in your career choice.

I face a wall when I write. And I have the option to look out a window--with my L-shaped desk, which I just read is not good for Chi. But I've tried sitting in the middle of the room with a wall behind me and it made me feel--jittery. Exposed. I just seem to need a wall in front of me for comfort. Maybe it was all those hours I spent in the library studying in carrels, staring at blank gray--um, carrel spaces.

Sometimes I think that ideally, it would be nice to be surrounded by walls--a tiny little space that just fits you and your writing and no other distractions. I once read that a famous writer--I forget whom--locked himself up into a little closet to write. I actually like that idea a lot! Away from family, phone, etc. in your own little sealed-up private maybe I should ditch the office and consider writing in my closet.

Feng shui colors are important, and here as well I have gone wrong. Blue is calming , it represnts water and encourages release, higher thought, and inner wisdom.
Purple--also a good color, represents enlightenment, prosperity, and creativity.
So then, office wallpaper...very un-Feng Shui pink curli-ques!


If you do use blue, be sure to put some orange accents in there--perhaps as a bouquet of flowers--for contrast and fire so you don't get too lethargic from all the calming tones.

Kerrie Flanagen tells us to not forget good lighting, a comfy chair, and a window or picture with depth of view.

Two more tips:

--Plants can minimize electronic fields, which can disturb Chi.

--Use your South wall for fame and recognition. Here's where you place book covers, awards, diplomas, and the goals you aspire to achieve.

And for those of us who don't have time to worry too much about Feng's to a nice, quiet writing space in 2013 (even if it's the kitchen table), where we can simply write in peace.

May 2013 be a great writing year, full of good Chi, great ideas, and a calm place where you can work hard and prosper!