Monday, May 25, 2009

Manuscript Makeover

For the last week or so, I've been reading Manuscript Makeover by Elizabeth Lyon. It was recommended to me by a fellow romance author, Emily Ryan Davis. Since I've been planning to revise Secrets Uncovered into a full length novel, I have been trying to find ways to turn 30K into 80K. Sometimes, I have way too many ideas for things I could do and it's not always clear as to what I should do.

But reading this book is great. It's primarily a revision/editing book for writers who have no idea where to begin the process. Manuscript Makeover is also a craft manual. There are useful tidbits for expanding bare bones scenes through "riff writing" and processes for taking paragraphs or lines from your favorite books and learning how to emulate the technique. And, of course, there is the basic stuff on sentence structure, unnecessary words, and reading your manuscript aloud to catch awkward phrasing.

Though I'm only on chapter five, I'm already in love with this book. Manuscript Makeover is just what I needed. And, I haven't even gotten to part three on characterization.

What I love about this book is that it covers all the major aspects of revision/self-editing. It's not just a manual for how to clean up your sentences and eliminate "that", "was", "had", etc. It is not just a book about cutting word count for clarity. It teaches you techniques for writing and shows you how to emulate your favorite writers to learn from their description or their dialogue or characterization techniques. It has simple methods for you to re-read your own writing and listen as a reader would listen.

I highly recommend Manuscript Makeover. It is pure genius!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Interview with Jeannie Lin, Golden Heart Finalist

Today is a special day. I'm interviewing Jeannie Lin, a fellow Romance Diva and Golden Heart Finalist! Since we both write historical romance, I thought it would be fun to explore that theme and talk about what makes Jeannie's stories so unique.

One thing I can tell you that sets Jeannie Lin's romances apart is her use of setting. Her current manuscript, Butterfly Swords, is set in ancient China. Click on the title to get a sneak peek at the book.

Now, on to the juicy bits...

What inspired you to write historical romance?
JL: I like to be swept away and lose myself when I read and I found myself loving historical romances for their larger than life characters. I love how historical is almost fantasy. There's a genre of historical romantic fantasy in Asian literature called "wuxia" that I grew up on and that's really the main source of inspiration for my historicals.

What time periods are your favorite to read about or write about?
JL: I have a particular love for medieval time periods, regardless of the setting. I like to imagine a time of both honor and chivalry as well as ruthlessness all mixed in together. It makes for a good sense of drama. I have a particular liking for Asian settings but I love to read stories set in Europe and fantasy medieval settings as well.

How did you get the idea for Butterfly Swords?
JL: Butterfly Swords was my second finished manuscript. Ryam was the ne'er do well sidekick in the first one. He was the comic relief, the best friend who was always screwing up in a big way. Before I finished the first book, I had decided to write him as a hero and give him his chance for redemption. I became fixated with the idea of a likable vagabond who jumps into a single act of heroism out of impulse and it changes his life. I brainstormed to find the perfect woman for him and had several prototypes try out for the part, but finally I decided she had to be from the warrior class, be completely serious and believe in him more than he believes in himself. In order to make a soft, woman warrior believable I drew from my tiny bit of martial arts training and based her training on Wing Chun Kung Fu, which really is an ideal style for women. In Wing Chun, butterfly swords are used as extensions of your arms and it's quite an exciting visual when you see demonstrations.

What do you think makes a good historical hero? What makes a good historical heroine?
JL: Historical heroes have more freedom. They don't know a thing about being metrosexual so there's that rough edge on them that's so sexy. Throw in honor, the element of danger and that dark, brooding streak and it's a great fantasy. I like historical heroines who have a fiery streak, but also that softer side. I don't believe that women in the past were always meeker or necessarily more repressed, but they had to be smart with their strength and manifest it in different ways than men did. Yin and Yang and balance, you know? I have a whole write up to do about feminism in Tang dynasty China, but that's for another day. :)

How does it feel to get a Golden Heart nomination for your book?

Do you have any other historical projects in the work? Are they in the same setting or a different one?
JL: I'm revising the follow up novel which is also set in the Tang Dynasty. It features a former concubine and a warlord and explores the shadowy underworld of imperial China. I also have a contemporary paranormal that takes a small time slip into Storyville in the early 1900s, the New Orleans red light district.

Any advice you wish to share with other writers or is there anything else in general you'd like to share with us?
JL: Assume every rejection means your writing isn't good enough yet and keep on working at it.. That's the only thing you can worry about.

You can learn more about Jeannie Lin and her awesome book, Butterfly Swords, by going to:

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Excerpt Monday - Secrets Uncovered

It's Excerpt Monday again! My friends and I are posting excerpts from our books. (At the bottom of the post, you will find links to some great free reads).

Today, we're going to go back in time. To a time of corsets, proper lords and ladies, subtle innuendos, manor homes, and a good Queen to rule them all. My novella, Secrets Uncovered, which may be turned into a novel, is set in the late Victorian period. Circa 1890.

To sum it up: American widow, Elena Montgomery, has discovered that her mother lied to her about her parentage. She accompanies her friend to England to search for a man who might be her biological father. But, along the way, she gets entangled with a gorgeous earl who has a very dirty reputation. Jamie Davenport, Earl of St. James, has every intention of making her his mistress, no matter what the cost. But, will he still be willing to pay the price once he discovers the secrets she's hiding?

The scene below is part of the first chapter. Elena and her friend have arrived at the country estate of Sir Charleston, the man she thinks may be her father, for a two-week party. While Elena and Melissa plot to find out Charleston's connection with her mother, Jamie corners Elena...

“You summoned me, Mrs. Montgomery?” St. James’s voice was thick and low, yet smooth. Certainly not the kind of voice that a man used in a crowded ballroom. It was the voice a man used from within the covers of a canopied bed.

He took her gloved hand and kissed it. Once those brilliant sapphire eyes looked into hers, she lost every ounce of her will. And this wasn’t the first time.

“No.” Breathe, Elena. Breathe. He cannot see you nervous.

That lazy smile was the downfall of so many women. Apparently, Elena was the next one on St. James’ list.

“Your eyes bid me to come.”

“They did no such thing.”

“Then why were you staring?” he challenged.

“As if you are not always staring,” she muttered. She couldn’t remember a time since they’d been introduced when St. James wasn’t attempting to seduce her with those eyes.

“Is it not natural to let your gaze linger on something exquisite?”

Despite herself, Elena felt heat creep up her cheeks. They must be red as beets.

She gave him a suspicious glance. “Am I the first one to hear that phrase or did you practice it on a few other widows before me?”

He smiled. “I reserve my best compliments for women who rise above the crowd.”

That devil. He felt he could charm any woman out of her pantaloons. He was mistaken.

“Such as those young ladies who are longing to drag you back into conversation?” Elena nodded in the direction of the three women he had just abandoned.

“They are merely to pass the time.”

“And me?”

He leaned in closer. “You are one to savor.” He spoke the word slowly as if he tasted on his tongue.

They could have been alone for all the intensity with which he gazed upon her. An intensity which made her stomach flutter. The air between them crackled with heat. She fell for his charm. Again.

Why couldn’t they have met under different circumstances? Though truth be told, she wasn’t sure if an affair with Lord St. James would be good under any circumstances.

“He has a reply to everything,” Elena said, addressing Melissa.

The girl smiled. “That he does.”

“Would you rather I stuttered and stammered in the face of your delectable beauty?”

She could feel the hammering of her heart beneath the corset. The temptation to lean in toward him burned within her.

Yet she could not give in so easily. “Perhaps I would rather you said something sincere.”

“Ah.” He paused for a moment. Thinking up a good line, no doubt. “Would it please you if I were to tell you that I have thought of little but you since I heard you had accepted the invitation to my aunt’s party?”


He smiled. “That is all I have to offer in the way of sincerity.”

Elena shook her head and laughed. “You will have to practice, my lord. That was hardly a confession of undying devotion.”

A dark look passed over his face. “I do not make those, madam.”

He was serious. The man never confessed love. She should know better. For all intents and purposes, Jamie Davenport bedded one woman after another. If gossip could be believed, he amused himself with a woman for three to six months and then moved on. No declarations. No marriage proposals. Just heated nights under the bedcovers.

“Just as well, my lord. I would never expect such from you.”

She turned from him to look at Melissa. “I think you have an admirer of your own.”

Across the room, St. James’ cousin, Lord Langdon Sterling, had his eyes on Melissa. Elena looked at him and wondered again how he and the rake could be so different. They were first cousins, but other than their curly hair, tall, lean physiques, and superb tailoring, they were totally unalike.

St. James exuded mystery and midnight seductions with his intoxicating stares, sultry voice, and dark looks. Langdon, however, was all charm and affability. His blond curls, wide, sincere smile, and impeccable manners made a woman think of an angel.

What did it say of her that the angel did not tempt her in the slightest? It was the devil she craved. It was the Sin-James who made her awaken breathless and heated in the dead of the night.


To view more awesome excerpts, go to:

Melissa Aires, Paranormal Erotic Romance (PG)

Gina Ardito, Historical Paranormal (PG)

Jax Cassidy, Erotic Contemporary (R)

Ella Drake, Erotic Paranormal Romance (NC-17)

Kaige, Historical Romance (PG-13)

Jeannie Lin, Historical (PG)

Crista McHugh, Historical Paranormal Romance (PG-13)

Kirsten Saell, Erotic Romance/Fantasy (NC-17)

Kate Willoughby, Fantasy/Parnormal Erotic Romance (NC-17)