After promoting other people’s debuts here, it feels weird to be promoting my own, but here I am. Save My Soul: Book One in the Kemmons Brothers Baseball Series was released March 25. What I like most about this book is it’s not what normally passes as category-length, contemporary romance for me. When I wrote it years ago, I was heavily influenced by paranormal’s popularity, and honestly, I was in a confusing space in my life.

Rather than prolong this self-promotion, I’ll leave with this. Nicole said it best: “If you like vivid writing, sparkling sexual tension, and emotional reads check out Save My Soul.”

Save My Soul by Elley Arden

Buy it now at: Amazon and iTunes (BN.com to come)

For more about Elley and her books, visit her website.

Advertisements

When you’re a writer you read for more than enjoyment, which means you often get stuck in ruts of reading the same type of thing because it’s what you write or it’s published by a publisher you’d like to write for. That’s been me lately, reading only mainstream, contemporary romance. So I decided, enough is enough.

My first step outside the usual was easy. As a Downton Abbey (PBS) fan, I could no longer put off reading a book by an amazing friend, T.J. Brown. So I downloaded Summerset Abbey. It’s a historical trilogy (Edwardian), surrounding the lives of three young (unconventional) women. Even the cover is sumptuous!

Then, I dove into a biker book (an advanced reader copy) with an uber-alpha hero. I didn’t even know such a hero existed. Lol. I don’t always like the hero’s rough edges, but I find the whole thing compelling. It makes me think as a reader, makes me realize I’ve been reading as a writer too long.

Have you read outside your comfort zone lately?

Elley

When I wrote and edited non-fiction, writing romantic fiction in my spare time was a release. My stories were made-up and barely plausible, and I loved them. My reading tastes were similar—the grander and more far-fetched the better (as long as the stories were set in present times and had a happy ending). My writing and my reading were an extension of my imagination—convoluted and lofty. *grins*

But then I quit my non-fiction job and started writing fiction fulltime. And the longer I wrote fiction and learned about the publishing industry, the more my writing “calmed down.” I strove for stories that would resonate with readers, paint a truer picture of interpersonal relationships, not alienate with too much wealth, power or beauty, and seem plausible. And damn, I struggled, because my brain doesn’t naturally work like that. Crazy things happen in there. 🙂

I’m reading a book right now that I suspect a few people will brush off because it’s a real stretch in the plausibility department. There’s no major angst and little heavy backstory and emotional scars. What’s there is handled without melodrama. And while there’s sexual tension, so far, deep into the 80,000-word book, there is no rush to hit the sheets. It’s a funny, flirty, far-fetched love story, and I ADORE it. I’ve missed books like this. Why aren’t we writing fiction anymore? (I say that tongue-in-cheek of course.) Why is everyone so broken and realistic?

Now, that’s not to say I don’t like a good meaty read with darker characters. I do from time to time. I understand the arguments for realism in fiction, but I happen to be one of those people who prefers to read about the impossible happening. (Maybe that’s because I don’t believe anything is impossible—but I’ll save that for another post.) And I don’t know…maybe this isn’t an issue in other genres. The bottom line is I worry the pressure on writers, especially new writers, to follow the trends and write to specific publishers and even people (editors, agents, other writers, friends) will sanitize the fiction pot. It sure as heck takes the joy out of writing for me.

It comes down to personal preference. It ALWAYS does. That’s why they say write the book you want to read. You won’t please everyone with it, but when it hits the hands of a likeminded person, you’ll make their day.

Elley

I’ve heard writers and editors say the key to telling the most compelling story is asking yourself what’s the worst thing that could happen to this character, and then making that happen. It seems like easy enough advice to follow, but I’m not sure I pulled it off until yesterday. Oh sure, I mess around with the idea…Will she get her theatre? Won’t she? Of course, in the end she does. I’ve never destroyed a character’s dream. I’ve never taken the one thing the character wanted and ripped it from his or her grasp never to be seen again. It’s agonizing—for the character and me.

In my life, I avoid negative emotion as much as possible. I will walk away, shut down and completely delude myself into thinking the worst case scenario isn’t happening. I’m a focus-on-the-positive kind of gal, and my writing reflects that. Therefore, I don’t suspect the rest of my books will involve destroying my characters. But, I’d love to know what you think as a reader…

Do you appreciate a story more where the characters are brought to their knees before they get their happily ever after, or do you prefer a lighter read, where there are bumps in the road, but nothing bad enough to cause an emotional wreck?

Elley

The Trouble with Older Books

February 13, 2013

I’m reading an older book by Rachel Gibson. She is a must-read for me, and how I missed this one, I’ll never know. I’m especially excited, because this older book jumps i the basis for her more recent books. I like the familiarity involve in reading series. (But that’s another post.)

As I’m reading this older book, I’m neither loving it nor hating it. I’m reading it, absorbing it, enjoying parts of it, skimming other parts. That’s the way I read EVERYTHING except a chapter I’m editing, revising or critiquing, or a book that manages to knock me out and earn a five-star rating. But last night, as I was really thinking about the pages I’d just read I realized this book might not “fly” today, at least not with reviewers and other writers. The heroine keeps a big secret from the hero, and it drags into critical parts of the book. I can just hear the outrage on Goodreads. Worse, there’s a word used by a teenage boy to convey to his mother something’s not cool. Today, in a cultural increasingly aware of the hurt caused by homophobic word choices, that word sounds like acrylic nails on a chalkboard, especially when the mother doesn’t even flinch.

I should say I’m not the most politically correct person. I certainly didn’t put the book down when I read the word, but I did wonder why the editors didn’t change it. It wouldn’t have hurt the story in the least. The word wasn’t making a statement or being used as a definitive descriptor of a character’s personality. I suspect it was tossed in there much like it was being tossed around by society at the time the book was written.

Maybe I’m wrong. (It happens quite a bit.) Maybe I’m describing a type of censorship, and I’m not onboard with that either. Maybe I’m just worrying about what I’m writing now and how it might be construed (or misconstrued) in the future. These words live on…especially in the age of the Internet.

It’s something to think about.

Elley

I wanted to combine my usual Friday post on my publishing journey with my release day post, because this is a blog for writers and this book went through A LOT to get here. And, yes, this was supposed to go up Monday, but that’s just another lesson in things not going *exactly* the way you imagined, and that being totally okay.

So, anyway, here we are. Here being RELEASE DAY! Seven-Night Stand is out and about in the world. Last year at this time, I’m not sure I thought that was possible. In fact, in February of last year I got my second rejection from this book. Of the handful of agents I’d queried, none were interested in reading even a partial.

I thought this story had merit. It had been an honorable mention in the contest it was written for, and I just…liked it. I liked my hero and his dysfunctional family and I liked my heroine who wasn’t quite sure what to do with feelings. I liked my little private airfield in the middle of nowhere Kansas.

But, I didn’t know where to go from where I was, so I set it aside for a few months and focused on other things.

In May, I’d heard enough about Entangled and their success that I figured submitting my sexy category was worth a shot. An editor was interested, gave me some revisions, and I was excited. I worked with this editor on a full set of revisions and then I waited to hear back.

And then, months later, I got an email telling me my editor had left. I was definitely bummed, but these things happen and, hey, I had a contract. I waited for a while, was finally assigned a second editor and then before I even worked with her, she left (twice).

The hardest thing about changing editors is not working with someone new (editors are a pretty awesome, friendly bunch in my experience). It’s not even changing something you’d already changed once or twice. The hardest part (for me) was managing my own insecurity.

I knew my third editor had not chosen me, so to speak. She didn’t read my story in the piles of slush and think, yes! I want to work on this. And no matter how often she told me she loved it, no matter how many times her edits helped streamline the story into something strong, it was hard to let that voice go. She didn’t choose you. You’re screwing this up.

Somewhere around the billionth revision I just let that go. I stopped worrying over it. Because, here my book was. Good. A good book that some people will like and some people won’t. And it didn’t matter that my editor didn’t choose me, because she’d worked really hard on making the book the best it could be.

Publishing is a business just like any other. People leave and move jobs for a wide variety of reasons. Chances are, if you become a multi-published author you’re going to have, at some point, two different editors on the same project. It will be a challenge, but it will work out, because the grand majority of people in this business want your book to be as good as you want it to be.

In my experience, patience, asking questions when you’re confused, and having someone you can whine to (thanks, Elley!) are imperative if a situation like this happens.

Seven-Night Stand

Because what else is there to do if you want your book published? Not a whole lot. And more often than not, the challenges are worth it, and you get to look at something as pretty as this and know it’s yours.

So, nine months, three editors, and a whole heck of a lot of revisions later, here is my book. A book I am proud of and so excited to see out in the world (or at least the internet world).

Amazon

Kobo

Goodreads

Check Back Monday

February 1, 2013

Hi, All!

The next installment in Nicole’s publishing series will be pushed to Monday, when she’s also blogging on her RELEASE DAY! Seven Night Stand, an Entangled Indulgence, is one of my favorite reads from Nicole, featuring a sassy, reality tv scout heroine and a yummy Kansan pilot/airfiled owner. Check back for more details on Monday.

Elley

Acknowledgements

November 5, 2012

Two weeks down on my “real job.” Already two business trips under my belt. No actual writing done, but somehow between waiting at the airport for flights, flying, and staying alone in a hotel room, this week I managed to read Kieran Kramer’s Victorian romance Dukes to the Left of Me, Princes to the Right, and it was delightful…right down to the acknowledgements.

Seriously, I grabbed the top book from the stack of unread novels (that I’ve been dying to read) on the bookshelves next to my bed, and squeezed it into my already stuffed totebag (I refuse to check a bag, so I have a totebag and one rolling carry on case to take on the plane) as I was walking out the door to catch my flight. I don’t have to run, because I’m so paranoid, that I prefer to arrive at the airport three hours ahead of time, as they’ve suggested since 9/11, but apparently no one does that but me anymore, because I was through security in minutes and had three hours to read while I waited for my flight…thank goodness I grabbed Kieran’s book! (You already know I’m the Queen of Run-on Sentences, and if you didn’t you do now!)

So, anyway, I love to read the acknowledgements and dedications that authors write in their books, mostly because I fantasize about what I will say in mine. Kieran tells a fabulous story in her acknowledgements about an incident on an airplane before she was actually published. I won’t tell you the story–you need to buy her book and read it–but here I am, on the verge of publication (positive thinking people), about to board an airplane, reading her story. So motivating!

And it wasn’t just the acknowledgements that I enjoyed. They just made me want to read the book even more. Dukes to the Left of Me, Princes to the Right is a charming Victorian romance with a hint of mystery and just the right amount of steaminess (at least for me). Lady Poppy, Keiran’s heroine, is both ladylike and independent, both characteristics that I believe my heroines have. The story made me want to gather up my skirts and race home to my own “Lord of the Manor,” also known as Hunky Hubby!

So traveling for work every now and then may not be so bad…

What about you? Do you read the acknowledgements and dedications in books? Have you run across one that has been really special? One that made you fantasize about the acknowledgement you’ll write in your book? Or have you already written acknowledgments? Please share!

And by the way Spinsters Rule! (Read the book.)

Tari

Little Free Library

September 5, 2012

I stumbled onto something the other day that I wanted to share. As readers and writers, we have a vested interest in the sharing of books. Sharing books ultimately sells more books and more books sold means more books published. Win win!

Unfortunately, sharing books has become embroiled in the ebook revolution. Libraries are facing declining numbers of users and declining funds. Ebook lending is struggling to create universally accepted and beneficial parameters, leading readers to buy digital and not pass along the books they love. Boo!

What can we do to keep the sharing alive? This.

Little Free Library

 

This is a “little free library.” It sprouts without pomp or circumstance from the grass between two front lawns in a neighborhood not far from my house. It’s hard to tell whose handy work it is. There are no identifying markings. The only directive is what you see…Leave a Book. Take a Book.

Good God, it makes me cry.

Imagine my emotional response when I did a little research and discovered this is part of a movement. Little libraries like this are popping up all over America. Couldn’t your neighborhood use one?

To find out more, visit Little Free Library online.

Did you know about this or stumble onto a little free library in your neck of the woods? I’d love to know. Share your comments below.

Happy Reading! Happy Sharing!

Elley

What makes a good romance? As a reader, what are you looking for?

Obviously, we need a happily ever after. A hero and heroine we don’t hate, but beyond that, what are your “This Makes a Book Awesome” keys?

For me, I need the following things:

*A hero that does not patronize the heroine. I like heroes in all shapes and sizes, but if they start thinking the heroine can’t walk down the street without help or what she wants isn’t REALLY what she wants because HE knows best, BLECH.

*A heroine with a backbone. Whether it’s developing through the story or she’s always had one, I need a heroine who’s going to stand up to the hero and not say swoon or faint if he looks at her wrong.

*Sizzling sexual tension. I don’t care if there’s a fully described sex scene or not, I want to feel the attraction between hero and heroine crackle.

*A believable conflict. This is why I have a hard time getting into secret baby or amnesia or contractually obligated marriage stories. I want to believe the story is possible. (Please note that POSSIBLE and PROBABLE are different. It needs to be possible, not probable).

Now, I want to know what YOU think? What are your must haves in a good romance? What makes you fling a romance across the room (or mark it DNF on your ereader)?

Nicole