I was reminded of this recently while reading a chapter for a CP…

Back in my first draft of GOTH, I had a variation on the phrase, “Her mouth formed a stunned O.”

And a very wise person very kindly said to me, “I think you should rethink that phrase. Does one’s mouth ever really make an O? Go to the mirror, and make your mouth into an O, and then tell me what you think.”

Yeah. I did that. I looked ridiculous. I’ve never used that phrase again.

Try it at home, kids!… Read More »

Shameless self-promotion alert! (It may be the last of its kind, so indulge me.)

I just learned today that the “wardrobe scene” from Goddess of the Hunt is a finalist in the MRWA “Reveal Your Inner Vixen” contest. Yay! (And no, the finalists aren’t posted yet. They said it might take a while.)

This was especially exciting, because this is a contest expressly for sexual tension scenes. And I really do love that wardrobe scene. I vividly remember the weekend I wrote it – all they were supposed to do was kiss! Heh. Jeremy had other ideas. And they were gooood ideas, I guess. I still think of that as the defining scene of my book.

Overall, I entered GOTH in 5 contests. In one, I placed just about dead last. In another, I just missed the finals cut, but I made a great networking contact. In the other three, I made the finals. No final results yet. So I can’t complain. But am I entering another contest again?

No way. Argh, the tension! I can’t take it!

What else have I learned? Assuming you have a generally decent manuscript, finaling or not finaling in contests seems largely a matter of which judges you draw. Some of my most helpful feedback has come from my harshest judges. And even when I completely tanked in the one contest, it helped me learn to deal with criticism and rejection. But–oh, the energy and time and postage I’ve spent! I’m glad I entered … Read More »

This isn’t really TMI, but – well, on second thought, it could qualify. By all means, let’s strive to make it qualify.

When I was at RWA in Dallas, I attended a panel discussion on “Hot Historicals.” One of the panelists was the delightful Janet Mullany, whose recent release The Rules of Gentility is getting rave reviews. At the end of her highly diverting presentation, Ms. Mullany declared war on the phrase “pebbled nub” – or “nubs” of any variety, for that matter. She’s on a personal crusade, she says, to strike that cliched euphemism from romance novel vocabulary.

I got to thinking about this while reading the entries on Maggie’s highly diverting contest this week, and wondering…

If you could strike one word from the Love-Scene Lexicon, which would it be? Which noun or verb or adjective could you happily read a lifetime without encountering again?

For example, I remember reading a comment on some blog somewhere, where the commenter avowed a passionate distaste for the word “splayed.” (Erm, I kinda like that one myself, but oh well.)

My word, you ask?
Juices.

No explanation necessary or desired, I’m sure. Just makes me cringe every time.… Read More »

I have finally updated the excerpt on my website. Once upon a time, that excerpt was part of chapter one. Not the actual beginning of the book – that was a prologue. Not the beginning of chapter one – that was two pages of infodump. No, the excerpt began a solid two pages into chapter one.

This should have been a warning sign. Now GOTH has no prologue and a much better chapter one, and I think the excerpt is much stronger for it. (The book is stronger for it, too.)

But this has been an important lesson. I think all writers should ask themselves, when selecting excerpts – which scene in my book is the most intriguing? Which scene does the best job of introducing the characters, foreshadowing the coming conflict, and raising questions that will compel people to read on?

And if the answer to that question isn’t “the first scene of the book” – you should rethink the first scene of your book.

Have a gander at the new excerpt if you wish…
And if you want to compare with the old one, it can still be found here.Read More »

Well, I’ve finally gotten around to cleaning up this place a bit. Added a few links. Updated my website in a few tiny ways. Nothing big. I did finally push that page-meter a bit … you’ll notice it no longer says Goddess of Beauty. Yeah, I’m no longer sure what I’m calling that book. But in order to keep the same acronym, I’ve started referring to it as “Goats on a Boat.” Because, you see, they’re on a boat… and there are goats. It may have a new title soon.

And of course, there’s an allusion there to Snakes on a Plane. Which I haven’t seen. It’s not a conscious oversight – I can count on one hand the number of movies I’ve seen in the past year or two. Mr. Dare and I have really got to get a date-night sitter for the Darelings more often. When I’m in the mood for a movie, I usually find myself popping in the same DVDs over and over again.

And so I ask you this Tuesday, what movie have you watched a truly embarrassing amount of times?
And now you can’t say Casablanca or Gone With The Wind or something good. In order to be TMI, it must be an embarrassing movie.

Back in ye olde days of the VCR (remember Beta?) and before the days of Nintendo, my brother and I had a very few movies on tape and lots of time on our hands. Did we go outside … Read More »

Congratulations, Alice Audrey! You’re the winner of the Cobblestone and Cerridwen gift certificates. Send me an email, and give me the email address you want your prizes sent to.

Today, all the FanLit chapter winners are guestblogging on Romance Vagabonds. Please stop by to share what’s new with you!

Lastly, big congratulations to India and CM for finaling in this contest. (They let us know Monday, but they still haven’t posted a list for whatever reason.) My Goddess of the Hunt entry also made the cut, so now all three of us are in the finals together! Just like Round One of FanLit. I’m so proud to be a finalist, and to be among such wonderful company!… Read More »


Well, you all can blame seton for this blog. Her post the other day (and I shan’t even link directly to it, because it is most definitely not safe for work, children, or perhaps even hi-def computer monitors. Scroll, and you’ll find it.) was certainly Too Much Something. Or maybe Just Enough of it. Anyhow, it sparked an interesting conversation about body hair.

Romance heroes’ chests seem to cover a wide spectrum, in the hair department. (Although, the cover models are nearly always waxed and oiled to a hairless sheen.) There’s the chests “sprinkled” with hair, the “dusted” with hair, the “lightly furred” – and if you read paranormals, there are the truly furred. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Mayne, the hairless wonder – my kind of guy.

I’ll admit, when I used to just read romance, I always hated reading about the chest hair. Then when I started writing romance, I really resisted going there. I don’t know why. Eventually, I begrudgingly gave my dark-haired hero some dark chest hair to match – but I remember kind of squinting at the monitor and typing real fast, just to get it over with.

Then there are the girls – not that they have chest hair, of course. But in a historical, you’d think they’d have to have leg hair and underarm hair that curiously never gets mentioned.

And I don’t remember ever reading about anyone, male or female, with a unibrow.

What are your preferences, in life
Read More »

First off, if you all have not already been over there, get over to Romance Vagabonds tout de suite and check out the FanLit reunion par-tay the gypsies are hosting all week. They’re doing a FanLit sequel, featuring “Hellion Heiress” Lady Alexis Coulter, fan favorite Jonathan Crane, and Pugsley the pooch. Will SLJ make an appearance? He’d mother-f***in’ better! But what of the zombies?

**Tessa gets brainwave and takes break to email ErvinA**

It’s been a while since I’ve given anything away around here, and I feel generous. Do you feel lucky? Seriously, I’m so proud of our FanLit alums who’ve been e-pubbed recently. Jacqueline and Ericka (Pamsko) are now Cobblestone authors; Sara Dennis has her first book coming out from Cerridwen this month, No Accounting for Chase. So the lucky winner of this here contest will get $10 gift certificates to both Cobblestone and Cerridwen to purchase these and/or other fine e-books.

Now … what kind of contest, you ask? Good question. Um… lessee. Leave a comment, and tell me about the biggest prize you’ve ever won. (No fair saying your hubby or your kids or something sentimental like that – I want cash value.) The winner will be drawn at random from all commenters. The deadline will be Wednesday night, 9PM PST. Doesn’t that sound official?

Good luck!Read More »

Back from the family vacation. The Dare-lings actually did pretty well on the plane and we all enjoyed spending time with our extended family. Nothing too exotic, just lots of “quality time.”

I came home to learn that GOTH is a finalist in the Orange Rose contest! Not only that, but my good friends India and Darcy are finalists in the Maggies! And all three of us will get to be present at the respective awards ceremonies, so that’s extra exciting.

And don’t forget, tomorrow is Jackie/Jacqueline’s big release day with Cobblestone! I can’t wait to read Carnally Ever After.… Read More »

I am so thrilled to tell you all that I am now represented by Helen Breitwieser of Cornerstone Literary Agency.

Some of you know, choosing an agent was a difficult decision for me. I had multiple offers, and I took lots of factors into account, did my research, solicited advice from the pros, and spent several sleepless nights mulling it over. Once I had the chance to talk to Helen, however, I knew my search was over. She’s enthusiastic about my writing, communicative, and willing to go that extra mile. And the fact that she’s in my time zone is a plus. No setting the alarm clock to make 6:00AM phone calls!

Seriously, I’m so honored to be a Cornerstone author – Helen’s historical romance clients include:
RITA-winner Sophia Nash
RITA-winner Tracy Anne Warren
RITA-nominated Pam Rosenthal

And now me. Zoiks. Seriously.

And oh, yeah – SQUEEEE!

EDIT: The doorbell just rang – it was a package from Helen. She sent me a lovely note and a copy of this book, The Bright Side of Disaster. A snippet from the Booklist review:

In her stellar first novel, Center paints an accurate and humorous view of motherhood, from the physical changes to lack of sleep and exhaustion as well as the changes in friendships and feelings about men.

See? This woman just gets me.… Read More »