Friday, April 3, 2009


~Sia McKye~
"Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is: you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public." Winston Churchill

One of my favorite blogs was discussing the attitude of some aspiring authors and how critical they were of books on the market today. I do read many blogs and the comments as well as discussions on writer’s forums. There is a worry that the writing market is being flooded with wannabe authors. Frustrated writers trashing, not only the books that are being published when theirs are not, but also agents and publishers and the horse they rode in on, because they have passed on their manuscript.
They curse the market that’s buying books that aren’t in their genre. I’ve seen a lot of scrutiny on what is being published. Questions and opinions on formula writing to the market, thrillers and suspense, romance and various sub-genres of romance. Are there too many types of Regency novels flooding the market? Is erotica another word for porn and is it a valid genre? Are Vampire stories a dead end now? Are paranormals on their way out?

I happen to think any idea, if presented in a fresh way, will still sell. I’m a selective reader and will say I do think twice about reading a book or series written about vampires. I’m the same way with Regencies and to a certain extent, paranormals. It has to have that certain something that makes it stand out. Say what you want, but paranormals are still hot and I don’t see them declining in popularity any time soon and I think it’s the same with genres of erotica.

Reading some of the blogs and writer forums is a lot like walking into a room filled with chaos and loud opinions. I tend to do one of two things when that happens, walk out or start watching for the patterns. Make sense of the chaos and find my own path.

There are a lot of opinions and strong feelings on what’s selling today. Speaking as a writer, I am more critical of the quality of writing in books I read, this is true, but not so much that I pan most of the books published today as drivel. I don’t think they are.

I suppose some of the attitude among writers’ stems from the feeling that most books published today are tripe. It may also depend upon the genre of books a person reads. Various genres wax and wane in popularity. When they wane, it’s hard to find a book to read in that genre. I love a good romance but I read several genres, so I usually find something worthy of reading. Right now, I’m reading and enjoying a thriller by Stephen Coonts, called Deep Black: Arctic Gold.

I think some of the attitude among writers might also stem from having their work passed over while others seem to get published. They compare their book ideas or those of their friends with what’s out there and finding it lacking. Some feel that their writing is as good as or better than what’s being published—and that may well be true. I’d say this attitude is both frustration with a highly competitive market and plain jealousy. One you can’t do anything about and the other you can.

I have a good friend who says getting published is like a lightning strike. You need to be in the right place at the right time. Lightning strikes happen more times than we realize. So, following analogy if that’s the case then I am going to be the one out in the storms carrying the lightening rod and trying to draw the lightning.

While I'm ambitious, determined, and success oriented, I've never been a type A personality. I feel that yes, there is some luck involved—being in the right place at the right time. I watch the patterns I try to place myself where I can take advantage of the thread of luck, such as it is. I also feel there is a good deal of work involved. I can’t control the market. I have no control over readers' taste in books. I realized a long time ago, there are few things in life you are able to control, so why waste the energy trying to control the uncontrollable? I can control the quality of my work and improve it so I’m more competitive in the existing market. So, I work.

The thing about jealousy, aside from making you bitter, is the fact that while you are so busy bemoaning another's success you don't have the time to work on your own. I don't begrudge someone his or her success being published and I’m not. Good for them and I’ll have my own soon enough unless I give up—which is not my style.

For me, success has always been about applying myself, believing in myself, getting knocked down but getting back up. I don’t have time to sit in the middle of the road crying over whether something is fair or not, or worry about the market, agents, or publishers. There is one thing about all those writers trying to break into the business though, if I fall and skin my knee, or have hurt feelings from a rejection? I sure as hell better get up quick or I’ll be trampled or left behind. Footprints and dust aren’t the fashion statement I want to project.

So, regardless of the market, the opinions of agents and publishers, my philosophy is: Don’t get caught up in jealousy over another’s success. Don’t try to control the uncontrollable, like readers' taste and what is or isn’t being published. Control those things you can and if you want to be published, be willing to work hard to perfect your craft. If you get knocked down, get back up. Writing is a business so learn the business to the best of your ability. Carry a lightning rod and always keep your eye open to look out for your own luck.

“Opportunity dances with those already on the dance floor.”

What do you say? Shall we dance?

Sia McKye has spent over twenty years in marketing and promotion. She's written and published various articles on writing, marketing, and promotion. She's a Marketing Rep by profession and also writes fiction.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


My guest is Tina Ferraro, author of The ABC's Of Kissing Boys. A story about a girl who didn’t make varsity soccer with her teammates, and comes up with a crazy-but-just-might-work scheme to get promoted that involves learning everything she can about the art of kissing.

Some authors seem to have the knack of being able to write humor. One would think its inborn gift and one that requires little effort on the part of the author. So receiving a note from your editor with the suggestion to make it funnier should be an easy thing to fix, right? Tina discusses how she handles those sort of suggestions:

I once read an interview with the witty actress/author, Carrie Fisher, where she recounted how painful it was for her to go on talk shows. For not only did she need something interesting to say, she was expected to be funny. And while she knew she was capable of making people laugh, she simply could not count on her sense of humor walking out from behind the curtain with her.

I totally related. While no one’s going to ask me onto a talk show, the young adult novels that I write for Random House are considered by my publisher and reviewers to be humorous. I admit that I have an eye for the absurd, and have been known to “crack up” my fellow airport shuttle bus riders or the back row of a PTA meeting with LOL one-liners. But like Carrie Fisher, my humor is not something I can control.

So imagine my horror when I got the line edits back on my 2008 release, How to Hook a Hottie, and saw notes from my editor that said things like, “Good, but make this funnier.”

Make this funnier? Make this funnier?

Would if I could!

I went into a total tailspin--including taking a dive for cover underneath the nearest bed. Only to find the space crammed. With the workout clothes. Dust bunnies. Tooth fairy teeth. Which meant in order to complete my breakdown, I was going to have to clean. And sorry, but that was a deal-breaker.

So back I went to my line edits. Make this funnier.

Heaven help me.

Next up: I grabbed a carton of ice cream and my Sienfeld DVD’s, and began my own private marathon. Trying to immerse myself in the obsessive, zany, and over-the-top humor that makes me laugh.

Eventually, I had no choice but to return to the manuscript. With a heavy heart and even heavier stomach, I flipped to those scenes and addressed my editor’s concerns, and tried to make them funnier. Whether or not I hit the high notes is a subjective call. But I must have done “well enough” because the American Bookseller’s Association named it one of their top teen picks of the season. And it was recently named a finalist in the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence contest. I’m proud of those accomplishments, and of the book.

But here’s the thing. If we ever meet face-to-face (and I hope we do), and you want to see a glimpse of my humor? Don’t mention this blog or my books. Don’t ask me about my writing process or my kids’ teeth.
Tell me I have leaves in my hair. Or better yet, that I sat in something that looks like melted butter. I can pretty much guarantee, in the throes of my utter embarrassment, I’ll be funny. Because I’m starting realize...that’s where my humor goes when I can’t find it.

Over to the dork side.

Hey, think this revelation could help Carrie Fisher?

Tina Ferraro is the author of three young adult novels, Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress, How to Hook a Hottie (2009 RITA finalist), and The ABC's of Kissing Boys. Her fourth book, When Bad Flings Happen to Good Girls, releases summer of 2010.
She lives behind a computer screen in southern California with her husband, their cat, and whichever kids happen to be home.
Some of Tina’s favorite things include reading, drinking lattes, hanging with her family, watching the TV show Lost, and chatting with her readers through her Website,
and her blog at

Monday, March 30, 2009

Finding The Spark

Today my guest is Tawny Weber, a woman who loves romance, happily ever after, hot love scenes… all the good things in life. She writes romance hot and sizzling. Her newest release, COMING ON STRONG, was awarded four stars by Romance Times.

Today she talks about what brings our words to life and makes our characters real to our readers.
As a reader and a writer, there’s nothing I love more than reading something that sparkles. Not with glitter, ala pixie dust fun (although that would be cool, huh?). I mean that special something that brings the words to life, makes the characters seem real, and gives the reader that sense of Wow-connection. I call that spark. Some writers do it with intense plots that have the reader holding their breath in anticipation of what comes next. Others create characters that touch hearts and live in the minds of readers long after the cover is closed. There’s suspense spark, humors spark, sexy spark – the list could go on forever. For me, because I’m not an analytical reader, it’s never easy to pinpoint just what creates spark on a page. I just know it when I feel it.

As a writer, it’s a little easier. I know when my writing seems to spark – it’s that special feeling that the words just work. It all comes together and has an edge. It’s not comfortable, it’s not that “oooh that was easy to write” feeling (that usually means I didn’t work hard enough *g*). If I had to give it a label, it would be love. Loving something about the story, for me, gives it life-or spark. If I fall in love with the characters, or I’m so intensely connected to the story and how it plays out, that shows in my pages. If I believe in the story, if I’m emotionally invested, that comes through on the pages.

To all the writers out there, when you write, what’s going through your head as you put words to page. Yes, I know the story is there in the forefront –that’s what you’re typing, right? But what’s happening in the background? Doubts? Irritation or apathy? Are you thinking ‘this one is it’? Or are you rereading your latest rejection letter or bad review? IMO, nothing’s better at smothering spark than negativity. Some tools I use when I wrote to keep my focus on the story and not the chattering background voice is music. It just drowns them out *g*. Other ideas are to write down all the worries before you start writing, then rip them to shreds. They have no place in your writing time. Hey, there are plenty of other hours during the day to worry, right? Just not while you’re writing.

Another spark killer? Feedback. Oh, don’t get me wrong; I love feedback as much as the next person (especially good feedback LOL). But there was a time that I entered a lot of contests looking for feedback and I learned fast that if I took everyone’s advice/comments and changed my story to suit those, it would be a sparkless as a glass of tepid water. As much as I respect other’s opinions, the bottom line is the story has to resonate for me. I take two opinions into account when I write – two people that know my writing, know my voice and totally believe in my stories. My CP, and my editor. That’s not to say that I don’t respect reviews and feedback – I do. I store it all, I consider what clicked or didn’t click for readers, and try to keep that in mind as I work on my next story. But the bottom line is it always has to spark for me first.

So how about you? Do you recognize spark when you read?
Are there stories that just jump to life off the pages for you?
How about in your writing? Can you see when it’s there?
Do you have ideas for bringing more spark to your pages?

Tawny Weber is usually found dreaming up stories in her California home, surrounded by dogs, cats and kids. When she’s not writing hot, spicy stories for Harlequin Blaze, she’s shopping for the perfect pair of boots or drooling over Johnny Depp pictures (when her husband isn’t looking, of course).

Tawny’s most recent Blazes: COMING ON STRONG and GOING DOWN HARD are out April/May of 2009. Come by and visit her on the web at
Available May 2009

Did you know? One in ever six mass-market books sold in North America is a Harlequin or Silhouette Novel