Thursday, April 30, 2009

Visit me at Alisha Paige's blog today

Visit me today at Alisha Paige's blog for a chance to win an advance copy of The Duende and the Muse!

Here is the story blurb:
Melinda the Muse is frustrated with her student. He isn't writing much these days.
At the annual MuseFest, held in a fantastically colorful cloud, she hopes to get new ideas to inspire him. When Devon the duende shows up, is he there to steal her student, or her heart?

If you miss your chance today, come back here on May 6 - I'll be holding another contest here to celebrate release day (my favorite kind of days!).

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Release date for Liberation via Pen!

Wild Child Publishing will release Liberation via Pen, my short women's fiction, on May 26! Yay! You can even preorder a download now.
Here's the story blurb:
Krista's perfect happiness bubble bursts when Ethan tells her goodbye. Numbed at her new job, she soon faces an even colder dismissal. Only the hungry mews of her cat, Verisimilitude, snap her from her funk. A new beginning at a local book store brightens when cute Todd invites her to a writer's meeting.
As Krista commits the story of her soured relationship to paper, elements come clear: Ethan's manipulation, her capitulation, an amoeba-like existence. Setting her emotions on paper empowers her, helping her redefine herself. Todd becomes her mentor.
But just when things are finally going right, it all threatens to come apart. Ethan's back, wanting his share of book profits. And Krista. She's ready to take a chance with Todd, but is it too late?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Marketing madness comes to an end, for now

To finish up this series of hopefully helpful posts, here are a few more resources dredged from the far-flung corners of the Internet.
Ironically, this last has to do with keeping it local. Reach out to area libraries or readers’ groups. Create a list of questions for the groups to discuss.
Reach out to the media with press releases. PR Web provides tips on content and formatting press releases. You can also post your release on this free press release site. Don’t forget to send to your local newspapers, too – they’re hungry for content, and many allow releases to be emailed. Send it in a text document, not a PDF, to allow them to pull the text. If they have to retype it, they’ll likely ignore it. Send it to your local television stations, too. Many media allow you to email news releases, making it extremely easy to do.
If your release is in print, Lorna Tedder provides a Book Promotion Countdown Checklist in a handy timeline format.
To recap, so far we’ve learned: web sites are essential. To get an idea of what works, check out Writer’s Digest’s 2008 Best Writer’s Website winner and the runners-up (though they looked to be mostly, if not all, nonfiction).
Book trailers are an unknown as far as marketing value, but the fact that authors can create them cost-free using Windows Moviemaker, music and photos from free sites, it’s a no-brainer. Make one to help spread the word.
Lastly, write a great story. Because it always comes down to that.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Welcome guest author Margaret Tanner!

Cate: Please welcome special guest Margaret Tanner. Margaret, will you please share a short bio with us?
Margaret: I’ve had numerous short stories published over the years, but writing Historical romance novels is my passion. My favourite historical period is the 1st World War. Not only have I painstakingly researched this era, but was fortunate enough to make a poignant pilgrimage to the battlefields of Gallipoli (in Turkey), also France and Belgium.
I live in Australia with my husband and have three grown up sons, and one grand-daughter. I recently reduced my working hours as a medical typist to concentrate on writing.
I’m published with Whiskeycreek Press and The Wild Rose Press.

Cate: Tell us about your latest release, The Trouble with Playboys, and where it's available.
Margaret: The Trouble with Playboys opens in 1938, when a wealthy Englishman, Paul Ashfield, travels to Australia in search of the birth-mother he thinks deserted him. He meets and falls in love with Daphne Clarke. Upon meeting her parents, Paul is horrified by the possibility that they have the same mother. He departs the scene quickly, believing he has slept with his sister.
Amidst the turmoil of WW2, Paul and Daphne meet again in Singapore, where they discover the truth – they are not siblings. They marry as the Japanese pour into Malaya and Singapore teeters on the brink of invasion. In the chaotic aftermath, each believes the other has died during the bombing. Heartbroken, Paul returns home to England and agrees to an arranged marriage.
After a daring escape from Singapore, Daphne finally reaches England, only to find out that Paul is about to wed another woman.
The Trouble with Playboys is available April 24 from The Wild Rose Press.
The Trouble With Playboys, is particularly close to my heart, as my late father served in Singapore and Malaya during the 2nd World War, and as he was engaged to my mother at the time, he wrote frequently, and she kept all his letters, so I was able to gain a lot of insight into those traumatic times from his writing. He didn't speak about the war much, but I remembered the things he did tell us as children, and coupled with what my mother and her sisters told me about how it was for the woman left at home, I feel confident that I have captured the era well.

Cate: I understand you’re working on a prequel to this novel. Can you share a little bit about it?
Margaret: Yes, the prequel to this novel has the title of "Wild Oats" and it will be released by TWRP in 2010.
Wild Oats starts with Sir Phillip Ashfield (Paul's father), arriving in Australia as a young man in 1914 to sow some wild oats. His betrayal, and the tragic consequences that follow, have the power to ruin the lives of the next generation.

Cate: Your list of awards is very impressive! Tell us more.
Margaret: I’ve won or been commended in competitions on several occasions. In February 2008, I won the Australian Author of the Year Award from My unpublished manuscriptStorm Girl was a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest in 2008. My World War 1 novel, Devil’s Ridge, from Whiskeycreek Press, finished in the top thirty in the 2007 Preditors and Editors poll.

Cate: At what age did you discover writing?
Margaret: I have written short stories since childhood, but ventured into novel writing when my children were small. My husband worked night shift so I used to sit up late and write to fill in time.

Cate: Describe your writing in three words.
Margaret: Emotional - Dramatic - Sensual.

Cate: Do you have a writing routine, or any special system that helps you, such as organization techniques?
Margaret: No, I just write when and where I can. I always carry a notebook with me to jot things down in.

Cate: How do you pick the character’s names?
Margaret: They just pop into my head of their own accord.

Cate: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?
Margaret: Finding the time is the most challenging, Thinking of ideas is the easiest.

Cate: What’s the most rewarding aspect?
Margaret: Receiving feed back from my readers.

Cate: Do you feel as if the characters live with you as you write? Do they haunt your dreams?
Margaret: Oh yes, they certainly haunt my dreams.

Cate: What’s the most interesting comment you have received about your books?
Margaret: An elderly man wrote to me and said how he enjoyed reading my 1st World War stories, Devil's Ridge and Shattered Dreams. He picked the first book up and started reading it when his wife left it on a chair. Then he went out and ordered the second book himself. He said that his father had served in the 1st World War and my stories rekindled the memories of his father. I was really touched.

Cate: Wow, and what a great tribute.
Who are some of your favorite authors and books? What are you reading now?
Margaret: Ginger Simpson, Tricia McGill and there are several TWRP authors who I enjoy reading, including a certain Cate Masters. I am just about ready to start reading a story from Linda Swift, which I know I am going to enjoy.

Cate: What's next for you?
Margaret: I am working on a family saga set in Australia during the 1860's.

Cate: Where can you be found on the web?
Margaret: My web site is

Cate: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Margaret: I don't think so, except to thank them for their support. I would also like to thank you for having me on your blog Cate, I've really enjoyed chatting with you.

Cate: My pleasure, Margaret! Best of luck with your release!
Readers, you heard Margaret. She's giving away a copy of The Trouble With Playboys to a random commenter... so start commenting. She'll pick a winner on Monday, April 27, and announce it here, so be sure to check back!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pop over to Popculturedivas with me Friday, and visit here with a special guest

Come on over to Popculturedivas on Friday to weigh in about the new mashups being released.

Plus, tomorrow I'll have a special guest here on my blog - award-winning author Margaret Tanner, whose latest release is titled The Trouble with Playboys. Because it's releasing tomorrow, she'll hold a weekend-long contest and select a winner next week. You won't want to miss it!

Lily Stone interviewed me

Come on over to Lily Stone's blog today - she very graciously invited me to be her guest.
I'm giving away a copy of Seventh Heaven too!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New cover for Lure of the Vine

I couldn't wait to share this - I already have a cover for The Lure of the Vine, the urban fantasy just contracted by Freya's Bower. Isn't it cool?

Here's an unofficial blurb:
When Clio marries Jon, her life could not be more complete. After the honeymoon, his ambition to build his new wine distributorship becomes an obsession. As his new client, Dion, insists on more and more of Jon’s time, he lures Clio to his side. Michelangelo’s David has nothing on godlike Dion, who charms her with his old-world ways. But he can’t make her break her vow to Jon. The more time she spends with Dion, the greater the sense of danger. When Jon disappears, Clio runs through the vineyards to look for him. What she finds astounds her, and threatens their future – and Jon’s life. Can her love save him?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Marketing magic

Ah, if it were only that easy, to chant an incantation or cast a spell. Nope, marketing is work. A big part of the magic, apparently, involves having a web site (something I'm working on). Author Melissa Lopez posted a great article on her web site (which I love, btw). Pay attention to the part about registering with search engines, having meta tags and updating your content frequently to keep those visitors coming back for more.
According to Phyllis Zimbler Miller, authors should use their web sites in a variety of ways to build a bond with readers. Her two main points are: Post the first chapter of your story online to hook them. Second, if your novel has a theme - for instance, domestic violence – post links to organizations supporting that. Phyllis lists examples of missed marketing opportunities here.
Phyllis also provides tips for promoting your stories on the cheap. Starting a blog is a must to keep readers up on your latest news. Networking with other bloggers is also essential – most sites are open to guests (including me), so don’t be afraid to ask. Phyllis lists a few publicity books, but take advantage of free opportunities first. Watch other authors and take cues from them. I’m bombarded on Facebook with author requests, but caution a little restraint in overdoing it. I’ve dropped some authors who just can’t seem to NOT promote promote promote.
Email groups are another way to really connect with readers. Your inbox will be overwhelmed with messages but participating in groups will allow readers to get to know you as a person, not merely a writer.
And, to do a little shameless promotion of my own, I had great news yesterday – Freya’s Bower contracted a short urban fantasy, The Lure of the Vine. More info later. And a little more marketing madness (or magic, if done well!)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Oh, the pain of the cut!

So, my urban fantasy, Surfacing, didn’t make the next cut of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. I took five minutes to wallow in sheer misery, then moved on. I queried the Irene Goodman Literary Agency, so we’ll see if the editorial assistant recognizes brilliance or not. Ha! No, but seriously, this urban fantasy has definite mass market appeal, I believe, so I’m confident it will find a home somewhere. I had some great feedback while the excerpt was online at Amazon (wow, it looked so cool up there!) so I can use that to help make my pitch.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to read the excerpt and leave me a review. I can’t tell you how much it means to me. I'm so grateful for your support.
It’s been a pretty exciting year with my epress releases, but now I need to conquer the print world too. So keep thinking good thoughts for me, both for Surfacing, and for Angels Sinners and Madmen, the historical romance/adventure now circulating as well. Another women’s fiction novel, The Bridge Between, is with a small publisher who likes it very much, but can’t quite commit to it yet. We’ll see on that one. I think 2009 will be my year yet.
I may have some new contract news soon. Waiting to hear back on three submissions to epresses. Meanwhile, I’ll keep working on the five other WIPs! (Technically, it's seven, but I'm stuck on two.) Gotta keep moving.
And I haven't forgotten Marketing Madness. More on that next week.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Bridge Between, contemporary women's fiction

Contemporary women's fiction/mainstream
Available in ebook from Whiskey Creek Press

Once, Jessie Moore had inexhaustible energy for her art, but after this past year, her art – like her life – feels out of focus. Working at the fledgling Philly Times newspaper with reporter Matt Cleary proves draining after their breakup. When a longtime friend dies of AIDS, Jessie travels to her hometown of Lambertville, NJ. At the funeral, she reconnects with her first love, Billy Black, who becomes a bridge back to the safety of her old life, and also to the origins of her inspiration. But Billy’s more lost than Jessie. Too often, he drowns his worries in beer, threatening to drag her down too. After she rekindles their affair, Matt’s jealousy confuses her. Before she can truly give herself to anyone, Jessie must learn to be true to herself.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good romance. Even though it's over 400 pages long, it is a pretty fast and easy read. one you will enjoy!

Long and Short Reviews: 3 books
The time period covered in the book is full of turmoil, both professionally and personally, and that comes through beautifully in the writing. Each choice Jessie makes has an effect on some other aspect of her life. Jealousy, love, embarrassment, pride . . . they all make an appearance and all affect her and her relationships.
There are flashbacks that highlight choices and relationships that have a bearing on Jessie’s present day life. They do not detract from the story, but rather add another layer of understanding to the characters and the plot.
Jessie’s profession of photographer lends to beautifully descriptive passages, both of the beautiful and the “unsavory”. The writing could have glossed over this device, but instead, Ms. Masters chose to use it to it’s fullest, describing the environment, using the visual descriptions to evoke emotions, to portray what her characters are feeling. Definitely the best part of the book.
The Bridge Between is not what I expected. However, it was certainly worth reading. Not “fluff” reading in any way so be sure you have some time to devote to the story, and to enjoy the writing.

She set her plate on the table, regretting she hadn’t turned her car around, that she’d ignored her basest of instincts.
“Goddammit,” he said. “Now I’ve ruined dinner.”
“If not dinner, it would have been something else.” He tilted his glass into his mouth until it was empty.
This time, she didn’t argue, but paid closer attention to his voice, his face, his movements. They were all the same as the boy she’d known, yet somehow different, too. More complicated. The nuance in his gestures made for a level of intricacy, like a maze that had to be traversed before she could find the prize at the end – the real Billy, the Billy she’d loved. He was different, more complicated with life experience, but the same in his attitude, the easy way he’d always had. She wondered what did happen to him that made him so hesitant, especially of her – she who had held nothing back from him. Yet here he was, holding everything back from her.
“Would you like me to leave?” She posed the question honestly, not as a challenge, not to intimidate him into a choice.
“No.” He leaned forward, reached for her hand. “Please.”
She waited. She had the feeling he wanted to say more.
“Unless…” He slid his hand away. “You know, unless you want to.”
So close to breaking through to the old Billy. But he withdrew, leaving her to guess why. Laying new roadblocks within the maze, to throw her off, or maybe to decipher how badly she wanted to reach the real Billy.
“No,” she said. “I don’t want to.”
His eyes brimmed with doubt.
“Unless you want me to.” She couldn’t help smiling. It seemed a ridiculous game, one she normally loathed, but this time the prize was different. One that might be worthwhile.
“No.” His body went fluid, and he gave a short laugh. “No. I definitely do not want you to go.” He rose and put a CD on the boom box on the back doorstep. A mellow guitar tune melted the tension from the air. He held out his hand. “Let’s dance.”
With her hand in his, she was out of her chair and in his arms as if she’d swam to him.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cover art for One Soul for Sale

This little beauty was in my email this morning - pretty cool, huh?

Here again is the blurb and excerpt for One Soul for Sale, soon to be published with Eternal Press:

When Madelyn sells her soul on UBuy, she’s not ready for the hell that’s unleashed. All she really wants is to make a success of her art. But the gorgeous stranger who buys her soul for $666 asks her to perform a few tasks. Tests of her true worth, Madelyn thinks, as each brings her – and her cat Brutus – into greater danger. And closer to the frightening shadowy figure stalking her. On All Hallows Eve, her final test will open the gates of hell. Or is it heaven?

At the coffee shop, Madelyn waits at a table by the window and scans the Evening Gazette. The news is always the same. Until she reaches page six, where a blurb describes a disturbance the night before in her neighborhood. Telephone reception was lost. Television signals were scrambled. Residents reported strange noises, though no one saw anything out of the ordinary.
No one but Madelyn.
The guy in all black comes through the door. Her breath is caught in her chest. As he holds her gaze, his dark eyes sparkle like black diamonds. Her heart pounds as he walks to her table and sits down across from her.
“It’s you.” But she’d known it would be.
His expression is warm and inviting as he looks her over. “I wanted to be sure that, with such a low starting bid, your soul isn’t tarnished.” He speaks to her as if she’s an old friend.
“I feel like it is.” She proceeds to spill her guts to him. Even as she thinks she should be embarrassed to be doing so, it makes her feel lighter, like unburdening herself opens up space inside her, previously made heavy with bad thoughts, unfulfilled hopes, despair and gloom. Now it’s kind of airy, little particles sparking in the light as they float by.
His gaze penetrates her to the core. “So you think fifty dollars is all it’s worth? Your soul – the essence of your being?”
She couldn’t feel more exposed if an x-ray of her insides were hanging in the window beside them. “It started out as a joke. I thought people would read it and laugh. I wasn’t expecting anyone to place a bid. I wasn’t expecting…” she gulps, “…you.” Her intellect recognizes the idiocy of her situation. And stupidity. What a mess she’s made.
He leans in, his voice low, his smile like a crocodile about to snap her up. His breath is like a heat wave across her face and neck. “Didn’t your mother warn you not to wish your life away?” It seems less a question than a reminder.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The madness continues...

What sells a book?

I’ve been following a few threads on this discussion. The consensus seems to be three things:
1. The book cover
2. The story blurb
3. The opening page

The book cover seems a pretty subjective way to judge a book, especially given that the author has zero control over that aspect of marketing. The epublishers I write for ask for suggestions for cover art, but the final product is completely their baby. The only possible change, once done, is if the artist made some glaring error such as misspelling the author’s name, and that and only that will be corrected. I’ve read that market research shows that book covers sell fifty percent of all books.

The author has more control over the blurb, though the editor has the final say in this, too. Concentrate your efforts on writing the most succinct, catchy blurb you possibly can.

The opening paragraph, or the hook, should be equal in your efforts to the blurb. This is where the writer’s voice will make itself heard. You’ll either hook a reader with it, or not. And authors can work a great hook -and blurb - by posting them on their blogs, on blog tours, on email loops.

But even openings can be misleading. Some books that start off slow end up with fantastic twists, such as the Life of Pi, although I suppose literary novels are allowed a little more leeway in this area. Still, it’s good to remember the most critical piece: the actual writing. It’s the hard, simple truth. If asked: How can I get published?, most agents/publishers will answer: Write a great book. And to do that, my friends, you must practice your craft. Write a great book, and your marketing efforts may turn viral. Readers will generate a buzz for you. And less time marketing means more time writing!

Monday, April 13, 2009

More marketing madness!

Timing, as they say, is everything.
On authors loops recently, the question of timing has popped up a few times. Some say they’re sick of writers doing too much too soon. Some advance promo is fine, but the word is: too much will glut your readers and actually kill interest. I’ve taken heed of that advice. My next release is May 6, and about a week before, I’ll send one email with a story blurb and excerpt to the publishers’ readers/authors loop, post my trailer on You Tube and my blog, but the rest will wait until release day. I’ve heard that, for print books, there’s a specific promo timeline starting months in advance, and for print, that probably makes sense. For ebooks, not so much. Although I must admit, I was a little puzzled to receive an event notice on Facebook last week for a book being released… in the fall. Will I remember by then if I reply now? No. To me, that’s a wasted effort on that author’s part, and an annoyance on mine.
According to BronzeWord Latino Authors, marketing is all about establishing a brand. Some authors (myself included) write across genres, so I don’t want to pigeonhole myself. I need a platform that will represent all the genres I write in, from urban fantasy to contemporary women’s fiction to paranormal/historical/contemporary romance. Hmm. A conundrum, as you might well imagine. But not impossible, I think. For me, it will be about the passion of the writing itself, not necessarily which label is slapped on the product.
The greatest power, even in this digital age, is word of mouth. Generating a buzz takes a lot of time, but is well worth the effort. To get your name out there in front of readers, participate in as many email groups, chats,
Romance writers seem to have more resources available to them than other genres. Sites such as Romance Junkies provide some great tools for authors. allows authors to post excerpts and readers to post comments. Let the buzz begin!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Marketing madness continues!

Charlotte Dillon put together a fantastic list of promotion resources on her site.
First, a list of review sites. If you’re a new author, check with your publisher to see which sites they submit copies to so you don’t duplicate their efforts.
Second, Charlotte provides links to Articles, Tips and Other Information to Help You with Book Promotion: everything from postcard mailings to making an ARC in Word to Search Engine Optimization. Some advice only for print novels, but others suitable for ebooks.
The next section lists books for sale on Amazon, etc. followed by a list of Banner Ad Sites & Prices. I’d suggest checking with the originating site for updated pricing.
Next Charlotte provides links to Places to Buy Stuff for Promo. Some authors such as Stephanie Bond have cool PDFs on their web sites that allow readers to download and print items such as bookmarks and book plates.
Book Marketing in the Digital Age: Online Promotion Made Easy also provides a list of Places to Get your Book Reviewed.
The Book Marketing Maven has such diverse offerings, you’ll just have to check ‘em out for yourself.
The madness will continue. As novelist Robert Anton Wilson said: Only the madman is absolutely sure. Extrapolated to marketing, it means: leave nothing to chance.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Marketing madness

March flew by so fast, I didn't get in on any March madness this year. So I’m designating April as Marketing Madness month. With eight stories ranging from shorts to novellas releasing from three epresses this year (or early next), I’m trying to be very organized about how I go about promoting them all. Each needs to be given their due in individualized attention.
I’ve been exploring the web for some marketing resources, and have found some great stuff which I’ll post over the course of this month.
First, a freebie called The Savvy Book Marketer’s Top Book Marketing Tips: A collection of popular articles from the Book Marketing Maven blog and The Savvy Book Marketer newsletter. Developed by Dana Lynn Smith, the Book Marketing Maven, this PDF includes tips on viral marketing, virtual book tours, using Flickr and videos, creating display materials, and more. It includes links to outside resources. Worth a look!

As Ms. Smith advised, I listed this blog with a few blog listing sites: Google’s Blog Search and Technorati.
Ms. Smith also mentioned Samepoint but I didn’t see a quick sign-up there. I’ll have to look into it a little more.
I also listed my blog with Romancing the Blog and Authors’ Blogs.
Blogging Tips lists 75 blog listing services with which to list your own site.
I looked at Blog Listing because it seemed generic enough, but saw no category for fiction or authors blogs. I have an email into the admin and we’ll see what they say.
It’s all about getting the word out, and part of that is driving traffic to your site.
The other handy thing to remember about blogs are the Tags. Whatever terms you enter into the Tags field will be made available to search engines, so if someone enters, say, your name into Google and you’ve used that as a Tag on a post, it will come up in the search results.

Blog tours
This year, I have or will be guest blogging at a few other sites, so far including Yankee Romance Reviewers, Lily Stone (possibly next week), Alisha Paige (April 30), and Book Talk with J&J (Oct. 3-4). Once each month, I blog at Popculturedivas, too - next on April 24.
I hope to feature other authors here on my blog, too. Any author who wants to set up a reciprocal arrangement, just email me at
Marketing Madness will continue!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Less than two weeks till the next ABNA cut!

I’m so excited to have made the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest quarterfinals! In the first cut last month, judges selected 500 novels from the 10,000 entered in February. Seeing my novel listed was definitely one of the highest highlights of my life.
This month, the judges ratchet up the suspense on (or about) April 16, when they'll announce the 100 semifinalists.
I’m so grateful to everyone who left me a review on the Amazon site.
Your support can make the difference in this upcoming step. I could use a few more, and it’s easy to do – go to the Amazon site, scroll near the bottom and click Create Your Own Review. The 10,000-word excerpt is available via a button at the top right of the screen.
Having Surfacing published would fulfill my lifelong goal... with a few more novels to follow.
Here’s the story pitch:
AJ Dillon is trouble. The former lead singer of an indie band has no home, no money and no future. His grandfather is the only relative willing to take another chance on him. AJ arrives in Weeki Wachee, Florida, with his guitar, a few clothes and a bad attitude. The only good thing about Weeki Wachee is the ocean -- the one place AJ feels at home.
Grandpa lines up a job for AJ piloting the Wilderness Cruise at Weeki Wachee Springs, home of the Weeki Wachee mermaid show. A mindless job, but at least AJ gets to watch beautiful women perform underwater. Grandpa says real mermaids exist, and a handsome singer can mesmerize one. AJ dreams of meeting one, and so does his greedy co-worker Chaz, but Chaz plans to make a fortune by creating a real mermaid show. AJ and Chaz get their chance after Cassiopeia saves AJ from an alligator. AJ falls in love with Cassie and his passion for music resurfaces when he sings to her. He tries to keep Cassie a secret, but Chaz follows him and learns the truth. Chaz threatens to kill them if AJ doesn't go along with his plan. Reluctantly, AJ agrees, but plans her rescue. In saving Cassiopeia, AJ unearths long-hidden family secrets that, once brought to light, open possibilities for healing old wounds. In saving Cassiopeia, AJ learns the greatest gift – unconditional love. In saving Cassiopeia, AJ saves himself, too.
This novel, my fourth, layers family conflict onto suspense, danger and romance, and combines my love of music and research. Finding Weeki Wachee Springs provided a natural step to an urban fantasy, a genre whose limits are mapped by a writer’s imagination. Surfacing will appeal to teen readers through adult.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Dialogue versus description

I recently went to a critique class run by a longtime writer friend. I’d written a story years ago and tweaked and tweaked it, but no editor will bite. Hmm.
The instructor held up my pages and asked the rest of us what we saw. The answer: white space. Too much, apparently.
Busy editors, she said, will sometimes glance at the structure of the text on the page before even reading a word. If too many paragraphs breaks show a jagged edge with lines of white between, they may not bother to begin reading. Why? They assume there’s not enough description, that the text doesn’t dig deep enough into the protagonist’s head.
You know what? She was absolutely right. It was a revelation. I hadn’t gone into the protagonist’s thoughts, and because of that, the story was being misjudged for another reason: the first few pages read like crime fiction when it wasn’t meant to. Yes, it included a murder and a prostitute, but I’d intended it to be a literary story along the lines of Charles D’Ambrosio. (If you’ve never read him, stop what you’re doing and read The Dead Fish Museum. Incredible stories.)
This story was a bit dialogue-heavy, though the instructor said it worked in this instance because it drove the story forward. Still, I need to go back and intersperse some emotional layers in between. Hopefully then it will appear meaty enough for editors to actually read it.