Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wrap Up

In addition to all the Q&A, Kylie also helped me with a scene and a query letter. I can't put an exact value on that. Priceless?

I hope that the information I've shared here (with Kylie's approval) is helpful to aspiring authors, especially those targeting Silhouette Romantic Suspense (SRS).

A *BIG* thank you to Kylie Brant for taking the time to mentor me. Keep an eye out on her website for new releases and contest opportunities!

Kylie's Books, Contests, and more!

Q&A with Kylie Brant, Part 8 - Insider's look, Advice

Question:
Anything you know now that you wish you knew when you were first working to get published? Anything about the business? About your craft?

Kylie's Answer:
Ummm, try everything I was woefully ignorant. Didn't belong to any writing organizations. Didn't know anyone who was writing. And the Internet hadn't been born yet :) I did know there was an organization around called RWA because I read it in several author bios. But had no idea how to go about contacting them. I just decided one summer to write a book. Did so, and then spent a few months polishing it before opening the cover of one of the IMs (Intimate Moments, back in the day) and getting an address for Silhouette so I could get their phone number. :) Called them up and told a very snooty receptionist that I had a manuscript I wanted to send in and asked how to go about it. She's the one who told me about tip sheets and query letters (very long sufferingly, I might add!) Soooo, yeah, I knew nothing. Not about the industry, the business, craft...

I banged out my first manuscript on an Apple IIGs on that paper that had a duplicate page on the back, and perforated sides that had to be torn off? The first thing Leslie Wainger told me when she bought me was to join RWA. The second was to get an ink jet printer I learned everything the hard way.

I didn't know that you were expected to just write a proposal (or even what that was) for your subsequent sales. Wrote the first six on completes until Leslie Wainger threw a fit I chose to do that after I found out about proposals because I didn't want deadlines to take away time with my kids. But I wish I would have known what kind of publishing schedule is required to really establish a readership.

Basically, I just wish I'd known *anything*!


Question:
Any advice you'd like to pass on to aspiring authors?

Answer:
Oh, I'm full of advice :)

1) Finish the manuscript! I'm often shocked at how many unfinished works aspiring writers say they have. That's fine when you're learning craft, but once you're out of beginner's stage, you need to start practicing manuscript completion. You have to learn how to slog through that sagging middle, how to unsnarl plot tangles, and basically how to get over the hurdles along the way to The End. That's what published writers have to do, and they do under deadline. (Hey, that could be a T-shirt!) You won't really know what it is to be a writer until you start completing the books start to finish.

2) If you get an invitation to submit--do it! Again, appalled when friends come back from an author pitch at RWA all full of excitement about their invitation...and never follow through. What was the point of the meeting then? You don't want to spend so much time polishing the manuscript that the editor will have forgotten you and your pitch.

3) Use contests for cheap feedback on your writing. Yes, you need to develop a thick skin. But that will come in handy when you're submitting to editors!

4) Remember that the first sale, while a reasonable goal for an aspiring author, is just a starting point. To have a career, authors have to *stay* published. So the work of honing your craft, staying up on the market, reading thoroughly in the lines targeted--that doesn't end.

Q&A with Kylie Brant, Part 7 - Time, Motivation, Contests

Question:
What are your writing habits? With five children and a full time job, how do you find time to write?

Kylie's Answer:
I have no life, LOL. When the kids were home I was gone every night of the week to their sporting events but wrote on the weekends and all summer. Since they've left, a lot of my weekends are spent traveling to spend time with them. I'm adept at writing in the car and have had to start writing frequently on week nights, which I detest. But deadlines keep me honest. There's something about accepting an advance that reeks of expectation!

When my daughter played volleyball and every Sat. was an all day tournament, I was the mom sitting in the bleachers with the laptop :) I just stopped writing when she was playing.


Question:
What are your sources of inspiration and motivation? At different points during the writing/editing process, I think, "this is terrible! No one's going to want to read this!"

Kylie's Answer:
I don't think self-doubt ever goes away. I spend days away from the manuscript convinced that it sucks, it's going to bomb in sales, the editor is going to hate it...and then I get back into it and think, hey this isn't half bad :) Self doubt is helpful in that it keeps us striving to do our best. It's crippling when it becomes so paralyzing that you can't produce because of it. At one point in my career I had to eliminate things in my life that made me feel bad about my own writing. I dropped my RT subscription :) at that time because even though my reviews were good, reading others' made me fall into the rut of comparison and that is poison for a writer. I had to learn to concentrate on the things I could control. It's really the only way to retain your sanity in this business.

Some writers make a positive affirmation board. They list nice things crit partners or contest judges etc. have said about their work and post it by the computer. It helps to look up and reflect on the fact that others believe we have talent.

Reading great writing from other authors inspires me to write. I always come home from conferences exhausted, but with the creative well refilled. It's quite wonderful to get to spend several days talking writing with other writers. As supportive as my family is, none of them quite 'get it'. When I told them all that Berkley had made an offer on my trilogy one of my sons says, "You mean the university? That's cool." 'Nuff said :)


Question:
Most aspiring writers have full time jobs, families, and other commitments. Do you think it is worth spending time/money on contests to build a list of writing accolades to include in query letters?

Answer:
If that's all you could hope to attain by entering contests, then no, it wouldn't be worth it. The accolades etc. might make the query letter sparkle a bit more, but unless things have changed drastically, query letters most frequently elicit an invitation to submit if they are in the ball park at all as far as appropriateness to the line. But you can get so much more from a contest.

1) Select those contests that pride themselves on providing the most feedback to aspiring writers. The Daphne is one such contest (for suspense); the Lone Star, I think it's called, is another. Those are the types worth the money. You'll get feedback from three judges and you can compare it and look for commonalities. Wherever you see trends emerge (two out of three mention your pacing; all praise your voice but give feedback starting the story in the wrong place) that's where you focus your revision energies.

2) I would tend to steer people away from the contests that judge on your hook or best kiss, or best scene when the h/h meet. Why? The parameters are too narrow for the feedback to be of much use to you. Why pay to get feedback on one scene or just a few pages? Just not enough bang for your buck. The only exception is if you are working to improve one of those areas, and you want to use the contest to judge how you're doing in that area.

3) Look for contests that have submission / judging by an editor or agent as the prize or final round. It's a good way to get recognition from the people who can do you the most good .

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Q&A with Kylie Brant, Part 6 - First lines, Emotion, Taboo Subjects, Description

Question:
Do you have any advice about creating a great first line?

Kylie's Answer:
In SRS the best first lines/paragraphs set up something intriguing about one of the characters or the suspense plot.

I think my favorite first lines from my books are:
It was an unlikely place for murder. (Falling Hard and Fast).
Gabe Connally had been alive and he'd been dead. It'd taken a few years, but he'd developed a preference for being alive. (Hard to Handle)
They were dead. Every one of them. (Hard to Tame)

The first and third obviously drop the reader right down into the suspense. That's important in suspense especially in a short length format. Get the reader immersed in the action as soon as possible. But it's also intriguing to start with something dynamic involving one or the other of the characters. A reader has to wonder, how could Gabe have been dead? What happened? And then the line segues into the scene of them in a shootout with a perp they're chasing.

All opening lines are not created equal :) Like I say, I have my own favorites. Go down your list and rate the lines you noted. Which ones worked best for you as a reader? Which immediately denoted action? Which immediately acquainted you with a character? Which led solidly into something integral to the story? Then look at the ones you rated highest and analyze why they worked. Try to transfer that to your own story. Is your opening scene character related or action related? Your opening line morphs to fit whichever one you chose.

I do similar things when I'm reading suspense. I'm always looking for new twists. So I'll ask myself after reading a particularly deft one, how did the author do that? Oh, she made me think one thing at the beginning by doing xxx...and then my false prediction carried through the story so I was surprised at the twist. How can I set the reader up for a false conclusion in my book?


Question:
Any tricks to ramping up the emotion in your love scenes?

Kylie's Answer:
Emotion is derived from the characters' internalization of the action. Without their mental reactions it's all very dry and clinical. You have to let the reader in on every aspect of what they are thinking and feeling as the scene progresses and I don't mean only physically. For instance, you've got an alpha hero who is perfectly content to take what she's offering, intending on moving on afterwards like he always does with women. But his emotions during the scene clue in the reader that he is much more entrenched in the relationship, albeit reluctantly, then he wants to be.

Example: Moonlight slanted through the shades, leaving her body striated by light and shadow. He smoothed his lips over her throat. The pulse at its base was rapid, and he felt a fierce stab of masculine satisfaction at the evidence of her response. He wanted to linger over every inch of her. Wanted to find all the places that made her shudder and moan. He wanted to stamp her indelibly with his possession until she could never again think of this act without thinking of him. The primitive urge had alarm bells ringing dimly in the back of his mind. He nipped a string of kisses across her collarbone, soothing the area with the tip of his tongue. Hints of permanence usually had him running. But running now, from this woman, was the last thing on his mind.

Rough, very rough, LOL but you get the idea. You intersperse the actions with the thoughts/reactions to what is taking place. Therein lies emotion. That's what immerses the reader more deeply in the characters.


Question:
Are there any subjects that are taboo in writing for SRS?

Kylie's Answer:
Not really. It's all in the execution. Oh they'll tell you stories about sports stars or musicians don't sell well, but I've had a musician. Just didn't make it a major part of the story. I've had heroines who are thieves, heroes who are criminals, heroines who have been raped, one who has PTSD (she was in a Bagdhad hotel when it was blown up and trapped inside with 70 corpses for three days). One heroine was a former assassin. The subject matter can range from tracking serial killers, to rapists, really, most of what's in the headlines works. I think pedophilia would be a difficult subject to broach in SRS, simply because of reader expectation but it would still work to have a character who had that in their backstory. If the couple were hunting a pedophile, few case details and no villain POV would probably be best.

The difference is it's 'softened' a great deal for SRS. Waking Nightmare has some pretty gritty details in it about the villain and the enactment of the crimes. Those would have been glossed over or deleted if it were an SRS. I wouldn't have changed Ryne or Abbie's backstory, though. The romance would be in the foreground for the SRS and the suspense much more in the background. In single title you don't have to worry about that.

With the shorter length in SRS you only have space to resolve the relationship and the suspense. So the thread of the character's backstory must only require resolution in so much as how it relates to the romance. That actually gives you your character arc, black moment and final scene. Whatever has been holding the character(s) back from accepting a chance at happiness, that element is what gets final resolution in the final scene between them. (and I don't want to tell you how many books it took for me to figure *that* one out!)


Question:
How much description is too much? An author loses me if she gets into too much detail about a house, a car, person etc (unless it's somehow crucial to the plot).

Kylie's Answer:
I get bored veeery easily. Two or three paragraphs of introspection might take me hours to write because I'm so danged bored I can't stand it :) So less is more. Descriptors add vividness to your writing. Description, on the other hand, if it goes on and on, slows pacing and decreases tension.

Q&A with Kylie Brant, Part 5 - Pacing, Series vs. Single Title

Quesion:
How do you manage pacing and keep the intensity of the novel escalating? I think in various books, I've confused "things happening" with "things to further the plot happening."

Answer:
Yeah, and sometimes you'll read a review of a book and the reviewer will note that if one more thing had happened to the h/h she would have stopped reading altogether. Every scene has to be evaluated as to what it adds to the plot. Does it further the sexual tension? Does it increase suspense and tie in directly with the suspense plot? Does it heighten emotion? Sometimes just a sticky note on the computer helps you decide as you're writing.


Question:
You've written both series and single title novels. I can see advantages to each type. What are some reasons a writer should target one over the other?

Answer:
Single title is a far tougher market to break into. More money *can* be made there, but not necessarily. There are plenty of mid-list authors who wished they made what some category authors make! Check out Brenda Hiatt's website page "Show me the Money" for a general idea for what authors make for different publishers. Her data depends on who responds with figures, but it's an idea, anyway.

With single title you can hang on to rights and those can be quite lucrative. There's also audio rights that can be retained by the author and sold. Single title books can stay on the shelves longer since category books are only on the shelf 3 1/2 -4 weeks before the next month's supplies come in.

The parameters of category romance dictate to some degree what sort of stories you can tell. I was lucky--I was niched from the beginning as 'a gritty writer' with a mainstream voice. So they let me write plots that pushed the envelope to some extent in terms of subject content. But the romance is at the forefront in an SRS because that's the promise of a H/S book. When you want to put the suspense at the forefront, you need to write single title.

The disadvantages of single title is that you are your own brand, you don't have the line imprint to lure in readers who, for instance, buy all the SRS books monthly. So much depends on what kind of launch you're getting from your publisher, what kind of promotion they're giving you, whether the sales reps pick up your books for the department stores...just lots of things out of your control. Your career hangs on your sell-through to a far greater degree than in category. You're quicker to get the boot in ST if you're not selling well, while H/S prides themselves on 'building writers'. More and more, ST authors are having to do self promotion and that takes money.

Advantages to category is that you don't have to worry about the distribution. That's H/S's job. And if you are out in the month with a best selling author, you're going to get as many books on the shelves as she is. That's a real advantage for a new author. People recognize the brand, the imprint and buy you even as debut author because they've enjoyed other SRSs in the past.

Basically ST has bigger risks and larger possible rewards for an author. But I've never felt there's something inherently superior about ST over category. I wanted to tell stories that wouldn't fit into the parameters of SRS--longer, darker, grittier with more suspense. So that's why I tried my hand at ST.

Q&A with Kylie Brant, Part 4 - Agents, Alpha Males, Outlines

Question:
For targeting SRS, do you think I need an agent? Publishing is extremely competitive (I've heard that SRS is especially difficult to break into) and does having an agent give a writer an edge in the eyes of the editor?

Kylie's Answer:
You do NOT need an agent to sell to Silhouette. I sold 25 books to them without an agent. As a matter of fact, I'd advise against it. An agent can't do anything for you to catch Silhouette's attention except *maybe* get you read a bit faster. Having an agent didn't stop some of my friends from getting proposals rejected; getting their option proposal read faster; having them stop buying manuscripts from them; racking up rejections after selling a half dozen books...I could go on. Editors absolutely don't care whether you have an agent.


Question:
How do you find the line between alpha male and borderline jerk? I've read an alpha male plays by his own rules, remains in control of himself, feels confident around women and knows that - no matter how masculine a woman may behave - a woman can never be more of a man than he is. Some of my attempts to have my hero be more alpha have raised comments from my critique partners that "he's a jerk" or "too inconsiderate of the heroine's feelings." Any advice or walking that line?

Kylie's Answer:
In Waking the Dead my hero was something of a jerk...pretty obnoxious to the heroine at first. I wanted someone with rough edges. Sometimes that's all the more evocative when the heroine polishes some of those edges! Things I wouldn't forgive in a hero: infidelity; abuse; verbal abuse--when they say unwarranted cruel things that I don't think be forgotten (but then, I'm a Scorpio!). But the line can be walked by utilizing deep POV for the hero and showing through his introspection *why* he's being such a jerk. When we see the experiences that shaped his reactions, when we see how he is really responding to the heroine and contrasting what he's *saying* and what he's *thinking*--that's how you can walk the line.


Question:
I've never been much of a plotter and this has gotten me into trouble before. I've deleted hundred of pages and rewritten them because I've changed my mind about something after the first draft. Do you write an outline before you start or what is your technique to get organized?

Kylie's Answer:
I'm not a plotter. The most liberating moment in my writing was when I stopped pretending I could make myself into one. I'm not made that way. I know the first few chapters, the characters, the suspense plot and the black moment and the ending. That sounds like a lot until you realize you barely have enough for a five page proposal, LOL!

If I outlined the book ahead of time I wouldn't be able to write it because I'd be too bored. I'd feel like I'd already written it. I want to be surprised throughout the book. Sometimes I change my mind about who the villain is going to be and have to go back and lay in that foreshadowing. I've never had to rewrite to that degree. I think it has to do with practice. I know writers who have written far more books than me who will revise the book three times. I edit as I go along so I spend a day or two on edits and rewrites and email that sucker in on the day it's due :) But that comes with practice. You'll find the more practice you've had, the cleaner you'll write.

Q&A with Kylie Brant, Part 3 - Editing after Acceptance

Comment:
I know that when submitting a manuscript, it should be my best work.

Kylie's Response:
It really should be. I once sat in to listen to a panel of editors from different publishing houses. A question was asked, 'how long do you read a manuscript before deciding whether to read further?" The first editor responded, "I always read three chapters. It takes me that long to get a feel for the plot and the author's style." The second editor said, "I read the first chapter. By then I know whether I want to read further." The third editor sort of hesitated then said, "I read three paragraphs." There was a collective gasp in the room. She hurriedly added, "I really can tell by then whether the author has hooked me." So we can't hope for the editor to give it until chapter seven when things start rolling. They're busy and I'm betting most these days will not read past the first chapter, if that, if it doesn't grab them.


Question:
I've wondered how much editing goes into the process once the editor gets to work on a manuscript. Do they revise plots? Add threads? Or do they work with the elements already in the story to improve them? Does it depend on the editor?

Kylie's Answer:
It really does depend on the editor. Every once in a while I'll hear horror stories about editor intrusion, and how books are turning out to fit her vision rather than the author's. I've worked with 8 editors at Silhouette and one at Berkley and they've all been wonderful. An editor might suggest revisions; if a scene doesn't work or she wants the story to be more emotional, or soften the hero (I was once told my hero was 'too mopey' LOL), that sort of thing. I haven't had to do revisions on an SRS in so many years it's difficult to recall the last time. But when you get revisions it can be two or three points or it could be 3 pages of bulleted paragraphs detailing changes they want. Two of the points might be major enough to cause me to have to think hard about how to execute them. The others are minor, like they don't think the female cop would have long fingernails ;) Things so minor that they would have noted them in line edits if they weren't sending the revisions.

That said, editors don't revise plots. They make suggestions for changes for the author to make. And the changes aren't written in stone. You talk to the editor about them and maybe explain your reasoning. Often times it's a situation where maybe I wasn't as clear in a point as I thought it was, so her questioning just makes me clarify things in the manuscript. They can certainly suggest you add threads. If there are things the author isn't willing to do, it's usually a give and take and compromise.

Q&A with Kylie Brant, Part 2 - Editor Advice, Getting Editorial Attention

Question:
A former editor of a Silhouette line (not SRS) told me that the heroine needs to be the pursuer and the hero the resister to the relationship to raise the tension. What are your thoughts on that? I don't think in every SRS I've read that it's the case (and I've read a ton of them) so that's confused me for months.

Kylie's Answer:
Well, and no wonder. It's not true!

I once had a reader tell me that I give me heroines 'masculine' traits, ie they are often the ones who have trust issues, want no strings, etc. I know enough women with commitment issues that I know that's a true situation for some females. And as a reader, I find that turn around intriguing. I think my readers do, too.

My 10/08 SRS Terms of Surrender had a heroine who had been bounced around in foster homes because her mother was a crack whore. The heroine is a hostage negotiator and met the hero on an incident response (he's also a HN). Their backstory is that they got involved but really didn't know each other very well...they'd only dated a few weeks and she got pregnant. He doesn't know about her mother or her past but when she's ready to have an abortion he is the one who talks her out of it and they live together, have the baby...and he dies of SIDS at about six months. She couldn't handle it, took that as a sign that she'd tried to reach for too much and took off without a word. The story begins with her back in town and he doesn't know it until they get paired at a bank robbery.

This book was a case in point: the hero had the normal upbringing and she had never talked about hers. So he's the one feeling hurt and betrayed and angry. But they get paired on this case that's ongoing and slowly more of her backstory comes out and he begins to get to know her and understand why she left.

Or it can be situational because of the suspense plot:

In Terms of Engagement 1/09 the heroine is on the run from a hired killer. She changes identities and locations frequently so obviously 'no ties' is part of her lifestyle. She and the hero meet but she's already thinking of leaving town soon so she keeps him at arm's length. Then she's involved in a hostage situation and gets wounded and when hero brings her home from hospital she thinks 'why not, she's leaving town anyway.' So they make love. And then she discovers her face was broadcast on national news and she knows the killer might have recognized her. She gets rid of the hero, packs her things and hurries out the door only to find that the hero never left and someone takes a shot at them. So now she knows the killer is in town. She wants to get gone and the hero wants to stick by her until he figures out what's going on...she has trust issues, obviously, since the killer used to be her lover :)

So there are all sorts of reasons and scenarios one or the other has issues. But it's become sort of cliched that the hero is the one who can't settle down because he got burned by a woman before.

What I always recommend--and aspiring writers look at me sort of askance--is analyze the books you're reading for the craft elements you're studying. This is not plagiarism! You're not copying their words and scenes. You're simply studying it, the way you would a textbook. Go through the books in your library and make a list of what the different scenarios are that are keeping the h/h apart. You'll be surprised how many possibilities there are. The list will help you generate ideas that fit your own stories. And after you have more practice plotting and writing your own stories you'll find you don't need to do that studying anymore.

I would do this with every craft or plot element that is giving you problems. I used to have a problem with action tags. I'd just pick up random books and start listing all the action tags I could find. What that made me do is start 'thinking' a different way when I was writing. I became more aware of them and when / how to place them. It's not about copying what someone else is doing, it's about creating an innate awareness of the element so that you no longer have to think about it. It becomes a part of your writing.


Question:
If you were starting over in this current writing environment, what would you do to make your work stand out from others?

Kylie's Answer:
I'm going to focus on SRS because that's where you're targeting and it's where I targeted my first manuscripts. H/S loves their hooks :) And editors everywhere want 'the same but different'. That drives authors nuts trying to figure out what it means! But you can kind of see where they're coming from. It has to be enough the same because it has to be recognizable to them. They have to read it and immediately pigeonhole it--woman in jeopardy. Secrets in a small town. Secret baby. You want them to recognize the hook because no matter how much an editor loves something if she doesn't know how she'll SELL it, she won't buy it. Marketing drives everything in publishing. They have to know how to shelve it, how to promote it, how to put a fitting cover on it and how it will appeal to readers.

So go ahead and give them that familiarity. But incorporate enough different to give the familiar a unique twist. Because there has to be uniqueness in the story to make it stand out. So a twist might be the woman is the bounty hunter and the hero is the 'criminal' she's hunting. (except he's wrongly accused or something).

I'd read widely in the line I'm targeting and get a good idea on what is selling to those editors and think about how I could do it a little differently.

Q&A with Kylie Brant, Part 1 - Romantic Suspense

I am going to try to post my questions and Kylie's answers without too much editing, except to remove things that only made sense in the context of our exchange.

Question:
Building and maintaining sexual tension while heightening the suspense of the story - How do you dovetail the two together without awkwardness (i.e. they should be focused on the serial killer after them, why are they thinking about each other)?

Kylie's Answer:
There is a trick to dovetailing the romantic suspense with the external suspense. In order to maintain the pace of the story, the tension from the external suspense has to continue to build. My pet peeve is when people go on a picnic, or make up an errand that takes the two of them away from the external suspense in an all too obvious ploy to bring the h/h closer together. But they sort of leave the suspense in the lurch in the meantime.

The h/h must both be vested in the outcome of the external suspense. So they are both working on the crime as law enforcement. Or maybe one is the detective and one is an investigative reporter or PI. That might bring the two of them together on the same crime, but give them opposing / conflicting goals at the beginning, which sets up conflict for the couple. Or a bodyguard story when he wants to keep her alive and she'd like to stay that way too :)

So they both have to have proximity in order for the sensual tension to grow. But because we have them working side by side, or at least coming in frequent contact before deciding to join forces, they have plenty of time for those feelings to evolve. This is great, because under these circumstances you can be working in the sexual tension AND the external tension on the same page! So maybe detective guy has come to begrudgingly respect the heroine who was foisted on him as a partner. And she's telling him her ideas or maybe what she discovered that day. And he's listening, but he's also noticing her ass when she bends down to get something out of the drawer. Or finds himself wondering what her hair looks all down around her shoulders, or better yet, across his bare chest.

Then WHOA...where did that come from? He yanks his focus back to her words, which were winding down. She looks at him expectantly. "So what do you think?" He figured it was wiser not to say what he was thinking at that precise moment. And wiser yet to keep his mind where it belonged...on catching this perp.

Okay that's just an example. But in your scene it would take about a paragraph. And if every scene has one or two mental meanderings one or the other of the h/h, you start to build that sexual tension and an expectation on the part of the reader that these two will end up together.

Now when they're past the thinking of each other stage, you move into physical contact. And with every contact, you establish more sexual tension. When it's the first kiss both of them avow it isn't going to happen again...it'll divert them from their goal. But they continue to get closer. The feelings are already there and they aren't going away. They're together much of the time. The feelings grow. When they first make love, the sexual tension builds one or both of them doesn't want more...or knows the other doesn't want strings...or one doesn't live there so there's no future...so now you have the HEA in doubt, because you have the characters (or one of them) doubting it, as well.

With every contact, you have reaction from one or both characters, as they respond to the change. That response heightens tension, as well.

Mentorship with Kylie Brant - How it all started

I entered a contest on Kylie Brant's webpage. The contest was called MENTORING MANIA and offered a one-on-one with Kylie either via email for a week or a 30 minute phone call.

11/04/2009 : Cindy's entry

After using every writing resource at my disposal - writing daily, reading books on writing, reading agent and editor blogs, editing and polishing my work, having friends, family, and critique partners read my work - I would love to get the advice of a published author on how to get editorial attention. My target publisher is Harlequin/Silhouette, specifically the Silhouette Romantic Suspense imprint. I love the SRS line which strikes a great balance between romance and suspense (no gory details for me!). I've worked my query letters, entered my first pitch contest with Harlequin (was selected, but it didn't lead to a request for a full), honed my hooks, and still continue to get dreaded Rejection letters. I would love advice on maintaining sexual tension and developing the character's relationship while moving the story forward in the fast paced, heart pounding pace that SRS is known for.


11/30/2009 10PM

Hi Cindy,

Although the winner won't be posted on my site until tomorrow I thought I'd drop you a note and let you know you're the winner of the Mentoring Mania contest!

Kylie

Monday, December 7, 2009

You keep writing anyway!

"In my view a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway." - Junot Diaz

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Kylie's Brant's advice is writing gold.

A few emails with Kylie Brant and I can already feel my writing getting stronger :)

I need to digest what she told me and then put it to good use. She said it was okay for me post her advice here. I'll be doing that in the next few days.

She mentions on her website that there might be future mentoring chances available, so for anyone who wants a superBoost on their writing, consider entering. Kylie's Contest

Best. Writing. Experience. Ever.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Kylie Brant Picked Me!

I won the contest I entered on Kylie Brant's webpage!

I get 24 hours of email exchanges with her. I could have had a 30 minute phone conversation instead, but I would be too nervous and probably forget everything she said, since I'd be thinking, "I'm talking to Kylie Brant!" the entire time.

I am so excited, I can hardly think of what to ask. I emailed my critique partners to ask if they had ideas and once the conversation gets going, I'll probably think of more questions.

What makes this doubly amazing is that I love Kylie Brant's books. It isn't an easy thing to write a great romantic suspense and keep both elements driving the book.

This goes down in the record books as one of the most thrilling experiences of my writing career.