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Showing posts from December, 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 k

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 Answe

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'

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 auth

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

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 d

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

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

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 deve

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

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.

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.