The Quirky Ladies is a group of eclectic (and dare I say quirky?) ladies who are passionate about writing romantic fiction. All types of romantic fiction...paranormal, fantasy, historical, erotic and contemporary. Bring it on!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Quirky Summer Update!

Quirky Summer 2009 Update: Here's a bit of news...

Victoria Morgan: Victoria should be finishing her historical novel set during the Crimea War, but after reading a profile of Nora Roberts in the New Yorker, she had to pick up one of Nora's books. The article reminded Victoria why Nora is the queen of romance and her dialogue rocks. So now she's reading Blue Dahlia, the first book of the In the Garden trilogy, and Vicki is thrilled to have two more in the series. Too bad school is over and the kids will be kicking around.... To finish the series and get back to her own writing, Victoria might steal Nora's warning to her kids when they interrupted her writing, "Don't bother me unless it's arterial blood or active fire." Hey, when Nora calls, all else is put on hold.

Kate Macarthur: Kate is still desperately trying to get her hell project off her desk so that she can finally get back to writing again. She's got a big old contemporary romantic suspense that's been rattling around in her head for some time and needs to be let out. First, though, she has revisions to do on an older story that needs more life breathed into it. And in the meantime, she will look for some time to dig into her "to be read" pile beside the bed.

Michelle Polaris: Michelle is diligently working on the sequel to Bound Odyssey, the manuscript that's a finalist in the Passionate Ink Stroke of Midnight contest. The tentative name is Bound Freedom. She's looking forward to a change of pace for the warm weather months, including collecting stones on the beach, and reading the new summer releases by Catherine Asaro, Joey W. Hill, and Jacqueline Carey.

Tara Truesdale: In an attempt to get herself out of a muddled-middle, Tara, a perennial pantser, is spending significant time plotting the remainder of her current WIP. It's a hive-inducing but oh so necessary exercise that is teaching Tara she must, simply must, plot her next WIP before she writes a single word -- if she ever hopes to consistently write (and hopefully publish) a book a year. She also owes the Quirky's chapters, which she's aiming to get out within the next month!

Penny Watson: Penny is finishing edits for Sweet Inspiration, and working on two other stories -- book #2 of the Klaus Brothers series, called Sweet Magik, and a new botanical historical romantic suspense (she made up a new sub-genre, so what?), called Diabolical. She is also looking forward to celebrating her (29th) birthday with a new professional Williams and Sonoma margarita maker. It promises many festive Quirky parties in the future!

Dalton Diaz: Dalton is working on her Quickie, Winters' Thaw, which will be part of a Cougar series for EC. Yes, THAT kind of Cougar! July will be exciting with her 3rd release with EC, a Quickie called Stray Lovers, on 7/31. It's part of an 11 author fundraiser in the memory of a special young lady, Lara Punches. Check out
to see what it's all about.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Trouble Brewing in Romance Land

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last year, you are most likely aware of the trouble brewing between the national RWA and romance e-publishers (and their authors). Although I tend to avoid local politics like the plague, I have followed this controversy for a while now. Since I am about to have my first book published in electronic format, the issue has become of grave importance to me. A post on the ESPAN board by Deidre Knight (agent/author) seems to have polarized an already hot topic. Knight addresses a statement made by RWA president Diane Pershing in the latest RWA magazine. Hundreds of comments from e-authors illustrate the need for the national RWA to better reflect the changing technology and embrace the future of the publishing industry, as well as support ALL of its members, not just the old school girls. 

Now, I would like to add a couple of other elements into this already complex issue. E-pubs offer unique opportunities for authors who are thinking and writing outside of the box. Some writers don't want to pen a 80,000-100,000 word novel (and some readers don't want to read them!). Instead, we're interested in shorter novels, novella-length stories, even quickies. And luckily for us, lots of romance readers love this option, too. However, most of the traditional print-pubs will not consider shorter length romances. Another problem I personally encountered was the untraditional paranormal setting for my first novel...the North Pole (Santa-land). It automatically clumps me into holiday romance, and the larger print pubs generally only print well-established authors doing holiday stories, either in anthology form or special edition Christmas books. If it was not for a bevy of e-pubs looking for shorter length, holiday-themed works, I would have basically no options for my first novel Sweet Inspiration, a 55,000-word Christmas themed story. "Alternative" publishers who are offering these opportunities to writers and readers should be embraced by the RWA and commended for offering more flexibility in our industry.

As to the debate going on at ESPAN, I think the crux of this issue is what constitutes "being published." My naive understanding as a newbie in this profession is that if you write a book, and either you or someone else distributes said book in whatever format (electronic, print, audio), you're published. (And yes, that's right, I think self-published authors deserve the credit they have earned for writing and releasing a novel). Placing arbitrary restrictions on the definition of being published (you need to earn X amount of dollars, print so many books, publish with such and such publisher) is exactly why I avoid politics. It takes what should be a simple issue and starts to muddy the waters. Sela Carsen's comment to the ESPAN post struck me the most as I waded through the is a portion of her comment....

"Am I published or not? How hard should it be to determine whether someone is published or not? Story out with non-vanity, non-subsidy pub? Getting paid for it? You know what? That sounds pretty darned published to me."

Yep, I agree. Simple, really. Your book's out, you're getting paid, and romance-lovers are reading your story. It's what all romance writers dream about. The national RWA is starting to look like the old woman who lives in a shoe, chastising her unruly offspring for breaking the rules, not following directions, refusing to stick with the established program. Personally, I'm jonesing for a hip, modern mom who loves me even if I come home with a Mohawk and nose ring. Someone who lets me know that as long as I write good-quality novels, I'll be treated with the respect and support I deserve. I hope this isn't just wishful thinking, but the future of the RWA. Otherwise, I'm reminded of the final scene of Terminator where Sarah Connor is sitting in her jeep at the gas station. She's looking at storm clouds gathering in the sky...

Mexican boy: Viene la tormenta!
Sarah Connor: What did he just say?
Gas Station Attendant: He said there's a storm coming in.
Sarah Connor: I know.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Self-Promotion: Pitfalls, Triumphs, and How To Avoid The Promo Police

Every author knows that self-promotion is a vital part of the writing process. We can hide in front of our computer for months writing that masterpiece, but once the damned thing is done, we must crawl from our cave into the light of day and...gulp...promote it! For those of us not comfortable tooting our own horn, this is a daunting and potentially painful process. Since immersing myself in the world of romantic fiction promotions (the other Quirks call me the Promo Queen), I have discovered the good, the bad, and the pile of rotting carcasses piling up at the Amazon reader boards. Here's a bit of wisdom I have learned (special thanks to author Emily Bryan, whose blog today inspired this one). 

#1) Don't waste time promoting to the disinterested....for example, if your husband's friends are over for poker night, waxing on and on about your new erotic menage story with lots of steamy M/M sex might not be such a hot idea. On the other hand, if you join an erotic romance yahoo group, they might be a bit more receptive to your subject matter.

#2) This one is directly inspired by a "blog pirate" at Emily Bryan's site this week. If you visit a blog where an author is promoting her book about Christmas cookies, don't leave a comment (and convenient link to your website) with a blurb about your rocking new book on the history of Bosnia. Rude. Nuff said.

#3) Find supportive, enthusiastic, excited communities who share your joy of romance! There are on-line groups, book clubs, check-out girls at the grocery store. Anyone who appreciates the romance genre is your target audience. I just had a great chat with a bunch of moms at my son's school yesterday who did not know I am a writer. They were so supportive and excited to hear about my new book. Spread the word!

#4) Talk to other writers. Do book trailers work? How about bookmarks and pens? Where does the traffic come from for their sites? Pick the brains of experienced and well-sold authors. They are your best resource.

#5) Make a cool website and blog. Get a facebook account. Give interviews. Write reviews. Talk at your local library, kid's school, or writer's conference. (I actually talked to a bunch of kindergartners about writing, and it was a blast).

#6) Enjoy your promo triumphs...I wrote a comment about Dalton's new book on an erotic romance board, and someone followed the link, checked out the book, bought the book, read the book, and emailed Dalton to tell her she's a new fan and can't wait for her next story. This, my friends, is promotion at its best. 

#7) Some sites are warm and fuzzy to readers, reviewers and authors alike. (The AAR boards, for example.) I can leave a comment with my blog url and people actually thank me for the link. Other sites will skewer you like a small rodent and leave your rotting carcass on the road to be picked at by a bunch of vultures. (Can you tell I'm a writer?) The Amazon boards are notorious for their Promo Police. God help the poor schlub who attempts to promote his first novel on the Amazon romance boards. The readers actually make a pact (a freaking pact!) not to purchase said book until "hell freezes over"- and I am quoting from one of the hostile readers. Why the incredible hostility toward new writers attempting self promotion? Not entirely sure, but it's a tough crowd at the Amazon romance boards, so watch your back. 

This, my friends, is promotion at its worst. People might ridicule you, your book, and the horse you rode in on. There are some communities where any sort of promotion is frowned upon, and avoiding those places might be advisable. 

My final suggestion is stay positive and continue searching for supportive communities. I am a firm believer in what comes around, goes around. If you help spread the word about romance in general, other authors you have read and enjoyed, and show support and encouragement to your colleagues, they will in turn support you and help promote your delightful book when it's your turn to toot. When all is said and done, that's one of the things I love most about this profession. 

Promotion Penny (hey, alliteration!)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

And The Winner Is....

The winner of the drawing for Toni Andrew's new book Cry Mercy is:


Natascha, if you could email me your mailing information for the copy at then a book can be sent out to you. Thanks for checking out Toni's video blog yesterday and commenting.

And thanks to everyone else who stopped by.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Welcome, Toni Andrews!

Today, the Quirky Ladies are pleased to welcome Toni Andrews to our site as part of her virtual book signing tour for her new June release, Cry Mercy from Mira Books. You can see over on the right that her cover is gorgeous. Cry Mercy is the third in her Mercy Hollings series including Beg for Mercy and Angel of Mercy.

The series is set in the beautiful beachfront town of Balboa, California, where Toni lived for fifteen years, and follows the adventures of Mercy Hollings. She's a woman with the fortunate or unfortunate, depending how you see it, telepathic ability to make people do whatever she wants. Mercy calls it "the press." Watch the Cry Mercy Book Trailer for a tempting taste of the release.

After fifteen years living in Southern California and seven in Miami, Toni now writes full-time at her lakeside cottage in Connecticut where she spent summers as a child. She's a busy woman, also producing her own public access television show, So Many Books, which features interviews of authors across all genres. In addition to reaching her at her website and her blog, where you can link to purchase her books, you can join her at her group blog site, The Deadline Dames. Hit the links and take a look. And last but not least, Toni writes romance novels under the pen name Virginia Reede, so check out her other stories.

Now, join us while Toni answers questions via her video blog below. She has been signing book plates and mailing them to readers who send her a self-addressed stamped envelope. So, if you'd like a link to her tour line-up with the address to mail her your SASE, press here.

After viewing her video blog, one lucky commenter today will win a copy of her new release, Cry Mercy.

Without further ado, here's Toni fresh from the shower, with wet hair and no make-up. Kind of like we all look first thing in the morning.

A big thank you, Toni, from the Quirky Ladies for including us on your tour. And blog visitors, please stop by and leave a comment for Toni today for the chance to win a copy of her book.

Thanks again

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Faults and Foibles for your Characters

I have a confession to make, a quirky confession. I'm car illiterate. For the life of me, I can't identify different car brands with the exception of a few. If I witnessed the getaway vehicle escaping the scene of a crime and I had to describe the car, I'd be useless. "It was small and blue?"
This next story dates me, being from the days of book-size cell phones, once exclusive to the super rich until they became one of life's mandatory accessories. At the time, my husband and I were dating, hence poor but happy. He drove a small, green Mustang. One day, I'm waiting for him beside his car, and he looks at me oddly and shakes his head. "That's not my car. I don't own a Jaguar and I definitely don't own a car phone." Hey, the Jaguar was small, green, and looked mustangy to me.
In parking lots, I locate my blue Hylander by clicking on my key beeper thingy. I've also memorized my license plate because I still manage to climb into other driver's big blue cars. I then wonder who the hell left their stuff in my passenger seat?

My husband knows his cars, but he won't spend his money on an expensive brand. He is pure New England Yankee frugality. Once you buy something, you wear it, use it, and drive it until it gasps its last breath, croaks and dies. Case in point, he's an expert skier, but just recently replaced his skis. He admitted the sales people sang disco songs when they saw his old ski equipment. He wonders if it was his age or his purple ski boots that dated him.
This brings us to our other car, a Ford Taurus. Last year, it was fifteen years old but still making it to the train station and back, so we had yet to give the car its last rites. Admittedly, Ford no longer makes this car, it was declared the least likely car to be stolen, and ours was a bit dinged up and missing a hub cap. No matter, it still got my husband to the train station and back, and he liked to boast it only had eighty thousand miles on it. So when my sister, who drives a sleek grey Lexus asked me if I was embarrassed to drive the Taurus, I was puzzled. I mean, if I'm driving it, I can't see the missing hubcap, so why should it bother me? Okay, so being car illiterate, I forget about their status symbol asset.
While my husband may not care about owning the trophy car, he does recognize them, as does my son. My husband once took my son to visit a car dealership when they had Ferraris in their lot. Now a snarky-voiced teen-ager, my son asked for a Ferrari as his souvenir when I visited Italy for my mother's seventieth birthday.

So what is the point of this blog? Besides to joke about my car illiteracy quirk, I wanted to discuss how writers can take character quirks and thread them into our stories. What one might find embarrassing often provides great grist for the writer's mill.
Every author has the proverbial novel under his bed, the one collecting dust bunnies because it has beginning writer's errors cluttering it. My dust bunny is my first contemporary novel. This story is not ready for prime time in its current draft, but the characters and scenes still resonate for me, so I believe they are worth a second life once they get an extreme makeover.
In this book Beautiful Stranger, I wove in some of this car stuff. I made my heroine, Cara Tait, car illiterate, while molding her eleven-year old son, Griffen after my own car-obsessed son. The underlying plot is the secret baby story line. Cara has a one night stand with Matthew Barrett and gets pregnant. Matt is the equivalent of American royalty, being the son of a Kennedyesque family and Cara chickens out when she goes to tell Matt about her pregnancy. A struggling artist and from the poor side of the tracks, Cara fears losing her child to this family's moneyed world so alien to her own, and she keeps her secret.
Beautiful Stranger opens eleven years later when their son decides his mother may not want Matt in her life, but Griffen does. His decision and subsequent actions is the catalyst forcing Matt and Cara back together, whether they want to be or not.
I wrote two scenes that played off each other. In the first scene, Matt has surprised Cara at Griffen's baseball game. At the game's end, he insists on walking them to their car. Griffen's friend, Jack and his mother, Anne walk with them.

Cara stiffened when Matt fell into step beside them, and they strolled to the parking lot like the frigging Cleaver clan if you ignored the tension sizzling between her and Matt like an electric current.
They reached Matt's Jaguar first, and Cara gritted her teeth as Jack and Griffen paused to fawn over it.
"Boys and cars. I don't get it. Never did," Anne said.
Cara shrugged. "What's there to get? They're a means of transport. Anything faster spells speeding ticket."
"Be still my heart." Matt cringed and patted his chest. Shaking his head, he joined the boys. "She's a beauty-- the XJ model. She has four hundred horsepower supercharged V8 and can spring from zero to sixty in just five seconds."
"Mom, can we get a ride home in her, please? Come on, pretty please?"
Cara's heart twisted. No absolutely not. She had forgotten about the Barrett money - Jaguar money. She had enough competition with Matt; the car gave him bonus points, add his millions, and she might as well toss in the flag. Her used Honda and RISD debts faced stiff competition. "Not tonight, Griffen. Another time."
"Awh, Mom, come on. It's a short--"
"That's enough, Griffen. I said not tonight. Next week, I promise." So much for taking the time to figure things out. Her time was running out. She wished it could stop or melt away like Dali's watches.

This is from a scene later in the book. Cara, Matt and Griffen go to get ice cream together after another of Griffen's baseball games. Cara and Matt are exiting from the shop after making their purchases. For Griffen's sake, a tentative truce has formed between them.

Cara stepped outside and shook her head. "But I told you, I'm not ready for this puberty thing. Griffen's not ready for girls. You saw him, he becomes monosyllabic. He's--"
"Too late." Matt placed his hand on her shoulder to quiet her. "I believe Griffen's made his choice. Look." He angled his head to the picnic table that once held Griffen's teammates.
Cara glanced over to see Susan and her girlfriends from the baseball game sitting at the table without a boy in sight. "What the? Where?" Confused, she followed Matt's gaze to see a group of boys circling his Jaguar.
Griffen's voice drifted to them. "It's the XJ model. It has four hundred horsepower and can sprint from zero to sixty in just five seconds."
"There's nothing like a boy's first love." Matt lifted a hand to his heart. "It's a beautiful thing to see. She's a beauty with smooth, elegant, sensuous lines." His eyes drifted over the slim lines of Cara's figure, and her answering laugh sent ripples of heat spiraling through him. His mind went blank. The Jaguar. He was talking about a car. Or he had been. He swallowed, his mouth bone dry.
"I guess I'll hold off on further discussions of sex," Cara said, her eyes dancing.
"Unless he starts checking out the infinity. They're racier than the Jag." Matt grinned at her expression, his heart light.

So faults, foibles and quirks are all great stuff to use in building a character or a scene. The trick is to find and mine them in your writing. When done well, readers remember them. Some are infamous. In Sheridan's play The Rivals, Mrs. Malaprop's hilarious misuse of words coined the term malapropism. While our foibles might not make history, they can provide comic relief. Who doesn't laugh at Janet Evanovich's heroine, Stephanie Plum and her penchant for blowing up her cars? Okay, I'm back to cars. Time to wind up this quirky blog. Next one I promise will be shorter....