Series or Standalones #amwriting #Romance #mgtab @jacqbiggar

Series or Standalones

That was the question posed by a member of The Story Empire earlier this week. You can read his full thoughts here– well worth your time.

I’ve read many great standalone books, (Cinderella anyone?) but have to admit I enjoy stories set in a series much more. There’s a deeper connection to a) the characters, and b) location- though either of those can, and often do, change throughout the course of a series.

From NY Book Editors:

Writing a book series can be incredibly challenging (that’s the bad news), but it’s also one of the best ways to develop a loyal fan base (that’s the good news).

NY Book Editors-2016

The books can follow one or two main characters through a variety of adventures- such as J.D. Robb’s In Death series or the Harry Potter franchise.

They can also be set around a location and the citizens within- Susan Mallery’s Fools Gold series or J.R Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood.

Some follow a progression of events and are best read in order, while others are self-contained stories within the series and can easily be read out of order.

Whichever style you prefer, series seem to be growing in popularity, some are even twenty books long and counting!, and readers can’t get enough.

I’m currently working on the third story in my Gambling Hearts series, My Girl. The series follows the lives, and loves, of three siblings born and raised on a Texas hill country ranch.

This is Aaron’s story:

Sometimes, the right decision isn’t the easiest one to make

Trish Sylvester knows her family and when they accept a week long stay at a rustic dude ranch, she is concerned- especially since it’s at her ex’s home.

Aaron is overjoyed at the opening of his family’s guest ranch, until he learns their first guest is his ex-girlfriend, her parents–and a fiancé.

And that isn’t the only surprise.

Excerpt

“I met your fiancé,” he said, his voice ripe with challenge. The outdoors clung to her skin, sun and flowers combining to intoxicate him more than the whiskey.

She lifted her chin, eyes narrowing. “What did you say to him, Aaron? I’d hoped we could all act like adults while we’re here.”

Aaron laughed, his hands doing the job his heart urged him to do, forcing her to come up against his chest with a soft oomph. “Darlin’, I’m definitely a man, make no mistake.” He leaned down and brushed her lips, setting up a warning through his chest. He was playing with fire, and if he wasn’t careful, there was little doubt who was going to get burned. Again.

“Aaron, stop this,” she murmured, though her lips parted on a sigh. “We can’t…”

He lifted his head and stared at her upturned face. “Can’t what, Trish? You invited yourself onto my territory and brought reinforcements. I want to know why.”

She moved out of his arms. He pretended not to feel the loss.

“We needed a break from the city,” she said. “Surely, you can understand that? Your sister sent an email to me highlighting the new business venture—congrats, by the way—and I thought it would be fun to come and check it out. End of story.”

He eyed her nervously tucking her hair behind her ear and knew she was bluffing. The question remained; why?


Box Set News

We have a new box set releasing August 30th!

Sweet and Sassy Baby Love 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2KHEMW5

Add to your TBR list: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47873355-sweet-and-sassy-baby-love

Recommend us on Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/sweet-and-sassy-baby-love-by-suzanne-jenkins-and-jen-talty

Nine NY Times and USA Today bestselling authors offer stories of men and women who go to great lengths for the children they love.

A scent of innocence, that touch of softness, an angelic nap, and deep belly laughs. Babies and toddlers bring great joy, love, humor, and even conflict into our lives. But first, we need a passionate encounter, a romance that transcends time.

How do you feel about series or standalone stories? Let’s talk about it.

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WHERE AND WHEN WRITERS LIKE TO WRITE

Where Writer’s Write

So where do writer’s write? Some take their laptops to a crowded cafe, and are comfortable writing with onlookers peeping over their shoulders. Some want solitude, with everything organized around them, phone off and kids banned so there are no distractions while they pursue their story. Some have special places where they write, with their writing materials handy. So, I’m going to ask the authors who read this to put WHERE and WHEN they like to write in the comment section.

Rebecca York has a special sunroom lounge that she shares with her cats, and Jacquie Rogers has a special office that she inhabits until 4 AM, dictating her stories before pounding the keys.

Personally, my writing space depends upon the time of day, the weather, and just how I’m feeling. If I set myself a planned space and time, I don’t produce as much. When I write in the early mornings (I’m up sometimes when Jacquie’s up), which is the most often, I grab my laptop and throw a blanket over my shoulders and sit on the edge of the bed for an hour or three, until done. Then it’s time to get dressed and start the day.

If it is really sunny and nice outside, I’ll take my laptop out to a lawn swing and write there. If it is raining and stormy, the gas fireplace invites me to write next to it. I do have an office, where I make and edit videos for my Raising Giants home school program, and produce the Show & Tell Bible, but I find it hard to write my novels there.

I used to plan all my stories out, but find it is better to just write them, as I lose interest in a story if I know where it’s going. Once written, then I go back and make sure everything works. I’ve tried the dictation method like Jacquie uses, but actually speaking the words makes me lose my train of thought. I write faster and better directly on the computer.

So authors, where and when is your best writing time/space?

My latest novel is another thriller in the Brother’s of Spirit series. (First one was Height of Danger). New novel is Terminal Pursuit, not quite finished. I’m waiting for the book cover and must do a complete re-write before I put it up for pre-sale.

The Quietest Woman in the South is a post Civil War story about love, friendship, and responsibility. It has spots of humor amid the danger, and was a lot of fun to write. Evil men always have kin, and the hero and his friends have to fight the same family several times until they are free of their threat. Normally $2.99, it is on sale for $.99 this October, 2017.

Click to buy

How to Snag a Literary Agent!

DSC_0002_5I’ve just returned from speaking at Thrillerfest, the huge annual writer’s conference sponsored by the International Thriller Writers and held in New York City. The ITW Conference has been, by far and away, my go-to place for sending my clients and students who are writing suspense, thrillers (obviously), mysteries, and emotionally electrified novels of all types. Why?

Because this is the only conference that, to my knowledge, has managed to corral 50 or more agents in a room, for around three hours, at what’s called PitchFest. Authors are given a chance to, in effect, speed-date agents. You get to sit down and talk for about 3 minutes to a real agent about your novel. If they find your pitch interesting, the agent will ask you to send either a partial or full manuscript to them. Then you move on to the next agent on your hit list. You can pitch to as many agents as you can fit into the session. This, as you can imagine, is a golden opportunity for authors who have books with intrigue, mystery, and thriller elements that are ready to be published. But I’ve also heard from authors writing in other genres, who have found, at PitchFest, an enthusiastic agent for their novels.

However, the price of the conference, expense of staying in a New York City hotel, and airfare can be substantial. Does this mean that you can’t connect with a good agent to represent you and your books if you are unable to afford traveling to a big conference? Not at all.

DSC_0003There are many ways to search out and find a legitimate, experienced literary agent. Different authors have used a variety of techniques with equal success. But I’ll share with you my favorite method:

  • Finish your book and do all you can to polish your product until it shines. An agent can’t sell a manuscript to a publisher that isn’t complete of is full of grammatical errors. Many authors invest in a professional edit or critical read to help them make their book the best it can be.
  • Go online and look up the Association of Authors’ Representatives site (aaronline.org). Click on “Find an Agent”. You’ll be able to search for legitimate agents interested in your type of book.
  • After you’ve made a list of agents whose interests match yours—50-60 isn’t too many!—check out their websites. By gathering more information about each agent, you’ll fine tune your list.
  • Go online to Publishers Marketplace (publishersmarketplace.com). Register for Publishers Lunch Deluxe. It will cost you $25./month, but all you need to do is join for one month, do your research, then opt out. For that month, you will receive daily reports on the industry and the ability to “track deals, sales, agents, editors” and more.
  • Using your hit list of agents, choose one and search on his/her sales for the past 6 months. Even better, search on their sales just for your category of book. When I went looking for an agent who was representing and actively selling lots of historical fiction, I was able to track down a number of really strong agents in that field. Then I chose from among them the ones with whom I’d most like to work.
  • Check out the details of their sales (and others, if you like…this is fascinating stuff!) The Daily Deals will tell you the title of the book sold, its author, the publisher and acquiring editor who bought it, the name of the agent who sold it…and a brief description of the book’s concept. Wow! How valuable is that!

If you’ve done your homework, you’ll have found many good matches. Circle back to their websites and note their preferences for submissions. Follow their instructions implicitly. It’s a test, of sorts. If an agent wants only a query letter for initial contact, don’t send your manuscript…yet. Each agent has their own process for screening prospective clients.

I hope this gives you some insight into how to snag the best agent for the book you’ve written. Good luck! And let me know how it goes.  Cheers! Kathryn

The Not-So-Bad Day

“What an awful day this has been! I can’t believe so much went wrong.”

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Do you often complain bitterly at the end of an irritating, unsatisfactory day or week? If it’s not the kind of day when everything goes smoothly, then—at least in my own mind—it can’t be a good day. I sometimes forget that what may seem challenging or difficult to me might be absolute heaven for someone else. After all, I get to spend my days making up stories!

But, because I write novels for a living, I’m sitting and typing for hours, and my back often stiffens up and hurts. I’ll think: If it weren’t for this stupid back pain I’d have made better progress on this story. I’d write faster, better. Heck, I’d be positively brilliant! Somedays, even if I’m pain free, my mind feels wooden, creativity blocked. I feel anxious, dissatisfied, maybe even depressed. I automatically label all of these less-than-perfect days—“bad.”

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For many of us, it’s the little dissatisfactions in life that drag us down. When achieving a goal doesn’t come effortlessly, without interruptions or setbacks, we become unhappy. Maybe that’s human nature. Maybe that’s why we, or at least I, need an occasional reminder of what a really, really dreadful day can be. The sort of day that spins totally out of control, shatters a person emotionally, crushes the spirit, sometimes can even be called tragic.

Everyone has experienced truly devastating moments in their life. These stand out from the everyday flow of living. Most of us can count them without running out of fingers. Could it be that we actually need negative or challenging experiences to remind us of how many really good hours make up our lives?

Recently, I’ve made a point of looking back on some of the worst days in my life. The daily irritants in life pale when compared to the life-crushing events that threaten to destroy life as we know it. So I make myself remember that moment when I awoke after major back surgery, couldn’t move…and feared, as I lay in that hospital bed, that I might be paralyzed. I wasn’t, but a long year of recovery followed before I could walk normally. I also recall the heartbreaking day when I learned that the young man I’d raised from a sweet baby was broken, and saving him was beyond me. And I replayed in my mind the phone call that told me of my father’s death, and felt again the overwhelming sadness and belief that I’d let him down. I had been in denial, had failed to accept that the cancer would be fatal. I should have gone home to be with him in his last days.

It’s not just my own history that helps me to recognize how truly fortunate I am…even on not-so-good days. All I need to do is turn on the radio or TV, and I become a witness to true adversity—homelessness, violence, war, killing droughts, and incurable diseases. Destruction of life that I’ve never been forced to experience.

And so, the next time I sit down to write a scene that’s challenging, aching back and all—I will smile. Because I recognize that today is one of those good days. Even if no publisher wants to buy my book. Even if my computer explodes or a hail storm ravages my garden or I come down with the cold that’s already warning me with that ominous tickle at the back of my throat. Even if I pick up the phone half a dozen times to annoying robo-calls—this day is going to be just fine.

Roger Kathryn from Roy

Above, one of the very good times. Summer on the Bay!