Friday, February 27, 2009

The Well Crafted Villian

Well my laptop is finally operational. I lost the old one though, for now, but I was able to save the hard drive. Ugh. Don’t you hate computer malfunction?
Okay, bad guys.

Your villain is half the story. Even if the reader doesn’t know who it is until the end, as in a mystery, he needs to be a worthy opponent for your protagonist. He needs to be able to match wits, strength, and psyches. He needs to be as stealth at being a bad guy as your protagonist is at being the good guy. It’s like a well choreographed dance, if done right, will keep the reader guessing until the very end who will win. Like Batman vs. the Joker- Batman is quick, crafty, and smart. The Joker is clever, ruthless and cunning. It’s the most basic good against evil fight.

As others have said, he has to be human. Multi-dimensional. He needs to have traits just like any other character even if he’s a serial killer. Remember this, even Hitler loved dogs.

He needs his own reasoning, no matter how warped, for doing the things he does. Give him a backstory. Was he abused? By who? How did he cope? How does that drive his actions today? Give him his own fears, interests, goals. What motivates him? What does he want out of this story? How will he get it? Make it personal. Because a psycho, just because, is boring.

Remember the movie Psycho? That worked so well because Norman Bates had an over-bearing, controlling mother, that he all at once hated and loved, and that shaped him from childhood. Everything she drilled into his head hit home and stuck with him, creating the twisted man with the sweet face who no one would suspect was a murderer.

And a lot of psychology goes into creating a good bad guy. Try reading up on the subject. Jung, Adler, Freud. You might be surprised by the inspiration and ideas that spring from delving into the human mind. Then, get into his head on the page. Try writing from the killer’s POV, if not for the story, then at least to better understand him. Dig around a little. Remember Hannibal Lector? He was a great villain. Watch Silence of the Lambs to see an incredibly scary, yet well fleshed out antagonist.

Barbra Annino

Welcome, Ron!

Born and raised in the Boston, Massachussetts area, Ron Adams has called Western New York State Home for the better part of 25 years. He developed an early interest in stories and storytelling from the varied cast of characters he met growing up. An avid reader, he turned his love of the mystery genre into his first novel, "Lake Effect", published in 2003. His second, "Key Lime Squeeze", is due to be released in March 2009 by Enspiren Press. He is also the moderator of the new Inspired Author website, dedicated to bringing readers and writers together. Ron is married to the love of his life, and lives with their son and daughter on the shores of Lake Erie.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"I Love My Bad Guys"

First off, I wanted to thank Nicole for inviting me to share some information with her regular readers. my novels all tend to run towards the PI/mysrey genre, but I have begun writing short stories with a decidedly paranormal flair to them. This article deals with some concepts the writers and readers of all types of fiction could benefit from.

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the International Festival of Authors in Toronto this past year, the short drive across the Peace Bridge into Canada being yet another perk of living in Western New York. While there, I attended a roundtable discussion of the psychology of the villain in contemporary fiction. The formal title of the roundtable was “Psycho-babble – Inside the Character’s Twisted Mind.” The panel included such heavyweights in crime and thriller fiction as John Connolly, Jeffery Deaver, Elena Forbes, and newcomer Ross Raisin. As a mystery writer myself, it was a thrill to sit and listen to these writers discuss their writing, their work schedules, their inspirations, and their unique insights into character development. And as they went on, I noticed a common theme to all of their writing, and it was said best by Deaver: “I love my bad guys.”
Here’s a sampling of the items touched on by the panel:
1. Create villains that are real to engage the reader. If the hero prevails against a cardboard bad guy, then it is the hero who is diminished. But think about what you do to the villain, and be careful not to make him more captivating than the hero.
2. It is also important that along with being bad, your villain must be human. You should have the reader asking why he does what he does. The bad guy may not always see himself as bad, or he may see what he does is good based on his sense of right or wrong.
3. Be a compulsive researcher as much as possible. Develop an interest in people beyond themselves, and even develop affection for them. That way you can find the humanity in your villain and all your characters.
4. Most people, villains and bad guys included, act out of selfishness and/or fear. For one example, they discussed the concept of Mad vs. Bad in relation to the villain. The villains that are interesting to these writers are the ones who lack a social or moral compass. In other words, they may be perfectly aware they are committing a crime, and are perfectly fine with it.
5. There is always a conflict between truth and credibility. Believe it or not, the authors found that there are so many real life crimes that are too incredible in their very nature to make effective stories. Despite being true, they would not make credible stories. The “ick” factor of many true stories is an incredibly fine line to walk for most writers. This discussion gave rise to one of the funniest exchanges of the afternoon. John Connelly was saying that he does not read as much true crime as he used to, due to the gratuitous use of shock and violence. He also criticized another crime fiction writer for doing just that, and drew fire himself for the critique. He asked the panel. “Do we have to be nice and not criticize each other?
Jeffery Deaver responded, “John, we all know 50 ways to kill people.”

So how do you all handle creating your bad guys? and what do you love about them? I'm dying to hear...

Gottal Love a Good Bad Guy

**again I'm sorry about being late. i think i need a datebook**

I love a good bad guy. Theres something about a person that's so deliciously evil that you just can't help but like the bastard. Hannabal Lecter, Lucious Malfoy, Lestat; all wonderful. These are men (usually) that know right from wrong, but dammit, they just don't give a hoot. There's something just so COOL about them.

(Except for the zombie. They don't know right from wrong, they just know that there hungry. Pick up "World War Z" by Max Brooks. AWESOME)

A truly good bad guy is someone who takes the rules of society and decides "well that's all very well and good, but I don't think I want to live by those rules thank you very much." And 9 times out of 10 there damn sexy while doing it. That's a lot to live up t to as a writer. I have to make a bad guy who is not only a BAD GUY, but has enough redeeming qualities that he's a workable character, someone that you WANT to read about. Talk about pressure

I'm still in the beginning stages of my story. Still fleshing out my people, still trying to get a hold of who they are. And while I've given a lot of thought to who my bad guy is, i still haven't even out an internal face to the name. What I do know about him is that he's a supernatural, but I'm still not sure what kind he is. As soon as I've figured it out though, I'll let you all know.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Recipe for the Bad Guy...

  • 1 cup of nasty attitude
  • 1 $5000 dollar suit and cuban cigars (can be substituted for black jeans, black shirt and accessories)
  • A talent for stringing curse words together (in public or private)
  • A wicked fast car, truck or fancy army outfitted vehicle (Add a fleet of various ones for added effect)
  • Motive for Nepharious deeds (Lots of cash (illgotten of course) or No cash at all, Computer technology- Be creative)
  • Evil soul (Can be substituted with mental defect or tortured past)

Bake in the pits of H**L until sufficiently motivated to cause mayhem and murder.
Finish by adding your weapon of choice (LOTS of them)!

Sounds silly doesn't it? Yet, a lot of book and movie bad guys fall into this recipe or formula for the modern day bad guy. It's not enough for the reader or watcher to know WHAT they are, but WHY they are. Unless a bad guy is a sociopath or just plain psychotic, something made him the way he is. What makes them do what they do best? Add in the Paranormal bad guys and well alot of backstory could be in their make up. So how do you break free of the cookie cutter CEO's gone sour and hitman out for revenge? Show their human side. A newborn has the potential to be the next president or just as likely the next serial killer. The same goes with characters. What path did life set for them? What choices did they make to bring them to this point? Therin lies your answer to the perfect bad guy.


Monday, February 23, 2009

A White Knight? Or a Black King?

Ok, so I stole the title of this blog from the TNT show "Leverage," but it makes my point about bad guys.

My view of characters will probably surprise those who know me, but here goes. Very few characters — fictional or otherwise — are pure good or pure bad. Don't get me wrong! I think that when someone breaks the law, they should be punished — both in fiction and in life. But I also think that the reason someone breaks the law can be pretty dang fascinating.
In the show, "Leverage," the team breaks laws and performs cons to get justice for people who can't find justice any other way. The Showtime series "Dexter" features a serial killer who's mission is to rid the world of really bad guys. Heck, even Fox's Dr. Gregory House is a first-class jerk, but the best doctor around.

Aren't those all bad guys we love to hate? As a mystery writer, I have spent a lot of time working on my protagonist. Cerri will appear in multiple books and I tried very hard to make her "come alive" on the page. My antagonist, on the other hand, will only appear in one book. (Murderers don't usually get an encore!) Everything about that character needs to be just as "fleshed" as it is for Cerri if the story is to survive.  

And since very few people — fictional or otherwise — are all good or all bad, those villains need to be, well, likable.  Just like our main characters usually have some flaw that makes
 readers relate, our bad guys need to have some trait that makes them....human, don't they?

Does it matter if the wrong thing is done for the right reasons?  Or should we all grab our cowboy hats in either snow white or midnight black?   Life would be so much easier if that were the case, but I think most of us would have hats in some shade of grey, don't you?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Topic of the Week

Bad Guys

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Hi, and Welcome, Sandra!
Just wanted to forward this opportunity to our readers, courtesy of Nocturne author Barbara Hancock.

There's an editor pitch challenge coming up! This is a fantastic opportunity to catch an editor's eye and get your dark paranormal short story published.

Just go to
www.eharlequin. com and join the forums. There you'll find all the details about how to enter.

Having my Bites published was a huge step in my career. I hope some of you will enter! (If you do, please let us know so all of us here at Embrace the Shadows can root for you:>)

www.barbarajhancock .com

Thanks and back to your regulary scheduled post.Luck,


Friday, February 20, 2009

Magical Elements--a unique spin or contrived cliche?

Writing’s my life. It’s been this way for years. I’m most happy when I’m creating worlds, birthing characters, building problems for the heroes and throwing stumbling blocks at the heroines. It’s great to be a writer—but it’s even better when people enjoy my work.

As much as I like writing about drawing rooms in 1900-era America or light and breezy chick-lit pieces, my most recent love is hands down the paranormal genre. Walk through the romance isles at any bookstore in mainstream America and you’ll find that by far the biggest and most picked over genre has got something to do with the paranormal or supernatural.

And while the vampire in one of my novels is one of the strongest heroes I’ve created, I have to say I really like my werewolf hero more. It’s my dream that one day soon a publisher will fall in love with these gentleman as much I have. I don’t foresee the paranormal craze to end anytime soon.

Recently, though, while I’m waiting to be “discovered” in full length paranormal romance, I’ve hit a groove with short novellas—contemporary stories with a magical spin. I take a normal, everyday world and add a highly imaginative element—magic. Everyone has thought about having magical powers, I just give a random person in my books that ability. What they do with it is up to them. For good or for ill, the thing is, magic exists. We just need to believe. It’s all around us, waiting to be acknowledged.

Santa Claus, Cupid, ghosts, or what have you, I’ve created the “what if” in my writing. Give the reader just a taste, a quick glimpse of a world they want to believe in, make them think “it could be true or it could happen.” Always leave the readers wanting more. Make the reader smile, ponder a little bit, yearn for what I’ve created so that when the book ends, a feeling of disappointment mixes with the happiness because it’s over.

That’s the secret to good writing. And that’s why a good writer will sells multiple books.

So, write the story of your soul, give it a unique spin all your own, and you will succeed.

Like… magic…

Welcome, Sandra!

Sandra Sookoo is a writer of romantic fiction. Her portfolio includes historical, contemporary, and paranormal romances, and just like the heroine’s in her books, she uses sarcastic wit and humor to make people laugh. After catching the writing bug at the young age of ten, she’s gone on to hone and grow her unique writing style. She’s an occasional blogger, and has also written a couple of fairy tales (because they’re needed in life) and a handful of children’s stories (because they’re fun.)

Four of her short novellas will be released in the coming year through Lyrical Press, Inc. and The Wild Rose Press. The first, Foodie’s Guide to Kitchen Magic will be released on June 1st. Two of her full length novels have finaled in contests in the last year, and she hopes to enter more contests this year with the goal of winning a few. She’s also actively submitting her work to agents, editors, and publishing houses.

Sandra is a member of Rom-Critters, an online critique group, as well as a member of the Indy Writers Group. She’s also a RWA-PRO member.

You can find her online at

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Magic or Magick?

When I'm asked if I believe in magic(k) the answer is always yes. Magic(k) is everywere and if you don't see it, youre not looking hard enough. I believe in not only the magic of the top hatted guy on stage, but the magick sitting in my back yard and listening to the earth hum.

I love stories that deal in magick too. I love thinking up different spells that a character may perform, different rituals, etc. But I think the most powerful use of magick in books is the unconsious use of magick. Think Ophelia's first magick spells in the Abby and Ophelia books, or Harry Potter when you first meet him.

I love that

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Simple Magic...

Every story I write has a peppering of magic. Usually in the form of a witch or someone who is uniquely gifted in some way. So what constitutes as magic? Hmm, fairies and witches (both good and bad) would definitely fall in the category of magic. But what about simple magic? You know the stuff you take for granted in the day to day pace of life.
A bird sings outside your window one of most beautiful songs. It isn't a composer, of course, and has no way of knowing the notes it trills are in perfect tune. Sun glistens off the multi-colored fall leaves just after a rain storm turning the woods into a glittery wonderland. I like to think of such things as simple magic. It takes little effort on our part. We only need look and listen.

Then there is the technical magic of the computer world. You can travel via the internet to places you've never been and most likely won't go in your lifetime. Can you imagine how someone from the fifteenth century would react to all the comforts we are afforded in this time? To them, we would be a planet full of wizards!

A little voice pops into your head and says, "Don't buy the car, Beth. Mistake!" or a warning to your particular situation. (I should have listened, because now I'm stuck with a three thousand dollar lawn ornament that I only got to drive once.) Anyway, magic is everywhere in one form or another. Stop. Pay attention. You'll see.

p.s. The lovely fairy pics are free graphics courtesy of this talented artist's site. Jessica Galbreth


Beth (Still, pondering the randomness of my post through a cold induced DayQuil haze. Wondering how the heck a perfect running car, suddenly starts knocking and throws a rod three hours later. )

Monday, February 16, 2009

Do you believe in magic?

What do you think of when someone says "magic?"  

Do you only think of the lyrics to a Lovin' Spoonful song?  What about David Copperfield making the Statue of Liberty disappear?  Or does a spell of protection spring to mind?  What about Ron Weasley spitting out slugs when his wand backfired?  It doesn't matter.  All of that is magic, of course, but the definition isn't limited there.

When I'm looking for magic in my writing, I don't limit myself to illusions or even to strict fantasy.  Magic, at least for me, is anything that can't be explained.  That's a belief my parents instilled, whether they meant to or not.

You see, my parents have always enjoyed reading the classics and encouraged us kids to do the same.  When a classic story was made into a movie or television special, we were not only fortunate enough to watch it (usually with a big bowl of popcorn and getting to stay up late to finish that extra half-hour of the show!), but we were actively engaged in conversation about the movie and inspired to check out the original from the library to compare versions.  

That practice, instilled by my parents and carried on with my own children, really set my belief in magic.  My mom is a huge fan of both Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby.  Dad appreciates the wit and wisdom of Mark Twain.  Is it any wonder that A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (both the 1949 and 1956 movie versions) was the topic of many such discussions?  

I learned at a young age that the technology we take for granted was magic to those who just didn't understand it or had never before seen it.

So what does that mean for my writing?  Easy, it means that there is no limit to the imagination.  It means the things I can think up could be reality in the future.  (Don't think so?  Check out some of the original Dick Tracy comics, right Dad?) 

There's no limit to the magic I use in my writing.  Granted, I don't have my reluctant witch flying on a broomstick, and my stories take place in the here and now, but the magic she sees is real to her.  The magic of Tarot cards or the magic of seeing a new place through the eyes of her children.  Seriously, how magical is the life of a child?  Everything is new and unexplained to them.  That's true magic and no story can have enough of it!

Take some time this week to look at your life and find the magic in it.  I'd be willing to bet you'll find more than illusions and lyrics.  You'll find entire worlds that will open your eyes with wonder...


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Topic of the Week

Magical Elements

Friday, February 13, 2009

Is it a paranormal or is it a romance?

Is it a paranormal or is it a romance? Defining paranormal romance.
By Marie-Claude Bourque

Today, Friday the 13th and quite fitting for a blog on paranormal, I’ll focus on what I write, paranormal romance, or at least I think that’s what I write.

Unless we call it urban fantasy?
It took me a while to finally wrap my mind over the concept of paranormal romance vs. urban fantasy.

Author Terry Spear told me that urban fantasy was to bring paranormal elements to our world. My stories are set in our world and they have paranormal elements to it (one is about magic, another is about demons). So I thought I might be writing urban fantasy.

But then I asked author Jeanne C. Stein and she said that the paranormal elements really have to take over the whole story to call it urban fantasy.

At that point, I still didn’t know what to call my stories until I finally heard a definition that worked for me, from author Yasmine Galenorn. She said, “If they are fighting to save the world, it is urban fantasy; if they are fighting to save the relationship, it is paranormal romance.”

Okay, my story Ancient Whispers is a paranormal romance then. They have to fight an evil mage, but really the story is about the relation between a Pagan priestess and a tortured alchemist. Yes there are spells and ritual magic, enchanted swords and alchemy. But in the end, it is all about two people finding true love through hardship.

It used to be that in romance, the hardship was caused by the heroes’ faults or some small external conflict. But now we’ve added a whole new dimension that can bring conflict in the relationship: paranormal elements. In Ancient Whispers, my heroine denies her psychic powers and wants nothing to do with magic. But when she finds out that the man she loves is not only immortal but a powerful sorcerer, she is forced to accept the paranormal part of her and embrace it. But it doesn’t come easy, hence the source of conflict inherent in all romance novel.

How much paranormal should you add in a paranormal romance? We basically got the answer to that this week, as much or as little as you want.

Ghosts, psychics, Faes, vampires and shifters, witches? Anything goes really these days. One can even make a romance with a dragon shifter hero. I am consistently amazed at the imagination of paranormal romance writers to make the otherworldly seem normal, and even sexy. How did Stephanie Meyer convinced so many teens (and their moms) that a vampire sinking their teeth in a woman’s throat could actually be hot? It is true that Anne Rice had done a good job at that before with her Vampire Lestat, but she never wrote romance.

I love paranormal romance, because, let’s face it, if we are to dream about a hunky alpha hero, isn’t it so much more fun if he possesses some paranormal abilities as well. Now we are really drawn into the fantasy.

But in the end, in paranormal romance, we need the important romantic element to be fully there, the “boy meet girl, boy lose girl, boy get girl” story. We need the happily ever after (I personally love the marriage proposal at the end).
Otherwise, we’ll have to call it an urban fantasy!

My favorite paranormal romances are the Dark-Hunter series by Sherrilyn Kenyon and the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J,R, Ward. What are yours?

Marie-Claude Bourque is an American Title V finalist with her entry ANCIENT WHISPERS, a dark paranormal romance filled with tortured sorcerers, dark sensuality and gothic rituals. You can find her at and

Welcome, Marie-Claude!

Today's guest blogger is Marie-Claude Bourque.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Let The Story Do The Talking

The short answer to this week's topic is- however much the story demands. Paranormal, Fantasy and Science Fiction all require a different kind of world building than other fiction. You create the world your characters inhabit. Either fantastical, futuristic, or simply an otherworld on this plane. Then you populate that world with characters. You give the characters traits and the characters drive the story.

Laurall Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, and Kim Harrison all do this well. In each of these examples, the authors have built worlds with multiple supernatural elements and multiple supernatural characters. As long as the world is developed skillfully, the characters three-demensional, readers will buy what is presented to them. It's your job to make it believable within the walls of the world you've designed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Paranormal is Normal

I don't think that there is such a thing as too much paranormal. If something seems a bit to "out there", you're not paying attention closely enough. The world is filled, FILLED, with things that can't be explained. Fairy lights, Bigfoot prints, things that go bump in the night; these are all things that are very real, but have no rational explanation.

Heck; even ghosts, something that is usually pretty accepted, isn't rational. But everybody has a good ghost story that happened to them (or someone they knew, or someone that someone knows). Vampires and Wares, I have no problem with in a story. Every legend is based somewhere on a speck of fact. Fairies, why not? Even Brownies and Gnomes. I'm even game for the Unicorn. That's not to say that I believe in every 'fantasy' creature ever. Lets just say that I don't DISbelieve just because I can't see it or touch it.

So give me a story that has nothing but the weird and I'm a happy camper.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

When paranormal goes just a little too far?

You curl up in your favorite easy chair with a hot cup of cocoa, or coffee if you’re like me, and the newest paranormal thriller by your favorite author. It’s been a long tiring day. Dinner is finished, the dishes cleared and the kids are off doing their own thing. You’ve waited months to read this new book. Finally, a moment to relax! Pages turn and suddenly you’re stuck in the middle of a paranormal soap-opera. The writer has created paranormal chaos. The main character is a witch, with a werewolf husband, fairy kids and that cousin from wherever who happens to be their own grandma AND second cousin twice removed thanks to a little mishap with time travel. So how much is too much?

If you find yourself flipping back to see just who has what kind of power, if they're they good or bad, how are you supposed to focus on the story? You can't. I don't mind a little time travel mixed in with vampires or even witches. In fact, I tend to expect some of that with those types of stories. Werewolves are complicated enough without trying to figure out the whens and wheres of half a dozen characters. All with some kind of ability I might add. Sheesh. A hero and heroine with powers in one magical world is plenty. It's their story I'm interested in!

Beth (Y'all have a lovely Valentine's Day!)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Is it paranormal, or just plain weird?

Today's blog is a little late.  I know this.  It's also a bit on the rambling side.  Sorry about that.

The topic of the week is how much paranormal should a writer add.  Of course, with a topic like that, I couldn't possibly have a normal day, could I?

My novel has paranormal.  But it's more of the everyday type.  It's the "throwing salt over your shoulder" superstitions and "consulting the tarot cards" events which take place.  Oh, and the "seeing spirits in my living room" things, too.  My protagonist sees a coincidence and knows that it's fate or karma.  She is able to pull into traffic on a busy street and knows it's synchronicity.  

Despite being named after a Celtic Goddess, Cerridwen Baker doesn't want anything to do with spells or magic, so those items play a very minor role in my first book.  She does like the tarot, so the cards are more prominent.  She relies on feelings and intuition.  Isn't that psychic ability with another name?  A rose by any other name.....

What I think of as normal, others would consider odd.  The gifts I embrace would scare others away.  Heck, the gifts I embrace some say come from God, others say from Hell, right?  Just depends on your religious persuasion.  

So what is paranormal?  According to Wikipedia, it's a phenomena that science can't explain.  At one time airplanes would have been paranormal.  Science couldn't explain flying machines!  Who is to say that in 100 years the things we write about — spirits, ghosts, spells and whatnot — won't have a scientific explanation?  Will ghosts and "fortune telling" still be considered paranormal?  Or will science have caught up to the way people really live?  The way they think and believe and have believed for centuries?

It's hard to say, and I don't have an answer.  I do know that I'm going to keep writing what I do.  I'm going to keep working on stories with ghosts.  I'm going to write what I like to read.  Heck, if I like others probably will, too, right?


Sunday, February 8, 2009

Topic of the Week

How much paranormal should an author add?

Friday, February 6, 2009

On Rejection

I'd like to thank the blog hosts, first of all, for allowing me the opportunity to join in here on a topic that is near and dear (okay, maybe just near) to my heart. I don't know if everyone experiences the same kind of terror at the prospect of actually submitting their work to a market, but I definitely feel the cool fingers of fear clutch at my stomach whenever I seal that envelope--or click on that send button.
It's natural. An author puts a great deal of effort into any writing. Manuscripts are a labor of love complete with characters that feel like friends, places that feel like home, and plot that, after edit after edit, feels like memory. Sending that labor out for judgement can seem like a very personal risk.
No matter how much we read or hear about accepting rejection, paying our dues, etc. that rejection slip still looms on the horizon like a black flag. It is scary, I know. I've been collecting flags for some time now.
Personally, I've developed a simple technique to master that fear of the slip. I borrowed a little trick from my co-dependent beginnings: the black box. Very unhealthy folks use the black box to stuff away unwanted emotions, repressed feelings, things they'd rather not examine. I chose to recycle the box, dust it off, and put it to good use. Now, it has three major functions:
I lock my editor in it when I'm writing. (A trick I learned from nanowrimo)
I use it to contain my ego when editing and receiving critique, and
I put my fears away when submitting.
When used correctly the little box is a pretty useful tool after all.
But seriously, a lot of healthy folks out there don't possess the emotion box, (I assume) and truly, locking up fear isn't as easy as it sounds. What to do?
Well, I've collected a few great tips that can help any author accept, and maybe even embrace, those pesky rejections. I hope they work for all of you as well.
1. Cultivate a stubborn streak-- being downright, unabashedly, obnoxiously stubborn can do wonders for the author who might otherwise falter and stop submitting. Some of us are naturally obnoxious, but for the nice folks out there, use us as a model. Grit your teeth and refuse to give up. Practice in front of a mirror if necessary.
2. Enlist cheerleaders--round up family and friends and convince them to encourage you, bribe them, whine, pay strangers if necessary. The point is, get support. It's always a good idea to find and network with other authors who may be more sympathetic to your plight as well.
3. Set challenges--if you have a shred of a competitive streak, make a game of it. For example, when submitting my very first piece, I vowed every time I received a rejection to send the manuscript out to two additional markets.
4--Don't stop believin'--Really, this is the big one. You want to be a published author? Believe you already are---work like one, act like one, think like one. No giving up, no crying. (Okay, go ahead and cry) Just keep writing!! Don't wait around for that nibble, published authors have no time to sit idle. They have deadlines. (fear clutching again) Write and write and write some more. At the very least, you'll up your odds for success.
Best of luck, and I'll see you in the trenches.

Welcome, Frances!

Frances Pauli is a 37 year old mother of two from Washington state. As yet unpublished, she has authored three novels, two novellas and a scattering of short stories. She is currently editing and submitting her work.

Her weekly blog, Speculative Friction, can be found at:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Doesn't ANYBODY like me????

Rejection is kind of like stepping in dog poo. It's only going to get you down if you let it. Just scrape off your shoe and keep moving.

I know that this is a some what simplistic view, but it's the only one I have. You see, I was blessed with a father that instilled the "the only wasted day is a day you don't learn something" mentality; a mother who truly believed her children were exceptional and anyone who didn't think so too were stupid; and a sister fought her way tooth and nail to be the best at whatever she choose to do. Talk about good examples for a child.

That's not to say that all rejection to me is water off a duck's back. It's just that I understand that I am the one who gets to choose how I cope with it. I can either curl myself up in the fetal position and bawl whilst stuffing twinkies in my face, or I can wo-man up and move on. Besides, just because one person didn't like what I wrote/created, dosen't mean that no one will. That just wasn't the right person to go to.

I think it helps too that I do SO MANY things. You know what they say "jack of all trades, master of none"; that's me. I always have something different to go to to take my mind off of the rejection, to move on to. Children's story rejected by the publisher? Paint something. A gallery didn't like my painting? Sew a quilt. Quilt wasn't let into the quilt show? Make epoxy-resin jewelry. Visious circle, but it works for me. By doing something "new" I can remove myself from the sting of the rejection and when I'm ready to go back to it, I've moved on, it doesn't bother me anymore.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Deflectin' Your Rejection

You've finally finished that novel. Months or maybe even years of research, late nights and dreams of becoming a published author rest in a stranger's hands. You want them to be fair, objective, and of course throw contracts at your feet. You wait patiently. Okay, so you plague your mail carrier until they scream when they see you coming toward the mailbox. Finally, you get that reply to your stellar query. Bam, REJECTED! What! Not me! Let's face it. Nobody likes rejection, but it's a fact of life and writing. So how do you deal with the inevitable? Breaking out of the writer's closet wasn't easy for me. So, when I got my first rejection from Sillouette, I shoved Blood Shield back into my file cabinet. I was crushed. I thought I'd really accomplished something worth publishing. I cried, whined and splurged on the sweet stuff scattered through this post. So, how did I get here if I gave up? I got angry, at myself, at them and decided to learn WHY they had rejected me. I did rewrites and got up the guts to send it to them again. This time, I received a request for a partial, and then a full, only to have it ultimately rejected again. "You're writing isn't strong enough." What they really meant was "You chopped it up to meet the word count, and you're head hopping is driving the editors nuts!" That one didn't hurt as much as the others, because I'd learned something from my mistakes. I still have all those letters from Sillouette and Harlequin. I finished rewrites this weekend and tommorow I'm submitting to Cerridwen Press. If I get rejected, I'll take it in stride and see what else I can learn. Wish me luck.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Where's my consolation prize?

Since I have just started the road to publishing, my walls are not yet wallpapered with rejection slips.  That's not to say, though, that I haven't felt my share of rejection.

Just today, in fact, I was completely and totally rejected by my printer.  No, not the "I need 100 copies, glossy" printer.  The "hit the print button on the computer and watch the paper magically spit out" printer.  And now I have a new one.  One that's even better then the old one.  (Hey, this one has a fax, and scanner, and copier all built in!  I'm easily amused with new techn
ology....  You should see me with a new computer!)

Anyone past the age of 16 has been rejected with unrequited love.  Remember high school?  When you didn't think that good looking guy on the football team even knew your name?  And then, the pitter-patter of your heart when — not only did he know your name — he actually spoke to you?  Then you found out he only wanted the answers to the math test and wasn't going to ask you to the prom?  Or was that just me?  Anyway, since I'm much past 16 (not to mention very happily married with an almost 16 year old myself), I obviously got over that.

What about applying for a job, only to find out the company "went in another direction?"  

And then there's rejection in the writing world.  Unlike game-show contestants, authors don't get a consolation prize with their rejections.  (Wouldn't it be nice if they did?  "Here, Nichole, have this new car since we won't be buying your manuscript.")  

But when we really stop and think of the rejections, we can often find some value in them.  Maybe the time isn't right.  Maybe the story really does start on page six.  Maybe another set of eyes will help polish your work.  Maybe the next publisher will offer a better deal.  

So even though my pile of rejection slips is still quite small, I've no doubt that it will grow.  And I plan to learn something from each and every one of them.  (Hey, we can't all be as lucky as my friend Anne Barbour.  She actually won a contest to have her first story published.)  

Of course, I seem to have learned a little something from every rejection — personal and professional.  And I'm so glad I have!


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Topic of the Week