Tag Archives: Books

Spring Illin’

popup-3_0Last week I was as sick as a dog. (Tell me: where did that analogy spring from anyway? Because if sick = dog, then my neighborhood should be a pandemic site.) My affliction ran the full gamut of misery: fever, chills, aches, head congestion and general all-over-shittiness, and from so much coughing and sneezing, this week I threw out my back. So it’s another week of not being up to a hundred percent, and now it’s thirty-eight degrees out and raining. Add to this one hell of a winter hangover which seemed to put all progress in reverse, and I’m finding it hard to get out of bed in the morning, let alone work on the book which I recently started. Put it all together and I’m decidedly in a funk, and wondering how to get my motor started when so much of the world is working against me.

(My goodness, I’m depressing. Now write yourself out of that hole, Gwen. Go ahead. I’m waiting.)

It’s very easy not to write when you’re feeling bad, actually too easy. Your brain gets preoccupied with everything that’s messing up your day, and it become almost mandatory to dis your routine for social media or TV, twin junk foods for the distracted mind. Kind of like when you have a bad day at work and you head right for the Doritos, a balm for the belly that actually works against you, especially after you realize you just inhaled 3000 calories, and you don’t even like Doritos. So how do you counter these counter-intuitive measures? How do you write when writer is the last thing you feel like? One thing I’ve found out about myself is I feel worse when I don’t write, that the act of writing itself gives me a feeling of self-worth unlike any other practice I partake in. The only thing that comes close is teaching, perhaps because both involve the dissemination of information uniquely my own. Maybe because as writers, we are innately messengers, and this need to communicate is what puts us in touch with our reality, giving us validation. Really? Is that what we need? Must be true, because why would I feel so bad when I’m not doing it? I mean, seriously, who feels bad when they’re not hitting their thumb with a hammer?

Man, writers are strange. But that’s why you love us so much, right?

Writing the Dread Query

hammond

If you fancy yourself a novelist ( as I, on occasion, have been wont to do), and you’d like to see yourself represented, sooner or later you’re going to have to attempt that necessary evil, the Dread Agent Query Letter. Truly, I know people who’d rather stick pencils in their eyes than apply that pencil to the task, but sweeties, it doesn’t have to be that painful if you know the assembly method. So here, in four easy paragraphs, I’ll try to show you how to compose the Perfect Agent Query. Now pay attention…

First, some preliminaries… First and foremost, a query is a business letter. Since most (if not all) agents accept queries only through email, and since that email entails one finger firmly adhered to the delete button, you want your query to be as concise and professional as possible, contained in the body of the email and NOT by attachment. Since attachments can carry viruses, agents are loath to open them unless they know you, so send attachments by invitation only. Most definitely use honorifics (Mr., Ms. etc.) in your Salutation as you should never assume familiarity. If you had previously met with the agent at a conference, workshop, cocktail party, etc, and were invited to query, most definitely write REQUESTED in the subject line as well as the first line of the email. These will get opened first. As a best practice, check the agent’s website or blog for query/submission guidelines. If you don’t have a particular agent in mind, try Jeff Herman’s guide, the library for The Literary Marketplace, or www.agentquery.com, just to name a few resources. Another one is troll the library or bookstore stack of the books of your genre, and see who the author thanks in her acknowledgements. Now, on to the actual construction…

Para One – Howdy! With Benefits – This is your query knock-on-the-door, your literary calling card designed to get the agent’s attention. Introduce yourself, remind her if you’ve previously met and where (we chatted during lunch at the XXXX Writers’ Conference), if you’ve been invited to query/submit, the name of your novel, the genre and word count. You might what to toss in a quick teaser like, A cross between Stephen King and Carl Hiaasen, My Bloody Margarita is a 80,000 word…, to illustrate what your writing is like. But on the whole, keep this para to a five-six line minimum, with just the facts, ma’am, inviting her to the next para to learn more.

Para Two – In which we employ The Hard Sell – this is where you get ONE paragraph to car-crush your entire 80,000 word novel into one easily digestible capsule.  Twelve to fifteen lines in all, introduce your main characters, basic plot line, conflict, lessons learned, the conclusion. Remember, although you want the agent to be intrigued, you don’t want to raise her ire. So if you say …but if you want to know how the story turns out, you’ll just have to request the rest of it… you’re just asking for a delete.  Be creative, not cagey.

Para Three – It’s all about YOU! – This is where you get your close-up, Mr. DeMille; it’s all about you, you, you. Cite your published works, awards, training, blogs, websites, education (if pertinent), professional associations, jobs or skills that give you credibility for/authority on what you’re writing about. Again, because this is a business letter, remain professional. Don’t take this personally, but no one really cares if you like to raise bunnies and take long walks lakeside, unless, of course, you’re writing about The Killer Hare of Lake Superior. Again, no more than twelve to fifteen lines. A link to your blog or website is also advisable, as most industry people now assume you have a web or social media prescience, and if you don’t, you have to ask yourself why.

Para Four – Wrap it up – This is your shortest paragraph of all. I’ll even toss in examples free of charge: I can send a proposal or the complete novel at your request. Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon. OR  According to your submission guidelines, what follows is the first ten pages (or synopsis or first three chapters, or any combination thereof stated in their guidelines) of <Name Work> Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon. THAT SHOULD BE IT. No more, no less, just a salute as you head out the door.

All finished? PROOFREAD AND SPELL-CHECK, then add your email address and your phone number. All in all, a succinct query should never contain more than 400-450 words, and NEVER more than one page. And never query unless you have a completed, fully-polished, proofread and spell-checked novel ready to go. I know of agents who get 200 queries a week, and some substantially more. That’s a heck of a queue, and if you’re not ready to submit at a moment’s notice, rest assured there are hundreds of others who are.

One more thing — good luck!

 

Five reasons to attend the 6th Annual Liberty States Fiction Writers Conference March 21-22

CreateSomethingMagicalConAd_FINAL_webBeside the fact it’s located in convenient Iselin, NJ, just off Route One? That lunch is included? That I’ll be there? Well, if THAT isn’t enough motivation, let me give you a few more reasons why:

  1. Sylvia Day! ~ Keynote speaker, #1 New York Times and #1 International Bestselling Author. Breakfast speaker, #1 New York Times Bestselling author Maria V. Snyder.
  2. Editors and Agents! ~ Forget that messy query process – speak face-to-face with living, breathing editors and agents. Too many editors and agents to list!
  3. Workshops! ~ On craft, on children’s books, fantasy, mysteries, blogging – even martial arts, plus much, much more!
  4. Bookfair ~ Your favorite authors, signing your favorite books, courtesy of Watchung Booksellers.
  5. Writers and Readers Tracks! ~ Special events exclusively for either or both, with access for all to meals and parties, plus the Bookfair.

And I’ll be there! What else do you need to know? But alas, in case you do, you can always click here for more information.

See you there!

 

Tenacity, thy name is Writer

Gwen signingAh yes, there I am in New York at BEA back in June, signing copies of Wanted: Wife at the RWA booth. I’m happy to say that I “sold” every copy HarperCollins provided for me. Okay, I’m lying. They were free, and three-quarters of the people asked for them not to be personalized. Kind of reminded me when I was at a BEA authors’ breakfast the year before, and I asked the same thing of Chris Matthews of “Hardball” on MSNBC. He laughed out loud in that inimitable Chris Matthews way and said, “Ha! Better to sell it on eBay!” No, I thought, feeling slightly chagrined. He was so mobbed, I was trying to save him some time. Even so, I was under no illusion my many “fans” were thinking eBay about me. Seems most of them were librarians or booksellers, and WW would soooo fit nicely into that raffle basket…

Not that I cared. Truly, I didn’t. At this stage of my career, I’m just happy you asked. Writers are funny that way. We can be a cloistered folk, especially when we’re deep into a project, but if you want to get a writer’s attention, just ask her what she’s working on. If the work’s going smoothly, she’ll jabber on about it. If it’s going badly, she’ll give you a scowl that’ll melt glass.

I’m kinda at the in between stage right now, just starting a new project, and just pushing one out in the real world on Tuesday, November 18th. That would be The Laws of Seduction, the third book in my “French Kiss” series, and a bit different from what I’ve written before. It’s somewhat darker, but it was written at a very dark point in my life. I started it the day before my mother died suddenly, and worked through and finished it while I was still in mourning. In fact, this picture was taken just six days after her death and three days before her funeral, and to tell you the truth, as excited as I was to do a signing at BEA, I was pretty much in a daze. But I soldiered on. I think Mom would have wanted me to.

I’m somewhat better now, though I still miss her, of course. But out of all that sadness came something I’m pretty proud of. The writing, the plain work of it, got me through a very tough time by giving me something other than my grief to think about, and through it all, reaffirmed my conviction to the craft of writing. I knew then that if I could write through those dark days, I would never have an excuse again to not write when the times were so much better. Because as a writer, I was doing what writers do–write. I sincerely hope, with this next book, you’ll agree.

Welcome to the Glam Life of a Deadline Writer

IMG_2318Hello all. Yeah, that’s me, looking like shit because I’m flying for three weeks now on about five hours of sleep a night. I believe it’s around two o’clock in the afternoon, who knows, because I’ve been up since six and since my office is down the hall from my bedroom, “getting ready in the morning” has lost all imperative. My morning ritual is getting up and turning on my laptop, checking the weather on my phone (because looking out the window is SO old school) shuffling into the kitchen, pouring a bowl of Cheerios and shuffling back to get a glimpse into the outside world via the New York Times online. Then it’s go make a cup of strong tea (thanx to pals Kate and Susan who’s supplied me with some diesel-strength loose), and off to Rex-land, the subject of which you’ll find out shortly. I think I last got a shower before noon about three weeks ago. Did you know that bras are not for indoor wear? My hair is actually past my shoulders, but who would know? I haven’t worn socks since May. I cannot remember the last time I ate a meal sitting down at a table, at least at home. All the rest have come out of paper containers. I got a modem upgrade from Comcast a month ago, but the box is still sitting unopened on my chair. My back hurts. IMG_2338

This is what my desk looks like. Those cherries have been sitting there for four hours, and the seltzer is warm and flat. The only time I’ve been getting out is for the summer class I’m teaching, but that’s three nights a week, so I never really see natural daylight. My ass hurts. I need to pay my utility bills, but it’ll take too much time. The only online time I have is to look up things like “French curse phrases” and see how things are pronounced on Google Translate. I need a pedicure. I need a massage. My husband hates me. My cats are scared of me. Got to go. I’ve already wasted too much time writing this.

Buy my book. Please.

KISS ME, CAPTAIN cover reveal June 20th! Pre-Order your copy now!

Image not availableI know you’re been waiting a long time but your wait will soon be over! Coming to a device near you on June 20th — the KISS ME, CAPTAIN cover reveal. As soon as I get the specs about the where and when of it, I’ll tell you–my closest peeps ever! But I can’t tell what I don’t know myself. Have to let those wheels of the industry start grinding, before the good folks at HarperCollins Avon will reveal all. Not that I haven’t gotten a glimpse, though. Just WAIT until you get a look at Marcel! I GUARANTEE you will be pleased with what you see. Trust me on this one!!

In the meantime, know that you can pre-order KISS ME, CAPTAIN at Barnes and Noble dot com by clicking right here. You can also get a sneak peek at what the book’s about, but why don’t I pique your interest and I tell you right here:

French billionaire Marcel Mercier loves women. And there’s a string of broken hearts across two continents to prove it. But as CEO of Mercier Shipping, he’s got more important things to worry about … like why the charter company he just purchased in the United States is suddenly the center of an international media firestorm.

Now that big, bad Mercier Shipping owns Captain Dani Lloyd’s ship, she’s sure her job is at stake. But she won’t go down without a fight—even if it means chaining herself to the mast of the Esther Reed and refusing to set foot on shore.

The delectable captain and her newsworthy dramatics are a PR nightmare, but Marcel is happy to let Dani prove her skills on a weeklong sail to Boston. He knows no woman can resist him for that long … in fact, he’s counting on it.

But Marcel’s plan to seduce Dani backfires as sparks fly between the billionaire playboy and the passionate captain. Which leaves Marcel realizing that winning her heart is a challenge he can’t afford to lose.

I know! You can’t wait, right?!

Up to Speed! (And some inside scoops, too!)

imagesNow that I can finally come up for air (at least for the next week or so), I’d like to bring you up to speed what I’ve been doing lately. Mostly, it’s been working on Kiss Me, Captain, which is now at least finished on my end, and in the editorial stage. Everything seems right on target for its August 26 publication date, and if you’d like to preorder, you can do it right here on Barnes and Noble (Amazon preorders coming soon). We’ve also been working on the cover, and it’s been SO HARD having to endure a parade of hot looking guys auditioning for the model. Okay, so they’re photos, but who cares! Better than looking at a black and white screen of text all day, I’ll tell you. Cover reveal should come in the not too distant future, so stay tuned.

If you’re reading this on http://www.gwenjoneswrites.com, just look to the top and you’ll see that I’ve added a new page called “Just who are these people?” which is a cast of characters from both WANTED: WIFE and the upcoming KISS ME, CAPTAIN, Book One and Two from the “French Kiss” series. Now I don’t really include too many surprises about the KMC characters, nothing that will really spoil the story, at least, but SPOILERS ABOUND in for WW, so if you haven’t read it yet, DON’T read about the characters until you read Book One. What I can tell you in this post is that BOOK THREE, which is due to hit the cybershelves on November 14, will center around two characters from KMC, Book Two – Rex Renaud and Charlotte Andreko. That’s all I’m going to tell you at this point, beside the fact that my editor at Avon, Nicole Fischer, describes Marcel Mercier in KMC as “Swoon, so hot!”

Pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

“Wanted: Wife” makes BN.com Top 100 Nook Book List

Wanted WifeOkay, if I don’t blow my own horn, who will? So in a shameless self-promotion, here’s the skinny: Wanted: Wife, as part of HarperCollins’s holiday “Fill Your New eReader” promotion is offering said book at .99 until January 6, which apparently is just enough incentive for the adventurous to download my genius. I didn’t notice this until the day after Christmas, when coming down hard from a cookie overload I decided to see how my book was doing on Barnes & Noble. On that day WW was #1 in Romance and #13 OVERALL, right up there with Stephen King and Nora Roberts! Sweeties, to say I was floored is akin to calling Niagara Falls a drip. From there I next went over to Kobo where it was also in the top 50, and at Amazon it was hovering around 10,000, which doesn’t sound that all impressive until you consider they list about 400,000 titles. A week later, WW is still in the BN. com Nook Top 100 at 37, and 10 in Romance out of approximately 55k titles. Again–floored.

I’ve gotten some pretty fantastic reviews, too, the majority of which give me five or four stars. Of course, there are a few dissenters, grumbling about the surprising amount of sex in this romance (“I am shocked–shocked!–to find that gambling is going on in here!”), one even calling it “pornography.” (Hm. I wonder how many more books that sentiment sold.) But most comments were really sweet and all–good or ill–are appreciated. One frequent comment was if and when there’s going to be a sequel. There will. When it will be published…well, let’s just say I have to finish writing it first. Which I’m getting to right after I’m done here. There’s a major snowstorm working its way to New Jersey, and I’ve already armed myself with a boatload of writing chocolate and Irish Breakfast Tea. Zoom!

Hard act to follow?

IMG_1275I’ve been getting some great responses to Wanted: Wife and quite frankly, it’s floored me. It’s one thing to have your friends, your agent and your editor think you’re worth the ink or pixels, but they’re hardly for whom I’m ultimately writing. The real gauge of a writer’s success is what the readers think, and you may be saying “Oh yeah, that’s what she says now.” But it’s the truth, and those who forget that do so at their peril. True, all books are ultimately subjective, but if I’m producing what the marketing promised, then I suppose I’m fulfilling my end of the bargain. I’d like to think you agree I am and if I’m not, please let me know. Really. (And that’s not just because I’m needy. I’m NOT! Okay, I am. So indulge me before I cry.)

On the other hand you’re only as good as your last book. So if I want to keep going with this writer thing and eventually lose my day job (“day job” being a relative term in professor-land), you have to constantly exceed the bar. So that’s what I’m working on now, the follow-up to Andy featuring his younger brother, Marcel. If he turns out half as “swoon-worthy” as Andy (not my term, but a popular readers’ descriptor) I’ll be in the ballpark. A revised sneak-peek is attached at the top, and a big hint of what it’s about at the left. Let me know what you think.

And yes, that’s me aboard the A.J. Meerwald, New Jersey’s official tall ship, which is visiting up and down the state’s coast this summer, as well as Philadelphia and New London, CT. Visit www.ajmeerwald.org for the 2013 Public Sail Schedule. Now excuse me while I crawl back into my head and get to work.

This Week in Review…

GracieBookworm.4Let’s face it, no one really cares about me when there’s a cute cat involved. This picture of Gracie was taken almost two years ago when she could still tuck herself in a little corner of one of my bookcases. Of course, it’s not happening anymore. But she still sits where she damn well pleases. Anyway…

It’s Week Two of the release of Wanted: Wife (hold on; shilling right here), and so far, so good. I’ve been getting some pretty positive reviews from bloggers–check the REVIEW page on this site–and from what’s been posted on Amazon and Goodreads. But I still feel like it’s too early to tell, as I’m sure unless you’re a reviewer (or know me personally) the last book you buy still has to mellow on the TBR pile for a little while. I mean, really–isn’t that mandatory? Anyway, I am looking forward to what the people who actually paid good money for the book think, too. Oh, be honest. I can take it!

As of this writing, this week’s blog tour still has a couple more days. It’s been great so far, thanks to the lovely ladies of Literati Literature Lovers, and this is coming on the heels of Avon’s Launch Week Blog Tour. But we’ve got another fun time coming up the pike in the weeks leading up to the paperback release of Wanted on July 2. Can’t say what it is now but yo! it’ll involve a whole lot of Jersey for certain.

But the really exciting news this week was being contacted by Klarque Garrison, who invited me to be on his show “Conversations with Klarque.” We’ve set up Sunday afternoon, July 28 at 4:00 EDT, and I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a little scared shitless. But hey, at least I’ll be quaking in the comfort of my own home, and being radio, you won’t be able to see me doing it! Even so, I had a nice dose of conversing with Klarque over the phone just the other day, and he immediately put me at ease, so I think I’ll survive!

Later –

Gwen