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  • Spar
    Spar
    by Nikko Lee

    A closeted black belt comes to terms with his bisexuality when he takes an openly gay student as his new sparring partner.

  • Wolf Creek
    Wolf Creek
    by Nikko Lee

    Life as a gay omega werewolf is no fairytale.

  • NECRONOMICUM #2 (NECRONOMICUM: The Magazine of Weird Erotica)
    NECRONOMICUM #2 (NECRONOMICUM: The Magazine of Weird Erotica)
    by Gary Budgen, Julian Darius, Richard Greico Jr, Nikko Lee, K. A. Opperman, Alice Renard, Rose Banks, Paul St. John Mackintosh, Michael Seese

    Contains Instabiable by Nikko Lee

  • Zombiefied Reloaded: The Search for More Brains
    Zombiefied Reloaded: The Search for More Brains
    by Carol Hightshoe, Cynthia Ward, Terry M. West, Christie Meierz, Dana Bell, Mary E. Lowd, Patrick J. Hurley, Francis W. Alexander, Liam Hogan

    Brainatarian by Nikko Lee

  • Coming Back
    Coming Back
    by James Arthur Anderson, Brian Barnett, Dave Fragments, Shawna Galvin, Vince Darcangelo, Ken Goldman, Michael Lindquist

    Contains A Mother Knows by Nikko Lee (paperback available at Lulu.com)

  • Wolf Warriors: The National Wolfwatcher Coalition Anthology
    Wolf Warriors: The National Wolfwatcher Coalition Anthology
    by Jonathan W. Thurston

    Contains Great Mother Wolf by Michelle Knowlton

  • People Eating People: A Cannibal Anthology
    People Eating People: A Cannibal Anthology
    by Frank Larnerd, Tony Peak, Geoff Gander, Shenoa Caroll-Bradd, Robert Hart, Nikko Lee, Kyle Yadlosky, Edward Martin III

    Contains Bouillon de Bebe by Nikko Lee

  • Valves & Vixens: Steampunk Erotica
    Valves & Vixens: Steampunk Erotica
    by Nicole Gestalt, Crysta Coburn, J.T Seate, Nikko Lee, V.C., Zak Jane Keir, Blair, Regina Kammer, Jim Lee

    Contains Boson's Mate by Nikko Lee

  • The Big Book of Bizarro
    The Big Book of Bizarro
    by Rich Bottles Jr.

    Contains Honey-Do by Nikko Lee

  • Between Love and Lust
    Between Love and Lust
    by Nikko Lee

    E-book

    Print-on-demand paperback

  • Templar and Other Stories of Suspense and Terror (Vampires 2, Volume 4)
    Templar and Other Stories of Suspense and Terror (Vampires 2, Volume 4)
    by J. Troy Seate, Patricia McCarthy, Nikke Lee, Andrea Saavedra, James Hartley, Edward McKeown, Mike Graves, J.E. Gurley, Zakk Erikson, David Bernstein C.C. Blake

    Contains Pure Delight by Nikko Lee

Wednesday
Feb022011

Project round-up

The beginning of a new month is always a good time to take stock and plan. I've typically been a one project at a time writer. Once I get distracted by an incredible new idea everything else goes right out the window. Why is it so much easier to start a project than to complete one? With writing there are so many steps and stages that the biggest hurdle is finish something.

I am somewhat familiar with some of the stage given my experience with getting Between Love and Lust published. That's probably a saga worthy of its own blog post. Here are some of the stages I've encountered on my writing journey:

The idea (wonderful, captivating, infectious, must be written)

The first draft (after months or years of struggling with unruly characters, plots that go no where you, and life getting in the way finally finish your first draft. Admire your work for a few minutes. Then lock it in a drawer for a few weeks/months.)

The ump-teenth drafts (re-write, review, edit, get comments from beta read comments and re-write again, edit some more, edit again)

The submission (now send your baby out into the world to be judge and rejected time and again. There will 'we aren't interested' rejections, partial-acceptances followed the 'on second though our catalog is full' rejections, more submissions, finally getting an acceptance (don't even think it's a sure deal yet), the editor revisions or an entire re-write.)

The black box of publishing (contracts, waiting for your editor, more editing, cover art selection, final proofs assuming your editor hasn't disappeared or publisher hasn't folded.

Hurray you've been published!

Finally, you get to hold your published book in your hands. Don't think you are done yet. Now you need to market and publicize your book because if it doesn't sell how eager do you think your publisher is going to be to pick up your next wonderful novel that you've slaves months or even years over?

Here is the status of my current projects.

Between Duty and Desire (a sequel to Between Love and Lust): first draft completed and my publisher is closed to submissions. They've got first rejection rights but I was given the go ahead to shop it around until submissions re-open. It's currently sitting at 61k words and needs some major plot massaging and re-writing.

Shadowfall series:

  1. Dark Heritage- received some valued comments from my beta-readers only to realize that I need to do another re-write. I am determined that this won't be an endless project, but there are some elements that need to be tightened up and some long narratives that need to make the transition from tell to show. Not to mention it's a hair over 100K. Pruning will be in order before I submit it. I've got a few agents in mind to try it out on.
  2. Books 2 and 3- currently in rough first draft state. I am hesitant to clean them up until I figure out what is going to happen with Dark Heritage. If I can't get an agent, print publisher, or e-publisher for the series I might just try to self-publishing route. I like the idea of leaving it up to the readers and not the agents and publishers to judge if a book is worth purchasing.
  3. Book 4- believe it or not a friend got me motivated to write the next book. The series has a ways to go before completion, anywhere from 2 to 6 more books.

Other projects:

  1. Getting my name out there- I've got my Good Reads, Shelfari, and Amazon author profiles up. Check them out (please, I need the hits). I even created a Facebook author page.
  2. Maintaining my blogs- I'm trying to post one writing journal, picky reader review, and Genetics and Genetic research post each week. It might be a little ambitious for me. I shudder to think of those ambitious aspiring authors with multiple blogs, web pages, and podcasts. They are my inspiration, but sometimes make me feel like a sloth.

That's about it in addition to getting my website running and linked to anything relevant to improve my hits. Apparently to get on the search engine results pages a website needs to be linked like crazy. I'm also trying out a few blog roll/RSS feeders so I don't have to manually re-post blog entries.

Sunday
Jan302011

Hi. My name is Michelle, and I'm a romance novelist.

When I was a teenager I used to scoff at my great-grandmothers who would exchange trashy romance novels. Beyond my astonishment that they had any interest in romance at all, I always thought those books were as low on the fiction scale as you could get. Most had little to no plot. Most were so dated that the female characters rarely had much to do other than moon over a man.

I've never had aspiration of writing literary fiction. Because of the serious nature of my studies and career path I preferred to read and write what I call brain candy. Terrifying horrors, fantastic worlds, far off sci-fi adventures, paranormal adventures all held my attention and imagination much more than reality based dramas or mysteries.

Often reading a novel would send my mind racing down 'what ifs' until I wanted to write my own version of the adventure. It wasn't easy for me as a modern woman to admit to myself that romance was one of my favorite elements to a story. Nearly all my stories involves some aspect of romance. I love having the lives of two fully developed characters intersect and intertwine. I love separating them by their own choices and emotions or outside events and the evolution of the plot. 

While romance is always important in my stories it is meaningless without good solid characters and an interesting, fast-paced plot. Romance novels are often viewed as little more than drivel. And bad romance novels are. However, creating a compelling romance novel is an art.

In the last decade, the romance novel has been gaining new respect. Romance is arguably the most read genre of fiction with numerous sub-genres from erotic (Black Dagger Brotherhood series by JR Ward) to time-travel (Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon).

Far from being a shameful secret to hide, I've had to come to terms with my love of romance and proclaiming that I am a romance writer. With any luck (and a whole lot of hard work), I will become a romance author.

Saturday
Jan222011

The Plot Thickens

I was reminded this morning by a good friend and prodder that while Dark Heritage is nearing the point where I can start shopping around for an agent with it the Shadowfall series is far from over. While Between Love and Lust was the first book I ever published I wanted to write a series that was not so explicit. Sex sells but it also can limit the audience. My brother tells me he'd like to read my my writing but not Between Love and Lust. I also have some qualms about sharing Between Love and Lust with my grand-mother.

Shadowfall is a romantic dark fantasy series. I spent about a year writing the first draft of the first three books. This fall I worked on editing the first book. Now I am anxiously awaiting final comments from my beta-readers before I write my next draft and start submitting query letters to potential agents. My dream is to get a print contract for the Shadowfall series. First things first, I need to get Dark Heritage (the first book in the series) finished.

I do have the next two books to edit, something that will take a while. However, the story doesn't end at book three. I'm not really sure how many more books it will take to get to a happily-ever-after, but that's something I want to give these two main characters.

I've got my main characters. I kind of know what happens in the first third of book four. And then... That's what I'm working on. A good plot intertwines many characters with their own lives, motivations, and goals. My favorite books are the ones in which seemingly disconnected plot threads intersect and build on each other. My favorite manga did this very well. Blade of the Immortal written by Hiroaki Samura (published in English by Dark Horse) has so many twists and turns that I often have to read each issue several times to pick up all the little details not only in the dialogue but also in the illustrations.

Book 4 has a main thread and now I must combine it with other threads in order to make a complete stories. Every character is the main character in the story of their own lives. Even if I restrict which characters I focus on I can't make the characters around them one dimensional plot props. I really hate it when authors just throw something in (a character or event) to bump the plot along or alter it dramatically when it doesn't fit into the rest of the story. Bad guys have dreams too. For me, actions have to make sense in terms of a character's personality and opportunity.

One of my favorite challenges is trying to put together a plot that has foreshadowing but enough twists and turns that on the first read unexpected things happen but on subsequent reads the intricate weaving of the plot is seen. Because Shadowfall takes place in a fantasy realm I need to keep in mind the rules of the world and find ways to bend them without breaking them so that in the end my characters prevail.

Wednesday
Jan192011

Podcasts about writing

Getting published is about a lot more than just wanting to be published. From nurturing the craft to finding an agent to getting a publisher to even look at your story to marketing and selling, authors have to develop a lot of skills. The experiences of professional and amateur authors can be a great source of information about what to do and more importantly what not to do.

There are a couple of podcasts that I've found invaluable when it comes to writing. Some podcasts focus on technique while others are packed with interviews with agents, editors, and authors. Still others are more personal and tackle the very real challenges and frustrations that come along with writing.

Here are a few of my favorite podcasts and why I like them:

  • Writing Excuses Don't let the tag line fool you. The invaluable information that Dan Wells, Brandon Anderson, and Howard Tayler pack into about 15 minutes spans common mistakes beginning authors make, writing skills, fiction styles, and so much more. These guys are published authors and have experience creating, publishing, and marketing. Don't let their tag line fool you, they are that smart.
  • Get Published by Michell Plested is a mixture of person experience about Michell's experience selling his fiction and interviews with a variety of authors, agents, publishers, editors, and anyone else that an author might learn from. His emphasis on the responsibility of an author to market and sell their works inspired me to create my own website. It was listening to his podcast that made me realize that in order to get the opportunity to be published I need to not only produce something worth publishing but also do everything I can to show others that it's worth publishing.
  • I Should Be Writing with Myr Lafferty is look into the life of one author's struggles in the publishing industry. Myr does the massive amounts of interviews with anyone and everyone an aspiring author would want to hear from. What sets her apart is her willingness to share the emotional side of being an author. Self-doubt, fear, discouragement, depression, hope, inspiration, and so many more emotions can push a writer to do better or make him/her want to hid his/her work in a locked drawer and never show it to another living soul. Myr shares her experiences with the flip side of creativity in a way that is easy to relate to and very personal. She also gets a lot of questions from her listeners and does feedback shows that are invaluable.
  • The Writing Show recently went through a change in format, but the archives are filled with great information. Paula B and others host interviews and discussions. A few series follow authors as they try to get their works completed and published. The current focus of the podcast is for Paula to review submitted first chapters from her listener 'Slush Pile.' She's got a lot of interesting things to say about first chapters, but I have to admit I'm no longer listening to the podcast.

I've not only learned a lot from these podcasts, I've also been introduced to some up and coming authors using podcasts to build their audience (Nathan Lowell, Scott Sigler, Ben Delano, etc.). Listening to these podcasts also keeps me thinking about the many facets involved in getting published. When I can't be writing or am feeling the solitary nature of the pursuit I tune into these podcasts and learn something.

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Saturday
Jan152011

Picky Reader Reviews

I've added a new section to reflect on the books I've read or listened to. One of the best ways to get insight into writing is to read. Most successful authors will tell taut the importance of reading to the craft of writing. In his book about writing, On Writing, Stephen King talks about always having a book on hand to read.

So I read. I enjoy reading even though I am a slow reader. A good book has a way of drawing me into its ficticious world so much that I am sad when it ends. I care about the characters and what happens to them. It is that feeling that I want to inspire in those that read my works.

As much as I enjoy reading, I find that a lot of books don't interest me. If the characters or plot is too cliched or don't appeal to me I will leave the book on the shelf. There are just so many books out there that something about a book has to stand out. I find that it is often the short summary on the backs of the books that either turn me on, leave me luck warm, or turn me off.

It's hard as a writer to know that people picking up my works will also give them the same window of opportunity to grab their interest, about 30 seconds. I'm trying to find out what makes a book a must read for me in the hopes that I can figure out how to make my books a must read.

While the back cover will inspire me to shell out cash for a book it's the actual content that will keep me reading. Usually if I get passed the first 50-100 pages I will finish the book. That being said it is the quality of the story-telling and writing that will either make me want to buy the next in the series or something else by the author. A book doesn't have to be perfect. You'll notice that I have quibbles with even the books I loved reading.

There are very few books I will re-read. In fact, there are only three series that I have re-read repeatedly (Coldfire trilogy by C.S. Friedman, Rome series by Colleen McCullough, Black Dagger Brotherhood series by J.R. Ward). There are few series that I consume like candy, gobbling every word the author has slaved over for months in a matter of days or weeks.

I'm trying a structure for these mini reviews. If you want the author's information or a full summary there are links within the page to follow. I won't try to sum up the novel in more than my one sentence summary because the author, or the publisher, has already spent ample time crafting a summary.

My hope is that in writing out my thoughts on other people's works I will be better able to identify what made them successful, at least in my eyes. It's a data gathering exercise to help me improve my own writing. And only my opinion. If you've read these books and have reflections you'd like to share please post a comment. A book that appeals to me might not appeal to you and a book I hated might be your favorite. The more opinions the better.

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