publishing, writing

Reblogged: An Interview with Rhonda Penders Editor in Chief of The Wild Rose Press

Note: Reblogged from This Writer’s Life. Original post at:

Interview with Rhonda Penders of The Wild Rose Press. Some excellent advice for authors in here!

This Writer's Life

Ten years ago, I got the call…well actually it was an e-mail, that every writer hopes for. The one telling you a publisher would like to offer you a contract for your book. I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for The Wild Rose Press. I told Rhonda when I contacted her about interviewing her, I’ll always be thankful to her for giving me my first break and making my dream come true.

To celebrate my tenth anniversary of being a published author, here’s my interview with Rhonda who is also president of the company too…

This Writer’s Life (TWL)-For readers who don’t already know a lot about The Wild Rose Press can you give us some background about when you got started.

Rhonda Penders (RP)-The Wild Rose Press was started in May 2006 by RJ Morris and myself.  We were both published authors and also critique partners. When…

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#ROW80 check-ins, publishing

Excitement Abounds

blank page of journal
Photo by Daniaphoto, Dreamstime Stock Photos

It’s that time of year—the beginning of Round Two of A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Feel free to join us on Facebook or on the website and hop in whenever you’re ready. I’m a few days late in getting my goals posted, but here they are…

So, Round One was a bit of a wash for me in terms of writing goals, but it also provided some much-needed downtime. I put a lot of thought into my writing path and the creative journey that I’m on. For the past few months I’ve been having trouble writing, getting words on the page here and there but not really moving forward.

And then, all of a sudden, things kicked back into gear. I realized if I want to make this path work I really need to start charging forward. During one of my tarot readings I drew the card the Ace of Swords, which is all about taking action, cutting through the briar, and moving forward. And that’s exactly what I’m doing.

I dug into revisions of Spellfire’s Kiss, a novel that I plan on releasing this fall, hopefully in October. I love this story; it’s the first one I wrote when I made the leap to writing full time, and I’m excited to be able to share it with readers.

So, what are my goals for Round Two? Here they are:

  • Finish Spellfire’s Kiss and send to editor by June 1.
  • Finish a second draft of Fates Entangled, a novella.
  • Finish The Forest’s Own, a short story, and start submitting to magazines.
  • Do a read-through and start revisions on Goblins and Grimoires, a novella.
  • Continue on my quest to read 30 books in 2017.
  • Read some books by writer-friends and get reviews posted.

What about you? What are your goals for the second quarter of 2017?

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#ROW80 check-ins, publishing

Round 3 Goals

ROW80LogocopyRound 3 of A Round of Words in 80 Days is here. For me, this round is going to be all about getting some stories out into the world. My novelette The Beltane Kiss just came back from the proofreader, and I’ve added her corrections and started formatting the document. Yay!

By the end of the year, I plan to have several books out. How many depends on my ability to streamline the revision process and how quickly I can get books to my editor and proofreader and on their schedules. If I am able to proceed with the publishing schedule I want, I might need to have multiple editors and proofreaders so I’m not monopolizing someone else’s time.

I’ve also decided to start submitting my fantasy short stories to magazines. I’ve found a few that pay decently and I would get to keep the rights to my stories, meaning that after a certain amount of time I could self-publish those stories or put them in short story collections or anthologies.

Ideally, here’s what I would like to publish this year:

  • The Beltane Kiss, a novelette
  • The Faerie Key, a novelette
  • Spellfire’s Kiss, a novella
  • A Prince in Patience Point, a novel
  • Five fairy tale retellings (novelette length—about 12-15K each)

That seems like a lot, but most of those stories are pretty close to finished; they just need some editing and polishing. The fairy tale retellings have a way to go, but I’m hoping that in July and August I can finish first drafts of those stories and get them to beta readers and critique partners.

All of that being said, here are my goals for this round. I’m also a sponsor, so I’ll be keeping up with those duties as well.

ROW80 Round 3 Goals

Writing Goals:

  • Write first drafts of five fairy tale retellings, including Winter Faerie, Red in the Woods, and Silver Waters.
  • Write a second draft of Goblins and Grimoires.
  • Revise, polish and format for publication later this year…
    • Polish and format The Beltane Kiss and The Faerie Key for publication in September.
    • Revise A Prince in Patience Point and send to editor.
    • Revise Spellfire’s Kiss and send to editor.
    • Revise Spirits of Embers and submit to magazines.

Reading Goals:

  • Read four books on the craft/business of writing, including…
    • The Anatomy of Story by John Truby
    • How to Craft Short Fiction by Damon Knight
    • On Writing Romance: How to Craft a Novel that Sells by Leigh Michaels
  • Continue with my goal to read 65 books this year.

Life Goals:

  • Exercise three times a week.
  • Paint downstairs, including living room, kitchen/dining room, hallway, and closet.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? What are your goals for the next few months?

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#ROW80 check-ins, publishing, the writing biz

How a blog post changed my writing business model

Over the years, I’ve wrestled with my identity as a writer. I earned an M.F.A. in writing children’s literature with the goal of writing young adult novels. Then, a story called Made of Shadows came along and I switched to paranormal romance. And then, recently, I realized that I wasn’t writing paranormal romance after all, but rather fantasy stories with a strong romantic element. Without knowing it, I was emphasizing the fantasy plot, and the romance was secondary. So that alone was a big realization for me.

But as I’ve worked on my short stories The Beltane Kiss and The Faerie Key, I’ve realized how much I love writing short fiction. So I started doing some research: Can I actually make a living writing short stories?

I found this article from Dean Wesley Smith: Can you make a living writing only short fiction?

He offers a compelling argument—actually runs the numbers—and concludes yes, you can. So I did something I’ve never done before with my writing. I crunched some numbers and started thinking about a formal business plan. How many stories can I realistically write in a year? My numbers are a little different from his. Most of my short stories are closer to 10K, whereas he estimates 5K, and he doesn’t include time for revising, which I need. And I still want to write some novellas and novels in addition to my short fiction.

So my numbers are this: six short stories/novelettes a year, four novellas, and one novel. That’s just under one story a month. Not much over the course of a few years, but given ten years, the numbers start to add up.

In short, his article got me thinking about my writing business model. Can I actually make a living at this? And, he concludes, yes. It takes discipline and hard work and consistency, but yes, over the long haul, one can make a living as a writer—even if one only writes short fiction.

By the time I finished reading his article, I was excited. Now I’m thinking like a businessperson in addition to an artist. I see a path forward, and that’s a good thing.

And, before I go, a brief ROW80 check-in…

Writing: Wrote 5,823 words in Winter Faerie, a novella-length retelling of Beauty and the Beast. I’ve been itching to write a fairy tale retelling for a while, so I’m excited about this one. I just got edits back on The Faerie Key from my editor last night, so I’ll be switching to that story for a couple days to get it revised and ready for the proofreader.

Reading: Haven’t read any books on writing craft/business this week. I’ve been reading The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance 2. It’s been fantastic!

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? Have you visited Dean Wesley Smith’s site? If not, I recommend starting with his series Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing. Do you have a writing business model? Have you read any articles that have helped to shape that business model?

#ROW80 check-ins, publishing, the writing biz

Big Decisions: Self-Publishing

I’ve been writing full-time for over two years now–and part-time for many more. For the first two years, I was focused on finishing drafts and creating worlds. And then, earlier this year, something clicked. I realized I needed to think about how to get those stories into the world, into the hands of readers.

So I started researching. When I wrote my first novella, Good Old-Fashioned Magic, many publishers were looking for novella-length works. But that number has shrunk over the years, and I was starting to have doubts that partnering with a publisher was the best path for my shorter works.

I also realized that my main motivations for wanting a traditional publishing path were because I wanted the validation of having a publisher. I wanted someone to say, “Yes, this work is ready to be published.” But that can’t be the main reason we go the traditional route. My husband pointed out that I was seeking validation, reassurance that my work was publish-worthy.

If we partner with a publisher, it should be because it’s the best path for us, not because we’re worried our work isn’t ready. I started examining my work, really thinking about how close it was to ready, and I realized how much I’ve grown as a writer these past few years. I found a sense of confidence that my work was ready to be in the hands of readers.

Which is why I’m leaning toward self-publishing. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, and being an indie author is essentially being an author-entrepreneur. I would have full control over the publishing process, from partnering with a graphic designer to create a cover to choosing an editor to help polish my work.

And I started to get excited. I have a couple stories that are close to ready to being out in the world. And now that I’m pretty sure I’ve found my path, those stories could soon be in the hands of readers.

It is an exciting time to be a writer. Never before have we had so many choices in our path. Even six months ago, I wasn’t sure I was ready to share my work with the world. But I can feel how much I’ve grown as a writer. And my stories are clamoring to be out in the world.

Are you an indie author? If so, what do you wish you’d known before you published? What words of wisdom do you have for those of us considering this path?

ROW80 check-in…

Writing: Wrote the beginnings of and a synopsis for “The Faerie Key,” a short story. Edited the blurb for “The Beltane Kiss” (also known as “Into the Faerie Forest.”) The two are a duet of short stories, one for each of the McAllister sisters, two farm-dwelling sisters whose run-ins with the Fair Folk lead to romance and adventure.

Reading: Read “Mystic Brew,” a short story by Caren Rich. If you’re looking for a quick read for a stormy night, this book is perfect. It’s short, but it’s packed full of detail and suspense. Also read Successful SelfPublishing by Joanna Penn. I’m starting to feel more and more confident that indie publishing is the best path for most, if not all, of my stories, and Penn’s book provides plenty of useful tips. I’m currently reading A Stroke of Magic by Tracy Madison. It’s a delicious paranormal romance, filled with gypsy magic and well-drawn characters. I’m looking forward to reading more in the series.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop!

creativity, paranormal romance, publishing, the writer's journey, writing process

Using Rejection to Reignite Our Creative Fire

While it doesn’t look like I will finish all the projects I set out to finish this year, I did reach a big milestone. In 2012, I received two rejections from editors to whom I’d submitted my manuscript. Instead of lamenting those rejections, I was humbled by them. These women took the time to contact me personally and explain what they liked and didn’t like about my manuscript.

That feedback, combined with the critiques I’ve received from my crit partners, reignited my spark to continue working with this manuscript. Rejection isn’t just a part of the game–of that fact, I was already well aware. It’s also a crucial component to our success. We can use that feedback to fuel our desire to polish our manuscripts.

The cold, hard, enlightening truth

One editor said that the story wasn’t a fit for her line. She suggested that I hadn’t written a paranormal romance novel at all, but rather, an urban fantasy with strong romantic elements. Her feedback meant one of two things: Either my story wasn’t the type of story I thought it was, or my opening chapters and synopsis needed to be revised to suit the genre in which I was writing.

Photo by Lynn Kelley in WANA Commons

It was great food for thought. My cheeks reddened slightly at the thought that I may have become, quite by accident, the writer who sends her manuscript to the wrong publisher for her story. Or perhaps my opening chapters didn’t hint enough at what was to come and I needed to step it up with some hints of romantic tension. Either way, I saw my manuscript in a way I never would’ve if I hadn’t submitted it.

The second said that, though she loved the story’s male lead, the female lead just didn’t work for her. Neither did the “meet-cute” between the two characters. That feedback, combined with advice from one of my crit partners, got me thinking about how to rework the beginning of my story. I know that I sometimes struggle with structure, especially in longer works. How could I write a story that was true to the characters and realistic given their situation, but one that still captured a reader’s attention? Did I know my female lead as well as I thought I did? How could I help my readers to see the nuances in her character in a way that was relatable?

The wheels started spinning. Dozens of ideas flitted through my mind, some easily cast aside, others grasped and mulled over. I came up with a handful of solutions and chose the best one.

In short, those rejections let me know where I was on the right track and where I was still wandering through the forest. They let me see my own work through fresh eyes, and that perspective jump-started my excitement for this story. Plus, time away from the story gave me the mental distance I needed to see potential solutions I wouldn’t have when I had just finished it.

Bumps in the road: Just another part of the writer’s journey

Slowly but surely, I am becoming a stronger writer. Earlier this year, a friend offhandedly remarked, “Honestly, I figured you would be published by now.” I’m not sure if she overestimated my writing ability, underestimated the complexities of the publishing industry, or was disappointed in my lack of progress. Six or seven years ago, I thought I would be published by now, too. But I’m glad for the journey, for the gut-wrenching hours spent sitting in front of a computer screen grappling with resistant characters or plot lines, for the kindly worded rejections that reminded me that I’m on the right track but not quite there yet, for the bumps in the road that have fueled my determination to stay on my writing path.

This year, through the writer’s block, the migraines, the mystery fatigue, the days I was too sick to write, I’ve learned that now, more than ever, I am on the right path. Instead of losing my drive, I’m more certain than ever before. Instead of feeling disillusioned or defeated, I feel excited by the possibilities.

What about you? What have you learned about yourself as a writer recently? What obstacles has life thrown in your writing path, and how have you overcome them? And how have you learned from rejection in its many forms?

author brand, publishing, the writer's journey

The perfect brand is like the perfect pair of jeans.

Last night I came across a wonderful blog post about brand. Can you, the author challenged, sum up your brand in one word? (Check it out here.)

Can we? When I come across people who are skeptical about brand, I tell them that brand isn’t the entire you; it’s a gateway to you and your work. And I don’t care if you say you loathe brand, if you refuse to fit the mold or narrow yourself into a brand. You still have one. You might as well own it.

Brand for authors can be a difficult notion because we’re creative-types, artists, and, often, nonconformists. At one point, I might have been skeptical, too, except that my path as a writer led me to a gig in public relations. Through that job, I met a wonderful group of people—fiercely creative folks who are passionate about their roles in the promotion of our university—and that part-time gig was my gateway drug to brand.

The thing about brands is that they are alive, shifting, and dynamic. Authentic brands feel alive; they writhe with passion and buzz with electricity. Just like us. At our university, we really do live our brand. And no one has to tell anyone to do it. Our brand is not a contrivance, an artifice, or a sales gimmick. It emerges naturally throughout the course of the day, because as a community, it’s who we are.

Like a pair of jeans, your brand should fit like a glove and feel perfectly comfortable.

I insist that a good brand is one that fits like the perfect pair of jeans: snug and comfy. But it’s not so much that we feel comfortable. It’s that we feel confident. We find our stride because it’s just the right fit. Trying to find that “one word” is a great exercise in identifying our brands.

Since we’re writers, I’m going to pull from Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” for an example. Kundera postulates that it’s the things that give our lives weight that make them meaningful. If we strip away those things, life becomes, he suggests, unbearably light. Each of our lives, as individuals and writers, has moments to which we attribute a great deal of meaning: the moment we knew we loved writing, the moment we knew we had to be a writer and damn anyone or anything that stood in our way, the moment we finished our first story. And often times, a theme runs through the milestones of our lives, our stories, and our writing journeys. The moments of our lives shape who we are, personally and creatively.

My word? Soulful. I want to write books with heart, with power, with soul. I believe life and art are a search for meaning. Sometimes I get pissed off at anything that stands in the way of my search for meaning and art. Life means something; art is the search for meaning. And I’m someone with a lot of faith, even if I don’t always know in what.

My blog in many ways is still searching for its shape, its meaning. I hope it helps people, and I’m still finding a way for it to do that. And brand is a part of all that, a taste of who we are, a way to help others understand what we’re all about. Yes, we’re complicated. Much as I enjoy the search for meaning in life, I also enjoy snarky comments, geeky jokes, and the hunt for the perfect pair of shoes. But yes, soulful. The word fits. Life can be hard, lonely, scary, and unfair. It can also be funny, crazy, wonderful, and amazing. I’m all about the journey.

Now, I want to know your word. What word fits you like a comfy pair of jeans? If you were to sum up your brand in one word, what would it be, and why?

A note about an upcoming conference:

In May, I’ll be presenting a workshop called “Your Passion is Your Brand” at the first annual For the Love of Writing Conference, hosted by the Virginia Romance Writers, a wonderful group of fellow writers—some established and bestselling, others, like me, new to the biz—who have helped me find direction in the industry. It’s shaping up to be a great conference, so if you’re a romance writer, I hope you’ll attend. I’m also excited to share my insights into brand, to help fellow authors feel their way out. For many of us, brand is this new, scary thing. For some writers, it feels contrived. My workshop breaks the idea of brand into steps, helping authors create a personalized brand built on their strengths—one that feels comfortable and authentic. If you’re interested in gathering with a great, enthusiastic, and welcoming group of writers for a writing conference at the beach, here’s the link.

guest blogs, publishing, Uncategorized

Going it without an agent? What you should consider before you sign on the dotted line.

Today, author and “recovering lawyer” Diane Capri is joining me on the blog to offer some advice for writers considering going it without an agent.

Much as I would love to think that it’s all cotton candy and roses out there, the writing biz, like any industry, does not work that way. Contracts are complex legal documents not to be taken lightly. The industry is changing, and it’s easier to find editors who are willing to accept unagented manuscripts. Many writers are now willing to go it without an agent, at least at first. Making the decision to publish without an agent means that the author will have to learn a new skill–or hire someone with expertise in publishing contracts.

Bottom line, we should understand the terms of the contract before we sign on the dotted line. Diane is lending us her legal expertise to point unagented authors in the right direction. Feel free to ask questions!

Q: As writers, we hear so many scary stories about authors who signed contracts without realizing what they were signing. It’s hard to tell what’s exaggerated urban myth and what’s an issue for genuine concern. For writers who go it without an agent, what should their main concerns be? Any red flags or big no-no’s?

A: There are many clauses in a publishing contract, and any writer who represents herself in negotiations should be aware of the most common ones. Copyright, royalties, advances, acceptance of manuscript, subsidiary rights, special sales, manuscript revisions, warranties, indemnification, termination of rights, options, and so on.  Pay particular attention to how unexpected events will be handled. What if the publisher goes out of business? When and under what circumstances can you retrieve your rights to this project and what must happen to get the rights back to you? A good primer is “Negotiating a Book Contract: A Guide for Authors, Agents and Lawyers” by Mark L. Levine.

Q: A publishing contract is a legal document–and a very complicated one. What are some resources for writers who want to learn more about the legalese of contracts? Are there any key terms we should know?

A: In addition to Mark L. Levine’s book, you might want to review “The Writer’s Legal Companion,” by Brad Bunnin and Peter Beren. Writers organizations such as Mystery Writers of America and Romance Writers of America and the Author’s Guild are also good resources for contract questions. You can find the answers to most common questions online, but beware of the source of information. Understand that the law varies and is very fact specific, meaning that changing even one small fact in a question can make a difference in the outcome.

Q: Do you recommend that first-timers (or even experienced authors) hire a lawyer to review their contracts? If so, how can writers find lawyers who specialize in publishing contracts? What should they expect to pay for these services?

A: The  easy answer is that I am a lawyer and I hire a lawyer to review my contracts. Realize that no one can anticipate everything and a fresh eye is often helpful. Unexpected stuff happens. All you can do is apply the best of your knowledge under the circumstances. Understand that the deal could go south and before you sign, always ask yourself what you’ll do if this deal does fall apart. Everyone needs a “plan B.”

If you have a reputable and knowledgeable agent, s/he should be able to negotiate your publishing contract. But it never hurts to hire aknowledgeable lawyer to advise you privately. Just be sure the lawyer you hire has current experience in publishing contracts from the type of publisher you’re considering because the business changes constantly.

Lawyers charge either a flat fee or an hourly fee. For a first publishing contract, a flat fee is probably the way to go. Prices vary based on location (everything costs more in New York than, say, Iowa), expertise (the more expert the lawyer, the more expensive she’ll be), and jurisdiction, among other things.

When navigating uncharted legal territory, generally it’s good to ask yourself whether the fee is worth paying under your specific circumstances. A $500 legal fee may not be the best idea for a royalty-only book deal with no advance. Only you can put a price on your project. No one knows the work and its value like the author herself.

About Diane:

Bestselling author Diane Capri is a recovering lawyer. She’s a snowbird who divides her time between Florida and Michigan. An active member of Mystery Writers of America, Author’s Guild, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime, she loves to hear from readers and is hard at work on her next novel. Diane’s books, including “Annabelle’s Attack” and “Carly’s Conspiracy,” are available wherever e-books are sold. See her Amazon author page for more info.

Connect with her online:


guest blogs, paranormal romance, publishing, romance

The Kink Factor: Author Shara Lanel dishes on the difference between sweet and erotic romance


Today, I’m turning the blog over to award-winning romance author Shara Lanel. Romance is a complex genre, ranging from the chaste to the downright naughty. Shara’s post helps shed some light on the distinctions between “sweet” and erotic romance.

Shara’a latest book, Blame it on the Night, will be available for purchase on Nov. 15–be sure to check out the link to a free excerpt below!


Do you want to follow the hero and heroine into the bedroom? Or would you rather stop at the door and give them some privacy? This is generally how I think of the difference between “sweet” romance and most popular romance today. But “sweet” doesn’t mean there’s no sexual tension. Pride and Prejudice is loaded with sexual tension culminating in one sweet kiss. Many romances have incredible sexual tension with very few love scenes.

However, I would say most popular romance today ventures inside the bedroom. This ranges from somewhat flowery, rather vague, one-page love scenes—which I tend to skip—to the several-paged, we’re-right-in-the-bedroom-with-you love scenes. To me, the line between these romances, generally not labeled erotic, and those that are labeled erotic comes down to word choice. One particular word that my mom disapproved of when she read my first novel, ENLIGHTENED LOVE. In erotic romance the sex needs to be descriptive (fuck, cock, pussy, etc.—can you guess which word Mom didn’t approve of?), raw, maybe some kink, frequent, and each scene should last several pages. And you still need to have that sexual tension.

My erotic romance books TELEKINETIC KISSES and FINDING MR. RIGHT IS MURDER aren’t really structured different than “traditional” romances, but the sex scenes take it up a notch.

Then there are the stories my mom hasn’t read. For these the sexual premise becomes very important. If your hero/heroine just met and don’t particularly like each other (conflict), why would they have sex in the first couple of chapters? Even if they have the classic “mistake” of a one-night-stand, what’s going to make them have sex in chapter three and so on? You can’t just throw a sex scene in there if your plot doesn’t call for it.

In BLAME IT ON THE MOON, Kitty can read minds. Therefore, she’s immersed in Haden’s erotic thoughts before they even speak to each other. In THE MEN ON MARS, Nate walks in on Helena in a threesome, and Helena is highly motivated to do whatever it takes to get a ride to Earth. Other examples: maybe your hero’s a stripper or a voyeur or your heroine’s an FBI agent undercover in a BDSM club. Maybe your heroine’s curious about the BDSM lifestyle and your hero is very happy to teach her. In other words, there are other sexual forces at work, not just random hopping-into-bed-together. In one story I’m working on, the hero finds out about the heroine’s very sexy backstory.

When I entered PRIMITIVE PASSION into contests or pitched it to agents before published, there were drastic differences in opinion (scores) because some people didn’t see Heath as heroic. Sylvia needs his help to get out of the jungle, but he has a price: three days of obeying his carnal demands. But without Heath’s demands, Sylvia wouldn’t have discovered new things about herself and the story wouldn’t have been erotic.

As a writer, you learn to target different publishers by researching books similar to yours and seeing who published them. Then you may cater a story toward the requirements of that specific publisher. This is the same when it comes to erotic romance. A publisher may want male/male, interracial, or ménage-a-many. A certain amount of kink may be expected or a certain familiarity with the lifestyle. The nice thing about the publishers I’ve worked with is that they’ve helped me up the heat level if I didn’t quite hit it in my manuscript.

So what’s the difference between erotic romance and erotica and porn? Well, first and foremost, we always have a happy ending, but the erotica I’ve read seemed literary or thought-provoking rather than sensual. Many movies labeled “erotic” do nothing for me. Meanwhile, porn seems to me male-centric and based on plot-less fantasy. “A sexy woman comes up to me in a bar, says she wants to do me in the bathroom, and then calls her friend to join us…” A lot more explicit, of course, but totally lacking in motivation.

Feel free to post questions or comments!

Here’s an erotic romance excerpt from my upcoming release, BLAME IT ON THE NIGHT, coming to Nov. 15!

About Shara:

At age 10, research to Shara Lanel meant hopping aboard the local steam engine and writing the equivalent of The Great Train Robbery.  Nowadays, she gets hands-on research at the Writers’ Police Academy. Give her a gun and she might hit the target…or a pedestrian. She swears her characters are much better shots, hitting the bulls-eye with the villains and the heart.

BLAME IT ON THE MOON, winner of the HOLT Medallion, delves into the life of a werewolf wanted for murder, while FINDING MR. RIGHT IS MURDER introduces you to the girl-next-door who, in the middle of an adult slumber party, finds a body in the freezer. Shara’s novels are always full of suspense and hot romance, whether set on the moon or in a Mexican jungle.

Shara resides in Richmond, Va., with a clingy dog, an action-oriented son, and a handsome hubby. Don’t put her in the kitchen, unless you want to burn it down, and her green-thumb is hit-or-miss, but she excels as a bibliophile, hoping she never has to pack up and move, since her hubby might see just how many volumes she really has.

publishing, the writer's journey, writing

Consider donating to help maintain Crit Partner Match:

Earlier today, I received the following email from Kait Nolan, indie writer and founder of the Crit Partner Match site. For those of you who aren’t familiar, CPM is “like for writers,” connecting writers with potential critique partners based on genre, critique style, skill level, etc.

I don’t know how I’d survive without my critique partners. They tell me what I need to hear, straight-up. They support my work but also call my attention to what does or doesn’t work.They ask the hard questions. In other words, they help my work realize its full potential.

So, apparently,, the site used for CPM, is now charging for use of its services, and the fee is pretty steep–at least for one person to manage on her own. Here’s Kait’s email:

So I started CPM back in…lord, it’s been quite a while, but back then it was on Ning and Ning was free. Then Ning went to paid plans and I moved to because was free. Guess what? has been moving to paid plans. it’s been ongoing for a while and apparently they have started limiting membership for the free groups to 25. We have 314. I think because I’ve been around since the beginning, I kinda got grandfathered in without being charged. HOWEVER, it’s recently been brought to my attention that new members cannot join. The front page apparently says that the group is NOT accepting new members. Well I’m not cool with that because we like new members.

So I go digging to check out the plan options. For our group to continue to grow it will be $8.95 a month. Which comes out to..roughly $ 108 a year. Now I don’t actually get anything out of this group. I found my CP via other means and just started CPM as a means for other writers to connect in a more unified place because I would be lost without my CP and I think others need to be able to FIND ONE. But I really don’t have $108 a year to toss out of pocket.

I may do some research on the possibilities of charging a very small fee for membership (like $2 a year or something). There is also the issue of potentially monitizing the site (which also requires a plan upgrade to be an option). I’m not interested in making a profit, just making enough to cover the costs of running the site. For now, though, I am going to ask for donations. Give as little or as much as you like. I’m not setting any thresholds.

If you like Crit Partner Match and feel it’s been helpful to you and you’d like to see the group continue to grow, please donate a little if you’re able. Send any donations via Paypal to kaitnolanwriter (at) gmail (dot) com. Once we’re upgraded, I’ll absolutely look into monitization options that will allow the site to remain free and self sustaining.

Thanks for your support! Happy writing.

Your CPM Founder

So, I’m chipping in a small donation, and I’m challenging others to do the same. If you can spare a buck or two to keep a valuable service for fellow writers going, please consider doing it. That’s not even a latte!

I also want to hear success stories about critique partners. How did you find your like-minded peeps, and how much have they helped you?

My story: I met Kathleen Foucart and Amelia Ross in graduate school. We founded our little group informally, meeting at local coffee shops. Over the years, we’ve grown as writers, each developing our own voice and finding our own path. We met last night, actually, and they totally saved me from months of muddling through a couple of difficult scenes by helping me find the right direction. We give each other support, guidance, a chance to vent, and plenty of cheerleading, as needed.

I hope all writers get the chance to do the same!