How To Develop a Subplot by Claire Ashgrove

Today I have a special guest for you guys. Claire Ashgrove aka Tori St. Claire was my release day mate with Berkley Heat. But instead of just debuting one book like me, she had TWO books release on the SAME DAY under different names and at different publishers. And I thought I was tired. Whew!

So I'm so happy that she was able to take some time and stop by the blog to talk to us about weaving in subplots. Hope you enjoy!

Developing A Sub-plot
by Claire Ashgrove/Tori St. Claire
Hi, everyone!  I’d like to thank Roni first, for inviting me here today.  She’s my release-date-twin with Berkley Heat (for my erotic romantic suspense as Tori St. Claire, STRIPPED) and since discovering that, I’ve begun following her blog, learned some wonderful tips, and find myself concurring with a large majority of what she writes.  She’s someone to learn from, and I’m thrilled to be stopping in to say hello to all of you.
While I do share a release-date with Roni for STRIPPED, today I want to talk about subplots, and my paranormal romance IMMORTAL HOPE, that also released on January 3.
If you’ve ever read my Inherited Damnation series, you’ll find I am fascinated by subplots.  Not just fascinated, truly addicted.  The deeper, more layered, more intricate, the more I love them.  
So how does an author layer an effective subplot?
Well, in truth, it’s not easy.  And the more you like to subplot, the more difficult it can become.  (My newest proposal required a concept understanding of ten—yes ten!—books to get from point A to point Z) Add in that sometimes layering subplot requires deviating from what’s taught as ‘accepted craft’, and then there’s more hurdles for an author to overcome.  
But it can be done.  The trick is to consider the story you want to tell as a separate story from the one you have to tell.
Yes, well, consider this:  You’re writing romance.  The story you have to tell is a romantic journey between the hero and heroine, internal and external conflict there, and a happily ever after ending.  The story you want to tell is all the stuff going on around them that leads you (likely) to a second, third, even tenth book.  It’s the stuff that affects the world they are in.
If you break them out by separate stories, then you can evaluate the beginning, middle, and end of each.  You can decipher your ongoing conflict, your climax, your resolution for each.  Then, you are able to overlay the story you have to tell (Story A) onto the story you want to tell (Story B).
Once they are overlaid, you can look at the major plot points of Story B, and manipulate them so that they become external conflict points in Story A.  You may have a resolution to Story A, but as your overlay will depict, you have a lot more to tell with Story B, which is where your next book picks up.  The romantic journey for the hero and heroine influence the overall conflict of your main plot, and become goals that must be accomplished for the overall resolution.
I did this with IMMORTAL HOPE, the first book in The Curse of the Templars series. 

Templar knights defied the archangels and unearthed the copper scroll, revealing the gates to hell. Cursed for their forbidden act, they forever roam the earth protecting mankind from evil. But darkness stalks them, and battles they fight bring them ever-closer to eternal damnation. One promise remains to give them salvation – the return of the seraphs.
Embittered by his purpose, Merrick du Loire must honor an ancient pact and bring peace to his cousin’s soul. When he stumbles upon history professor Anne MacPherson, he discovers she possesses a sacred artifact that marks her as a seraph. Duty demands he set aside his personal quest and locate the knight she’s fated to heal. As he struggles with conflicting oaths, Anne arouses buried hope and sparks forbidden desire that challenges everything he’s sworn to uphold. 
Anne has six weeks to complete her thesis on the Knights Templar. When Merrick takes her to the Templar stronghold, he presents her with all she needs—and awakens a soul-deep ache, he alone can soothe. Yet loving Merrick comes with a price. If she admits she's destined for him, her gift of foresight predicts his death.

In this, Story B – the one I wanted to tell – was Azazel’s quest for the relics that would give him the power to overthrow the Almighty.  He needs eight to accomplish the vile deed, which provided a set of steps necessary to accomplish his goal.  He’s my main character.  His antagonists are my protagonists in my individual books.  So that story involved developing what he needs, how he’s going to either get them or fail, and what happens as a result of each step.  Who will oppose him, how they will oppose him, and whether those persons live or die.
Story A – the story I had to tell – was the romance between Merrick du Loire and Anne MacPherson.  To be a romance, we had to have the specific elements required by the genre: boy meets girl, sexual tension, boy gets girl, dark moment where boy loses girl, and then the resolution and HEA.  
What keeps them apart are the same things that work towards Azazel’s goal.  Immortal Hope covers a small portion of time in Story B, as opposed to trying to stuff it all into the same plot.  By using this approach, an author can take time to build necessary world elements, lay the foundation, ground the reader, and extend the life of an idea.
The result was the series concept:
In 1119, nine knights rode with Hughes de Payens to the Holy Land, becoming the Knights Templar. All were bound by marriage or by blood. Eight were recorded over time. The ninth vanished into history.
Beneath the legendary Temple Mount, the knights uncovered holy relics, including the Copper Scroll—a document written by Azazel’s unholy hand. For their forbidden digging, the archangels exacted a sacrifice. The knights would spend eternity battling the demons of Azazel’s creation, but with each vile death they claimed, a portion of darkness would enter their soul. In time, they would transform into knights of Azazel, warriors veined with evil, destined to fight against the Almighty.
Yet an ancient prophecy remained to give them hope. When darkness raped the land, the seraphs would return. Female descendants of the Nephilim would carry the light to heal their dying souls.
Centuries have passed. Azazel’s might grows to intolerable limits. With the acquisition of eight holy relics, he will gain the power to overthrow the Almighty.
Six Templars stand above the rest in duty, honor, and loyalty. But each is haunted by a tragic past, and their darkened souls rapidly near the end. As they battle both the overwhelming power of evil and the nightmares of lives they left behind, the seraphs are more than tools to victory.
They are salvation.
Overlaying two separate stories is only one approach to sub-plotting, but I feel it’s the easiest place to start, and the most basic to explain.  There are dozens of methods, dozens of charts out there to help an author track.  The most important thing to remember?  If you treat a subplot like its own individual book, the stronger and more engaging it will become, and the more room for later opportunity you develop.
Good luck with your writing in 2012! If there’s ever a question about writing you’d like to ask me, feel free to drop me an email anytime.

Claire will be giving away a $25 gift certificate to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour, and a second $25.00 gift certificate to a second randomly drawn commenter at the end of the tour.  Be sure to follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning! Click the Blog Tour badge for a complete list of blog stops.




"Hot and romantic, with an edge of suspense that will keep you entertained.” --Shayla Black, New York Times Bestselling author of SURRENDER TO ME



CRASH INTO YOU is now available!

Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2012 |Copyright Statement|


Fill Me In Friday: Best Writing Links of the Week


It's that time of the week again. Hope everyone had a wonderful week! Here are the best links I've come across in the last few days.


On Writing and Publishing:

The Literary Lab: Who is the Ultimate Authority of a Piece of Fiction?

25 Things Writers Should Know About Agents via Chuck Wendig

Novel Plotting Worksheets | Annie Neugebauer

Jennifer Represents...: The Fine Art of Zipping It, or XYZ PDQ

Reader Reviews and What Not To Do, by @WendySMarcus | Romance University

10 Bestselling Books with 50+ One-Star Reviews - GalleyCat

why Pinterest is totally not a waste of time: creating a visionboard for your novel

The Bookshelf Muse: Do You Need a Social Media Intervention?

The Value Rubric: Do Book Bloggers Really Matter? | Publishing Perspectives

Writability: Why I Don't Auto-Follow Back

No Shame Here | GENREALITY - on not considering any book a "guilty pleasure"

Writing in different genres: A Blog Series | Nicole Basaraba's Uni-Verse-City

Trust Thyself | Kait Nolan - on writer's block

What’s the Problem with FREE? « Kristen Lamb's Blog

Why blog hits DON’T REALLY MATTER | The Red Pen of Doom

The Twitter, it is NOT for selling books | The Red Pen of Doom

What You May Have Missed Here:

What You May Have Missed on the FINAL Week of My Blog Tour:


All right, that's it from my end. What were some of your favorite links of the week?  Have a great weekend!




 “...a sexy, sizzling tale that is sure to have readers begging for more!" –Jo Davis, author of I SPY A DARK OBSESSION


CRASH INTO YOU is now available!

Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2012 |Copyright Statement


All About Web Space for Authors

It's guest Monday and today Sierra Godfrey is schooling us on the often confusing waters of deciding what you want your web home to be--website, blog, self-hosted, free, etc. She's going to give us some practical tips to make it easier for us to know which direction is best for us.


BLOG TOUR ALERT: Today I'm at Sexy Lady talking about From Blank Page to Published Book - How CRASH INTO YOU Came To Be




Take it away, Sierra...



All About Web Space for Authors
by Sierra Godfrey

When I'm not writing, I work as a freelance graphic designer. I design brochures, logos, and Wordpress-based websites with my build partner, fellow writer Mike Chen. We opened shop on our joint project, Atmosphere Websites, last summer. In that time, we've had a ton of questions about blogs vs. websites. And funnily enough, authors seem to be the ones asking the questions. 


Roni has written a lot on the subject of author websites as she's emerged out of the chrysalis of unpublished writer with a strong blog into the butterfly of published author with a real need for a website that accomplishes many things. I've written about this at length, too, especially for unpublished writers. A few weeks ago, Anne Allen had a post about whether you need a website at all. Here are some answers to some of the more common concerns and questions we've gotten:

1. What's the difference between a blog and a website? 

Put very simply, blogs are for social interaction. They're for engaging with others. It's okay if you want to use yours as a soapbox, but remember that the basic function of blogs is for people to comment and interact with you.

Websites are more for information purposes. They don't always nor automatically feature mechanisms for you to interact. For published authors, they're perfect for marketing books.

Of course, you can market your books just fine on your blog, but if you do only that, people will stop coming around--because you're no longer having a conversation with them.

Some published authors have asked us: Do I really need a blog? The answer is no, of course not. But if you want to provide an easy to way to converse with readers and writers, then yes.

2. What's the advantage of paid services over free ones?
First, here's the breakdown:

  • Blogger is free,
    run by Blogger and hosted by Blogger.

  • is free, run by Wordpress and hosted by Wordpress.

  • is free content management software that you download and install on your own server space

Server issues

Why on earth would you use your own server space and pay all associated hosting fees when you could just use Blogger or's server?  The simple answer is that if they go down, so you do. 

Custom Design

One of the questions we get a lot is why anyone should pay for website design when there are so many free templates out there--for both blogs and websites. And it's true, there are free templates and some of them are really great looking. I personally maintain a blog through Blogger's free service, although I've tricked the heck out of it so it looks exactly how I want it to look. (I address why I use the free Blogger site rather than my own Wordpress site below.) Here are a few reasons for both:

With a paid web host, you:
  • Have control over how it looks and acts, and can customize the graphics

  • Can add customized features that a lot of free templates don't allow

  • Can change it, add to it, grow it,  and you generally have a bunch more options for doing this, including account size space

Free services are great because:

  • They're, well, free

  • There are a lot of beautiful templates

  • A company (Blogger, Wordpress) runs the server and takes care of upgrading templates and updating the interface

Domain names

"But I can get my own domain name on my free Blogger blog. Why do I need to pay for a hosting package?" You're paying for that domain name--and still not owning your blog space, and you're not getting extras like email addresses, which you usually get for free with paid hosting packages. And, if you don't have a website, there's no room to add one later. But if what you want right now is a blog then the domain name option through Blogger or is a good one.

3. So why are you using Blogger?

A few weeks ago, I was telling someone about the advantages of getting your own server space and domain, and installing Wordpress on it, and paying someone to do a custom design. And then they asked me, "So how come you're using a free Blogger blog?"

To be honest, there's no good reason--I just haven't gotten around to switching yet. I don't even have the excuse of having to buy or set up my own website, because I already have it. So for me, it's the matter of transferring my Blogger blog over to a Wordpress blog. I see no advantages in staying with Blogger except that I'll lose my blog followers; this is pretty easily overcome by publishing a post begging people to switch and leaving it up there. And I don't have the number of followers that Roni does. She's a little more cautious about losing her hordes--and yet, she's expressed to me that she worries about losing all the content she's published on her Blogger blog.

When I move my blog over to my own website, I'll get a better blog publishing interface (in my opinion; Wordpress has many more blog-friendly features than Blogger does even with Blogger's new interface, which strangely mirrors Wordpress's now). And all the posts I've written for the past three years will import right over, and the chance of losing them all to a crash of Blogger's doing will be minimized.

In the end...

Using a free blog or website vs. a paid, custom-designed one is a personal choice. Generally, you're going to want more space, freedom, and control when you're a published author, which are things a free service can't supply as well. And there's no question--a site looks professional. 
For marketing reasons, I always advocate having your own server space. There are a number of low cost and very reliable hosting companies that offer space, email, and domain names at affordable prices. (I use and have four web hosting packages through them; my business partner Mike uses for the same reason.)
But free blogs offer wonderful, great-looking services as well--and work just fine for lots of folks. Blogs and websites are all a part of how you manage your identity online, and as an author all those choices are highly personal. 
Please ask me any questions, or let me know how YOU plan to go forward with free or paid web spaces.

About Sierra:



Sierra has enjoyed crafting stories for as long as she can remember. She especially likes stories that feature women who grow from the choices they face—and get the guy at the end. She’s a member of RWA and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, two little boys, and two annoying cats. In her spare time she works as a freelance graphic designer and technical writer. To the untrained eye she can appear somewhat sassy, but at heart she loves a good story and is really quite sweet, especially when the lighting is right. Visit Sierra at her blog or Twitter.



“...a sexy, sizzling tale that is sure to have readers begging for more!" –Jo Davis, author of I SPY A DARK OBSESSION



CRASH INTO YOU is now available! Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2012 |Copyright Statement|


Fill Me In Friday - Best Writing Links of the Week


Sorry this post is late going up. I've had no electricity all morning and it's still not on. So in order to quell the internet withdrawals, I had to venture out in search of wi-fi.


On to the links...

On Writing/Publishing:

Author, Jody Hedlund: One Important Way for Authors to Get Discovered by Readers

Don't pet me, I'm writing: The importance of sucking for awhile

Don’t Eat the Butt–Lies that Can Poison Our Writing Career #1 « Kristen Lamb

Authors On Goodreads | Valerie Comer <-- A Good intro on what to do once you've set up an author account of Goodreads

5 Easy Fixes for the Most Common Twitter Faux Pas - Hubspot Blog

Can Critique Groups Do More Harm than Good? « Kristen Lamb's Blog

A Day in the Life of a Book Blogger… Or: Please don’t take our joy away - Paperback Dolls

Writer Unboxed » 3 Ways to Use Pinterest for Book Publicity

E-Book Statistics For Authors to Watch | Jane Friedman

Why SOPA And PIPA And Other Anti-Piracy Bullshit Measures Matter To Writers via Chuck Wendig

25 Things Writers Should Start Doing also from Chuck Wendig

Is Your Book Good, Great, or HOT? | Rachelle Gardner

Needs, Wants, and Pretty Blue Pens | Rachelle Gardner

YA Highway: A Really Long Post About the Author/Reviewer Relationship

The Road to Success Part Two–Understanding the Why Behind the Buy « Kristen Lamb

How To Prepare for a Writers Conference | GENREALITY

How to Manage Your Online Afterlife « Writerland

On the Author Blog:


My Blog Tour Stops:
The Girl Next Door Writes Erotic Romance at The WritersSpace Blog
The Perfect Romantic Evening at Brewing Up Serious Passion





"Revved up and red-hot sexy, CRASH INTO YOU, delivers a riveting romance!" --Lorelei James, NY Times Bestselling author of the ROUGH RIDERS series


CRASH INTO YOU is now available!

Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2012 |Copyright Statement|


One Author's Reasons For Choosing to Publish with a Small Press + Win a Book

Usually I reserve Mondays for guests and I know I've been having a lot of visitors lately, but I promise I'll be back in full blogging capacity soon with tales from my first book release, blog tours, promo, and working under a deadline during all of it. (As soon as I catch my breath, lol.)

But today, I have the lovely Stephanie Haefner stopping by to chat with us about her publishing journey. AND she's holding a contest to win a copy of her book Soap Dreams!

BLOG TOUR ALERT: Find out what made me strip in public in today's interview over at Romance with Attitude.

Indie Vs Self-Publishing and My Choice
by Stephanie Haefner
These days there are endless ways to get your words and stories out there for the world to enjoy. Every author has their preference and their own reasons for pursuing their publishing dreams the way they have. But for newbies just starting out, those who have just finished their book and polished it, it's sometimes really hard to know what is best.

After a couple years trying to break into publishing the old fashioned way, by querying an agent, my books were still on my hard drive, unpublished. I adored them...especially my second, I just did not want to give up. Deep down I knew it was good, but I was out of ideas. I'd been told it was well-written. I think it was a case of the market being over what I had written (Dare I say the dirty word...chick lit!). But I knew people still loved reading the kinds of stories I liked to write...and read.

At that point self-publishing was starting to get big. And I did consider it. I even got a quote from a website that other writers I knew had used. For a couple hundred dollars, my book would be available for sale on a print on demand status and I would have a copy to hold in my hands. But I just couldn't do it. I would've had no support. I couldn't afford to pay an editor to help me. I knew nothing about cover art design. And for me, probably the biggest part, I needed someone to tell me my book was good. I knew it in my heart, but I really needed that outside unbiased opinion. I needed a professional in this industry to validate my talent...that I was right to give up my prior career to pursue this dream that only a couple years earlier I didn't even know I had.

Then I came across a listing online of small independent digital publishers. I wasn't completely sold on it for my career. Was a small unknown company really the best way to get my book in readers hands? And I'd wanted to see my book on a bookstore shelf. But then I shook myself and said "What the hell?" and submitted my book to a couple of the digital publishers who'd accepted women's fiction. It might not have been my ideal, but it was a start. Two weeks later there was a contract in my inbox and I'd stared at that email in shock.

And now I sit two and a half years since that day, and have never been more thankful I sent that submission. The support of my publisher, Lyrical Press, Inc, has been completely amazing. I don't know if I've ever met anyone more organized or on top of their business. And so so personal! They seem to do more for their authors than other small presses I've come across. I have the best editor on the planet who has taught me so much. The cover art is fantastic! They have given me so much that I know I would have never been able to get on my own had I chosen to self publish.Each writer needs to find their own way. And my journey is not the ideal journey for others. But I honestly have zero regrets.

Thank you for having me Roni! And I'd love to give away a digital copy of my second chance romance called Soap Dreams. Just leave a comment!

And you can visit Stephanie over at her blog The Writer's Cocoon.

My Writing Process: Draft Zero to Done by Suzanne Johnson

It's guest Monday time and today author Suzanne Johnson lets us in on her writing process. I always find it fascinating to hear how other people work. It's amazing how there are so many different paths to get to a finished novel. I hope you find it fascinating as well.


BLOG TOUR ALERT: And coincidentally, today I'm talking about My Crazy Writing Process at the Wytch's Mirror. Guess Suzanne and I had the same thing on our minds, lol.


Also, I'm at the Writerspace blog talking about people's perceptions of me: The Girl Next Door Writes Erotic Romance



Take it away, Suzanne....




My Writing Process: Draft Zero to Done
by Suzanne Johnson
I’ve been going through an online “revise your novel in 30 days” type of course because I have a novel that needs revising, and, well, I’m a bit of a workshop slut. (Is there a twelve-step program for that?)
In the beginning days of the workshop, the participants all shared our novel-writing processes. Some had completed multiple novels and had a system well in place; others were still looking for the process that would work for them. What’s fascinating is that, at the end of all these different ways of doing things, a novel came out the other end. Well, usually.
I’ve shifted in the past six months from my beginning process, which was a) write book in however long it takes to write and revise it; b) send book to agent; c) work on something else while manuscript is shopped around. It turns out, that’s a leisurely way to work. 
Now that I have books under contract, the pace has changed. There are hard *gulp* deadlines when new manuscripts are due—manuscripts that are no more than a twinkle of an idea in my head. Suddenly, the day job seems more onerous. The annoying little household things—you know, like buying groceries and feeding my pets and paying bills—seem to take up too much time. I’ve had to develop a new process.
So, here’s the process I’ve used on the last two manuscripts, and will use on the next one, which is due May 15 and is still in that “brain-twinkle” form. I don’t throw this out there because it’s a “right” way to do it, or even that it will work for anyone else—just that it gives me a chance to ask you as writers what your process looks like!


So...INITIAL IDEA is something that usually starts bouncing around in my head while I'm driving or doing something not writing-related. I brainstorm on it a while before anything hits paper (or computer screen). I tend to start with a "big idea" and then build the characters around it. I don’t consider this part of my 90-day-to-novel process since nothing’s written down at this stage.

OUTLINE...I spend from one to two weeks working on what I call a plot arc, a detailed outline that averages about 10,000 words. I don't' work out scene specifics, but by the time the plot arc is done, I know what scene falls where, where the book will start, where it will end, what the high-level action points are, about how many chapters I'm going to have, and what the relationship arcs for each character look like against the action arc.


DRAFT ZERO...I do a down-and-dirty draft, start to finish, using my outline as a guide but improvising as things come to me (updating the outline as I go). I call it “draft zero” because it’s so bad it doesn’t even deserve to be called a first draft. Nobody, but nobody, sees this one except me. When I sit down to write, I read over the last two or three paragraphs from the previous day, but no more. I don't do descriptions, setting, or worry about word choice--I'm strictly working on plot and pace. I don't stop to look up words or names of things. When it’s done, my Draft Zero usually runs about 75,000-80,000 words long. My strong suit is grammar/punctuation so that part of it's going to be pretty clean even in DRAFT ZERO stage. It takes from eight-to-ten weeks for me to draft since I work full-time and have freelance obligations that can’t be shirked.

FIRST DRAFT...I take a week to do a thorough front-to-back read. I smooth over rough spots. I add description and dialogue according to a set of questions (i.e., is the character dressed? are there sensory inputs? can the scene be amped up?). By the end of this stage, I should have the manuscript at or near my contract-required 90,000 words. If not, I need to brainstorm ways to add or expand scenes.

At this stage, if I'm on an accelerated deadline, I send the manuscript to beta readers. While they read, I polish. I look at word choice, sentence structure, rhythm, pace. I consider/incorporate suggestions or ideas as they come in from betas. My poor betas have to read quickly, I’m afraid.

FINAL POLISH. I do a final pass, reading aloud when possible, to tinker with anything that doesn't ring true to my characters or story. And off it goes. 
Whew, I’m exhausted. But that’s my pace to produce a couple or three books a year while holding down the full-time EDJ (evil day job). What does your process look like? (Yes, I’m looking to steal ideas!)


Suzanne Johnson is an author of urban fantasy “with romantic elements.” Her first book, Royal Street, a magic-based fantasy set in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina, will be released by Tor Books on April 10, 2012. Two more in the series will be released in Fall 2012 and Spring 2013. Find Suzanne online at her Preternatura blog, or read about her books at her website.

*Look for more from Suzanne here every 3rd Monday of the month!




"Hot and romantic, with an edge of suspense that will keep you entertained.” --Shayla Black, New York Times Bestselling author of SURRENDER TO ME




CRASH INTO YOU is now available!

Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2012 |Copyright Statement|


Fill-Me-In Friday: Best Writing Links of The Week


It's that time of the week again. Here are the best writing links of the week along with updates from my blog tour. (Thanks to those of you who are stopping by for the tour. I really appreciate it!)


On Writing and Publishing:

How To Self-Publish So It Benefits Readers by Chuck Wendig

Engage with your readers through threaded commenting | Blogger Buzz --FINALLY, threaded comments on Blogger!

Here There Be Blog Trolls–How to Spot Them & What To Do « Kristen Lamb's Blog

Twitter - the virtual literary salon | Books |

Author, Jody Hedlund: Walls on the Path to Publication: a Necessity or a Nuisance

Eight Steps to Successfully Market Yourself Online - Author Marketing Experts

How Tightly Do You Control Your Blog? | Jami Gold, Paranormal Author

How To Pick and Choose a Writers Conference | GENREALITY

Twitter Really, Really Hates Google’s New Google+ Integration | TechCrunch

Ah, Decisions! FREE Wordpress Blog or Self-Hosted Website? | Molly Greene

Author, Jody Hedlund: Making Friends Without Making Them Feel Used

Sierra Godfrey: Blog Spam and How to Spot It

What You May Have Missed Here: 

by Elise Rome
What You May Have Missed on the Author Blog:

My Blog Tour Stops:


A Peek Into My Heroine's Background at Bookin' It Reviews

5 Ways Writing Erotic Romance Differs From Writing Other Genres at Words of Wisdom

Interview at Get Lost in a Story

My Road To Publication Started with New Kids on the Block at Ramblings From This Chick

A Sneak Peek Inside The Ranch (the BDSM retreat in my books)  at AsianCocoa's Secret Garden

Interview at Novel Reflections (New today!)

What Inspires Me As a Writer at Mina Khan's Blog (New today!)

Alright, that's all I've got this week. What were some of your favorite links of the week?


“...a sexy, sizzling tale that is sure to have readers begging for more!" –Jo Davis, author of I SPY A DARK OBSESSION



CRASH INTO YOU is now available!

Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2012 |Copyright Statement|


Guest Blogging Etiquette 101

As most of you know, my book released last week (squee!) and I've been embarking on a promotional blog tour. That means I'm writing not only my own blogs, but also putting together another 1-2 daily. It's been a lot of fun, but is a LOT of work. I hired Goddess Fish Promotions to help me organize mine because I just couldn't juggle everything on my own, and that's been a godsend. But it still take a lot of time and effort to manage a successful tour. 

So as I go through this, I was reminded of this post I did last year about Guest Blogging Etiquette. Using these guidelines can make the guest blogging process mostly painless for everyone. Hope you find it helpful!


- CRASH INTO YOU debuted at #3 on the Barnes and Nobles Trade Romance Bestsellers List!!! I'm shocked and so excited. Thank you SO much to everyone who has bought the book. You guys rock!

Now on to today's post..


Guest Blogging 101

Guest Blogging Etiquette 101

So if you've been blogging for any amount of time, you've probably had some experience with guest blogging--either inviting people onto your own site or doing a post on someone else's site. It's a great thing to do to cross promote and once you've got a book coming out, it's often a big piece of your marketing. Blog tours are all the rage because the internet is a great place to find readers and build word of mouth.

I get requests on a pretty regular basis both to be a guest on other sites and from people wanting to do a post here. It seems once you get past 500 or so followers, a good number of people want to hang out on your site. :) That's awesome. I love doing guests posts and I certainly love having people stop by here.

However, there is some etiquette that goes along with this process. Some people follow it and others fail miserably. So I figured I would give some quick tips I've gathered from my experience that may help you navigate the guest blogging waters.

If you are going to ask someone to be on your site...


1. Be polite when asking and give them a clear out so you don't put them on the spot. (i.e. if you're too busy, I completely understand.)

2. Give them an ample amount of time to get back to you, but it is best to give them a deadline

Don't say, "Hey, I'd love you to be a guest, can you get me a post by next week?" Give them a few weeks minimum. And you can give them an open-ended--whenever you can--kind of deadline. BUT, be warned--this may result in less success of getting that post. I am an epic failure at saying "yes" to open-ended, can you guest post for me sometime and then I never get to it.

3. Provide options.

A guest post takes a lot of time. I can whip out a daily post over here in under an hour, but when I know I'm going to be on someone else's site, I feel more pressure to get it perfect, for it to be epic. So, it takes more effort and time. Therefore, if you really want someone on your site, maybe offer to interview them instead of a guest post. This makes it easier for the person to just answer questions and not have to come up with a topic, etc.

4. If you are going to ask for a post (not an interview), provide suggestions for topics you might like to see from them (while also leaving it open for them to choose whatever topic they want.)

It is SO helpful when someone approaches me for a guest post when they say--hey, maybe you could do something on yadda yadda yadda. I may not know what topics they've already covered on their own blog, so this saves me from having to research what's already been covered on that site.

5. Once you get their post and schedule it, email the person on the day (or day before) the post is going to go live.

This a) reminds the person and b) gives them a the chance to do some promotion for you and send people there.

If you want to approach someone to be on their blog...


1. Do your research and know that blog/blogger (at least a little bit).

If someone emails me wanting to post here to promote their book and I've never had any interaction with them, their chances are way lower that I'm going to pay attention. They don't follow the blog, have never left a comment, have never talked to me on Twitter, etc. They're a complete and total stranger. I feel like they stumbled across my blog, saw I had a platform and said--ooh, ooh, let me sell stuff here! My blog isn't here as an advertisement board for anyone who wants to stick a flyer up. (2016 Update: Over the years, you'll notice that the only authors I'm promoting are ones I've read on my own time and want to share. I may occasionally share affiliate links or invite a guest, but I've gone away from doing much else.)

2. Offer the blogger a number of options--an interview, guest blog, contest/giveaway.

Show them that you can provide whatever type of post they need. And just like the reverse of the above, an interview is more work for the host blogger, so don't just offer that. It's also a lot of work to ask someone to review your book. That means they have to have time to read it, like your genre, etc. When people email me asking if I can interview them or review their book, I usually respond with--can you do a guest post instead? I just don't have time lately to come up with interview questions specific to you and your book. (2016 Update: I do not accept review requests or requests for guests posts anymore.)

3. If you get the go ahead to do the guest blog, make sure you send something with quality content, no typos, and include your bio and pic.

Don't make the blogger have to correct your work.

4. Get the post to the person on time. And do not ask them to send you a reminder. 

If they give you a deadline, keep it. And it's your job to remember when it's due--they are doing you a favor.

5. Promote that post on your own blog when it goes live. This helps you and the host blogger.

6. Offer to reciprocate. If they let you on their blog, let them know they are welcome to stop by yours


The key to remember with all of this is to know who is holding the power in the exchange (can you tell I write BDSM romance?) The person who benefits more from what the other person has to offer has to go out of their way to make it as convenient as possible for the other.

For instance, if I want my book reviewed on a big book blogger site--the power is in their hands. I'm the one who has to go out of my way. But if a brand new author who just self-published wants me to do a feature on their book here where I have a big following of potential readers, then I'm the one holding more cards. Sounds kind of snotty, but it is what it is. You'll be on both sides of the equation at some point.

So what do you think? Have you had any negative guest blogging experiences? How do you like to be approached for a guest blog?


"Revved up and red-hot sexy, CRASH INTO YOU, delivers a riveting romance!" --Lorelei James, NY Times Bestselling author of the ROUGH RIDERS seriesCRASH INTO YOU is now available!


5 Narrative Mistakes You Can Fix Now by Author Elise Rome


Hope everyone had a great weekend! It's Guest Monday and today I have historical author Elise Rome (the author formerly known as Ashley March for those who have been following this series), giving us part two of her Fix It Now series to help us get through revisions.

But first...


BLOG TOUR ALERT: I'm over at AsianCocoa's Secret Garden giving you A Sneak Peek Inside The Ranch (the BDSM resort in CRASH INTO YOU) with photos!


Okay, now take it away, Elise...

5 Narrative Mistakes You Can Fix Right Now
This is the continuation of the Fix It Now series where I focus on mistakes I’ve seen beginning/aspiring writers make in their manuscripts. You can find the first blog in the series here: 5 Dialogue Mistakes You Can Fix Right Now.

      1. Take advantage of contractions.
This is intended for both dialogue and narrative. If you’re reading through your work and the flow feels awkward or the dialogue stiff, trying using contractions to make the words flow more naturally. For historicals especially, I see a lot of manuscripts where writers seem to have a preference to do without contractions, perhaps because they believe it conveys a certain tone to say “do not” rather than “don’t.” While I’m not saying you have to use contractions wherever they can be substituted, I would urge you to use them when it helps with the rhythm of your manuscript. Your final readers will thank you.

2. Use sentence length to control pacing and rhythm.
Many of you have probably heard this before, but it’s important enough to have a reminder for when you go back to edit your manuscript. To help action scenes seem more urgent, avoid longer sentences with numerous clauses in favor of shorter, to the point sentences that keep the reader’s eyes moving on to the next sentence and the next, always asking: Then what happens? I personally find it more advantageous to use longer, complex sentences when writing sex scenes and scenes where I’m concentrating on trying to evoke deep emotion from the reader. Throughout most parts of your book, however, there should be a balance of short and long sentences to help with maintaining a good rhythm.

3. Cut out the anachronisms and clichés.
This is specifically targeted to historical writers. We’re mostly very careful about researching appropriate settings, clothing, customs, etc for our novels, but it can be harder for us to remember to watch the use of modern language. I urge you to comb through your manuscript carefully, searching for any words or phrases that stick out. For example, did you know that the word “feisty” wasn’t used until 1896, and that the word “allergic” wasn’t used until 1911? Hint: my go-to resource for quick checks is
It doesn’t matter how cute the cliché is or that it actually fits the situation in your novel. Strive to be original; strive to write fresh. This goes for both phrases and plot tropes. Find a way to make your words and your story unique.

4. Avoid repetition.
I’m critiquing a manuscript right now where words such as “gentle”, “slow”, “quiet” and their derivatives are used over and over again to the point of exhaustion. There are programs out there that can tell you which words you use most frequently, but I really encourage you to find and edit these yourself. You need to be engaged in the manuscript when you edit, not just randomly selecting and deleting words to lower their count. Be very aware of how often you use the same word or its derivative in the same paragraph and on the same page or nearby pages. And if it’s a word that isn’t commonly used (say, “tumescent”, for example), it’s probably a good idea to make sure it’s not used more than once throughout the chapter (I have my doubts for repetitions in the rest of the manuscript, too).

5. Be consistent in POV.
Point of view is a topic that deserves its own series, to be honest, but one of the easiest mistakes to fix and one of the most common mistakes I see is when a character calls another character by different names in the first character’s POV. 
Example: If Tom knows Dr. Smith on a personal level, he’s probably not going to call him Dr. Smith; he’ll use his first name, Peter. For consistency’s sake, he’s definitely not going to think of him or call him both Dr. Smith and Peter, although he might call him Dr. Smith when speaking of him to someone else.
Another example, because POV consistency with names is especially important when dealing with characters in historical settings: Let’s say your heroine has just met the hero, Alfred Spencer, Earl of Fenning, otherwise known as Lord Fenning. Since she’s just met him, she’s not going to call him Alfred either in narrative or dialogue. There’s no reason to call him at all by Spencer. So she’ll either designate him in her narrative as the Earl of Fenning, Lord Fenning, or the earl. In dialogue, she would say either “Lord Fenning” or “my lord.” 
Once they start to know each other better but are still on proper terms in their relationship, she might still keep the dialogue the same, but she might internally think of him as Alfred if she begins to like him in a romantic way.
Because of the set social strictures, the way characters use names in historical settings is important, not only for accuracy but also to give the reader a clue to how each character thinks of the other. 
Note: There are exceptions. I recently read a manuscript where I suggested that the names of all the characters stay the same throughout the narrative of the manuscript because the author hops from head to head throughout scenes. I thought it would be more confusing to the reader for the aristocrat to be thought of as Lord X in one sentence by the heroine and Rupert in the next paragraph by his brother. 
Do you recognize any of these issues as things you need to work on? What other narrative mistakes have you read in manuscripts/books that drive you crazy?

imgres.jpg Elise Rome is a historical romance author who lives in Colorado with her adoring (or is that adorable?) husband, her two young daughters, and their dog. She’s currently busy working on two new series, one set in mid-Victorian England and the other in the 1920s, both set to debut this spring. 



"Hot and romantic, with an edge of suspense that will keep you entertained.” --Shayla Black, New York Times Bestselling author of SURRENDER TO ME




CRASH INTO YOU is now available!

Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2012 |Copyright Statement|


Fill-Me-In-Friday - Best Writing Links of the Week




It's that time of the week where I round up the best links I've run across this week and share them with you guys. This week has been one of the busiest of my life, but also one of the best ever. :) So thanks to all of you for the support and cheerleading for CRASH INTO YOU's release. You guys rock.




How I Built a BDSM Ranch (in my head) and a chance to win CRASH INTO YOU at Deb's Book Bag! Plus a review that got me a little verklempt--can't tell you how rewarding it is to hear my book resonated with a reader. :)

Also, I'm being interviewed over at Love to Read For Fun where I answer questions like "Your book takes place at a BDSM retreat. Did you have to do a lot of research?" 


Now on to the links...

On Writing/Publishing:


Stops From my Blog Tour:





Alright, that's all I've got. How was your week? What were some of your favorite links from this week? 

Have a great weekend!



"Revved up and red-hot sexy, CRASH INTO YOU, delivers a riveting romance!" --Lorelei James, NY Times Bestselling author of the ROUGH RIDERS series



CRASH INTO YOU is now available!

Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2012 |Copyright Statement|


Navigating the Authorial Landmine of Reader Forums with Amber Skye

First off, I want to give heartfelt thanks to everyone for all the well wishes (and books bought!) for my release day yesterday. I seriously can't even describe how amazing it feels to have so much support. I'm so lucky to have found such a wonderful community of people here online. *giant group hug* I love you guys. :D

DAILY BLOG TOUR ALERT: On Riverina Romantics I'm doing a BDSM 101 post for those of you who may be new to my genre. And over at Stephanie Haefner's blog I'm answering questions about how I built Fiction Groupie and tackling burning issues such as Ryan Reynold or Gosling? ;)

Okay, so, Monday I did a post on Authorial Interaction with Readers - More Controversial Than I Thought. The post seemed to strike a cord with many of you and a lot of you had the same kind of surprised reaction I did. So when Amber offered to give her perspective from the trenches of reader forums, I thought it would be great to hear what she had to say. Hopefully her insight gives us an idea of where some of that sentiment was coming from in the original post I referenced.

Now to Amber...

Navigating the Authorial Landmine of Reader Forums
by Amber Skye

I am a writer, but first and foremost I'm a reader. I've long loved romance and erotica books (longer, in fact, than is strictly appropriate). Anne Rice was writing menage before menage was hip (hello, Witching Hour). Since then my tastes have meandered through the romance sub-genres, from paranormal to historical to contemporary and erotic and others. What I really love about the genre is the sense of tradition. I love the history of the romance genre and watching the evolution of it. And part of the culture is sharing the experience, whether it's a swap bookshelf at work or an online community.


For a while I was active on the Amazon Romance forums, which can best be described as the Wild West of discussion forums. Spam was a common occurrence: authors posting links to their books in irrelevant threads, posted a one-line, off-topic post, but with a 5 line signature with all their books linked, starting threads only to drop their book link. Worse than that, authors regularly got into "heated" discussions with readers. They called us wrong and stupid. They challenged not only our reviews, but our opinions in general and our reading selections. In an infamous thread about erotic rape-fantasy fiction, one author said that anyone who liked to read books like that should be raped so hard we had to go to the hospital. I'm dead serious.


Several their members and I started the GoodReads Refugee group, a group of readers (and a few authors) started by readers and for readers, with strict rules about what authors can do.  It's all community driven. Our members (as in, readers) get to say what is okay and what's not, and authors have to abide by the rules or get out. We still get spammed and insulted, but we can quickly delete and ban those offending members.

Now, you would never say awful things. Roni would never be like that. In fact, 98% of authors would never be like that, but those authors have already peed in the pool. The entire author species makes us nervous. That doesn't mean that we don't want authorial interaction. Some of us do. I do. And that is what blogs and newsletters and twitter and even author chats on those forums are for. But they have a built-in velvet rope around them because they are specifically set up for that purpose. When I subscribe to your blog or follow you on twitter, I'm telling you that I'm interested in what you have to say and giving you permission to send me promo.


The question about whether an author can participate in "reader" area is a great one. The answer is yes, you can, but you have to act as a reader. Put away your writing cap and your promo and go talk about the books that you read. This means sharing the books that you love, but also talking about what you didn't like. Authors don't like to do that, they don't want to give negative reviews. I understand that, it's throwing stones and glass houses and all of that. Plus, as an author, you have a certain respect for have freaking hard it is to do it well. But that's you're looking at it through writer-colored glasses, not as a reader. If you go into a reader's area and only give positive reviews, only talk about what you loved, then that looks a lot like promo. And when promo is unsolicited, as it would be in a reader area, then it's called spam.

Our group actually has a few authors in it. They talk about reading. And we like them. So when it comes time to promo them, guess what? We do it for them. One of our founder-author-reader-members, Penny Watson, said, "I honestly have no idea how my participation in this group has affected my sales, nor do I care. I write for fun. I read for fun. And I love this group because it's fun, friendly, and informative." Awesome. And anytime someone wants a Christmas book, we happily point them to hers. I read about a different instance of this happening here.

In the previous post, Roni said, "Yes, we're writers, but first and foremost we're READERS. Just because I have a book out there doesn't mean I'm not also voracious reader who loves to discuss books with others."

If an author was already involved in discussions, then they already know the etiquette. As KarLynP, my fellow moderator and romance forum junkie said, one of the biggest problems we see from authors is "not reading the posting policies nor getting the general feel for the group before you post." I can see how this would happen organically, without sinister spammy intentions, but it doesn't always end well. Starting all posts with "As an author" or "When I started writing X" ...yuck.

A reader can come into the discussion and say, "I loved that alpha hero, he was hot, but the heroine was like nails on a chalkboard to me." That's what reader discussion looks like. If you can say that, or whatever your actual opinion was, then you can absolutely participate. If you can't, because of potential backlash in the writer community, then you're no longer a reader first. You're a writer first.


People write their reviews for other readers. If it was intended as a message for the author, we'd email them. Even the Dear Author blog came out and said it was a shtick, not an actual letter. I know that authors can read my reviews, but it's disconcerting when they reply. If I rave about a book, then hearing a "thank you" is sweet. But if I say something negative in the review, then I don't want a "thank you" even in a private email. Depending on the phrasing, it can come across passive aggressive. But when authors respond to negative reviews, even if they speak carefully, you can always feel the hurt emanating from them. That doesn't shut the discussion on that review down, it dampens the whole reader community.


A book is a product. It's ALSO a labor of love, I know. Holy God, I know. But if you package it and put it up for sale and I paid good money for it, then it became a product along the way. And I should be allowed to say, "I didn't like this book" just like I'm allowed to say "I don't like this new shirt that bled purple all over my clothes." And I don't want Macy's (or whatever) coming up to me and saying, "well, actually, you misunderstood the intention behind the bleeding purple dye, we want all things to turn purple." Or even, "you read the washing instructions wrong, dummy." Sometimes reviewers make mistakes. People who read my review are smart enough to figure that stuff out for themselves.

I've bought books with scathing reviews. Hell, all books of a certain success level have scathing reviews. But when the author steps in, all indignant but trying to hide it behind a veil of courtesy, it's awkward. Don't make it awkward, authors. Take a book that you LOVED, that you consider epic, and check out it's negative reviews. It'll blow your mind, but they'll be there and full of reader rage. It's just part of the book ecosystem. If you're going to put your book out there, then you have to be willing to take your lumps, and quietly.

So what's a well-intentioned author to do?

Make it easy for readers to contact you. Have a blog and a twitter and whatever else you want. But above all, if you want reader interaction, put your gosh-darn email address up on your website! Twitter or contact forms are not a replacement. I know spam is scary (oh, the irony) but Gmail does a really good job nowadays, so just pick the whole email address up! Mine is There, I said it. And the spam lightning bolt did not strike my inbox full, so don't worry about it!

Don't ever respond to reviews. Roni brought up a great exception, which is if you were in email contact with a blogger and asked them to review your book. Then it makes sense to thank them, but I'd keep it hella short and sweet and do not comment on the content of the review. Otherwise, say nothing. Ever.

The #1 reader interaction is your book. If you want to interact with a reader, write a book. Then write another one, a better one. That is the absolute best way to interact with your fans. That's what we really want, the next installment, a sequel, a new book from you. If we like what you wrote, then we want to buy more, make that possible by writing as many great books as you can.


Amber Skye is a writer of dark erotica and sweet romance. Her erotica manuscript, which has won awards and what-nots, is currently out on submission. She blogs at and tweets at @a_skye, mostly about naughty things but occasionally about writing. In the interest of full disclosure, she self-publishes under a different pen name.




Thanks, Amber, for stopping by and sharing all of this with us! :)

So what do you guys think of authors participating in reader forums? Do you think you can take your author hat off? Anyone out there successfully being a "reader only" in forums? Any horror stories about authors peeing in the pool?





"Revved up and red-hot sexy, CRASH INTO YOU, delivers a riveting romance!" --Lorelei James, NY Times Bestselling author of the ROUGH RIDERS series


CRASH INTO YOU is now available!

Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2012 |Copyright Statement|


Is That the Sound of My Dream Coming True? CRASH INTO YOU is out!!!

We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog to say...

CRASH INTO YOU is out!!!!!!!!

Woo-hoo! The dream I've had since I wrote that horrible New Kids on the Block fan fiction novel at 15 has finally come true. :) A book that I wrote is actually on the shelves.

Thank you to everyone of you who has been here along the way on this journey with me! I love y'all more than cupcakes. :)

And for those of you who are buying CRASH, *too tight hugs* and I hope you enjoy it!

(And remember to take a picture with your book or ebook version with your best Blue Steel face and get a chance to win a gift certificate, plus get a signed bookplate and be featured in a kickass blogging slideshow!)

Also, I'm over at Seductive Musings today with an EXCLUSIVE steamy excerpt and a post about being a fearless as opposed to a hopeless romantic. Would love it if y'all stopped by! :)

*off to happy dance and stalk the local bookstores so I can spot my book on their shelves*

"Revved up and red-hot sexy, CRASH INTO YOU, delivers a riveting romance!" --Lorelei James, NY Times Bestselling author of the ROUGH RIDERS series

"Hot and romantic, with an edge of suspense that will keep you entertained.” --Shayla Black, New York Times Bestselling author of SURRENDER TO ME

“...a sexy, sizzling tale that is sure to have readers begging for more!" –Jo Davis, author of I SPY A DARK OBSESSION

CRASH INTO YOU is now available!
Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2012 |Copyright Statement|

Authors Interacting with Readers Online - More Controversial Than I Thought

Okay, before I get into the nitty gritty, I'd like to make a few announcements:

1) My "official" blog tour starts today. If you visit and comment on posts throughout the tour, there's a chance to win a gift certificate. : ) Today's post is over at Romancing Rakes where I'm talking about The Anatomy of a Sex Scene. (There's also a review of the book here.) I'd love it if you guys would stop by and say hi!

2) So, uh, I have a book coming out. SQUEE!!!!!! CRASH INTO YOU drops tomorrow. Though I will refrain from begging--*ahem* for now--I will be your BFF (you know, virtually braid your hair and paint your toenails) if you check out a copy. (Um, for you boys, I'll buy the beer and cue up the big screen for the bowl games.) And really, if nothing else, you can buy a copy just to see if I've followed all that writing advice I'm sharing on here all the time. And then make fun of me when I didn't. ;)

Okay, so onto today's topic...

Authors Interacting With Readers Online - Some Things to Think About

This past week I ran across a thought-provoking post over at Dear Author, Is there room on the internet for authorial interaction? In the post, Jane talks about the role of the author and when it's appropriate for the author to interact with the readers (when it adds value and when it taints things.)

The post itself is enough to get you thinking, but the slew of comments are just as enlightening. I was truly surprised to find out how some readers feel about authorial interaction.

Most agree (and I can see this point) that an author should not be commenting on reviews--mainly because once the author shows up it can make others clam up. Who wants to say something negative once they know the author is there listening?

But I was surprised to see that this even went as far as applying to the author saying thank you for the review. Jane and some other reviewers mentioned that a thank you almost makes them feel uncomfortable, especially in response to a negative review,because it implies that the reviewer has done a "favor" for the author. (I'm assuming this is for reviews you didn't directly set up with the reviewer. If you directly interacted with the blogger--like setting up a blog tour--then a thank you is obviously in order.)

Now, I'm southern. I say thank you for EVERYTHING. It's like a reflex. To think that my thank you may make someone uncomfortable kind of took me aback. When I say thank you, it's simply because I'm appreciative that the person took the time to read my book and to comment on it publicly (which is press--regardless of the content of the review.) Reviews are important. So my instinct would be to thank someone if I saw that they reviewed my book. (Plus I'm a dorky new author and just want to hug everyone who reads my book, lol.)

But perhaps the thank you should be a case by case basis and should be done privately via email instead of posting it on the review and shutting down other comments. 

The other issue that was interesting was how many of the commenters didn't like interacting with authors. They preferred to read and discuss the book without knowing anything about the author. They didn't want to hear the writer's perspective on why they wrote something the way they did.

I can understand this in the forum of a review. You don't want the author "defending" themselves in the comments, but seeing that many are opposed to any interaction is a little surprising and flies in the face of all we're told about connecting with readers online.

Some readers felt very strongly--finding authors "friending" readers on social networking sites as "rude". And another said they had enough drama in their life and didn't want to read about the author's life. Another was unhappy with authors hanging out on "reader" sites. One person said authors should only be known by their work. Also, many assume that if we're online and discussing books that aren't our own, we're just friends with that author and it's not genuine.

This prompted author Courtney Milan to ask in the comments:

How safe is it for authors to participate in discussions of books at all? Do people just assume that authors are friends with the author? Does that chill discussion?

The whole post and discussion was rather enlightening for me, a bit depressing and frankly, isolating. Yes, I absolutely agree that authors should refrain from commenting/defending/attacking in the comments sections of reviews. That's a given.

But now we're not supposed to discuss other books and we're not supposed to go in "reader" groups/areas? Yes, we're writers, but first and foremost we're READERS. Just because I have a book out there doesn't mean I'm not also voracious reader who loves to discuss books with others. Hearing that my presence in a reader group may be construed as something self-serving made me a little sad. Like I can't play on that playground anymore.

And maybe I'm the exception but even before I was a writer, I loved the idea of getting to know the authors behind the books I enjoyed. I liked reading the "why they wrote the book" posts or little explanations and insider information about the story. If I was actually able to discuss/chat about the book with them, well, awesome! So I know that there are other readers out there like me.

And maybe that's why the responses to the post surprised me. And, of course, this is a specific sample and may not represent readers as a whole. Many people commenting on the post were authors and book bloggers. Book bloggers are not your casual readers. They deal with authors daily. So I'm sure if you've dealt with one too many difficult authors, you can become a little more wary and jaded.

But here are my takeaways from the post:

1. Saying thank you publicly for a review may not always be a good thing. Send a note privately if you'd like to thank the reviewer.

2. Commenting on a review in any way can shut down reader discussion.

3. Readers may see you as an intruder with an agenda if you join book discussion groups. (So make sure you don't have an ulterior motive for joining.)

4. You may not be the best person to publicly promo your friends books (and vice versa) because many readers will only see it as helping a friend. This doesn't mean don't do it, but understand that it may hold less weight than independent reviewers so make sure you mix it up when you're promoting your book.

5. Some readers don't want to "connect" with you. It may taint their reading experience. Respect that. So interact, be available, chat, blog but don't go "hunting" readers and injecting yourself into their online lives if you weren't invited.

6. Don't jump into Facebook or Twitter discussions when people are discussing your book unless you're invited or messaged directly.

7. Do everything with genuineness. Don't "friend" people because you want them to buy your book. Friend them because you want to get to know them. (Duh.)

8. If certain issues or questions keep coming up in reviews, don't necessarily address them in the comments. Write a blog post on your own blog answering those questions so that readers who are interested in knowing more can seek it out if they'd like. (Good fodder for FAQ section.)

So what do you think about all this? Were you surprised by any of it? And how do you think these things should be handled? Do you think this represents a large group of readers or is more specific to bloggers who deal with authors daily?

Holding Myself Accountable - 2011 Resolutions Revisited

Today I don't have a Fill-Me-In-Friday for you because I've been on vacation and haven't been surfing the web and collecting links this week.

But, in the spirit of the new year rolling in this weekend, I figured I should check back in on my goals I set here on the blog at the end of last year and report on results.

So here goes...

2011 Writing Goals:

Complete Book 2 in the Exposure Therapy Loving on the Edge series way ahead of my June deadline. [Did it!]
Draft at least one additional full length novel. [only halfway there but that's because of one of the goals below]
Sell Wanderlust (the novel I finished before CRASH). [purposely put this on hold, deciding where I want to go with it]
Attend RWA Nationals in NYC. [did it!]
Attempt to write a short piece (short story or novella) --I am totally intimidated at the idea of writing anything shorter than category length (55k), but I think writing something briefer will be a good exercise for me. [Completed and sold a 30k novella to Berkley! This is also why I'm not finished book 3 this year.]

Blogging Goals:

Continue to keep up a regular blogging schedule and hopefully not bore you all. :) [kept up my blogging, you guys will have to let me know on the boring part]
Perhaps start or join a group blog and do more guest blogging. [definitely did more guest blogging and started up separate author blog]

Reading goals:

Read 40 or more books.

[Read 31, so was close. If you're interested in seeing what I read, I kept the list here.]

Personal Goals

Potty train the kiddo [Sadly, no. This MUST happen this year. Please, God.]
Be in a size ten or lower by the time I go to previously mentioned RWA Nationals. [*snort* Yeah, uh, didn't happen.]
Have a better work/life balance. [This one fluctuated. Can still get better at this.

So I won some, I lost some. Altogether, not a bad year. Now I need to think of my goals for 2012. (If I can find time to actually think of some, lol.)

So how did you do on your goals this year? What are some of your goals for the new year? Are you joining any writing or reading challenges? What goal do you most hope to accomplish?

Hope you all have a wonderful New Year! And don't forget, CRASH INTO YOU comes out this Tuesday!!! (

See here for my dorky contest


Fill-Me-In Friday: The Best Writing Links of the Week


Hey, everyone! I'm sure you've had a busy week preparing for the holidays, so I've rounded up the best posts I've come across this week. 
On Writing and Publishing:
Should You Join the Indy Revolution? by CJ Lyons via Romance University

For Gits and Shiggles:


Can Drinking Help Your Writing? at Slate Magazine  (love that one of the hypotheses is that writers are all a little crazy anyway and more prone to addiction, lol. Like we need anyone to tell us that we're bent.)

Awesome Holiday Videos via Emily Ryan-Davis

What You May Have Missed Here:


Creating a Story Bible by Suzanne Johnson
What You May Have Missed on the Author Blog or on My CRASH INTO YOU Blog Tour:

Reid, hero of CRASH INTO YOU, talks about the perfect submissive
PLUS a chance to win my book!
at As the Pages Turn
(And what that has to do with ugly guys in p0rn)
at Kat Latham's Blog
at Anne R. Allen's Blog
That's all I've got. I hope you all have a wonderful and happy holiday! Have fun, be safe, and eat too many cookies!



“...a sexy, sizzling tale that is sure to have readers begging for more!" –Jo Davis, author of I SPY A DARK OBSESSION



CRASH INTO YOU is now available for pre-order!

Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2011 |Copyright Statement|


The Best Books I've Read This Year & Readers' Choice Nominations

Each year I give myself reading challenges. Beyond the fact that I love listing things, reading challenges remind me (when I get lost in the haze of writing) that I need to take time out to read. If you want to see what I've read and where I'm at with my challenges, you can see all of it here.

These organized lists also help me keep track so that I can look back over the year and see which books stood out the most. So today I'm going to list my faves of the year.

THEN it's going to be your turn. Last year I did the Fiction Groupie Readers' Choice Awards and featured your recommendations. I'd like to do that again, so in the comments tell me what was your favorite book of the year (it doesn't have to be a book released this year just one you read this year.) And then I'll feature the list next week.

All right, so on to my picks for this year...

Favorite YA:

Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly

A fabulous story about a girl with a "touch of Asperger's" finding her way through friendship and first love. Amazingly good.

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

The title may make this sound like a fun YA beach read, but, man, it is so much more than that. Beautiful book.


Haunting Beauty (A Mists of Ireland Novel) by Erin Quinn

A time-travel Irish romance that had me guessing at every turn. Awesome.

Erotic Romance:

Pleasure's Edge by Eve Berlin

A BDSM romance -This was one of those that I knew from the very first chapter that I wouldn't be able to put it down.

Corralled: A Blacktop Cowboys Novel by Lorelei James

One woman and two hunky bull riders. The author did such a great job of world-building that she made me want to go to a rodeo--and believe me, that's saying something for me, lol.

Finding Eden by Kele Moon

A male/male BDSM romance. This is a prequel to Beyond Eden. You don't have to have read one to understand the other, but I definitely recommend both. Disclaimer: This one is considered "darker" or heavier BDSM. So if you've never read the genre, you may need to work up to this one. :) )

Romantic Suspense:

Smash Cut by Sandra Brown

A serial killer who imitates famous movie scenes in his killings. How's that for high concept?

Writing Books:

Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need by Blake Snyder

Changed my life. That is all.

Are You There Blog? It's Me, Writer? by Kristen Lamb

I'm sure most of you already follow Kristen, but here's where you can get all her blogging tips in a nice, neat package.

Books by Author Friends Which I Loved:

Tempest by Julie Cross

Time-Travel YA - I technically read this one last year because I was a beta reader. BUT, it comes out Jan. 17 and is fabulous. Go buy it.

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally

A girl quarterback, a love triangle, and a whole lot of fun.

Okay, so those are my picks. Now it's your turn. In the comments, tell me what was your favorite book of the year. I'll feature the books (and link to the person who recommended it) in a future post.

Creating a Story Bible by Suzanne Johnson

First, a quick announcement: my CRASH INTO YOU blog tour has started! So if you're interested in following along here are my first two posts:

Why I Went Traditional and 7 Reasons Why You Should (or Shouldn't) at Anne R. Allen's Blog

Why Do All the Romance Heroes Have Six-Packs? at Kat Latham's blog



It's guest Monday and today author Suzanne Johnson is something that *I* need to listen to. Even though I don't write a supernatural world, my series takes place around and at a place called The Ranch, which is a BDSM retreat with its own intricate rules and procedures. I find as I'm writing book 3, I keep forgetting what standards I set up in book one. Plus, all my characters are connected in some way so I need to keep track of that. And don't even get me started on minor characters' names. *headdesk* Hopefully this post can help me get things straight. : )

Take it away, Suzanne...




Creatinga Story Bible
by Suzanne Johnson
Filethis post under “Lessons Learned the Hard Way.”

When Istarted writing my first novel in the winter of 2008 and spring of 2009, I wasjust amusing myself, really. It was an exercise to try and rid myself ofpost-traumatic stress left over from Hurricane Katrina and severe homesicknessfor New Orleans, which I’d recently moved away from after almost fifteen years.

To condensea long, boring story, after a journalism career during which I pronouncedseveral times that I had no ability or interest in writing fiction, I got thebug. Never say never. In July came the agent, and in the fall came the firstcontract. By that time, I’d finished with the second book, which also sold.

So, hereI am at book three, and I’m almost three years older, if not wiser. And I findmyself thinking: Wait, did (heroine) DJ use spellcast rubies or emeralds in thefirst book when she did the transport charm? What was that wizard’s name shemet briefly at the morgue? What were the words she used when she summoned theundead Marie Laveau from the Beyond? Did she have to put blood on her summoningcircle, or just place candles around it? What color were the candles?

Lookingup all that stuff, I realized, was going to take for-evah. So I did something I should have done three years ago:started creating a Story Bible. Or, more accurately, hired a former studentintern to read Royal Street and River Road and make a Story Bible forme. 

Ifyou’re not writing a paranormal, a few of these areas won’t apply, but here arethe things I asked my intern to make note of. A lot of them will apply to anynovel.

--Each character, along with aphysical description, physical quirks, specific words used in description(i.e., “eyes the color of dark chocolate”), likes/dislikes, family members,hometowns, type of species (wizard, shapeshifter, etc.), cars they drive, nicknames,and in which book/scene they first appear.

--Specific places mentioned:restaurant names, what they eat, places they have meetings, location of homesand offices. Physical layout/décor descriptions of places (i.e., layout of DJ’shouse, layout of Napoleon House restaurant/bar, layout of Green Gator bar).

--Species traits. Quirks/abilities of species: wizards,varmpires, elves, fae, water species (merpeople, nymphs, naiads),shapeshifters, were-critters besides loup-garou, loup-garou, historical undeadand difference between them and zombies, ghouls and ghosts.

--Worldbuilding. Magical hierarchy and skills/duties.

--Magic. Charms and potions DJ uses, and what she does/whatingredients she uses. Book and MSS page number where used.

Once my new StoryBible for the Sentinels of New Orleans series is complete, I’ll go in andinsert photos of places, diagrams of house layouts and places—even charactersif I’ve based them physically on an actor or actress.

So now,as I write Elysian Fields, to avoidstopping and looking up stuff from previous books, I’m plugging in the wordALBATROSS for every hole. That way, I don’t get slowed down in my first draft.Then, on second draft, I’ll do a search for ALBATROSS and fill in the holesusing my handy-dandy Story Bible (Sarah—finish that thing!).

“It was a good sign. I’d metALBATROSS during a harebrained foray to the temporary morgue that had been setup after Katrina.”

“Seven p.m. had barely come andgone, yet the line of people waiting to get into L’Amour Sauvage alreadystretched down ALBATROSS Street…”

If I haddone the Story Bible from the outset, this would not be necessary. Doh.

Are youwriting a series or shared-universe books? Story Bible. Really. Just do it. Andif you do it, or a version of it, what’s your method? 


Suzanne Johnson is an author of urban fantasy “with romantic elements.” Her first book, Royal Street, a magic-based fantasy set in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina, will be released by Tor Books on April 10, 2012. Two more in the series will be released in Fall 2012 and Spring 2013. Find Suzanne online at her Preternatura blog, or read about her books at her website.

*Look for more from Suzanne here every 3rd Monday of the month!






"Revved up and red-hot sexy, CRASH INTO YOU, delivers a riveting romance!" --Lorelei James, NY Times Bestselling author of the ROUGH RIDERS series



CRASH INTO YOU is now available for pre-order!

Read an excerpt here.

All content copyright of the author. Please ask permission before re-printing or re-posting. Fair use quotations and links do no require prior consent of the author. ©Roni Loren 2009-2011 |Copyright Statement|