The Maine Romance Writers “STRUT YOUR STUFF” WRITING CONTEST is open for entries!

mrw_SYSContest2016

The contest will be open to all authors of romantic fiction (including romantic elements), published, unpublished, self-published, so long as the work submitted is unpublished in any form.

Each entry will have three parts, rated on a nine point scale:

1. Blurb. 1-2 paragraphs on your book. The type that goes on the back cover blurb or as part of a pitch.
2. The first ten pages of your book, or the first chapter. Not to exceed ten pages.
3. Dialogue scene – 1-2 pages

The top finalist from each part (a total of 3 finalists) will have his/her ENTIRE entry judged by acquiring editor Alissa Davis of Carina Press.

So what are you waiting for? the deadline is MARCH 1, 2016. Click HERE for all the details and your entry form. Best of luck!

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Every author knows how important it is not only to set the stage of their scene, but to describe the characters in their story. The fact is, there’s a way to do this that works and there’s the method of blending the description into your story where the reader is barely aware you’ve thrown it in there.

Check out this description…

Marissa walked into the bar, settling on a barstool next to her best friend. Jenny leaned over, whispering in her ear, but the background noise made it impossible to hear her words. As if a light shone over his head her gaze fell on him. Six foot two with wavy hair that curled over his collar. His black t-shirt stretched over a wide chest and wash board abs. She just had to meet him.

Yeah, okay, so that was so obviously bad, but you get the idea. A description by itself does nothing for the reader. Because it’s just … a description. There’s nothing to pull you in and make you care. That’s my job. From the first page, heck, the first LINE I want to grab the reader and never let go. Here’s the same paragraph the way I would write it …

Marissa walked into the dimly lit bar, her gaze bouncing over a room filled with desperate woman looking for Mr. Right and asshole men looking for Ms. Right Now. She hated this stuff. Another Friday night filled with watered down drinks and bad pickup lines. Not exactly the way she wanted to end her backbreaking day at work that had been the last of a truly shitty week. But Jenny needed a wingman and Marissa hated to disappoint.

“Hey, I saved us some seats.” Jenny led the way toward the bar, deftly parting the sea of bodies with hips swaddled in a leather skirt molded guyperfectly to her curves. Marissa caught the word “guy” and “so hot” and was grateful she couldn’t hear Jenny over the beat of the country song competing with the shouting conversations and raucous laughter. She really had no desire to hear about another one of her best friend’s sexual conquests. Marissa would just stay for one drink, steer the right guy to her friend’s side and head home.

As if pulled by some unknown force, her gaze dragged to the bar and there he was. A head taller than the men surrounding him, the dark waves curling over his ears shown blue in the muted light. His very presence called to her. Muscles bunched and rippled beneath his dark t-shirt as he absently reached behind him for the mug of beer. Dark, dangerous eyes locked on hers a moment before Jenny’s voice cut through her sexual haze.

“Marissa, this is Tyler. Tyler, Marissa.”

His full lips curved into a predatory smile and she knew she was a goner.

Still probably not the final scene that would make it in a book, but the scene setting mixed with internal dialogue and character descriptions definitely gives it a multi-dimensional feeling.

Let me share an opening scene from a master at this technique, Sylvia Day. This is one of the opening paragraphs from her book PRIDE AND PLEASURE

Alighting from his carriage, Jasper paused to better appreciate the impressive portico and Corinthian columns of the church’s facade. Muted singing flowed outward from the building, a lovely contrast to the frustrated shouts of couchmen and the clatter of horses’ hooves behind him. His cane hit the street with a thud, his gloved palm wrapped loosely around the eagle’s-head top. With hat in hand, he waved his driver away.

Wow! She describes the hero while setting the scene. All the while pulling us into this intriguing tale. I live to read passages like that.

So what about you? Do you skim character and scene descriptions or do you relish them, drinking in every detail? I’d love to hear what you think.

When I decided to sit down and write a fireman story I had no idea Reese Colton was a vampire. But as the story unfolded so did his history. And I gotta tell you, he’s one hot vampire!

Please enjoy this excerpt from “UNCONTROLLED BURN” available as a stand alone and as part of the “INTO THE FLAMES” boxed set …

Uncontrolled-Burn-e-reader
 
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And today I’ll share with you 13 reasons I think chocolate is better than sex.

1. There’s no such thing as bad chocolate.

2. A bag of M&M’s brings you multiple pleasure… every time.

3. I never had to pretend a cheap piece of chocolate was “the best I ever had”.

4. No busy day, foul mood, menstrual cramps or headache ever kept me from eating chocolate.

5. A hersey’s miniature never tried to pass itself off as a full-sized candy bar.
 
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What is it about the night that awakens our imagination and gets our heart racing? There are all kinds of answers to that question. For me, it’s the secrecy. What exactly are the shadows hiding? What is cloaked by the black that the light of day would reveal?

I’ll be the first admit I have an overactive imagination.I don’t watch horror movies because I remember every detail of the monsters and the evil that reigned. When the lights go out, I don’t need those images adding to the ones I’m already conjuring. I close every closet door and tuck away every stray piece of clothing on the floor, lest they hide a villain or become some malevolent entity in the wee hours of the night. Problems loom so much larger when they pull me from sleep. Sounds magnify and become telltale signs of a malicious presence seeking to harm me. I try to be logical about this whole thing. But there’s something about all those shifting shadows that completely crosses my wires and I can’t seem to pull myself together.
 
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In this crazy world of publishing it’s getting harder and harder to know which way to turn. There’s confusion over which road to take or even whether we should stop, take a look around and maybe change direction completely.

Yeeeeah, that’s kind of where I’m at.

Eight years ago, at the end of December, my first book was published. I couldn’t have been more thrilled. Liquid Silver Books had taken a chance on an unknown author, held her hand through editing and cover design and released this book:

 
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Mr. Nina often asks me if there’s an owner’s manual for me. LOL! I wish. Not that he’d ever read it, I mean come on, he’s a guy. But still, there are some things I tell him, that he still doesn’t quite understand. In no particular order, here’s a list of things women wish men would understand:
couple with MusicLarge
1. Unless there are bones, blood or sex involved never interrupt a woman’s first cup of coffee (or tea)… her bath.. or the last chapter of her book.

2. A hamper is a thing… not an area of the bedroom.
 
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supportI’ve been thinking a lot about my support systems of late. Both personal and writing. Mostly because Mr. Nina is spending his weeks 2 hours north of me and I’m alone so much of the time. All I can say is … thank goodness for the Internet!!

I was once asked what the most difficult part of my writing journey has been and by far it had to be the period time when I was alone before I found other writers to share my celebrations and disappointments. My family has been a steadfast cornerstone of my career, believing in me even when I stumbled. I love them for that, but they don’t really understand the kick-in-the-gut feeling of getting a rejection, tumbling sales or the inability to find your writing mojo. Only another writer totally comprehends how difficult this stay-at-home-I’m-having-an-amazing-time-making-things-up-and-killing-bad-guys writing career can be.
 
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clock*deep calming breath* Really, I feel like I’m treading through molasses and not getting anywhere … fast! I know I’m not any different than every other writer out there trying to balance their real life with the world their building in their books. But sometimes life stuff just tumbles on top of itself and I get rolled up in the whole big mess.

I’ve not hidden the fact that the last 5 1/2 years have been a total clusterf**k for Mr. Nina and I. We moved from northern Maine where’d been living for over 20 years … which I was quite happy to do … to Rhode Island when Mr. Nina lost his job in hospital administration. Little did we realize what a rollercoaster we’d climbed up on! Well, 4 moves and 6 jobs later–we’re still trying to find our footing. Writing has taken a backseat to all of the turmoil. But even when I do have the mindset to sit down and start pounding out words, there seems to be other pressing issues.

I’m talking time management. This is as much for me as it is for those of you out in cyberland thinking you’ll never have time to finish that novel or short story you’ve promised yourself you’ll get to.
 
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People often ask me why I chose romance when I decided to write books. The answer was easy–it’s what I enjoy reading! And let’s face it, there’s nothing that makes my heart beat a little faster than a sexy hero (like Mr. Nina) and a romantic gesture.

I didn’t come at romance through the usual avenues of Judy Blume or sneaking Harlequin novels from my mother’s stash. Nope. I jumped right into romance around the age of 13 with The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. What’s not to love about family saga, a forbidden love affair with a priest and illegitimate babies? This romance had it all! I was hooked. I spent summers throughout high school and college poring through every book of Danielle Steel’s and moving onto Nora Roberts (I bow to the queen of romance) and Sandra Brown.
 
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