Today I’m hanging out over at Liquid Silver’s blog talking about how I do research for my books.
Come on over and drop me a comment and you’ll be entered to win an e-copy of one of my books from the Tilling Passions series!
What are you doing still here?
I know, it’s not unusual for me to have some eye candy around to entertain my visitors. So what makes this Monday so special? I actually know this guy!
Roscoe James is a friend of mine who is also published with Liquid Silver Books. We tripped into the place together and have been helping each other stumble through the publishing maze.
Roscoe was born along the dusky red banks of the Ohio River. He grew up in a sleepy little town in southern Indiana where the sounds of cicadas and whippoorwills marked the arrival of summer and cruising the town square on a Friday night was a rite of passage. From law enforcement to the hallowed corporate halls of two Fortune 500s he draws from a deep well of life experience. With Spanish as his second language and the day-to-day of living in one of the largest cities of culture in the world, RJ infuses his stories with a raw reality that makes the characters memorable forever.
I love Roscoe’s writing. I pulled him over here to introduce him and his writing to you. And like all my guests, I’ve got him tied up with my trusty whip handy if he gets out of line. But from the smile on his face … I’m thinking he’s not seeing it as a punishment. 😀
So Roscoe, we’ve been hanging around together at Liquid Silver Books for what, a year? nine months? something like that. How’d you find your way there?
Right, well, you know, I’d been driving around for about four years trying to find the place. You know us guys – keen sense of direction and all that. Then I had to buy gas and, well, before you get the wrong idea, I didn’t ask. I don’t want any misunderstandings. I think some guy walking by just happened to….(Don’t worry, dude, I didn’t actually think you asked for directions.)
Yeah, I can see you’re not buyin’ it. Okay, a year and 9 months ago I decided I was going to get serious about something I’d been doing off and on since 2000. Writing. So I did what most people do that are cursed with great resolve and very little natural ability. I wrote. A lot. I managed to put together two full length novels (which will remain unnamed) and I shopped ’em around to agents and brick and mortar publishers. Yeah, that was a heady experience. Let me tell you. I don’t think I’ve banged my head against a brick wall so many times in so little time before in my life. Then I got smart. I put the books on a floppy and threw ’em in my desk.
Then in January of 2007 I came across Flash Fiction Sunday at the Liquid Silver blog. Hey, I’m a guy, flashing comes natural to us. (For those uninitiated, flashing is actually 100 word vignettes … yeah, Roscoe was just a little confused.) Anyway, once I got my coat back on I realized what a great opportunity it was to actually write. And I did. I met several authors, had a lot of fun, someplace in there I lost a kilt. Still haven’t found that. (I sooo did not take his kilt … well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!) And the rest, as they say, is history.
Well, there was this really great rejection letter I received from Tina…
Okay, so I’m glad you brought that up. (Ahhh, a little erotic humor!) Anyway … most romance writers have the whole indoor plumbing thing going on and you … well, you’ve got all these dangly bits. What made a man decide to write romance?
As long as you’re bringing it up let me, ah, get it straight (punzzz intended)… indoor plumbing, outdoor plumbing. Well, as a matter of fact, even here in Mexico we stopped using outhouses and porta… oh, right, got’cha. Listen, before we get to that… I just wondered. You haven’t seen a kilt around anywhere? Just asking. (*whispers* Don’t tell him it’s in the closet with all the rest of the ones I stole.)
Pretty simple. I like it. I don’t know of a writer that isn’t writing what they like. I’m no exception. A well written romance is probably the most difficult genre to write. Learning about a city you haven’t visited because you want to include it in a book is pretty simple. Search it on the internet, take notes, look at a few pictures, and you’re done.
But writing the intricacies, nuances, and emotional depth of a relationship and making your reader feel that relationship – live it – that’s the ultimate challenge in writing. And, when you get right down to it, romance is the oldest genre in creative writing.
Okay, you’re smirking. Alright, I admit it. Tucked between Hunt for Red October and Matrix (all of em) you’ll find Notting Hill, You’ve Got Mail, and What Women Want on our video shelf. (I’m telling you ladies … this guy’s a romantic.) And beside my collection of Cussler, Grisham, and King you’ll find Roberts, Coulter, and D.H. Lawrence.
So, really, why not?
I love writing my hero’s POV. But then I’m a woman trying to get in a man’s head and other women are reading it and probably have the same perspective of the male species. So it’s hard for me to screw that up. You on the other hand, are a guy getting in a woman’s head. We’re convinced men have no clue about us. How do you manage to write from your heroine’s perspective … or do you?
Good question. Ya got another one in there? No, just kidding. The answer is simple. I’m sure I’m not. Not yet. I don’t believe there are many authors out there that get it all right the first time out. There’s nothing more sobering than picking up one of your first writes eight years later. Well, we won’t go there. Actually, I avoided that problem with my first two books (Deer Run Falls and The White Swan). I was sure I couldn’t even come close. In those two books I focused on something I thought the female reader might find just as interesting… if not more so. Both books are written from the hero’s point of view. And in both I tried to give the reader two things. His thoughts, reactions, and feeling. And something just as important – his perception of the actions and reactions of his heroine. Okay, I may not have done a perfect job but I think the hero’s voice is unique in both books.
In Forever’s Not Enough, future fantasy SciFi, I made my first attempt at the heroine’s voice. That book explores both the heroine and hero’s POV.
Do I have an idea what my heroine’s (and women in general are thinking)? You’d have to ask my readers (and my wife). Will my idea of both POV’s change with my writing? Sure. Because I’m here to write for my readers and last time I checked, most of them are women.
I loved writing my first novel, but it is true, a good writer is always improving. I thoroughly enjoyed Deer Run Falls, but absolutely fell in love with the second book in your Mississippi River Tales series, The White Swan. Tell us a little bit about those books.
Deer Run Falls was my first foray into the romance genre. It’s a hero’s point of view (POV), blackmail to murder, greed and money, with a twist and a surprise. All set in the lush lap of southern comfort. Doesn’t sound like much of a romance does it? Well, I needed to put the hero in a bind so he could be saved. Can’t really say much more without giving the whole thing away.
The single POV came from this great rejection letter I received from Tina Burns, then acquisitions director of Liquid Silver Books. Aside from the total lack of romance in the rejected book (well, it was written 8 years ago as a thriller, give me a break) she commented on my head hopping. Yep, it was a problem. So I set out to see if I could even write a single POV book. Gotta tell ya, it is a challenge. There are moments in any situation where changing characters makes things so much easier to explain. Less words. Clear and to the point. The real skill is bringing all that to light without the POV character being directly involved in the action. So, anyway, that’s how Deer Run Falls came about.
The White Swan was a completely different story. I grew up along the red banks of the Ohio. Speed boat races in Madison Indiana. River boat rides and races from Louisville to Cincinnati. Summer water skiing up and down the Ohio. Bike (as in motorcycle) trips through the Mark Twain National forest. Well, and one other little thing. Just a detail. Family lore has it that on my mother’s side of the family I’m related to a real, honest to goodness, pirate. We won’t go there right now but The White Swan was my attempt at bringing all those things together. If you haven’t been on a midnight dance cruise on a riverboat and you get the chance I highly recommend it.
And I did one other thing with The White Swan. I dabbled in a period subplot. The hero’s line is traced back to Jean Lafitte, the gentleman pirate, late of New Orleans. The research was a blast and while quite real, so little is known about him that you’re left with this really great framework to hang dramatization on. The hero, Nash Fross, is heir to a shipping fortune and all that implies. I needed a match and a motive in the heroine so I created Teresa Holloway – Pulitzer winner and investigative reporter. Her cover to get close to the hero is to do a feature piece on the revival (or demise) of luxury riverboat travel on the Mississippi. Of course, her true motive is a little different. Let’s just say that the reader should pay close attention to the Lafitte subplot.
They were both great writes, but The White Swan was fun as well.
I’ve also read Forever’s Not Enough, the first story in your Galactic League of Planets series. It was a wonderful read about a feline-type heroine. Could you tell us a little bit about how this came about and what we can expect next?
After two contemporary romance novels I wanted to try something different. One Sunday hanging out in flash (I don’t recall who was running it) I flashed on a topic I normally wouldn’t touch. Fur. I think it was actually fur and feathers. So, not wanting to have a non-flash Sunday I started the story of Princess Peenzan of the planet Meline. I know, corny – Meline – feline. And yes, humanoid with a few cat characteristics.
All this takes place within the framework of the Galactic League of Planets. GLOP. SciFi and future fantasy. I’ve finished the second in the GLOP series – Bastina’s Necklace. Both explore our galaxy in the 24th century when the earth has melted down into one country, one state, all run by the Corporation. Nine other planets have been discovered with humanoid like beings that are intelligent. Every book has a sub plot about the Corporation trying to dominate the galaxy through dastardly deeds but the real story is always love. Love in all the wrong places at the most inopportune moments between the least likely pair.
And Forever was really a fun write. Gotta say, I love world building.
Okay, so a little bit about Roscoe James the writer. Give us some juicy details about you. Your writing schedule, your habits … and come on, dish on some of those dirty secrets.
Me? As in moi? Yo? No me digas… well, I’m a voracious reader. Some of my favorite works include – Twist Off, Channel Up, Channel Down, Mute, Hot Wings Included, Two For One, Cherry Flavor (we won’t go into that one), and my all time favorite… Oh, wait, you mean big things, important things, life forming experiences. (Anyone ever tell you that you think like a guy sometimes, Roscoe? Damn, will you share that remote? *grabs remote and handcuffs him to the chair* And really … a little more info on that “cherry flavor” thing would be nice … no? Fine, continue…)
Let me think. It takes me a minute to get the creative… ah, sorry. To dig all that stuff up. Okay, a few things. I was diagnosed mildly dyslexic at the age of 6. By the fifth grade I had not read a book. Not one. Then my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Norsworthy (I think she must have been 80 – I’ve always had this thing for older women) got me interested in a book. And I read it. Bet you can’t guess which one. Anyway, after that first book, I’ve always been reading something. I joined a book club for kids and never looked back.
Most of my childhood was spent in a small town of 3,400. I took French in high school (the language… c’mon Nina… sheesh … hey, Roscoe, you’re the one leading “me” astray … can I help it if my mind goes to the gutter when you’re around? Okay, so you’re talking about French, sorry my dirty mind interrupted.)
Well, anyway, I pretty much flunked out of that one. It was decided a second language was not in my future. I only mention that because I had no idea at the time that I’d end up living in one of the biggest cities in the world speaking a language not my own.
I play the guitar – jazz, blues, and flamenco. I play at a few other instruments. Scuba dive (well, used to, haven’t for a few years), snow ski, oh, and I write.
The routine. Well, the writing routine is, well, pretty routine. I write fulltime. Monday through Friday you’ll find me sitting at my desk tapping away. I write anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 words a day once past the first chapter. (The man puts me to shame with that daily word count. It appears I only “play” at writing full time. *g*)
I go start to finish. Kinda get it all on paper, put it away for a week, then get it out and read.
Married with a great son. You know, chip off the ol’ block. All that stuff. (And his wife is already marked for sainthood putting up with this man! *vbg*)
What? The book? Why, Treasure Island, of course.
All his books are available through Liquid Silver Books.
Oh, here comes Roscoe’s usual bevy of beauties to help with cocktail hour and a few man-studs to round out the group. Of course the kilt ‘n dales will be here shortly. So why don’t you stay a few minutes and party with us? And by all means … ask the man a few questions! 😉
I’d like to say it was easy writing my latest story. I’d like to say the words just flowed onto the page. I’d like to say there was no frustration, or throwing of pens, or late nights…
But that ain’t the case! LOL!
I worked and pushed and forced myself to put sentences together to fill the pages. My characters seemed to take great pleasure keeping their stories hidden from me. I didn’t know who they were or why they needed me to tell their story. Like a personal trainer, I pressed them and kept at them until finally they relented and told me about all their pain and hopes.
Three quarters of the way through, the villain let loose on a rampage that revealed all. Like he had to wait that long? Because that meant I needed to go back and explain it all to the other characters in the beginning chapters. LOTS of rewriting.
But let me tell you … it was worth it!
From all this work, came my latest book, Shadows of Fire. I submitted it to Liquid Silver Books for their fireman series that will be coming out in 2009.
Fortunately, they also liked my novella and offered me a contract! Yay Me! I’m still dancing!
Here’s the blurb:
Sometimes the answer you seek is right in front of you …
ALEXANDRA FLANAGAN didn’t ask to be forced from her human existence as a chemistry student at the South Kenton University in the northern mountains of California into the ungodly world of vampires. But thirty years ago, after nearly dying from a vicious vampire attack, that’s exactly what happened. Saved by the blood of an ancient vampire, she unhappily walks among immortals–facing a hollow existence she never chose.
REESE COLTON has been a vampire for centuries. A man of honor, he is part of an elite military operation known as RISEN that seeks out and eliminates rogue vampires who choose to break the unwritten codes of the immortals and not live complacently among the human population. Under cover as a firefighter at the South Kenton fire department, he and his team have been called in to investigate the unusual number of fires that have ended the lives of several humans–and vampires.
When chemistry ignites passion, Reese and Alex find themselves embroiled in an affair that catches them both unaware. With the number of fires escalating and Alex’s behavior increasingly suspect, Reese isn’t sure whether to follow his heart or the clues. Will Reese find the answers to Alex’s secrets in the Shadows of Fire?
Now, we just have to wait until next year for these bad-boy firefighting vampires to be released into the world!
I make no secrets over the fact that I absolutely loooove my publisher, Liquid Silver Books. It was a year ago this week they offered me my first contract and I am so happy we found each other! We’ve been through a lot since then. It’s been an amazing ride and I look forward to growing with them.
Today, Tina Burns has agreed to visit, share a little bit about Liquid Silver Books and stay and answer some of your questions. Hopefully, it will take some of the mystery away when it comes to submitting a manuscript to a publisher.
Here’s where I get to dig in and find out all those things everyone has been dying to know!
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became involved in Liquid Silver Books.
I started out in the eRomance industry as a reviewer and through them, got a job as a proofreader for LSB. I made so many editorial comments on the proofreader test that they asked me to take the editor test. I proofed one book, then took the test for editor and the rest is history. I’ve moved up in the ranks handling the newsletter, PR, and Author Liaison. Oct of 06 Raven and Mike asked me to move to Acquisitions since Rachel Fox moved over to concentrate on the Terran Realm line and just before RT was promoted to Publisher. What does that mean? I’m still finding out, but my goal is to help the staff and authors achieve their goals and beyond. I’ll be concentrating on increasing sales, increasing submissions, attending conferences, and evangelizing the good LSB word. (I love everyone at LSB. But I’ll always hold a special place in my heart for Tina … she’s the bestest! She offered me my first ever contract. And a gal just doesn’t forget her first *wink*)
What specifically makes Liquid Silver Books a great company to work for?
I think first and foremost the owners Raven and Mike. A company is only as good as its leaders and they’re both deep in business sense while at the same time bring a sense of camaraderie and ownership to the authors. Secondly, our authors and their books. I’m not gonna lie, we’re picky about what we accept, because we want our readers to have the best erotic romance stories on the market, and I think we’ve achieved that and will continue to “wow” our readers in the future. (Doing a little preening of my feathers right here. I love being an LSB author! I’m in the company of some amazing talent!)
Okay, I know Mike does the foot massages and runs to Starbucks to keep everyone happy while Raven slaves at the business. But could you tell us a little more about the LSB structure?
Raven and Mike are the owners. Raven does the website, publishing and keeps Mike in line, most of the time. Mike is our Guru of everything, he runs the forum, Silver Net, lovingly known as SiN, oversees the bookstore (sales), and generally tries to keep us entertained with his puns. Those skim the surface of all that they do. My title is Publisher. What does that mean? I’m still finding out, but my goal is to help the staff and authors achieve their goals and beyond. I’ll be concentrating on increasing sales, increasing submissions, attending conferences, and evangelizing the good LSB word. Terri Schaefer is the Editorial Director, her staff of editors rock out all our books. Rachel Fox is the Terran Realm Senior Editor and also helps out with a bit of everything. April Martinez is our Art Director. (She and her staff are absolutely amazing!) Tracey West is starting in August as our Acquisitions Director, she’ll be overseeing submissions. We’re very lucky to have Maria Shaink as our Publishing Admin. She’s taken over the newsletter, a lot of the forum duties, and new author introductions. She’s become invaluable to all of us.
Is there one type of sub-genre within erotica that LSB is looking for?
No. We’re looking for all types, all heat levels. We might put out a call for a series or an anthology, but we’re always looking for submissions.
I know LSB has two lines of erotica. Would you explain the difference between “liquid” and “molten” heat levels?
We’re actually introducing a third heat level, Sterling. This will open up our library to stories with greater emotional buildup, still with lots of sensual tension, but allow for fewer sex scenes. We’re still an erotic romance publisher, so our Sterling line will still leave the lights on for sex, for example, but the sex could wait till the end of the story as the culmination of that emotional buildup. Our Liquid line will encompass most of what it does today; great character development, building to committed relationships (HEA), and smokin’ hot sex. The Molten line opens up the sex to include GLBT, multiple partners, BDSM/Fetish, and Happy For Now endings.
I just got my royalty check. You think I should order these cute black stilettos with the rhinestones or the purple cowboy boots?
I’d go for the black stilettos but nix the rhinestones! (You know she’s right, the rhinestones clash with the boa I’m wearing.)
How do authors submit work to LSB? Do you prefer a particular format? Email or snail mail queries? That kind of thing.
Authors who aren’t already part of LSB, need to send their submissions to the sub2008 @ liquidsilverbooks.com (without the spaces) address. The email should include:
– their personal contact information
– a short bio and publishing history (if any)
– a snapshot synopsis of their book
– and attach the first three chapters in Microsoft Word .rtf format.
We don’t take queries without this information. If you email me with your synopsis and say “Let me know if you’d like to see it.”, I’ll just reply back that if you want me to see it, follow the guidelines. 😀
You were the one who offered me my first contracts with LSB, would you explain a little bit about the process of querying to contract offer?
Sure! Suzie Author emails the first three chapters (following the guidelines above). We read them, and if we like them, we email and ask for the full manuscript. Once she’s replied back with her full, we finish reading the story. If we still like it, we make an offer. Once she says yes and does her happy dance, I ship off the contract to her to sign on the dotted line! (Mine’s more like a happy dance through the neighborhood … most of the time I try to wear clothes. But sometimes in my excitement…)
After the contract … what can an author expect?
From contract to publication runs about 4 months. The authors fill out a cover art request form, join SiN, get introduced to their editor and go through a month (typically) of edits. The book then rolls to a proof reader for that final scrubbing. If there are any changes it goes back to the author. Once we get a clean final manuscript, Mike does his magic and Raven publishes the book.
I’ve never met an unhappy LSB author. What do you attribute this to?
Me. No, just kidding. I think we’re fair, we’re established and knowledgeable about the business, committed to giving the best to our readers and authors and just plain fun on top of it all. Can’t argue with that, huh? (No arguments from me. I have enjoyed going through the process with every contract. And really, it’s F-U-N over at LSB!)
Anything else you’d like to share?
Thanks for having me! We’ve got some exciting things in the works for the rest of this year and beyond so keep your eyes peeled!
Very informative Tina! Like all my guests, I’ve tied her up … err, I mean she’s agreed to stay, yeah, that’s what I meant … she’s agreed to stay and answer some of your questions.
Go on … ask. You know you wanna!