Final post

August 22, 2008

 I’ve been trying to divide my time between this blogsite, where I was trying to combine my two names–Diana Groe and Emily Bryan–and the ones I had for each of my names. It’s time to simplify my life. Since my new books are coming out under the Emily Bryan name, from now on, my official blog will be:

www.emilybryan.blogspot.com

I hope you’ll join me there on a regular basis. I’ll still be talking about writing and life and love. Not necessarily in that order. Thank you for visiting me here. If you’ve linked to this site, please change the link to my new one. My websites are both still up, so don’t forget about them:

www.emilybryan.com

www.dianagroe.com

Happy reading,

Diana/Emily

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Scene Stealer

July 14, 2008

Back when I was singing professional opera, occasionally one of the supernumeraries (spear carriers, we used to call them) would do something to upstage the main characters. (Dare I confess to doing it myself sometimes when I was spear carrier?) It’s not always planned, but it happens.

It happens in fiction too. An unsuspecting writer creates a secondary character to fill a need in the hero or heroine’s life and all of a sudden, the bit part refuses to stand quietly holding the spear. It happened to me when I created my heroine’s mother for PLEASURING THE PIRATE, my July 29th release from Leisure Books.

Meet Isabella Wren, better known as ‘La Belle Wren’ in demimonde circles. That’s right. She’s a courtesan and she’s good at it. She moves in the most exalted circles. As the 18th century counts celebrity, she’s a rock star. She’s bone-deep beautiful, wickedly sensual and calculatingly clever. She’s used to being the center of attention.

Why did I ever think she’d fade into the background until she was needed?

First she began poking her way into the story through my heroine’s memory. Isabella sent Jacquelyn to the finest schools, but couldn’t leave her education totally to the headmistress and her minions. She sent her distant daughter detailed letters schooling her in the art of love. “Ignorance is not always conducive to bliss,” she says.

When I turned in the initial manuscript for PLEASURING THE PIRATE, my editor said, “I love Isabella! She’s outrageous, but she sucks all the air out of the room. You have to tone her down.”

She was right. When ‘La Belle Wren’ made her entrance, the rest of the cast faded a bit. Isabella knows how to ‘take stage.’ But instead of toning her down, I opted for ratcheting my heroine up to meet her. I gave Jacquelyn an extra dollop of her mother’s spine, courage and wit. When the two of them join forces, my formidable pirate hero doesn’t stand a chance.

Isabella was too much fun to let go once PLEASURING THE PIRATE was finished, so she makes an encore appearance in my next book, VEXING THE VISCOUNT, due out March 2009. If you’d like to read an excerpt of both stories, please visit http://www.emilybryan.com/.

Meet & Greet

March 30, 2008

Distracting the DuchessDistracing the Duchess

When: April 3, 2008 7:30 pm
What: Adult Reading Group
Where: Barnes & Noble
444A Broadway
Saugus, MA 01906
Who: ME! I’ll be talking about
NEUROTICA~The Secret Life of a Romance Author

So join me for a fun evening of dispelling the notions of bon-bons and feather boas. I’ll be signing copies of DISTRACTING THE DUCHESS and the good folk at B & N have even stocked a few of my Diana Groe backlist titles.

I’ll be doing plenty of speaking and traveling this spring and summer, from Rhode Island to Seattle, WA. Visit http://www.emilybryan.com/ for more info about my itinerary. Hope to see you along the way!

  1. 1. FINISH THE BOOK! ~ Back in the 1980’s it might have been possible for a newbie to sell on speculation, but those days are gone forever. You MUST type “the end” before you send a query or give a pitch at a conference. Until you finish the manuscript, you have nothing to sell but a handful of fingers.

2. POLISH YOUR PROSE! ~ Good enough just won’t do. You’re competing for publishing slots with NY Times BestSellers. Tighten your story till it pings. By the time I’m ready to turn in a manscript, I’m sick to death of it. Of course, once the galley comes back I love it again, but you need to belabor your work so it’s clean and fresh and as ready for publication as you can possibly make it.

3. ENTER WRITING CONTESTS! ~ Send your darling off to as many contests as you can afford. Not only will you receive valuable feeback from your target audience, you might win or place. Most RWA Chapter contests will post the finalists in the Romance Writers Report. Win a few contests and you build valuable name recognition. Name recognition increases the chances that an agent or editor will take on a newbie. If someone else likes your work, they are more disposed to like it as well.

4. GO TO WRITERS CONFERENCES! ~ Nationals might be daunting to a newbie, but it is where I first met my agent. You’ll meet industry professionals and network with people who want to find you and your fabulous new story. If the National conference is too far or too spendy for you, take in a regional conference. The NY editors and agents come to smaller conferences, too. And as an added bonus, you’ll make some writing friends!

5. LEARN TO PITCH! ~ I know, I know. You’re a writer because you don’t like to talk. Me, too. But we need to be passionate about our work and we need to be able to communicate clearly about what it is we’ve created. So write out a one paragraph pitch. This can be the same mini-synopsis you’ll use for your query letter. Recite it to yourself in the shower, in the car, until you feel confident enough to divert from it so your pitch doesn’t sound like it’s being delivered by a robot-a sweating, trembling robot. Remember that editors and agents are people, too. They want to hear about your story. Tell them about it as if they were your best friend over a cup of coffee.

6. LEARN TO CRAFT AN APPEALING QUERY LETTER! ~ The query is your chance to pique an editor’s interest. Start with how you met this particular editor at conference. Haven’t met them? Do your research and find out who their authors are. If there’s one you enjoy, say so. Otherwise, leap into the purpose for your letter. Tell her/him what you’ve got. Be specific about genre and word count. Please don’t send them something that’s such a genre bender, the booksellers won’t know where to stock it. That’s a slam-dunk rejection. Tease your story with a short (read 2 paragraphs max) synopsis. Tell them about your past publishing credits (here’s where your contest wins go!) Do NOT exceed one typed page and do NOT use smaller than 12 pt. font. Proofread it till you think you’ll stare the words off the page. If your letter is free of typos, it bodes well for your manuscript too.

7. ASSEMBLE A WINNING PARTIAL! ~ Often, editors will request a partial. This means the first 3 chapters and synopsis. Spend some time on your first sentence. It sets the tone for the rest of the story. Make it fresh and surprising and a true promise of what’s to come. Whatever else you do, make sure you set a strong hook at the end of the third chapter. Leave your reader dying to turn the page at this point.

8. LEARN TO WRITE A KILLER DREADED SYNOPSIS! ~ A synopsis is your novel condensed to a few pages. Check the submission guidelines for specific requirements of the publishing house you’re targeting. You may need to actually write several of them–a one page, a five and a ten or more. What an editor is looking for is whether or not you’ve handled the major plot points, arranged for a few twists and turns and finished with a satisfying ending. (NO, absolutely do NOT say, “if you want to know how it all turns out, you have to ask for the manuscript.) Editors have no time for coy writers. They want to know you have a good handle on your craft. The synopsis is where you show them you understand what makes an appealing story.

9. DON’T LET REJECTION PARALYZE YOU! Stephen King was rejected. J.K. Rowling was rejected. Clive Cussler had to forge a bogus letter from a “retiring agent” to get someone to even look at his first Dirk Pitt novel. (Not recommended. The publishing world appreciates honesty.) The point is a rejection doesn’t necessarily say anything about the quality of your writing. Publishing houses are like stores. They need certain things on their shelves. If they already have enough of what you’re offering, they’ll pass. Send it on to the next house. Rejection is a fact of life in publishing. Better develop the hide of a rhinocerus or your stay in writerland will be short and painful. Here’s where an agent earns his/her salt. (And if you’re serious about a career, you want an agent.) They can soften a rejection or even sometimes turn it into a request for revisions. Be willing to revise. You didn’t come down the mountain with your manuscript carved in stone.

10. KEEP WRITING! No one can build a career on one book. In this publishing climate, an author must be original and exciting and PROLIFIC! When you sell, the first thing an editor will ask is “What else have you got?” Build your backlist now. How do you think new authors pop up with multi-book deals? Besides, every new story is a chance to improve your craft. The first one may never sell and maybe it shouldn’t. (I have a sad little western in my bottom drawer calling out “Amen!”) The only way to grow as a writer is to write. So stick with it!

Diana writes sexy, light-hearted historicals for Leisure Books as Emily Bryan. Look for DISTRACTING THE DUCHESS, a Victorian romp, in stores now!

Buy on AMAZON now!

From time to time, I interview other authors for my website and my blog. Today, I’m featuring Harriet Ford, a friend of mine from Ozark Romance Authors, the writing group I was involved with when I lived in Missouri. Harriet has written a non-fiction account of wrongful imprisonment called SHADOW IN THE RAIN. I caught up with Harriet this week for a visit.

 

Diana/Emily: Thanks for being with us, Harriet. Can you share a little about the type or stories you write and what drew you to this genre?

Harriet: I write fact-based fiction, and faith-based supernatural suspense fiction. I am drawn to Diana/Emily’s books because of her thorough research and believable worlds, her careful development of character and her element of suspense. She is truly a mistress of her craft.

 

Diana/Emily: Thanks. (I’ll pay you later) How did you begin writing and could you describe your writing process?

Harriet: I started writing as a reporter and have had numerous articles, memoirs, short stories and essays published. My first book is a suspense-romance based on an actual murder in Rockford, Illinois where I reported for a weekly, mom-and-pop newspaper. I wrote several articles on the case and slowly became convinced the court convicted the WRONG MAN. A private eye and a nationally known forensics and crime-scene investigator both worked the case, also stating there was no way Mr. Kuhl could be guilty, but they were unable to prove it.

Diana/Emily: Sounds intriguing. Where can readers find your books?

Harriet: My books are available in bookstores and at my website, www.deniedevidence.com

 

Diana/Emily: After such a serious subject, what are you working on now?

Harriet: I am working on the second book in the Beyond Fantasy series, faith-based supernatural thrillers.  The first book in the series, FRANKLY MADAME, is to be released some time this year.

 

Diana/Emily: Wow! That’s a switch. Do you have a website so readers can learn more? www.deniedevidence.com

 

Diana/Emily: We all have writers who inspire us. Who’s your favorite author and why?

Harriet: I have so many. I like entertaining, riveting and rollicking. There are authors who do all three and more. I could never choose only one.

 

Diana/Emily: I write strictly fiction. In fact, I’ve been toying with idea of having a T shirt printed that says, “I MAKE STUFF UP!” But you write both fiction and non-fiction. How does writing fiction compare to non-fiction?

Harriet: Non-fiction has to be carefully researched and crafted to entertain, inform or titillate the reader’s curiosity. So does fiction, only here the author has room to create her own worlds.

 

Diana/Emily: Have you created a favorite character? If so, please tell us about them.

Harriet: I have created FRANKLY MADAME’S Rhetta Scarlett Butler, a kooky reporter for the Beyond Fantasy magazine, dedicated to exposing charlatans who claim they have supernatural sources of power and are bilking people of money. Ghosts are her business, but she runs into more frightening things than ghosts, including the handsome Dax Larue, who does not share her worldview. When she encounters the supernatural, she turns to the Bible for explanations. What she uncovers is a stunning look at the spiritual dangers of experimenting with the occult.

 Diana/Emily: What’s the greatest challenge you face in your writing and how are you overcoming it? Harriet: The greatest challenge is choosing the right publisher. I have learned that whatever house you choose, you have to do your own marketing, unless you have best seller recognition. Whenever I meet and greet the readers, I have no trouble selling my books. So I take every opportunity to be at signing and festivals.

Diana/Emily: What’s been the greatest help in improving your writing?

Harriet: Reading good writers and carefully observing how they craft their stories.

Thanks, Harriet. I appreciate your insight and your SHADOW IN THE RAIN looks fascinating. And in the time of Harry Potter, your bravery in taking on dabbling in the occult is amazing. Best of luck with all your projects!

  

Hello world!

December 16, 2007

Welcome to my new blog! I’ve been blogging on both my myspace sites. www.myspace.com/dianagroe and  www.myspace.com/emilybryanromance but I needed to find a way to be more accessible to readers who, for whatever reason, didn’t want to do the myspace thing. Plus, I’d like this blog to be a little more personal, so please feel free to share.

I’ll start.

Christmas time always makes us nostalgic. My childhood Christmases revolved around the last minute worry of whether or not my railroading father would be home or if he’d be stuck at the other end of the road. Amazingly enough, he always managed to make it. And then we’d pile into whatever car we happened to have (my mother always encouraged dad to trade cars, not women!) and we were off on the hundred mile trek to my grandma’s house.

100 miles used to be much farther than it is now. Or maybe it just seemed that way when winter weather was closing the roads behind us as we followed snow plows or crept along the narrow two lane highways, the chains on our tires singing a metalic snow song. But the trip was so worth it, for at the end was my grandmother’s house.

It was the perfect Christmas house, a drafty old two story kept warm by my grandma’s baking. She decorated with real pine boughs up the banister, wreaths with electric candles in all the windows and always had the biggest tree she could fit through the door. Of greatest interest to me and my sisters was the cardboard fireplace which I was assured was Santa’s entry point into the house. How he managed to accomplish this seemingly impossible feat was one of the deepest mysteries of my childhood, but since the old gent had always been very good to me, I was prepared to take a few things on faith.

The year my faith was shaken, when one of my classmates wised me up about the whole Santa Claus thing, I still wasn’t inclined to toss out my cherished belief. I had to see it with my own eyes. So I waited until all I could hear was the creak of the old house settling and the bitter wind soughing by my window. Then I padded to the top of the stairs to keep watch.

I didn’t have long to wait. My Grandma appeared with a bag of goodies and quietly filled the stockings at the cardboard fireplace. Aromatic orange in the toe, a handful of nuts I’d have fun cracking open later, a few candy canes and a small toy. I crept back to bed before she finished the whole row of stockings. I’d seen enough.

I knew for certain that there was no Santa Claus. But I had something better. I had a grandma who loved me.

Grandma passed away this year. I was blessed to have her for much longer than most, yet there’s never quite enough time with the ones you love. I have many wonderful memories of her, but my favorite remains that stolen moment when I caught her playing Santa.

OK, now it’s your turn. What is your favorite Christmas memory? Maybe it’s a recipe or a family tradition.  Or are you planning to build a memory this year with something entirely new? Please share.

Christmas blessings,

Diana/Emily