Saturday, December 3, 2011

Flying By The Seat of My Pants at 200 Miles Per Hour

Before I begin, I would like to make it perfectly clear that I am
completely unqualified to give advice to anybody at any time about anything.

I finished my first manuscript recently and entered the "marketing phase" of my endeavor. It has been exciting, depressing, discouraging, frustrating, and a whole lot of other -ings. But most of all revealing. In the course of trying to figure out what in the H-E-double-toothpicks I'm doing, I've made some errors and I've done a few things right (although that remains to be seen, I suppose).

In a nutshell, I'm out here flying by the seat of my pants at two-hundred miles per hour without a map.  So far I've skinned my knees a few times, but I've managed to avoid colliding with any large, immovable objects. I share the following nuggets o' wisdom gleaned from my journey thus far. 

First thing I did right: I read. A lot. 
I read blogs by my favorite authors, inhaled advice posted on literary agent sites, poured over articles in writing magazines, studied news about trends in romantic fiction, market share within genres, traditional vs. indie publishing. I bought books about the craft of writing romances, The First Five PagesThe Joy of Writing Sex (wow!) and tomes on character development, as well as the "Smart Bitches" very funny and illuminating book, Beyond Heaving Bosoms
Lesson Learned: Reading is good.

First thing I did wrong: I read. A lot. 
Statistics can really make you question the wisdom of writing word one. The sheer number of novels written each year is staggering. The comparatively tiny number that ever get published is depressing. Some agents receive thousands of queries each month. How in the world can they give each one a thorough reading? The answer: they can't. Not really. They have become adept at weeding out the obvious rubbish and marginal ideas quickly (since I didn't hear back from quite a few, I fear perhaps...) THEN they rely on instinct and finely honed merde detectors to sort through the rest. Apparently you have to grab 'em and grab 'em quick. Excellent concept + excellent query + excellent luck = "I might be interested, send me the first thirty pages."  And that's if you're talented and lucky! How do I know this?  See "First Thing I Did Right" above.  And, even if you win the lottery and catch the interest of das wunderkind agent who reels in a wildly enthusiastic publisher, there's still no guarantee you'll end up on the French Riviera quaffing champagne with Jacques, the stud-muffin who serves cocktails on the lido deck.  His washboard abs glistening with sweat under the hot Mediterranean sun, his firm...  Wait, what was I talking about...?
Lesson Learned: Break out your rose-colored glasses, think positive, and write for the love of it, 'cause there might not be any money waiting at the end of the rainbow.  

Second thing I did right: My own marketing
I'm pretty good with design, so I put together my own website using Dreamweaver. I love that program! There are quite a few good web authoring programs out there, and I'm not familiar with enough of them to say with any confidence that Dreamweaver is the best, but I personally love it and find it easy to use. My copy was included with the Adobe CS bundle which includes Illustrator, Photoshop, and Acrobat Pro. I also designed my own book covers, logo, and blog with blogspot's user-friendly authoring tools. If I can do it, you can do it. Trust me, anybody who knows me will enthusiastically tell you I'm no genius.
Lesson Learned: Not having to pay for services while there is no money coming in is good. If you can't do it, recruit a teenager.  Kids today begin learning this stuff in elementary school.

My garden after frost collapse.
Second thing I did wrong: My own marketing
(Do you see a pattern developing?)
I'm pretty good with design, so I put together my own website, book covers, logos, etc.  I hoped to dazzle prospective agents and/or publishers with my ability to assist them in marketing my work when the time comes. I have gotten some negative feedback on this, however, primarily that I am "misrepresenting" myself. I gather that an unpublished writer should avoid any misconception that they are a published writer.  So I ratcheted back the build-it-and-they-will-come optimism of my first site draft, and toned down the Oprah-Secret-Style approach of sending good thoughts into the Universe.  I'm still sending good thoughts into the Universe, just not as strongly from my site. Other advice I was given: don't highlight other author's books or have anything that directs traffic away from your site.  Another consensus: Write about gardening and what you did on the weekend so your fans will get to know you. I'm not sold completely on this one.  I'm reasonably confident I don't have any fans yet, and I didn't do anything this weekend. And truth be told, my garden was a disgrace this year. By the end of July I had to hose the kids down with Raid and send them in with flashlights, breadcrumbs, and antivenin to search for lingering legumes hidden among the horse nettle and burrs.
Lesson Learned: I haven't the foggiest.

Third thing I did right: Joined WRW, RWA, and VRW
There is marvelous esprit de corps among romance writers. WRW's yahoo chat group is great. It serves as a cheering section, industry news disseminator, social networking site, and more. Members congratulate and commiserate.  It's nice. I'm going to make a meeting in person one day soon.  All I have to do is find something to wear besides pajamas and flip flops.  I wonder... is it good ton to wear plaid flannel to the Christmas party?
Lesson Learned: It's motivating to hear from people on the same journey.

Next week, I'll go over a few interesting questions an agent asked me.  To my chagrin, I hemmed and hawed and was woefully unprepared to answer them.  I felt foolish.  Undoubtedly sounded foolish, too.  Ah, well... 'Tis the story of my life. I'm going to help you cheat by giving you the test ahead of time.

Feedback encouragement questions of the week:
1) Did you enjoy my blog?
2) Do you have anything to add?  If so, please do.
3) Is your garden a perennial disgrace like mine?

Beyond Heaving Bosoms book cover, Courtesy my bookshelf
Frostbitten Weeds Photo, Courtesy my yard

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Visit Kate's website for the latest information on her books:
You can find her on Facebook at
Send her a tweet @KateWorth2 or email her at

The Promise is available at Amazon at the following links:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Life's Little PMS Moments

Gave wrong answer to
"Does this make me look fat?"
Read the next two sentences in the voice of Andy Rooney. I don't know why, but it's just more fun.

I've read countless romance novels over the years, but I don't remember ever reading one that featured a PMS moment.  Why is that?

There are plenty of delicate mentions of women's "courses" in romantic fiction, but never any discussion of those dicey, emotionally fraught days leading up to her "monthlies".  Granted, there isn't much romantic about PMS, but the symptoms could provide some funny or suspenseful plot devices.

Jim Carrey's classic SNL skit about a PMS Hotline 
illustrates this.  It's one of my all-time favorites.
Here's a video link:

Apparently PMS is also a fact of life for insects. I snapped this shot of a Praying Mantis casually dismembering her paramour on my back porch last summer.

The Mantis Method of ending affairs is highly efficient.  One brief postcoital picnic, and you're done.  No need to change the locks or decide who gets custody of mutual friends. No restraining orders. I had long ago learned that this was the Mantis Way, but it was nevertheless unsettling to witness the chow-down firsthand. I wonder when he first realized there would be no spooning... and was his last thought, "God, she was worth it!"  

(I hope so; that would be so romantic!)

 Suggested breast augmentation surgery.
Note: The hammer has not changed in 300 years.
For the sake of realism, I think it's high time PMS was introduced into scenes at Almack's.  
“Lord Pifflewaithe, I thought I made myself abundantly clear.  I do not prefer cloves in my ratafia!”  She mutters behind her fan, "Sodding nodcock!” Then she "accidentally" drenches his Hessians with the offending beverage...  

In Hyde Park our wild-eyed heroine launches herself from a galloping curricle, dives into the duke's landau, and bitch-slaps a saucy minx for giving her the cut direct at a ball...

Other possible scenes... A courtesan, vexed upon receiving her conge via footman (sans de rigueur separation baubles), slips her moorings and rampages through White's, tearing sconces off the walls...  

A premenstrual costermonger goes berserk and fatally brains our villain (a former Bow Street Runner addled by syphilis-induced dementia) 
with a Golden Delicious.  

Marsha on the day in question.  (Just kidding!)
Think about it.  That's all I'm saying.

The trick would be to adapt modern examples to the past.  I offer a true story from my actual life.  I arrived at work one morning to find my boss Marsha staring down at the commuter lot from our third floor office window.  Marsha looked for all the world as if she wished she had a high-powered rifle. As you can imagine, I was frightened.  I tried to slip quietly into my cubicle, but I was 18 months pregnant, and therefore quite ungainly. My outie bellybutton upended a rolodex. 

Her head snapped around and she pierced me with the eyes of a chupacabra.  “Did you ever wake up and wish you had a mouse to kill?” she asked without the slightest trace of humor.  I've never forgotten that question.  Those thirteen little words summed up her feelings in a way every woman on earth could relate to.

I think it would be easiest for writers of sci-fi and paranormal fantasy romance to work PMS into their plot lines. Buff, butt-kicking alpha heroines could use it to their advantage in obvious ways. I don't think goddesses or vampires would suffer from PMS.  Well, maybe Hera.  I'm on the fence with faeries, sprites, and mermaids.  Trolls, ogres, witches, are a no-brainer. Now, she-werewolves... oh my!  Werewolf PMS would be an awesome thing to behold!

Well, those are all my thoughts on the subject of historical PMS.  This is my very first blog ever, with the notable exception of one very long-winded, ill-considered, extremely rabid political rant about four years ago. My phone is probably still being tapped and I may be on a no-fly list.  (Come to think of it, I may have been PMSing at the time).

I have been reading other author blogs, and it seems to be the thing to do to ask questions to encourage feedback.  So here are my questions:
1) Did you enjoy my blog?
2) Do you fear for my sanity?
3) Would you like to share an amusing PMS story?  If so, please do.
4) My use of parenthetical observations annoys my best friend Kathy.  Does it annoy you?

DISCLAIMER:  I would just like to say at this point that I'm a card-carrying feminist. I'm not being disloyal, nor is it my intention to perpetuate negative sexist stereotypes; I just have a sense of humor.

Judith With Head of Holofernes, by Lucas Cranach the Elder, Circa 1500s
Jael & Sisera (Lady with Hammer), Gregoria Lazzarini, Circa 1700s, posted on wikipedia
Praying Mantis Photo, Courtesy My Hydrangea Bush, Circa Last Summer
Chupacabra Photo (Or Possibly Just an Ugly Dog), Date Unknown, Courtesy

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Visit Kate's website for the latest information on her books:
You can find her on Facebook at
Send her a tweet @KateWorth2 or email her at

The Promise is available at Amazon at the following links: