Six Sentence Sunday - A Knight in Cowboy Boots #6

Time for another Six Sentence Sunday. This is from  A Knight in Cowboy Boots, which is releasing August 4th from Pink Petal Books (It will show up on Amazon around the 20th.) You can pre-order it here and get a 20% discount off the cover price.

“A man oughta take a woman dancin’.”

 The flutter in Maddie’s stomach moved lower.

“What kind of dancing do you do to fiddle music?”

“The spirited kind.” He let a beat pass before he continued. “But I think you’re the kinda woman a man takes slow dancin’, someplace where there ain’t much light, so’s nobody’d see when I kissed you.” 

Other six sentence excerpts of mine can be found here.

If you want to see more Six Sentence samples, go here for the list of this week's participants.

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Six Sentence Sunday - A Knight in Cowboy Boots #5

This is the "afterglow" moment from A Knight in Cowboy Boots. Hm. I guess that says it all.

Maddie felt as though someone had just hit a long-overdue pressure-release valve inside her. Or like she’d dropped a couple of fifty pound weights and been filled with helium. 

She felt like melted ice cream.

Her second coherent thought was that Zach was damned heavy.

The phrase “dead weight” ran through her mind. If he weren’t breathing in her ear like an asthmatic steam engine, she would have thought she’d killed him.

From a Knight in Cowboy Boots, releasing from Pink Petal Books August 4, 2011. 

Other six sentence excerpts of mine can be found here.

If you want to see more Six Sentence samples, go here for the list of this week's participants.

If you want to participate in the future, here's a FAQ.

Six Sentence Sunday - A Knight in Cowboy Boots #4

Before we get to the snippet, I have a question. I've notice a lot of folks choose steamy situations to pull their 6 from, others lean toward humor. So I'm taking an unofficial poll: Do you prefer steamy or humorous when you visit 6 sentence Sunday sites?

Now that that's out of the way . . .

In celebration of A Knight in Cowboy Boots coming out at Pink Petal Books next month, I've posted another snippet for your reading pleasure.

This occurs after Zach's sister Rachel made sure both Zach and Maddie went to church with her, so she could decide if she approves of Maddie. (Yes, Rachel has control issues.) When Zach and Maddie end up at her place afterward, things get a bit steamy until . . .

Zach closed his eyes and gritted his teeth. Lord, give me strength. “I don’t have a condom.”

“You don’t have a condom?” Maddie repeated as though he’d said he’d forgotten to bring his balls.

“Hey! I thought I was going to church with Jake and Rachel," Zach said. "Somehow it seems like God might doubt my sincerity if I start packing condoms to church!”

Thanks for stopping by, and I love it when you comment.

Other six sentence excerpts of mine can be found here.

If you want to see more Six Sentence samples, go here for the list of this week's participants.

If you want to participate in the future, here's a FAQ.

Agents, Contests, and Rejection

NOTE: I actually wrote this post a few months ago, but I was hesitant to publish it because I didn't want to burn bridges or offend anyone, but the subject of rejection came up on a couple of industry blogs last week, so it feels like it's time to throw this out there.

Publishing--and the romance genre in particular--is big on contests. Those who win the contests get a shot at the brass ring, sometimes even a cross-your-heart promise. Don't think for one second that everyone isn't dying to jump to the head of the line by beating out every other contestant. It's Jaws meets the Bachelor. (How's that for high concept.) And just like with those reality shows, I get a strong whiff of desperation from the contestants. A notice me! notice me! neediness that I find repellent. Which is why after a mere year submitting to contest, just when I figured out that I should be pimping my entry because that's what the winners do, and missing finaling by 2 points and then by 1/2 a point, I couldn't stand it any longer. The smell of desperation on me was making me feel like a loser, so I quit without ever finalling in a contest.

And agents love running little contests on their blogs, too. Send your 50 word pitch for a chance to win. I quit those really fast because I could feel that neediness crawling on my skin. I still shudder at the memory.

I've seen excuses for encouraging this feeding frenzy mentality, primarily on agents' blogs. They bend over backwards trying to reassure us that we're not supplicants. That we should approach them as though we're a hot commodity. After all, who wants a wimpy suitor? Because that's the reality. We're all trying to get the head cheerleader to say she'll be our date to the prom. Yet the agents keep saying, "Power imbalance? What power imbalance?"

Like that snobby head cheerleader who finds it amusing to watch everyone fighting over her, they tell us to keep trying, but they won't tell us where we're lacking.

I had a real revelation not long ago. I submitted a manuscript and, as usual, I got a rejection, except this rejection said, "We really like your voice but we had a problem with X because we think it will bother readers. If you'll change X...."

My response was, "I disagree, so nope, not changing X."

You have no idea what a difference knowing why they weren't jumping up and down and offering to crown me Prom Queen made. Yes, they rejected my story.

Let me say that again.

They rejected my story.

They DID NOT reject me.

They rejected my story.

I can cope with that. I can turn around and send that story out into the world again without spending a week (or 6 months) feeling as though I'm unworthy. I can query again without wondering if I'm wasting my life in pursuit of a dream that will always elude me.

You have no idea how liberating this rejection was.

So yes, sending rejections can take a lot of time and energy, but you know what? I don't need personalized rejections. I just need to know why. If agents had rejection letters A, B, C, D, E, etc for the various standard reasons, it might take an extra second, an extra click of the mouse, to let us know that they just bought their 80th vampire chick lit novel and that's their limit this year. Or that our prose need further polishing to meet their standards. Or, well, you get the idea. I think that's worth it to keep your future partners' mental health in tact, maybe keep us off the anti-depressants, don't you?

Instead, they're weenies. Because someone once got an abusive letter/email from a rejected writer, form letter rejections that say nothing (if they bother to answer at all) is what you'll get. (Does that no response strike anyone else as arrogant?) I say if their egos are that tender, hire someone to screen your mail or go find another industry to work in. (Given the changes that are a'comin' in publishing, the latter may be their best option.)

So this week, my very next query has netted me another personalized response. This time they're saying, "we really like your voice and we think the story is strong. If you're willing to beef up Y and Z, we'd like to work with you."

You know what? I can beef up Y and Z because it makes sense to the story.
Does anyone else feel this way about the industry?

UPDATE: I'm delighted to tell you that my first novel, A Knight in Cowboy Boots, is coming out in August from Pink Petal Books. Yes, in the end, I decided to go the epub route sans agent because my mental health is worth more than what going the traditional route costs.

Six Sentence Sunday - A Knight in Cowboy Boots #3

Since A Knight in Cowboy Boots will be released soon, I thought it would be a good thing to continue sharing snippets from it so you can decide if you'll like it. Hopefully, you'll be intrigued because I can't imagine anything finer than sharing these characters with readers.

This is fairly self explanatory. Zach's family is in the business of breeding rodeo bulls, so he needs to check out a bull they're thinking about buying. He wants Maddie to go with him. So okay. I snuck in a couple of extra (short) sentences. We'll all pretend we didn't notice, right? And yes, that is a sexual innuendo.

“I’m thinking I oughta go to the Gladewater rodeo this week. I gotta make a decision about a bull. Since you ain’t seen a Texas rodeo, why don’t you and Jesse come with me?”

“Because everything is bigger and better in Texas?”

Zach wagged his eyebrows and smiled suggestively. “Ain’t I already proved that?”

Maddie laughed. “The evidence has been persuasive.”

A Knight in Cowboy Boots will be available in August. (Did I mention that already? Don't worry. I'll mention it again when the time is right.)

Other six sentence excerpts of mine can be found here.

If you want to see more Six Sentence samples, go here for the list of this week's participants.

If you want to participate in the future, here's a FAQ.

Does Your Story Tango?

          I ran across a blog post about how sensual dancing is and I have to agree, but while I like the examples Alyssa uses, I would make different choices.

To my sensibilities, the tango has it all. A well-danced tango is a story about courtship. The initial attraction followed by the chase. Moments of pretended indifference followed by moments of such intensity that one must either consummate or break away. All done in perfect synchronism of course.

Good story tellers strive for exactly this balance.

This scene from Take the Lead is probably my favorite movie tango ever. It doesn't hurt that Antonio Banderas is Hot, Hot, HOT!

This clip from Shall We Dance? illustrates well that the tango is a dance of "almosts." So often they seem to be on the verge of a kiss. So tempting. So tantalizing.

Jennifer Grey's tango on Dancing with the Stars starts out with a musical challenge--almost a dare that Derek Hough doesn't hesitate to answer.

Even if you're hopelessly hetrosexual, this tango from Frida so sensual and hot that you can practically feel the humidity.

And finally, back to Take the Lead for the innovative tango at the finale. The story told in the dance is clear and compelling.

So . . . does your story tango?

Six Sentence Sunday - Knight in Cowboy Boots #2

After a brief hiatus, I'm back with Six Sentence Sunday.

In my initial SSS post, I lamented about the challenge of finding six sentences that conveyed something worth anyone's time to read it. Finding that nugget seems to be getting easier. Maybe I've just figured how to recognize snippets that have possibilities. Anyway . . .

This if from A Knight in Cowboy Boots due to be released from Pink Petal Books in August. I should have a cover next month. So Excited. And a little nervous though I don't know why. I love their covers. That's what got them considered for the short-list when I decided to epublish.

The setup is simple. After spending several months on an offshore oil rig, Zach is spending a few days in Galveston before heading home to the family ranch. The woman he's just met intrigues him enough that he wants to stay a few extra days. He's just called home to tell his old-fashioned mother that he's going to be arriving later than anticipated.

“Have you met a woman?” Her tone was suspicious.

Zach closed his eyes and groaned silently. In his mamma’s eyes, nothing but a good paying job or a woman would keep one of her boys away from the ranch. And since he was in the city, undoubtedly, she would be a woman of loose moral character. Exactly the kind of woman her sons appreciated far more than their mamma did.

Other six sentence excerpts of mine can be found here.

If you want to see more Six Sentence samples, go here for the list of this week's participants.

If you want to participate in the future, here's a FAQ.