I invite you to subscribe to my growing YouTube channel HERE. Not only do I have awesome book trailers and audiobook samples, but I also publish my fun and information-packed Diary of a Mid-List Author series every Friday. Diary of a Mid-List Author is for anyone who is thinking about writing a book or perhaps has already written a book and doesn’t know where to go from there. ~ Suzanne
In celebration of Halloween is my flash fiction piece, Black Holes, which was originally published in the online magazine Flashshot. Enjoy the holiday! ~ S.G. Rogers
The competition at this year’s statewide science fair was fierce, but I was determined to win. My entry was an awesome model of an earthquake-proof building on rollers. It had won first place at my school. Ultimately, I got edged out at finals by a freak of nature who mounted a presentation about the role of wormhole physics in developing a quantum theory of gravity. About ten seconds after he received the blue ribbon, the kid literally imploded and shriveled up into a fist-sized geodesic ball. It was then that I realized some people just can’t handle success.
Although I try not to keep junk food in the house, sometimes I get a little desperate for a sugary snack while writing. Okay, perhaps very desperate would be more accurate. I roam the kitchen looking for some kind of fix. In my younger days, several spoonfuls of canned frosting was my go-to snack. I found a bag of cinnamon candy in the spice cupboard once…the kind you bake into cupcakes and cookies. So what if it was three years past its expiration date? It still tasted okay, and I was very desperate. It’s sort of like the five-second rule that applies whenever you drop anything tasty on the floor. When you’re that desperate, you check for mold and bugs, say a little prayer, and then have at it.
My latest snack snafu involves honey-sweetened oat cereal. I saw the box and I imagined myself contentedly munching on handfuls of dry cereal. What a great idea! What could go wrong? So I filled an empty yogurt container (2 pound size) with a quantity of the stuff and sat down at my computer. I quickly discovered honey-sweetened oat cereal is indeed a delightful snack. Quick and easy. Provides great chewing action, like popcorn but without the annoying husks. You can go through a lot of it, but with such a large container you have a snack-on-tap.
Back to the snafu part. What I failed to take into consideration is the amount of fiber this oat cereal possesses. It’s like each little circle is a tiny colon scrub pad, just waiting to go to work. Probably a half-cup of the stuff is enough to keep things moving along properly. More than that is a foolish indulgence that will come back to haunt you. I am reminded of a Phil Hartman Saturday Night Live commercial from the 80s. It was a riff on all the marketing hype surrounding fiber:
‘Nuff said. Word to the wise.
Have you ever had any snacks that have come back to bite you? Leave a comment and we’ll chew on it a while. ~ S.G. Rogers
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face; and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
~ Traditional Gaelic blessing
I was tagged for a Writing Process Blog Tour in which authors talk about their writing process and why they write the stories they write. So here it goes…
What am I working on?
Last year, I concentrated largely on writing historical romances. Historical romance is a popular genre, and fortunately my titles (The Ice Captain’s Daughter, Duke of a Gilded Age, Jessamine’s Folly, and A Gift for Lara) were all well-received. This year I’m writing whatever strikes my fancy. At this very moment, I’m working on a contemporary paranormal novel. Why? I don’t know. Sometimes stories just lodge in my head and I can’t work on anything else. The working title is Dancing with Raven, and the story revolves around a young ballerina who can see demons. I’m over 16K words into the book, and I plan to finish it sometime in April.
How does my work differ from others?
I like to write stories with unexpected humor and plot twists. My work is considered to be “clean” or “sweet,” but I prefer the words “fresh” and “original.” I prefer writing romance from the heart instead of the boudoir, and I enjoy slipping in a bit of adventure, too.
Why do I write what I do?
I write what I like to read. My goal is to create stories and characters that capture the imagination.
How does your writing process work?
Usually, I start with a particular scene that’s been running through my head. Then I try to figure out if the characters and conflicts have “legs” enough to become an interesting story. As I go along, I try to put in several twists or unexpected events to keep it fun. I rarely plan the entire story ahead of time became I don’t have the discipline. But then, I don’t like to ask for directions, either.
Thank you to award-winning author Meg Mims for tapping me to join the The Writing Process Blog Tour! I’ve frequently been inspired by her attention to detail, and I’m looking forward to her upcoming series with George Bernard Shaw’s Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins!
“Show me the money!” screams Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the film Jerry Maguire. In porn parlance, it’s called “the money shot.” Yes, romance novels are often associated with sex—an image promoted by torrid covers of shirtless men clutching panting heroines in the throes of passion.
Is there anything wrong with that? No, of course not. It’s all good fun; escapism had for less than the price of a movie ticket. I used to gobble up bodice-rippers when I was a hormonal teen. White lines would appear on the spine of the paperbacks where the particularly juicy scenes could be found. Sometimes, with historical romances, I would actually learn something other than intimate details of procreation.
In this topsy-turvy world, writing romance novels without “money shots” has actually become controversial. Unless the book specifies it’s Amish or Christian, some people expect a little friction between the sheets. Even if the story is categorized as Young Adult, readers often look for the spice…and get annoyed when it fails to materialize.
In traditional Regency romance (romance set during the British Regency from 1811-1820), no explicit sex occurs. The last few years have seen the rise of a more modern Regency romance; romances of a non-traditional sensual variety (ie: more “marketable”).
So why on Earth would an author swim against the tide of filthy lucre (money) and write what might be termed “clean” or “sweet” romance…especially considering reader expectations? Call me crazy, but personally I think readers should have choices. I don’t think novels and stories without explicit sex scenes need be antiseptic or anemic. In my romances, for example, my characters have sexual feelings and thoughts. For me, the money shot is the kiss! I also tend to put exciting adventure in my stories…fisticuffs, sword fights, and escapes from death.
If you’re looking for a good time that doesn’t involve *ahem* “biology,” check out Clean Indie Reads. The blog features “flinch-free” fiction in a variety of genres. Clean Reads (slogan All Story. No Guilt) is a publisher specializing in sweet romance and fiction in various genres.
I guess you could say “clean” fiction is now edgy. And I guess I can call myself a maverick. ~ S.G. Rogers
Once upon a time, on a dark and stormy night, I set out on a quest to become a writer. I had it in my mind I wanted an agent, and knew I must develop some Important writing credits to provide street cred to my résumé . To that end, I wrote a few short stories and sent them off with a pat on the head to several Important Magazines. With one particular fantasy story, I received a rejection, along with a link to the most frequent writer clichés that earn a submission a short walk to the guillotine. It was more than a pointed hint I’d fallen short of Importance.
A few years have passed since then and I can’t help but notice that readers gravitate toward clichés to a certain extent. Well-written (and some not so well-written) clichés are marketable (particularly in the romance genre). So I guess what it comes down to is choosing to write a story people will buy, or risking obscurity in the pursuit of art. (See my previous post on writing what will sell HERE).
There are those who will say, “If you write a great story, readers will discover it.” Okay. Go for it and good luck. As for me, I’ve concluded that clichés are not necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps clichés are merely another sort of blunt tool in a writer’s repertoire. After all, beautiful art can be created with a chainsaw. ~ S.G. Rogers
The third book in my Yden trilogy has just been published and I have a feeling of closure. It’s kind of funny, but I remember where I was during each stage of development. The books literally went from coast to coast. I began Book One in a Los Angeles writers’ workshop–North Hollywood to be exact. I put it aside for a long time for lack of a publisher, but when we moved from California to Asheville, North Carolina I pulled it out and began to beat it into shape. I was on an airplane when I drew a map of Dragon Isle, and devised the obstacle course the apprentices had to run for Book Two. I made a list of the original thirteen clans of Yden in our Savannah rental house, and another “tree” all of Quixoran’s apprentices, where they were from, and what Clan they belonged to. Book Three was edited in our new Savannah house, in my second story office overlooking a lagoon. All three books were originally written in First Person, and had to be re-written to Third Person to satisfy the publisher. As grueling as that sounds (and it WAS grueling), the process forced me to dig deep as a writer and make the narrative as clear as possible.
How do you write a trilogy, particularly when the action takes place both on Earth and an alternate universe? Maps, charts, notes, sweat, blood, and tears. And an overwhelming love for the characters and a need to see them grow and develop as people. I truly care about these characters, and revel in their talents, challenges, and imperfections. Sometimes I daydream about Jon and visualize what his life will be like going forward. It may seem as if I’m obsessed, but that sort of passion is what it takes to stick with a series of books over a period of years. To paraphrase a famous song, if writing while obsessed is wrong, I don’t want to be right. ~ S.G. Rogers
A great many independent writers are perplexed and frustrated about devising a marketing plan for their books. One suggestion I’ve seen repeatedly is “You have to first have an author brand.” This reminds me a little of my acting days, when my aspiring actor friends wondered how best to increase their chances of working in a very competitive industry:
“Well…who are you?”
“I dunno. I’ll have to ask my shrink.” Pause. “But whoever I am, I don’t want to be typecast.”
Disbelief. “Are you crazy?”
You really do have to be crazy NOT to want to be typecast in Hollywood. Why wouldn’t you want to be the go-to guy or gal for a particular role? Casting is done by type anyway, with calls going out for “a young Brad Pitt” or “Vanna White” and the like.
One successful actor marketing workshop I heard about sent its participants out to airports and large, public places to ask a bunch of people the following question:
When you get a large number of responses telling you that you look like a nerd, I guess you’d be successful nerd-type. Personally, I tended to be cast as a cop. Don’t know why.
I had two actor acquaintances who weren’t traditional leading men types who worked all the time as THAT guy. Both are pretty big stars now, but they didn’t get there by trying to be all things to all people.
My problem? I had a hard time accepting who I really was an an actor, and kept pushing for what I wanted to be instead. That tack didn’t work out well. These days, I’d like to be THAT gal as an author… but I have a better idea of who I am at this stage in life than I did back then.
Hopefully, my author brand represents fiction that is adventurous, wholesome, and uplifting. Ideally, my stories encompass classic ideals, with well-defined conflicts and characters, as well as fun, witty dialogue. I’m not worried about being typecast, but maybe I’m crazy. *wink*
How do you develop your own brand as a writer, artist, or businessperson?
~ S.G. Rogers
The end of the year seems to be a good opportunity for a little self-reflection. Did you ever wish you could have a do-over in life? Perhaps there is a particular event or episode you would have liked to do differently. Such things are the genesis of fantasy films or books, and don’t exist—or do they?
In my case, I have a do-over as it relates to my short story, Clash of Wills. This romantic fantasy was the first story I ever sold, to a small, independent publisher known for its romance titles. The contract was for two years, and the rights have now reverted back to me. I intend to lengthen the story quite a bit, introduce new characters and conflicts, and apply everything I’ve learned about writing since my first sale.
It feels odd, re-reading the manuscript, because it’s sort of a mental snapshot in time. The original Clash of Wills represents where I was as a writer nearly three years ago. I can recall working with my editors on various matters, such as keeping my points-of-view from sliding around. Although it was frustrating at times, I learned quite a lot. This first professional editing experience was what helped me morph my “classroom” creative writing into a salable “product” with appeal to a broad cross-section of readers.
And now I have a do-over. I have the opportunity to make Clash of Wills into something which will reflect my experience and breadth of knowledge accrued from writing a myriad of books, novellas, novelettes, and short stories. How lucky can I get?
~ S.G. Rogers
I used to be able to write at any time I wanted. Before work, after work, or during lunch breaks. Sometimes I would drive to a pretty spot by a lake or a park and scribble on my notebook (before I got a laptop). It was a luxury, I realize now.
Those days of freedom are over. For the time being, at least. Now, I have three children who need constant attention. And I mean constant! I turn my back for an instant and one of them is drawing on the walls with a marker, the other one is pushing his brother who in turns pushes back and knocks over an end table stacked with books and papers all of which comes crashing to the floor. I hear a quick, “I’m okay!” and then he’s off chasing his brother through the house.
My three angels have kept me crazy for seven years. I have a 7 year-old son, a 6 year-old son, and a 3 year-old daughter, and don’t let her cute little pixie face fool you…she’s more trouble than her brothers combined! A friend of mine once told me when I was pregnant with my firstborn that I was going to have so much time to read and write. Babies sleep so much when they’re young. Well, she lied about babies sleeping so much AND she didn’t mention how quickly they grew!
I thought perhaps I might be able to write more as they grew older, since writing when they were young was just insane! I did it. I don’t know how I did it, but somehow I managed to get two books written between the births of my first and second sons. Writing while my daughter was a baby was the most difficult. I don’t exaggerate when I say she woke up once or twice a night EVERY night for the first two years. Since she’s only just turned 3, I’m so pleased to finally get a full night’s sleep. I’d almost forgotten what that was like!
I’m writing in the mornings now. My children and I have come to an agreement of sorts. They watch an hour of morning cartoons while I write in the kitchen. I can see them since I place my chair at a strategic location to have clear view of the living room since sometimes the cartoons don’t hold their attention and they start jumping on the sofa. And if I’m lucky, I can get a thousand words written before they realize they’re hungry (again!) and come trotting into the kitchen with puppy dog eyes to ask if they can have a second or even third breakfast. I’m stocking up on cereal and fruit so I can just grunt and wave my hand, although that doesn’t work for my daughter. She climbs onto my lap and sticks her head in front of my face and is content to sit there all day if I let her while she pokes at my computer screen with sticky fingers and taps at the keys because she likes to see the letters buzz across the screen.
Yep, that’s my life now. And you know what? I love it! I really do. My kids are the greatest and have made life interesting and certainly challenging for me, but I would never change a thing. They make me smile, even in the mornings when I know I only just closed my eyes to go to sleep, and they make me laugh with their silly antics and jokes. They keep me active with all the chasing I must do to keep pens and markers out of little toddler hands, as well as refereeing when the boys start their wrestling matches. I can’t understand how I wrote without distractions before! It’s weird how life works, isn’t it?
Check out The Witch’s Thief (the novel I wrote during my sleepless nights with my daughter). It’s being offered FREE on Kindle from December 17-21. Hurry over and grab your copy!
Here’s the blurb and excerpt for The Witch’s Thief:
To save her sister’s life, Julia Grey seeks a spell hidden somewhere within Merriweather Manor. Her position as a lady’s companion affords her the freedom to search the house. But time is running out. The necromancer she’s bargained with is growing impatient. And an unexpected appearance of a man from her past makes matters worse in an already complicated situation.
Basil Merriweather returns to England after ten years abroad to discover his childhood sweetheart living in his home. But, he’s no longer the carefree man of his youth and she’s hiding something–deadly secrets Basil vows to uncover even as he hides a dark secret of his own.
While neither Basil nor Julia will trust in the other, their hearts speak a truer language. In a grand attempt to save Julia’s sister and Basil’s life, the two must finally confess sinister truths. Will their admissions help or hinder any future they may have together? Or will the necromancer destroy all in a vile attempt at revenge.
“What are you doing?”
He ignored her frantic questioning. Instead, he blocked out the sound of her voice and raised his arms into the air at his sides, his fingers splayed out as he extended his senses to scan the area. His power eased out, like extensions of his fingertips, stretching into the corners of the room, seeking, searching for the source of the magic he sensed.
It was here…somewhere.
He had sensed it earlier on his arrival, but being that his aunt and siblings practiced magic on a regular basis he’d never given it a second thought.
This room, however, stank with it. He smelled the odor, something strangely like sulfur…
“A spell has been cast in this room,” he muttered. A strange spell. Odd. A spell he’d never sensed before, something new. It felt off is some way he couldn’t explain. Who would be working new magic of this kind in his home? And, in this room in particular. Aunt Petunia worked her spells in the privacy of her rooms upstairs, or sometimes in the gardens, but never in this room. And his siblings each, practiced in their own private settings, places where they could concentrate without the threat of being disturbed. A fairly difficult task with the number of people normally in residence at Merriweather Manor.
He took a step closer to the center of the room where he sensed a surge of power. He shivered as coldness seeped into his skin. It wrapped around his arm, sinking into his flesh, right down to the bone. This was not right.
The magic in his house was always full of warmth and gentleness. Goodness and love. This magic chilled him to the bone. His heart skipped a beat. There was fear, terror, pain. This spell was full of darkness.
About the author:
Tricia Schneider is a paranormal and gothic romance author. She worked as an Assistant Manager at a bookstore for several years. Now she writes full-time while raising her 3 young children in the coal region of Pennsylvania. For more information about her books visit:
To buy her books:
The Wild Rose Press