Thursday, May 21, 2015

Throwback Thursday - T.A. Chase

Today I'm going allllllllllll the way back to August 2010. I discovered T.A. Chase's books that month and what wonderful books they are!!  Check out some of my favorites!!

Two cowboys fall in love. It's as simple and as complicated as that.

Tyler Newsome is heading home to the Lazy N, tired of the rodeo and tired of always being his charismatic twin's shadow. It's time he gets a life of his own--and maybe the man he's always dreamed of, too. Ren Alston's always been attracted to Tyler, but never made a move because of his own mental and emotional baggage. But after years spent taming his demons and gaining control in every aspect of his life, Ren sees the younger man's return as a sign of good things to come. But first, they have to deal with Tyler's twin, past indiscretions and Ren's brothers. Will these cowboys manage to build a strong foundation of trust and love? Or will their problems be too much for them?

 Six years ago, a hoof to the head ended Leslie Hardin's show-jumping career and his relationship with the man he loved. Broken, hurt, and rejected, Les has focused his energies on rebuilding his life. Les's accident has shown him that the most valuable treasures are usually found under an imperfect surface, and his reputation for taking in strays starts to grow. But it's one of these strays in particular, injured rodeo cowboy Randy Hersch, who captures more than just his compassion. Between his disapproving father and his chosen career path, Randy has always felt the need to deny his passion. But when Les takes him under his wing, Randy begins to realize that he is truly strong enough to admit his true self-to himself and the rest of the world. But in the arms of a broken man, can he find acceptance.and love?
 Tony Romanos is searching for a place to lay his hat and his heart. Traveling on the professional bull riding tour is tough on relationships. He’s never found a man he’s willing to settle down for, or even a home he’s able to call his own.

Brody MacCafferty owns a bodyguard company which has a few perks. Being in Hawaii and picking up a handsome cowboy for a hot one-night stand is one of them. Brody doesn’t expect to see the gorgeous man again.

Neither man can forget that night in Hawaii and fate steps in, connecting them together in ways deep and true. Can Brody convince Tony that Brody’s arms are the very home Tony’s been looking for?


Happy Reading

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Giving your characters control

Before you run off, this is not a post about BDSM. No, this post is about something truly sinister. I'm talking about Autonomous Body Parts. What's an Autonomous Body Part, you might ask? Or maybe you are scratching your head and thinking those sound vaguely familiar. Either way, ABPs are another of those Bad Habits Your Editor Warned You About. (As an aside, you'll also hear these referred to as Sentient Body Parts and Animate Body Parts, among other things.)

So what do I mean by Autonomous Body Parts? An ABP occurs when parts of a character's body seemingly act on their own. It generally happens when an author associates the verb of the sentence with a body part instead of the character themselves.

Check out the poorly written sentences below:

"My hands explored John's chest."
(My feet were checking out Dan instead.)
"His eyes wandered around the room."
(I'm sorry, this one always makes me picture eyeballs roaming around the room. Can't help it.)
"My tongue licked his teeth."
(Um, I'm just going to move along to the next one.)
"His fingers crawled up my spine."
(Disembodied fingers crawling anywhere = shivers)

And the rewritten versions:

"I explored John's chest [with my hands]."
(A good number of things you say your character is doing with their hands, you can switch to them doing themselves.)
"He looked around the room." or "His gaze wandered around the room."
(There are some that would argue that "His gaze..." is still an ABP. Yeah, maybe. It's still better than the wandering eyeballs.)
"I licked his teeth."
(You don't need to include the tongue since there isn't much else you can use to lick something with.)
"His fingers crawled up my spine." or "He ran his fingers up my spine."
(Wait! You are thinking to yourself that I didn't change the first option. And you'd be correct. Hold that thought for, oh, about 200 words.)

"But why do I care?" you might ask. "The reader knows what I mean."

Well, maybe. And like epithets, I get that it is an easy trap to fall into when you are trying to vary your words and your sentence structure. But if you look around at why manuscripts get rejected, this is on a lot of the lists. And for a couple of good reasons:

1. You've lost the emphasis on the characters.
I'm not reading the story to find out what happened to Lee's arm. I want to know what happened to Lee. ABPs interfere with your ability to put Lee front and center as much as possible. It's the same reason your editor yells at you about passive voice. (What, your editor doesn't yell? That's just me? Ahem. Moving on.)

2. It just looks and sounds silly.
Even if the readers do know what you mean, we sometimes can't help but get some very bizarre mental images of hands and feet and arms and--well, you get the idea. Your story just lost some of its integrity.

But wait!

As with epithets a few weeks ago, context is important. Sometimes ABPs are acceptable or even correct. Two main contexts where this occurs are reflexive actions and actions undertaken by non-POV characters.

Actions that are performed reflexively are correctly written as ABPs as, well, the body part really is in control in that case. And actions undertaken by non-POV character can sometimes be written as seeming ABPs depending on the perception of the POV character; for example, if the POV character cannot see the non-POV character well enough to establish which character the body parts belong to or if that if the only body part of the non-POV character the POV character is currently aware of.

"His head turned."
(Possibly acceptable if trying to convey a reflexive action, such as an attractive character.)
"His jaw dropped."
(Correct, jaw dropping is a reflexive action.)

"His fingers crawled up my spine."
(Acceptable. Depending on author voice, context, I might let you get away with this one since it is the POV character talking about a non-POV character. But we'd talk about it.)
"Finally they reached the top of the ridge and hands reached over the edge to grab them."
(The character's back is against the cliff so he can't see whose hands they are to assign agency. He just sees hands. From Ariel Tachna's Conquer the Flames)

And thus concludes my short lesson on Autonomous Body Parts. I'd like to publicly thank the rest of the Monkeys for helping me out this week and last (and, frankly, in the future, since they loaded me down with ideas). They even keep me marginally sane most days.

Happy writing and see you next week.

Erika Orrick wanted to be a writer when she grew up, but detoured into computers when she realized she actually wanted to eat. Financial stability established, she eased her way back into storytelling by fixing other people’s words and discovered she had a knack. An admitted geek, she is constantly distracted from resuming her quest to be a writer by all the shiny. Luckily, since she hasn’t yet grown up, no one can say she hasn’t met her goal. She has tried (and failed) to escape Texas twice and in fact now lives on the north side of Houston, less than 100 miles from where she started.
Erika can be found on Twitter at @erikaeditsbooks or email at

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Essence of the Challenge just $0.99

With too many relationships ending in heartache under her belt, the new and improved Symone Adams is loud, proud and on the prowl. She has removed the heart she’s normally worn on her sleeve and tucked it safely behind lock and key. What she wants now is to explore the appeal of meaningless, mind-blowing sex. After six months of self-imposed celibacy hell, she heads to Menjo's and directly into the path of two very determined players.

Zander and Marco are pros when it comes to seduction, yet each has grown bored with the conquests. When these two strangers set their sights on the same stunning beauty, the competition is on. Both embark on a full balls-to-the-wall effort to win, not only Symone's body, but her heart as well.

Warning: Book may contain Pissing Parrots, Male posturing, Flipping of coins, Hot Sex, MMF situations and a whole lot of Shenanigans.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Release Day - Forever For Now

Leeland Jeffers is a contented single man with a thriving career in Atlanta. He’s had a few unsuccessful relationships over the years, but no one has even come close to his first love, Harrison Rhinehart. They met in college when a mutual friend, Suzie Garrison, introduced Harry into their close-knit group. When the supposedly “straight” Harry made a move on Lee, the two men entered into a tumultuous secret love affair. In their senior year, the relationship finally ended when Harry informed Lee he was marrying Suzie.

Since graduation, the college friends have drifted apart. However, an unexpected invitation to a destination wedding seems set to reunite them all. Lee’s speculation on whether Harry and Suzie will make an appearance threatens to derail his attendance. But Lee decides the hell with it and makes plans to go, Harry Rhinehart or no Harry Rhinehart.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

What the heck is front and back matter?

Today's post was sparked by a couple of new authors I am working with (who will remain nameless) who asked me, "What exactly do you mean by front and back matter?" It made me realize I am totally guilty of using industry jargon, even as I warn others against doing so. In penance, I offer you this post, the second in my "What the heck is my editor saying?" series.

So, front matter and back matter. What is it? Simply put, it is pretty much everything in the book that is not the story. The sky (and your publisher) is pretty much the limit when it comes to front and back matter. If you are working with a publisher, there are certain elements that they will put in regardless, things like the copyright pages, any trademark acknowledgments they might or might not include, piracy warnings, book blurbs and covers from other books, etc. Often publishers will ask you for your author biography, (which, of course, may not in any way resemble your real-life biography!) including the all-important social media and other contact links. Other elements are entirely up to you. Common things that authors often choose to include are dedications, acknowledgments, author's notes, and character lists.

Because I have access to a lot of editors, I did a quick poll of interesting front and back matter they had seen included in books recently and listed it here (Thank you, ladies!). Maybe it will spark an idea of something cool to do with your next book. One word of caution, however, aside from things like a dedication, acknowledgments, and biography, make sure your front and back matter is meaningful to the experience of the book. You want to be remembered for writing a great story, not because you had a awesome recipe in the back of your book. If the awesome recipe adds to the experience of the book, go for it. If the reader is going to be left wondering why it was included, you probably want to leave it out.

That being said, here's the list, including my take on them:

Usually at the front

Title Page
The title page generally has at a minimum the title and the author of the book. Depending on the formality and the format, you will sometimes see a formal title page that only includes the title and author information that is separate from the secondary colophon page that also includes the full copyright information, the ISBN, edition information, publication date, etc. or you might see it all combined into one page.

Almost always in the front and only a couple of sentences. These can be cryptic, these can be poignant, and these can be funny. Dedications are fun and can give a small thrill to the person mentioned. Personally, I have a digital scrapbook of the ones that mention me. At least the ones that mention me without swearing.

Quotation or Epigraph
Almost always at the front and usually a single line or two. Generally a quote from some other source that the author thinks is meaningful to this story.

Table of Contents
Pretty much always at the front. This is simply a list of the parts of the book or document organized in the order in which they appear. In this age of e-readers, we don't always see the TOCs anymore, but we can access them through the e-reader controls if the publisher has provided one.

Usually at the front but sometimes in the back. These are generally longer than dedications and are used to acknowledge folks that had a hand in helping the author with their book, whether it was brainstorming story ideas, reading over a draft, watching the kids, being a great partner, providing the original research, or something else entirely. (I have a collection of these too. The latest one I saw, that has yet to be published, had me in tears I was laughing so hard. I love my authors.)

Author's Note
Can be either place. An author's note can be anything. Sometimes it's to give the factual context around a fictional story. Sometimes it is to to tell the reader that there is a glossary and family tree in the back and to go look for it. Sometimes it is to tell the reader the inspiration for the story. This note basically serves to tell anything the author feels the reader needs to know before they dive in to the story to help them be better prepared to read it.
Always at the front. A Foreward is a short piece of writing typically written by someone other than the author of the primary work. Usually it will talk about how the author of the Foreward has interacted with either the author of the primary piece or about the process of creation of the primary piece. When the Foreward is written by the author of the primary piece, it is often referred to as an Author's Note in fiction (but it still often called a Foreward in nonfiction).


This next group of items includes information that can supplement or even be critical to your readers' understanding of your world, especially in complex stories like long series, historical novels, high fantasy, science fiction, novels with a great deal of foreign words, etc. These items can go either place, and with the advent of ebooks, can often be creatively linked to the correct place in the book. If you do not link it, though, several people I have polled have said to either put them in the front or at least mention them in the Author's Note. Nothing is more frustrating than struggling through a book with only a partial understanding, only to get to the end and realize the information you needed was there all along. It is also possible to put some of this information in the book itself and an expanded version on your website or other social media. (Though I don't advise taking the route of putting it only on the web and not in the book at all if you think its presence is helpful. Remember, we don't always have the Internet handy, as much as we wish we did).
A glossary is simply a list of words and their definitions. I have a reputation for making my authors create grammatically correct glossaries for their made-up languages in their sci-fi stories--just because I can. (Yes, Angel Martinez, I am talking to you.)

Character Lists/Family Trees
Character lists, sometimes referred to as Dramatis Personae, is a list of who's who in the world. These can be as simple or as complex as you want. Sometimes they are in a simple list format with only key characters, other times I have seen authors build out charts with family trees and other relationships. If you are really lucky (I am looking at all of my authors, who'd better be nodding and smiling), you have an editor who loves you and keeps these kinds of notes anyway and can help you build this information pretty quickly.
Maps are pretty obvious on the surface, so I won't go into too much detail except to tell you to keep in mind this is a chance to give your readers an additional feel for your story. Make sure the tone and style of your graphics matches the tone and style of your story. And don't put too many big maps in your ebook. The file size gets too big.

Another great one for stories that involve multiple books or a lot of world-building, timelines can give readers a very quick "big-picture" overview of the world without you having to spend the prologue info-dumping on them.
Other fun stuff

These next two are examples of other fun things I have seen done successfully as front and back matter (or even between-chapter matter) within the right context. They are definitely examples of things you would want to talk over with your publisher and your editor for appropriateness and technical feasibility. They could live in the front or the back.

I've worked with several authors recently who talked about the playlists they created as they wrote and even posted them on Facebook, but one author took it a step further and actually included it as a list in the front of the book because the playlist became so integral to the story and the characters. We wanted to take the next step and link out to the actual playlist on Grooveshark, but, well, with the recent announcement, I guess it is a good thing we didn't.

Another editor I spoke to talked about how her authors included recipes in their recent series of books that revolved around cooking. And it worked for them because it allowed readers to get inside the characters' heads by cooking what they cooked. Once again, I wouldn't suggest including recipes in a murder mystery, but for a romance where food factors in heavily, go for it.

Usually in the back

Excerpts and/or Blurbs
Pretty self-explanatory. Are there more books to come in this series? Did the readers miss books 1 and 2? If you have the blurbs or, better yet, the first chapter of the next book ready to go, try to hook your readers early.

Book Covers
Similar to the excerpts and/or book blurbs, this is a ready-made opportunity to advertise your other books. If you are working with a publisher, you might find that the publisher also cross-promotes similar authors, which may seem unfair at first--after all, that's space in your book they are taking up with someone else's book cover--but keep in mind that your book cover was likely cross-promoted in someone else's book as well. It all works out in the end. And the more traffic driven to the publisher site, the better it is for all authors of that pub. Period.

Annotated Bibliography
More often found in nonfiction, but occasionally in fiction that is inspired by true events, annotated bibliographies of books and films of where to learn more can be interesting for readers who want to keep exploring.

Much like the Foreward, the Afterward can be some final words by the author or someone else, talking about the experience about the story, how it came into being, or what the reader might have taken away from it.

Another element more often found in nonfiction, an index is an alphabetical list of keywords and the page where those topics can be found.

Author Biography
Author biographies are pretty standard back matter for any book. Most publishers will ask you for one. If you are self-publishing, don't forget to include this! A word to the wise. We already know you are an author--we just read your book. Use your limited space to tell us something we don't already know, something memorable about you. Think about your author brand and ensure your bio projects it. And don't forget the all-important social media links. (Can someone please make sure Poppy Dennison reads this post so I can get credit for those last few sentences? Thanks.)

Can be either place

Author Bibliography
I’ve seen these listed in both places depending on publisher, but a list of your other books is never a bad thing. If you are self-publishing, you usually have the freedom to list books regardless of publisher.

Copyright Page
If the copyright information is not included with the full title page at the beginning of the book, it will be at the end. (I’ve seen more than one pub put ebook-only copyright pages at the end and printed copyright pages at the front.) More than likely, if you are with a publisher, this is another page you won't have to put much thought into--although as with most things, I definitely recommend at least a basic level of awareness--but if you are self-published, you will want to make sure you follow the guidelines for the countries and formats you intend to publish in (although those are outside the scope of this post).

Publisher Statements
I am lumping a lot of things in here, pretty much anything the publisher chooses to put in here that isn't at the behest of the author and isn't listed above. The common ones that come to mind are pleas to avoid piracy, trademark acknowledgments, and warnings about story content. None of these things are required, and they vary from publisher to publisher. As an individual author you may or may not have any say in whether they go in your book, but you should probably at least be aware of what types of things your publisher puts in.

As usual, I started typing, and my post got away from me, so I will end this here. This is certainly not an exhaustive list of all the possible front and back matter you might choose to put in your book, but I hope you've learned at least one thing in the last 2000 words, even if it is that I am not above gently harassing my authors.

As always, I love to hear from readers and authors. But if not, happy writing, and I will see you next week. 

Erika Orrick wanted to be a writer when she grew up, but detoured into computers when she realized she actually wanted to eat. Financial stability established, she eased her way back into storytelling by fixing other people’s words and discovered she had a knack. An admitted geek, she is constantly distracted from resuming her quest to be a writer by all the shiny. Luckily, since she hasn’t yet grown up, no one can say she hasn’t met her goal. She has tried (and failed) to escape Texas twice and in fact now lives on the north side of Houston, less than 100 miles from where she started.
Erika can be found on Twitter at @erikaeditsbooks or email at